Lumy (luminations) wrote,
Lumy
luminations

"Uncertainty" Chapter 5: "How to Be the Woman of His Dreams" (5/46)

Title: "Uncertainty" Chapter 5: "How to Be the Woman of His Dreams" (5/46)
Fandom: The Last of Us
Characters: Ellie, Joel, Tommy, Maria, OCs
Pairings: Joel/Ellie
Warnings: Underage [please see A/N of doom in Chapter 1!]
Word Count for this chapter: 6246
Rating (for fic as a whole): R


With a promise not to inflict bodily harm, Ellie managed to convince Joel to let her go back to Skank #1's house alone after he'd left town -- because she didn't want to waste any of their precious little time together in the presence of that bitch. She just had to remind herself that she had the upper hand, no matter what the stupid slut thought, and it wasn't Ellie's problem if the woman suffered from delusions of being with Joel... that shit was never going to happen.

Skankypants was sweet as could be when Ellie showed up on her doorstep. Ellie wasn't fooled. In fact, she was just as fake-sweet right back to her. And she tried not to think about how much better the older woman's body was than hers. She'd never particularly noticed what a nice ass she had before, but she did now, as she followed her up the stairs... did Joel notice?... WHATEVER -- it doesn't matter. Joel didn't care about nice asses. He wasn't as shallow as that, and she needed to give him more credit.

And although she knew it was probably totally unnecessary, she took it upon herself to... sanitize every last one of Joel's tools. Cuz you never know...

She didn't know how she was going to make it through the next however-many days of Joel-lessness. It definitely helped to not sleep in their bed. She couldn't imagine staying in that house all by herself... way too depressing. But Annie's family was cool, and so far she hadn't had any nightmares there at the farm. She was having less of those now in general. Less panic attacks, too.

Since Esther and Will (Annie's fourteen-year-old brother) weren't looking at her funny, Ellie assumed Annie had kept her word and not told them about her 'crush' on Joel. Now Skankytwat undoubtedly thought Ellie had a crush, too. Ellie hated being the subject of others' pity -- especially when it was so misplaced! -- but she could tolerate it. She had to, for Joel's sake. And she figured that now she could at least be somewhat honest with Annie about her feelings... maybe they could talk, the way they used to talk and scheme about 'Leo'...

But she'd been wrong about that. Annie had said Ellie could talk to her, sure, but how could she help Ellie with what she needed now -- sex tips?! How to be in a relationship with an adult and not act like a fucking kid? And the really unfair thing: if anyone thought Joel had a crush on Ellie, they wouldn't think it was cute, or feel sorry for him -- they'd be completely disgusted and think he was a pedophile. Even her dear friend Annie would think that, unfortunately.

Ellie knew that, because she'd tested the waters a little.

"Annie, why do you think it's SO HOPELESS that Joel could ever... like me back?"

"You know why -- because he's like your father?"

"LIKE. And not even all that much like. But he's NOT my dad, and he never will be."

"Don't say that... maybe after a while, if you meet someone else, or..."

"No. No matter what happens, he'll never be my dad, Annie. It's not like, a BAD thing... why do you look so sad?"

"Because that's what you wanted... right?"

"No -- I want him to... well, you know."

"Ellie, you have to get over that. He's never going to look at you that way!"

"Why not? I'm not his daughter!"

"He's still like forty years older than you!"

"Thirty-four-and-a-half, actually, but age doesn't matter!"

"Yes it does. It does when you're so young. Even if you were like twenty, it would be kinda creepy, but... fifteen?!"

"Lots of couples in this town have a big age difference. It's no big deal!"

"Not THAT big..."

"So what age would it be okay? How many years' difference?"

"Um... I dunno? Ten or fifteen, MAYBE, but you're still a teenager--"

"So is Amanda, and I've never once heard you say HER relationship is gross. And that's twenty-three years' difference. Who decides when it's too many years? It's different for everyone. The people in the fucking relationship are the ones who decide."

"Nineteen is different from fifteen."

"Not very! I'm a teenager, she's a teenager. Joel's in his forties, Dexter's in his forties."

"Joel's fifty."

"Not yet! But what I'm saying is AGE DOESN'T MATTER. It's the people BEHIND the numbers that matter. I thought you would understand. YOU had a crush on an older guy."

"Yes, and it would've been wrong for him to actually do anything about it. I get that now. I was only thirteen!"

"Well, I'm fifteen. And a half. AND an old soul. You said so yourself!"

"...huh... maybe that's why you fell for him. Still, that doesn't mean you guys should..."

"I seriously don't see what's so wrong with it."

"Maybe YOU don't, but if he felt that way... about a teenager... it's just sick. I don't think Mom would want to be his friend anymore."

"It's not sick! And why should your mom care who he likes?!"

"Well, I might be wrong, because she IS fond of Joel... but... see, at the place we lived at before coming here... I was really little so I barely remember, but there was this disgusting man--"

"But JOEL'S NOT DISGUSTING!"

"No, but he would be if he felt like THAT--"


Ellie had had to end the conversation there because she couldn't stand for Annie to even think of a hypothetical Joel that way. Once again, she was reminded of the importance of keeping their secret. And Annie and Esther were friends of theirs; what about the people who didn't even like Joel to begin with?! -Like her friend Max. He'd been grossed out at the thought of Joel 'using' Ellie, as if Joel was making her feel obligated to sleep with him or something. She'd set him straight, of course, and at the time, nothing had even been going on at all -- he'd simply jumped to the wrong conclusion.

It really bothered her that people could be so judgmental without reason. Even people like Annie, who were really sweet and kind. She'd felt bad about upsetting Ellie, and had tried to talk to her again later. It obviously pained Annie to try to explain it to her. And she couldn't explain, because it made no sense. Ellie had told her how great Joel was to her -- and Annie had observed it herself... how sweet and considerate and stuff. Why would those qualities suddenly vanish if he had ~those~ feelings for her? Why would he suddenly be a disgusting pervert, simply for reciprocating her own fucking feelings?! All Annie knew was that it was gross, wrong, creepy, perverted, and so forth. She seemed to think that the way Joel treated Ellie was proof that he wasn't a filthy perv 'like that'... that if he felt anything sexual for her, he would be different... it made Ellie want to scream. If only she could share the secret, maybe she could change Annie's mind about that! But she was also terrified that it wouldn't change a thing, and her sweet Joel would be viewed as a pedophile by all of Jackson.

And, of course, then Annie would tell her not to worry... that she knew Joel wasn't really like that, and they liked him a lot, no need to get upset. That he wasn't a pervert. That he'd never feel that way about Ellie.

Yeah. Great.

Annie hadn't grown up in Joel's time, of course; her attitude must have come from her mother. At least Ellie could empathize a little more with Joel, now that she had a better grasp of the inner demons he faced. He'd grown up in that world that had taught everyone it was wrong... that somehow his love for her, which was good and pure and true, would fuck her up, and make him a horrible person. Maybe he didn't care so much about the horrible person part -- or he was at least accustomed to thinking of himself that way over the past couple of decades? -- but he certainly did care about not fucking Ellie up. ...literally. Pfff.

Ellie knew it would be wrong if she didn't return his feelings, or if she wasn't old enough to understand her own feelings -- like, eight or ten or something? Prepubescent? But she was definitely old enough. And it was always her pushing him, never the other way around. She could probably fucking rape Joel, and somehow it would be entirely his fault.

The thought was mildly amusing... not so much in terms of actual rape, of course, but... if she knew what she was doing, couldn't she... sort of kinda maybe force Joel into... doing what he clearly already wanted to do anyway? Then the burden would be off him, wouldn't it? But... was she thinking like a rapist now?

...Yes. Not cool, Ellie. It had to be his decision.

Mostly she just wanted to be good at whatever Joel was ready to do, because if she sucked at it, he'd decide that either she wasn't ready, or that he really didn't like it so much himself -- and either way, he wouldn't want to do that stuff with her anymore. He might say it wouldn't matter, that all she had to do was 'be herself' and all that bullshit -- Ellie knew better. Because if he wasn't into it, for whatever reason, there wouldn't be any more happy anticipation of the next step. It might make him question whether they should even be together at all. Maybe he'd start taking a closer look at skanks with nice asses and/or big tits, and wonder if maybe they could make him happy in ways that Ellie couldn't...

He didn't think that way now, maybe, but it would be different if... if he knew. If they had tried and failed at this sex stuff. It was almost enough to make her afraid of taking another step.

But that was chickenshit and childish, and she also had to prove to Joel that despite her age, she was a fucking adult.

And a fucking adult: an adult he could fuck. Yes. A REAL girlfriend!

Besides, she could stay busy like he'd suggested, but she was still going to obsess about Joel, and busying herself with some sex research would be nice fuel for that obsession. It wasn't as much fun without Annie's help, without her there to laugh with and puzzle things out with... but even if Annie hadn't been all 'that's gross' about Joel and her, it would have been really insensitive to ask for her help with that, since her asshole ex-boyfriend had dumped her recently when he found a skank who put out.

Tempting though it was to make some excuse to Clicker and get a jump on her 'studies,' Ellie spent the afternoon with him in the library. When their computer time was up, and she'd finished story time with the little kids, he invited her over for dinner. She declined the offer; her dinner plan was to snatch some of the movie popcorn and smuggle it down the hall into the magazine room (a no-no, but who was really going to care? Since Ellie worked in the library, she could pretty much go anywhere she liked and no one paid her much mind).

Back when Ellie was trying to make Joel see her as a potential girlfriend instead of a daughter, she'd come across a lot of interesting shit. It had been hard for her not to get distracted by articles that had nothing to do with her current plight... she imagined this time would be no different, but she had more time to kill now, so it was all good. She just wished she could remember where all the sex advice was, because she hadn't wanted to get too ahead of herself and thus, had only skimmed most of that the first time through.

One of the first articles Ellie came across was "5 good reasons to wait" -- about waiting to lose your virginity. Ellie had no real reason to read it, since she'd decided ages ago that she was going to give her virginity to Joel whenever he decided to take it... but she was curious. Maybe she could use it in arguments with Joel!

"1) You're not ready." Ellie scoffed at that. Wasn't that sort of all-encompassing and redundant? Like the article could have been called "5 reasons you're not ready for sex yet." She was so ready.

"2) He's not Mr. Right." Ellie scoffed at that, too. She felt a sort of... superiority, when she thought about how the girls reading this might not know if they're with the right person. Obviously, it made sense to wait if you didn't love the guy or he didn't love you. Unless that wasn't important to you. But it was important to her, and again, she had no doubts.

"3) Sex won't save your relationship." That one piqued her curiosity a little more. Not that she thought her relationship was in need of saving... but it was a little closer to one of the reasons why she wanted her and Joel to do it -- so that maybe she wouldn't lose him to someone he could fuck without reservations. Deep down, she didn't really think Joel would be like that... but it wasn't one of the things she was absolutely certain of. She read through the paragraph and was able to 'pfff' at some of it as not being applicable: Joel obviously wasn't pushing her, nor was he going to dump her after he 'got what he wanted' -- just like Joel had mentioned yesterday! He hadn't explained the whole thing. It made a little more sense now. Like fucking her would be some sort of contest and when he 'won,' it was over? Since she was in the role of 'pusher,' she figured it was implied that she would dump him -- yeah, not a problem they had.

The part she liked basically said that if a girl only wanted to sleep with a guy because she thought she'd lose him if she didn't, a guy who would dump her for that reason isn't one she should want to have her first experience with anyway. Like with Annie and Jacob! Annie had been right to be wary of him... to want to wait. Ellie couldn't help feeling lucky, for about the zillionth time, that she was with Joel and not some creepy loser, the type all these other poor girls had to put up with.

"4) It's against your morals." Well, that was easy to dismiss -- it sure as fuck was not against her morals to have sex with the man she loved. This one's actually for Joel, she snickered to herself.

"5) Sex can be risky." This one was about diseases and pregnancy. Again, not applicable, because neither of them had any sex diseases, and Ellie had already asked him about the pregnancy thing. After wasting a good couple of minutes reiterating how their whole conversation was purely hypothetical and did not mean they were going to have sex any time soon, Joel had explained pulling out to her. Problem solved!

Well, if that was a test, I passed it! When the subject of her readiness came up again, she could recite all this to Joel, and he would have to admit that she was fucking ready.

As Ellie flipped through some of the magazines, annoyed at mentions of school and parents and a culture she couldn't relate to, it occurred to her that she really shouldn't bother looking at teen magazines. Joel was a man, after all, and she was his woman -- or was trying to be -- so she needed something more mature. This revelation alone made her feel quite grown-up. I'm a teenager, but I'm going to read magazines meant for adults!

Ellie scanned the women's magazines, skipping past the ones full of home decorating tips and recipes until she found a set that had SEX mentioned at least once on every cover. It made her blush, just pulling those over to the table. In fact, she thought better of putting the teen magazines away; she grabbed three of them to use as cover in the unlikely event that anyone entered the room. She kept one directly beneath the magazine she was really looking at it, so she could pull them both up together and lead a nosy person to believe she was reading the teen mag, and she placed two on top of the stack (two, in case the person picked up the top one for a quick look).

She flipped through them excitedly, but her excitement quickly waned as she kept not finding what she really wanted. There was lots of stuff about birth control, diseases, sex toys... lubricants... lingerie... sexy undies... the only tips she was finding seemed to be specific to those things. The sexy clothes weren't necessarily out of the question, but how could she get them? It wasn't like she could get Millie, the town seamstress, to make her anything... she'd have to borrow from someone. Maria, maybe? She's pregnant, so obviously she and Tommy have sex... Ellie giggled to herself. She couldn't ask Maria for help, though. She'd have to just... raid her bedroom someday. Maybe when she starts getting too fat to fit into things, she won't notice anything missing? Wow, what a creeper I am, thinking about looking through a woman's clothes for sexy stuff. Yet people would think JOEL is the perv. Pfffffff.

The other problem Ellie ran into with the magazines was that she would find something promising, like a teaser on the cover titled 'Wildest Sex Move -- and it's Klutzproof!' or '12 Genius Sex Tricks That Won't Seem Like They Came From A Magazine'... but then she'd eagerly flip to the right page only to find that the article had been ripped out! She cursed the selfish readers who had come before her. She would never do such a-- well, okay, maybe I would. She wondered if it was someone who currently lived in Jackson, or whoever had owned the magazine in the first place... or whoever came in between. Maybe there was one person in town who was hoarding everything -- the sex articles, the magazines with naked people in them, sex books, and the 'adult videos.' The thought amused her. Too bad I told Joel I wouldn't sneak into people's houses anymore... but some tenacious kid surely would have beat her to the search. Maybe I could just search the houses of people who have kids like, age twelve and over? Haha! Anyway, if she came across anything complicated enough here in the magazine archives that she couldn't commit to memory, she now felt justified in stealing it, because she'd already been robbed of many good sex tips herself. Except... if Joel ever found that... She decided she wouldn't steal it -- she would bring a notepad with her next time, and copy the instructions in code that only she would understand.

She had to admit, a lot of the shit might not have been very useful to her, but it was pretty fucking interesting to read about. There was this new (er, new in 2002) $80 bra -- which the article implied was outrageously expensive -- that had a magnetic closure... really? People were too lazy to do the hooks? Then why not get the kind you just pull over your head? But when she read further, she found that it was a safety precaution: some guy had to have surgery after a regular bra gave him severe ligament damage... from un-doing it? Seriously? THAT'S why people had surgery back in olden times?? Ellie didn't think Joel would have that problem. She wanted to share the story with him, and tease him about it. To tell him that now she knew why he was afraid to take her bra off, and it had nothing to do with being a dirty old man... how he may have killed hundreds of men, yet he feared being done in by a bra. But she didn't want him to ask her where she'd read that, and then ask her why she was reading things like that... she decided it would keep for a while.

She did the math to figure out how old Joel was in 2002: eighteen. She couldn't even picture him that young! She wondered if his girlfriend at the time would have been into this $80 bra... Oh, wait, if Sarah was 12 in 2013, that means she was a baby then... Joel was married! He hadn't just had casual girlfriends here and there -- he'd been married. And he probably couldn't even remember being with a teenage girl who didn't know what she was doing. She had to impress him. Or at least not make him laugh in her face.

She wasn't as concerned about her own pleasure as she was about her own failure... but she read about "New ways to get off" anyway. There were some really odd ones, like biting into a cupcake (what the fuck?), and a really gross one: bury your face in his armpit and lick it. Ewwwwwwww! ...was that supposed to get her off, or Joel?! She wondered if he would be impressed with her sexiness if she did it. If he would want her to. She didn't mind Joel's armpits when they were stinky. They hadn't had deodorant on their journey from Boston, and they didn't get to bathe a lot, so both of them had reeked much of the time, especially in summer. There was something comfortingly familiar about the smell to her now. But... she'd never considered licking him there. I'll have to think about that one.

Another one she didn't think would be a problem for them, but what did she know?: Guys who couldn't keep it up. There were apparently 'dos and don'ts for when it goes soft,' according to this guy, who Ellie assumed was some kind of expert. She couldn't help snickering. How could she not read this shit?!

In the DO category: "let things slow down naturally instead of just slamming the door on all activity / shrug it off and let us be the ones to hold you. It'll make us feel more comfortable and, perhaps, horny again / be enthusiastic if you're going to try and revive things with some oral action. Treat the floppiness like it's good because it gives you a chance to put this tasty thing in your mouth." Ellie had to read that last one twice. Tasty??? She was already curious about what Joel's dick would taste like, but that just increased her curiosity tenfold.

And the last one made Ellie blush so hard she thought she might have turned purple: "Just push our heads down there and beg us to lick you." That sounded a bit... rude, and gross, and why should the guy have to do that just cuz his dick went limp? Was it like punishment? She had to doublecheck that that was actually on the DO side... yep, it sure was. What the fuck?

As for the DON'Ts: "grab at it and try to solve the problem with a quick hand job. You're going to put way too much pressure on us, so then we'll be self-conscious and you'll still be holding Mister Softee / say "it's okay" or "it's not a big deal" - that's like announcing it on JAY LENO. / hold us sympathetically. This makes us feel like shriveled-up bitches / talk about why it's happening. It will just make us hear that conversation in our heads the next 12 times we're together." Ellie thought this expert guy sounded kind of... well, her first thought was 'like a jerk,' but then she wondered if that was how Joel thought. If he was upset -- and she gathered that this going-soft thing was very upsetting for both parties -- why couldn't she hold him and tell him it was okay and try to make him feel better?

She concluded that she and Joel had a way better relationship than the dude who said all that shit.

And it wasn't like the girls were any better. "If you feel weird about how long it's taking to have an orgasm but don't want to stop until you do, fake one to take the pressure off and then say you immediately want to go again." So... it was weird if you didn't orgasm in a certain amount of time? Like, how much time? Why doesn't anything tell me the important stuff like that??? Ellie wondered what kind of pressure this woman meant... physically, or figuratively? If it was physically uncomfortable, then faking one wouldn't take the pressure off, and you were supposed to just keep going after that?

She wondered if Joel would even know the answers to some of her questions. She'd be better off talking to Maria about what it feels like on the woman's side of things. But how can I? It would be SO weird to just start asking a bunch of hypothetical questions... and embarrassing as fuck. She liked asking Joel embarrassing things, but she was really comfortable with him. Would Maria think it was inappropriate to discuss these sorts of things?

Some of the stuff she read made her feel like a little less of a freak as far as liking both guys and girls. Apparently, it was perfectly okay. Like, you didn't have to stop liking one when you started liking the other... it wasn't necessarily either/or. Ellie hadn't told Joel about Riley because... well, first because it had taken her months and months to even tell him she existed, and then she found she still didn't really want to talk about her. Which was kind of weird. And when she and Joel got together, it didn't seem like something she should share with him, because did he really need another reason to not have sex with her? "Oh, Ellie, you're really a lesbian so we'd better not do that." ...except, he would think it in a more Joel-like voice... Point being, it wouldn't further her cause. Now, the magazines made her wonder if she was wrong about that. Maybe it wouldn't be a big deal at all. But still -- Riley was really none of his business anyway. And why would he want to hear about that? She didn't really want to hear about his wife... not anymore. I hope Joel doesn't think about her anymore. I want him focused on me. ONLY me.

Other stuff she read was... well... skanky. An image popped into her mind of a younger Sophie reading these articles, some of which made it sound like you should fuck anyone you feel like fucking. If being slutty was considered normal back in those days... and these people were knowledgeable enough about this stuff to get published, so it wasn't like just some skanks getting together to compare skankiness... fuck, am I really just a TOTAL PRUDE? She'd never thought of herself that way. Anyway, an article about 'token lays' -- four different types of guys to sleep with once, like just for the experience of it -- held her attention with the first type --"The older gentleman" -- ha! Ellie eagerly read that one: "He has tons of experience and can teach you new tricks. He will worship you just because you're young, so you can get away with a lot." Ellie was appalled at that. What was this slut wanting to 'get away with'? Except she's not necessarily a slut, Ellie had to remind herself. Not by the old times' standards. Maybe she was just as judgmental as she claimed everyone else was. Am I a fucking hypocrite? And don't I take advantage of Joel sometimes? Ask him to do stuff... stuff he only does because he loves me and wants to make me happy? She vowed to be nicer to him when he came home.

That magazine had a whole separate article about seniors and sex -- but all the people looked older than Joel. Ellie read it anyway... read about one lady who could masturbate without her hands, who advised other women to do that at red lights. Ellie wondered what lights had to do with anything, and why they had to be red. And what does she mean by 'AT'? Like you have to face the lights? Weird. Ellie's main interest in that article was finding examples of people with age differences similar to her and Joel. If she found anything even remotely close, she would rip that sucker out and take it home to Joel as proof that such a thing did exist back in his time... but all the women were a lot older than her, and the biggest difference in ages mentioned was only fourteen years. Not close enough to thirty-four to convince Joel it was okay. Fuck! The pictures were amusing. Old ladies in really short skirts, and men wearing tiny underwear Ellie was sure Joel would never wear -- or if he did, he wouldn't let someone take a picture and publish it for all the world to see! One dude was naked, holding a hat in front of his junk. What does it LOOK like under there?! she wondered.

She tried to imagine Joel in the guy's place, with the same cheesy smile on his face. It made her burst out laughing -- and she really couldn't even imagine it! He would be glaring at that camera hard enough to break it. Maybe he'd even shoot the damn thing. And now I better not think about this the first time I see him naked, cuz I CAN'T laugh then! She knew how she would feel if Joel laughed at her naked body; she would never hurt him like that.

Ellie wasn't having much luck finding how-to tips, but she did find a couple tidbits that she was supposed to keep in mind while having sex: "don't forget to breathe, cuz if you take short little breaths, your kidneys, heart, and lungs are like 'enough of this shit' and they cut off the orgasm" -- and --"flex your feet so you don't get foot cramps during sex -- also wiggle your toes and don't lift your legs up high." Ellie could handle those: Breathe, flex feet, wiggle toes, don't lift legs. Got it! Although that was kind of a lot to think about, if you were supposed to simultaneously be thinking about whatever you were doing as far as the actual sex...

She was a little disappointed in the 'worst sex ever' article she found. She wanted to read examples so she could learn what not to do, and thus avoid having bad sex, but all the stories had to do with something the guy did. One guy came before the condom even went on, one wouldn't go down on the girl and then drooled on her after orgasm, one started whipping her with her own belt. Jesus. Okay... not helpful!

A little snippet (from when Joel would have been 19) was slightly more helpful: "dirty talk is something you shouldn't engage in unless you're 150 percent sure you have a winning line. If it tanks, everyone might as well put their underwear back on." Ellie couldn't imagine saying something dirty to Joel without cracking up anyway! The accompanying story made her giggle: "One time the sex was so hot I couldn't help but yell 'Do me!' over and over again. I swear, the guy stopped, kind of confused and annoyed, and said, 'Uh... I AM.' " Ha! How mortifying. Ellie wouldn't make that mistake. Note to self: shut the fuck up.

An article that started out promising but was ultimately disappointing: "How to be the Woman of Their Dreams." There were three different types, with labels Ellie didn't even understand. The references to clothes, and television shows, and things that she could only assume were brand names of things she'd never heard of... kind of made her head swim. She worked out that one of the types was for lesbians, which made the 'their' in the title fall into place a little better... it was interesting, but not helpful to her now. For another one, she was supposed to have had at least two sex partners, but no more than ten.

Ellie actually flung that magazine across the room in frustrated disgust when she read that. It made sense that a person who had more experience would be better at sex. But how the fuck did it make any sense for her to go out and try to have sex with random people to make herself the woman of Joel's dreams? And where did those numbers even come from? If she'd had one other partner, that wouldn't be enough, and if she'd had eleven, it would be too many? Who the fuck did these people think they were to tell another person how many people they should or should not sleep with?

She crossed her arms over the decoy teen magazine, burying her head in them. How can this be so different from what Joel told me? Joel had made it seem like it was perfectly okay that they didn't have sex. That there was nothing wrong with them if they didn't. He was stuck in the teen magazines, with reasons to wait, while Ellie had moved on to you must fuck at least two people but no more than ten. There was nothing in those women's magazines that suggested they should wait. It was sweet of him to try to lower himself to her level, but that just wasn't going to cut it -- she needed to raise herself up to his, because that's what it meant to move forward. But to just... go out and fuck guys for sport, the way some of those articles made it sound... she wasn't going to do that. There was no way in hell Joel would want her to do that.

She wished she could show him some of the things she'd read. She wanted to hear him laugh, to tell her it was all bullshit -- or if it wasn't bullshit, that the world was different back then, and none of it mattered anymore. To tell her she was silly to be looking at this shit, that she was supposed to bring her questions to him and he would answer anything she wanted to know...

It would be easy to let him lull her into a false sense of security, but that was short-sighted. He was good at it, sure. She knew he loved her. He loved her now, but that didn't mean his feelings couldn't change. Just like Jacob and Annie... well, no, because Joel was nothing like that cheating bastard Jacob. They'd discussed that already. But that didn't mean he would always feel the same way about her as he did right now. That he wouldn't get tired of having a girlfriend-type-person that he couldn't fuck.

Then again... Joel was kind of a closet romantic. He'd written her a song, for fuck's sake. And she suspected he kind of liked the term 'making love,' which Ellie thought was cheesy as fuck. Maybe he's right... maybe we're just DIFFERENT, and it's okay... maybe he really truly IS okay with not having sex yet... maybe he'll love me the same whether we do or don't...

But then again again... knowledge is power, right? Maybe she wasn't going to go spread her legs for every guy in Jackson (or, not every -- no more than ten of them), but she hadn't been at this long enough to give up yet. She did feel pretty fucking done for the evening, at least. She would come back some other time.

Since that last article had left a bad taste in her mouth, she decided she'd find a better one to end the night with -- or just a snippet:

"83% of men say they love it when their partner is, like, drill-sergeant tough in bed."

Ellie's eyes widened at that one. Is that for real? Eighty-three fucking percent?! Thinking about some of the drill sergeants she'd had back at school... did not exactly inspire any sexy feelings. But then she thought about the way Joel liked it when she 'pushed him around'... he had to be part of the 83%. Joel... who had been Mr. You-Will-Do-Whatever-I-Say a year ago, on their journey. A little giggle escaped her as she imagined barking at Joel to "FUCKING DROP AND GIVE ME TWENTY"... that was hardly sexy! Why would he want her to be a dick to him? ...Unless maybe the twenty was like... kisses or something? Would he have to do whatever I said? That might be fun!

To order someone around, though, it kind of helped to know what you were doing. Ellie vowed to absorb everything she could... like a big-ass sponge, and just hold it all in... until Joel is finally ready to squeeze it all out of me!

* * * *

A/N: I didn't feel like cluttering up this chapter with footnotes or listing a bibliography here, but I busted out actual magazines for this (and can cite sources if the copyright police chase me down!) -- which I also did for "Accretion"'s "Dear Abby" chapter, though I didn't mention it there, whoops! I wasn't having any luck finding e-versions of printed magazines, and for authenticity's sake, didn't want to gank articles that were online only :)


~ Continue to Chapter 6 ~

Tags: fic, tlou, uncertainty
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