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26 January 2010 @ 10:33 pm
challenge 1/1  
Title: Challenge
Pairing: Nick/Ellis
Rating: Hard R, maybe?
Wordcount: ~3,600
Disclaimer: Disclaimed!
Summary: Sometimes, the only way to let someone know how you feel is by pulling their pigtails and giving them hell.
Warnings: Swearing out the wazoo, bits of angst, bits of violence, overuse of italics, innuendo.
A/N: Oh, god.
First stab at this fandom/pairing. After trying with, like, five different plot ideas for about a month, I gave up and decided on this. And it wrote itself in, what, three days? So, yeah. Actual plot? Nah. Maybe sometime later, when I'm not so crazy insecure.
BUT THAT DOESN'T MATTER SO HERE YOU GO.



--



When the kid first opens his mouth, Nick isn't sure what to think.

On one hand, that accent is like a cheese grater against a chalkboard and, well, Heehaw comes to mind. On the other, goddamn the boy is pretty. If he'd keep those decidedly amazing lips closed, it'd all be hunky-dory.

Any hope for that happening is lost within fifteen minutes. Yosemite Sam yammers on about trucks and some moron named Keith (which is such an unpleasant name) who probably doesn't exist. And if he does, he's almost definitely dead. Which means he doesn't exist anymore. …Wait.

His head is light and spinning as he steps out of the window and onto the ledge. His lungs fill with good, clean oxygen instead of smoke and he coughs and, wonder of fucking wonders, stumbles.

The hard concrete catches his hands and scrapes his palms to shit and good fucking god, it hurts and he really can't hold on and wow, what a shitty fucking way to go out. He steels himself for the drop and is about to make peace with whichever god will listen when something warm and unpleasantly dry wraps around his wrist and hoists him up.

“You okay? Man, I thought you were a goner.” Hayseed flashes him a lopsided, yeah-I-somehow-managed-to-afford-braces grin and Nick decides right then and there that mixed feelings are A-okay and that, fuck it, they will be dealt with accordingly.

He loves a challenge.

-

“...dancin' for, like, money an' stuff...”

Nick pinches the bridge of his nose. Why do beauty and common sense never, ever mix?

-

“Ninety-nine bottles o' beer on the wall,” Ellis starts hesitantly, tapping the steering wheel with fast, nervous fingers.

No.”

He straightens up and swerves around another pile of bodies.

-

The motel is lackluster, boarded up in spots and broken down in others. Some of the wear kind of seems like it dates back to before the apocalypse. The smell leaves something to be desired.

They're kind of formulating a plan for getting through quickly and efficiently, but no dice. Leave it to the Three fucking Stooges to waste time planning on moving instead of actually fucking moving.

“Okay, me an' Rochelle 'll search the rooms, an' you guys watch the outside.”

“So the women get the easy job.” Nick plasters on a fake scowl. “I see how it is.”

Ellis goes through several emotions in just seconds. First is confusion, followed by realization, sandwiched in by more confusion, and then finished with anger. It's fucking great.

“I ain't a woman, Nick.”

“'Course you ain't,” he retorts, laying the accent on extra-thick. Ellis huffs, cocks his shotgun, and heads into the first room. Rochelle follows, eyes lingering on Nick, mouth stretched into a thin line. Well, fuck her, too.

Coach clears his throat and brings the scope of his rifle to his eye. Nick plays with the safety on his Magnum and wonders what the hell just happened.

-

“Cool lookin' water.”

“Yeah, don't drink it.”

Ellis gives him the strangest look and all he can really do in response is furrow his eyebrows.

It's not his fault. The whole Tunnel of Love thing (which still sounds like a reality TV show title) has him on edge for some reason and he can't help the stupid, snarky things he says. That cee-ment river line was just too good not to say. And, in his defense, drinking the water is totally something Ellis would do. It's a fair warning. It's totally normal to be concerned over the health of a teammate. So it's not strange for him to say that.

Right.

-

When they pile into the helicopter, a flaming, eight-hundred pound bastard Incredible Hulk offspring hot on their heels, they're blissfully, blissfully speechless. They take off and the fire below them climbs higher and higher engulfing said bastard offspring before it can chuck more fucking rocks at them.

“So that was the Midnight Riders, huh?” Ellis looks up and nods, a tired smile playing across his lips.

“Hell yeah.”

“I'm not impressed.” A weird, weird, polarizing mix of satisfaction and disappointment settles in Nick's chest as he watches the kid's face fall.

-

Ellis is pissed. Not just temporarily, oh-you-insulted-me pissed, but full on, I-will-kill-you-and-throw-you-to-the-wolves-and/or-zombies pissed. Nick can't understand why, seeing as the pilot was turning into one of them right the fuck there in his seat. And they'd all survived! A fucking miracle, and all Overalls can do is bitch. If he were a lesser man, Nick would own up to the sick feeling building up in his stomach as the cursing intensifies.

-

Mud. Mud and swamp water. If there is any kind of benevolent god out there, he probably hates Nick. Or his suit. Kind of one in the same lately, seeing as new clothes just don't happen when zombies are fucking you up the ass left and right. He voices his concern for his suit and its hefty price tag because dammit, he has every right to complain. They all do, seeing as it's the fucking end of civilization for all they know.

Rochelle makes a snide comment and he politely informs her that brains will come out of his suit, swamp water will not. She scoffs and keeps moving. Ellis looks absolutely fascinated.

“You ever kill anyone, Nick?” he asks that night in the safehouse, his eyes big and bright. What a freak. But Nick figures it can't hurt to share when they're all probably gonna die anyway.

“Yes and no. Legally, I was an accomplice.” He finds himself wishing he had a cigarette, because man would it look cool if he took a drag right then. “Lucky for me, legality was never an issue.”

Ellis seems pleased with this, so Nick yawns and rests his head on the damp pillow his shirt and jacket have created. His undershirt clings uncomfortably to his body.

“Is Nick your real name?”

“Of course it is, moron. Why the fuck are you asking?”

“I figure your kind don't just go around tellin' strangers their names an' shit. Why'd you tell us?”

I was thinking of how nice it'd look on your lips when I fucked you.

“Dunno. Wasn't thinking on my toes.”

Ellis smiles, apparently satisfied, and drops his head back onto his balled-up coveralls. Nick takes in those broad hips, toned legs, and novelty boxers one last time before closing his eyes and finally relaxing.

-

It's Rochelle who breaks the post-rescue silence this time around.

“I'm on a boat.”

Ellis snickers. Coach looks furious and Nick has a feeling that it has something to do with high school students. Fucking teenagers.

They sit on the deck for a bit, the slight breeze cooling them off and putting them at ease. Ellis occasionally claims to spot alligators, and no one's up for calling him on his bullshit. Virgil's taking them to New Orleans, and that's pretty fucking great. No complaints.

-

And of course the goddamn fucking boat runs out of fuel. It wouldn't be right if they'd just cruised the fuck down to Louisiana without risking their lives. Seriously, if you tango with death this much, you're probably supposed to be dead. The powers that be are definitely pissed at them.

And yeah, Nick would forget the gun bag and cause everyone to give him the cold shoulder.

Ellis is in the middle of waving a katana around when they feel the first raindrops.

“Oh. Perfect.”

By the time they've made it three blocks, Ellis's shirt is plastered to his body and, okay, yeah, perfect.

-

“Hey, Overalls, we're gonna play a game. It's called 'quiet mouse, shut the fuck up and don't get us killed mouse.'”

Ellis squares his shoulders and trudges onward.

-

The smell of burnt, wet sugar is never, ever going to leave Nick's head. Neither is the cacophony of sobs that fucking followed them the entire trip through the mill.

The storm is picking up and they only have time for a quick breather. Wind and rain blow through the gas station windows and then through the bars on the safehouse door, chilling the room to an uncomfortable degree. Rochelle is shivering beneath Nick's jacket, curled into his right side for warmth. Coach is next to her, quiet and solemn and totally unfazed by the cold. Ellis is at Nick's left, and his coveralls are untied and buttoned all the way up. He almost looks like someone who had a job once.

They sit there and stare down the fuel on the opposite wall, just fucking taunting them.

“How're we gonna stick together out there?” Ellis asks, hardly audible over the howling of the storm outside.

“I'd suggest rope, but we're kind of short on that.”

“I bet there was rope in the gun bag,” Rochelle mumbles as she pulls away from his side. He grinds his teeth and rises to his feet, then crosses the room and hefts a fuel canister up.

“Let's move.”

Ellis is too eager to jump up. It's kind of creepy, the way the kid is all over his nuts. Nick this, Nick that. Nick, remember when we ran on that roller coaster? Fucking yes. Honestly, if he really thinks of Nick as some kind of role model, that's too fucking much.

“Slow your roll.” His shoulders slump a little and Nick adds another notch to his victory tally.

-

It works. It's un-fucking-believable. It's not like it's the stupidest thing they've ever done for rescue, but hot shit if it isn't a good feeling. The horn blares over the screams of the infected, infuriating them further. There's a shout from Coach and the four of them scramble down the ladder and towards the dock, sprinting through thick, muddy water. Ellis, stupid fucking Ellis, stops by the back of the building, grabs a propane tank, kisses it, and chucks it into the fray. He fires blindly once, twice, three times, then a car fucking explodes. Blood and shrapnel fill the air and Ellis shrieks, covers his head, and takes a flying leap into the boat. It takes off and they're all cursing, shouting, gasping for breath. The rain comes down hard, pounding their tired bodies and washing away sweat and blood and vomit.

“That was badass,” Ellis croaks, lifting himself on scraped elbows. “Wish we coulda filmed it.”

And then Rochelle is giggling, and Coach is chuckling, and, fuck, Nick is smiling with them. And they lie there, drenched, laughing about something that probably isn't as funny as it seems.

But it's okay.

-

The sun is high and warm in the sky, bathing everything in light. It's a welcome change. Nick is feeling pretty okay. He feels like whistling, even, as he bashes a nightstick into some zombie's skull.

It's kind of weird, though, being here. The last time he was in New Orleans, there were at least two girls without shirts every three feet. And there was booze.

“This is the furthest west I ever been,” Ellis comments, same old dumb grin on his face. Nick's mood nosedives.

No, yeah, this is fucking great. Stuck on the foot tour from hell with an ADHD idiot who's probably never seen the north side of the Mason-Dixon line.

But there's a helicopter out there somewhere, and their names are written all over it.

-

“Man, Nick, you picked a bad day to wear your white suit.”

If he could muster up the emotional strength to snarl at Coach or make a snappy comeback or something, he would. But he can't, because there is a dark, reeking sewer right the fuck there and it's definitely teeming with zombies and rats and disease. Yay, E. Coli, just what he's always wanted. How fucked is that, though? Almost surviving the fucking apocalypse, only to vomit your organs out on the way to rescue?

Add that stress to the knowledge that the military shot people, and they're all on edge.

-

The bombing starts on an otherwise lovely day. It's warm, not too humid, and clouds are sparse. The earth shakes beneath them and it's kind of a piss-your-pants moment, because they level their guns and wait for something that never comes. Then the ringing in their ears stops and a plane flies over them, deafeningly loud and pretty fucking terrifying.

Ellis curses with each rumbling, getting louder and louder as he crouches lower and lower; he's probably waiting for a roof to cave in.

Nick administers a fair and acceptable treatment. He decks him, just hard enough, in the face.

“You shut the fuck up. Be a pussy on your own time.” Ellis trembles and nods as blood slowly drips from his nose. It's kind of disappointing, because Nick expected a more violent reaction. But, hey, he can't complain. Or blame him. Now kind of isn't the time for fighting.

-

So. They're about to die, probably, and there's a big, collective 'no' to his plan B. It's fucking stupid, running a mile (or two) over hell in the shape of a bridge and directly towards the morons who've been killing people and dropping nukes on them.

Ellis babbles nervously about being a zombie machine or some shit. Nick claps his shoulder and says nothing. Ellis quiets.

The gate opens and they run like... okay, their lives do depend on it. They call out for each other and stay as close as possible as they climb over cars and bodies and monsters. Nick bangs his leg on something and doesn't feel it. Impervious to pain and running on nothing but adrenaline and hype, he charges ahead.

It just goes by in a blur of heat and noise.

“Fuck, run! Don't shoot it! Run!”

Someone shoots a gas can and they sprint faster.

Rochelle is snagged by a tongue and freed in an instant. Ellis coughs and raises his machete once more.

They all stumble on the final stretch, and they all get back up. Coach is bleeding in at least five different places, Rochelle's left wrist is definitely fucked up, and Ellis has a broken ankle. He jumps and climbs anyway, screaming and cursing through the pain.

Nick isn't faring any better. From his knees down, his pants are spotted with blood and gravel, and more seeps into the material. His hands are practically shredded. There's a huge cut across his jaw.

But he moves. Rochelle and Coach fly into the chopper first, with Nick following. Ellis trails a good ten yards behind, leading a mass of zombies.

“Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck.”

Nick hates himself, fucking hates himself, but he grabs his pipe bomb, kisses it, and throws it. Ellis cries out as it sails past him and somehow moves faster. He takes off on his good foot, launching himself past the threshold and into Nick's arms.

They tumble back and time kind of stops and the ground quakes. There's yelling, mechanical whirring, loud sputtering, and then his stomach bottoms out. The chopper lurches and they ascend, moving at what is probably an illegal speed. A loud, loud explosion rings out and they finally, finally fucking breathe.

Ellis is still there, grimy hat askew and head tucked under Nick's chin. He pants and shakes.

“Th... That happened. That really happened.” He knocks the hat off the kid's head and holds him tighter. Oh, the things trauma does to people. “It feels like it didn't happen.”

Nick can't help it. He snorts. Rochelle and Coach pause in their silent prayers and snicker. He can feel Ellis smile against his skin.

It's the river all over again. Only hysterical, with more pain. And tears.

Ellis laughs the loudest and hardest. He laughs until he wheezes and stills against Nick's chest. He rolls off with one final hiccuping giggle and his body goes limp.

Nick rolls his eyes and strains himself to sit upright.

“Figures.”

-

Apparently, Ellis isn't one to count his blessings.

“I can't do anything with this.” Okay, he's in a cast and three of his fingers are in splints. Big fuckin' deal. Coach is in a neck brace and Ro's arm is in a sling and Nick himself has bandaged hands and stitches everywhere. At least they'd gotten medical care.

“Kinda empty in here.” Fuck that, the whole being the last ones in the computer thing had been nice. Three of them in a four person cabin. Sweet fucking deal. Even if it is underfurnished.

“I'm bored.” But they aren't dead.

Nick is practically at his wit's end by the end of the third day.

“I miss Ro.”

“And I miss Schnapps. At least Ro's on the boat.”

“But she's on the other side an' I ain't seen her in two days.”

“So her being alive isn't good enough for you,” Nick sniffs.

Ellis ignores him and continues to talk. Goddamn. He'll have to switch tactics.

“I don't see why they gotta separate men an' women like that. I mean, not all of us are gonna go at it.” He frowns. “An' even if we were, it don't matter. Girls can do it with girls. Guys can do it with guys.”

“Wow, can they?” Ellis starts to nod. “No, I know, dumbshit. They separate us because when a man and a woman do the horizontal Monster Mash, babies tend to happen.”

“So what?”

“So carriers having kids would probably result in a mutant zombie child. It's unpredictable."

“But we gotta find out someday,” Ellis remarks. Nick pinches the bridge of his nose.

“Point is, you don't get babies with gay sex.”

“But there was this one guy, once...”

“Shut up.”

-

It's late in the afternoon, two weeks later, when Nick returns from having his stitches removed. Coach is out, doing his part in the kitchen (who knew?) and Ellis is on his bed, quiet and unmoving.

“Yo. You dead?” Nick nudges him with freshly-bandaged hands.

“Naw,” Ellis breathes, curling in on himself, “thinkin'.”

Nick clicks his tongue and rolls Ellis over. A grave mistake. Watery blue eyes stare blankly up at him, red-rimmed and sunken. Dried snot cakes his upper lip.

“Oh, Christ, are you on your period? Did you watch Titanic?”

“I ain't a woman, Nick,” Ellis mumbles, resting his pillow in his lap. “What do you care, anyway?”

Nick cracks up, just because he'd totally forgotten about that. Ellis looks indignant.

“I... Jesus, do you seriously not remember?”

Ellis runs through the usual mix -- confusion, realization, lather, rinse, repeat.

“You son of a bitch.” He smiles, bright and wide, and everything is alright again.

And as bad as it bothers him, Nick doesn't ask what, exactly, the problem was.

-

“I feel like I don't have roommates anymore.”

“Sorry I have a life, Nick.” Ellis smiles and closes the door. leaning his crutches against the wall.

“I don't think making people sign your cast and pet you counts as having a life.”

“Hey, I don't make them do anything. They just gimme attention.”

“Uh huh.” Really, Nick is biting back a whole lot of comments regarding the treatment of the mentally impaired. Ellis, through some strange voodoo magic, seems to understand this. He settles next to Nick with a sigh.

“See, I happen to be normal and enjoy company. So you can go ahead an' brood an' be ornery, you bast–” he doesn't get to finish. Mostly because Nick's mouth is on his.

Really, Nick can't remember the last time his heart beat this fast. Which is odd, considering he recently enjoyed a fun vacation in Hades.

This probably isn't good for his health.

Ellis's lips are warm and dry and chapped and bitten and perfect. His good hand, the one without the splints, is rough and calloused and lingers on Nick's cheek for the briefest of moments before they pull apart.

“What... um.” And then there's that stupid fucking confusion sandwich again.

“No, yeah, I don't...”

And, fuck it, teenage hormone bullshit be damned. Nick presses their lips together again and tangles a hand in Ellis's thick, sandy hair, the other resting on the back of his neck. He feels the same calloused skin brush his face and god, maybe this is good for his health.

-

It's supposed to be dinner time. Supposed to be. Nick has decided to ignore that fact in favor of more exciting things.

The lights are low and Ellis's eyes are dark, glazed over with want. Both of their shirts are gone, tossed aside to allow exploratory touches and soft kisses. His hips roll slowly under Nick's, canting up with each needy moan that escapes his mouth.

“Hey. Patience.”

A groan of protest.

“Ready to admit you're a woman?”

“I ain't a woman. I ain't never gonna be a woman.”

“That so?”

“Yes.”

“Huh. Well.” Nick smirks, grinds his hips down, and presses his mouth to Ellis's collarbone. “I love a challenge.”

 
 
 
sinestratedsinestrated on January 27th, 2010 06:45 am (UTC)
Wonderful work all around. It's amazing how you managed to compress all five campaigns into under 4000 words.

I'm rather in love with "stupid fucking confusion sandwich" just fyi.

Hope to see more from you in the future! ♥