"Smile. We're still alive. Think of it as a clean slate."

0 · 245 views · located in Post-Apocalyptic America

a character in “Bullets and Brains”, as played by Little Fox


“The world's gone to hell in a handbasket but I still manage to smile.”

The Basics

Full Name
Armonía Rosa Talamantez




¼ Brazilian, ¼ Cuban, ½ Samoan

Sexual Orientation

Prior Occupation
She was a playwright and an actress/singer on Broadway. She wasn't exactly famous. The world ending sort of ruined that. Besides that, she made her money through busking, modeling, and even moonlighting at a strip club a few times as well as teaching dance classes at the YMCA.

Current Occupation
Art is the group's 3rd in command. She fancied herself the 2nd, being the first to join Robyn, but she wasn't going to argue against Nate. She's able to make herself useful in keeping the younger ones entertained and taken care of and is an expert in wilderness survival [identifying various flora and their uses and animal tracking] and is a more than capable cook. She makes an excellent Scavenger and can be seen with her trusty canine companion bringing along necessities in their wagon.

What's on the Outside

Hair & Eye Color
Honey blonde & Bright hazel/green

Height & Weight
5'6" & 132lbs

Tattoos & Piercings
On her right hand is the same tattoo found on the right hand of her half-brother and father: a tribal Polynesian design that they got 11 years ago. She also has a tattoo on her left foot that she gave herself more recently. On her right arm is a colorful half-sleeve that she's been doodling on and off for the past two years. Her piercings include three in her earlobe, an industrial piercing, a tongue piercing, navel, her dimples, her right eyebrow, her nose, and “angel kiss” piercings in her lip.

Character Color

Art is very well built – She's tall and curvy and does her best to take care of her body. She's earned a few more scars recently, but that's bound to happen when a run to the grocery store becomes a James Bond mission. She tends to keep her hair thrown up into a messy bun when she's out and about. Despite the world ending, she has still managed to retain her obsessive need to look some form of fabulous, though she's had to go for “fine and frumpy” and “gorgeously grungy” as of late, often being smeared with mud and dirt and blood. More often than not, she's seen wearing a tank top, flat-heeled boots, and some form of denim bottoms. She has a few scars that are faded, but the ones that stand out are the ones on her back. They are very large and prominent from beatings by father and half-brother. The ones that she has now are from getting scraped up running from zombies.

What's on the Inside

{Funny, Nurturing, Playful, Witty, Outgoing, Optimistic, A bit off}

Despite her dark past, she's always got a smile on her face and enjoys life as a whole. It doesn't matter who you come across, everyone will describe Art pretty much the same as the others; She's very sweet and nurturing but a very free and independent spirit that craves what life has to offer. The girl has a spirit that can't be tamed. She doesn't like when people treat her like she's still a child or tries to make executive decisions for her life. She will fight back if she feels uncomfortable or frustrated. Speaking of fighting, that's where the darker side of her begins to show. She tends to start with a passive aggressive attitude towards her aggressor, but she can easily be pushed into a hyper-aggressive state if the stress or irritation is there. She's a huge advocate for self-expression, especially through various art forms. She's always on about which tattoo she's going to get next and keeps various books filled with drawings and tattoo ideas. One thing you'll hardly see her without is her camera and video camera. Even at the world's destruction, she is still able to capture the remaining beauty. She is just this...bubbly person full of energy. Y'know...Until you make her mad. Otherwise, she's easy to get along with and the right person to turn to if you need cheering up or a break from all the destruction and seriousness. For her, every cloud has a silver lining. With her constant happiness, people often wonder if she's mentally ill in some way, as she is almost never sad and the things she usually is sad about tend to be...trivial. Such as her gameboy dying before she can finish a level, her camera dying, her clothes being shredded. Things that people cared about before the world ended.

But there are two other sides of her. They're generally kept in check with her meds though. They tend to surface when she's under extremely depressed or angry. When she's depressed or frightened she enters a childlike mentality and becomes extremely shy and selectively mute. She'll cry quite a bit and loses hours of sleep, driven by paranoia. It's a confusing state of mind for her though it doesn't tend to last very long and she usually returns to normal. Getting her out of a nasty mood is much more difficult. When pushed beyond her breaking point while she's off her meds brings out an ice cold misanthropic bitch. Her tolerance and patience levels hit zero and no fucks are given when she crushes the spirits of others. She becomes a bit of a textbook bully and extremely bossy.

※ Working out ※ Playing instruments ※ Writing ※ Composing ※ Modeling ※ Reading ※ Cooking ※ Cleaning ※ Baking ※ Listening to music ※ Raiding comic book shops ※ She surfed when she lived in Hawaii ※ Skateboarding ※ Raiding record shops ※ Raiding thrift stores ※ Zoning out in meetings to play her Gameboy ※

※ Humming ※ Writing on her hand and upper arms ※ Tattooing herself ※ Reciting facts ※ Quoting songs, poems, and books ※ Quoting movies ※ Just quoting in general ※ Moving in her sleep without her stuffed panda ※

  • Mild allergy to strawberries but often eats them anyways
  • Addicted to body art
  • Extremely allergic to peanuts
  • Addicted to sweets, seeming to always have something in her mouth
  • Severely allergic to tylenol

Candy ϟ Not sleeping alone
Sleeping in stores ϟ Nature
Climbing trees ϟ Swimming
Movies ϟ Music
Causing smiles ϟ Making music
Kids ϟ Her dog
Zombies ϟ Black licorice
Being alone ϟ Advanced darkness
Empty night skies ϟ The cold
Itchy cloth ϟ Centipedes
Cough syrup ϟ Losing people
Loose clothes ϟ Sweaty pits

What Makes Us Special

Strengths and Weaknesses

Character Skills/Talents
Stealth ϟ Dancing
Cooking ϟ Artistic prowess
Evasion ϟ Fitting in small places
Scavenging ϟ Foraging
Physical condition ϟ Comforting

⋆Her past
⋆Her back scars
⋆Her diabetes
⋆Her sleep apnea
Her real name
Character Flaws/Weaknesses
OCD ϟ Marksmanship
Insomnia ϟ Combat
Picky eater ϟ Medic work beyond first aid
Diabetic ϟ Sleep Apnea

☠Losing more people
☠Dying in her sleep
☠Being cast out; being alone

What's Done Is Done



Place Of Origin
Matanzas, Cuba; Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii; San Francisco, California; New York City, New York

Birth Date
March 21st, 1991

From the first day of preschool to the last day of high school everyone will ask you every other day what you want to be when you grow up. Most people will be in a constant state of flux, always changing their answer. Not Art. She knew what she wanted from day one; She was going to be an artist. Everyone in her family was. Art hailed from Matanzas, Cuba and came from a rather wealthy family that made their fortune through the use of their innate artistic abilities. She lived with her mother and grandmother, as her father was hardly part of the picture. She had a pretty happy life and was generally allowed to roam free and do what she wanted. She didn‘t have a lot of friends outside of her family; She was homeschooled by her grandmother so that she had more time in the day to hone her skills, often dancing until her feet blistered. She had all sorts of recitals and showcases, but all of the other artists were supposed to he viewed as competition. Her only friends outside of the Talamantez family were people that her mother used to get her work into the public eye. After Art's grandmother died her mother took over the homeschooling. Her mother was a harsh taskmaster and disregarded Art's wishes to pursue her artistic vision more through cinema and photography. She was nine years old when her uncle bought her a brand new camera after her mother had thrown out all of her other ones. When her mother found out that she had been hiding the camera, she tried to take it away from her but Art wasn't giving it up. As they were wrestling with it at the top of the stairs she began to lose her grip on the camera before it finally escaped her grasp. Her mother fell backwards with the camera and took a tumble down two flights of stairs, breaking her neck in the process. After her mother's death, nobody on her mother's side of the family wanted to take her in and she had to choose between the father she hardly knew or foster care. Despite her father and half-brother being practically bums going nowhere in life, she had to admit that she had fun while she was with them. And it was better than going to strangers. There was a lot of wildlife to photograph and a lot of nature to experience. Plus nobody really got in her way and she wasn't woken up at the crack of dawn to dance until her ankle ankles were sore and paint until her fingers hurt. It certainly was a change of scenery, leaving behind the city of Matanzas and the large Talamantez estate to embrace a small cabin in the middle of a large forest out past Maui. Everything was just fine at first – She attended public schools and got amazing marks in her class; she was 13 when she skipped from 8th-grade to 10th grade. Mano - her half-brother - was a bit of a dick to her. He was a typical jock type; total man-about-town, sports star, and heavy party boy. He was the king of the beach. They fought a lot - mostly when he was drunk or high on something - but it was never anything serious. She was 14 when her father's fiancée drowned after surfing in a heavy storm. Her father seemed to spiral from there, beginning to binge drink like there was no tomorrow. Art began to help him by picking up the slack around the house, cooking and cleaning for herself, her father, and her brother. And then things began to get uncomfortable. Art came home from surfing with her friends late at night and found her father sitting in the recliner surrounded by bottles of liquor. She grabbed a blanket to cover him up but he grabbed her by the wrist and set her in his lap. “You're so beautiful, you know that. Right, Angel? My Angel. Just like your mother. Portia was so beautiful. You look just like her. I loved her, y'know. I love you too.” He stroked her hair and held her tight. She didn't mind at first; Her father was a very affectionate type and this was something she had gotten used to. She told him that she was tired and going to bed and that he should rest too, but he asked her to sit with him for a while longer. After all he had set up and waited for her to come home so he could spend time with her. She seemed to catch an attitude; She was cold and soaking wet and tired and he smelled like he had gone swimming in an ocean of Jack and Morgan before taking a shower in Jim. He got angry when she gave a huffy sigh and tried to leave, bringing the back of his hand hard across her face. The next two years were hell on her she struggled to finish school and get legally emancipated. She went home every day to her brother and father going to be physically, emotionally, and sexually abused. She almost didn't pass her senior year, but she did and still made Valedictorian. With a full ride scholarship and a letter of acceptance from San Francisco State University, the legally emancipated young teen gathered her things and hopped on the first plane from Hawaii to California. When she had first received her letter of acceptance she began to look online for jobs apartments. She soon moved into an apartment and begin working part-time as a cook at the Mighty Bean. The landlord of her apartments agreed to cut the normal rent in half until she turned 18 because she was a college student. While she was in college, she put every bit of her heart and soul into studying and pursued double majors. She did well enough living on her own and soon took an apprenticeship to a local tattoo artist and for some time, she made quite a bit of extra money as a freelance tattoo artist (among other things). After she turned 18, she began to struggle with the full rent and put out an ad for a roommate. She enjoyed living off campus. Enter Dakota - The two were soon fast friends and their apartment began to quickly become a hub for the friends they made in the area as they offered more than frozen pizza for dinner. The next six years seemed to fly by and she soon finally had her M.A. in Cinema and an M.F.A. in Dance and Choreography. She minored in Animation and Photography. After graduating at the age of twenty-three, she began to take things slowly. She had more time to "do her", as they say. Spending more time with her friends. She moved to New York shortly after and pursued a career on Broadway, though for the first year she was constantly a chorus girl and found herself moonlighting as a stripper and busking to make money as she had before. Just when she thought that she had made it big, the world ended. She had finished her second play, already getting some recognition. It was opening night for the play and they were in the middle of the third act when a close friend of hers and the lead male leaned in towards her. But he looked different and something wasn't right. There was a bite mark on his arm and some of the others had bite marks too and they all had been acting strange for the past few hours. She stopped the play right there, yanking away from him. After that, everything seemed to move so fast. There were screams all around and mass hysteria ensued. It took her two hours to get back to her apartment when it usually took one. Freaking out, she grabbed her dog, packed her bags and she took off. Her car crashed a little outside the city limits so she found herself grabbing two bags of supplies, her dog, and simply walking. She spent a few days hopping from house to house before she came across Robyn and joined with her before they became a group.

l Novia Talamantez l Mother l Deceased l
l Kai Kealoha l Father l Unknown l
Mano Kealoha l Half-brother l Unknown l

Happiest Memory
Her happiest memory comes from April 5th, 2015. She had finished her first major play, performed it on Broadway, and gotten an outstanding review. It was the happiest moment in her life. She felt accomplished. She felt like a somebody.

Saddest Memory
Her entire childhood spent with her father and half-brother is just a huge ball of "Fuck you" and she tries her best not to think about it. She also isn't fond of her first negative review. Not for her acting on Broadway, but for the first time she uploaded a cover song. She knew she did well, obviously, but the fact that someone would say something so mean hurt her.

~Only Robyn and Nate know that she used to be an exotic dancer. Robyn is the only person that knows that she has heinous scars on her back, that she has diabetes, that she was abused as a child, and that she has sleep apnea.

So begins...

Art's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathan Durand Character Portrait: Michael Fairaday Character Portrait: James Milo Character Portrait: Adam Dawson Character Portrait: Art Character Portrait: Robyn Dempsey Character Portrait: Annabelle Marie Richards Character Portrait: Aspen Bates Character Portrait: Layton Bates Character Portrait: Elias Grant Character Portrait: Kat Savchenko

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|| Outfit ||

Silence had long since befallen the world. No longer were there honking horns, laughing children, or large planes zooming above head. There were often dying and fearful screams here or there, mingled with the sounds of Mother Nature, whom had reclaimed her lands. But the most prominent, ruling, and horrifying sounds were the groans. Not the kind you hear coming from your parents' and older siblings' rooms late at night when they think you're sleeping tight, all snug as a bug. The groans of corpses, walking and rotting and looking for flesh to devour. It had been some time since the living dead (and not the sexy ones with fangs that Hollywood and lonely female writers pushed to the unwashed masses) had overtaken the world. Those that didn't join their ranks either ran or died trying. Art was one of those who ran. If it weren't for her Kela and Robyn and Nate, she figured she might have died after a month. Art was agile, flexible, strong, intuitive, and she knew how to survive in the wild. But there had been more than a situation or two where running wasn't an option and her hunting knife wouldn't have been enough to save her. Despite this, she still volunteered to go alone while some others headed in a group to ransack a ghost town (zombie town?) for supplies. Nate and Robyn, of course, insisted that she go with the group but she decided otherwise and left fifteen minutes ahead of them.

The silence around the town was not quite so...silent in her neck of the woods. As out of place as could be was the Mission Impossible theme. She was humming as she darted around, crawling under cars, twirling around corners with watchful eyes. Her Timberwolf/Husky padded playfully around with her, her tongue lolling out of her maw and dripping with saliva. To others, it may seem as neither of them took the situation seriously or simply didn't care. The fact was, she was confident. She hadn't seen signs of any hoardes and figured she'd be able to escape easily, whether she had to drop some stuff or not. Her target was not the grocery store. It was the local Dollar General. Her trusty GPS lead the way and she was quick to heft her empty backpack, tightening her grip on the straps. “Kela. No room for failure. No barking. Understand? No ladridos.” The blue and gold eyed dog gave a low snort in response. It had taken a month for her to train Kela to respond to her new commands and it was well worth it. She was the perfect companion for keeping watch, her species heightening her senses and her training and wolf blood heightening her instincts and reactions. The canine was strapped into her harness once used for farmers market trips, prepared for transporting the necessities when Art had a little red wagon.

If there was one thing that Art would absolutely not put up with, it was funk. Toothpaste, extra toothbrushes, deodorant, soap, rags, and various other toiletries were put into the bags that went into the cart before she set out to fill her own backpack, constantly sidestepping to avoid fallen merchandise with the flashlight of her phone strapped to her thigh lighting up the place. Candy was the first on her list. She needed her sugar and would not do without. She had stocked up on stuff and was headed out when she spotted a cute jacket and squealed just a bit, snatching it up quickly. She figured she might as well grab some more clothes. Winter was coming and not to mention, washing clothes had become a luxury. And poor Joshamee and Isabelle were growing like weeds. She stuffed every bit of clothing that she could into a black thirty gallon trash bag, hauling it over her shoulder and finally leaving. No signs of the undead. While her backpack wasn't quite heavy, the clothes had caused her to walk hunched with knees a bit bent; She didn't want it to tear. Sucking it up, she braved the nippy air and maneuvered her way back towards "home". It wasn't too far of a jog but she had to walk this time around.

And then she heard it.

The sound of feet dragging against grass and concrete, groaning and moaning. She wasn't even a mile away but running wasn't an option. Kela lowered her head and issued and low growl, her lips pulling back to reveal a nice set of sharp teeth. “Estable. Maniobras evasivas.” She didn't need to bring her finger to her lips to hush her pal - and she couldn't - to send the message. “Ir a Robyn,” she whispered. Kela gave a light nod of understanding as her human companion set down her black bag of clothes into the wagon before pulling out a notebook she had gotten for Cyan, writing quickly.

Clothes & stuff in big bag. Lots of hygiene products. Few games for the kids. Snacks too. Found zombies and I'm going to go check on the others. Robyn, write my story if I don't make it back. And take care of Kela. I love you guys.

P.S. Bury me in the powder blue jacket with the white faux fur lining the hood. It's fabulous.

The dog took off at a careful trot down the street with perked ears, towing her wagon with her. Taking a deep breath and telling herself that everything was going to be fine, she headed off towards the sounds. There weren't many, just four. But where there were four, there were more. She only prayed that they were all in small groups and not traveling like a pack of wolves. The idea of killing them made her stomach turn and she could feel tears well up in her eyes. Don't see it as killing them. You're liberating them. If, God forbid, you were to become one of them... Would you want me to let you roam around, rotting and looking for humans to eat? Or would you want me to end your suffering? It isn't cruelty, but now the greatest kindness you can do someone.
Nate was right. Drawing out one of her bowie hunting knives, she whistled loudly and drew their attention. Moaning and groaning, they shuffled towards her and she walked towards them. Crying the whole time, she jammed her knife into each of their faces, using as much force as she could muster. Rotted flesh and blood that was almost tar covered her hand as the bodies fell. Her vomit wasn't too far behind, making the stench all the more terrible. If she lived then she would definitely down some Listerine. Painfully swallowing the disgusting aftermath, she headed out, taking more careful steps.

The others might need her help. She wasn't quite as useful as the others; She was a decent shot with a bow and arrow but she didn't have the equipment and using her knife made her vomit. She wasn't just going to abandon them though. Her creeping turned into a jog as she followed Nate's previously given directions, finding that they weren't too far away. The pumpkin wedged between the automatic doors gave away their presence and it made her heart clench. What if they were in there and dead.... Or dying. Taking a breath that tasted of vomit, she grimaced and headed in. “Olly olly oxenfree,” she whisper shouted. It didn't take her long to spot them. She maneuvered her way to Nate's side, excusing herself silently. Seeing what they were all staring at caused her to puff up her cheeks, heart dropping. “I got stuff, babe. Kela is on her way back to base now... We could run.” It was a futile attempt, she knew. She knew Nate would probably prefer to take down the zombies now.


The cart was heavy but she was strong. She couldn't let down Art. Nose to the air, Kela trotted past vehicles with zombies trapped inside, abandoned homes, and decapitated and decaying bodies in the streets. Her wagon pulled smoothly behind her as she headed to the outskirts of town. There was no pep in her step until she saw home. A small farm house encircled by vehicles, the grounds littered with tents for those switching out for guard duty or those who simply didn't want to sleep indoors. She gave a long, low pitched howl as she stopped before taking off. She barked at Elias as she passed him but didn't stop until she reached the steps of the house. She howled and barked more, vying for Robyn's attention. Joshamee and Isabelle were the first to reach her, removing the harness and freeing her from the wagon. “Robyn! Robyn!” While Izzy had been holding the antsy canine in an attempt to calm her down, Josh had gotten Art's note and began screaming for Robyn.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Art Character Portrait: Robyn Dempsey Character Portrait: Shanti Nayar Character Portrait: Elias Grant

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#, as written by girlwt

She hated towns, or anything with more than two houses, so she had no intention of heading out with the group that was going to pick over what they could in the quaint town in the New York country side. Shanti instead moved steadily through the trees of the forest, watching a deer she spotted not more then ten minutes ago. She had on a pair of jeans, and boots, her hair was tied back and she wore a long-sleeved t-shirt. She did sort of wish for a coat or something. The creature had not caught her scent as of yet, and she was glad that she had the wind on her side. She fitted the crossbow with an arrow, if she didn't get this right, and just wounded the creature, the smell of blood would attract the undead. She was pretty sure there were some out here, and some other creatures that she didn't feel like facing on her own.

The deer was actually still pretty young, it looked like the start of the horns could be seen on its head. Venison would be a welcomed change, but what made Shanti hesitant was the smell of blood would still be strong, as she raised her crossbow,the deer looked up, but not at her. Something else had caught its attention, a lick on her hand and she looked down. Lizzy was right there, where she always was. With that moment of distraction she heard the deer take flight, and that made her uneasy. She listened again, and heard a creak.

It was that sound that made her curious, and she moved toward it, there it stood like a light bulb of some sort, the white house tucked back into the woods. It was an two story with a wrap around porch, a barn stood next to it as did a small garden off to the side. She noticed a shed in the back, she slung the crossbow back in its place and took out her binoculars. This was one of her most prized possessions, these belonged to her foster father, and she didn't ever leave them at camp. She looked at the house first for any sign of life, the windows had been boarded, there were loose ones hanging from the upstairs ones. The front door stood intact and she zoomed in, "No scratch marks, Elizabeth, that is a good sign."

She looked at the barn next, the door was securely closed, that was interesting. She looked at the beagle, "so what do you think." Elizabeth looked up and looked up with one of those dog faces that made you smile. Shanti looked at her, "your a bunch of help." Shanti took a swept of the area, for anything that looked suspicious. The area looked to quiet, to quiet, not even one undead, but also no sign of life either.

She put the binoculars up and moved her crossbow aside to pull her knives out. Arrows were to precious, and she rather not waste them if she didn't need to, when she went back over her mind what she grabbed that last day. She knew she was going to make choices and pack smart. She didn't know how long she would be walking, or who she would run into. She knew though if she headed north, warmer clothes would be needed. Yet she lost her coat somewhere in Maryland, or lets say she had to barter it, which she was now debating if that was a good idea or not.

She decided to approach this in the least threatening manner, just in case...and there was always a just in case. So she put the knives away and walked. She was silent and had her hands out in front of her, like there was a cop right there and he was going to arrest her. She entered the lane that would leave her out in the open, Nathan would probably call it a dumb fucking move, but the guy wasn't around, she could be dumb all she wanted without him there to nag her. She didn't walk slowly though, she tried to look normal, just a passerby looking for shelter or something to that effect.

She got to the first step and stopped, she took another three sixty look around, for two reasons, to see if she missed anything from afar and to give the person inside (if there was one) a good look at her. She didn't want to yell, that would be a sure way to attract the undead. She did the next best thing though, she walked the steps to the door and knocked. She had not met an undead person to this day that knocked. The door creaked open and with one hand behind her and another still out in front, she moved it more open with her foot. "Hello, anyone here, I am just a traveler, I mean no harm. I am looking for some food."

She didn't hear anything, no movement, "I only have protection from the undead," she continued, she didn't want to lie. It would be a sure sign that she was mistrustful. Again she moved the door open with her foot, her hand still on her knife, but the other was at her side. Elizabeth was by her side, not moving any more forward then Shanti, "Elizabeth...," the beagle took off inside the door. She didn't hear anything, nothing moved suddenly at the movement of the dog. Nothing came out and chased it, two minutes went by and Elizabeth came back.

Still Shanti moved slowly as she entered the door, the smell of old house hit her nose. She pulled her knife then, not willing to get surprised by something hiding in a closet or she walked slowly into the house and the first room she came to was the living room. She glanced here and there looking at what was still around. A white couch sat there, with two rocking chairs. The coffee table had magazines on it, and she looked down. Yes...that definitely looked like a knitting basket, she flipped it open and inspected the contents. The crochet needles would be useful, the yarn would be useful too. She looked around and looked at the mantle, but someone had stripped the pictures from their frames. She would come back, plus if she were to grab anything, she would need to find another bag.

She continued on, and hit the kitchen, it looked ransacked, but not totally. She looked through the cupboards and the pantry, there was some stuff, but not much. She wasn't really looking for food, because she was leaving that up to the ones that went to town. Room by room she went, closely inspected everything. She found some winter clothes that someone could use, one being a flannel shirt that she put on, grateful for the extra warmth. She headed upstairs next, slowly and cautiously, finally found a bag she could use to carry some things in, the thing that threw her off was the nursery. She opened the closet, baby clothes, a few things would not hurt and they weren't that heavy.

She moved from room to room, grabbing mostly clothes, some things from the bathroom, including medicine and some other necessary items. She found herself in the master bedroom, and she stopped, something smelled really bad in there. She looked about and noticed the bathroom door closed, Elizabeth growled a low growl. Something hit the door from the other side and Shanti jumped. "Well that is just freaking great," she said to herself. She left the room, only grabbing the crocheted blanket from the chair near the door. She closed the door, and pulled some red lipstick from her back pocket. It was her way of marking territories. She put an X on the door and pulled a table that was in the hallway in front of it.

She decided it was time to head back, whatever was left someone else could have. She went to the kitchen again when she got back downstairs and noticed the door to the cellar, that wasn't going to happen today. In between the clothes she put what cans she could find, and anything else useful from the kitchen, matches were always helpful. She didn't even bother with the fridge, rotting food was a good way to attract the dead. In the living room she took the knitting needles and yarn and put that in last, and looked around. She kneeled down in front of the couch and turned a cushion over. Her own tradition when scrounging was to be honest about it. She typed a note on the underside of the couch, explaining who she was and if anyone came back, they would usually find money there, or something of value. No one wanted to move the dumb couch, and if they did decide to look under the cushion..well they must have been desperate.

Outside, she scanned the area and looked to the garden, she walked over to see what was worth saving, or could be taken for future use in a more permanent setting. She had what she needed, pulling up some of the root vegetables to see if anything was still good. She sighed, gardening was a favorite thing to do, but nothing could be saved from this one.

She glanced to the barn last, she wasn't going to try that either, she would Robyn about the house, and if she wanted some others to come back with her, it probably would be a good idea anyways. She walked back down the lane and toward the wood. She travel home was slower as she was weighed down with more, she approached camp and noticed Kela pulling her wagon, "What the...," she stopped, that wasn't good, Art never went anywhere without that dog. She passed Elias, "Teach," she said, giving him a smile. The man looked like he was in a bad mood, Elizabeth growled slightly, and Shanti rolled her eyes, "Lizzy," she said and she kept walking. She dropped her extra bag off in her tent, it was just her method and then followed where the dog had gone.

The two youngest members of the group were out on the look for Robyn, and Shanti stood nearby. If something was going on, she would go check out for the leader, as the majority of the group had gone with Nathan.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Art Character Portrait: Robyn Dempsey Character Portrait: Shanti Nayar Character Portrait: Elias Grant

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The camp at which the survivors reside seems colder to Robyn. Perhaps it's due to the lack of coverage from other buildings, but she isn't certain. She's wrapped in Beverly's hoodie as she sits in the farm house's kitchen, sipping a hastily made cup of tea with only the slightest scoop of sugar. Except for the sugar they'll need to cook with, the ginger has made sure that the rest of the sugar in the house is with Art now. Besides the young woman, Robyn is the only one who knows about her diabetes, and she makes sure she keeps it in mind. One day, she knows, they will be unable to find more insulin for her, and the sugar will be the only thing keeping her diabetes in check.

The tea in the cup is quite bitter, therefore, but her mind isn't even focused on the tea now. She looks at the phone on the table in front of her with a focused gaze as if blinking might cause her to miss the only thing that's important to her now. It vibrates and dances in a slow semicircle on the table before Robyn can snatch it up and check the screen. Her iPhone background, a picture of Beverly and Phillipa, is obscured by a notification prompting her to continue playing some God damn app that doesn't even matter anymore now that the world has gone to shit. The disappointment nearly chokes her, and she sets the phone down so she can cover her mouth to deafen the sob lest the others hear and try to comfort her. She's supposed to be strong for them.

Every day she grows less hopeful. It has, after all, been a month now since the apocalypse began. If she could have called, she would have. With one hand still wrapped around the mug, Robyn picks up her phone and dials the number she'd memorized as soon as Phillipa had her phone. Her gut churns as the phone rings softly against her ear. Phillipa's voice in her ear causes her heart to flutter. "Hi, it's Hero! I c-" Robyn hangs up suddenly as the familiar voice mail answers her instead. She drops the phone on the table and stands up quickly, knocking the car on to two legs as she moves toward the window to look out. Beverly's jacket is baggier on her mostly because Beverly bought hoodies baggy rather than tight. She crosses her arms over her chest as if to hug herself, reassure herself, when Josh begins screaming for her.

Her maternal instincts kick in without a second thought, and Robyn races out of the house and into the bizarre circle of cars and tents. It does not take long for the note to fall into her hands as Josh races up, worry evident on his little face. As her eyes scan the paper, Robyn finds it difficult to fight back her own emotions, but she knows she must. What would the kids think if she didn't?

"Oh God...oh no, not Art," she breathes, looking down at the woman's faithful dog. She manages to maintain a poker face that spreads into a forced smile as she looks down at the dog with an idea. "Kela! Kela, where's Art?" The dog grows visibly excited, and Robyn fights to remove her harness as the husky wiggles around under her grip. "Shanti, did you see Art out there?" She asks the question quickly, but hardly looks up before Kela begins to run off. Robyn whirls around swiftly, almost losing her balance as she looks at Shanti. "I need you to come with me. Please." Again, she turns around and follows the husky while pulling the pistol Nate bestowed upon her from her where it is wedged between her jeans and hipbone.

It takes a while, but they arrive at the spot Art was last seen with Robyn wincing from a cramp in her side. "Art?" she speaks in a stage whisper. "Art, it's Robyn. Where are you?" The smell of death hits her hard, and she covers both her nose and mouth with the fabric of a sleeve so that she doesn't gag. Kela follows the smell and so does Robyn after a brief hesitation in which she gathers her thoughts. Oh God, please no. Not her. Not Art. She can't be dead. Not yet. The pile of zombies scattered about is overwhelming, and Robyn pauses again. Is she one of them now? God, what is she supposed to do? Sort through the bodies? She does just that, of course. Covering her hands in the too long sleeves, she begins to lay the bodies out as well as she can. "Art...don't be dead, please," she whimpers softly, brow furrowing deeply.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathan Durand Character Portrait: James Milo Character Portrait: Adam Dawson Character Portrait: Art Character Portrait: Cyan Kress Character Portrait: Kat Savchenko

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Nathan pulls himself downward into a crouch while his eyes remain fixated on the zombies before him. A few walk right into the shelves beside them as if not fully grasping the concept of a shelf. Others drag themselves along the length of the section, moaning softly as if greeting their fellow members of the undead army. Of course they aren't greeted each other, for Nate knows they are nothing more than lifeless corpses, revived by the disease.

He looks to the side as he hears a soft voice inquiring about alcohol. Next to him, Milo pulls out a pistol. At first, Nate flushes, assuming for just a split second that the boy is asking rhetorically and hinting toward his past alcoholism. Then, of course, he realizes that he has yet to disclose this secret. Nate gives a quick shake of his head and looks to the boy, standing beside him with a gun in his hand. Again, he reminds him of his own son had Wendy allowed him to teach the boy how to hunt. She was quite adamant about making sure the kids didn't even know they owned guns. "Not on me, kid," he says softly in his accent that somehow mixes the South with New York. Slowly, he shines his flashlight up at the signs hanging above the aisles, proclaiming what would have been found within them. "Adult drinks" is only three aisles away. "Give me a second..." He pivots and rises, coming face to face with Kat. "Fight. I'm not letting those fuckers keep us from supplies. Hold your fire." His voice is little more than a deep whisper, and he shoots looks over his shoulder occasionally. Nate misses the doctor's comment completely, and that is probably for the best, for he would have definitely replied with a retort.

The first sergeant flicks off the flashlight and begins to circle around the cash registers to make his way toward the drinks. His boots, though he moves slowly, still make a soft thump on the ground with each step. His eyes take a while to adjust to the lack of light, but by the time he moves past the liquor, he can see a few dim shapes up ahead. They should have cleared the place out first, but Nate wouldn't vocally admit this. His hands graze along the labels of a few bottles as he moves along, squinting at the labels. As his fingers close around a bottle of vodka, he thanks the most-likely dead owners for carrying high proof alcohol. Nate lays his gun down and shoves two bottles into his backpack, side by side. He stops and looks up, a pack of Miller High Life before him. It couldn't hurt to celebrate if they got the hell out of here. Nathan jams a knife into the thin cardboard and removes a few cans. Wendy's no longer here to scream at him, thank God. He's out of the aisle almost as quickly as he entered.

When he returns, he makes sure that the cans of beer remain under the sweatshirt he shoved in the pack before leaving. Nate lays the bottle before the boy and cuts the bottoms of his shirt's sleeves off to use as wicks. The makeshift Molotovs are easily assembled, and once they are done, Nate pulls out the Zippo in his pants pocket and places it in Milo's hand. "Throw them one at a time as close to the middle as you can, or go for something flammable. I don't want the fire to die quickly." He looks back at Kat and Cyan. "We'll go in and through as many as we can. Avoid gunshots. Blunt force or stabs." Nate lifts his gun again and turns the light on, causing the undead to look toward them again. A deep breath in, a deep breath out. He prepares to rush into the fray when he hears Art from the door. "You're late," he muses, left corner of his mouth turning upward in a grin. "You know we can't run. We need the stuff in here."

As the first Molotov is thrown, Nate pushes himself upright and moves toward the flames along with the zombies who were startled by the sound of glass breaking. Knife clutched in his left hand, he moved and jammed it into the base of a zombie's skull. The flashlight that remains turned on moves crazily as he moves in between the zombies, weaving between their bodies. Finally, he merely drops the gun and double-hands the knife so he has more driving force as he slams the blade into the eye ball of a zombie. A month of this has trained him well, and the knife slides through with ease before he jerks it sharply. More filter in from the adjacent aisles, moaning softly as they wobble over. In moments like these, he loses himself in the thoughts that pester him all day. His regrets, his poor choices (though he would never describe them as "poor"). His knife flies through another's temporal lobe, cutting through the rotting skull with remarkable ease.

Nate's face turns into a very visible grimace as blood spurts on to him, joining the stains that are there from the others. As the first Molotov dies, he looks back toward the cash register and prays to God that Milo waited to light the next one and didn't follow him. As the crowd of zombies thins, he begins to move back to his gun and backpack. Nate slings the latter over his shoulder and begins to move down the aisles, limping quite quickly down them as he searches for non-perishables.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathan Durand Character Portrait: James Milo Character Portrait: Adam Dawson Character Portrait: Art Character Portrait: Cyan Kress Character Portrait: Kat Savchenko

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Milo checked an adjacent aisle and saw five zombies shuffling down towards them. The smell of old meat was masking their smell, but the zombies were starting to take notice of them. It seemed like the meat in the store had attracted every zombie in the town here.

When Nathan handed him a Molotov, Milo climbed up onto the shelves to get a better look. That is when he saw something bad. There were zombies coming down the halls, and would soon surround the others. He took out his flashlight and flashed it in someone's face, he couldn't see who, before turning it off and waving to them. As the fire of Nate's Molotov raged, other zombies instead of walking through the fire went around, while some of the zombies who went through the fire survived and charged towards the group while being on fire. As Nate's started to die, he threw his Molotov to help seal up that attack route.

The group was now getting surrounded, as the zombies were coming in through the doors behind him. The store was filled with supplies though, because contrary to popular belief and what the movies showed stores didn't deplete of supplies so quickly. This store still had plenty of food. Not counting the food that had gone bad. The smell of the rotted food was atrocious though, because the power had gone out. No refrigeration, no computers, no cell phone recharging.

He tried to look for other ways to help. Then he got an idea. He pushed a bunch of heavy boxes into the next aisle (and onto some zombies, which slowed them down and actually killed one of them). As the zombies were now all grouped together. He then pushed that aisle, causing it to fall down and smash them all. He jumped to another aisle, and looked in some boxes. Toilet paper, soda bottles, beer bottles. He took some of the beer bottles out, but he lacked cloth or a lighter. So instead, he threw the bottles at the zombie heads, hoping the glass would break and do enough damage. He threw the first bottle, which missed entirely. The second bottle hit it straight in the head but didn't break. It did break it's decayed neck through.

Milo continued to look in more boxes, as a few zombies took notice of him and began climbing. He found plastic knives, bleach, baking soda, flour, beads, hand lotion, napkins, more beer, dog food, and bugspray. He saw some lighters in the aisle, but two zombies were there. He threw a number of bottles at them, then quickly grabbed some toilet paper, beer bottles, and bugspray. He through the improvised molotovs right at the zombies, and finished them off with a flamethrower to the face. He then kept to his high ground and looked at what the others were doing.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathan Durand Character Portrait: James Milo Character Portrait: Adam Dawson Character Portrait: Art Character Portrait: Aspen Bates Character Portrait: Cyan Kress Character Portrait: Kat Savchenko Character Portrait: Esther Lille

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#, as written by mich22
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Fight. Alright—well…the mild doctor didn’t even bother to check his pockets. He did not carry a gun, of any sort. Believe him, dear reader, when you’re with someone who has eyesight like Adam Dawson, you’d be downright glad that the nearsighted man chose not to carry deadly weapons. Nathan returned to them once again, but Adam couldn’t help quirk an eyebrow at what he had brought back. Alcohol? He was sure a zombie outbreak would make anyone crave a good strong drink but really now wasn’t the time to be worr—oh. Nathan began unceremoniously stuffing his makeshift wicks into the necks of the bottles. If anyone or anything was ever thirsty for a Molotov cocktail, it’d certainly be the undead. The corner of his mouth twitched upwards during his quiet observation. The closest the man’s been to a smile in ages.

Lights flickered with the monotonous drone of florescent lights. Was someone tampering in the breaker room? Hazel eyes quickly adjusted, grateful for the extra light and scanned the aisle headings. Target locked. Pharmacy. Once those bottles were lit, there would be very little time to spend scavenging the store, and he didn’t plan on squandering a second of it. On the positive side, it seemed that their small party had grown. Art had joined in at Nathan’s side, already successful with her own ventures. That shock of red hair could only be none other than Aspen. As Nathan drew back his arm with his newfound weapon, the faintest whisper had notified Adam to look towards the doorway. A reclusive girl stood there, bloodied cricket bat in hand. She was battered up something awful. He’d have to patch her up later, no doubt. Uncertain on whether she was keen on letting her presence known to the others, he gave her the minutest acknowledging nod, before the shattering of glass and flame sprung their operation forwards.

You know, sometimes, it’s hard to believe how fast things melt into chaos.

“Sorry.” Adam ducked down around them, feeling the heat of the flames lick his skin. Nathan would probably do more than scold him for splitting off from the group later. The others, Nathan, Kat, Cyan, they were the fighters. He was--well, he didn't really know what he was. He wouldn't be of any use to them there, but he did know what he could do. Gathering medication was his priority. Should someone choose to come with him, then all the better, but he would not ask someone purposely to carry him as a burden. With the zombies, momentarily confused by the sudden noise, smoke and flame, he hurried his way over to the correct aisle. Though he sacrificed one hand to hold his blazer to his mouth and nose as a prevention of smoke inhalation, the other hand readily grabbed packages of bandages, bottles of rubbing alcohol—he’d really love to hop behind the counter for access to the stronger medications—but Tylenol and the like, even a few Unisom sleeping aids, should do for now. He hastily added whatever was left of those to his supply. But the call of more effective supplies was too strong. One flicker of his eyes towards the counter, a pause, and anyone who saw would know what he was about to do.

He made a dash for it, clumsily sliding under the flip-open partitioning door. The bottom shelf contained mainly opioids, but he could work with that. Wonderful. Tramadol, buprenorphine, methadone, were all gratefully added to his sack. The doctor went busily to work, but so immersed he was--

--that he did not notice the zombie lurking on the opposite side of his shelf.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathan Durand Character Portrait: James Milo Character Portrait: Adam Dawson Character Portrait: Art Character Portrait: Aspen Bates Character Portrait: Kat Savchenko

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Kat swallowed nervously as she put away her revolver and took up her knife. She knew that the noise would attract more attention than they needed but she liked the idea of being able to keep her distance from the undead. Now it’d be close, down and dirty work something she wasn’t nearly as confident in. Watching Nate and Milo spring into action, the twenty-nine year old former student laughed to herself. It was brilliant and the distraction gave them time to at least grab something making this whole trip not a complete loss.

Hearing noise behind her she immediately whirled around and prepared to defend herself against whatever had snuck up behind them. With relief she noted Art and Aspen’s arrival. “Nice of you to join the fun, wouldn’t have wanted you to miss out.” Kat called in greeting, a sardonic grin sliding across her face. Turning her much needed attention back to the zombies, she was surprised to see the Doctor split from the group and go racing off. No explanation offered and not much in the way of protection. Kat had two options she could do as Nate commanded or she could run off after the Doc and make sure he didn’t get gruesomely eaten. With new arrivals on hand to help she figured that this might be the time to disobey.

“We’ll be back!” Kat cried over the din beginning to emerge from the market. The sounds of the dead; growls, guttural groans and howls were insanity inducing. Knife in hand she took off in a sprint after the Doc, grateful that she could at least see where she was going. By now the smoke was beginning to roil and soon enough they’d be trapped in here, blind and unable to find their way out before succumbing to smoke inhalation or the horde of the undead. Catching a glimpse of the Doctor ahead of her Kat put on speed, the hanging sign for the pharmacy giving away his plan.

Tripping over the torso of a torn in half zombie and rolling her ankle, Kat instinctively and frantically pulled herself away from the chomping jaws of a young woman with stringy dark hair, now a mindless killing machine. As the rotting half-woman scraped her way towards the prone brunette on the tiled floor, Kat came to her senses and rose to her knees to gain better leverage. With a quick thrust of her hunting knife the zombie was well and truly dead. Heaving a sigh of relief Kat made it to her feet and tenderly tested her ankle. A minor sprain, she’d have to grit her teeth and bear it or become some ghoul’s main course. With only a minor limp to betray her left ankle’s weakness she finally made her way to the pharmacy.

Kat caught the figure of the Doctor, quickly and steadily emptying the shelves of the pharmacy. It was a brave move to go off alone without much for protection and all for the greater good. Her respect for Adam grew as did her fear once she noticed the shambling corpse in the back shelves of the pharmacy with him. Scrambling quickly through the partitioned door with about as much grace as a water buffalo she landed on her twisted ankle and winced as she drew the revolver from her side. Fuck the noise, the fire and its ensuing din were attention grabbers what would gunshots harm now she figured as she took aim and fired. The bullet tagged the corpse in the left shoulder, slowing it down only a moment before it resumed its lurch towards living flesh. Trying to steady herself and her quickened heartbeat, Kat took aim again and this time hit pay dirt or at least rotting brains.

“Hope I didn’t startle you, Doc, but we gotta go. This whole place is gonna be an inferno soon.” Kat explained herself loudly due to the ringing in her ears from the gunshots. Taking a moment to limp through the shelves, Kat scanned them quickly and frantically until she found what she was looking for. Grabbing the lithium and whatever else seemed pertinent she stuffed them into her backpack and made sure there were no lurking zombies to grab her as she crawled back through the door. Lucky for them the fire had attracted most of the attention; pulling up her scarf around her mouth she did her best to breathe clean air as she motioned for the Doctor to follow her out. “Oh, this could’ve gone so much better.” Kat mused aloud as she limped her way towards the rest of the group and ultimately the exit.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Art Character Portrait: Robyn Dempsey Character Portrait: Shanti Nayar

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#, as written by girlwt

Shanti followed Robyn out of camp and into to town, on her guard and knives at her sides. They followed Kela to the pile of zombie bodies, "Robyn, I don't think she is there," she said as she took a good look at them, someone had put up a good fight, and Art was more willing to live then to let four zombies take her down. Shanti glanced at the ground, footsteps led farther into town, "Maybe she went to look for the others," she continued.

She heard something crash nearby, and smelled something, "Lizzy," the beagle took off, having the better sense of smell, and probably could recognize someone's scent. She hoped the other dog would follow, she looked back at Robyn, "We can only think that she just beat the heck out of these guys and then went into town, and it sounds like trouble so keep you guard up." She knew that she didn't have to tell Robyn that, and she said it in a quiet manner, not like an order, but as a reminder. Shanti gave her a quick smile.

Shanti moved from where Robyn was, but only took a few steps away, she sort of thought if the other needed to continue digging she would just let her, but truthfully she sort of hoped that her words would snap her out of it. She actually said a silent prayer that she was right and Art really went to go look for the others. Somewhere nearby she heard a gunshot, "Fuck," it was a silent curse, "Robyn come on, it really does sound like trouble."

She wasn't kidding when she said she didn't like towns, full of nothing but zombies and people who wanted to take you out for their own enjoyment. This was turning into a really bad day.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathan Durand Character Portrait: James Milo Character Portrait: Adam Dawson Character Portrait: Art Character Portrait: Aspen Bates Character Portrait: Cyan Kress Character Portrait: Kat Savchenko

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#, as written by mich22
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”Bloody He--” The man jumped, his hands reflexively twitching towards his head to protect it, as two gunshots rang through the air at an uncomfortably close proximity. He looked back to see Kat with a smoking gun in her hand. A zombie corpse lay not too far from him or the girl—it only took a moment more for him to put the pieces together. Yes, he was startled…but better startled than dead. It took a few moments more to wipe the shock from his face. He was lucky that she had followed him here. With a simple nod, he briskly jammed a few more items into his shoulder bag and tightened the clasps.

He jogged after Kateryna, in time to hear her musings about their scavenging job. “Ah, but it also could have gone worse.” He said, forcing his lips into a smile. It was rare to hear him speak without being prompted to. But he was trying to be optimistic about it, at least. Admittedly, the thought wasn’t very uplifting. His pep talks were about as good as his jokes were funny. In essence, not funny at all.

Adam noted though that she had new limp in her walk. “Here--” He couldn’t help but feel responsible for her injury, “Put your arm over my shoulder.” He offered gently. He had a manner of speaking that exuded his own sort of quiet authority. They were steadily making their way back to the group. The light cast from the propped open door put his mind at ease a little. Thank goodness, the faster they got out of here, the better. As per habit, he began to run a headcount and check of everyone in their small group. Nathan may be the leader, but Adam still watched over every one of them, just in a more subtle manner. Not everyone had come out unscathed, but that was to be expected. He could see that as Nathan collected materials off of the shelves, he as well, had a limp. The rest, including himself, were battered and bruised. Not to mention the untold damage to the lungs that smoke inhalation had caused to all of them. Obviously, he wouldn't be able to patch them all up now--you know, with the zombie infestation in this town and all that, so the least he could do was give her a little support to keep the weight off of her weakened foot. Running would not come easily to her for the next few days, or even weeks, depending on how bad the sprain was.

On the bright side, his medical sack was now heavy with good supplies. He felt better equipped than usual, more confident to make this great journey south, they'd been planning. He knew that their group would go through it all quicker than hungry children with candy, but it was better than having them starve, if you knew his meaning.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathan Durand Character Portrait: Art Character Portrait: Robyn Dempsey Character Portrait: Shanti Nayar

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She needed someone. Robyn needed moral support, someone to crack a joke about the entire situation. Hell, she needed Art, but as far as she knew, Art was dead. She was usually extremely laid back, but it was certainly difficult for anyone to remain composed when one of their closest companions in the end of the world was gone. She looked at the bodies, trying to identify them as she twisted the sleeves of her hoodie slowly. Perhaps she only kept her composure around the less composed members of the group. Robyn knew Shanti was strong, and she would understand the fear Robyn had.

"Do you really think she's...okay?" Robyn asked, looking at Shanti, her forehead crinkling in concern. She gave a soft sigh. Stop working yourself up, Robyn. You're not helping. Her mental pep talk seemed to have a positive effect on her, for she slowly grew less forlorn. It also helped that Shanti pointed to the footprints on the road, left in blood and gore from the surrounding zombies. She was about to tell Shanti they should follow them when the crash sounded. Instinctively, Robyn followed Shanti as Kela most likely followed either her or Lizzie.

Yes, let's say that's what happened. She ran into town. Art would do that. Shanti's smile did reassure her even if the fear returned soon after. And then there was the gunshot. "Oh God," she breathed, taking off at a sprint toward the town, pistol rubbing awkward against her hip from its place between her flesh and the belt she wore. They weren't supposed to shoot. Nate didn't want them to shoot. Why did they shoot?

Robyn paused in the street, far enough from the store that she couldn't notice the smoke at first but close enough that she could make out the figures of Nate, Art, and Oakley. She almost fainted as relief filled her, but Robyn regained her composure quickly as she noticed Art laying down beside Nate. "Art!" she called, moving toward the two figures at a slightly slower pace as she caught her breath. Shit, shit, shit. Nate looked up at her, still wearing his slightly worried smile.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathan Durand Character Portrait: Adam Dawson Character Portrait: Art Character Portrait: Robyn Dempsey Character Portrait: Aspen Bates Character Portrait: Layton Bates Character Portrait: Shanti Nayar Character Portrait: Kat Savchenko

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{A fabulous collaboration between myself and Scarlet Loup}

Art rolled her eyes, already knowing Nate's answer before he gave it. He wasn't predictable – She just knew him well enough. Sighing, she watched as the molotovs were thrown and busied herself with trailing behind him. She almost felt bad for letting Nate be the protector in the situation, hiding behind him as he stabbed the zombies moving towards him, but she figured that he didn't mind too much. She let off steam with midnight dances and he liked to stab dead people. Everyone had their quirks. Besides, she recalled a point in time where he mentioned that he didn't mind saving her ass. She smirked a little at the memory before realizing that he had cleared their area, immediately producing a large black trash bag from one of her backpack side pockets. “You people eat canned soup, right?” Even in this situation she joked, teasing in her voice. She knew very well that they ate canned soup. It was often that Nate teased – and sometimes reprimanded – Art for not eating what the others did.

A few of the others probably saw it as her being uppity - She wasn't one to sit down and explain herself these days and to be fair to them, she kind of did seem a bit prissy for it being the zombie apocalypse. She still spent at least twenty minutes every morning and night on her hair and pouted about her clothes being dirty. Lord knows that the organic eater wasn't about to slurp down a can of Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup. She had literally turned such food down to eat wild mushroom and grass soup instead. There was a time when she thought Robyn was going to die from simultaneously choking on her coffee and having a heart attack when Art suggested they all go nude during the summer. Robyn assured her that there would be none of that.

All were such fond memories that kept her smiling even through dark times as she used her thigh-strapped phone light and Nate's gun light to select food from the shelves. There were lots of soups and dry ramen packets in this aisle along with those sides that you need only to add water, heat up, and stir. She made sure to grab all the three cheese instant mashed potatoes that she could because Joshamee loved them. Isabelle, on the other hand, was more of a fan of macaroni and cheese.

There was something exhilarating about killing in the mind of Nate. Video games could provide a mockery of what the carnage was really like, but it was nothing like the real thing. It was much like giving an alcoholic a can of soda. There was no auto-aiming in real life or unlimited ammunition for your pistol. This was real life, and there was no way to restart the mission. And he loved it. Wendy thought he was crazy when he tried to take Penny out shooting. Crazy bitch. Maybe she was one of the zombies he slashed through now. The knife moved with a bit more strength. Filed for divorce. How dare she divorce him? She’d been far too nonchalant about it, too.

Nate looked up as the door’s lock clicked. It was too late, far too late. He’d stayed up by himself after the kids went to bed, waiting for Wendy to come home. As she entered, he flipped the light on and watched her jump in surprise with cold, calculating eyes.

”Where the hell were you?” he asked, his voice soft despite his steely gaze.

“Out.” She moved past him and set her purse down on the table, heels clicking on the wood floor, as he stood up and moved around. Wendy had never really lost the beauty of her high school years. She was still a slight woman who preened just about every morning. He rubbed at the stubble of his unkempt facial hair as she turned around, dress twirling slightly.

”Where?” he asked quickly, moving closer to her, hands in the pockets of his sweatpants. She shrugged and turned away from him, occupying herself with a magazine on the stained coffee table. Wendy toyed with her hair slowly, running a hand through the bleached pixie cut. His throat caught, for she only did that when she was nervous.

“Nate. It’s not working out...we’re not working out, babe. I...called a lawyer.” His brow furrowed, and he chewed the piece of gum in his mouth with more vigor. “I think it would be best for us both if we got...a divorce.” He caught the gum between his teeth and stared at her without expression, jaw clenched. He slowly opened his mouth and then he closed it again as he walked back toward the kitchen, head held between his hands.

“Honey...please don’t just walk away from me,” Wendy said, a sigh of exasperation leaving through her frowning lips. “We can’t just keep living this God damn lie, Nathan!” He turned to her, and she met his gaze, tightening her jaw as if mimicking him. “I don’t love you.”

The stack of dishes hit the floor violently, knocked in a sharp movement as Nate shoved past. ”Fuck you, Wendy. Fuck you!” He had wanted to say something snarky, something moving. Instead, he cursed her out and continued to do so as he moved down the hallway, past the kids' rooms. He disappeared into their bedroom with a loud slam of the door that woke the kids. He’d woken up the next morning to a pile of divorce papers in place of his wife.

He physically shook his head at the heat of the nearby flames licking by his face. There was no time to think about her. Art piled food into the bag beside him as he passed by again with his bag and gun in hand. ”Can’t be too picky when the world’ gone to shit,” he replied, smirk returning to his lips. ”I’m going to grab protein bars. You coming?” In truth, he didn’t want to leave her behind. Not because he didn’t trust her to protect herself-- well, partially because of that-- but because he liked keeping the others in view. It lessened the chance of a casualty, and in turn, the wrath of Robyn who would undoubtedly lose trust for him if one of the survivors perished.

He hardly noticed the limp in his step anymore. The health aisle, packed with powdered protein shakes and supplements, was quite easy to find and navigate through. Zombies had no use for the products there. As he set his backpack down, the beer cans clanked together slightly and made a soft ding in response to the first few protein bars.

Nate was zoned out again. Art paused with him, canting her head to the side as she observed him until he came to. The fire was moving across the aisles and they had to get out. She pulled the gray fabric of her Nirvana shirt over her mouth as some form of protection from the thickening smoke. She could smell the plastic and paper burning stronger now, the thick cloud of smoke starting to sting her eyes. Squinting, she pulled her shirt down and gave a cough, following him. “I'm not sure setting fire to the whole store while we're all in here was the best idea,” she teased. She knew full well that Nate would never make such a decision if he thought for a second that even one of them wouldn't make it out alive.

Nathan looked quickly over his shoulder and replied with a short chuckle. ”Well, it worked out good except for the-” He paused to cough. “Smoke. Besides, it adds to the excitement.”

“Next aisle over.” She walked past him and headed into the next aisle – Cereal and snacks. She didn't bother looking too hard as she grabbed every Quaker and General Mills brand item she could, shoving it into the bag. A brush of movement against her back caused her to turn and speak. “Oh – Are you ready to le-” She was cut short as she saw the flaming, rotting corpse with gaping maw reaching for her. Her voice became a shrill scream. Her knife found its way into her hand again and she quickly and immediately began stabbing the zombie in the face until it crumpled at her feet.

She could hardly stand the stench any longer, burning rotted flesh smell now wafting directly beneath her nostrils and attacking her olfactory senses in the most horrendous of ways. As was usual, her killing of a zombie was followed by a hearty vomiting session. She slipped in the blood and guts as she turned in an attempt to not get any on the bag or the now for-sure dead body. Grunting, she ended up with her earlier meal on her jacket, headphones, hands, and some of it on her face. Whimpering in disgust and just a bit of fright, she pushed herself up and grabbed her bag, taking a moment to breathe. Didn't do her much good - Her shirt smelled like vomit. So did her hands. And the air was thick with smoke.

Nate finished piling what remained of the protein-heavy snacks into his backpack before standing up and slinging it back over his shoulders. The store was quite bright from the slowly spreading flames now, so he flipped off the flashlight and looked around. Art was nowhere in sight, of course, for she wasn’t the type to follow mindlessly. You had to respect her for it, but it was also worrisome. His protective nature kicked in, and he moved back down the aisle, gun held at his hip.

”Art?” he called, waving smoke from in front of his face with a quick movement of his hand. ”Where are you, damn it?” He turned and peered down the cereal aisle where she was located. A look of relief moved across his face as he moved closer, but it disappeared as he noticed the vomit on her front. ”Aw, shit, Art…” he murmured, brow furrowing as he stepped over the dead undead corpse. Nate made sure to breathe through his mouth as he leaned down to help her up the rest of the way, but that only caused him to cough harshly from the thickening smoke. ”Let’s head out, okay? Meet up with the others.” Nate moved ahead of her, clearing his throat.

“I'm... I'm comin', Nate.” Art tried to keep up, dragging her bag behind her. Fuck! I should have double bagged it! The bag began to tear and she quickly put away her knife. Dry heaving, she felt like passing out until she remembered that she'd probably die if she did. She prepared the remaining three bags, stuffing one inside the other and beginning the slow transfer of goods from the ripped bag into the more sturdy set of bags. She forced herself up and toted the bag over her shoulder, her knees buckling under the weight as she trudged towards the exit. “Guys! Let's go!” There was a gunshot in answer and she immediately picked up her pace.

”Get the hell out of here!” he shouted, throat feeling scratchy from the mixture of stress on his vocal cords and smoke. It wasn’t difficult to make his way out of the store and back on to the streets once the smaller, fallen shelves were stepped over. Once he was out in the open, away from the store, Nate turned around again and looked for a trace of Art. Twenty minutes had obviously come and gone, but he fought the urge to make a snarky comment about it until the others showed up with their spoils.

Art wasn't too far behind Nate... Okay, maybe about twenty-three minutes behind him. But she made it out, nearly collapsing at his feet. She gasped and drank in the semi-clean air like a fish back into water, closing her eyes. Resting against the bag, she shielded her eyes and glanced back at the store. “Should we leave the stuff and go back in? Can't be much longer before that fire reaches the cleaning aisle and I don't want anyone in there when that plastic melts and those flames hit the chemicals.” She gave him a worried look, reaching up to ask for assistance in getting up.

Relief washed through him as Art moved out of the building. Sure, she collapsed on to her bag of food and whatnot, but at least she was out of the store. He set his gun down along with his backpack by the spot Oakley had settled down when the going got too tough for her. Nate moved to her and crouched down, balancing on the balls of his feet as she spoke.

”No, you’re not going back in,” he said, making his voice firm to avoid arguing about it with her. Nathan offered a brief smile, trying to lighten the situation. ”Can’t have you wasting food like that.” He joked, referencing the way her stomach rejected its earlier meal. He reached down to help her up, but Nate walked her away from the store instead of toward it. He supported her with an arm below her armpit, ensuring she wouldn’t fall. ”Do you want me to leave you to head back in?”

Art grumbled unintelligibly under her breath when Nate assured her that he absolutely wasn't letting her go back in, making her way away from the burning building instead. She didn't complain too long because she knew she wasn't going to win. Nate tended to win these sorts of arguments more than she did. Sighing, she momentarily decided to act like a child, throwing her head back and letting out a whine. “But I can heeelllllppp.” It accomplished nothing and served no use other than a brief second of amusement. She hated when things got serious. People got all serious. Then they got their panties into a wad. People argued. People got angry. People got sad. It was all so depressing. At his final words, it was almost reflex, her reaction. She threw her arms around his shoulders and mock swooned. “No! Nate! I don't ever want you to leave me! Who shall keep me warm at night?” She peeked to see if there was just a hint of a smile on his face, giving her own cheesy smile.

It was a wonder at times that she was their third in command.

It was also a wonder that nobody had outright told her that she was mentally unstable. She wasn't, obviously. But you can see how someone might think that.

He gave a bit of a forced laugh, the worry beginning to overshadow his amusement. Still, he managed to retain a smile as she pretended to swoon in his arms. To put it bluntly, he was quite dense. Inference had never been his strong suit, but he certainly wasn’t stupid. He blinked at her a few times, wondering to himself whether she was to be taken seriously. Then again, it was Art, so perhaps it was just her being her not-so-serious and flirty self.

”The smoke must have gotten to you worse than I thought,” he replied, still trying to make light of the situation as said smoke spread within the store. He hadn’t shared a bed with someone since the divorce was filed. In fact, he hadn’t really had a bed since the divorce process began.

He pried her hands off of his shoulders gently and set her down before rising. ”Don’t go running off, alright?” he said, looking at her with as much seriousness as he could given her swooning. As he moved toward the door, he continued looking back at her, pointing his index finger and middle finger at his eyes and then at her in an “I’m watching you” gesture. He wouldn’t enter the store, but Nate pushed open the door and shouted in again, calling for them to get out. He didn’t want to outright abandon them, but Nate knew that it wouldn’t do the group much good if he went in and died alongside them. He was extremely practical when it came to decisions. Nate’s emotions were hardly a part of these executive decisions. As a few more filtered out, he picked up his belongings and moved back toward Art with them in hand, Oakley following behind. ”I’ll give ‘em a minute, and then I’ll go in after the stragglers, okay?”

Art gave a silent nod, rolling over on her side and closing her eyes. The adrenaline was winding down and she was tired. She hoped that Kela had made it back safely and that Robyn wasn't too worried. Robyn was probably going to smack Art when she saw her alive and well. She didn't mind though - It was nice having someone that cared that you were alive. She gave the faintest of smiles and yawned, pulling her headphones over her ears and plugging them into the phone still strapped to her thigh. “Galaxy, play Metallica, For Whom the Bell Tolls.” The phone replied with a ding and a smooth “Of course, Art” before the metal music began blaring into her eardrums, forcing her to keep awake.

"Art!" Nate looked up suddenly, still wearing that half-amused smile he'd given Art as Robyn approached at a half-run, half-walk. Nathan looked down again and shook Art before pulling the headphones up slightly so they rested on her temples instead of her ears.

“Whaaat?” The younger woman whined and sat up, rubbing her eyes. “You know I hate people touching my headphones when I got my jams,” she grumbled under her breath before looking towards the sound of footsteps from the opposite direction.

"Mom's here," he told her, utilizing the name many in the group had adopted including Art. Nate normally would not have referred to the older woman by the name, for Robyn was less than twenty years older than him. Still, he knew Art would be receptive to the nickname and would recognize it. The red head knelt by Art and looked down at her. "God, Art...my God, how crazy are you?" Her voice didn't sound as frantic now, for Nate was one of the ones who needed her to stay level-headed and calm. He was far too unstable and trigger-happy. "I thought you died." She sighed and looked to Nathan. "How did it go...?"

"Successful, I believe." He stood up slowly, his feet seizing up from crouching. "Still waiting on a few, but we have supplies."

“Everything's fine. From my run, theirs, and then my run with them... I'd say that we've got enough food for a while for everyone. Assuming nobody steals our shit. Oh! And clothes. Nothing Gucci, but it'll keep us warm. We could blanket raid ater this.” Art pushed herself up and embraced Robyn, hugging her tightly before moving to Nate's side, wrapping her arms around his side. “On a much lighter note!” Art prepared herself mentally for the prank she'd been waiting to play on them both forever and this just seemed like the absolute perfect time for it. The actress put her skills to work and beamed a happy smile. “Nate and I are totally an item now!” She gave her most joyous of squeals, giving Nate a tight squeeze and leaning up to place a kiss on his dirty cheek. But with the chunks she's blown and concrete she's eaten in the past hour alone, her lips weren't exactly clean either.

Robyn's smile returned rapidly as Art began speaking about the supplies they'd gathered Hell, what would she have done if Art didn't make it? "I guess we'll have to make do with that," she replied, playing along with the joke. Robyn wasn't even sure if she'd worn anything from Gucci in her life. With the condition the world was currently in, she probably wouldn't in her remaining years either. She relished the hug, holding Art tightly as if letting go would mean losing her. When they finally parted, though, Robyn watched in confusion as she latched on to Nate, who seemed just as confused.

"We...are?" he replied, his words a mixture of question and statement but mostly question. He took the hug well, of course, for he would certainly never reject her from hugging him. He'd learned not to do that, for she was always hugging someone. Plus, she hadn't reacted well when he first rejected her hugs. She followed the constricting squeeze with a peck on his scruffy, dirty cheek however, and he made a brief expression of both fake and actual disgust mixed with the remaining confusion as she did so. He certainly didn't hate the kiss. In all honesty, he did appreciate it. Or perhaps that wasn't the right word. Regardless, he allowed her to do so without pulling away. The amusement showed plainly on his face now as he turned to look at her. "You're delirious," he told her, fighting to sound serious. He wasn't an actor in any sense of the word. Placing an arm around her from under her armpits again, he started to stand and pull her upward. "Let's get you back, okay?" His limp added an unnecessary little bounce each time they moved, but he kept a decent pace as he moved her along, away from the chaos of the burning building. "You're crazy. You know that, right?" He was joking, of course, but there was something...quirky about her.

Amusement flickered beneath the surface of her visage but didn't once show as she looked at Nate adoringly. That is, until he told her twice that she was crazy and began to tow her off. Time to really sell it! With the smoke in her eyes it wasn't hard to muster up some tears as she threw herself away from Nate and onto the pavement like some Disney princess in pain. It actually did hurt as she hit the concrete but the more tears the better. She whined some and looked back up at Nate with a tear stained face. “I'm not crazy, Nate!” Something that her shrieking suggested otherwise. “I thought you liked me.” Her bottom lip poked out some as she quivered with mock hurt (and a bit of real physical pain), putting on a show for everyone about. Humiliating Nate wasn't exactly the idea but she knew they'd laugh and kiss and makeup later. Regretfully, minus the kissing. Unless things went better than expected. She placed her face in her hands and cried a little more, taking a moment to let it sink in. She knew Nate hated it when she - or anyone else - cried. She shamelessly played on his emotions before looking up at him again, crinkling her nose delicately. “I guess I am crazy to think...we” She stopped and choked up, burying her face in her hands again.

Her skills had not lessened in her time away from the stage. As Art threw herself on to the concrete, he turned a light pinkish color. The more she whimpered and cried, the deeper the color of red became. "Art..." he mumbled, leaning down to begin pulling her back on to her feet. With the backpack on his shoulders and his gun in one hand, it became too hard to do, so he crouched on the pavement beside her. His face was a bright scarlet now, and he rubbed at the back of his neck slowly. "Come on...don't do this," he replied, keeping his voice low. "I-I like you." He wasn't sure in which context they were speaking, though he could assume she meant the "like-like" kind that elementary school students whispered about. For now, he referred to the amicable type. Maybe he did have those feelings, but there was far too much going on the worry about such things. Art peeked up at him with one eye, her distraught expression slowly becoming one of amusement. She leaned up to his ear, whispering softly. “Yeah, I know. Just wanted to hear ya say it. Now, go play firefighter.” The possibly insane actress kissed his cheek again and made a shooing motion, setting herself upright quickly, dusting herself off. “I seriously need to bathe and brush my teeth,” she whined to Robyn as she moved back towards the store only to grab her large black bag, heading back over to those who had made it out. “I think we could all do with some nice "hygiene-me-time" tonight, right?” Her smile was a polite and normal one, acting as though there weren't a building with zombies, fire, and other group members right behind her. Pretending it wasn't happening helped her not break down.

His grin returned quickly, almost taking over as his blush slowly died down. "Screw you," he muttered as she kissed his cheek. “You know where I sleep.” "Don't get yourself killed, okay?" Again, he moved toward the building and waited, occasionally shooting a glance at Art. God damn it, it was hard to tell when she was pulling your leg.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathan Durand Character Portrait: Adam Dawson Character Portrait: Art Character Portrait: Robyn Dempsey Character Portrait: Annabelle Marie Richards Character Portrait: Shanti Nayar Character Portrait: Kat Savchenko Character Portrait: Esther Lille

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#, as written by girlwt

Shanti followed behind Robyn, who took off when she saw the others. Shanti figured they would have to leave quickly to avoid the undead that would be attracted by the noise. Lizzy came back after seeing the others come from the building, which yes had been set on fire.

Shanti looked at it What a waste she thought to herself. Nate's need to cause destruction had struck again. Yet she hung back, knowing full well that she was in for a lecture one way or another. She had to smile though at Art's antics, smiled then roll her eyes. The others followed out, and it didn't look like they lost anyone to whatever was inside the building. She looked over at the Doc who was helping Kat, but she was also looking out for more undead. Anna came over and talked about finding another woman, Shanti glanced in the newcomer's direction...yeah something else was more of an accurate assumption.

The girl looked away and down the street, either the majority of the undead had been in the store, or they were hiding. She only saw a handful lumbering their way, "Can we play reunion back at base," she said to no one in particular. She didn't want to be wasting anymore time inside the town, which was creeping her out as it was. She shivered slightly even though she had an extra layer on from that morning. She had changed weapons figuring distance would be a better option at the moment. Risking a glance at Nate, she said nothing else, positive that mouthing off wasn't a good idea anyways.

"I am sure the kids are worried about you," this time her comment was to Art, she would have admitted that she was a little worried herself, but Shanti kept the face without expression. She gave the actress one of her small smiles instead after a minute, "good think you got big feet, or would have never found the trail leading here."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathan Durand Character Portrait: James Milo Character Portrait: Adam Dawson Character Portrait: Art Character Portrait: Robyn Dempsey Character Portrait: Annabelle Marie Richards Character Portrait: Aspen Bates Character Portrait: Shanti Nayar Character Portrait: Cyan Kress Character Portrait: Kat Savchenko Character Portrait: Esther Lille

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#, as written by mich22
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Adam exited the building with a rough cough to clear his lungs. The only regret, perhaps, would be the waste of supplies they had caused with their little light show. They hadn’t even taken a small fraction of what that store contained, and now anyone else that came would only be disappointed by ashes and dust. It may not be their problem in the future, but it may cause trouble for others in the future.

He noted that the group was already abuzz with chatter and seemed to be in good spirits. He gazed softened admiringly. The fight for survival, as much as you’d think would tear people apart, had actually brought them all closer together. Though, he couldn’t quite say he’d compare them to family just yet, they were dear to him, in some way. One would never be able to tell that they just came out of a burning building. Robyn and Shanti had even come to join the party. It was so rare to see the founder of their group stray so far from the children back at camp. Art and Nathan were up to their usual dramatics again. Sometimes he really wondered if they were--he quirked an eyebrow at Art’s announcement to Robyn. Oh good for them. The obvious fluster and confusion on Nathan’s face almost brought a smile to his lips. He did hope they’d invite him to the wedding.

His head snapped up at the call of his name. Oh goodness, he’d been completely lost in his thoughts again. He hoped Kat hadn’t noticed. Had she been speaking to him? A little blonde was jogging over to them—ah Annabelle. A flood of questions came soon after. ”Our plans went a little awry.” The cause of that seemed obvious enough, ”Yes, we’re all more or less in one piece, not to worry.” He shot Anna a quizzical look however, when she informed them that her scavenging had resulted not in clothing, or food, but another survivor! She turned around and the strange froze like a deer in headlights. Even disregarding the torn lip, the poor girl looked scared out of her wits. Adam looked down at his other companion. ”You should be alright for now, please let me look at that ankle when we’re back at camp.” Even so, he apologized again to Kateryna for dividing his attention from her so often.

The brunet took a gentle step forward to greet the stranger. Whatever terror she was feeling it certainly showed on her face. ”Hey--it’s alright. He spoke softly, “It's alright to be frightened...we all were at one point, but I promise you, you’re safe now.” Admittedly, shy, frightened, and sick children had given Adam a lot of experience speaking to the timid. He was an unassuming man in daily life, but as soon as you were his patient, he always gazed at you with a rare, irresistible prejudice in your favor. As if you were understood as much as you wanted to be understood. As if you he regarded you with the impression of you, at your best, that you hoped to convey. “We were just about to return to our camp. There's food, a warm fire, and a safe place to sleep. You’re welcome to join us. I can patch you up there as well.” Practiced fingers reached into his sack, pulling out a cotton pad. He held it at the level of her broken lip, to allow her to see what he was holding. “May I?”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Art Character Portrait: Shanti Nayar

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#, as written by girlwt
(Collab with Little Fox, sorry our colors are very similar)

Art watched as Nate walked away, rolling her eyes every time he looked back to glance at her though there was a smile of amusement still on her face. Her head turned some at the sound of Shanti's voice. Lizzy was there with her (of course) and Kela sat as well, waiting patiently to be acknowledged. Art's smile became a grin as gave a sharp whistle. Kela bounded over and almost toppled her companion, pressing her nose against Art's face. “Big feet? All the better to dance with, my dear Shanti.” She gave a soft laugh and pushed Kela down but kept one hand on her head. “The kids alright? I know they practically die inside when I'm not there. Well - Everyone does - But, they're okay?” Ever the serious one (yeah, right) Art gave the other young woman an upward nod.

Shanti looked at the other, a smile still present on her face, "They are fine Art, just worried, of course your note didn't help much," Shanti had not actually read it but she was sure it had a melodramatic tone to it. "So tell me you guys actually got something out of there before it went all to hell" Shanti could feel the heat from the store, as again her eyes went to the street.

Art plopped onto the ground and moved her headphones down from her temple to her neck. “Woah - My note said if. I'm somewhat offended that you'd think that I might not make it out alive. I live. It's what I do. The note was just a precautionary measure.” Art really was quite confident in her ability to survive this zombie apocalypse since she had teamed up with Robyn and it showed through her daily antics. One might say that she didn't even really know that the world had gone to hell. “I don't know about the others but Nate and I snagged a pretty big haul. Protein bars, protein powders, cereal, snack bars, those icky sides where you just add water and heat. And soup. Lots of soup and noodles.”

A chuckle fell from her lips, as if anyone would take Art seriously at all, Shanti was sure that she would stop to entertain the zombies just for the hell of it. "Well next be sure to put, oh I am just kidding at the bottom, so you don't give someone a heart attack,". She glanced in Robyn's direction with that, she had been worried with Robyn's reaction. However she didn't want to embarrass her, so it was a general statement. She had been worried a little bit too, especially after seeing that pile of zombie bodies. After Art answered her second question, all she did was nod, and it her stomach finally found the moment to growl. She had forgotten to eat anything that morning as she was out of camp before the sun came up. Slightly embarrassed, she looked down at the ground, "Sorry, I guess you naming all that food made realize how hungry I was.'

“Well, as soon as we get back to base I promise to whip us all up something really delicious. We need to use the rest of the veggies and herbs from my last run before they go bad anyways.” She offered Shanti a look of understanding.

"Sounds good, she said in reply. Now all that was left was to actually move out and go back to base. She looked about, who were they missing anyways, not that she expected anyone to take role in the morning, but to make sure they weren't leaving anyone behind would have been nice.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathan Durand Character Portrait: Art

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The run was a successful one and Art was happy that everyone had made it out alive, though she hadn't thought for a second that anyone would die. The walk back to home base had been a rather chatty one, but there never was a silent moment with her about. Everyone carried something back home and she could see the look of relief ashing over the faces of those who hadn't gone out for a run when they saw that nobody had gone missing. Kela took off to harass Minnie and Art could only laugh. She was greeted by Isabelle and Joshamee rushing into her legs, nearly toppling her. She quickly eased her mind that she was fine and suffered from no impending doom before shooing them away to finish sorting out the clothes that she'd grabbed earlier. They were reluctant but she sealed the deal by promising them delicious candy and maybe some popcorn later if they could get done in enough time to help her cook.

As the freezing evening came upon them Art had set to work to prepare a nice evening for everyone. The house was warm and Art had passed out hygiene products before gathering up a bagful of food, Joshamee and Isabelle trailing behind her along with Kela. Her eyes danced over the drinking figure of Nate, flashing him a winsome smile before kneeling by the fire. She had to remove her jacket because it was too hot before she began to show the kids how to make kebabs and hobo stew. They all began taking aluminium foil and putting in various meats and vegetables and herbs and seasonings with a plop of butter on top and a bit of water. Art shaped the aluminium foil into bowls and closed up the tops a bit before placing them all inside the fire. The kids didn't need much help skewering mushrooms and vegetables for the kebabs, comparing it to roasting marshmallows.

They all stepped back to admire their handiwork before Art shooed the kids away to go and bathe. She had already bathed herself, feeling much better. Dusting her hands off on her grey sweats, she pulled her blank black and white varsity style jacket back on and moved towards her brooding friend, plopping onto his lap gently. With a gentle smile, she sat on the edge of his knee, her own feet on the ground as she pushed up just a little to keep from placing all her weight on him. She wasn't heavy, but she wasn't blind either. She'd seen his limp. Without warning, she took the can of beer from his hand and brought the rim to her own lips. It was a harsh and sour taste that was left lingering on her tongue though the liquid went down smoothly. It didn't warm her insides like whiskey though. “Ech — ” she made a gagging noise and winced, recoiling and holding the beer away from her as she made a face. “Just say the word and I'll get some of the good stuff from my stash.”

There was an awkward grin shared between them before silence fell and they both watched the fire crackle. The way the orange and red flames danced about, licking at the air and wood was mesmerizing. The scent of the food cooking wafted through the air and tickled her nose in a delightful way, making her smile. She hoped that perhaps everyone would sit down together for a meal. They needed to talk about their next move — If they were to move at all. The farm house was a good place. There had even been crops still living when they got there. Not many. But the soil was fertile and there were some animals that hadn't escaped. There was a small barn, a well, a lake with trout only a twenty minute walk away and a bit farther provided salmon. It was a good place.

But maybe they should keep moving, looking for other survivors and heading south where winters wouldn't be so harsh.

She cleared her throat and turned her body a bit, rubbing her thumb against the slightly warm can nervously. “Uhm... Look, babe. Nate. I'm really sorry. About earlier. I know it was probably the wrong time and place to be goofing off... And I didn't mean to embarrass you.” She fidgeted uncomfortably and looked back at the fire as she spoke. There had been some grumbling here and there that Art shouldn't have been acting foolishly and busying herself with embarrassing Nate and flirting when others were still inside a burning building with zombies. Michael and Minnie and Harry had certainly given her an earful when Robyn and Nate had disappeared. “Just, don't be too mad at me. Kay? You and Robyn are the only ones I really trust.”

Art didn't like when people she cared for were upset with her. She hadn't initially thought that Robyn or Nate would be too upset with her tomfoolery. Maybe a bit irritated, but not angry. With the thought placed in her head that they were, she quickly felt the need to apologize. She'd apologize to Robyn later, figuring Nate deserved the first apology since he had been the target of her antics. She adjusted her cowgirl hat, her kitty beanie was with her other clothes being washed by Minnie who had been assigned wash duty. Art turned her green-gold eyes, a touch of blue flecks visible in the firelight that danced across her face.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathan Durand Character Portrait: Art

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The smell of food wafted toward his position outside of the vehicle circle, but Nate chased away the alcohol-induced craving with a few bites of some chocolate and peanut butter flavored protein bar between the sips of beer. He had also heated up some can of a some creamy soup earlier. When it asked for a can of water, Nathan had merely poured the remainder of his Nalgene full of water into the warped pot. It wasn't half bad, but then again, it was one of those meals you couldn't fuck up.

He cast a look over his shoulder for a moment, watching Art interact with the children. It was a shame she would never meet his own children. They might have enjoyed her enthusiasm. She flashed him a smile, and he returned it quickly, though it didn't seem to show as much in his eyes as it should have. Either way, the lack of a good light source probably hid that fact. Setting his can down on the car's hood, he slid off and unlocked it. In a minute, he set up a far more comfortable folding chair on the grass beside his Wrangler. Nathan was in mid-sip of his beer when Art sat down in his lap wordlessly. He didn't take note of the way she purposefully distributed her weight on his right knee more than his left. Instead, Nate merely raised his eyebrows in quick, soundless greeting as if keeping with a theme.

Mid-swallow now, she snatched the can from his lips. Her reaction brought a smile to his lips, which he licked subconsciously not in a sexual way, but to clean them of the lingering alcohol. It still could be taken as the former. A shrug accompanied by a tilt of the head and a bit of an Elvis lip. "Not really my thing. Too rough, and it burns." Nate shifted slightly. "Wendy wouldn't let me keep that shit in the house anyway. Kids could get into it." An alcohol-induced chuff of laughter. "Fucking control freak, that's what she was. Made me keep the guns in a safe." The silence fell after his anecdote, if it could even be called that. It was more of a burst of vexation.

Nathan diverted his gaze as if that might clear the air and evoke conversation. The side of the farm house seemed to suddenly catch his attention. He hated this breed of silence. No. He despised this silence. It was similar to the silence that had come between Nathan and Wendy after the divorce was filed. It wasn't the same, and he was smart enough to realize this, but it still unnerved him deep down. Nate's mind didn't linger on the group's future. He knew they needed to move soon. It was cold, and there was no way they would make it without warmth when winter hit New York. Then again, Nathan wasn't the kind of man to consider other opinions. Instead, he was the kind of man to let the ideas of others pass through one ear and out the other before carrying on the way he originally planned to. Was that a bad thing? He would say no, of course.

Art's voice caused him to look back at her, light green hues catching the light of the flames subtly. Nate nodded, slowly at first and then with a bit more vigor. Just the mere thought of his blush, though he hadn't seen it himself, evoked a rush of blood to the face. He prayed it blended into the glow of orange light flickering across his face. Nathan was not the type to get flustered either, but public embarrassment was the kind of thing that made others watch you closely, too closely. He didn't need that when he already knew too many questioned his ability to lead.

"Nah, no, it was fine," he said, using the two negative interjections as if trying to prove something or doubly reassure her. "You didn't embarrass me..." There was a temptation, a sudden urge within him, to return the one-sided flirting that had been coming from Art for the past few weeks. He was also the kind of man to act on an impulse. "...sweetheart." There was that smirk on his face, the one that accompanied cockiness. There was no true reason behind the flirting besides, perhaps, a loneliness evoked by alcohol and the mention of his wife. "Can't really be mad at you. They all got out." Sure, others would be unable to search it for supplies now, but it was survival of the fittest now, right? It weeded out the competition. He had never been an overly compassionate man, and the fight for survival did not help this at all.

"Well, I mean, there could have been a better time for it," he replied afterward, shifting again so that one arm brushed against where she perched on his lap. The other hand reached for the beer and plucked it from her hand with a smile to accompany it. He took a sip from it, Adam's apple bobbing as he swallowed. "But, nah, no harm done. Couldn't blame you either way. Handsome man like me carrying you from a burning building. Enough to cause any woman to swoon." His lips moved around the last word, stressing it, his mouth forming a quick pucker like a kiss as he spoke.

The blatant cockiness was reminiscent of a high school boy who assumed the world and every woman who wandered about its surface was his. It was reminiscent of the Nathan Durand that Wendy dated years ago admist whispers and rumors about the freshman and the senior. It was even reminiscent of the Private First Class Nathan Durand she had married when she was only eighteen.

It was nothing like the man Nathan Durand truly was.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathan Durand Character Portrait: Art

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{Collaboration between Scarlet Loup and Little Fox}

Art smiled as Nate assured her that he wasn't angry, even flirting back with her in a teasing fashion. She leaned back against him, resting her head right next to his, letting her arms wrap around him as much as she could. “You're the best.” Giving one last squeeze, she moved a bit to steal a kiss. How could she not? It would be absolutely criminal of her to simply let such a handsome man pucker his lips for no reason! It wasn't one of her usual kisses either. She pressed her lips firmly against his, cupping his face with one hand. She thought he deserved it after everything he'd done for everyone and all that he'd been through.

Or maybe she just really wanted to kiss him and saw his puckered lips as an opening for fair game. Either way, she was glad that she did. She let her eyes close to take the kiss a little deeper, practically straddling him at this point. But the sound of the door being pulled open brought her back down from her brief euphoria. She grinned at Nate and kissed his nose before squirming unceremoniously from his lap. Giving him a wink, she turned back to the fire as the two bathed children ran up with flimsy aluminum trays with a handful of forks. Art carefully used the tongs to begin pulling out the food that was surely well done by now, setting them on the trays.

His lips twitched into a grin as she leaned against him, and Nate shifted his arm around her waist slightly to better hold her, even though it was unnecessary given the fact that she wrapped her arms about his neck. "Thank you," he replied, managing to make the cocky remark sound like flirting by speaking in a low tone, tongue lingering on his front teeth for a bit longer than usual to stress the words. His puckered lips were captured in a sudden kiss. Even he knew it was a different kind of kiss. It was not the playful, teasing kiss he was used to. No, this one was strange. It was a passionate kind of kiss he hadn't shared in ages. A familiar hunger overcame him, and Nathan found himself pulling her closer, his arm tightening about her waist in return, pulling her closer fervently.

Perhaps he felt he deserved this as Art thought. He probably believe that. Nathan was not the humble type. Oh yes, he deserved this after the shit he'd been through, the shit he would go through. He sat up a bit more so that his body pushed against hers in a movement so sudden it might have seemed awkward. He was saved the embarrassment, for the door opened. Art pulled away, pecked him on the nose, and left him without warning. Nate watched her over the edge of his beer can as he finished off the beverage. He couldn't exactly remember the last time he'd kissed like that. Any dates he went on after Wendy called it quits never interested him. They just lacked something. Nate still wasn't sure what that something was, but he probably never would. As the kids disappeared back inside, he let out a soft huff of laughter as if to attract her attention again.

"You can't just get a man excited like that and then leave him," he teased, though there was some truth behind those words. He hid any true intentions behind a smirk that had been plastered on his face. "It just ain't fair, gorgeous."

Art pushed her hat back into place, the kiss having knocked it askew. There was a light blush in her cheeks and a heat that went to her ears and it wasn't the result of the fire she was so close to. After the kids had left she moved away from the fire altogether to go and get plastic forks from her Rogue along with a bucket. Returning, she had turned the bucket upside down and made it into a makeshift table for the food she saved for the two of them. Josh and Izzy were likely just as tired as they were hungry, especially after a warm bath. They wouldn't be making a round back outside and she didn't want to go in.
She looked up at Nate with a light smile, rolling her eyes at his words before strolling back over and straddling him again.

“Now, you should know by now, mi amor. I can and will do whatever I pretty please and I'm not usually a fair person.” Her smile had become a confident smirk as she placed her hands on either side of his face, one slipping to the back of his head, her fingers running through his hair. “But... I can make an exception. You're my babe, right?” Her accent flowed smoothly and heavier in a sultry, airy tone that she soon found out as a teen that American men loved. She leaned forward and pressed her lips against his again, this time in a gentler and far more intimate manner. They both deserved this.

He relaxed back in his chair once more, for he was still sitting up from when he had leaned into her while kissing. Nate still beamed at her, a row of straight teeth flashing back at her. Her eye roll only provided further amusement for him. Nathan tossed the can over his shoulder as she straddled him once more. " 'Course I know," Nate replied, his hands moving along her freely now that he had freed his other hand. "You can't blame me for getting a bit worked-up, though. Any man would." His smile remained cocky, as per usual. It was as if he didn't know how to smile differently. Her touch felt as if it left little sparks of electricity across his scalp while her fingers raked through his short, brown hair.

"You're a doll," he said softly, teasingly, at her offer. " 'Course I am, honey." Nathan spoke softly, though not necessarily in a sultry manner like Art. It was more of a whisper of some sort to just keep with some sort of theme. His eyes closed instinctively as their lips met again, but he moved with a bit more passion as if the kiss was too slow for him. His hands pulled her closer with a quick jerk from their position around her waist. Wasn't this adultery? The thought crossed his mind for a moment, but it left just as quickly as he pulled away for a moment to catch his breath. Almost as quickly as they had parted, they rejoined, accompanied by a soft moan from Nate.

“You are very greedy,” she laughed as she broke the kiss again. This... It felt good. Being kissed, held, caressed. The last person to handle her this way was her father and it was far from pleasant. After that she never let another man touch her again outside of the theatre. But she actually wanted Nate to kiss her and hold her. He certainly wasn't lacking in experience and seemed to be enjoying himself. But, it made her feel safe and wanted and maybe just a little bit loved. She wasn't about to start holding his hand and naming their future children any time soon but she did like the idea of them having a closer relationship. This made her happy and it made him happy. In times like this... People needed to stay happy.

She went in for another kiss, her tongue dancing across his. He tasted like beer and soup. She didn't mind the beer but the soup was gross. Not enough to push her away though. However, she could feel his hands exploring. She didn't mind it at first and even let her own hands slip under his layers of clothes to press against the muscles of his chest. But as his hands slipped under her shirt and jacket and she felt his fingers brush against the scars littering her back, the disruptions in her otherwise smooth flesh, she seized up. Her breath caught as she went rigid before jerking back, falling out of his lap. “No! ... Not my back... Not there... You can't touch there! It's ugly! Bad!” She fidgeted as she breathed heavily, pulling her knees to her chest. She needed her pills. But he didn't know. Just... Just Robyn. He'd think she was crazy. She wasn't crazy!

"Is that a bad thing?" Nate replied in regards to her comment about greed. He followed the statement with a laugh at both of their comments. It was wonderful holding a woman again. He'd been on dates and had sex with others even after the divorce was filed, but it was never this passionate. At least these encounters didn't feel as passionate as this did now. His breath came quicker and heavier due to the arousal. His pride had been crushed, demolished even, after his discharge and the divorce. Now, he felt as if he ruled the world. Nate mentally needed this. He was cocky about it, though, to hide the extent to which he actually craved physical contact.

The kisses increased in intensity until she began to ease her hands up the layered hoodies. Nate's breath caught in his throat as if he were taken by surprise, which he was to some extent. He took this as a sign that doing the same to her wouldn't be frowned upon. Nathan's hands moved along her waist first, tracing the shape of her body with his hands quickly. Hurried hands paused at the band of her bra before he began to move them along her back. His lips were still puckered when she fell backwards before him and curled into fetal position. "Whoa, hey," he said, brow furrowing as he held out a hand as if to calm her. Nate slid up to the edge of his chair. Did he move too quickly? Was she having second thoughts?

"What the hell?" He didn't say it in an angry manner. In fact, it sounded more confused and concerned. Nate offered a quick, toothy grin. "Look, I'm sure it's not bad, baby girl. What's it? Birth mark? Scar? Hey, Wendy had those stretch marks and stuff, it's no big deal."

Art quickly scrambled away from Nate and headed back towards her Rogue. She scrambled around the glove box until she found two bottles of pills, hurriedly uncapping them and popping them into her mouth. The ringing in her ears and the voice in her head began to die down as she slumped in her seat, curling up a bit. Sighing, she clenched her fists and exited the red vehicle, trudging back to Nate. She sat back in his lap gingerly, avoiding his gaze. “I-I'm so sorry about that... I forgot to take my medicine today.” She looked down towards the fire, scratching her palms nervously as the began to think about whether or not she should confide deeper in Nate. Why wouldn't she? She trusted him. She wanted to be close to him but she couldn't if he thought she was crazy.

“I accidentally killed my mom when I was nine. We were arguing at the top of the stairs and she was trying to take my new camera. I lost my grip and... She went down. I had to live with my dad and brother to escape foster care. Cuba doesn't really have a healthy environment for foster kids. It was fine... At first. But. Things got really bad when he started drinking. They hurt me, Nate. In a lot of ways. It took me seven years to get away.” She carefully shed her jacket and then her shirt. Art always wore a jacket or a sweater, disallowing anyone from seeing the scars on her arms and back. And the half sleeve on her right arm. With her back to him she showed him the scars, some fading and some a bit puckered. She gave a light shiver from the chill.

“Since then, I've never been... With anyone. Not... Like... Like this. I have to take medicine for... schizophrenia to stabilize my moods,” she admitted in an ashamed tone.

He retracted his hand slowly, pulling it away with a look of confusion as she hurried off toward the car. From where he sat, he couldn't see what she was doing in the car. Instead, he merely heard what sounded vaguely like pills being shaken.

"You, ah, you okay?" he asked slowly, brow furrowing and then cocking in a mixture of confusion and concern. He held her loosely as she settled into his lap again. For a moment, Nate tried to grab her attention, to direct it back toward him. It was fruitless, though, so he merely waited and listened as she spoke.

"Nah, it's okay," he said softly, starting to move a hand as if to rub her back. He quickly decided against it given what had just transpired. Nathan had heard some dark tales in his life. He'd seen things no one should see. Friends had been blown to smithereens yards away. This seemed different though. Perhaps it was because he hadn't expected a girl like Art to have such demons. "I'm...I'm sorry to hear that, sweetheart," he said softly, having the decency to stay solemn as he spoke to her, lips drawn into a subtle frown. As she raised her shirt, Nate subconsciously leaned forward and ran a hand along her back, feeling the scars slowly.

He fought to find a way to connect to her, to make her feel less ashamed. "I, ah, was on medicine for depression and stuff for a bit," he finally said. A bit meant he'd tried it for a week before he threw the bottle away. She didn't need to know that. He moved her about on his lap gently so that she was almost facing him. "It's alright. We've all got our demons, right?" Nate leaned up and kissed her again, forcing himself to do so gently.