Author: Serpentis lord_alexander
Summary: When London's water supply is poisoned, the world ends in a shuffle of the living Dead and only the quickest witted survive. Dom's got it covered...he hopes he's got it covered. But then there's always one last bullet left in case he is Infected, isn't there? And who the hell is the Scottish bloke who turns up asking for asylum?
Disclaimer: Nope. If I did, I'd be richer.
Feedback: is something akin to an AK:47 against a bunch of Zombies. Fire at will.
Author's Notes: Right, this isn't a nice fic, I warn you now. There's violence and death and the Undead, with graphic images. If I had to think of something to compare it to it would be a bastard child of Stephen King, Day of the Triffids, and 28 Days Later. I've not seen the film, want to though, but - you see where I'm going with this.
It's not a happy fic, alright? Just saying. Warning for a reason.
Oh, and thanks to stasi_rainbow for giving me the idea. Not that she knows she did, but she did, bless her slashy socks.
It was on the third day - Day Three, Dom called it - that he had to shoot the woman.
She was around forty, overweight and well spoken, in a lilac twin set and pearls glistening about her throat. A nice woman, one of those bossy Sloane Ranger types who was more at home riding horses and discussing flower arranging than trying to survive. She'd come up from the country on the day It happened, not knowing that London was about to explode with something that no one could understand and few could escape.
In the circumstances Dom could quite understand the madness that descended. She, no, she had a name, Jacqueline (not Jackie, never call me Jackie young man), had coped well enough until the radio stations had died. Capital FM had been absent almost from Day One, and slowly, so slowly, they'd lost the others. Now, not even Kingdom FM, some tiny two-bit outfit in Fife, was there. No hurried talking, no news at all, no constant reports of the other cities falling. London. Cambridge. Cardiff. Birmingham. Moving north. Manchester. Dom had allowed himself to cry over that. He'd been at the set for an hour, patiently trying for anything, just a noise, a human voice, when Jacqueline had stood abruptly and had tried to smash her way out.
Bullet-proof glass. She'd beaten her fists bloody, Dom trying to calm her until she'd turned on him, hands at his throat and choking, choking, until the sharp retort of the pistol and she'd slumped to her knees. Not a clean shot, but one in the stomach. And as Jacqueline had pressed her hands to prevent her innards slithering out of the wound Dom had whispered that he was so sorry, but he had to do this, and put a bullet through her brains.
There were no hospitals. There were no people to take the frantic phone calls. Since the power had been taken out there were no phones. Mobiles died, so did people. People everywhere.
Just him, and a cadaver that was wrapped in car blankets and in the manager's office to the rear of the petrol station. He was beginning to think that he was the only one left.
The virus was liquid-borne. Water, blood, saliva. Once in the veins it devoured you. Death wasn't instantaneous, the thing, whatever it was, wasn't designed to kill. It did though, once the flesh rotted from bones and that hunger wasn't appeased. Someone had said, before Radio Four was lost, that the entire water system in London was affected.
Dom lived on Coke and Fanta, on the supplies in the petrol station. Mars Bars, and crisps, he ate the sandwiches the moment the power was lost as they'd have spoiled. Lots of milk, before it soured, though he'd not caught it in time and had spent a day vomiting and shaking with the agony of an upset stomach. At least there was a First Aid box, and paracetamols behind the counter. Lots of cigarettes. The pain was helped with copious amounts of whisky. He coped, just about. Once Jacqueline was dead - and he never ventured into the office, he'd locked the door and had managed to keep the bile in his throat until he'd reached the bathroom - he wanked over the top shelf porn and tried to read the rest of the magazines.
There'd been a number of incidents. Just one or two of Them had come at a time, thank Christ, Dom learning in his fear to shoot well and take Them down. Straight through the head, shatter the brain it had said, but don't get into the spray of blood as...well.
He'd put a bullet into the hip pocket of his jeans, just in case he didn't make it.
The noise pulled him from his fitful slumber, a slam of something against the door.
It stopped for a moment, and then another slam, a pounding, someone swearing.
They didn't swear. They didn't speak. Through a thousand films Dom thought they'd have croaked out 'braaaaaains,' but they didn't. Silent creatures, not human. They had no higher brain function for speech, destroyed by the virus.
He crawled to the door and saw a gaunt face staring back.
Of course he pissed himself.
The man was in his mid thirties, and shortish; that's all that could be told from the faint light that seeped through the glass panes. Scottish accent, though, a shaking laugh that was too soft and fearful, hands that never stopped moving even when drinking down neat whisky. Not even half a bottle. Only when he slid into a drunken slumber.
Dom watched him, the Scot'd not spoken much, just a greeting that clung to sanity by the merest strands, and the young man had made sure that the pistol was near him. Safety on, but close proximity, near enough to be snatched up and fired if hands closed around his throat again.
He'd almost washed his jeans in the hand basin before remembering that the water was tainted. It had made him laugh for a good five minutes, hand stuffed in his mouth to quell the hysteria. Water, clean, pure water, not safe at all. No washing clothes. No shaving. No showers, or long soaking baths reading a book and drinking a mug of tea. No fucking tea. Instead Dom stripped out of the denim, threw them into a corner, cleansed himself with wet wipes, and found a pair of overalls in a packet. Green, hideous things, too stiff and cardboard new, but they were clothes and they fitted and once he had his shirt over them they weren't too awful.
Beggars weren't choosers. Or at least the living couldn't be.
There were tooth bruises on his fist where he'd bitten down to match the purple/yellow fading bruises that were like a choker about his neck.
Morning. It had to be with the way the light was reflecting. The sleep he'd finally passed out through had not been restful, and Dom woke more exhausted than he had been in the darkness. Light, at least, meant better preservation. Seeing the enemy was a bonus, he could take them out more easily, resting the pistol on one wrist as he aimed through a gap in the door. At one point, the first time Dom had killed in cold blood and detached hatred, the recoil had broken a tiny bone in his upper hand, but the adrenaline was such that he only realised when the pain finally hit. It wasn't bad, not now, with a length of crepe about his wrist and looped over his palm. And the recoil, well, he'd learned from that, hadn't he?
The Scot was awake, watching him.
Warily, they stared. For Dom, at least, there was the dull thudding realisation that he wasn't the only survivor; there was another, green-eyed and dressed in a neat suit, drinking Irn Bru from a plastic bottle and with a vicious looking - clean, no blood, thank fuck - machete laying across one thigh. Receding hairline, attractive in a sweet-mouthed and melancholy way, slim like Dom but without the underlying wiriness.
They nodded, silently.
"Sorry 'bout last night, bit of a close call."
Another nod. Dom was aware that, compared to the well-dressed stranger, he looked like hell. Bloodshot with a permanent hangover, those overalls, chin scratchy with stubble. He'd seen himself in the mirror, the greyish skin ashen with shock and the heavy bruising. Not that this Billy was much better, but he hadn't pissed himself like a child.
"S'okay. Getting lonely in here anyway."
Billy smiled, a curiously pleasant gesture that chased the melancholia away, though the effect would have been far more pleasing if he wasn't haggard in that same way Dom had seen in his own face.
"Nice place...come here often?"
To laugh was rusty, a creaking but honest note, not that hysterical giggling that had overwhelmed more and more. A body in the back room, jeans stinking in the corner of the room, the bathroom worse as his paranoia about the water meant that he'd used a bucket. There were still blood smears where he'd shot the woman which no cleaning product in the shop would remove, and a lingering reek of soured milk. A nice place? Compared to where he could have been (the streets, walking as one of Them) it was a palace.
"Seen anyone else?"
"No...not since the second day."
"Getting no radio stations either. S'dead as..."
It didn't need explaining.
"How're we getting out of here then, laddie?" Billy had come to call Dom that when finding out there was a good eight year age gap between them, a little mocking nickname that kept a strange sanity between them. They'd bicker good naturedly over it, and then forget until the next time those green eyes flashed with a strained amusement. It was...keeping a reality, Dom supposed, trying to keep normality in a situation that was beyond hell. Trying for that was hard; Billy's hands never stopped trembling. Drink helped, but keeping a clear head was needed.
Dom had raised the question of escape twenty three minutes before. It had been less than a minute later that one of Them had come into the forecourt. A young male, very young, not even twenty Dom had supposed, and he'd been about to slip into position when Billy had pulled an efficient looking 9mm from his inner suit, had slipped to the door and with a nonchalance that was shocking had shot It through the head. Not even a twitch. Destroyed.
The Scot had shrugged, putting the safety on and slipping the weapon away and it still didn't make a bulge in the fabric.
If he thought more about it, really thought, Dom knew that a man who handled a gun like that was used to shooting things. People. Straight through the centre of the forehead, a neat little hole drilled just as you please. They didn't bleed red, but viscous black, like bitumen or molasses. Molasses and the remaining few whisps of grey matter, and a skull full of emptiness and air. Not like in the films, not with an explosion of scarlet and brains spattering walls, but just that flow that puddled under the head. It was almost so British. How did the British die when they were Undead? An elegant and no-nonsense collapse and a trickle of black.
"So then, laddie, no ideas then?"
Brought out of his thoughts, Dom shook his head.
"We need supplies, and a car - something heavy, something stable. A jeep, or something. Extra petrol, all the drinks and food we can carry." It had become a 'we' without question, a brotherhood of survival. "There's Jacqueline's car on the forecourt, the keys..."
On her body. In that room.
The bile rose, acid in his throat, and Dom fought it with a swig of whisky.
"Woman, she was...well, she was here, and..." The best explanation was finger marks at his throat, his own touch finding the purples unwittingly. Billy nodded, almost businesslike.
What the hell was he?
"Is that why there's blood? Body?"
"In the manager's office...I can't..."
The man got to his feet, moving past, hand ruffling Dom's hair for an instant before he turned the key in the lock. There had been nightmares of the woman coming from the room, hands wrapping about his throat again, Dom keeping the door locked up just in case. In any case the stench hit him, of blood and decay, and he had to go. Couldn't stay. He was just a bloke, for fuck's sake, no hero. An ordinary lad in this hellish situation, he'd never seen a body before, not...not like that. A dead relative or two, laid neatly in a casket. Nothing like a half-eviscerated dead woman who had looked up with no understanding of why she was being hurt before he'd shot her.
A hand touched his shoulder, and Dom screamed.
"Shhhh, it's only me, come on wee laddie, it's only me."
He was in Billy's arms, sobbing, while soothing fingers played in his hair and a soft Scottish voice murmured that it was fine, it was all fine, Billy was there, shhh wee man, shhh laddie, my wee bairn.
In the event it was surprisingly easy to escape once Billy had organised. There was steel in the Scottish backbone, a skill of thinking of everything that Dom didn't understand. Still shaken, mouth pressed into a line, he did what he was told and bowed to the older man's knowledge. Aware that his own bewilderment was giving Billy something to focus on, he let himself come out of the endless adrenaline rush, slowly emerging from that fragile shell of callous indifference that had surrounded him.
They basically stripped the shop. Food, drink - alcohol that Billy purposely told him to bring them, as well as the less potent liquids - the dried and tinned foods, anything that was useful, even down to toilet paper. With a grin the till had been smashed open, money removed. Dom had even made a case for taking all of the cigarettes, and had been granted his wish. The First Aid box was torn down and put in the estate car that they'd obtained. He'd been told the wine wasn't for drinking, that it was a faint antiseptic like the jars of honey that had been stacked on the back seat.
At least Dom didn't like wine.
There was interest, though, from Them.
They'd argued over who was to fill the petrol cans, and Dom had won, eventually, seizing the two plastic tubs and half-climbing over the Mercedes to get to the pump. Billy had wanted to go, not wanting his young charge - that was what Dom was to him, both knowing it was the reason that the Scot's fingers had finally stopped shaking - to face the danger. Dom pointed out that his friend was a more accurate shot.
The second one, the woman, had been almost too close. A whistle from Billy meaning to run towards the shot, the retort of a gun, and when he'd looked around the body was within five feet of him.
He'd gone back for the petrol cans, though. He'd finished filling them with the fear devouring his lungs and screeching in his ear.
Dom didn't open his eyes until they finally nosed their way on to the M25. Once he'd heard the first crack of bones against the windscreen he'd switched himself off, curling up in the seat and refusing to acknowledge anything. Fingers in ears. The shadows in the closet of a childhood horror that was a snap of limbs and eerie laughter. Ten minutes in Billy had put the CD player on, turning it up to ear-splitting, and of course it was a Requiem.
It was to muffle the increased snapping of bone.
"Where are we going?"
West, he knew it was west. The M4 was empty, the signs to Reading, then Swindon, then Bristol drifting past. They'd not been under ninety since hitting the motorway, Billy chewing gum, his eyes staring and half-blank in the sunset.
"Why not? Away from major cities. Bypass Exeter, get down to Land's End. Not risking anywhere where there's a large...was a large population, you ken?"
Why it was called the Lizard no one knew, but it was the end of the world while the world ended. A tiny cottage, there was a well, they'd had a cup of tea with no milk but using Coffee Mate it was drinkable, and to Dom it tasted like mana.
"Holiday cottage," Billy had said, as he'd broken in with ruthless efficiency, checking the electricity as they did. There was none, but the gas stove worked with the Calor tank outside, and they ate hot food. Someone owned the place, or had owned, the shelves were stocked with a few dried goods, tins of tuna, corned beef, and they ate hungrily. All the water was brought in by bucket, and they didn't use the toilet. Digging the pit had been backbreaking, but Billy had insisted, and with weary acceptance Dom had helped.
In the next few days they settled into a routine of physical labour. Security the property was simple - one track leading down a steep slope, between granite cliffs, the back of the house built into the rock itself. To one side and the front was the sea, the cottage built up on a platform, so it was just the lane that needed defending. The Mercedes proved useful, almost wide enough to block entirely. Tasks of nailing shutters down and strengthening doors were routine, though it was Dom who, foolishly, had crawled out of the dormer window onto the slate roof and had painted white in letters two feet high three words.
He'd been so proud of his achievement, of being the brave one, but Billy's anger was scathing. He'd cowered under the usually mild man, harangued for putting his life in danger, before he was wrapped in that soothing embrace that had become more and more common, hands stroking through untidy hair, whispers of his cleverness but how he mustn't do it again.
Billy made Dom feel safe. The man intrigued him; the ability to shoot so well, that Beretta he carried, how he could just survive and keep on surviving. He spoke of a sister in St Andrews and dead parents, a resignation to his voice of the fate of the one member of his family who lived. His eyes were warm and lively, the colour of the sea as it shattered against the foundations of the cottage, his touch was gentle and soothing. A kind man, Billy, a decent man, but one with a past that was never explained. Any careful, nonchalant questioning from Dom resulted in a change of subject.
They shared a bed. It was not because they wished to, but they had to. A large double, with floral sheets and soft pillows that were more feminine than either man liked, but it was the only bed in the only bedroom, and they'd been through enough together not to be uncomfortable with such close arrangement.
Often they talked, and laughed softly, before Dom shifted and Billy moved to curl around behind him, arm across the flat stomach, the warmth of breath tickling flesh. Spooning together had become natural, and normal, soothing away nightmares that Dom couldn't hide. She'd come to him, fingers scarlet with blood and trying to wrap the links of her intestines about his throat, laughing as they twisted and coiled and burst with the tension of strangulation.
Billy had them too, but he never spoke of them when Dom, huge-eyed and shaking, roused him. He never seemed to give anything away. He talked, and laughed, and made himself known, but on a superficial level.
Their first kiss was in that bed, just before that arm wrapped about Dom's waist to indicate they were going to sleep. The conversation was about nothing in particular, trees perhaps, something almost defiantly normal, and Billy had just, sweetly, brushed his mouth over Dom's ever talking lips, silencing him in the middle of a sentence. The smallest movement, a butterfly brush that left Dom staring into darkness and wondering if it had happened at all.
He'd turned his head, just instinct to see a face that couldn't be seen, and that warm curving mouth had descended for a second time, lingering and tasting of cheap whisky.
In the time they were in the cottage, both men changed at least in regards to each other. Dom noticed that his friend, no...they were more by that time, though had never passed into a stage beyond those tender brief kisses in the dark, was more open about himself. Billy had the sort of humour that bounced off his own; they took up half a day with talking about nothing of consequence before drinking themselves sleepy and falling into bed. They had moved towards sleeping nude, through practicality rather than sexual want.
It was the morning of Day Thirty Two that Billy found something.
A crackle, and a voice, and Dom had watched the radio as if it were a demon, before slumping to the floor on his knees.
"It's a military channel," Billy said, and his smile was as metallic and brittle as pig iron. "It's the military...it's the Navy, I think. They'll have the helicopters out, they'll see your sign, laddie."
That night, they made love for the first time.
It was as slow and gentle as the kisses, hands touching with tentative want and then slowly fuelled passions. Neither was dominant, though Dom allowed himself to be taken, to feel fingers and a tongue prepare him, and he knew he wasn't the first for Billy. No one had that tender experience without practice. It didn't upset him, however, as it could have done before all of this; that was life. A slight cry as if hurt so much, too much for a moment and he wished to stop, take it away, but then, at last, the stretched ache faded and he came to like the smooth movement of hips against his buttocks.
Dom came, and it wasn't the greatest or most powerful orgasm he ever reached, but it meant rather more than any other encounter he'd had. There had been kisses peppered at his shoulders, and spooned like this meant a small, rather rough-fleshed hand stroking him, and Billy had been so loving? Was that right? Loving? that it was more like bonding than making love.
Dom wasn't in love; he was rather deeply in awe, but even more in like.
It was the groan he heard, apart from the thud of something in flesh, and he'd raced into the tiny yard to see one of Them slowly crumpling to the ground. Dom had smirked, a vicious hating curve of his mouth, looking up to see
Blood. There was so much blood that it would turn the seas incarnadine. Not Billy, though, it was black and glistening like tar, trailing rivulets over work-tanned flesh.
The Scot had the strangest expression as he looked down at his blood-spattered hands and skin. He was smiling, that bright and almost sweet smile, before meeting Dom's eye.
"I think you better get your gun, love."
Billy would have done the same for him.
Silently, tears streaming down his cheeks, Dom found his pistol and fumbled the ammunition in, hands trembling so much that he dropped bullets. He didn't pick them up, though, he staggered out to where Billy was still standing, his eyes never leaving the young man who snapped the safety off and took aim. One shot. It'd have to be one shot, no suffering, no pain.
"I love you," the young man whispered, almost unheard over the thunder of the sea, roaring louder and louder in his ears.
The retort rang across the tiny cove before it faded out to the distant cries of seagulls and the slow, unmistakable drone of a helicopter overhead.