Chapter 1:Life as we know it
Joel had just tried to reassure Ellie of the lie he told her about the Fireflies, how they stopped trying to look for a cure. How they had given up trying to save mankind. How their year of a crusade across the country wasn't worth it. Ellie said "OK." Joel gave her a minute to calm down before he started to trek down the hillside with a hunting rifle and shotgun strapped on his backpack and a revolver and 9mm in his other holster. After a half hour, he craned his head and saw Ellie still silently trekking behind him, with her head held down low. Joel peered up and found himself standing outside the gates of Tommy's Dam again. He thought for a second before knocking. Joel shouted in a joking voice "Hellooo, anyone in there?" Within a few seconds, Tommy appeared at the door "Well..if it isn't my damned brother. Get your ass in here." Maria said "Hey Ellie..how are you doing?" Ellie mumbled "I'm fine." Joel said "Ellie...please." Maria said "It's fine. Let's get you something to eat. You two can go talk." Ellie said "Alright..." Ellie slowly followed Maria into the back while Joel followed Tommy into his office and placed his backpack on the ground and sat down across from Tommy. Tommy asked "You want a beer?" Joel shook his head "No thanks." Tommy asked "So I take it you didn't find the Fireflies?" Joel said "Well first they weren't at the college, but we found a note saying they were at Salt Lake City so we traveled there...and uh..." Tommy said "It's alright you don't have to.." Joel shook his head "No we found 'em...we just uh..they stopped looking for a cure. They uh, they were just trying to stay alive. They gave us a truck, some gas and let us go." Tommy asked "Well now what are you going to do?" Joel said "I don't know. I heard Texas was rescued and..I was thinking..." A grin spread across Tommy's face "You want to take Ellie back home and..." Joel smiled "Yeah...yeah I do." Tommy asked "Did you hear about Boston?" Joel shook his head "No. What?" Tommy said "A shit ton of Clickers made their way into the city through the pipes and overran the entire city...it's fucking dead." Joel ran his hand through his hair and sighed "When did it happen?" Tommy said "A survivor said it happened about eight months ago." Joel said "Well..that's not an option." Tommy said "Well..let's uh..let's lighten the mood here. Uh..listen, you and your girl can stay here for a few days, get rested up. Get some food in ya. Then when you're ready to leave, we'll get you some gear and a car. We'll send you on your way." Joel said "Thanks baby brother." Tommy said "Just consider us square for the first year." Joel nodded "Yeah..." Tommy said "Hey, remember that the door to come here is always open." Joel said "Thanks, we appreciate it." Tommy nodded "Always." Joel asked "Any other problems?" Tommy laughed "No, not really. During the winter we expanded another dozen families and we only got attacked once by some really desperate hunters." Joel said "That's great. I'm proud of you." Tommy smiled "I appreciate it. Now how about we go eat with the girls, unless you have something else to say." Joel shook his head "No. Let's go." The two picked up their effects and walked into the kitchen. Once Joel spotted Ellie, he saw she still looked depressed and hadn't touched her food. Maria was patting her on the back and seemed to be trying to talk to her, but he knew it was no use. Joel sat down at the table and it took Ellie a minute to notice he had sat down. She looked up at him, gave him a weak smile and looked back down at her food, looking at it as if was about to bite her. Maria asked "Is she alright?" Joel nodded "We've just been through a lot." Maria said "Come on Ellie, you gotta eat something." Ellie pushed her plate away "I'm not hungry." Joel said "You have to eat, Ellie. You haven't eaten since yesterday morning." Ellie said "I'm not hungry Joel." Maria asked "Are you tired?" Ellie nodded "Yeah." Maria said "Come on then, i'll get you a room." Ellie sighed "Alright." Ellie got up and followed Maria . A few minutes later Maria returned and sat down. Maria asked "Is she alright?" Joel nodded "Yeah, she's just been through a lot over the past year." Maria asked "What happened?" Joel sighed and explained everything that happened during the winter with David and his group of cannibals and what happened with the Fireflies. Maria asked "Was she like this on the way here?" Joel nodded "Yeah, I think it's hard on her. Especially since she probably thinks we wasted a year for nothing." Maria said "It would have been a waste if you didn't try." Joel said "I know, I just don't know what she thinks. She's hard to read." Tommy said "She just needs time. It heals all wounds." Joel said "I know." After eating a dinner consisting of a bowl of soup and a slice of bread, he went to bed and found Ellie sound asleep on top of a bunk bed. Joel whispered "Good night baby girl."
Chapter 2:A door closes, another opens
Two days later, Joel and Ellie were geared up and waiting outside the gate of Tommy's Dam. It was just before dawn, their breath was visible, and Ellie was slumped up against a wall while Joel was standing a few feet away when the gates opened and Tommy came out driving a hybrid. Ellie laughed "That's our ride?" Joel said "Yeah, they weren't popular during my time either. Get in Ellie." Ellie sighed "Alright." Ellie tossed her backpack into the backseat and got into the car. Joel turned to Tommy and gave him a hug "Thank you Tommy." Tommy smiled "Don't mention it, and remember the door's always open to come back; you always have a place here." Joel got into the car and said "We'll remember that." Maria appeared at Ellie's window and said "Goodbye Ellie. You behave yourself." Ellie returned her smile "No promises." After a few more goodbyes, Joel started driving down the road toward Texas. After a few hours of silence, Ellie said "I'm sorry." Joel raised an eyebrow "For wha...what did you take this time?" Ellie said "Nothing." Joel asked "Then what are you apologizing for?" Ellie said "I'm sorry for everything. It just seems that we wasted the last year for nothing." Joel said "The year was anything but wasted, Ellie." Ellie buried her head into her knees "But we didn't even need to go. What was the point of going if they just stopped looking for a cure?" Joel said "It would have been a waste if we didn't try, Ellie." Ellie started to tear up "We should have just stayed in Boston." Joel said "Listen,baby girl. I heard from Tommy that Boston was overrun by Clickers a few days after we got out. If we stayed there. We would have died." Ellie started to cry and Joel thought to himself "Great job Joel. Way to make her feel better." Ellie continued to cry for a few minutes before Joel sighed and said "It isn't on you Ellie. It could have happened at anytime." Ellie just nodded and didn't say anything else.
A few hours passed and Joel, wanting to break the silence, asked "So Ellie...do you uh...you uh have any questions?" Ellie looked up at him, with puffy red eyes and tears strolling down her face and asked "What do you mean?" Joel said "Do you have any questions...about anything." Ellie thought for a second before asking "What was Sarah like?" Joel said "She was a lot like you, in a lot of ways." Ellie asked "What was your relationship with Tess. Did you have a thing?" Joel sighed "You could say that." Ellie asked "Did you....did you like her, like her?" Joel shook his head "That's not something I'd like to dig into, Ellie." Ellie said "Alright...So what are you we going to do now?" Joel smiled "Like I told you back in Salt Lake. I'm going to take you home and i'm going to teach you how to swim...maybe how to play a guitar.." Ellie asked "But where are we going?" Joel said "I told you. Back to Texas." Ellie asked "Isn't it full of infected?" Joel shook his head "It got saved from the military a few months ago." Ellie said "Oh. Alright, do you think there will be anyone there around my age?" Joel nodded "I'm sure there will be plenty." Ellie's face brightened a bit, but he knew she was still sad on the inside.
After two days of near-constant driving, they arrived at the front gate of Austin's defensive wall where they were stopped by four soldiers. Joel rolled down his window and he handed the soldier his old ID from Boston. The soldier handed it back and asked "Either of you bit?" Joel shook his his head "No sir." The soldier asked "Any of you had any affiliation with the Fireflies?" The soldier looked at Ellie who looked scared to death and he asked "Is she alright?" Joel nodded "Yeah, we've just been through hell." The soldier nodded "I feel ya. Go on in Joel." He nodded and drove the car through the bustling streets of Austin, still dirty and in disary, but Joel was happy to see that the people were rebuilding the city to it's former glory. After a minute of driving they arrived at Joel's old house, which was missing the door, and once inside he noticed most of his old belongings were gone. Ellie asked "Did you live like this before it happened?" Joel sighed "Sorta. We had about twice the amount of stuff you see here." Ellie said "I'm sorry." Joel said "Don't apologize, it's not on you." Ellie walked upstairs and stopped at Sarah's room and went to open the door but Joel stopped her. Ellie asked "What are you doing?" Joel said "Don't go into this room. Alright?" Ellie asked "Was this..her room?" Joel said "Yeah...don't go in there." Ellie nodded "OK." Joel walked over to another bedroom and said "You'll sleep here." Ellie asked "What about you?" Joel said "That's what the couch is for." Ellie said "You don't have to do-" Joel said "Ellie, don't argue withe me right now. Alright?" Ellie sighed "Fine." Downstairs in his old workroom, Joel ran his hand over the wall and found an indent. Joel swore to himself and accidentally pushed in and a second later a hidden door flew open revealing an empty room, hardly big enough to fit Ellie alone. Ellie shouted "Whoa! Did you know that was there?!" Joel said "No, I had no idea. Probably put in by some druggies." Ellie said "It could be useful." Joel asked "How do you figure?" Ellie replied "Didn't you see the signs when we drove in? They said no one is allowed to have a weapon..and you have at least ten." Joel finished "And you have three...we'll hide them in here."Joel and Ellie tossed their bags into the room, and Joel proceeded to find the switch on the wall and pressed it again, hiding the door which blended in perfectly with the rest of the wall. A minute later there was a knock at the door. Joel asked "I wonder who that could be."
Chapter 3:Old homes, new friends
Joel opened the door and found a woman, seemingly in her mid twenties, blonde hair, tanned skin, and she was wearing a bikini. Joel asked "Uh...can I..help you?" The woman smiled "Hi, i'm Michelle, I'm your neighbor! It's so nice to meet you!" Joel said "Nice..to meet you, too. The name's Joel." Joel turned and saw Ellie hiding behind him, invisible from Michelle's view. Joel said "Come here Ellie." Ellie stepped into Michelle's view and waved slowly. Michelle said "Hi, Ellie! It's nice to meet you!" Ellie mumbled "Ditto." Joel said "Ellie's a little shy of new people." Michelle nodded "I see. Well, if you want to know anything about the community, you can ask me or one of the militia." Ellie asked "Is there a swimming pool around there?" Joel sighed "Ellie..." Michelle smiled "Oh yeah, I was just on my way to the community pool now. It's near the center of town. I can take you guys this weekend, if you want." Ellie smiled "That'd be amazing!" Michelle waved and walked back down the street and Joel quietly shut the door behind him. Joel asked "You got a little enthusiastic, didn't ya?" Ellie shrugged "Hey, you promised you'd teach me out to swim." Joel said "You don't need to be be so ancy about it." Ellie asked "Isn't it normal in your time to have a swimsuit?" Joel sighed "Yeah, i'm sure there's something downstairs." Ellie quickly ran downstairs and started tearing through one of the dozen boxes in the basement. Joel sighed "Ellie...look through the box labeled 'Summer wear'." Ellie asked "Uh...where's that?" Joel said "Near the back." Ellie crouched down and dug through the box before a scream of glee emitted from her. Joel asked "You find something?" Ellie emerged from the pile of boxes dragging one across the floor. Joel said "You know, I told you to find one swimsuit, not a whole damn box." Ellie smiled "You'll thank me." Ellie opened the box and showed Joel that not only was the swimsuit she was looking for in there, but it also contained Joel's old one as well as some more of Sarah's old clothes. Ellie asked "Can I have this stuff too?" Joel sighed "I guess." Ellie said "Hey, i'm sorry for showing you this, I know it hurts." Joel said "It had to happen eventually."
The following morning, Joel walked past his old room and found Ellie..sewing something onto his shirt and backpack. Joel asked "What the hell are you doing now?" Ellie held up his backpack and his shirt to show him an emblem of a red dog paw with a revolver bullet in the center, a revolver and machete crossing making an X over the bullet and dog paw. Ellie asked "You like it?" Joel said "Yeah..where did you learn to sew?" Ellie said "Marlene taught me." Joel said "That's nice." Ellie asked "Did you see Marlene when we found the Fireflies?" Joel shook his head "No, they told me she died on the way to Salt Lake." Ellie let out a sad sigh "Oh." Joel asked "So what's with the dog paw?" Ellie smiled "That's our logo!" Joel raised an eyebrow "Logo?" Ellie said "We're the Naughty Dogs!" Joel asked "Naughty...Dogs?" Ellie said "Yeah, you know, like the Fireflies..except we're the Naughty Dogs!" Joel asked "And what in Sam Hell gave you that idea?" Ellie held up a t-shirt with a dog paw on it and said "This." Joel said "You know, i'm fine with you doing this...but next time...-" Ellie asked "Ask you first?" Joel nodded "Ask me first. Oh and put the backpack back when you're done, alright?" Ellie nodded "Right." Around noon, Ellie was dressed in her new swimsuit and ready to go when Joel stopped her. Ellie shouted "What's wrong now?!" Joel tapped his wrist and she looked down at her bite. Ellie mumbled "Oh yeah...this won't look good will it?" Joel shook his head "No, I don't think so." Ellie asked "What do we do?" Joel dug around and pulled out a first-aide kit. Ellie asked "What...are you doing?" Joel said "I am going to wrap some bandages around your..scar." Ellie nodded "Alright." Joel quickly wrapped some bandages around Ellie's bite and made sure to make it look as inconspicuous as possible. Ellie asked "Are you sure this is going to work?" Joel said "We can sure as hell try." Ellie asked "And if it doesn't?" Joel smirked "Then get ready for a witch trial." Ellie just looked at him like he was insane. Joel said "Never mind."
After an hour-long walk they made it to the pool where Joel was surprised to find only a few people there. Ellie asked "Ready to go?" Joel nodded "Let's get started." Ellie slowly walked into the pool and shirked "It's so cold!" Joel said "It's suppose to be that way." Joel hopped in himself and watched as Ellie clinged to the wall of the pool. Michelle shouted "Hey there, stranger!" Joel said "Hey...ma'am." Michelle smiled "Michelle." Joel rubbed his head in embarrassment "Sorry." Michelle said "It's alright." Ellie shouted "Joel!" Michelle giggled "What's the matter with her?" Joel said "She can't swim." Michelle splashed water into Joel's face "Why didn't you teach her how to swim?!" Joel said "I haven't gotten around to it till now." Ellie said "He had me stand on a damn pallet when we were around water!" Michelle said "That's smart." For the next hour and a half, he and Michelle taught Ellie how to swim, which came easily as she was a fast learner. Ellie was splashing her arms around and Joel had one hand below Ellie's stomach to make sure she didn't sink. Ellie said "Don't let me go!" Joel said "Don't worry, I got ya." Joel slowly moved his hand away and watched as Ellie started swimming on her own. Joel said "Good job, baby girl!" Ellie shouted "You let me go, jerk!" and splashed water in his face. Joel shouted "Hey you were swimming so well on your own!" Ellie dove under the water and when she came back up, she shouted in glee "Yay, I can swim!" Michelle asked "Uh...What's with the bandage on your arm?" Joel said "Oh, she got cut helping me move a table." Michelle said "Oh, sorry to hear that...but uh great job!" Ellie smiled "Thanks. It was really fun. Maybe tomorrow we can really go swimming?" Joel said "We'll see, Ellie." Ellie mumbled "I know what that means..." Joel said "Well, thank you kindly for helping today...Mich..Michelle." Michelle nodded "It was my pleasure...and you remembered my name." Joel said "I guess I did." Joel helped Ellie out of the pool and handed her her towel.
Michelle asked "Why did you go swimming with your shirt on Joel?" Joel said "I uh...I've got scars I don't want seen." Michelle said "Oh..i'm sor-." Joel said "Don't." Michelle said "Alright." Joel and Ellie walked back home and Ellie quickly got changed into something that resembled pajamas and the two went to bed. At around midnight, Ellie started screaming and Joel at an instant grabbed the shiv on his table and ran up the stairs. When he opened the door he found her squirming in the bed, almost fighting the sheets, she had tears flowing out of her eyes and she was mumbling in her sleep. Joel ran to her side and started to shake her. Joel said "Ellie! Ellie! Wake up!" Ellie didn't respond and only continued to panic. Joel shouted "Ellie!" Ellie gasped and opened her eyes. Ellie buried her head into Joel's shoulder and shouted "It was so bad...I just saw David!" Joel whispered "It's alright...it's alright...it's over." Ellie said "It was so horrible..." There was a knock at the door downstairs and Joel said "I'm gonna pick you up..alright?" Ellie nodded and he picked her up, keeping her head against his shoulder and slowly walked downstairs to the door. He opened it to see two Militia soldiers. Joel said "Uh, evening..." One of the soldiers asked "Everything alright sir, we heard screaming." Joel nodded "Yeah, everything's fine. Ellie was just having a nightmare." The soldier said "Oh I see. Sorry for bothering you." Joel smiled "It was no trouble. I'm sorry for making you leave your post." The soldier nodded "Goodnight sir." Joel said "Goodnight." Joel shut the door behind them and walked over to the couch. Joel went to set her down but Ellie only gripped harder. Joel said "It's alright, it was just a dream." Ellie shook her head "No..it wasn't." Joel said "He's gone Ellie. He's never coming back." The pair stayed awake for a few hours before Ellie eventually fell asleep in Joel's arms, to which Joel waited a few minutes before taking her back up to bed again.
Chapter 4:Happy Hunting
The following morning, Joel awoke to find Ellie already awake and waiting for him. Joel asked "How long have you been up?" Ellie mumbled "An hour." Joel asked "Are you feeling better, kiddo?" Ellie shook her head "Not really." Joel sighed "It'll be alright." Just then there was a knock at the door. Ellie moaned "You need to get a damn 'Do not disturb' thing for the door." Joel said "Yeah, I think you're right." Joel forced himself up and opened the door to find two men whom he didn't recognize. Joel said "Uh..morning...can I help you?" The older-looking man nodded "Yeah, my name is Drew, this is Nick. You're Joel. Right?" Joel nodded "Yeah.." Drew asked "We're going on a hunting trip, we were wondering if you could come along, we could use the backup." Joel turned to Ellie and replied "I'd love to, but Ellie..." Drew said "Sorry, this is only for adults..." Joel said "She has a..err phobia of being alone." Drew said "I could get my sister Michelle to babysit." Ellie said "No, where he goes. I go." Drew gripped his head in frustration and asked "You're not going to stop arguing with me are you?" Ellie said "Nope." Drew laughed "Fair enough. So are you in?" Joel said "Fine. But we don't have any guns." Drew chuckled "We got some." Joel said "Come on Ellie." Ellie and Joel followed Drew and Nick to their blue pick-up truck and hopped in the back. Before departing, Drew hopped in the back himself and passed Joel and bow and three arrows and handed Ellie a 9MM with a silencer equipped. Drew asked "You think you can handle that?" Ellie nodded "I've handled a hunting rifle, I think this will be a cake walk." Drew asked "So Joel. Ellie, what's your story?" Joel said "Not one to tell really." Drew laughed "Everyone got a story man. Come on. I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours." Joel sighed "Well about a year ago, we were living in Boston, a friend got hurt and just before she died, she told me to go find the Fireflies, and we went on the road to find them. We tried the Capitol building, their supposed cure building at a college, they weren't at either of those. So we traveled to Utah, we found them. But they said they weren't doing what our friend wanted us to get...and we came back to Texas." Drew mumbled "Damn...how long did it take you to do this journey?" Ellie sighed "An entire year..." Drew said "Sorry to hear that man. Nick and I are actually survivors from Boston ourselves... we were doing our daily chores when we heard alarms going off and dozens upon dozens of Clickers charged into the city and started eating everyone... and-" Joel cleared his throat and Drew immediately stopped talking. Ellie asked "So what are we hunting?" Drew said "Anything we can find." Joel asked "How far we going out?" Drew said "About ten miles." Ellie asked "How do you guys keep these weapons hidden?" Drew laughed "Oh that's easy. Those morons never check our backpacks so we just smuggle them in." Ellie asked "Why don't they check backpacks?" Drew said "They're lazy as all hell." Ellie laughed "That's good to know." Drew asked "Can I ask you something...Ellie, was it?" Ellie nodded "I guess." Drew asked "What's with the medical bandages?" Ellie said "I got cut trying to move a table." Drew nodded "Was he helping you?" Ellie said "Yeah, why wouldn't he?" Drew laughed "I'm just curious, you know the resident doctor can look at it for yo-" Ellie shouted "No!" Drew's eyes widened in fear and said "Jesus, I was just offering." Joel said "Hospitals and her don't really mix... nor do strangers." Drew asked "Something happen on the on the road?" Joel nodded "Something happened on the road." Drew shrugged Sorry bout that." Ellie said "Just leave it alone." After another two minutes of riding in silence the car came to a stop. Nick hit the the top of the truck "Everyone out!" Just as Joel stepped out of the truck Drew said "Wait Joel!" Drew took back the bow and arrows and handed Joel a Hunting Rifle and a few bullets. Joel asked "What's with the upgrade?" Drew said "I think you'd be better with it." Joel nodded "Thanks I guess." Ellie and Joel walked around the seemingly empty but busheling forest and found no game. After an hour they met back up with Drew and Nick at the truck. Joel asked "You find anything?" Drew shook his head "A rabbit..but it got away when someone wouldn't load his damn arrow fast enough." Nick shouted "Shut up!" Just then Joel heard something click in the distance...a lot of somethings click. Joel shouted "Get in the truck!" Nick asked "Why? Just a woodpecker.." Joel said "Since when are there woodpeckers in Texas?" Drew said "He's got a poin-" A Clicker ran out of the woods and ripped into Nick's throat, causing his blood to spill out on the ground and Ellie shot the Clicker in the forehead, killing it. Before another word could be said, another four Clickers emerged from the forest. Joel shouted "Get the fucking truck started!" Ellie and Joel jumped into the back of the truck and started firing at the oncoming Clickers while Drew got the truck started and drove down the road back to Austin.
Twenty minutes later they came up to the gates and Drew shouted "Open the gate! Infected are following us!" One of the guards said "Aww hell." Opened the gate and closed it just in time as the infected poured out of the overgrowth and started pounding on the gate. As soon as they got out of the truck two soldiers aimed their guns at Joel and Ellie, who proceeded to raise their hands. The soldier said "Hand over your weapons." Joel nodded "Alright..." Joel and Ellie handed in their guns and the soldier said "On your knees." Ellie shouted "We handed in our fucking weapons!" The soldier said calmly "We're checking to see if you're infected." Joel thought about saying something but before he could the soldier prodded him with his device. The soldier said "He's clean." The soldier prodded a very scared Ellie and after a minute of uncertainty, the soldier looked at the device and said "She's clean." Joel hurried a very shaken, and distraught Ellie home, and as soon as he shut the door, Ellie exploded "How the hell did thing say I was clean!?" Joel shook her and said "Calm down, Ellie. You're fine." Ellie said "I know, I know..I just thought we were so dead back there. It's lucky they didn't roll up my sleeve." Joel said "Ellie. Relax." Ellie sat down and started shaking on the couch.
Chapter 5:On the Road again
Two weeks had past and Ellie had sewn their logo onto nearly all their clothing, which she did for two reasons. One, because it annoyed Joel and she couldn't get enough of it. Secondly, she was bored and Joel hid all her comics. Joel shouted from downstairs "Ellie! Have you seen my denim shirt? Ellie shouted back "Which one?" Joel sighed "Ellie! It's eighty degrees out, what do you think?!" Ellie smiled and shouted back "It's up here!" Joel said "Ellie if you're sewing that damn logo onto another one of my shirts I am going to scream." Joel turned into the doorway and Ellie said "Get ready to scream then." Joel sighed "Ellie, why do you keep sewing this thing onto all our clothes?" Ellie smiled "I'm bored, and you hid all my comics." Joel said "I didn't hide them, they're in the garage." Ellie jumped from her bed and went to run out the door, but Joel stopped her with an arm to the stomach. Ellie, annoyed shouted "What now?" Joel said "Pack a few shirts. We're going to get Bill." Ellie asked "And why in hell would be be getting that asshole?" Joel said "Hey, we owe him a debt. We can be people and bring him here...or at least try. Or we could just leave him out there to die." Ellie folded her arms and said "He said to himself he should have left us there to die..." Joel said "But he didn't and he helped us. I'm going and I know you will follow me anywhere so...pack your bags." Ellie sighed "Fine." Joel walked downstairs and put his denim shirt over his white T-shirt, dug into his backpack and took out his Revolver, and Shorty and equipped them to his belt, and placed the rest of his guns into the hidden room. Ellie appeared behind him wearing her favorite T-shirt and asked "Is that all you're taking?" Joel tossed Ellie her 9mm and said "Nope, i'm taking my shotgun." Ellie asked "So how are we getting there?" Joel said "I got Drew to get us a truck and some gas." Ellie nodded "Nice!" After getting everything they needed into the truck and got onto the road, they spent the rest of the day driving and stopped for the night at an abandoned gas station to sleep. The following day, Joel was driving, half awake with Ellie still asleep early in the morning when he heard Ellie yawn and slowly awaken. Joel said "Morning baby girl." Ellie yawned "Morning , how close are we to Bills?" Joel said "About another day or two." Ellie said "You know, I could drive, I know you didn't sleep last night." Joel said "I'll be fine." After another hour, Joel's eyes felt heavy and he felt himself slowly drift, but was snapped back to reality when Ellie shouted "Watch out!" and when he opened his eyes he saw a blockade of cars and they crashed into the car in front of them, causing Joel to lose consciousness.
When Joel could finally open his eyes, he saw someone watching him. The person was sitting in a chair and they proceeded to stand up. Once they got into his field of vision it appeared to be Tess. "Tess" made seven passes around him and she checked on the ropes on his arms. Joel asked "Tess...how the hell are you alive?" 'Tess' replied "Tess...who the hell is Tess?" Ellie burst into the room holding their backpacks and said "Joel! You're alright!" Joel blinked his eyes and his vision cleared and the woman he thought to be Tess changed into a woman with blood-red hair and wearing black latex. The woman asked "This man with you, sugar?" Ellie nodded "Yeah, he's my...he's my dad." The woman cut off his ropes and Ellie handed him his backpack. Joel asked "Are you alright baby girl?" Ellie nodded "Yeah, i'm alright, just a cut on my shoulder." Joel breathed a sigh of relief and the woman said "Your weapons are on the table in the corner if you want to get them." Joel asked "I'm sorry, what's your name again ma'am?" The woman said "The name is Grace Gremory. I saved your ass, and your daughter from a pack of Clickers." Joel said "Well, thank you ma'am. I don't know how to repay you." Grace said "Well, I would say 'Take me with you.' but that's kinda difficult seeing as your fucking truck is totaled. What happened?" Joel said "I uh...I fell asleep at the wheel." Grace crossed her arms and said "That's freaking retarded of you." Ellie shouted "Hey! He's was awake for three days straight, give him a break!" Grace smirked her ruby red lips and said "I'm only teasing. Besides, there is good news for you." Joel asked "And what's that?" Grace said "I recovered a few things from your truck and I got another car working." Ellie asked "That's great. But why didn't you just ditch us here?" Grace patted Ellie on the head and said "I'm not one to leave people behind. No matter whom they're affiliated with." Joel asked "And what's that suppose to mean?" Grace pointed to the "Naughty Dog" logo on his sleeve "Aren't you Fireflies?" Joel asked "Does it look like we're Fireflies?" Ellie said "We're the Naughty Dogs!" Grace laughed "That's cute." Ellie asked "So how long have you been hauled up here?" Grace said "About three..four weeks." Ellie mumbled "That sucks." Grace asked "So...might I ask you twos something?" Joel nodded "I don't see why not." Grace asked "What the hell are you doing out this far?" Joel said "We're going to get a friend and bring him back to a safe zone." Ellie finished "Or try at least." Grace said "From the tone of your voice, I take it you don't like this friend of his?" Ellie said "He's a dick." Joel said "You hit him in the arm with a pipe." Ellie shouted "He handcuffed me!" Joel said "We set off all his traps." Ellie shouted again "He handcuffed me!" Grace asked "And why did he handcuff you?" Ellie said "He's a paranoid nutjob!" Joel said "I told you not to make him mad." Grace asked "So why are you getting this...'friend' of yours, he sounds like a lost cause." Joel said "We owe him a debt, so I'm trying to pay it off by offering him, something." Grace nodded "Sense of duty, I can respect that." Joel asked "So, I take it you want to come with us?" Grace asked "What makes you think i'll actually give you my car?" Joel said "You took our parts." Grace said "I saved your asses." Ellie said "If you two are going to kiss, warn me first, alright?" Grace laughed and said "I'll let you have the car on one condition." Joel asked "And what's that?" Grace said "You take me with you." Ellie asked "How far we talking?" Grace said "To this 'safe city' you two came from." Joel said "I don't see a problem with that." Grace said "Oh yeah...and i'll do some of the driving." Joel smirked "Fair enough." Grace said "It's getting late. Follow me, Texas." Joel followed Ellie and Grace to a garage filled with tools and tables, and in the back corner of the room, there was a single bunk bed. Grace turned to Joel and asked "Who wants to be on top?" Joel said "Ellie, you want to take top bunk?" Ellie yawned and stretched "Sure." Grace smiled "Looks like you're with me buddy boy." Joel and Grace lied down on the bunk to a loud squeaking noise coming from the bed. After a minute of awkward silence, Joel said "Night baby girl." Ellie yawned "Night...Joel." Grace whispered "I love your daughter." Joel gave her a startled look, that even in the near pitch blackness, could be seen. Grace giggled "Not in that way. You two are so adorable together." Joel said "Uh..thank you...ma'am." Grace laughed silently "You don't need to be so uptight." Joel said "Good night. Ma'am."
Chapter 6:Friends in low places
The following morning, when Joel awoke, he already found the girls eating what appeared to be eggs. Ellie smiled "Morning Joel." Joel nodded "Uh huh." Joel looked at Grace's arm and saw what appeared to be a navy blue bandanna with the "Naughty Dogs" logo wrapped around it. Joel asked "Where'd you get that?" Grace smiled "Ellie gave it to me." Joel sighed "We need to get something to occupy you." Grace asked "Why's that?" Joel said "It's what she does when she's bored." Grace smiled "I take it you get bored easily then." Ellie said "Yeah..since Joel hid all my damn comics." Joel said "I told you a dozen times I put them in the garage." Grace asked "You read comics huh?" Ellie nodded "Yeah..why?" Grace dug around in her bag and took out at least a dozen comic books and handed them to Ellie with a friendly smile. Ellie dug through them and shouted "Savage Starlight! How'd you find these!?" Grace said "I raided a comic shop." Joel asked "And why the hell would you do that?" Grace said "Those guys always have candy." Joel nodded "Right..." Ellie shouted in glee "Hey Joel! It's the next comic! The one that came after the one I got from Bill's!" Joel said "Good for you." Grace said "Oh yeah, before I forget. Your stuff is on the table there." Joel got up and walked to the table and found all his weapons neatly placed in order. Joel put Shorty in his secondary holster and shotgun in his backpack. He went to grab his revolver and found something attached to it. Joel asked "Grace, what's on my gun?" Grace said "That's a suppressor, dumbass." Joel said "Oh...thanks...it should come in handy." Grace said "If you don't want it, just screw it off." Joel said "It's not like that, Just harder to put away." Grace rolled her eyes "You don't have to lie to me." Joel said "Thank you, though." Grace said "Don't mention it."
After an hour they were on the road, where they spent the next half of the day driving. In the afternoon, Joel looked back and watched as Ellie and Grace shared a laugh over a comic book. Grace caught him looking back and said "You want me to drive?" Joel said "Nope, just wondering what you're laughing at." Ellie said "This panel reminds me of when I met Bill for the first time." Joel asked "So..when you tried to break his arm?" Ellie said "Yup. Good times." Grace said "You two seem to like this Bill guy. Anything I need to know about him?" Ellie replied "Besides being a crazy asshole?" Joel said Ellie..." Ellie said "What, it's true!" Grace said "So..now that I know what you guys do for fun...what's this town of his going to be like?" Joel said "A fortress of traps."
The following day, the trio found themselves looking at the outer fences, which had been even more fortified then when Joel and Ellie visited a year earlier. Grace sighed "So this is 'Bill's Town'?" Joel said "Yeah, it might not look good, but it's got some good fucking defenses." Ellie said "He got caught in a trap once." Grace laughed "Really?" Joel nodded "Yeah..wasn't much fun considering we had a shit ton of Infected reign down afterword." Grace playfully nudged his ribs with her elbow and said "Hey don't worry about it, we all fall for something like that one time." Joel said "Let's just find him and get out of here." Ellie said "Sounds good to me." The trio used the same method to get over the fence they did the year before and found the door Ellie opened was again locked shut. Joel said "Well he didn't jam it with a pipe...he freaking locked it." Joel cursed himself and kicked the door. Grace asked "Don't you have the key?" Joel said "Would I be reacting this way if I had the damn key?" Ellie said "I can climb over again." Grace looked up toward the missing barbwire over the door and said "That's not a bad idea, but..how would you find the key?" Ellie said "I could look for Bill, have him give me the key and get back here." Joel said "We don't know if this place is as deserted as last time, Ellie." Ellie sighed "Now what?" Joel said "I don't know, let me think." Grace asked "Why don't we just shout and make Bill come to us?" Joel said "That's a right quick way to get us killed." Grace said "Well sorrrry. Ellie said "Wait, what about the silencer? We can shoot the lock off." Grace said "That's not a bad idea. But we can't reach the lock through here." Ellie said "I could still still hop over." Joel said "Alright, let's get this over with." Joel hoisted her over the top of the fence and handed her the silencer-equipped revolver and proceeded to shoot the lock off the door. Ellie said "Ta-Da!" and handed Joel back his gun. Joel said "Good job kiddo." Grace asked "Now what?" Joel, finishing reloading his revolver, said "We find Bill." Ellie said "Shouldn't be too hard." The trio walked down the middle of the filth-ridden streets until a Clicker burst out of a boarded up building and charged at Joel, and before he could even react, it dropped dead from an arrow to it's deformed forehead. Joel looked up in the way the arrow came from and he saw Bill, now sporting a chest-length beard, was a bit slimmer and now holding his hunting rifle. Joel waved "Hey..Bill...thanks..." Bill sighed "What the fuck are you doing back in my town?"
Ellie said "We came to bring you back to Austin. If you don't wanna come with, then starve to death in here in your "perfect society" great, less weight in the truck." Bill asked "Joel..why the hell is she still with you? I thought you were suppose to drop her off." Ellie said "Ha ha fuck you too Bill." Joel said "Ellie, I really..really need you to be quiet right now." Bill said "Follow me, if we're out after dark, they come out." Ellie asked "They, who?" Bill said "I'll tell you when we get to the armory." After a ten minute walk, they arrived in the cellar/armory and Bill placed his machete on the table. Ellie asked "Who's they?" Bill sighed "After Boston went to hell, a shit ton of survivors poured into my town looking for food. Those dumbasses shouted looking for me and attracted a horde of Infected. It took me all winter and spring to get the lot of them out. Now it's the straglers that only come out at night." Ellie laughed "So..they're vampires?" Bill groaned in annoyance "Yeah, I guess." Bill turned and saw Grace, or at least noticed her for the first time and asked "And who might you be?" Grace said "The name's Grace. If I catch you staring at any part of me for more than four seconds I break your arm. We clear?" Bill turned to Ellie and asked "She's your mother ain't she?" Grace replied "No...what makes you say that?" Bill said "You two are fucking clones of each other." Ellie, confused asked "What does he mean, clones?" Joel said "You act a lot alike." Grace said "It's true." Bill asked "This ain't a coffee shop, so why the hell are you in my town again?" Joel said "There's a safe zone about two days south. We'd like you to come with us." Bill sighed "And why the fuck would I want to do that?" Joel pointed outside to the sound of Clickers and said "You hear that? That's death knocking at your front door. If you stay here you're going to die!" Bill shouted back "Why do you care so much?" Joel said "I don't know. But Ellie and I owe you our lives. We needed to at least try to get you to come back with us." Bill said "I appreciate the concern, but I don't need it. I'm fine where I am." Joel nodded "Alright Bill." Bill shouted "Alright kid! Give me back the shit you stole from me last time you were here!" Ellie chuckled "So...the two comics and that...weird magazine?" Bill said "Yes!" Ellie smiled "Sorry, the comics are back in Austin, that magazine I chucked out the window." Bill went to hit Ellie but Joel stopped his arm and said "Don't. Even. Think about it." Ellie gave him the bird and started to look around the room. Bill whispered "What's are these girls doing with you?" Joel said "The dropoff never happened and I've just...Ellie has become a daughter to me, and Grace...she saved our asses." Bill said "A lot of people have been saving your ass as of late, huh?" Joel said "Shut up."
After an hour, Ellie started rummaging through Bill's effects again and after noticing this, he grabbed Ellie by the arm, dragged her near Grace and said "You will stay right there until you leave in the morning." Ellie asked "And why the hell should I?" Bill said "Because every time you're near my shit, something gets stolen!" Joel said "Bill...calm down." Bill shouted "Why the hell should I?! Your girl there is a little fucking thief!" Ellie raised an eyebrow "So...you stealing this stuff from people's houses...makes it better?" Bill said "Shut your mouth." Ellie shouted "Why don't you make me?!" Joel said "Don't." Grace shouted "Everyone shut up before I put a bullet in your head!" Bill backed down and went back to look over his items and Ellie sat down on the table. Grace sighed "Jesus, if we locked you two in a room together...Gah you would just kill each other." Bill mumbled to himself "Damn right." Joel said "Thanks." Grace winked "Don't mention it, cowboy." Ellie asked "Well, what do we do now, Joel?" Joel said "In the morning, we get out of town, and we go back to Austin." Grace said "And then what?" Joel sighed "I don't know. Live?" Grace turned to Bill and shouted "Hey! Chris Kringle! You got a place I can change around here?" Bill groaned "There's a closet in the corner over there, if it's too dark just turn on the light. But don't take too long, I don't have a lot of power." Grace gave him a thumbs up and walked into the closet. Before she shut the door, she shouted "Hey Joel, can you bring me my bag?" Joel said "I guess." Joel picked up the bag and walked toward the closet and asked "Why didn't you take this when you walked back here?" Grace said "I forgot, alright? No one's perfect." Joel went to hand her the backpack and when he opened his eyes, he saw she wasn't wearing a shirt and he quickly turned away and said "Sorry, I didn't-" Grace laughed "It's fine. Who's going to care, Society?" Joel didn't want to say anything and when he went to leave, she pulled him close and kissed him on the lips. Part of him wanted to pull away, but the rest of him just wanted to enjoy it. After what seemed like eternity, she pulled away and shooed him out. Bill asked "What the hell were you in there for?" Joel just shook his head. Ellie started laughing and nearly fell off the table from her laughter. Joel asked "What's so funny, Ellie?" Ellie said "Oh nothing. You just got lipstick on your face." A minute later, Grace came up behind Joel,now wearing a plain white T-shirt and denim shorts and asked "What chu guys talking about?" Ellie said "Nothin'." Grace rolled her eyes "Whatever."
Chapter 7:Austin's Ascension
The following day, Joel tried one last time to get Bill to come with them, but he again declined and told Joel to stay out of "his town". Before they left, Bill tossed Joel a crowbar and said "Here, take it." Joel asked "What's this gonna do?" Bill said "It's a lot more durable against Infected than any Pipe or bat." Joel put it on in his backpack and said thank you, Bill." Bill nodded "Now get out of my town." Joel nodded "Yeah."
A half hour later, they were on the road again with Grace driving, and Ellie and Joel in the back seat. Ellie said "He was one giant ray of sunshine, huh Grace?" Grace said "Yeah, but I've met far worse than him." Ellie nodded "Yeah, I know what you mean." Joel said "He's better once you get to know him." Grace said "Keep telling yourself that, cowboy." Ellie asked "So, Grace. Where were you before you came down here?" Grace said "I uh... I was part of a community...our leader, his name was David and we ran out of a winter lodge..." Joel said "Yeah..we've met them." Grace said "Wait you did, when?" Joel said "In the winter." Ellie curled into a ball on the seat and started shaking. Grace asked "Is she alright?" Joel said "Yeah, your buddy David...he uh." Grace said "I understand. He tried to do it with all the women." Joel asked "Even you?" Grace sighed "Even me...whatever happened to the bastard?" Ellie said "I turned his fucking skull into mush with a machete." Grace said "Good job. The asshole deserved it." Ellie buried her head into Joel's chest and Joel tried to calm her down. Grace said "Sorry." Joel said "It's fine, it's just still hard on her."
The next day, the trio arrived "home." to a crowd-filled street. Once through the gate of the city, Joel asked the guard "What's going on?" The guard said "Oh, there's going to be a festival. You tw...three best get home right quick." Joel nodded thanks." After parking the truck in his driveway, the trio were approached by Drew. Drew asked "I thought you said you were getting a guy named Bill...not a gorgeous woman." Grace said "I think i'm an improvement. Don't you think, Joel?" Joel nodded "Yes, ma'am." Drew laughed "This your wife, Joel?" Joel thought about saying something, but decided against it. Ellie laughed "No, they're still dating." Joel said "Ellie, just go put the bags away." Ellie said "Fine, I was just kidding, jeez." Joel said "Listen Drew, i'd love to talk but we're tired." Drew waved his hand in dismissal "It's fine. Just meet me at the party at the pool later, alright?" Joel nodded "Sure." Joel followed Grace into the house and lied down on the couch. Grace asked "What are you doing?" Joel, with his eyes closed in exhaustion, said "You thought I was lying when I said we were tired? I can see it in your face too you know." Ellie walked into the room and yawned "It's true. I'm going upstairs to take a nap, alright?" Joel said "Sure. Just lock the door before you go upstairs, alright?" Ellie clicked the lock as she passed the door and said "See ya in a few hours." Joel said "Mmhm." Grace asked "What about me?" Joel opened an eye and replied "What about you?" Grace got in his face and asked "Where. Do I. Sleep?" Joel said "I don't care." Grace shrugged "If you say so." Joel asked "What do you mean by.." Grace climbed on top of him and placed her head on Joel's chest. Joel said "Not exactly what I had in mind." Grace whispered "You have a strong heart. In more ways than one." Joel said "Thank you...ma'am." Grace said "Please, for the love of god. Call me Grace, will you?" Joel said "I can sure as hell try." Grace placed her hand under Joel's shirt and ran her fingers over her stomach, but when she found Joel's old scar from the fall. Joel grabbed her hand, moved it away and said "Don't do that again." Grace asked "What happened?" Joel said "I don't think that's any of your business." Grace said "Everyone has their scars, Joel." Joel rolled his eyes "But no one wants to talk about them." Grace lifted up the right side of her shirt, revealing a snake-shaped scar spreading up her side. Grace said "This is what David did to me. This is what could of happened to Ellie." Joel said "It didn't." Grace said "I told you about mine. You tell me yours." Joel said "I was fighting one of those hunters in Colorado, a catwalk collapsed and I fell onto an iron rod sticking out of the ground." Grace whispered "Jesus, you're lucky you're not dead." Joel said "Ellie lead me out of there, she took care of me while I recovered." Grace asked "Why do you hide it?" Joel said "It's not one of my brightest hours." Grace said "But it was one of hers." Joel sighed "Yeah." Joel waited a minute before the two lied down and eventually fell asleep. The only thing that went through Joel's mind was the image of Ellie having to defend herself alone against the hunters.
Later in the day, after waking up, the trio started to get ready for the festival. Ellie stepped out of the shower and shouted "It's all yours Grace!" Grace shouted back "Alright!" Grace darted up the stairs while Joel sat on the couch, still trying to wake up when he heard Grace shout. Joel ran up and found Grace holding Ellie's arm, looking at her bite. Grace asked "How long has it been?" Ellie said "It's...it's." Grace said "I want. To hear it. From Joel." Joel said in a calm voice "It's been far over a year." Ellie asked "How long have you known us?" Grace said "A few days...why?" Ellie said "It only takes a day and a half for people to turn. Don't you think I would have turned by now if I was going to?" Grace held her head in confusion and shock. Grace grabbed a fist-full of Joel's collar and pulled him close. Grace asked in a terrifying voice "Why. Didn't you tell me?" Joel said "You didn't need to know." Grace asked "What did you just say?" Joel said "She's no threat to you, why should I have told you if there was no need to?" Grace said "It would have been nice to know that." Joel said "Just let it go."
Two hours passed and the trio were in the streets, each one talking to various people around the settlement when the Mayor, Bob Rlogoyavitch stepped up to a podium. Bob shouted "Friends! Neighbors! Humans! Today, is a great day! It marks the one year since Austin was freed from the scum of the Infected!" Ellie nudged Joel's shirt and asked "What's this about?" Joel whispered "He's pradeling to the audience." Ellie asked "What the hell does that mean?" Joel said "He's kissing ass." Ellie asked "Why?" Joel said "Ellie, i'm not a political person, all I know is he wants to be re-elected." Bob continued "But today is even more important, as today, July 4, 2034. We have received notice that the United States government has been reinstated, and a new capital has been settled in Miami Florida!" Joel tried to conceal a chuckle at what the man was saying. Ellie asked "What's so funny?" Joel whispered "We've heard this so many times before. It's just after hearing something told to you so many times, it gets funny." Grace asked "And what's so funny about hope?" Joel said "Hope is promised, it's rarely delivered."
Chapter 8:Confessions of a Firefly
Three weeks past, and Joel decided to go on a supply run to a city nearby, and Ellie and Grace decided to go along. Once they arrived however, they were attacked by hunters and Joel lost his hunting rifle while Grace lost her Assault Rifle, and the trio were forced to retreat into a mansion while the hunters pounded at the door. Joel said "Search the house. There might be something we can use." Ellie walked through the house and found a fairly large cabinet located a few feet away from an equally large plasma screen TV and shouted "Hey Joel, I think I found something, I need help opening it!" Joel appeared within a few seconds and attempted to open the door with his bare hands but it didn't budge. Joel turned to Ellie and asked "You got any ideas baby girl?" Ellie said "We could use that crowbar on your back." Joel nodded and placed the crowbar in the door of the cabinet and said "On three you pull, I push, got it?" Ellie nodded "Got it." Joel said "One...two...three. Pull!" Ellie pulled on the crowbar all she could and after a few seconds they heard the door start to crack and the door split open, revealing it's contents to be several high-power guns, ammunition and several grenades. Joel said "Good job, Ellie." Grace, who had been standing in the corner the whole time said "Let me see those." Grace started to inspect the guns and let out a shrill of glee. Joel asked "What is it?" Grace said "This is an M4 Carbine formerly used by the US Navy SEALS, fully customize able with various attachments. High power rate, high accuracy. Highly dangerous." Ellie asked "What else is there?" Grace said "An AR-15, a Semi-Auto Rifle, a Shotgun, and a Hunting Rifle, good enough to replace the one we lost when those bastards jumped us." Ellie smiled "That's great. Right, Joel?" Joel nodded "Yeah, really great." Grace said "Well you two pack up the guns, i'll search the basement." Joel asked "You want us to come with?" Grace tapped her M4 and said "I can handle myself, cowboy." Joel said "Alright, holler if you need anything." Grace winked "Will do."
An hour later, Grace stumbled up the steps holding a wooden box in her left hand and an empty bottle in her right. Ellie asked "Are you alright?" Grace hiccuped "Yeah, yeah. I'm fine." Joel sighed "She's drunk, Ellie." Grace said "Hey! I am no drunk! I'm just..tipsy." Ellie asked "Tipsy?" Joel said "It's what a drunk person said when they got pulled over by a cop for drunk driving." Ellie laughed "Did it work?" Joel shook his head "Nope." Grace slouched up against a wall and rolled a bottle of whiskey to Joel and Ellie, but Joel stopped the bottle that was rolling to Ellie and put it in his backpack. Ellie shouted "Hey! Let me have some!" Joel said "No way Ellie, you're too young." Grace said "Oh let her have some." Joel said "When she's older." Ellie asked "How much older?" Joel asked "How old are you?" Ellie waved her hands in frustration and said "Fifteen." Joel said "Ask me again in three years." Ellie crossed her arms and sighed "If you say so." Grace said "Come on Joel, there's nothing else to drink around here. Just let her have a sip." Joel said "No. Grace. That's final." Grace took out another bottle filled with a clear substance and took a drink from it before she sighed and said "I have something to confess." Ellie asked "What do you mean?" Grace said "I uh...I knew about your bite, Ellie. Long before I even met you. Shit, I knew what you looked like before I met you." Joel asked "How's that possible?" Grace smirked "I'm uh...I'm a Firefly." Joel said "The hell did you just say?" Grace said "You heard me. I'm a Firefly. In the Fall me and a squad were sent out to Utah to uh...try and see if you were there yet, and we got ambushed by those cannibals. I was the only survivor besides another woman named...Rachel, and we were taken to be that bastard's "pets". I escaped by winter, but Rachel was killed." Joel said "And now you are all alone, that it?" Grace said "Yeah...when I met you two, I was conflicted on what to do. But a day before you appeared at my doorstep, I heard on my walkie, that our HQ in Salt Lake was overrun by Hunters and eventually Infected." Joel asked "You've been in contact with the Fireflies?!" Grace nodded "Yeah, but my walkie's battery died before I met you." Ellie asked "Joel. What do we do?" Joel said "We don't do anything, she's still the same woman we've known. Nothing's changed." Grace set her head against the wall and let out a thankful sigh. "Thank you for taking that so casually Joel." Joel asked "So those four punks outside..they're..." Grace said "Those would be Hunters." Ellie asked "You think we can take them?" Joel smirked "Ellie, we've taken on armies of assholes in the past year. You think four punks are gonna take us down?" Ellie shouted "Hell no!" Joel said "They're not. In the morning, you two will take positions on the upper levels and i'll go down, distract them, then we take them out. Clear?" Ellie nodded "Clear." Joel peered over to Grace and saw she was already snoring. Joel sighed and said "Can you tell her the plan when she wakes up?" Ellie nodded "Sure thing."
The following morning, Joel had to wake up both Ellie and Grace and handed Ellie a Military grade Sniper Rifle with a suppressor and Grace her M4. Joel said "Now, there are only four of them. We should be able take them out in a few minutes." Grace asked "Can we do this later?" Joel sighed "Why?" Grace moaned "I have the worst damn hangover!" Ellie said "Suck it up, Grace!" Joel thought to himself "Good job Ellie." Joel snuck between the traffic jammed cars and found a single Hunter, and without making a sound, Joel came up behind the Hunter and jammed a Shiv into the man's neck, causing his blood so splatter everywhere and the man died in Joel's arms. Another Hunter shouted "Randy! You there bro?" Joel mumbled "Shit." Joel hid behind the car while the other Hunter sighted Randy's body, gasped in terror, turned and shouted "Randy's fucking dead!" Joel stood up and shot his revolver, killing the other Hunter, causing the other two to open fire. Joel quickly shot back down behind the cover of the dead car while Ellie shot one of the other hunters in the forehead, killing him. Before Joel could acknowledge Ellie, he heard footsteps behind him, he turned and saw the last hunter about to hack him with a Machete when Joel open fire, pumping four shots into the man's chest, causing him to fall over, dead.
Grace stood up, yawned and said "That's the last of them!" Joel shouted "Were you asleep?!" Grace shrugged "No.." Ellie sighed "She was. I heard her snoring." Grace grumbled "Traitor." Ellie gave Grace the bird, laughed and asked "So how'd I do Joel?" Joel gave her a thumbs up and said "You did fine, baby girl. Let's find the car and get back to Austin." A few seconds later, Ellie shouted in a nervous tone "Hey..Joel?" Joel sighed "She's asleep again, isn't she?" Ellie giggled "Yep." Joel said "Just pinch her on the cheek, she'll wake up." Ellie said "If you say so." Joel waited until he heard Grace shriek and a slapping sound echoed through the streets of the early morning. Ellie walked out of the mansion with a red hand mark on the left side of her face and Grace followed suit with a dark red mark on the right side of hers. Joel laughed "She slapped you, didn't she?" Ellie tossed her bag into the back of the car and shouted "What was your first clue!?" Joel shrugged "I don't know. Maybe the giant hand print on the side of your face." Ellie gave him the bird as she got into front passenger seat. Grace yawned and climbed into the back seat. Joel got into the drivers seat and started to drive back.
Chapter 9:Guns and Glory
A few days later, the trio returned to Austin to find it's citizens bustling and cheering. Once home, Joel approached Drew and asked "What's with the celebrating?" Drew said "The Militia is allowing us to keep our weapons!" Ellie whispered "So we don't have to horde our guns anymore?" Joel replied No, but i'm not taking any chances." Grace stepped out of the car, stretched and walked into the house without saying a word. Joel said "Ellie, make sure she doesn't break anything, alright?" Ellie nodded "I guess." Just before she walked through the door, Joel said "Oh and Ellie..-" Ellie asked "Yeah?" Joel said "Don't shoot her." Ellie said "No promises." Drew lit a cigarette and asked "Problems at home?" Joel sighed "Yeah, I guess you could say that." Drew asked "So did you hear?" Joel shook his head "Probably not." Drew said "Those fucking Fireflies are back." Joel nodded "I see. Not that shocking really." Drew said "They've been spotted making a camp about three miles up the road. The Mayor wants a bunch of guys to attack. You in?" Joel thought about it, the possibility of wiping the Firelies off the map, but then he thought about Ellie and shook his head "No thanks, I don't want to leave Ellie alone." Drew said "Come on. She's got Grace." Joel sighed "No I mean alone. If I die, Grace will probably leave, and Ellie would be alone in this world. I don't want that. Not again." Drew asked "Again?" Joel mentally kicked himself and said "Just forget it." Drew shouted "Come on Joel! We need you on this!" Joel said "I'm not. Going. That's final."
Joel stormed into the house, slammed the door shut and locked it behind him. When he turned around, he found Ellie staring at him with fear in her eyes, half hiding behind the couch. Joel asked "What is it?" Ellie said "I've never really seen you that pissed." Joel said "It's not you...it's just...Never mind." Grace appeared at his side with a cocky smile on her face and said "I heard from a neighbor they're restoring power to the city." Ellie asked "So what?" Grace said "Just wait..you'll never want to leave the city again. Plus, it's coming back in three days." Ellie said in a sarcastic voice "Great." Grace asked "So what did Drew want? You seemed like you wanted to punch him in the face." Joel said "I did want to." Grace asked "What did he say that pissed you off so much?" Joel sighed "He says some Fireflies positioned themselves about three miles away from the city, and Drew wants me to go with his buddies to wipe them out." Ellie shouted "Why would they want to do that?!" Grace said "Ellie...it's alright. The Fireflies don't stand for what they once did." Ellie crossed her arms and said "It's still not right." Grace asked "What isn't?" Ellie said "The Fireflies are just trying to survive just like the rest of us, those guys don't need to be trying to massacre them like a bunch of Clickers!" Joel said "Ellie, relax." Ellie shouted "Why do they deserve to be killed? What the fuck did they do!?" Grace said "It's just a turf war, Ellie. Those guys are probably just going to go over there and tell them to move." Ellie asked "And if they don't?" Joel sighed "You know that answer...Ellie." Ellie sighed "I know."
A few days passed, Joel was sleeping on the couch, when he opened his eyes he saw Ellie sleeping soundly on his chest. Joel at first wanted to yell at her, but then he tried to remember what happened the night before. Then it hit him like a slap to the face; the city had restored power to all the citizens, and wanting to take advantage of the situation, Ellie popped in a few movies and must have stayed up watching them, even after Joel passed out. Joel whispered "Time to get up, Ellie." Ellie moaned "Ten more minutes." Joel waited a minute and said "Time to get up, it's been ten minutes." Ellie chuckled "I'm not an idiot, Joel." Joel said "Well get up. It's passed seven." Ellie moaned "Fine." and the two proceeded to start to move about. Joel asked "Have you seen Grace?" Ellie shrugged "What makes you think I've seen her?" Joel said "Ellie, I know you stayed up longer than I did." Ellie shouted "I didn't see her! Alright?!" Joel asked "What did you stay up doing, anyway?" Ellie said "Watching those movies with the deep voiced guy who dressed up like a bat..." Joel asked "You watched all three?" Ellie shook her head "Nope, feel asleep when that guy wearing makeup put that pencil through that one guy's eye." Joel asked "Could you understand anything Batman said?" Ellie shook her head "Not a fucking word." Grace walked down the stairs and yawned "Morning cowboy...Ellie." Joel said "Morning, Grace." Grace asked "You know there's another bedroom upstairs, it's pretty much empty, just a bed and a couple posters, right?" Joel shouted "You went into that room?!" Grace said "Yeah...why?" Ellie sighed "You're not supposed to go in there." Grace shrugged "Well, I did. But the bed is a perfect size for you Ellie and I was thinking tha-" Ellie said "You want me to move in there?" Grace smiled "I don't see why not." Ellie said "It's not up to me." Joel said "I don't care. If you want to, I'll help you move in." Ellie said "But Joel, I thought-" Joel said "It's alright, Ellie." Ellie shrugged "If you say so."
Two days later, Ellie was sitting alone in her new room late at night, fiddling with her revolver. Unloading it, reloading it, clicking the chamber shut and repeating the process over and over. Ellie had loved the idea of a safe haven, no longer having to fear Infected, no longer having to keep looking over her shoulder for Hunters. Not having to sleep on the ground or waking up at the crack of dawn. But now that she was in the safe haven, all she wanted to do was to get out. She wanted to feel the rush again, she wanted to just go on an adventure with Joel, but there was nothing to do, there was no reason. It didn't help that it felt as if Grace was literally trying to push Ellie away from Joel. The previous day, Ellie had asked Joel what he wanted to do when Grace walked in, said they would be going to the pool and didn't even bother to take Ellie along. Ellie wanted to cry but she just didn't have it in her. Ellie unloaded the gun, placed the bullets back into her pocket and hid the revolver under her pillow just as Joel knocked on the door. Joel asked "Hey, Ellie. Can I come in?" Ellie, on instinct wiped away tears welling up in her eyes and said "Yeah, sure." Joel noticed her expression and asked "You alright, darling?" Ellie nodded "Yeah, can you shut the door?" Joel did and sat down next to her. Joel asked "Are you alright?" Ellie nodded "Yeah, yeah...why?" Joel smiled "You look as if you've been crying. You feeling guilty again?" Ellie lied her head against Joel's shoulder and said "No, it's just that ever since you gave me this room, it just feels like Grace has been trying to push me away, especially yesterday, Grace forced you out of the house before I could get changed and I was all alone and I-." Joel wrapped his arms around her and said "It's alright Ellie. I'm sorry, I should have waited." Ellie said "It's not that I don't like her it's just that..-" Joel said "You're used to having me to yourself twenty four seven, and now that she's here you don't have that luxury, am I right?" Ellie nodded "...Yeah." Joel said "How about this. We set up a schedule. Sometime next week. The whole day, you and me just do something?" Ellie smiled "That'd be great." Joel said "See? I can cheer you up now matter how bad things may seem." Ellie asked "But Grace won't be with us, right?" Joel patted her on the head "I said just you and me, didn't I?" Ellie asked "You swear?" Joel said "I'm a man of my word." Ellie smiled "It's a deal." Joel smirked "Great, now go to bed." Ellie nodded, shut off her lamp and lied down with happy thoughts of her "one day" with Joel running through her mind.
Chapter 10:One more day
Ellie awoke with glee, know that the day she would spend with Joel. She quickly got dressed and ran downstairs to a still half-asleep Joel trying to make coffee. Ellie gave him a hug and handed him a box with a ribbon on it. Joel asked "What's this for?" Ellie smiled "Well, it's a thank you present for all you've done for me and...it's your birthday." Joel asked "How in Sam Hell did you figure that out?" Ellie said "I saw it marked on your really old calender." Joel said "I see. Well..thank you Ellie." Ellie cocked her head to the side "But you haven't even opened it yet." Joel smirked, opened the box and found a necklace. When he squeezed the side, the necklace split open and he saw two pictures. One of himself and Sarah and the right one with him and Ellie from the fair three days earlier. Joel asked "How'd you get these?" Ellie chuck;ed "I know a someone." Joel asked "Grace?" Ellie sighed "Grace..." Joel said "Well thank you very much Ellie." Ellie nodded "Yeah." Grace sprung from the couch wearing only her swimsuit and shouted "Happy birthday cowboy!" Joel covered Ellie's eyes and said "Grace. Put some clothes on, would you?" Grace started twirling her hair with her index finger and asked "Why?" Joel sighed "Do you remember anything I told you last night, or you were you drunk?" Grace winked "Do you really need to ask?" Ellie shook her head "I don't think so." Joel groaned "I told you to that Ellie and I were going to spend the day together. Alone." Ellie added in an annoyed tone, "Without you." Grace said "Well look who's the grumpy girl today." Ellie asked "You want me to wipe that drunken smile off your face?" Joel said "Ellie, cool it." Grace asked "So what am I supposed to do while you two are gone?" Ellie said "You could put some clothes on and do something around here besides get hammered and sleeping till noon." Grace, now angry shouted "Listen here you little-" Joel shouted "Both of you calm down." Grace said "I'm not the little brat here." Joel said "We're leaving Ellie, now." Ellie shrugged "Sounds good to me." Just before Ellie closed the door she flipped Grace off.
After getting outside, Joel asked "Did you do it?" Ellie replied "Do what?" Joel said "Give her the bird." Ellie smirked "Yup." Joel patted her on the head "That's my girl." Ellie put her hands behind her head, skipped ahead of Joel and started walking backwords and stared at Joel for several minutes. Joel asked "What?" Ellie said "Come on! Tell me where we're going!" Joel said "It wouldn't be a surprise now would it?" Ellie sighed "At least give me a hint." Joel said "We're going to visit an old friend of mine." Ellie's eyes widened "Please tell me it's not Bill." Joel scoffed "No, it's not Bill." Ellie shouted "Thank god!" After a half hour of walking, they arrived at what appeared to be a red barn. It smelled like a farm and the sounds of dogs barking emanated from the barn. Ellie asked "What are we doing here?" Joel smiled "You'll see." Ellie followed Joel into the barn and found an older-looking woman with white hair looking over a few dogs look up at them. Joel said "Mornin' Trish." Trish nodded "Good morning Joel, who's this?" Joel nodded to Ellie "This is my daughter, Ellie." Trish smiled "Oh, nice to meet you Ellie." Ellie nodded "Nice to meet you." Joel asked "So, Trish..do you have what I asked for?" Trish nodded "Yes, follow me Ellie." Ellie looked at Joel with a scared expression. Joel nudged her ahead "I'll be right behind you." Ellie followed Trish to the stall in the right corner of the barn and found a Golden Retriever with two puppy's tugging on an old sock. Ellie said "They're cute but...what about them?" Joel said "I arranged for you to be able to have one." Ellie's eyes brightened and she went to hug Joel but she was stopped by a hand on her shoulder. Joel said "I'm letting you pick one to take home, but. You have to promise to take care of it." Ellie said "I promise. I will take care of it, you know I can." Joel smiled, thinking back to when she had to take care of him for half the winter, nodded and said "I know you can."
Chapter 11:Blank Days
Ellie was outside playing fetch with the dog, which she named Riley. Joel and Grace were sitting on the back porch enjoying the warm sun. Grace asked "So I was wondering something, Texas." Joel replied "What?" Grace said "Why don't you two move to your brother's place?" Joel shook his head "I thought it'd be nice to stay someplace warmer." Grace nodded "Alright." Ellie sat down next to Joel and the puppy proceeded to pounce into her lap. Ellie asked "So Joel, can we go camping?" Joel chuckled "Camping?" Ellie pointed to the mountain "Yeah, you know tents and stuff?" Joel thought for a minute before snapping his fingers "I guess we can borrow a tent and some sleeping bags from someone." Grace said "I got two sleeping bags . We can split some." Grace winked at Joel and Joel responded with an eye roll. Joel said "Got a tent?" Grace shook her head "Nope. We can buy one from the general store." Joel nodded "Yeah, can you watch Ellie while I buy the tent and some supplies." Grace smiled "Sure." Ellie looked up at Joel with an angry expression "I don't need someone to watch over me."
Chapter 12:Start anew
6 months later
Ellie awoke with a cough, her breath visible in front of her face. She bent forward and saw snow falling outside the window of the decaying building. She patted down her pants and felt the revolver in her holster near her hip and out of the corner of her eye, she could see her hunting rife resting against the wall. Ellie stood up and found her thighs to still be sore from all the running and walking she'd done in the past few weeks. Ellie went to call her dog Riley, but remembered the dog had died when the Infected attacked the town, along with Grace, who sacrificed herself to save Joel from a Clicker. Ellie grabbed her rifle and walked into the next room to find Joel poking at the small flame with a stick, and a metal can "cooking" above it. Ellie said in a low tone "Morning..." Joel just nodded and continued prodding the flame. Ellie sat down next to him, and the only thing she could feel radiating off of him was sadness and regret. The two stood still, for at least an hour before Joel said "How'd you sleep?" Ellie replied "Like a rock..." Joel said "Breakfast should be ready in a few minutes..." Ellie asked in a hopeful tone "What are we havin'?" Joel said "Beans." Ellie rolled her eyes "Of course." Joel pointed his stick outside and said "If you can hunt down a deer, I'll gladly cook him."
The sound of a stick snapping behind her caused Ellie to jump up and draw her revolver and pointed it toward the disturbance. She saw it was a young man, at least in his late twenties or early thirties. The man held his hands high and asked "Uh yo-yo-you got any food to spare?" Ellie kept the gun pointed at his head and said "Why the fuck should we give you anything?" The man pointed outside and said "My settlement..it's five miles north, I just need something to get me through the snow storm." Ellie looked at Joel and asked "Settlement?" Joel said "What kind of settlement are we talking here?" The man said "Just a community of people." Ellie asked "Who're you with?" The man said "If I had to say...the Military." Ellie shouted "Fuck no!" And shot him in the knee.
Joel snatched the gun from her hand and shouted "Ellie! Calm down! That could've drawn god knows how many of those damn Infected to us!" Ellie nodded "Sorry..." Joel turned to the man and went to try and bandage him up, but saw he went for his hidden gun, Joel in retaliation shot the man between the eyes. Joel handed Ellie her gun back and asked "Could you search him?" Ellie holstered it and asked "Sure, but what are you gonna do?" Joel said "Get our shit together." Ellie asked "Why?" Joel said "There's bound to be more of them. No way they'd send one lone kid out into this snow storm to check the perimeter." Ellie searched the man and found a pair of dog tags reading "JACK JAMENSON", four revolver rounds, eight normal pistol rounds, and a single sniper round. Joel said "Take his jacket." Ellie nodded "Alright." And slowly removed the man's brown leather jacket, and carefully folded it into Joel's pack.
Ellie and Joel made their way to the ground level where Joel dove behind cover. Ellie asked "What is it?!" Joel nodded upward and said "They got a fucking tank." Ellie poked her head around the corner and saw three troops surrounding a small tank, only armed with a pair of machine guns. Ellie mumbled "Fuck." Joel said "We can't take them Ell' we gotta go around." Ellie nodded and turned around, only to see the butt of a rifle collide with her face, and she blacked out.
Darkness slowly faded, and in it's place a sharp throbbing pain replaced it as she regained consiousness. When he could open her eyes she found her hands tied behind her back with rope, a pair of handcuffs on her legs and her gear hanging on a coatrack in front of her. Ellie looked to her left and saw Joel still out cold, to her right she could see two people in the front of the truck driving. Ellie thought about shouting but decided against it.
Ellie tried to wrestle out of her bonds but it only prompted a loss of energy and a waste of effort. The truck stopped and the two stepped out of the truck. One of them stepped into the back and noticed Ellie was awake and said "Morning darlin', I hope you had a nice nap." Ellie snarled "What do you want?!" The man uncovered his face revealing his long brown mullet and neck-lenght beard. He smiled 'You killed one of my buddies...and we're gonna give you a couple choices right now..." The man pulled out her Beretta from her backpack and said "Option one...I clock your head on the fresh snow and bury your scrawny ass. Option two, you and your granddad here join my crew." Ellie said "Option three, you let us go." The man waved her gun and said "Sorry lady, those are your options."