It’s hard to be in a good mood during the apocalypse.
The sun doesn’t seem to shine as bright as it used to, it always smells of death and decay, the people you care about are always dying. Your body always has various cuts, scrapes and bruises that you’re not quite sure when or where you got. You’re always covered in blood- sometimes you don’t even know if it’s from you, from a Z, or from one of your friends. The apocalypse, for the lack of a better word… sucks. Majorly sucks.
But today was a rare occasion.
It wasn’t an exception of not losing friends, the sun wasn’t any brighter, it still smelled like decay and 10K was still covered cuts, scrapes, bruises and blood that he wasn’t sure where came from.
But 10K was oddly happy as he wandered through the woods, not running from something but towards something. Towards someone.
The young boy swung his sniper down by his side, an extra little pep in his step. Because for the first time since Black Summer he had someone to go to… and if there was one thing he missed about civilized life… it was having somewhere to go home to. Not just a place but a person. Someone he could fight to get to. Someone he wanted to fight for. Something to live for that wasn’t Operation Bite Mark.
10K glanced down at the torso of a Z, laying on the ground, a couple feet from where he was standing. It was a woman. Probably not much older than him when she turned. Cut in half. Attempting to crawl out on an orange tent. She snarled up at him, her eyes glossed over… it was a sad sight, but he had made his peace with Z’s a long time ago. However, there was something about that particular Z that caught his eye. A red beanie on her head. It was dirty. Years worth of dried blood and caked on dirt. But it was perfect. He knelt down and swept it off the woman’s head. It was soft.
He glanced from the beanie to the Zombie, “… Mercy.” 10K pulled out a dagger and shoved it between her eyes, earning a satisfying squelch.
“And thank you! You just earned me major boyfriend points!” He shouted over his shoulder at the dead Z, stuffing the beanie into his back pocket as he continued on his way back to his campsite.
Of course, when he got back to the campsite, the last thing he expected to find was his girlfriend in a tree, jumping up and down on a branch.
“Wh…” 10K trailed off, looking up at her with furrowed eyebrows. “Whatcha doing there, Red?”
“Stability test,” she continued bouncing, as if that would make everything so much more clear.
The boy waited a minute for some sort of elaboration, but got nothing, so he pressed on, “Stability for what?”
“I want to see how much weight this tree will hold. Come here,” Red leaned down on the branch and held her hand down towards him.
Without any further questioning, 10K took her hand and pulled himself up onto the branch next to her, bouncing right along with her, “I’m still not sure why we’re doing this?”
“Look around. What do you see?” The two stopped moving, and Red looked out into the distance.
The boy followed her gaze and looked around the forest. From up there, he could see just about everything for a mile or two. He saw a couple of Z’s about four hundred feet to his left. He raised his sniper and shot them all, “6,285… and a half.”
“This is the perfect place to set up a home, Tommy, don’t you see?” Red took the older boy’s hand in hers, giving it a small squeeze, “We can see everything for miles in every direction, a perfect defense. We’ll be above the heads of zombies- they won’t be able to reach us. We will be able to actually sleep through the night. I’m talking six hours, at least. There is a stream about a mile west. Fresh water. Fish. We wouldn’t be living off beetles.”
“… I saw a tent when I was killing a Z,” 10K turned to her with a grin. “We could cut up some wood, make a plank. We could prop it up on these branches, put the tent on top… We could make a home.”
“Yea, I mean, at least for a few months until Doc and 5K catch up with us. This could just be the start, Tommy! We could make a tree town! Have a tree family!”
10K winced at her words, “Red…”
“I know, I know, it’s a little premature but… I can see this happening, Tommy. We’re going to be a family,” she brought their hands to her chin and smiled,
“Addy and Lucy can visit. And Warren, of course. And Sun Mei.”
“Red, you know he’s dead… right? We saw his body,” 10K said, hesitantly.
“No. That was a body. Not his body. 5K is alive. Everybody is alive. Except Murphy. I sincerely hope he’s dead.”
It wasn’t until the next day that the two really got to work on their tree tent. 10K was cutting wood for a flooring and Red was whittling makeshift cups. The two of them sat on the ground, back to back as they worked together in silence. The only sound in earshot were those of their blades against the tree bark. Neither of them had mentioned the others again, not since Red’s denial of her little brother being dead the night before. And 10K didn’t want to bring it up.
It wasn’t a healthy coping mechanism, but there are no healthy coping mechanisms in the apocalypse. If she needed a false sense of hope to keep on going… who was he to take that away from her?
“I’m surprised there aren’t more Z’s,” Red broke the silence, her woodwork stopping. “I haven’t gone this long without killing something in years.”
10K nodded in agreement, even though her back was to him, and she couldn’t see it.
“It’s so quiet,” She closed her eyes and leaned her back against 10K’s. “I don’t think I’ve felt this at peace in… so long. I know it won’t last but… I’m almost happy, I think.”
“I almost forgot,” 10K pulled the beanie out of his pocket. “I have something for you.”
“Hm?” Red turned to look at him at an awkward angle. He tossed the beanie over their heads and it plopped into her lap.
“Where did you find this!?” He could almost hear her smile. “It’s beautiful, 10K!”
“I took it from some lady Z I mercied. But it’s not as romantic when you know that part, so… I stole it from an alive lady who was alive when I got to her and was still alive when I left.”
“I love it, Tommy. Thank you,” She pulled it over her head, letting it fall over her eyes. “… It’s too big…”
The sun was lowering in the sky as the couple raised the flooring of their tree tent up into the tree they had chosen to make their home.
It was a complicated process which involved 10K having to raise Red up onto his shoulders because the branches they wanted the floor to be on were higher than their heads. By time they actually got the floor in the proper place, the sun had vanished over the horizon.
“Come on, 10K,” Red climbed up on top of the floor. “We can set everything up tomorrow.”
Just like the day before, she leaned down and offered her boyfriend her hand before helping to pull him up into the tree.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
“A full night’s sleep?” 10K grinned, like a young child on Christmas, and he laid down on the flooring of their incomplete tree tent.
“Yes!” Red squealed, letting out a small laugh.
It wasn’t long into the night before Red woke up. Maybe it was the fact that she hadn’t slept a full night in six years, or the deafening silence of the forrest, or maybe it was the fact that she could sense her boyfriend was uneasy beside her.
“10K?” She sat up and placed her hand on his shoulder. “10K?”
The boy stirred but he didn’t arise from his slumber, however he did continue to toss and turn.
“Tommy,” Red shook his shoulder. “Wake up.”
Red almost flinched when his eyes snapped open, suddenly, unexpectedly. His eyes were wild, almost… afraid.
“What’s wrong? Are you okay?”She placed her hand over his heart.
“Murphy–” He managed to grunt out, his heart beating wildly under her hand. “I- I’m fine.”
“You’re not fine,” She pulled her beanie off of her head- yes, she was sleeping on it- and she placed it under his head as a small, makeshift pillow. “You might act okay, but you’re traumatized… What did he do to you?”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” he rolled over onto his side, his back to her. “You don’t see me insulting your coping mechanisms, Red.”
“Okay, okay,” She held her hands up in surrender. “We don’t have to talk about it…”
The two of them were silent for several minutes, before Red spoke up once more, “I am going to kill him for what he did to you… that much, I can promise.”
10K didn’t respond, he just laid there, in silence, as Red laid back down behind him. She wrapped one arm around his waist, using her other arm as a pillow. She leaned her forehead against his back and closed her eyes. Maybe she couldn’t protect him from his past, and maybe she couldn’t actually kill Murphy for all the kidnapping and enslaving of her boyfriend… but the least she could do was make him feel safe in their own, little tree tent.
Chapter 2: No Words (Part 1 of 4)
There will be four parts to this story. The song I got the idea from the song No Words by The Script. It's a good song, and it gave me the motivation to write something again.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
I could talk all day long about the news,
Giving you the current affairs and my views
I could talk all night long about a song,
Giving you the pointers on where you’re going wrong
I could talk all year long about the net and sending
You the links I think you haven’t seen yet
I’d like to tell you things that I think you never
Heard, but there are no words
In the apocalypse, you meet a lot of people. Some good, some bad, some so neutral, you’re not even sure they’re real. You meet people with guns, with knives, with explosives, and some people who choose no weapon at all. Some people you meet in the beginning of their life, and some people you meet on their deathbeds.
And some people, you meet… at the right time, in the right place, in the midst of… all the chaos.
But out of every single person that she had ever met, Addison Carver had never met someone quite like George St. Clair.
George was different than all the other people. She was… selfless, and courageous, and clever, and… beautiful in ways Addy couldn’t even describe. She was everything that a person could be… and so much more.
In a world where Zombies rule the land, where people hide and fight for their lives, it’s impossible to find someone who is good and honest. Every person you meet had some agenda. They want drugs, guns, sex, food, bullets, whatever you have… they want.
But George… George didn't want anything. Nothing material, anyway. Nothing selfish or personal. She wanted nothing for herself. Everything she wanted… she wanted for others.
Yes, George fought for drugs. She fought for guns. She fought for sex, for food, for bullets, for shelter, for safety, everything she had, she fought for. And everything she fought for, she gave away. If there was something that she had that somebody needed or wanted, she would give it them. She would give her life, any day of the week, for any schmuck on the street.
She was different… she was special.
And it took Addy far too long to realize this, to trust George. Every person she had ever met had an ulterior motive. Something she had that they wanted. And Addy fought so hard for everything that she had. But, like most people, she fought for herself. For her family. She would leave a person to die, if it meant protecting herself and hers. And she had. More than once. She was no different than everyone else in the god damn apocalypse… everyone but George.
Addy had been through so much. So much death, so much trauma, that at some point… she forgot how to feel. She had lost a mother, a brother, a boyfriend, a father-figure, a sister-figure, a daughter. And through all of that pain, through all of that loss… she began to feel numb. She felt she had to, in order to survive. She shut herself off, put up walls around her heart. And she was afraid to let them down.
George was, by every definition of the word, too good for Addy. Too honest, too smart, too passionate, too raw. But every time the other woman looked at her, she made her feel like the center of the world… or maybe just the center of her world.
They hadn’t known each other long, a couple of months, maybe. And together, they had already saved the country. George made Addy want to look past her own, personal motives, past her own, person trauma. She made her want to be better. Nobody had ever made her want to be the best version of herself. Not pre-Z, and certainly not post. Maybe that’s why she felt so alone. No one ever wanted her to be anything more.
But George did. George made her want to be better, stronger, smarter. And maybe she was. Maybe she became less selfish, less insecure, less uneducated. And the world became a little brigher, as Addy began to see things through George’s eyes.
Maybe that was what she was feeling. Maybe she was just feeling… happier. For once in eight years, she could feel the weights being lifted off of her shoulders. Like the world wasn’t her burden to bear alone. Like every struggle she faced, every ache she ever felt… was more than just her personal problem. The death of her mother, her brother, her boyfriend, and so many more… maybe it wasn’t all her fault. Maybe things just happen… and maybe that’s okay. Maybe that’s why it’s called Mercy. Not for them, but for yourself. Maybe knowing that you did all you could for them, until the bitter end… maybe that wasn’t merciful to them, but to you, too.
Maybe all of these things that she was feeling; relief, happiness, curiosity… maybe they were just that. Maybe she associated those feelings with George, because George was the one who taught her how to feel them again.
Maybe the feelings she thought she was feeling for George, were actually feelings she was feeling because of George.
Every time she saw the brunette, her heart skipped a beat, and a spotlight shone down on the woman. But that wasn’t a crush, was it? That feeling of raw bliss, that wasn’t inherently sexual and romantic, it just… was.
This is what she told herself. Because what if what she was feeling was more than just friendship? Would it be selfish to act on it? To ask to have George to herself when she was needed so much more by the people of her country? Was it wrong to want someone all to herself? To want to run away, leaving everything and everyone else behind? Was she just awful for wanting that?
There were no words in her heart to describe what she was feeling. She had it all chalked up to a feeling towards the woman who helped her let go of her trauma, of her pain, and of her loneliness. She had it chalked up to her own admiration of a woman who was able to give, so freely, without expecting anything back. She had it all chalked up to… adoration… friendship… to finally being able to relax.
But what if… what if it was so much more than that? What if she wanted more? What if she were to run up to the president, and tell her what was in her heart, and what if that was okay? What if that was selfless and passionate and pure? What if there was a word for that, a word that explained everything she had tried to logic away?
And what if that word… was love?
Please leave comments. I'm needy.
Now I'm going to brag about how I wrote 1,000+ words without any dialogue. Because I did. Please be proud of me. Part 2 will (hopefully) be up soon. But don't hold your breath because I don't write. I'm so sorry.
Chapter 3: I'm Yours
Just another b.s., no dialogue, 1600 words of SargeRedK. I'm sorry in advance. I'm tired.
The song is I'm Yours by The Script, if you're curious.
-You touch these tired eyes of mine
And map my face out line by line
And somehow growing old feels fine-
Sargent Lilly Mueller wasn’t exactly someone who had much love growing up. But it was easy to see how one who looked at the Maddison family from a distance might have thought differently. It was a big family. Mother, father, and five children. Doctor, lawyer, and their family. They were clever and beautiful and respectable. From the outside.
Anyone who had first hand knowledge of the Maddisons, however, would see differently. They would see two hard working people, and five uncared for children. Two adults who cared more about furthering their careers than they did loving their children.
So, at twenty-six years old, when Lilly found herself in the arms of a woman, a nurse, a caregiver and a man, a sniper, who loved with his whole heart, she wasn’t sure she would know how to love them back. Nobody taught her how to love or to be loved.
The closest thing she ever had to a family was the Marines. And yes, they cared for her, as a father, as friends, as a found family of sorts. But never a lover. Never someone who could love another person. They didn't need lovers. They needed soldiers, warriors, fighters.
Lilly didn't know how to love, how to show love in any conventional way. The only way she knew how to show people she cared was to fight. To kill. To protect. To be strong.
But as Red traced her fingers over Lilly’s closed eyes, she let out a soft breath. It felt… different. A sort of love that Lilly had never truly known. That she had never thought to know. That she had never dared to dream of, because it seemed so far away from any reality she had ever known.
-I listen close for I'm not smart
You wrap your thoughts in works of art
And they're hanging on the walls of my heart-
Lilly wasn’t sure how she did it, but every word that left Red’s mouth sounded like poetry. Her voice was soft and kind, and the way she phrased every sentence sounded so thought out. She never said a word that sounded anything but beautiful as it rolled from her tongue.
Lilly and Tommy, they weren’t so smart in the book kinda way. They knew weapons and violence and… the ways of the world outside of books. But Red knew so much more. She was so brilliant. She had such vast knowledge of, it seemed, everything.
Red could talk about any subject, it seemed, and with such passion. She could go on a spew about what kind of medicine best fought which kind of infection and make it sound like… poetry. She could talk about cars for hours, or different types of weapons, she could create a timeline of World War II.
She brought art to life with her words, with her voice, and Lilly would find herself entranced. It didn't matter what she said, it was so beautiful. A kind of beauty Lilly had never seen before, not before the apocalypse, and certainly not after.
Words simply couldn’t define just how perfect the nurse was, in her eyes.
-I may not have the softest touch
I may not say the words as such
And though I may not look like much
As 10K, Thomas, ran his fingers down Lilly’s arm, she turned her attention to him. Even though Lilly wasn’t as smart or beautiful or vocal with her love as Red was, the way Tommy looked at her, with such love and admiration, the same way he looked at Red, it didn't make sense to her.
Lilly was… violent and impulsive and… crazy, for the lack of a better word. She wasn’t perfect like Red was. But the way he looked at her, the way he understood everything she said, the way no one had ever bothered to try and understand… you would think she was perfect. It showed, clearly, how much he loved her. Not more or less than he loved Red. He loved them equally, with all of his heart and so much more.
Sarge could go on a violent rampage, or threaten to break up with him daily, or yell at him because it didn't make sense to her. How he could love her the same way he loved Red. They were so different, and he loved Red first. It made no sense.
But he loved her, violence, anger, impulsivity and all. He understood her in ways she didn't even understand herself. And she loved him for it.
-And though my edges may be rough
And never feel I'm quite enough
It may not seem like very much
But I'm yours-
The marine rested her head on her boyfriend’s chest, his arm wrapped around her, and her girlfriend laying just behind her, her arm also around her.
Lilly had never been afraid, not really. Her parents never hit her, she had never been in any real danger before the apocalypse. And even after the apocalypse started, she couldn’t afford to stop long enough to be afraid. She had people to take care of. And three years later, she met the marines, and people had her back. She had never been scared. She never had to be scared. In twenty-six years of her life, not once had she ever, truly, been afraid.
Or maybe she had been scared the whole time, and she never learned the difference. Until now. In the arms of her two significant others, she felt really, honestly, truly safe. Safer than she had ever felt. Like she could close her eyes and trust them to stop her from getting mauled to death by zombie wolves in her sleep.
Which, as compliments go in the apocalypse, was pretty good. They made her feel safe in ways that no one in the apocalypse felt safe. Maybe in ways no one before the apocalypse had even felt safe.
-You healed these scars over time
Embraced my soul
You loved my mind
You're the only angel in my life-
With 10K’s body under her own, and Red’s body pressed against her back, Sarge felt such intimacy she had never felt before. A sort of intimacy that went beyond baring ones soul, naked, for another to see. A sort of intimacy that went beyond just making love. A sort of intimacy that tore down all of the walls Lilly had spent so many years trying to build up.
Lilly didn't consider herself a religious person. Never had. But in moments such as these, in the arms of two people who truly loved her, Lilly felt an ecstacy she had never been privy to before. This moment, right here, was the closest she had ever felt to anything even resembling a god.
Her own two angels, more flawed and more perfect than anyone else in this apocalypse or the next. This was the closest she would ever be to heaven. To that blissful, beautiful place in the sky that she wasn’t even sure if she believed existed. Of course, that didn't matter. Because whatever Hell she could go to after this wouldn’t matter. It wouldn’t matter because she would have this memory. This day, in her lovers’ arms, where she was truly (maybe for the first time) happy.
-The day news came my best friend died
My knees went weak and you saw me cry
Say I'm still the soldier in your eyes-
All Lilly had ever been, since Day 1, was strong. All through Black Summer, all through the first year, the first three years, the first five years, and still now, eight years into this fucking apocalypse. All she had ever been was strong. Steadfast, stubborn, strong, independant, violent, impulsive, angry, and intense.
That was all anyone ever needed her for, for the past eight years. Her strength. Never her better qualities… if she even had any. Everyone wanted her for her brutal, unwavering strength. She lost so much in the past eight years. Her parents, her siblings, kids she raised along the way, a lover, a surrogate father, friends, enemies, people she knew her whole life, and people she had just met.
And every single person she lost along the way, every death she faced, every uncertainty she came upon, she just left stronger, unbreakable, and… traumatized. But her pain didn't matter. Only her strength matters… to everyone but Red and 10K.
With Red and 10K, she could fall to her knees and break down and sob. She could finally cry for those she lost, the parents, the siblings, the kids, the lovers, the friends, the enemies. She could cry for every soul she lost along away. And neither Red nor 10K would bat an eye.
Because she was more to them than just a soldier. In their eyes, she was human. Something she hadn’t been in… a long time.
-I may not have the softest touch
I may not say the words as such
And though I may not look like much
And though my edges may be rough
And never feel I'm quite enough
It may not seem like very much
But I'm yours
I may not have the softest touch
I may not say the words as such
I know I don't fit in that much
But I'm yours-
And in this moment, it was clear to Sargent Lilly Mueller. This… this was where she belonged. In the arms of a man and a woman who could love her. Actually love her. There was no agenda, no secrets. They loved one another, the three of them. And in the apocalypse, that was more than anyone could ask for.