“You’re getting sloppy, LT” Natch said as I walked towards to parking garage.
I’d been up all night on guard duty, covering someone else’s shift straight after mine, and had rolled into bed a few hours before I was due up for Natch’s supply run. As a result, I didn’t make it down to the Hummer for a good few hours after we were meant to have left.
“Maybe if I hadn’t been up all night on guard duty, I wouldn’t have been asleep so long” I said, gritting my teeth.
“See, that’s your problem, LT, you’re too trusting. If that was me, and someone didn’t turn up for their shift, I’d give ‘em what for” Natch chuckling, nudging the person standing next to him in the ribs. I expected to see Grovesnor, his stony expression as fixed as ever, but standing in his place was Spitfire.
“Where’s Grovesnor?” I asked, confused.
“Plans change” Spitfire said simply.
“See, Grovesnor and his little chiquita are spending some quality time together” Natch laughed. “Now hurry it up, we don’t got all day”
The supply run itself was largely uneventful, just the three of us raiding the local stores and keeping an eye out for any roaming zombies. While their numbers were few in the day time, they could still sneak up on us. I’d been looking out for the long-legged ones Pet had mentioned, but hadn’t had any luck. I was starting to think that she’d had a nightmare about them, and thought they were real.
Natch had heard something in the back of the store we were searching, and signalled for us to split up. He headed down the nearest aisle, vaguely in the middle of the store, while I took to the right, creeping towards the tiny customer bathroom. I’d assumed Spitfire had gone left, so you can imagine my surprise when I felt something grab me from behind. I went to call out to Natch, but a hand clamped over my mouth.
“Shut up, it’s me” Spitfire had muttered quietly, glancing in Natch’s direction.
He lowered his hand, tiny scars marring his mahogany knuckles, and looked me straight in the eye.
“Natch? He’d shoot me if he saw this” he said and I frowned. “I need to speak to you. In private” he said, offering me no answers, before carrying on with his search.
Natch had found the source of the noise, a stray cat fighting with a tin of cat food, and had, in his words, “put it out of its misery”, though I couldn’t help but wonder how much “misery” it had actually been in. The rest of the run was spent mostly in silence, the three of us all kind of awkward around each other.
We got back in time for lunch, which despite our increased food stores, was nothing special, and barely enough to keep us going. Natch had given me and Spitfire the rest of the day off, since we’d done so well on the run, and I figured that could be my chance to speak to him, but he raced off once he’d finished eating without a second word. So, with Dante’s permission, I borrowed a bag of chips from the supply, heading up to the guard room to see Robin, grabbing a couple beers from my room as I did.
Robin grinned when he saw what I had with me. “You know me so well”
I laughed, sitting down with him, opening my beer. “And to think, when we first met, I thought you were an idiot”
Robin grabbed at his chest in pain. “Right in my ego” he gasped out, the both of us laughing.
“I was right, you are an idiot”
“A lovable idiot, though” he countered and I shook my head, laughing again.
“Are we playing poker or what?” I asked as he opened the bag of chips. I guess that’s a yes, then.
We played for a few hours, betting with money we didn’t have and teasing each other, trying to make the best out of our situation. You have to enjoy the little thing, y’know?
“Draw, you fucker” Robin said a few hours later, three grand up.
“You won’t like it”
“Oh, I bet I will” he chuckled, laying down his cards. “Straight flush” he announced smugly.
I let out a sigh. “Shit, you got me. I’ve only got a royal flush” I smirked, watching as Robin shot to his feet, cursing. “I believe you said all or nothing?”
“Whatever, man, it’s not even real money. You can have it” he sulked, sitting back down and throwing his hand at me as I packed the deck back in its box.
Bandit, who had been lying on the sofa in the back of the room, had woken up from the slumber he’d slipped into, wandering over to the two of us to sit with me, his head resting on my knee. I patted the top of his head, grabbing a chip for him. I know it’s hardly the most nutritious thing, but he deserved a treat every once in a while. He hadn’t been outside since he showed up here.
“What’s happening with you and Rae, anyway?” Robin asked.
“What d’you mean?” I asked, frowning slightly.
“I mean I’m not an idiot. I can tell she likes you”
“Well it’s not happening. And don’t tell any of the others”
“My lips are sealed” he chuckled. “You don’t even think she’s hot, though?”
“If you think she’s so hot, you go after her”
“I’ll pass, thanks. She’s not my type”
“And who is? Kat?” I teased.
“Hell no. Trust me, if my type was here, I’d have made a move by now”
“Sure you would” I smirked. “I thought your type was single?”
“It is. What of it?”
“There’s three single women here, what’s stopping you?”
“Can we drop this, Col?”
I laughed. “So you do have a crush on someone”
“No, I don’t” he insisted.
“Is it Maria?”
“No. Col, it’s no one, just drop it” he said, turning to face the screens properly, giving me the cold shoulder.
I let out a sigh, giving Bandit another chip. I felt him lick my hand, wiping the slobber on my trousers. Wearing fatigues all the time was starting to get old, even if they were practical. Only having one pair was a huge pain in the ass, too; on the rare occasion that you didn’t need them long enough to wash them and hang them out to dry, it left you with not much else to wear. More often than not, the few times I’d washed them, I’d ended up hiding in my apartment in my boxers til everyone was asleep, sneaking down to the laundry room to get them. It kind of gave us extra incentive not to get them covered in blood, though. I looked up when I heard a knock at the door, answering it.
“Oh, hi, Rae. Did you want to speak to Robin?” I asked and she shook her head.
“Actually, I wanted to speak to you”
“Robin, you mind if I-”
“Take all the time you need” he chuckled and I stepped outside, shutting the door behind me.
“Can we go somewhere else?” she asked. “I don’t want people listening”
“Sure” I said, a little confused, and followed her back to her apartment.
She let out a quiet sigh, turning to face me. “Is it true? About that girl?”
I nodded. “But she was a zombie, Rae, I swear”
“There was no other choice?”
“Sure, there was the choice to let her eat Kat” I said, earning myself a glare. “Sorry”
“No, it’s okay. I guess you did the right thing, really. I just… I hadn’t realised it would affect someone that young”
I didn’t really know what to say to that. I did about the only thing I could do, which was offer her a hug. She took it gladly, her slender arms sliding around my waist. Maybe we… I mean, maybe we could try and make it work…