Chapter Nine

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Joey burst anxiously through the bedroom door, knife in hand, but relaxed slightly when he saw only his sweat drenched friend in bed.

"What's wrong? Are you okay?" Joey asked worriedly.

Max hunched over, breathing deeply and clutching his chest to feel the rapid beating of his heart.

"Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine. Thanks," Max replied, out of breath and distracted by the disturbing images of his brother.

"I know I wanted you to make yourself at home, but you didn't have to wet the bed," Joey smirked, trying to lighten the mood.

"It's sweat, okay!" Max snapped. "Sorry," he apologised immediately, "bad dream."

"You gunna tell me who John is?" Joey asked gently, perching himself on the end of Max's bed.

"Depends, are you're going to tell me whose the other bedroom is?" Max replied instantly.

"Touché," Joey laughed. "Maybe a conversation for another time," he added.

"Yeah, I think that's best. I need to take a shower. Desperately," Max admitted, easing his aching body out of bed.

"Okay mate, I'll meet you downstairs for breakfast, then it's time to go hunting," Joey retorted, grinning from ear to ear.

"Hunting?" Max scoffed.

"Well, more like scavenging I suppose; but hunting sounds way cooler," Joey sniggered.

Max smiled and nodded before heading to the bathroom. Both men were clearly hiding deep secrets about their past, but neither were too keen to pry any further. Getting the truth from Joey meant also sharing his own story, something that Max wasn't ready to do.

After a much needed wash, Max joined Joey in the kitchen, met by the mouth-watering smell of bacon and sausage. His stomach rumbled, crying out for a decent meal. He had ignored his appetite for the past week; he'd had other things to worry about.

"Wow," Max exclaimed simply.

"Yeah I froze a load of fresh meat when all this shit went down, figured I'd need enough food for a while," Joey explained.

"You really love this whole survivalist thing, don't you?" Max chuckled, met by a smirk from Joey.

"Grubs up," Joey yelled, piling a mountain of bacon, sausage and baked beans onto Max's plate. "A good hearty meal for a growing lad," Joey joked, grabbing Max's cheek like you would to a small child.

Max laughed; Joey was certainly a character and it was refreshing to be able to laugh at life again. In truth, even before the apocalypse, Max hadn't really laughed in months; being locked away in that dungeon of an apartment had really sucked the life out of him. Spending time with Joey and joking around reminded him of growing up with John, a memory he intended to hang on to.

"Helloooo? Anybody in there?" Joey called sarcastically, waving his hand in front of Max's eyes.

"Sorry, mate, I was miles away," Max laughed quietly, finally tucking into his gigantic breakfast.

"Eat up Maxie boy, you're gunna need your strength today," Joey suggested.

Max was only too happy to oblige, scoffing down the entire plateful before sitting back in his chair and letting out a sigh of relief.

"I definitely needed that," he said.

"Well don't fall asleep on me there, grandma, get your knickers on and get ready to go; we got hunting to do," Joey cried, running off down into his basement full of tricks.

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