Lumy (luminations) wrote,
Lumy
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"Uncertainty" Chapter 18: "Five Finger Death Punch" (18/47)

Title: "Uncertainty" Chapter 18: "Five Finger Death Punch" (18/47)
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: 6156
Rating (for fic as a whole): R

~


The next day was one of Ellie's no-farm-just-library days. Annie sometimes ventured over to the library later, but since the wedding had lured her away from the farm the day before, Ellie figured she'd be staying put today. Which was a shame, because Ellie suspected she might need to be reminded of Jacob's dickwaddery. Ellie was always good for a reality check on that front -- whether Annie knew she needed it or not. Spirit would probably be available for a joyride that afternoon, so Ellie planned on visiting her friend then.

She liked working on the farm, but she was a little tired (not hung over, just tired, really!), so she was grateful for the less physically-demanding work today. She helped with re-shelving, and continued the cataloging project she'd been working on for ages. She did a construction paper craft with the kids, increasing Jackson's paper chain caterpillar count by about ten, and then read them a story -- also about a caterpillar, because she was all about coordination. Joel stopped in to 'say hi' -- that is, to check up on her -- and they planned to meet at home later, before going over to Tommy and Maria's for dinner. They used to just plan on meeting over there at dinnertime, but Joel's house had become a much more desirable location since they'd started getting romantic. It was the only place they could be romantic!

Ellie swapped out one cassette for another at the front desk; rather than listen to stuff in the music pit at the library, she preferred to listen on her Walkman at home, where she could actually hear and absorb the lyrics. She had just turned to leave when one of her least favorite people ever came sauntering up to her. The bitch fell in step beside her as she headed for the door.

"Have fun last night, Ellie?" asked Christine with false sweetness.

Ellie replied with her usual greeting: "Fuck off, skank." She pushed the door open and let it go, hoping it would whack the girl in the face.

The skank just snickered -- and didn't let the door smack her as she hustled to keep up with Ellie's increased pace. "So, like... is that what you did when you left? Except... without the 'off' part."

"What the fuck are you talking about?" Ellie asked, because for some reason she couldn't just ignore people who annoyed her, the way Annie could. At least not when they were in her face.

"You and your old man. Everyone's talking about it."

"About what?" Ellie turned to glare at the cunt, but didn't stop walking. She didn't like where this was headed... but she had to fucking know.

"What do you think?"

We didn't DO anything -- what the fuck could she be talking about? And, not by accident, she hadn't been anywhere near Christine all night. Even with the girl dances; the slut had managed to make enemies with some of the other girls besides Ellie. The fucked up thing was that Jacob had somehow managed to ingratiate himself back into the group. Both of them should get kicked out of Jackson for being horrible human beings, but Ellie didn't get to decide such things. "What do I think? I think I'm gonna pound that smirk right off your face if you don't just fucking tell me what you mean."

"Oh... you know," Christine said airily. "You and Daddy, and your... special relationship."

"He's not my dad, and you don't know shit about us." ...She's just fishing. Trying to piss me off -- and succeeding. Unless... did Clicker fucking say something?! He wouldn't do that... would he? Maybe by accident...

The bitch smirked some more. "No one does. Right?"

Of course they don't! That had been true all along. Before the romantic stuff. But of course, it sounded bad to say so. Like they had a secret. ...which, of course, they did. Ellie didn't know how to answer without saying something incriminating. Even saying it was no one else's business sounded bad. Why is this stupid cuntsack following me? "Don't you have anything better to do than bug me?"

Christine didn't answer that. Apparently, she just wanted to keep blathering on about her and Joel. "If they don't... it's cuz no one has the guts to ask you. But I'm not afraid of you." The girl looked at Ellie defiantly.

Could've fooled me. Although, to be fair, Ellie did have a knife in her hand and she was extremely pissed off, that one night... Christine probably had more cajones than any of the other girls, especially when she had nothing to lose. "You should be afraid," she said... as more of a warning than a threat. Even Joel shouldn't get mad at me for that one...

"I know you have a gun," the other girl replied. "But you can't use it on me. You'd get kicked out of here."

"It'd be worth it," Ellie said with a snort. But her 9-millimeter was tucked away in her backpack; she didn't wear it around the kids anymore. "Bitch, are you gonna tell me what the fuck you're talking about, or not? What do you want? "

"I can help you," Christine said in that pseudo-sweet tone of hers that wouldn't have fooled Ellie even if she didn't already know better. "Just tell me the truth, and I'll set them all straight."

She didn't believe for one second that Christine had any interest in ~helping~ her. She either really enjoys pissing me off, or she wants attention from the others, for delivering the goods... If no one even bothered talking to Christine these days, how did she know what 'everyone' was talking about? Maybe she just eavesdrops on everyone... cuz she has no friends... Ellie sighed. "Straight about what? Spit it out already. I've got somewhere to be, and you're not invited."

"Somewhere... like Daddy's bed?" she said nastily.

Ellie froze in her tracks. What?!

Christine stopped beside her, snickering. "Yeah. That's right. We know you've got it bad for him. God knows why... I mean, can he even still get it up at his age? Is it all, like, shriv---" That sentence morphed into a yelp as Ellie lunged at her.

Ellie knocked the bitch to the ground easily enough, and she got a couple decent punches in before Christine managed to shove her away with a knee to the gut. Ellie could have pulled the knife... but she wouldn't. Tommy was just starting to be cool with her (and Joel) constantly carrying weapons, and the privilege now extended to certain other citizens as well; Ellie didn't want to fuck that up on this worthless piece of shit. She staggered away to catch her breath for a moment. "Is that all you got, you skanky little cunt? Huh?" Ellie taunted as she shrugged out of her backpack and dropped it to the ground. See, Joel? I'm giving her a chance to run. If she doesn't, it's not my fault if I fuck her up.

Christine looked like she was seeing red now, her scowl not unlike Joel's, her eyes shooting daggers. She got to her feet, and they stared at each other... sized each other up.

"C'mon, you fucking pussy!" Ellie egged her on. She could've hit the other girl again, but she really wanted to see what Christine would do. And if Christine made the first move (er... this round, anyway), even Joel would have to agree that Ellie was justified in kicking her ass.

And Christine obliged -- she took a swing at Ellie, but Ellie dodged it and kicked her in the stomach, doubling her over. Again, Ellie quite charitably gave her a chance to run away or surrender. I'm practically a fucking SAINT here, really!

Christine clutched her stomach and looked up at Ellie. "What the fuck is wrong with you?" she panted.

"What's wrong is that you and... whoever, the other stupid idiots in this town, are talking about shit you don't know anything about. Spreading lies." Ellie noticed with mild amusement that Christine's hair was way too easy to mess up; frizzy brown patches of it stuck out from her head at odd angles, and the dirt or grass or whatever it had picked up from the ground didn't want to let go.

"Oh yeah? Then tell me the truth," Christine challenged, straightening up to her regular height but still holding her stomach. "Are you, or are you not, fucking the old man?"

Ellie felt the heat rushing to her face. It gives away nothing, she reminded herself. I'd blush no matter WHO she accused me of fucking. "Not that it's any of your fucking business," she spat, "but no. I'm not fucking Joel." ...yet.

The skank laughed. It was a nasty, mocking sound. "You only fuck him in your dreams? Is that it? Or... are you too much of a prude, like Annie -- you should learn from her mis--" Ellie had heard enough; she loosed another punch, but this time Christine ducked it, barreling forward and knocking Ellie to the ground.

They tussled a bit, fists flying... and then Christine was on top of her, pinning her to the ground. However, it wasn't the most effective of pinnings: the skank couldn't hit her again without letting go of Ellie's arms. Ellie would guess that Christine had a little bit of a weight advantage, as she was three years older, and slightly taller (but how much of that extra weight was uselessly concentrated in her big tits, Ellie didn't know)... and the girl wasn't quite as much of a wuss as Ellie would have expected... but she wasn't as scrappy as Ellie.

Ellie struggled a little, but it was mostly perfunctory; she knew that all she had to do was just wait for her moment. And do some trash talking... "Are you gonna hit me," she panted, "or are you gonna just sit there like a slut sits on a--" Ellie didn't need to finish that lovely thought, as Christine had raised her hand and made a fist -- but before she could wind up a punch, Ellie managed to twist the girl's arm around and roll them both over so that Ellie was on top. With one arm behind her back and the other pinned to her side by Ellie's knee, and Ellie's full weight bearing down on her, the bitch was fairly helpless as Ellie started whaling on her without mercy. Take THAT, you stupid fucking whore! Bet you'll think twice about picking a fight with me next time, won't you! And about wagging that slutty tongue -- Ellie was really getting into it when--

"Break it up, you two!"

Now someone was pulling her off of Christine. Some guy. "Let go of me!" she screamed as she wrenched free of his grip. She turned and saw it was Dustin, the marriage officiant/DJ dude. He didn't try to take hold of her again, but he looked ready to pounce if she made another move toward the girl on the ground. Ellie had spent most of her rage by then anyway... or, spent enough of it to make her point. She started brushing herself off, adjusting her clothes... taking stock of her own injuries. Minor injuries -- Ellie was confident she had 'won' this.

Christine sat up with theatrical slowness, holding her face in her hands, blood spilling out from between her fingers. "You broke my nose, you stupid bitch!"

Did I really? She didn't know how the girl could be sure of that. Ellie hadn't heard anything that sounded like bones breaking, but there was kind of a lot of blood... that just means I hit a blood vessel, though, right? She didn't give a fuck about Christine's ugly little nose, but she did give plenty of fucks about Joel lecturing her... getting on her case... being disappointed in her. Ellie could taste blood in her own mouth. She spat on the ground. "Good. That'll be an improvement. You should thank me!"

Christine looked satisfyingly furious at that, and started to get up but immediately fell back on her ass. "All right all right all right -- ladies! Please!" implored Dustin. He was at the bitch's side now, attempting to help her stand up. "Enough of this diva fight nonsense. Let's all take a little stroll down to the clinic."

"No fucking way!" Ellie scoffed. She let the diva comment slide (she wasn't exactly sure what a diva was, but she assumed it was bad). "I'm fine. Totally fine." A white lie, of course, but Ellie wasn't going to the nurse like a pansy-ass after that lame debacle. She retrieved her backpack and started to walk away, then whirled around to add, "And if her nose is broken, she deserved it."

"Are you gonna just let her leave?" Christine wailed to Dustin.

Ellie kind of wondered that herself. She just kept walking. At a brisk pace, to show how not-fucked-up she was. Her ears were ringing... she could see fine, though, and she wasn't dizzy, so she knew she would be okay.

"What do you want me to do -- arrest her?" she heard Dustin answer. "Send you both to the principal's office?" ...As if Jackson even had one of those... "Get your roommate and her... roommate, have a little pow-wow? Yeahhh, no, c'mon... you want me to get Olivia for you? Or anyone else? Give one of these looky-loos something to do..."

There were indeed a few people spectating nearby now. At least Joel graduated from 'dad' to 'roommate!' she thought happily. She decided to break into a run, in case anyone had any ideas about going after her or trying to talk to her. She didn't want to face any of them right now. Her face was sort of... stinging, a bit, and she was sure she'd have a few bruises in various other places, but she'd fought way tougher opponents than that pathetic slut. Christine had scratched her a little, too, which annoyed her for some reason. Well, why shouldn't she scratch me like a girl? She IS a girl. Ellie used to scratch, too, before she'd learned from the boys that it was girly. And she supposed it was; Joel didn't go around scratching people. He just decked them.

The bad thing about running away was that Christine could tell more lies. ...Well, what do I care? The skank could tell them whatever she wanted, milk their sympathy... Ellie couldn't let herself care what other people were going to think. Anyone who cared to ask Ellie for her side of the story would hear the truth -- minus the details of the cunt's stupid insults.

She found Annie in the stables with her horse, Amelia, and Ellie's favorite, Spirit. She was tacking up Amelia as Ellie approached. "Hey!" Annie greeted her distractedly as she strapped on Amelia's bridle. "I figured I'd join you today, if you can get Spirit to be a gentleman and let the-- ohhh! Ellie! What happened? Are you okay?"

Fuck, is it really that noticeable? "Yeah. Your favorite person pissed me off."

Annie's jaw dropped. "What? He actually hit you?!"

Ellie rolled her eyes. "Not that favorite person!" No doubt Annie knew that Ellie was being sarcastic, but it was a little disturbing that Jacob was the first person that popped into her mind. "The skank. I might've broken her nose. Like it wasn't ugly enough before, right? Oops!" Ellie grinned.

Annie clapped a hand over her mouth, stifling a little giggle. "Wow. Um... way to go?"

"Thanks. Good to know at least one person can be proud of me."

Annie leaned over and picked some grass or something out of Ellie's hair. "Did you just come straight here? You wanna wash up a little, or...?"

"Nah, I'm okay." Although, she should probably do that before she went home... maybe Joel wouldn't notice, if she was at least clean and didn't have blood splattered about her person. "Maybe when we get back."

"You still want to ride? You're not..."

"Yes! I said I'm fine." That cunt bitch wasn't going to spoil her ride!

"So what happened? Tell me everything!"

"There's really not much to tell." Or that I feel like repeating... "She was being mean."

"Well... yeah, that's part of her personality? So... ?"

"She said some shit that pissed me off, okay? About Joel." Don't blush don't blush don't blush

"Oh. Like..." Annie frowned. "You're blushing. It was about you and Joel."

"What are people saying? She said everyone's talking about us. What the fuck for? Do you know?"

"Um... I know people were kinda looking at you last night? I know you were drinking, so... maybe you didn't really notice? You sort of... well..."

"I sort of what?" she prompted impatiently.

"Basically... there were times it was really obvious that you... like him, you know?"

Ellie sighed. "So what are they saying? That I wanna fuck him? That we're already fucking? What?"

Now Annie was blushing. "I really don't know, Ellie. Really! I've been here all day and no one here said anything to me. People have... occasionally... asked me. Not last night, but before. If I even say anything at all, it's just that... you guys are really close because you've been through a lot together, and that's it. And last night... you were drinking, so if anyone asks, I would blame it on that. If you looked at him funny, or... I mean, people act different after drinking liquor, right? You were enjoying the party. Don't worry about it... people just like to gossip. And to assume the worst -- more to gossip about that way."

The WORST being me and Joel having sex? Which isn't even a bad thing! "I'm not worried. Just... annoyed, I guess. It's none of their fucking business, and stupid fucking cunts like Christine just need to keep their fucking mouths shut."

Annie put her hand on Ellie's shoulder and gave it a sympathetic squeeze. "I agree. I just don't think that's going to happen. I haven't told anyone... what you told me. I promise."

"Pfff. I know. But, whatever -- if they wanna think I'm in love with him... it's true, so... fuck, tell the whole town. Tell them, so they can feel sorry for poor little Ellie... and then poor little Ellie will go beat their asses if they have anything to say about it."

Annie was the one who rolled her eyes this time. "I'm not going to do that, and you'd better not do that. Sometimes it's better to just... let things roll off you? I mean, you said you don't care what they think, right?"

"I don't!"

"Then ignore them."

The Annie method. And although Joel liked to think it was how he dealt with shit as well, Ellie liked to think otherwise. That if Christine had said derogatory things in Joel's presence, he would have decked her, too. Unfortunately, since the bitch lacked a penis, he probably wouldn't lay a hand on her no matter how obnoxious she was being. Which didn't make any sense to Ellie. If someone deserved it, they deserved it -- no matter their gender. He could at least throw a half-ass punch or something!

"I can't just ignore them," she told Annie now. "Not when... I mean, yeah, I can ignore them if they don't do anything but look, or... whisper behind my back. I know people talk." It wasn't like she never gossiped, herself... but she preferred to listen and gather facts rather than assume that everything she heard was true. "I could go tell them to say what they're gonna say to my face, and pick fights that way, but I'm... trying to not be that way. Take the high road, and all that."

"Good! So you can--"

Ellie didn't let her finish. "But when this bitch that I already hate gets in my face and starts saying shit that she knows is gonna piss me off... no. I can't ignore it. She's asking for it. She's asking, and she's gonna get it. She's lucky I didn't pull a weapon on her."

Annie's eyes widened. "Were you really gonna do that?"

"No," she admitted. She'd already received one warning about that. It should've been two, but no one had reported the second time. ...because she'd warned them that they better not? Maybe they figure if I get kicked out, nothing would stop me from coming after them before I leave or something? She didn't think she'd be exiled from town as long as she didn't shoot anyone, but the last thing she needed was to get her gun privileges revoked. Joel would sure love that... her walking around on her own with no gun. He'd probably worry himself to death. "No," she repeated regretfully, "but a girl can dream, right? Hey, thanks for getting Spirit ready. Before we go... what the fuck was the deal with you and dipshit last night? You know better!"

"Ellie, I told you -- we're friends," Annie said placidly. Just like Joel -- the more worked up Ellie got, the calmer Annie seemed to be. That was possibly the only similarity between the two of them! "Sort of," Annie added. "Not even friends, really. I don't hang out with him or do things with him. It was just a little dancing."

"Just dancing? He had his hands on you... you still have feelings for him... how is that a good idea?! You're never gonna get over him if you--"

"Okayyyy," she interrupted, "you've made your point. Over and over, actually. And, I might add, you're a total hypocrite."

Ellie was taken aback by that. "What? How--"

"You and Joel. You're never going to get over him if you--"

"I'm not trying to get over him!" Ellie groaned. "He didn't dick me over! Believe me, if he did to me what Jacob did to you..."

"But... that wouldn't be cheating," Annie pointed out, not unkindly.

Of course it wouldn't. Joel would never be her boyfriend. At least not according to anyone in this stupid town. "Okay, so pretend it is-- that it would be. He lies and cheats and makes me feel like I did something wrong. Fuck that! I would hate him. I'd never speak to him again." Actually, Ellie couldn't imagine that, no matter what Joel did... she'd be beyond furious with him, but she wasn't strong enough to turn her back on him... to close that door forever and go through life without him. She'd probably just have to take his cheating like a chump and be miserable for the rest of her days. But Annie doesn't need to know that!

"I'm not an idiot," said Annie. "I know he's... not trustworthy."

"Not trust-- arrgghh! You are way too nice. More like, he's a lying, cheating, motherfucking asshole douchebag prick who's not fit to lick your boots. ...not that I know why anyone would ever lick anyone else's boots in the first place? Weird saying. But he's just a piece of shit. -A piece of shit like what you'd scrape off the bottom of your boot. Got it? If he wants to dance, he can dance with the fug-nosed wonder."

Annie laughed; at least she'd been doing more of that these days, and Ellie was happy to see it. "One problem with that -- he hates her?"

Allegedly. Ellie had her doubts about that. "Well, some other skank, then. Not your problem!" She was tired of talking about this now. She still wanted to ask Annie about Max -- had she really been having a good time with him, or was she just trying to make Jacob jealous? -- but if it was the latter, it would only irritate her further. Later. Besides, she was itching to feel the exhilaration of a good ride on her favorite horse... the wind howling through her hair, drowning out the ringing... and everything else. She started leading Spirit outside. "Okay, c'mon -- race you to the north gate... I'll even give you a head start. You'll need it!"

* * * * * *

Ellie had tried to clean herself up... she showered, and traded her dirty, blood-spattered T-shirt for a clean black one featuring some rock band she didn't know. This time, she'd have to return the shirt to Will, as it was part of his not-outgrown wardrobe. Her face was kind of red, in places... okay, very red... but she could have just forgotten to wear the hat yesterday and gotten a sunburn... and maybe she busted her lip when she... ran into a bookcase this afternoon? But of course, there'd been enough witnesses around that keeping the incident a secret seemed unlikely, and maybe Dustin had even given some kind of report to Maria or Tommy, who of course would then tell Joel. I'm not very good at lying to him, anyways... and he knows that sunburn doesn't reach under your clothes, or turn purple later.

He was waiting for her when she got home. Sitting on the couch, doing nothing but waiting, from the looks of it. She smiled at him from the doorway, then tried to hide behind her hair (she'd left it down, to cover more of her face) as she deposited her backpack in the corner beside his... but she couldn't just not go to him. He was waiting there to pull her into his arms...

His pleasant expression soured the moment she got close enough for him to get a good look at her. "Ellie! What the hell...?"

She stood awkwardly in front of him, hesitant to sit with him now when her first instinct was to bolt. But he motioned for her to sit, and when she tried to sit next to him, he pulled her into his lap anyway. She sighed. "It's no big deal, okay? Don't freak out."

"Don' freak out? What the fuck happened?!" He held her by the chin, turning her face this way and that so he could inspect the damage.

"I sort of... got into a fight." She tried not to sound sheepish; it wasn't like she regretted it, or felt it was wrong.

Joel was scowling now. "With who?"

"Just a girl... so don't worry, you don't have to go kick anyone's ass on my behalf now." She snickered a little. "I did that on my own anyway. I got her way worse than she got me."

"I can still have a word with her."

"No!" God, that was the last thing Ellie wanted. "I don't want you anywhere near her."

Joel snorted. "You sound like me. An' you would answer that with... I can handle myself."

Ellie rolled her eyes. "Not cuz I'm afraid for you! But maybe I should be, since you'd just like... sit there and let her hit you and stuff."

"Right. That's exactly what I'd do. Jus' sit there." His tone softened a little. "Are you okay? You in pain?"

"I'm fine! Nothing hurts." At least, not enough to whine about.

His thumb ghosted over her lip. "Nothin'? Your face..."

"It's no biggie. Except... shit, I probably can't kiss you with my lip all bloody, huh."

"We'll jus' let it heal a little first." He drew her face to his and gently kissed the corner of her mouth that wasn't fucked up.

"Okay." She put her arms around his neck and leaned into him, her cheek against his. This is great! He's not even pissed off! Maybe I--

"So who were you fightin' with an' how did it happen?"

She brushed her lips through his beard, not exactly kissing it as she couldn't pucker her lips without wincing -- and she didn't want to start bleeding again. "Joel, do you really wanna waste our alone time talking about a stupid fight?"

"Yes. Answer me."

"It was that skank, Christine. And she deserved it."

"So... you started it."

Ellie pulled back a little to glare at him. "She did! With that fucking cunty mouth of hers."

"Meanin', you started it. The actual-- the physical part."

She made herself at home in his lap. At least he was holding her, not pushing her away to get up and pace off his anger or something. "I... guess. Not the second time. But... yeah." She buried her face in his neck, wishing she could fast-forward past this pointless conversation.

"Second time?"

"I gave her a chance to leave! I did! But she wanted to fight."

"Why? Why did you want to?"

"I told you -- she deserv--"

"Why did she deserve it?"

"She was talking shit."

"...about? What did she say that provoked you?"

"Nothing."

"Ellie!"

...Yeah, I knew that wasn't going to fly. She'd have to change it to their thing-- "Nothing I feel like telling you. Okay?"

"Not okay. Tell me."

Ellie groaned. "Joel, seriously, I don't wanna talk about it."

"Was it about Annie? Annie an' Jacob?"

She could let him think that. It was partially true -- Christine had made a snide remark about Annie. But... lying to Joel, even just half-lying, wasn't a good idea. Especially when there was a good chance that she couldn't get away with it. He knows me too fucking well! "No. I mean, not totally."

"Ellie, don' make me play twenty questions here."

"I don't want to talk about it," she repeated exasperatedly.

"Why not?"

"I also don't wanna talk about why I don't wanna talk about it. I mean, I might as well talk about it if I'm gonna do that."

"Yes, you might as well. So tell me."

"No! If you don't drop this, I'm gonna go... sit over there. I'll listen to my Walkman to drown you out." She didn't want to do that, but...

He sighed. "You don' have to do that. I jus' wanna understand why you did it. You can't jus' go around--"

"I knoooooow!" Ellie cut him off, and sat up a little to look at him. "Stop. I've heard this all before. It goes like this: 'Ellie, we live in a hoity-toity town now and can't act like savages no more. You gotta just suck it up and... and deal. Even if the stupid fucking cunt deserved to have her ass handed to her. I know you're better than this, kiddo. You can take the high road. I'm really disappointed with the choice you made today, to... be violent. Violence is bad.' " She paused a beat before ditching her Joel impersonation. "Did I get everything in there?"

At least she'd made him smile. "Shit. Is that really what I sound like?"

"Yep."

"I... don' think I would've called her a cunt."

Ellie wanted to giggle, but her lip protested the smiling motion. "You so could've said that." But it was true that Joel didn't tend to favor that word. She'd only heard him use it in reference to Marlene -- quite unfairly, in Ellie's opinion.

"And... 'violence is bad'? Seriously?"

"Yeah! Something generic and stupid like that. And then maybe you'd say 'I'm glad you won, though, and I still love you. Let's go fuck.' "

Joel laughed at that, too. Squeezed her and kissed her forehead. "Right. That's exactly what I was about to say. Took the words right outta my mouth."

"Yeah? Okay, let's go!" She started to get up, but Joel tightened his arms around her so she couldn't. "Hey! Come on, you said--"

"I didn' actually say it, though. ...You took the words. They're gone."

"That's not how it works!" She giggled in spite of her stupid lip, and half-ass-edly struggled to get up.

"Sure it is. You ain't goin' nowhere."

Ellie was pleased that he was in a light-hearted mood, and not seriously upset with her. "Man... I can't even distract you by kissing you. No fair. But, we don't have to move... we could still fuck right here..."

"No can do, kiddo. That's hardly a fair punishment."

"Punishment?" Ellie scoffed. "Do I have to remind you you're not my dad, too?"

"Oh, I remember." He relaxed his hold on her, and started playing with her hair, wrapping strands of it around his fingers idly. It was enough to make Ellie stop pretending she wanted to get up, anyway. "What're you wearin'? I've never seen this shirt before."

"It's Will's," she explained.

Joel snorted. "You tryin' to... assert how bad-ass you are or somethin'?"

"What? No..." Ellie pulled the shirt away from her body and tried to read the faded lettering upside-down. "Five...Finger..."

"Death Punch," Joel finished for her. "I think that's a kung fu movie."

"It's a band! This is a concert shirt! I am pretty bad-ass, though. Everyone here should be afraid of me and my death punches." Even though she had never actually beaten anyone to death with her bare hands, like Joel had.

"Mm. We're all quakin' in our boots," he said mildly.

"Yeah, you better be nice to me!"

"I'll try." His amused expression shifted back into 'serious Joel.' "I wish you'd tell me what got you so upset," he said quietly.

She laid her head on his shoulder, shifting a little to press a not-stinging part of her face against it. "I can't. Sorry. Can't we just... sit here together, and... not talk about it? I could totally take a nap right now..." She wasn't especially tired, but she feigned a yawn to sell the idea. Anything to avoid talking about it...

"We can do that. Only got about an hour or so 'til dinnertime, though, so jus' a quick nap." He turned to kiss her forehead. "Maybe you'll feel like talkin' about everythin' later, yeah?"

Pffff! No way! "Yeah, maybe." Maybe I'll feel more like... something more FUN...

She'd had a nice, leisurely morning with Joel. It started off pretty awesome: instead of being way over on one side of the bed as usual (or with his back toward her, at least), he'd been facing her direction when she woke up, one hand casually draped over her leg. This wasn't unprecedented... just uncommon. Ever since the sleep-groping-that-wasn't -- ages ago! -- it was like a subconscious thing, or so Joel claimed. Ellie left the subject alone, for the most part; after all, it was sort of her fault, and if she were a decent person, she would've confessed as soon as it backfired on her and Joel flipped his shit. But the longer she kept quiet, the harder it became to admit, and would it really make much difference anyway? Joel had said all along that it was wrong for them to share a bed... that accidents like that could happen. Once their relationship turned romantic, she figured the rolling-away thing would stop... nope. Then she thought that surely, once things got more sexual... nope!

She had since stopped expecting anything to change overnight, but after last night... she took his staying close as a good sign. After the way she'd acted, she was lucky he wanted to have anything to do with her at all, really. To make it up to him, she'd decided to make him breakfast in bed -- nothing fancy, just cream of wheat and fruit, but still! -- only he'd foiled her plan by getting up before she'd finished. And he'd acted normal with her... he gave her an opening here and there to talk more about things if she wanted, but he didn't push it. She suspected he didn't particularly care to revisit anything himself -- at least not before going to work. It didn't really feel awkward between them, and she was grateful for that. The real test would probably be the next time they started messing around... probably not tonight, unless she wanted to hear Joel sigh in annoyance every time he uncovered a new bruise on her body.

And that was fine with Ellie. She would be content with simply laying in his arms, just like she was now as she pretended to try to nap. She wished other people could see them like this. Like how Joel had reacted to her mortifyingly childish behavior last night... how sweet and patient and loving he was with her. Then maybe they wouldn't think their relationship was sick and wrong. But she also felt a sense of superiority over them... that even if they could see, they still wouldn't be able to wrap their minds around it... that they couldn't possibly comprehend something so wonderful. Nobody GETS me and Joel. I don't even get us, all of the time. I just know that I love him and can't live without him and I'm so fucking lucky that he feels that way about me, too.

Christine and everyone else could just go fuck themselves.


A/N: Chapter title from... the band. The movie Joel was thinking of is "The Five Fingers of Death" -- which is where the band’s name comes from, haha

~Continue to Chapter 19~

Tags: fic, tlou, uncertainty
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