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#tlou Joel
mentally-ill-simp · a month ago
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I just know when Joel sits down he does the dad groan and when he gets up he slaps his knee and stands
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joelmillersgirlfriend · a month ago
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Summary: After having yet another rough day due to your depression, you found yourself in Seth's bar once again. This time though, Joel Miller tries to cheer you up. After talking for a while, he invites you to come over to his place in hopes of both of you feeling better.
Warnings: Shameless smut, mentions of depression
Word Count: 5700ish
Notes: Hello everyone, I know that it has been quite some time since I last posted an actual story but college is hard. I got some particularly bad news today that really ruined my mood so what better way to cope than writing a story about Joel Miller cheering me up?
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“Rough day?” questioned a voice from beside you, the vocalization deep and gravely. Your wet eyes moved up from the wooden bar beneath your hands, and didn’t stop moving until you made eye contact with the man who had decided to sit next to you. You recognized him, Joel Miller. You had seen him before too, even shared a few words around town about meaningless shit, but this was the first time you had actually had somewhat of a conversation.
Nodding with an ironic laugh, you wiped at the tears staining your face, slightly embarrassed that he had caught you crying in the first place. It was a Tuesday night, and it wasn’t particularly busy in Seth’s bar, so you didn’t anticipate on bumping into anyone that you knew. All you knew though, was that you needed a drink, something stronger than the shit you had at home, in order to distract your thoughts.
“Yeah, I get that. I guess that’s why I’m here too,” Joel said quietly, his eyes shifting away from yours, instead, looking down at his hands. It felt wrong to admit, but it almost made you feel better to know that you weren’t the only miserable person within Jackson. Obviously life was hard within the post-apocalyptic world that you lived in, but some days were exceptionally difficult for you, to the point where you couldn’t even bring yourself to climb out of bed. While you wished that you could get a fucking shrink and complain about all of your problems, life just wasn’t that simple anymore. You had to cope in easier, unhealthy ways, such as drinking.
“At least we can be miserable together,” you tried to joke, tears still shining in your eyes as Joel looked back up at you, a small relieved laugh slipping past his lips. You both sat silently, sipping from the drinks in your hands occasionally as you tried to subdue your thoughts. While you usually felt numb, your head almost foggy to an extent, sitting in Joel’s presence made you feel a bit more content.
“This might be a little out of the blue but,” Joel began suddenly, your eyes once again snapping over to him. Your heart began to pound a bit, almost as if you knew the exact proposition that he was about to make.
“Would you want to go back to my place? Sittin’ around in a bar won’t help either of us,” Joel joked, a small smile drawn on his dark face. Typically, you would’ve said no. This was way out of character for you, and quite frankly, it was out of character for Joel too. While you guys didn’t talk often, you knew a lot about him since he was such a big part of Jackson. You knew that he didn’t go to bars and try to pick up women, mostly because you were usually the one at the bars. Honestly, this was the first time that you had even seen him there after dark.
But..
You needed this. You needed a chance to forget your problems, to finally just enjoy yourself. Regardless, it wasn’t like he was asking to fuck you. He was just inviting you over, as simple as that. What was the worst that could happen?
“Yeah. Okay, yeah, I would love to,” you replied, almost a bit too eagerly. You didn’t want to come off desperate, because you weren’t. It just had been such a long time since you had something this random and exciting happen to you. Undeniably you had many men come on to you, even quite a few were still trying to pursue you, but you never felt any attraction. You never felt like you could relate to them, that you were in a completely different universe than them. With Joel, that was different. For the first time in quite some time, you felt relatable.
Joel didn’t speak in return, only smiled in content as he got up from his seat, sitting down his half drunk beer bottle on the counter as you followed in return. Pulling on your jacket that was hanging on the back of your seat, you turned to him, waiting to follow him out of the bar.
The air was thick and cold as you both stepped out of the bar, your breath fanning out in front of your face as you smiled at Joel, following him back to his place. The walk was comforting, quiet and relaxed, but your thoughts were everything but. Your mind was racing as you thought about what might happen when you got back to his place. Would he try to come onto you, as many other guys did before? Or would perhaps nothing come out of it. What if he was looking at you as more of a friend, someone to talk to about his problems and you were completely misreading the conversation?
Regardless, you were overthinking the situation entirely.
Breathing deeply in order to calm your chaotic thoughts, you looked up at Joel, taking in his appearance. It was dark enough to where you could see his features, but where he wouldn’t notice that you were looking at him. His nose was red from the sharp cold, his hair blowing gently from the wind as he sniffed in order to keep his nose from running. His large stature next to yours made you feel oddly reassured as the two of you continued to walk to his house.
“This is me,” Joel said, walking a little bit in front of you to walk up to his front porch steps. You had walked past his house probably every day since yours was just a bit further up the street, but you had never really noticed that he lived there. It was probably due to the fact that you didn’t notice much anyways, instead, you just tried to get through everyday in one piece. A part of you felt a bit oblivious at times, because you really should have noticed not only that Joel lived right near you, but Joel in general. Walking behind him, you couldn’t really help yourself from eyeing him. He really was a handsome guy, a good guy too from what you heard about him around town. You wondered what brought him to sit next to you tonight, and what brought him to the bar in general.
The both of you walked up onto his porch, the wood creaking beneath your shoes, the porch light being the only source of light to help Joel find the correct key in his chain. Unlocking the door, he opened it and stepped back, letting you walk in first. If you were nervous ten minutes ago, you were practically on edge after actually stepping into his house. It was dark as you stood there, waiting for Joel to shut the front door and turn on the lights, the smell of wood strong throughout the cold house.
“Let me get the heater turned on. You can hang your coat up right here,” Joel said as he flicked on the light next to you, his arms brushing past your shoulder as he moved away from you, the feeling making a chill run through your already freezing body. You removed your coat and hung it on the nearby coat rack, praying that the house would be warm soon, then stood silently in the foyer as he walked to the back of the house, most likely going to warm up the chilly home.
“You can go sit down if you’d like, I’m going to make us some coffee,” Joel shouted from the back of the house, the sound of the heater coming on loud throughout the house. Coffee sounded nice after walking through the cold, and you really did appreciate his generosity.
Walking out of the long entrance to the house, you stepped into the living room after turning the light on, the room neat and tidy. For a man, Joel really did seem to take pride in his home being well-kept. You would take that as a good sign.
You wiped at your slightly runny nose with the back of your hand as you sat down on the old couch he had in the middle of the living room, gazing around the space as you waited for Joel to come back. A clutter of noises could be heard from the kitchen, along with running water, so you knew that it wouldn’t take much longer for him to come back. While you waited, you looked down at the coffee table that was placed near the couch, glancing at the book sitting at the top. The Catcher in the Rye, hm, what an interesting choice. You couldn't really imagine Joel reading a story like that for whatever reason, even though you didn’t know Joel very well.
Grabbing the book, you sifted through the practically ancient pages, the sound of the paper beneath your fingers relaxing as the smell of coffee began to come from the kitchen. Getting lost in the reading, you didn’t hear his footsteps behind you as he walked into the living room with two mugs, the soft sound of glass against wood bringing you out of the reading as he placed the cups on the coffee table. He sat next to you and looked over at the book in your hands before smiling gently.
“That’s Ellie’s. She was tryin’ to get me to read more often,” Joel said fondly, his face full of a lot of expression before falling slightly at his words. Ah yes, Ellie, his daughter. You didn’t really see her very often, but you also heard a lot of fond things about her from the town of Jackson. You assumed from Joel’s reaction to his words that maybe she was the reason he went out to drink tonight.
“Everything alright with her?” you questioned, almost instantly regretting it with the way he nervously glanced away. It felt invasive to see Joel this way, anxious and uncomfortable as he tried to find a way to respond to your words.
“You don’t have to tell me you know? No pressure,” you reassured, to which he looked at you with his dark eyes and nodded with a gruff sound of yes. Trying to move past the awkwardness, you reached past him and grabbed your mug before taking a sip, the warm liquid shaking off the coldness that you had previously felt. Joel mimicked your actions, drinking his coffee with you as you both sat in silence. Maybe you did read too far into his invitation, and that he just wanted to enjoy the comfort of another human being since he and Ellie weren’t getting along very well.
“I lied to her about some messed up shit. She found out and hasn’t spoken to me since,” Joel said suddenly in between sips of his coffee, his words catching you off guard. You honestly didn’t expect him to open up to you so quickly, and you don’t know why exactly he did. The two of you were practically complete strangers, but a part of you had to admit that you liked that he felt that he could trust you.
“I’m sure you did it to protect her. Sometimes all you need is time in order to grow past lies. She’ll eventually come around, I’m sure,” you reassured, his dark eyes looking down at yours again. They held so much emotion behind them, and you only wished you could know what he was thinking. Joel was certainly an interesting character, a quiet and timid guy.
“I hope so,” he said simply, leaving it at that. Regardless, he seemed a little bit more at ease from just talking that little bit about Ellie. You were glad that you could help him, even if it wasn’t much. You didn’t want to pressure him into talking even more seeing how uncomfortable he seemed when you did previously, so you decided to try to change the topic.
“This coffee is really good. Thank you for sharing it with me,” you said genuinely, drawing a grin out of Joel. He nodded gently as he finished drinking his, sitting it back on the coffee table before turning to you. The action caused your heart to pound in your chest, not expecting for the man to give you his full attention. You copied his actions, holding the warm mug in your now warm hands before turning to look at him fully.
“So why did you invite me over here?” you questioned, wanting to get straight to the point, your words taking him by surprise. He looked thoughtful for a second, before answering simply.
“Why did you accept the invitation?” he questioned back, his teasing response causing your face to heat up in nervousness. It was a given that you weren’t going to tell him why you took the invitation, so you quickly came up with an excuse that would seem valid.
“It seemed like both of us needed someone to talk to I guess,” you replied anxiously, curious as to what he was trying to get you to admit. That you found him insanely attractive and admired how attentive he was? Yeah, you didn’t think so. Regardless, it was probably obvious due to how you cut your eyes away from his prodding gaze. It had been quite a long time since you had felt anxious around a man, the feeling almost euphoric in a weird way.
“I've tried to talk to you before tonight you know. You just always seemed preoccupied,” Joel admitted, his words shocking you. You hated that you never really picked up on it before, but preoccupied was the perfect word to describe how you felt usually. Sometimes you were completely lost in thought, whether it was due to your depression or whatever else was going on.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to come off like I was ignoring you or something. I just seem to always have a lot on my mind,” you muttered back, hating that you might have been perceived in a negative manner by the man.
“No, it wasn’t anything like that. Do you want to talk about it? The reason why I saw you cryin’ today?” Joel questioned sympathetically, his face drawn into a tight frown as he waited to see how you were going to respond. Should you talk to him about how bad your depression gets? How some days all you want to do is sit silently in your house, or how sometimes you don’t feel real? Part of you felt guilty, because Joel was upset over actual valid reasons, while the only reason you were crying at the bar was because you woke up a bit sadder than usual.
“There isn’t really much to say. Some day's are just harder than others I guess.” Instead of replying, Joel nodded in agreement, the room silent once again, but not in a way where it was uncomfortable.
“What made you want to talk to me tonight?” you asked suddenly, surprising not only Joel, but yourself too. Joel looked thoughtful once again, pondering his thoughts before he sighed and looked across your face.
“Cause I think that you're cute. And it was my first chance to actually say somethin’ meaningful to you,” his eyes hopeful as he spoke, his words making your hands twitch in uneasiness. You opened your mouth to speak, not really sure what you wanted to say before you shut your lips in confusion. He thinks you are cute? God, you were so clueless sometimes, this entire time you had been so infatuated in your sadness that you didn’t even realize Joel had been trying to get to know you.
Joel noticed your hesitation, his face falling at your delay. It took a lot of him to admit his feelings to you, you could tell, so you knew that your reaction was certainly not what he was looking for. “Jesus, I’m sorry. I haven’t done anythin’ like this in quite some time. You could say that I’m a little bit rusty-”
Before the man could even finish, you quickly placed the glass mug on the coffee table before moving across the couch on your knees and grabbing Joel’s rough face with your warm hands, pulling him into you and kissing him. For the first time in weeks, months even, you felt alive as the man's lips sent tremors throughout your body. Your heart was pounding as he wrapped his strong arms around your hips, pulling you into him and kissing you deeply in return, low strangled whines slipping through your mouth.
You were pressed so closely to his chest that you could feel his heartbeat, and God knows that yours was pounding just as fast as you pulled back and looked down at the man below you, Joel’s eyes heavy and eager as he looked up at you. His fingertips trailed across your hips lightly, causing your body to shake over his. Instead of thinking too much about the situation at hand, you leaned back down to kiss his red lips once again, your hands now gripping his shirt tightly in anticipation. The kiss was rough, almost as if your lives both depended on it, a low groan audible from his end. This wasn’t how you expected your night to go, but you did know that nothing had ever felt so right in your life.
Getting a bit too ahead of yourself, you climbed up off of your knees, instead straddling over him as you continued to kiss him passionately, your hands moving from his shirt to his face. He felt warm, safe, and it was as if all of your worries melted away as long as you were in his arms. Unintentionally, you moved your hips slightly into his, subconsciously dry humping the man as you kept kissing him, not thinking about the consequences of your actions. You finally didn’t feel numb, you finally felt something with Joel, and you didn’t want to let this moment slip away from you.
“Hold on now,” Joel suddenly mumbled gently, pushing you back lightly before looking up at you. You were both breathing heavily, and you could feel the growing hardness underneath you as you waited to see what Joel had to say.
“Maybe we should slow down,” Joel suggested, slipping his hand away from your hips and bringing it up to your face, slipping a strand of hair behind your ear. He wanted to stop? You couldn’t help the frustration that flooded your face, mostly because it felt good to feel wanted in a way. Until you weren’t.
“It’s not like I don’t want to do this, it’s just that I don’t want to rush into anythin’,” Joel reassured you after noticing your disappointment. While his words made you feel better, you couldn’t bring yourself to pull away from the man.
“Are you sure that’s what you want?” you questioned lowly, unable to keep your horny mind in check as his eyelids lowered again at your question, his dick becoming even harder underneath your hips. It was sickeningly erotic to feel his erection grow with just your words, and by this point, you were almost too far gone.
“What exactly are you suggestin’?” asked Joel, both of your eyes locked onto the others. He knew exactly what you were suggesting, so there was no point in entertaining the silly question. Instead, you grabbed his hand that was resting lazily on your hip, dragging it up your stomach until it reached your chest. You didn’t stop looking at him as you placed his large palm on one of your breasts, the feeling sending shockwaves throughout your body.
Joel breathed in deeply, closing his eyes quickly as you pulled your hand away from his, letting his own palm squeeze and grope your breast through your shirt. While he continued to do that, you felt yourself moving on his dick once again, the contact making you tip your head back, mouth wide open as you groaned loudly from the feeling. It had been so long since you had sex, even from the last time you had played with yourself. The contact that you had been craving for, well, finally receiving it from such an attractive man was more than you could ever imagine.
You continued to breathe heavily as you ground your hips into Joel’s, the contact of denim on denim addicting as his dick continued to grow against your aching clit. Impatient, you reached down, pulling your shirt off, glancing down to see Joel’s strained face, jaw slack as he watched you undress your top half. Undoing your bra quickly, Joel’s expression as he took in your appearance caused a wave of wetness to rush into your already wet underwear, his jaw clenched tight at the sight of you before him.
“Goddamn,” Joel groaned under his breath as you moved down, kissing down his neck and jaw, giving wet, sticky kisses as you continued to grind into him. The friction wasn’t enough though, and it took everything in you to not drop your pants and ride him on the couch.
“God I need more,” you hissed through clenched teeth, pulling back away from his neck and looking down at him, practically asking if it was okay for you to move even further. Joel nodded tightly, seemingly on the same page as you, and you didn’t waste any time. Sitting up and sliding back away from the breathless man, you urgently unbuttoned your jeans as you both kept watching each other, his eyes scanning your entire body as you undressed yourself.
Moving back over to him, you helped him unbutton his own pants, slipping your hand into his boxers to help pull his dick out, the feeling of your hand around his cock causing him to give out a breathless gasp. The sound was basically music to your impatient little ears, a smirk crossing your lips as you watched the man squeeze his eyes shut, his chest heaving as you played with his dick in your hands. You yanked playfully as you gave him a handjob, an array of cuss words slipping past his lips while you kept squeezing and playing with him.
“Look at me,” you said suddenly, his eyes opening quickly as you smiled down at him, unable to contain yourself. You hadn’t felt like this in so long, energetic, horny, impatient. Joel was bringing out emotions that you thought didn’t exist anymore. You had to thank him somehow, now didn't you?
Moving down closer to his dick, Joel knew exactly what you were about to do, opening his mouth to object, but you didn’t give him a chance to. All at once you swallowed up his cock into your warm mouth, the feeling of the warm object making you roll your eyes into your head. A few whimpers slipped out as you began to bob your head back and forth, the sound of Joel quickly gripping the couch next to him loud. Your eyes flicked up to the arm clenching the fabric, his veins popping out and strained as you moved your sights to Joel’s face.
His eyes were practically closed as he struggled to keep them open, the sight of you sucking him off being too much. Reaching up, you started to gently jerk off the rest of his dick that you couldn’t swallow down, running your tongue along the soft skin under his shaft. You could tell that was too much for him because his hand that was gripping the couch went limp, his body loose as you continued to taste him.
He lazily rolled his hips into your mouth, wanting even more from you, and while you tried to keep up with what he wanted, you soon found out that it wasn’t enough. Lifting his arm, he reached across and grabbed a handful of your hair, holding you in place as he thrust his hips in order to slam his cock further down your throat. You couldn’t help the gag that slipped past your lips as he continued his assault, his pace unrelenting as he finally pulled you off of his dick. You gasped for air, his hand still tangled in your hair as he quickly grabbed you, pulling you into him.
You climbed on top of him once again, this time his dick was sitting in between your folds as you situated yourself, your wetness coating the spit that was soaking his dick already. Before you had a chance to pull yourself together, Joel roughly pulled you in for another kiss, his hand moving from your hair to the back on your neck, cupping it as he slipped his tongue into your mouth, the taste of his salty cum still lingering in your mouth.
Your moans were loud and obscene, but you were thankful for Joel’s mouth on yours to help prevent the entire town from hearing your desperate whimpers. Your pussy folds practically swallowed Joel’s dick as you rubbed up against him, because while you wanted him buried deep inside of you, you knew the longer that you waited, the greater it would feel once he finally did enter you.
Joel pulled away from you, moving down to your breasts, sucking on one roughly as you continued to grind against his hard dick. You were so turned on, and everything about the situation felt fucking primal. It took everything within you not to slip his dick inside of your already aching pussy. You could sense that it was the same for the man below you with how hard one of his hands were gripping your hips as you continued to slide your cunt around his dick, the crescents of his nails digging into your soft skin.
“Is this what you wanted?” Joel interrogated, pulling away from your breasts as he looked up at you, his beard rough against the sensitive skin on your chest.
You shook your head, getting a small frown from Joel at your disagreement towards his question. He slowed his actions as he waited for you to elaborate, but you quickly grabbed his dick underneath you in the meantime before leaning down and pressing your forehead against his.
“This is what I wanted,” you growled back, sheering yourself onto the man’s dick, the large organ stretching you before you finally dropped all your weight on it. You couldn’t help the loud moan that left your mouth, all you could do was pray that nobody asked any questions around town the next day.
You could feel yourself clenching around his dick already as you tried to bounce on it with the balls of your feet, but it was just so big that you couldn’t find the correct pace that you needed. He was twitching inside of you desperately as you slid your hands up under his shirt, his skin hot and sweaty against your palms as you finally found the rapid pace that gave you the perfect amount of pleasure you were searching for.
The old couch was squeaking beneath the two of you, not quite sure if it could handle the abuse that you were both putting it through.
“Fuck, you feel amazin’” Joel praised, his voice strained and raspy as he tried to meet the pace of your bounce on his dick, thrusting his hips up quickly, the tip hitting something deep inside of you. The feeling made you shut your eyes quickly, your breathing becoming fast and broken as you gasped for air, your nails scratching Joel’s chest beneath you. You quickly ripped a hand out from under his shirt and began to play with your clit seeing as how you were getting incredibly close. Joel noticed your actions, sitting up a little bit so he could wrap his lips around one of your nipples and grab your ass with both of his hands, a tight grip around it as he used his own hands to go the pace that he wanted.
He helped you bounce on his dick as he quickly flicked his tongue across your nipple, the sensation taking you by surprise as you arched onto him, his dick continuing to slam into your g spot. Jesus fucking Christ, it was beyond intense to the point where your legs began to tremble as you felt your orgasm approaching quickly, your fingers rubbing erratically against your clit as you prayed for release.
You shut your eyes, squeezing them close as your orgasm finally hit, a loud squeal spilling out of your mouth as your pussy clenched and squeezed around Joel’s dick that was still buried deep inside of you. The feeling must have been too much for Joel as well, because soon after you came, you heard a loud squelch from Joel's dick coming deep inside of you. While it was completely reckless and ridiculous for you to let Joel come in you, the feeling of his hot, wet, sticky semen splashing all over your insides made up for the recklessness.
You laid up against Joel limply, his cock still inside of you, softening as you both breathed heavily, your mind foggy and overworked. Your breaths were erratic and heavy as you tried to calm yourself down, your body heavy as Joel held you close into his chest, your head buried into the crook of his neck.
You weren’t sure how long you laid up with the man still buried within you, but the moment you felt his hands rubbing up your back gently, you realized that you didn’t really want to leave.
As if Satan heard your thoughts himself, you heard the front door opening, you and Joel’s eyes meeting in surprise as he continued to hold you into his chest, flicking his eyes over to the living room entrance. Luckily the couch was facing away from the front door, and with the way you were laying, you wouldn’t be seen over the couch. On top of that, Joel still had the majority of his clothes on, so as long as nobody actually walked deep into the room, they wouldn’t know that the two of you just finished having sex.
“Ellie?” Joel questioned, to which the two of you heard a small ‘yeah?’ in return. Fuck, you couldn’t believe that his daughter got home right when the two of you finished fucking the hell out of each other.
“I ain’t expect you to be home so early,” Joel said in response, his hands still holding your back, but now they were nervously burying themselves into the soft flesh there.
“Don’t worry, I won’t be here long. Just getting something that I left in the bathroom upstairs. I’m staying the night at Dina’s if you need anything,” Ellie replied from the doorway, almost coldly to an extent. It was clear that she didn’t want Joel to ‘need anything,’ she was practically saying that she didn’t want to be bothered.
You felt Joel nod in response, and heard Ellie’s footsteps trail away from the living room. The both of you sat in nervous silence as Joel held you tightly, a small sigh coming from his lips. Man, you really hated that for him. Part of you wondered what he lied about in the first place to piss Ellie off so much.
Ellie came back down the stairs, not even saying a goodbye as she left, the door slamming loudly. Damn, he wasn’t lying when he said she was mad at him.
“Sorry you had to see all of that. She usually doesn’t even come into the house,” Joel said quietly, adjusting uncomfortably below you. You could tell that he was ready to pull out, so you reached down and grabbed your panties to clean the two of you up. Sitting up so he could slip out, you used your panties to catch the remaining seed that was within you, looking over at Joel. You noticed that his thoughts were lost, his mind most likely wondering about everything that had just happened.
“I should probably get going,” you said gently, seeing as how you didn’t want to make the situation any more difficult for him. He looked over at you as you began to dress yourself, a small frown on his face at your actions as he pulled up his own pants, tucking himself back into his boxers.
“Are you sure?” Joel asked, wanting to make sure that you felt comfortable leaving after the evening that the two of you just shared.
“Yeah, I can tell that you need a little bit of time to yourself,” you reassured gently as you finished dressing yourself, slipping your dirty underwear into your pants pocket as you looked down at the man, softly placing your hand on his shoulder.
He looked a bit taken aback at your words, opening his mouth to speak before you once again leaned down, kissing him tenderly for the first time all night. You could feel his lips turn into a smile as he kissed you back, his hands timidly cradling your face as the two of you pulled away from each other.
“I’ll make sure that I say hey to you the next time you talk to me,” you teased, a large grin on your face as he shook his head in amusement.
“You better say more than that,” Joel lectured, standing up with you in order to walk you out. As you reached the front door, he grabbed your jacket from the coat hanger next to you, watching you fondly as you pulled it on. You smiled at him as you were finally ready to leave, your eyes shifting anxiously as you began to ponder what would happen after tonight.
“I have afternoon patrol tomorrow, but if you’re free, I would like to see you when I get back,” Joel suggested, his words immediately reassuring you. God, you hadn’t felt this excited in so long, you could hardly emit the words that you would love to see him tomorrow. Whenever you did however, a large smile filled his face as he nodded at you in understanding.
“I’ll see you tomorrow then,” he said softly, leaning in to give you yet another gentle kiss that immediately made you want to suck him off once more. However, you knew that you couldn’t spend the entire night under the sheets with him, so it would just have to wait until the upcoming day.
After pulling away from the sweet kiss, he reached around to open the front door for you, his eyes watching you as you said goodbye quietly to him before walking down the steps. You were glad that your back was to him, because the sheepish smile that was practically frozen on your face would have been beyond embarrassing for him to see. As you walked closer to your house in the freezing cold, your thoughts were finally calm and quiet.
All you knew now was that you had something to finally look forward to.
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heatherbelart · 27 days ago
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Pedro
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Digital portrait painted on Procreate earlier this year. Pedro Pascal has become a muse of mine so I’ll be posting plenty more paintings of his lovely face. I particularly wanted to capture how soft and gentle his eyes were in the reference photo. This took roughly 12.5 hours to complete.
Prints available on my Etsy - HeatherbelArt, link in bio.
Reblogs are always appreciated but please don’t repost without permission 😊
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traceylader · 6 months ago
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If somehow the Lord gave me a second chance at that moment, I would do it all over again.
THE LAST OF US PART II (2020)
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rahafwabas · a year ago
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He can finally rest now 
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ellieswhoreeee · 2 months ago
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I think i like you more than a friend
Author's Note: I'm sorry that i totally disappeared for a while because of school- but I come bearing this short gift. I hope you enjoy ! I also have this angst story that I will be posting soon I promise!
Pairings: Ellie Williams x Fem! reader
ONE SHOT
Summary: Ellie finally tells you how she feels about you.
warnings: none,,,,,
Ps: your hair = y/h, your eye color = y/e, ect.
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Jackson had been quiet all morning, not even any signs of disturbances. Some might say it had been peaceful. But three teenagers decided it wouldn't stay like that. Ellie, Dina and Jesse walked down the dirt road towards the stables; laughing loudly as Jesse and Dina continue to tease Ellie.
“When are you gonna tell her how you feel, huh?” Dina asked Ellie with a playful nudge to her shoulder. This wasn’t the first time that Dina has asked Ellie about her feelings for a particular (y/h) girl who she had feelings for since they were younger.
Dina was Ellie’s best friend, and as a best friend, she is currently torturing her green eyed friend about y/n l/n. Aka you.
Jesse had watched the interaction with a smile on his face. He couldn’t help. Dina is always pestering Ellie about you. He couldn’t stop her nor did he want to, it was funny seeing Ellie so… Shy. So he decided to just watch from the sidelines, but wouldn’t mind jumping in whenever he felt the need to. “Actually, I’d like to know that too.”
Ellie gave herself some space from her two friends who were crowding her personal space with questions. Ellie hated how involved they became when it came to your “situation-ship” with Ellie, as they like to call it. It was like their personal mission to try and set you two up. But Ellie always found a way to stop their ways of trying to set you two up last minute. “Guys, stop. I’m not gonna tell her because a) she doesn’t feel the same way. b) the rejection would fuck me up.”
The three teenagers continued to walk down the road towards the stables, waving to anyone who would say ‘good morning’ or any form of getting that morning. Jackson was a nice community, so respect was automatically given instead of earned.
Dina smirked. Rejection? Please, y/n feels the same way. She’s just waiting for you to make a move first. “Okay, worst case is things are a little awkward and you two would just move on.”
Ellie scoffed and looked around instead of her friends. "There’s no way we could just move on from that. What if she’s grossed out and doesn’t want to be around me anymore? I can’t deal with that type of rejection.” Ellie spoke flatly, looking a bit deflated after saying that. It was one of her many fears. And if it were to come true then it would kill her.
“Ellie-“ Dina was about to contradict Ellie’s response but was then interrupted by Jesse.
“Speaking of he devil.” He pointed towards you. You were carrying a crate of vegetables into the stables. You weren’t aware that your friends were a couple a feet away, only because you had your headphones on. Your walkman had become your best friend during farming rotations. Who knew that taking care of plants was such a hassle. Jesse smirked. “I bet she’s listening to that mixtape that you made just for her.”
Ellie blushed at his words. For Christmas last year, she made you a mixtape of songs that she thought you would like. Luckily you loved it and wouldn’t leave anywhere without it. It was sweet and you just couldn’t stop listening to everything on the cassette. It was especially special because Ellie was the one who made it for you.
“Y/n, i see you brought the veggies for the horses. How sweet of you.” Kori walked up to you, which made you take off one of your earbuds. Kori was a little older than you and she was nice. You two had a playful type of friendship.
You shrugged with a smile. Kori grabbed one of the carrots from your crate with a smile. “Why don’t you help me out then? We can be sweet together.” You suggested with an innocent smile.
Kori’s lip quirked up into a little smirk. Gently she took the crate from you. "Well, I can’t say it doesn't sound tempting. I'll help you out," You hadn't noticed the way she winked at you, but Ellie did.
Ellie watched the interaction very carefully, almost lost in the fact that she indeed had to watch you fall for someone else. This was one of her worst nightmares and it was happening only a few feet away from her. Jesse and Dina thought the same thing in that moment while watching Ellie. Hopeless.
The only thing they could do was help her out in this obvious bind.
“Hey, lesly! Come here, you won’t believe what Ellie just told us about her patrol with Tommy and Joel yesterday!” Jesse called you over from the barn before you could walk into the stables with Kori. You turned to them and gave them a big wave. You told Kori to wait for you, and she listened. She placed the crate on the floor and leaned against the barn doors as she waited for you. You ran towards them, giving them all hugs. Ellie’s lasted the longest.
“Geez, it feels like i haven’t seen you guys in forever! You probably think you’re hot shots since you’re on patrol assignments, huh?” You playfully stated, nudging Ellie with a grin. Ellie didn't noticed but you leaned a little closer into her.
“Not really…” Ellie replied shyly.
Jesse rolled his eyes dramatically. “It’s not our fault that you wanted to pick plants.”
“Hey! I’m growing a watermelon and i won’t share if you’re gonna be an asshole.” And with that little threat he stayed quiet which made the rest of you laugh. “So, what’d you run into?” You asked Ellie curiously.
“She says she and joel dealt with a bloater!” Jesse spoke instead of Ellie, remembering the conversation from earlier. Ellie had told Jesse and Dina what happened on her routes with Joel and Tommy.
“Bullshit.”
“Nope, it’s true. Joel can vouch.” Ellie said with a smile.
You raised your eyebrows at her with a smirk. “What if you two are conspiring together? Both of you get glory and trust of everyone in town?”
Ellie stared at you for a while before she laughed lightly. Her eyes started wandering your face- obviously trying too hard to avoid your lips. “Nah, if we wanted glory then we would’ve made up something like… a stalker with the abilities of a bloater. That’d gain some respect and glory.”
Your eyes trailed down to her lips, before laughing and looking away. “Now that’d be a sight to see.” Dina and Jesse gave each other a look, smirking in the process. Was it finally working? After 2 years of trying?
“Y/n! Get over here! The horses aren’t gonna feed themselves!” Kori had yelled over to you, which made you turn to her. You nodded, and started to walk backwards to stare at your three friends.
“Crap, i gotta go. Bye guys! I’ll see you later Ellie!”
They all waved goodbye while Dina and Jesse couldn’t help but smirk cheekily. Once they knew you were really gone they turned to Ellie. “Oh, y/n please don’t go!” Dina tried to intimidate ellie but it sounded way higher pitched. It was dramatic- which was just like her.
“Come back, i love you!” Jesse followed behind as they leaned into each other to make it more dramatic. “Please don’t run into Kori’s arms! My tattoo is way sexier!”
“Guys!” Ellie whined with bright red face. All they ever did was embarrass her, even when you were around. Luckily you weren't this time.
“You have to make a move on her before Kori throws her claws into y/n’s basket! I mean, who wouldn’t go after y/n? I would do the same-“
Once again Dina’s rambling was interrupted by Jesse. “Dina, we’re trying to set up y/n and Ellie not you and y/n.”
“Right.” Dina caught herself after being called out, trying to forget what she had just said. “Tonight is your perfect opportunity to tell her! Movie night. What was on today’s menu?”
Ellie thought about the title of the movie she picked out today. She borrowed some movies from Joel’s stash and narrowed it down to three movies but she did like one more than the other two. “Uhh… I’m thinking Inferno of Honor. I’m pretty sure she’ll like it.”
“Don’t you have any romance movies? Something to get her in the zone with.” Dina winked with a suggestive smile.
“And this is where i stop listening to you.” Ellie walked ahead of them once again, moving straight into the stables. She looked at the assignment board and sighed. Jesse and Dina followed behind her and laughed when they looked at the board.
“Back to group patrols.” Jesse patted Ellie on the shoulder and moved towards his horses stall.
“You can’t run away from us.” Dina said jokingly, following after Jesse. “Let’s get this over with so you can spend quality time with y/n.”
-
It was around 7 in the afternoon when Ellie finished up her routes for the evening. She opted to running back home and started to clean around her place before you showed up. That included throwing her dirty laundry basket under bed and sweeping the floor. She spent another 30-45 minutes cleaning and organizing everything perfectly just for you. She set up her Playstation with the movie menu already ready to be played. She had popcorn being made in Joel's kitchen along with some more snacks she knew you would like. Everything was already ready, all that was left was you.
You looked yourself over in your dresser mirror multiple times before you finally decided to leave. Even though you were dressed casually, you couldn't help but try to look a little more pretty just for Ellie. You looked down at your navy canvas sneakers, dark grey jeans and normal shirt. You stepped out of your room and walked into the living room of your shared house. Your roommates- who were sitting on the couch and watching some old dvd-cartoons, stared at you suspiciously.
"And where are you going at this hour?" Jack questioned lightly. He wasn't being a jerk about it which meant he was genuinely interested in where you were going unlike how he usually is.
You smiled. "Movie night at Ellie’s."
Jojo smirked at you which made you turn away from them entirely. "Oooh, movie night at Ellie’s. Will you be spending the night?" They asked cheerily, which made your face red.
Jen laughed at our interaction and slapped Jojo on the arm lightly. "Leave her alone, Jojo. Young love is so cute."
"Shut up! You're the same age as me!" You turned on your heel and left through the door in a slip second. You could hear all your roommates laughing on the way out. After walking in the direction to Ellies place you managed to calm your heart down. In a couple of minutes you were infront of Joel's place. You took a bleep breath and took a second.
You were going to be alone with Ellie. That's all you've been thinking about since yesterday. Even though you two do movie night every week, this time was different. You were going to tell Ellie how you felt. You promised yourself to do it when the time felt right. It felt right today, so nothing was going to stop you from admitting it tonight.
You're sure Ellie feels the same way too. Her body language tells you everything you need to know. You were going to tell her. Tonight. It was going to happen, you promised yourself you would. You took another short breath. Don't pussy out, y/n. You can't.
"Y/n? What're doing there kid'?" A familiar southern accent made you jump at the suddenness. You looked up and noticed Joel on his porch, a cup of coffee and his guitar in hands.
You smiled happily at the older man. "Hey, Joel. Movie night," You explained simply, and scratched the back your neck as you walked closer to him.
Joel nodded slowly, then suddenly chuckled. "She's been, uh... cleaning up quite a bit. Maybe that's the reason why. Movie night, it had slipped my mind that you two also did that."
You laughed lightly. "I'll make sure to tease her about it."
"Y/n?" You looked to your left and found Ellie there looking disheveled. You can tell that it was just from cleaning. You smiled and walked towards her.
"Sorry I'm a little late. Did you have fun cleaning your place for me?"
Ellie looked towards Joel and gave him a look, the then chuckled as he leaned into railing as he watched you two interact. "Shut up and get inside, asshole." She mumbled playfully.
"Yessir," You gave her a curt salute with a laugh, listening to her without any complaint. The door was already opened so you just walked in. While looking around you noticed It was pretty clean compared to how it was last week. You wondered why, but didn't get too far since Ellie walked in and interrupted your thinking with her presence.
You looked at her tv, reading the title of the old sci-fi movie. "Inferior of honor? Did you steal this from Joel's stash?" You asked as you moved towards her bed. You noticed the popcorn sitting perfectly in the middle of her bed.
You decided to take off your shoes, and jumped on the bed. Ellie rolled her eyes with a smile as she watched you. "Yeah please. Ake yourself at home."
You groaned and leaned back into the pillows. "Don't act like you don't know me. Get in here, williams."
"Fine, scooch." With her hands she made a movement for you to move over-which you did. The lights were already off except the lamp on her bedside table. Ellie grabbed the remote and started the movie.
-
You couldn't focus on the movie, mostly because each time you reached into the popcorn bowl, you and Ellie’s hand touched. The both of you would pull back and didn't say anything. It was an unspoken rule between you and Ellie. If something happened like your hand touched on accident then you two wouldn't say anything and go on your way, and it would continue this way. Even now.
Doubt was starting to fill your brain.
You felt your palms become sweaty but you couldn't focus on that right now. All that you could focus on was how tired you were. Something about being with Ellie made you feel secure. Safe enough to sleep. You felt your eyes close, and let out a small sigh. You relaxed, and your head fell onto Ellie’s shoulder.
Ellie’s breath hitched, and she stayed still. Trying so hard not to make any sudden moves just so she wouldn't wake you. After a couple of minutes she relaxed. She wanted to look at your face but couldn't in this position. "Y/n..?" She whispered but you decided not to answer her. You couldn't, you were so relaxed and tired that you didn't even want to make the effort.
Suddenly you felt Ellie’s hand in yours. She intertwined your fingers gently and leaned closer into you. You could feel your face starting to warm up and your heart was beating like crazy. Your stomach did that weird flip and you couldn't help but grin. Luckily Ellie couldn't see it.
You can hear Ellie swallow and clear her throat lowly. ".... I think I like you more than a friend." She whispered loudly enough for you to hear, she pulled your intertwined hands towards her lips and kissed the back of your hand softly. "Actually, I know I like you more than a friend... I just wish you felt the same."
Something about that sentence made your heart drop. You leaned closer into Ellie’s neck. Her breath hitched once again, so you decided to squeeze her hand. "Ellie, I like you too." You whispered back shyly.
"You were awake this whole time..?"
You pulled back from her neck, feeling yourself become more and more embarrassed about the way you confessed to her. This isn't how you expected things to go. You were looking down at your intertwined hands and couldn't help but stare at ellies slender hands. So pretty.
"I just told you I liked you and that's what you get from this..?"
With her other hand she pulled you closer. "Y/n, look at me." Slowly you moved your eyes up to stare into her green eyes. You loved her freckles. She leaned in, and pecked your cheek- which was pretty close to your lips.
When did she get so bold? You questioned with hot ears.
"Go on a date with me,"
You smiled. "Can't we consider this our date?"
"Nope, I want to do something special for you. Now that you're my girlfriend..."
"Girlfriend? Since when..?" You teased when you noticed how close she leaned in. Her eyes were closed, so you leaned in too. The moment your lips met with hers- it felt like nothing else mattered. It was just you and Ellie. And now you two were legit. As her lips moved against yours you note that Ellie is indeed a good kisser.
Ellies hand moved to your thigh as you two continue to kiss, whi h made you finally realized that this wasn't a dream. You were kissing Ellie. Ellie Williams. Your best friend.
Now your girlfriend.
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lunaoblonsky · 9 months ago
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Pedro Pascal has been cast as Joel in The Last of Us TV show on HBO
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blurazbabe · 15 days ago
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Smoking - J.M.
Warning: close call to death, age-gap (28/51), drinking, smoking, self medical care bc of stubbornness, and cursing.
(SMUT IN PT.2)
(Idr where I got this gif from so if it's urs lemme know and I'll credit it or take it down if you feel uncomfortable with me using it in this context)
Also this is my first time writing a smut for Joel so take that with what you will.
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“Fucking asshole” the sky was dark and the stars were bright, everything seemed perfect except for everything inside me.  All I could think back to where the memories of earlier today.
-
"Mm- this ain't right." he said, pulling away from me after a few seconds. "What?" I asked, confused my mind still clouded by my near death experience and kiss. "You're a great girl, but this-" he gestured between us. "can't happen." He said, breathing heavily, looking around us. I pulled my arms from around his body, one falling to my hip and the other coming up to my forehead. I scoffed as I head my forehead for a moment, bringing my hand back to see blood. I wiped it off my face as tears welled in my eyes. "fuck… I'm sorry." I mumbled and turned away from him, picking up my gun and tucking in the back of my jeans, laughing silently, more of a hiccup to keep from crying. "It's nothin' to be sorry about. It's not you its-" I blocked everything out before he couldn't finish the most cliché excuse. "I knew it" I muttered when I got outside of the building reaching horse. "Let's just cut this patrol short. My heart's pounding and my head hurts" I said just loud enough for him to hear, once he reached his. We rode off without another word, after a few minutes my emotions cleared up, alongs with the adrenaline subsided and I could feel my body rival in pain. 
---
I took another drag as the memory replayed in my mind for the millionth time today. Eventually my cat jumped up on the table next to me, turning in circles for a while before getting comfortable. I gave her a soft rub on her head, her head pushing up and eyes squinting. "Yeah, you're the only one that loves me." I said, half-truthed. Everyone that I loved was dead, my grand-parents, my parents, my siblings and friends all dead, except for Hazel - my cat and some friends that I've made here.
-
Eventually we got to Jackson riding up to the large wooden doors, Joel signaling them we were alright, and to let us in. Mike and Carter came out and pushed the doors open and closed after we were in. "I got 'em" Joel said motioning to my horse when I got off with a groan. I didn't fight and just gave him the reigns of blossom. I went to walk away but he grabbed my wrist softly before I was able to leave. "If I were younger-" he said, his voice low so others couldn't hear, but I waved my hand as if to tell him to stop talking. "I don't want to hear it, I know what I want, and now I know you don't feel the same." He look down with a sigh before speaking one last time. "you're too young for a man like me, you think you want me." I felt like puking when he said that but I just kept my eyes trained on the mud below my feet, not daring to look up at him. I pulled my arm from his grip with a shug that jolted tears from my eyes. "Yeah, got it." I said, wiping the tears away from my cheeks. 
---
My throat burned as I swallowed the amber liquor, eyes squeezed shut as I let it settle, setting the bottle back on the counter. I blinked a few times and concentrated on what I was doing. My skin was red and irritated, scratches and road burns covered my shoulder. I grabbed the needle that poking through the side of my cut, pulling it through to the other side and knotting it. I wasn't in a rush or anything to get it done, so I took a break in-between each stitch, drinking for a minute and doing another. "Fuck" I hadn't done this myself since I was outside of Jackson - granted that wasn't that long ago but it had been a good few months. God, how long had it really been? I got here at the end of summer, and it was April now. Holy crap, I had been here eight-ish months. 
I took another drink just for the fact that I could do basic math, reaching back for the needle that dangled on my back. My fingertips were covered in blood and booze as I kept stitching, my vision started to blur towards the last two but I managed through them and polished off the bottle throwing it in the trash next to the toilet. I took some thin cloth and folded it over, wrapping an ace bandage around my shoulder. That hurt more than it used to, was I going soft? I probably was, I mean I like someone for god's sake. If that doesn't spell soft in this world I don't know what does. I groaned as my thoughts shifted on the topic of Joel. 'This ain't right.' rung over and over in my head, the worst part was it was in his voice, not mine. I could have delt with it if it were my own, but his… that was torture. 
---
It had been a few days since that patrol and Maria gave me a week off. I spent most of the time drinking, reading, and messing around with Hazel while smoking weed on my porch. I could hear footsteps following the side of my house, eventually the "What on earth are you doin'?" Joel's deep voice startled me from my backyard. "Smoking." I said  He look up and back at me. "Aren't you a bit young for that still?" I rolled my eyes, irritated at that sentence. I shed the cigarette and took another drag. "I'm a grown woman Joel, I can smoke as I please. If you're here to tell me that I'm too young to smoke, thanks though the jobs already been done by every other person around here." I spoke harshly, not bothering to look at him as I curled my legs up, pulling my hoodie back up over my shoulder. 
"No, I just came to see if you were alright. You took quite a hit from the runner." His eyes moved between me and the grass. "I'm fine Joel, it's nothing a fist full of Vicodin can't fix." I said stiffly. I ashed it again, taking a long drag, my hands shaking. His mouth opened to say something, but he decided against it. "Can I see?" he said quietly. I put the cigarette out and pushed the shoulder of my hoodie back down, pulling my hair over my other shoulder. He walked up the steps awkwardly, taking his hands out of his pockets. He was careful to unwrap the ace bandage and cloth, his gaze locked on the bright red irritated skin that was surrounded by green and purple. He pressed his fingers lightly around the stitches to feel how hot they were. "I would have taken you to Cheryl's that way you didn't go alone." He said quietly, his thumb stretching over it. 
"I didn't go Cheryl's, I did them a few days ago.'' I sighed and he scoffed. “You are the only woman I know that would rather stitch herself than go get it done by a professional in this world.” I rolled my eyes and shrugged my shoulder from under his hand. “Alright.'' After a few moments of him watching me struggle to put my bandage back on, he took it from my hand with a bit of force. “Just stop it.” he grumbled holding it down and wrapping it snuggly around my shoulder. “That okay?” I rotated it slightly in his grip and nodded. “Thank you” I sighed and he nodded, I drug a hand over my face. 
     "Hi, honey." he mumbled and patted her head with a little scratch as he sat in the chair across from me. "Why are you really here Joel?" I asked looking him straight in the eyes, looking for some answer as to why he was here. I mean he obviously didn't want me so there was no point for him to be here. "Because I know it's not because of my shoulder." I said with a huff, sitting up straight. "Why'd you kiss me?" my head fell back against the chair with a sigh. "Why do you think?" I scoffed, I thought it had made that clear. "Because I like you, dimwit and I wanted you to know that before I died." I mumbled when he didn't answer, just cocking an eyebrow. "Sweetheart, you realize how-" I waved my hand slightly. "Yes, youre 51 and I'm 28. I understand how not okay that is, I felt guilty for so long about it until I realized that it doesn't matter because I was never going to tell you." I said quietly, softening my gaze realizing I probably had a dirty look on my face. 
"I'm just trying to wrap my head 'round this" he said and confusion took over my head, wrap his head around what? There was nothing that should have been misunderstood, it's pretty straight forward. "wrap your head around what, Joel?" He sighed, one if his hands dragging over his face, sitting back. "Why you would have feelings for me, why this developed and-" I sat up for a moment, how could I not like him. "Joel your a wonderful guy, you're smart, kind, you constantly put people before yourself and you work your fucking ass off here to make sure that everyones safe." I paused so my words could sink in for him. "So Joel if your thinking you lead me on, you didn't. I've just never met a genuine nice guy that I didn't end up liking, and that's my problem, not yours." His hand reached out for mine but I brought it back to my other. "I do you like you, that's why I let you do all that damn teasing so it's not just on you sweetheart." 
My heart had never pounded so hard, how he was just able to say that nearly made me laugh. "What the hell are we doing?" I laughed standing up, walking aimlessly around the porch to help ignore my anxiety. "You just told me you liked me too, so what the fuck are we doing?" I'd stood up at this point, walking around the porch some just relieve some of the anxiety on my chest. "
Because at this point I'm just- I'm confused. You know what I want, but it's up to you as to where this goes." I gestured between us. "I want you, I do but I'm not sure if I can have you. I mean how would I explain this Ellie? Or Tommy, what would the town think?" I had never imagined Joel as the type of guy to think about what others thought about him, not that it was a bad thing. 
I took a deep breath and walked over to him, leaning down and pressing my lips to his. Not rough or in a hurry, just a normal kiss. "You can't sit here and tell me, that this is something you would let random people come between." I understood that he was worried about what his family thought and obviously that was a priority but the town? He brought my face up with two fingers under my chin and his thumb on my lip. "God damn you." He paused, looking around and back. "You sure? I mean that you want this?" His voice was soft as he grabbed my hands holding them. "Yeah, since I got here you and Tommy, shit, even Ellie and her friends did the most to make this feel like home." It was the truth, I was trying to be as transparent as possible. I wanted to let him know everything, I'd let him read me like a book. 
"I don't know what else I have to say to convince you that I really like you." He shook his head and sighed. "Nothing." He pulled me forward some, so that I was standing right in front of him. "Are you sure?" I asked sarcastic, that made him crack a smile finally. "Because l'lI say it over and over again like a teenage girl with a school crush, writing it on my notebook, 'Joel miller, the sweetest, smartest hottest-" He'd cut me off my standing up and kissing me, I couldn't help how much I smiled during the kiss. 
He'd pulled away from the kiss, one his arms still holding my waist. He pushed some hair behind my eyes and looked between both of my eyes. "You're gonna be a real thorn in my side aren't you?" He asked and I just shrugged, pressing my lips together. 
"More like a pain in your ass." 
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mentally-ill-simp · 3 months ago
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Joel: I don't want a kid
Joel with the kid he didn't want:
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joelmillersgirlfriend · 4 months ago
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The Beginners Guide to Revenge part 1
Summary:  After finding your naked, lifeless body tied with rope to a bed in a hospital that Joel and Ellie were raiding, the two rescued you and took you back to Jackson in hopes of figuring out what the hell happened to you. Why did these savages have you tied up and bruised, and where the hell did they take you from? Sadly, you were affected with amnesia due to the amount of physical abuse that you had gone through, not remembering what happened that led you to be kidnapped and tied up by the group of men Joel saved you from. In an attempt to slowly integrate you within the community of Jackson until you regained your memories, you began to live with Joel, finding yourself becoming enamored with him. Quickly though, you found out that the desperation of figuring out what happened to your community and to your younger brother was starting to distance you from the man you had grown to love.
Warnings: Overall: Smut, Explicit violence, mentions of non/con but no actual descriptions.
Word Count: 11,467
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Spring:
“Jesus Ellie, I don’t even think that she’s alive. We got what we needed, let’s just get the fuck out of here before we get caught,” Joel whispered quickly as he pressed his fingers to your wrist in order to check your pulse, to which Ellie scoffed at in anger in return, in disbelief that Joel would even consider leaving you. She knew that the older man would make rash decisions in order to protect the two of them, and it was understandable, but you were completely hopeless if they didn’t do something.
 “Goddamn it Joel, we’re not going to leave her! We don’t know what they’ll do to her if she stays here. At least she’ll have a fighting chance to live if we take her with us,” Ellie replied fiercely, almost shouting as she replied to the older man, her eyes gleaming with intensity as she locked eyes with Joel.
Joel shook his head in frustration, growling as he moved close to your bound body, pulling out a knife to quickly cut you from your bindings. The two of them didn’t have time for this shit, and Joel was a person who learned that it’s best to just mind your own business in this world. The plan was to rob the hospital of their last few antibiotics, and then get out. He didn’t want to dig himself, Ellie, nor the town of Jackson into a hole after taking away someone who is quite obviously important to this group. 
Regardless, he had a heart and couldn’t bring himself to just leave you there. Not after seeing what these people had done to you. The man couldn’t believe his eyes when he first saw you after sneaking into the hospital for medicine, completely naked, bruised beyond belief, and covered in dried blood. He had no clue what these people had done to you but he knew that whatever they did, that God would make sure they paid for their sins. 
“Cover me, I should be able to lift her up out of here. If you see anyone, kill them,” Joel commanded quickly as he pulled your naked, lifeless body into his arms. Part of him didn’t believe that you were even alive, hardly feeling a pulse, but he secretly agreed with Ellie. He couldn’t just leave you behind, no matter how much he wanted to. 
-
Thankfully, the trip back to Jackson was easy for Joel and Ellie. Since they had placed a distraction for the men to avoid bumping into them prior to finding you, they made it out of the area without even running into any of the men. They threw you into their car they had borrowed from town and quickly made their way back, the drive only taking a few hours. You didn’t make a sound from the backseat at all, knocked out cold from whatever the men had previously done to you. The two of them could only pray that you would make it. 
You now were lying unconscious in a makeshift hospital bed deep in the heart of Jackson, your vitals finally under control as everyone stood around you in the small room.  Everyone was on edge as they prayed that you would wake up, even Joel, not wanting to see someone who had gone through so much not claw her way away from death's gate.
-
The harsh, yellow light that shone upon your bruised body is what caused you to finally wake up, your eyes practically pulling apart as you looked up at it. To your dismay, you couldn't remember where you were. You thought quickly and hard, but all you could remember up to was whenever your brother and you had met up a new group in hopes of forming a community within this disaster that you called reality. Besides that, you didn’t know anything beyond those memories. 
You instantly pulled at your restraints, and to your surprise, you almost hit yourself from the force that wasn’t pulling your hands away. Wherever you were, they didn’t care to bind you. Quickly tearing your eyes away from the light, you looked around the room, seeing that it looked very similar to a hospital room. You also noticed a man sitting in the corner of the room, his head down as he slept quietly. Not wasting any time, your eyes instantly shot to a scalpel lying near your bed, and you made haste jumping out of the bed, taking the weapon into your hands, causing the table that the scalpel was sitting on to scatter onto the floor loudly.
The large man suddenly jumped up, roused out of his sleep, his eyes quickly moving to the scalpel in your hand. He also didn’t waste any time, quickly pulling a gun out from his hip and pointing it at you. You both eyed each other, on edge, as you planned your next move. One thing you knew was that your body was screaming in pain, sore all over from lord knows what. Did this man hurt you then? Is that why you were in so much pain? 
“Let’s just calm down,” the man suggested quietly, his voice thick with a southern accent, trying to lift his hands to show you that he was friendly. You weren’t dumb though, you couldn’t trust anybody. You had to find your brother and get the fuck out of here. You eyed him for a second more, your chest heaving from exhilaration, before deciding to rush forward, lifting the scalpel as you sped at him. The man threw his gun onto the floor, his reflexes almost shocking as he grabbed your wrist, stopping you from stabbing him, and threw your body back to the hospital bed. His giant frame compared to your weak body towered over yours as you squirmed underneath him, trying with all your might to wiggle out of his hold. 
That was when the door for the room was thrown open, both you and the man's heads snapping towards the sound. You saw what looked like doctors rushing in, helping the man pin you down as they told him to back up and get off of you. 
“Jesus, what the fuck happened Joel?” a man who stood behind the doctors questioned, running into the room and helped “Joel” stand up after being pushed back. You took note that he had the same country accent that Joel did, knowing that they must have some sort of connection seeing as how you hadn’t ran into any southerners for the past few years you’d been up north. 
“She tried to stab me, she’s lucky I didn’t shoot her ass,” Joel growled, drawing a fit of rage from deep inside of you. Tugging at the doctors grasp, you tried your best to lunge at Joel, but it was no use. You were thrown back into the bed like a rag doll, probably due to how weak you were.
“Either calm down or we’re going to have to restrain you. You don’t want that do you?” one of the doctors questioned, your head swimming at their question. What the fuck was going on?
The doctor repeated the question, drawing a quick shake of your head from you as they finally released your body hesitantly, not wanting to restrain you anymore. Whoever these people were, they were certainly a lot more considerate than you would imagine they would be.
“Who are you?” you asked weakly, your voice hoarse, raspy, and practically gone.
“You’re safe now,” one of the people replied, a small smile on his face as he tried to reassure you. Still shaking and breathing heavily against the hospital bed, you tried to take in his words. Safe?
“Joel here saved you,” said the man who was dressed in more normal attire, showing that he was a civilian rather than a medic, gesturing to the other man who you had tried to kill a few moments ago, your eyes both locking as you tried to understand the man's words. You were speechless, unsure of how to respond to the news. Saved you?
“Saved me from what?” you questioned, your eyes still locked with Joel’s, the question clearly surprising him. He looked almost confused at your words as he shook his head, mumbling that he didn’t know what you meant. Yeah, bull fucking shit he didn’t know what you meant.
“Where is everyone? Where is my brother?” you continued to question, everyone’s gaze locked on you now. As if one of the doctors finally pieced together the confusion, he sighed in understanding, shaking his head in misery as he moved towards you.
“Do you remember your name?” he questioned, to which you scoffed and rolled your eyes. No shit you did, so why was he asking such a stupid question?
“Y/N. I came up from the south when the virus first spread, and I was living near Wyoming with my brother, the last I remember. Now where the fuck am I?” you asked, defeated as your body went limp against the mattress, your vision becoming blurry. Your quick movement towards Joel had caught up with you, your body finally running out of energy as you slipped down the mattress, being caught by one of the doctors.
Both of the doctors caught each other's eyes, silently communicating. Oh god. This couldn’t be good.
“We think you might have amnesia. See, Joel here found you at a hospital about five hours away from here. Some real bad people had you tied up, and it seemed like they really hurt you. We even found signs of…” the doctor stopped, sighing as he rubbed his face. It was obvious that it was uncomfortable for him to talk about. His words terrified you, nervous to hear his next few statements.
“We found some lacerations. Do you know what that means?” the other doctor asked, his words running a chill through your body. The information was becoming way too much to handle, so you instead laid your head back, shutting your eyes. You couldn’t handle hearing much more of this. Hot tears began to run down your face as you shifted your body away from the four people with you in the room, your back facing them. 
“You guys should leave. She can’t handle much more excitement,” one of the medics commanded as he pulled away from your limp body on the hospital bed, and you were grateful for his words. All you wanted to do is shut your eyes and rest, knowing that you were somewhat safe. Your head was pounding as you tried to process all of this information, specifically the part where you realized that you had endured so much that your body caused you to have amnesia. You prayed that you would be able to fall into a dreamless sleep, and that the next time you woke up, you would be with your brother once again.
-
One morning after being stuck in the quiet room for days, you woke up to the sound of someone entering your room. You slid up from the bed, anxious to meet this new person. After being here, you had met a handful of people, the woman who ran everything, Maria, on top of a proper introduction to Joel and his brother Tommy. While you still didn’t really trust anyone at this point, you were still thankful that you were safe. You just prayed that your brother was too.
“Hey,” said the timid woman, standing beside your bed awkwardly. It was ridiculous how reassured you felt to see another female, and it solidified the fact that maybe you were safe for a while. You had gotten so used to being around savage men ever since the end of the world began.
She looked young, friendly as she waited for you to speak, her eyebrows raised.
“Hey,” you replied back just as awkwardly, not really sure what to say. You hadn’t seen the woman before, having no clue who she was or why she came to visit you.
“I’m Ellie,” the young lady began, a soft smile on her lips as she tried to show that she was no harm. You appreciated it, because you were sure that she was dangerous outside of these four walls. It meant a lot that she was trying to make a genuine effort to get you to warm up to her.
“I’m Y/N. I don’t really remember anything else. Sorry,” you replied sadly, shifting your head down from embarrassment. It really sucked to be so fucked up to the point where you couldn’t even share something beyond your name. Ellie seemed to be apologetic, her face filled with pity as she looked at you. You didn’t want her pity. 
“It’s fine. I’m sure it’ll come back with time,” you began, before she nodded and agreed.
“I’m sure you don’t remember any of it but Joel and I found you at the hospital near here. A bunch of guys had you, all strung up. We don’t even know what all they did but you were naked,” she began to explain cautiously, her eyes wide and serious, trying her best not to freak you out. While you were scared to think about what might have happened to you, at least you were safe now and away from these men. Who knows what would’ve happened to you if they didn’t save you.
You both sat back silently as you processed her words, looking down at your hands. Your entire body ached, and you were sure that you looked horrible, covered in bruises. You couldn’t remember fucking anything for fucks sake. What did you do to deserve this?
You also made note that she referred to the man who was with her as “Joel,” while you had assumed that he was her dad. That was definitely something you would have to figure out later. Right now though, you were just trying to get out of the damn hospital bed.
“Well. At least I’m here now. Thank you for saving me,” you replied quietly, looking back up at Ellie’s sincere face. The look showed that you could trust her. You had no choice but to trust her, along with Joel and everyone else here. Or else you would be completely on your own. 
“I’ll let you get some rest. If you need anything, just let the nurses know,” she replied, smiling at you before walking out of the room. You wish she would’ve stayed. It hurt to be completely alone with only your thoughts. 
-
You had been trapped in the cold, plain room for days now, only really interacting with the few nurses who would come in and check your vitals, along with feeding you. You guessed that it was for the best, so you were able to rest and gain your bearings back. All you did was eat and drift in and out of sleep. Ellie would also come by every now and then, telling you stories about the people living within the town you were staying at, Jackson. You couldn’t believe that there was a community there, and while you were nervous, you were also very excited to get out and explore the town. After hearing about the practically endless amount of food, the electricity, and the dedicated houses, you felt blessed to be thrown into the town. You also appreciated the effort Ellie put in to make you feel like you were included within the community. She was a good kid.
One morning though, you heard voices from outside of your room, waking you from your light sleep.
“Jesus Tommy, I’m not a babysitter, I don’t even have a spare room for her. Why can’t she stay with you and Maria?” whispered a voice, who you assumed was Joel’s, harshly, his voice waking you up from your light sleep.
You heard a loud sigh from Tommy, obviously frustrated at Joel’s negativity towards the suggestion.
“Then set up a damn bed in the dining room and call it a day. I’m not askin’ for you to bring me the moon, and there is no way in hell she’d stay with me or anybody else for that matter. She only knows you and Ellie, she’s comfortable with her. We don’t know how much more this girl can take before she snaps Joel, come on,” Tommy said passionately, to the point where it shocked you. It was genuinely surprising how much these people cared for you, a stranger. Maybe they were good people after all.
It was quiet suddenly, you were sure that Joel was trying to come up with an excuse for you to stay with someone else. You didn’t blame him, you wouldn’t want someone coming into your life and disrupting it. But Tommy was right, you were far too unstable to stay with a complete stranger. You couldn’t imagine being thrown in a house with someone you hadn’t met yet. You already felt like such a burden.
“Goddamn Tommy. You don’t leave me with many options,” Joel muttered quietly, quite obviously defeated. While you were glad you were going to finally get out of this small room, you were also nervous. You didn’t want to be a hassle to anyone. 
Before you could even pretend like you were sleeping, the room's door opened, the two men both walking through the door frame, their eyes instantly on you.
You had grown to like Tommy, mostly because of the stories Ellie had told you and because you liked Maria. She had been very warm to you, telling you that if you needed anything, to find her. She also told you that you could stay in Jackson for however long you needed. Maria was with Tommy for a reason, so obviously he was a good guy. Joel though, you couldn’t tell if you liked him or not quite yet. Yeah, he saved you, but he just seemed like an asshole. You were sure that Ellie had been the one who convinced him to save you in the first place, and while you were thankful regardless, it’s not like you asked him to save you. You didn’t owe him anything.
“So I’m going to be staying with you?” you questioned, not even trying to act like you didn’t hear them speaking. Joel sighed, looking over to Tommy before looking back at you, his eyes low as if he was irritated.
“Seems like it. Ready to get out of here?” he asked, and you almost wanted to tell him that he shouldn’t ask dumb questions. You weren’t even sure if you would be able to handle the sun, seeing as how you hadn’t been outside for days. But, you were beyond ready to breathe the outside air once again. 
“Here you go,” Tommy said cheerfully, handing you a pile of clothes that he held within his hands. “These are from Maria. Go ahead and get changed and Joel will walk you home.”
Home. That was a funny word. You couldn’t imagine that you would actually have a safe place to stay. All you knew was that you’d have to bring your brother back if this ended up working out.
You took the clothes from Tommy, smiling at him, with a genuine grin of thanks as he told you Joel would be back in a second to show you around. You nodded tightly, glancing over to Joel. He did his best to not look directly at you.
After they left, you went ahead and started to get changed, your body aching as you removed your clothes and put on the new ones Maria gave you. You’d have to thank her the next time you saw her.
-
Joel didn’t say much as he escorted you back to his house, drawing a few glances from passing neighbors. The eyes on you made you extremely nervous, the nervous energy radiating to the point where Joel even noticed after a few minutes.
“Hey,” Joel said, stopping to speak to you. Trying to drag your eyes up from the ground, you found it almost impossible. You didn’t want to see anyone else’s gaze on you, you didn’t want to feel their judgmental eyes gazing over your beaten body.
“Hey, you’re okay,” Joel said, carefully resting his hand on your shoulder. The feeling made you cringe as you pulled away from him instinctively. Your eyes caught his as he noticed the motion, a small frown clouding his face as he mumbled that you were almost at his house. While you did feel bad for reacting the way that you did, you still didn’t know the man. It’s not like you could automatically trust him.
Soon enough you did make it there, the house quiet as you walked up the steps, following Joel into the warm home. Joel unlocked the door, stepping inside before moving away in order to let you walk in. You took in the appearance of the house, eyes wide as you looked around. It felt weird to actually be in a home that had items that meant something to someone. Not just a place that someone stayed at to hide out for a while, like you usually would do. 
Joel walked in front of you, gesturing for you to follow him into the dining room. You did as he said, walking behind him as the floor creaked beneath your feet.
“You’ll be stayin’ in here. I’ll move some stuff around and put some blankets down for you,” he said, his words meaningful. You appreciated that he was letting you stay with him, even if you didn’t have a bed. “Ellie has been stayin’ with her girlfriend lately but she’ll come around from time to time. I’ll let you get your bearings here first and then maybe we could try to meet a few people around town,” Joel said timidly. You could tell that he was anxious to have a new person living with him for a while.
“Oh, also. I do patrol pretty often. If you’re bored in the house when I’m gone, I think Ellie has a few books around here,” Joel said to you, to which you nodded. You appreciated the concern. 
“I’ll show you where the shower is and you can get a bath. I’m sure you’ve been wantin’ one for a while,” he continued, pretty much reading your mind. You asked your nurses a lot to shower, but they explained to you that they didn’t have one in the building you were staying in so you were thankful that you could take one now.
“Thanks Joel. I appreciate it,” you mumbled quietly, still trying your best to avert your eyes from his prodding gaze. He was hard to read to an extent, and you felt exposed to his scrutiny so the best thing you could do is avoid noticing the feeling of his eyes on you. 
Not speaking in response, but instead grunting, he gestured for you to follow him upstairs to the bathroom. Your body was sore walking up the stairs, and you tried your best not to show that you were in pain. You had a feeling that he noticed though. Instead, Joel pulled away from you after showing you where the shower was, leaving you to it.
-
A soft yet firm knock could be heard from the bathroom door as you were drying yourself, careful to avoid touching fresh wounds in order to not cause any more damage to yourself. You had just finished taking a shower, the water hot and refreshing over your skin. You wrapped the fluffy towel around your bruised body, sighing at the sight of your body in the mirror, as you turned away and opened the door. 
Joel stood in front of you, trying really hard to avoid looking at your body in hopes of not making you uncomfortable as he held out a new pile of clothes for you. You appreciated the gesture, seeing as how you were so scared of everything around you at this point, so knowing that he was making an effort to avoid making you uncomfortable meant a lot. You couldn’t remember anything, where you came from, even your name so it made you feel good that Joel was being so patient with you, even if he did see your naked body when he brought you here.
“Thanks,” you said gently, reaching out to take the clothes from his hand, your towel sliding down a bit as you took the items. Your upper chest was revealed due to the towel slipping, unveiling dark bruises and deep scrapes across your collarbone. Glancing up, you saw Joel’s eyes on the marks, a small frown drawn onto his face at the sight of them. He almost looked disgusted, making tears spring into your eyes. You knew he wasn’t disgusted with you, but just to know that your body gave him that type of reaction, you didn’t know how to process it. You quickly pulled up the towel and tried to retreat into the bathroom before you started crying, but Joel reached out to you, causing you to flinch at the gesture.
“Fuck, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you,” he began, sincerity in his voice. A loud sniff came from your end as you stood still and waited for what he had to say, now knowing that he wasn’t going to touch you reassured you.
“I’m sorry that those guys did that to you. They’ll get what’s comin’ to them, I promise you,” he said darkly, his eyebrows drawn as he spoke to you. If it wasn’t for the fact that you had grown to understand Joel’s demeanor, you would’ve been afraid of the venom dripping from his voice. 
You didn’t reply, only nodded as he mumbled that he would leave you alone now, pulling away from the bathroom door in order to leave you to get dressed. It took you a while to gain the courage to drop your towel once again in order to dress yourself, seeing the bruises across your body was almost too much to handle. Once you did though, you quickly got dressed, not wanting to look at yourself for too long. Seeing your body bruised and tattered was not something that seemed appealing to you, on top of the fact that you had lost a large amount of weight. You were never the type to boast your confidence, but now you didn’t have any with the way you looked. 
Stepping out of the warm bathroom, you looked down the long hallway to see that it was very dark, seeing that you had spent a good bit of time in the shower. You almost couldn’t believe that it was almost night time. 
Walking down the hallway after shutting the bathroom door behind you, you made your way down the stairs, your warm feet uncomfortable against the cold, creaking wood. After making it downstairs, you trudged awkwardly into the living room, searching for Joel. You found the man sitting on the couch, his back to you, as he laid his head back on the piece of furniture, his eyes shut as he sat there quietly. Not wanting to approach him and scare him or anything like that, you simply cleared your throat, causing the man to open his eyes and glance back at you. He sat up, turning towards you before speaking.
“All done then?” he asked, to which you nodded, shifting awkwardly on your feet due to the feeling of the man's eyes on you. 
“I got some blankets down and everythin’ in the dining room. Even pulled a mattress out of the basement so at least you have somethin’ to sleep on,” he continued, to which you gave him a shy smile of thanks before another instance of awkwardness settled over the two of you. It was clear that Joel also didn’t know what to say, so he instead stood up, your eyes moving to his height as he stood over you.
“I have to get up early to go meet up with Tommy so I’m goin’ to go get some sleep. If you get hungry, there’s some food in the pantry and Ellie will probably drop by sooner or later. You’ll be alright here until I come back tomorrow afternoon?” he asked, causing you to mumble a ‘yeah, of course,” in return. Joel nodded his head in understanding before deciding to walk out of the living room, almost brushing into you as he walked past you, leaving you alone in the new environment. 
Summer:
“What are you doin’ now?” you heard suddenly from the doorway of the room, almost dropping the beautiful wood sculpture in your hand from the shock of Joel finding you snooping in his room. Joel watched you, an amused look on his face as you carefully placed his artwork back on the desk, shyly glancing away from his gaze as you tugged at your shirt. 
You had been staying with Joel for a few weeks now, the warm weather turning from into a blazing hot summer. Joel was right, Ellie really didn’t come home often, instead dropping by every now and then to see how you were doing and sharing a few words with Joel before going and doing her own thing. While you didn’t mind being alone with Joel at this point, you also wished you could spend more time with the girl. She always knew how to cheer you up, and you felt more at home with her around.
Regardless, you and Joel had been getting along pretty well to your surprise. He was a good storyteller, and you were a good listener. While you were previously anxious about how the relationship between the two of you would pan out, you were both getting along splendidly. 
Anyways, you had to learn to enjoy being around him since you didn’t get out too often due to your anxiety and injuries. You had been healing well, most of your injuries and bruises gone at this point, it felt much easier to move around. You owed that to the medics who had been keeping an eye on you since you got here, Joel making you visit them every other week in order to get checkups.
The only issue you had been faced with were your memories, none of them really coming back to you. The doctors told you that it would just take time, and to just take it easy, but all you knew was that you wanted to find your brother. You tried to do your best to focus on healing, but it was hard knowing that your sibling was out there, alone. 
“Sorry Joel. I read just about everyone of Ellie’s comic books, so I decided to be nosy,” you replied sheepishly, snapping out of your thoughts, hoping that he wasn’t offended by your actions of sneaking into his workshop and poking around at the items he had created. You really didn’t mean it in a way to annoy him, but it was just impossible not to be nosy in a house that you had to be stuck in all day. Sometimes you would hear him upstairs after a long day, the sound of wood scraping loud, but comforting. It felt nice to know that you weren’t alone in the big house, so when you were alone, you felt extremely lonely.
“I guess I’ll forgive you,” Joel replied, his joking mannerisms making you feel much more relaxed. At least he wasn’t upset with you, because that was the last thing that you wanted. The man sent you a warm grin as he walked a bit closer to you, your heart pounding as he lifted up the sculpture you were previously holding. He smelled like cedarwood and leather, his eyes heavy as he flipped over the small woodworking piece, examining his work. His hands were large compared to the piece of wood, gripping the craving as you both looked at it.
“This one definitely could’ve been better. I was rushin’ it because I couldn’t get it right,” Joel muttered as he looked at it, his words making you shake your head in annoyance. You hated when people, especially talented people, put themselves down.
“Oh don’t be so modest. You really do have a talent,” you countered back, almost eagerly in hopes of convincing him as Joel smiled down at you with a large, sheepish beam. It made you feel good that you could make the usual, somber man smile. 
“I made these too,” Joel bragged, motioning to the guitars that were hanging on the wall in the room. Wow, he really was a gifted man if he could create instruments as gorgeous as the ones he had. You could tell that he never got the chance to show them off, seeing as how he was so keen to show you his work, motioning for you to follow him as he lifted one of the instruments off of the wall. You weren’t sure if it was because he was a quiet man that he didn’t get the opportunity to flex his work to other people. Honestly, it truly surprised you that he didn’t have more friends, or even a girlfriend around. Maybe Joel was just focused on looking after Ellie, but part of you were glad that it was just the two of you alone. 
That was beside the point.
“You gonna play something for me?” you teased, surprised with how easy the conversation was flowing with him. He was usually a bit more reserved, but today he seemed really content being around you. You would be lying if you said you weren’t pleasantly surprised.
“I guess I could play a few chords,” Joel said back, his words causing you to grin in excitement as he walked over to the chair at his woodworking desk, the old chair creaking as he sat down in front you. It was almost comical how nervous he seemed, clearing his throat awkwardly as he adjusted the tuning, his large hands sliding down the frets as he listened to see if the strings matched the pitch that he wanted to follow.
You couldn’t help but watch his movement as he began to play, the gentle hum of the strings filling the silent room. He avoided singing, obviously not that comfortable with you just yet, but it still made you feel really happy that he decided to play for you at all. 
His hands moved skillfully, displaying his expertise when it came to handling the instrument. You didn’t know what you even expected, but it wasn’t this clear display of mastery. Your eyes followed his hands as they slid across the fretboard of the guitar, his fingers gently plucking the strings while humming the tune of the song under his breath. Your gaze went from his hands to his upper arms, your eyes dragging across the image of his veins popping out from his forearm as he continued to play.
Jeez, what were you doing? You didn’t mean to be ‘checking him out’ in a sense, but he just looked so.. attractive.
Your thoughts were lost as Joel stopped playing, reaching the end of the song as he sighed, leaning back in his chair while moving to hang the guitar back up on the wall.
“Wait!” you said suddenly, catching Joel’s attention as he looked back over to you with a questioning expression, curious as to what you were going to inquire about.
“Can I try?” you questioned, surprising not only Joel but yourself. You weren’t sure what tempted you to ask him, but you had a gut feeling that you had to ask while you had the chance. Joel shrugged, not even replying as he handed you the guitar, motioning for you to take a seat and play for him. You exhaled as you prepared yourself to play, Joel’s eyes on you making you anxious, his gaze intense as he waited to hear you play.
Here goes nothing.
To your dismay, you played the instrument with ease, your hands sliding up and down the neck, moving from chord to chord as you played a familiar song who’s name you couldn’t quite remember. It almost was like riding a bike after not getting on it for years, but somehow knowing how to perfectly balance your weight to avoid falling. 
Joel watched you with disbelief as you played his guitar masterfully, your fingers moving across the neck of the instrument lazily. It was obvious that he didn’t anticipate for you to be so familiar with the guitar, and it made you happy that you could surprise him for once. It also felt good to know that you were a bit closer to gaining some of your memories.
“Close your mouth before a fly crawls into it,” you mumbled as you continued to play, a small smirk on your face. It was the first time that you joked with him, and it felt good to finally have something to tease him about.
“You never mentioned that you knew your way around a guitar,” Joel replied to you, a surprised smile on his face. It was crazy to admit, but the praise caused your face to instantly heat up, your fingers accidentally slipping and in return, making you play the wrong note.
“I guess I didn’t really remember. But after feeling it, it came naturally to me,” you muttered quietly, to which Joel nodded his head in agreement.
You wish you understood why you were so nervous around this man. He was practically a wall, someone who didn’t like to show his true colors. For some odd reason though, he also did try his best to make you feel like you were a part of this community, a part of Jackson, even though you didn’t even really remember who you were in the first place. Just small shit, like your name and who you were before the world ended. You also thought about your brother a lot. You hoped that wherever he was, that he was safe.
“Well I wanted to talk to you. I’m thinkin’ it’s about time for you to go out and meet some new people, explore the town outside of this house. I see you’re healin’ well and moving around real easy. You’ve been trapped in here for a few weeks now, and I’m sure you’re getting sick of bein’ around me,” Joel said as you stopped playing so you could give your full attention to the man.
“I’m not getting sick of nothing,” you said back, shooting a shy smile at the man as you thought about the idea of getting out of the large house and enjoying your summer outside. The idea sounded exciting, and you loved the thought of being able to go out and interact with the townsfolk of Jackson, but a part of you felt nervous. Joel noticed your disconnect, his eyes flicking up to yours as your demeanor changed. 
“We don’t have to rush into nothin’. We can start slow, maybe just go fishin’? The two of us so you can get out of the house,” he suggested, his eyebrows raised with a quirk. Honestly, that idea sounded amazing to you. Your body had felt a lot stronger, so you felt comfortable exploring beyond the walls of the town, especially if you were with Joel. 
“Yeah, I’d like that,” you replied, to which Joel shot you a grin and nodded his head.
“Well I’m about to start cookin’ dinner. I’ll call you when it’s ready if you wanna keep playin’ guitar, Rockstar,” he said, his nickname causing you to grin. Never did you think he would let you fiddle with the instruments that he made with his bare hands. You didn’t know what exactly was going on between the two of you, but you could tell that he was beginning to warm up to the idea of you being around. As were you.
-
A sharp scream could be heard as you frantically ran away from the sound, the noise echoing as you covered your ears and sobbed. The ground crunched beneath your boots as you slid behind safety, laying your head low in hopes of not being caught. To your dismay, you heard someone clear their throat from behind you, the noise making you jump in fear. Looking up, you saw a tall, sinister man grinning down at you, a cigarette in his mouth.
“I found you, now didn’t I little bird?” asked the man before he pulled a gun out from his back pocket, aiming it at your head, not wasting any time on firing off a round into your head.
You woke up quickly, your body covered in sweat, your large shirt that Joel had leant you sticking to your body awkwardly. You panted as you looked up at the dining room ceiling, the room dark and the house quiet as you breathed deeply and quickly, trying to get your thoughts under control. You knew it wouldn’t take much longer for all of your memories to come back to you, and you were terrified of what would happen when it finally did. Would you be in so much pain, so distraught that you would fall into a depression? Or would you leave Jackson in order to get answers?
Either way, at this point you couldn’t even close your eyes without seeing the barrel of the man's gun in your face. You weren’t sure how long you laid there, but you became fed up extremely quickly, sighed as you threw the blanket off of your body and made your way upstairs, surprised that you had been able to drag your body all the way to Joel’s room.
Not even sure if Joel was awake, you quietly stepped across his room, climbing into his large bed. You pulled the layered sheets away from Joel’s assumingly sleeping body and buried yourself under them with him, his body radiating heat and instantly comforting you. It was probably wrong of you to be doing this, but your nightmares were becoming unbearable. It got to the point where you dreaded the moment you would have to go to sleep, not wanting to be haunted by the previous torture that you had lived through. While Joel seemed closed off and reserved, you prayed that he would understand your reasoning behind why he would wake up beside you in the morning. 
Hesitantly, you curled up into a ball next to Joel, trying your best to avoid waking him. His body felt so good against yours, even if you weren’t cuddling him. In a way, it was because of how safe you felt around him. He was such a strong man, you felt that nobody could reach you if you were standing behind him, that included nightmares. That was the first night in a long time that you slept soundlessly.
-
The sound of pans woke you up the next morning, the usual smell of breakfast filling the warm house. Opening your eyes, you nervously looked around for Joel, but to your surprise, he wasn’t there. Wow, you must’ve slept extremely hard, which was something you didn’t usually do. Sleeping next to Joel Miller was really all you needed to cure your insomnia.
Stretching out in Joel’s large, warm bed, you almost didn’t want to get out of it. You instead gazed around the room, due to never having the chance to enter it. It represented Joel in the best way, the room full of Knick knacks and items that reminded you of the man, especially the large Texas wood piece hung on the wall. He talked a lot about how much he missed the weather there, and about growing up with Tommy. Sometimes he mentioned his daughter, but he was careful not to get too deep into it. You were okay with that.
A loud growl could be heard from your stomach, and you could tell that your time in Joel’s warm bed was up as you sighed and sat up. Not wanting to climb out of bed, but knowing that you had to, you moved your way to climb out, wrapping your arms around your healing body as you stepped out of the room and down the stairs, excited to see what Joel was making.
“Good mornin,” Joel said as you walked into the kitchen, his tired eyes glancing over to you as he continued to whip something up in a bowl. Your face became red as you replied good morning back, embarrassed that he had woken up before you had the chance to return back to your makeshift bed in the living room.
“You sleep good?” Joel asked, sending you a smirk before turning towards the pan on the stove, his back facing you. Your eyes trailed down his body quickly, taking in his appearance. His hair was tousled and messy from sleeping, and he was only dressed in a tight shirt and boxers as he  stood over the stove, pouring the mixture into the pan.
“I can explain,” you began, ready to explain the vivid dream you had the previous night, but Joel cut you off before you even had the chance.
“Oh stop. You don’t have to explain anythin’ to me. It’s not a big deal anyways,” he replied, shaking his head before turning back to you, a sincere expression on his face. So he didn’t care that you had both spent the night together? It sounded too good to be true. Truthfully, you expected for him to wake you up in the middle of your sleep and toss you out of the bed. 
“I did sleep well though. I had a nightmare last night and they woke me up. I’m pretty sure that my memories are coming back to me through my dreams,” you said, interrupting the light conversation. You felt like you could be honest with the man, and your dreams were really starting to weigh on you. You knew it wouldn’t be long before you remembered everything.
Joel stopped his movement, placing the bowl down on the counter with a clink before he turned back towards you, a serious look on his face. 
“What exactly have you been remembering?” he questioned, ready to hear what you had to say. You were nervous, scared even to tell him. Having dreams was different than actually breathing them into existence by talking about them. Were you ready to finally get an explanation for your memory loss? Were you ready to find out what happened to your brother?
“Well,” you began, clearing your throat as you watched Joel quickly pull the pan he was cooking in off of the stove, turning his attention completely to you, his arms crossed across his chest as he leaned against the counter. His eyes were dark and heavy as he began to listen, his face completely stoned with severity. His gaze made you nervous, anxious, as you began to speak.
“Last night I dreamed about running away from screaming. I think I was trying to hide from the men who had me. One of them found me and shot me in the face,” you explained, Joel’s face twisted in confusion as he listened to your words.
“Is his name Joshua?” Joel asked suddenly, the name making you tremble in fear. Your eyes suddenly became watery as you started to shake in fear in confusion. You didn’t know anything about the man, but you knew that was his name as soon as the words slipped past Joel’s lips. But how did Joel know?
Joel’s facial expression turned to one of worry as he moved over to you, questioning if you were alright as he moved next to you.
“How do you know his name?” you asked, accidentally being very accusatory with your tone. Joel certainly noticed, his face falling since he couldn’t believe you would actually second guess your relationship with him. You two were not the bestist of friends, but you had definitely grown a lot closer than you expected. It was understandable that Joel got annoyed at your accusation. 
“You said his name in your sleep last night. I either figured it was one of those guys or your brother,” Joel muttered, a look of annoyance on his face. Damn, you really fucked up with sounding so defensive. It wasn’t meant to be taken that way, but how else were you supposed to react to the man you’ve been staying with knowing the name of one of your kidnappers. 
“I’m sorry Joel. I didn’t mean it like that. I’m just processing a lot right now,” you began, to which Joel shook his head and mumbled not to worry about it. You could tell that the man was annoyed, so in order to avoid making the atmosphere even more tense, you just decided not to speak. The kitchen became awkwardly quiet as the two of you tried to compose your frustrations, the aggravation clear in the air.
“My brother's name is Elijah, by the way,” you said quietly, not getting a response from Joel. You couldn’t believe your small reaction hurt his feelings so much to the point where he was temporarily ignoring you. Regardless, you still needed answers.
“Well, when are we going to look for him?” you continued, to which the man in front of you sighed deeply before turning to you, his eyes dark and annoyed.
“We’ve talked about this. Once you get your memory back, we’ll go lookin’ for him. We can’t find anything if we don’t have any leads to go off of,” Joel said gruffly, a dark look still written across his face as you continued to speak.
“Well what if they have him Joel? What if he needs me, and I’m not there for him? What if they kill him while I’m stuck in this fucking house?” you demanded bluntly, almost angrily to an extent. You had tried to avoid talking too desperately about the situation at hand, instead trying to get onto the man's good side, but you couldn’t help the hopelessness that you felt. 
“Conversation over. I have to leave to patrol and I expect for this shit to be dropped by the time I get back,” Joel said, cutting off the stove behind him before walking out of the kitchen. Tears stung your eyes from the heated debate, and you felt beyond upset knowing that Joel was mad at you over wanting to find out answers. He didn’t understand how it felt to be completely helpless and clueless. He didn’t have a right to be angry at you. 
Wiping the tears from your eyes, you sighed as you listened to Joel leaving through the front door, not even touching the breakfast that he had made for the two of you. You didn’t imagine that your morning would go the way it did, but it was a problem you would have to solve when he got back home.
-
After eating breakfast and cleaning up the kitchen, you spent most of your day chilling around the house, specifically in the living room where you reread one of Ellie’s books that she had leant to you. You didn’t recall being a Twilight fan prior to the apocalypse, but you definitely were one after reading Breaking Dawn for the third time. You wanted to blame it on the fact that you didn’t really have anything else to do anyways, but you secretly were obsessed with the fictional world that Bella Swan lived in. (Edward for life.)
The sound of the front door opening distracted you from your story as you glanced over at the front door, seeing Joel awkwardly walking in to greet you. It was late, probably almost one or two in the morning. You almost didn’t expect Joel to come home at all, making dinner for him earlier in hopes of lightning the situation between the two of you, but tossing out his portion when he didn’t show up on time. The two of you never fought, so you weren’t sure how the resolution to your argument was going to go. Setting the book down on your lap, face open, you looked up at the man, waiting to see what he had to say.
“Hey,” Joel said nervously, his hands awkwardly dug deep into the pockets of his jeans.
Ah, starting tough. 
“Hey. How was patrol?” you questioned, trying to show that you weren’t going to hold the conversation from earlier over his head. He instantly seemed a bit more relaxed as he walked further into the living room, joining you on the couch. Instead of pushing your feet out of the way due to how you were stretched out across the couch, your back against the arm of the piece of furniture, he instead lifted your feet and let them sit in his lap as he leaned back, resting his head on the back of the couch. The gesture caused your face to redden, not expecting such a bold move from the man. Joel didn’t look phased at all though, instead turning to you with his head still laid back.
“I’m sorry about this morning. I know you want to find your brother,” he said, ignoring your previous question and instead jumping right into the topic of conversation. His words surprised you, because you didn’t really expect him to be so apologetic.
“No, it’s okay,” you started, but Joel instead sat up and turned fully towards you, his movement making you stop speaking.
“Sarah was killed around the start of everything,” he began, his words making your blood run cold. This was not how you predicted the conversation would go at all, but you made sure to sit up and show that you were paying attention to his words.
“Some damn soldier got orders to kill the two of us and I tried to protect her. Clearly I didn’t try hard enough,” he whispered, shaking his head as ran his large hand across his face and down his beard, sighing as he leaned back on the couch. You reached out, placing your hand on his knee in an attempt to comfort him, the braveness from the action making your hands shake. Both of you glanced down to your hand, and to your surprise, Joel placed his on top of yours before continuing his story, the warmness from his palm making your stomach twist.
“Tommy killed the guy before the soldier had the chance to kill me too. Sometimes I wish he would have,”  he said darkly, his words making you miserable. It was very out of character for Joel to be open with his feelings, especially his depression. You hated to see that the man wished that he would have joined his daughter that night, mainly because he had already helped you so much. Without him, you would probably still be with the men who previously had you all tied up. You had grown to be truly fond of the man, and you hated to see him this way.
“I’m sorry Joel. That’s awful,” you said quietly, to which Joel nodded looking over at you once again, his eyes heavy and red as he continued to speak.
“What I’m gettin’ at, is that death is a monster. Losing someone you love is something you can never recover from. But what’s worse is revenge. Luckily, Tommy got my revenge for me, but if your brother somehow didn’t make it, then I know how this is goin’ to pan out,” Joel began, his words resonating with you. 
“Revenge is an addiction that you can’t help but give in to. But if you do, it’ll kill you one day. I don’t want to see you go down that hole. Lord knows that I have,” he replied to you, the conversation taking a turn that you weren’t completely comfortable with. Mostly because you knew that he was right. If your brother was dead, you knew that it had to be connected to the men who kidnapped and tortured you. And you knew you would do whatever you had to in order to make them pay.
“Just try to hang in there, okay? We’ll figure everything out. It’s just going to take time,” Joel finished, to which you nodded stiffly. You didn’t feel like getting too deep into the conversation, because you understood what Joel was getting at. There was not really much to say. So instead, the two of you sat there together, processing each other's words. You appreciated Joel telling you more about his past, it meant a lot to know that he cared enough about you to talk to you about it but you still felt tense about the entire situation.
“It’s late. We should probably get to bed,” Joel said, interrupting the silence before standing up, letting your hand go as he walked to the doorway of the living room, leaving you there to watch him. You stood up, trudging behind him as you continued to think about your previous conversation. Lost in thought, Joel’s words surprised you.
“You comin’?” Joel asked, standing at the bottom of the stairs as you hesitantly turned to lay in your makeshift bed in his dining room. Your ears perked at his words as you turned back towards him, not sure what exactly he was referring to.
“Huh?” you questioned, to which Joel returned an impatient eye roll.
“I’m tired. Are you comin’ to bed?” he asked again, an aura of annoyance coming off of him from his tiredness and the intensity of the previous encounter between the two of you. It finally clicked to what he was referring to. He wanted you to come up and sleep in his bed with him. It didn’t take him long to notice the shocked expression on your face, his annoyed expression softening into a look of amusement.
“Oh come on. It’s not like I want to hear you cryin’ in your sleep down here. If layin’ in my bed helps you sleep good, then I’m okay with it. Let’s go to sleep,” Joel said, nodding his head up towards his room before turning away from you and walking up the creaky old stairs. 
Taking a moment to gain your bearings and muster up the courage to follow him, you finally decided to make your way up the stairs with him. It took you so long that when you finally made it to the room, he was pulling back the bedsheets, adjusting the bed for the two of you. Your heart was in your throat as you watched him yawn, stretching out before sitting down on the bed.
“You gonna stare at me or come lay down?” Joel questioned, not even looking your way as he unbuttoned his pants, slipping them past his legs and stepping out of them before he lifted his feet from the wooden floor and tucked them under the blanket. The action made you quickly turn your head in an attempt to not seem like you were watching him undress, your heart racing as you watched your feet move you closer to the bed.
Moving your way over to the bed, you followed his actions, climbing in behind him, your heart thumping in your chest as you slid in. Joel moved around on his side, the bed creaking as he rolled over onto his side, his back turned towards you. You couldn’t help but let your eyes wander over his body, watching him before he pulled the blanket over himself. Your eyes stopped at the small of his back where his shirt was lifted, the bottom of his spine rippling through. Your gaze was interrupted as he pulled the blanket over the two of you, making you dart your eyes away nervously, almost as if you’d been caught.
“If you have any nightmares, just know I’m right here,” Joel said quietly from beside you, tiredness apparent in his words. You know that he probably had a long day patrolling, on top of your arguing. Keeping him up any longer would be almost a punishable offense on your part.
The room was quiet as you laid next to the older man, the only noise being the sound of both of you breathing. 
“Good night,” you said quietly, breaking the silence. Joel muttered a good night back, clearly showing that he wasn’t too interested in a lengthy conversation, but rather that he was ready for a deep sleep. You couldn’t blame him.
-
Your breathing was heavy and distressed as you yanked at your restraints, your body weak as you fought to get out of the rope that bound you to your chair. The reason for your sudden anxiety was due to Joshua, the man who had stolen you from your community, walking towards you with a large knife, a sinister and dark smile on his face as he got increasingly closer to you.
“Please, you don’t have to do this,” you cried, tears running down your face, your voice hoarse from screaming. Joshua laughed, shaking his head as he replied back.
“I know that I don’t have to. I want to,” he grinned, slicing across your chest. Your scream echoed through the dark room, a splatter of blood gushing from the slice as you threw your head back with a shriek.
“Hey, you’re alright,” you heard suddenly, waking you from your nightmare. Your body was hot, your hair wild as it stuck to your head in lazy strands as you thrashed around, the feeling of hands gripping you in the dark room terrifying you. 
“It’s me, look at me,” Joel commanded, grabbing your face and holding it tightly as he looked deeply into your eyes. Your chest was heaving as you processed where you were, and that you were safe, stopping your erratic movement and instead relaxing into the feeling of Joel’s grasp.
Not speaking, you attempted to catch your breath as Joel let go of your face, moving his hand to your lower back and rubbing it in a way to comfort you. The feeling was unfamiliar and alien, the action coming from the man surprising. 
“Want to go downstairs? I can make you a cup of tea so you can try to relax,” Joel suggested, your heart practically melting at the question. It was almost unbelievable how sweet Joel was being to you, but you appreciated it beyond understanding.
“Yes, please,” you said breathless, still holding onto his arms as he helped you out of bed and led you downstairs, leaving you alone in the living room as he left you for a few minutes to prepare you a cup of warm tea. He returned with a mug, gently handing it to you as he sat down next to you, the couch sinking in as he took his seat. 
The room was silent as you took a few sips, trying to control yourself. It really sucked to have PTSD over shit you couldn’t even fully remember from the get go, but instead having traumatic dreams about them every night. It seemed like sleeping with Joel didn’t even solve your sleeping problem like it did last night.
“I think Joshua killed my brother. I just have a really bad feeling about it,” you said suddenly, quietly, interrupting the lull that filled the living room. Joel didn’t talk quite yet, wanting to give you a chance to continue speaking before he told you how he felt about what you said.
“I dreamed that he tortured me tonight. Pretty sure it happened because I have the same scar from where he cut me in my dream,” you sighed, setting your mug onto the coffee table and then picking at your fingers nervously. You weren’t telling Joel this out of pity. You were telling him because you liked him. Because you trusted him.
Joel was extremely quiet to the point where you thought he was ignoring you before you let your eyes flick up to where he was sitting. He was practically shaking, his jaw clenched and fists balled after hearing your words. Without a doubt, if he knew where Joshua was at that moment, he would’ve gotten up and hunted him down.
“I’m telling you this because I’m tired of holding it inside of me. I’m tired of constantly seeing everything I lived through in my mind but not being able to actually piece all of it together. I just need to realize that it happened so I don’t feel like I’m going crazy,” you mumbled softly, nervous to see Joel’s reaction to your words.
Instead of saying anything to you, Joel slid down to where you were sitting. He surprisingly wrapped his large, warm arms around you before pulling you into his body, wordlessly comforting you. You were shocked at his actions, not anticipating Joel to hold you. All Joel had been to you was reassuring, and his actions here further proved his nurturing nature that he tried so hard to hide.
It quickly became all too much to handle, your eyes watering at his gesture. It wasn’t just a gentle cry, but it was disgustingly loud bawling, your body shaking with tremors at the action. Joel held you tightly as you continued to sob into his arms, hot tears running down not just your face but also his shirt as you cried into his chest.
“I swear to you, you’ll get them. We’re goin’ to make them pay,” Joel whispered into your hair as he rocked you back and forth, letting you get everything out that you had been holding back for months. It was beyond consoling to have the man hold you, to reassure you that everything would work out. Instantly, you felt overwhelmed with the situation unfolding before you, with the emotions you were starting to feel with Joel.
Backing away from the grasp of the man, you wiped at your tears, cleaning your face with your hands before looking up at Joel. He looked down at you, a frown on his face as he waited to see what your next move would be. You know that it shocked not only him, but yourself, when you grabbed his face, his beard rough in your hands as you kissed him deeply.
His lips felt warm, the warmth spreading like wildfire across your body, his lips practically molding into yours as you sighed into his mouth. The contact was what you had been longing for, aching for, for months. The physical touch, the intimacy that Joel was providing to you. It’s what you needed.
You continued to embrace the man’s face, keeping up with your assault to his lips as his hands rested lightly on your hips. It was then that you noticed that he wasn’t kissing you back, instead, just letting you get whatever you needed out of your system as he waited for you to stop.
Ending your spontaneous kiss, you slowly pulled back, your breathing shaky as you sat back across from him, seeing his eyebrows furrowed and his face red as he watched you.
“Fuck Joel. I’m so sorry,” you whimpered, embarrassment not being a strong enough word for how fucking stupid you felt. Joel hadn’t kissed you back. You had to have been reading his signals completely wrong.
“Hey now, don’t start that,” he mumbled gently, letting one of his large hands run from your hips to the small of your back, rubbing it timidly as he did his best to comfort you. No matter though, you were already humiliated by your actions, you seriously couldn’t believe that you kissed the man.
“Don’t get me wrong, I think I wanted that more than you did,” he began, his words shocking you. So he wanted to kiss you too? “But, we can’t just rush in like this, not with everything else that you’re going through. Let’s take it slow, alright?’”
His words made sense, they did entirely. You couldn’t blame him for wanting you to take it easy, and not to jump into a physical relationship with each other. You would just have to wait, and you were okay with that.
“Come here,” he said softly, moving his hands away from your hips and back up to your back, pulling your body lightly, pressing you into his chest. Joel always felt so warm and intoxicating, in a way that you couldn’t explain. All you knew was that when you were around him, everything felt okay.
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teacupcollector · 3 months ago
Text
A Helping Hand - Chapter 1
Series Masterlist Summary - As a woman who is pregnant you are doing anything if it means survival. Even so you found yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time, or was it the other way around? Now you are in the community of Jackson and you can’t help but attract a certain pair of hazel eyes.
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You are in a small pharmacy hoping to find some form of antibiotic as well as maybe some prenatal vitamins seeing as you are pregnant. While on the run you stepped on a nail that went right through the sole of your shoe and into the bottom of your foot. You had to cut off that shoe in order to get it to the nail and pull it out. You are at the check out area where you would have crawled through if it wasn't for the metal gate blocking your way. You look around the small store in an effort to find something to get it open with. You look to your right next to the counter to see a metal box with a fire extinguisher inside. You walk over standing sideways to it and lift your elbow. You inhale deeply before exhaling as your elbow comes in contact with the glass shattering it. You hiss as some of the glass gets imbedded in your elbow. You yank the fire extinguisher out the weight of it causing you to bend down uncomfortably. You heave it up on your dominant shoulder walking over to the lock again. You slam it down on the lock again and again until it breaks. You let out a cry of victory. You go to open it when you hear people so you dive behind the shelves.
"I heard banging from in here!" You here a feminine voice say as the ring from the top of the door sounds as they walk in. "It look's like someone got in here..." A males voice says as their footsteps approach the counter. You quietly take out your Swiss Army Knife clutching  it with the blade facing down. As they begin to lift the gate you jump out "It's Mine!" you cry. You almost hit your target it being the girl when the man pushes you to the ground the both of them aiming their gun at you. You fall on your back and cry out. With the mixture of the weight you are carrying in the front as well as the cans that dig  into you from your backpack, you feel sharp pains all over your body. Tears collect and fall from your eyes as you look up at them.
"Jesus Jesse! She's pregnant!" The woman that now you can see has an olive skin tone and black hair that is pulled in a bun. She puts her gun away and kneels beside you. "How was I suppose to know! She could have killed you!" The man known as Jesse says before joining her on the opposite side. "She is surviving for two it is to be expected..." The girl grumbles. "Ma'am? Ma'am can you hear me?" She asks and you nod and answer with a whine before saying. "P-Please all I need are some antibiotics and vitamins and I'll go!"  The girl moves her arm toward you and you flinch. "Hey we aren't going to hurt you okay?" She turns to Jesse and says. "Help me sit her up."  They each put an arm under your armpit and lift you into a sitting position. "What do you need the antibiotics for?" Jesse questions and the girl snaps at him. "Jesse! Now isn't the time!" But you decide to answer anyway by pointing to your foot and saying. "I stepped on a nail." Jesse looks at you before kneeling down near your feet to see bandages. "Can I take them off?" He asks and you nod. When he does he makes a face of disgust. Your foot injury is definitely infected with puss and blood slowly leaking out of it.
"We need to get her back home." The girl says. "Dina I don't know what if-" "What if nothing! She is pregnant and hurt what could she possibly do?" She says and Jesse grumbles before leaning down and picking you up bridal style. "I'm sorry! Just leave me be and I will leave I promise!" You say fearing the worst as they take out out of the pharmacy. "Put her on my horse." The girl Dina says. Jesse shakes his head. "No not after what she tried to do, speaking of which..." He set you down and you stumble on to one of the horses grabbing it's saddle . He rips open your backpack. " See I knew she had something else!" He says taking out your gun before handing it to Dina. "Hold on to it. You up and at 'em." He says helping you up on his horse before sitting in front of you. As the horse begins to trot out of the small town and into the surrounding forest you find yourself holding on to him  until you finally make it  to a big gate.
"Dina you go get Maria and Tommy. I'm taking her to the infirmary." He says before trotting  in that direction. When he gets there he helps you down and takes you inside. "Hey Kathrine i need some help over here." He says setting you on a bed. The woman comes over "My goodness she looks awful." She says You find yourself in an almost curled position mainly protecting your stomach. "Ma'am?" She asks kneeling in front of you. "Where are you hurt?" You barely make eye contact keeping your head down. "He foot is infected but I think we should check her for bites before we waste our supplies." Jesse grumbles "I'm not bit!" You cry looking at him. "Jesse thank you for bringing her here but I think you should leave." She says and Jesse goes to argue but she closes the curtain that surrounds the bed. "Ma'am I know your scared but he is right. So could you please remove your clothes so I can check?" You look at her like you are a deer in headlights. "We want to help you..." She says calmly and you nod before slowly taking off your clothes.
There are a murmur of voices as you finish putting on  your clothes and you hear a new voice. "Kathrine?" It is a female voice. "Come in." Kathrine says and a woman with blonde hair and blue eyes wearing a greenish jacket comes in through the curtain. As she walks in you look behind here and catch a glimpse of another man standing on the other side. This woman looks nice yet has a stern look on her face when she approaches you both. "Have you looked her over?" The woman asks and Kathrine nods. "She has no bites but she is pregnant and has an injury on her foot that is infected and will need to be treated."  the woman nods. "I'd like to talk to her." Kathrine nods and exits the room. The blonde woman grabs a chair and sits in front of you. "What is your name?" She asks and you look down at your hands in your lap. "My name is (Y/N)." You say quietly. "I don't appreciate what you tried to do (Y/N)." She says keeping a firm look on her face. "But I can see why you did it." You look up at her. "I assume you have been through a lot?" She asks and you nod. "How far along are you?" She asks her head gesturing to your stomach. "I think I'm maybe four or five months along?" You say sounding unsure. "Do you have anyone who could be looking for you right now?" She asks and you shake your head. "No... They're all dead." You say solemnly. She nods. "How old are you?" She asks "I am thirty-one or thirty-two I think?  My watch broke a while back so all the days seem to blend together." She looks you up and down. "I will be right back." She says and walks past the curtain and you can here people  on the other side whispering.
The woman comes back into the room and sits back down. "We decided that we are going to let you stay..."  The woman begins. "No I-"  You get cut off by her. "You are going to stay in the infirmary until your foot is healed. That should give us enough time to find you a place to stay." She says coolly. "I understand that you are scared but we are a great community here. We want to help you." You nod slowly. "Thank you miss..?"  "My name is Maria. I am the leader of this town." You nod "It is nice to meet you Maria. Tell the two people who I arrived with 'Thank you' for not blowing my head off." She nods and stands up. "I will be sure to get you some clothes soon. When we get you those you can have a shower okay?" She asks and you nod. "Yes Ma'am. Thank you."
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joelsgeetar · 5 months ago
Note
I like the idea of the reader catching a bad cold or flu while out on patrol ans Joel takes care of her 🥺
I'm a huge sucker for fluff so the fluffier the better hahaha
Sunsets and Watery Eyes — Joel Miller
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Tw: language, infected, etc.
Additional info: i wrote this late at night while sleep deprived so if this doesnt make sense i will fix it later, enjoy the fluff!! <3
* spelling mistakes will be fixed asap
Maria and the others aren't too pleased with your actions on skipping shifts but Joel is quick to defend you. It's not that you can't - you can fight and protect yourself. Sometimes you just want to stay in bed to rest. Living in a world where sleeping peacefully is rare - you want to snatch all the opportunities to do so.
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Joel always got up before you. He usually let's you sleep in or skip a day from patrol. Here lately, you've been low on energy. It worries him but he hasn't said anything yet.
Surprisingly, you pushed yourself to get dressed and go outside the walls with Joel. It's a great way to talk to him more anyways.
The relationship you have with Joel wasn't a walk in the park to create. It took him a lot of time to warm up to you. Even though he told himself not to get tangled up into romantic feelings - he had no control over it. There was something about you that lured him in.
"You comin' with me today?" Joel asks from behind, putting on his flannel.
You turn to see him and smile. "Yeah, I don't want Maria up my ass today."
Both of you laugh a little about it. Joel walks past you after kissing your forehead, making his way downstairs to get some boots on.
Small gestures such as that melts your heart into a puddle. It's not often Joel openly shows affection with physical touch but when he does - it's the most wonderful feeling.
---
Now that you're outside in the woods with him you're starting to wish you stayed home. Half of you is cold yet you're sweating. Watery eyes and occasional sneezes make you groan.
Joel is walking ahead of you but stops when he can't hear your footsteps following. You're sitting on a random tree that fell trying to feel less nauseous and gross in general.
"Everything alright, Darlin'?" Joel's deep southern voice immediately brings you comfort.
You nod and stand back up to walk next to him. His arm is in your grasp, it has his heart warming up knowing you feel safe like this.
The patrol so far is going fine and smooth. It only changed once you and Joel went into some abandoned shed near one of the towers for night shift or to rest safely.
Joel casually walks up behind a runner, taking it down with ease. Then he moves onto the other one, leaving one to you. Normally, you can take runners with almost no problems but with the lack of food and energy, you're weaker.
You're struggling with the runner, trying to choke it out like he does. Joel watches with a confused expression - he's never seen you like this before. That same worry is creeping back.
Joel comes up from the side and uses a shiv, the runner falling to the ground. You sigh out a shaken breath - Joel carefully lifts your chin with his hand. The warmth of his skin spreading to your face within seconds.
"You ain't feeling good, huh? C'mere." Joel gently pulls you along by your hand leading you to the tower - going up into safety and shade.
After putting your bag and gear down next to his you sit with him, leaning into his side. Joel smells like coffee and nature - simple yet perfectly captures him.
Joel must have been feeling.. clingy? Maybe because you're not at your best right now. It shocked you a little when he grabbed your thighs and hip, placing you on his lap then wrapping his arms around you.
"I'm okay, Cowboy. Just tired."
Joel chuckled at the nickname. "Mhm. What's bothering you most right now?"
You sigh and nuzzled into his chest. "I feel sick and hot. My eyes have been watering like crazy."
"Sounds like you got a cold or somethin' - why didn't you stay home?" Joel rubs on you affectionately, talking to you softly.
"Didn't want to look lazy to you. I know you like strong women." You teased him for fun - he didn't necessarily take it as a joke.
"I only prefer one woman and that's you. You need to hush it with that. Talkin' down on yourself." Joel called you out on everything and sometimes it annoys you.
You don't give him a response verbally - squeezing him gently is what you give as an answer, kissing his cheek. His beard scratches your sensitive skin but you love it.
Joel pulls back a bit to look at you, pushing some of your hair out of the way. As you prepared for him to kiss you it clicked into your head right before he could. You don't want to get him sick - he needs to stay healthy.
"What? You scared of me all of the sudden?" Joel smirks leaning in again - this time to your neck, kissing on you.
You knew exactly what he was hinting at. Back when you first met him - you were almost terrified of what he was capable of. Hearing all those stories to seeing it for yourself had you scared to approach him - it also had you curious. You knew deep down he could be a good man and worth fighting for. You were definitely right about that. Joel is now your everything, life is bearable with him here.
"Dont want you getting sick because of me."
Joel leaves your neck to focus on your lips - ignoring what you just said. He kisses you slow and passionate, you can feel everything he can't say with words. Taking advantage of the situation of being alone you sneak your hand down to tease him. It doesn't go as planned - you sneezed into his chest making him laugh out loud while you felt embarrassed.
The rest of the evening was spent cuddling with him, laughing about memories together and Joel taking care of you. While he didn't have any medication to help, he at least distracted you from everything else and that's all that matters.
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blueeyesatnight · 2 months ago
Text
Don’t See Me That Way
Don't See Me That Way
Title: Don't See Me That Way
Purpose: Joel Miller sad backstory hours over here....this is him and the (ex)wife and the early years with Sarah through the start of the Infection. Angst Hours over here.
Word Count: 8400 <--sorry notsorry
Rating: R -- sex and drinking and language and all the fun stuff.
A/N: I didn't want to hop onto this before the show dropped because I prefer to be canon compliant and like...that's obviously going to change with the show. Anyway. My take on a Joel backstory and an attempt to be canon compliant but with a big ol' warning: this was done before the show.
it's a third person reader insert, this could work out as still fitting in the HBO casting or the game casting.
Joel Miller/TLOU Masterlist -- Author Masterlist -- Taglist -- Tip Jar
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Joel had a busted Astros cap pulled low on his face and he was leaned against the corner between the bathroom and the gym. His clothes were a little worn and he had that sort of mug on like he didn’t give a fuck but she would always see it as just the tiniest bit forced. She’d mentioned it to her friend who gave a low whistle, “He just acts that way-- his daddy’s a mean son of a bitch and way I heard it Joel takes the brunt.”
Everyone seemed to know that.
Tommy was on varsity soccer, he was always laughing and smiling and making friends. Joel Miller had a cigarette tucked between his ear and his cap.
She’d been eyeing him for what felt like her whole damn life. When, precisely, had she first noticed Joel Miller she couldn’t say.
But this was the first day Joel Miller noticed her.
She had been gearing herself up to make some kind of gesture to him for months. Today she had picked out the new dress that hugged her the right way and took a sip from her friend’s flask before homeroom and….
Today I will ask Joel Miller out.
Today.
It was an important day.
She had been out of math for ten minutes already, gripping the hall pass, eyeing him, and trying to feel like she was able to breathe.
Just go up to him.
Sure. Reasonable.
If she could get her feet to move.
Which she couldn’t.
But there was a job to do.
So she walked right up to him.
And when he said “Howdy” she lost her whole voice and barely squeaked out her name and he looked at her, wondering what the matter was.
“Joel.” He nodded at her.
“I know.”
The silence was a little awkward, he finally shuffled his feet, “Help you?”
“Ah...I wanted to...the…”
There was a flyer for a Sadie Hawkins dance right by his head.
Fuck.
She pointed to it, “I wanted to...go...to that….with...you.”
He turned and looked at the poster as though it were brand new information, “That so? Hadn’t realized it was coming.”
He gave her a sort of regretful look, “I work that night.”
Oh God.
She was so embarrassed she wanted to run away and hide.
Just run.
Run and run.
So she nodded, said “Thank you” and turned to sprint away.
When he chewed on a cuticle and considered something for a second, “What about the night after? You….you free then?”
She nearly fell over and turned, smiling, nodding, “Yeah...yeah I’m free.”
____________________________________________________________________________
Joel liked the attention.
It wasn’t hard. It wasn’t a struggle.
It was easy.
It felt...it felt so...nice. Refreshing.
He tried not to drink, and when he did he tried not to get drunk.
But there was something to the girl...he imagined this was like being drunk. It felt nice. It made him forget. It made him relaxed.
“Going out?”
“Mmhm.”
“With that girl?”
“She has a name.”
Silence.
Then, “You uh….you got...everything?”
“What are you on about boy?” Joel gave his brother a look.
“Just making sure you got stuff.”
Joel didn’t want to be drawn into this foolishness, “Yeah I’m good.”
Tommy had shrugged and said, “You sure?”
Dad didn’t say shit.
“What’d’you mean?”
“Nothing.”
“Bullshit.”
“I just didn’t think she was…”
“What?”
“Not your type.”
“What’s my type?”
“I dunno...not that.” Tommy shrugged.
“Tommy. I’m meeting her at a football game, I’m not rushing down to church.”
Tommy shook his head, “Ignore me.”
But Joel just pushed his weight onto his back foot and crossed his arms, “No. Explain.”
“She’s a nice girl Joel and she’s soft as butter for you just...you know just be careful.”
It’s not like their dad would give the same advice-- if any, but Joel rankled whenever it seemed like Tommy was jumping the hierarchy and acting like the bigger boy.
“Don’t get too big for your britches, Tommy, you ain’t in a spot to say shit.”
Tommy shrugged again, what could he say to that?
Joel had pushed back because he knew in some part of him that Tommy was making a point.
But Joel…
He didn’t remember his mother much.
A little.
Tommy didn’t.
Joel just remembered having to hold a crying toddler who was wetting their pants because dad had passed out in the bathroom again and Tommy couldn’t do the stairs well.
Joel remembered having to feed his brother, he could manage ketchup and crackers and peanut butter and jelly. He remembered having to learn to wash their clothes.
He remembered taking a hit.
More than one.
He remembered a lot of things-- he remembered Tommy crawling into his room because dad was loud and it scared him.
He didn’t ever remember someone just looking at him with big soft eyes and smiling pretty and leaning against him and ….
A shiver ran up his back.
The way she moved on him. The things….he forgot that hands could feel good on a person, he’d had too much of them hurting him.
He liked how nice she smelled and how she tasted and how she giggled when he ran his tongue over her.
He felt like he could...try things. He felt like he could...want things.
Joel wasn’t entirely sure what it was or what he wanted.
Tommy was the only other one he trusted and it was different: he had to keep Tommy safe. She wasn’t like that.
She was safe.
That made a difference he couldn’t really...pin down.
She came down the path from her parent’s house wearing another dress he was interested in touching and she smiled, “Hey baby.”
“Hey sugar lump...come on. Game’s starting. Moon’ll be full, blanket’s in the back.”
Sounded great.
She couldn’t wait.
She had been waiting for fucking ever to get Joel Miller here just like this and she wasn’t about to stop now.
____________________________________________________________________________
He was excited.
He didn’t look it, he didn’t like giving it away, but if you just focused on his hands you’d notice a slight shake. He had read the letter twice. It was in his pocket.
He knew she had home economics so he went down the stairs, down the hallway, and knocked on the door frame, interrupting a gaggle of high school girls all spending their time modifying prom dresses.
His girlfriend looked pale still, he figured she was still fighting off her bug, but he couldn’t keep it in.
She smiled a little and asked the teacher to use the bathroom and when she got into the hallway he held up the letter.
“I got good news. You didn’t call last night. I got caught up, time I looked up it was late, I didn’t want to risk waking up your folks…”
He handed her the letter.
She opened it and began reading.
But it went a little sideways.
He expected she’d be proud of him. Happy for him.
She was still in for another year, he wouldn’t be far, maybe they’d both move on, he couldn’t tell that yet.
But she generally had been a safe spot for him, someone who always seemed to be on his side, something he would never admit he needed but he did.
“I was at the doctor’s last night. Late. Marlie took me.” She muttered, and seemed to go back to the top of the letter and read it again.
He was accepted.
Accepted.
He’d gotten in.
He had almost not applied but the counselor had damn near forced him to do it and now he was holding an acceptance letter.
“Don’t you see?” He tapped the paper.
She nodded and then got choked up, nearly started crying.
He looked up and down the hallway and then put an arm around her, “What’s wrong?”
She covered her eyes, her mouth, and then she pulled him down the hall until they were at a deadend and there were no doors around. She wrapped her arms around her waist and just let it out, “I’m pregnant.”
Joel kicked a fucking trashcan.
“Shit.”
____________________________________________________________________________
They did the only thing you did in small town Texas when you knocked up your girlfriend.
They got married.
It was at the courthouse.
Only the family came...well, her family. His dad never showed so it was only Tommy left for Joel.
Her parents refused to put a celebration add in the paper.
They told their friends that there was just Such a fuss over it, kids these days, couldn’t wait to tie the knot.
Joel spent the morning before it saying he was taking a shower or shaving but really he was staring at the brochure for college.
Staring.
Tracing his fingers over it.
And then crumpled it up and tossed it in the trash.
Her mother got them a little icebox cake. His new wife felt too nauseous to eat it.
Her family glared at him and made not so veiled threats about doing the right thing that he nodded and promised to do because what was he going to say? She was seventeen. He was six month older than her. This was a lot. He knew he was going to be looked at sideways the whole fucking time.
The silver lining had been her grandmother’s little shack of a house. Her grandmother had offered it to them and made a point to leave it to them in her will and she said they didn’t have to pay anything if they helped her around the house and she could stay there.
Joel was tortured. He didn’t need this. He needed this like a hole in the fucking head. But he needed this.
So he agreed.
And spent the last few months fixing things.
There was…
He hadn’t realized he was relieved to be out of his father’s house until he was.
The shack was half falling apart but it had a barn. Had a garage. He could scrape some optimism from somewhere and say Build a decent apartment above that, Tommy could have somewhere to go when he needs.
He didn’t say that to anyone but he would mumble it to himself while chopping wood.
He didn’t know what to say these days.
He felt...defeated.
He had thought he was getting out. Now he was stuck.
He hated his father. He didn’t know what kind of father that would make him.
It wasn't time to sit and mope. He had things to do now. Lists of things. Work was a priority. Saving what they could while they prepared. He showed up to the new shack with a busted cardboard box in hand and two more in the trunk of his friend's car: it represented everything of his he had at his dad's house. He hadn't said goodbye. He didn't care that his dad hadn't either. He had seen Tommy that morning and just reminded him that the upstairs bathroom sink was leaking.
She caught him staring at the boxes which even two months later hadn't really been unpacked just left in the bedroom where he picked through them as needed. She had offered to unpack them for him, he told her to nevermind.
Her little part time job at the ice cream parlor was bad for the optics as she got bigger but she insisted on keeping it even as her parents worried if the collective population of Travis County could count well enough that they would realize when she got pregnant.
She didn't care about optics. And she had already been told there was no "time off" for a baby in a job like that, she would have to quit or be fired. She elected being fired because the owner suggested she ask for unemployment afterwards. Joel's feathers ruffled intensely when she mentioned it and so she dropped it and didn't say anything about it again.
Then one night she just got blasted with sickness and she was up and up and up all night and it meant when Joel's alarm went off he was exhausted. He went to work tired. Came home tired. Caught himself halfway to the fridge thinking about a cold beer and froze at the likeness to his dad. Instead he went to the coffee pot and made a fresh one.
She knew the fatigue was her fault.
“I’m sorry.”
"Not your fault." He shrugged it off but she shook her head and smoothed her shirt over the obvious problem.
"No, I'm sorry."
“Takes two.” He shrugged and then reached out and petted at the belly, “Ain’t your fault, no use apologizing.”
It wasn’t just that it wasn’t her fault, it was their fault, and it was going to be a permanent thing so he wasn’t sure how much he kept wanting to think about it in terms of guilt anymore. He just wanted to...give the poor kid a chance at not being the thing that wrecked his life. It wasn’t his punching bag. He didn’t need to air his grievances about life to his wife or his kid. He wanted something better.
“Listen if it’s….if it’s too much….I just….” She took a deep breath, “We didn’t sign up for this and it’s ok to be honest about things. I...I….I used to think I loved you. I think I could love you. I do. I think I could but it’s just been so….I haven’t really...processed….”
He actually managed a smile, “I like that….I could love you. I think...I think we start simple. Start there. Go...go slow. No use rushing about...we got time.”
It erased something that had been looming. A guilt that he was never the one with the crush. He was able to find it again--the little thing about her that made his stomach flutter. It was there. There in the offer. There in the deal.
They made a deal.
They had no fucking clue what was going to happen after.
____________________________________________________________________________
Joel Miller was a selfish man.
He was.
He’d spent a lot of time thinking about what this day would do to him.
How would he figure out work?
How would he sleep? Did he get a sleeping bag and camp out in the living room? Would it be too loud?
How did he hold a baby? Or change a diaper? He couldn’t remember changing Tommy’s he didn’t know if he had.
How would he deal with a boy? A girl? Was it going to be easier to have a girl or much much harder?
How would drive the thing around? Could he keep his pick up? Probably right?
He’d thought about a lot of things.
Mostly about how he’d cope.
It wasn’t that he didn’t think about his wife, he just assumed it was a whole different set of concerns and he had very little business concerning himself with it. She told him she wanted a C-section? Fine. Wanted to do it the old fashioned way? Fine. He didn’t figure he had a place making a lot of the calls about how she’d be a mother to her.
So he thought about himself.
And was fundamentally unprepared for how quickly it pivoted to always putting another person in front of all the questions and concerns.
Shocked even.
He assumed he’d have to adjust to a baby. Remember it was there. Like groceries in the truck bed he’d have to remind himself not to ignore it.
But hell...that did not happen.
He watched.
Even as a man of few words he was a little loud a little...scared.
“What’s happening?”
“That normal?”
“You’re all right honey, you’re doin’ fine.”
It all sounded like bullshit but there was something different about this fear than the fear he knew well.
Then…
They held it up.
“A girl!”
A girl.
He had a girl.
There was a girl.
A little girl.
“Holy hell…”
She was red and white and bloody and screaming and they wrapped her in a blanket and plopped her in her mama’s arms and he sort of stood frozen for a minute before he went over and looked down at her.
She stared at him.
Stared.
Then gave a tiny little bark of a cry and settled against the warm breast waiting for her.
He snorted, “Well….welcome aboard.”
His wife was exhausted and he understood why but she was glowing, proud as punch, and stared at the bundle, “What about after your mom?”
He looked up.
He could have kissed her but he was nervous about the baby getting dropped or crushed between them so he nodded, “Suits her.”
His wife fell asleep not long after they’d given her dinner and she didn’t have a mass of baby crushing her and making her uncomfortable, so it was down to just Joel and the baby together in the room.
And one of them was humming a song lightly.
He was holding Sarah in his arms, against his chest, rocking slowly in the chair, and just…
He had never loved something like that. Someone.
And he … he liked it.
He could get used to this.
He could not remember if his father had ever once told Joel or Tommy that he loved them.
He never said it to Tommy.
He’d barely said it to his wife.
It ran out of his mouth sometimes. Like when she had been pushing the baby and scared out of her mind and it was the only thing he could offer...but he didn’t say it.
And so he leaned down until his lips were next to the tiny little ear and because he couldn’t say the thing he needed to say he just kept humming and saying, “I got you….I got you baby girl, you sleep. I got you.”
____________________________________________________________________________
It was quiet enough in the house.
Things had felt so...so nice.
A rhythm had developed.
A calming rhythm.
He ran his nose along the line of her shoulder, “You ok?”
She turned to face him, “I’ve been thinking.”
He nodded to show he was listening and let his hands settle on her waist, “What if we had another baby?”
“Really?”
Joel looked over to where Sarah was shoving a plastic teacup into a teddy bear’s mouth and he couldn’t fight off the little smirk on the corner of his lips.
He was quiet for a minute, for long enough his wife was assuming a negative response, when he pulled her against him, “Let’s do it.”
She giggled as his mouth dropped to her neck, “I didn’t mean right this second.”
“Time’s a wastin’.”
____________________________________________________________________________
They tried.
But it took almost two years and then there was a minor revelation, a positive test….that ended in a miscarriage early.
She’d been devastated.
He didn’t take it well.
Sarah was too young to really...understand.
His wife got depressed. Dark. Had to quit her job which stressed them financially when they’d already been tight. Joel wasn’t making tremendous money and they had no insurance, when they’d gotten the six thousand dollar bill for Sarah’s birth he’d nearly thrown up, it was just about paid now and that was without the fall down on the driveway that chipped her tooth and then three cavities she needed filled and the wrist he had sworn was broken and rushed her to the ER just to be told it was a sprain. Now here he was juggling a wife that was unemployed and sad all the time and he didn’t know what to do. He didn’t ask. He didn’t say anything.
He just kept working.
She got a therapist.
It cost a fortune.
He was done even opening bills from hospitals and collection’s agencies, they could all get off his back. He’d give them something when he had it.
Because Sarah needed a bike. And a helmet. And she wanted this pair of pink shoes with light-up bottoms. And she wanted to join the soccer team-- which required cleats and shin guards. She asked if she could have an allowance if she did chores. She was so little but he recruited her with taking out the garbage and making sure the shoes were all put in the closet. She earned a dollar a week. That, she asked to go spend at the Dollar Central in town and he had to drive her there in a truck that needed four new tires but...next paycheck.
His wife got better.
He didn’t feel he could ask her to go back to work until she brought it up herself.
She didn’t bring it up.
He never asked.
He set the alarm.
And he went to work.
___________________________________________________________________________
They found a middle ground.
She got a part time thing at the library and it didn’t pay much but that was fine.
Her grandmother passed and they got the house and a little bit of money. It cleared a few of the outstandings but not all of them until they agreed to take a loan against the house.
That helped.
Truly.
He felt better.
He felt less...angry and worked to the bone.
But he still worked to the bone.
He felt like he was seeing Sarah in little moments during the week instead of every day. Her school days got longer. She was in activities. Making friends. He felt like it was a struggle to get time with her, he scrounged it whenever he could. Let her fall asleep on the couch next to him while they watched bad action movies, let her follow along on errands and just ride in the truck with him whenever she wanted.
He was lucky she wasn’t as selfish as him. She didn’t have a wanting things streak. She liked little candies and getting outside with her friends and he was lucky her habits were just cheap because he didn’t think he had it in him to say no to her when he felt like it was all he could do.
He was worried all the time.
All the time.
He worried about being a good dad.
Every day that he didn’t feel completely like his father was a small victory, one he couldn’t celebrate, an endless streak of battles hopefully leading to a war he’d win.
Every day he came home and eyed the beer in the fridge, weighed why he wanted it, and usually opted to go make a cup of coffee.
He figured his blood was half Folgers at this point but at least it was warm and nice and he liked the taste.
He worried about being a good dad.
And sometimes he thought about being a husband.
He saw a lot of that as practical: he kept the lights on and the fridge full and that was husband stuff.
He’d scrape to bring home flowers on an anniversary that he remembered but often didn’t know what to do about because she would always say she didn’t want anything...then would whip up a great dinner, bake a cake he liked, do something to make him feel special. He didn’t know how do to that for her. So, flowers. It was something.
It wasn’t all hard.
There were bright spots.
Moments.
Laughing on the big tire swing together as a family and then she would lean back and steal a kiss and feel him deepen it against her. They would build blanket forts in the living room and camp out until Joel’s back threatened to give out on him. They would make s’mores in the fire pit out back. They had climbing contests in the trees-- Sarah was a monkey, she was always the winner.
They taught her how to ride a bike.
Then they all took long bike rides through town together and would stop for an ice-cream while they caught their breath.
They’d come home and Sarah would fall asleep before her bedtime from fresh air and a belly of cream.
His wife was often warmed by these little moments. Seeing Joel carry their baby up the stairs. Seeing him tuck her in. Seeing the man with his sleeves rolled up under the sink or in the car hood. Watching him fall asleep on the couch right next to her. Rolling over in bed and being able to wrap around him.
In an age so far in the past she wasn’t sure it ever happened she remembered wishing to have every part of Joel Miller. She did. She had it all, soup to nuts.
__________________________________________________________________________
It was a really calm morning.
Temperatures were mild.
The Saturday morning cartoons had given way to the news, turned on mostly because the house felt quieter and quieter.
Sarah was looking down at her phone and then giggling, swiping.
Joel came in, kicking dirt off of his boots, kissing the top of her curls, “Mornin’ baby girl, what’s for breakfast?”
“Strawberry pancakes.”
He chuckled and shook his head, “Berry traitor.”
But behind him his wife held out a plate and his mouth set a little but it was piled high with blueberry pancakes-- his favorite.
His wife ate them plain, but her pancakes were streaked with purple and red from the stains on the griddle and the spatula. She would eat them despite the contamination.
She smiled widely and nudged Sarah, “Hey, humans in front.”
The girl snorted and turned the phone over so she couldn’t look at it and smiled at her dad, “Catch anything?”
He shook his head, “Didn’t leave yet. Your uncle turned a tire, we gotta wait for him to go get it patched.”
“That sucks.”
“I get breakfast with my girls, life’s been worse.” He took a big bite of his food, mumbling through it, “What’s on your agenda?”
“She has a date.” His wife stage-whispered and Sarah looked horrified and betrayed, shrieking, “MOM!”
Her mother giggled, “I’m sorry than what is it?”
“A what?” Joel choked a little and realized he didn’t have a drink so his wife offered him her juice and then got up to fix him a coffee.
Sarah was blushing, “It’s not a date. There’s a group of us. We’re going to the movies after soccer….oh, can I ride with Charlene and her boyfriend?”
“Does Charlene’s boyfriend drive?” Joel’s voice was a little too hoarse from choking and Sarah nodded to which he responded, “So that’s a no from me, mama bear?”
“The motion carries.” She swung the spatula like a gavel.
“....What?”
Joel chuckled, “Means no babygirl.”
“Why?”
“Because you’re all kids. Kids are dumb. Why isn’t Charlene’s mom driving?”
“Because her boyfriend drives.” The duh was silent.
“I’ll swing by and take her.”
Joel nodded, “I can pick her her up.”
Sarah groaned loudly and then Joel said, “Now wait, I don’t believe you’ve mentioned who the date is with.”
“It’s a group thing.”
“Who is in the group?”
“Sara M, Jack, Mitch, Vanessa, and Gabby.” She furrowed her brow, “Oh and Paulie.”
Joel blinked realizing he only recognized Jack and Gabby.
Behind him his wife tapped her watch, “Were you going to go get changed for soccer?”
“Who’s taking her to soccer?”
“I was going to…”
“I can.”
They both offered at the same time and then Sarah said, “Dad can do it.”
She always chose dad.
You noticed that she always chose dad.
She went upstairs and Joel stood up and took his plate to the sink to wash it.
The air changed when Sarah left.
Joel shucked the pancakes off his plate with force and agitation. His wife started cleaning up the mess from cooking and packing the leftover pancakes in bags to freeze while hers laid on the plate, half-eaten, destined for the trash can.
The silence was thick until the sound of the hair-dryer going on upstairs bought them a couple minutes.
“You gotta talk to me when she’s not around.” His wife whispered in a sharp, tired tone.
Joel pulled something out of his pocket and slapped it on the counter next to her, “You wanna talk about that?”
The card from the divorce lawyer she’d gone to see. It might have fallen out of her pocket somewhere.
She eyed it and sighed, “I just wanted to see what our options were.”
Joel gritted his teeth, “Alright, sugar, tell me: what are our options?”
“Don’t.” She held up a hand, “Don’t start Joel.”
His chest heaved in annoyance, “Were we going to talk about this or was I going to wake up and get served papers instead of breakfast?”
She slapped the dish towel down on the counter, she didn’t realize it was going to hit some glassware and everything clattered dangerously but didn’t break.
She sucked in a breath-- somewhere between pissed off and crying.
“I….I can’t … I don’t know what to do.” Her shoulders heaved up and down, “You cheated--”
“I stopped myself from cheating!”
“You don’t get to be a fucking hero because you let the twenty-something give you a blowjob and you stopped before you fucked her. You don’t get to fucking do that Joel. I can’t touch you, I can barely look at you.”
He growled, “Shouldn’t have ever told you….it was nothing.”
“Yes, telling me was the clear problem.”
She collected herself for a moment, “Joel...the things that made it tempting and seem ok are...they are still there. They aren’t gone. We need to...we need to decide if we are fixing them or just...calling it a draw.”
“A draw.” Joel huffed, “A divorce isn’t a draw, sugar lump, it’s a loss.”
“So do you wanna fix it?”
The stairs creaked and groaned and they both got quiet.
Sarah looked between them.
Joel cleared his throat and opened the back door, “Come on baby, I’ll drive you there.”
__________________________________________________________________________
He was drinking with Tommy.
“So did she serve you?”
Joel chugged his beer, “Matter of time.”
Tommy sighed, “Sorry.”
Joel shrugged, “Not your fault.”
“She gonna get Sarah?”
“Over my dead body.”
Tommy cocked an eyebrow, “So you’re going to fight her?”
“If she makes me. I don’t wanna fight with her. I fucked up. I can take my medicine. But she tries to take my kid....”
Tommy’s eyes were soft and sympathetic, “I’m sure it won’t be like that...she’s not like that.”
Joel poured himself another from the pitcher and eyed the bartender who was smirking at him, “No...no she’s alright she’s just pissed.”
Tommy looked like he was chewing his lips and Joel said, “Go ahead. Say it.”
“No...no need to kick a dog when it’s down.”
Joel didn’t think that was right.
He’d been warned years ago and didn’t listen. He knew he should do better and he didn’t do it…
He’d kicked himself. And he was going to keep on doing it.
He poured another beer and saw his father in the bottom of the glass.
__________________________________________________________________________
Sarah had a sleepover.
He didn’t need to be told that it was going to be time for a long talk.
He braced.
He braced for days.
She sat down with two glasses of liquor and passed one to him and he just tipped it back.
“So it’s a bad talk?” He nodded to the glasses.
“I could use the edge being taken off, yeah.” She patted the table across from her, “We need to talk.”
He slumped into the chair, “Well get on with it then.”
She sipped her drink, “You know what I’m going to say.”
“I don’t want a divorce.”
“I don’t want a divorce, Joel but I need other things and I think...I think we need a divorce.”
He stared at the wall, refusing to look at her so she continued.
“I need you out of this house. I can’t...I can’t keep living with you here like this. I’m so sorry, Joel, really I am, I wish I could but it’s...it’s making me the kind of person I don’t wanna be. I need...I need a big breather.”
“A breather and a divorce are different.”
“There’s no rule says we have to be nasty to each other if we get divorced. We can be close. We can get along.”
Joel felt punched in the stomach.
He was quiet.
He got up and helped himself to another drink.
“I just…I need to go back to a place where I just….I loved you but didn’t feel like I owned you. And you never wanted to be owned by me. You resent it. You didn’t want to get married, you thought we had to. I was over-excited because I had been dreaming of that. We got closer than before, we...I love you. I think I will always love you and that’s good because we will always have Sarah to think about but … I don’t know that marriage made our relationship better. I think it made it worse. And I think we’d get along better if it wasn’t here.”
His wife --ex? Ex wife soon-- was speaking softly like she was trying to calm down a dog. Maybe she was.
He had felt awful rabid.
He looked at his liquor glass.
“Nobody forced me to marry you.” He offered, as though if he didn’t defend himself she was right and he just wanted to pull that rightness back away from her a little.
“No...but you thought you had to. And you didn’t want to.”
She sighed, “Do you have any idea how long I had my eye on you Joel Miller?”
He looked up, tried to keep his face from being pissed off, but he couldn’t.
“Oh good, this the part where you tell me I’m the bad guy?”
“No that was during the adultery.”
“You got some kinda nerve bashing this over my head when I break my fucking back to--”
“Oh will you just tell me if you noticed me eyeing you up Joel? I’m not trying to be a bitch but if you push me there I’ll go there quick.” She tried to take a calming breath. Tried. Didn’t quite get it done. “Did you notice me Joel?”
He was fuming. “No.”
“No. Because you weren’t looking my way until I fell right in your lap. You...you’d have gone your whole life without looking for me, and I would’ve sat there pining for you. So see, Joel, that’s the difference. You...you’re going to go looking for something again. It’s just a thing. You will feel frustrated or angry and you will remember you were always looking for something else or someone else and thought we’d have fun and the fun turned around and bit you.”
“I love Sarah.”
“I know you do. Doesn’t mean you asked for her. I think...I think we have to agree to just not get our feelings hurt when someone tells us the truth. We have a baby together, Joel. A beautiful baby and she’s getting big and maybe we can help her avoid our mistakes if we get a little honest about them.”
Honest.
Honesty.
He didn’t consider himself a liar.
Honesty had gotten him here.
If he had just not said anything about Kristy and the goddamn….
Breathe.
A breather.
They need a breather.
A legal breather.
He nodded, “A breather….I could use a breather.”
He could.
_________________________________________________________________________
A year later...
He knocked on the door, it was late, but he had a bag with him and knew he’d forget about coming all the way out here if he left it until tomorrow.
“Sarah left this behind, said you needed your sweater? For your trip-thing.” He said by way of both greeting and apology when she opened the door with a wine bottle in her hand, “Didn’t mean to interrupt. She’s at Caitlyn’s for the uh...the what’s it thing?”
“Pasta party?”
“That.”
He nodded to the wine, “I’ll let you get back to your...thing.”
She looked down at the bottle, “Nothing’s going on...you wanna come in for a sec? I got something on the stove, I don’t wanna burn it but since you’re here…”
He cleaned off his boots before walking in.
She hadn’t changed the kitchen.
It was an odd feeling walking through his own house like a stranger but…
Joel had liked moving back into his dad’s house, a sentence he was sure he wouldn’t ever say. He had hated that house. But when the divorce was coming his dad had died and Tommy had immediately ceded the house to Joel’s control (“I’d like you to keep the guest room drawn up but…”) and it couldn’t have come at a better time. With the shuffle and the cost of burying his dad and everything he’d wound up taking a loan which he just taught himself to think of as the mortgage and fuck, it was about as much.
But things had happened to soften the different blows.
His ex had surprised him with Tommy’s help: before he got one box of stuff over to the house all the carpets were torn up and replaced, all the walls painted. His ex had chosen some wallpaper which he hated but she had meant well and paid for it so he didn’t say it was ugly to her face.
It looked less like his dad’s house then.
Tommy had helped him attack the kitchen. His dad’s kitchen, the site of more than one broken nose or split lip, had been moderately transformed with some sandpaper, a different finish, and new linoleum.
He didn’t have much furniture or stuff but the house felt airy and big and that was a contrast to the little cramped farmhouse he’d been living at and...he did feel...something.
Easier.
He hadn’t realized that he had never really lived a life he was completely in control of. He’d not gotten out of his dad’s house before Sarah was born. He’d had a wife and a baby to think about. He had never gotten to decide that nothing was going on that wall but a big ol’ television and he didn’t have to ask anyone’s permission. He got the leather couches he had always wanted that his wife had thought were trashy.
His wife.
Ex-wife.
At first he really couldn’t say anything to her.
There was an embarrassment to knowing his dick had landed them in yet another predicament.
But she did seem….less harassed. Less harried.
He had been getting to the point where he had hated being in the house with her but now...
He liked seeing her more.
And he saw her a lot. They shared Sarah...and the sharing had been fine. Everyone had to talk about what they needed, adjust, make sure the ship kept sailing. Respect everyone’s boundaries.
Of course the ship didn’t start out smooth sailing.
There had been tears.
Lots of tears.
But even Sarah had admitted the other day that everyone’s mood seemed to have improved when they didn’t live all together.
She felt like they were both...happier.
“You both work more but you’re...not as mad about it.”
“I was never mad about working, baby girl…”
“You just seemed it.”
And there was more alone time.
He’d never gotten the chance to be alone, really, and he was relishing it when he had it.
He’d gotten back to the guitar.
Of course he worked more with more time to himself but that was fine.
Money would always be tight.
That was fine.
He felt...closer with his ex than he had in years.
This was….this was all fine.
Odd as it was.
It was fine.
“Something smells good.”
She smiled as though she was presenting something, “I was hoping to send it with Sarah but I’ll pack it up for you now. Or...looks like it needs another fifteen.”
His brow furrowed, “....You...This is for me?”
“It’s your birthday. Well, tomorrow. But still.”
He had been bracing for a birthday alone before getting Sarah tomorrow night.
This caught him off guard.
“You made my dinner?”
“Chicken marsala, extra sauce….and…” She kicked at the oven, “Garlic bread. No salad. I added the salad for Sarah, you don’t like the salad.”
“Why’d you do this?”
“You can’t cook, Joel.”
“No I mean...why’d you do this?”
She ran a hand over his scruffy beard, “Baby...it’s your birthday. I love you. I want you to be fed with the good stuff. Oh!--”
She held up a finger and opened a pantry and pulled out a little box, “For you.”
He gave her a disappointed look but she waved it off, “It’s small, but open it.”
It was a new keychain, a baseball that glowed when he squeezed it, and she shrugged, “Because you have new keys.”
He snorted, “Ex-wife humor?”
“I did get funnier, didn’t I?”
“Thanks baby.” He kissed her from habit and it froze them both in place. Then she caught his jaw and pulled him closer to kiss him again. At first it was awkward-- quick. Like they were each getting a punch in before the timer went off.
But he was…
Fuck.
He’d been so tired.
He was working so hard.
Nobody ever...nobody really wanted him this way and he wasn’t interested in a girlfriend anymore and who even had the fucking time?
She felt like home.
She tasted like cookies and Christmases and sloppy couch sex at night.
Then she reached behind her and turned off the stove.
He knew what that meant. What sort of invitation it was.
“Sure you wanna do this?”
She chuckled lightly, “Joel I’ve wanted to do this since high school...and I know what’s going to happen better. You aren’t going to sweep back in, it’s fine...it’s...a messy thing. The kind of thing we have is messy. No rules as long as everyone is happy and safe.”
His hands ran over the curves of her hip and pulled them sharply against his, “You gonna feel happy and safe in the morning or we going to fight again?”
“You fight with me, I won't make you breakfast.”
“Yes ma’am.”
__________________________________________________________________________
It was another bright and sunny day.
The news was on.
There were cinnamon rolls in the oven.
She was cleaning dishes.
Someone’s arms snaked around her waist.
“You making rolls?”
“Mmhmm. Figured you could take one with you.”
He kissed the top of her shoulder.
She let herself tip her head back against his, handing him a cup of coffee which he let her go to take.
“You going to pick her up right?” He asked, sipping on the hot drink.
“Yeah...you said you’re home late, do you want me to stay with her? I just...I had that interview…supposed to be outta town a couple days...”
“She’s big enough to be in the house. I got cable. She’ll be tickled to watch that shit she likes that I can’t stand.”
“If you think.”
“She’ll be fine.”
She leaned back against him and then a huge boom sounded and sirens went off and with concern they both straightened up and went to the news.
“That’s….that’s gotta be like...a...you know. Just a stunt right? Like publicity?” She was pointing at the quarantine barriers going up.
Joel nodded, “Yeah it’s nothing, it’s just….it’s a bad cold. Bad flu or something. Virus. They like to overblow it all, makes for good headlines, I’m sure...I’m sure it’s nothing. Don’t worry.”
She rubbed her arms, “Your doors all lock right?”
“Yeah, they do.”
She looked out the window, “Your neighborhood over there is safe.”
It wasn’t a question so he didn’t answer it.
He rubbed her back and she shivered as she watched the screen.
“Be careful.” She told him in a whispered voice.
He eyed the screen then her and the timer went off and the rolls were done and he was about to take one and go to work.
He just managed a “You too” before he headed out the door.
It felt impotent but he didn’t want to shake the tentatively pleasant boat.
After all...how bad could it all get?
____________________________________________________________________________
He was trying to process…
How though?
“Joel we gotta move.”
Tommy’s voice was tight.
Joel lifted Sarah up.
Tommy’s fingers twitched on the gun for a second.
“What if she….can she….”
“She’s dead.”
“They don’t look particularly alive. Have you seen the--”
“SHUT UP!” Joel growled.
In that moment Joel looked like his own kind of ghost, the ghost of a father who would howl at the moon and swipe a right hook to his boys. Tommy took a step back from him.
“Ok! Ok….what now?” Tommy’s voice was small.
Joel looked around, he knew a place close by. It might be empty...but even if it wasn’t, he just…
Sarah needed to go home.
She needed to be home.
He needed to get his baby home.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tommy sighed, there was less screaming out here. He took it for a good sign.
But the upstairs light was on. Joel knew she wouldn't have left that one on on purpose.
So...who was there?
“Stay in front. Don’t get trigger happy.” Joel instructed.
Tommy went up through the old shack of a house carefully. Joel would prod, “Check the pantry...open the basement door….remember, there’s a bathroom there, watch it.”
They were clearing the house before they settled.
They heard a ...scuffling. A scratching.
They stilled and eyed one another, Tommy checked his ammo and held up two fingers.
Joel whispered, “The bedroom. We kept the guns in the bedroom.”
Tommy swallowed, “In a safe?”
“They were.”
The hallway split. Tommy looked to Joel.
“You go right, I’ll go left. Holler if you need.”
Tommy snorted.
Hollering wouldn’t be the problem.
Joel’s half of the hall had the master bedroom.
He saw the flickering light.
He braced and from under Sarah he reached out and grabbed a table lamp.
If he had to...if he had to he could bully his way out.
He was hoping he wouldn’t have to.
He pushed open the door and huddled in the corner was the absolute last thing he was hoping to see.
“Thought you were supposed to be out of town sugar.” He said, not putting down the lamp yet.
“Joel?”
She was shaking. Frantic. Tired. Glassy eyed. Hands clutching his old baseball bat.
Her eyes fell right to Sarah. Joel's went to her shoulder.
The bite on her shoulder. Bleeding. Nasty.
Tommy was coming down the hall, "Joel? Everything all right?"
Joel put Sarah on the bed, put down the lamp, and turned to go to the door. Tommy...Tommy didn’t need to see this.
"She's here."
"She alright?"
Joel held out his hand, "Give me the gun. Go down to the garage. Grab a shovel."
"Shovel? Why?"
Joel's face hardened, "I'm not leaving my baby out here….not like this. She gets buried."
Tommy’s jaw set and he nodded, “You… you ok?”
“Give us a minute, it’ll….it’ll be fine.”
When he came back in the room his ex was nuzzling Sarah on the bed, "Joel grab me a blanket for her. She's freezing."
He did what she asked. Mildly asking, "You alright? Lot of blood."
Dazed she belatedly looked down to her shoulder, "Do you know they cancelled my flight? They did. Came home and someone was...they were going through the trash. Tried to run them off."
She reached for the bat and clutched it to her chest. He noted it was bloody.
Her eyes were half wild. She wasn’t….she wasn’t all there.
He’d seen Jimmy next door.
He’d seen…
He’d keep an eye on it.
She nodded to the closet, “I couldn’t remember the code for the gun.”
“Anniversary.”
“Was it?”
He nodded.
“I thought it was her birthday.”
“Nope. Guns came before her. Remember? You got scared, you...you wanted them here.”
She cocked her head, “Did I?”
She coughed.
Blood danced on the corners of her mouth.
“You feeling alright sugar lump?”
“Thirsty.”
He went to the bathroom and got her water.
She was petting Sarah’s hair, “I...I think her leg’s hurt, Joel. Poor thing must’ve fallen asleep. What happened?”
“Car accident.”
“She’s ok?”
He wanted to scream.
But he just bit it down.
“Wanted to bring her home.”
He watched as the mother of his child kissed and petted at a corpse, baby-talking her like she hadn’t done in years, telling her what a brave girl she was, “Mama’s pretty little girl”.
He offered her the water.
She choked on it, spit it up, mostly blood and thick awful bile and her head and hands were shaking a little, “Thirsty…..”
He reached out and took the bat from her, choking up with one hand and not quite swinging...but he knew he was close enough to do some damage. He had a bat in one hand, a pistol in the other...and he knew the shotgun code. He would win.
He didn’t want to win.
But he would.
“Sugar?”
She looked at him.
Dead eyed.
Drooling.
He shook his head, “Please don’t do this to me.”
She coughed. Coughed and coughed and choked on it but then cleared her throat.
She looked up at him and he saw clarity. Panic. But clarity. Her voice changed over, "Joel?"
"Hm?"
She ran a hand over her shoulder and shook, "Don't...don't let her see me...like that. Ok? Don't...don't let her see me that way."
He didn't say anything just clenched his jaw so hard he thought he broke it.
"Don't worry...you're….she's better off with you anyway." She said as the rasp started to set in.
Joel looked down at his feet and her breathing changed and labored and he said, "I'm sorry."
Outside Tommy heard the gunshot.
He waited. If it was more than a couple minutes he would go see what was wrong but he didn't need to. The stairs creaked.
Joel came out.
He didn't talk just pointed to the shovel and made a give me motion and Tommy handed it over. For a long moment Joel looked at Tommy's work. Nodded. It was fine. It would do.
Then Joel started to dig the second hole.
_______________________________________________________
A/N: Don't get too excited team, I don't have much more until we get the show but....I (and this part I cannot stress enough) love a tragic antihero. This show will, in fact, wreck me.
Beta Read! My Goodness! First time in.....decades. But because she has a toe in the TLOU waters the wonderful @seasonschange-butpeopledont beta-read for me to keep me honest on my Joel Tone and I appreciate her.
Tags! <- They don't like working. If it's crossed out I couldn't tag but if its not and you didn't get it lmk.
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