Actions

Work Header

Human

Chapter Text

     One year ago today, Elyza Lex stepped out of the sliding glass doors at LAX. Finally, she was where she had been working so hard to get to. She had just spent the last 17 and a half hours flying from Sydney, Australia with a short 3 hour layover in Fiji and when the California air filled her lungs, the exhaustion she had felt melted away, quickly being replaced with absolute happiness and pride in all that she had accomplished to make it here. Her unspoken promise to her mother was finally becoming a reality. She would make it. She would live the very best life she could and she wouldn’t give up on her dreams. Elyza would do it for her, and for herself as well. She hailed a taxi, loaded her single piece of luggage into the trunk, and gave the driver the address of the hotel she had booked for the week. Her life was finally going to start.

     Luckily, she had saved everything she could before the move. Finding an apartment was the easy part. Only three days into her stay she was able to find a small but oddly reasonably priced studio apartment off of La Brea Avenue, but a job...that was another story. Aside from being a great musician and a sketch artist, her only real hobbies weren’t exactly employable, or so she thought. She loved anything she could fix. She’d always be the one folks in her close knit town of Undullah, Queensland would turn to when they couldn’t afford a real mechanic. She was always very handy so it came naturally to her. Figuring out how things worked, taking them apart and putting them back together always seemed to relax her mind. She also loved the outdoors, spending most of her free time exploring and camping on Kangaroo Island along the Gold Coast. Elyza always felt at home in those moments. Nothing but her small tent, a few supplies, a good book and the canopy of stars above her at night. She felt so free and self sustaining.

     After about a week’s worth of searching, she finally landed a job at a nearby auto repair shop. The manager was doubtful of her skills when she asked about the help wanted sign she had noticed in the window, but he decided to give her an on the spot test to see if it was worth his time. “Okay Ms. Lex...you say you know what you’re doing? We’ve got this bucket of rust collecting dust in the garage, no one’s touched it in about 3 years. The guy that used to own the shop left it. Just more shit I have to haul away unless I fix it and sell it, but I don’t do bikes.” he said, sounding very bored and uncaring. With the word ‘bike’, Elyza’s face lit up. “Show me.” She said, already itching to get her hands on it. Ever since she can remember, she’s wanted a bike of her own. She used to love watching them fly down the highway or just cruising around town. It wasn’t until one summer when she was 14 that she took her friend’s brother up on his offer to teach her to ride. She was instantly hooked. That’s what got her into working on anything automotive in the first place. “Okay...here it is. I think it’s a…” the manager started, cut off by Elyza’s voice. “A 2012 Harley-Davidson Sportster XL1200C Custom! Are you kidding me, mate? You call THIS a bucket of rust? Holy smokes! You’ve got the keys, yeah?” she asked with a fire in her stormy blue eyes. Pulling the key out of his shirt pocket just under the patch where his name, Ron, was embroidered. She snatched it enthusiastically, threw her leg over the seat and brought the bike to life. Revving the throttle she closed her eyes and let her head fall back, golden tresses falling loosely behind her. Then she heard it, the muffled pops coming from the pipes. With the final pop and a puff of smoke rising from the intake, she turned the key and handed it back to him. “Well, I’m pretty sure I can hire you from your enthusiasm alone, but do you actually know how to fix this piece of junk or what?” Ron asked with eyebrows raised. “Too right! All she needs is a new intake manifold, few new seals...I can clean her up real nice.” Elyza said, smiling like it was something so simple a child could complete the task. “Alright, Ms. Lex...I guess you’re hired….Come back Monday morning at 6. Shop opens at 7am sharp so get started on the bike before our appointments start arriving. The sooner you get this thing running the faster I can sell it and get it out of my sight.” He said while turning back toward the office. She had the place, she had the job….now to work on getting some wheels. Her mind kept replaying how Ron said he couldn’t wait to sell the bike and get rid of it. Can’t a girl dream?

     That first blissful week starting her new life seems so much farther away than just year. Elyza didn’t know then that she’d never get to live that life she so desperately longed for and worked so hard to reach. The world had taken everything from her, but she never broke. She only became stronger. A force to be reckoned with. She watched the sun setting in the distance while sitting on the roof of the broken down Ford Mustang she had adopted as her own after it all went down. A final sundown together after noticing she was running on fumes when the Chevron station 35 minutes back up the Pacific Coast Highway turned out to be bone dry. She knew this was their last stop together so she purposefully got stuck in the surf on Zuma Beach...a final goodbye to those she had lost, her trusty stolen car included. She wasn’t lucky enough to enjoy the beaches of Malibu before the world ended, but it just happened to be the final resting place of her beloved Mustang. Not wanting anyone to be able to sabotage what a beautiful bond she created with the metal beast, she did only what Elyza Lex would do in an emotional situation like this. She grabbed a t-shirt out of her bag, ripped off a long piece of the fabric, stuffed it into the gas tank and lit it using her old Zippo lighter with Elvis’ face plastered to the side. With one final double pat on the hood and a kiss, she said “Farewell, old friend.” And walked away carrying nothing but her duffle bag and the long machete she had slung across her back with a makeshift scabbard, ever since she came across it in an abandoned Home Depot. ‘Where do I go from here?’, Elyza thought to herself in the most lonely moment of her life, as the silver sports car burst into flames in her wake with an explosion that could have, and most surely did wake the dead.

     With the almost seven hour walk south toward her apartment underway, Elyza decided it best to use the last of her iPhone’s battery and listen to some tunes while walking to what could possibly be her final resting place as well. ‘If it keeps on raining, Levee’s going to break….if it keeps on raining, Levee’s going to break. When the levee breaks, I’ll have no place to stay. Mean old levee taught me to weep and moan ohhh….mean old levee taught me to weep and moan. It's got what it takes to make a mountain man leave his home….Oh, well, oh, well, oh, well…’

Chapter Text

     Elyza couldn’t fathom how just two weeks ago she was relaxing with a few friends, camping near the Tassajara Hot Springs. She had finally felt like she belonged. She had a whole new life that she was so proud of. A life that was happily filled with great friends, and at the time, a beautiful, raven haired girl who she had developed quite the crush on. They had all taken the six hour drive up the 101, laughing and singing along loudly to every song that came through the speakers, especially Elyza when The Doors came on. “When you’re strange, faces come out of the rain. When you’re strange, no one remembers your name…”. Thinking back on it, that song seemed stuck in her head now as an eerie reminder of the events that followed that drive. The weekend was supposed to be a much needed, relaxing break from the work week and the LA heat. It was the last time she ever saw her friends.

    Walking south on the 101 toward home, if it was even still in existence, she let her mind wander to that horrific memory. They had arrived at the hot springs and everyone set up their tents in a big circle, unpacking their gear while Elyza took to work building a nice big fire pit for everyone to sit around and enjoy. She was really in her element here. All her years camping back home in Australia, all alone out in the bush, made her practically a survivalist expert. It was where she felt most at home. The dark haired girl whom Elyza was developing feelings for, Rose, was highly impressed with her friend’s skills. With a few strikes of her flint onto the tinder pile, she coaxed the flames to life by blowing slightly to feed the fire the oxygen it needed to thrive. Once it was to her liking, she slid it in place under the small teepee of kindling she had set up. At one point, Elyza turned to grab some more of the larger pieces of wood she had placed nearby to add to the nearly assembled cabin-shaped stack she had created, when she glanced up and noticed Rose watching her intently, only to blush a deep shade of red and turn her head quickly at being caught staring. Elyza just smiled and shook her head, laughing to herself at how much she enjoyed that moment. This was going to be a great weekend, she thought.

    After a few hours exploring the area and hiking to the Cutoff Falls, everyone headed back to camp highly exhausted after traveling all morning and hiking late into the afternoon. The group sat around the fire that evening drinking beer, relaxing and making plans for the next day. Everyone was just enjoying a beautiful night and each other’s company. Elyza kept glancing across the fire at Rose, wishing she’d have the courage to say more than her usual quick-witted comments. Not that you’d know it from her confident exterior, but a pretty face usually left Elyza feeling very shy, even more so when big, brown eyes kept glancing back at her. Not finding the courage she so desperately willed to appear, they all eventually called it a night and went to their tents to get some sleep.

    The next morning, after coffee and breakfast were had by all, the group started their trek to the springs. When they made it, everyone got in and enjoyed the heat of the water. A few of Elyza’s friends, Steve and John were horsing around, being the youngest of the crowd. Splashing water everywhere, causing everyone to laugh at their antics. Josie, a girl Elyza befriended from her local coffee shop and a very talented photographer, was walking around taking pictures of them all as well as their beautiful surroundings. It really was a great time and once again, Elyza noticed Rose glance over at her and smile. ‘Just say something, Lex!’ she thought to herself, feeling nervous. Rose, just looked down sheepishly and tucked her dark hair behind her ear, not meeting Elyza’s eyes again. With a deep breath, Elyza sidled up to the girl, and all she could come up with was “Hi…”, as she gave a smirk to the girl and they both laughed. Just as she felt more at ease, she was about to open her mouth to say something when they all heard a horrific, blood curdling scream not so far from where they were.

    Everyone froze, looking at one another, complete shock and terror written on all their faces. They all scrambled out of the spring, Steve and Josie walking slowly toward where the sound came from. “I think it came from behind those rocks, guys...maybe we should check it out. Someone could be hurt.” Steve stated. Josie followed along, both picking up their pace and disappearing behind the rocks. “Wha-.....no No NOOOO!” they all heard Steve yell. “Steve? What the hell is going on? Josie?” Elyza yelled, hurrying to finish tying up her boots. The rest of the group started walking toward the rocks when they heard “Oh my God, Josie look out! Behind you!” came Steve’s voice again. Then Josie let out a painful scream, followed by Steve doing the same. The sounds that followed, Elyza will never forget. The growling, gurgling, low moaning sounds and the sound of dragging feet. The remaining members of their group,Rose, John and Elyza, made their way to the other side of the rocks and instantly, Rose turned and vomited. Their friends lie on the ground, as well as a stranger...a woman about their age,  and three...people....were ripping the flesh from their bones with their teeth. Elyza could see Steve’s lips moving as if trying to say something. He was still alive. “Steve…” she let slip out in a whisper, and the three murderers all looked up at the sound. That’s when she noticed, there was something so very off about them. Not only did they just murder her two friends and this other poor soul, but they looked absent of any light in their eyes, two of their faces were partially ripped open and the third had a very large part of her neck and shoulder missing. They were covered in blood and dirt, clothes tattered and eyes that looked so clouded over she couldn’t tell which direction they were staring. “Run.” was all she managed to get out and the three of them took off in a sprint back in the direction toward camp.

    When they reached their site, Rose and John started packing their belongings in a hurried daze. Rose was sobbing while doing so and Elyza grabbed her gear and tossed it into Josie’s Jeep Wrangler. “What the fuck was that?” she yelled, still not even able to comprehend what had just happened. “I don’t know, but we need to get the hell out of here, Elyza. We need to call the cops! None of us have cell service here!”  John shouted back, hands running through his shaggy, brown hair and eyes wide with fear and panic. He threw his stuff into the Jeep as well and hopped in the backseat, ready to go. Elyza looked over to where Rose sat, still hysterical, hands shaking as she tried to gather her things. “Rose…” she started, without getting any indication that the girl actually heard her, Elyza yelled to get her attention. “ROSE! We need to go...Now.” The girl’s eyes darted up quickly, nodding her head in agreement. Elyza helped her to her feet and walked her to the passenger side of the vehicle, holding her gaze as she got in. “It’s going to be alright, I promise.” she said to the girl with a nod and made her way around to the driver side. “SHIT! Where are the keys?” she exclaimed, running back over towards Josie’s tent to look. Nothing. The keys were nowhere to be seen. “Oh my God...Elyza...I think I remember Josie having her keys in her bag that she took on the hike today!” Rose cried out, starting to cry again as she just realized they couldn’t flee in the Jeep. “I’ve got this!” John said, jumping out of the Jeep. “John...no. You can’t go back there, mate! You saw what they did to them! Let’s just walk, we need to go!” she says, trying to stop him. “Elyza, I can do this. I’m a fast runner, I will be back in 10 minutes. It’ll be okay, just give me 10 minutes and we can get the fuck out of here.” John says, placing his hands on Elyza’s shoulders and nodding his head at her, trying to assure her that he was right. “Alright...but hurry!” she shouted to him as he was already sprinting away.

    Still not understanding what was happening, the minutes seemed like hours to the two women waiting anxiously for their friend’s safe return. “Got ‘em! Let’s go!”, John said running full speed back toward the campsite, holding the keys overhead with a smile on his face as he slowed to walk, clearly out of breath. Elyza and Rose both turned, sighing in relief at the sound of their friend’s voice. Just as their eyes met his, they noticed one of those disfigured creatures stumbling close to him from behind a row of bushes. Elyza’s eyes grew wide in fear as she yelled “John! Look out!!”. He turned to look over his right shoulder in the direction her eyes had moved, and the thing was nearly on him. His smile instantly disappeared. “Oh SHIT!” he yelled as he turned to face it, stumbling backward over a rock and landing hard on his back, smacking his head on the ground. With that, the creature lurched forward and fell onto him, instantly biting into his upper thigh muscle. He screamed in agony as he felt the monster’s rotting teeth ripping apart his flesh. All Elyza could think to do was grab the small camp axe she had stashed with her gear for chopping firewood. With the axe in hand, she ran toward her friend and brought the blade down hard on the creature’s skull with a loud yell as she did so. Instantly, it stopped moving and Elyza let go of the axe handle and the beast fell across John’s legs. “What the fu-...get it off!” he yelled, terrified it would bite him again. Elyza kicked the creature hard with her boot, and it rolled off of John. “We’ve got to get you out of here and to a hospital, fast!” she said, grabbing the keys that had fallen to the ground, then helping John to his feet. They hobbled over to the Jeep together and she helped him into the back to lay down. Taking off her t-shirt, leaving on only her black tank top, she shredded the material and wrapped it around the gaping wound on her friend’s leg, creating a makeshift tourniquet. She jumped into the driver seat, looked over to Rose who was facing the back, holding John’s hand and crying and said “We will be okay...it’s over.” and started the engine, slamming the gas pedal to the floor the instant she was in gear, leaving a trail of dust behind them.

    Elyza was doing well over the speed limit, weaving in and out of cars and muttering obscenities at the careless, slow drivers. “How we doing back there, Johnny boy? Monterey is only about 45 minutes away now, that’s the closest hospital...you’ll be alright!” She said with a hitch in her voice, not really knowing how bad the extent of his injury was. The sound of her voice jarred Rose from her thoughts. She had been staring aimlessly in the distance, head leaning back against the seat, wondering what those people, or things , were. Just as she turned to look over at Elyza, they heard the same noises those things made when they first encountered them near the springs. The gurgling, growling sounds….and with that, John was sitting up and he leaned forward quickly, sinking his teeth into Rose’s left shoulder. The attack startled Elyza and she cut the wheel hard in a swerve and it was just too much for the Jeep. The vehicle flipped three times, landing upside down in the center of the road.

    “Ughhh….bloody hell…” Elyza said as she struggled to gain her bearings while hanging suspended by her seatbelt. She unbuckled and fell hard toward the ground, landing with a thud on broken shards of glass. “Bugger!” she exclaimed as she felt a piece of glass slice her left bicep. “Rose?” she called out, looking at her friend who was also held in place by her seatbelt. The girl’s eyes were closed and she had a large gash on her forehead that was bleeding profusely. Then Elyza’s gaze fell to her friend’s shoulder, seeing the flesh had been ripped apart and blood was everywhere. She instinctively brought her middle and pointer fingers up to Rose’s pulse point, and let her head drop as she made a sobbing sound when she felt nothing there. The girl was dead. Not even having a second to grieve the loss of her friend, she heard the gurgling, moaning sound again. She looked beyond the smashed windshield and saw John lying about 20 feet ahead in the road. As she slowly crawled out, trying carefully not to let the glass slice open her skin, she got to her feet and made her way over to him, all the while noticing that strangely there were no other cars on the road now. The sight of John was enough to make anyone think they were in a nightmare. Her friend, or what used to be her friend, lie there, one leg snapped and bent behind him in an unnatural way. His left forearm was missing, just below his elbow, and his eyes were clouded over just like those creatures at the camp. Despite his injuries, he was still leaning his head forward toward the blonde, and chomping his teeth at her, his growls getting louder. Seeing that he was just like the creature she put down that attacked him in the woods, she knew how to stop him. Returning to the Jeep, she picked up large piece of broken metal that came from some part of their car. Approaching him again, she looked at her friend with tears in her eyes and said “I’m so sorry, John…” as she brought the jagged end of the metal down onto his skull with a sickening, crunching sound of bone beneath it. Instantly, he stilled and Elyza sat there on her knees, letting tears fall to the street beneath her.

Chapter Text

    Right now probably isn’t the best time to be listening to the darkest music on her iPhone, but Alicia couldn’t help but feel she was sinking further into this hell that was now the world she lived in.'Living…’ she thought to herself with a scoff. She definitely wasn’t living anymore. Just surviving. All the plans she had for her life, Berkeley...moving out...maybe starting a life with Matt after school was through. All of it was gone. That’s when her thoughts started drifting to a place she seldom let them drift to. Matt. His face as she watched him suffering in pain, not yet knowing what exactly was going to happen to him. Thinking of him turning into one of those disgusting, undead monsters. How could that happen to someone as sweet and special as him? Absentmindedly tracing the spot on her inner left forearm where he drew the heart, she tried to shake the thoughts from her mind.

     How was she supposed to make it through this without him? Sure, she had her family and even as annoying as they always have been to her, this was a time when you definitely appreciate your family. Alicia just couldn’t understand how she could spend the rest of her life alone, with no one by her side in the way that Matt was. If the world never righted itself, she wondered if this is just how the rest of her days would play out until one day she was either bitten by a walker or killed by some psychotic stranger trying to hijack their boat or supplies and weapons.

    Laying on the top deck for around an hour watching the sky change from a deep, fiery orange to black, Alicia felt hot tears threatening to fall from her moss colored eyes. She needed someone to talk to. She needed an escape from all this. Her mind drifted to the radio. She hadn’t heard from the man, Jack in some time...she imagined they had met the fate she was so desperately trying to avoid. Maybe there was someone still out there. Someone she could just connect with to take her mind from all this. Returning to her bunk, she grabbed the radio and headed back up to the deck with it. Settling back onto her makeshift bed of blankets under the vast night sky, she lay there searching the open channels while turning her eyes back to the stars...hoping that someone would be on the other end of the static.

    The night was cool and clear, with just a gentle sea breeze blowing the loose strands of hair across her face. She felt comfortable enough in just her tank top and blue flannel without needing to wrap herself in the blankets. Not even realizing she had stopped scanning the channels and her finger was holding the button on the microphone in her hand, she closed her eyes while softly singing along with her music.

Don't look down,

Don't look into the eyes of the world beneath you.

Don't look down, you'll fall down,

You'll become their sacrifice.

Right or wrong.

Can't hold onto the fear that I'm lost without you.

If I can't feel, I'm not mine,

I'm not real…”

      When she suddenly realized she had been holding the button down, she let go and sat up ready to turn the radio off, figuring it was no use trying to find anyone still alive out there. Just as Alicia was about to switch off the dial, she heard a crackling and then a low, raspy, female voice in an accent that she recognized as Australian. “Don’t stop now, gorgeous...I just started listening!” the stranger said with a low chuckle on the other end of the radio waves.

 Alicia couldn’t believe her ears...she had found someone! “Hello? Hello, are you still there?” she asked, frantic and afraid that she would lose contact.

 “I’m here…” the woman said and Alicia let out a sigh of relief.

 She wasn’t imagining this, thank God. “Where are you? Is it safe where you are?” she asked, not sure what exactly she should say.

 “Where am I? Well, love...I’m currently standing in the overcrowded parking lot of the Santa Monica Pier...you know, figured I’d stop by and ride the ferris wheel after gathering some supplies. Maybe grab some cotton candy...” the stranger said with a laugh, sounding amused at herself.

 Alicia couldn’t help but smile at the thought of that ferris wheel. She had always been afraid of heights, so she had never gotten a chance to ride it, although she had always desperately wanted to. “I’ve always wanted to go on that...must be beautiful this time of night.” she added, playing along with the Australian’s joke.

 “Well, if you don’t mind sitting next to one of those nasty fuckers while they try to have you for dinner, sure...it’s great!” the woman said as she barked a laugh. “No, honestly, I’m just passing through trying to get home. Figured this is as good a spot as any to check for some supplies. Lot’s of cars...good chance something good would come of it.” she finished.

 “Have you found anything worth your time?” Alicia asked, purely curious to learn more about this stranger.

 “Well, so far...let’s see here. We’ve got two bottles of water, and one flashlight...but, I’d have to say my favorite prize of the day is this neat radio I just snatched out of a police cruiser.” the Australian said with a smile in her voice. “May I ask where you are?” the woman continued, shocking Alicia with the politeness of her tone.

 “Um...well, I’m not sure exactly, except to say that I’m somewhere off the coast floating in the Pacific.” Alicia said, feeling unsure about giving any information as to their exact location...not that she honestly knew.

 “Well, sweetheart...if you’re just floating around there aimlessly with your radio, you’re going to have to be a bit more specific if you’d like me to come rescue you.” the woman said with a slight laugh.

 “Floating aimlessly, maybe...but I’m with my family. We have a boat. Well, a man that we met...it’s his boat. We’re just trying to make it through this together.” Alicia said with a sad sentiment in her voice.

 “Hey...that’s good! You’ve still got your family, yeah? Hold onto that and you will be just fine.” the woman said, sounding sad as well then recovered quickly asking, “What’s your name, love?”

 “My name? I’m Alicia...Alicia Clark” the girl responded, matter of factly. “What’s your name?” she asked the stranger on the other end of the static.

“Elyza...Elyza Lex. Here for your listening pleasure!” the Australian woman said slyly.

Chapter Text

    The sun was just disappearing on the horizon as the Santa Monica pier came into view. Elyza couldn’t help but smile at the sight. This had been one of her favorite places to come to watch the sunset when she had been having a particularly bad day. The way the water met the sky when it looked as if it were on fire,  always reminded Elyza of her mother. Remembering a photograph she kept folded in her bag that she took five years ago...she clutched the strap on her shoulder even tighter. Her mother had taken the two of them out to see a concert one warm December evening. The venue was near the water and Elyza snapped the picture of her mother, her smile beaming, with the sunset blazing behind her. One of her happiest memories was of that night. Attempting to shake the thoughts from her mind, she tried to focus on her surroundings more looking for signs of anything that may be of use before the last leg of her journey back to her apartment.

    As far as she could see, there were no signs of any walkers, just a vast parking lot full of abandoned cars. “Jackpot!” she said to herself with a slight smile as she pushed on toward the hopeful treasure trove of supplies that she may find. Walking between rows of cars, Elyza still kept a wary eye on her surroundings...listening for any noise other than the sound of the waves crashing and the occasional gull cry. Not many of the cars were unlocked which wouldn’t normally be an issue for her, but not knowing what may be lurking in an area that may prove difficult to escape in a hurry, she didn’t think it was worth shattering any windows unless she saw something of great value. The noise it would create and the attention it would draw was just too much of a risk. She came across a Jeep Wrangler with the top off, so she eagerly hurried closer to it. Hopping up onto the running board of the driver side, she noticed two full bottles of water in the cup holders. “Don’t mind if I do!” she smiled a wide grin as she grabbed both of the bottles with one hand, quickly stuffing them into her duffel.

    The closer she got to the pier, continually meeting locked doors, she became discouraged. Maybe this was a waste of her time when she should be making her way home since it was now dark. As she thought that, she noticed the lone lamppost still shining it’s flickering, dim light a police cruiser a few cars ahead. The closer she got to the vehicle, she made out the slight sound of someone singing. Instinctively, she reached for her machete, gripping the blade’s handle tightly. Singing didn't mean the undead, but the living have proven to be far more dangerous during this chaos. As she slowly approached the car, she realized no one was around, but the singing continued. There’s no way the radio would be working, the battery would be long dead and besides, the stations were all down. Much to her surprise, the doors were unlocked. Opening the driver side door, she immediately eyed the police issued walkie attached to the dash. It was then that she realized where the singing was coming from. She allowed herself to sit back in the driver seat and enjoy this brief moment of normalcy, even if a brief feeling of sadness and shame edged into her mind at a memory of some of her past mistakes. Sitting in the car, enjoying the radio, she thought it was a strange but beautiful coincidence that this mystery performer happened to be gracing the radio waves with a song by one of her favorite bands. The thought immediately made her sad, wondering if she’d ever get to see them perform live again. This whole miserable world has gone to hell and it was dragging Elyza and everything she loved about life down with it. Leaning her head back into the seat and closing her eyes, she absorbed the beautiful voice and a strange sense of calm and clarity came over her. Just as she began to fall into a state of complete relaxation, which she desperately needed after her long journey from Zuma Beach, the voice stopped and was quickly replaced by static. Elyza sat upright fully and reached for the walkie, holding down the button and asking the stranger not to stop.

    Much to her disbelief, this mystery girl responded to her request. Not by singing more, but that at least got her talking. Elyza’s first human contact in weeks, she thought trying to push the feeling of loneliness out of her mind and heart. This girl, Alicia Clark, she called herself, sounded fairly young. Luckily the girl still had her family and was seemingly safe with her group on a boat belonging to one of her people. Elyza wasn’t sure if it was because she hadn’t spoken to a real, living, breathing person in so long, or if it was something in the girl’s voice that made her feel at peace. Either way, she reveled in this rare moment of interaction with someone not trying to make her their next meal. When the girl asked her name, this brought a smile to the blondes face. “Elyza...Elyza Lex. Here for your listening pleasure!” she said, trying to sound flirtatious, not knowing this would put her on the spot.

    “My listening pleasure, hmm? So does this mean that I get to hear you sing since I’ve embarrassed myself in front of you?”, Alicia asked, sounding very serious.

 

    “Um...well,” Elyza let out a breathy laugh and continued, “ it’s getting kind of late and I really should be finishing up here and heading home.” Elyza stated, not being able to hide the nervousness in her voice.

 

    “Oh come on! You heard me! It’s only fair! C’mon...sing me one of your favorites...pleeeeaaassseeee?” the girl pleaded.

 

    Elyza looked down at her Ray-ban’s she had been fiddling with in her hand, a slight blush of crimson spreading across her cheeks. “You’re really putting me on the spot here, I don’t even know what I would sing!” she had exclaimed, hoping this could just put an end to this.

 

    “Well, do you have your phone on you? Put your playlist on shuffle and sing the first thing that comes on! Please?” the girl continued to beg for Elyza’s compliance.

    

     This girl was proving to be difficult, but something about her voice made Elyza want to give in! ‘Who are you?’, Elyza thought to herself with a smirk. Knowing her phone’s battery had given out on her yesterday, she raised her eyes to look out over the water, the glow of the moon now shining in her blue eyes, and she knew what she could sing. Her favorite song from that night out with her mother. She can never forget the chill that ran through her watching Stevie sing it live.

 

    “Alright...I’ll do it. But on one condition!”, Elyza stated, still attempting to get out of this. “If by the time I'm finished, you can’t ‘Name That Band’, I'm afraid...we cannot continue this long distance relationship.” she said with a laugh but instantly hoping the girl would know.

 

    “Oh, you're on!”, Alicia said with determination, hoping the woman could feel her rolling her eyes at that statement. Alicia may be young, but she certainly is an old soul when it comes to life, especially music.

 

    “Oh, Christ…”, Elyza said under her breath as she felt the nervousness overcome her. Trying her best to shake it off, she allowed herself to sit back again and closed her eyes, remembering that night in Sydney with her mom, and held in the button.

 

“Now here you go again
You say you want your freedom
Well, who am I to keep you down?
It's only right that you should
Play the way you feel it
But listen carefully to the sound
Of your loneliness

Like a heartbeat.. drives you mad
In the stillness of remembering what you had
And what you lost...
And what you had...
And what you lost

Thunder only happens when it's raining
Players only love you when they're playing
Say... Women... they will come and they will go. When the rain washes you clean... you'll know, you'll know

Now here I go again, I see the crystal visions
I keep my visions to myself
It's only me who wants to wrap around your dreams and…”

 

     Elyza had lost herself in the song, singing and doing exactly what it described, remembering just what she lost. Her mind drifted further and further away and she failed to notice just how loudly she began to sing and the walker that had also been part of her audience, but clearly not a fan. Alicia couldn't get through to warn Elyza of the approaching noise she heard because Elyza was still holding the button, going through the song.

 

    Panic and fear were flowing through Alicia’s veins. Elyza only stopped at that part about wrapping herself in the other person's dreams because the memories this song provoked in her were too much to continue, and she released her hold on the button, a single tear finding it's way down her face. She was only broken out of her reverie by Alicia’s frantic voice.

 

    “Elyza! God damn it! Can you hear me?!?!?”, the girl yelled.

 

    “What's wrong? What is it?”, Elyza asked, concern and fear coursing through her at the thought of something being wrong with the girl. Before Alicia could respond, Elyza heard the sickening growl and chomping of rotting teeth close to her. In all her daydreaming while serenading her mystery girl on the radio, Elyza had completely let her guard down and never realized the very tall, and very dead man making his way toward her.

    With only seconds to react, Elyza dropped the radio, it falling to the floor landing on its side in such a way that the button was being pressed against the gas pedal of the cruiser. The walker lurched forward, reaching his broken and bloodied arm through the open car door to grab at Elyza and she quickly tried to slam the door shut on him, hard, wanting to sever his limb. She did so with a grunt of frustration when she heard the sickening crunch of bone, but saw the arm was still attached and this action only seemed to fuel the monster’s determination. With no fast way to climb over the center console and escape through the passenger door before he may be able to push through and sink his teeth into her leg, she knew she only had one shot at this. Trying to relieve some of her fear and ready herself to fight, she joked, “I know you liked my singing, but I don't hook up with groupies, mate!” as she kicked the door hard with both feet, sending the walker stumbling back and falling a couple feet away, giving her just enough time and space to get out.

    Alicia found herself leaning over the radio, her heart and stomach both in her throat while listening intently to the struggle happening. It was as if she were watching a movie without the picture...her eyes wide and locked on the radio as if willing it to show her what was going on, to give her some sign that Elyza would be okay. In all the struggling, she couldn't believe the Australian had time to be making jokes!

    Elyza tried to move away quickly and stumbled over her bag that was set just outside the door. She rolled over just as the walker was regaining its footing and closing in on her. With only enough time to pull her machete from the scabbard on her back she brought it up in front of her as the walker lunged down toward her. “Not today, asshole!” She snarled as she shoved the blade up with such force, landing it right into his skull through his chin and watched as he fell across her legs with a thud.

    Kicking him off of her, she removed her weapon and had to fight of the sense of nausea that hit her with the sound of removing the machete from the creature’s skull. Wiping the blade on the walkers shirt to remove the blood, she placed it back into the scabbard and did a quick scan of her surroundings before deciding it was safe enough to find the radio again.

 

    “Sorry about that, love...some of my fans can be a bit overwhelming.” Elyza said, slightly out of breath but still managing a chuckle.

 

    “How the hell are you making jokes at a time like this?!? You could have been killed!” Alicia exclaimed, out of breath as well, not realizing she had been holding her breath the entire time. She was filled with disbelief and slight anger at the woman's lack of concern.

 

    “Yeah, well...Guess you could say I've got a few roos loose in the top paddock! No worries, sweetheart you aren't getting rid of me that easily...that is of course, unless you can't in fact, name that band?” Elyza quipped, all the while noticing something tugging at her heart with the hope the girl would know so she didn't have to make up a reason why she wouldn't follow her own rules of not continuing to speak to the girl.

 

    “Roos in the wha-? Never mind...I'm guessing that's your way of saying you're kind of insane?” Alicia shot back with a laugh of her own, not being able to contain it. She was so glad Elyza was alright and she couldn't help but revel in how this stranger made her feel it was okay to laugh again. “Anyway...I’d have to say, I think you could give Stevie Nicks a run for her money. I've always loved that song.” Alicia finished with admiration in her voice.

 

    “You know Fleetwood Mac? From the sound of your voice, this is before your time. How old are you?” Elyza asked in amazement and pride at the girl’s knowledge.

    

    “I’m 18. Okay, 17, but I will be 18 in a month. I know good music, trust me.” Alicia said, defending her age.

 

    “Ah...you're on the ‘ Edge of Seventeen’ then!” Elyza laughed loudly, making another joke. “I remember that age...good times.” She smiled.

 

    “Okay I guess I did walk right into that one, smart ass!” Alicia smiled and rolled her eyes at the radio. “How old are you, Elyza?” The girl asked.

 

    “I am 26.” She stated.

 

    “26? I believe that music is a bit ‘ before your time’ too!” Alicia laughed while repeating Elyza’s earlier statement.

 

    “Well, whatever time we were brought into this world, let's just be glad at this moment, we have something in common.” Elyza said with a soft smile gracing her lips.

 

    Not wanting to end this moment of connection between them, it was now very dark and Elyza knew she needed to get moving. Home was so close. She started gathering her bag and making her way out of the car when she said, “Alicia, I'm afraid it's time

for me to go. It's dark now and I still have to make it home.”

 

    “Oh...oka-...alright.” Alicia said, the sadness clearly evident in her voice, although she tried to mask it. “When can I talk to you again?” She asked, hopeful.

 

    This made Elyza smile. She leaned forward against the side of the cruiser, arms outstretched on the roof while continuing to speak into the radio “How ‘bout this...I need to save the battery on this walkie if we are going to keep in contact. What if...every day at sunset, just like when we met, we turn it on and find each other again, yeah?” She asked, feeling an ache in her chest at the thought of turning off the radio.

 

    “Yes...I'd like that.”, Alicia said laying on her side, smiling.


    Elyza with her head hanging, about to switch off the radio said, ““Right then...good night, Alicia. Sweet dreams.”

Chapter Text

     Elyza tried to not let fear seep into her mind as she walked along Santa Monica Boulevard, alone with nothing but the moon and the ghostly glow of a few street lights that hadn’t been destroyed during all the looting and riots that had broken out two weeks ago. Keeping a sharp but weary eye on her surroundings at all times, she could feel goosebumps rising all over her skin at the sights around her. Cars flipped and smashed, small fires burning in some. Paper and trash littered the streets. Some blowing slowly by with the light sea breeze that was coming in from the direction she had just come. The worst images were always the same though. The bodies. Some worse than others, but most were just horrific and she knows she can never unsee them. She tried to keep her head forward toward her destination...home. She was only about another hours walk away from her apartment. Not that the walk was difficult for her, but she shook her head in frustration at the thought of on a normal day, it would have taken her no more than 25 minutes to get from the Pier to her apartment. Silently she thanked herself for always staying so fit. Going to the gym regularly as well as taking Krav Maga self defense classes once she moved to LA. Not that she feared for her life and thought she would need protection from others, she was purely just interested in pushing her body to it’s limits and learning something powerful. Those classes have definitely been very useful as of late.

    An eerie feeling crept over her as she came to the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and N. Rodeo Drive. She stood there, looking down both sides of the famous street, remembering her first week here when she took one of those touristy bus tours of the city to see all the sights. Elyza remembered cruising past this exact spot, watching all the people with their bags from places like Bottega Veneta, Ralph Lauren, Armani and many other fancy retailers. She never saw the allure in that part of town, she was always more of a simple person. Happy wearing her well worn jeans, nice fitting tank top and always... flip flops. She loved being as close to barefoot as possible. Something about it reminded her of home in Australia. Her attire today was a bit different, for obvious reasons. She still donned her signature, tight fitting, but well worn light blue jeans with various rips, and a comfortable, black tank top that hugged her curves and her favorite sunglasses...her gunmetal Ray-Ban Cockpit Aviators. For the sake of necessity, she had to trade in her flip flops for a pair of black motorcycle boots she had picked up along her journey back from her trip up north, although she was grateful for them now. Regretfully, that was all she had on her aside from various other t-shirts and tank tops in her bag leftover from her camping trip. She couldn’t wait to get home and get cleaned up and have access to all of her belongings.

    Not realizing this whole time that she had been gripping the walkie close to her chest as she walked on, Elyza couldn’t stop thoughts of Alicia from flooding her mind. She knew better than to feel drawn to this girl, she didn’t even know her. They had only spoken for almost two hours on a silly radio. Mentally chiding herself for wishing she could hear her voice again, she couldn’t help the slow smile that formed on her lips when she recalled their earlier conversation and just how easy it felt. Like they had known each other all along. “This end of the world bullshit is really starting to get to you , Lex.”, she said to herself, letting a huff of air escape her lips, blowing a few loose strands of blonde hair from the front of her face. Still, her mind wandered. Who was this girl? Where did she come from? What was she like before the world fell apart? All questions that ran through Elyza’s mind among many others. It seemed funny to her that even just thinking of the girl, she let her guard down again as she looked up and realized she was just down the block from her apartment. A whole hour of thinking of this girl and walking on autopilot...thank God she didn’t run into any trouble like back at the pier. Shaking her head in an attempt to clear her thoughts, she prepared to continue forward and make sure the restaurant she lived above as well as the comedy shop next door were clear for her to access her home. She was so grateful to see that the immediate area was empty and quiet and silently she thanked herself for sticking to her plan of finding a place that wasn’t part of an apartment complex, but rather a choosing a cozy but small studio on top of an Italian restaurant. She relished in her privacy and well, she couldn’t lie that she loved the way it smelled from all the amazing food being prepared just beneath her floors.

    Thankfully, she hadn’t lost her keys in all of this mess. Reaching for them in the back pocket of her jeans, she unlocked the heavy, iron gate leading to the vestibule door. Once that was unlocked and she was inside, she shut it behind her and locked it quickly. Slowly making her way up the single flight of wooden stairs toward her front door, she thought of how badly she couldn’t wait to collapse into her bed. Unlocking the main lock, and then the deadbolt, she let herself in and leaned heavily against the door once inside. Closing her eyes and letting out a heavy sigh; she was so thankful to have made it back. Luckily, there was still power. She noticed her alarm clock still lit by her bed across the room, but thought better of turning on any lights, as she did not want to attract any unnecessary attention. Instead, she opted for closing the blinds, drawing the curtains, and lighting a few candles so she could see. The first thing she was desperate to do was take a long, hot shower. She dropped her bag, machete and keys on the bed, but took care to place the radio on her bedside table,smiling at it as she did so. Opening the door to the tiny, six by three foot bathroom that only held a toilet, a small narrow shower and mirror with a medicine cabinet, she flipped the handle on the shower and turned it fully to the hottest setting. After about 15 seconds or so, she felt the water and much to her disappointment, the water was lukewarm, at best. “Great…”, Elyza said to herself. However, a shower was better than none at all, even if it wasn’t hot.

    After she was fully clean and feeling a lot better after letting the warm water sooth her aching muscles, she stepped out to dry herself before changing into her favorite pair of grey sweats and a white tank top. Satisfied with letting her hair air dry, she looked around to take in the room. It was a very small space, only holding the necessities. Her queen sized bed, a small couch and a coffee table she had purchased at a thrift shop, a small cafe style table with two chairs in the kitchen area. She didn’t have much in the way of decorations except for books lining the large window sills, candles everywhere, a small set of string lights hung along the back wall near her bed various pictures in frames of her family, and her old guitar on a stand in the corner. Finally, Elyza’s eyes settled on her old stack of vinyls next to the record player. She decided if she kept the volume at a low level, a little music wouldn’t hurt. She selected one of her favorites that she was so glad to find on vinyl at a used record shop downtown, ‘Razorblade Suitcase’ by Bush. Elyza had always loved this album. Setting the needle and hearing the music come to life, she smiled as she made her way to the kitchen area. Remembering that she had kept a bottle of Evan Williams stashed in the cabinet above the refrigerator, she grabbed it out along with a small glass and made her way back over to her bed.

    Settling herself in, sitting upright by the wall against her pillows, she poured herself a glass and set the bottle on the table next to the walkie. She leaned her head back after taking a sip, enjoying the feeling of the bourbon warming her throat with a slight burn as she got lost in Gavin’s gravely vocals.

 

“always be there face i live with

abscess memory with broken fingers

all the fallen down angels

raw pain distress it's all in the way we

know

that we could have it all some satellites

of pain can't always be ignored

war on all sides war on all sides

drink life as it comes straight no chaser

straight no chaser”


    She began to hum along to the lyrics, absentmindedly tracing the rim of her glass with her finger, and thinking silently to herself, “I wonder if Alicia knows this song…”

Chapter Text

     Setting up her makeshift bed of blankets back on the top deck, awaiting sundown with the radio to hear from Elyza, Alicia couldn’t stop reliving the afternoon. She hadn’t killed one yet...not before that day.She never thought she would actually have to, even if that did seem a little unrealistic. Her mind just wasn’t ready to accept it yet, but there she was, surrounded with no choice but to fight or die. There was a strange realization that had made itself present in her thoughts that day. Had this happened just a day ago, she may not have picked up that broken pipe and fought for her life. She was tired of this, day in and day out survival of the fittest bullshit. She wanted her life back, and if she couldn’t have it, then what was the point? Somehow though, a glimmer of hope had miraculously arrived in her life the previous night. Some unseen force in the universe made Alicia choose to scan the radio at the same time Elyza had stopped to search the pier where she found her radio.

     Alicia couldn’t stop thinking of the calming sense of relief that washed over her when she spoke to the Australian woman, who was essentially just a stranger, yet she felt she had known her all along. She had to admit, she felt some sort of attraction, even if she hadn’t actually seen the girl. Something about the sound of her voice, her sense of humor and the way she could hear her smile just by the things she was saying. Alicia hadn’t really thought about it before, but the way Elyza kept calling her ‘sweetheart’ and ‘love’, it gave her butterflies and she could feel the heat rise in her cheeks at the thought. All morning while scouting the beach area she had noticed with her binoculars before telling the others, she had played the song Elyza sang to her on her iPhone, over and over...wishing she could hear the Australian’s voice instead of Stevie Nicks. Now that the day was over and she had decided she would fight to stay alive because of the hope this woman brought her...the hope of a friend...she felt a strong pang of longing to talk to her. Alicia tried to wait patiently, but the events of the day had just been too much to allow her to relax.

     As Alicia was staring down at her mother watching the two people they rescued, floating on a tow line behind the Abigail, she felt thankful that Madison had stuck up for her argument to help the stranded,helpless young people. The rage she felt when the group, especially Strand, wanted to abandon them, made her blood boil and she allowed that rage to escape in front of all the others. She hadn’t always been so vocal about her feelings during this whole horrible occurrence, but she felt such power in that moment. She commanded them to obey her and with her mother’s help, they did. She hadn’t felt this independent and strong before yesterday. Another change she has decided to chalk up to her newfound hope. Just as she was allowing a smile to come to her lips, feeling proud of herself, she saw Strand running down past her now confused mother to the swim platform. The second she realized he was carrying a hatchet, she saw him bring it up and quickly bring it down, severing the rope that held the two extra passengers riding in their wake. All Alicia could do was look at the fear in the young woman’s face aboard the raft, watching as they got farther and farther away. Before she knew it, she was racing down to stern of the boat.

     It was as if she lost complete control of her mind and body. Alicia launched herself at Strand, pounding on his chest with her fist and screaming, “HOW COULD YOU!! THEY’LL DIE OUT THERE!”, with such anger in her green eyes, now blazing with rage.

     Strand looked as if she were just a fly he was shooing away in annoyance as he pushed Alicia off of him, watching her fall to the deck. “Better them than me. Madison, I suggest you reign in your child or those won’t be the only people to be exiting my ship.”, he said calmly before turning to make his way back up to the wheelhouse.

     “You sick son of a bitch!” was all Alicia could manage to get out as tears threatened to escape her eyes. She wanted to to go after him again, but she felt Madison holding her. Looking to her mother with confusion and anger and sadness in her eyes she said, “How could you let him do that? How could you just stand there and not do anything?” while shaking her head and pushing herself out of Madison’s embrace, rushing off without waiting around for a reply.

     “Alicia, I-” Madison attempted but was cut off by her daughter storming off. She hadn’t known what Strand was going to do before it was too late. There was nothing she could have done but she understood how Alicia didn’t see it that way. Strand was becoming a problem and their safety was now at risk because of his threats. She decided to go find Travis and explain the situation and discuss their exit strategy. Maybe sticking around to find out what awaited them in Mexico was a bad idea, considering Strand cannot be trusted.

     Alicia threw herself down onto her blankets and jammed her earbuds into her ears, scrolling to her Apple Music app and selecting her favorite playlist. She closed her eyes, tears still escaping every so often, and tried to lose herself in the music.

This fire won't go out though just a flicker it may be

Shifting through the shadows to a vision we can't see

Hold fast to one another, we will stand stranger to brother

 

We are one, We carry on

 

This burden weighs so heavily

When our demons we must carry

Clinging to this fleeting breath

Dying for a fighting chance

We are one, We carry on…”

     She couldn’t help but feel a pull inside of her heart at those words. They resonated so deep within her. Her life was taken from her. All that she dreamed of, all that she hoped for...ripped away from her. The fire inside of her had been reduced to a small flicker, as the song suggests. It was still there though, weak as it may be. Alicia wanted to fight. She wanted to feed the flame and feel it burn brighter inside of her. There had to be a way to escape this nightmare and have her fighting chance at a better life. There just had to be.

     “Testing, testing...one, two…”, the raspy Australian accent came through the static of the radio that Alicia had been holding in her lap the entire time. Still lost in her thoughts and the song, Alicia wasn’t able to hear her friend’s voice with her earbuds in.

    “Have I found you, love?” Elyza asked a few seconds later. “Maybe our little karaoke session yesterday was just a hallucination after traveling all day in the heat...that would be my luck!” Elyza joked, but still feeling a slight panic that Alicia hadn’t responded yet.

    “Yes! I’m here! I’m so glad you kept your promise.” Alicia stated shyly, feeling the heat rising to her high cheekbones, slightly embarrassed at sounding so desperate as well as stupid for not thinking to leave one earbud out to hear the radio.

     “Me too. I...I hope you’re well. I was worrying about you all night…” Elyza admitted, sheepishly.

     Alicia clutched the microphone of the radio tighter, closed her eyes and and sighed with a content smile. She didn’t understand why hearing Elyza voice her concern for her safety made her feel….butterflies. Either way, she was relishing in the moment and found herself not wanting to hold anything back from the girl. “I’ve been worried about you, too. I’m glad to hear your voice again.” Alicia said, blushing once more.

     “I made it home about 3 hours after we said our goodbyes last night. What a trip! It feels so good to be home. How about you, sweetheart? How are you holding up since we last spoke?” Elyza asked, pure curiosity in her voice, wanting nothing more than to keep the girl talking to her.

     With that, Alicia went into the events of the day. She told Elyza all about the sight they scavenged for supplies, the hoard they fought off and the walker that Alicia had killed, as well as the stranded people who’s safe passage on the Abigail that she fought to protect, and failed thanks to Strand.

     “Don’t beat yourself up, Alicia. You did what you could. You did what I would have done. I’m proud of you for standing up for what you believe in.” Elyza said with admiration in her voice.

     “Thank you. That means a lot to me.” she said honestly, letting out a heavy sigh. “I just...I don’t feel safe here anymore. I wish I could convince my family to leave this boat and forget about that asshole who thinks only he can make the rules.” Alicia finished, sounding defeated.

     “Have you tried talking to them about it? You said your mom witnessed the whole incident, maybe that’s enough to get everyone on board?” Elyza asked, not quite sure how easily it would be to convince people who felt that the boat was their best chance for survival to leave it.

     “No...I haven’t had a chance yet, but there’s no point. They won’t leave this place. They feel safe here. They think Mexico is the answer….so stupid...following this jerk and trusting that he will actually continue to help us once we get to whatever safe place he has there.” Alicia said, sounding so lost.

     “Mexico?? You’re heading to Mexico? When?” Elyza asked, a hint of desperation and sadness in her voice. Alicia hadn’t missed it, and she frowned.

     “Well, apparently, Strand has a safehouse there. He hadn’t even told us about it, Daniel, a member of our group had been suspicious and found maps and things hidden that showed that is where Strand planned to go. Who knows...if Daniel hadn’t found them, who is to say Strand wouldn’t have abandoned us or worse?” Alicia said, closing her eyes and shaking her head at that thought. She hadn’t trusted him from the beginning. Something about him just didn’t sit right with her.

     “I don’t like the sound of this guy, Alicia. Not one bit. Maybe you should find your mom and talk about your concerns...see what she has to say.” Elyza said, not knowing what other advice to offer the girl.

     Alicia couldn’t help but feel so torn about the possibility of moving further and further from LA. The more she thought about it, part of that feeling was linked to Elyza. How could she feel so drawn to someone she hadn’t even met? It just seemed so crazy. Only, there was no denying the confidence and strength Alicia had felt building in herself since they first spoke the other night. That flicker of hope...it was changing her.

     “Maybe. We’re docking in the morning. We need to go on a supply run. It’s a fight with Strand just to let us go to shore for supplies. He’s impossible.” Alicia said, rolling her eyes.

     “Where are you coming ashore at? How do you know it’s safe?” Elyza asked, worry evident in her voice.

     “Redondo Beach. My mom’s boyfriend, Travis, he says he knows of a few grocery stores not that far inland that we should be able to get what we need quickly and get out.” Alicia explained.

     “Grocery stores...the first place others would have ransacked when this shit went down. It could be really dangerous, Alicia. Will you promise me you’ll be careful?” Elyza asked, and Alicia couldn’t help but hear the desperation in her voice.

     “Of course...I promise.” She said, her eyelids getting heavier and heavier. “I don’t want to go, but I’m falling asleep. It’s been a long day...tomorrow will be even longer. Sunset, tomorrow?” Alicia asked, physically pained by having to end their conversation.

     “I’ll be waiting, love. Be safe. Please. Sleep well, Alicia.” Elyza said, the pain evident in her words as well.

     “I will. Good night, Elyza…” Alicia said, just as she let the microphone slip from her hand as she let sleep take her. The last thing she can remember is looking up, seeing the shimmering  white and blue light of stars against the black night sky. That night in her dreams, she encountered a stranger in the shadows...not being able to make them out except for blazing, blue eyes.

Chapter Text

   Elyza couldn't help but feel a sense of panic after what Alicia told her about the man who owned the boat they were on. Between that and knowing the girl would be venturing into a dangerous situation for supplies in the morning, it was nearly impossible for Elyza to sleep that night. She was tossing and turning for hours. Finally, around 2:30am, she succumbed to sleep while staring at the green numbers of her digital alarm clock. That night, her dreams took her to strange places. Just before she woke, she felt she was being blinded by the sun. She could just make out the silhouette of a person, but she couldn't see who it was. The only thing she could make out were burning, green eyes.

    She woke about an hour before daybreak, sitting upright, cracking her neck and stretching her arms. After wiping the sleep from her eyes, she suddenly remembered her conversation with Alicia the previous evening and her heart was instantly in her throat. It didn’t take any time at all for Elyza to decide that she wasn’t going to allow any harm come to the girl on the radio. She just couldn’t bear the thought of it. Something about Alicia just tugged at Elyza’s heart, and although she wasn’t quite sure why, she was always one to listen to her heart. Even if that had gotten her into more trouble than not, most of her life.

    After dressing in her blue jeans, black tank top and black boots she had recently acquired, she donned her worn leather jacket and slid her Ray-Ban’s on top of her head into her blonde locks. Grabbing her keys and machete, she made her way out the door and down to the street. Peeking out of the vestibule, Elyza made certain there was no imminent danger lurking in her vicinity and headed out in the direction of her storage unit a few blocks away, her stomach in knots the whole way. She hoped that making this choice would benefit Alicia and her group. She just wanted to make sure her friend was safe.

    Finally, Elyza made it to the storage facility and made her way toward her unit. Unlocking it and rolling up the small garage style door, she smiled at the sight of her most prized possession. “Good morning, gorgeous! I’ve missed you!” She said sweetly as she ran her hands along the matte black finish of her Harley. The very one that landed her the job at Ron’s Auto Repair shop her first week here in LA. She made good on her promise that she could, in fact, fix the “bucket of rust” or so he called it. Once it was completely repaired, he set it out front with a ‘For Sale’ sign. The man clearly didn’t know what he had on his hands as it was listed for just $1000. After speaking with him about how desperately she wanted the bike for herself, he agree to take the money from her first two paychecks. Once that was completed, she was allowed to have the bike. In the meantime, he removed the ‘For Sale’ sign and rolled the bike back into the garage and parked it within view of Elyza’s station.

    Shaking her head and smiling to herself at those memories, Elyza laughed. She felt like a kid on Christmas morning the day Ron handed her the keys. That thought made her smile fade in an instant, thinking of all that was lost. The whole world as she knew it. Those thoughts redirected her mind’s focus on the task at hand...saving Alicia. She walked over to the corner and tossed aside an old tarp, uncovering a large army style trunk. Opening the lid, she looked down to examine it’s contents, making sure everything was in place. Taking off her jacket, she quickly slipped into the double holster that was made to fit snug and comfortably under her jacket. She then grabbed the two Beretta PX4 Storm sub-compact handguns that her father had sent her as a Christmas gift last year. She couldn’t help her hands shaking for a moment as she handled the weapons, but she took a deep breath, removing and inspecting the clips in both before holstering them and putting her jacket back on, then slipped her earbuds into each ear...thinking the music should calm her nerves so she can focus. Lastly, she grabbed a small pair of binoculars from the shelf, slipped them into the inside breast pocket of her jacket, slung the machete scabbard across her back,slid her aviators down over her eyes, then pulled her full-face helmet down onto her head. Elyza rolled the Harley out, turned to shut and secure the door to her storage unit then threw her leg over the bike and with a quick turn of the key and pull of the clutch, her black beauty roared to life. Not wanting to waste any time, Elyza quickly raced out onto the street and toward the 405. The sun was just starting to peek through the clouds so hopefully, she would beat Alicia’s group to their destination.

    Racing down the 405, weaving in and out of the hundreds of abandoned cars, Elyza let her mind drift away with the music. Before she knew it, she was approaching the shopping center that she had hoped would be the same one Alicia’s group would choose to scavenge. Across the lot from the Whole Foods, there was a tall building...some insurance firm. Figuring that was as good a spot as any to scout the area, Elyza parked her bike and made her way up the fire escape on the side until she reached the roof. This was definitely the perfect vantage point. From here, Elyza could see the entire lot and surrounding areas. She could even make out the harbor and she felt her heart nearly leap from her chest at the sight of a very large… ’yacht?’ she thought to herself. When Alicia said “boat”, Elyza was not expecting that! Maybe this meant her friend was safer than Elyza believed to be true. Maybe she shouldn’t even be here, possibly screwing things up for the others. Not sure what to do, Elyza thought she saw movement behind some cars below, so she reached into her pocket for the binoculars. From her angle, she couldn’t make them out very clearly because of so many cars blocking them, as they were running while crouched down, but she could see four people...three males and one female. “There you are…”, Elyza said with a small smile, her heart racing in her chest.

    She watched the group enter the Whole Foods safely, so all that was left to do was wait and watch. ‘Should I just go down there? Do I introduce myself? “Hi! I’m Elyza Lex, your friend from the radio!”....I am SO stupid. This is....ugh. I’m an idiot. I should just leave.’ , Elyza mentally argued with herself. Unfortunately, just as she glanced up again, she saw something so horrible. A horde of those monsters….she couldn’t make it out, 30...maybe 40 of them or more? They were all headed right for the shopping center. Right toward the grocery store. To make matters worse, the shopping center was set up in a way that blocked the Whole Foods on both sides, creating a sort of corral, and the dead were spread far and wide in front, closing in on it. Of course, that was the moment the group had decided to emerge from the store, carrying their supplies they had gathered. She watched as the taller, older looking man stopped the other three by putting his arms out. This man looked terrified as he looked side to side, realizing the precarious situation they were in. Elyza saw him motioning to some parked cars a few feet away, but it was too late. The walkers had eyes on them and they were moving steadily with more force. The group started to slink away toward the cars when suddenly, a deafeningly loud gunshot rang out in the air.

    Elyza could see the smaller of the three men...maybe a boy...aiming a rifle toward the horde. “What is he thinking ?”, Elyza said, running her hands through her hair. She knew this would draw more walkers from at least a few miles away. This was not good...she was starting to panic. The group of people, Alicia included, started backing toward the store and the horde was closing in. As if her mind suddenly switched to autopilot, Elyza raced down the fire escape, turned her music up, threw on her helmet and drove the Harley as fast as it could carry her toward the back end of the horde. When she came into view, she saw Alicia and her group craning their necks to try and see what was happening. Elyza stopped the bike, facing the store, and began revving the engine. The sound was so deafening to the group they held their ears...but all Elyza could hear was the music in her ears as every dead creature turned to face the noise coming from her bike.

 

“I've watched you change

Into a fly

I looked away

You were on fire

I watched a change

In you

It's like you never

Had wings

Now you feel

So Alive

I've watched you change…”

   

     Elyza turned the bike, spinning out the back tire, and drove off, glancing once in the mirror to see that her plan was working and the swarm of walkers was walking in her direction now. As if this whole situation was just doomed, she heard another loud shot, and glanced back again to see them turning around. What she hadn’t seen was the same boy who fired the first shot, taking his chance at another, thinking he was helping the situation by eliminating however many he could. One shot after the other rang out, and with that, Elyza turned the bike around once more and headed straight for the horde, her Harley’s engine growling louder than she had ever heard. All she could think was that Alicia was in danger.

 

“I took you home

Set you on the glass

I pulled off your wings

Then I laughed

I watched a change

In you

It's like you never

Had wings

Now you feel

So alive

I've watched you change…”

 

    

    As she raced forward, she slid the bike to a stop, and broke into a run, reaching in and grabbing both of her pistols, she began to fire, hitting each target precisely right, until they were dropping like flies. She hadn’t noticed more walkers filing in from the sides, probably from hearing the very first shot. She only had 15 rounds in each gun, and she was sure she was down to her last few by now. Her heart was pounding, her hands were shaking and she was starting to feel like she couldn’t breath between her fear for Alicia and pure adrenaline coursing through her veins. She ripped off her helmet and threw it to the ground, her aviators flying off with it. The remaining 20 or so walkers were closing in on her and as she squeezed the trigger she heard “click”... she was out.

“I look at the cross

Then I look away

Give you the gun

Blow me away…”



    Throwing both guns to either side of her, she reached her arm up and pulled the long machete from it’s scabbard on her back and charged the horde, slashing and stabbing as she maneuvered in and around them.

“I've watched a change

In you

It's like you never

Had wings

Now you feel

So Alive

I've watched you change.

Now you feel Alive

You Feel Alive

I've watched you change

It's like you never

Had wings ahhh ahh ahhh…”

    They were growing in numbers...more and more were coming in on both sides and she couldn’t hold them off much longer. Attempting to dodge a bite from one, she lost her footing and tumbled a few feet, landing on her back when suddenly, she glanced over toward the group of onlookers and felt time freeze. Her eyes locked onto the ones belonging to the long haired brunette, standing a few feet away...eyes the same color as the ones from her dream the night before. In those eyes, she saw a flash of recognition and shock and fear...and at that moment, a walker landed on her, teeth chomping. Snapping out of her haze, she shoved it off of her, and drove her blade into it’s skull. Regaining her footing, she ran toward her bike. She had to draw them out, if only that idiot boy would hold his fire this time, allowing her to do her job. Snatching her helmet up as she ran, she threw it on, jumped onto the Harley, revved the engine once more and starting driving away, slow enough to keep the attention of the obedient horde behind her. This time, it worked. They kept following her until she was a great distance away.

    After about 20 minutes of driving, she figured it was safe enough to double back and make sure Alicia and her group were alright. When Elyza finally made it back to the lot, she realized no one was there. Heading back to her makeshift watch tower on the insurance building, she grabbed her binoculars and looked just in time to make out what looked like a few people climbing aboard the yacht. Her heart sank. She managed to save Alicia, just as she set out to do, but a part of her wishes they had more than just that moment of locking eyes. Those eyes...she couldn’t get them out of her mind. Feeling the hot sun now burning down on her black leather jacket, she glanced up, shielding her own eyes from the glare, when she started feeling her head, then her pockets, realizing she had dropped her favorite sunglasses amidst the struggle. “Way to go, Lex. Lose the girl and lose your shades. Crikey…”

 

Chapter Text

     Back on the Abigail, Alicia felt she was in a complete daze, not being able to concentrate on a thing being said or done by anyone. She could hear muffled voices and see everyone in the group passionately discussing something, but she just couldn’t escape the feeling of fogginess in her head. All she could do was replay the events of the morning over and over again. She kept feeling her heart beat harder every time she remembered those sapphire blue eyes, locking onto her own. Elyza came to protect her. She was sure that was her. It had to be. Even if she didn’t have any idea what her Australian friend looked like, when their eyes met, she just knew. Alicia felt something run through her at that moment. It was like an electric current surging through her, that started at her heart. The part that kept her in this haze was remembering, those were the same eyes she had dreamt of the night before. She was always so skeptical of things like that...signs. Something about experiencing it for herself though, made her a true believer that day.

 

    “I don’t know! I have no idea where she came from! All I know is, she didn’t seem like a threat to us...she risked her life to save us.”, Alicia heard Travis say when she finally snapped out of her thoughts.

 

    “Yeah, and if Chris hadn’t fired those shots, she probably would have gotten away a lot easier than having to come back and fight them off by hand...but, hey...at least we’re all okay. Just a friendly passer by, doing a good deed, guys. ”, Nick stated, looking relaxed and unfazed with an easy smile on his face.

 

    “I don’t care. We are not staying here another minute longer. Some eccentric blonde on a motorcycle with guns is someone I’d rather not have cross our paths again. We depart in 10 minutes.”, Strand said throwing his hands up, looking leary of the entire story and situation presented to him and the rest of the group.

 

    “She’s not eccentric! She could have been killed, you know! Jesus, do you ever think of anyone but yourself?” Alicia spat out at Strand, wanting so desperately to defend Elyza, but holding back for fear of letting them all know she had alerted someone to their location.

 

    “Madison, need I remind you again about our conversation on deck the other night?”, Strand said, raising an eyebrow and glancing from Madison, to Alicia, then back again.

 

    “Alicia, you need to watch your tone wi-.....” Madison started before being cut off.

  

    “I’m not doing shit.” Alicia said, flatly, as she stormed off, rising a smirk out of her brother.

 

    Alicia was torn. How could she just leave now? She’d never get to properly thank Elyza for saving their lives...and then she remembered something else as she reached up to touch the top of her head. The woman had dropped her sunglasses. Alicia made sure to run over and collect them as soon as it was safe. Taking them off, she held them in her hands, turning them over and over...not sure exactly what she was looking for but somehow, holding them made her feel safe. Smiling slightly, she placed the Ray-Bans on her own face and walked up to her usual sleeping spot on the top deck to rest. Sunset couldn’t come soon enough.

 

***************************************************************************************************

 

    One of the biggest perks of this apartment that Elyza chose was the roof access. Aside from the giant air vent that took up a bit of space on the very front, the rest was all hers to do with as she pleased. Never being one for staying indoors longer than she had to be, probably because of where she grew up, Elyza made full use of this space. It took her a better part of a month to get it exactly right after she moved in, making it her top priority over any other aspect of the apartment...even unpacking. She laughed at the thought of how she lived out of a laundry basket for months before breaking down and buying a proper dresser for her clothes as well as many other indoor necessities.

     The roof, that was her safe haven. She had built a small, inexpensive pergola and bought some deep purple wisteria and bright green ivy to plant at the base of each post so they would eventually grow and wrap themselves around the entire structure like they should, providing natural cover and beauty. Next, she built herself a small fire pit with pavers she picked up at The Home Depot on Sunset Boulevard. She remembers her first trip there, sitting in the rental truck after picking up her supplies, being amazed at the fact that she could see the Hollywood sign, even from there. Once that project was complete, she strung a hammock up beneath the pergola, and then went to work constructing a raised garden bed, planting different vegetables and herbs, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, dill,  green beans, onions, spinach, kale, and even potatoes that she learned she could plant in a bucket. After stringing a few sets of lights and putting in a handful of well placed tiki torches, it was like paradise to her. Especially at night when she would lie in her hammock looking over at the Hollywood hills. Pure heaven. She and her friends had spent many nights up there talking and laughing.

    Elyza hated how such great memories were now tainted by sadness and pain. Her poor friends...they didn’t deserve the hand fate dealt them. “If it weren’t for those God damned, infected fucks!”, she thought to herself angrily. She continued to lie there on her hammock, tears threatening to fall, thinking of her friends. Finally, she heard a crackling start on the radio.

 

    “Elyza? Are you there? Please….be there.”, she heard Alicia say, while sighing before releasing her hold on the microphone’s button.

 

    Leaning over quickly, nearly falling out of the hammock, Elyza grabbed for her walkie that she had placed on an overturned wooden crate next to her and reached to turn down the volume on her portable speaker that was carrying her thoughts away with the sounds of Milo Greene’s song “1957”.

 

    “Hey there, beautiful. It’s so good to hear your voice.” she had said, trying her best to be smooth after nearly falling to the ground. With a content and lazy smile spreading across her lips, she lay back, letting her eyes close, one arm folded behind her head and the other holding the walkie.



    “It was you today....wasn’t it. You saved us.”, Alicia said, jumping right to the point.

 

    “How could I not? You told me the area you’d be in and I knew it was too dangerous. I hardly slept thinking of you being hurt...or worse.”, Elyza said, furrowing her brow. “I needed to.”, she finished.

 

   “I know this makes me sound completely insane but, somehow, when you fell and looked over at me, even though I didn’t really know, I just... knew. Does that make any sense?”, Alicia asked, her uncertainty fully showing in her voice.

 

    “It’s funny you say that, love, because when I looked into those gorgeous green eyes of yours, I knew it was you, too. But if I’m being honest, when I was up on the big building across the lot waiting and watching, I knew it was you the second I saw you all sneaking toward the store. I wasn’t going to let anything happen to you.”

 

    “Why would you risk your own life for strangers? Not that I’m not eternally grateful...I just...you could have been killed today, doing what you did.”, Alicia asked, the last part of her statement coming out almost in a whisper.

 

    “Would it scare you away if I said that I feel...connected to you?”, Elyza said, biting her lower lip, worrying about having just admitted that she feels something with Alicia.

 

    “No. I feel it, too. Honestly, I...I have since we first spoke. Knowing you, I just feel...safe. I feel stronger.”, Alicia said, confidence ringing true in her voice. “Especially now that I’ve got myself a brand new pair of badass Ray-Bans….” she finished, with a giggle.

 

    “You thief ! You stole my sunglasses? And here I thought they were snatched up by a walker! I’m going to be needing them back, you know.” Elyza said, pretending to sound offended.

 

    “Well, I guess you’ll have to come and get them then....won’t you?” Alicia asked.

 

    “How? You are still nearby?” Elyza asked, feeling a sudden surge of excitement.

 

    “Yeah, we haven’t left the harbor. We were going to leave shortly after we got back today but there’s some issue with the boat that my mom’s boyfriend is attempting to fix.” Alicia said.

 

    “Well then, I might just have to sneak aboard and steal them back!” Elyza said, teasingly.

 

    “I hope so....” Alicia said, suddenly sounding shy. “Hey, listen….I can hear my mom calling me...I’d better go before she comes up here. Maybe I’ll see you later…” she finished, sounding very hopeful.

 

    “Guess you’ll find out eventually...take care of yourself, Alicia. And for the love of God...take care of my shades!” Elyza said laughing.

 

*******************************************************************************************************

 

    After setting the walkie back down on the crate, Elyza felt the previous night of very little sleep and her morning’s sparring session with the undead, creeping up on her. Deciding to stay right where she was, enjoying the last of the warm, fading sunshine on her skin, she drifted off to sleep to take a much needed nap.

    Elyza woke with a start, hours later, sitting up in complete darkness except for the stars above. What woke her was Alicia’s voice coming over the radio.


    “Elyza! Elyza..please help!”, she heard Alicia whispering frantically.

Chapter Text

    “Alicia? What’s wrong? Are you okay?”, Elyza managed to get out after being in a confused daze.

 

    “No! These people...they’ve boarded the yacht. I heard two gunshots so I tried to see what was going on but when I snuck upstairs I saw they had my family tied up in the main room, and now I’m hiding back in my room...I didn't see my brother...oh my God, it’s all my fault!”, Alicia said, her voice cracking at the end.

 

    “What people? And how is it your fault? Take a deep breath and tell me everything you can.”, Elyza said calmly.

 

    “This guy, Jack...just like how you and I came in contact on the radio, I did with him as well when this all started. We talked for a while and he told me he was in danger with his brother and sister-in-law but we couldn’t help them. Strand was very angry with me for talking to someone. I hadn’t heard from him in so long, I assumed they were gone. I didn’t know they were bad people! I really thought...OH NO!”, Alicia finished in a whisper.

 

    “What? What’s happening? Talk to me, Alicia!”, Elyza said, panic clearly evident in her raspy voice.

 

    “Someone’s coming...I can hear footsteps. Shit! What do I do???” Alicia asked, terrified.

 

    “Just stay calm. Are you still docked where you were yesterday?” Elyza asked.

 

    “Yes, we’re still-”, Alicia was cut off, only for her voice to be replaced by a man’s.

 

    “Well , well, well….so I’m not the only one you’ve been flirting with on that radio, huh Alicia?”, the mystery man asked her.

 

    Elyza realizing Alicia was still holding the button so she could hear what was happening, felt her hands ball up into fists, knuckles turning white in anger and frustration.

 

  Recognizing his voice, Alicia asked,  “Jack? Why are you here? Why are you doing this?”, trying to sound strong.

 

    “Well, when you told me about your ride, my group decided it’s best we upgrade ours. Plus, you sounded pretty hot, so I figured I’d take you, too. Get’s pretty lonely out there, seeing as how everyone’s pretty much dead now.” the man said with a smile in his voice.

 

********************************************************************************************************

     At this point, Elyza had already made her way back into her apartment, gathering her machete and her jacket, and slipping a small knife into her boot. She knew she didn’t have time to make it to her storage unit for guns and her bike, so she made her way into the dark street below and began searching cars for ones with keys still left in them. Since people all seemed to leave in a hurry, she hoped she would get lucky. After about 7 cars, she finally came upon a shiny, black Chevy Silverado pickup truck with large, off road tires. Climbing into the cab hoping maybe she’d find the keys since the door was open, she let out a breathy “Thank you!” while staring up at the ceiling above her. With the walkie at her side, she started the truck and sped off toward the harbor at Redondo Beach where she knew Alicia and her group were under attack.

 

    “Look, Alicia...I don’t want any trouble okay? Just come upstairs, and once the rest of my group gets here, we can be out of here shortly after.” Jack said, sounding impatient.

 

    “The rest of your group? I thought it was just the three of you?” Alicia asked, confused, but also trying to buy time by keeping him talking.

 

    “Well, not exactly. Conner, he’s the leader of our group. He’s on his way here with a few others. He listens to me. He know’s I want to bring you along so it will be okay. But just to be safe, I’d better tie your hands. Don’t worry, I won’t make it too tight, sweetheart.” he said, walking toward her and grabbing her hands. The radio microphone falling, with nothing but static being transmitted to Elyza’s end.

 

    When Elyza heard that last word before the transmission cut out, she felt her blood begin to boil inside of her, while her right foot slammed hard onto the gas pedal of the Chevy. “That’s my nickname for her, you son of a bitch!” she growled through her teeth. She wasn’t going to let this slimy creep take Alicia away, or harm her family. They’d have to kill her to accomplish that, and Elyza Lex has never been one to go down without one hell of a fight.

 

******************************************************************************************************

 

    After Alicia’s hands were bound, Jack started leading her out of the cabin, and up the flight of steps into the dining room of the Abigail. Once they caught sight of Alicia, Chris started thrashing and yelling, “Let her go! Don’t touch her!” to Jack. The other members of the group, Vida, Jack’s very pregnant sister-in-law, and Reed, Jack’s brother, laughed as Alicia was shoved down onto the couch near Madison.

 

    Reed walked over to Chris and said, “She belongs to Jack now.” and smacks Chris’s temple with the butt of his pistol. “Now...tell me where the keys are, or junior here, gets a bullet in his brain.”

 

    “Dad!!!”, Chris says, clearly terrified for his life.

 

    “No! Don’t! We don’t have them! The guy you shot, Strand...that was our captain. He had the keys!”, Travis yelled out, frantically.

 

    “Bullshit...everyone knows a captain goes down with his ship. They don’t sail off and leave everyone else to die.” Reed said with a laugh as he loaded a bullet into the chamber before placing it back to Chris’s forehead.

 

    “WAIT!!! Wait!” Travis yelled. “I can..I can hotwire the boat. I can start it without the keys! Please, just leave my son alone!” he pleaded.

 

    Reed looked, unconvinced, but thought better to let the man try so they could take the yacht if it worked. “Okay, fine. Let’s see what you’ve got. Vida, Jack….keep an eye on the rest of them. Conner should be here within the next 20 minutes.”, the two nodded in agreement as Reed and Travis made their way up to the wheelhouse.

 

    “Alicia, where’s Nick?” Madison whispered to her.

 

    “I don’t know! I woke up and he wasn’t in his bed, I thought he was up here!” Alicia whispered back.

 

    At that moment, Jack grabbed Alicia’s arm, forcing her to stand up and said, “Vida...we’re going upstairs. You watch ‘em.” and proceeded to push Alicia through the doorway and grabbed her arm to lead her up the steps.

 

    “Don’t touch me.” Alicia said to him, shrugging his hand off and moving up the stairs.

 

********************************************************************************************************

 

    Elyza threw the truck into park once she made it as close to the water’s edge as possible, silently thanking God that she could still see the yacht anchored out quite a ways. Looking in her immediate area, she knew even if she were lucky enough to find keys on one of these small boats, the noise would alert whoever was onboard and that could have deadly consequences for Alicia and her group. Spotting an ocean kayak sitting off to the side of what looked like a bait and tackle shop, she ran over to it, grabbed the paddle and drug it over to the boat ramp. Making sure she had her machete strapped securely to her back, she took one last look around and decided to grab some thin rope that lay wrapped up next to a pile of crab traps. With her rope, machete and determination, she paddled hard toward The Abigail...toward Alicia.

 

********************************************************************************************************

 

    After toiling away on the ship’s wiring in the engine room, and another trip back up to the wheelhouse, with a few sparks of wire, the Abigail’s engine came to life. “Good timing, Travis! I see Conner is just coming aboard.” Reed said, pulling the older man to his feet and leading him back down to the main quarters.

 

    “Well...hello everyone! My name is Conner. I'm just going to skip the pleasantries and get right to my point because, frankly, I don't care. My associates, Reed and Jack, they will be taking this beautiful yacht off of your hands. Vida, you and Travis are coming back on our boat. Reed, I’m leaving Ben and Breannah with you. They have their sniper rifles, so you should have no trouble navigating back to base.” Conner explained, matter of factly.

 

    With that, Jack emerged through the sliding glass door from the deck with Alicia in tow. “Conner.” he said, with a respectful nod of his head toward the man.

 

    “Well done, Jack! She’s more beautiful than she sounded on the radio!” the man exclaimed with a broad smile, clasping his hands together, clearly showing his approval. This earned Alicia a glare from Daniel.

 

    At that moment, Reed threw a black sack over Travis’ head and pushed him toward Conner, as Madison and Chris both screamed out for them to stop. The man kept walking, leading Travis out the door, with his family left behind, devastated.

 

     “Okay so...here’s what’s going to happen.” Reed started, nodding to Jack as he led Alicia back downstairs to the sleeping quarters. He turned his head back to watch out the window at Conner, Vida and Travis speeding off, then back to face the group before he sauntered over to the bar area to pour himself a drink and continued “You four, I hope you can swim. Ben!  Take them down to the swim deck. Once we’ve pulled the anchor up, push them off.” he said, not even waiting for Ben to acknowledge his orders from the Stern deck. “Alicia...she stays with us. Besides, I think she and Jack are having a hell of a time downstairs in her bedroom. Wouldn’t want to interrupt!” he said with a wink toward Madison and Chris before he turned to head up to the wheelhouse.

 

     Breannah, with her gun trained on the group, turned to call out to Ben so he would come and begin carrying out his orders. When they caught sight of him as he stumbled in, blood  was pouring out of a large slice in his throat. Everyone looked with fear and shock in their eyes, and just as Breannah was about to call out to Reed, a knife zipped through the air and lodged itself into her skull. She fell to the ground instantly. The group heard footsteps approaching quickly, then a wild haired, blonde woman with fierce blue eyes in a leather jacket bounded up the steps from the swim deck.

 

    “Who the hell are you?!?!?!?” Madison exclaimed, clearly frightened of this woman.

 

    Elyza brought her finger to her lips as a signal for Madison to be silent. “My name is Elyza Lex. I’m here to help. Alicia told me you all were in trouble...I came as fast as I could.” she explained, looking each one of them in the eyes, hoping they would believe her intentions as she made her way over to Chris, reaching for his bound hands. Madison flinched at the contact when she saw the small knife that Elyza had pulled from her boot.

 

    “It’s okay. I’m just cutting his restraints.” She said, receiving an accepting nod from Madison.

 

    “You’re the girl with the bike! You’re the one that saved us yesterday!”, Chris exclaimed with a look of shock and admiration on his face.

 

    “Shhh!! Quiet down….yes, that was me. Thanks for the back-up, by the way.” she said to him, smiling and shaking her head remembering his reckless behavior, but knowing he was only trying to help.

 

     “You’re the one? How do you know Alicia? I don’t understand what’s going on here…” Madison asked, looking skeptical of the blonde.

 

     “Alicia has been talking to me on the radio. We’ve been in contact for about a week now and since I live nearby, when I heard the area she would be heading to for a supply run, I got worried knowing how dangerous that area could be so I went to keep her safe...to keep everyone safe.”, Elyza explained, looking away from Madison’s eyes, crimson coloring  her cheeks as she realized her slip up.

 

    “ Another one on the radio??? Madison, does your daughter not have a brain in her head? Dios mio!”, Daniel said, shaking his head in frustration while glaring at Elyza.

 

    “With all do respect, sir...if I were in your shoes right now, I’d be thankful that she has been in contact with me. I am trying to save you, after all.” Elyza said, raising an eyebrow at him, hoping he would see her point.

 

     “She’s right, papa. She just took out their two armed guards. She could have killed us already if she were really here to do that. Let her help.”, Ophelia said, offering a warm, thankful smile to Elyza.

 

    Just as she was about to free Madison’s hands next, Jack and Alicia emerged from below deck.

 

    “Ben? Breannah? What’s all the noise? I thought I heard-” he started as he caught sight of Elyza crouched down attempting to cut Madison free.

 

    “Elyza…”, Alicia said in a whisper, her green eyes locking onto Elyza’s blue ones.

 

    “Who the fuck are you? Drop your blade...do it now!” Jack shouted, as he took Alicia in front of him, bringing his own knife to her throat.

 

    “No! Don’t!! Please! Elyza, drop it! Please he’ll hurt her!” Madison begged, tears starting to form in her eyes.

 

    “It’s alright, mate...you can let her go...I’ll put it down.” Elyza said as she leaned down, slowly placing her machete and small knife on the ground, careful to keep her other hand up so he could see she was of no threat.

 

    With that, he removed his knife from Alicia’s neck and pushed her off to the side. Elyza glanced, noticing her hands were bound, and her blood began to boil again.

 

    “On your knees, turn around.” he demanded, kicking her weapons across the room. “I said get DOWN!” he yelled as he kicked Elyza’s knee out just as she was slowly turning her back to him as he had asked.

 

    She fell to the floor, wincing in pain, but when her eyes opened again, Madison, Chris, Ophelia and Daniel watched as her eyes darkened. “Put your hands behind your head.” Jack ordered, and as she complied, a smirk appeared on her face. Jack reached toward her hands and was about to bind them with some rope, when just as their hands touched, Elyza grabbed him by both wrists, and with a loud growl, flipped him forward, over her own body, spinning quickly around and pinning him with her own.

 

    “I think...you owe my friends here an apology, Jackie boy.” Elyza said with a grin, her blue eyes shining as she glanced up at Alicia, seeing her smile in return. When he didn’t comply, she leaned down, putting her ear close to his face and said, “I’m sorry...What’s that? I didn’t hear you…”

 

    “I’m not apologizing to anyone!”, he growled back as he spat in her face. That just caused Elyza to get angry.

 

    “Alright then...your choice, mate.” She said as she began dragging him to his feet. She was just spinning him around to face the wall to tie his hands with his own rope when suddenly, “BANG” ...and a searing hot pain grazed her left thigh.

 

    No one had seen Reed sneaking his way down the stairwell of the wheelhouse. Everyone looked at him, pistol still trained on Elyza, only this time at her head.

 

    “DON'T MOVE!” Reed yelled after firing the shot, then letting out a sinister laugh. “You've picked the wrong boat, bitch!”, he said angrily, looking over at the dead members of his group.

 

    “First of all..it's a yacht. Secondly, I'm quite sure I've picked the exact right one. And thirdly,” she started as she grabbed a fistful of Jack’s hair, pulling his head back and quickly bringing his face to meet the wall very hard, knocking him unconscious, “I really don't appreciate being called a bitch.” Elyza said sarcastically, chancing a glance back at him.

 

    Another shot rang out, missing her head by a mere inch. “I said don't mo-....ugh!” He grunted in pain, looking down seeing a long blade sticking out of his abdomen.

 

    No one had been paying attention to Chris who was the only one without their hands bound. He managed to get Elyza’s machete and sneak behind Reed, stabbing him in the back.

 

    “Chris?!?!” Madison exclaimed as she couldn't believe her eyes.

 

    “I couldn't let him kill her!”, he said, hands shaking and tears forming in his eyes as the realization of what had just happened finally sank in.


    With that, Elyza bound Jack’s hands and let him fall to the floor with a thud. She rushed over to untie Madison, Ophelia, Daniel, and lastly, Alicia. When their eyes met, all the smooth talking Aussie could say was, “Hello, gorgeous…”, at a loss for better words while in such close proximity to the stunning, green eyed brunette. Once her hands were untied, Alicia wrapped her arms around Elyza's torso and held her in a tight hug. Elyza’s whole body was on fire when she felt Alicia’s lips graze her ear and her warm breath on her neck as she whispered a soft, but meaningful “Thank you…”. Elyza couldn't quite place it...maybe it was the girls perfume, or perhaps the shampoo she used...or maybe it was simply just her own scent....but the smell overloaded Elyza's senses. A mixture of scents that were warm and earthy. It reminded her of a place she once knew and loved. Home.

Chapter Text

     After realizing she was still holding onto Elyza, lost in the feeling of her embrace and the warmth radiating through her leather jacket, Alicia stepped back and met Elyza’s searing gaze. She felt her heart send shock waves throughout her body and she had to look away, anywhere but those blue eyes. “What was that?”  she thought to herself, unsure of the feelings the blonde was creating within her, certain that she saw similar questions in Elyza’s eyes.

 

    “Okay...Alicia, would you mind explaining to us just why you thought it was a good idea, yet again, to tell a stranger about us and where we are?”, Daniel asked impatiently.

 

    “It doesn’t matter anymore, Daniel. If it wasn’t for, Elyza, was it?” Madison asked, looking over to the Australian, receiving a nod in agreement. “We would all be as dead as those two over there.” she said, pointing to the two guards Elyza had taken out. “What matters now, is finding Nick and getting Travis back.” she finished, looking over at Chris who was sitting on the couch, looking down at the floor, visibly shaken from the previous events and thinking that he has lost the only parent he has left.

 

    “They took people from your group?” Elyza asked, looking concerned.

 

    “Yes, Travis was taken onto a smaller boat by their leader...he called himself Conner. And my son, Nick, we haven’t seen him since before all of this happened.” Madison answered, allowing her resolve to falter a bit when reality began to sink in again.

 

    Clearly seeing the distress the woman was in, Elyza walked over to her, placing a hand on either arm, offering her a small but sincere smile. “They will be alright. With these two still alive, we should be able to use them to get to wherever they took Travis. And your son...I’m sure he’ll turn up.”

 

    Madison, gave a small smile in return and said, “Thank you.” while meeting the younger woman’s eyes. She couldn’t quite place it, but something about this girl and the way she stormed in and rescued them all, as well as the way she seemed to hold her daughter in such high regard, made Madison feel very trusting of her.

 

    Alicia stood back, watching the scene unfold in front of her and she was so moved by Elyza’s kindness and care toward her mother. This woman had no reason to help as much as she already has done, and here she is now, insinuating that she would continue to do so.

 

    “Okay...Ophelia, help me get the injured one up. We should patch him up so he doesn’t bleed out and die on us. We’ll need all the information we can get.” Daniel ordered, as Ophelia nodded and the two of them set the unconscious man up onto a chair. Daniel proceeded to bind his hands and feet, while Ophelia went to fetch some medical supplies.

 

    “Elyza...your leg!” Alicia exclaimed, just realizing the deep red liquid that was now ruining Elyza’s favorite pair of jeans.

 

    “Oh, Christ….my last good pair!” she said, sounding highly pissed off.

 

    “You get shot, and you are worried about your jeans?!? Are you feeling okay?” Alicia asked, rushing over to her, placing the back of her hand to Elyza’s forehead, checking for a fever. The contact sending an invisible electric current between the two women.

 

    “I’m fine, love. No worries.” Elyza said, offering the brunette a wink and smile. “Besides...could’a been a hell of a lot worse if not for that little Tazzy Devil!” she finished, tapping on her head and smiling over at Chris, who looked up at her, puffing out his chest, trying to look tough.

 

    Everyone let out small laughs...all breathing a sigh of relief after realizing she was right. If not for Chris, Reed may not have missed his last shot at Elyza’s head.

 

    “Alicia, take Elyza downstairs to my cabin. In the bathroom, we’ve got some gauze and medical tape. There should be some peroxide and ibuprofen in the medicine cabinet, too.” Madison said to her daughter, receiving a nod in response.

 

    “Come on…”, Alicia said softly to Elyza, a warm smile spreading across her pouty, pink lips, as she reached down to take Elyza’s hand in her own, leading her down the stairwell to the sleeping quarters.

 

    Once they made it into Madison and Travis’ bathroom, Alicia went to work gathering the supplies onto the counter top by the sink. When Alicia turned around, she instantly turned 20 shades of red and dropped the bottle of Advil when she saw Elyza standing there, jeans around her ankles, black, skin tight boy-shorts, and toned, tanned legs, inspecting her wound. The sound of the pills rattling in the bottle as it hit the floor caused Elyza to look up, noticing the other girl’s face, as red as a rose, and she laughed. Alicia, flustered, picked up the bottle quickly and tried to continue her task while forcing her gaze on anything but Elyza’s bare legs. She found it very difficult not to glance over...the sight before her caused feelings to stir inside of her that she had never felt before.

 

    “Mind handing me that peroxide?” she asked Alicia, as she finished wiping the blood away with a damp rag she had retrieved from the sink.

 

    “Yea...sure...here…” Alicia said, fumbling for words, still not allowing herself to look at the blonde.

 

    “Thanks, beautiful.” Elyza said, purposefully grazing Alicia’s fingers with her own when grabbing for the bottle. This caused Alicia to finally meet her eyes. Elyza’s blue orbs peeking out from beneath long, dark lashes.

 

    Dropping her hand and trying to shake the euphoric feeling inside of her, Alicia muttered a quick, “No problem…” before slipping out into the main bedroom, allowing herself to breathe after what felt like hours.

 

    After properly bandaging her wound, luckily not a straight shot but a grazing, Elyza cleaned up after herself and met Alicia back in the bedroom. After a shared glance that made Elyza feel her knees would give out, Alicia finally said, “Let’s go.” with a small smile, as she led the way back up to the main common room of The Abigail.

 

    Just as the two younger women were emerging from the stairway, they heard another man’s voice. Instantly Elyza grabbed for her machete, realizing it wasn’t there...forgetting she had left it upstairs while she went to clean up. In the next instant, Alicia noticed Nick, and she ran for him. Wrapping him in a tight embrace.

    

    “Where were you??? I was worried sick! What happened?” she asked, her eyes searching his for answers.

 

    “I’m alright….Strand sent me out to find Luis. He’s going to help us get into Mexico.”, Nick stated, pointing his thumb over his right shoulder in the direction of the hispanic looking man who was now speaking with Madison, Ophelia and Daniel. She also noticed Strand lying on the couch, wrapped in blankets.

 

    Noticing the direction of his sister’s eyes, Nick said, “Yeah...we found him floating out there...I think he’s in shock. Took a bullet to the right shoulder. Mom and Daniel filled me in on everything.” he stated, glancing over at Elyza. “So...you’re the bad ass with the bike?” he said with a smile, “Thank you for coming back and saving them. I owe you one…” he said, reaching out offering his hand, awaiting her name.

 

    “Elyza….and no, you don’t owe me a thing. I’m just glad I was able to make it in time. And you are?” she asked him, shaking his outstretched hand.

 

    “Nick Clark….Alicia’s brother.” he said, looking lovingly at his younger sister.

 

    “Glad to meet you, Nick.” Elyza said with a smile.

 

    “Not as glad as I am...that's twice now that you've saved our asses!” Nick said with a friendly smile.

 

    At that moment, Madison, Daniel and the Luis walked toward the group, while Madison addressed them. “Luis has offered to help us find Travis before we head to Mexico. We will wait till one of them comes to,” she said, nodding in the direction of their two captives,  “then once we have an idea of where to go, we’ll head out. Elyza...I hate to ask this of you...after everything you’ve done, I certainly don’t want to put a burden on your shoulders. You mentioned you lived nearby?” Madison started to ask.

 

    “Yes...not far. Just about 20 minutes...West Hollywood.” Elyza answered.

 

    “I don’t want everyone coming along for this. It could be too dangerous. I’d like to ask if Alicia, Chris and Nick could stay with you until we return. Is that something you’d be willing to help us with?” Madison asked, looking intently at the girl.

 

    “What about Ophelia?” Nick asked, clearly concerned for the young woman.

 

    “Ophelia stays with me. I can keep her safe.” Daniel finished, eyeing Elyza suspiciously. Alicia noticed the look and glared at him.

 

    “Absolutely! My place isn’t very big but it’s comfortable, and extremely safe. I’d be more than happy to help.” Elyza started. “One problem though...I came out here on a kayak….don’t suppose there’s a dinghy on board?” she asked.

 

    “I will take you to shore in my Zodiac.”, the newest member of the group, Luis, added.

 

    Elyza nodded as Madison looked toward Nick, Chris and Alicia and said, “Go get your things. I trust her, but please...be safe. Chris...we will bring your father back. It will be alright.” she finished, hugging Chris tightly first before moving to hug Alicia and Nick.

 

    The three of them headed downstairs to collect their belongings just as Elyza noticed Jack starting to wake up. She walked over to him, crouched down and said “How’s your head, Jack?”, as he looked up at her, looking scared as he recognized her face.

 

   She leaned down closer, whispering so the other's wouldn't hear as she continued. “That’s alright...you don’t have to answer. Just wanted to let you know, Alicia is leaving with me. And if you ever so much as look at her again, let alone try to harm her, I will kill you. I promise you, having a walker rip your throat out would be a more desirable fate. You should pray  that we never cross paths again.” she finished, her eyes growing darker with every word she uttered. A promise she would absolutely keep, for Alicia’s sake.

 

    “Madison, Daniel….this one’s awake.” Elyza shouted over them as she stood up and headed toward Luis on the stern deck. Alicia, Nick and Chris coming out to meet them just seconds later. Elyza stared at Alicia with her mouth agape and brows furrowed, pretending to look offended at the sight of the brunette wearing her own Ray-Bans. Alicia just raised an eyebrow and smirked in response.

 

    “Everyone ready to go?” Luis asked, getting a resounding “Yes.” from the four of them, he continued, “Good...let’s go.” as he led them down to the swim deck where the black Zodiac awaited them. Everyone climbed inside, and Daniel came down to push them off. With a pull of the chord, the engine sputtered to life and they were on their way to shore. Elyza couldn't help but stare at the way the sunlight seemed to make Alicia glow. When she turned toward her, feeling Elyza’s gaze, Alicia smiled as well, feeling a rush inside of her at the way the blue ocean beneath them was no match for Elyza’s eyes.

 

"i could be wrong
i could be right
do you think we'll make it
out of here alive ...

 

 

she makes me see god
i'm out on a line
anyway the pleasure comes ..."

Chapter Text

     After the 20 minute drive back to West Hollywood, Elyza, Alicia, Nick and Chris arrived in front of Elyza’s apartment shortly after 7am. The night before, full of chaos and violence, had really taken a toll on all of them, especially Elyza who had driven, paddled and fought her way to Alicia’s side, getting shot in the process. Shutting off the ignition of the black Chevy pickup, Elyza let her head fall back against the headrest, closing her eyes for a moment, before opening them again and shaking herself awake as she opened the door and jumped down to the ground. Making her way around, everyone filed in line behind her, bags slung over their shoulders as they made their way to the iron gated entrance. Once the group made it up the wooden staircase, Elyza unlocked the door, swung it open and gestured them inside with a wave of her hand...“Home, sweet home...welcome to Casa De Lex…” she said, sounding exhausted. “Make yourselves at home...just keep the shades drawn, and the door locked. I’ll be upstairs taking a nap. If anything happens...anything at all, come get me right away.” She said, looking at each of them. With agreeable nods from each, she smiled at them and jumped out the window by her bed and onto the fire escape that led to her roof oasis.

 

    Taking in the small but unique space around her, Alicia smiled. She couldn’t help that she had imagined where her blonde friend had spent her nights. This was better than she imagined it would be...so much character. So much...Elyza. Nick had collapsed into a heap on the couch, watching as Chris nearly had heart failure at the sight of a flat screen and XBox One, and  that there was still power. He planted himself in front of the screen, switched on the console and television, and began playing a game that was already in the machine, Grand Theft Auto: IV. Nick watched, laughing and occasionally telling Chris how bad he sucked at the game. Alicia shook her head, smiling at the scene...it was almost like things were normal again. She then made her way into the kitchen area, taking in everything her eyes came across. Everything was very clean and organized. There was a small, black coffee maker on the counter along with a tin of “Joe” from Trader Joe’s, as well as a small glass jar of sugar, and a single, white enamel mug with a black rim that had “Morning Coffee” written on it with a mountain design in the background, all colored in blue. “Cute…” , Alicia thought to herself, smiling.

 

    Turning and heading toward the bedroom area, she felt her heart rate pick up. It always amazed Alicia just how much you could learn about a person by looking at their bedroom. Elyza was just so...eclectic. She walked over to the record player, flipping through a stack of vinyls next to it. So many different artists, so many different genres...Bush, Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, Merle Haggard, Evanescence, The Doors, Johnny Cash, No Doubt...she didn’t even realize they made newer music onto vinyls now. Or, they did before the world ended. The next record caught her eye….it pictured a man and a woman, both looking so ghostly, but elegant. The album cover was in black and white. The couple were seated at what looked like a booth in a diner, maybe. She with a glass of champagne, and he with a glass of bourbon. Both wearing formal attire. “The Civil Wars…”, Alicia read the name of the duo outloud to herself. Intrigued by the cover and the track listing on the back, she placed onto the record player and set the needle. Adjusting the volume so it was at a low level, she began to listen to the hauntingly beautiful harmonies and minimal instruments.

 

    While the soft music played, Alicia continued to admire Elyza’s bedroom. Running her fingers along the spines of the many books that were lining the windowsill opposite of the one with the fire escape. So many different titles...just as diverse as her taste in music. Alicia smiled to herself as she sat down on the bed, the previous night’s events finally catching up to her as exhaustion slowly clouded her mind. She curled up on the side closest to the record player to continue hearing the beautiful music as she drifted. Her mind couldn’t help but wander to the amazing, strong, kind and caring woman that had just rescued her family and herself, twice in less than 24 hours. By chance, they found each other over the radio waves and just through that, Alicia felt so close to her. Now...something stronger was pulling at her heart as she breathed the scent from the pillow in deeply, closing her eyes. A smoky, sweet, smoldering smell...she couldn’t place if it was a perfume or from previous hours of burning the many candles in the room...either way, the scent and the music filled her senses and lulled her to a peaceful, dreamless sleep.

 

“Why are you so far from me?

In my arms is where you are to be

How long will you make me wait?

I don't know how much more I can take

I missed you but I haven't met you

Oh but I want to

How I do

Slowly counting down the days

Till I finally know your name

The way your hand feels round my waist

The way you laugh, the way your kisses taste

I missed you but I haven't met you

Oh but I want to

How I do

How I do

I've missed you but I haven't met you

Oh how I miss you but I haven't met you

Oh but I want to

Oh how I want to

Dear whoever you might be

I'm still waiting patiently…”

Chapter Text

     Alicia woke to the sound of raspy laughter, gunfire and music. She sat up, taking a moment to get her bearings, while remembering where she was. Looking over into the living room area, she saw Nick, still sleeping on the couch, and Elyza and Chris, both cross legged on the floor. Each with a controller in their hands, laughing and playing a game together. Elyza reached over, putting her hand over Chris’s eyes as he slapped her away shouting, “Hey! No cheating!!”. Alicia quietly made her way into the room and leaned forward onto the back of the couch, watching as Chris’s character was brutally taken out by Elyza’s.

 

    “Sorry, mate...didn’t want you to have to witness his inevitable demise!” Elyza said, laughing, her head bobbing back and forth with the beat of the music, coming from her portable speaker, as Alicia watched her lips move while she silently mouthed the lyrics.

 

    “What is this crap?”, Chris asked, talking about the song playing. This earned him a raised eyebrow and look of shock from Elyza.

 

    “I’m sorry...this what ?” Elyza asked him, turning her focus back on their game. He just shrugged at her question, smiling. “You’re telling me you don’t know who Sublime is? Kid...you’ve got a lot  to learn! They are only one of the best bands...ever!” she said, as she began to sing along louder, getting a smile from Chris as he began to move his head to the beat as well.

 

     “When we returned to the pad to unload everything

It dawned on me that I need new home furnishings

So once again we filled the van until it was full

Since that day my livin' room's been much more comfortable…” Elyza sang along, until she heard a giggle behind them. She turned to see Alicia standing there, hand over her mouth trying to hold in a laugh.

 

    “Shit...I’m sorry, did we wake you?” Elyza said, smiling sincerely, setting her controller down and turning down the music.

 

    “No, no! I woke up on my own...good luck trying to teach him about good music!” Alicia smiled, nodding her head toward her stepbrother.

 

    “Hey! I know who Subline is!”, Chris stated, matter of factly to Alicia, thinking he could fool her since Elyza already told him the name of the band.

 

    Elyza put her palm to her forehead and let out a chuckle as Alicia turned to him and said, “You mean...Sub lime …”, emphasizing the “M” in the word.

 

    “Oh whatever!” Chris said, clearly embarrassed as he turned back to his game.

 

    Elyza walked over toward the kitchen and began opening some cabinets. Alicia followed, admiring the way Elyza seemed to move so effortlessly in everything that she did. The blonde had gathered a small pot, a bag of wild brown rice, and some seasonings from the cupboard. When she felt Alicia’s gaze on her, she glanced up with a shy smile and said, “Hungry?”. Alicia nodded enthusiastically...more so than she realized because Elyza laughed.

 

   “You mind grabbing my little speaker over there by Chris?” she asked Alicia

 

    “Sure…” Alicia replied with a small smile, fetching the tiny black wireless speaker before returning to Elyza’s side, handing it to her and looking at her expectantly.

 

     “Come on...you can help me make lunch, beautiful.” she said to the brunette, flashing her a grin. Alicia hadn’t realized it before, but she was becoming quite fond of the little nicknames she was being called. The thought made her smile. Elyza led the way to the fire escape, reaching her hand out to help Alicia climb out the window, confusion written all over her face.

 

    “Um...the kitchen is….” she pointed back toward the apartment, not bothering to finish her sentence. Instead just smiling and following Elyza’s lead up the metal stairs. When they reached the top, Alicia’s mouth fell open and she couldn’t believe her eyes. Elyza set down the supplies in her hands, turning on her music, and watching Alicia out of the corner of her eye...feeling her heart flutter at the sight of the sunlight shimmering through her beautiful, brown locks. The rooftop was one of the most beautiful things Alicia had ever seen. The whole thing was alive and vibrant with color. Greens, purples, yellows, reds...so many colors! There was a wooden structure that was covered in vines and flowers, housing a large, netted hammock with a comfortable looking pillow and wool blanket, where she assumed Elyza had taken her nap that day. The thought of the woman curled up there under the greenery with the sun on her face filled Alicia’s stomach with butterflies.

 

     She noticed large wooden, raised garden beds with so many different varieties of vegetables being grown, as well as numerous flowers . There were lights strung up every which way and those neat outdoor torches she had always loved as a kid. In the center of it all was a beautiful stone fire pit that Elyza must have lit before she brought Alicia up to the roof. It wasn’t made with those basic pavers you see most fire pits constructed from, but these looked like small and colorful boulders or stones you’d find in a riverbed, deep in the wilderness. It was beautifully crafted and surrounded by several chairs. The icing on the cake was the breathtaking view of Hollywood hills. The whole thing was just magical.

 

“She is something to behold

Elegant and bold

She is electricity

Running to my soul…”

 

     Elyza looked over, noticing the spellbound look Alicia had in her eyes, and she couldn’t help but stare at the girl. “Do you like it?” she asked, smiling at the brunette, then shielding her eyes as she looked off toward the Hollywood sign.

 

    “It’s incredible...I’ve seen all this before, L.A., I mean...but seeing it like this …I feel like I’m in another world up here...” Alicia said, struggling to find the words to describe how it felt to her.

 

    “That’s the main reason I decided to rent this place.” She said, as she placed the small pot for the rice over the flames to bring the water to a boil.  “I knew what I could turn this into...It’s my favorite place aside from actually being outdoors, away from home. I spend most of my time up here.” Elyza explained, while picking a few peppers, onions and carrots from the garden. Alicia watched her as she set them down at a small workstation, a surfboard that looked bolted down into wooden crates, before returning to the pot over the fire and pouring the rice in to cook, then just as quickly moving back to the vegetables. While watching Elyza spray off each one with the hose that was nearby, she noticed a cutting board and a few kitchen utensils sitting in a container off to the side. Elyza grabbed out the large chef’s knife and began chopping and dicing each item, looking just as professional as the people Alicia would see on The Food Network. She couldn’t tell how long she had been standing there staring, mesmerized by the fluid movements of Elyza’s  tan hands as she worked expertly on her task. The music was filling Alicia’s ears and she couldn’t help but feel that same familiar tug at her heart. Watching this woman, hearing this music and standing in such a magical place….she felt she was in a dream, rather than a nightmare.

 

“And I could easily lose my mind

The way you kiss me a work each time

Calling me to come back to bed

Singing Georgia on my mind

 

And I...

And I…”



    Elyza was trying hard not to keep glancing at Alicia. She could feel that the girl’s eyes were on her now, instead of the hills. Never has anyone had this effect on her before. Sure, she has felt things for other women...she’s even loved once or twice. There was just something about the way her heart seemed to stop, then have to restart itself every time she looked into those moss colored eyes. She felt connected to Alicia before they met in person, but from the moment she first laid eyes on her, she just felt something coming to life inside of her. Something she has never felt before. For the first time since her life changed, even before she came to Los Angeles, she felt, “ happy…” , she thought to herself, smiling. She allowed herself to steal a glance, and of course, their eyes locked. Elyza noticed the way Alicia looked shy as she tucked a strand of brown hair behind her left ear, looking down with a smile, and taking her lower lip between her teeth.

 

Lips generous and warm

You build me up like steps

Eyes innocent and wild

Remind me what it's like…”

    

    “Do you want to try?” Elyza asked her, motioning with the knife toward an onion.

 

    “Me?? I don’t know, I couldn’t do it like you...I’d mess it up.” Alicia responded, shaking her head slightly and laughing at her own uncertainty.

 

    “Come on...it’s easier than it looks...I can show you.” Elyza said, nodding her head to her left in a motion for Alicia to come over, while offering her an encouraging smile.

 

    “Okay...what do I do?” Alicia asked, looking down at the knife and the onion in front of her.

 

    “So...first, you want to take the knife in your hand.” Elyza said, nodding to the girl to pick up the knife. As she did, her finger placement was all wrong and Elyza didn’t want her to get hurt, so she intervened. “More like…..” she started as she stepped behind Alicia, placing her own hand over the brunettes, placing her fingers exactly where they should be…”...this.”. She felt the girl’s body go rigid at the contact between them and the close proximity. Elyza wasn’t trying to purposefully invade her space, but in order to show her properly, she did allow herself to get close enough without overstepping any boundaries. Although she couldn’t deny that she too, felt herself stiffen up at the contact. It almost felt like an electrical current was surging at her fingertips where they met Alicia’s skin. She wondered if the girl could feel it as well.

 

    She released her hold on Alicia’s hand, and stepped to the side again to continue. “Okay...now, you take the onion, carefully slice it in half. Next, lay the flat part on the board, and place your hands like this and begin to slice, using your knuckles as a guide…” she showed Alicia with her own hand, how to keep her thumb behind her other fingers while allowing the blade to glide against her knuckles as she said to keep it in line perfectly, without cutting herself. She then stepped back to allow Alicia to try on her own. “Now you try.” She said with a smile.

 

    The first few cuts were crooked, and Alicia looked frustrated before she turned and said, “Can you help me?” eyebrows raised and a pleading look on her face.

 

     “Sure.” Elyza said, as she moved closer to the girl, grabbing for the knife.

 

     “No...like before, let me, but just...help me.”, Alicia said, indicating she wanted Elyza to hold the knife with her and be her guide.

 

     “Alright…”, Elyza said, her heart rapidly picking up it’s pace. She moved to stand behind the girl again, placing her fingers lightly over Alicia’s own, helping her hold the knife and the onion. Slowly, she moved their hands as one and begin slicing perfectly, even pieces.

 

“And I could easily lose my mind

The way you kiss me a work each time

Pulling me back into the flames

And I'm burning up again

I'm burning up

 

And I, I never understood what was at stake

I never thought your love was worth it's wait

Well now you've come and gone

I finally worked it out

I worked it out

 

I never should have told you

I never should have let you see inside

Don't want it troubling your mind

Won't you let it be…”

    

    Maybe it was her mind playing tricks on her, but she swore she felt Alicia lean into her just a little bit, almost as if she relaxed at their contact. Elyza felt her heart soar, and she allowed herself to secretly breathe in the scent radiating off of the beautiful woman in front of her.

 

    “Okay...what’s next?” Alicia asked, breaking Elyza out of her daydreams. She was glad they were finished chopping because she almost couldn’t breathe as a result of their closeness and she was afraid Elyza would feel her heart pounding, or at least hear it since it was hammering in her chest.

 

    “Next? Um….let’s get all these in the pan and over the fire.” she started, reaching for a large saute pan that was set aside. She grabbed a small, glass container from beneath the workstation that was filled with olive oil, and drizzled it into the pan, before placing all the chopped vegetables into it. “Would you please give the rice a stir? It should be just about done. Once these are cooked down a bit, we can pour the rice over them, give it a good mix and enjoy it.” She said, smiling up at the brunette.

 

    While Alicia stirred the rice, she asked “Should I get some bowls and tell Nick and Chris to come up?”.

 

     “Right-o! It’s beautiful today...we may as well enjoy the nice weather with our lunch.” Elyza said, smiling up at the sky, clearly enjoying the sunlight on her skin.

 

    With that, Alicia disappeared downstairs to fetch the bowls and utensils, as well as the boys. When they all came up to the roof and found a seat, Elyza placed a steaming portion of rice and vegetables into each of their bowls and they all began to eat in silence, famished from the previous night’s events.

 

     “This is amazing! You cooked all this over the fire?” Nick asked, looking at Elyza while placing another giant forkful into his mouth.

 

    “Me? Nah...this was all Alicia.” she said, winking at the girl across from her. The smile she received in return made her feel as if she was being pulled into the flames between them.

 

“And I could easily lose my mind

The way you kiss me a work each time

Pulling me back into the flames

And I'm burning up again, I'm burning up

 

And I, I never understood what was at stake

I never thought your love was worth it's wait

Well now you've come and gone

I finally worked it out

I worked it out…”



    

 

Chapter Text

     After lunch that day, Elyza decided to take her new roommates out for a little field trip. She couldn’t help but think to herself after what had happened on The Abigail, as well as this new dangerous world they were all forced to live in, that maybe teaching them how to properly defend themselves would be a good idea. Sure, anyone could point and shoot a gun...maybe not hit their target, but they could still use one. Unfortunately, guns aren’t always the best option anymore seeing as how the noise attracts unwanted attention from both the living and the dead. No...if they were going to survive, or at least have a fighting chance, they would need to learn self defense as well as how to use more silent weapons. Elyza didn’t feel obligated to teach them. She did however, feel a desire to. She came to care about these people, even if she had only known Nick and Chris for a day, but because of the feelings she already held for Alicia, it only made her feel close to them as well. That thought made her smile. It had only been three weeks since she lost her friends when this all started, but that felt like a lifetime ago. It made her heart beat stronger, she thought, having people close again. People she cared about.

 

    “Alright kids...who wants to go on an adventure?” Elyza asked the group, still seated around the fire digesting their lunch, with a mischievous grin on her face and a twinkle in her blue eyes.

 

    “Oooh! Me!” Chris said, looking over and laughing when he noticed he and Nick both shot their hands up at the same time.

 

    Alicia rolled her eyes at the two of them and said, “What kind of adventure?” raising a questioning eyebrow in Elyza’s direction.

 

    “How about….we let it be a surprise? I promise, you’ll all love it!” Elyza said, excitement and certainty in her voice.

 

    Alicia looked to Nick and Chris, knowing she didn’t have to ask their opinions as both their hands were still up, then turned back to Elyza and smiled. “Okay...I’m in.”, shrugging her shoulders.

 

    “Awesome..alright. Everyone, to the truck!” Elyza said, as she ushered them toward the fire escape leading back into the apartment. Grabbing her keys and machete once inside, she looked over and noticed Alicia donning her Ray-Ban’s again and said, “You’re lucky you’re cute!” with a wink. That earned her a shy smile and a blush from Alicia.

 

    Everyone piled into the truck, Chris plowing ahead of everyone and yelling, “Shotgun!” before practically diving into the front seat of the extended cab. Alicia grumbled something and sat in the back with a huff, and folded her arms, doing her best ‘brooding teenager’ act. Elyza started the truck and took off in the direction of her storage unit. She couldn’t help but look back in the rear view at the beautiful, sulking, brunette...more than a few times. Once, Alicia must have caught her because her pout instantly faded and she bit her lower lip once again and the crimson color returned to her cheeks. “Damn her and that lip biting!” Elyza thought to herself, feeling her own face get hot at the sight. Physically attempting to shake the thoughts from her mind, she heard a light chuckle come from the back. “Guess I’m not the only one stealing glances…”

 

     When she rolled to a stop at the small garage door of her storage unit, everyone looked at her, puzzled and Nick asked, “This is the adventure? Public Storage? Alright…I’m game.” he said with a smile and a laugh. Nick was a good sport, always one to play along and be the easy going one.

 

    “No,” Elyza started, rolling her eyes in mock annoyance at him, “we are just picking up a few supplies. Come on, I’ll need some help.” She stated as she exited the truck. Rolling up the garage door, she walked toward the back to a very large black trunk, opened it and began rummaging through it, making sure all the gear they would need was inside. When she turned back to face the group to ask for help carrying it back to the truck, she had to physically try to breathe because for the first time in her life, she couldn’t remember how. As she turned toward them, Nick and Chris were still out by the truck not paying any attention, but there was Alicia and her long, tanned legs, straddling Elyza’s Harley, with the afternoon sunlight making her glow like she fell from the heavens. Elyza, still not able to breathe, thought to herself, “BREATHE, GOD DAMN IT!”  and luckily at that moment, her lungs seemed to finally respond.

 

     “Nick! Check it out! Mom would flip! ” Alicia said, leaning forward on the bike, trying to look like she was actually riding it.

 

     “Sweet! Too bad our phones don’t work, we could send her a picture and scare the hell out of her.” Nick said with a smile, clearly enjoying seeing his younger sister getting joy from something in this shitty world.

 

    “No fair! I want to get on! Get off, let me!” Chris said, walking over toward the bike.

 

     At that point, Elyza had partially snapped out of her near death experience by self asphyxiation. She stepped between Chris and the bike and said, “Life’s not fair...now please, carry that case to the truck with Nick. Next time...promise.”, patting him on the head and giving him a wink. Chris just rolled his eyes and stomped off toward the large black case and began carrying it out with Nick’s help. As they loaded it into the bed of the pickup, Elyza turned back to Alicia and had to fight the urge for her lungs to shut down again.

 

    “You know...no one has ever  been allowed to touch my bike, let alone sit on it...uninvited, I might add. I mean...first, my sunglasses and now you’re trying to take over my bike. I’m afraid of what you’re plotting to steal next!” Elyza said, leaning forward on the handlebars, facing Alicia, unable to hide the way her eyes kept darting from those beautiful green eyes to her perfect, plump lips.

 

    There was no denying the intense attraction between the two women, so Alicia decided maybe she would try her hand at flirting since Elyza was certainly not shy about doing so. Shocking herself at how brazen she decided to be for a short moment, Alicia leaned forward toward Elyza...intoxicatingly close, as the blonde’s ample cleavage was now in view, peaking out from her black tank top. It was as if Alicia’s hand was moving of its own volition. She reached up, her index finger touching the collar of Elyza’s black leather jacket, and slowly let it trail it’s way down and over to her collar bone. “I don’t know...maybe,” Alicia started as her finger left a blazing trail along every inch of skin she was barely touching, until her finger came to rest just above Elyza’s left breast. She peeked up through long, dark lashes, meeting dark, stormy blue eyes and continued, “maybe...your heart.” and gave the blonde a smirk before quickly removing herself from the bike and headed back to the truck, internally going crazy at what she had just done.

 

    “Jesus Christ…” Elyza said, breathlessly to herself, still leaning onto the handlebars, only now it was to fully support her weight as her legs felt like jell-o from the contact. She could still feel the burning trail left on her skin from Alicia’s fingertip. The rest of her body was screaming for more, but she had to shake those thoughts and remember what she set out to do that day. If she didn’t teach the girl how to properly protect herself, none of this would matter.

 

    Walking back to the truck, seeing everyone was already inside ready to go, with Chris now sulking in the back as Alicia was now in the passenger seat, Elyza took a deep, steadying breath before climbing in. Without a word, she started the engine and drove off toward their destination. After driving for a few minutes, it felt to her like Alicia was purposefully toying with her, trying to get her attention. She happened to allow herself to glance over from the corner of her eye when she noticed movement. Alicia, leaned back in the seat, raised her legs to rest on the dash in front of her, letting her hand cut through the breeze of the open window with the wind whipping through her hair. Elyza tried to keep her eyes focused on the road, but it was becoming harder and harder when after another few minutes, Alicia began to absentmindedly trace invisible shapes on her bare thigh with that same finger that had touched Elyza’s own skin. “Note to self...no more shorts...she needs pants.”  Elyza said to herself, feeling her whole body heat up at the sight.

 

    When they arrived, Elyza would have normally parked right there on Fuller Avenue by the entrance, but the large gates to the entrance of Runyon Canyon Park had long since been smashed and now lay off to the side, so she slowly rolled through and up the path until they came to the first clearing past the small grassy area where Elyza remembered trying a yoga class with Josie once, months ago. She really hated how these memories that once made her smile, now brought such sadness to her heart. Putting the truck in park, she killed the engine and slipped out of the cab, walking to the back. Letting the tailgate fall, she climbed into the bed, opened the trunk and began removing items and stuffing them into a large black duffel that was also inside of the trunk. Alicia, Nick and Chris had gathered at the tailgate, watching the blondes every move, all excited and curious as to what was going to happen next.

 

    “Alright...first thing’s first. Self defense.” Elyza said, jumping down from the tailgate with the large bag slung across her shoulder. The three followed along as she led them to the most level part of the clearing. Setting the bag down to the side, she turned to face her group. “As you all experienced back on your boat, as well as already coming in contact with our lovely smelling, pale neighbors, your safety relies solely on you and your ability to defend yourself. Sure, there may be someone else there to save the day,” she said, smiling and giving them a salute, “but that won’t always be the case. You might one day find yourselves in a situation where you are all you’ve got. Now, I’ve noticed, you all had access to guns back on The Abigail, and that’s great. Guns will definitely do the trick, if you’ve got good aim...but one thing you have to keep in mind, they are quite loud. Can anyone tell me why that’s a bad thing?” she asked, looking at each of them, seeing Nick smirk and Alicia rolled her eyes as Chris shot his hand up in excitement to answer the question. “Chris? Go ahead, you should definitely know the answer to this one…” Elyza said with a smirk of her own, admiring the boy’s enthusiasm.

 

    “Noise draws them in.” he said matter of factly, looking proud of himself.

 

    “Exactly right. Just as you witnessed that day when I first saved your ass, you fired that shot, and the whole place was crawling. Every walker for a mile out heard that shot and they all headed your way. Can anyone tell me what another consequence would be to such a loud method of defense?” Elyza asked again, hoping they would understand the dangers they faced, especially after the other night.

 

    Looking at each of their faces as they processed what she was asking them, she smiled when she saw Alicia’s eyes light up as the answer came to her. “People.” she stated, looking to Elyza for affirmation.

 

    “Gold star for you, gorgeous…” Elyza responded with a wink.

 

    “Teacher’s pet…”, Chris grumbled, looking over at Alicia, shaking his head. This earned him a laugh from everyone else.

 

    “Alright settle down...okay so, people. You fire that shot and sure, you may have killed your target, but you’ve now alerted every corpse in a mile radius, as well as...other survivors. Grant it, not everyone left in this world is hostile, but as you experienced with those assholes the other night, more often than not, people will do whatever they can to survive, They will steal, they will lie and they will kill. You can trust no one. Understand?” she asked, receiving a nod from each of them as the reality of what she was saying sunk in.

 

    “I’m going to teach each of you proper self defense techniques as well as some weapons training. Weapons that won’t make a sound. I won’t even ask who want’s to be the first volunteer….Chris? Come on.” Elyza said waving him over with her hand and smiling at him.

 

    “I’m all for the weapons part, but I’m pretty sure I can fight off a walker pretty easy. They’re kinda dumb, Elyza...not that hard to-” he was cut off, eyes wide as he faced the group, caught off guard. Elyza had quickly spun him around, gripped both of his arms behind this back and went in for the kill, pretending she was going to take a chunk out of his neck, all the while, her blazing blue eyes watching Alicia’s green ones burning in response to the sight before her sending a shiver down her spine. “How does it feel?” Elyza thought to herself, smiling at the brunette, knowing she had an effect on her as well.

 

    “So, Chris...you were saying?” Elyza asked him, releasing the boy and folding her arms as he turned to face her, looking embarrassed. He didn’t respond. “Look, they may not be so smart, but they only need to rely on their instincts to survive. That instinct is to kill. They are strong, and if you’re not paying attention, if one gets a hold of you, that very well may be it for you, unless you know how to counter the attack. So...are you willing to learn what I’d like to teach you?” she asked Chris, eyebrows raised awaiting his response.

 

    “I’m ready.” he said in response, his lips set in a straight line, looking determined.

 

    “Good. Now, I’ve been studying Krav Maga since I moved to L.A.. I’m no expert, but I was top of my class before everything went to shit, so I’m confident I can teach you enough to keep you safe.” Elyza explained.

 

    “Krav what?” Nick asked, looking genuinely interested.

 

    “Krav Maga...it’s a self-defense system that was developed for the Israeli Defence Forces. Basically a mixture of martial arts, with some boxing, wrestling and street fighting. The point of it is, neutralize your enemy, counter their attacks and get the hell out of dodge. You follow?” Elyza explained, receiving a smile and a nod from Nick.

 

    “Okay, Chris...first thing I’m going to show you is how to counter that hold that I just had you in. There are many different variations, all depending on how and when someone grabs you, but from behind is pretty common, so we’ll start there.” she explained, then went into showing him exactly how to counter the hold. He was unsure of himself at first but after about ten tries, he was able to get out of it.

 

    The next two hours went by very quickly, showing each of them many different moves and defense tactics. It was harder on Elyza when it became Alicia’s turn, as being so close to the brunette made it hard for her to focus, but she managed to make it through without faltering. When Elyza was satisfied with how well they seemed to be picking up on the basics, she decided to change it up a bit.

 

    “Okay...now for the fun part!” She said as she knelt down next to the large black duffel bag. From it she removed two three foot sections of a black pole which she then screwed together, showing it to be a long fighting staff. Next she removed two wooden samurai type sparring swords, followed by a hard rubber tactical tomahawk.

 

    “Chris…” she said, as he walked over, and she placed the staff in his hands.

 

    “Nick…” she continued and handed the tomahawk to him as he turned it over in his hands, giving it a nod of approval.

 

    Finally she stood up, both swords in hand as well as what looked like a double scabbard with straps, and walked over to Alicia. “These are for you.” Elyza said, handing them both to Alicia. She then stepped behind her and helped her slip into the straps of the scabbard, securing them tightly, then taking the swords back to place inside. “You’ve got the hard one….gotta learn how to get them out without accidentally taking your head off.” Elyza said to her with a grin and couldn’t help but laugh when she saw Alicia’s green eyes go wide at the fear of that statement. “Oh...I’m only kidding, love. It’s not that hard.” as she nudged the brunettes arm with her elbow.

 

     The next 3 hours were spent on showing each of them how to properly hold and maneuver their weapons. Elyza was quite proud of them all, especially Alicia who somehow seemed like she had handled swords in the past. It had been a very long and exhausting day, so she called it a night. They all loaded their gear back into the truck and hopped in just as the sun was starting to set, and drove off back toward Elyza’s home.

 

    “Let’s all get a good night’s rest once we get back. We leave at first light. I’d like to train for the next few days until I’m sure you’re all ready.” Elyza said, addressing everyone in the truck.

 

     “Ready for what?” Chris asked, excitement lacing his voice.


     “You’ll see, Chris. Everything in time.” Elyza said with a knowing smirk.

Chapter Text

     The next morning, well before the sun was ready to grace the sky with it’s presence, Elyza awoke with a sense that someone was watching her. Instantly, she grabbed for her machete and jumped off of the hammock in lightning speed, bringing the blade to Chris’s throat.

 

    “What the fuck, Chris! I could have killed you!” Elyza exclaimed, sounding angry and concerned all at once.

 

    “I’m sorry!! I wasn’t trying to sneak up on you, I just wanted to ask when we could leave to train! Remind me never to do that again!” Chris said, rubbing his hand across his neck, thanking God the blonde had restraint enough not to just slash through whoever may wake her from her sleep.

 

    “You got up, before dawn, and you’re ready to train ? Before the sun is up? What kind of world are we living in that a teenage boy get’s up before noon? I have to say, I’m impressed, Peachfuzz.” Elyza said with a grin.

 

     “Peachfuzz?!? What’s that supposed to mean?” Chris said, looking offended.

 

    “Yeah, mate...I think I nicked some if off….” Elyza barked a laugh, pointing to her own neck as Chris furrowed his brow, looking mighty angry. “Oh come on! It was a joke! Besides, now that you’ve got your morning shave out of the way, we can go wake the others.” She said, tousling his hair, and making her way toward the fire escape.

 

    “Rise and shine! Who wants breakfast?” Elyza said, sounding way too cheery, considering the sun wasn’t out yet. At least that’s how Alicia felt as she buried her head under the large, down pillow.

 

    “Breakfast? Yeah...I’m up.” Nick said groggily, rubbing his eyes then running a hand through his ever messy hair. Elyza tossed him a granola bar from the box she had retrieved from the cabinet. “Thanks.” he replied with a small smile.

 

    “Alicia...we’re going to leave without you and  take all the granola bars.” Elyza said, teasingly, while leaning on the open doorframe with her arms crossed, waiting patiently for the brunette to come out of her coma like sleep.

 

    When she got no response, she glanced over at Chris who still looked upset for being teased up on the roof. She felt a little bad that she may have hurt his feelings, so she figured she could pick on Alicia a bit to make up for it.

 

    “Alicia...you have till the count of three to wake up. One...Two…Two and half….Two and three quarters...Three!” and with that, Elyza ripped the comforter from the bed, only to instantly wish that she hadn’t because there went her lungs again.

 

    “What the hell, Elyza??? Fuckin’...crazy Australian!” she yelled, pulling the blanket back as quickly as she could, trying to hide her embarrassment. It was too late, the blonde had already seen what the blanket now protected. She had borrowed one of Elyza’s royal blue, ribbed tank tops and was sleeping in nothing but that, and a pair of black panties. “Go AWAY! Jesus! Can I have some privacy?” Alicia roared at both Elyza and Chris. Even Nick who wasn’t involved in anyway, felt his sister’s fury and turned his head.

 

    The damage had been done. Elyza felt she was stunned by the brief but extremely desireable image that was presented before her just a moment ago. She felt as if she were in a haze and all she could get out was, “I-I didn’t mean to...I’m..sorry.” as her face flushed, she turned to walk back toward the kitchen. Thank God no one else seemed to notice how affected she was. She didn’t think she could take any commentary from Chris at the moment. She leaned back against the counter, staring down at her boots, trying to breathe normally again. When she closed her eyes as she inhaled a deep, steadying breath, all she could see in her mind were those perfectly toned, long legs and before she allowed her mind to continue trailing slowly up Alicia’s body, even if it was only a memory, she shook her head and opened her eyes again.

 

    Alicia appeared before all of them, wearing a pair of black jeans, along with Elyza’s blue tank top that she had slept in the previous night. She already had the sunglasses on her face, doing her best to avoid eye contact from anyone, especially Elyza, after everyone saw her in her underwear. She felt her face grow hot in anger at the thought. Walking over to the counter, she snatched a granola bar from the box, turned to Elyza with raised eyebrows and said “Are we going, or what?”. As stoic as she was trying to sound and act, meeting those blue eyes, even through lenses, she felt her heart start to hammer in her chest again, just as it had every time they have locked eyes.

 

    Elyza noticed the slight, microscopic change in Alicia’s expression and gave her a shy smile, opened the door leading to the stairwell and said, “After you, love…” motioning for Chris and Nick to follow behind her. After making sure the door to the apartment was securely locked, they all made their way back down to the truck. Much to Elyza’s disappointment, Alicia voluntarily sat in the backseat without hesitation. Cursing herself for upsetting the brunette, Elyza turned the key and drove off toward Runyon Canyon.

 

    Once they made it, the sun was shining bright and it was beginning to feel like it would be a very warm day. Elyza set the black bag down, and just like the previous day, she unloaded the practice weapons as Alicia, Nick and Chris walked over and retrieved them from where they lay. They spent an hour each learning individual attacks and counter maneuvers. Elyza wanted them to fully understand what it would be like fighting both Walkers and humans, so for the first part of their training, she wielded no weapon, but attacked with her hands. At first, Chris was hesitant to swing his staff at her in fear that he may hurt her, but she insisted and reminded him, it wasn’t as strong as a real fighting staff. He needed to know how it would feel so he could truly do his best. They all did. Even Nick had voiced his concern for not wanting to cause any unnecessary injury. Alicia was the only one who stayed silent during their session. Elyza couldn’t help but let her mind wander to what the girl may be thinking. She wished she knew.

 

    Elyza started on Chris, trying to come at him from all different angles, grabbing at him and doing her best to impersonate a walker. Slow, but strong, just as she explained to him the previous day. Chris found it quite difficult at first to get used to using the staff while something was actually trying to grab him, but eventually he started getting the hang of it, moving more quickly and efficiently. Next, Elyza grabbed her pistol that she had brought along, making sure to show that she was unloading the clip and emptied the chamber. She instructed Chris on how to disarm her with both the staff and with his hands. He did pretty well, she thought.

 

    Nick was next. He even more hesitant than Chris, even after Elyza had stressed the importance of needing to get the feel for it. He found it to be easier than he thought, fighting with this type of weapon. He felt confident by the end of their rounds together, and thanked Elyza when his turn was over.

 

    At this point, the sun was beating down on them and Elyza was getting tired. The boys really did well and they worked hard. She was debating breaking for lunch, which was just some beef jerky that she had stashed at home and some carrots she brought from the garden, or continuing with Alicia just to get the rest of the day over with so they could all relax. Before she could make up her mind, Alicia stepped forward, both swords in hand and said, “Let’s do this.”.

 

    Elyza still couldn’t read her. She hadn’t removed the sunglasses all day, so she couldn’t see what her eyes were saying. Feeling the heat of the sun as well as the heat she naturally felt overtaking her lately when she was in the brunette’s presence, she had to shimmy out of her leather jacket, having a difficult time since her body was covered in perspiration from her earlier rounds with Nick and Chris.

 

    “Alright, sweetheart...show me what you’ve got!” Elyza said, cracking her neck and smiling, pushing her exhaustion aside at the sight of the beauty before her, wielding her practice swords like a warrior. Alicia came at her in a flurry of different moves that she had remembered from their sparring session the day before. As good as she felt she remembered, she still wasn’t quite comfortable enough and Elyza was able to knock one sword from her hand. They managed to go on that way for quite a while, Elyza lunging and grabbing for the girl, as Alicia dodged and blocked each attack. The sun was far too hot and Elyza hadn’t allowed herself to break for water at all so she could feel herself getting weak, but she wasn’t ready to give up. Unfortunately for her, Alicia wasn’t having any more of this. She lunged forward, crashing her body into Elyza’s, sending the blonde crashing to the dirt, hard. Before Elyza could react, Alicia jumped on top her, a leg on either side of Elyza’s hips, and brought her remaining sword down to Elyza’s throat.

 

    “That...was for this morning. Now we’re even.” Alicia said lifting the shades up to rest on top of her head, giving Elyza the most satisfying smirk she had ever witnessed before she slowly got up and went to place her equipment back into the bag. Nick and Chris watched after her, mouths hanging open in shock at what they just witnessed. They weren’t the only one’s surprised at how incredibly unexpected her skill was.

 

    “Fair enough…” Elyza said, still lying in the dirt, battling with the feelings of pride in the girl as well as being extremely turned on by the way she overtook her and the position she just had her in. “This girl is going to be the death of me…”  she thought to herself as she stood up and caught a bottle of water that Nick had tossed her way.

 

    One thing for sure, this was going to be a long, but interesting few days.

 

**********************************************************************************************************

 

    They continued their training for the next three days. Each day, Chris would sit silently, but far enough away on the roof, waiting for Elyza to wake. They trained from sunup till around noontime each day, then they’d either go for a hike on the trails, or just head back home to relax after a tiring day. Elyza was so proud of how well they all were doing, she knew it was time to allow them to fully test their newly acquired skills. Each evening, she had disappeared for about an hour each time, leaving the group to wonder what she was up to, but no one questioned her.

 

    Their final day driving to Runyon Canyon, they made a quick stop back at Elyza’s storage facility. She backed the truck up to the door and said she would be right back, no need to get out. They all sat patiently as they heard her loading things into the back. After only about two minutes, she returned and began driving toward their destination.

 

    When they arrived, everyone hopped out of the truck and went toward the tailgate to help carry whatever new training equipment Elyza had picked up that morning. Just as Nick was about to reach for the latch to open it, Elyza stopped him.

 

    “I wanted to tell you guys...I’m really very, very proud of how well you’ve done and how far you’ve all come. I was a bit worried at first that you wouldn’t take it seriously, but all three of you have really pushed yourselves and it shows. Believe me, it shows. As scary as the reason is for all this training, I have to say I’ve had a ton of fun. It almost makes you forget about all this shit, you know?” Elyza said, smiling at her three friends.

 

    “You’re right,” Nick started. “I kinda lost track of it all these past few days, hanging out with you, it almost seems like things are right with the world again.” he finished with a truly happy smile.

 

    “Yeah, this is pretty great! I could get used to this.” Chris said as well.

 

    “Thank you, for teaching us. You had no reason to go out of your way to do that so...thanks. It mean’s a lot.” Alicia concluded, honesty and pure thankfulness ringing true in her words.

 

    “Ah….don’t thank me yet, gorgeous.” Elyza said, with an apologetic grin. With that, she took off in a sprint and shouted, “Stay put….be back in a jiffy!”, leaving the three of them standing behind, looking completely bewildered.

 

    Almost two full minutes later, Elyza reappeared and bounded up to the group with a huge grin on her face. Alicia noticed that mischievous look in her eye again and narrowed her eyes at her before asking, “What did you just do? What’s going on?”.

 

    “This,” Elyza said as she gently took the Ray-Ban’s off of Alicia’s face, placing them on her own, “is graduation day.” She finished with a raised eyebrow and a smirk. With that, she walked over to the cab of the truck, turned it on and began wildly blowing the horn, over and over and over. What the other's didn't know was, every night when Elyza would disappear, she was out wrangling stray walkers, and bringing them back to their training site. About a minute's walk from where they practiced every day, she had rigged up a corral of sorts, with rope and tree limbs and anything else she could find, to hold them at bay until the time was right. 

    “Elyza?? What the hell are you doing? You’re going to attract walkers right to-” Alicia was cut off at the sight just a few hundred yards ahead of them. About 15, or maybe 20 walkers, all headed their way.

 

    Elyza cranked up the stereo system in the truck as loud as it could go before jumping out, still with that same grin on her face, and headed to the tailgate.

 

    “Does she not see the horde coming straight for us?” Chris asked, sounding mildly terrified.

 

    Elyza lowered the tailgate, and inside lay real weapons. A long, thick Rattan fighting staff, a black tactical combat tomahawk, and two extremely sharp looking swords. The music was blaring and the horde was getting closer, but no one moved. Elyza pulled herself up into the bed of the truck and lowered the glasses and said, “Have at it, kids…” with a smile, as she folded her arms across her chest.

 

    Alicia, Nick and Chris looked from her to each other, then grabbed their weapons. It was almost as if having them in their hands instantly made them feel more confident and stronger. Elyza watched in amazement as the three of them seemed more focused in that instant, especially Alicia, as she led the charge into the clearing, with Nick and Chris flanking either side.

 

“I can't stand it I know you planned it

I'm gonna set it straight, this watergate

I can't stand rocking when I'm in here

Because your crystal ball ain't so crystal clear

So while you sit back and wonder why

I got this fucking thorn in my side

Oh my God, it's a mirage

I'm tellin' y'all it's sabotage

 

So listen up 'cause you can't say nothin'

You'll shut me down with a push of your button?

But yo I'm out and I'm gone

I'll tell you now I keep it on and on…”


    Alicia charged at the first walker coming into her path, just as she had done to Elyza a few days before, only this time, instead of crashing into it, she raised her right arm and drove her blade right through it’s skull, kicking it’s body, hard with her boot to remove it from her sword. Watching and feeling as if her whole body was burning, Elyza jumped from the bed of the truck to the roof then down on to the hood to watch the scene unfold before her. Crouching down, she watched as the three of them expertly dispatched almost seven walkers already. All three working as a team, working as one, covering each other.


“'Cause what you see you might not get

And we can bet so don't you get souped yet

You're scheming on a thing that's a mirage

I'm trying to tell you now it's sabotage

 

Why; our backs are now against the wall

Listen all of y'all it's a sabotage

Listen all of y'all it's a sabotage

Listen all of y'all it's a sabotage

Listen all of y'all it's a sabotage…”


    Chris had gotten himself between two that were very large and closing in on him fast, but he knew just what to do as they lurched forward, jaws snapping at him. He spun just the way Elyza had shown him, connecting each end of his staff with their faces with all his strength, knocking them to the ground. He then proceeded to bring the end down hard, crushing right through their rotting flesh and bones, killing them instantly. Nick had three of his own on him, but he looked as if he had a smile on his face...he was actually having fun! Elyza looked on as he swung and landed the pointed pick part of the axe into the temple of the closest walker, quickly removing it and flipping his wrist to do the exact same to the other. For the third, he twirled the axe in his hand and swiftly brought the larger blade end down, nearly splitting the third walker’s head in two.

 

    The last of the walkers split off, two after Chris, two after Nick and four after Alicia. Elyza pulled her glasses up to rest on top of her head as she watched Alicia’s every move intently, ready to jump in if needed, but somehow, she just felt  that the brunette wouldn't be needing her help. Still, Elyza’s heart thundered for the girl. She wasn’t sure if it was fear for her safety or this burning desire to… ”FOCUS, Elyza….” she mentally scolded herself for where her thoughts were going. It was hard to chase the thoughts from her mind. Watching Alicia move, the way her brown locks swung wildly with every twist and turn...the way the muscles flexed in her long arms with every swing and thrust of her sword, and the fire that Elyza could see burning in her green eyes, even from this distance.

 

“I can't stand it, I know you planned it

But I'm gonna set it straight this watergate

But I can't stand rockin' when I'm in this place

Because I feel disgrace because you're all in my face

But make no mistakes and switch up my channel

I'm buddy rich when I fly off the handle

What could it be, it's a mirage

You're scheming on a thing - that's sabotage…”

 

   

     With one down and three left to go, Nick and Chris had started heading in Alicia’s direction to take out the remainder. When she saw them coming, she bared her teeth and yelled, “I can fight for myself!” and they stopped in their tracks at the power in her voice. She brought the blades up and crossed them in front of her, slicing through two walker’s skulls like butter, then pulling back with such force and strength to remove the blades. She then dropped one sword and with a final, powerful swing, she completely severed the head of the final walker, blood spattering everywhere. As Alicia turned, she looked up to see both Nick and Chris smiling at her, both wide eyed, and Elyza walking slowly toward her, her blue eyes blazing and growing dark at the same time. Alicia felt so much in that moment...adrenaline, strength, fear, and this overwhelming desire for the blonde in front of her. It took everything in her not to close the gap between them and finally taste her lips like she had been dreaming about ever since she spent that first night in her bed.


    It was very difficult for Elyza to speak, as she could feel the tension between them, so thick she almost couldn’t breathe. “That was...just...infuckingcredible! I can’t even….I’m speechless. I knew you three had it in you, but God damn! That was absolute insanity!” She exclaimed, feeling the rush of adrenaline coursing through her body as well, from all the excitement she had just witnessed. All three of them were beaming at that moment. None of them could believe that they had actually just done that. As they started walking back toward the truck, Elyza noticed how close Alicia was walking beside her, and she couldn’t help but feel hopeful about life again. Carefully loading the weapons into the bed of the truck, Elyza turned to the group and asked, “How about some real food for dinner tonight, yeah?” They all looked at her and nodded, while Nick through in a “Hell yeah!” for good measure. Smiling, she climbed into the truck, with the other’s following, and headed off toward Marina del Rey.

Chapter Text

     Elyza rolled the truck slowly from the street, passed the Venice Whaler Bar & Grill, into the parking lot and took the closest spot to the entrance of the pier. As she stepped out and walked to the front of the truck, she closed her eyes for a moment to take in the smell of the salt air and feel the warmth of the sun’s rays on her skin as the cool, sea breeze blew a few tendrils of loose, blonde hairs from her face. When she opened her eyes, she turned to her right and noticed Alicia doing the same, and she was transfixed on the girl. Watching her standing in the sunlight, glowing like an angel, with a smile on her face that could only signify pure contentment. She felt her heart melting as she stood there...the beauty almost too much for her to take. Nick, noticing the way Elyza seemed frozen in place, admiring his sister, cleared his throat, to bring her back down to earth.

 

    Feeling a bit embarrassed for being caught staring, Elyza looked away quickly and began scanning the area for any immediate threats. Seeing none, she proceeded toward the pier with the other’s following close behind. They came upon a lot of abandoned fishing gear, scattered about, all left behind by their previous owners during the first waves of fear, confusion and panic that had spread through the city. Elyza also noticed ropes tied to the rail, signifying there were crab traps below. She made her way over to the first one, and began to haul it up. The weight of it was very heavy, and she was already overheating from the sun beating down on the thick, black leather of her jacket, so she took a moment to shimmy out of the material. Placing her jacket securely on the rail, she began pulling again on the rope. She hoped the weight of it meant there was a good sized catch trapped in the basket.

 

    Alicia felt her body tense and heat up at the sight of Elyza’s bare arms and shoulders. She found herself captivated by the way the muscles in the blonde's arms moved beneath her golden skin as she worked on the rope. She was instantly released from the spell she was under when Nick stepped into her line of sight, offering to give Elyza a hand at pulling up the heavy basket, and she sighed. Looking off into the horizon, it was hard for her to understand how exactly these feelings of attraction came to be toward Elyza. She hadn’t ever looked at another woman this way before, or anyone really...she had only ever dated Matt, and never really saw anyone else. It wasn’t that she felt she needed to identify what those feelings meant, but she just felt... something . Even with Matt...she loved him, sure, and they had been intimate of course, but she never felt this kind of excitement around him. Something about Elyza brought out this feeling in her...a burning, heart-pounding, desire. If Alicia was being completely honest with herself, she was scared of the feeling. It was something new to her and yet, it felt so familiar, as if it had always been there, waiting. Waiting to be awakened by the unstoppable force that was Elyza Lex. The fear was more about whether or not those feelings were mutual. Sure, Elyza flirted, but that just seemed to be her nature. Alicia had tried to get her attention, to send her “signals” but it seemed they went unnoticed. First, she had to practically beg her to hold her hands as she pretended not to fully grasp how to properly chop that damn onion. Then she pulled the crazy stunt of actually touching her while subtly threatening to steal her heart. Alicia closed her eyes and shook her head in annoyance at herself at that moment...remembering how embarrassing it was when Elyza didn’t respond and then didn’t even speak to her until it was her turn to train later that day. She only further embarrassed herself when she was caught this morning, in her panties and Elyza’s stolen shirt.

 

    The night before was hard on Alicia. She was trying so hard to fight off this attraction, figuring nothing could ever come of it. After they had all gone off to their sleeping spots, Elyza’s bed being Alicia’s, she had a hard time falling asleep. She lit a few of the many candles, enjoying how peaceful their low burning light made her feel, and found herself looking through Elyza’s books by the window, when she came across a leatherbound one with a tie around it. Something about it felt personal, and although her mind was screaming at her not to open it, that maybe it wasn’t meant to be shared, she just couldn’t help herself. It was Elyza’s journal...and although her thoughts were all written there in plain sight, the woman was still so cryptic! Alicia read every page...most of which seemed to be poems of some sort, or considering the guitar that was propped against the wall, maybe songs. They were very intriguing to her. One of which in particular sparked her interest. It spoke of someone in pain...someone running from their past, but perhaps finding themselves in someone special. Finding a place where they felt they belonged. The pages were dated at the beginning but the further she read, this page in particular, there was no date marking the page. She wondered all night what it meant to Elyza. She felt so alone between reading that and trying to decipher her feelings toward the blonde, wishing she felt like she belonged that way to someone...maybe even to her. The only thing that soothed her was playing that same record she fell asleep to the day she came, and slipping into a blue tank-top that was lying on top of a laundry basket near the bed. Alicia picked it up and allowed herself to breathe in the scent that she knew to be Elyza’s, as she remembered it vividly from their tight embrace on The Abigail. She slipped it on and fell asleep, clutching the pillow, and dreamt once again of blue eyes burning into her own, just before she kissed soft, pink lips.

 

    Snapping out of her reverie by the excited cheers from Elyza and Nick, she glanced over  toward them and saw the large basket they had pulled from the water below, filled with large Stone Crabs. She couldn’t help but feed off of their excitement and start to smile before she headed over toward them, along with Chris.



    “I hope you guys are hungry! Look at the size of these suckers!” Elyza said, in the most excited tone of voice Alicia had heard her use yet. She reminded her of a kid, just happy and excited and it really was infectious. She felt the world slip away and all she could do was smile and laugh.

 

    “Okay...let’s set them back into the water to keep them alive for now. I’ll take one out, we can use it for bait. Alicia, Chris….would you please go grab those four poles just down the rail there?” Elyza asked, and they both went off to collect the fishing poles. When the brought them back, Elyza set to work on cracking open the crab she had snatched out of the basket before Nick lowered it back down. Once she had it in pieces, she began attaching the meat to the hooks on each line. After they were all set, she handed a pole to each of them and said, “Biggest catch gets to drive the truck home!” with a laugh, and bounded off down the pier, casting her line once she picked her spot. With that, Chris’s cast his line out with such determination, he flung the bait right off his hook, and grumbled angrily to himself. Alicia just rolled her eyes and laughed, walking down toward Elyza with her pole in hand.

 

    “What happens if Chris catches the biggest one? You’re not seriously going to let him drive, right? I’d rather walk home…” Alicia said, looking over at Elyza questioningly.

 

    “Don’t you worry, sweetheart. My money’s on you, anyway.” Elyza said, smiling back at her.

 

    “I’ve never caught a fish before….my dad used to take us when we were kids, Nick and I.” Alicia said, looking out over the water. Elyza could see the sadness in her eyes, but not sure if she should press the girl about it.

 

    “Well, in that case....we won’t leave until you’ve caught one. Promise” Elyza said, meeting soft green eyes and being rewarded with an incredible smile.

 

    The girls stayed silent for the better part of an hour, with just the occasional humming from Elyza. Alicia recognized the tune, “Crazy Beautiful”,  right away and smiled, letting a small laugh slip out. Elyza happened to look over at that moment and asked, “Are you laughing at my humming? It’s not that bad, is it?” with an exaggerated pout.

 

    “No! I just love that song...I haven’t heard it in so long. I used to listen to it all the time.”  She said with a sigh.

 

    “How did I get so lucky to manage to rescue the one person who likes all the same great stuff I do? You are like...my musical soulmate!” Elyza said, looking at the girl in disbelief.

 

    “I feel like I’m the lucky one…” Alicia mumbled under her breath. At that moment, the tip of her rod bent down with such force, she almost lost her grip on the pole.

 

    “I think I’ve got one! Oh my god...shit! It’s really pulling!!” she said, eyes wide and a huge grin on her face, looking over to Elyza.

 

    “You’ve got it, babe! Don’t let go! Lean the rod down, reel in, then pull back up. Keep doing that, you’ll tire him out and we can bring him up….you’ve got this!” Elyza said, encouragingly with a big smile of her own, leaning excitedly over the rail to look down below.

 

    After another minute, both girls saw the bluish, silvery color of the fish coming to the surface, and Elyza could see Alicia struggling. The fish looked to be at least two feet in length, if not more.

 

    “A little help?” Alicia asked, looking pleadingly at the blonde. With that, Elyza grabbed the pole also and helped hold it steady as Alicia continued to reel the large fish in and up to the dock. Swinging it over the rail, it landed with a loud, wet thump at their feet, and Alicia couldn’t believe her eyes. It probably weighed about 15 pounds! “No WAY Chris is going to top this!” she thought proudly to herself.

 

    “Holy smokes! This guy is huge !” Elyza exclaimed loudly. That caught the boys’ attention and they both came running over.

 

    “Looks like the rest of us don’t have to catch anything! Nice work, Leash!” Nick said, lightly punching Alicia in the arm.

 

    “Nicky, mind getting those crabs up and into the truck for us? We’ve gotta get this sucker home!” Elyza asked him, and he obliged.

 

    “C’mon, Chris….give me a hand.” Nick said, walking away with Chris in tow.

 

    “You wanna pick him up?” Elyza asked the brunette, smiling up at her while leaning down, holding the fish steady.

 

    “Yeah!” Alicia said as she quickly leaned down reaching toward the fish.

 

    “Just be careful, grab him by the gills because he’s got really sharp-” She was cut off by Alicia yelling in pain.

 

    “OW!!!” she yelled, pulling her hand back quickly.

 

    “...teeth.” Elyza finished, looking apologetically at the girl.Standing up, she reached over and grabbed Alicia’s hand lightly in her own. Instantly feeling those invisible sparks flying at the contact. The girls thumb had a small slice in it, so Elyza grabbed the knife that she kept tucked into her boot, and sliced off a strip of fabric from the bottom of her tank top. Replacing the knife, she began gently wrapping Alicia’s thumb with the fabric to stop the bleeding.

 

    Alicia couldn’t take her eyes off of the wild haired girl in front of her. She was trying hard not to let her heart beat too loudly when their skin made contact, but she felt it was attempting to escape her chest. She felt her body grow hot at the sight of Elyza’s bare skin after the fabric was cut from her shirt, revealing about an inch of her abdomen exposed. She noticed a small tattoo, just above the waistband of her jeans, on her hipbone...a small, broken infinity symbol, in simple black ink. She hadn’t realized that she was holding her breath the entire time until she saw Elyza bring her lips down to plant a small kiss on the makeshift bandage and wound, letting her perfect blue eyes drift up to meet Alicia’s darkening green ones.

 

    “All better…” Elyza said with a shy smile, before releasing Alicia’s hand.

 

    “Thank you…” she responded, letting out a shaky breath. She watched as Elyza scooped the fish up, and they began walking toward the truck. Tossing the massive Blue Fish into the bed of the truck next to the basket of crabs, Elyza turned back to Alicia and dangled the keys in front of her.

 

    “But...no one else had a chance to catch anything…” Alicia stated, questioningly.



    “Doesn’t matter...after today’s fight, and that monster you just caught, you’ve earned it, gorgeous.” Elyza said, smiling. She dropped the keys into Alicia’s open hand and before Chris could beat her to it she yelled out, “Shotgun!” and ran around to get in the passenger side, leaving Alicia standing there with a smile.

 

    The drive home was relaxing. They had the windows rolled down, the sun was starting to set and everyone was in a great mood. All except for Chris who was sulking in the backseat over not getting to drive. Alicia looked over to Elyza, admiring how stunning she looked, basking in the orange glow of the sun. She noticed she had drifted off to sleep, and she couldn’t help but feel that this girl...this crazy, beautiful, Australian, was exactly what she had been missing in her life.

Chapter Text

    Alicia slowed the truck as she pulled up in front of Elyza’s apartment. After she turned off the ignition, she briefly closed her eyes as she tried to gather enough bravery to reach over and touch Elyza’s hand to wake her. She took a deep breath, removed the vice grip she still had on the key, and reached over. Just as their hands were about to touch, Chris jumped out and loudly yelled, “Thank GOD….I’m starving, and you drive too slow!” and slammed the door on his way out, jolting poor Elyza out of her nap.

 

    “Well...that’s one way to wake someone!” Elyza said, her eyes closing again. Alicia could see from her facial expression that she was angry for being woken up that way. Alicia wanted to sooth her anger...make her feel better in some way. “Maybe if I make her laugh…” she thought to herself.

 

    “Elyza...I hate to say this, but...you kind of reek. I’m really glad I didn’t end up holding that fish!” Alicia said, biting her lower lip trying to hold in laughter. “Maybe you should shower before we have dinner?” she finished.

 

    Elyza opened one eye, raised an eyebrow and smirked at her while saying, “Me? You’re the one covered in walker blood, sweetheart. That smell is way worse! But I wouldn’t dare pass up getting to the hot water first! Your loss!” she said laughing, as she lept out of the truck and raced upstairs. Alicia, feeling self conscious now, grabbed the front of shirt and leaned her head down to smell it. “Gross…”  she thought and winced as she now wished she had thought of the hot water before her brilliant plan went to shit.

 

****************************************************************************************************

 

    Elyza stepped out of the bathroom, steam following in a trail behind her and saw Alicia standing in the kitchen, rinsing the crabs off in the sink one by one, placing them into a large pot full of water set aside to boil on the fire upstairs. She couldn’t help but smile at how cute the brunette looked, trying to avoid being pinched by the feisty crabs. She frowned at how equally adorable and sad it was to hear her whisper, “I’m sorry we have to eat you….”.

 

    “I know how to help you forget about that...if you’d like?” Elyza said in a raspy voice as she snuck up behind Alicia, making the brunette jump and drop the crab on top of it’s friends in the sink.

 

    “Jesus Christ , Elyza!! Don’t do that! My heart is pounding!” she said as she turned around to give her best glare to the blonde, only to fail as she felt her face was engulfed in flames at the sight before her. Elyza stood there, wet blonde curls, a loose fitting, long sleeved black henley shirt with the buttons undone in a place where the material seemed to cling wonderfully, considering how loose the rest of the shirt was, and a very small, very tight pair of cutoff jean shorts. She was in a trance, not realizing just how long she was staring, taking in the tan legged goddess in front of her.

 

    Elyza noticed the change in Alicia’s color and saw her begin to bite at her bottom lip again and thought, “What I wouldn’t give to bite that lip for you…” as she looked down, trying to chase that thought away before looking back up at the girl, smiling. She stepped around her, reaching into the top cabinet above the refrigerator and pulled out her bottle of bourbon. Grabbing two glasses out of the cabinet above the sink, she set them down and poured two fingers worth in each glass, then held one up to Alicia, while taking her own in her other hand. “A little something to make it easier to eat your friends there...that and we could call it a victory drink. You kicked ass and caught your first fish today. In my book, that deserves a drink!” she said with a big smile, raising her glass to the girl, meeting her green eyes.

 

    Alicia looked down and smiled, feeling so completely intoxicated by the woman in front of her, she didn’t think she could handle actually being intoxicated. The feelings might just kill her. “I’m not 21 yet...I can’t.” she said, feeling stupid. She wanted to drink it. She had drank before, not that anyone knew, but she was just so afraid she may make a fool of herself and tell Elyza how she felt.

 

   “Alicia...babe...you’re going to be 18 in a week. The world has essentially ended and you’re now a badass, zombie killing warrior. Cheers…” Elyza said, raising her glass to the girl, once again, and smiled as Alicia did the same and their glasses clinked together.

 

    Elyza tossed hers back quickly, like a seasoned pro. Alicia had to take hers in small sips, as she had never had bourbon before and it burned like hell going down her throat.

 

    “Oh my God ! How do you drink this so fast?” Alicia said, still feeling the burn in her throat, but enjoying it as she now felt it slowly moving down to her stomach. Elyza watched her, smiling slyly as she could tell the girl was feeling the way it spread its warmth through her body. Then Alicia took another, bigger sip.

 

    “That’s how.” Elyza responded, tossing her head back and laughing. Alicia couldn’t help herself and began to laugh with her.

 

    “What’s so funny?” Chris said, walking into the kitchen, still looking angry with them. He noticed the liquor and said, “Let me have some.” trying to sound older than he actually was.

 

    “Um...I’m not originally from here, but I do believe our rules are about the same and you’re not considered an adult until you’re 18...and you my friend, well...you’re still a little Joey. What are you, 15?” Elyza said, sounding apologetic and trying to deliver the blow as softly as possible by comparing him to the cute marsupial. “Who’d be angry at that?” She thought, smiling to herself.

 

      “Actually ...I’m 16 and I’m not a stupid Kangaroo! Alicia isn’t 18 yet and you’re letting her drink? This whole day sucks !!” he said, stomping off to the xbox, not bothering to ask if they needed help preparing dinner. Alicia swore she heard him mumble “...bitch…” as he walked away. Just as she turned her head to say something to him, Elyza stopped her by placing her index finger on Alicia’s left cheek, moving her to face Elyza once again. She could feel the heat at the contact, and she couldn’t help but letting a small smile escape, even if she was trying to hide it.

 

    “Shower’s all yours. I’ll take these little fellas upstairs and get started. Come up when you’re done.” Elyza said to her, giving her a wink as her hand dropped from Alicia’s burning face. She turned toward the sink and continued the task Alicia had started, only she began taking the crabs out of the pot of water and placing them into a different pot with no water.

 

    “What are you doing that for?” Alicia asked, confused and also wondering if she had screwed something up somehow.

 

    “Well, considering your strong feelings for these little critters...letting them die slowly while waiting for the water to boil isn’t really very nice. You boil the water first, then place them in. It’s quicker that way...they feel it less.” Elyza explained, turning over her shoulder to smile at the girl.

 

    “Oh...thanks.” Alicia said, feeling bad that she almost caused the crabs even more suffering. She turned and headed toward the bedroom area and began looking through her bag. She sighed and ran her fingers through her long brown locks when she realized all of her clothes were pretty much unwearable. From the kitchen, she heard Elyza yell, “Feel free to raid my closet…”, as if she was watching her. Alicia felt so many things. Butterflies, embarrassment, excitement, fear...maybe nothing a lukewarm shower couldn’t fix. Maybe.

 

******************************************************************************************************

 

    When Alicia finally emerged from the shower and made her way up the fire escape, the sun had set and there were just a few streaks of orange left in the now purple sky. The roof looked like a dream. The torches were lit, all the lights that were strung up gave off a soft, warm glow, and she could see Nick and Chris sitting around a blazing fire. Elyza was off at her workstation, bobbing her head along to the music playing off of her small portable speaker. From where she was standing, she could almost make out the sound of Elyza’s voice singing along with Amy Winehouse. “We really are musical soulmates…” Alicia thought to herself as she was so happy to know the woman liked her as well.

 

    She walked slowly toward her, noticing the boiling pot of crabs over the fire and frowned thinking that they were now dead. Nick was leaning back in his chair, reading a book he must have borrowed from Elyza, called “Walden”. When she nodded to Nick questioningly he smiled at her and said, “Elyza gave it to me. Said the author reminded her of me. It’s pretty good. He seems like a really simple kinda guy...I like that.” He said with a smile before returning to his book. Chris was using a small knife to carve into the staff Elyza had given him earlier that day. At least for now he seemed normal and wasn’t being a brat.

 

    When she finally made her way over to Elyza, she definitely heard her singing now, and she smiled. She tried to be as quiet as possible so she could listen as long as she could, but  had no idea that Elyza already knew she was there. Alicia was surprised when the blonde turned around and began singing the last few lines to her.

 

“I cheated myself, like I knew I would

I told you I was trouble, yeah

You know that I’m no good…”

 

     “Thought I didn’t hear ya? Can’t be as sneaky as me...nope.” The blonde said with a laugh and a playful smile. She turned back and Alicia saw that she was working on filleting the huge fish she had caught earlier. As sad as it was that the fish was being taken apart, her eyes were glued on Elyza’s hands and the way they expertly worked on the fish. She was so quick with the knife, Alicia didn’t know how anyone could do that so fast without cutting themselves. Within seconds, she had two very long fillets, and tossed the remains of the fish off the back of the roof. She then cut the two large fillets in half, making four nice sized pieces. After she had finished that, she seasoned them with some spices she had in a clear glass jar on the table, and before she could grab the pan she had used the other day, Alicia grabbed it.

 

    Elyza watched with a smile as the brunette did just as she would have, drizzling the oil around the pan twice, then tilting the pan to coat the base. “Somebody was paying attention…” Elyza said to her with a smile.

 

    “Guess I just had a good teacher.” Alicia said to her, shyly glancing up into deep blue eyes.

 

    “Damn right ya did! Let’s get this guy cookin’ so we can eat! I don’t know about you, but I’m starved!” Elyza said, holding a hand to her stomach. Alicia laughed and walked with her toward the fire with the fish in the pan, ready to place it over the fire.

     

 

    “I see you found yourself something clean to wear... very nice choice.” Elyza said, allowing Alicia to see her gaze trailing up and down, painfully slowly, before smiling to herself when she looked back toward the fire, setting the pan on the large grate that rested across the top of one half that was already holding the pot of crabs.

 

     “Okay...she must have kept drinking. There’s NO way she would have looked at me like that otherwise...right?”  Alicia asked herself, trying to steady her now racing heart. She did strategically pick what she wore, hoping it may have an effect,but she wasn’t expecting that. She had found a pair of shorts similar to the ones Elyza had on, only a darker wash, along with a tight fitting, white camisole top and a worn but very “Elyza” looking thin, blue plaid button down shirt. It had bits of red and black mixed into the pattern and reminded her of her own favorite plaid shirt she had been wearing recently. She slipped that on over the thin strapped camisole top and left the buttons hang open.  “Thanks for letting me borrow them.” Alicia said, shyly back to the blonde as she took a seat at the chair directly across the blazing fire from Elyza.

 

    After about 15 more minutes, Elyza passed around a stack of plates for each of them, and set a large empty bowl  for shells between her and Nick on the ground. She then served each person their portion of the pan fried Blue Fish, and then reached into the boiling pot with a pair of tongs she had set aside and placed a crab on each of their plates. “Dig in!” she said to them all with a smile, as they all began eating very excitedly. This was definitely the best meal they’ve had since this terrible mess had happened. It really was a perfect night. They had an incredibly exciting, adrenaline filled morning, a great relaxing afternoon fishing and now eating their catch while watching the sunset...it was hard to imagine that the night could get any better.

 

    When everyone was finished eating, Nick offered to gather the plates and pots to take downstairs to the kitchen. Chris wasn’t speaking to them at all, never once offering to help in any way. He just continued to sulk while whittling away at his staff. Elyza had even attempted to talk to him again, explaining how she had the staff flown in from Australia because that’s one of the places that type of wood grew well, when she decided to take up her self defense classes. He just blew her off and kept on carving, so she eventually gave up, turning her attention back to the bottle of bourbon she had brought upstairs earlier. Offering Alicia another glass, which was accepted without argument this time, Elyza sat back, sipping slowly on her glass while staring into the flames. They sat that way for a long while, Nick eventually reappearing and getting lost in his book again.

 

    After about 20 minutes had passed, Alicia was starting to feel the effects of the strong alcohol. She felt very relaxed and free...and brave listening to the song caressing her ears from the tiny speaker, the demo version of "Love Is A Losing Game" by Amy Winehouse . She had been sitting in her chair with her legs folded beneath her, leaning to one side and playing with a loose strand of hair that had escaped her ponytail.  Her face was extremely hot, but she couldn’t tell if it was from the drink or the fire. She found herself staring at Elyza more openly by this point, not fearing if she would get caught. Actually, she was hoping to catch a glimpse of those beautiful blue eyes. Elyza seemed lost, though. She wondered what was going through her friend’s mind, wishing she could read her thoughts. Wondering if Elyza was thinking about her, the way she had been thinking about the blonde. The urge to hear her voice and her thoughts was becoming too much. It was almost as if Alicia’s mouth decided to speak before she actually processed just what she was saying, and she instantly regretted it, fearing she had upset Elyza.

 

    “So...I have a confession to make. I sort of read your journal...on purpose. I didn’t mean to...well I did, but I couldn’t help it. There’s this song you have written in there that I just cannot stop thinking about. I read them all and I loved all of them but this one….ugh! I just love it! I can’t get it out of my head!” she had said very quickly, looking to the Australian for a reaction. She could see Nick out of the corner of her eye, smirking and letting a quiet chuckle escape his lips while shaking his head, not looking at Alicia. When she turned her attention fully back to Elyza, she watched as she stood up and crossed the distance between them with the bottle of bourbon and poured Alicia another, before retreating back to her seat, filling her own glass.

 

    “I have to say, I didn’t take you for a talkative drunk…but this could be fun, so drink up.” Elyza said teasingly, smiling while taking a sip of her drink.

 

    “I’m not drunk! I’m just...I’m...whatever. Are you mad?” Alicia asked, wincing while she prepared for the answer.

 

    “Mad? Nah...Besides, not like there’s a lock on it. Kinda makes it fair game, doesn’t it? Which song is it that has you so intrigued, beautiful?” Elyza said, staring at the brunette with an arched eyebrow and a cocky grin.     

 

    Alicia was confused as to how she could have so easily gotten away with invading the blonde’s privacy, but she brushed it off and said, “You know...it’s the most recent one you’ve written in there…Longer, it’s titled.” she said, looking intently at Elyza, wanting so much to ask every question that ran through her mind when she first read it a few nights ago, but she held her tongue, waiting to see if the Australian would divulge more on her own.

 

    “That’s quite a coincidence.” Elyza said with a small laugh, averting her eyes from Alicia  and leaning forward toward the flames, staring at the glass she was now cupping in both hands as if she were studying its contents.

 

     “A coincidence? How? Why?” Alicia asked, a puzzled look overcoming her features.

 

    Elyza could feel her heart rate increasing. She had just written the song the night after Alicia had pulled that stunt on her Harley. Something about her saying she would steal Elyza’s heart made her realize just how deep she had allowed herself to get into these feelings for the girl. She was falling for her and she didn’t know what to do. Alicia wasn’t even 18 yet...part of it felt wrong for wanting her, but something about her made everything feel so right. Elyza just wanted her to stay with her forever. She made her feel alive again. That night, she brought her guitar up to the roof where she’d been spending her nights, and the song just took form so quickly, with the green eyed beauty as her muse.

 

    “Just….It’s my favorite one, too. I was really inspired by-...It just means a lot to me” Elyza said, not sure of the right words to say, so hiding the full truth seemed appropriate at the time. It was too personal to admit this way. Not in front of Nick and the bundle of moodiness and hormones that was Chris.

 

    “Will you play it for me...for us, I mean.” Alicia asked, correcting herself, trying not to sound too enthralled by it all.

 

    “Play? Haha...I don’t know...I’m not nearly drunk enough. Besides, my days of performing are over. That dream is dead and buried, like the rest of the world.” Elyza said, sounding bitter.

 

    “You’ve performed music before? Like in a band?” Alicia asked, fully intrigued now. She found herself leaning further in Elyza’s direction, completely engrossed in every word and every move.

 

    “I’ve been in bands before. That was my big plan, coming here. I was going to catch my big break...I could have tried at home in Australia, but I knew here would be better. I just couldn’t leave my mom. When she passed, I had nothing else holding me there anymore...nothing but the painful memories. It’s so eerie to me now, but a few weeks before she died, she made me promise her that I wouldn’t give up on my music. That I would try my hardest to make it. Some things are just out of our control…” Elyza said, her voice cracking at the end as it faded out.

 

    “Elyza...I’m so sorry! I had no idea you lost your mom. What happened?” Alicia asked, concern lacing her voice and her features.

 

    Taking the rest of her drink in one quick shot, Elyza downed it and furrowed her brow, grabbing a stick that was nearby and began poking at the fire before asking, “Can we talk about something else?”.

 

    “Please play the song...we want to hear you. Please?” Alicia asked, allowing a hint of desperation to escape her voice.

 

    “Yeah, Elyza...come on, I’d love to hear!” Nick chimed in, trying to help his sister out. He was so intuitive even if he seemed oblivious sometimes. He knew what had been unfolding before him this past week. He knew they both were afraid to take the next step. Just as he had been all this time with Ophelia.

 

    “Uggghhh…..alright. I’ll play, but only once. Then it’s off to bed. I’d like for us to get out early tomorrow and go gather some supplies. Gotta restock the cabinets and get more gas for the truck.” Elyza said as she stood up, walking over toward her sleeping area under the pergola and retrieved her sunburst colored Gibson Hummingbird acoustic guitar. Sitting back down in her chair, she quickly glanced up, meeting Alicia’s eyes, and let her gaze fall, feeling very self conscious to be playing the song she wrote to the very person it was about. As she took a shaky, deep breath, she began to strum….

 

“Alone, I'm home, I'm home in my head.

But now the unknown has grown,

So I'll want this instead.

 

Longer...

Could you stay a little longer?

Longer...

Longer

 

I've forgot ‘bout this room

and the view way above

The things I fear it towers.

And it’s new, feeling you again

makes me open up just like a flower.

 

Longer...

Could you stay a little longer?

Longer...

Longer..."

 

    Alicia felt herself being pulled toward Elyza. The sound of her raspy voice, the emotion and power behind it and the way the words she sang were gripping at Alicia’s heart, made her feel as if she were put under a spell. There was this invisible force ready to pull her right through the flames and into those smoldering, blue eyes that were now burning right through to her very core, and she would have willingly done it just to be close to Elyza at this moment.

 

"Cause I want to give you more for

Nothing in return.

Oh I did wait for you, darling...

Did ache for you darling.

and now you're here, I want you dear to stay.

 

Longer...

Could you stay a little longer?

Longer...

Longer.

And then...

Longer

Longer..."

 

     Elyza’s blue eyes were blazing brighter than the flames as she let the last word she sang fade into the night. Her eyes hadn’t left Alicia’s, even after the only sound was the crackling of the flames between them. Finally, the silence was broken and Elyza felt her heart sink when Alicia broke the stare.

 

    “You wrote that? Like, seriously? Only a few nights ago?” Nick asked in disbelief and complete admiration, as Elyza just smirked and shrugged her shoulders, while nodding her head. “I can’t imagine the damage you could have done to the music industry had the world stayed the same. That was just...amazing. You’re really gifted, Elyza.” he said to her, very sincerely.

 

    “Thank you, Nick. That’s sweet of you to say.” She said, offering him a thankful smile.

 

    “Well, thank you for dinner...and a show. I’m gonna hit the hay.” Nick said, as he stood up and made his way over to the fire escape that would lead him to the apartment down below. Chris followed suit without saying a word, which Alicia was all too relieved by considering the crap he usually let come out of his ungrateful mouth lately. She didn’t want this night ruined.

 

    When they were finally alone, Alicia drained the last mouthful of her bourbon. As she felt it’s effects rather quickly, she gazed into the flames, replaying the last five minutes in her mind, and things started falling into place. Elyza had said that she wrote the song just the other day when she was “inspired” and the lyrics...the feelings they evoked in Alicia the first night she read them….then seeing the way Elyza stared at her while singing...was it possible that she wrote this with Alicia in mind? “Could I really be this lucky?”  Alicia thought skeptically to herself.

 

    “Elyza...that was more beautiful than I imagined it could be. It really means a lot that you did that for me...for us, just now. You have no idea how happy that made me.” Alicia stated softly.

 

    “I’m glad you liked it, love.” Elyza said, trying her best to get back to her usual self without showing too much emotion although inside, her heart and her mind were going crazy against each other. Her heart was screaming at her to tell Alicia how she felt, her fingers tingled at the desire to touch her, to hold her hand and caress her cheek as she stared deeply into those enchanting green orbs. She wanted to tell her that she was falling in love with her. Her brain, however, was scolding her for those very thoughts. Alicia was too young. She just couldn’t do it.

 

    “Tell me what it’s about...what does it mean to you.” Alicia asked, wanting so desperately to be the answer. She stared across the flames at the way they made shadows dance across Elyza’s flawless skin. She wanted to hear her say it. She needed to hear her admit it. She couldn’t possibly be the only one feeling this...not now.

 

    “Eh...another time. I’m tired. I’m going to try to get some sleep. Goodnight, Alicia.” Elyza said, sounding very distant now, as she stood up and walked toward her hammock, leaving Alicia sitting there looking very let down and hurt.

 

   Alicia stood up slowly, and in a haze, made her way over to the fire escape. Before slowly descending the stairs, she let a small “Goodnight, Elyza…” slip from her lips. Elyza couldn’t look back, she couldn’t allow herself to see the pain that was so evident in Alicia’s voice. She would just have to fight it.


Chapter Text

    Elyza had resigned to sitting by the fire again, unable to sleep due to mentally beating herself up for how cold she had been toward Alicia an hour earlier. She didn’t understand why she couldn’t just come out and say what she was feeling. She was presented with the perfect opportunity, but her conscience just wouldn’t allow her mouth to speak the words. “Why should age matter now anyway? The God damned world is over!” she thought angrily to herself. Eight years wasn’t a huge difference but Elyza had seen and been through a lot in her life. Alicia hadn’t even begun living, she hadn’t had the chance to find out who she is. What right did Elyza have to throw her feelings and her past on the girl...someone so impressionable in this horrible reality they were all now living may not be able to handle all of Elyza’s demons.

 

    She took her last sip of bourbon, part of the curse that had been plaguing Elyza’s life since her mother left her. Sure, she could drink for fun like everyone else, but sometimes the pain and the turmoil she felt inside were too much and it was the only way she knew to numb her soul and quiet her mind. Only now, it seemed to be working in the opposite direction. The night began as a relaxing, carefree time with people she deeply cared about, having a few drinks just to enjoy the feeling a little more. As time went on though, the alcohol released the untamable wilderness that is Elyza Lex’s mind. She always lived more inside her head than out, but her mind was now clouded over like a storm brewing, with thoughts of a certain green eyed brunette, and nothing else. She was all Elyza could think about. She was torturing herself over whether or not her feelings were justified, or if she could ever find the strength to tell the girl. Something inside of her felt that of all the people left in this world, and all the ways to come across other survivors, the way they met felt like fate had a hand in it somehow. She felt as if this was meant to be. So why was it so hard for her to just admit it? Part of it, she knew, was the fact that any day now, Alicia’s family would be coming back. They had a plan in place for Mexico and they would leave and Alicia would go. Who knows if they’d ever see each other again. The thought had crossed Elyza’s mind to go along, but that group didn’t know her and certainly didn’t owe her a thing. She couldn’t just invite herself. The constant back and forth of her feelings was really taking a toll on her.

 

    As much as Elyza’s mind was fighting what her heart so desperately wanted, she couldn’t ignore the feelings of desire, longing and love, burning deep inside of her. The alcohol had been making her submit more and more to her emotions during their time spent together just a short time ago. She was amazed that she was even able to contain her thoughts and feelings because normally when she drank, she spoke her mind with reckless abandon. With a heavy sigh, and an equally heavy heart, Elyza switched on the portable speaker and selected a song from her phone, knowing she shouldn’t because it would make this whole situation harder. Leaning forward, placing her head in her hands, a single tear escaped her eye as the music began to play.

 

*************************************************************************************************

 

     Alicia had been in and out of sleep for the past hour, tossing and turning. Her mind just wouldn’t let her rest. She couldn’t ignore the feelings in her heart anymore. Everything from the day they first made contact till now, all seemed almost as if it were mapped out in the stars. They were destined to find each other. How else could this be explained? Her mind wandered back to earlier that afternoon on the dock, when Elyza called Alicia her “musical soulmate”. The thought sent a shiver through her, as she repeated the word out loud to herself, “soulmates…”.

 

    It all seemed to make so much sense after Elyza played her the song she wrote. Why did she feel the blonde was hiding something from her...some secret she was holding back? When Elyza first dismissed her upstairs, Alicia felt so rejected and hurt that she cried silently as she lie in bed, not wanting Nick or Chris to hear. She layed there, holding the pillow and running her fingers along the leather covering of Elyza’s journal she had been reading as she tried to sleep. She was so desperate to find her answer...something just didn’t sit right with her about this whole situation. The flirting, the staring, and the song...why couldn’t she figure this out? It was then that she heard the music drifting down from the rooftop. She recognized the group, The Civil Wars, but not the song. It wasn’t one that she had heard on the record she had come to love to fall asleep to at night. This meant Elyza was still awake also. Alicia continued to lie still, feeling torn between thinking she was wrong, but also feeling very strongly that she was right. Not able to hold back her desire to know the truth any longer, she slipped quietly out of the bed. Deciding not to bother dressing into the shorts she had on earlier, she stayed in just the old, worn t-shirt of Elyza’s that she had found in a drawer. She crept out the window and stepped silently onto the fire escape, making her way up the stairs. She heard the crackling of the fire, just as the woman she so desperately wanted, came into view.

 

“When you close your eyes and you fall asleep

And it's down to the sound of a heartbeat

I can hear the things you're dreamin' about

When you open up your heart and the truth comes out…”

 

     Alicia could see Elyza, sitting by the fire, her hands tangled in her hair, just staring at the flames. When she made it to the top of the stairs, Elyza looked over and froze. Alicia couldn’t quite read the woman’s expression, but from where she stood, it seemed like she was fighting a battle in her mind. Without a word, she slowly crossed the distance between them, stopping when she was directly across from the blonde with only the fire between them, so close that her bare legs began to burn slightly. Elyza looked up at her from where she sat, with so many questions in her sapphire blue eyes as she stared up into Alicia’s green ones, watching the flames reflect and dance in them.

 

“You tell me that you want me

You tell me that you need me

You tell me that you love me

And I know that I'm right

'Cause I hear it in the night…”

 

      The music seemed to be growing louder, and Elyza felt as if the world was closing in around the two of them. All she could see was this beautiful woman standing before her, glowing in the firelight, and all she could feel was her heart beating powerfully in her chest. At that moment, Alicia moved around the fire and reached her hand out to her. Elyza looked at her long, tanned fingers, and placed her own hand into Alicia’s. She didn’t remember standing up on her own, it was more like a magnetic force, pulling her toward the brunette. Only mere inches of space between them, blue eyes searched green and Elyza noticed the way Alicia kept glancing from her eyes to her lips, just as she had been doing.

 

“I hear the secrets that you keep

When you're talking in your sleep

I hear the secrets that you keep

When you're talking in your sleep

When I hold you in my arms at night

Don't you know that you sleep in the spotlight?

And all your dreams you keep inside

You're telling me the secrets that you just can't hide…”

 

    “Alicia, I…” Elyza started, silenced by Alicia gently placing her finger to the blonde’s lips.

 

    “I need to know one thing, Elyza.” Alicia stated, looking so vulnerable and afraid yet brave at the same time.

 

    “What’s that, love?” Elyza said, trying her best to stay strong.

 

    “Please...tell me that you feel it, too.” Alicia said, her voice barely audible, and her eyes pleading with Elyza to say yes.

 

    Knowing that no words could ever be enough and unable to hold back her burning desire for the brunette, to tell her just how much she did feel it, Elyza slipped her left hand behind Alicia’s neck into wavy, brown locks and pulled her into a hungry, passionate kiss.

 

“You tell me that you want me

You tell me that you need me

You tell me that you love me

And I know that I'm right

'Cause I hear it in the night…”

 

      “I do…” Elyza said, breaking their kiss for an instant to speak before she kissed her again. “I do…” she repeated in a shaky breath, her lips moving against Alicia's as she spoke, while taking the girl's face in her hands. “I’ve felt it all along.” she finished, pulling back fully to search those beautiful, green eyes.

 

     Alicia couldn’t believe that she was experiencing this. She had dreamt of this since they met. She had spent hours daydreaming about being in Elyza’s arms and feeling her touch and tasting her lips. Her mind was swimming in so many thoughts, all of them revolving around the gorgeous blonde that was cupping her face in her hands.

 

     “And the song?” Alicia asked, quietly.

 

    “I don’t want you to ever leave me...I don’t think I can bear to be apart from you. I want you to stay.” Elyza said, her voice thick with emotion.

 

    Alicia was so relieved and so completely happy to hear those words. As they rested their foreheads against one another, Alicia placed a shaky hand on the left side of Elyza’s chest and said, “I told you I’d steal your heart.” with a small smile.

 

    With that, Elyza placed a hand on the brunettes hip and pulled her as close as she could get her, while entangling her other into Alicia’s hair once more, bringing their lips together in a searing kiss. It started slow at first, taking their time to enjoy the feeling of the other’s lips. Between the heat from the flames, the residual effects from the bourbon, and the song playing over again on repeat, their touches became more needy. Elyza touched Alicia’s bottom lip with the tip of her tongue, seeking permission, and Alicia granted it, giving Elyza access as their tongues collided. Elyza was so slow and gentle in her movements, taking care to explore all that was available to her and commit it to memory, in case she was never fortunate enough to be here again.

 

“I hear the secrets that you keep

When you're talking in your sleep

I hear the secrets that you keep

When you're talking in your sleep…”

 

    Alicia was too ready for this. She needed Elyza to be closer, to feel her touch on every inch of her skin. Needing more, Alicia pushed back on the blonde, making her fall into the chair she had been previously sitting in. Without a second for Elyza to react, Alicia climbed into her lap, a leg on either side of Elyza’s own, and took the Australian’s lips with her own.

 

     Elyza could feel the desire behind Alicia’s kiss. She deepened it by pulling her even closer, and just as she had been dreaming about, she took Alicia’s perfectly, pouty lower lip between her teeth and nipped at it gently before saying, “ You don’t know how bad I’ve been wanting to do that…” her voice low and husky.

 

    The burning desire Alicia had been feeling only increased, tenfold, when Elyza began trailing kisses from her lips, to her jawline, then down to her neck, pulling long brown hair back to give her better access. It was becoming hard to breathe, as Alicia now realized just how she needed Elyza to touch her. She could feel herself, already pooling with desire and the ache that accompanied it was just too much to take. She had never felt this before….never like this. She reached for Elyza’s hand and placed it at the top of her thigh where bare skin met the thin material of the t-shirt.

 

“I hear the secrets that you keep

When you're talking in your sleep

I hear the secrets that you keep

When you're talking in your sleep…”

 

    Pulling back as if to make sure this is what she wanted, Elyza saw everything the girl wasn’t saying, reflecting back in burning, emerald eyes. Alicia wanted her...she needed her. Elyza needed this just as desperately. As she slowly ran her hand along the smooth skin of Alicia’s exposed leg, she was shocked when the brunette took Elyza’s lip between her own teeth, just as she had done moments earlier. Alicia began to slowly rock her hips into Elyza, eliciting a moan from the blonde that was swallowed up by Alicia’s hungry kiss.

 

    Not being able to take much more, Elyza moved to stand up, earning her a startled and pleading look from Alicia, but much to Alicia’s surprise, Elyza grabbed her hands and pulled her down slowly to the ground. Helping her lie back as she moved down to capture her lips once again, Elyza felt herself being pulled fully on top of the woman beneath her. Unable to fight her own desire that was raging through to her core and causing such an unbearable ache between her thighs, she began to mimic Alicia’s previous motions, rocking her own hips into the brunette.

 

“I hear the secrets that you keep

When you're talking in your sleep

I hear the secrets that you keep

When you're talking in your sleep

When you're talking in your sleep

When you're talking in your sleep…”

    Everything was a hazy fog of kisses filled with desperation and longing and hands caressing every exposed part of skin they could come in contact with. Elyza felt as if she were in a dream, floating too high up to see the ground, and too far gone to even care if she ever did again. This was exactly where she wanted to be. Just as she felt Alicia slide her hands under the loose fitting fabric of her shirt, running her fingers down Elyza’s flat stomach, that’s when they heard the squealing of tires, and the crash.  As much as Elyza wanted to ignore it and completely melt into the amazing woman beneath her, she knew Alicia’s safety was the most important thing. Both of them jumped up and ran to the edge of the roof to see what caused the commotion. Down below, they witnessed their black truck with it’s front bumper now smashed into the light post outside of the building, and about 10-15 walkers trailing noisily behind it.

 

    “What the fuck is going on?” Elyza asked, to no one in particular, shaking her head in confusion at the scene.

 

    Alicia was just as confused, until she saw Chris emerge from the passenger side and run as fast as he could to the iron gate leading to the entrance of the stairwell to the apartment. Her heart sank. Just when she finally had everything she wanted, Chris had to ruin it all.

 

    “That little son of a bitch !” Elyza yelled out, rushing down the fire escape and leaping through the open window to the apartment. Alicia was following quickly behind, watching as Elyza grabbed her machete and began slipping on her boots..

 

     “What the hell’s goin on?” Nick said, startled out of his sleep.

 

    “Your asshole little brother! He stole the truck, crashed it, and has now led a gang of walkers right to our front door!” Elyza growled back, finishing tying up her boots. She was just about to reach for the lock when the door flew open, and Chris bounded inside.

 

    “SHUT IT!! SHUT IT!! THEY’RE RIGHT BEHIND ME!” he yelled, his face full of terror. Sure enough, they all heard the groans, moans and growls along with slow trudging of footsteps up the wooden stairs below.

 

    “Stay here!” Elyza growled at everyone, glaring at Chris as she slammed the door shut.

 

     Alicia could hear Elyza grunt as she must have kicked the closest walker down the stairs, hurling it at the others close behind it. The sounds were horrible, maybe because it was in such close quarters, the sound effects were more amplified. She could hear slashing and crunching of bone as Elyza delivered the final blow to each walker she came up against.

 

    “What the hell were you doing, Chris??” Alicia asked her stepbrother, frantically.

 

    “You stole Elyza’s truck? Dude...that’s not cool! Why would you do something like that? And where were you going?” Nick chimed in, sounding extremely disappointed.

 

    “Give me a break! It’s not even her truck! I’m so sick of all this shit! You’re all treating me like I’m some baby! I can do whatever I want, whenever I want so lay off!” Chris yelled back at them.

 

     At that moment, Elyza burst through the door, and just as she did when she left, she slammed it shut again, only this time, locking it securely behind her. Alicia could see she was absolutely covered in blood spatter and by the looks of it, she had fallen and skinned her knee. Shorts aren’t really the best attire for fighting in a zombie apocalypse.

 

    “You. Me, upstairs. NOW!” Elyza demanded, raising her voice to Chris.

 

    “I’m not going anywhere with you. Why don’t you go back to trying to get in my sister’s pants!” he spat back at her. With that, Alicia quickly closed the distance between them and backhanded him hard across the face.

 

     The fury that was burning in her eyes looked as though it could set the room ablaze. “What the fuck did you just say?”, she asked him as her stance made her seem to be towering over him. The power and ferocity that her words commanded sent shivers down Elyza’s spine.

 

     “I saw you! I was going up to take the bottle so I could have some and I saw you two. Don’t try to act like it isn’t true. You know, Madison would never accept that from you, Alicia. God,  I’m so sick of being treated like a kid! I wanted to sit on the motorcycle, you said no. I wanted to drive the truck, and you let her . I wanted to have some alcohol, again, you said no. I’m so done with this! I hate it here and I want to go home!” Chris yelled, looking directly at Elyza.

 

    “ Home?? You want to go home? ” Elyza started, her voice rising with each word. “Newsflash, little boy ...you don’t have a home anymore.” She said, making her way over to the door and throwing it open, bringing a few dead walkers into view. “You see that??? THIS is your life now. That is what your reality is. There is no ‘Home’ anymore. There is no future. There is nothing. Nothing but kill or be killed! Don’t you get that? I’ve tried so hard to help you see! Why are you acting like I’m the enemy?” Elyza asked him, her chest heaving because she was so keyed up and out of breath from fighting and yelling.

 

    “Whatever. I don’t need this.” Chris said, scowling at her, then turning back to go lay down on the bed of blankets he had on the floor by the television.

 

    “Well, until your group comes back, you do need this. You can continue to stay here until they do, but know this...you’ve stolen from me. You’ve risked everyone’s safety by leaving the door unlocked, leading a pack of walkers right to us, and you have absolutely lost my trust because of that. You should know, that is a hard thing to win back, Christopher.” Elyza said, walking right past Alicia and into the bathroom, slamming that door behind her as well.

 

    Alicia looked after her, still unable to process what just happened with Chris because she was still so focused and wrapped up in what had transpired between them on the rooftop. Sighing, she turned back to Nick and Chris. “We are lucky she doesn’t kick us out on the street. I might, if it were me. Get your shit together, Chris.” she said as she made her way over to the bed, collapsing onto it, feeling exhaustion catching up to her.

 

    Not realizing it, Alicia must have dozed off. She woke to the light coming from the bathroom as Elyza emerged from her second shower of the day. Although groggy, her mind snapped to attention when she saw the blonde walk over to the closet, wearing nothing but a blue towel, as she searched for clothing to wear. Alicia watched as she selected a few items, then made her way back over toward the window leading to the roof.

 

    Alicia reached out to grab Elyza’s free hand as she passed the bed, but she wouldn't look at the brunette at all...she just stared at the floor. “Hey...stay with me.” Alicia said, desperation in her voice. Elyza hadn't moved or said a word. “Please…” she pleaded when she received no response. Finally catching a glimpse of dark blue eyes, she felt her heart sink as she could see that Elyza's walls were back in place.

 

    “I can’t.” Elyza said flatly. “I have to keep watch.” she explained as she removed her hand from Alicia’s grasp and slipped out the window and up to the roof.

 

    So quickly, things had changed for them. They had come together so beautifully and allowed themselves to be free and feel what they were meant to feel. Alicia could still feel the magic of it all, lingering over her like a fog, but just as quickly, it was all ripped away. She felt the tears well up in her eyes as she replayed her memories from the rooftop, and that’s how she fell asleep...tears streaming, holding Elyza’s pillow tightly.

 

    Up on the roof, Elyza was lying in her hammock, succumbing to the whirlwind of emotions that she had just gone through in the last half hour. She couldn’t stop the tears as they fell. Chris was right. Alicia’s mother probably wouldn’t be too fond of the idea that while she was supposed to be protecting her daughter, she also fell in love with her. They’d never accept her as a part of their group. People just weren’t trusting anymore, rightfully so. Wiping the tears from her face, Elyza took a deep breath and tried to close her eyes and push Alicia out of her mind. She should have followed her head, not her heart. At least then she wouldn’t know what she had been missing all this time and she wouldn’t be feeling this pain. If only she had never found that radio.

 

Chapter Text

    Elyza woke to the sounds of a mourning dove, perched on a corner of the pergola, cooing down at her. “Good morning to you, too.” she said, smiling up at her feathered guest. Climbing out of the hammock, she stood and stretched her arms up high, letting out a big yawn before bringing her arms back down again. She always loved this time of morning, the sky was still gray, but there were streaks of light pink and purple painted through the clouds. The scent of freshly brewed coffee was wafting up from downstairs and she closed her eyes, inhaling deeply, enjoying the aroma. After feeling so terrible all night, she was nervous at the thought that it may be Alicia who was awake downstairs. Feeling badly about how cold she had been after those intense, magical ten minutes they shared, just a few feet away from where she now stood, she felt her heart sink at the memories. Walking over to one of the many flower pots, she plucked two white daisies from their stems. Something about the beautiful, white petals and the dark green center reminded her of Alicia. Never before had she been so in love with someone’s eyes. Carrying the two flowers, she smiled as she descended the stairs to the apartment.

 

“There’s no music, no confetti

Crowds don’t cheer and bells don’t ring

But you’ll know it, I can guarantee

When the right one comes along…

What they’re thinkin, what your feeling 

You know longer have to guess 

All those questions finally put to rest 

When the right one comes along…”

 

    Mentally preparing herself for what she would say before stepping through the open window, she stood with her eyes closed for a moment, then stepped down onto the floor of her bedroom. Her breath caught in her chest as she saw Alicia’s sleeping form, curled up under the white knit blanket of her bed, brown hair splayed out across the pillow, with a few strands covering her face. Elyza placed the flowers on the bedside table, and very carefully, reached over to brush the hair out of the younger girl’s face. Letting her hand linger on her cheek, she felt such an ache in her heart while staring at the soft, peaceful features of the brunette. Before removing her hand, she quietly whispered, “I’m sorry…”, then stepped away. Turning toward the kitchen, she stopped in her tracks when she noticed Nick standing in the kitchen, his back to her. Feeling slightly embarrassed that she had immediately forgotten that someone was awake when she became spellbound by Alicia, she continued toward him before greeting him.

 

    “Good morning, Nick.” Elyza said, smiling up at his kind eyes as he turned to greet her.

 

    “Morning. Coffee?” Nick smiled, extending his hand, offering her a steaming cup.

 

    “Yes...thank you. I could really use it after last night.” she said, graciously accepting the drink, bringing it to her lips to take a sip.

 

    “Are you okay? I’m so sorry about all that with him. I wish there was something I could have done. I hate that you had to deal with that and then ended up fighting off all those walkers on your own.” Nick said, concern in his voice and his eyes.

 

    Elyza smiled at him, and nodded her head. She really loved how genuine and caring Nick was. He had a big heart, and that really stood out to Elyza. “I’m alright. It was just so chaotic, you know? Definitely not how I planned to spend the evening, but you gotta roll with the punches, right?” she said, letting out a small laugh.

 

    “Tell me about it.” Nick laughed in return. “What are we going to do about that supply run today?” he asked.

 

    “Well, I have to see how much damage was done to the truck. If everything’s alright, we can head out in about an hour.” she answered, setting her cup down before walking over to open a drawer on the far end of the counter. She retrieved a small case of sockets and wrenches, and a rag, then headed for the door. “I’ll go check it out, and I’ll let you know what we can do from there.” she said, smiling at him as he nodded at her. She slipped quietly out the door and headed down to assess the damage.

 

    After about ten minutes went by, she came back up to give Nick the news. “Looks like the radiator hose is completely busted. We definitely can’t drive it.” she said, shaking her head slightly as she looked over to where Chris slept. Although she was very angry with him last night and still disappointed, she felt bad for how she yelled at him. He was just a scared kid living through something no one should have to live through.

 

    “Alright...so how do we do this? You want me to try and find another car we can use?” Nick asked, eager to give his assistance in any way.

 

    “No. I think I’ll just go get my bike and head out myself. I know you couldn’t have gotten much sleep. Why don’t you relax a while and when I get back, if I can’t find a replacement hose for the truck, you and I can go look for something else that we’ll all fit in?” she said, thinking that was probably the best use of her time for the morning.

 

    “Okay. That sounds good. Just be careful out there, alright?” Nick said to her, placing a hand on her shoulder with a smile on his face, before walking back over to lay on the couch.

 

    “I will. Thank you, Nick.” Elyza responded with a small smile of her own. Just before she stepped out the door, she turned to glance back at Alicia once more, a mixture of emotions written all over her face.

 

    “I’ll keep her safe, don’t worry.” Nick said from the couch, smiling at Elyza with a silent promise in his brown eyes.

    Unable to speak, Elyza just smiled and nodded at him before closing the door behind her. What she didn’t know was that Nick had witnessed everything she had done when she first came down. He watched as she placed the flowers on the table and caressed Alicia’s face lovingly before whispering her heartfelt apology. He had already liked Elyza from the moment they met and could see there was something happening between his sister and the blonde, but seeing how strongly she cared for the younger woman in this private moment, made him certain that she was the right person for Alicia. He vowed in his mind to keep them both safe as best he could, and to make sure they all stayed together no matter what. They deserved happiness, and he wouldn’t allow anything to stand in their way if he could help it.

 

 ****************************************************************************************************

     

    Alicia woke to the smell of coffee in the air. She sat up and looked toward the kitchen where she saw Nick standing by the coffee pot, his book in his hands again. Looking at the clock on the bedside table, she saw that it was pretty early...6:30am, still not fully light outside. Sitting there next to the clock, she noticed two small, white flowers lying on the edge. “Daisies?” she asked herself. Picking up the flowers, she brought them to her nose and closed her eyes as she inhaled deeply, breathing in their subtly sweet scent. She didn't understand why, but it made her long to breathe in the way Elyza smelled. Swinging her long legs over the side of the bed, she placed her feet on the floor and rubbed the sleep out of her eyes before standing up to dress.

 

“Every single broken heart will lead you to the truth

You think you know what you’re looking for

Til what you’re looking for finds you…

In a cold world, it’s a warm place 

Where you know that you’re supposed to be 

A million moments full of sweet release 

When the right one comes along…” 

 

 

    “Couldn’t sleep?” she asked her brother, reaching around him to grab a mug from the cabinet.

 

    “Not so well after last night. How ‘bout you, kid?” Nick asked, tousling his sister’s hair, smiling at her.

 

    Normally, that sort of thing would annoy her, but Alicia had really learned to cherish every moment with the people she loved, especially her big brother. She frowned and leaned into his side, wrapping her arms around him in a hug. “No...I didn’t get much sleep. What are we going to do with him?” Alicia asked, looking toward the living room where Chris still lay sleeping on the floor.

 

    “I’m not sure. Let’s just hope mom and Travis get back here soon. They will straighten him out.” he said in response. He noticed the way Alicia’s features changed and he could see the sadness in her eyes as she stared straight ahead, looking desperately at the window to the fire escape. He bumped his elbow into her arm before smiling and saying assuredly, “You know, she can come with us.”

 

    “I’ll go bring her some coffee…” Alicia said, feeling slightly embarrassed that her feelings were that obvious, but also grateful that she had Nick’s support.

 

    “I made her some already. She headed out a little while ago.” Nick stated, throwing his thumb over his left shoulder toward the door.

 

    “What do you mean, she left? Where?” Alicia asked, eyes wide with panic.

 

    “Relax...she just left, right before you got up.  Went on that supply run she mentioned last night. She went alone because we couldn’t take the truck. Something about a busted radiator hose, thanks to Boy Wonder over there. She was out there earlier trying to fix it but she needs to get a new one if we’re ever going to drive it again.” Nick explained, furrowing his brow as he watched his sister quickly moving to the bathroom to brush her teeth and wash her face before rushing over to put on her boots and grab her swords that were placed in the corner, slipping the scabbard onto her back. “What are you doing?” he asked, looking confused.

 

    “I’m not letting her go alone, Nick. Besides, with two of us, we can get more supplies.” Alicia said, her tone indicating she wouldn’t be talked out of it. Once at the door, she turned back to her brother before opening it and asked, “Did she say where she was headed?” her hand on the doorknob.

 

    “She was going to get her bike, then hit a few stores, but I don’t know where.” he answered.

 

    “Good enough. Thanks, Nick.” Alicia said, opening the door and giving him a thankful smile for the information.

 

    “Leash,” he started as he reached out to place his hand over her’s as she held the doorknob. “...be careful.” Nick said, nodding his head to her with a small, worried smile.

 

    Alicia gave his hand a quick squeeze, and slipped out the door, making her way to the street below. She knew exactly where Elyza kept her bike, and she was hoping that since she hadn’t left too long ago, if she ran she could catch her.

 

 ********************************************************************************************************

 

    Rolling up the door of the storage unit, Elyza couldn’t help but smile at the sight of her Harley. It always made her happy to see, but the smile she wore now was simply because of a recent memory. The image of Alicia sitting on the bike just last week had been seared into her memory. She never wanted to forget that day. It was the day she realized she was falling in love with the girl.

 

“Every single broken heart will lead you to the truth

You think you know what you’re looking for

Til what you’re looking for finds you…”

 

   Stepping to the back, she retrieved a large black, empty backpack that she could use to carry back whatever supplies she came across. She grabbed her helmet, and walked the bike out, flipping out the kickstand so she could shut and lock the rolling, overhead door. When she stood up from replacing the padlock, she turned around and nearly jumped out of her skin in shock and surprise.

 

    “Jesus Christ ! You scared the shit out of me!” Elyza said breathlessly, holding her right hand to her heart.

 

    “And here you thought I couldn’t be as sneaky as you!” Alicia said, giving the blonde a cocky smirk, while raising an eyebrow.

 

    “Okay then...we can add being sneaky to your list of skills, but what are you doing here? How did you know I was here?” Elyza asked, trying to not show that she was so relieved to see the girl.

 

    “Nick. He told me you had left shortly before I woke up. I didn’t like the thought of you being out here alone. He didn’t want me to go, but I needed to know that you were okay.” Alicia explained, looking down at her feet as she said the last part.

 

    “I’m okay.” Elyza started, feeling confused again because of the constant battle between her head and her heart. She was already feeling the desperate ache inside of her, longing for the woman in front of her.

 

    “So...where are we headed?” Alicia asked eagerly, looking to Elyza expectantly.

 

   “Uh….well there’s an Auto Zone about 15 minutes away down on Pico Boulevard. I wanted to check there to see if I could find a part for the truck. Then I figured I would check out the Ralph’s that’s closer to home on the way back, see if I can grab anything good.” Elyza said, listing off her plans for the morning.

 

    “Okay that sounds good. Let’s go.” Alicia said, walking over to the bike.

 

    Seeing that she couldn’t protest because the brunette had already made up her mind, Elyza took a deep breath and nodded in agreement as she moved to the Harley, swinging her leg over. Before she could motion for Alicia to follow, the girl was already moving into position behind her, gripping her hips lightly with both hands. The contact gave Elyza chills that caused goosebumps to cover her skin.

 

    Remembering she only had one helmet as she reached for it on the handlebars, Elyza turned to face her passenger, holding it out toward her saying, “Here, put this on.”.

 

    Alicia took it slowly, looking from the helmet and back to Elyza before saying, “What are you going to wear?” concern washing over her face.

 

    “It’s the only one I’ve got. Don’t worry, I’ll be alright. Just put it on, please.” Elyza said giving the girl a small smile before turning forward and starting the bike. Slowly, she moved forward toward the entrance and once on the street, with a slight turn of her wrist she urged the throttle forward and they were speeding off. The sudden change of speed made Alicia wrap her arms tightly around Elyza’s torso, pulling herself as close as possible. The feeling sent what felt like an electrical current, surging through the blonde, reaching every cell in her being. As she felt Alicia start to relax after about a minute, she took her left hand off of the grip and moved it to cover Alicia’s own that was still holding onto her tightly, giving it a quick, reassuring squeeze, silently letting her know that she was safe. Elyza would always keep her safe.

 

“It’s so easy, nothing to it

Though you may not believe me now

Oh but I promise, honey you’ll find out

When the right one comes along

 

All that changes is only everything

When the right one comes along…”

 

    After a 15 minute ride, the Harley came to a stop in front of the abandoned Auto Zone store. Both women stepped off of the bike, eyes and ears trained on anything that might  move. They agreed that the area was safe and proceeded to move forward toward the doors. Stopping just at the entrance, Elyza picked up a golf ball sized rock that was lying nearby and motioned for Alicia to stay put. Throwing the rock with all her might, far into the store, she brought her index finger to her lips indicating they needed to be quiet and listen for any infected inside. After about 30 seconds of no sound except the slight breeze blowing by, Elyza nodded to Alicia and said, “Let’s go.” as they both stepped forward into the dark store.

 

    It seemed this place had been looted already. Most of the lighting was smashed, items littered the floor and there was a faint humming coming from the single overhead light hanging, still flickering toward the back of the store. It gave off a very eerie feeling that sent a shiver down Alicia’s spine.

 

    “So, what are we looking for?” Alicia asked, looking over at Elyza, doubt shining clear in her eyes. She didn’t think they’d be lucky enough to find anything in this dump.

 

    “Radiator hose and a few clamps. It looks like it’s going to be a challenge I know, but I’m sure we can find something that will work.” she explained, moving through the rubble, eyes scanning ever so quickly through the mess in that lay in front of them. After about an hour of digging through pile upon pile of auto equipment, Elyza had finally found what she was looking for.

 

    “Bingo!” she shouted, excitedly, receiving a giggle from Alicia who was nearby, stuffing Elyza’s backpack with a few expensive and durable looking flashlights and some batteries that she thought may come in handy. The two women exited the store together after packing up the items they needed, hopped on the bike and sped off back in the direction of Elyza’s apartment, and their final stop at the large grocery store chain, Ralph’s, before heading home.

 

    When Elyza handed Alicia the helmet before they started moving again, it suddenly dawned on her that she remembered there being a Harley-Davidson shop on Hollywood Boulevard, about a two minute walk from the Chinese Theater that she used to love to visit to see all of the famous stars handprints, forever held in stone. She smiled to herself as she thought of how brilliant her plan seemed. When they came to an intersection where there were many cars piled up, Elyza had to slow the bike down quite a bit to manuver them through the mess and Alicia took that opportunity to lift the visor on her helmet to say, “Can we make one stop before we go to Ralph’s? I want to show you something...something I loved to visit before all of this.” Alicia asked shyly.

    

    Thinking that she would love nothing more than to be spending time getting to know this beautiful girl, holding on to her so tightly, Elyza eagerly responded, “Absolutely! Where to, gorgeous?” she said, feeling excitement rush through her heart. Alicia filled her in, and Elyza sped off toward the TCL Chinese Theater.

 

    When Elyza pulled the bike up in front of the theater, she was surprised that she hadn’t seen any walkers. For being the biggest attraction in town, that seemed odd to her. Maybe the universe was finally just allowing her some happiness without ripping it away so painfully. She smiled at that thought.

 

    “Here we are, love...lead the way.” she said to Alicia, flecks of gold sparkling in her blue eyes as she smiled at the brunette while bringing a hand up to shield the blinding sun from her face.

 

    Surprisingly, Alicia grabbed her hand and smiled before saying, “This way…” giving the blonde a carefree smile. Elyza felt her heart melt in that instant. She couldn't believe just how perfectly their hands fit together. Hand in hand, they walked up to toward the entrance to the theater. Elyza had been on Hollywood Boulevard before, she had taken the “Map To The Stars” bus tour and indulged in all the touristy offerings of Tinseltown, but she had never actually walked down this particular street. When they reached a certain spot off to the right of the front doors, Alicia stopped and gazed down at their feet, Elyza’s gaze following.

 

    “She is my absolute favorite actress. I don’t know whatever got me into old black and white films, but when I first laid eyes on her, I was just so….captivated. You know?” Alicia said, a childlike excitement shining in her mossy green eyes, as she stared at Elyza with the most breathtaking smile.

 

    “Believe me…I know.” Elyza said, feeling her insides were being engulfed in flames. She stared back down at the piece of history cemented in front of them. Joan Crawford. It was dated September 14, 1929 along with an impression of her hands and her shoes, as well as a quote.

 

    “May this cement our friendship.” Alicia read aloud, as she knelt down and placed her hands into the imprint of Joan’s. She closed her eyes and breathed in deeply as a strong Santa Ana wind blew in, lifting her long brown curls in a whirlwind around her face. She was smiling and reveling in the fact that on September 14, 1929, the woman she so admired had her hands in the same exact place. It was the same feeling she got anytime she came here and looked at what she thought should be the eighth wonder of the world. It was then, that she suddenly felt a new rush of enchantment seep into her soul, when she felt the warm, strong hands of Elyza slip so gently over her own.

 

    Elyza had knelt down beside her friend, took a deep, steadying breath, and reached around to place both of her hands overtop of Alicia’s as she said, “Don’t worry...it’s already permanent…”. Her face and neck felt as if they were overheating at the close proximity to the girl when she turned and opened her stunning green eyes at the blue ones awaiting her. Their lips were only a mere inch apart, if that. Elyza’s head was swimming in the intoxicating, overpowering feelings she got when this close to the brunette. All she can remember is closing her eyes and waiting. She waited...and waited, for about 10 seconds until she felt Alicia’s hands pull away from her own as she stood up. Her heart ached, but she tried her best not to show it. She felt rejected, but she didn't know that Alicia was fighting a battle with her own mind as well. After seeing how quickly Elyza shut down after their time together the night before, Alicia was scared that if she acted on her feelings again, she may just get hurt.

 

    “I have one more thing I want to show you.” Alicia said. Her flushed face and rosy cheeks did not go unnoticed. Instead of grabbing Elyza’s hand this time, she freely walked ahead, leading the way to her next destination. When they stopped in front of the Harley-Davidson of Hollywood store, Alicia watched in amazement as Elyza’s face lit up like a child on Christmas morning.

 

    “How did I not know this was here!” She said, excitedly, looking at Alicia then rushing forward to open the front door before being stopped by Alicia grabbing her bicep. The blonde looked at her, confusion overtaking her features, until she saw the brunette mock her earlier motions of bringing her index finger to her lips. Elyza couldn’t help but melt as she felt there was something flirtatious at how Alicia directed her gaze before taking a moment to toss a half full bottle of Diet Coke that she found sitting near the entrance into the store, just as Elyza had done at Auto Zone earlier that day with the rock.

 

    When they heard no noise after waiting half a minute, it was Elyza this time, who grabbed Alicia’s hand and led her into the motorcycle shop. Inside, there were many different types of bikes all out on display, hundreds of shirts and jackets and hats and a million other different Harley- Davidson memorabilia. “This is crazy! I can’t believe I’ve never been in here before!” the blonde said as she ran her left hand through a rack of t-shirts on display, her eyes never settling on one thing in particular.

 

    “This is just...insane! My mom would have loved this place! She always had a thing for bikes..” Elyza said, smiling over at Alicia, her eyes glistening with excitement.

 

    “Tell me about her…” Alicia started, knowing already that this seemed to be subject that needed to be handled delicately with Elyza.

 

    “Well...it almost seems impossible to tell you anything, because she was just so unique. Let’s see...she was 44 years old...she was a complete hard ass, but she was the biggest softie when it came to me...and animals. Her dog, Gus..he was like her child, I swear. Beautiful, gigantic beast he was. A Newfoundland. Would you believe that when I lived at home, I had a twin bed and that big, slobbering  bastard used to sleep with me and take up three quarters of the mattress? Anyway...she was very strong and had a tough, sometimes scary exterior,unless of course, I was in trouble then she was my hero, but a force to be reckoned with for anyone else.” Elyza said with a nostalgic smile and a laugh. “God...I will never forget...when I was younger, if I was ever in trouble...as soon as I heard her yell, ‘ Elyza Jane!’,  I just kinda knew I was in deep shit.” the blonde said with a chuckle, “Same as with my grandmother. God... I miss them both so much.” she said, staring intently at the ground as they walked through the store.

 

    “The way you describe her...I almost feel like I know her.” Alicia said, speaking of Elyza’s mother. “It really makes me miss my dad. Not that I ever stopped...but just thinking about this whole shitty situation...I always wonder what he would have done, you know?” she finished, questioning her Australian friend.

 

    “My mom would have been kicking ass and taking names...that’s for sure.” Elyza said, raising her eyebrows and laughing. “She would have really liked you, had she had the chance.” she finished, hanging her head, unable to form more words.

 

   “It’s funny I was just going to say the same thing about my dad.” Alicia said with a smile.

“If you don’t want to talk about it, I understand, but....what happened to your mom?” the brunette asked carefully. Just then, her eyes roamed across something she had been looking for and she stepped over to it, still awaiting a response from the blonde.

 

    Elyza had been so preoccupied with her painful memories, she kept on walking without looking back to see if Alicia was still following. She stopped when she came upon a rack with a tank top that just screamed the brunette’s name. Smiling to herself, she took it from the hanger and began to stuff it into her bag  and said, “I will tell you...I just...I need time. Is that okay?” Elyza asked, turning to look at the younger woman. Just then, she heard the dreaded growling and moaning,

 

    “Alicia! Don’t move!” Elyza said, her eyes flashing into Alicia’s green ones before returning to the open door of the Harley-Davidson store they had entered together. There she witnessed a horde, approximately 30 or 40 walkers...she could not tell from inside of the store. She felt so stupid! In her hurry to get inside and check out all the merchandise, she forgot to barricade the door for safety. Right after she addressed the brunette, she saw the first wave of the infected make their way inside. The only option they had was to hide beneath the racks of clothing, but even that was risky. However, it seemed to be their only choice considering the amount of walkers that was waiting just outside the doors. “Get down! Hide in the racks!” Elyza said as loud as she could while still whispering to Alicia, her green eyes wide in a panic.

 

    They both made their way into the closest rack of clothing they could find, hiding their presence from the undead. Unfortunately, one of the dead fucks tripped and fell right into the rack Alicia had been hiding in, causing her to jump up and alert the nearby infected. Stopping only briefly to look over to where Elyza had lay in wait, she was mesmerized when the blonde jumped up out of her hiding spot at the sound and blue eyes locked onto green, giving each other a nod of understanding.

 

“Driver roll up the partition please

I don't need you seeing Yoncé on her knees

Took 45 minutes to get all dressed up

We ain't even gonna make it to this club

Now my mascara runnin', red lipstick smudged

Oh he so horny, yeah he want to fuck

He popped all my buttons and he ripped my blouse

He Monica Luwinski'd all on my gown....”

 

    With a quick motion and a furious growl, Alicia reached her arms back to grasp the two swords held securely behind her back. Dipping one down quickly into the skull of the walker who fell nearly on top of her, she then brought both blades forward, twirling them in her hands and holding them toward to the threat in front of her. Alicia’s only motion was slowly rolling her fingers on the hilt of her swords as she regripped each blade, as well as an assuring glance and nod  toward her blonde partner in crime as the woman retrieved her own blade from the scabbard on her back, returning the smile the brunette gave her. With that positive grin, Alicia was the first one to rush the group of walkers that was headed in their direction after.

 

“Driver roll up the partition fast 

Over there I swear I saw them cameras flash

Hand prints and footprints on my glass

Hand prints and good grips all on my ass

Private show with the music blastin'

He like to call me peaches when we get this nasty

Red wine drip filth talk that trash

Chauffeur eavesdropping tryin' not to crash …”

 

    Alicia lept forward out of her hiding place, looking like a slow motion martial arts scene, twirling her swords in a furious rage with the battle cry of a warrior. She slashed and sliced precisely with her blade, making sure to dispatch each walker at first contact, just like Elyza taught her to do. Wasted time meant wasted energy, which they desperately needed. She moved fluidly through the crowd of infected that came upon her and Elyza couldn’t help but be turned on by the brunettes moves.

 

    Elyza moved out as well, and began slashing and stabbing at any undead creature that came into her path. She missed more times than she’d like to admit because of where her attention really lay. The way the brunette moved...the way the muscles of her arms flexed under her thin, long sleeved, black shirt. The way she twirled around almost magically, made Elyza have to step back and take a breath. Alicia was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen and seeing her in battle was impairing her mind. The green eyed girl was intoxicating. The way she dove forward, slashing her swords and leaping over a group of infected  only to stand behind them, spin toward them  and begin the process again...it was almost too much for Elyza to take. She felt her insides coming undone.

 

“I just wanna be the girl you like (girl you like)

The kinda girl you like (girl you like)

Take all of me

I just wanna be the girl you like, girl you like

The kinda girl you like is right here with me

Right here with me

Right here with me

Right here with me…”

 

    The two girls were being backed into the center of the store as the horde was drawn in by the noise. Less and less space was becoming available to them as the overzealous infected lept forward from their group to attempt sinking their teeth into the women dancing in battle in front of them.  Two walkers came at each of them at the same time causing their back’s to crash together in their close proximity. They each glanced over their shoulders, barely moving their eyes, and pushed off each other and toward the rest of the horde, delivering the final blows to each one they came in contact with. As Alicia moved toward the final infected on her side, it rushed her, taking her completely by surprise and knocking her onto her back.

    

    Elyza was slashing at the last walker on her side, bringing her machete down hard between it’s eyes with a rush of adrenaline in her veins. It was then that she turned to notice the last walker Alicia had on her, falling on top of the girl, about to sink it’s teeth into her jugular. With such quick movements, Elyza ran over, kicking the beast off of the brunette as her body twirled in a mid air twist. She landed, legs straddling Alicia, as she brought her blade quickly across the front of her and over her right shoulder as it sunk into the skull of the final walker.

 

    With neither of them being able to think clearly after such an adrenaline fueled battle, Alicia  stared up at the smoldering blue eyes above her, pushed her earlier feelings of uncertainty aside and said, "Fuck it..." and pulled Elyza down hard into an intense, passionate kiss, Elyza tried as hard as she could to fight the feelings she began to feel in that moment. Her entire body was on fire and there was no way she could put it out, even if she wanted to. The way Alicia’s tongue danced with her own was enough to kill her. She gave up and let her feelings take her away as she allowed her body to sink into and become one with the brunette’s own.

 

Take all of me

I just wanna be the girl you like, girl you like…”

 

    

Chapter Text

    To Elyza, it felt as if she were sinking and floating all at once. She felt her heart race one second then nearly stop the next. She felt fire and ice in her veins with every touch between them. It was so beautifully slow but also incredibly frenzied...it was painful, yet healing with every taste of each other’s lips. Alicia had her arms wrapped tightly around the blonde, one hand on her back, holding on for dear life, and the other entangled in long blonde waves at the base of her neck, pulling her as close as physically possible. Elyza, trying to support her own weight even with the brunette pulling her in tight, leaned on her forearm, her hand reaching up to cradle Alicia’s face, while the other free hand lay on the girl’s chest, feeling the erratic, yet strong drumming of her heart. “This has to be what heaven feels like…” Elyza thought to herself, feeling so completely and utterly happy. It was then the array of emotions she was experiencing turned into a single, chilling feeling. Fear struck her as her ears zeroed in on the growling coming from much too close behind them.

 

    Jumping up quickly, retrieving her blade, she found it hard to stand as her legs felt almost weak enough to give out. Almost. She had one focus now; Alicia’s safety. Lunging at the two infected that had managed to nearly get the drop on them, she took them down rather quickly. Turning back to where she left Alicia lying, she was startled to see the brunette no longer where she left her but rather standing directly behind her. Not able to say a word, their eyes once again danced all over the other’s features and Elyza found herself unable to deny the intense, magnetic force pulling her into the girl. Their lips crashed together again, dropping the machete as it happened. She felt like Alicia was the very source of the oxygen her lungs so desperately needed to keep breathing. They held each other so tightly, both holding on like they were afraid the other would disappear if they let go.

 

    It was nearly impossible, but Elyza broke their kiss, ever so slowly, leaving her forehead resting against the younger woman’s. Before she spoke, she stole one more, soft, slow, kiss.

 

    “We should go. It’s not safe here. More could be coming.” she said, her voice barely above a whisper as her heart pounded against the cage that held it captive at the sight of Alicia’s eyes up close. Those stunning, green eyes.

 

    “Okay…” Alicia said, sounding very reluctant. They stood that way for another minute, neither of them able to let go. Neither of them wanting to wake from this dream they were both happily lost in together.

 

    Elyza gave her a smile that Alicia had never seen on her before. She couldn’t quite place it, but Elyza looked...happy. Not just excited and content like usual, but truly happy. It made her heart feel as if it had just dissolved into a puddle when she realized, she felt exactly the same way. Her head was swimming, as they walked out of the store, leaving the bloodied corpses behind. She thought she already knew what happiness was, what it could feel like with someone you cared deeply about. She had felt happy with Matt, she thought. Only now, her heart told a different story. What she felt then and what she was feeling now were two very different things. The thought made her her heart beat with such force, she felt as if she were finally waking up from this nightmare that had been her life for the past three weeks, or perhaps even longer. At that moment she decided, maybe all was not lost in this cruel world, after all.

 

     As Elyza led the way back to her motorcycle, she climbed on and waited for Alicia to follow. Anxiously awaiting the feeling of the girl’s arms embrace her again. However, as Alicia came to the side of the bike, something flashed in her eyes.

 

    “I forgot something! I will be right back!” she said with a grin, grabbing Elyza’s hand, pulling it up to her lips and kissing her knuckles before letting go and running back into the store. Panicking, still weary of their surroundings, Elyza was stepping off the bike immediately to follow, not wanting any harm to come to the girl. Just as she started to walk forward, Alicia came rushing out, a shiny, blood red helmet in her arms, the same style as Elyza’s own.

 

    Slowing to a stop, she smiled, mirroring the blondes own and said, “I couldn’t let you sacrifice your safety for me. Now I have one of my own.”

 

    “Nice choice in color.” Elyza said, a smirk of approval on her face.

 

    “I’ve always had a thing for red.” Alicia responded, smiling back.

 

    Without another word, the two took their places on the Harley. Elyza started the bike, smiling as she felt Alicia enveloping her, and took off to finish the rest of their journey. While riding along toward the grocery store, Alicia couldn’t help but relish in this feeling running through her. She felt like a whole new world was opening up for her, yet at the same time, it felt like coming home. There was so much about this amazing woman that she was clinging to, that she was so desperate to explore, and so much of herself that she wanted to share in return. A sense of peace washed over her that she was certain she had never felt before, as she turned her head to rest it on Elyza’s back as the bike thundered to life.

 

***************************************************************************************************

 

    The trip to the grocery store was uneventful. There were surprisingly a few good items left that both girls quickly snatched up, and no walkers to stop them. Bottled water, canned fruit and meat, as well as a few bags of dried beans and rice. Elyza noticed how Alicia seemed lost in thought while they strolled slowly through the messy aisles. She wanted so desperately to reach for the girl’s hand, to let their fingers intertwine, but she felt nervous. The thought made her laugh quietly to herself. That was twice now that Alicia had initiated anything between the two of them, and here she was, struggling to find the courage to simply hold her hand. She hadn’t even realized how intently she had been staring.

    Alicia could feel Elyza’s gaze on her and when she turned toward the woman, she caught a quick glimpse of ocean blue eyes as Elyza quickly looked away, biting her lower lip in embarrassment of getting caught for staring.

 

    “So that’s what it’s like, hmm?” Alicia asked, a hint of something in her voice that Elyza couldn’t quite place, but it sure sounded a lot like desire.

 

    “What what’s like?” Elyza asked, perplexed by what exactly the younger girl was referring to.

 

    “Watching you bite your lip like that I-....I remember you mentioning something the other night about how-.....” Alicia started, a slight blush on her cheeks before she was stopped by Elyza’s lips on her own.

 

    Elyza couldn’t hold back anymore. She had been kissed by this beautiful woman twice now and she was certain that wanting more... needing more,  was just inevitable. She couldn’t fight it. She didn’t want to. Nervousness be damned. The kiss wasn’t frenzied or too intense, but just the right mixture of slow and sweet. With the fingers of her left hand resting on Alicia’s face, her thumb softly caressing the girl’s cheekbone and the other doing exactly as she wished to before...reaching down and entangling the brunette’s fingers with her own, bringing their hands up, she held them close to her heart. She sighed in contentment into the kiss, and slowly broke it as she felt Alicia smiling against her lips.

 

    “Yeah...that’s what it’s like.” Elyza said, kissing Alicia on the tip of her nose before backing away and smiling at the look of happiness on the girl’s face, hoping that it was clear that she felt just as happy. They slowly began to move forward toward the exit, this time, with Elyza allowing her hand to stay right where it was. Never leaving the warmth of Alicia’s soft grip.

 

*******************************************************************************************************

 

    When they arrived back home, Elyza pulled the bike right into the stairwell past the iron gated entrance to ensure it’s safety. Both women made their way up to the stairs and into the apartment, seeing no signs of Nick or Chris. Worry came over the two of them until they heard arguing upstairs on the roof.

 

    “Home, sweet home.” Elyza said, raising her eyebrows and feigning a smile while Alicia shook her head and laughed.

 

    Making their way up the fire escape to the roof, they witnessed Nick sitting back in his usual chair by the firepit, speaking to a very angry looking Chris.

 

    “All I’m saying is, you’ve gotta lay off. She’s been nothing but kind and accepting of us and just because you’re jealous of the attention Alicia is getting, that’s no excuse to treat Elyza the way you did. She’s a good person...she deserves better than that. I know you’re  better than that. C’mon, man…” Nick said to Chris, leaning back and letting the chair balance on it’s back legs, while he held his hands calmly on either thigh.

 

    Just as Chris was turning around to spit out a response, his eyes met Elyza and Alicia at the top of the stairs and he just scowled and went to sit off in a corner. Following the moody teenager’s gaze, Nick set the chair back down and turned to face his sister and the blonde. A huge grin spread across his face as he got up to greet them.

 

    “Glad you both made it back safe.” he said, wrapping Alicia in a bear hug before surprising both girls as he wrapped his arms around Elyza right after. “Don’t worry about him. He’s just being a little shit. I’ll keep him in check until his dad can get here to handle him.” Nick said, reassuringly with a lopsided grin.

 

    “Not if I handle him first.” Alicia said, her voice low and angry as she glared after her stepbrother, still very upset with him for his actions the night before.

 

    “Relax, love. He’s fine.” Elyza started, reaching down and giving Alicia’s hand a quick squeeze. “Let’s all try and relax a bit and have some lunch, yeah?. Nick...would you mind throwing something together while I go put this part in the truck?” Elyza asked as she looked up at him.

 

   “Yeah, of course. Any requests?” he said jokingly, knowing they had very little to choose from.

 

    “Hmm, we’ll take….the Chef’s Special!” Alicia said, laughing and tossing Nick the backpack full of supplies from the grocery store.

 

    “Chef’s Special?” Nick said, taking a look inside the bag, raising his eyebrows and then smiling up at both women before continuing, “I’ve got this… two orders of the Chef’s Special coming right up, ladies.” he finished with a wink and a smile directed at both of them before turning to head over to the workstation where Elyza typically prepared their meals.

 

    “I love your brother. He’s just so...Nick.” Elyza said with a small laugh, looking admiringly over at the brunette’s older brother.

 

    “Oh...you love my brother ? That makes this kinda awkward then…” Alicia started, thinking it was a funny joke. She realized the heaviness of what she just implied when she saw Elyza’s expression go from carefree and relaxed to nervous and stiff.

 

     She frowned before trying to recover by saying, “I meant...I was just…” she began but couldn’t find the words.

 

    “Yeah….no, I know. I should um….I should go get this part installed in the truck. I’ll be up later.” slowly backing away as she spoke, feeling very, very overwhelmed. She knew what Alicia said was meant to be a cute joke, but it evoked a feeling in her chest that she wasn’t sure she could handle at the moment. She knew what she was feeling. She just couldn’t say it. Not yet. Just because she felt it, doesn’t mean it was mutual. She had to wait. So she did what she does best in a stressful situation. She left.

 

    Standing there watching the blonde descend the fire escape, Alicia bit her lip nervously, wondering if she just messed up. She wanted to tell Elyza how deeply she cared for her, and she wanted to know that Elyza cared for her in return.She tried to push the feelings down, telling herself it was obviously too soon to feel anything like that and that the older woman probably didn’t feel that way at all and maybe just enjoyed Alicia’s company. Thinking that, she shook her head in frustration. There was no way someone could kiss another person the way she kissed her earlier and not feel something. Closing her eyes and letting out a sigh from mental and emotional exhaustion, she decided to see if Nick needed any help. He smiled as she walked over,  and immediately set to work helping him chop some vegetables that he had already cleaned.

 

    “Thanks, little chef.” He said with a smile, bumping her shoulder with his own.

 

*********************************************************************************************************

 

    Later that evening, everyone was lounging around the fire like they had done every night since they arrived. Nick reading his book, Chris off by himself, still carving patterns and shapes into the fighting staff, and Alicia sitting in her chair with her knees pulled into her chest with her arms wrapping around her legs, gazing off into the distance at the Hollywood Hills. She had no idea as Elyza sat across the fire from her, sketchbook and charcoal in hand, that she was trying to capture the younger woman’s beauty on paper. The way the firelight danced in her eyes, casting shadows on her face...it was almost too perfect to even attempt, but she wanted this image to stay with her forever. Alicia was the most beautiful, breathtaking thing she had ever seen.

 

    Lost in her reverie and being completely captivated by the brunette, she nearly jumped out of her skin when Chris yelled, “SHIT!!!” with the sound of the staff hitting the ground with a clatter. She looked over and saw that he was bleeding pretty badly from his index finger which he must have cut while working on his carvings. Immediately, she jumped up, rushing over to help him.

 

    “Here...let me. Hold it up like this to slow the flow of the bleeding.” she began, as she reached for his hand to show him.

 

    “Get off of me! I don’t need your help!” Chris snapped at her, stopping Elyza in her tracks.

 

    “Chris...I just wanted to help you. You’re hurt and-” she was instantly cut off by him.

 

    “And I’m fine! I don’t want or need your help. Just stay away from me, God!” he yelled as he stormed off into a far off corner of the rooftop.

 

    Elyza stood there, shock on her face when she noticed Alicia walking furiously toward the boy, rage shining bright in her eyes. Just as she was about to pass by, Elyza reached out and grabbed her forearm. “Let it go...please.” Elyza asked, looking intently into burning green eyes.

 

    “Let it go ? Are you kidding me? I won’t let him speak to you like that, you deserve to be treated wi-” Alicia was cut off by Elyza placing her fingers against Alicia’s lips.

 

    “Shhhhh...it’s not the end of the world. Well, okay, technically , it is..."  she said, rolling her eyes with a smile before she continued, "...but I mean with him. Don’t worry about it. He’s hurting. He’s worried about his dad and he just lost his mom. I know how that hurts. Let it be. Please.” Elyza said, offering the girl a small smile.

 

    Letting out a huff of air, Alicia said, “Fine. If that’s what you want, I respect that.” smiling back at the blonde.

 

    At the mentioning of Chris’s parents, Elyza was brought back to her earlier conversation with Alicia in the Harley shop. She remembered telling her that when she was ready, she would tell her about her mother and what had happened. That was before they kissed twice that day. She felt maybe she was  ready to share a painful part of her past with the girl. Looking down, feeling a bit scared to have to open up about this, she took Alicia’s hands in her own and blue eyes peeked up through long, dark lashes at the brunette as she asked, “Do you feel like taking a ride with me?”.

 

    Smiling, but feeling concerned for the pained expression the blonde had on her face, Alicia nodded and said, “Of course.” as she let Elyza lead the way toward the fire escape. As they passed by Nick, she glanced over at him, about to tell him she would be right back, but he silenced her by giving her a smile and a nod. How did he just know ? She wondered to herself, but instead of dwelling on it, she smiled appreciatively at him and let Elyza lead her, hand in hand, down to the bike. Slipping on their helmets, Alicia again wrapped her arms around the Australian and held her close. Elyza started the bike, and in the cover of the darkness, they drove. Alicia had no idea where they were headed, but she realized then that it didn’t matter. She would follow Elyza anywhere. Always.

Chapter Text

    Alicia held tightly to Elyza as she guided the bike effortlessly through all of the abandoned cars on Los Feliz Boulevard. When they turned left to continue on to Western Canyon Road, it felt almost like a roller coaster ride with every curve in the road and the way Elyza leaned left or right, expertly balancing the heavy bike. Alicia gripped tighter on the blonde as the Australian’s arm moved from the grip to point off to the left side of them, making sure Alicia saw the coyote that had just run across their path. She had always heard them howling and yipping in the night, and had heard of them snatching pets out of people’s yards, but she had never actually seen one in person before. She couldn’t hold back the smile that was growing under her helmet.

      As they made their way up East Observatory Road, Alicia gripped Elyza’s jacket in excitement as she realized where they were headed. Griffith Observatory...one of her favorite places. She was so caught up in her thoughts and feelings she had no idea where they were headed until this point. Elyza pulled the bike all the way up to the front entrance since there was no need to follow the rules of a parking lot anymore, and killed the engine.

      “Stay here a moment. Let me check if it’s safe first.” Elyza said as she removed her helmet, giving Alicia a small smile before jogging off, looking for any potential threats. After about two minutes went by, the blonde finally reappeared and Alicia felt a sense of relief wash over her. Something about being away from this woman just made her feel as if she were holding her breath the entire time they were apart. “Come on.” Elyza said, stopping to look back at Alicia as she offered her hand. The brunette grabbed her hand and let the Elyza lead the way.

      They walked around the right side of the building to a ledge overlooking all of downtown Los Angeles. Even with half of the city’s power out and more than half of it on fire from all the looting, the sight was just incredible. The city lights, coupled with a sky littered with bright stars and this...being here with someone who she felt could rival the brightest of stars, even on her worst day, Elyza felt so much. She had been feeling it for days and longer maybe. Only she was afraid that if she admitted her feelings, she would scare Alicia away. So she continued to bite her tongue.

      Elyza hopped up on the ledge and sat with her legs dangling over the side and turned to look at Alicia to see if she would follow, which of course, she did. It brought a smile to her face, knowing that this girl didn’t seem to be afraid of anything. “That’s what I lo-” she quickly shut that thought down. Once this girl knew about her dark past, she wouldn’t stick around. Nobody want’s to deal with a mess like that...the years of scars and emotional turmoil that still have such an effect over someone’s mind and heart. Trying to shake the thoughts from her mind, Elyza took a deep breath and looked out over the city below, getting lost in thoughts of her past. She was pulled back to the moment when she felt the warmth of a familiar hand covering her own.

      “Hey...where are you?” Alicia asked, her voice soft and full of concern for her friend.

      Elyza let out the breath that she didn’t know she had been holding since she felt the girl’s hand on her her own and hung her head, her lips setting in a hard line. Turning her head to the side to look at the younger woman beside her, she could see the way Alicia’s eyes searched her own. The girl’s brow was furrowed, green eyes staring patiently at blue ones. She hated this overwhelming sense of dread that was coming over her. Alicia clearly thought she was just this nice Aussie who decided to help some people out because she’s a good person. The girl had no idea who Elyza really was. The pain she’s caused people, the disappointment, the things she still blamed herself for every day. How could anyone see passed the monster that she felt she really was? It had been so easy these last two weeks, knowing Alicia...she had made the blonde forget all about her past and focus only on the present. It was a welcomed relief, but she should have known it wouldn’t last. Your past always comes back to haunt you if you run from it rather than face it.

      “I’m not the person you think I am, Alicia.” Elyza said, hanging her head briefly before looking up and letting her eyes lock onto everything and nothing, far off in the distance. “I’m not...good. I hurt people, I let them down. I make promises I never keep. I’m just a mess.” she continued, unable to look at the brunette.

      “What are you talking about? Of course you’re good! Why would you say that about yourself?” Alicia said, sounding thrown off and confused. This was definitely not what she was expecting when they came out here.

      “No, love. You don’t know me...the real me. This…” Elyza started, shaking her head angrily and looking down at herself, “this is all just an act. I’m not a good person, Alicia. I’ve done a lot of bad shit. I know I shouldn’t have kept this from you, but I didn’t know how to bring it up before now...and then the way you kissed me last night on the roof and then again today I just….I can’t keep hiding anymore. You deserve the truth. You deserve better. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have ever let anything happen between us. This is all my fault.” she finished, tears threatening to spill from her deep blue eyes.

      If Alicia were to say she wasn’t a little scared of what Elyza could possibly mean by all this, she’d be lying. She was frightened at how adamant the blonde sounded, but there was something else that was making her feel like there was more to the story and maybe Elyza was just being too hard on herself. It was probably just her heart...she knew what she had been feeling for this woman. She knew how deep she had let herself get. Maybe her heart was clouding her judgement.

      “Will you tell me?” Alicia asked without looking at Elyza, but staring out at the city beneath them, her hand still holding onto the blonde's.

      “I don’t even know where to start. So much shit has happened these past three years.” Elyza said, sounding defeated.

      “Why don’t you start from the beginning. You said the past three years...what happened three years ago that changed?” Alicia asked, giving her friend’s hand a gentle, reassuring squeeze.

      “My mom.” Elyza said, her voice cracking with just two words. “She was my best friend. I knew I’d always be okay because she was there...she always had my back and I had her’s. Only, I didn’t have her’s. She was suffering and she couldn’t find a way out of what she was going through and I just didn’t see it until it was too late. I didn’t help her. If I had just done something, anything to get her out of there...away from him and that bullshit life they were living, maybe I could have saved her. I should have fucking done something!” Elyza said, tears falling freely now as she tried to steady her voice.

      Although Alicia felt the sinking, cold realization of what Elyza was saying to her, she still asked the question she was dreading knowing the answer to. “Elyza...what happened to her?”

      “She killed herself.” she started, the words barely coming out in a whisper, almost as if she were afraid to speak them.  “She just...she just fucking did it and left me here. She just left me!” Elyza said, this time, the sobs were overtaking her body and she couldn’t breathe.

      “Elyza...shhh...shhh. Come here.” Alicia said, feeling her own tears starting fall. She quickly wrapped her arms around the blonde, holding her tightly and letting her friend fall apart in her arms. It was all she could do. Her heart was breaking for this poor girl in front of her. She ran her fingers through Elyza’s hair while placing soft kisses on her head before saying, “It’s not your fault, Elyza. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.”

     Elyza felt as if a weight had been lifted. She hadn’t told anyone, not even her friends that she had become so close to here in LA, about her mother or her past. She had kept it bottled in these past three years. The only people who knew anything about her life before California were the rest of her family that never seemed to care much about her anyway. Telling Alicia, getting this horrible memory out in the open with someone she truly cared for, made her feel like she could get the rest of her story out and maybe it wouldn’t be so hard.

      “Alicia...it destroyed me! I’ve screwed up so much of my life. I wasted so much time...I got into so much trouble and I lost everything! I don’t know who I am anymore...I’ve been so...so lost.” Elyza started, still sobbing into the brunette’s embrace.

      Finally, she sat back and tried to wipe her tears away. Her blue eyes seemed to glisten and sparkle like the stars when she looked up into Alicia’s eyes, making it hard for Alicia to form words. “How did you screw up? What could you possibly have done that messed things up so badly?” Alicia asked, adjusting her body so her legs were straddling the wall, getting as close to the Australian as possible while keeping her arms wrapped tightly around the blonde and her chin resting on her shoulder. She just wanted to hold her forever and take away all this pain that she felt.

      “I left. I abandoned my baby sister. I mean, she was mixed up in drugs really bad and I just couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t handle my pain and her’s as well as her addiction. My stepdad, I blamed him. He and I kept butting heads and one day I just packed all my shit and left. I moved around a lot, staying with friends and family. I pushed away everyone who ever tried to get close to me. I ended friendships and became so bitter and angry. I drank all the time. For three whole years, that’s all I did was drink. I lost my job, I lost everything. I used to go to bars and get out of control and just fight anyone who would look at me the wrong way. This one guy...the time I realized I needed to get far away from home...he was this real big guy, well over six feet tall. He was flirting with this girl that I liked...I was so drunk. He said some shit to me and I just lost it! I jumped on him and just started swinging. Everyone was looking at me like I was crazy and I felt so ashamed...so scared of what I had become, I just ran off and never looked back. I thought that was enough to push me to get my shit together but I just kept everything in. I never had anyone to talk to, no one to make me feel like I mattered. I felt so alone. One night, I stayed out drinking till well after this bar closed and I decided I was okay enough to drive. I wasn’t. Thank God I didn’t hurt anyone, but I was stopped and I was arrested.” Elyza said...shaking her head and letting a few more tears slip out as she stared off into the night, too ashamed to look Alicia in the face. “I lost my license for a year. It took all the money I had left. All the money I had saved to come here and start my life over. It was so hard, trying to stay for one more year and get work that was close enough that I could walk to so I could save some more to leave. After the year was over, I had barely enough, but it was still enough. So I hopped a plane and well...here I am. I get here, I finally have my life back on track and now this. I’m just not meant to be happy. It’s not in the cards for me. I just have to accept that.” she finished, looking at Alicia with a desperately painful look in her eyes, before getting up to walk back towards the bike.

      “Elyza, stop!” Alicia started, chasing after the blonde and grabbing her arm, turning her to face her. “You are not a bad person because of all that! What happened to your mom...to you...that would screw anyone up! I probably would have reacted the same way! And we have more in common than you think...Nick is a heroin addict. He’s only off it now because of what happened. If I had to go through what you did, I would have probably walked away from him just like you did your sister. You can’t blame yourself for what happened!” she finished, raising her voice to try and get her friend to see reason.

      Elyza began shaking her head in disagreement and moved to walk away again but was stopped by Alicia’s vice-like grip on both of her arms, holding her in place. “Alicia, I’m no good for you. You should keep your distance before I let you down, too. It’s what I always do. This isn’t the right time for you to….to feel things. Just leave. I will only hurt you. I’m not worth it.” she said, hanging her head and trying to sound stoic, hoping the girl would get the hint and just go before Elyza had the chance to let her down, too.

      “Bullshit! Don’t you dare tell me to walk away from you! Not after everything we’ve been through. You saved me! You saved me and you made me believe in life again! I was ready to give up before I heard your voice that night. I was done fighting, but you...you made me feel like there could be more to life than just surviving. Elyza...you are worth everything . All of this.” Alicia said with a hitch in her voice before pulling the blonde to her and capturing her lips with her own. She entangled her fingers in Elyza’s hair at the base of her neck while her other hand cradled her cheek, damp with fresh tears. She pulled back only for a moment with tears of her own beginning to fall again and whispered, “Elyza...I...I think I’m falling-” but her words were cut short by the loud groaning and growling that was coming from all directions.

      Both women looked around and somehow, they had been so wrapped up in their emotions, they didn’t notice the 20 or so walkers that had managed to encircle them. When they rushed out earlier, Alicia had left her swords at home, not thinking, so their only line of defense was Elyza’s machete.

      “Leash...this doesn’t look good, I have to be honest. Here’s what I want you to do. Listen to me very carefully, do you understand?” she began, receiving a worried nod of agreement from Alicia. “Go to the bike, carefully raise the kickstand and balance yourself. Pull out the choke, hold in the left clutch, use the shifter like you’ve seen me do to switch gears. Get her in neutral, turn the key, and flip the switch. Twist the throttle slowly until you feel you can balance yourself enough to go faster. Just take it easy, don’t go too fast and you should be able to get far enough away. If the bike is too much, just leave it and run.” Elyza explained, trying to keep eye contact with the brunette to see that she was processing everything being said, while also darting her eyes in every direction, keeping an eye on the horde growing closer and closer.

      “Elyza! I’m not leaving you here alone! Are you crazy? Just come with me! If I can make it to the bike, we both can!” Alicia said frantically, not wanting to let the blonde out of her sight.

      “You can only make it to the bike with me fighting them off. Now GO!” Elyza shouted, as the first walker lunged in their direction.

      Alicia hesitated, but took off toward the bike, looking over her shoulder to see Elyza with her blade in hand, taking out the first walker as two more were dangerously close. There had to be a way for them both to get out of this together. Doing as she was told, Alicia carefully but quickly got on the bike and after two tries, she got it started. Moving was a different story. She felt like she couldn’t balance the heavy bike enough to get moving fast enough. Slow and unsteady, she managed to make it down the path toward the large sundial monument, but she accidentally gripped the throttle too tightly and flew off to her left, crashing into a section of the chain that separated the path from the grass. Luckily, she managed to jump away from the bike before it could trap her legs beneath it, and quickly stood up, fear washing over her as she realized walkers were now headed toward her and there was no way she could lift the bike by herself. She was starting to panic, not knowing what to do when suddenly, she saw Elyza struggling to fight her way out of a group that had her trapped on all sides. All it took was that one moment to see this woman that she cared for so much in danger, it was as if the world disappeared and all she could focus on was Elyza. Without even thinking about it, she reached down and grabbed for the broken section of chain that had fallen from the metal posts she had crashed into. With a walker just a few feet from her, she swung the chain wildly in its direction, surprisingly connecting with its skull. It wasn’t enough to kill it, but enough to knock it down so she could move forward. Alicia kept this up until she made it to Elyza. With all of her strength, she whipped the chain hard at two walkers that were approaching the blonde from behind. This time, there was enough power behind it to slice through their rotting skulls, dropping them like flies.

       Jumping at the commotion behind her, Elyza turned to Alicia and smiled at her in disbelief before saying, “How did I know you wouldn’t listen?” as she turned back and took down three more of the infected. Together, they managed to take down the rest after a few minutes of exertion.

      Walking back toward the bike, Alicia remembered that she crashed it and instantly felt terrible for possibly ruining Elyza’s most prized possession. “Elyza...I’m so so sorry. I didn’t mean to...I just...It was so heavy!” she rambled, looking ashamed for not being able to handle the bike.

      Alicia was caught completely off guard when Elyza wrapped her arms around the brunette. She held onto her tightly and said, “I only care if you are broken. Not a stupid motorcycle.” as she pulled back, giving the girl a lopsided grin. “Thank you...for coming back for me. I’m not used to having someone care. Someone else having my back. You are crazy for it, and could have been hurt, but it means more to me than you know.” she finished, looking down at the ground, sheepishly.

     “I told you...you’re worth it.” Alicia responded, taking the blonde’s hand in her own. Just as Elyza looked up and their eyes met, Alicia felt the urge to tell her what she had been trying to say earlier before they were rudely interrupted by a pack of hungry walkers, but Elyza spoke first, changing the tone of the moment.

      “Well...if you’re going to be sticking around then, I guess I’d better teach you how to ride this thing properly. What do you say? You wanna learn, gorgeous?” she said, excitement lighting up her blue eyes.

      “Really? You’d really teach me?” Alicia asked, smiling at the thought of how exciting it would be to actually know how to ride a motorcycle.

      “Of course! Maybe after a few lessons, next time you won’t crash my baby!” Elyza said, feigning a frown as Alicia smacked her arm. “I’ll have you know, I charge by the hour!” she finished, a smirk playing on her lips.

      “Oh really? And how do you expect me to pay you when money has no value anymore?” Alicia asked, playing into the Australian’s attempt at flirting. An attempt that was absolutely working.

      “I’m sure we can come to an arrangement that suits us both.” Elyza said, waggling her eyebrows at the brunette before receiving another smack on the arm.

      “Behave yourself, Elyza Lex! Now, take me home.” Alicia said playfully, shaking her head at the blue eyed beauty in front of her.

      Elyza stood the bike up, hopped on and held Alicia’s helmet out to her before saying, “Home...that sounds nice.” and slipped her own helmet on before Alicia could respond. Hearing the girl say that, even if it was just jokingly, filled her with a surge of warmth. She had always wondered what it would be like to have that. A home. A feeling of belonging with someone she cared deeply about who cared about her just as deeply in return. Hearing Alicia say those words...it just made her melt. She started the Harley, and sped off into the night.

 

*********************************************************************************************************

 

    When they returned to the apartment, Nick was fast asleep on the couch, snoring away, but there was no sign of Chris. Alicia was about to wake Nick when Elyza stopped her. “Let’s check upstairs first. No sense in waking him if Chris is up there.” she said as they made their way to the window leading to the roof.

      Once they made it to the top of the stairs of the fire escape, Elyza could make out the shape of Chris wrapped in her blanket on the hammock in the glow of the embers from the fire that they had left earlier in the evening. Alicia watched as Elyza walked over to add more wood to the fire to keep it going, giving the blonde a questioning look as she approached her again.

     “It can get pretty cold up here at night. Just want him to stay warm.” Elyza said, heading back down the fire escape with Alicia in tow. Once back inside, Elyza grabbed shorts and a tank top to sleep in and went into the bathroom to change. When she emerged, she had noticed Alicia had done the same and was already lying in bed. She smiled as those beautiful green eyes met hers, and said, “Goodnight, Alicia. Sleep well.” then turned to head toward the pile of blankets Chris had been using as a bed on the living room floor.

     Before she made it too far, Alicia called out to her. “Elyza, wait.” and with that, the blonde stopped and turned back to face the younger girl. “Stay with me….please?” the brunette said, pulling back the covers revealing the empty space next to her in the bed.

      Elyza was very hesitant, as she didn’t move or respond for a full thirty seconds. Finally, giving in to the pleading look that Alicia was giving her, she walked slowly over and climbed into the bed and gathered the blankets over herself. Before she could say anything, she felt Alicia curl into her, wrapping her arm around her stomach and laying her head on her shoulder before kissing it softly and saying, “Goodnight, Elyza.” and that is how she fell asleep, with her heart dissolving into a puddle and this heaven sent woman wrapped up in her arms. “Home.” she thought to herself before drifting into a peaceful, dreamless slumber.

Chapter Text

    Alicia was awakened by the light of the sun, so strong that it seemed to penetrate through her eyelids as it poured through the windows by the bed. Before opening her eyes she smiled, remembering that she had fallen asleep using Elyza as a pillow. Reaching out to wrap her arms around the blonde, her eyes shot open when she grasped nothing but sheets and an empty space. Sitting up quickly to look around for Elyza, her brow furrowed in confusion at the emptiness of the apartment. “Did I dream all that last night?”, Alicia thought to herself as she rolled over onto the other pillow, sighing in confusion. It was then that her senses were flooded with Elyza’s scent on the pillow, and she smiled then, knowing it was real. She had slept in Elyza’s arms last night. She was broken out of her haze of memories of the night before by the sound of laughter coming from the other side of the front door.

 

    Elyza and Nick came in laughing, and both covered in grease and oil. “I told you, if you unscrewed the bolt too quickly, all that oil would spill on you!” Elyza said, laughing as she watched Nick wiping his face with the oil stained rag with a grin on his face.

 

   Nick threw the rag at her playfully and said, “Yeah, yeah...guess I should have listened. Hey, at least I can say I changed it myself!” Nick laughed as he shrugged his shoulders.

 

     Watching her brother and her….Elyza together, laughing and smiling, she sat up and asked, “What are the two of you up to?” With a smile on her still sleepy face.

 

    “Well, good morning, sleepy head! I was just showing Nicky here how to change the oil in the truck. Somebody didn’t want to listen when I said he would get oil all over himself if he unscrewed the bolt to the oil pan too fast and well...look at him!” Elyza said, still laughing, punching Nick in the shoulder. If Alicia were an outsider, she would definitely think of these two as brother and sister, the way they were acting. It brought a certain warmth to her heart, seeing the girl she felt so strongly about and her brother getting along so well.

 

    “Hey...covered in oil or not, I got the job done!” Nick said, throwing his hands up and laughing and smiling at both girls.

 

    Nick walked over to the sink to began washing his hands and before Alicia could get herself out of bed, Elyza walked over and dropped down onto the bed, leaning down and capturing the brunette’s lips in a slow, sweet kiss while running her fingers through Alicia’s hair. “Good morning, beautiful.” Elyza said, an intoxicated smile spreading across her lips. Alicia was almost too blown away to remember that Nick was still present, so she began to shift  in uncertainty under Elyza, not sure how her brother would react to the open displays of affection. Just as she tried to maneuver out of Elyza’s embrace, she heard Nick say, “Oh please, don’t mind me, lovebirds.” as he smiled down at them before passing through to the fire escape.

 

    Alicia smiled as she saw Elyza blush and look down with a smile at the affectionate term Nick had just used for them. She grabbed Elyza’s face with both hands and pulled her down for a kiss. “Good morning.” Alicia said as she placed a soft kiss on the tip of the blonde’s nose before pulling Elyza to lay down next to her. Both of them adjusted so they were laying on their sides, facing each other. Alicia couldn’t find any words, all she could do was reach out and take the Australian’s hand in her own and watch as they entangled their fingers together, and smile.

 

    “You make me happy.” Elyza finally said, breaking the silence. “I haven’t been happy in a long time and to be honest, I never believed I would be again. I felt so...lost.” she said, as Alicia noticed the way her eyes glistened with the threatening tears that she managed to keep in. As heartbreaking as it was to see Elyza cry, Alicia secretly loved how it made the blue of her eyes become the most intense blue she has ever seen. “Thank you for finding me, Alicia.” Elyza finished, letting a single tear fall as she pulled their joined hands up to place a soft, warm kiss on Alicia’s knuckles.

 

    “You make me happy, too. So happy, Elyza. You never have to feel lost again. I promise.” Alicia said, feeling her own emotions becoming a bit overwhelming. “Last night, before we were attacked...I was trying to tell you something.” she began, dropping her gaze to look back at their interlocked fingers. “I feel like I’m...well, I know I am, but I wasn’t sure how to say it exactly, last night. I mean...I know it’s only been a few weeks, but I feel like...I don’t know. I feel like I’ve known you a lot longer. I feel like there’s something...ugh why can’t I find the words?” Alicia said with an exasperated sigh, but couldn’t seem to make her brain follow along with what her heart was saying and her mouth wouldn’t cooperate with either of them, so it was a complete mess. Elyza felt her heart start to race as she hoped what had the brunette so flustered was what she had been wanting so desperately to hear...what she so desperately felt and wanted to say as well. She kept her eyes on Alycia’s, watching her struggle to speak her mind, with such intensity on her face. This was it, she knew it. Alicia tried to start again, “Elyza...I’m in l-” and she was cut off.

 

    “Ugh... gross .” Chris said, as he jumped down from the window into the apartment, seeing Elyza and his step sister lying closely together on the bed. He shook his head in disgust as he made his way over to the television to start up the Xbox. Alicia closed her eyes, looking both mortified and defeated. She pulled the blankets up over her head and felt her heart sink. She was so close to telling her. “Why is it whenever I want to say it, something has to interrupt?!?!? Am I not meant to say it? Jesus!” she thought, angrily to herself. Just then, she felt the bed shift and as she peeked out from the covers, she noticed Elyza was gone. “I blew it.” she thought to herself.

 

    Elyza had gotten up and marched over to where Chris sat in front of the television. When she reached him, she crouched down to be at eye level with him and said, “Listen to me, and listen to me very carefully. I’ve tried being patient with you, but I’m getting really sick of your little bitch routine. The next time you do or say anything that upsets her in any way, walkers will be the least of your worries, mate. Are we clear?” she asked Chris, never breaking her icy, intense stare down. He nodded in response, visibly swallowing the lump of fear in his throat, clearly accepting what she said to be a real threat. Elyza then smiled, patted him on the head and said, “Good boy. Enjoy your game.”. She stood up and walked back over to the bed and gently pulled the covers from Alicia’s face. “You...get dressed. Elyza’s Motorcycle Safety Course starts in 30 minutes.” she said with a smile as she retreated into the kitchen to make coffee for the two of them. “Maybe I didn’t blow it, after all.” Alicia thought to herself with a smile after hearing the hushed interaction between Elyza and Chris.

 

*****************************************************************************************************

 

    Later that afternoon, outside of the apartment on La Brea Avenue,  Alicia stood patiently aside the Harley while Elyza sat on it, explaining basics of starting the bike and keeping balanced. After a few minutes of going over the details, she stepped off and motioned for Alicia to get on the bike. “Alright, now...just as I showed you.” Elyza said, nodding toward the brunette. Following the instructions methodically, Alicia started the bike with ease, unlike the last time she had attempted it at the observatory. “Good, love! Now...the tricky part. You ready?” Elyza asked, excitement shining in her eyes.

 

    “I...I think so.” Alicia said, now having a chance to let the fear of crashing seep in when there are no walkers to occupy her mind, unlike the previous night. Seeing her hesitation and how tense she was, Elyza sat on the bike behind her and placed her hands overtop of Alicia’s own. She felt the brunette instantly relax at the contact.

 

    “Right. The clutch and gears are on your left, throttle and brake on your right. Hold in the clutch…” she started, squeezing Alicia’s hand over the clutch, “And shift down one with your foot.” she finished as the younger girl complied, shifting down with her left foot, putting the bike in gear.

 

    “Like that? Is that right?” Alicia asked, still sounding a bit nervous, but a hint of excitement was breaking through in her voice.

 

    “That’s perfect. Now, you’re gonna give a little on the clutch and go a little on the throttle, alright?” Elyza explained, taking her hands off of Alicia’s and placing them on the girl’s hips to hold on. “Whenever you’re ready, go ahead.” Elyza said encouragingly

 

    “Okay...alright...here we go.” Alicia said, exhaling a shaky breath she didn’t realize she had been holding, and she slowly let off the clutch and eased onto the throttle like the blonde had explained and the bike began to roll forward. “Oh my God! I’m doing it! This is incredible! I’m really doing i-” she started but accidentally let off the clutch and gripped too much on the throttle and the bike jerked as it began to speed up, throwing Elyza from the back.

 

    “Shit! Clutch! Use the clutch!” Elyza yelled as she stood up and ran for the bike. Luckily, it wasn’t going faster than she could run at full speed and she managed to catch up and jump back on, gripping Alicia’s hands again on the clutch and the break to bring the bike to a stop. “That was good! See? You didn’t even need me!” Elyza said, leaning down to kiss Alicia’s shoulder.

 

    “Elyza...please! I threw you off the bike and could have crashed! That was not good !” Alicia said, removing her helmet and turning to glare at the blonde. “I’m not a child...you don’t have to baby me, okay? I know it was terrible.” she said, frowning and looking down while fiddling with the strap on her helmet.

 

    “Alicia. The only baby around here is that little brat upstairs. I wouldn’t lie to you, love. Yes, I may have been thrown off, but for your first time, you did good ! Believe me! My first time, I couldn’t hold the bike steady and fell over quite a few times before I got the hang of it. Sure, you were a bit wobbly, but you stayed upright and that’s a damn good start!” Elyza said with a proud smile as she wrapped her arms around Alicia in a tight embrace.

 

    Melting into the warmth of Elyza’s touch, she smiled and let a giggle slip out from her lips. “Well...I guess maybe it’s because I am a bit taller than you. It’s easier for my legs to reach the ground.” Alicia joked playfully about their slight height difference.

 

    “Hey! I’m only like, two inches shorter than you! And keep in mind, I was 14 when I learned to ride! Don’t poke fun at me!” Elyza said, lightly pinching the back of Alicia’s arm. “Now...since you want to be cocky, you’re going to go again, without me riding along. See how good your long legs do ya now!” she finished as she stepped off the bike.

 

    “Oh, I was only kidding! I can’t do this by myself!” Alicia said, a bit nervous again at the thought of riding alone.

 

    “Too late, gorgeous. That’ll teach you to pick on me. Now, go on! Get moving!” Elyza said, sticking her tongue out at the brunette, receiving a smile in return. She jogged ahead about 100 feet so she could watch Alicia’s progress as she moved toward her.

 

    “Okay, Alicia...you can do this. Just focus .” the girl said, quietly to herself as she donned her helmet again and started the bike back up. Just as she had done last time, she eased off of the clutch and onto the throttle and began to move slowly forward. Knowing to be careful of how far she can release the clutch, this time it was much easier and she began to go a little faster. When she finally reached Elyza, she gripped the clutch more and gripped the brake as well, bringing the bike to a stop. “Alright...I’ll admit it. I am good at this.” Alicia said with a wide, toothy grin as she flipped the visor of her helmet up to smile at Elyza.

 

    “Told you! Now, keep going! Turn around and do it again.” the blonde instructed, giving the younger girl a big smile of approval. Alicia turned the bike around and rode all the way back to her original starting point before turning the bike to come back again and repeat the whole process. This lasted for the better part of 20 minutes until Elyza felt that she was comfortable enough that the brunette could handle herself and was ready for a real road test.

 

    Putting her helmet back on, Elyza approached the bike and took her place behind Alicia. “Alright, love. Let’s ride out to the pier and back. I want to see what you and this bike can really do!” she said with a wide grin as Alicia urged the Harley forward, quickly increasing speed with confidence. Elyza picked this destination because it was pretty much a straight run from her apartment, so it wouldn’t be too difficult for the girl to maneuver.  

 

    After the 20 minute ride to the Santa Monica Pier, Alicia brought the bike to a stop just at the entrance under the famous sign and both girls got off.

 

    “Well...it’s official. You’ve stolen my sunglasses, my bike, you’re wearing my favorite leather jacket which you are only borrowing I might add, and...my heart.” Elyza said, grabbing both of Alicia’s hands, pulling the brunette in close, wrapping her arms around her waist.

 

    “And what are you gonna do about it, Miss Lex?” Alicia said, teasingly, cocking her head to the side and raising an eyebrow.

 

    “Well, I’m going to enjoy having my very own personal chauffeur, of course! What else would I do?” Elyza said, teasing back and laughing.

 

    “Really? I steal your heart, and I look this good on your bike and that’s all you’re gonna do?” Alicia said, giving her best and extremely convincing fake pout as she backed Elyza up toward the rail of the pier, not stopping until Elyza’s back had made contact with it.

 

    Elyza’s heart was beating a mile a minute and she was finding it hard to breathe again. Not that she hadn’t already been thinking about it because this girl did things to her mind and her body that she was not entirely prepared for after thinking life was over. Yet here they were, both unsure of where all of this was headed and scared and excited all at the same time, but damn did they both want to find out. “Mmmm….I could think of a few other things.” Elyza said, as she glanced down, taking in the sight of the brunettes tanned skin against the white of her tank top under the open leather jacket.

 

    “Good, I hope so.” Alicia said, feeling a rush of bravery overtake her as she allowed both her index fingers to find their way just beneath the waistband of Elyza’s jeans. As she felt the warmth of their skin touching, she chanced a glance up at the blonde only to be turned around so she was now the one against the rail, as Elyza captured her lips with her own. Alicia, never moving her hands, melted into the kiss. It wasn’t soft and slow like their kiss the night before or the sweet one from this morning, but intense and full of hunger. She let a moan escape as Elyza deepened the kiss, bringing her hands up to entangle themselves in long, brown locks, pulling Alicia in closer. The brunette snaked her hands around Elyza’s waist and pulled her closer, thrusting her hips against the blonde’s.

    Elyza pulled back at that moment, her dark blue eyes searching Alicia’s briefly as she went in to kiss her again. As fate would have it, that was the moment a very large and very rude pelican decided to land on the same railing, right next to the two women and squawked rather loudly while flapping its large wings about, scaring them both nearly half to death. “Son of a bitch !” Elyza exclaimed as she jumped backwards quickly, before narrowing her eyes at the intrusive bird and said “You’ve got to be kidding me!”. Alicia couldn’t help but double over in a fit of laughter. “Don’t laugh at me! That was absolutely terrifying ! That little fucker came out of nowhere!” Elyza yelled, trying to hold back her own laughter now that she had calmed down a bit.

 

    “Hell, if I didn’t know any better, I’d wonder if Chris sent it here to piss you off!” Alicia said while trying to contain her laughter still.

 

    “You’re right. Remind me to wring his little neck when we get back, yeah?” Elyza said, smiling and shaking her head, a slight blush creeping up on her cheeks as she was now feeling a bit embarrassed. Here they were in a world where they had to defend themselves against monsters straight out of a horror film, and badass Elyza Lex is frightened by a bird. Trying to change the subject, she looks out over the pier and said, “Well, what do ya know? This is where we first met! Well, sort of .” She finished with a wide grin, pointing out over to the parking lot and the police cruiser that was still where she left it that fateful day that she found the radio.

 

    “Oh my God! I didn’t even think of that when we came here! I’ve always loved this place.” Alicia said, taking Elyza’s hand and pulling her further into the pier. When they finally made it to Pacific Park, Alicia frowned and it didn’t go unnoticed by Elyza.

 

    “What’s wrong, love?” Elyza asked, sporting a frown of her own at the sight of seeing Alicia upset.

 

    “Nothing really, just...I never got to ride the ferris wheel. I was always kind of afraid of heights. I always wanted to. Guess I’ll never get the chance now.” the brunette explained, looking toward the giant amusement ride, squinting as the sun was now starting to sink a bit lower and was fully in her line of vision.

 

    “Hey...you never know. Things could work themselves out. Who know’s what will happen with all this. I will promise you one thing, when the world finally rights itself, I will take you on that ferris wheel. Okay, love?” Elyza said, squeezing the younger girl’s hand tightly.

 

    “Hmm…” Alicia let out a content laugh before she said, “Alright. It’s a date, then.” looking over into Elyza’s eyes with a smile.

 

    “A date? I like the sound of that. Well, we’d better head back. I never told you brother we were going anywhere so we shouldn’t worry him. Ready to go, babe?” Elyza asked, reaching her hand back out for Alicia to take as they walked back to where they left the bike. When they reached it, Alicia waited, assuming Elyza was going to drive home, but was surprised when the blonde said, “What? Did you think I was kidding? Personal chauffeur, remember?” she said with a lopsided grin.

 

    “Oh God...fine. I’ll have you know, I want something out of this arrangement, too!” Alicia said with a mischievous look in her mossy green eyes as she took her place on the bike, starting it up and revving the throttle to show off a bit.

 

    “Believe me, sweetheart...you can have whatever you want.” Elyza whispered low and husky into the brunettes ear before she had a chance to put her helmet on. “Now...take us home, Leashy-Loo!” she finished in a lighthearted tone as she placed a quick kiss on Alicia’s cheek.

 

**********************************************************************************************************

 

    A couple of hours had passed since they got home and the sun was sinking very low into the sky. They were all lounging up on the roof, each doing their own thing, although Elyza was finding it very hard to concentrate on her sketchbook as she watched Alicia trying to teach herself to play Elyza’s guitar. The way her long, slender fingers wrapped around the neck of her guitar and the intense look of concentration in her emerald green eyes and the sight of her tongue out slightly, pressed against her lips as she played. Elyza hadn’t realized she was staring, biting her thumbnail as she watched.

 

    Nick had noticed the way the girls couldn’t keep their eyes off of each other ever since they came back from their afternoon out on the bike. It made him happy for them both, but also sad in a way. He wished that he could be brave enough to tell Ophelia how he felt about her. He had heard from Alicia once they got back, how rude Chris had been earlier that morning and how badly she just wanted to have some alone time with Elyza without their step brother ruining everything. Seeing the look of love and longing in Elyza’s eyes now, he decided to give his sister what she wanted.

 

    “Hey, Elyza? Would you two be alright here for an hour or so if Chris and I took the truck went out for a drive? I’m going a bit stir crazy and I’m sure our friendly neighborhood pain in the ass wouldn’t be opposed to getting out for a bit.” he asked, trying to hide his smile at the look of embarrassment the blonde had for being caught staring, yet again.

 

    “Yeah, of course! I’m sorry my company is so boring. ” Elyza rolled her eyes jokingly at Nick before giving him a big grin.

 

    Alicia looked up at the sound of the exchange between her brother and Elyza and she felt both excited and nervous at the thought of actually being completely alone with her, without the threat of anything else for once. Also, she couldn’t deny the desperation she felt to continue what they had started today on the pier. She hadn’t been able to concentrate one bit on playing the guitar because it was all she could think about. As if Elyza could read her mind and where she allowed her thoughts to go, their eyes locked at that moment and Alicia bit her lip, looking down quickly as she felt her face start to burn.

 

    After about ten minutes, both girls heard the truck start from the street below, signalling that Nick and Chris were gone. They both sat there silently for a moment before Elyza broke the silence. “So...how are you?” she asked hesitantly with shy smile on her face, not really knowing what to say or do.

 

    “Hmmm...ask me in about 15 minutes. I’ll be right back.” Alicia said as she stood up from her seat and began to walk toward the fire escape. Before heading down, she turned back to Elyza and said, “Don’t go anywhere, okay?” with a reassuring smile that she would be back soon.

 

    With that, Elyza figured she would take advantage of everyone’s absence. She jumped quickly to her feet and added more wood to the fire making it burn brighter, then she set about lighting the torches around the roof and then she gathered all the pillows and cushions from the chairs and placed them strategically on the ground near the fire to create a more inviting place to sit and talk. Quickly, she went over to the small table that held her portable speaker and switched it on, setting her playlist on shuffle for a little background music. Just then, she heard Alicia’s footsteps coming up the fire escape and quickly sat down on the pile of pillows, trying her best not to look as nervous as the butterflies in her stomach were making her feel.

 

    “I thought maybe this would be a good time to bring this out.” Alicia said with a breathtaking smile, holding out a large bottle of Yellow Tail Pinot Noir and two glasses that she had retrieved from downstairs.

 

    Elyza’s eyes widened in surprise but then she smiled at the brunette and asked, “Where on earth did you dig that up?”, taking one of the glasses the girl offered toward her.

 

    “Well, when we were in Ralph’s, I snuck it into my bag without you noticing. I saw the cute little kangaroo on the bottle...it made me think of you, so...I hope it’s good.” Alicia said, shrugging her shoulders and smiling, trying to extinguish the blush she felt spreading on her cheeks.

 

    “You are so fucking cute...I can’t stand it.” Elyza said with a laugh. “Come sit.” she said, looking up at the brunette and holding her hand out ot her.

 

    With that, Alicia took her hand and sat down on the comfy pile of pillows, then took a moment to look around. “That was pretty smoothe. Setting the mood for something, are we?” she asked Elyza, quirking an eyebrow and giving the blonde a knowing grin.

 

    “Setting the mood? Whatever do you mean?” Elyza said back, feigning a sound of confusion. She took the bottle and opened it, pouring wine into each of their glasses before breaking out into a laugh and saying, “Hey...can’t blame a girl for trying, right?” looking over at the green eyed girl.

 

    “Can I tell you a little secret?” Alicia started, seeing Elyza nod excitedly in return. Alicia held up the wine bottle and said, “This is me...trying. So no, I can’t blame you.” as she broke out in laughter at the fact that they were both thinking the same way and trying to set the tone for their evening alone. It was then that she decided to get a little closer. She curled her legs up beneath her and leaned over closer to the blonde, supporting her weight on her arm.

 

    “Sweetheart...you never have to try. Trust me.” Elyza said, taking a sip of her drink and allowing her eyes to roam freely over the brunette’s body, sending a shiver up Alicia’s spine in response. As much as Elyza wanted to succumb to her physical desires, she really wanted to spend this time just being close to Alicia and allowing themselves to open up more about their pasts. It was going to be a challenge though, as she could see the intense desire in Alicia’s eyes. “So...tell me, if you weren’t here enjoying your time killing walkers, riding motorcycles and just being an all around badass, what would you be doing if things were how they were before?” Elyza asked, lying back onto the pillows and leaning on her elbow while facing the brunette, taking another sip of her wine while waiting patiently for the girl’s answer.

 

    “Me? A badass? I think you’re describing yourself there.” Alicia said in surprise with a laugh. “Gosh...what would I be doing? I don’t know….I mean there still would have been school to finish. I was accepted to Berkeley so I was going to start there in the fall after senior year. Matt and I, we talked about getting an apartment off campus. Hmm...that seems like a lifetime ago.” Alicia finished, staring at her glass intently as she tilted it around and around, watching the wine slowly swirling inside.

 

    “Matt?” Elyza asked, looking down at her own glass, feeling that the outcome for whoever this boy was probably wasn’t a happy one.

 

    “He was my boyfriend. He...he was bitten. He didn’t make it.” Alicia said, feeling the sting of tears starting in her eyes. She hadn’t talked to anyone about Matt all this time. Speaking it aloud made her feel it all over again...made her see his face again in those last moments they were together.

 

    “I’m sorry, Leash. I know that’s gotta be so hard for you. What was he like? How did you meet?” Elyza asked, trying to steer the girl’s thoughts to happier memories to help her avoid any pain.

 

    “He was so sweet. We met in our freshman year, he had just moved from a different district and we had an art class together that year. He was an amazing artist. Always painting or drawing something.” the brunette said, a smile finding its way to her lips.

 

    “Was he going to go to Berkeley, too? For art? What were you going for?” Elyza asked, staring over into soft, green eyes.

 

    “No...he didn’t plan on going to college. He just wanted to work on his art. I was going for their amazing science program. I couldn’t believe it when I got accepted. I was so ready to leave home and get away from everyone. Isn’t that funny how the universe decided to trap me with them instead?” Alicia said, giggling as she took a long sip of her wine. She could feel the effects already starting and she was enjoying the warm buzz that was just starting to course through her. This atmosphere definitely had its charms so it helped with the feeling.

 

    “Science? Definitely not my forte. Good on ya, though. Brains and beauty...I knew you were the whole package.” Elyza said with a smirk as she leaned further to bump her shoulder to Alicia’s arm. “What kinda sciency stuff are you into?” the blonde asked.

 

    “I love space. I’m like...just obsessed with it. I would have liked to work for NASA one day, who knows. I’ve always thought it would be cool to make a documentary about it or something, I don’t know.” Alicia said, laughing. “What about you? You think you’d have a record deal by now if all this didn’t happen?” she asked.

 

    “Boy do I wish ! I played here and there after I moved here, but I hadn’t really gotten too into the scene yet. I’ve only been here a year before all this happened. Just had time to make a few nice friends and get used to everything here. I had hopes for it, though.” Elyza said, a look of sadness crossing her features. “Who knows. Music’s a hard business to make it into. I never really wanted to do anything else.” she finished.

 

     “Did you go to college for anything?” Alicia asked, copying Elyza’s position and lying back to get more comfortable while talking.

 

    “Eh...sort of. I tried it a few different times. First time, I picked Marine Biology as my major. My mom took my sister and I to swim with dolphins once and I was hooked. I mean, watching the trainers interact with them and getting to swim with one myself, I just wanted to do that so bad. Unfortunately, school isn’t really my thing. I never could focus on anything except music for too long before losing interest.” Elyza explained, feeling sheepish.

 

    “Oh my God ! Marine biology? Oh I just love squids! Did you ever get to swim with squids? The Giant Squid is my favorite ! They just look like...majestic crabs. I love them.” Alicia said, practically squealing with excitement.

 

    Elyza could hardly contain her laughter as she refilled their glasses before saying, “You are such a nerd ! That has to be the funniest thing I’ve ever heard…’Majestic Crabs’ oh my goodness!” she said, throwing her head back in laughter now.

 

    “Hey! I’m a cute nerd. If you’re going to make fun of me, at least do it correctly! Also, I think you have a bit of a crush on me...so you must like nerdiness deep down.” Alicia said, leaning over and placing a quick kiss on Elyza’s cheek.

 

    “A crush? What makes you think that?” Elyza said teasingly, feeling the butterflies being awakened by the turn of the conversation.

 

    “Well, you don’t kiss someone the way you kissed me today at the pier unless you have a serious thing for them. That’s solid proof right there.” Alicia said, feeling her face growing hotter by the second as she replayed those memories of Elyza’s lips on her own.

 

     “Don’t say it, Lex..don’t say it…” Elyza fought internally with herself. “The way I kissed you? I can’t say that I recall what you mean. How exactly did I kiss you, Alicia?” she said, just as the next song started to play.

 

     “You got me looking, so crazy my baby

I'm not myself lately I'm foolish, I don't do this…”

 

    “Oh...and you weren’t trying to set the mood? This song? Really?” Alicia asked, quirking an eyebrow at the blonde and biting her lip.

 

    “Don’t go changing the subject! I believe you owe me an answer. How did I kiss you?” Elyza said, feeling so much between the wine, the butterflies, the heat from the fire and from Alicia’s gaze...and with this song playing in the background, she couldn’t keep herself from letting her thoughts wander. Alicia looked frozen in place, unsure of how to respond, but she had such a smoldering intensity in her eyes, Elyza almost couldn’t breathe.

 

“I've been playing myself, baby I don't care

Baby your love's got the best of me

Your love's got the best of me

Baby your love's got the best of me

Baby you're making a fool of me

You got me sprung and I don't care who sees

Cause baby you got me, you got me, oh you got me, you got me…”

 

    The effects of the alcohol on her system along with the feelings the memories from their brief, but heated few moments at the pier evoked in her, Alicia felt as if she had no control over her actions anymore. She set her glass off to the side and pushed Elyza down on her back, quickly moved to straddle her and leaned down to whisper in her ear, “It went something like this…” as she then brought her lips down to meet the blondes.

 

“I look and stare so deep in your eyes

I touch on you more and more every time

When you leave I'm begging you not to go

Call your name two or three times in a row

Such a funny thing for me to try to explain

How I'm feeling and my pride is the one to blame

And I still don't understand

Just how your love could do what no one else can…”

 

    Elyza melted into the kiss, snaking her arms around the brunette, pulling her in closer. Alicia’s hands were tangled in wild blonde locks as her own hair was acting as a protective veil around their faces. She traced her tongue along Elyza’s lower lip, begging for access, and felt the blonde eagerly part her lips to deepen the kiss. Alicia didn’t think she could ever get enough of the way the Australian’s tongue moved against hers with such skill and intensity. She felt as if her brain was dissolving...she couldn’t form complete thoughts. All she could do was take Elyza’s lower lip between her teeth and bite down rather hard, causing a whimper to escape the blonde’s mouth.

 

    With that, Elyza reached her hands around to grip on either side of Alicia’s hips, just as the brunette positioned herself so one of her legs was between Elyza’s and she moved it just so her knee pressed firmly against the warmth of Elyza’s center. Just then, feeling the firm grip holding her in place, she thrusted her hips forward, pushing against the blonde harder and this earned her a a husky moan that she quickly silenced with her lips.

 

“Got me looking so crazy right now

Your love's got me looking so crazy right now

Got me looking so crazy right now

Your touch got me looking so crazy right now (your love)

 

Hoping you'll save me right now

Your kiss got me hoping you'll save me right now (your love)

Looking so crazy in love

Got me looking, got me looking so crazy in love

Got me looking so crazy right now

Your love's got me looking so crazy right now

Got me looking so crazy right now

Your touch got me looking so crazy right now…”

 

    Elyza reached up, putting her hands on the brunettes shoulders, trying to push her off so she could change their positions as she so desperately wanted to be the one making Alicia feel what she was feeling. With surprising strength, Alicia grabbed both of Elyza’s wrists and slammed them back onto the pillows above her head, holding her there as she continued rolling her hips while she kissed and licked and nipped at the blonde’s jaw line, down her neck and to the hollow of her throat. “Elyza...I want you. So badly.” she let slip, not even realizing that those words even came from her.

 

   “God...I want you, too. You are so good. Please...don’t stop. Just...don’t stop.” Elyza said back in between ragged breaths.

 

“Got me hoping you'll save me right now

Your kiss got me hoping you'll save me right now (your love)

Looking so crazy in love

Got me looking, got me looking so crazy in love…”

 

    As fate would have it, that was the moment they both heard the door slam shut. Clearly Nick’s polite way of giving them fair warning that he and Chris were back before walking up and interrupting anything. Alicia collapsed on top of the blonde, an exasperated sigh leaving her lips as Elyza simply voiced her frustrations. “Mother fucker ...oh my God. Just kill me. Kill me now.” she said as she laughed slightly at their horrible luck and took advantage of Alicia’s closeness by playfully biting her bare shoulder.

 

    “Ouch!” she said, swatting at Elyza but grinning at the same time.

 

    “Hey...you’re just asking for it, wearing this revealing  tank top. What do you expect?” Elyza said with a laugh.

 

    “So...do you think I explained that kiss in a way that you understand what I meant?” Alicia said, smirking and trying to hold in her laughter.

 

    “You know...I don’t think I’ve completely grasped it. I think you’d better try to explain it to me again.” the blonde said, pulling Alicia back over to her.

 

    “You are bad ! We can’t! They’re back! God I hate this...why can’t we just have some privacy? Ugh!” Alicia said, sounding utterly disgusted at the interruption.

 

    “Well you know...tomorrow is your birthday. Maybe if you wish for it, it will come true.” Elyza said, trying to be flirtatious, but feeling nervous at what she was suggesting. More time like this, alone and doing the things they had just done, she knew where it would lead if they let it. If they lost themselves to the feelings. She couldn’t deny that she wanted it. They both did. She had done this before...why was now so different? Why was she so nervous...bordering terrified, really. “What is she doing to me?” Elyza thought to herself.

 

    “Wow...I actually forgot about my birthday.” Alicia said, sitting up and taking Elyza’s hand in her own, interlacing their fingers. Just then, Nick appeared at the top of the steps and seeing that the two women weren’t in a compromising position, he continued forward, smiling at them both.

 

    “Welcome back, Nicky.” Elyza said with a smile and a small wave. “You guys enjoy your night on the town?” She said, teasingly while he smirked and shook his head at her.

 

    “Oh...we had a blast. He’s still as moody as ever. Still, it was nice to get out and just feel normal for a while.” he said, while taking in the scene around him...the pillows, the wine and the music. “Did uh...did you two enjoy your night?” he said, holding back laughter.

 

    “Absolutely! Alicia schooled me on all things space and squids.” Elyza joked, waggling her eyebrows in the brunettes direction, receiving a pillow to the face for teasing her again.

 

    “Oh God...Leash. You have to keep that squid obsession to yourself. Don’t scare her off, she’s a keeper.” Nick said, winking at Elyza and feigning disappointment in his sister’s subject choice for their conversation.

 

    “Jesus! I’m not obsessed! I just like them is all! Screw you guys, I’m going to bed.” Alicia said, pouting but trying to hold back the smile that was threatening to break through. She just couldn’t be mad at these two for teasing her. “Jerks.” she finished, as she made her way down the stairs to the apartment below.

 

    “So…” Elyza started, as she got up, replacing all the pillows onto their chairs and shutting the music off. “You think I’m a keeper, huh?” she asked, smiling up at Nick.

 

    “I do. Just don’t break her heart. I may seem like a softie, but she’s my baby sister. Break her heart and well...I’ll break your legs.” Nick said, laughing at his own words.

 

    “I wouldn’t dream of it. I’ll never hurt her.” Elyza said, becoming more serious now, hoping that Nick could see that she meant those words.

 

    “I trust you.” Nick replied, surprising the blonde by pulling her into an embrace.

 

    “Thank you.” Elyza said, hugging him back before stepping away to give him a smile. “I’d better get some sleep. Goodnight, Nick.” she said.

 

    “Goodnight, Elyza.” he said back, smiling at her.

 

    Elyza made her way down the stairs and into the window of her bedroom where she saw Alicia was already curled up under the blankets and fast asleep. Peeking in to see that the door was locked and Chris was asleep on the couch, she gently climbed in the bed beside the brunette and wrapped her arm around the girl's waist, pulling her close. Alicia, even in her sleep, placed her own arm over Elyza’s and held their hands together as she sunk into the woman’s embrace. Elyza placed a warm, soft kiss on the the brunettes shoulder and whispered, “Goodnight, my love.” and closed her eyes, holding the entire world in her arms as she drifted off to sleep.

Chapter Text

    Feeling the lack of warmth next to her, Elyza reluctantly opened her eyes to meet the harsh morning sunlight. She could feel that it was far too early to actually be up yet, considering the amount of wine they had both consumed the night before. When she thought back on it, she couldn’t help the lazy smile that appeared on her face. She brought her hand up, allowing her fingers to touch her lips as she remembered the feeling of Alicia’s on her own, causing a fire to burn within her. “How can I possibly deserve her?”  she thought to herself, smiling as she sat up, stretching before getting out of her bed. Smelling the coffee that was brewing had her feet moving a little faster as she made her way to the kitchen.

 

    After pouring herself a cup, she glanced up as she took a sip, realizing that no one was in the apartment. Nick wasn’t in his usual spot on the couch, Chris wasn’t planted in front of the television like always and Alicia was nowhere in sight. Even though it was extremely early for everyone to be up, she figured they were all upstairs already and began to head in the direction of the fire escape when she heard shouting coming from outside. “Alicia!”  she thought to herself as she swung the door open. Running down the stairwell  and reaching the iron gate that led to the sidewalk, Elyza caught sight of a few walkers crowding the truck and noticed Nick, Alicia and Chris all standing in the bed, surrounded.

 

    “Hey you ugly fuckers! Over here! Come and get it!” Elyza shouted as she made her way out the gate and toward the truck. Alicia, Nick and Chris all turned their heads in the direction of her voice and Alicia felt her heart nearly stop as she realized Elyza was still in her pajamas, barefoot, and had no weapons on her. As the blonde moved, walking backwards away from the truck and out to the road, watching that the small group of undead were following and freeing the trio from the truck, she she began to let the realization sink in that she wasn’t entirely prepared. She had no weapons, which might be a bit of an issue. Just then, she backed into a car on the opposite side of the street. “Shit…” she muttered to herself feeling a bit worried, but at that moment she turned to see the trunk was ajar and decided to see if maybe there was anything in there she could use.

 

    “Elyza!!! Elyza, look out!!!” She heard Alicia yell, just as a walker rounded the car and lunged at the Australian. The woman or walker, rather, was missing half of her lower jaw. Her hair was stringy and matted with dried blood and dirt, and she wore a torn and tattered blue dress with flowers printed on it. Elyza thought for a moment how sad it was that this woman was probably once a decent human being...someone with dreams and goals and a family. As the creature moved closer, snapping it’s jaws and snarling, Elyza pulled a tire iron from the trunk and said, “Sorry, sweetheart.” before swiftly cracking the walker’s skull, dropping it instantly at her feet. “It’s alright, babe! I’ve got this!” Elyza shouted over, smirking and sending a wink in a very worried Alicia’s direction. She could swear she saw an eye roll, even from this distance and it made her chuckle as she began moving toward the remaining four walkers.

 

    Alicia, Nick and Chris decided it was safe enough to emerge from the truck bed and watched as Elyza worked on taking down the rest of the infected across the road. Just as the blonde took a moment to glance back at them, checking to see that they were alright, her eyes grew wide in fear as she saw seven or eight more quickly rounding the truck. “Guys!!!! Behind you!! RUN!!” the blonde yelled as she tried to dispatch the last walker on her side of the street before sprinting in their direction. Startled, Alicia turned back just as the band of walkers had descended upon them and she stumbled and fell. Nick stopped as he saw his sister go down and began shoving at the infected that were now practically falling on top of her. Nearly getting himself bitten, he never gave up as he punched and kicked at the walkers as Alicia tried to get herself up. The fear and shock made her react just seconds too slow, because as Nick was holding one off, another fell right on top of her, snapping it’s rotten teeth right in her face. It took all the strength she had to hold it at bay. Elyza was fighting off a straggler that had lunged at her and watched the scene unfold in front of her in horror. Just then, she noticed Chris….standing to the side of the truck just watching.She then heard Alicia yell out to him for help but he just stood there, staring at Alicia and Nick’s struggle and the blonde swore she saw a smirk on his lips. She felt the rage boiling over inside of her.

 

    At that same moment, Alicia looked back and saw Elyza struggling to get to her, but noticed her eyes were fixed somewhere else. As she followed the blonde’s gaze, she saw Chris. “CHRIS!! Help us!!! Please! Grab something! Anything!!!” She yelled at her stepbrother, but felt her heart sink to her stomach as she watched the smirk appear on his lips. Suddenly, the gruesome creature above her fell slack to her side as she heard a sickening crunch. Looking up, she saw Elyza above her, holding the bloodied tire iron in her hand and in a flash she was gone, taking down more walkers at Nick’s side. Luckily, he had found a large piece of broken cement from the damaged sidewalk where Chris had crashed the truck and was using it to crush the skulls of the walkers. When they were all down, Elyza dropped the iron and rushed to Alicia’s side.

 

    “Alicia! Are you hurt? Were you bit? Please God...tell me you’re alright!” the blonde said, holding Alicia’s face in her hands, blue eyes frantically scanning the brunettes body for any sign of injury.

 

    “I’m fine. I’m not hurt...just stunned I guess. I’m sorry...I should have been able to-” Alicia started but was cut off by Elyza’s lips on her own.

 

    “Shhhh….I don’t care as long as you’re safe.” Elyza said, pulling the younger girl into a tight embrace. At that, she heard someone scoff and her eyes snapped up and locked onto Chris’. “You.” she said, her voice a low growl of anger as she gently released her hold on Alicia and stood up, quickly making her way over to the boy.

 

    “The fuck do you want?” Chris responded, raising an eyebrow and crossing his arms just as Elyza swung at him and her left fist connected with his jaw, knocking him into the side of the truck he was standing next to.

 

    Standing in front of him, towering over him in such a blind rage, she said “You just watched ! I saw you, standing here watching them attack her and you just fucking smiled! What kind of a monster are you?” Elyza yelled, tears forming in her eyes. She was so torn...sick from thinking that Alicia could have just been killed and angered that Chris seemed to want to let it happen, and then shame for knowing she had just seriously injured a 16 year old. With that, she put her hands in her hair and began backing away, but was stopped by two arms wrapping around her.

 

    “Hey! Hey...Elyza...it’s okay. I’m safe. We’re all safe. Let’s get inside. Come on.” Alicia said, placing a kiss on Elyza’s forehead as she gave a worried glance in Chris’ direction. She didn’t voice her thoughts, but she saw something in his eyes that frightened her. Something dark. Looking over at Nick, he nodded, setting his lips in a hard line and headed over to Chris to help him inside.

 

    Once everyone was inside, Elyza stormed off and made her way up to the roof. Before Alicia could follow, Nick grabbed her hand and said, “Hey...he deserved it. I saw it too. I saw how he just stood there. Make sure she knows she wasn’t the only one to see it. I would have reacted the same way.”

 

    “I can’t believe he was just going to let them attack us.” Alicia said, glancing over at Chris who was now engrossed in whatever video game he was playing. “What are we going to do, Nick?” she asked, fear clearly evident in her voice.

 

    “We’ll figure this out. Mom and Travis...if they ever get back here, they will take care of it. In the meantime, I’m not going to let anything happen to you. Or Elyza.” Nick stated as he pulled his sister into a hug. “Now go check on her and make sure she’s alright.” He said, releasing the brunette with a small smile and nodded in the direction of the window.

 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    “Elyza?” Alicia called out after not seeing the older woman when she made it up to the roof.

 

    “Over here.” the blonde replied, from somewhere in the very back. Alicia walked in the direction of her voice and spotted the Australian sitting on the edge of the roof, looking out over the back alley of the building.

 

    “Hey...are you alright?” the brunette asked, feeling very concerned about how down Elyza looked.

 

   “Maybe I was just seeing things….I...I shouldn’t have hit him.” Elyza said, shaking her head and not making eye contact with the brunette.

 

    “Elyza, listen to me. You weren’t seeing things! I saw it. Nick said he saw it, too. Now, I don’t know what happened exactly, but I promise you, we all would have reacted the exact same way so please...do not beat yourself up for this! You were protecting me!” Alicia exclaimed, trying to will the blonde to look at her but she just wouldn’t.

 

    “Leash...he’s just a kid. I hit him hard.” Elyza started but was unable to continue when Alicia placed a hand on her cheek, forcing her to turn toward her.

 

    “Look at me. You did the right thing, Elyza. You kept us safe. You kept me safe. You did the right thing.” Alicia said as she moved closer and leaned her forehead against the blonde’s.

 

    Elyza closed her eyes and Alicia could see that she had relaxed a bit at the contact. Letting out a deep sigh, she said “This is not how your birthday should have started.”

 

    “Oh my God! I didn’t even realize that was today. Wow.” Alicia said, furrowing her brow.

 

    “Well...I did. It wasn’t supposed to start this way...but hey, Happy Birthday.” Elyza offered with a lopsided grin before she placed a soft kiss on the brunettes lips.

 

    “I don’t care how it started. I’m spending it with you. That’s all that matters to me.” the younger girl said as she moved to rest her head on the blonde’s shoulder.

 

    Wrapping her arm around Alicia’s waist, Elyza said “Good. Cause I’ve got a little something planned for you tonight.”

 

    “Something planned ? What could anyone possibly plan for a birthday in the apocalypse?” Alicia asked with a laugh.

 

    Standing up and pulling Alicia to her feet, Elyza answered, “Well, I can’t tell you now can I? It’s a surprise after all!” smiling and tapping the tip of the brunette’s nose with her finger. “What were you three doing out at the truck, anyway?” Elyza asked.

 

    “I heard Chris arguing with Nick about driving out to the yacht to see if our parents made it back yet. He took the keys and Nick went down after him and I followed to help. We were arguing when they just appeared out of nowhere. So stupid.” Alicia explained.

 

“That kid’s always trying to steal my truck!” Elyza said, rolling her eyes. “Come on...let’s go have some coffee.” she finished while tugging Alicia along behind her, heading back downstairs.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Elyza, Alicia and Nick sat around the tiny table in the kitchen drinking coffee and playing cards, trying to pass the time until it was late enough for the blonde to take the younger girl out for whatever she had planned. After about two hours went by, they all jumped up, startled at the sound of someone shouting outside.

 

    “What the hell is it now ?” Elyza groaned, rushing over to grab her machete from the corner of her bedroom before making her way over to the door. She wasn’t going out unprepared this time.

 

    “Elyza! Don’t go out there alone!” Alicia whispered, afraid whoever was outside would hear as she made her way over to the window facing the street to see if she could spot anyone down below. Unfortunately, the tree directly beneath the window blocked most of her vision so she couldn’t make anything out.

 

    “It’s fine. The gate is locked, whoever it is can’t get in. I’m just gonna see if it’s someone who might need help. Be back in a jiffy!” the blonde assured them before stepping out the door. About a minute later, waiting with baited breath, Alicia, Nick and Chris all visibly relaxed when the door began to open and Elyza stepped inside. “Special birthday delivery for a Miss Alicia Clark…” she said, smiling as she stepped aside to reveal the two people behind her.

 

    “Mom!!!” Alicia cried out as she ran over, wrapping her arms around her mother. “Oh my God! I’ve missed you so much!” she said, looking over to see Travis behind her, she hugged him as well.

 

    “Mom! Travis!” Nick also rushed over to wrap them both in a big hug just before Chris came barreling through to get to his father.

 

    “It’s so good to see you kids! We were so worried without having a way to contact you that we wouldn’t be able to find you if something had happened and you had to leave here. I’m so happy you’re all safe!” Madison said, sounding so relieved.

 

    “What happened with that group that took Travis? How did you ever get him back? Did they hurt you?” Nick asked, looking back and forth between his mother and Travis.

 

    “They didn’t seem like they really wanted to hurt anyone, they just wanted to be intimidating and steal what they could. You’re mother here...she outsmarted them though and managed to get me out safely.” Travis answered, smiling over at his fiance. Looking over at his son who was standing close by but staring at his feet, Travis said, “Chris...I’m so sorry you had to be put through this after what happened with your mother. I know this is very hard for you.” he said.

 

    “I’m fine. Just...glad you’re back.” Chris said in response, looking up at his father.

 

    “What happened to your face? You’ve got a nasty looking bruise…” Travis asked as he reached his hand out to touch Chris’ right jaw.

 

    Just as Chris glared over at Elyza, Nick jumped in. “Training accident.” He said, wide eyed, receiving a look of relief from Alicia at his quickness to jump in and protect Elyza. It was too soon to discuss all that had just transpired that morning. Tempers would flare and that wouldn’t be good for anyone.

 

    “Training accident? What do you mean?” Madison asked, narrowing her eyes at the four young people in front of her.

 

    “Elyza has been teaching us how to defend ourselves. She trained us in hand to hand combat and also how to fight with weapons. She’s really something, mom. We learned so much and she really made sure we know how to keep ourselves safe. We owe her...big time.” Nick replied, looking over and smiling as he reached over and gave Elyza’s shoulder a reassuring squeeze.

 

    “Weapons???” Travis asked, sounding a bit upset at the mention of that.

 

    “Nothing dangerous, sir. No guns.” Elyza responded, looking him straight in the eyes. “I’ve trained Alicia to use swords, Nick a tactical axe and Chris is really skilled with a bow staff. They’ve all really come so far and I’ve shown them that they don’t need to rely on guns. You’d be proud to see how well they can all defend themselves.” she said, smiling.

 

    “Seems you four have been keeping busy then.” Travis replied with a chuckle as the others all laughed as well, except of course for Chris.

 

    “Well, we’d better be heading back to the yacht. Strand’s friend Luis is adamant about some kind of deadline to get to Mexico. We’re going to leave at first light tomorrow so we need to do a supply run before nightfall.” Madison stated “Grab your things and meet us downstairs so we can get moving. We’ve got about a three day sail ahead of us so we need to get going as soon as possible.” she finished.

 

    Chris practically ran to grab his bag, while Nick just glanced over at Alicia and Elyza, before walking over to grab his own bag. Madison could see the worry on her daughter’s face and added, “Elyza, that means you too. After everything you’ve done, you are more than welcomed to come with us….if you’d like.” she said while glancing between the two girls.

 

    “Thank you Mrs. Clarke. That really means a lot to me.” Elyza said, smiling at the woman. Alicia smiled at the exchange and felt it was okay to excuse herself to go pack up her belongings. After she stepped away, Elyza looked to Madison again. “Mrs. Clark, I don’t want to sound ungrateful or try to mess up your plans in any way, but I have one favor to ask.” Elyza said.

 

    “After everything you’ve done to help us, Elyza...just name it.” Madison said, smiling at the girl.

 

    “It’s Alicia’s birthday, as you know.I had something special planned for her and I would really appreciate it if you’d let her stay behind with me. I will have her back to The Abigail after dark, I promise. I’ve been looking forward to doing something special for her for today, and I think after all of this, she deserves to enjoy her birthday. That is, unless you would rather her be around family and I would completely understand.” Elyza rambled, feeling very shy and unsure of how to put it.

 

    “Of course! Besides, if you managed to plan something special during all this chaos...then it shouldn’t go to waste. Both of you enjoy the night and be back at the ship by dawn and we can all head out together, okay?” Madison said with a smile.

 

    “Thank you, Mrs. Clark. Thank you so much!” Elyza said, grinning ear to ear.

 

    “I’m the one who should be thanking you! You’ve kept our kids safe. And Elyza...call me Madison, please.” she said, giving the blonde’s hand a friendly squeeze as she stepped outside to wait with Travis.

 

    Elyza made her way over to her bedroom and leaned against the doorway as she watched Alicia packing. The brunette sensed her there and turned around with an apologetic smile on her face. “Elyza...I’m so sorry we have to leave and this messes up your plans. On the brightside, you’re coming with me so I can’t be too disappointed.” She said as she made her way over to where Elyza stood, grabbing the blonde’s hands with her own.

 

    “Actually, love….I spoke to your mom. She agreed to let us stay behind for the night when I told her I had plans for your birthday. She said we can be back at The Abigail by dawn and that we should enjoy the night.” Elyza said with a confident smile.

 

    “Really?? So it will just be the two of us....until tomorrow morning?” the brunette asked, excitement clearly evident in her voice.

 

    “Just the two of us.” Elyza replied with a big smile.

 

    “This is already turning out to be the best birthday ever!” Alicia said, throwing her arms around the Australian, hugging her tight.

 

    “Oh...just you wait, sweetheart.” Elyza said, sighing contentedly into Alicia’s strong embrace.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    After making sure she had everything she needed in her backpack, Elyza slipped on her jacket, slipped her machete over her shoulder and grabbed both their bike helmets. “You ready to go, birthday girl?” she asked Alicia with a smile.

 

    “I’m ready. Let’s go!” the brunette exclaimed excitedly as she grabbed Elyza’s hand and practically skipped to the door.

 

    Elyza rolled the Harley out into the street and as Alicia grabbed for her helmet, she moved it away and said, “Not so fast, gorgeous. I’m going to need to make sure you don’t see or hear where we’re going. Can’t ruin the surprise!” Elyza said with a mischievous grin as she held up a red bandana that she had just pulled from her bag.

 

    “Seriously? You’re blindfolding me? I won’t peek!” Alicia said, a little unsure of how she felt being blind on the back of a motorcycle.

 

    “Right-o! And you have to wear your earbuds!” Elyza explained as she began wrapping the fabric over the brunettes eyes and tying it behind her head then moved on to slipping each earbud into place. Before pressing play, she leaned in and said, “Trust me.” She kissed Alicia’s cheek then slipped her helmet on, guided her onto the bike and started it up, not wasting any time before quickly speeding off toward her destination.

 

    The drive was strange for Alicia, unable to hear or see anything. She felt oddly safe though, holding onto Elyza. She knew the blonde would never let anything happen to her. This thought made her smile as she rested her head against the woman’s back as they drove on. A few minutes later, she felt the bike slow to a stop and then Elyza killed the engine. She felt the Australian’s hands guide her off the bike and eased the helmet off, careful not to pull off the blindfold in the process. They walked hand in hand for a few seconds and once they stopped, she was hoping to be able to remove the blindfold and earbuds. No such luck.

 

     Elyza leaned in and briefly removed the left earbud and said, “Stay put. Be right back!” and sure enough, in just under a minute, she was right back at Alicia’s side. She assumed they were somewhere near the beach because she could smell the warm, salty air.  First, the earbuds were removed and she heard what sounded like the hum of electricity and the sound of ocean waves crashing onto the shore. Next, Elyza slowly removed the blindfold and said, “Surprise!” while hugging the brunette from behind and placing her chin on the girl’s shoulder.

 

    “Oh my God, Elyza!!! How did you….oh my God! This is incredible!” Alicia said, the biggest smile Elyza had ever seen spread across her face. Her beautiful green eyes lit up brighter than all the lights as she took in the scene around her. There they stood, at the entrance to Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier and Elyza had managed to break into the electrical room to power up the whole park.

 

    “You said you’d always wanted to ride the ferris wheel and thought you’d never get the chance again. I promised you I’d take you once the world righted itself again, but I didn’t want to wait. So...what do you say? Will you take a ride with me?” Elyza asked, her blue eyes reflecting the happiness she was feeling at that moment.

 

    “Of course I will!” Alicia responded, taking the hand that was offered to her as they walked toward the ride at the back of the pier.

 

    Elyza held open the door to one of the cars and walked over to the controls to switch the ride on. She then quickly ran back and jumped into the car before it could get too high off the ground and settled in beside Alicia. They sat that way in silence for a while, her arm around the brunette’s shoulder, pulling her close as Alicia curled into the embrace, content to just sit and enjoy the breeze and watch the reflection of the moonlight of of the breaking waves. After about 10 minutes of comfortable silence, Elyza reached down to rummage through her backpack.

 

    “What are you doing?” Alicia asked, curiously trying to see what was in the bag.

 

    “Just a sec, sweetheart….just need to find….ah! Here it is!” The blonde said as she sat up, putting something behind her back. “Close your eyes! Part two of the surprise!” she said, eyebrows raised in excitement.

 

    “Okay…” Alicia said, looking skeptical but still smiling while she closed her eyes. She heard what sounded like the crinkling of a wrapper and then if she wasn’t mistaken, the sound of a match being struck.

 

    “Alright...open!” Elyza said

 

    Alicia opened her eyes and immediately brought her hand up to cover her mouth in shock as she saw the blonde was holding a little cupcake with a single lit candle in the center. “You got me a cupcake??? Where on earth did you find that?? Oh and it’s chocolate! That’s my favorite!” she exclaimed while smiling from ear to ear.

 

    “Eh...I managed to snag a pack of them when we were at Ralph’s that day...figured it would come in handy for tonight. Go on! Make a wish!” Elyza said, holding the cupcake out to Alicia so she could blow out the candle.

 

    “Okay...um...alright. I wish-” the brunette began.

 

    “No!! You can’t say it out loud! It won’t come true otherwise, silly!” Elyza shouted, laughing at the younger girl.

 

    “Oh alright….” Alicia said, laughing as well as she closed her eyes and made a wish before blowing out the single candle. She wished that she would never lose Elyza. She wished that they would always be together and be as happy as they were right there in that moment. She found it funny that she wished for that and not for the world to return to normal. As long as she had Elyza by her side, she realized she didn’t care about the rest. They would get through it together.

 

    Elyza watched as the brunette sat with her eyes closed, smiling as she was thinking about her wish. Alicia took a deep breath and blew out the candle, her eyes looking up to meet Elyza’s as she did so. “Happy birthday, Alicia.” and pulled the girl in for a hug. They sat there for a little while longer, sharing the cupcake before Elyza said, “You know...even though this is a happy moment, sitting here, I can’t help but think of this song that I love. The video for it was shot right on the pier. God...what a great song.”

 

    “What’s the song?” Alicia asked, intrigued.

 

    “You probably wouldn’t know it. Most people don’t really like country music, and as much as I know you have a wide range in taste when it comes to music, this is a little bit of a stretch I think. It’s called ‘Til Summer Comes Around’ by Keith Urban. That song just breaks my heart.” Elyza said, shaking her head with a slight smile, looking out over the waves.

 

    “Ah...a fellow Aussie. Well, it seems you’ve underestimated me, Ms. Lex!” Alicia said, laughing. “I’ll have you know, the guitar solo in that song is the reason I ever picked up your guitar in the first place. I’ve always wished I knew how to play that.” she said, placing a quick kiss on the blonde’s lips as she looked back at her, wide eyed in shock that she knew the exact song.

 

    “My God! How are you even real ?” Elyza said, a look of utter fascination on her face.

 

    “Same as you.” Alicia said, leaning in closer as she took her phone out of her pocket and handed Elyza one of the earbuds so they could share as she selected the song in one of her playlists and they both closed their eyes as the sounds of the amusement park filled their ears in the beginning of the track.

 

     “Another long summer's come and gone

I don't know why it always ends this way

The boardwalk's quiet and the carnival rides

Are as empty as my broken heart tonight”

 

     “Sing to me?” Alicia asked, and Elyza complied.

 

“But I close my eyes and one more time

We're spinning around and you're holding on tightly

The words came out, I kissed your mouth

No Fourth of July has ever burned so brightly

You had to go, I understand

But you promised you'd be back again

And so I wander 'round this town

'til summer comes around

 

I got a job working at the old park pier

And every summer now for five long years

I grease the gears, fix the lights, tighten bolts, straighten the tracks

And I count the days 'til you just might come back

 

But then I close my eyes and one more time,

We're spinning around and you're holdin' on tightly

The words came out, I kissed your mouth,

No Fourth of July has ever burned so brightly

You had to go, I understand

But you swore that you'd be back again

And so I'm frozen in this town

'til summer comes around

 

Oh and I close my eyes and you and I

Are stuck on a ferris wheel rockin with the motion

Hand in hand we cried and laughed

Knowing that love belonged to us girl, if only for a moment

And "Baby I'll be back again" you whispered in my ear

Bot now the winter wind is the only sound

And everything is closing down

'til summer comes around”

 

    Alicia opened her eyes when she heard Elyza’s voice crack when she mentioned the ferris wheel. She saw tears falling from her eyes and didn’t realize she too was crying. Something about this moment, sitting there with her, it felt that song was written for them. Love belonged to them, even if only for a moment.

 

    “Jeeze...I’m sorry. I didn’t think I was going to get all emotional on you. That song is something, isn’t it?” Elyza said, giving an embarrassed chuckle as she wiped the tears from her face.

 

    “It’s beautiful. You’re beautiful.” Alicia said, leaning in to kiss the blonde. Resting their foreheads together after breaking away to take a breath, Alicia suggested going down to sit on the beach. When the car made it’s way toward the bottom, Elyza jumped out and turned off the controls before heading back to help Alicia out.

 

    They walked down the stairs leading to the beach and made their way down to the surf. After deciding on a good spot, Alicia moved to sit down and pulled Elyza with her. She kicked off her shoes and removed her socks, setting them aside as she burrowed into the sand with her feet, enjoying the feeling of it between her toes.

 

    “You’re so cute. Do you know that?” Elyza said, looking at the other girl with admiration shining in her blue eyes.

 

    “You’re cuter!” Alicia responded, leaning in to place a soft kiss on Elyza’s lips. “Take your boots off! Live a little!” she said, nudging the blonde with her shoulder and smiled as she saw her comply, taking off her boots and her socks as well.

 

    “It’s funny...I know I said not to tell your wish or it wouldn’t come true, but I can’t help but want to know what you wished for. Is that stupid?” the blonde asked, looking down sheepishly as she entangled their fingers together.

 

    “That’s not stupid...but I still can’t tell you. I don’t want to risk it not coming true. However...I can tell you, it involves you and me and I’m sure you can guess the rest.” the brunette said, moving to lay back into the sand, pulling on their joined hands to urge Elyza down next to her.

 

    “I hope it’s the same thing I’ve been wishing.” the Australian said, smiling. “You know...I’m really so happy your mom invited me along. I don’t know what I would have done otherwise. I don’t ever want to lose you, Alicia. You don’t know what you mean to me.” she finished, looking up at the stars, seeming like she wanted to say more.

 

    “Well, without spoiling my wish, I want you to know, we’re absolutely on the same page. I’d be lost without you. I know it was fate that made me pick up the radio that night. I wouldn’t change any of this, not for anything.” Alicia responded, moving over to lay her head on Elyza’s shoulder and wrapping her arm around the older girl’s waist.

 

    They lay that way for about 20 minutes, just listening to the waves and enjoying being wrapped up together in the sand. Finally, Alicia broke the silence. “Elyza?” she asked, tilting her chin up to look at her.

 

    “Yes, love?” the blonde responded.

 

    “Thank you so much for doing all of this. No one has ever done anything so special for my birthday. I can’t tell you how happy you’ve made me. I will never forget this night.” the brunette responded, squeezing her arm around Elyza’s waist tighter.

 

    “You’re welcome, Leash. I’m so glad that you’re happy. That’s all I ever want for you.” She said back. Turning her head to the side to get a better view of the younger girl’s face she asked, “Is there anything else you’d like to do for your birthday before we head back? You name it, I will make it happen, I promise.” she said with a genuine smile.

 

    It took Alicia the better part of 30 seconds to muster up the courage to speak. “Anything?” she said, almost in a whisper when she realized she had  in fact been wanting something. She had been wanting it for quite a while now and something always happened to ruin it.

 

    “Anything.” Elyza responded, rolling over onto her side to be face to face with the brunette.

 

    With that, Alicia slowly closed the distance between them and captured Elyza’s lips with her own. She felt the blonde sigh contentedly into the kiss and wrap her hands around the brunette’s body. After a few minutes of soft, sweet kisses Alicia said, “Elyza...I want you to make love to me. Please.” as she held the blondes face in her hands, green eyes desperately searching blue.

 

     She didn’t need to hear a verbal response to know that Elyza had agreed. She saw the desire in her eyes. Pulling her in for another kiss, she grabbed at the collar of the blonde’s leather jacket, pulling her fully on top of her. Elyza held herself up on her elbow while she tangled her fingers into brunette locks, their lips still moving with each other. She moved her tongue across Alicia’s bottom lip, and smiled against their kiss as the younger girl parted her lips, granting her tongue access. Elyza could feel her jacket being slid off her arms, and broke their kiss only for a moment to shimmy out of it the rest of the way. Alicia gripped at Elyza’s waist, pulling her closer. Elyza positioned one leg between the brunette’s and when she moved to thrust her hips forward, she felt Alicia dig her nails into her back at the contact of her knee against her center.

 

    It continued like that for a few minutes, until Alicia began lifting the hem of Elyza’s shirt. “Is this okay?” She asked, and Elyza nodded, straightening up a bit so the younger girl could remove the shirt completely. Alicia stared, and reached her hand up to touch the blonde’s face. “You’re so beautiful.” she said, pulling her back down for another kiss.

 

    It was odd for Elyza to be shy in this kind of situation, but something about being with Alicia made it different. She was scared. She was nervous. She felt so many things. “C-can I?” She stuttered, glancing down at the brunette’s own shirt. The response she got was Alicia leaning to sit up, allowing Elyza to pull the garment up and over her head before she lay back onto the sand. They resumed their kisses and Elyza froze when she felt Alicia’s fingers fumbling with the button on her jeans. She felt such a strong desire in her heart and her body was feeling a million other things as well. Before she allowed it to continue, she asked “Are you sure? I don’t want you to feel like you have to do anything. We can wait if you aren’t sure. I mean, I’m not saying that I don’t want to, I’m just saying that I respect you and I will be more than happy to wait if you want to wait. If you want to.” Elyza rambled, feeling so very nervous.

 

    “Elyza. I’m unbuttoning your pants and you think I may not be ready?” Alicia asked, laughing at the blonde woman hovering above her. “Take them off. Please.” she commanded nicely.

 

    “Um...maybe we should put my jacket down or something? Sand….” the blonde said, looking around them before meeting Alicia’s emerald eyes again.

 

    “You’re probably right. Here, let me.” Alicia said as she grabbed the jacket and did her best to use it and their discarded shirts to create a makeshift blanket to lay down on. “Better?” she asked as she turned back to see Elyza was now kneeling beside her i just a pair of short, tight boy shorts and her black bra, pants tossed haphazardly to the side. She was completely unaware of how long she had been staring, mouth agape, until she heard Elyza clear her throat.

 

    “Wow. I mean...you look...just...wow.” Alicia struggled to find the words. It was her turn now to stammer. She felt her face grow hot as she realized how completely turned on she was by the sight in front of her. She realized now how intense the ache between her thighs had become. If just looking at Elyza could make her feel this way, she was dying to find out what anything further would make her feel. Without even thinking about it, she lay back and Elyza nervously came closer. “I noticed this tattoo that day we were fishing.” she said, grazing the broken infinity tattoo with her fingertip. “I didn’t notice this one.” she said, touching the beautiful small tattoo of a wolf on Elyza’s other hipbone. “What do they mean?” she asked, looking into blue eyes.

 

    “Well, the wolf….I’ve just always loved them. I kind of identified with them in a way. Always the lone wolf, I was. But they’re fiercely loyal and protective….I always felt I was that way, too.” she explained.

 

    “And this one?” Alicia asked, nodding to the infinity tattoo.     

 

    “I got this after my mom died. It’s broken to remind me that nothing lasts forever, so you should cherish every moment because you never know when it may be your last with someone.” she said, not meeting the brunette’s eyes.

 

    “That’s really sad but beautiful.” Alicia said.

 

    “Do you mind if I...take yours off?” She said, her voice sounding so small. Alicia couldn’t answer, but moved to undo the button on her own jeans and then rested her hands at her sides to let the blonde do the rest. She could see the way Elyza’s blue eyes darkened once her pants were removed and she lie there in only her panties and bra. The way the blonde’s eyes trailed all over her body, almost as if she was trying to sear the image to memory, made Alicia’s whole body tingle with excitement and longing. She couldn’t take it anymore, so she pulled the older woman down, crashing their lips together in a heated kiss. Surprising Elyza and herself, she reached her arm around and unclasped Elyza’s bra, feeling as the straps fell from her shoulders and touched her own skin. She took a sharp intake of breath when she felt Elyza move to pull the fabric completely from herself and her bare breasts finally came in contact with Alicia’s body. The blonde, feeling more confident at this point, did the same to the younger girl. When she felt Alicia’s fingers slipping through the waistband of her remaining piece of clothing, she moved quickly to remove them and then watched in amazement as the brunette did the same with her own.

 

    Laying there, feeling the warmth of their bodies, skin on skin in the absence of clothes, it was then that the moment shifted. Neither woman was nervous. The way they touched and kissed and caressed each other seemed as if they had been doing it for years. Elyza seemed to know exactly where to touch Alicia to make her react. She took her time, worshiping the brunette’s body like the goddess that she was. Tasting every inch of skin, touching every part of her. This went on for quite a long time, just touching and savoring every moment. The first time her tongue came in contact with the brunette’s center, she felt like she could have died right then and been happy. The way her body reacted, the sounds she made...nothing could compare to that, she thought. It had shocked her when just as she thought Alicia was about to fall over the edge, she stopped her.

 

    “Elyza...come here. Please.” she pleaded, breathless.

 

    “What’s wrong? Did I hurt you? Did I do something wrong?” the blonde asked, starting to panic.

 

    “Shhhh….please just come here.” she said, pulling Elyza closer to her, kissing the blonde and tasting herself on her lips. “Together…” she said, looking into stormy blue eyes.

 

    Elyza steadied herself on one elbow, and kissed Alicia as she moved her other hand down to slip two fingers inside the brunette. She was rewarded with a moan that she quickly swallowed up with a kiss. She nearly collapsed onto the girl when she felt her slide two fingers into her wetness as well. “Oh my God…” she moaned as she dropped her head onto Alicia’s shoulder, hair sticking to her forehead that was slick with sweat. They both began moving together, their lips hardly leaving one another’s. When Elyza felt she was close, she squeezed her eyes shut as she felt it building within her.

 

    “Open your eyes.” she heard Alicia say, and when their eyes met, she continued, “Don’t close your eyes….please.” she said, trying to keep her own open as she felt her orgasm building.

 

    Never in her life had she felt anything so powerful...so earth shattering, than that moment. As they came together, hearing their names falling from each other's lips, both struggling to keep their eyes on each other, lips ghosting one another while hot breath mixed between them, Elyza felt fresh tears falling from her eyes. She noticed a tear slide from each of Alicia’s beautiful green eyes at the same time. As she moved to lie down at Alicia’s side, she burrowed her face in the younger girl’s neck as she wrapped her arm tightly around her and just allowed herself to feel everything in that moment.

 

    “Elyza...why are you crying?” the brunette asked, sounding like she already knew the answer, considering she was crying herself.

 

    “Because I...Alicia….I love you.” Elyza said, leaning up on her elbow, resting her other hand on the brunette’s damp cheek, and gazing into her green eyes. “I’m so in love with you.” she said, her voice cracking.

 

    “I love you, too...I love you so much, Elyza.” Alicia said, realizing now that these tears were just because they both felt so much, they couldn’t contain it any longer.

 

    Elyza dipped her head down and kissed Alicia’s lips softly, whispering against them an ‘I love you’. Nothing would ever mean more to her than this. She finally felt like she was complete.


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    They managed to enjoy hours at the pier and on the beach without ever once being interrupted by walkers or anything else. It seemed too good to be true. They made their way back to the bike, Elyza allowing Alicia to drive back as she enjoyed holding her while the Harley carried them away. Neither of them had ever felt this happy. They should have known that happiness would have been short lived. When they began to slow up as they approached the apartment, Elyza straightened up as she noticed an unfamiliar vehicle parked outside.

 

    “Who the hell is that?” She asked, scanning the area frantically.

 

    Alicia switched off the engine and Elyza jumped off immediately, headed straight for the vehicle. She couldn’t see inside because of the dark tinting on the windows so when the driver side door opened, she stopped instantly, fear causing her to freeze up.

 

    “ Travis ?” both her and Alicia said in unison as she saw the older man, Alicia’s stepfather, step out of the car.

 

    “Travis...what are you doing here? Mom said we didn’t have to be back till morning!” Alicia asked him, annoyance heavy in her voice, as well as curiosity.

 

    “Change of plans. She decided she wanted to spend a little time with you since it’s your birthday. She told me to come get you but had me wait a while saying you two apparently had plans?” he said, eying Elyza suspiciously before returning his focus on Alicia.

 

    “Go get your things and we can head back.” he said, and she rolled her eyes at him, taking the keys from Elyza’s outstretched hand and made her way upstairs to get her bag.

 

    When Elyza turned back to look at Travis, she said, “I’d better go get some things as well.” and smiled uncertainly at him. As she began to turn to follow in the direction that Alicia had gone, his next words to her felt like a slap in the face.

 

    “That won’t be necessary.” Travis said, coldly.

 

    “What does that mean?” she asked, confusion written all over her face.

 

    “I know what you did to my son. He told me everything. How you’ve been abusing him...bullying him and treating him horribly this whole time. You may have her fooled, but not me. I don’t want someone like you anywhere near my family. Do you understand? You are not welcomed to come with us.” he said, his words dripping with hatred.

 

    Elyza could clearly see where Chris got his arrogance from. She felt sick. How was this happening? How could she get around this? “But, sir...Alicia and I…” she started, trying to control the anger rising inside of her.

 

    “There is no Alicia and you . Chris told me about that, too. You ought to be ashamed of yourself, preying on a young girl like her...someone so vulnerable. You make up whatever you have to so she comes along without any trouble and then I never want to see you near my family again, are we clear?” he asked, his voice full of authority.

 

    Elyza knew she should say something, or fight, even. The old her would have beat this jerk senseless. Unfortunately, she couldn’t move...couldn’t speak. She could barely see or hear or breathe or think. She was frozen. They were taking Alicia away. The only thing in this world that mattered to her, the only reason she had for waking up every day in this shitty world was being ripped from her life. Suddenly, she thought of Alicia. How was she going to get through this? Understanding the threat behind Travis’ words, she instinctively thought of how to make this as easy as possible for the brunette. She had to do something to make this easy for her. She wasn’t sure what, but for now, she knew she had to let Travis take her back tonight without causing a scene. She at least had until dawn to figure something out.

 

    It took everything in her to make her face seem calm and unphased when Alicia appeared again on the sidewalk, carrying her duffel bag. “You gonna go grab your stuff?” the younger girl said with a smile.

 

    Thinking very quickly, Elyza responded “Actually...I really need time to get together the things I really want to take and I’d planned on dropping off a good bit of my stuff that I can’t take over to my storage unit so it’s safe. Besides, your mom wants to spend some time with you on your birthday. I don’t want to intrude on that. I will be at the yacht in the morning.” Elyza finished with a reassuring smile, praying Alicia couldn’t see right through her.

 

    “Oh...well, I guess that’s okay. Just...don’t be late, okay? Please.” the brunette said, looking disappointed but also as though she believed the lie.

 

    “I won’t be late. Now go on! Your family is waiting. Enjoy the rest of the night with them, alright?” Elyza said with a weak smile as she pulled Alicia in for a hug. She wanted to hold her so tight. She wanted to kiss her perfect lips and tell her how much she loved her, but she couldn’t. She couldn’t let her see what was really happening. Her heart was shattering and there was nothing she could do to stop it. She felt sick as she watched the two of them get into the car and felt hot tears streaming uncontrollably down her face as she saw Alicia roll the window down and wave goodbye.

 

   With tears falling freely now, Elyza collapsed to her knees in the middle of the sidewalk and sobbed as she said, “Goodbye…”

    

 

    

Chapter Text

    Nothing that Elyza could think of made sense. There was no way around what had just happened and what needed to be done. Of course she could just tell Travis and Chris to go fuck themselves but what kind of problems would that cause for Alicia and her family? As much as she felt they belonged together and as deeply as she had fallen in love with the brunette, Elyza knew that it hadn’t really been long enough for her to gage the reaction of Alicia’s mother and the other members of the group if she were to just follow her heart and not listen to Travis. She wanted desperately to hop on her bike right now and race to the woman she loved...to tell her that she would keep her promise and she would never leave her side, but deep down, she knew this wasn’t possible now. In the end, all that mattered was that Alicia was kept safe. This was how Elyza had to protect her now. She couldn’t risk causing a riff in her family and group. It could destroy everything they had all built together and that would put Alicia at risk. Removing herself from the equation was the only logical answer.

 

    “FUCK!” she yelled to no one in her empty apartment as she took another long pull from the bottle of bourbon she had hidden away in the cabinet. She hadn’t realized the tears that were still slowly falling down her face as she drank and contemplated her options. Setting the bottle down, she roughly wiped the tears from her eyes and moved to her bedroom where she grabbed her journal and a pen. She had to say goodbye. There was no way around it. Life was not meant to work out for her, she knew that for sure now. Everything that she had been through back home in Australia...losing her mom, almost destroying her life, then coming here only to have everything she worked so hard for ripped away because of this nightmare the world had turned into...she thought that was it for her. That was until a gorgeous, green eyed angel walked into her life and saved her….made her feel like there was still a reason to wake up every morning. Now that was being taken from her, too. She wasn’t meant to be happy. She had no idea where life would take her next, but she knew she couldn’t force herself into a situation where she wasn’t welcomed. Fresh, hot tears spilled from her eyes as she took another deep drink from the bottle before putting the pen to paper and writing her goodbye. She had to let go one last time.

 

*******************************************************************************************************

 

    When they pulled up to the marina, Alicia was still angry and confused as to why her mother would tell Elyza that they didn’t have to be back till morning only to ruin what could have continued to be a beautiful night by forcing her to come back. It didn’t make sense, but she intended on getting answers as soon as she stepped foot onto The Abigail. She and Travis made their way down to the dock where the Zodiac was waiting for them. They stepped inside and Travis started the motor, moving them quickly in the direction of the yacht.

 

    Stepping onto the swim platform, Alicia noticed that there weren’t many lights on. She made her way up to the deck and saw that no one was in the living room area at all.

 

    “Where is everyone?” Alicia said, annoyance clear in her voice.

 

    Just as Travis was about to respond, Chris came up from below deck and said, “Your mom had a headache. She went to lay down about a half hour ago. She’s sleeping now. Nick, Ophelia, and Daniel are on a supply run.” he said, as he plopped down lazily onto the couch, putting his earbuds in to tune out any other questions. The dark glare that he shot his father did not go unnoticed by Alicia. She had no idea what to make of it or the unsettling feeling it left in her stomach, but brushed it off anyway.

 

    “Great! So you drag me back here for no reason when I could be enjoying the rest of my birthday with my….with Elyza! Just perfect! Happy birthday to me! I’m going to bed.” She said, her words laced with pain as she stormed off toward the stairs leading to the top deck where she used to sleep on warm nights. When she reached the top, she realized that it was silly to think her blankets and pillows would all still be up there, so she settled for laying on a cushioned bench just above the space she used to occupy on the deck. Laying there staring up at the night sky, she couldn’t believe that just over an hour ago, she was staring up at this same sky, lying on the beach wrapped in the arms of the woman she loved. She still couldn’t fully believe that the magical evening they shared had actually happened. Letting her mind wander to the feeling of Elyza’s lips on her skin, the way her hands knew exactly where she needed to be touched….the look in the blonde’s eyes as they fell together...it all felt so unreal. How could one person make you feel so much?

 

    Suddenly, Alicia felt a light breeze and an instant chill settled over the night air. “I should have taken her damn jacket!”  Alicia thought to herself, smiling. She lay back and pulled her phone and earbuds out of the pocket of her jeans, slipping them into her ears and hitting play. Closing her eyes, she waited for the music to start as she tried to relax herself knowing that Elyza would be there in the morning and they could start their lives together, battling through this new world by each other’s sides. When the music began to play, that same unsettling feeling she had earlier with Chris and Travis returned. Why did she feel something was wrong?

 

You and I walk a fragile line

I have known it all this time

But I never thought I'd live to see it break

It's getting dark and it's all too quiet

And I can't trust anything now

And it's coming over you like it's all a big mistake

 

Oh, I'm holding my breath

Won't lose you again

Something's made your eyes go cold

 

Come on, come on, don't leave me like this

I thought I had you figured out

Something's gone terribly wrong

You're all I wanted

Come on, come on, don't leave me like this

I thought I had you figured out

Can't breathe whenever you're gone

Can't turn back now, I'm haunted

 

Stood there and watched you walk away

From everything we had

But I still mean every word I said to you

He will try to take away my pain

And he just might make me smile

But the whole time I'm wishing he was you instead

 

Oh, I'm holding my breath

Won't see you again

Something keeps me holding on to nothing

 

Come on, come on, don't leave me like this

I thought I had you figured out

Something's gone terribly wrong

You're all I wanted

Come on, come on, don't leave me like this

I thought I had you figured out

Can't breathe whenever you're gone

Can't turn back now, I'm haunted

 

I know, I know, I just know

You're not gone. You can't be gone. No.

 

Come on, come on, don't leave me like this

I thought I had you figured out

Something's gone terribly wrong

Won't finish what you started

Come on, come on, don't leave me like this

I thought I had you figured out

Can't breathe whenever you're gone

Can't go back, I'm haunted

 

Oh

 

You and I walk a fragile line

I have known it all this time

Never ever thought I'd see it break.

Never thought I'd see it…”

 

*************************************************************************************************

 

    Morning came and with it, the memories of the night before flooded Elyza’s mind. As she sat up, she began to regret the way she chose to fall back into an old habit of drinking away her pain. The pounding in her head and the way her stomach was turning was not a welcomed feeling. Forcing herself to stand, she couldn’t even bring herself to make coffee to fully sober up. She still felt the effects and thought that maybe, just maybe, it would help her get through what she was about to do. “What I have to do.” she thought to herself. As she dressed, she looked at herself in the mirror and frowned. “You can do this, Lex. You promised to always keep her safe. Keep your damned promise!” she thought as she stared into her own eyes. Gathering up what little strength she had left, she grabbed her machete, and slipped her journal into her backpack before heading out the door. Noting that the sun hadn’t fully come up yet, she decided to take the truck instead of her Harley, thinking that it would be quieter and she wouldn’t wake Alicia with the noise of her arrival. She couldn’t face her. She just couldn’t. She knew that if she saw those eyes she would lose all of her resolve. Jumping into the truck, she closed her eyes and rested her head on the steering wheel, letting out a shaky breath. “Fuck…” she said to herself again, as she opened her eyes and started the truck, driving off toward The Abigail.

 

    Twenty minutes later, she pulled as close to the water as she could and killed the engine. If she thought she was surprised to see Travis already sitting at the end of the dock facing the water,  then she’d be lying. She could tell from his demeanor last night that he was serious and wasn’t going to allow her to come along. He turned abruptly at the sound of the truck door shutting.

 

    “I thought I told you not to come?” he asked calmly as he slowly began to approach the blonde.

 

    “I know. I don’t want any trouble. I just….I just need to make sure Alicia gets this. Please. It meant a lot to her and I wanted her to have it. Something to remember me by.” Elyza said, handing her journal over to him, and instantly wanting to snap his neck when he snatched it greedily and began flipping through the pages.

 

    “I guess….yeah. I guess I can give it to her.” he said, as he looked back up at Elyza.

 

    “Can you just make sure she gets it as soon as she wakes up? I don’t want there to be any problems between her and Madison...or the rest of the group. I lied and explained that I had to go for my own reasons. I can’t risk her getting upset and trying to come back for me.” Elyza said, looking down at her feet as she kicked some of the gravel beneath her boots.

 

    Travis felt sorry for the girl in front of him, but only for a moment. His mind went back to his son and what he had explained happened during the two weeks they had spent with the Australian. “Considering what you did to my son and how you preyed on my stepdaughter, I wouldn’t expect anything less. ” he said to her coldly.

 

    When his words sank in, Elyza felt a fire inside of her start to rage. He was really going to believe Chris? He would really think that she was some kind of monster? No….she wouldn’t stand for that. How could she vow to love and protect Alicia just to give up and back down because of some sad excuse for a man who couldn’t possibly know what it’s like to love someone this much? No. She wouldn’t give up. She was going to fight. She wasn’t going to let this be the end. With anger in her eyes, she stared back at him before saying, “May we meet again.”

 

    Feeling that was more of a threat than a goodbye, Travis responded with “If we ever do, it will be too soon.” and glanced down at her in disgust as he turned on his heels to walk back toward the Zodiac. It took everything in Elyza to not pull her blade out and kill him where he stood, but she knew she couldn’t. She made her way back to the truck and stared off over the water as the sun rose behind The Abigail. Feeling tears threatening to fall again, she said quietly to herself, “I will  find you again.” hoping that Alicia would forgive her when that day finally came.

 

*********************************************************************************************************

 

    Alicia jumped up and nearly fell off of the bench she had been sleeping on as the sound of the engine startled her awake. Feeling disoriented she sat up looking around, realizing they were moving quickly away from the harbor and out to sea. “What the fuck ????” she said to herself as she rushed to head down the stairs. “Elyza??? ELYZA??” she yelled as she made her way down to the main deck. When she saw her mom and Travis sitting on the couch, Madison’s expression looking apologetic and sad, she said “Where is she???” already feeling the tears filling her eyes as that sinking, unsettling feeling overtook her again.

 

    “Alicia...sweetie…” Madison started, standing to make her way over to her daughter.

 

    “WHERE IS SHE?!?!?” Alicia yelled, furious now as hot tears streamed down her face.

 

    “She said to give you this. She said she was sorry.” Travis spoke up from his place on the couch, standing and extending his arm toward the brunette, holding a very familiar brown leather bound journal out to her.

 

    Looking up at him and then over to her mother, they could see the disbelief and hurt in her eyes. She snatched the journal from Travis’ hands and opened it, instinctively flipping to the last entry and she began to read.


Alicia,

     Words cannot express how difficult it is for me to write this to you. I am not quite sure how to even begin. When you met me, I was broken.  I had lost everything in my life and finally rebuilt it, only to have this outbreak take what I built and destroy it once more. I lost my friends, and the new life I had created for myself. I’ve never been a stable person to begin with, so having this happen to me a second time, was not helpful. I was looking for something...anything to latch onto to make me feel alive again. Then you came along.

     We got along great and had some great times. It felt nice to finally have some human interaction again after being alone for so long when all this mess started. Unfortunately, I let my loneliness cloud my judgement. You are just too young and this world is too fucked up for this to have ever been anything more than what it was. I should have never allowed it to go as far as it did, but like I said...it was my loneliness that got the better of me.

     You’re a great person and I really believe you will be okay. You can take care of yourself...I’ve seen it. I’m so sorry to have to end it like this, but you can’t say I didn’t warn you. That night at the observatory….I told you. I’m not a good person. I told you I hurt people. I warned you that if you stuck around, you’d only end up getting hurt. I don’t mean to be this way, but it’s who I am. I’m sorry for causing you any pain. I never intended it. Take care of yourself and please, stay safe. Goodbye, Alicia.

     Elyza

 

    Noticing the way Alicia’s hands were shaking, Madison reached her hand out, touching the girl’s forearm only to have the brunette move away quickly. “Don’t touch me.” she said flatly, not meeting her mother’s worried eyes. She couldn’t breathe, she couldn’t think...it felt like the world was collapsing in on her. The pain in her chest was almost too much for her to bear. None of this made any sense....just the night before, Elyza told her that she loved her...told her that she would never  leave her. How could this be happening? What changed? “This can’t be it!” Alicia thought to herself, feeling the confusion starting to take over.

 

    “Alicia...talk to me! What did she say? Are you alright?” Madison asked, extremely worried.

 

    Finally looking up at her mother, Alicia responded, “Nothing. She’s just...she couldn’t come. It doesn’t even matter. Let’s just go.” she said as she moved toward the door leading to the stairs to the upper deck.

 

    “Alicia…” Madison said, wanting her daughter to open up to her but unsure of what to say.

 

    “I said it doesn’t matter.” she responded, looking back before continuing on up the stairs.

 

     Madison was about to follow when Travis grabbed her arm, stopping her. "Give her space...she'll get over it." he said, reassuringly.

     

     When Alicia had finally reached the bench she had slept on the previous night, she collapsed onto it, letting the journal fall to the floor beside her. The emptiness she felt in that moment was the most terrifying thing she had ever experienced. She couldn’t cry. She couldn’t be angry. Just like Elyza, she was broken.

    

Chapter Text

Guys...I'm so sorry it's been this long with no updates. Life has been rough and I've had a hard time dealing with everything. I've been wanting to continue this for so long but I just never can get myself in the right frame of mind. Depression and anxiety are hard things to push aside. The sad thing is, I'm a very creative person so to have that nagging feeling of wanting to write or do anything that I normally love to do constantly try to surface but get beat down again by depression, that's a hard thing to deal with day after day and I'm sure almost all of you know what that is like. I'm getting better though. I've started working on this again. I can't promise when I'll have the first chapter of the sequel up, but please trust me. I haven't abandoned this story or any of you. Soon...very soon. May we meet again <3