justarni  asked:

Idk if you're still taking prompts, but if you are it'd be pretty cool to see your take on what it'd look like if Ellie were trying to explain to Joel that she likes Dina and also that she doesn't know if Dina likes her back. (Personally I'd figure Joel already knows and is internally laughing at his clueless gay daughter) Anyway I just really enjoy your writing and would love to see as much of it as possible lol

‘there’ll be a trench in the carpet before long.’

ellie stops, looks up at him. her forehead is creased with concentration—and a little fear, though she’s always tried to hide that. ‘huh?’

‘there’ll be a trench in the carpet before long,’ joel says again and he points vaguely to the floor, setting his beer down on the counter. ‘you’re pacing.’

‘oh.’ ellie’s frown relaxes. her whole body relaxes and she rolls her eyes, shakes her head with the tiniest fond grin. ‘can’t you ever say something normal?’

joel feigns offence, huffing. ‘that was plenty normal.’

‘sure it was,’

‘i dont appreciate your tone.’

‘i don’t appreciate your…’ she squints, stomps when she can’t think of something clever. ‘shit.’

‘good one.’

‘shut up, joel.’

he laughs, swigs from the slightly cold beer bottle again. ellie looks more relaxed now, and she’s definitely not pacing anymore, so he says, coming at the topic gently like he always does, ‘so what’s up?’

she doesn’t say anything for a while. instead, ellie makes her way into the kitchen. joel turns so he’s facing her, the kitchen bench running a divider between them and when ellie breathes in deeply and her face goes pale, joel reaches down, plucks out another beer, and pushes it toward her.

‘i’m not eighteen yet.’

‘what am i, a cop?’ joel grunts, waves at the beer. ‘drink. don’t drink. i don’t care.’

‘super great dad advice there,’ ellie drawls, a flush crawling up the back of her neck when she realises what she’s said.

joel clears his throat, looks out the window to the view of the courtyard so they both have a little time to recoup. neither of them say it that often outside of life or death situations.

they probably should, he thinks, sneaking a look over at his girl.

hunched, shoulders broad and round, ellie holds herself very still, her head ducked so he can’t see her face—just a hint of nose and the crease of her frown, which has grown heavier. she’s holding the unopened bottle between her fingers and turning it around and around on the counter so the grooved base makes a faint grinding noise—crr crr crr—with each twist.

‘joel?’ she says, voice soft, and she sounds all of fourteen again.

‘yeah, babygirl.’

ellie’s shoulders hunch. she abandons the beer bottle, drums her fingers on the bench. with a tilt to her head, tossing her shoulder length carelessly back, she says, ‘joel, i—‘ and stops again. opens and closes her mouth a few times.

when it gets to be too much, joel clears his throat. ‘you know you can tell me anything, ellie. you kill someone?’

ellie snorts. ‘no. this is better than that,’ she says, and she sounds very sure of it but the way she squints up at joel makes it seem like she isn’t sure he will feel the same.

she looks so goddam hopeful though that joel’s heart twists.

‘alright,’ he nods for her to go ahead, voice gravelly.

‘alright,’ ellie repeats. ‘you remember d-dina,’ she says, tongue stuttering over the girls name.

does he remember dina?

dina, who his notoriously quiet ellie has mentioned minimum two times a day since her arrival? dina, who ellie is happy to wake up at dawn for? dina, who ellie tackled a clicker to protect? dina, whose smile makes ellie smile, who makes the whole compound a brighter place, who never has more than four bad words to say about a person, who helps perry without needing to be asked?

‘i’ve heard of her,’ joel nods.

ellie rolls her eyes. drums her fingers. turns the beer bottle around and around.

the dripping condensation from the bottle makes the glass slip and joel reaches out when it teeters, steadies it. his hand settles on ellie’s—smaller, but just as scarred, just as calloused as his own.

‘go on,’ joel prompts.

ellie stares down at his hand on hers and gulps, twists her hand so she clings desperately to it. ‘i like her,’ she says, so raw and breathless joel has to take a moment. he remembers the feeling; remembers a pressure in his chest like there were suddenly two hearts inside his rib cage. one his own, one hers. ellie’s fingers open but joel holds tighter and the shuddering breath she lets out is heavy with relief.

her other hand comes over to press his between both of her own.

‘that’s okay?’

‘did you think i was just being nice to ben?’ joel asks her, and ellie’s nose crinkles even as she laughs. ‘it’s more than okay, ellie. that’s - it’s wonderful,’ he says, and he means it. time was, he would’ve told her there was no point, that love and relationships weren’t things that existed anymore. not in any lasting way. but here in jackson, where they’re…he’s reluctant as ever to say safe, but as safe as they can be…and with ellie needing something more than unneeded reminders that yup, zombies are still a thing, he makes a small noise of reassurance and reaches over, cups her cheek. wipes away a tear. ‘ellie, kid, there’s not a damn thing in this world that could make me love you less. and it wouldn’t be that. alright?’

ellie sniffles, nods. ‘yeah.’

‘good.’

he is loath to let go of her but he does, just long enough to make his way around the bench and take her into a big hug. they stand there for some time, long enough for ellie to cry and her tears to dry and then a little longer. finally, she pulls back with a final sniffle and mumbles something about washing her face, disappearing into the bathroom.

with a faint squeal of the tap, joel hears the pipes whack away under the floorboards and the sound of rushing water. he leaves her to get herself back under control and sets about making some lunch for them both.

when she comes out to collapse into the sofa, face a little drawn and wet around the neck and hairline where she didn’t dry in her rush, he pops a sandwich in her lap and steps over her legs to sit next to her.

‘so. dina.’

ellie’s smile is shaky but it’s there. joel throws an arm over the back of the couch and after a few minutes ellie leans back into it.

‘yeah.’

‘you told her yet?’

she chokes on her first bite of sandwich and joel thumps her on the back to help out. ‘jesus fucking christ, joel,’ she coughs, voice hoarse. ‘don’t say shit like that.’

‘like what?’

‘of course i haven’t told her!’

joel frowns. ‘well, why not?’

‘because—because she doesn’t like me!’

‘how do you know that?’ he asks, and as ellie tells him about the boy dina is dating, and about how she couldn’t possibly because dina is smart and funny and clever and so so beautiful and just the best person and friend in jackson, he thinks about how often dina comes over and how often he’s found them in the same bed, and the way dina watches ellie and touches her mindlessly and when ellie turns to him and nods decisively like she’s said something really convincing, he shrugs. ‘alright, well, she’s missing out.’

ellie blinks, flushes. ‘shut up.’

‘she knows you can shoot a runner in the head from a hundred yards, right?’

‘that was one time,’

‘it was pretty good, that’s all,’ joel shrugs. he ruffles her hair, enjoys the way she complains. ‘thanks for telling me, kid.’

ellie shrugs, mumbles something or other about knowing for a while and love you and feeling safe, and his heart clenches like she’s just reached right in and squeezed it. she leans into his side, using his shoulder as a pillow.

‘i don’t want to do anything about it,’ she tells him in a whisper. ‘i kind of just realised? and i don’t…i don’t want to lose her.’

‘whatever you decide,’ joel assures her, ‘i’ll be right here.’