Lumy (luminations) wrote,

"Uncertainty" Chapter 3: "Skanksville" (3/46)

Title: "Uncertainty" Chapter 3: "Skanksville" (3/46)
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: 6349
Rating (for fic as a whole): R
Author's Notes: Yes, I DID just add a chapter to the count, and it's not even the chapter referenced in C1, so now this might be 47 chapters. If anyone cares about such things. Also -- WTF, why do you insist on hashtagging things that aren't hashtags, LJ?! SRSLY -- I delete the fake tags, but they come back. Sigh.


When Ellie woke up, she forgot for a moment that she wasn't at Annie's house. She was in her own bed -- and Joel was with her -- and she wasn't dreaming! She enjoyed that for a few moments of bliss before remembering that he was only here one more day, and he would soon be paying a visit to Skanksville. She switched off the alarm, since she'd woken up without need of it, then snuggled up to Joel's back. Much of the time when she woke up before him, he had his back to her like that. She'd asked him before if he slept like that on purpose, because whenever she fell asleep, he had his arms around her... and he said no, that it just happened that way. He liked sleeping on his side and it was natural that they'd roll away from each other during the night. Just like they always had.

Ellie wasn't sure she believed him. One time, she'd pretended to get some bug up her ass about wanting to sleep on the other side of him, just to 'see what it was like' -- and when she woke up in the morning, he was sleeping on his other side, so his back was still toward her. It was enough to give a girl a complex, really.

But she had to try not to let shit like that bother her. To remind herself that it was better than the alternative: Joel sleeping on the couch, instead of just pretending that's where he slept, should anyone ever inquire about their sleeping arrangements. She knew he wasn't entirely comfortable sharing the bed with her. For a while, he was only sleeping there because she'd bullied him into it. When it had occurred to her that she was being a dick about it, and said as much to him, she thought he'd be proud of her maturity, her consideration for his feelings... nope! Instead, he'd laughed at her, and thought she was adorable. That seemed to happen a lot... she'd be dead serious about something, and it would amuse him. She never got the sense that he was being mean about it, though. Like... he wasn't really making fun of her. She made him laugh, and that was a good thing, even if she did it unintentionally. Probably the only other person in town who could do that -- to make him really laugh, not just chuckle or snort or something -- was Clicker (her friend... not the Infected!). She didn't mind sharing that honor with the boy; apparently her jealousy only flared up when another female was involved.

More than once, she'd thought about sneaking a hand over Joel's crotch while he slept. Just to see what would happen. Not beneath his underwear, so still pretty innocent-like. She was too chickenshit to do it, though. She wanted to prove to Joel that she was ready to go further than kissing... but he wasn't ready. They'd done a little bit of 'petting,' as Joel called it, with their clothes on, but nothing Ellie could truly classify as sexual, and Joel couldn't tolerate her touching him for long. He was so obviously not cool with it that Ellie felt bad, like she was forcing herself on him. He would sit there all rigid, holding his breath, closing his eyes, and it was just so let's-get-this-over-with that Ellie couldn't stand it, either. She'd tried kissing him while placing her hand there, and that was marginally better, but he still couldn't relax. He said it made him feel like a dirty old man, coercing a young girl to touch him -- and Ellie's constant insistence that it was her choice fell on deaf ears.

The dirty-old-man thing applied to him touching her, too, but she always let him know, in one way or another, how nice it felt, and that seemed to make the difference (although trying to act like groping him would also make her feel good only managed to piss him off -- never mind that it was fucking true! -just in a different way). And she'd made the mistake of reminding him that he'd already felt her up, so they might as well at least do that much again... oh man, was that ever the wrong thing to say! Joel had felt so guilty about that when it happened, even though it was a fucking accident (on his end, anyway...), and he still felt bad about it now, no matter how many times Ellie told him it hadn't messed her up or whatever the fuck he thought -- and now that they weren't trying to be father and daughter anymore, she could even admit that she'd liked it.

She just couldn't admit that she had practically (not completely!) engineered the whole thing, even if it might help her yes-I'm-ready! case. He felt so guilty about it that she felt guilty for letting him feel guilty. All she could do was encourage him, and keep trying to remind him that she wasn't a little girl, and he wasn't actually the dirty old man he imagined himself to be, corrupting her and stealing her innocence. She liked that he felt protective of her that way, it was just... a little too conservative, for boyfriend/girlfriend. She wanted her alleged innocence to be stolen by him, for fuck's sake. And after all the shit she'd done since meeting Joel... fuck, she'd killed people -- how could Joel be so concerned that acts of love would fuck her up?

Presently, she wondered what that slut was planning to do to Joel. It was beyond frustrating that Ellie couldn't just march right up to the bitch and tell her not to even think about messing around with her guy. Because Ellie couldn't claim him as hers. Not in that way. She'd told Joel she was just fine keeping the true nature of their relationship a secret -- again, it was better than the alternative! -- but at the time, she didn't know it would be so fucking hard to do.

Ellie was due at the farm soon, and she wanted to make Joel breakfast in bed first. She decided that he wouldn't mind being woken up for that. Nothing special, just some scrambled eggs, plain toast, and orange juice that she hadn't even squeezed herself. He was starting to wake up when she brought the tray in (Joel had made it for them out of wood scraps), and he sniffed the air appreciatively. "Mornin', beautiful," he mumbled, sitting up and stretching his arms over his head. He'd started greeting her that way because it was from some country song he liked. Ellie loved it, naturally, even though she knew she wasn't beautiful, especially first thing in the morning. Sometimes she would ask him to sing it to her.

"Good morning!" she chirped as she climbed back into bed next to him, careful not to upset the tray. She kissed his cheek. "Sleep well?"

"Best I've slept all week," he answered. "An' now this? What did I do to deserve this?"

Ellie grinned. "Totally selfish of me -- I just want you to miss me even more when you wake up all alone over there."

"You didn' have to. I would've missed you anyhow."

Ellie dug into her eggs and tried to shove aside a twinge of guilt. Her true motivation was to send Joel off with a nice full stomach -- and a head full of pleasant thoughts of Ellie. All the more armor she could provide him with to fend off the skank, who was probably planning on feeding Joel herself. If she was smart, anyway. Ellie liked to think of her as dumb, but she got the sense that she wasn't, really. Not when it came to seducing men. Joel seemed to like her, and since Ellie couldn't find any good reason for that, Sophie had clearly already worked some kind of skank magic on him.

Seduction was an art Ellie still had much to learn about. Anything she'd learned recently, such as 'the way to a man's heart is through his stomach,' Miss Skankypants already knew -- and had been putting into practice for years. Also, sharing a meal or two would surely prolong the job, thus giving her more opportunities to work on Joel. MY Joel. It's MY job to seduce him. ...someday. When I figure out how to do it, and how to do it without one or both of us LAUGHING -- and when he doesn't freak out so much about every little thing.

Yeah... it would probably be a while.

It wouldn't occur to Joel that Ellie had an ulterior motive beyond just wanting him to miss her in the future. Men were blind to these things. She'd already had that sense about Joel, that he failed to understand the workings of the female mind... like the huge fight they'd had, right before their relationship had turned romantic. If he had realized some things that Ellie couldn't voice but that she thought he'd understood, that whole thing might have been avoided. Granted, she could have helped matters by simply being open and honest... but of course, it had all worked out in the end. And maybe if things hadn't gone down the way they had... her leaving town with Max, and Joel chasing after them... Joel nearly dying after fighting off about a million Infected... maybe he never would have kissed her, and they wouldn't be where they are today. So she couldn't honestly say she regretted anything.

Now that she was, for lack of a better term, a girlfriend, she felt like she was seeing other women in a new light. A light that didn't shine bright enough for Joel's eyes to register it in his oblivious... maleness. If there was any truth to the shitloads of books and movies that Joel liked to dismiss as 'just fiction,' women were now The Enemy. The single ones, mainly, but even some of the married ones. Joel might know how to defeat every kind of Infected, along with hunters, bandits, soldiers, Fireflies, other survivors... but Ellie was certain he didn't know shit about this type of enemy. It was up to her to protect him. To protect their relationship.

When it came time to kiss him goodbye, Ellie realized there was no way she could just trot off to work while Joel and his innocent, unsuspecting male brain strolled into the whorehouse, unprepared and unarmed (well... inadequately armed? how much difference would breakfast make, really?). It would kill her to wonder what he was doing all day. So she'd casually extracted an estimated time of arrival at Skanksville from him before she left, making it seem like she was only trying to determine when he'd be back home... and then just as casually gone to the library and helped herself to the blueprint of the town that had everyone's names penciled in on the houses -- a perk of her 'employment' there, if it could even be considered a job (she had a project she worked on at her own pace, and she read stories to the little kids sometimes). The library also served as Jackson's social hub, where people enjoyed movies, music, board games, or just hanging out in a comfortable space.

Paige, the head librarian type person, was surprised to see her there so early, and even more surprised that she wanted to look at town records, but Ellie fed her some vague lie about something the farm needed, and that was that. She memorized the route to the desired house, then headed for the farm to help with morning chores -- a wee bit late, but with Joel in town for such a short time, she figured they'd cut her some slack there (and she was right).
She still had plenty of time to do her morning chores before Joel planned on going to the skank's house. It was the rest of the day she had to worry about... but she had a plan. Later that morning, she went to the building that served as a school for the younger kids, and burst right into one of the classrooms, mid-lesson.

"Sorry," she said to the teacher distractedly as she searched the room for one kid in particular -- not a student, but a tutor. "Clicker! I need to talk to you for a sec." She motioned for him to join her out in the hall. The teacher seemed annoyed at the intrusion, but Ellie didn't care. The so-called school was a far cry from the rigid military school she had come from.

The boy happily left the room with her. 'Clicker' was the nickname Ellie had bestowed on him, but it wasn't so different from his real name -- his kooky parents (his deceased biological parents, not his Jackson parents) had named him after the virus, for who knows what reason. He was a good friend of Ellie's, and the only other kid besides Annie that she regularly spent time with. He was boisterous and fun... and it seemed he had a huge crush on Ellie. Unfortunately for him, he was only twelve -- and he wasn't Joel -- so the kid didn't stand a chance.

"Where's the fire?" Clicker asked eagerly, no doubt hoping Ellie was about to recruit him for some fun adventure.

"I need a favor. You're not tutoring the whole afternoon, right? Or if you are, could you maybe do it some other time? I sort of... can't do the harvesting today, and need someone to cover for me," she explained, watching his face fall as he listened to the nature of this 'adventure.'

"Well, I've never done that before... ?"

"Pfff. Doesn't matter!" Ellie said with a wave of her hand. "I'd never done it before, either -- lots of people helping out haven't. They'll show you how. It's not hard." Hmm, actually... a little flattery couldn't hurt... "You're smart -- you'll get it in no time."

He blushed a little when she called him smart. "I dunno, Ellie..."

"Please? Joel's only in town for one day and then he's gone for like, forever, and I don't wanna leave them short-handed." But I will if I have to...

Clicker crossed his arms over his chest and narrowed his eyes. "So... if I do it, what do I get out of it?"

"Um... the pleasure of doing a good deed for a homie?" She knew Clicker liked all the homegirl/homeboy/homeslice lingo. He felt that the term 'BFF' applied to girls only, whereas homies were cool.

Clicker smirked. "Not good enough."

"Oh, come on, dude..." Ellie quickly tried to think of something she could offer in exchange. "I'll abuse my library shift tomorrow to get you on your favorite computer, the one with the Jackson neighborhood. Okay?"

That was a more enticing prize; there weren't that many computers that worked, and the ones that did were always in high demand (for games, music, and some other stuff Ellie had yet to explore). She was referring to the Sims game which featured a neighborhood modeled after Jackson, where various players had created Sim-people to represent actual Jackson residents. Ellie hadn't wanted to believe Joel when he pointed out the kid's crush on her (how could Joel pick up on that, yet be so oblivious to girls liking him?), but... well, when she'd discovered that the Ellie Sim and the Clicker Sim were 'going steady' -- which was some archaic term for being boyfriend/girlfriend -- and she'd asked Clicker about it, he'd tried to make it sound like it was some friend of his playing a joke, but she could tell he was bullshitting.

Ellie couldn't create a relationship for the Ellie and Joel Sims in that neighborhood since they were father and daughter and the game wouldn't allow it, so she'd created new Sims on a different computer in a pre-made neighborhood that, as far as she could tell, no one else ever played. She'd cleverly named them Melanie and Joey, and given Melanie black hair and Joey red hair, figuring that such simple tweaks were enough to disguise their true identities. Supposedly, the game would allow a relationship between a teenager and adult if they weren't related, but Ellie couldn't get Joey to make a move, and every time Melanie tried to flirt with Joey or kiss him or something, he pushed her away -- not so different from reality, sadly. Even the fucking game didn't want them together! Her solution was to just wait for Melanie to grow into an adult... but that wasn't an acceptable solution for real life. By Joel's definition, she wouldn't be an adult for another two and a half years. Way too fucking long!

Fortunately, Clicker liked her offer. He grinned. "Deal -- if you'll play it with me, at least like half the time?"

"Deal!" Ellie agreed, assuming he wouldn't play the Ellie/Clicker relationship while she was present. At least, she hoped he wouldn't. Talk about awkward! "Okay, so just go find Esther -- she's at Farm 3 today -- when you're done here, and let her know you're filling in for me. She knows Joel's back so she'll understand. Thank you thank you thank you, you're the best!" She quickly hugged him and ran off before he could get all embarrassed about it.

We made a deal, so I'm not actually taking shameless advantage of him, Ellie told herself as she headed home to change clothes and clean up a little. If she was going to spy, she wasn't going to let any traces of farm stench possibly give herself away! And if Joel was home, she was prepared to tell him that she'd come home on a break, hoping to see him. She would've loved it if he was still there... but no, he'd left, probably around the time he'd mentioned. The time Skank #1 was expecting him.

Fifteen minutes later, she was skulking around her enemy's yard as if she were some paranoid stalker. -Which she supposed she was... But, whatever -- not like Joel would ever know. The house was bigger than her and Joel's, smaller than Tommy and Maria's. Ellie knew the skank's brother lived there, too... or, used to. He had supposedly left town on some mysterious Jackson business, but rumor had it that such business had nothing to do with him leaving at all -- a rumor reinforced by the fact that neither Tommy or Maria would admit to sending him out for any reason.

Whatever the case may be, Ellie wished he was there now to serve as an extra layer of protection between Joel and the bitch. She carefully peered into every downstairs window -- and she could do this because most people didn't keep their curtains drawn all the time, the way she and Joel did now. Some windows in this house didn't even have curtains at all. As expected, she saw no one on the first floor. There was no reason for the cunt to be with Joel up in the attic, but Ellie had a feeling she'd be up there... watching. Or 'helping.'

She had to go inside to check the second floor. Would she go that far?

Of course she would. It wasn’t like she even had to break in. No one in Jackson locked their doors during the daytime (and most didn't actually have keys for their doors, so they also couldn't lock them from the outside, the way she and Joel could -- one of the reasons their little house was so awesome). She entered the house as quietly as possible and crept upstairs, heart pounding at the risk of being discovered... perhaps by a creaky floorboard announcing her presence. Suddenly it occurred to her that she should have brought some lunch; if she ran into someone in the hallway or something, she could then thrust forth a couple sandwiches and claim that that's why she'd come. Joel would probably see through a move that obvious, but he wouldn't call her on it -- at least not there -- and Skanky wouldn't suspect anything. Too late now.

But it wasn't a problem, as there was no one on the second floor. Ellie didn't even have to look in all the rooms. She found the entrance to the attic easily enough, since it was open... and the door flap did look pretty beat-up. She hoped Joel wasn't planning on trying to fix that, too... unless maybe that meant he'd stay in town an extra day -- that wouldn't be so bad... aarrgh, what to wish for?! Judging by the sounds, the hole to be patched wasn't close to the entrance. She could hear Joel banging away up there...

Hammering, not banging. Do NOT think about banging, she commanded herself.

She also heard a very feminine voice, chattering merrily, though not loud enough that Ellie could make out what she was saying. There was a rope ladder hanging there, beckoning Ellie to climb up and get close enough to hear everything... but she didn't quite dare. The ladder's presence irritated her. Did she make you hold out your hand and pull her up at the top, Joel? I just BET she did.

Ellie stood as close as she could without risk of being seen should one of them decide to walk back over to the entrance. She heard Joel’s baritone voice from time to time, but couldn’t make out the actual words he was speaking, either. There was also the occasional girlish peal of laughter that stabbed Ellie right in the stomach. She didn’t hear Joel laughing, at least... but he must have thought it was cute. Guys liked it when girls laughed like that, didn't they? And why didn't he just tell Miss Skankypants to fuck off and let him work in peace?

At least I'm not hearing groping, slurping, moaning sounds? she tried to comfort herself. But that little voice in her head was quick to retort, What makes you think you could hear that if you can't even hear them talking all that well? What does groping even SOUND like? Any time it got a little too quiet, she strained her ears a little more. Joel was using some kind of power tool; hearing it -- and it was loud enough to drown out conversation -- was reassuring. He's working, that's all. Working, and then coming home to ME.

Nothing of interest happened for a while, and Ellie was starting to feel more than a little foolish. What was she accomplishing? She couldn't protect Joel if she couldn't even let herself be seen... since shooting the whore would be a bit extreme. The thought didn't make her feel horrified at herself for being such a bad person -- nope, the only thing she thought of was how pissed Joel would be if she did that. Beyond pissed. Maybe he'd hate her. She could just hear him: "You ain't the person I thought you were, Ellie. I thought you were GOOD. I think it's best we go our separate ways now."

So, if she wasn't protecting him... this was more like a recon mission. Only... what was she really learning? Maybe I should just go... Joel loves me, he doesn't give a shit about the stupid skank, and if she likes him, that's HER problem... just like Clicker, with me...

Someone was coming down from the attic! Ellie should have heard them coming before they reached that hole -- she must have been daydreaming a little or something. She froze momentarily to weigh her options; with the railing spanning the entire length of the hall, she realized she'd never make it down the hall and down the stairs unheard and unseen, so she ducked into the room she was closest to -- the master bedroom. She even slithered under the bed... because that’s how much of a creepy stalker I am. The bed was as big as hers and Joel's. Bigger than required for just one person, but that shouldn't have surprised her. She fit easily, as there was nothing else under there but dirt... she just had to keep her head turned to the side. With her cheek to the wood floor, she was looking directly into the bathroom. There was no... what were those ruffle things called... bed skirts? Nothing to hinder her view. It was kind of dusty and cramped and just... not comfortable. She could at least have shitty old carpet for me to lay on! The things I do for love...

It was Skanky who had come down. She came into the bedroom... and into the master bathroom, right in front of Ellie. In bare feet -- maybe that's why Ellie hadn't heard her approach until it was too late to bolt. Did she not put shoes on for a reason? Like... feet are sexy or something? Ellie hadn't gotten a close enough look at the feet walking by her face to gauge their sexiness. If there's mice up there, shouldn't she be concerned about stepping in their droppings? Eww! Maybe showing off sexy feet trumped keeping them poop-free? And of course, she could have fabricated the whole mouse story in the first place.

Ellie heard the shower turn on. Why the fuck is she showering while Joel's still here?! And with the bathroom door open, too. Is that like an invitation or something? Quite unbidden, an image of Joel and the whore lathering each other up in the shower popped into Ellie's head. That was something she had yet to experience with him herself... and now her imagination was taking her to places she really didn’t want to be going. She had to remind herself to stay calm. She's in there ALONE. If Joel did go join her for some reason, Ellie could always just go kill the bitch... and then maybe Joel, afterwards... especially if he's going to leave me anyway...

Ellie heard Joel come down from the attic, too, and she felt genuine fear for a moment -- but he went all the way down to the first floor. That's a good thing... right? Of course it was! He wasn’t going to take a shower with the twat. He would never do that. Maybe he was leaving! Was he done working? YES! I love you, Joel! I'm sorry I thought about killing you for a second -- I didn't mean it! She could just sneak out of there a minute or so after him, to remain undetected... maybe wait like fifteen minutes before going home so the timing wasn't too perfect... man, what an idiot I am! It occurred to her how ridiculous it was to hide from Joel, of all people, and to feel just as afraid of being discovered as she was when it was fucking Infected, or hunters/soldiers/whoever, that she was hiding from -- people who wanted to kill her -- and to feel even more afraid that he might take a shower with the tramp. Maybe someday she'd confess this to Joel and they'd have a good laugh over it.

She listened for the sound of the front door opening and then closing behind Joel. ...And she kept not hearing it. What's he doing down there?

The shower turned off after a few minutes. Ellie heard Skankface padding back into the bedroom on those possibly-sexy bare feet. “Joel?” the bitch called out in that silvery, musical voice of hers. Ellie even felt possessive of his name. That’s MY Joel... “Joel, can you come up here and look at something for me?”

Ellie hadn’t heard her getting dressed. Maybe she'd dressed in the bathroom? It seemed like she'd come out a little too soon for that, but... maybe she was super-quick? Please let that be it, Ellie begged whatever god might hear her. Don't let her be naked! She heard Joel's footsteps approaching. She held her breath and prayed that he wouldn't somehow sense her presence so close to him.

“Why don’ you put some clothes on first,” was Joel’s greeting when he entered the room, so no, she fucking hadn't gotten dressed, and now she was... and Joel was... I'm going to die. I can't scream, and I can't cry, so that's the only other option.

“I’m not naked,” Skankyass argued, sounding all cute and... flirty-like. That declaration wasn't the relief it should've been; Ellie wondered what the fuck she was wearing that Joel didn't perceive to be clothes... or enough clothes. Underwear?

“That ain’t clothes.”

“But… there’s something in here I want you to take a look at…”

“Somethin’ broke?”


Yeah, right. FUCKING CUNTFACED COCKSUCKING BITCH. Ellie was fuming. Too fuming to die, she decided.

“After you get dressed.” He left the room and shut the door.

Fuck yeah! He should have just left the house entirely, but it was still a victory. Ellie watched the naked feet head for the closet, right next to the bathroom… a walk-in, she gathered, because they disappeared… and Skanky called out, “Okay, I’m dressed!” after maybe a minute. It hadn’t really sounded like she was getting dressed, though. A slight swish sound, but no clothes rustling, zippers zipping...

Ellie started slowly pivoting on her stomach so she was facing more towards the closet -- and stopped as soon as the bedroom door opened. Why is the skank still in the closet? One of the bed's feet was obstructing her view a little in that spot, but it wasn't like she could fucking see anything she needed to anyway. She held her breath again as she heard Joel's boots approaching… saw them walking by her--

But before he could enter the bathroom, the bitch emerged from the closet -- still bare-footed, and who knows what else was bare, because Ellie heard him sort of gasp a little. Joel… wasn’t really a gasper. What the fuck…? She wished she could see what was going on, but she just couldn't risk discovery by sticking her head out, especially with nothing to camouflage her. Their feet were very close together... then Joel's boots moved back a few steps.

A giggle. “Oops.”

'OOPS?' What did she do? And what the fuck is she wearing? -Lingerie? A bikini? Nothing at all?!

“I told you to put some clothes on,” Joel growled.

Shit! But... good. He sounds annoyed at whatever she’s doing.

“And I did. This is clothing. Don't you like it? Don’t lie. Your body doesn’t lie…”

...the fuck?! Ellie's skin was crawling. She desperately wanted to make her presence known -- in spectacular fashion, like perhaps lunging at the fucking cunt with her switchblade -- but she couldn't. Not unless Joel needed her help... and it would defeat the secondary purpose of her spying: recon. Ellie saw Skanky's feet move towards Joel's, but Joel's boots were still backing away... and changing the direction they faced, like he wasn't looking at her. Thank God!

“Knock it off.”

Knock WHAT off?!

“You really want me to stop? Or you just--"

“Yes! Look, I'm sorry if I did anythin' that somehow made you think..." He sighed. "I don't... I ain't interested. Sorry. Put some real clothes on."

Ellie wanted to scream at Joel for apologizing to this slut who was clearly just not getting the fucking message (which sounded pretty clear to Ellie's ears!), but at least he was saying the right things in the sense that he wasn't going for it -- and that was more important than his process. She rotated herself a smidge more, to keep their feet completely in view.

“You ain't interested," Skankytwat repeated, as if it was so fucking hard to believe or something. "Okie dokie. If that's really... You know, a man like you… you can’t be content with just--"

“You don’ know the first thing about what I’m like. I’m leavin’.”

That's more like it!

“No, wait, please--"

Ellie sooooo wished she could see more than just their feet. It seemed like Skanky had touched Joel somehow, like grabbed his arm to try to stop him from leaving, maybe? -and he'd made some kind of jerking movement away from her... he said "Don't" in that threatening tone he used with Ellie sometimes when she'd pushed him a little too far -- like when he "Ellie"d her. But he was still... there. She didn't get it. He should be pissed off enough to just leave by now, shouldn't he? Fuck! She wished she had a ruffle thing she could peek around... but it was just as well that she didn't, since Joel would somehow detect the movement. Well, maybe not... he's not Outside... maybe I could look from the opposite side of the bed... Ellie had to sneeze, no doubt from all the fucking dustbunnies under the bed. She stifled it, making a very soft sound, but they didn’t seem to hear her. Not even Joel with his bat-like hearing.

She found that she both did and did not want to be discovered. Mostly did not. ...I think.

“Is this about Ellie?" asked the cunt.

Ellie's heart skipped a beat when she heard her name. She held her breath again, as if the spoken name might make them somehow realize she was there.

"Ellie's got nothin' to do with it," Joel replied... quite convincingly. A little too convincingly for Ellie's liking, as if there was no way he could possibly be in love with her... but, he was a good liar...

“I just thought maybe… if you wanted to set an example for her, or something? It's not like she'd need to know. It could be our little secret," she cooed.

NO no no no no fucking NO -- I'm the one who gets to have dirty little secrets with Joel, you fucking twatfaced bitch!!! It took all of Ellie's self-control not to reveal herself and start beating the shit out of the skank. Every muscle was twitching with the desire to hurt her... to defend what was hers.

“I don' know how else to say it to you. I only came here to fix your house. That's it."

How could Joel still be so fucking civil? Ellie wanted him to start beating her ass. But of course, why would he? It must be flattering to have a pretty woman hitting on him. He probably kinda liked it. Maybe that's why he hadn't left yet. Was he tempted by her at all? What is his BODY not lying about?! UGH -- she hoped that remark didn't mean what she thought it meant.

“That's a real shame," Sluttybutt lamented. "But... no hard feelings. If you ever change your mind..."

"Don' hold your breath."

...What? Oh... right... that's one of those dumb sayings. She'd heard that one before. Roughly translated: "I wouldn't touch you with a ten-inch dick."

"Okayyyyyy. I hear ya." The slut made a little clucking noise. "But you don't know what you're missing, baby.” To Ellie's horror -- and before she could even get annoyed about that 'baby' -- Sluttytwat started laying down on the bed, right above her. Striking God knows what sort of sexy pose. Ellie started fantasizing about pointing her pistol directly above her and firing right through the mattress (and since it was a fantasy, she totally had the elbow room to do it). It wouldn't be as satisfying as a more personal attack, but it would get the job done...

And then she had to fucking sneeze again. She stifled it, but a strangled hiccup sound escaped instead!

Of course, this time the bitch heard it; she gasped and shuffled toward the head of the bed. The noise hadn't been that loud, but Ellie could tell Joel had heard something, too... it sounded like he was drawing his gun. “Stay there an’ don’ move," Joel said -- to Skanky, or to me?

Ellie held her breath yet again, in an effort to rid herself of the hiccups… and to be absolutely quiet -- as if she could undo this now. She heard his gun cocking. "Who’s under there?” he barked.

It was comical, really. Skanktits was probably eating up his protectiveness shit. Later, she could tell herself that he’d come to her rescue from this oh-so-menacing threat.

”Come out unless you want me to start shootin’!”

Right. Reality. It wasn’t comical at all. This was going to be humiliating as hell. “Don’t shoot,” she squeaked, another half-stifled hiccup erupting just as she spoke. Her voice was barely audible... did Joel recognize it? No matter -- he'll see it's me soon enough.

“It’s a girl,” Twatface declared. “Or a child. Who are you?” It sounded like she was shifting around to maybe take a look from the other side of the bed.

“Sophie -- stay put," said Joel. "Okay, kid... I ain’t gonna hurt you, jus’ come on out of there." His tone was softer now. He wouldn't shoot a kid making mischief.

The tears produced by the continuous stifling of sounds only added to Ellie's shame. Would Joel believe that she hadn't actually been crying-crying? She might have wanted to at first, but that was before the rage -- or outrage -- had taken over. She wiped the treacherous, lying tears away before they could make tracks down her dirty cheeks, and painfully swallowed another hiccup that punched her stomach from the inside. I have to move. There's no way out of this. SHIT! Sorry, Joel, I have to die now... I never thought my life would end this way...

Hoping that another round of breath-holding would finally kill the hiccups, she started scooting toward Joel. She just couldn't make herself lift her gaze to meet his when she emerged, and she tried not to imagine the look of shock and horror on his face.


Hearing it in his voice was bad enough. She stared at the toe of his boot, waiting to succumb to death by abject misery.

~ Continue to Chapter 4 ~

Tags: fic, tlou, uncertainty
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