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Voltron: Legendary Apocalypse - Season 1

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The street was desolate. Almost no sounds to be heard. The only audible ones were the ambient growls and moans from the undead, roaming the neighborhood, just waiting for another living person to feast on. The sounds of the dead, and nothing more. However, a new sound came around shortly after, a sound more alive. A pair of small feet were dashing down the street, ducking behind cars and houses to avoid being spotted.

 

Katie Holt peeked her head over a shrub for a second, doing a mental headcount of the walkers in the road. She cursed under her breath when she reached double digits in her head.

 

“Shit… Okay, Pidge, what’s the plan?” She mumbled to herself, removing her knife from its place on her belt, “can’t kill ‘em all, too many… can't shoot them, too much noise…” She briefly scanned the ground around her feet, until she spotted a decent sized rock lying just under some plants.

 

“A ha … Noise distraction…” She smirked triumphantly to herself. Picking up the rock, Pidge looked over at the house next door, seeing a big front window. Perfect for smashing . She stole one last glance at the mini herd, before she angled her shot, and chucked the rock with all her strength. The rock crashed through the window on impact, prompting Pidge to hold a silent celebration for herself as the walkers began wandering towards the broken window.

 

Without wasting another moment, Pidge took her chance. She quickly speed walked across the street, making sure her shoes didn’t make any noise against the concrete. She quickly lunged behind another group of plants, the green leaves nicely camouflaging her mostly green shirt. Pidge looked up the street, and her face fell when she saw even more walkers farther down.

 

Fuck! ” She whisper yelled, “now what?” Her hands went into the air and smacked back down against her thighs. As Pidge studied the walkers down the road, she failed to hear the growl of one approaching her from behind. At the last second, Pidge caught movement out of the corner of her eye.

 

“Oh SHIT !” She accidentally yelled as the walker knocked her flat to the ground. She wrestled with the undead being with one hand as she reached for her knife, which had fumbled a few inches away from her.

 

“Nnmngh! I’ve… hacked into fucking government software!” She growled as her fingers successfully gripped the knife handle, “I am NOT dying to one of you lame, lousy motherfuckers today!” She cried swinging her knife up and straight into the temple of the walker. As she threw the heavy body off of her and stood up, she kicked it in the head and bent down to catch her breath.

 

“Hah… jeez, that could’ve gone a little smoother.” She commented to herself. More growls then came from behind, and she froze in realization. Pidge slowly turned, and saw the walkers across the street had clearly heard the commotion and were now advancing towards her.

 

“Well, happy late fucking birthday to me!” Pidge exclaimed sarcastically as she broke into a run down the street. She didn’t make it far before the smaller cluster of walkers took notice of her and blocked her path.

 

“Goddammit!” She hissed. Pidge drew her knife once more, kicking the knee of a walker, then driving the knife through its face. Another approached, and this time she reached up and stabbed it through the chin. As the group of walkers closed in from behind, Pidge began to panic.

 

“Shit… shit shit shit !” Pidge’s eyes darted back and forth between the two groups of walkers. She then noticed the house to her right’s front door was cracked open. Before a walker could grab her arm, she dodged its lunge and ran as fast as she could into the house.

 

As soon as she passed the threshold into the house, Pidge turned and slammed the door shut, quickly locking the handle and the deadbolt. Seconds later, the telltale sounds of the walkers banging on the front of the house arrived. Sighing heavily, Pidge wandered away from the door quietly, entering the living area.

 

“H-Hello?” Pidge called into the house nervously. When she got no reply, she took her knife and tapped it on a glass table, attempting to draw out any walkers that might be free roaming. When nothing still came, she flopped down on the couch, opting to wait for the small herd to pass eventually.

 

SIX MONTHS EARLIER

 

“Katie, don't make a mess with your dinner! If you get grease on your bedsheets, you won’t hear the end of it!” Pidge’s mother, Colleen, called out as Pidge went upstairs with a plate of pizza.

 

“Don’t worry, Mom! I’ll be careful!” She replied, entering her bedroom and shutting the door. Her dog, Bae Bae was sitting on the bed, and began wagging her tail upon seeing Pidge walk in.

 

“Hi Bae Bae!” Pidge greeted in a silly voice as she cooed to the dog. Bae Bae stood up and sniffed at the plate of pizza, before Pidge set it down on her nightstand and moved Bae Bae away from it.

 

“No no, pizza’s not for doggies, you silly girl!” Pidge teased as she ruffled Bae Bae’s head. Instead, Pidge fished into her pocket, and pulled out two dog biscuits.

 

“I got you these instead! Here ya go!” Pidge tossed the treats onto the floor, with Bae Bae quickly catching one and lying down flat to chew on it.

 

“Good girl…” Pidge sighed. She was just about to take a bite of her food, her phone began to ring. She looked over, and when she saw who it was, she practically threw her pizza back onto her plate and picked up the phone.

 

“Matt!” She exclaimed, “you haven’t called in forever!” On the other end, she heard chuckling.

 

“Hey, Pidge! How’re you doing? How’s mom?” Matt asked.

 

“I’m good, she’s good. We’re both doing alright. We both miss you a lot.” Pidge answered, a bit awkwardly. “Hey, where are you? I hear people.” She asked.

 

“Oh! I’m at a restaurant in downtown San Diego, I just got here. You know, it feels kinda pathetic when you go out to a restaurant by yourself.” He replied. Pidge just laughed.

 

“And when are you not pathetic?” She teased. From the other end, Matt scoffed dramatically.

 

“What is this? Bully Your Brother Day? I thought you missed me!” He fake whined.

 

“I do miss you! It’s just natural that I gotta poke fun at you every chance I get!” Pidge continued, before her expression turned more serious. “Okay, jokes aside, I really miss you. Are you going to come home soon?”

 

“I’m sorry, Pidge, but Dad and I are staying here for a while. After what we found in space, we just… can’t let that kind of research go to waste!” He explained. Pidge screwed her eyes shut and tried not to let her emotions get the better of her.

 

“You’re still going to the Garrison? The place that left you up in space to DIE?” She asked in disbelief.

 

“Pidge, it isn’t like that-.”

 

“A YEAR, Matt! You and Dad and Shiro were trapped up there for a fucking YEAR! It took me cutting my hair, creating a fake identity, and breaching numerous government firewalls to find out you were alive but I fucking did! These people tried to cover up the fact that they lost three human lives up in space, they left you and Dad caged in that tiny metal spacecraft, and you’re just going back to them?? I don’t even give two shits that Iverson expelled me. I have no doubt in my mind that he and all the other no good shitheads over in that facility wouldn’t hesitate to do the same thing again.” Pidge felt a few tears going down her face.

 

“Jesus, Pidge… I… I’m so sorry. You know what, fuck it. Next week, I’m flying Dad and me back to Prescott. I can’t not come see you and mom. It’s the least I owe you for saving our lives .” Pidge’s face brightened at that.

 

“R-Really? You’re coming? For real?” She asked. If he was joking, she was literally going to strangle him.

 

“I’m serious! After I eat, I’m gonna go home and buy some plane tickets.” Matt declared happily.

 

“Yes! I can’t wait to see you and Dad again!” Pidge cried, dancing in victory around her room. Bae Bae looked up at her and tilted her head, confused.

 

“Alright, Pidge, I better go now, talk to you soon, alright?” Matt said.

 

“Alright. Bye, Matt. I love you.” She replied.

 

“Love you-.” As Matt said that, his voice began to cut in and out.

 

“Matt? Hello? God damn shit cell service!” Pidge muttered, hitting the back of her phone a few times. All of a sudden, the audio jumped back to life, quite chaotically. Over the phone, Pidge heard screams, and strange growls, and even gunshots .

 

“Matt?! Matt! What the fuck is going on?!” Pidge yelled.

 

“Pidge! Jesus christ ! Go get Mom and turn on the news, now!” Matt shouted.

 

“But Matt-!”

 

“KATIE! Please, just do it!” He yelled. Pidge froze. Matt only called her by her real name when he was dead serious.

 

“O-Okay! Okay!” She shakily answered.

 

“Good! Now- Holy shit! What the fu-?!” The phone call suddenly cut out, and Pidge gasped in horror.

 

“No! No no no! MATT!” She screamed, trying to call him again, only getting a busy signal. She flung open her bedroom door and bounded down the stairs.

 

“MOM!!! MOM!!! Turn on the news! Matt said to turn on the…!” Pidge trailed off, seeing Colleen already standing in front of the TV, watching in frozen shock.

 

On the screen, two paramedics were attempting to revive an unconscious man, who had a deep gash on his side. Suddenly, the man’s eyes shot open, and he grabbed one of the paramedics and sunk his teeth into his neck. The paramedic screamed as police officers drew their guns. One officer fired and hit the man in the chest. The strange man stood up, completely unfazed by the bullet as he then turned to the cop as the paramedic he bit bled out on the ground.

 

“Hey! Stay back !” The officer shouted on the TV screen. The man didn’t listen, so the officer shot him in the chest a second time. When that still didn’t do anything, the officer froze in shock.

 

“What…?” The man suddenly grabbed the officer’s arm. “Hey! Let go of me! AAAGGGHHHH!!!” The officer shouted as the man then began to bite into the officer’s arm, then as he fell to the ground, the man kneeled down, and tore into the officer’s stomach, pulling out intestines and blood.

 

“Oh, my god…” Pidge covered her mouth and turned away from the screen as the news quickly cut back to the studio.

 

“Katie, go lock the windows, I’m going to lock all of the doors!” Colleen shouted frantically as she dashed off. Pidge stared back at the news channel, before hurrying off to lock the living room windows.

 

NOW

 

Pidge paced back and forth inside the house, the growling walkers still out there. She eyed one of the windows, spotting a familiar walker.

 

“Mr. Langston…?” She questioned, looking at her undead elderly neighbor from down the street. “Heh, you were always a crabass… guess now you’re a dead crabass.” She chuckled. Mr. Langston has always been a grumpy old man. He lived about two houses down from the Holts, and whenever her and Matt were playing outside in the front yard, he’d always storm over and complain that they were being too loud and irresponsible. Pidge looked at his pale, bloody skin for another moment, before walking away from the undead Mr. Langston, venturing further into the house. As she neared the kitchen, she noticed a family photo on the table and picked it up to look at it.

 

“Oh, this is Kevin and Joy Roberts’ house…” She realized as she looked around the interior, noticing how everything was ransacked and overturned. The Holt and Roberts families had been decent friends. They didn’t see each other often, but did have the occasional summer barbecue together several years back. Pidge looked down at the photo again, seeing Kevin, Joy, and their daughter, Mandy, all smiling together. She smiled as well for a moment, before setting down the photo and going into the kitchen. Tacked to the fridge with a magnet was a note.

 

“Alyssa, thank you for watching Mandy this week! I’ve left some frozen dinners in the freezer for you two, as well as some money if you guys want to go out one night for dinner! We’ll be back on Saturday at around 3pm. Have fun and take care!  -Joy”

 

Pidge sighed as she pieces together the puzzle in her head. She checked the cupboards for any left over food, sadly coming up empty. As she was about to leave the house through the back, she heard a thump from upstairs and froze. She turned back, standing at the foot of the stairs, looking up.

 

“Is going upstairs in a creepy, abandoned house with walkers all around really a good idea?” Pidge asked herself as she ironically began going upstairs. Once at the top, Pidge heard the noise again, coming from a closed door down the hall. As Pidge approached it, she grew increasingly nervous. She made sure to draw her knife just in case.

 

Once reaching the door, Pidge grabbed the handle slowly. She counted to three in her head and burst into the room. Inside, it turned out to be Mandy’s bedroom, and almost instantly she cried out and covered her mouth in a mixture of shock, horror, and disgust. The severely devoured body of Mandy lie in the middle of the room. Just next to her, the zombified Alyssa suddenly lunged from the other side of the room.

 

Pidge let out a startled yelp as she jumped to the right, letting zombified Alyssa trip over Mandy’s body. With the walker on the ground, Pidge quickly came down and stabbed it in the head. Panting, Pidge stood up and looked at the gory sight before her.

 

“Jesus… Poor girl.” She sighed, barely able to look at the remains of Mandy, whose body was completely ripped open on the bottom half, and her legs were just completely gone. Pidge also noticed a bite mark on Alyssa’s arm, and figured she must’ve gotten bitten at some point near the start, went back inside with Mandy, then turned and… well, the rest is plain and simple. Not wanting to see the grotesque sight any longer, Pidge stumbled out of Mandy’s bedroom, however before she ran down the stairs, she decided to stop and check the master bedroom.

 

Not much came from her ransack of the bedroom, but when she checked the bottom of the closet, she noticed a small box. Intrigued, Pidge opened it and grinned. She picked up what was inside: a flare gun.

 

“Well, thank you , Mr. Roberts.” Pidge commented, tucking the flare gun into her pants. Back downstairs, the walkers were starting to crack the front door, so Pidge figured it was time to get the hell out of there.

 

No sooner had walkers burst through the front door, Pidge had quietly slipped out the back door. The first walker to enter the house was none other than the undead Mr. Langston himself. Sighing to herself, she snuck around the side of the house, watching as the last of the tiny walker herd entered the house. She looked up the street and smiled when she saw no walkers in sight this time. Pidge adjusted the small pack over her shoulders, and continued her run down the street.

 

~~~~~

 

About ten minutes later, Pidge found herself outside of the local grocery store. It wasn’t terribly large, but she hoped she’d at least find something good inside. She watched from a distance as several walkers crowded outside.

 

“For the love of-! Everywhere you go, these shits are gonna be there.” Pidge grumbled in annoyance as she pulled out the flare gun and snuck up along the side wall of the store. Waiting a few seconds, Pidge then turned and shot the flare down the street. The flare landed a good distance away, attracting the walkers’ attention away from the main doors.

 

“Jackpot…” Pidge silently high fived herself, and slipped inside the store. Once inside, Pidge made quick work of checking each aisle.

 

“Holy shit…” Pidge huffed tiredly as she stared into an aisle that was still filled with cans of food and other items. Pidge quickly set down her pack and shoved as much cans into it as she possibly could. She then went into a few more aisles, grabbing extra smaller things. She also stopped guiltily to grab box of peanut butter cookies sitting on a shelf.

 

After Pidge sufficiently grabbed enough supplies, she turned and made her way to the exit. That is, until the unmistakable sound of a cocking shotgun stopped her in her tracks.

 

“Don’t fucking move.” A man’s voice snarled. “Drop the bag.” Pidge did as she was told, slinging the bag off of her shoulders and letting it hit the ground.

 

“H-Hey dude, come on, I-I didn’t take everything in here. Can’t you just let a girl take some supplies in order to survive?” She asked. The man let out a bitter laugh.

 

“Oh, sure … last time I did that, same assholes came back for blood. There were about six of them. They wanted it all . You know what I did? I killed them all. Every last one. The leader? I let him turn. They tried to take everything I had, and I’m not letting it happen again. See, this here is my store. I’ve been spending weeks out here, trying to get inside this place, camping out nearby so nobody like you comes in and steals this shit. So you’re going to put your hands down, leave the bag, and go back to wherever you came from. Neither one of us has to die today.” The man threatened. Pidge lowered her hands slowly, adjusting the waistband of her shorts as a distraction to make sure her gun, stealthily tucked right next to the flare gun, was easily accessible.

 

“Walk, girl, before I blow your head off.” The man growled. Breathing as quiet as possible, Pidge took a step forward. Two steps. Three. In the reflection of a frozen food freezer door, she saw the man’s attention switch from her to the bag of supplies she had.

 

Now.

 

Pidge yanked out her gun, swinging a full 180 degrees and firing off at least five shots in the man’s general direction. One of the bullets hit him in the shoulder, which gave Pidge the perfect opportunity to charge. Just as Pidge reached him, the man regained his bearings. Pidge grabbed his shotgun and shoved the muzzle to the side, just as the man fired it. The shot blasted through one of the store’s big front windows, also killing a walker standing too close. The walker herd distracted by the flare had taken notice to this, and were now coming back towards the store, this time with a way inside.

 

Pidge managed to wrestle the shotgun from his hands and chuck it to the side, but now the man had pulled out a knife and shoved her backwards into the wall, making her fall to the ground. The man jumped on top of her, attempting to stab her in the chest.

 

“You’ve made a big fucking mistake!” The man shrieked as he pushed harder against Pidge’s smaller hands. “Not gonna let some teenage brat… take this shit I’ve worked so hard to get!” Pidge felt his force overpowering hers. The tip of his knife was centimeters away from piercing her skin. In a split second, Pidge raised her foot and kicked the man square in the groin as hard as she could possibly kick. The man doubled over in pain, rolling off of her. Pidge quickly stood up, grabbing both her gun and her bag of food.

 

The man stood up as well, his legs shaky. He pointed a threatening finger at the teenage girl. “I’ll fucking kill you for that, you stupid bitch!” But before the man could engage in a second attack, a walker grabbed ahold of his arm, taking a large bite out of it.

 

“FUUUUUCK!!!” The man screamed as a second walker ripped into his neck, a third bit his leg, and two more began tearing open his stomach. Dark crimson colored blood spilled from his wounds onto the floor. Pidge turned and was about to run, when she looked back. The man’s eyes were wide with terror as his life was quickly fading from them.

 

“I… I’m sorry it had to come to this.” Pidge said as she stared at the man being devoured. She then raised her gun slowly, and pulled the trigger. The bullet passed straight through his forehead, and his body fell flat on the ground, with more walkers arriving and piling on top of him. Pidge came to her senses, shooting another approaching walker dead. She tried to shoot another, but her gun clicked. Out of ammo.

 

“Fuck.” She cursed simply, before bolting through the store and out the back entrance. A lone walker stood outside the door, and Pidge kicked it to the ground, before turning and running back towards her house, not bothering to kill it.

 

TWO AND A HALF YEARS EARLIER

 

The Holt family all sat together at the dinner table. Bae Bae had her front paws up on the table next to Pidge, begging for food. They were celebrating Sam and Matt’s last day on earth before they were heading up to space alongside Shiro.

 

Pidge watched out a window as a plane flew overhead and sighed. “I wish I was going up with you guys…” She moped, picking at the peas on her plate.

 

“Well, you’ve gotta get into the Garrison first!” Matt chimed in, “but hey, I’m sure that’ll be a cake walk for you.” He winked.

 

“Just you wait, kiddo. Someday you’re going to do something so extraordinary that it’ll make the whole universe stand up, and take notice.” Sam encouraged. Pidge couldn’t help but break into a smile at his words.

 

Yes. She’d be extraordinary.

 

NOW

 

Pidge’s feet dragged along the street. She could barely breathe as she planted heavily. The pack over her shoulders felt like an entire car pressing down on her. Pidge had ran nearly the entire way back to avoid the herd inside the store following her, and she’d mostly succeeded. Only five walkers were behind her at the moment, engaging in a very slow chase.

 

At last, Pidge recognized the front lawn of her own house. A ghost of a smile crossed her exhausted face as she opened her mouth to yell.

 

“Mom!! Help…!” She yelled as loud as she could. That drained the last of her stamina, and she crashed to the ground. Thinking fast, Pidge pulled the pack off of her shoulders, and swung it into the legs of the first walker, then shakily stood and began repeatedly crushing its skull beneath her shoe. At that moment, Colleen burst through the front door, Bae Bae wagging nervously at her side.

 

“Katie! Hold on! I’ll get my gun!” She shouted, rushing back into the house with urgency. Pidge pulled out her knife once more, and was able to use enough energy to stab a second walker in the face. Just as she pushed the body away from her, a third walker pushed her down and began snapping its teeth at her, wanting to rip into her flesh.

 

“N-No! N… fuck…!” Pidge groaned, nearly crying with exhaustion. She could feel her arms wobbling, almost ready to give out like jelly. They began to bend against her dangerously as they started to give out. But just before they could, a loud shot rang out, and the walker on top of her fell over next to her, a bullet hole in the side of its head.

 

Pidge watched weakly as someone charged one of the walkers, stabbing it in the top of the head. The last remaining walker turned its attention to the mystery boy, but was quickly shot by the other person standing there. The first boy with dark skin, looked past Pidge at whoever he was with. She was so fatigued, she couldn’t make out who it was clearly just yet.

 

“Christ, Lance, you could’ve killed them!” He exclaimed.

 

Relax , Hunk! I didn’t! They’re perfectly fine, see?” Lance gestured down at Pidge.

 

“Oh, whatever!” Hunk dismissed him, before turning to Pidge. “Hey hey, don’t freak out, we’re not gonna hurt you, we’re here to help you. Here, let me get you off that dirty ground.” Hunk reached down and takes Pidge’s hand in hers, easily helping her stand up.

 

“We saw you getting cornered by those walkers and thought it was only right to-.”

 

Oh… ” Hunk suddenly gasped, cutting Lance off.

 

“What is it?” Lance asked. Pidge turned to face Lance now, all three of them wearing faces of disbelief.

 

“Ah, well well, if it isn’t our famous former classmate, Pidge. Or should I say, Katie ?” Lance asked with a smirk. Pidge was sure she was hallucinating. Did her former Garrison classmates really just save her?

 

“H-Hunk? Lance…?” She questioned, looking between the two of them. That was the last thing she said, before her eyes rolled back and she passed out in Hunk’s arms from pure exhaustion.

 

“Oh, shit!” Lance exclaimed as Pidge fell into unconsciousness.

Chapter Text

Lance stared at the passed out Pidge sagging in Hunk’s arms. “Uh… sh-she’s still alive, right?” He asked worriedly. Hunk gently felt around Pidge’s neck until he found her pulse. He sighed with relief.

 

“Yes. Yes she’s still alive, thank god.” Both boys breathed a bit easier. Until Colleen burst through the front door, her gun outstretched threateningly.

 

“Who are you boys?!” She shouted, before noticing Pidge passed out. “Katie! What did you do to her?! Did you hurt her ?!?!” Lance raised his hands in surrender. Hunk… tried, but he figured it was better to hold onto the unconscious girl rather than drop her.

 

“Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!! We’re… old friends of hers! We saw her in trouble and just wanted to help!” Lance reasoned. Colleen shook her head.

 

“I’ve never seen either of you before! Cut the act and let her go before I shoot you both in the head right here, right now!”

 

“We’re telling the truth! We were Pidge’s best friends at the Galaxy Garrison. She… she was the closest thing both of us had to a family while we were there. I think she could possibly say the same.” Hunk interjected. “Look, you don’t have to believe us, but we don’t want Pidge to die. She’s extremely overworked, she needs to get inside so she can have time to rest. If you really want, we’ll give her to you and go. But, I’m assuming it’s just you two out here. We can offer you something else, if you just let us in!” Colleen’s eyes darted from Hunk’s pleading face, to Lance’s apprehensive one, to Pidge’s slack form. Gritting her teeth, she lowered the weapon.

 

“Do not . Make me regret this decision.” She growled, before pushing the front door open further. “Bring her in.” Hunk smiled a little, before hoisting Pidge completely into his arms bridal style, as he carried her into the house, followed by Lance, who gave a small nod to Colleen as a show of thanks.

 

“Set her down there.” Colleen instructed. Hunk obliged, lowering Pidge down onto the couch. He put a throw pillow underneath her head. “I can grab a bowl of water and a rag to keep her cool. Where’s your bathroom?” Hunk asked.

 

“Upstairs, second door on the right. But . First, I want your weapons.” She stated firmly. Hunk stopped, but nodded.

 

“Yeah, okay, that’s fair.” He reached into his belt and pulled out his knife, then a small pistol as well. He put them in her hands and stepped backward. “I’ll, uh, be right back.” He then awkwardly went off to find the bathroom. Colleen turned to Lance, who was sitting in an armchair.

 

“Your rifle, over there on the dining room table.” She ordered. Lance looked hesitant, but stood up slowly and deposited it on the table. Colleen watched him sit back down and nodded. “Thank you for cooperating.” However, she raised an eyebrow. “No knife on you?” She asked suspiciously.

 

“Why get close to them when I can get them from a distance? Besides, Hunk’s the melee guy. Also, why waste my gun training in a situation like this ?” Lance questioned, putting his hands in the air, referring to everything. Colleen considered his words before smiling a little.

 

“Hm. If you turn out to be trustworthy, I just might like you, kid.” The two of them chuckled silently with one another as Hunk came back down the stairs. Bae Bae followed directly behind him, trying to jump up and sniff his face. Colleen noticed and sighed.

 

“Bae Bae, what have I told you about bothering people? Go lay down.” She commanded, pointing at the dog bed next to the chair Lance was sitting in. Bae Bae shot Colleen a classic puppy dog eyes look, before sadly wandering over to the bed and circling a few times before plopping down. As she did so, she made a small huff. Hunk cooed at her and smiled.

 

“She’s adorable, you know.” He commented as he kneeled down at put the cool wet rag over Pidge’s forehead.

 

“And a huge pain in the butt.” Colleen rolled her eyes jokingly, “but, Pidge and I love her all the same.” Lance reached down and gently scratched behind Bae Bae’s ears as Colleen talked. Bae Bae looked up at him and gave his hand a few licks.

 

“So, tell me about yourselves. What brought you this way, and why did you go out of your way to save Katie?” Colleen interrogated.

 

“Well… firstly, my name’s Hunk. Hunk Garrett. That’s my best bud, Lance McClain. His family and my family, and a few other folks, have a camp set up not too far away from here, maybe twenty or so minutes away by car? Either way, we’re doing pretty well there. We’ve been in that area for about four months and we’ve only had a real problem with the walkers maybe two or three times. What I’m trying to say is, would you and Pidge - and Bae Bae, of course - be open to joining us?” Hunk asked.

 

“Look… you boys seem nice. Really, you do. But… I don’t know if I can make this decision this fast. I feel like Pidge deserves a say on this as well, but it could be hours before she wakes up. You said your families are the ones at this camp, and I can’t keep you guys waiting with my indecision and make them worry for both of your guys’ safety.” Colleen explained in a melancholy tone. Lance looked at Hunk, before speaking up.

 

“Then, we’ll wait for Pidge. I know this is sudden, but… we knew Pidge for an entire year. Sure, it took a short while for her to really… open up to us, but when she did, we formed a closer friendship than any I’ve ever had. And knowing she’s still alive during all of this? We just want to help, and make sure that she’s safe.” Lance reassured. “And… if none of that really matters to you, we’ve been trying to branch out to new people anyway. My mom says safety in numbers is a good thing, but my dad doesn’t exactly agree.” Before Colleen could reply, Pidge suddenly stirred on the couch, and sat up suddenly.

 

“Wh-What? Where am I?!” She asked in a panic. Hunk put a hand out and shushed her softly.

 

“Hey hey hey! It’s okay, you’re okay. You’re in your living room. On the couch. You passed out from exhaustion.” Hunk explained gently. Pidge’s forehead rag had fallen into her lap, so Hunk picked it up and put it back. “Here, keep that on your head for now, hopefully it’ll make you feel better until you’re well rested.”

 

“...My head hurts.” Pidge complained, “Are you guys real, or am I just so tired that I brought you two out of my subconscious and you’re just random manifestations of my mind that I can feel?” She asked.

 

“I assure you, we’re… very much real.” Hunk replied, putting a hand on her shoulder, “It’s good to see you again. If… it’s any consolation, a lot of the kids in our class resented Iverson and Sanda for the decision.”

 

“Did anyone throw a pie at his face?”

 

“...No.”

 

“A shame, but oh well. It’s good to see you guys, too.” She admitted with a small smile. “Hey, can you go in my pack and bring me the box of cookies inside?” She asked Hunk.

 

“Oh, you and your cookies… sure thing.” He laughed, getting up and fetching Pidge’s pack. He ruffled through it briefly before pulling out the box. He handed it to Pidge, who eyed the cookies hungrily. She opened the box and took one out, taking a big bite.

 

“What? Gotta get my blood sugar up.” She defended, talking with a full mouth.

 

“Uh, anyway…” Lance continued, “now that you’re awake, we wanted to ask you… would you and your mom be willing to come back with Hunk and I, to our camp? We’re well supplied, a lot of food, a lake nearby to filter water, working vehicles. We’re trying to branch out to other survivors, help people as much as we can.” He explained again. Pidge didn’t say anything, and looked to Colleen.

 

“I mean… it sounds like a nice opportunity. I’m just a bit… nervous? I guess, I-I dunno!” She stammered. “What if you both are secret serial killers or something?”

 

“If we wanted to kill you, we would’ve just kept walking.” Lance replied simply, “But we didn’t. Call me biased, but… I feel like that says enough.” Pidge and Lance looked at each other for another few seconds, until Pidge slowly nodded.

 

“Okay. Okay… I say we go, then.” She said to her mom. Colleen nodded as well.

 

“Then it’s settled. If Katie trusts you, I trust you.” Colleen reached out and shook Lance’s hand formally. “Just give us a few minutes to pack up.” Colleen then stood up and went into the kitchen to gather things to take. Pidge also stood up, a bit slower.

 

“Pidge, you should be resting. We don’t have to leave right away.” Lance insisted softly.

 

“Uh, yeah, we might have to.” Hunk suddenly cut in from the dining room. He was looking out a side window and his face showed one of worry.

 

“What’s the matter, Hunk?” Lance asked as he and Pidge came up to the window with him. They looked out and instantly their faces matched his. A large cluster of walkers were a few houses down the street, and coming towards them.

 

“Holy crow! Where’d they come from?” Lance exclaimed.

 

“Shit, must’ve followed me from the store and heard the shots.” Pidge muttered in annoyance. “I should’ve been more careful. Fuck!

 

“Hey, don’t panic. We’ll be fine. Just grab whatever we need and let’s get out of here!” Hunk reassured. Lance grabbed his rifle from the table and stood by the front door.

 

“I saw them from upstairs. What’s the plan?” Colleen asked as she ran back to the living room.

 

“The house next door still has a car in their garage, and the keys are still there, too! Figured that out while scavenging.” Pidge recalled suddenly. “If we can just break our way inside, we should be safe to get out of here!”

 

“Sounds good! Everyone grab your weapons, and be ready!” Colleen instructed, giving Hunk his knife and gun back. Pidge noticed a photo on the mantle of her living room. Her and Matt standing side by side, smiling brightly, with Matt holding Bae Bae in the air, the dog’s tongue hanging out of her mouth lazily. She quickly took it out of the frame and folded it into her pocket.

 

“Alright, I’ll open the door on the count of three, got it?” Colleen asked. Hunk, Lance, and Pidge all nodded. “Good. One… Two… Three! ” Colleen swung the front door open, with Lance and Hunk charging out first.

 

“Bae Bae, come on, girl!” Pidge called, doing a quick whistle with her lips as Bae Bae ran outside and stayed by Pidge’s side. The herd was almost on them. Lance took aim with his rifle, shooting three walkers in the head. Colleen slammed the front door shut and locked it, securing the backpack over her shoulders.

 

“Lance, let's go!” Pidge called, stabbing a walker in the side of the head. Lance shot one last walker, before turning and joining them in running to the next door house. Once they reached it, Pidge discovered a door on the side of the garage entrance.

 

“Here, I got it.” Lance said. He lined up the butt of his rifle towards the glass, and proceeded to smash it against it several times, until the glass shattered.

 

“I think I can fit inside, help me through!” Pidge told Hunk. The latter nodded, and quickly helped Pidge ease herself through the window gap, avoiding stray pieces of broken glass. Colleen covered them, shooting a few walkers as Pidge unlocked the door from the inside. She flung it open as soon as she did. “Get inside, hurry!” She called.

 

Everyone ran into the garage, with Colleen spotting the keys hanging up on a cork board near the door entering the house. She grabbed them, pressing the unlock button. Pidge opened the back door, letting Bae Bae jump in first, then she climbed in second. Lance tossed his rifle next to Pidge, then climbed inside next to her. Walkers began entering the door inside the garage. Colleen cursed, and quickly got into the driver’s seat.

 

Hunk noticed this, stabbing a walker in the head, then kicking another one backwards, which caused it to push another one back outside. He then shut the door, with a little struggle at first, then he locked it. The walkers outside began banging angrily on it, as Hunk ran around the car and jumped into the passenger side.

 

“Are we gonna bust through the garage door?” Hunk asked, looking out the back windshield, seeing that the door was still very much closed.

 

“You bet.” Colleen stated with a small smirk. “Hold on to something!” She warned as she turned the key in the ignition. She edged the car forward until the front bumper touched the wall. Then, she shifted to reverse, and slammed her foot down on the gas.

 

Holy croooooow!! ” Lance wailed as the car smashed through the garage door, bits and pieces of it flying everywhere. Colleen swerved right, getting on the road. Walkers began crowding the car as they sat still. Pidge noticed the undead Mr. Langston again among the herd. This time, she flashed back to the man in the store, hearing him scream, and then the sound of her shooting him in the head. Now she felt bad for the elderly man. Nobody deserved to be left to turn.

 

Colleen shifted back into drive, and once again put her foot to the gas. As the car jumped to life, she ran down about three walkers as they began speeding down the road at breakneck speed.

 

“Just show me the way to your camp. We’ll be there in no time.” Colleen told Hunk, who was still recovering from the sudden rocket start.

 

~~~~~

 

Roughly twenty minutes later, Hunk directed Colleen to turn right down a dirt road that was more covered by trees. The slightly hidden road went up a small incline, before it leveled out, then took a sharp left. Colleen drove for a just a bit longer, before a clearing in the trees became visible, and several people were spotted, suddenly taking notice of the foreign vehicle.

 

Lance exited first, smiling when an older woman hurried over to him.

 

“Lance! Lance, you had me worried sick! You hadn’t come back in a few hours!” She cried as she hugged her son.

 

“It’s okay, Mamá , estoy bien .” Lance reassured, pulling away to embrace another man, his father. Hunk exited the car as well, and two adults immediately surrounded him in a hug.

 

“It’s okay, guys, I’m okay!” He laughed as his parents hugged him tight.

 

“We almost sent Allura and Coran out to look for you! Don’t scare us like that again!” His mother shouted. Hunk just sighed and pulled away.

 

“Don’t worry, I won’t. Besides, we got a little caught up in something. We, uh… we found some people.” Hunk gestured to Pidge, Colleen, and Bae Bae, who were standing next to the vehicle awkwardly.

 

“Hello there. I’m Colleen Holt, this is my daughter, Katie-,”

 

“Call me Pidge.”

 

“-and our dog, Bae Bae. We hope you’ll allow us to stay. We’ll pull our weight, we can do anything you need us to.” She said. Lance’s mother smiled kindly.

 

“Of course you can stay! Why let the end of the world stop us from being kind to one another? Oh, I’m sorry, I haven’t introduced myself! I’m Nancy McClain! I… think I know you. Would your husband happen to be Sam Holt?” Nancy asked. Colleen looked solemn and nodded.

 

“Yes… But currently it’s just Katie and I. Sam and my older son, Matt, are somewhere in California most likely, if they aren’t…” Colleen didn’t finish her sentence.

 

“I’m sorry. I hope we can find them someday.” Nancy consoled. “But please, come over and meet everyone else! You’re part of our group now, which means we’re all family.” Nancy led Colleen over to the other three adults, as Hunk and Lance took Pidge and Bae Bae over by a parked RV.

 

“I’m Miguel McClain. Nice to meet you.” Lance’s father greeted, respectfully shaking her hand.

 

“I’m Marcus Garrett, and this is my wife, Olivia.” Hunk’s father followed. Olivia smiled and both of them shook Colleen’s hand.

 

“Hi there! Sorry if we came across as overbearing parents back there. We just… want Hunk to be safe. After we got separated from my sister, her husband, and two sons, we vowed to keep Hunk safe for as long as we could. We’re all we have left of our family as far as we know.” Olivia explained, eyes cast downward. “For a while Hunk kept commenting how he missed his Uncle Filo and his amazing pork lau lau.” Colleen put a sympathetic hand on her shoulder.

 

“I know how you feel. Your boy and Lance saves my daughter out there today. I’ll admit, I was a little hostile with them at first, but it was just to protect the only family I have left.” She replied. Olivia nodded.

 

“I understand. Maybe now that you’re here, you could show me how to use a weapon. I can use knives, but guns… I can’t bring myself to even pick one up, even in this world.” Colleen considers Olivia’s question, before nodding back.

 

“I think I could find time to help with that. My parents kept me pretty well trained in various aspects of survival.” She said. Olivia looked relieved, and smiled.

 

“Thank you.” She said.

 

Over by the RV, Lance was busy giving Pidge a big, dramatic tour of the place.

 

“And this is my family’s RV! We’ve mowed down tons of walkers with this bad boy!” He exclaimed, waving his hands for better effect.

 

“Lance, we hit maybe one walker in this thing, and even then it nearly fried the engine.” A young girl, about the same age as Lance, claimed as she walked up beside him.

 

“Do you always have to ruin everything?” Lance asked with extra drama, extending the g at the end of the word.

 

“When it comes to you? Of course I do.” She retorted smugly, before she turned towards Pidge. “Hey, I’m Rachel. This dork’s twin.”

 

“Twin?” She asked.

 

“We’re fraternal.” They both said at the same time. “ And , I’m older.” Rachel stated proudly. Lance scoffed.

 

“By what? 10 minutes?”

 

“Actually, 90 minutes. I guess you just didn’t want to come out.” She teased.

 

“With you out there? Maybe I should’ve stayed.” Lance cackled evilly, as the two started playfully shoving at each other. It only lasted a minute as Lance continued showing Pidge around.

 

“Oh hey! This is the rest of my family! That’s my older brother Marco,” Lance pointed to a young man with brown hair down past his ears, “oldest brother Luis, his wife Lisa, and their kids, Silvio and Nadia.” He pointed to an older muscular man, a younger lighter skinned woman, and two young children who looked to be younger than 10 at least. The two kids saw Bae Bae panting next to Pidge, and their eyes lit up.

 

“Puppy! A puppy!” Silvio cried as both of them ran over to Bae Bae. The dog yipped happily, licking the faces of both young kids as they pet her body.

 

“She’s so fluffy…” Nadia cooed, putting behind Bae Bae’s ears. While the kids were distracted, Lisa sighed tiredly.

 

“At least they have something else to keep them busy now. They’ve been all over me for days.” She groaned to Luis.

 

“Take a break for a while, mi vida, I can spend more time with the kids.” Luis offered.

 

“You would? Thank you, honey. I think I just need a quick rest, at least for a couple of hours.” She sighed.

 

“Go rest. I can come to wake you up when we’re about to eat dinner. Don’t worry.” He smiled. Lisa turned and kissed him on the cheek.

 

“Thank you so much. I love you.” She smiled, before turning and heading off to their tent to rest.

 

“And these are some people we found about a month back. This is Allura, Coran, and Romelle.” Lance introduced, gesturing to two young women, one with striking smooth white hair, the other with long blonde hair, and a slightly older man with pure ginger hair, and a rather stylish mustache over his lips.

 

“A pleasure to meet you!” Coran greeted Pidge enthusiastically, shaking her hand. “Always lovely to see new people around!”

 

“Coran, let the poor girl breathe. She only just got here.” Allura pulled him back and offered her own hand to Pidge.

 

“Sorry about him, he can be… a bit eager to meet new people. I’m Allura. It really is wonderful to meet some new faces. Especially some more girls. This place has been filled with too many boys long enough.” She joked.

 

“Hey, you at least like me , don’t you?” Lance questioned hopefully, batting his eyes. Allura and Romelle exchanged glances.

 

“Eh, you’ve still got a ways to go.” Romelle replied. Lance’s mouth hung open as the two of them and Pidge laughed at him.

 

“Anyway, hello, I’m Romelle, as you’ve heard, of course.” The two shook hands. Pidge suddenly made a strange face.

 

“Ro…melle? No offense but… how did your parents choose that?” She asked. Romelle cracked a large smile.

 

“Interesting story, actually. My mother wanted to name me Robin, however my dad wanted the name Melanie. I guess they… came to a compromise. A rather odd compromise, might I add.” She explained.

 

“Personally, I would’ve chosen Robin.” Allura commented, shrugging her shoulders.

 

“Now I wonder… what other weird name combinations could you get from those two?” Hunk thought out loud, which prompted all of them to do it.

 

“Well, there’s Rolanie.” Coran started.

 

“...Robinanie?” Lance said in a questioning tone.

 

“Melanin?” Pidge couldn’t help but snicker at her answer.

 

“What about… Mela bin ?” Coran suggested, causing the group of them to break out laughing.

 

“That one definitely takes first prize.” Romelle said as their laughter died down.

 

“Here, Pidge, let me show you the huge lake we have nearby. It’s over here behind the RV, down that slope.” Lance pulled her away to show her, so she waved goodbye to Allura, Coran, and Romelle as Hunk followed them. As Lance led her, she couldn’t help but smile involuntarily. It felt nice to be back with friends.

 

~~~~~

 

That evening, the sun had set, and the group was gathered around a campfire, passing food around from Marco’s hunting trip that day.

 

“Pass some of that meat down! We haven’t gotten any!” Lance complained. Luis took the platter of meat and passed it to Hunk, who gave a piece each to Lance, Pidge, Rachel, and himself, then he passed it over to Coran.

 

“Good haul today, Marco!” Luis complimented as everyone talked and laughed with one another.

 

“Thanks. I do my best out there. Not gonna lie, though, game is getting rather scarce. I tried tracking a deer, but it got scared of by some of those damn muertos. But hey, I guess I can’t complain, I managed to get a rabbit and a few squirrels so at least we’re eating.” He shrugged as he grabbed his own share of meat to put on his plate. Over by Lance, Rachel looked over at her twin, quietly tapping him on the shoulder. He turned to face her.

 

¿Estás bien? ” She asked. Lance raised an eyebrow inquiringly.

 

Sé que te doy un montón de mierda, pero tú eres importante a me .” She smiled softly. Lance smiled back, and affectionately touched her shoulder.

 

“Awww, te quiero, también , Rachel.” He replied, leaning over and giving her a side hug.

 

“Just… don’t make such a big deal out of it, ya dork. You know I get awkward when we get all mushy and sentimental like this.” She scoffed, but relented and hugged him back. “I’d just hate to see you die out there, you know?. Having that feeling of… I don’t know, helplessness? That’s what I’m afraid of; not being able to stop you from dying. I want us to be there for each other.”

 

“We are here for each other, Rach. I’d give my life for you in a heartbeat, and I know you’d do the same. In a world like this… sometimes it’s best to live in the moment, and be thankful for what you still have.” Lance looked around at the group around him. Rachel followed his gaze and eventually nodded in agreement.

 

“Yeah, guess you’re right. Just know, I love you, and… I’ve got your back. Always.” She reassured. Lance smiled knowingly.

 

Around the fire, the group shared a joyful conversation. Allura and Romelle shared a plate of meat. Silvio and Nadia kept sneaking small pieces of theirs to Bae Bae, who happily wolfed down each small morsel. Pidge listened as Hunk told her wild stories of what went on at the Garrison after she’d been unceremoniously expelled. They both laughed harder than they ever had since the world ended.

 

As Hunk briefly turned away to talk with his parents, Pidge pulled the folded photo of her and Matt out of her pocket. She stared at it for a good few seconds longingly.

 

“Don’t worry, Matt. I’ll find you. You and Dad both.” She murmured to herself. “I promise.”

Chapter Text

Matt and Pidge stood side by side at the foot of a massive spaceship.

 

“Alright, Katie…” Matt began.

 

“No, call me Pidge. I’m gonna miss that… and you.” She cut in, unable to bring herself to look up at her brother.

 

“I know you’ll miss me, but you know, space ! I’m so excited-!”

 

“I know! But I can’t believe I’ll have to go through middle school without you…” Matt deflated and turned to look at his younger sister sympathetically.

 

“You can talk to me anytime!” He countered hopefully. Pidge raised an eyebrow.

 

“I thought I wasn’t allowed to bother you and Dad on your mission?” She asked.

 

“Right… of course you’re not. But you know the code , what the Garrison doesn’t know…” Matt leaned in a whispered, winking at her. “Oh, hey! Check this out!” Pidge watched in surprise as Matt calmly took off his glasses, placing them in the palm of Pidge’s hand.

 

“Don’t you need these?” She asked, unsure. Matt smiled and shook his head.

 

“Not anymore! The Garrison fixed my eyes! I look way cooler now! Yeah?” He asked, smirking proudly.

 

“Hmm… Nah…” Pidge shot back. Both siblings then burst out into laughter.

 

“I’ll be back soon, alright?” Matt reassured.

 

“You better! Or I’m comin’ up to space and getting you!” She declared, playfully giving Matt a shove. She turned and looked up at the large metal craft as the wind blew her long, flowing hair behind her. She put on Matt’s glasses and stared at the top of it.

 

One day, this would be her destiny.

 

Pidge flinched awake. She put a hand on her chest as she looked around, seeing that she was still in a tent. She sighed as she pushed that dream-memory away, and stood up.

 

It had been a week since Pidge, Colleen, and Bae Bae had joined Lance, Hunk, and their families at the camp. Things were going well with the extra help from the two new people. Pidge stepped out of the tent, stretching her arms into the air as she officially woke herself up.

 

“Good morning, Katie!” Colleen called, where her and Olivia were folding up some clean clothes. “Rachel and Coran just got done washing and drying the clothes down at the lake. Here, they washed your clothes for you. I didn’t want to say anything but you were starting to smell this past week. Go change and I’ll wash your bed clothes for you.” She handed Pidge her green and white shirt and gray shorts, neatly folded and lavender smelling. Pidge nodded wordlessly and went back into their shared tent to change.

 

A few minutes later, Pidge re-emerged, once again donning her classic outfit. She handed off her sleeping clothes to Colleen, before walking over to where she spotted Lance and Hunk sitting at a picnic table.

 

“Well, good morning, Miss Grumpy Pants!” Lance greeted teasingly. “Why the long face, oh dear Pidgeon?” Pidge just eyed him, unimpressed.

 

“I hate being up this early. What time is it even? Like 7 A.M.? I just want to sleep for another 3 hours and be an antisocial rock.” She groaned, sitting down next to Hunk and flopping her head down on the table.

 

“Aww, Pidge, don’t be like that. Especially when we have… coffee !” Hunk trailed off in a singsong voice. Pidge’s head shot back up and looked at him.

 

“You have WHAT? Do not fuck with me, Hunk. Where’s the coffee??? ” She asked, grabbing Hunk by the shirt.

 

“Alright alright, relax!” Lance pulled Pidge away. “Our family has a mini portable coffee machine that’s hooked up to the RV. I can make you some of you wa-.”

 

“YES. Yes, I would… very much enjoy a cup of coffee. Thank you.” Pidge sighed, rubbing her eyes and putting her glasses back on.

 

I’ll make the coffee for you.” Hunk interjected, “Lance here doesn’t remember what anyone likes to drink.” Lance scoffed indignantly.

 

“I do too ! …A little! …Okay, fine you make it, and I’ll bring it to her!” He decided, sitting back down across from Pidge and folding his arms in defeat. Hunk just smirked and walked into the RV. As he went in, Rachel, Allura, and Coran came over and joined them.

 

“Good morning, you two! How are you feeling?” Allura greeted, quite chipper.

 

“Tired.” Pidge moaned.

 

“Betrayed.” Lance huffed. Rachel rolled her eyes.

 

“Already with the dramatics, Lance? Never expected you to start this early.” She poked him in the shoulder.

 

“Keep it up and I won’t get you anything special on my supply run today with Luis and Papá .” He retorted, turning his nose up.

 

“A supply run, you say? Do you think you could look for some mustache trimmers? I think mine is getting a little unruly…” Coran asked, feeling his mustache. Lance just looked at him blankly.

 

“It… looks fine to me?”

 

“You think so? Why thank you.” Coran chuckled. Lance raised an eyebrow to Allura, who just put her hand against her forehead.

 

“What?” Coran protested. “I like to keep my mustache looking fresh and professional! There’s no harm in that. Coran Hieronymus Wimbleton Smythe will not have a shabby looking mustache! No sir.” He stated emotionally.

 

“How’s Romelle doing? I noticed she’s not around.” Pidge asked.

 

“She’s fine, just needed some extra time to change out of her pajama clothes. She didn’t get a lot of sleep last night.” Allura explained. Pidge nodded in understanding.

 

“Oof, yeah, I understand the struggle. Tell her if she wants tips on how to fall asleep anyway, send her my way. I know how to give insomnia a good kick in the ass.” She smirked. Just then, Hunk came out from the RV with a freshly brewed cup of coffee. Pidge’s eyes lit up and she smacked the table repeatedly in excitement.

 

Hunk , you are my lord and savior, my knight in shining armor, thank you !!” Pidge declared with as much theatrics as possible as she graciously took the mug from Hunk and took a small sip of the hot liquid.

 

“It’s just as good as I remember it.” She sighed contently. “I haven’t had the stuff in months, Mom kept telling me it would “stunt my growth”... as if I’m not already short as hell.”

 

“Well, you enjoy that, and maybe your second knight in shining armor can win you over by finding more coffee on my supply run?” Lance offered.

 

“If you can find coffee then yes, you will be almost as loved and appreciated as Hunk in my heart.” Pidge replied matter of factly.

 

“Oh! Lance, since you’re going on a run later today, that reminded me! Do you think you could pick me up some new socks? At this point the pair I’m wearing is more holes than socks. I might as well just throw them out and not wear any at this point.” Hunk complained.

 

“Sure thing, buddy! And don’t go barefoot in shoes, that’s gross.” Lance wrinkled his nose at Hunk, who put his hands out in protest.

 

“Oh, really? You used to do it all the time back at the Garrison whenever you skipped out on laundry week!” He shot back.

 

“You skipped laundry week?” Pidge asked, her voice laced with disgust.

 

“I was studying for our tests the week after! I had no time to pack all of my dirty shit up and trek down and wash it!” He protested. “At least I showered and wore deodorant! I’m not an animal !”

 

“Honestly, I think Pidge’s room smelled worse that week.” Hunk added.

 

Shut your mouth .” Pidge hissed.

 

“Oh, you’re not as innocent in this as you think, Pidgey, you were up just as late as I was and forgot to wash your clothes!” Lance accused triumphantly.

 

“Yeah, but I wasn’t studying.” She said.

 

“Then… what were you doing?” Hunk asked. Pidge hesitated, but before she could answer, their debate was interrupted.

 

“Oh, my god!”

 

Mamí! Papí! Ayúdanos!”

 

“Silvio? Nadia?” Lance called out, recognizing the smaller voices calling out. In seconds, everyone at the table was up and running to the source of the cries, soon joined by the others at the camp. They arrived at an area near the tents, where the clearing became the thick forest again. Silvio and Nadia ran towards them in fear as Romelle was struggling with a walker.

 

“Someone help!” She cried as the walker gnashed its rotten teeth. Lisa and Luis hurried over and embraced their two kids.

 

“Fuck, Romelle, hold on!” Allura cried. The other woman ran over, pulling the walker backwards to get it off of Romelle. Once she pulled it far enough away, Romelle stumbled back out of its range.

 

“Someone… kill it!” Allura shouted in a strangled voice, as she did her best to keep the walker restrained. Lance pulled out his knife, quickly stepping up to face the walker. Without missing a beat, he drove the knife through the side of the walker’s head, and watched as the body fell to the ground. Everyone stood around, Allura and Romelle both panting to catch their breath.

 

“Are you okay?” Allura asked, rushing over to Romelle’s side. The blonde nodded and gave an uneasy smile.

 

“Yes. Y-Yes, I’m okay. It just… startled me. The kids were playing nearby, and I saw it come out of the trees. It almost got them, but I was able to get in its way.” She explained.

 

“Thank you… Thank you so much, you saved our children’s lives.” Lisa walked over and took Romelle’s hand. “We’re forever grateful.”

 

“It was nothing, couldn’t just stand by, right?” Romelle replied. Meanwhile, Hunk stared down at the body of the walker, then stopped.

 

“Hey, guys! Come look at this!” Hunk called out to Lance and Pidge. The two of them came up beside Hunk and looked down at the walker’s body.

 

“What’s up, man?” Lance asked.

 

“We… We know him.” Hunk revealed. “This was Jackson Adams. From our class back at the Garrison! He’s even wearing his Garrison uniform right now…”

 

“Huh, whaddaya know, it is him…” Pidge thought out loud, “Eh, serves him right.” Hunk looked over at her with shock.

 

“What do you mean?!”

 

“He called me a midget.”

 

“Oh. Well… okay, maybe he wasn’t the nicest person.” Hunk conceded. “But do you think he died and walked all the way here from the Garrison? That’s like really far from here.”

 

“Hmm… Seems unlikely, but I guess you never know.” Lance shrugged. Marco walked over as the three of them talked.

 

“This is the closest any walker has gotten before. This area is becoming more and more dangerous. I don’t know how much longer we’ll be able to survive here without getting massacred.” He said with worry.

 

“I’m sure we’ll be alright, Marco, we’ve been alright for this long.” Lance replied.

 

“Yeah, until we aren’t anymore, and who knows when that’ll be?” He looked at the body of Jackson one last time before shaking his head. “I’m gonna head out and do a sweep for any other walkers nearby. Also gonna do some hunting as well, you three wanna tag along? Could always use the extra help.” Marco offered.

 

“I’m down.” Pidge nodded casually.

 

“Me, too!” Hunk chimed in happily.

 

“Eh, why not? Papá , Luis, and I aren’t leaving for another few hours, I’ve got some time to kill.” Lance finished. Marco nodded.

 

“Perfect. I’ll grab some guns for us and then we can head out, be right back.” He instructed, before walking off. Lance and Hunk engaged in mindless conversation, however Pidge tuned them out, instead staring into the thick brush of the forest. She wondered, what all could be out there?

 

~~~~~

 

About a half hour later, Marco, Lance, Pidge, and Hunk were all out in the woods, treading carefully in case of any danger. Marco peered through some trees, before spotting movement. A deer dashed by them up ahead. Marco silently cheered.

 

“Jackpot! Come on, we gotta follow it!” He whispered, leading the three teens after the animal.

 

“We shouldn’t get too close, deers scare too easy to kill them at close range.” Pidge warned. Lance smirked, brushing his shoulders.

 

“Don’t worry, you’ve got Lancey Lance the sharpshooter on your team. I could probably nail it from a good distance away.” He reassured.

 

“Quiet, Lance! Now is not the time to be stroking your own ego.” Marco hissed. Lance just mimicked him and rolled his eyes.

 

“Pssst! Guys, look!” Hunk grabbed Marco’s shoulder to get him to stop walking, and directed his gaze over to the right. The deer had stopped and was now munching on some grass.

 

“Perfect. I’ll take the shot.” Lance declared quietly. He got down on one knee and aimed his rifle.

 

“We’ll watch your back.” Pidge whispered as she drew her handgun. “There’s been an increase of walkers in this area, we should be more careful walking through these woods.”

 

“No shit. Soon enough, an entire group of them could storm through our camp and end up killing us.” Marco agreed.

 

“Alright guys, I’ve got a clear shot. On the count of three, I’ll shoot.” Lance instructed. “One… Two…” Suddenly, Lance watched as an arrow from the left shot into the deer’s neck. A second arrow fired into its side. The animal didn’t have time to react as it fell to the ground and bled out from its wounds.

 

“H-Holy shit, get down , get down!” Marco warned, pulling Hunk into a crouching stance behind their cover of trees and foliage. They watched as a muscular man with black hair and a black zip up jacket on stepped over to the deer. Another man, more lean and skinny than the first, with mixed complexion, glasses and brown hair, joined him.

 

“That was our deer… I’m not letting it go to waste.” Lance snarled. Hunk eyed his friend anxiously.

 

“Lance, don’t-!” But he wasn’t fast enough. Lance stood up and pointed his rifle.

 

“HEY! That right there was my kill!” He shouted, approaching both mysterious men. The taller muscular one watched in shock as the four individuals stormed up to them. He put his hands up in surrender.

 

“Woah woah, hey! Put the gun down, alright? We don’t have to get hostile. We’re just trying to get food and survive.” He explained in a calm tone, in an attempt to talk down the situation.

 

“Well, look elsewhere, pal, like I said, this is our game.” Lance gripped the trigger of the rifle threateningly.

 

“Just lower the gun. You… You don’t wanna live with what comes after.” The man replied. Lance faltered, looking him in the eyes, until they were rudely interrupted.

 

“Dammit, walkers !” Pidge warned. Sure enough, a small group of them had taken notice of them, and were now approaching. Pidge shot one, then backed away as Hunk slammed his knife into the face of a second approaching one.

 

Marco aimed his larger gun into the cluster. He mowed down several walkers, until his gun clicked to signify he was out of bullets.

 

“Lance, cover me, I need to reload!” Marco shouted. Lance nodded and stepped in front of his brother. He fired off numerous rounds into the small herd, the walkers dropping one by one as bullets soars through their skulls.

 

“Shit, I’m out, too!” Pidge groaned. She felt her back pockets for another clip, and then hissed a few curses in italian when she remembered that she hadn’t brought one.

 

“I gotcha, Pidge!” Hunk called as he stomped on a walker after shoving it to the ground. He then pivoted and stabbed another as it approached. He quickly yanked the knife out and drove it into the temple of a third. Suddenly, a walker from beside him got the jump on him, and grabbed onto Hunk.

 

“Oh heck! No no no!” He groaned as he wrestled with it. Before it could bite him, it was shot through the head. The man had pulled out a gun and nodded to Hunk, turning and shooting a few more walkers.

 

The man with glasses raised his bow, pulling back and firing, killing a walker that was approaching Lance. Pidge saw several walkers approach the dead deer. She rushed forward and pushed one back, making it crash into one behind it as they both tumbled to the ground. She turned and stabbed one up through the chin, then instantly turned and slashed one across the face.

 

Hunk saw the walkers surround her, and quickly grabbed the back collar of her shirt just before a walker could grab ahold of her. He pulled her back just in time as the deer corpse was swarmed and began to be devoured.

 

“No no no no ! Fuck…” Pidge moaned in defeat as the walkers tore into the deer.

 

“Well… I guess it’s nobody’s game, now.” Lance commented sheepishly. “Um… sorry for being so hostile. A-And thank you for helping us.” He apologized, rubbing the back of his neck with an awkward smile. Pidge and the man with glasses both took to stabbing the walkers eating the deer. Pidge drove her knife into the final walker’s head and stared down at the mauled corpse of the deer.

 

“So much for a meal tonight…” She grumbled.

 

“Tell me about it.” The man with glasses agreed. Pidge nodded to him as a thank you for helping her, then she turned to look over at the other man. Her whole body then suddenly froze.

 

“Wait hold on… Shiro ?” She inquired. The taller man’s eyes darted to Pidge, and he broke into a smile.

 

“Katie…” He breathed. A second later, she rushed to him and embraced him tightly. Shiro leaned down and hugged her back.

 

“It’s good to see you again, Katie.” He smiled as she pulled away.

 

“I… Yeah, back at cha. Glad you’re alive.” She patted his arm awkwardly.

 

“So, how are Matt and your Dad doing? Haven’t seen them in a while.” Pidge’s face fell at the mention of them.

 

“Well… Dad and Matt are, uhh, gone somewhere. Not dead, as far as we know, just… gone. It’s been just Mom and me from the start.”

 

Shiro put a hand on her shoulder in sympathy. “I am so sorry to hear that. I’m sure we’ll find them.” He reassured. Pidge felt her eyes grow watery as she looked back at him. From behind, Lance suddenly gasped.

 

“Shiro… Shiro ! It is you!! You’re like, my hero!!!” He squealed with excitement. “I’m Lance McClain, sharpshooter and expert fighter pilot!” He winked. Marco turned to him and smirked.

 

“So this is the guy on the poster in your bedroom. Hm, I may not swing that way, but I can see the appeal.” Both Lance and Shiro went bright red in the face.

 

“IT’S NOT LIKE THAT!!!” Lance roared. “I just want to grow up to be like him!”

 

“Anyway… Let me properly introduce myself. I’m Shiro, yes, or Takashi Shirogane if you want to be formal.” He sighed.

 

“Who would’ve thought you’d find a fanboy in the apocalypse.” The man with glasses nudged Shiro and chuckled. Shiro facepalmed and shook his head.

 

“And this is my fiancé, Adam.” He finished. Adam gave a small wave.

 

“Still pissed about losing that deer.” He grumbled.

 

“I know, I know…” Shiro consoled him as he rubbed his shoulder.

 

“Nice to meet you. I’m Marco, this one ’s brother.” Marco pointed to Lance. “You’ve obviously met both him and Pidge already.”

 

“I’m Hunk!” Hunk smiled from back, giving a cheerful wave.

 

“So, you guys in a group? You mentioned that you were with your Mom, Katie.” Shiro inquired.

 

“Uh, yeah, there’s more of us back at a camp. Also, call me Pidge. It’s… something Matt would call me.” She shook her head to block out the sentimental thoughts, and Shiro nodded.

 

“Got it. Do you guys… well… think there’s a chance that we could join you?” He asked. Pidge turned to Marco, who shrugged.

 

“I’m not sure, our parents are the people running the camp, we’d have to take you back anyway and ask them.” He explained.

 

“We can go with you, it’s really no trou-.”

 

A sudden gunshot cut through their conversation. Hunk shrieked as the bullet hit the tree right next to him.

 

“Get down!” Lance cried as a second shot was fired. Everyone ducked as the sound of a person running over was heard.

 

“WHO ARE YOU?! WHAT ARE YOU GUYS DOING WITH THEM?!” A voice screamed. Shiro turned and instantly became firm.

 

“KEITH! Calm down, we were just talking!” He out his hands out to the teen, who shook his head furiously.

 

“Bullshit! They have guns on you! I should fucking shoot them right now!” Keith growled as he trained his gun on Marco. Lance’s eyes went wide and he immediately retaliated, aiming his rifle right at Keith.

 

“Take that gun off my brother, right now, or I will blow your brains out.” He threatened, breath shallow and sharp as he watched the long, raven haired teen stare back at him coldly. Then, he chuckled with absolutely zero humor behind it as he recognized him. “Oh, great, Keith Kogane. Of course it’s you I run into when the world ends. And yet here you are, hotheaded as ever and threatening my family.” Keith just scoffed in reply.

 

“Like you weren’t threatening Shiro, I bet. You’re the reckless and careless one.” He snarled. Hunk stared at the two of them, before cautiously stepping in between Lance’s rifle and Keith.

 

“Both of you, just… calm down. We all just need to take a breath , alright? We can sort this out!” He encouraged. Keith didn’t say anything, until he felt the cold muzzle of a gun press to the back of his head. Pidge stood behind him, training her gun on him.

 

“Drop it.” She ordered sternly. Keith shook his head.

 

“You wouldn’t shoot me.” Pidge stalled, but regained composure and held firm. She shut her eyes for just a second, and as she did so, she could hear the voice of the man from the store as he screamed when walkers bit him.

 

Then the deafening gunshot.

 

“I will if you make me.” She challenged. Pidge hoped no one could tell her hands were shaking just a little. And that she had no bullets. Before Keith could continue, Shiro snatched the gun from his hands.

 

“I said, stand. Down. ” He scolded. “We had a brief misunderstanding, but it was cleared up, and now we’re talking about possibly joining these people.”

 

“I’m… Goddammit, I thought they were attacking you!” Keith groaned, his eyes becoming remorseful.

 

“You gotta stop charging into situations with a hostile attitude. One of these days it's gonna go wrong. You’re my brother, Keith, and I don’t want anything bad to happen to you.” Shiro turned back to the others. “I’m so sorry for Keith, he could’ve handled this better. I hope you still will take us in, or at least give us a chance.”

 

“I don’t know if I speak for everyone, but I still trust you guys. I think you’d be a great new addition to our group.” Hunk shrugged, giving everyone an optimistic smile.

 

“I’m not entirely sure anymore.” Lance mumbled under his breath, glancing at Keith. The latter frowned back.

 

“Do you have something you want to say?” He questioned with a scowl. Lance clenched his fists and sucked in a breath.

 

“Yeah, I do actually.” He then approached Keith, getting inches from his face. “Let me make something clear. We may have been in the same class for a while back at the Garrison. We may not have been true rivals, but we sure as hell weren’t and aren’t friends now. You may be able to out-fly me, but you will never be able to out-gun me, cabrón . Because nobody who threatens my family will ever live to see another day. So don’t test me again.” Lance then turned and began walking back in the direction of the camp.

 

“Where are you going?” Hunk called out.

 

“I’m going back to camp. Whatever decision you make, leave me out of it.” Lance replied, voice laced with venom. Everyone watched as he walked away through the trees. Keith’s seething scowl softened into a regretful frown.

 

~~~~~

 

Luis pulled his car back into the camp as he, Miguel, and Lance arrived back from a run. The three McClain boys got out and unloaded their haul.

 

“How’d the run go?” Nancy asked Miguel as she embraced him.

 

“Not too bad. We didn’t find much but we did find bottled water, as well as more medical supplies for Allura to use. Walkers cut us off from a food store, so we didn’t get any of that.” He recalled, deflating at the last part.

 

“Well, I’m just glad you’re all back safe.” She smiled, moving from her husband to her sons, giving them each a kiss on the cheek. Lance left the car and wandered into camp. As he did, he noticed Shiro, Adam, and Keith standing nearby, talking to Marcus, Olivia, Romelle, and Lisa. Lance made brief eye contact with Keith and scowled. Before either one could say anything, Lance sharply turned and stormed into the RV. Rachel, who was resting at the picnic table nearby, saw him and raised an eyebrow.

 

Inside the RV, Lance’s breathing rate increased and his eyes became welled up with tears. He felt a lump rising in his throat as well.

 

“D-Damn it… Fuck !” He exclaimed, chucking his rifle down the hall as he collapsed on the floor and cried. Rachel steppes onto the RV a second later, and when she spotted him curled up on the ground, she was at his side in an instant.

 

“Lance? Lance, hey hey hey, what’s the matter? ¿Por qué lloras? ” She asked softly. Lance sniffled and sat up to face her.

 

“It’s… It’s nothing. You’ll just laugh or crack jokes at me.” He moped. Rachel shook her head.

 

“Nuh uh. No bullshit this time. What’s got you so upset. If something makes my baby brother cry, I need to know what’s going on.” Lance went still at her words, then looked towards the RV door.

 

“The people we brought back. That guy with the long, black hair, Keith . He threatened Marco today, held him at gunpoint and probably would’ve shot him.” He said through small sniffles and shaky breathing.

 

“Come on, you don’t know that.” Rachel replied.

 

“I do ! He was in my class at the Garrison before being expelled for reckless and impulsive behavior. He once punched a kid to the ground and started beating on him more all because of a small argument they were having!” Lance exclaimed. “M-Maybe he's changed, I just… I don’t know if it was the right call to have them here or not.”

 

“Lance, look at me. Everything’s gonna be okay. You just gotta trust our parents to make the right call. And if he does try something, cause something, anything. I’ve still got your back, remember?” She reassured. Lance wiped away the stray tears from his eyes and face, before looking back at Rachel.

 

“...Okay. Thank you, Rach.” He smiled.

 

“No problem. Come back out whenever you’re ready, okay?” She smiled, before standing up and walking out of the RV. Lance stood up, this time sitting down at the little table inside. He put his head down in his hands as the events from earlier replayed in his head.

 

Outside, Keith, Adam, and Shiro now sat alone together. Adam looked around the camp and cracked a small smile.

 

“You know, they seem to be doing pretty well here. Maybe we should stay.” He surmised.

 

“I agree. We always did want to find a bigger group, and look at us now.” Shiro gestured outward. Keith just scoffed and shook his head.

 

“Sure, a larger group that held you both at gunpoint . You really think we can trust these people?” He hissed.

 

“Oh, really, Keith? You want to talk about trust? You’re the one who barged in after the initial situation was already handled and made things worse.” Adam shot back. “I think you need to sit this one out.”

 

“You saying this is my fault? I’m trying to protect us!” He almost yelled.

 

“By killing them? Keith, you know that isn’t the answer. We all do.” Shiro stated authoritatively. “Like it or not, we need people to survive. You and I both have connections to this group, which is better than them being total strangers. Lance has every right to be mad at you for what you did. Sure, he pointed his gun at me originally, but it was a misunderstanding . Adam and I were hunting the same deer they were, and things got a little crazy. His gun wasn’t even up when you showed up.” Keith looked at the ground and kicked a rock at the last part.

 

“...I didn’t want to take a chance, alright?” He finally spoke up, although barely audible.

 

“I know, Keith. I know you value your family and safety first above all else, especially when you’ve…lost so much of it throughout your life. But it’s like I’ve been saying, this will help us be safe. So please, just play nice and… at least try to make amends?” Shiro asked hopefully. Keith turned and looked at his adoptive older brother.

 

“I’ll… uhh, try to apologize to Lance by tonight.” He decided. “Promise.” He gave a tiny smile, then turned to walk in another direction. Shiro watched him go with a pained expression.

 

“He just needs time, ‘Kashi.” Adam sighed. “Maybe… memories of the Garrison make things about his birth parents resurface? You know that’s why he beat James up.” Shiro sat down beside him.

 

“You’re probably right. Kid’s been through hell. Dead father, a mother he barely met, numerous adoptive families that just… gave up on him. I swear, if I was in a locked room with any of those lousy motherfuckers that sent him back into the system-!” Adam put a hand on Shiro’s clenched fist, and he relaxed.

 

“I know . Keith went through a rough patch, but now that’s over, because we’re both here for him. Obviously his mind will be… clouded with this bad memories for a while, but that’s why we’re here. To push the bad aside and make way for the good. We’re probably the first people who cared about Keith in a long time. It’s probably why he’s so caged off and hostile to everyone else.” Adam looked in the direction Keith had walked as he spoke. “But I’m sure if he just gives this group a chance, they could almost be like… a second family to him.”

 

~~~~~

 

Night fell on the camp, and once again the group was gathered around a roaring campfire. Shiro. Adam, and Keith among them. Tonight, rather than a big feast of meat, the group was only passing around cans of beans and soup. Not a bad meal, per se, only a little bit lighter.

 

Allura took a spoonful of beans, then passed the can to Romelle, who took her spoonful and passed it back. Coran gingerly sipped soup from his spoon to not get any on his prized mustache.

 

“It’s really wonderful to see you again, Mrs. Holt.” Shiro smiled. Colleen returned the friendly smile and waved her hand.

 

“Please, you and I are like family, call me Colleen.” She shrugged.

 

“I want you to know that if you ever request it, I would be honored to help you search for Sam and Matt. I’m… sorry they aren’t here with us right now.” He said solemnly. Colleen nodded after a brief pause.

 

“Thank you. I’m grateful to know that you still care for them after all this time.” She replied. Meanwhile, Olivia had been watching Coran, Allura, and Romelle as they are their food for a while.

 

“Allura…” Olivia finally spoke up. “If you don’t mind me asking. What do those triangles under your eyes signify? All three of you have them, and I’m just… curious.” Others around the fire chuckled.

 

“I’ve actually wondered that, too.” Rachel smirked.

 

“Same here. Is there a story behind it?” Hunk asked as he tilted his head out of curiosity. Allura watched as everyone turned to them, and she smiled.

 

“Well… it’s kind of a tradition my family has. My father has done it, and so has his before him. When you find a group of friends that you consider family, you take them to a tattoo parlor and get this symbol done underneath both eyes. It may seem strange, but we see it as a symbol of unity. A bond between friends that’s stronger than anything. Unable to be broken.” Everyone listened in respectful silence, until Romelle latched her arms around Allura.

 

“Aww, Allura! We love you, too!” She gushed.

 

“That was a wonderful story.” Olivia commented quietly. “I think having a tradition between friends and family is such a lovely thing.”

 

“It’s also wonderfully weird.” Rachel cut in with a sly smile on her face. The three of them just laughed.

 

“Well, young Rachel, since when was it bad to not not be weird?” Coran asked with a wink.

 

“See what I mean?” Rachel threw her hands up, but was laughing with everyone in good nature. After the laughter died down, Rachel stood up and turned to walk away. Lance turned and made a small “psst!” sound at her.

 

“What?”

 

¿A dónde vas?

 

¿Por qué quieres saber?

 

“Because.”

 

“Fine. I have to go pee .”

 

Lance’s face shriveled into one of disgust. “Eww! Why’d you have to tell me that, ¡carajo!

 

Porque preguntaste , carajo. ” Rachel finished as she turned back and continued up to the RV bathroom. As Lance watched her leave, Keith kept glancing over at him. Shiro took notice and nudged Keith.

 

“Come on, apologize.” He whispered, flicking his head at Lance. Keith just nodded and silently groaned. He always found apologizing to be hard.

 

“Hey, um… L-Lance?” He started roughly, clearing his throat. Lance turned at Keith’s voice and glared.

 

“What do you want, mullet ?” He asked, exasperated. Keith figured he deserved this response.

 

“I-I just want to say… fuck . What I’m trying to tell you is I’m…” Keith stopped when his ears perked up, and he noticed a faint rustling in the trees behind Lance and where the RV was parked.

 

“Uh… Everything good…?” Lance questioned as Keith stood up and edged toward the woods. At that moment, Rachel exited the RV and called out.

 

Mamá ! Where did you put the soap?!” All at once, a walker circled around the RV and grabbed onto Rachel arm.

 

“AHHH!” She screamed, but before it could bite her, a bullet soared through its head. Lance stood there, rifle at the ready.

 

“Rachel, move!” He screamed as more walkers began to crowd the area.

 

“It’s a herd! Everyone grab your weapons!” Shiro warned. As Rachel ran past the oncoming walkers, Lance shot as many as he could until Rachel was safely behind him.

 

“That was… That was too close.” She panted. Lance unsheathed his knife and handed it to her.

 

“Cover me, alright?” Rachel nodded.

 

“Got it. And… thanks.” Lance and Rachel then turned back to back as walkers approached. Rachel kicked one in the knee, then stabbed it in the top of its head. Behind her, Lance shot two more walkers as they approached.

 

Up by the RV, Keith, brandishing his long, red sword, sliced walkers one by one. He decapitated one walker, before turning and chopping the legs off another, then driving the sword down into its head.

 

Near the fire, walkers had emerged on the other end of camp as well. Luis smacked a walker down with a baseball bat as Lisa and his two kids ran to safety behind him.

 

“Get the kids into the RV, now!” He ordered as he beat down another walker. Lisa and Nancy hastily ushered the kids toward the RV. Just as they reached it, and got Silvio and Nadia inside, Nancy was grabbed by a walker and yanked to the ground.

 

¡Ay, carajo! ” She grunted as the undead was now on top of her and struggling. As she held it above her, it was suddenly struck from behind. Silvio stood there, holding a large rock, before bringing it down on the walker a second time to end it.

 

“Thank you, cariño .” She stroked his hair as she stood up. Two walkers suddenly then approached them from behind. But before they could get to either person, Rachel arrived, tackling one to the ground before stabbing it. She stood up and made quick work, repeatedly thrusting her knife into its skull, then throwing its body on the ground.

 

“Get inside, we have this covered.” She insisted, ushering both of them into the RV with Nadia and Lisa. Rachel shut the door behind them, then turned around. She saw Lance, continuing to shoot at the walkers in front of him, but he didn’t see the one sneaking up behind him. She acted fast, running down toward both of them as fast as she could.

 

Lance, look out !!” She yelled as a warning. Lance turned and saw the walker just behind him. He gasped and froze. As if in slow motion, Rachel came to a stop right in between the two. Just in time for the walker to rip a chunk right out of her neck.

 

AAAAAAGGGGHHHHH!!! ” She screamed as blood spurted from the bite and splashed them both in the face. Lance watched in horror as Rachel fell to the ground in a heap.

 

NOOOOO!!!! ” He yelled. Lance flipped his rifle around, smashing the walker’s face with the butt of it. He then proceeded to beat its head in, even after it was long dead. Once he was satisfied, Lance turned and sank to his knees by the spluttering Rachel.

 

“Nonononono! You’ll be okay, Rachel, everything’s okay… Oh, my god, oh my god, no sé qué hacer , lo siento lo siento …” He cried and whimpered as he pressed his hands against Rachel’s bleeding neck.

 

Down by the campfire, Shiro, Adam, Colleen, Pidge, Hunk, Olivia, and Marcus were stood huddled in a group. As walker’s approached, Marcus made quick work, stabbing and knocking them back.

 

“Stay together! Don’t let them beat us!” He encouraged. A walker approached Olivia, and she first stabbed it in the shoulder, before composing herself and stabbing it in the head. Colleen used her massive gun as she shot down numerous walkers. Adam noticed Lance unmoving on the ground and how walkers were starting to notice. He aimed his bow and shot one dead as it tried to get to him.

 

Pidge noticed this as well, and got her mother’s attention. “I have to help him!” She shouted. Colleen looked worried, but relented.

 

“Go. I got you covered.” Pidge nodded in confidence as she turned and made a break for Lance. Pidge shot a walker as she ran past it, and almost shot one in her path, before Allura slammed her machete into it, Romelle and Coran helping her nearby. Pidge gave her a quick thumbs up of thanks before running over to Lance.

 

Upon reaching him, she stalled in shock when she saw Rachel lying there in a pool of her own blood. “Oh, my god…” Pidge breathed as she got down to her knees as well.

 

“W-We can save her… we can !” Lance persisted as he kept trying to cover her neck bite. Pidge wanted to say something, but decided against it, instead she stood and began firing into the crowd of walkers.

 

Shiro pulled out his gun and aimed into a huge herd of walkers. He steadied his hand and then began to shoot them all. One by one, every walker dropped down dead as Shiro shot them in the head. Once they all fell to the ground, Shiro stood there, motionless and shaking. Marco noticed this from afar and turned and shot a few walkers behind him. Shiro came to his senses a second later, turning and pistol whipping a final walker down to the ground.

 

As the final walkers were killed, Miguel beat one to death with a metal pipe. Coran and his cleaver chopped a walker in the head, while behind him, Romelle stood on a walker and stabbed it through the mouth with her own machete like Allura’s. Keith sliced a walker head in half. Hunk stabbed one multiple times as it fell down dead, and Adam fired his last arrow into one’s head.

 

All walkers were dead. Everything was quiet. The group of survivors gripped their weapons tightly and tried to catch their breath as blood splatter covered their skin and clothes. Except for Lance, whose hands were completely red with Rachel’s blood.

 

“C-Come on, Rachel!” You’ll be o-okay! Come on !” He cried. Rachel just gave a weak smile as she coughed up a tiny bit of blood.

 

“G-G… Got your… b-ba-back…” She choked. “S-Saved… you…” Her speech became quieter and slower, until her eyes closed and her head rolled to one side. Lance stared down at Rachel’s body blankly. Pidge stood beside both of them, hand over her mouth. Behind them, everyone else had gathered in a huddle, making sure everyone was okay.

 

Lisa, Nancy, Silvio, and Nadia emerged from the RV. Luis immediately pulled his wife and children into a hug as Nancy froze in agony upon seeing her dead child.

 

¿T-Tía Rachel? ” Nadia whimpered as she heard Lance soft cries. Lance’s eyes began to water, until big teardrops fell from them, dotting the ground around Rachel.

 

“N-No… No… No no no no NO!!!! R-Rachel! Rachel, wake u-up! Rachel !!!” Lance screamed and sobbed, cradling Rachel’s body in a hug as he did so.

 

Hunk joined Pidge’s side behind Lance, and stared down in horror at the body. “I don’t know what to say… this is-this is… awful.” He murmured as Pidge grabbed onto Hunk, who reciprocated.

 

Everyone watched in silent respect and grief, while tears continued to leak from Lance’s eyes as he held Rachel’s body close.

Chapter Text

Flames licked at the morning sky as the last of its daybreak pink was beginning to fade into a steady cloudless blue. Shiro and Marcus heaved another lifeless walker corpse into the burning pile of them. Others patrolled the corpses not yet moved, in case some weren’t really put down and tried to make a sudden attack. Lance was still kneeled beside Rachel’s body, squeezing her pale hand in his.

 

Coran came around from behind the RV, noticing a walker in a sitting position, leaned up against the RV. Its eyes suddenly twitched open and it reached out at him, growling. He just sighed, and brought the cleaver down into its forehead. He put the weapon away and went to grab the body to drag it to the fire. Romelle noticed this and came up beside him.

 

“Here, let me help.” She offered as she grabbed ahold of the walker’s legs. Just as she went to lift, she let out a groan and dropped the legs. Allura rushed over and helped her steady herself by placing a hand on her shoulder.

 

“Romelle, you should be resting. You might’ve pulled a muscle.” Allura commented, worry soaking through her voice. Romelle waved her off lazily.

 

“I’m… I’m fine, okay? I got this.” She bent down to grab the legs again, but Allura stopped her.

 

“Romelle. Rest . Please.” She insisted, her voice lowering to just above a whisper. Coran nodded in agreement.

 

“Allura and I can handle this one. Just have a rest there and if we need more help, we’ll ask you, alright?” He said. Romelle looked between the two, then slumped back against the RV and sunk to the ground.

 

“Alright.” She decided, leaning her head back and letting her eyes close. Allura took her place, picking up the body’s legs and carrying it over to the fire with Coran. The two of them swung the body straight into the flames and backed off as the fire blazed.

 

From afar, Keith sat alone on a large rock, staring intently at the fire and how it seemed to grow larger. He could almost feel its heat. Feel its power. Its destruction…

 

“Keith?”

 

Keith’s breath caught in his throat as Hunk came and stood beside him. He relaxed his muscles and looked at the ground.

 

“Yeah? Everything okay?” Keith asked, cringing as it came out a little too testy.

 

“You were just… staring at that fire so extremely, just wanted to see if you were alright.” Hunk shrugged. Keith gave a small smile and nodded.

 

“Yeah. Yeah, I’m good. I’m just… remembering.”

 

Hunk quirked a curious eyebrow. “Remembering what?” Keith nearly smirked, but his expression remained neutral. He turned back to look at Hunk, his mouth opened and closed several times as he appeared to be having a mental battle.

 

“My first set of adoptive parents. They, um… well, they tried to kill me in a house fire.”

 

Hunk nearly collapsed on the spot. Keith would’ve chuckled at the reaction if the context that caused it had been different.

 

“They-! What?! ” Hunk spluttered out numerous concerned noises as his brain worked to comprehend what he’d heard.

 

“The dad, real asshole, his name was Richard Crane. The mom’s name was Katherine. They adopted me, and yet… it was just like I was their punching bag. Not like… actual punches, I guess. I mean, they did… they did hit , slap, you know. More of an emotional one. They’d just blame their problems on me. They had a daughter, too, an actual biological kid of theirs, Susie. Honestly, she was a bitch. She was about two or three years older than me, always looked down on me and treated me like I was always in her way. And Richard? He was a smoker. And you know what that means.” Keith briefly stopped talking to roll up his pant legs. Hunk looked down at Keith’s bare legs, noticing a few faint circle marks imprinted on each leg.

 

“O-Oh, my god. He-?” Keith nodded.

 

“Yeah. He did.”

 

“Wh… Did nobody care ?!” Hunk could feel his blood boiling.

 

“Guess not. One night after they’d called me a burden for the nth time, I woke up smelling smoke. Didn’t take long for me to notice fire coming under my door and the smoke as well. Fuckers barred my door from the outside with a nightstand. I guess I’m just lucky I’m good at being my own human battering ram. You should’ve seen the mix of shock and annoyance on their faces when I burst through the front door, still alive, unlike what they wanted.” Keith’s fists were clenched at his sides. Hunk had taken a fascinated seat next to him on the rock as he listened respectfully.

 

“Some brutal irony from this, my real dad was a firefighter. He died when I was seven, in a fire he was fighting. He got everyone out of the house alive… except himself. His name was Tex Kogane. His parents must’ve known that he’d have this super thick texan accent. I've always wondered why I never got it, although maybe I should be lucky.” He chuckled for only a moment, before remembering the rest of the tragic events of that night.

 

“You know what happened next? When the police and fire department showed up, they blamed it entirely on me. They said I snapped at them, and just lit the place ablaze. Of course because Richard was some rich dude, they took his word and they sent me back to the adoption center, now with my file being labeled as “troubled”. I was twelve . Imagine… Imagine having so much hatred in your heart for a kid you chose to adopt for a whole year that you’d try to kill them, and when that doesn’t work, do your best to fuck up their chance at a good home.” Hunk wanted to pull Keith in for one of Hunk’s Legendary Hugs, (dubbed that by Lance back at the Garrison), but he figured best to not be so contact heavy in a moment like this.

 

“I… Fuck , Keith. A-At least Shiro found you. He gave you a good home, Adam too! And now you’re here with us. We’re a group now, and the group watches out for each other. Not just from walkers, from your own inner demons, too.” Keith couldn’t fight the smile brought to his face while Hunk talked. “So, uh… hug?” Hunk held his hands out slightly as an invitation.

 

“Hmm… sure. Hug it is.” Keith relented and outstretched his arms. He let out a yelp as Hunk squeezed Keith’s much leaner body in his arms. They pulled away after a few seconds, and a worried look suddenly came over Keith.

 

“I know you said we’re a group now, but… is everyone really going to be okay with me? After what I caused?” Hunk followed Keith’s gaze, over to where Lance was still crying next to Rachel. Pidge was at his side, too, doing her best to provide comfort.

 

“We’ll… cross that bridge when we come to it.” Hunk replied, although he wasn’t sure what would come of that situation himself.

 

In the middle of everything, Lance sat motionless beside Rachel. Her hand held between both of his. Pidge was squatted down by his side as well.

 

“Lance, I’m sorry. Really.” Pidge spoke to break the silence. Lance’s head didn’t move, but he slowly blinked and kept his eyes shut for a few seconds.

 

“I-I should’ve done more. I should’ve paid attention …!” He snarled, his mind plagued with the sound of Rachel’s scream as her neck was torn open the previous night.

 

“Lance, none of this was your fault, alright? None. You couldn’t control a… a walker herd storming through!” He sniffled and smiled bitterly after Pidge stopped.

 

“Guess not.”

 

Over near the campfire, Nancy sat in a lawn chair, sobbing into Miguel’s arms while Luis and Lisa sat opposite her to provide comfort.

 

“Sh-She’s gone, Miguel… mi angelita is gone!” She sobbed.

 

“I know, I know…” Miguel shushed, holding her comfortingly while they both tried to avert their eyes from the body nearby. Shiro, Marcus, Allura, Romelle, and Coran then walked over.

 

“The last of the bodies are in the fire.” Shiro informed, eyeing the roaring flames behind them. “Now all that’s left is…” He trailed off as he subtly gestured to where Rachel was lying.

 

“What we need is to get Lance away from her.” Adam cut in. “Sooner or later, and I know it’ll be sooner , she’s gonna wake up and take him down with her. Mrs. McClain, I mean no disrespect, but we need to… take care of her now or never.” Nancy looked distraught, but nodded in understanding.

 

“So… who’s going to do it, then?” Marco asked after a brief pause. The group looked around at each other awkwardly. Pidge came up beside Hunk wordlessly as the group debated.

 

“Should it be family?” Lisa questioned. “On the one hand, she should get put down by someone who loved her, but on the other hand, are any of us… ready to handle that?” The group murmured in thought.

 

“Um… I could do it, i-if you want.” Pidge piped up, putting her hand in the air nervously.

 

“Katie-.” Colleen began.

 

“I can ! I’ve done it before, I-I could always… help out if you need.” She shrugged her shoulders as she finished, unsure of how anyone would react.

 

“I could take the shot from here with my bow.” Adam offered. “One clean hit before she even turns, spare everyone here the pain of having to see that happen to someone you love.”

 

“That does sound like the best idea…” Nancy finally said. “I think-.”

 

“Woah woah woah!”

 

“SHE’S FUCKING DEAD BECAUSE OF YOU!!!”

 

Everyone turned around in a flash. Lance was standing mere inches from Keith, pointing a gun directly between his eyes.

 

“Lance! What are you doing ?!” Hunk exclaimed as everyone came rushing to the confrontation.

 

“I’m going to take this fucker out! He fired his gun and attracted that herd!” Lance screamed in reply. Keith held up his hands as they subtly trembled.

 

“Lance, just… t-take a breath, alright? Look, I was trying to tell you this last night, but I’m sorry. I’m sorry for how I treated you yesterday, I was never going to do anything, I-I just was trying to be tough in case you were bad people! Now… Rachel’s dead and I feel like shit… Just… I’m sorry .” He put his head down as he finished, unable to bring himself to look at Lance. The latter’s finger gripped the trigger firmly.

 

“Why don’t you tell that to Rachel when you see her in the afterlife.” He spat. A chorus of “NO!”’s sounded off, and Pidge quickly stepped in front of Keith.

 

“Lance. Look at me.” Lance looked at her.

 

“You don’t want to do this. You haven’t before, and you don’t want to now. Do you really want to live with the consequences?” She said.

 

“Pidge is right, Lance. What comes after? It isn’t worth what you do in the moment.” Shiro added.

 

“Just… give me the gun. Okay?” Pidge began to inch her hand closer to Lance. She could see how his arm trembled harder as she got closer. Eventually, she placed a comforting hand on top of his, and his grip went slack as he let her take the firearm.

 

“... Okay.” Lance choked out, before collapsing to the ground as tears formed in his eyes.

 

“Okay.” Pidge repeated, handing the gun to Shiro, then getting to her knees as well and embracing the crying boy in a firm hug.

 

“It’s alright, man… Let it out… there ya go.” Pidge reassured as she helped Lance stand back up, however they stayed locked in the embrace.

 

As the commotion died down, Hunk’s ear perked up, and he turned around to look for what he was hearing. At first he saw nothing, but then his eyes trained on Rachel’s corpse. The fingers suddenly twitched.

 

“Uh… g-guys?” He softly called out. Nobody heard him due to everyone else talking. Walker Rachel sat up, then took a few seconds to slowly stand up fully.

 

“GUYS!” Hunk shouted, more urgent. Everyone immediately hushed and looked on at the undead form of Rachel.

 

“Oh, my god.” Allura covered her mouth. Nancy nearly broke down, and had to be led away by Miguel. Lance stared at her, then moved in front of Shiro.

 

“Shiro, give me the gun.”

 

“What?”

 

Please . She’s… She’s my sister. I have to be the one.” Lance’s voice was barely audible, yet pleading. Shiro hesitated, but after another second, he placed the gun back in Lance’s awaiting palm.

 

Moving silently, Lance took a few steps forward and raised the weapon. Undead Rachel was facing the opposite direction. Lance hoped it would stay that way.

 

“Don’t turn around… D-Don’t turn around…” He chanted. But before he could shoot, Rachel stumbled around, turning to face them. Lance’s arm lowered as he got a full look at his twin. Her skin was ghostly pale, barely any of her color remained. Dried blood stained the right side of her shirt from where her neck wound had gushed down all night. And her eyes. Her eyes were solid milky gray, no life to be seen behind them.

 

Lance broke, dropping the gun and stepping back. Luis caught him before he fell backwards. “I-I can’t.” He whispered. Hunk pulled his knife from its sheath, and turned to face the group.

 

“I can.” He offered. “If… it’s alright.” Luis steadied Lance, then looked between Hunk and his undead little sister.

 

“Go ahead.” He nodded, averting his eyes after speaking. Hunk also nodded in acknowledgement, before he turned to Pidge.

 

“Can you help me?” He asked. Pidge have a thumbs up and the two of them edged closer to Rachel. Pidge slipped around Rachel so that she was behind her. She put two fingers to her lips and whistled. The undead Rachel slowly turned to face Pidge upon hearing the sharp sound.

 

Pidge took a few steps backwards as Rachel advanced. Just as Rachel came a few feet from grabbing Pidge, Hunk quickly latched onto her body and drove the knife into the side of her head. He gently lowered her body back down onto the ground as the others once again grouped around the two. Lance’s bottom lip quivered, and Pidge gave his hand a supportive squeeze.

 

“I can start digging a grave for her.” Coran said, before turning and walking off to do so. Everyone respectfully left the McClains to gather around the body.

 

“Rest easy, Rachel… We’ll see you again someday. Te quiero .” Nancy said as she brushed Rachel’s cheek.

 

~~~~~

 

About 10 minutes later, Coran had finished digging the hole, and Rachel’s body had been wrapped into a sheet generously donated by Marcus and Olivia.

 

Lance held Rachel’s body by her shoulders, and was doing his best to drag her to the hole. He stumbled a bit as he stepped into the grave. Her legs suddenly got caught, and he was trying his hardest to pull her free. Before he could rip the sheet, a pair of hands came to assist. They lifted her covered legs off of the ground and helped lower her safely into the grave.

 

Keith’s dark raven black hair glistened from a thin sheen of sweat as the mid morning sun beat down on the group. He gave a small smile to Lance as he dusted off his hands of any dirt, then stepped out of the hole and walked away respectfully. Lance also climbed out from the hole, which prompted Coran to begin filling it up again, this time both he and Marcus shoveled the dirt back in.

 

After the funeral service, the group spread out, taking a moment to sit down and truly rest after the previous night. Pidge sat in a lawn chair, leaning her head back against the frame as she shut her eyes for just a moment.

 

“You holding up okay?”

 

Hunk’s voice startled her out of her moment of silence. He leaned back upon seeing her reaction.

 

“Oh, sorry! Didn’t mean to startle you, hehe…” He laughed awkwardly. Pidge ran a hand through her hair and shook her head.

 

“It’s fine, I was just… thinking.” She replied.

 

“Oh? About what?”

 

“Just last night, you know? After everything stopped I was just… numb. Seeing Rachel bleed out in front of me like that, I… I’d never really seen someone die in person like that before. Sure, I saw the news broadcasts and… bodies, obviously. But she was right there . I could’ve reached out and touched her while she died. It looked so painful, so… helpless.” Hunk nodded in understanding.

 

“Yeah… I understand that. When all of this was first starting, around the first week in, I watched my neighbor, Ken, get swarmed and just utterly torn apart by walkers. He was a real sweet guy, you know. Lost his wife before the outbreak, too. My family and I even tried to help, but there were so many… we couldn’t do anything but retreat back into the house as they just ripped Ken apart.” Hunk and Pidge exchanges mutual shoulder pats of consolation.

 

“In conclusion? Life is rough.” Pidge deadpanned with a blank stare.

 

“Amen to that.” Hunk agreed, raising his arm like he was toasting a glass of wine. A comfortable silence fell over them, until Pidge looked over next to the RV, where she saw her mom, Shiro, Adam, Marcus, Olivia, Allura, Coran, Miguel, and Nancy all grouped together. Her curiosity piqued, so she stood up and approached the group of adults. As she got closer, she could begin to clearly make out the conversation.

 

“We don’t have many other options.” Adam said, a slightly annoyed tone beneath his words.

 

“Leaving and just hoping we stumble across something isn’t an ‘option‘, it’s a shot in the dark which is too risky to take!” Olivia countered.

 

“What’s going on?” Pidge asked as she came up beside Colleen.

 

“We’re figuring out a plan.” Colleen answered simply. Pidge just frowned in further confusion.

 

“A plan for what?”

 

“A plan on… where to go. We’re thinking of moving on from this campsite. In search of… something better.” Shiro revealed.

 

“I really think we should stay!” Olivia repeated.

 

“What, and get surprised with another herd moving through? It’s basically suicide at this point.” Adam scoffed.

 

“So is going off into the unknown! We know what’s around here, but not anywhere else in the world. For all we know, we’d walk right into some murdering group’s trap.” Marcus reasoned.

 

“Whatever we do, Nancy and I vote to leave. We don’t want to be around here after…” Miguel trailed off. Shiro nodded sympathetically.

 

“Of course, I understand.”

 

Romelle also nodded. “Besides, this place isn’t exactly the ideal location for a camp. We’re surrounded by trees and brush. We won’t be able to see anything coming out until it’s already out.” She gestured to the tall trees that did indeed keep the camp mostly surrounded.

 

“I have to agree with Romelle.” Allura nodded.

 

“Same here. The cons of staying outweigh the pros, so I say we go.” Coran finished for the three of them.

 

“Seems like most of the group is alright with leaving. Guess it’s settled.” Shiro gave one short nod. Olivia crosses her arms and sighed.

 

“I still don’t like the idea of just… going.” She muttered.

 

“Well, we don’t have to, you know.” Colleen shrugged. “We could always decide on a destination before we leave?” The others murmured in agreement at her suggestion, including Olivia.

 

“That… would be better, I suppose.” She relented.

 

“Any ideas?” Shiro inquired.

 

“Hmm… what about Arizona State University? It’s only about two hours away.” Coran mused. The others looked around at one another.

 

“A college? Ehh… doesn’t seem like an ideal place to survive.” Marcus shook his head. Adam, Allura, and Olivia nodded in agreement.

 

“What about my grandfather’s gated neighborhood? It’s only about an hour away from here, even closer!” Coran spoke again.

 

“Neighborhoods are risky. Especially gated ones. One way in, one way out. If a herd of walkers were to get inside, we'd be screwed.” Pidge rebutted.

 

“Oh! I have an idea!” Colleen’s eyes perked up. “We have a summer home, in San Diego. With the money Sam brought in from being a Garrison scientist, we could afford another place. It’s large, too. Definitely could fit all of us, and I know several local places that may still have supplies like food or medical equipment in them.” The group listened and slowly nodded as she explained.

 

“You know… that seems like a worthwhile journey. Do we all agree? To San Diego we go?” Shiro proposed. A short chorus of “yes”’s went around, but Pidge stopped to think.

 

“I’m sure you’ll get into the Garrison in no time!”

 

“The Garrison should feel honored when you get in, Katie.”

 

Sam and Matt’s voices rang through Pidge’s head, and she suddenly snapped back to reality and cried; “The Galaxy Garrison!”

 

Everyone turned to look at her, and Shiro seemed intrigued.

 

“Shiro, please , we have to go there! My dad… Matt , they could be there!” She pleaded, approaching him and clasping her hands together. “Please… it’s the one place I know for sure I could find them.” Shiro looked hesitant, and looked up at Colleen. The woman had a more neutral expression, but he could see in her eyes that she was almost just as pleading.

 

“...Alright. Galaxy Garrison it is.” Shiro stated. He couldn’t help but grin as Pidge herself broke into a wide grin and latched onto his body in a surprisingly firm hug for someone as small as her.

 

“Thank you thank you thank you !” She squeaked, before letting go and letting Shiro properly breathe again.

 

“You’re welcome, I guess?” He answered. “But you know, the Garrison is also a good option because it’s a government building, there’s bound to be some type of fortification, or at least a group of people surviving there. And we know exactly where it is, none of this guessing which way is the right way.” Adam immediately rolled his eyes.

 

“If fucking Sanda is still alive, I’m going to have a mental breakdown.” He groaned. Shiro just gently rubbed Adam’s shoulder, before he turned to face the others.

 

“Everyone! Come here, please!” He called. The rest of the group members walked over among the others. “We have decided that… we’re moving on. And we’re headed for the Galaxy Garrison.”

 

“The Galaxy Garrison? Isn’t that, like… an entire state to the west?” Marco asked, uncertain of the decision. “Will we have enough gas to make the trip?”

 

“If we siphon the gas from a few of the cars here and leave them behind… I think we’ll just about make it.” Shiro surmised.

 

“We can leave my old pickup truck. Cheap old thing only seats two people.” Marco offered. Shiro handed him a gas can and he walked off to go siphon the gas.

 

“You know, I think, as a humble sacrifice for the betterment of the group…” Coran began dramatically, “I will leave my grandfather’s fancy car that he gifted to me behind. After all, I could never forgive myself if something were to happen to it out on the dangerous open road.” As Coran spoke, he held a hand over his heart and looked into the sky. Shiro just stood there, watching him with a dumbfounded expression.

 

“Uhh… sure, okay. Yeah. Here you go.” Shiro quickly shoved a gas can into Coran’s hands and turned away to do something else. As the group began to pack their supplies up into the vehicles they were taking; The RV, the Garrett family car, and Luis’ car, Silvio and Nadia approached their parents.

 

Papí … where are we going?” Nadia asked. Luis and Lisa kneeled down in front of both of them.

 

“We’re going to the place that tío Lance stayed for a while to learn about flying. It’ll be alright, don’t worry.” He smiled.

 

“Will you and mamí protect us?” Silvio asked anxiously. Lisa pulled both of the kids to her for a hug.

 

“I’ll protect all of you. Even your father.” She reassured and teased. Luis just playfully rolled his eyes, then he picked up Nadia, while Lisa picked up Silvio, and brought them to the car.

 

Marco finished pouring the last of his truck’s gas into the RV’s tank and shut the cover. Adam walked over as he did so.

 

“You mind if I drive this thing? I have experience maneuvering large vehicles and understand when they get a little clunky and old.” He offered. Marco immediately nodded and put his hands out.

 

“By all means. This thing is hard enough for any of us to drive in the first place. Dad nearly caused an accident while driving it when we hit a few walkers.” Marco shook his head. Lance overheard Marco’s comment and his body tensed. He ignored the feeling and hastily boarded the RV. Adam entered soon after, sitting down in the driver’s seat, with Shiro in the passenger side. Keith took a seat at the mini table inside, and looked down as Lance entered.

 

Outside, Hunk approached his parents as they finished loading everything into the trunk of their car.

 

“Is it alright if I ride in the RV with Pidge and Lance?” He asked. Olivia looked uneasy, but nodded.

 

“Of course, sweetheart. Just know I’m gonna worry about you the whole time. Both of us are.” She pulled him into a hug with the three of them together. When they separated, Allura, Coran, and Romelle came over.

 

“The RV’s getting a little crowded. We’ll ride with you if you want some company.” Romelle said with a smile.

 

“Sure, why not? The backseat’s all yours!” Olivia opened the back door and let Allura and Romelle climb in. Coran stopped before getting in.

 

“I can't wait to tell you about all of the crazy adventures I went on as a young little sprout!” He commented with overzealous excitement.

 

“I’m… excited to hear!” Olivia exclaimed back, a little awkwardly. Coran just twirled his mustache and climbed in the car.

 

“Be safe.” Hunk called as he walked toward the RV.

 

“We’re supposed to tell you that.” Marcus joked. Hunk blew them one final kiss as they climbed into their car. He reached the RV door just as Pidge and Colleen did.

 

“You riding with us?” Pidge asked. Hunk nodded.

 

“Yup! Nothin’ says BFF’s like a cross country road trip, eh?” He elbowed Pidge enthusiastically. Pidge just tsk ed.

 

“We’re only going one state over, you big dramatic lug.” She teased.

 

“Oh, don’t be so negative, Katie. Let’s make the best of this! We could play some kind of road games, maybe there’s some actual games stored away in there!” Now Colleen’s face was lit up in excitement as she spoke.

 

“How are we related but not you two ?” She sighed, entering the RV. Hunk and Colleen exchanged a short laugh, before they both climbed in after her.

 

Nancy got into the driver’s side of Luis’ car, Luis getting in the passenger side. Miguel and Silvio took the second row of seating, while Marco, Lisa, and Nadia took the extra third row of seats.

 

“You ready?” Luis asked. Nancy took a short moment to rest her head against the steering wheel and take a few deep breaths, before lifting her head once more and sighing.

 

“Yes. Y-Yes, I am.” She shakily replied as she turned the key in the ignition and shifted gears into drive. She waited a moment, before giving a short honk. Marcus, in the driver’s seat of his car, also honked, the signal to show that they’re ready.

 

In the RV, Adam heard the first two honks, and waited a moment, before honking quickly from the RV. With the third and final honk, Nancy slowly drove forward onto the dirt road path leading out of the forest. Marcus started driving a few seconds later. Adam turned to Shiro, who turned to Colleen, who turned to Pidge.

 

“Well… here we go.” Adam breathed, releasing the brake and pressing down on the gas. As the RV left their camp area, Lance watched out the back window. He looked at the spot of overturned dirt that slightly rose out of the ground. He could still see the blood that stained the ground in the middle of the camp.

 

As the RV rounded the corner through the trees and finally out onto the main road, Lance left the back window with a resigned sigh. He took a seat next to Hunk, who let the former rest his head on Hunk’s shoulder. The RV was silent as they calmly drove down the road, leaving the forest campsite behind. Although he didn’t say it, Lance hoped that they were also leaving the trauma behind, too.

 

Instead, Lance got comfortable resting on Hunk, and enjoyed the sense of security he was feeling for the first time in days. He just prayed that it would never go away.

Chapter Text

The faint sound of the RV’s engine was the only thing audible to the passengers. Everyone sat around in uncomfortable silence. Several hours of boring scenery had gone by, several cities passed through. Pidge had felt a minor heartbreak upon seeing the “You are now leaving Prescott, Arizona.” sign. Her hometown, a place she’d probably never seen again. Lance was resting his head on Hunk’s shoulder, a blank expression on his face. The larger teen also has an arm wrapped around his best friend in a comforting manner. Pidge sat on the other side of him, sitting upright, choosing to stare through the windshield from her seat. Up front, Adam and Shiro sat in the front two seats. Shiro put a hand on Adam’s leg as he drove, giving the leaner man a soft smile.

 

Pidge turned away for a moment, seeing Keith sitting at the RV table, huddled next to the window. His expression was dark, and it felt like he was forcing his eyes to stay focused on his crossed arms. “Hey, Keith?” She called over to him. He just barely looked up at her, “can you help me find something in the back?” She stood up and motioned for him to follow. Confused, he did so. When the two of them reached the back, Keith sat down on the foldout bed. Pidge stood across from him, leaning back against the wall. “So, you and I haven’t really gotten a chance to talk.” She said after an awkward moment of silence. Keith sighed, almost scoffing.

 

“Did you bring me back here to yell at me, too? Look, I know I fucked up yesterday.” He cut in sharply. Pidge looked to the ground. “No! No. I just need to talk to you. I...don’t want to be a hypocrite.” Keith raised an eyebrow, and Pidge continued, “you already apologized for holding Marco at gunpoint, so I should apologize for doing the same thing to you.” She gave a sheepish smile. Keith replied by shaking his head. “ You don’t have to apologize. You were just protecting your group.” He shrugged. Pidge facepalmed and sighed. “I do, though. You don’t solve hostility with more hostility. Also, it seems neither of us are very well equipped in sharing our emotions with other people so please let me have this?” The two of them smiled and laughed it off. “Okay, okay. Let’s chalk it up to we both did some questionable things that have been forgiven.” Keith suggested, standing up again. They nodded silently in agreement.

 

“You two alright back here?” Shiro’s voice startled them both as he entered the back room. “Uh, yeah! We’re all good! I just needed Keith to help me...find the ammo boxes! My gun wasn’t loaded and I just wanted to have it prepared. You know, in case.” Pidge rambled awkwardly. Shiro looked confused, but didn’t seem to question it. Keith saw the ammo boxes up on a high shelf, and he used his height to reach up and grab one. “Here ya go. I could probably do with some more ammo, too.” The two were about to sit down, when a loud “POP” sound suddenly went off, and the RV suddenly tilted to one side and an awful scraping noise began.

 

“SHIT!” Adam yelled from the driver’s seat. After Shiro made sure Keith and Pidge hasn’t been hurt, he raced up to the front to check on his fiancé. “Adam! You okay?!” He shouted worriedly. Adam groaned and growled out curses. “I’m fine, I’m fine, Takashi. Both right side tires just blew. I think I might've run over something.” He explained. He exited the RV hastily, with the other passengers following close behind. Sure enough, Adam kneeled down and saw the shredded remains of the front tire. From behind them, the rest of the group stepped out of the card and came up to see what was wrong. Shiro saw something sticking out of the tire rubber and yanked it out.

 

“Looks like you ran over a nail.” He said flatly. He was about to toss it away, but decided against it, and deposited it into his pocket. Adam balled his fists. “A nail ?! You’re serious. What are the fucking chances?! One tiny nail in the road and we hit it! How fan-fucking-tastic!” Shiro took his stressed lover’s hands in his. “Hey hey hey…love, it’s alright. We can fix this. Don’t worry, alright?” Adam took a deep breath, and nodded. “Why don’t we go over here and look at the trees? You always loved teaching the ecosystems unit of your biology class.” Shiro walked over to the edge of the thick forest of trees, in the hopes to soothe Adam.

 

Miguel crouched by the back right tire, feeling the rubber. “Looks like this one just blew out itself. I always meant to get the tires checked on this thing…but now the world’s over, heh.” He chuckled to no one in particular. “Great, so the RV is out two tires and we’re on a road in the middle of nowhere.” Lance muttered bitterly. “Maybe it’s good that the tires messed up!” Silvio spoke up softly, “that way mommy can catch up to us.” He explained innocently. Most of the group looked at him with confused expressions.

 

“We found Lisa. But…she wasn’t herself. If you understand what I mean.” Marco interjected, after Luis looked away in silence. Hunk winced, Allura bowed her head in respectful silence, Marcus and Olivia placed comforting hands on Luis’ shoulders. The large man knelt down in front of his kids. “Kids…I need to tell you something.” He lead them around the backside of the car and stood down at their eye level, but nobody eavesdropped.

 

“How great. The universe has taken another family member of mine.” Lance grumbled bitterly, “I wonder who’ll be next.” Hunk, who still had his arm wrapped snugly and protectively around Lance’s shoulder, let out a small gasp. “Lance! Don’t say things like that! The universe will only be taking more of your family, if it can get through me . Now come on, why don’t we go look at some pretty nature with Shiro and Adam?” Lance turned to Hunk, a shred of a hopeful glint in his eye sparkled. “You think…we’ll see any butterflies? I always thought ones that were blue were, erm, really pretty.” He mumbled sheepishly. The two of them walked off in the direction Shiro and Adam had gone.

 

In the middle of the road, Coran stood, examining the asphalt and the painted road lines. After some more careful “inspection”, he walked over to the Garrett’s car. “Excuse me, Mr. and Mrs. Garrett? Do you mind if I take a look at your map?” He asked. “Of course not. What are you looking for?” Olivia asked, curious. Marcus handed him the map and the ginger man feverishly dragged his finger along a specific route. “I just need to see if something I thought is true…hmm… aha ! I was right!” He exclaimed triumphantly. “What did you find?” Marcus asked.

 

“This is Daibazaal Road.” When his statement was met with several blank stares from the others nearby, he sighed, “About 10 miles up from here, is the Auto Shop I worked at!” He explained excitedly. “Altea Auto Parts. My father was the owner, to be exact.” Allura added. “I could take a few of us up there, grab two new tires, and the needed equipment to replace them. I was the head mechanic there before the world fell. I’ll know just what to grab!” Olivia looked unsure.

 

“10 miles? That’s a long way to walk there and back.” She asked. “Ah, but here’s the best part! We also have lots of gas cans in the back storage room, we can take a car up there, gather everything we need, fill the gas tank, and bring the remaining gas back with us! The perfect supply run!” Coran was practically bursting with excitement. “So, who’s coming with me?” He asked cheerfully. Marcus nodded his head. “I’ll go. I was a mechanic too, and two of us is better than one.” Luis stood up from his spot on the ground against the car. “I can come, too.” He offered.

 

Marco stepped in, pushing Luis’ hand down. “Luis, no. You shouldn’t go out. You’ve just lost your wife. Your kids just lost a mother. We all are sad about Lisa, but we know you’re hurting the most. You should be there for your kids, hermano .” Marco gestured to Silvio and Nadia, the former of which was looking at a pretty purple butterfly with Lance and Hunk, while the latter was getting her hair braided by Adam, with Shiro rubbing his shoulders. “You’re right. I can stay behind.” Luis relented, going back to sitting against the other car. Marco turned back to Coran. “I can go with you guys.” He offered instead.

 

Coran snapped his fingers happily. “Perfect! We have our team! Off we go, then?” He asked, pumped up and just bursting to get going. Marco shrugged. “Sure, get it done before nightfall hits in a few hours anyway.” The three men got into the Garrett family’s car. “Be safe, my son.” Nancy said solemnly to Marco. He held his mother’s hand for a moment, before they drove away up the road.

 

“So, are we staying here for the night?” Keith asked, looking around, paranoid, “there’s a lot of thick tree cover. Someone could be out there, watching us.” Shiro smiled and rolled his eyes. “I doubt there’s anyone out there who would be stupid enough to challenge us. And to answer your question, yes. We’ll be setting up temporary shelter here for the night.” Shiro explained to the group still there. Romelle’s eyes practically sparkled. “Oh! A night under the stars! Doesn’t that sound beautiful, Allura?” She gushed, shaking her friend’s arm. “Well, as long as it doesn’t rain, of course.” She replied.

 

~~~~~

 

Lucky for the group, no rain happened that night. Coran, Marcus, and Marco returned safely with the tires, equipment, and four cans of gas for all of their refueling needs. Once they’d come back, the tents were set up near the treeline. A few of the group members, like Allura and Romelle, chose to lie in sleeping bags outside to look up at the beautiful star-lit sky. Hunk, Pidge, and Colleen were convinced into a night of sleeping outside as well. Lance slept on the small couch in the RV, while Shiro and Adam shared the foldout bed in the back.

 

At some point in the night, Shiro woke himself up. He sat up slowly, cracking his back as he stretched his limbs. He went to quietly shuffle out of bed, but Adam suddenly brushed his hand against his elbow. “Mmm…’Kashi, where you goin’?” He asked sleepily. Shiro chuckled at his fiancé’s dazed state. “I promised Luis I would take over watch duty in a few hours. And it’s…been a few hours. So I…” Shiro trailed off, hearing stirring from the main part of the RV. Peeking out from the back, he saw Lance was awake, tiptoeing to the door of the RV, opening it as slowly and quietly as possible, then soft footsteps away.

 

“I’ll see you in the morning, love.” He whispered to the, already asleep again, Adam. He kissed him on the head, then quietly exited the RV. Upon stepping outside, he saw Lance’s silhouette disappear into the treeline. Raising an eyebrow, Shiro took a deep breath, and followed after him.

 

The trees were abundant in this area, and Shiro was having a hard time not running into some occasionally. It was twice as hard to stealthily keep pace with Lance. Although the younger boy was carrying a flashlight, which did make things easy. At last, Shiro saw the bobbing light stop moving, by a tree about 30 yards ahead of him. Taking soft steps, he grew closer. “Uh, Lance…?” He called out. The cuban boy let out a shriek as he turned to see Shiro standing in the beam of his handheld flashlight.

 

“Jesus, Shiro! I almost stabbed you!” Lance cried. “Sorry, sorry…I just was worried about you. How come you walked off like this?” He asked. The “Dad voice” in him was starting to show. Lance grew restless, his eyes looking anywhere but at Shiro. “I was…leaving.” He sighed. Shiro couldn’t see him very well, but he heard a few tiny sniffles, and could see a small glint near his eyes that looked like tears in the dark. Lance was crying. “I’m a mess, Shiro. A whole goddamn mess. I just lost Rachel…Lisa’s dead, too…I almost killed your brother because I was so emotional. I’m surprised you don’t hate me…” Lance dropped his flashlight to the ground, it landed against the tree, and the light bounced off the tree just right so Shiro could clearly see Lance’s face now.

 

“I don’t hate you, Lance. Nobody does. Nobody will . Your family just lost two of its members, and you’re all hurting in your own ways. Those of us who aren’t your blood family, we can still be your family. Hunk, Pidge, Allura, Colleen, Marcus, Olivia, Coran, Romelle, heck, even Keith, Adam, and I. Everyone else here is here to support you if you need it. Never feel shy if you want to talk about anything with any of us. It’s a mad world out there, but what makes it better is having people who care about you right there with you.” Shiro hugged Lance reassuringly. The younger boy hugged back tightly. After a few seconds they pulled away. “Th-Thanks, Shiro. For being a famous dude. You’re a pretty chill guy.” Shiro stifled a laugh. “You ready to head back to the group?” He asked. Lance nodded confidently. Shiro turned and started to walk back.

 

“Oh, I almost forgot my flashl- AHH!” Shiro froze and spun around upon hearing Lance’s strangled scream. A sickening “thud” followed it. Shiro saw blood on the tree they’d just been standing by, and Lance on the ground, a small gash across the side of his head. A man stood over the unconscious boy’s body. Shiro scowled. “Lance! What did you do to him?!” He shouted. The man stood in silence. “Answer me!” Shiro grew angrier, and was about to lunge, when something else struck him in the back of his head, hard . Shiro was knocked out cold instantly, falling down beside Lance. The second man walked over Shiro’s limp body, examining Lance’s wound.

 

“Jesus fuck, Greg, I asked you to knock him out , not possibly kill him. We want them alive , dumbass.” The hooded man hissed to his companion, Greg. “Sorry. He was a lot lighter than I thought he’d be. Pushed him a little too hard.” Greg shrugged. The hooded man scoffed, and hooked his arms in Shiro’s armpits, lifting the man off the ground. “Hurry up. Grab the skinny one and let’s get back to camp. I’m starving.” He grumbled. As Lance laid there, unmoving, a blue butterfly fluttered down in the night air, landing on his hand.

Chapter Text

Voices. Shiro could hear voices. At first he thought everything was just a bad dream, and he would wake up right next to Adam in that RV, and the voices were just the other group members having an early morning chat. Alas, that was just his wishful thinking. Shiro slowly opened his eyes, wincing at the throbbing pain in the back of his head.

 

“Chris, he’s awake.” A voice called out. A dark haired man was kneeling in front of him, rolling his eyes. “Thanks, Charlie. I would never have realized.” He replied sarcastically, “Idiot…” He mumbled.

 

“Wh…What is this? Where...am I?” Shiro asked. His vision was going in and out of focus and his head was seriously hurting. He turned his head to the left, spotting a figure lying flat on the ground. Lance. “Lance! Lance!” He shouted with as much strength as possible, but the teen didn’t budge.

 

“Yeah…kid’s still unconscious. I told Greg to be more careful with him. Now, my name is Chris, as my dim witted friend Charlie here said. We’re a group known as The Hunters. And yes, we kidnapped you for a reason. Don’t worry, I’ll get to that.” Shiro tried to struggle and punch the man, but he felt his left arm tied around a metal pole he was leaned against. His right arm felt completely numb, he hoped he hadn’t broken it.

 

“Let us go! We don’t want any trouble!” Shiro pleaded after he gave up on thrashing. Chris sighed, taking a bite out of the meat in his hand. “Neither do we. Look, you’re not dead yet. And don’t dwell on that “yet”, we don’t really want to kill you or your friend. In fact, we really don’t want to hurt you. We just...needed you.” Shiro raised an eyebrow.

 

“Needed us…what exactly does that mean?” Chris silently stared, taking another bite of his food. After a moment, he adjusted his position. “I’m sure you’ve noticed that game in various wooded areas is becoming more and more scarce, thanks to our lovely dead companions.” Chris remarked sarcastically, “anyway, to put it simply, our group was growing more and more desperate. Until one day we realized that, well, we’d been going after the wrong type of prey.” He took another bite.

 

“People don't run from us. Hell, half the time they don't know what's happening until they wake up to see something's cut off. It's easy. We usually let the big groups pass. That's what we've been doing... too hard to manage. Loners are a piece of cake. Groups of five or less-- that's doable. Normally, we'd have left you alone. But after you actually snagged one of our nail traps, and you and your friend happened to wander off into the woods? Greg and I, we saw an opportunity. And at the end of the day,” Shiro’s eyes widened, and he looked down at his right arm.

 

Or where it would’ve been.

 

“A man’s gotta eat.” Chris finished, so casually you’d think he was talking about the weather forecast. Shiro stared in disbelief at the stump all the way up past where elbow would’ve been. His right arm hadn’t been numb, it had been straight up fucking missing . “I’ll admit, we got a little greedy with the food. Luckily, Elizabeth was a surgeon before all of this and knew just the right place to amputate up there. Don’t worry, we already cauterized it too so don’t worry about bleeding out, you’re welcome.” Chris took an extra long bite of his food, Shiro’s cooked arm. “You know, you taste so much better than most. Remind us to catch more people with Japanese descent.” Shiro growled at Chris, teeth bared. “If you even thinking about cutting something off of Lance-!” He started to shout, but Chris cut him off.

 

“Relax. He’s far too skinny for anything on him to be of any use. To be honest, you were our only target but you caught up to him so fast we couldn’t let him get away. If it’s any consolation, we might just go back and kill your whole group. That way if he ends up dead, it won’t matter. All of you will be.” He shrugged. Shiro seemed to fall into a state of panic, and started to breathe more rapidly, fighting against his restraints.

 

“Ooh, we’ve got a fighter.” Another man chuckled. “Maybe we should kill him, in case he breaks free.” Chris scoffed at that comment. “Calm down, Albert, he’s got one arm now, what could he possibly do to us?” Shiro’s panic then turned to a smile, and then soft laughter. Chris scowled.

 

“What’s so funny, huh? You think we’re just fucking with you?” Chris grabbed one of his automatic rifles. “Each of us have enough ammo to shoot everyone in your group at least ten times a day for a week. Food may be scarce, but we’d rather eliminate threats than keep you all alive.” Shiro just continued to laugh.

 

“I’ll shut him up.” A man, David, sneered, standing up from around the fire, where Shiro’s severed arm sat above, the flesh being kept warm. Chris held out his hand. “David, don’t you dare. Now, smartass, what’s so funny?” Shiro lifted his head to look at the group leader.

 

“You…You all think you can take us? We’ve got plenty of ammo, skilled fighters, and more. One by one, you’ll all be killed!” Shiro threatened, his voice growing louder with each sentence, but his words kept up the same creepy giddy tone. “A shot to the head for you. Bet you won’t even see it coming. Maybe we’ll let you turn instead, twist the knife in your stomach, maybe cut some limbs off of you! One by one…” The other Hunters around the fire looked warily at Shiro.

 

“Is he going insane?” A woman, Theresa, asked nervously. Elizabeth shook her head. “No, he’s probably going into some kind of delirious shock. He did just lose a limb after all.” She replied. Chris stood up, pulling out a revolver and pointing it at Shiro. “Shut up! Shut the fuck up!” He shouted. But Shiro continued, smirking up at the man.

 

“You’re dead! All of you you’re all dead!”

 

“I said shut up !” Chris yelled. When Shiro still didn’t, he kicked him right in the side of his head, making him slump down, unconscious. He looked over at his group, who were all watching the events unfold.

 

“Get these two ready to move in a few hours. Tomorrow morning we’re going to be making a stand.”

 

~~~~~

 

In the woods, Adam carefully stepped through the trees, avoiding fallen branches. He’d just barely seen Shiro leave the RV suddenly before falling back asleep. And an hour later when he woke up again, he noticed Shiro’s gun was still lying on the table next to the bed. He’d known then that something had to be wrong.

 

Now here he was, tiptoeing through the woods in the middle of the night, all alone. He heard a few snapping sounds, pointing Shiro’s pistol in that direction. When nothing lunged at him, he relaxed. “Shiro? Shiro, are you around here?” He whispered into the forest. No response. He groaned to himself, and kept moving in another direction.

 

“Shiro! Where are you?!” Adam whisper-yelled. An ominous whispering sound made him spin around and aim the gun in its direction. All he could see was the branches of trees being rustled in the wind. Adam went to turn away when he suddenly heard a loud growling from behind. Turning again, a walker was only a few feet away from him. Acting quickly, Adam took a few hasty steps back, before raising the gun and pulling the trigger.

 

The walker fell to the ground, dead. Adam silently thanked Shiro for the silencer he always had on him. Adam bent over to catch his breath, when something touched his shoulder. He screamed in surprise and pointed his gun at the new threat, until:

 

“Adam! Stop! Stop! It’s Keith!” Adam immediately calmed down, and lowered his weapon. “Keith?! How’d you find me out here?” He asked quietly. “We helped.” Pidge stepped out from a shadowy area, Hunk right beside her. “We were sleeping outside and saw you leave the RV and go this way. Why’d you leave anyway?” Hunk asked. Adam sighed and shook his head. Despite being a former teacher, kids were always some level of annoying.

 

“Shiro is missing. And…I think Lance is, too. Shiro didn’t grab his gun for watch duty, and Lance wasn’t in the RV when I woke up again.” Although nobody could properly see, the three teens’ faces dropped in fear. “Missing? Are you sure? Oh, please no. This has to be one of Lance’s pranks. H-He’s just playing a joke! Yeah…a joke.” Hunk began to panic, and Pidge had to put a hand on his shoulder and gently calm him down.

 

While that happened, Keith spotted something a fair distance away. “Guys, what’s that?” He pointed to his left. The others turned and saw what he saw. It seemed to be a light source lying in the grass. The four of them dashed over to it, and saw that it was an abandoned flashlight. Pidge picked it up, and looked at the bottom, just vaguely being able to read a pair of initials on it; L.M. Her heart dropped.

 

“This is Lance’s flashlight. H-He was here. Oh shit…” She muttered. The way Pidge was holding the flashlight, made the beam of light shine on the tree. Keith followed the light, and couldn’t stop a startled gasp at the bloody tree trunk. “Oh, my god…Oh my god.” Now all of them were beginning to panic.

 

“Is that Lance’s blood? M-Maybe he just killed a walker?” Hunk whimpered. Pidge examined it, and shook her head. “N-No. It’s Lance’s. Or Shiro’s. It’s too red and fresh to be a walker’s blood. This is human blood.” Hunk started to tremble and he curled in on himself.

 

“So what does this mean?” Keith asked shakily. Adam looked at the ground, seeing more blood on the grass at the base of the tree, and some more in a tinier area a farther distance away from the tree. He stood up and faced the kids.

 

“It means, Shiro and Lance were kidnapped.” He determined darkly.

Chapter Text

Inside one of the tents propped up outside, Nadia opened her small eyes. Next to her, Silvio was still fast asleep. As she stood up, her stomach rumbled. She pushed the tent flap open and walked out into the early morning sun. Coran and Marcus were already awake, working on one of the RV’s tires. At the back of the vehicle, she saw her dad climbing down the ladder.

 

“Papí! Good morning! How come you didn’t come back to the tent last night?” She asked sadly. Luis sighed. “I would have, sweetheart, but Shiro never came up to switch out watch duty. I was up there all night!” Nadia’s eyes popped. “All night! How did you stay up that late? Are you a superhero?” She asked. Luis just smiled. “Of course I am. Why don’t you go grab you and your brother some of those granola bars from the RV?” Nadia nodded and carelessly skipped away to the RV.

 

As she entered, she felt a tinge unnerved by how eerily silent it was inside. Nadia saw a small bowl of the granola bars sitting next to the RV sink, and she grabbed three. Then, she looked over to one of the side seats. A pile of blankets was strewn about on the floor and the cushion. She remembered that Lance said he was going to sleep there. But she hadn’t seen him anywhere outside when she woke up?

 

Peeking into the back room, Nadia was also confused to find nobody back there either. The bed covers pulled back as if Shiro and Adam had gotten up for something. Exiting the RV, Nadia came back to the tent, handing granola bars to her father and the now awake Silvio, who was still groggy and rubbing his eyes.

 

“It’s so early, Papá…” He whined, “why can’t we sleep longer?” Luis didn’t acknowledge his son’s complaints, instead he was about to lie down for himself to rest. “Papá, I think I know why Shiro didn’t switch with you.” She started. Luis sat up, confused look on his face. “What do you mean?” Nadia shrugged her shoulders. “He’s not here. Neither is uncle Lance or Shiro’s boyfriend.” She said. This made Luis’ eyes widen.

 

“They’re not here? The RV is empty?” He exited the tent, dashing over to the RV. A few seconds later, he came rushing back out. By now, the others were taking notice of Luis’ frantic actions. “Hey, Luis, is something wrong? Are you okay?” Marco asked softly. Luis turned, distress clear on his face. “Shiro, Adam, and Lance are gone.” The group shared a series of quiet gasps and murmurs. Colleen looked around, seeing two empty sleeping bags near her.

 

“I don’t think that’s all. Katie and Hunk are nowhere to be seen.” She commented worriedly. Allura poked her head into Keith’s small tent, finding nothing. “Keith's gone too!” She cried. No sooner had the group began to grow increasingly worried, they heard a loud snap from beyond the trees. A second later, a very determined Adam sprinted from the trees. Not far behind him, Keith, Pidge, and Hunk burst out after. Adam wasted no time, he entered the RV, and came back out with the bag of guns the group kept their weapons in.

 

“Katie! Where on earth have you been ?!” Colleen scolded. Marcus and Olivia embraced Hunk tightly, while the latter apologized over and over for leaving in the night. Keith joined Adam as he began to pull several guns out of the bag.

 

“Adam? What are you doing? Were Shiro and Lance with you guys?” Marco asked, as Adam handed him his automatic assault rifle. “Coran, Marcus. How close are you to being done fixing the RV?” Adam asked urgently. “We’ve put the new back tire on, now we just have to do the front one!” Coran reported proudly. Adam sighed deeply.

 

“Please get to work and put the other one on, fast .” He looked up at the confused group. “Shiro and Lance have been kidnapped.” He explained, after a tense moment of silence. Nancy gasped and put a hand over her mouth. “Not my baby boy… Dios, por favor, no tome otro más de mis hijos. ” She sobbed. Adam armed himself with a small 9mm handgun, giving a similar one to Keith. He pulled out Lance’s semi automatic rifle, handing it to Luis.

 

“Do you have anything bigger?” Colleen asked. Pidge shot her a dumbfounded look. “ Mom ?!” She asked, shocked. Colleen shrugged. “I may have studied plants in my adult career, but your grandparents had me trained with firearms of all sizes. Hit me with your best one, Adam.” Adam nodded, pulling out an M16A1 assault rifle. Colleen took it in her hands, smirking. “Perfect.” She states simply, moving out of the way. Pidge looked at Hunk, shaking her head.

 

“I do not know that woman.” She commented quietly. “So if Shiro and Lance were kidnapped, why are we all getting our guns out?” Romelle asked as Adam handed her a small revolver handgun. She took it, but still looked confused. “We’re all going to march to where they were taken and demand them back.” He replied fiercely.

 

After the gun distributing was done, the group gathered around Adam. “So, what’s the exact plan?” Hunk asked, wringing his hands. “Are we really just going to, like, walk up and say ‘Hi there! Please give us our friends back or we’ll shoot you!’ are we actually doing that? For real?” Among the rest of the group, simple glocks and other various sized revolvers had been handed out. Everyone also checked to make sure they had a blade of any size with them in case melee combat was necessary.

 

“When do we leave on this rescue mission?” Miguel asked, “I want to get my son back.” Adam nodded. “We can go now if everyone’s ready?” The group responded with nods and a few “Yes”’s. “Alright,” Adam began, “let’s-.”

 

A gunshot rang through the air, and Miguel fell to the ground. He screamed in pain as his leg began to bleed. The group cried out in shock and fear. Nancy and Olivia ushered Silvio and Nadia into the RV, making sure the door locked good and tight. Miguel clutched his leg wound on the ground as the group all pointed their weapons into the woods.

 

“I would drop your guns if I were you.” Chris said casually, walking out of the trees, almost having a spring in his step. “Why should we?” Keith taunted, getting ready to squeeze the trigger and fire. Chris chuckled, waving a hand at the treeline. “Because if you don’t…your friends here will lose their lives.” From the trees, Greg marched out a weary, one-armed Shiro, while David and Theresa carried a still unconscious Lance. The rest of the Hunters filed out from the trees as well, guns drawn on the group. Keith and Adam faltered, seeing Shiro in that state. “Shiro…what the FUCK did you do to him?!” Keith yelled, reaffirming his grip on the gun.

 

“We did what we’d do to any lone survivor we come across. It’s not like he was special or anything. Like I told him, if it’s worth anything, he tasted amazing .” Keith wanted to just shoot the smirk right off of this man’s face. “Dammit, Chris! Why aren’t we just killing these pricks?!” Carlos shouted impatiently. Chris put a hand out to silence the man. “What’s the fun in shooting them all right away? Might as well have some fun before we kill them anyway.”

 

“You people are sick.” Keith shook his head, “what the fuck goes through your head that you think chopping people’s limbs off to EAT is something normal?!” He asked, voicing getting louder with each word. Chris took a brave step forward. “It’s actually quite easy when you break it down. It’s really just a mash up of survival of the fittest and natural selection. People who are dumb enough to wander off alone in this world? We weed them out by doing what...they really should’ve seen coming. Did you know that if a bear is starving out in the wild, it’ll actually eat it’s cubs? You see, the mama bear can live another day, and have more cubs, while if the mama bear left them, they would all eventually starve to death. It’s about the bigger picture.” Keith scoffed.

 

“Fuck your bigger picture! I’m gonna shoot you dead right here and right now for what you did to my brother!” Chris just shook his head and motioned to David, who pointed his gun at Lance’s unmoving body, and Greg pointed his gun at Shiro’s head. “You can do that, and live with what happens to these two. Or you can all lower your weapons, and maybe we’ll just take all of your shit and leave you to fend for yourselves.” Chris narrowed his eyes.

 

“You really wanna take this chance, kid? And risk all the lives around you?” Keith grit his teeth, hands trembling on the trigger of the gun. With much confliction, he slowly lowered the weapon. “That’s what I thought.” Chris said smugly. Chris looked over at Colleen, who had her assault weapon aimed at him. “That’s a big weapon there, honey. You sure you know how to use it?” Colleen laughed bitterly. “I know more facts about guns than you have years on your life, pal. Don’t test me.” Chris just sarcastically put his hands in the air in mock fright. From behind him, the others grew restless.

 

“Chris, you said we’d get to kill them!” David groaned. “Well hey, not all of them. Blondie over there is pretty cute. Could keep her alive…” Albert flashed a creepy smirk at Romelle, who recoiled. “ Excuse me ?” She said in disbelief. “Just for that I’ll make sure personally that your brains get blown out of the back of your head.” She said darkly, pointing her revolver at him. Chris watched the drama unfold, shaking his head with an exasperated expression.

 

“Fuck it. You all can’t listen, so we’re just gonna do this now. Greg, kill the one armed bastard.” Keith froze. “Don’t you dare!” Adam screamed desperately.

 

“On it.” Greg said simply, putting his pistol to the back of Shiro’s head. Shiro looked up, meeting Keith’s eyes. The teen’s hand twitched, and he grit his teeth. Shiro knew what was going to happen. “Keith...Keith DON’T-!” He tried to shout, but it was too late.

 

“NO!” Keith screamed, raising his gun and firing. The bullet flew from the gun and hit Greg square in his forehead. The man crumpled to the ground limply as blood began to leak from the bullet hole. His eyes were permanently open, wide with horror. Both groups stared in shock at what they witnessed.

 

“GREG?! What the hell!” Charlie shouted, clearly not expecting that. Adam turned to the others. “Everyone, take cover, NOW!” With that, everyone dashed behind the RV and other cars. “Fire! Kill them all!” Chris commanded his group. The Hunters fired back at the group, nearly hitting Keith as he pulled Miguel to safety behind the Garrett family car. He peeked over the top and fired three more rounds at the group, but they’d retreated into the trees and were using them as cover.

 

“Shit!” Keith cursed. He had just created a warzone.

Chapter Text

THEN

 

Pidge stormed into her bedroom, fist clenched and trembling. She saw her algebra book open on her desk. Eyes growing wet, she charged over, picked up the book, and chucked it at the wall with a grunt. She slumped down in her desk chair, head in hands. The words from the other kids at school floated around in her head.

 

“Nerd.”

 

“What a loser.”

 

“Fucking nerd. Did you lose your glasses, shortie?”

 

The door to her room creaked open, and Matt peeked in. He pushed the door open the rest of the way. “Hey, Pidge?” He asked gingerly. He was holding a plate with a slice of cake on it. Pidge heard her brother, but didn’t turn to meet his eyes.

 

“I hate it when you call me that.” She muttered, eyes still trained on the worn wood of her desk. Matt’s smile faltered, and he came into the room. “Sorry, Katie .” He replied. He set the cake down next to her. “Mom told me what happened at school today. I brought you the last slice of my birthday cake.” He leaned back against the desk, folding his arms. “I know what it’s like to be the nerd,” he consoled, “but you’re Katie Freakin’ Holt! Don’t let those bullies get to you. You gotta keep studying hard.” He encouraged.

 

Pidge just shook her head, ponytail swaying. “What’s the point?” She asked bitterly. Matt looked at the ceiling, then smirked. “Well…it was my brain that got me into the Galaxy Garrison !” He replied in the cheeky tone. Pidge gasped and shot out of the chair. “Ahhh! You got in! Yes!” She squealed, launching her arms around her older brother. She hugged him tightly as he reciprocated.

 

“I mean, I guess it was my brains. It could’ve been my good looks or my big muscles .” Matt joked, doing a funny voice at the end. Pidge pulled away, still smiling brightly. “I’m so happy for you, that’s amazing!” She cheered. Suddenly she stopped and looked around the floor of her room until she spotted her discarded algebra book. She ran over to pick it up, and sat back down at the desk with it.

 

“What are you doing?” Matt raised an eyebrow. “I’m studying! So I can get into the Garrison and be with you and dad!” She replied matter-of-factly. Matt shook his head, and smiled down at her.

 

NOW

 

“Pidge, stay down!” Romelle shouted over the gunfire. Pidge was standing, firing her glock at the Hunters beyond the trees. Romelle pulled her down just in time as David returned fire at her location. Pidge took a moment to catch her breath. From behind the RV, she saw Marco and Colleen firing rapidly with their guns. Pidge peeked up again, seeing Shiro lying on the ground. The man was weakly scooting along the grass, trying to get out of the line of fire.

 

“Romelle, Allura! Cover me! I need to get Shiro out of the middle area!” She shouted. The two girls nodded, and after a moment of waiting, they stood up and fired while Pidge made a run for behind the RV. Just as she made it behind the large vehicle, David stepped out from the trees, shooting madly. One of the bullets just barely missed Pidge’s feet as she ducked away.

 

Pidge readied her gun and spun around the RV, ready to shoot. She saw David approaching fast, and was about to pull the trigger, when a shot sounded from right behind her. She flinched, and turned around, seeing Adam just behind her with a gun. David’s chest began to pour out blood as the bullet wound became visible. The man stopped moving and fell down dead. Pidge turned to Adam, smiling sheepishly. “Thanks for the cover.” She said quietly, “here, come help me get Shiro out of there!” She added with suddenly much more intensity. Adam nodded in agreement, following Pidge as they made their way around cover.

 

“Pidge, you cover me, and I’ll go run for him.” Adam ordered. Pidge nodded. “Got it.” She said firmly. Adam counted to three on his hands, then shot up and ran out of cover. Pidge rose up seconds later, firing wildly into the trees. She saw one of the bullets grazed Chris’ shoulder, and he hissed in pain. Adam reached Shiro, slinging the weak man’s remaining arm over his shoulder. Pidge fired again and again, until she heard the dreaded sound of a click, and another click.

 

“Adam, hurry! I’m out!” She yelled with much urgency and fear plain in her voice. Adam cursed loudly. Luckily, Marco and Luis stepped in, keeping the Hunters at bay, as Adam dragged Shiro around behind the car. The one armed man was barely awake, groaning as he was laid on the road asphalt.

 

“...Adam…?” Shiro moaned in pain. Adam quietly shushed Shiro. “It’ll be okay, my love. You’re going to be alright.” He cooed in the softest voice Pidge had heard from him in her time knowing him. Pidge and Marco turned and began their sneak back to the RV, leaving Adam and Shiro alone. The two of them made a sprint between the car and the RV, but a bullet shot right at their feet sent both of them falling to the ground. Pidge had luck on her side, and she managed to trip and fall behind cover, albeit dropping her gun, and having to watch helplessly as it slid under the RV. Marco, however, fell outside of cover, and was now at gunpoint by Albert.

 

“You know, I’ve always sought after bimbo women in my life, maybe I could try something nasty with a man.” Albert sneered, kicking Marco’s gun away. Pidge strained her arm, frantically trying to reach her gun. “Goddammit! Curse my short fucking arms!” She growled. She looked to see where everyone else was. Allura and Romelle were firing at Elizabeth and Chris. Adam, now assisted by Coran, was taking on Charlie. Hunk, Marcus, and Luis were firing at Theresa, and Keith was alone dealing with Carlos, while also protecting the wounded Miguel. Pidge knew it was either save Marco herself or watch him die right here.

 

“On second thought,” Albert began slowly, “I’d much rather prefer to see your brains splatter.” He chuckled raising his large gun in the air. Just before he could pull the trigger, another gunshot sounded off, the bullet entering the man’s kneecap, making him drop to one knee. Albert screamed in agony, clutching the injured kneecap. Miguel was there, weakly propping himself up on the car, gun in hand. “You’re fucking dead, old man!” Albert yelled, but before he could retaliate, from behind him, a newly reanimated David sprung to life, chomping into the attacker’s neck. Albert was taken down to the ground, and pinned there as David climbed onto his back and tore multiple pieces of bloody flesh off of the man. Everyone around him was indifferent to the screams he howled out until he finally went silent a few moments later.

 

Marco took this opportunity to grab his gun and get back behind cover, panting heavily. Miguel fell back down on the ground, crying out as he moved his shot leg too harshly. Keith dragged him back to a safe cover spot. From the treeline, Carlos stopped shooting at the group, and instead looked at the nearby body of the unconscious Lance. He scoffed.

 

“Stupid fucking kid is worthless! Not even the meat on his bones was anything good! Might as well do this world a favor and take him out now.” He ran out from the trees, pointing his gun down at Lance. At the same time, Chris and Elizabeth began to advance their position on Romelle and Allura. “Oh shit. Allura! I’m out of ammo!” Romelle cried in distress. She pulled out her knife just in case, while Allura stepped in front to cover her.

 

Next to Adam, Coran looked over at the two girls. He grew more and more worried as Allura fired her pistol at them, shying away as the two others fired back with much more ammo. “I have to help them!” Coran declared heroically. “Go! I can try and cover you!” Adam shouted, holding off Charlie’s fire. Coran nodded, sprinting madly from cover. As he charged at Chris, seemingly unseen, he raised his gun in the air, preparing to land a kill shot. Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, Chris wheeled around, shooting Coran right in his stomach. The ginger haired man stopped dead in his tracks. He dropped the gun to the floor and fell down in shock.

 

CORAN !!!” Allura screamed in anguish.

 

“Nice try.” Chris stated with a teasing singsong voice. Casually ducking away as Allura fired several more rage filled shots at him and Elizabeth, only stopping to quickly reload.

 

Keith and Miguel watched this unfold, watching in horror. Then they noticed the angered Carlos, about to shoot Lance. Miguel tried to sit up, but groaned as he shifted his leg and fell back down. 

 

“Lance…” He croaked, “Keith, please. Please save my boy.” He begged. Keith looked at the situation in front of him. Carlos pointed the gun, cocking it. In a split second, Keith stood up, firing a single shot straight into Carlos’ head. The man’s body flung back, and his finger was still tightly squeezing the trigger, causing the gun to fire a shot as Carlos’ body fell to the ground. The bullet zipped away, hitting the car right next to Elizabeth. Startled, Chris cursed and ducked behind a large rock safely. Elizabeth ended up flinching and dropping her gun. “Romelle, get her!” Allura shouted to her friend.

 

Romelle smirked, taking out her knife. She swung out from behind the vehicle, shoving Elizabeth up against it and stabbing her right in the throat. Elizabeth only let out a gurgling noise of shock. Romelle stabbed her a second time, shoving the woman’s body down to the ground. The life was already gone from her eyes by the time she unceremoniously crashed down against the road.

 

On the ground, Coran weakly lifted his head. Reaching over with the little strength he had, he found his discarded gun. Aside from Chris, only Charlie and Theresa remained. The two of them were currently engaged with Marco and Colleen, a tense two on two firefight while the others of the group checked each other over for injuries.

 

From his position, Coran picked up the gun, raising it into the air with a trembling arm. “For...F-For my...f-friends.” He choked out triumphantly. Coran pulled the trigger, landing a direct hit on Charlie’s chest, taking the man down. Theresa cried out in shock, spinning around and shooting Coran in the stomach a second time. He cringed and curled in on himself as the bullet hit him. A small trail of blood began to leak from his mouth, but Coran persevered, lifting his gun one final time, and shooting Theresa right in her head. Once her body was on the ground, Coran dropped his gun and went still, chest just barely rising and falling as his internal bleeding worsened.

 

Chris looked on as he watched the last of his group get gunned down. “Son of a bitch…” He snarled. The man walked out from the trees, coming up behind the zombified David, who was still biting into Albert’s body. Chris stabbed the dead man through the head, pushing the undead corpse over. “Worthless pieces of shit. All of them.” He spat. Then, he put his hands up. “I surrender. Don’t shoot.” He called to everyone. Slowly but surely, everyone slowly moved out from behind cover, guns with ammo still pointed at him.

 

“Keep your hands where we can see them.” Hunk shouted in his best authoritative voice. Chris dramatized his hands up. “I am. I am. Not trying anything.” He swore. Hunk began to walk towards him. “I’m gonna tie you up. Then we’re gonna leave you for the walkers. Maybe your friends that we didn’t shoot in the head will come back and kill you.” Hunk taunted, stepping closer.

 

“Maybe they will, maybe they won’t,” Chris shrugged as Hunk drew closer, “but what I do know…is that you’ll be dead, too !” Chris lunged at Hunk. Hunk was unable to escape the surprise attack, having his revolver wrestled out of his hands, then an arm wrapped around his neck as his own gun was put to his temple.

 

“Nobody move! Hey hey! Easy there, guys. Wouldn’t want this big ball of sunshine’s head to go out in a big ol’ splat would you? No, I didn’t think so.” He snickered. Hunk made a strangled noise of discomfort, trying his best to struggle away, but to no avail.

 

“What you guys are going to do now is give me one of those cars, with allll the supplies inside it, and I’ll go on my merry way, and your friend here lives.” Pidge, now having her gun back and reloaded, stepped up. “Or you can let him go before I shoot you dead. Would really hate to do that, Hunk doesn’t deserve to have a human trash bag’s blood all over him.” Pidge jeered with a smug smirk.

 

“Well, he’ll have plenty of his own blood covering him very soon.” Chris pressed the gun firmer into Hunk’s temple. Hunk whimpered as the cold metal dug into his skin. His eyes were squeezed shut tight, body trembling ever so slightly. Pidge’s hands faltered upon seeing Hunk’s frightened face. She was about to lower the gun, when out of nowhere, blood splattered through the front of Chris’ forehead. Hunk let out a frightened yelp as Chris’ arms released their death grip and he fell to the ground, the last of the Hunters finally dead. Everyone looked up, seeing the weary, but awake, Lance. He was propped up on one elbow, pointing his glock right where Chris’ head had been.

 

“Hah...stupid…didn’t even…check me for weapons…” Lance choked out, falling back down to the grassy ground. The RV door opened slowly, with Nancy and Olivia peeking out. “Is it safe?” Olivia asked, holding onto Silvio protectively. “Yes, you can come out now. We…We dealt with all of them.” Marcus replied to his wife. The four of them carefully stepped out of the RV, with Olivia shielding the kids from the carnage in front of them. “Lance! Lance, ay dios mio !” Nancy cried. Keith ran over to the weak boy, lifting his head up with his hand.

 

“Lance, hey, look at me. Are you okay?” He asked. Lance moved his head wearily, looking at Keith as the latter helped him stand up. “Hey, we did it. We’re a good team…” Lance mumbled as Keith helped him into the RV. Meanwhile, Allura and Romelle were inept beside the ever fading Coran. Allura had her hands pressed to his abdomen, desperately trying to stop the bleeding.

 

“Coran, hey. Don’t go on us, Coran. I can’t…can’t lose you.” Allura blubbered. Coran gave her a soft smile, reaching up, grabbing her hand in his like a firm handshake. “Allura, Romelle. For…as long as I’ve known you both…” He was interrupted by a few heavy coughs as he spit up blood, “You have been the bravest young women I’ve had the pleasure of being friends with. And…agh! I-If you’ll just do one last thing for me…before I, uh, make my exit.” He laughed weakly, wincing in pain as his body jerked. Romelle’s eyes dropped a few tears in front of her.

 

“Coran, don’t even joke about that. Yo-You’re going to be alright. We can save you, we can-!” Coran stopped her with a weak hand in the air. “All I want…is for both of you…to not lose yourselves. Always-...Always remember who you are, a-and what you come from. With that, you won’t…you won’t lose yourself.” Allura had tears streaming down her cheeks, and she was doing her best to not burst out sobbing.

 

“I’m so sorry, Coran. You-You did it…You did it. You saved us. You were a hero.” She smiled at him, despite his decreasing state.

 

“No…” He rasped, managing one final smile, “ we did it.” He laughed breathily, before his head went limp, and his skin color looked drained to a pasty white color. Allura and Romelle stared down at the body of their former friend in a numb state. Allura broke down, letting the river of tears flow from her eyes as she clutched Romelle tightly, the blonde young woman’s face identical to Allura’s with streams of tears. The rest of the group gathered respectfully behind them, with Keith and Lance watching from the RV doorway.

 

“Wait, wait h-hold on.” Allura suddenly spoke up, still breathing heavily from her crying. She stood up and walked over to the other side of Coran, took out her knife, and positioned it near the top of his head. “W-We can’t let him turn…We can’t let him turn…” She repeated to herself. In one swift motion, Allura drove the knife into the top of Coran’s skull, effectively keeping the man from reanimating. Her eyes were screwed shut as she pulled the knife out.

 

“Speaking of keeping people from turning…” Pidge piped up, gesturing to the dead bodies of the Hunters lying around. Romelle walked over to the body of Albert, partially devoured, but the brain not yet destroyed. “Rot in hell, fucking pig .” She spat down on his corpse, then intensely stabbed his corpse in the head, three good, hard times. Allura stood up, wiping her nose and eyes, and walked over to Elizabeth. Without a word, Allura stabbed her unmoving body in the head.

 

“There’s some gardening tools in the trunk of my car,” Marcus offered to Allura, “we can help. To, err, dig a grave for Coran, I mean.” Allura nodded solemnly. “That would be much appreciated. Thank you.”

 

About 30 minutes later, Coran’s body had been respectfully buried, and Allura had spoken a few words in his honor. Many members of the group grew to be teary eyed. After the memorial, the group began to pack up, even grabbing some of the Hunters’ guns as extra weaponry. Olivia picked up one of the large guns, used by Charlie, and turned to give it to Adam, when suddenly, the newly reanimated Charlie himself sprung up and grabbed her leg.

 

“Help!” She cried, pulling her leg in walker Charlie’s grasp. She managed to kick him in the face and free herself, right as Marcus ran over. He picked up the gun she’d dropped, then proceeded to raise the butt of it over the walker’s head, and bring it down, killing it with one good hard smash. “You alright, honey?” He asked, hugging Olivia as she stood up, brushing herself off.

 

“Yes, I’m alright. Sooner or later, I need someone to train me how to use a gun properly.” She sighed. Marcus smirked. “I’d say talk to Colleen about that. She was quite the, what our kids would say, badass during that scuffle.” The two of them brought the gun over to Adam, who graciously took it and added it into the newly expanded back of guns.

 

“Alright everyone. Both tires should be attached and ready to go. Coran…he worked so fast and so well…I had high respect for him.” Marcus sighed, “caravan ready to go?” He asked to Adam and Nancy. The two other drivers nodded, so Marcus, Olivia, Allura, and Romelle got into the Garrett car, and the caravan began to drive away once again. On their quest to reach the Galaxy Garrison. As they drove away, Coran’s grave sat in the sunlight, his favorite wrench that Allura had put there was nestled comfortably within the disturbed dirt. As the sun appeared, it reflected a twinkling gleam into the sky as the soft humming of the three vehicles on the road slowly left it behind.

Chapter Text

The RV slowed to a stop just out front of a corner gas station. The two other vehicles in line followed suit. Adam exited the large vehicle, spotting two walkers shambling towards them. He sighed. “Hunk, my bow.” He called out. Hunk obliged, handing Adam the weapon. With a touch of flourish, Adam readied his bow and arrow, and shot it into one of the walker’s eyes.

 

“Pidge, can you get the last one?” He asked, stepping to the side to let Pidge exit the RV. “Gotcha.” She replied casually, lifting her glock with a silencer attached. After steadying her hands, she fired, killing the walker successfully. She gave a small smirk of satisfaction, before tucking the gun back into her waistband. The rest of the group got out of the cars while Adam walked over to the first dead walker, and pulled his arrow out of its head.

 

“You guys stay here, Keith and I are going to see if we can find anything useful here.” Adam said, gesturing to the gas station behind them all as he addressed the full group. He motioned for Keith to follow him as he walked toward the building. Hunk exited the RV, and was nearly knocked over by Allura, who silently plowed past him and climbed into the RV. He raised an eyebrow to no one in particular.

 

Pidge spotted Romelle near the back of the caravan, staring back at the way they’d just come. Making sure to be more cautious - after Lance’s ordeal - she walked up behind Romelle. “How’re you holding up?” Pidge asked rather awkwardly. Romelle turned as Pidge stood even with her. She faced forward again and sighed.

 

“I stabbed a woman in the throat today.” She replied, almost as if she was just remembering it now, “We lost Coran, one of the two people who cared for me the most in this world, and I just…don’t know how to process it all.” She chuckled dryly, rubbing her elbow.

 

“I had to shoot my brother.” She said after a moment of silence. Pidge seemed to flinch and look up at her, wide eyed. “You…what?” She asked tentatively. Romelle blinked back tears and kept her focus straight ahead. “It was near the start, probably only a couple days in, actually. We’d learned the basics by then. Get bit, you die. Headshot to put these things down. That sort of thing. So it came to us as a shock when we got home from a run to find our mother nowhere to be seen. I checked the front of the house…and he went to the back.” She paused, sniffling and rubbing her nose.

 

“I heard a growl, then him scream. By the time I ran into our parents’ bedroom, it was too late. Our mother was dead…sh-she’d…she’d cut her wrists open and turned…he went to stab her but she was so-so fast , I don’t even know how to describe it…she took him to the floor and just…sank her teeth into his shoulder like it was nothing.” Romelle wiped a tear on her cheek away, and let out a small laugh, “it's almost ironic how immediately after that, he was able to stab her in the head. But at that point it was already too late. Blood was just-just gushing and leaking from that fucking bite. He looked at it and then looked at me and my gun. Then he…he asked me to shoot him right then. I…I tried to refuse, but he was so afraid to die slow, I couldn’t just make him suffer, I…” Pidge closed her eyes, letting out a small steady exhale of breath. She was able to piece together what Romelle meant.

 

“So I did it. We said our goodbyes…and I shot. Spent the next two hours digging two graves for them in our backyard…” Pidge found herself close to tears as well.

 

“Romelle, I’m…I’m so sorry. Jesus, a-all in one day…” Pidge had to murmur out loud just for it to register in her mind. The blonde moved some of her hair out of her face. “I left that house the next day,” Romelle continued, “I was on my own for at least two weeks before I happened to find Allura and Coran. I was getting water at a nearby stream and I guess they thought I was a walker because of how disheveled I’d let myself become and, well, a bit of chaos happened there. But, it all worked out in the end, mostly.”

 

Pidge was silent for another moment, before asking. “Your brother. What-What was his name?” Romelle tensed, but relaxed instantly after.

 

“...Brandon.” She replied. “He was only days away from turning seventeen before he died…” Pidge winced. “Wherever he is now, he’s probably proud of you. You defended your friends and your group. You stood in the face of danger. I know that both of our brothers are probably proud of us in some form or other.” She smiled. Romelle returned the friendly gaze.

 

“Thanks, Pidge. Talking to you made me feel a little better about things. Aside from Allura, and…Coran, you’re the first person I’ve told about that.” She said. “Well, I’m glad you felt comfortable enough to open up to me. Not many people really do. Despite my size, I was a bit of a bitter, intimidating person back in my Garrison cadet days.” She shrugged. Romelle snickered at her response. “Well, I guess your people skills are improving then, huh?” She teased. Pidge slowly grinned and walked away after a second, leaving Romelle to her thoughts.

 

In the RV, Hunk was watching over a woozy Shiro, while Allura tended to an awake, but weak, Lance. She had a small wet rag that she was using to blot his forehead with warm water. The cuban boy grimaced as he tried to sit up. Pidge entered the RV a minute later, spotting him.

 

“Lance, you’re awake!” She exclaimed excitedly, rushing to his side, helping him prop himself up with some pillows. Lance was wearing no shirt, which made the bruises and cuts on his chest area all the more visible. Pidge took notice of them for the first time and her breath caught in her throat.

 

“Holy fuck, Lance…what did they do to you…?” She asked softly. Lance tried to chuckle smoothly, but cringed when it hurt him to move.

 

“...’Dun remember much,” he replied lazily, “I remember bein’ awake at some point, tried to get away and one of those assholes really let into me, heh.” Allura shook her head firmly.

 

“Well, even more reason to be glad that they’re dead. Worthless people like them never deserved life in the first place.” She muttered, “sheesh, we’re pretty low on medical supplies, I'll have to make do with what’s here for now.” She sighed, grabbing some extra bandages to wrap Lance’s head.

 

“Hopefully when we get to the Garrison, they’ll be stocked on almost everything. Surely a government facility wouldn’t be completely abandoned at a state of the world like this.” Pidge reasoned. At the mention of the Garrison, Lance seemed to perk up.

 

“You know, I’m actually glad we’re headed there.” He said quietly. Pidge looked at him, confused. “Why?” She asked. Lance cringed as he propped himself up higher and turned to face her.

 

“My sister, my… other sister is there, Veronica. Or, she was at some point. She worked at the Garrison before all of this, made maps of all the places and secret tunnels around the facility in case of emergencies. Gosh, I hope she’s alive…” He sighed, exasperated. “I don’t know how I’m gonna tell her about…y’know, Lisa and R-Rachel…” He took a moment to steady himself.

 

“How long has it been since that happened? A day? Mierda , how could all of this trouble happen within one day?” He asked rhetorically. Pidge put a hand gingerly on his shoulder.

 

“Who knows? Maybe today is just a spell of bad luck. But…I’m sorry for what you had to go through, Lance.” She offered a small smile. Maybe she had been misguided in her thinking before from back at the Garrison. Maybe expressing your emotions to friends wasn’t that bad. She then turned to Allura. “And you too, Allura. I know how you feel, if there’s anything you-.”

 

“Pardon?” Allura’s gaze fixed on Pidge, the younger girl was taken aback. “Don’t give me that. I am sick of being pitied. When I was 15 and my mother died I had to suffer the condescending pity of adults all around me. They looked at me like I was glass and that I couldn’t feel anything other than grief.” Allura’s eyes welled with tears as she berated Pidge. The brunette slumped back, feeling unsure of what to do.

 

“A-Allura…I didn’t m-mean-.”

 

“No. I know what you meant. Saying you’re sorry doesn’t bring Coran back. It sure as hell doesn’t make me feel better as well. Besides, how the hell can you know how I feel? For all you know, your father and brother are relaxing in that lavish summer home you mentioned, probably so drunk on their stash of alcohol that everyone’s rich father has!” She shouted. Hunk stood up from beside Shiro, stepping in between the two girls.

 

“Allura, calm down. Pidge hasn’t done anything wrong!” Hunk exclaimed. Allura just smiled bitterly and pointed an accusing finger past him at a floundering Pidge.

 

“Bullshit,” she muttered, “she’s just a little rich white girl who looks down on everyone and shows pity to make herself feel better.” She spat.

 

“I-I…” Pidge’s eyes darted around the inside of the RV, “I was just trying to…” Pidge trailed off as her throat closed, and she turned and ran out of the vehicle. Hunk sighed and chased after her.

 

“Pidge, wait! She-She doesn’t mean it!” Lance cried from his spot. Next to him, Allura stood there, watching the two of them exit the RV. After they left, the tears held in her eyes fell, and she brought a hand to her mouth.

 

“Oh my god…Wh-What did I just do…?” She whispered to herself. Lance looked up at her, a stern glare on his face.

 

“Allura, I understand your pain. But that was no excuse to snap at Pidge like that when she was only trying to make you feel better.” He said. She nodded, head sunk low.

 

“I know…I don’t know what came over me...Oh, I have to apologize!” She cried, but Lance grabbed her wrist as she went to run out. She stopped and looked at him, confused.

 

“Wait! Give her a little time. Pidge always needs a little time to steady herself before she’s ready to face things.” He explained. Allura nodded and moved to sit beside the sleeping Shiro.

 

“All right…A little waiting won’t hurt.” She sighed, bouncing her legs up and down.

 

Outside, Pidge sat on the back bumper of the RV, using her sleeve as a tissue for her eyes. Sniffling softly, she cleared her eyes and tried to stop her shaky breathing. Hunk peeled around from the side slowly.

 

“Hey…you, uh, you wanna talk?” He asked gently. Pidge thought, but then shook her head no.

 

“Y-You can come sit with me, though, if you want…” She mumbled. Hunk smiled, and took a seat next to the much smaller girl. After getting silent permission, he wrapped an arm around her small form and let her lean against his side.

 

“She didn’t mean those words.” He said quietly after a shared moment of silence. Pidge didn’t reply for a bit.

 

“I know…” She said back. Standing up, Pidge walked over to where Marcus and Olivia were standing next to their car. The two adults saw Pidge approach, and they smiled.

 

“Oh, hello, Pidge! Is everything okay?” Olivia asked. Pidge put on her best convincing smile and nodded. Hunk came up behind her.

 

“Yeah, everything’s good. I was just wondering if Hunk and I could switch spots with Allura and Romelle and ride with you. After all, Allura has some medical experience and should probably be with Lance, Shiro, and Mr. McClain in the RV.” She explained.

 

“Good point. Sure, a small switch like that wouldn’t hurt.” Marcus assured. Pidge gave another smile.

 

“Thanks. I’m feeling a little drowsy, do you mind if I lie down in the backseat?” Pidge asked. Olivia raised an eyebrow, but nodded. Pidge opened the back door and crawled into the car, lying down on the somewhat comfortable seats. As she lay there, she felt her eyes sting again.

 

Opening up to others was still hard.

 

“Alright everyone,” Adam called, returning back from the gas station with Keith, “nothing left here, we got everything we could. Off we go.” He said, motioning for the group to get to their vehicles. Pidge sat up and scooted over so Hunk could get in next to her.

 

As Marcus started up the car, Pidge and Hunk locked eyes. Hunk smiled at her. The contagious act was too powerful, and Pidge found herself smiling back.

 

~~~~~

 

The car slowed to a stop, and Pidge’s eyes snapped open. She sat upright, and realized she’d dozed off on Hunk’s arm. The larger boy looked at her and smiled cheekily.

 

“Welcome back, Sleeping Beauty.” He teased. Pidge scowled and shoved him.

 

“Oh…screw off.” She hesitated, remembering Hunk’s parents were in front of them. The adults got out of the car as Pidge noticed they were stopped in a rather remote area. Similar to where everything earlier had happened…

 

“Nice save.” Hunk chuckled quietly, as they both exited the car. Pidge found her mother among the group, standing by her as they all gathered around Adam.

 

“Alright everyone, I’ll need most of you to sit tight here while me and a few volunteers make a run up to the pharmacy about a mile down the road.” Adam explained, “I would’ve driven us right up to the place, but we can’t be too careful with cities, large or small. There could be a herd there and we’d all be killed. So, any volunteers?” He asked. After a pause Allura raised her hand.

 

“I can go. If we’re scavenging medical supplies, I’ll know what to look for.” She said. Adam nodded.

 

“Anybody else?” He asked again. Pidge hadn’t really been fully paying attention, but her mind stop wandering when she heard Hunk speak.

 

“Pidge and I can go!” He spoke up cheerfully, “a good opportunity to stretch our legs, do something to contribute!” Pidge glared daggers at Hunk, who stared back, making eye motions to Allura and then at her.

 

“Alright then, we have our group. We shouldn’t waste time, let’s go.” Pidge said goodbye to her mom, then grumbled to herself as Adam handed her a revolver and they walked down the road.

 

On their way down the road, Pidge took up the back end. Hunk, carrying Lance’s rifle, slowed down to walk alongside her. When she didn’t say anything to him, he sighed.

 

“Why are you sulking?” He whispered.

 

“Because you dragged me on this.” She hissed.

 

“Allura’s gonna apologize to you!”

 

“You don’t know that.”

 

“Yes I do!”

 

“Oh yeah? What are you, a psychic?”

 

“No I’m a problem solver.”

 

“Can’t you solve problems in a way where we don’t have to go all this way from the group?”

 

“No.”

 

“Are you lovebirds done bickering? You should  be scanning the trees for walkers.” Adam called  back to the teens. Pidge’s face went red, and she frowned and turned her head away from Hunk, eyeing the treeline to the right for the rest of their walk.

 

~

 

Outside of the corner store pharmacy, a few walkers stumbled around on the street. Adam took his bow and arrow off his back, loaded an arrow, and fired. The arrow shot down one of the walkers, causing the other two to turn around and take notice. Allura unsheathed her machete and approached one of the walkers. In a quick motion she swung it into the side of its head, yanking it out after the body hit the ground.

 

Hunk took Lance’s rifle, and turned it around. He approached the final walker, giving it a hard shoulder shove to the ground. Then, he raised the gun into the air and brought the back end down right on the walker’s head.

 

“Huh, doors are unlocked. Our lucky day.” Adam said with triumph. He held the door open for the other three, then followed them in.

 

“Allura, what type of drugs are we looking for?” Adam asked quietly as they entered the dark store.

 

“I’m not sure what this place will have. But when you get to the back, look for stuff like penicillin, codeine, morphine, maybe some regular aspirin tablets, too. Anything would help.” She replied, “Pidge, you’re smart. Why don’t you come with me to the back, you can help me find the right bottles.” Allura suddenly offered. Pidge knew what she was doing.

 

“No. Adam’ll probably know them better than me. I’m gonna stay out here, look for bandages and stuff.” She replied coldly, before walking off down an aisle. Allura watched her stalk off with a pained expression, before leading Adam toward the back of the pharmacy, where the more professional medication was kept.

 

Pidge examined the aisle she walked into, grabbing the few remaining boxes of Band-Aids and other brands of bandages. When she found nothing else useful, she tried the next aisle. As she turned the corner into it, she froze in her tracks and she stared at the floor.

 

A huge pool of blood was pooled in the center. From the looks of it, it was long dried up, but the puddle was huge. Someone had to have died there. The sight made Pidge take a few shaky steps back. Her breathing started to become faster and she had to lean on one of the shelves.

 

It reminded her of that man’s blood, pooling on the floor after she shot him in the head…

 

“You bitch!”

 

“I’m gonna kill you!”

 

Pidge held her head as she began to hear his hateful words, and then his screams as the walkers tore into him. “Stop…s-stop…” Pidge choked out quietly. As her eyes screwed shut the voice became a jumbled mixture of his shouts and some walker snarls. That is, until, a new voice broke through her panic.

 

“Pidge? Pidge?!”

 

Pidge’s heart leaped to her throat and she turned to where she thought she heard the voice. “M…M-Matt?” She breathed, walking to the aisle on her left. She looked in.

 

And there he was.

 

“Pidge!” His voice sounded so far away, “Pidge, help me!” He cried. Pidge looked at him, confused.

 

“M-Matt, it’s okay, I-I’m right here!” She said to him. She began to approach him, arms outstretched to embrace him in a hug. He looked at her as she approached, unmoving and unfazed. Then, he started to walk forward, his face still emotionless. Pidge didn’t seem to care, until a shout pierced her thoughts.

 

“Pidge?! Pidge, watch out!” She heard Hunk scream. Pidge turned, seeing him standing behind her, then she turned back to Matt.

 

But it wasn’t Matt.

 

The walker in his place growled as it took her to the ground. Pidge let out a cry as she pushed the walker off of her. “NO! N-No! You were…Y-You-!” A gunshot rang throughout the store. Hunk stood, Lance’s rifle in hand. The muzzle of the gun smoking as the bullet he’d just fired lodged in the brain of the walker. Pidge kicked the body away and stood up, hands trembling.

 

“Pidge, oh my god, Pidge, talk to me? Are you okay?!” Hunk asked, checking Pidge’s arms and neck for bites. Pidge didn’t reply, her eyes fixated on the blood pooling from the walker’s head.

 

“I-I saw him…I h-heard him, I’m-I’m sorry I c-can’t.” She sobbed, turning and running off. Allura and Adam came running up to Hunk as soon as she dashed off.

 

“What happened?! We heard a shot, and Pidge yelling!” Allura asked. Hunk shrugged, motioning to the dead walker.

 

“One was in here apparently, and I think Pidge panicked a little…I think she thought the walker was her brother…” He explained. Allura looked in the direction Pidge had run.

 

“I can go talk to her. I should, after all.” She said guiltily. Following after her, Allura looked around the dim store, until she heard light sniffling coming from a corner of the inside.

 

“Um…Pidge?” She asked. The noise stopped, and Pidge poked her head out from behind a wall.

 

“Oh…Allura.” She huffed. Allura smiled sheepishly, coming over to her and sitting down across from the younger girl.

 

“Are you okay? I mean, after that?” She asked. Pidge seemed to ponder the question before answering.

 

“Mostly. I-I thought I saw my brother. I thought I heard him…I was stupid and I could’ve died…” She said bitterly.

 

“Don’t talk like that. Obviously something made you see him, it’s not a bad thing. You probably just miss him. Which I want to add…I want to apologize. My words back in the RV were absolutely uncalled for, and I shouldn’t have taken my emotions out on you. I know you’re words weren’t meant to be in a condescending tone. You were just trying to be a good friend.” She smiled. Pidge met her eyes, and managed a small smile back.

 

“Thanks, Allura. Apology accepted.” She nodded. Allura went to stand up and walk away, but Pidge made a split second decision and spoke.

 

“Allura, I killed someone.”

 

Allura froze, turning back to the girl, here eyes now wide. “You…what?” She asked.

 

“It was the same day that my mom and I came to the camp l-last week. I was in a store, when this guy came in, he seemed alright after a misunderstanding, but…then he attacked me, almost killed me . But then…I pushed him into some walkers, th-then…I shot him in the head.” She couldn’t bring herself to look at Allura, wondering if the young woman would go back to resenting her. Instead, she felt a hand on her shoulder.

 

Allura was knelt beside her. “He attacked you. You fought back in self defense. I don’t blame you. It’s no different from those cannibals. You had to do it .” She said firmly. “Now come on, I could still use your help with those medication bottles.” She added with a comforting smile.

 

“Sure thing.” Pidge replied. The two of them stood up and walked to the back of the store. From a nearby aisle, Hunk stood, having listened to their conversation. He looked at the ground, before turning and walking away to continue looking for supplies.

 

~~~~~

 

“Pidge! Eres una diosa! ” Lance exclaimed in relief as he took two painkiller pills and washed them down with a sip of water. Pidge shut her eyes modestly.

 

“Allura helped, too, of course.” She replied, giving the white haired girl a high five. Lance looked at the two of them with a satisfied smirk.

 

“So, you two made up? Proud of you.” He said with a wink. Pidge scoffed at him.

 

“Oh, have you ever made up with Keith for all the times you picked at him at the Garrison?” She teased. Lance shut his mouth and slumped in his seat.

 

“I wish my abuelos were here.” He muttered sadly, “...I had to kill my abuela .” He continued after a minute. Pidge and Allura listened as Lance began to talk more.

 

“It was the first day everything was happening. My abuelos had been living with us for a while now, and they were both sleeping in their back bedroom. Or, well, so we thought. Mamá went back there to see what they wanted for lunch, but we all heard her scream, so we came running. It was…” Lance stopped.

 

“What did you see?” Pidge asked gently.

 

“I saw…I saw my abuelita …but it wasn’t her if you know what I mean. She’d-She’d turned I guess, in her sleep. Then just…devoured my abuelito …His body was so devoured, he didn’t even turn. Abuelita saw us, and she charged me . She knocked into a dresser and broke a vase on the floor as she pounced on me. I had to grab a shard, and…” Lance made a stabbing motion with his closed fist, “right into her eye. Papá turned on the news right after that and, well…everything just went downhill.” He finished. He looked at their sympathetic faces before he waved his hands out.

 

“Sorry, sorry. I didn’t mean to bring down the mood.” He said shamefully.

 

“Nonsense, Lance. It’s always good to share things with people close to you.” Pidge replied.

 

“That’s right.” Hunk piped up from next to the still sleeping Shiro. He gave an innocent smile when they looked at him.

 

“Tell you what,” Pidge offered, standing up, “I still have a couple of those peanut butter cookies left over, how about I go grab a couple and we enjoy ourselves for a bit.” Lance nodded enthusiastically, so Pidge walked to the front of the RV, near where some of the food was stored.

 

As she grabbed the box of cookies, she looked out of the front windshield as Adam drove. At first, the road ahead was empty. That is, until Pidge slotted something burst from the treeline. It was a woman. She turned to face the trees, and Pidge watched as several walkers stumbled out after her. After a few seconds, they passed her. Pidge heard her scream out for help as their vehicles sped past. When Pidge got a quick glimpse of her, she grabbed Adam’s shoulder fiercely.

 

“Adam, stop the RV! NOW! ” She yelled. Adam groaned in pain from her death grip.

 

“Why?!” He yelled back.

 

“That woman we passed is from the GARRISON !” She shouted. Adam seemed to understand, screeching to a halt, tires skidding on the road. Pidge ran to the back of the RV, grabbing her revolver from the bag of guns, then speeding out the door and back down the road.

 

“Pidge! Pidge stop! Wait for us!” Adam exclaimed, watching her run as fast as she could.

 

The woman stabbed a walker in the head, then ripped the knife out and shot two more with the gun in her other hand. She turned to a fourth walker, ready to shoot, when her gun clicked. Out of ammo.

 

“Oh, shit!” The woman exclaimed as the walker got in her face, and wrestled with her. Other walkers were approaching behind her, and she felt cornered. Until, three shots sounded in the air, two of the walker’s behind her dropping to the ground.

 

“Don’t worry! I’m here to help!” Pidge shouted with assurance. She took out her knife and swung it into the temple of another walker. The walker wrestling with the woman pushed her back towards a group of cinder blocks and rusty metal. Pidge shot the last two walkers coming at her, then turned to watch just as the walker attacking the woman knocked her down. Her back hit a large block of cement hard. She let out a scream of pain, but luckily avoided getting bit.

 

Thinking quickly, Pidge ran over and drove her knife into the final walker’s head. Her and the woman both took deep breaths, before Pidge broke the silence.

 

“Are you okay, miss?” She asked. The woman seemed to be in a woozy state, looking up at Pidge as she heaved the walker corpse off of her.

 

“I-I’m…I think I’m okay…oh, oh no.” Her eyes looked down her body, and Pidge followed. Her stomach had been impaled on a rusty piece of a metal pole, and it was bleeding badly .

 

“Oh…that isn’t good.” Pidge muttered, “I’m gonna get you some help, okay?” She reassured. The woman looked into Pidge’s eyes, and her mouth formed an “O” shape.

 

“M-Matt…?” She asked. Pidge sucked in a quiet breath.

 

“H-He’s my brother. I’m trying to find him. I-Is he at the Garrison?” She asked. The woman ignored her question and kept looking at her.

 

“You look so much like him…it’s the eyes.” She coughed.

 

“What’s your name, miss?” Pidge asked. The woman tried to move, but let out a cry of pain as the pole through her abdomen prevented her. The bottom of her dark green uniform was now almost completely soaked in a deep red.

 

“T-Terri.” She said weakly. Pidge nodded, and put her arms around Terri’s shoulders.

 

“I’m gonna pull you off, Terri, I can help you.” Pidge said with determination. Before she could try, Terri reaches over and took one of her hands away from her shoulder.

 

“Y-You can’t…I’ll bleed out before I get back to the Garrison…” She said, voice growing weaker by the minute. She then reached into her pocket, taking out a lanyard with her ID inside. “Here,” she said, “g-get to the Garrison. Show them this, a-and I’m sure they’ll let you all in. I-I was out scavenging for supplies, but the car I was driving ran out of gas…I tried to use the woods as cover to find more, but that didn’t work. Th-The car has a map to the Garrison. I-It’s parked only about three-quarters of a mile down the dirt road over there…” Terri explained.

 

“No, we won’t go. Not without you.” Pidge insisted, but Terri shook her head, her face looking more pale and sickly.

 

“I’m at the end of my road. T-Too far gone…” She wheezed, wincing in pain, then she turned to Pidge one last time. “N-Now please...please help get these supplies to my people…” She pleaded, before her head fell back against the concrete block limply, and her arms went slack. Pidge silently gasped, and felt Terri’s neck for a pulse. There was none.

 

Pidge closed her eyes, keeping her tears back. “Dammit…” She whimpered. Pulling out her knife, Pidge silently apologized, before stabbing Terri’s corpse in the head.

 

~~~~~

 

Pidge sat inside the RV, turning her knife over and over, staring at it bleakly. Night had set on the rural road, and the group, now equipped with an extra vehicle filled with supplies, was on an official course to the Garrison, thanks to Terri’s map.

 

“Hey, Pidge, you alright?” Hunk asked, sitting next to her. Pidge shrugged.

 

“I guess I’m okay. I mean, I didn’t really know that woman personally, but…she knew Matt. A-And possibly my dad. I can’t thank her enough for the information she gave me.” She replied.

 

“Well…if there’s anything you ever need to talk about, I’m here, you know that right?” He smiled. Pidge nodded.

 

“Thank you, Hunk. This is why you and Lance are the only people I’ve ever trusted before all of this.” She said, giving Hunk a playful pat on the back.

 

“Yeah…Hey, you think Keith’s having fun driving that car we picked up?” Hunk asked, changing to a lighter topic. Before Pidge could answer back, Adam’s voice interrupted.

 

“Guys…we’ve made it.” Pidge, Hunk, Allura, and Colleen came up to the front of the RV, seeing the Garrison merely a football field’s distance away. Pidge grabbed her revolver and knife, and jumped from the RV as soon as it stopped.

 

“Katie, wait! It’s dark!” Colleen scolded, following after her daughter. Pidge did stop, and waited for the rest of the group to disembark from the cars. Adam had stopped about three hundred feet from the Garrison’s first entry gates.

 

“Come on, everyone, we’re walking the rest of the way.” Adam instructed, having a barely awake Shiro dragged alongside him, his remaining arm slung over his shoulder. Luis ran over to help his limping father, and Keith offered Lance his hand. The teen took it and Keith slung Lance’s arm over his shoulder in a similar fashion to Luis and Adam.

 

As they approached the big solid metal gates, Silvio and Nadia covered their noses when they neared several dead walker corpses.

 

Papí, los muertos are smelly…!” Silvio whined.

 

“Just hold your noses until we get to the gates.” Luis reassured, holding both of them close. A walker on the ground looked at the group and snarled, but Marco quickly put an end to it with a quick smash from a baseball bat. Pidge knelt down by a for sure dead walker’s body. She looked at its blood, noticing the consistency was still liquid.

 

“These walker bodies are freshly killed. Th-This place is active!” Pidge exclaimed with glee. The group made it up to the gates.

 

“Be careful. Other walker’s might still be moving.” Marco warned, smashing the head of another ground walker. Pidge walked up to the gates, putting her hand on the cool surface.

 

“Hey!” She yelled, “hey! Open the gates! Let us in!” The gates didn’t budge. Pidge continued to hit them and shout.

 

“Katie, quiet down! You’re going to draw walkers!” Colleen hissed. Pidge turned around to face her mom.

 

“Mom, they’re here. I know they are.” She insisted.

 

“How? All of the lights are off, and some other group could've easily killed all of these walkers.” Marcus retorted.

 

“The woman I saved was from here, and there’s no way she was alone here. She said she had people.” Pidge fired back, growing agitated. The small children started to cry. Nadia buried her face in Lance's shirt, the injured boy softly caressing her hair to comfort her.

 

"I-I'm scared!" Nadia whimpered. Lance weakly shushed her and whispered reassurances to her in Spanish.

 

“You all need to stop yelling!” Keith cut in with a loud whisper. But it was too late.

 

“Walkers behind us!” Marco shouted. The young man aimed his large gun and fired, killing one of the walkers. Other walkers began making themselves seen and shambling in their direction.

 

“It’s now or never, either we get back to the cars and figure something else out or we stay here and get fucking eaten alive!” Keith hissed to Pidge. As the raven haired boy berated her, Pidge noticed movement out of the corner of her eye. But someone else spoke first.

 

“Th-The security camera…” Lance croaked. He motioned for Keith to let him go, and he walked over to the camera.

 

“Hey! I saw this camera move! Please let us in! We have children, injured people, please ! Walkers are coming, you can’t do this to us-!” Lance’s emotional rant was cut off as Keith grabbed him and dragged him back from the camera. “ Déjarnos entrar!!! Vete a la mierda, carajos!!! ” He yelled whole being dragged back. Adam stepped up in his place, also shouting into the camera.

 

“Whoever is watching this camera feed right now, let us in! My name is Adam Walton, I was a fucking teacher here! Takashi Shirogane is with me and he needs medical attention! Are you willing to let my husband die over this?! Let us in, you monsters!” He would’ve continued, but Shiro used his weak strength to squeeze Adam’s arm, and the man stopped.

 

Marco shot another walker, and the group became frantic. “That’s it, everyone get back to the cars, this plan was a bust! Go!” Keith shouted to everyone. Pidge grew increasingly stubborn as Colleen tried to take her wrist.

 

“No! No, people are here, I know it !” She screamed, Colleen began to pull Pidge along as the group began speed walking away. Pidge squirmed and twisted, lurching for the security camera's view.

 

LET US IN!!!! LET US IN!!! I NEED TO KNOW IF MY FAMILY IS IN THERE!!! PLEASE-!” Pidge screamed at the top of her lungs. All of a sudden, a loud sound happened, almost like a *thump*, and the metal walls began to part, and searchlights on the ground lit up, blinding the group.

 

“Get down!” A male voice - that Keith recognized - shouted. The group obliged, and the sound of heavy gunfire rang in their ears. When the firing stopped, Pidge looked up to see no surviving walkers, and several sets of footsteps came rushing out, taking the hands of a few group members.

 

“Come on, let’s get you all inside. It won’t be long before our gunfire attracts more walkers.” A black haired girl said, helping Miguel walk.

 

“Get the injured individuals to the infirmary, I’ll be around to examine them in a little bit.” A blonde girl stated to another dark skinned boy, who took Lance from Keith, but didn’t follow the blonde. Pidge recognized the blonde from her, Hunk, and Lance’s cadet class. Ina Leifsdottir.

 

“M-Mr. Shirogane. It’s an honor to meet you in person.” A fifth teen spoke. Pidge also recognized her. Wendy Srinivasan, or “Windy” as most people called her. An affectionate nickname. Pidge had rather pleasant memories of her. After all, she’d been the one that Windy had trusted to come out to as non-binary before anyone else. After that, Pidge also trusted her with her own coming out of being bisexual. The two didn’t really talk much, but knew that they had each other’s back if anything were to have gone down.

 

I’ll be taking Shiro to the infirmary.” Adam asserted firmly, “and yes, I know where it is.” He added, walking into the building with Shiro. As he left, the first boy and an older woman came up the rest of the group.

 

“Well, it looks like our security division let their emotions get the best of them. But, I digress. You’re all here now. My name is Ellen Sanda, some of you I recognize, yes, Mr. Garrett, Mr. McClain, Miss Holt .” She eyed Pidge, who rolled her own eyes. Ellen moved next to the brown haired boy, putting a hand on his shoulder.

 

“This is Lieutenant James Griffin. He leads the team of scavengers that leave weekly to gather supplies. His team consists of Ryan Kinkade,” she gestured to the dark skinned boy holding Lance, “Nadia Rizavi, Ina Leifsdottir, and Wendy Srinivasan. These five were our finest cadets back before the world fell.” She said with a fond smile, “and now they risk their lives to ensure the safety of this place…speaking of that, how did you all find us?” She asked, suspicious.

 

“I…We ran into a woman, about four or five hours ago. Her name was Terri. She was getting supplies and was attacked by walkers. We stopped to try and help her but…I was too late. She gave us the car of supplies and a map to this place. She said that this would help us get inside.” Pidge handed Terri’s Garrison ID badge to Ellen, who took it, and placed it in her pocket.

 

“Well…Terri’s loss is a sad one, she was among the highest ranking officials here…Well, I’ll inform the others later. For now, because you all brought the supplies she gathered, I shall allow you all to stay here and join us. I’ll have a guide to show you around the interior and where you’ll be staying.” She informed, leading the group toward the building, “Mr. McClain, I think you’ll be pleased to see this.” She smirked. Lance, weary and confused, raised an eyebrow.

 

“What do you…?”

 

The smaller metal door slid open, and a young woman with short brown hair and glasses walked out, smiling brightly. Lance felt his heart leap, and behind him, the rest of the McClain family stepped forward in shock.

 

“Hey, Lance.” She greeted, nearly crying tears of joy.

 

"V-Veronica… ?” Lance breathed in disbelief.

Chapter Text

Veronica walked briskly through the halls of the Garrison. She reached the comm room, opening the door and bursting in.

 

“Curtis, what’s going on?” She asked. A dark skinned man swiveled around in his chair and faces her.

 

“We’ve got movement outside the gates. Human movement.” Curtis replied. Veronica crouched to Curtis’ sitting height to watch the camera feed with him. They both watched as a short, light brown haired girl started to yell at the camera.

 

“Who are they?” Curtis asked. Veronica shook her head.

 

“I don’t know. I mean…the girl does look familiar.” Her attention shifted to some hushed voices off screen, and some of the people in the background. She squinted, trying to focus on them better. Was it…?

 

Then, another face replaced the girl in the camera, and this time Veronica covered her mouth in surprise.

 

“Lance…” She murmured. At that moment, Ellen, James, Ryan, Nadia, Ina, and Windy stormed into the comm room.

 

“Curtis! What is going on?!” Ellen demanded. Curtis stood up from his chair this time to address the leader.

 

“There’s a group outside the gates, ma’am.” He reported formally. “They know we’re here, they saw the camera move.” Ellen scowled, and closed her eyes.

 

“Don’t do anything. Let them lose interest when the dead get too close for comfort.” She replied flatly. everyone in the room looked at her with shock.

 

“A-Admiral…they have young kids with them…they don't even look ten...” Curtis softly protested. Ellen shot him a glare, and he backed down. Veronica’s chest tightened as she realized it was Silvio and Nadia.

 

“James, take your MFE squad down to the front gates, we’re opening them.” Veronica ordered. Ellen turned to face the young woman.

 

“And just who do you think you are to undermine my authority?” She questioned sternly. Veronica didn’t even flinch.

 

“A woman who sees her family on the other side of that camera.” She replied through gritted teeth. James looked between the two women, then sighed.

 

“Look, I wouldn’t normally disagree with the admiral, but this is someone’s family. Come on, guys, get to the gates!” James commanded, sprinting out of the room and down the hall, with Ryan, Nadia, Ina, and Windy running behind. Veronica moved over to Curtis’ desk, and reached for the “Open Gate” button, but Ellen squeezed her wrist tightly.

 

“You touch that button and I’ll send you out with the walkers.” She said in a near growl. Veronica shot her a furious glare, but backed away from the button. Ellen seemed satisfied at that. She watched as Adam came into view on the monitor, also showing another man, who appeared to be Takashi Shirogane, with just one arm.

 

She saw as the group suddenly turned to make a dash for their cars, until a loud sound from the monitor and the telltale sound of the gates moving made her turn. Veronica stood there, at a second desk, pressing a different “Open Gate” button.

 

“That’s my fucking family, you heartless coño .” Veronica snarled. Ellen didn’t say anything, but instead left the room in a hurry, with Veronica following right behind.

 

~~~~~

 

“I know this might be a sudden shock to you, but…I’m here.” Veronica smiled, although her expression held a small pain, “I’m…I’m sorry I wasn’t home with you all. I- .” She stopped as Lance ripped free of Ryan’s hold and wrapped his arms around his older sister.

 

“It’s okay…Y-You’re here and you’ve been safe. That’s all that matters.” Lance said through tears. He let go of Veronica, and Ryan took his arm back over his shoulder again.

 

“Come on, I’ll get you to the infirmary. Ina and I will get you patched up.” Ryan cut in, walking ahead with Lance while Veronica went back to hug and cry with the rest of her family.

 

Inside, Ellen led the large group into the central room. The room was massive and had lots of other hallways leading off to who knows where. Everyone turned to look as three individuals entered the common room from a hallway to the left. Pidge frowned upon seeing the third figure at the back.

 

Commander Iverson.

 

“I found these two screwing around away from their posts.” Iverson reported, showing Ellen the two figures in front of him, a man and a woman. They both looked young and rolled their eyes at Iverson.

 

“How many times do I have to warn you about this kind of misconduct before I have to take action?” Ellen scolded, “honestly I expected better from you, Jake. You too, Alicia.”

 

“Relax, admiral,” Jake retorted, “we were on our way back to our post right when Iverson found us!” Alicia nodded in agreement.

 

“So playing ping-pong in the rec room is your way of being on your way back ?” Iverson asked. Jake slouched and scoffed.

 

“Whatever…” Alicia groaned, “we’ll go back and keep watch.” Ellen nodded.

 

“This is your last chance. In case you didn’t notice, while you were gone, an entire group showed up. They could have been hostile .” She added, but the two were already walking away. Ellen shook her head. “These damn young officers have no respect…Well, I’ll be off now. I have some important matters to attend to.” She sighed, walking down a different hallway to the right.

 

Pidge turned, making eye contact with Iverson. The man narrowed his eyes at the girl.

 

“So. I see you’ve survived, Miss Holt. Have you come to break into more government files?” He asked bitterly. Pidge crossed her arms.

 

“Depends, are you lying about my dad and brother’s whereabouts in order to save your own ass again?” She fired back. That made Iverson back down, doubly so when he saw the unhappy glare from Colleen.

 

“...How about I show you around the facility?” Iverson offered, doing his best to keep his indifferent expression from faltering. He motioned for the group to follow him, and he lead them down a third hallway. As they walked, he showed them some of the rooms people slept in, as well as the communications room. Curtis gave a small wave from his chair to the group, before spinning back around to listen to the radio, just in case.

 

They came to a cafeteria, where many people were sitting. When they saw Iverson, they stood up to attention.

 

“At ease, officers. Anyway, I’d like to introduce you to our senior ranking officers here at the Garrison. This is Tim Hedrick, Kihyun Ryu, and Darren Bell.” He introduced. The three gave waves and smiled, save for Darren, who just shrugged them off and sat back down, Kihyun hissing a subtle “Be nice!” to him. “Over there is Lauren Montgomery and Joaquim Dos Santos.” Iverson gestured to another table with two more people.

 

“Why are they by themselves?” Nadia asked innocently.

 

“Well, let's just say they’re…not the easiest people to want to be around.” Iverson replies quietly. Hunk leaned in and whispered to Pidge.

 

Nobody likes them. I’m surprised they didn’t feed professor Montgomery to the walkers. ” The two kids started to snicker, and followed Iverson and the group out of the cafeteria. Next, they passed a large storage room, where an older gray haired man held a clipboard and was tallying things stacked up.

 

“Good evening, Sablan. How is the inventory check going?” Iverson asked. Sablan turned to see him.

 

“Pretty good. We’re still doing remarkable on food and ammo. The water supply could use some work, however. I’ll submit a request to James and his supply run team for when they go out in two days.” He replied. Just then, a young woman with dark hair emerged from the back of the room.

 

“Ah! Rebecca!” Sablan said, acknowledging her, “how’s the gun inventory?” Rebecca looked at her notes and back up to him.

 

“Looking good. Calvin and I cleaned them yesterday.” She responded. Sablan nodded.

 

“Good. Thank you for your help. Maybe some of these newcomers would like to help too?” He asked, eyeing the group.

 

“Why don’t we give them a day or two to adjust before we heap jobs on them, Sablan. Anyway, we’ll leave you two to it.” Sablan and Rebecca gave small parting waves before the group was led down the hall.

 

“And here is the room you were probably all hoping to see,” Iverson opened a set of double doors, “the infirmary.” as the group stepped in, they were in awe at how large it was. It made sense, a government building having a massive medical room in case of a direct attack. Inside the room, Ina was tending to a now fully awake Shiro, properly stitching his amputation spot. Adam was there, comforting him through the pain.

 

On two other hospital beds, Lance and Miguel were lying. Ryan and two other men were in the room as well. A dark skinned man was tending to Miguel’s leg wound, while a blonde younger man sat near Lance’s bed. When the blonde saw Veronica, he leaped up and ran to her.

 

“Veronica!” He exclaimed, kissing her cheek. Veronica was confused, but she smiled as he kissed her.

 

“Jeez, Carson, ¡tranquilízate! You act like I just came back after three years!” She laughed. Carson looked sheepish, and chuckled as well.

 

“I was worried Sanda was going to have you exiled for what you did. I’m just glad you’re still here.” He replied, more calm, his english accent melting over his words. He looked past her, walking over to Nancy. “So, I take it you’re Veronica’s family? Name’s Carson Taylor. Nice to meet you all.” He shook Nancy’s hand.

 

“So, now you’ve all met my boyfriend.” Veronica added, with an awkward grin. “You didn’t have to be so dramatic, you know.” She whispered to him as they walked off to the side. Pidge and Hunk went to Lance’s bedside. The cuban boy saw them and smiled.

 

“Hey, guys…” He muttered, giggling. Hunk raised an eyebrow.

 

“He’s…a little high on medication. He had some internal bleeding. Nothing too severe, just needed to make sure we stopped it before it got too bad. Whoever gave him this beating really hit him hard.” The dark skinned man spoke. Hunk looked over at him.

 

“Professor Harris?” He asked. Mr. Harris laughed, waving the two of them off nonchalantly.

 

“It’s the end of the world, no need to be formal. Call me Calvin.” He smiled. Pidge smirked.

 

“This is why you were my favorite teacher.” She said with a smile.

 

“Nnrrgg…God, it hurts like hell.” Shiro groaned from another bed. Ina did the last stitch and set down her tools, satisfied with her work.

 

“All done!” She exclaimed proudly, “that’s the first time I’ve stitched up an entire missing limb, and if I do say so myself, I did pretty well.”

 

“For an 18 year old, you’re one hell of a doctor, Ina.” Ryan agreed.

 

“So, look what the cat dragged in.”

 

Everyone turned to a new voice that entered the room. Keith, Hunk, and Pidge did a double take. While Lance took a less subtle approach.

 

WHAT THE FUCK?! TWO SHIRO’S?!?! ” He yelled, looking all over the room. Shiro turned to see the figure as well, his eyes bulging in surprise.

 

“...Kuron…?” He said, “you’re here?” Kuron smiled, his dark black hair combed perfectly, almost exactly like Shiro’s but slightly shorter. Ellen stood behind him, an indifferent expression on her face.

 

“Good to see you too, little brother.” He smirked. Shiro smiled, but then frowned.

 

“You’re like six minutes older than me!” He protested.

 

“And that was a glorious six minutes.”

 

“Mr. Shirogane, you’re lucky that your brother was a part of that outside group, or else I would’ve been more upset that you weren’t at your post earlier.” Ellen scolded. Kuron just rolled his eyes and shot the admiral a glare.

 

Lance watched Kuron move to sit next to Shiro’s bed and catch up with him, Adam, and Keith. While he watched, he started to tear up.

 

“Me and Rachel used to have little fights like that…” He whimpered, still woozy on drugs, “I w-want Rachel back…” Veronica went to his bedside and consoled him as he lie there.

 

“I’ve noticed…not everyone’s here. I’m assuming that Rachel…?” Veronica asked expectantly.

 

“...Bit. Sh-She turned and-.” Marco started to say, but Hunk cut him off.

 

“I put her down. Lance…he wanted to do it so no one else had to, but he couldn’t…I did what I could.” Hunk explained. Veronica nodded a silent thanks to Hunk, then turned to Luis.

 

“Lisa?”

 

“...She also turned.” Luis said sadly, eyes trained to the floor, “I saw her…but I couldn’t bring myself to do it…so I left her like that.” He continued. Veronica embraced her older sibling in a hug.

 

¿Nuestros abuelitos? ” The McClain family sighed.

 

“Dead, too…” Marco mumbled, “Lance put abuelita down after she…” Veronica turned around, seeing that Lance was now passed out sleeping.

 

“I should’ve been there with you all…” She muttered guiltily. After Veronica went and sat by Lance, Iverson turned to the group.

 

“Well, you’re all free to explore the building. Just make sure not to touch anything too important.” He advised, before leaving with Ellen. A few seconds later, Pidge went to leave. As she went into the hall, Hunk chased after her. Allura and Romelle walked out as well, the white haired woman looked distracted and her eyes clouded with thought. Romelle watched her for a moment as she trailed behind her.

 

They rounded a corner farther down the hall, and Romelle stopped her. “Allura, what’s the matter?” She asked.

 

“Nothing, it’s just…Pidge and I had a conversation while we were checking out the pharmacy today…She told me some pretty major things. I feel like her mother should know. Of course I don’t want to go and tell her behind her back, but it doesn’t seem healthy to keep a secret from your parents.” She explained. Romelle nodded along as she listened.

 

“You do have a point, but obviously it’s ultimately Pidge’s choice as to who she tells. You could always attempt to convince her, gently. But, I know where she’s coming from. Yesterday…I also trusted her with some heavy stuff. Stuff I haven’t told you…or Coran. I will soon, just need to find the right time.” Romelle replied, “speaking of that…how are you holding up?” Allura seemed to look at the ground in shame.

 

“I’ll admit my grieving process hasn’t been the best so far. Pidge was only trying to comfort me, and I exploded at her. I insulted her family, but…she forgave me, I guess. Coran was almost like a second father figure to me while my dad was working most of the time. To us, really. Not many people are lucky enough to have a friend who cares so much for your wellbeing. In our case, you either met Coran, or you're unlucky.” Allura chuckled.

 

“Hey, why don’t we go hang out in the game room, you know, take our minds off of today’s events? I heard they still have some power, maybe we could play some arcade games.” Romelle suggested with a playful smirk. Allura silently nodded in agreement, so Romelle took her hand and the two of them wandered off in search of the rec room.

 

~

 

“Wait! Pidge, wait! Can I, uh, can I talk to you?” Hunk asked, wringing his hands together anxiously as he caught up with her just outside the infirmary doors. She turned to face him, raising an eyebrow.

 

“You okay, Hunk?” She asked, almost laughing. Hunk took a deep breath, blinking several times nervously.

 

“I…I overheard you and Allura. Back in the store. Please don’t be mad at me .” He admitted sheepishly. Pidge stalled and stared blankly at him. “You could’ve talked to me about it. You-You know I’m your best friend, I’m always around for you to throw all of your worries at if venting makes you feel better.” He added.

 

“I…” Pidge didn’t know what to say, “I guess I didn’t tell you because I was…” She paused, “I was worried that you or Lance would think of me differently, okay?” She suddenly snapped defensively. She crossed her arms over her chest and curled in on herself.

 

“Pidge…it’s like Allura said. You did that in self defense. There was no way to avoid that happening. Trust me when I say that this doesn’t change anything about our friendship.” Hunk moved in front of Pidge, “I hate to say it, but…the world isn’t gonna go back to normal anytime soon. Killing…it might be something we have to be prepared to do.” He shifted from sympathetic to concerned, but then he smiled again.

 

“Thanks, Hunk…I guess I was worried for nothing. I just…wasn’t sure.” Pidge replied, awkwardly fiddling with her pants pockets.

 

“And hey, I was serious earlier. If there’s literally anything you need to talk about, I’m your rock. I don’t judge.” Pidge was about to reply, when Iverson and Sanda, followed by James and Nadia, suddenly walked back into view, going into the infirmary, carrying a small box. Curious, the two teens followed them in.

 

“Mr. Shirogane. So we’ve seen that you’ve unfortunately had to amputate quite a bit of your right arm…were you bitten?” Ellen observed, asking the last question strangely. Shiro shook his head.

 

“No, actually. Cannibals captured Lance and I. Cut off my entire arm and ate it.” He stated bluntly. Ellen was taken aback, and fumbled for a response.

 

“Well…regardless. We have a prosthetic arm available for surgical attachment, that is, if you’d like it.” Ellen offered. James and Nadia took the box and set it down on an empty tray. They opened it up, revealing a long, sleek gray metal arm.

 

“That looks amazing…I would love it, thank you so much.” Shiro gasped at it in awe. From beside him, Ina began putting on a pair of gloves.

 

“Alright then. James, I’m going to need my bigger set of medical equipment, can you fetch that for me?” She asked. James nodded.

 

“On it.” He briskly left the room. Ina turned to the crowd still in the room.

 

“I don’t want to be rude, but this surgery needs to be precise and I can’t have any major distractions, so I’ll need most of you to leave the infirmary, just temporarily, don’t worry. I’ll have Ryan come and find you when I’m finished. I don’t mind if a few of you stay, of course.” The others nodded, and Nadia turned to the crowd.

 

“So, who wants to battle me in a game of foosball?” She asked with a determined smirk. Silvio and the younger Nadia immediately started to jump with excitement.

 

“I want to play! I want to play!” Silvio cheered. Nadia smiled and led the crowd from the infirmary. Hunk went to leave, but turned to Pidge.

 

“You coming?” He asked softly. She thought, but then shook her head.

 

“Nah. I’ll stay here. Shiro was a family friend of mine, I should be here to make sure he’s okay.” She said. Hunk nodded in understanding.

 

“I’ll tell you who wins the game.” He promised, before leaving the room. Once everyone had gone, Pidge found a seat next to Veronica, sitting down and resting her head on her palm.

 

As the steady beeping of Lance’s heart monitor did its thing, Pidge’s mind wandered, and she started to think about Matt.

 

THEN

 

Matt’s computer beeped as he typed onto it. He and Pidge sat upon the roof of their house, his computer equipment sitting idly next to him. As he looked at his computer monitor, his eyes widened happily.

 

“I just got a message from dad!” He exclaimed. Pidge leaned over to look at his screen.

 

“A message?” She asked, confused when she didn’t see any visible words on the screen. Matt chuckled.

 

“Well, actually, it’s a quantum frequency.” He said.

 

“But I thought we weren’t supposed to talk to dad. It’s a secret mission.” She questioned. Matt just rolled his eyes playfully.

 

“What the Garrison doesn’t know won’t hurt ‘em.” He smirked, “anyway, we’re using a special two-step encryption. See? Both dad and I have this book, right?” He held up a light blue book for Pidge to see.

 

“Totally.” She replied, waiting for him to continue.

 

“Well, that’s the cipher. We need it to read the messages. So the quantum frequency tells us where in the book to look.” Pidge nodded as he explained.

 

“But that’s not the best part,” He teased with a glint in his eye, “dad and I know a second requirement…the real code. We both memorize additions and subtractions to numbers we send so that even if someone intercepts our messages and has the same book, they still wouldn’t know what we were saying!” Pidge stared at the book and computer for a second.

 

“Hmm, seems a little low-tech.” She mumbled.

 

“Sure, but you can’t rely too much on computers. The most powerful processor you have, is right here .” Matt pointed to his brain, “and it can never be hacked.” He replied. Pidge turned back to the screen.

 

“Well, what’s the message say?” She asked curiously.

 

“It’s says ‘Bedtime is still ten, even if I’m in space.’ ” Matt read, making Pidge groan.

 

“Ugh, ten ?!” She whined. Matt looked at her with a smug grin.

 

“Just like the Garrison, what dad doesn’t know won’t hurt him.”

 

NOW

 

Pidge was awoken by the sound of clanking metal. She flinched awake and looked around. Had she fallen asleep?

 

“Goddammit!” Ina cursed as some of her tools fell to the floor. Ryan picked them up as Ina sat down in a chair herself, thoroughly exhausted. “Surgery…complete.” She sighed. Ellen came over to Shiro, who was now waking up. He looked over at the metal arm, touching it.

 

“So how do I…move it?” He asked awkwardly.

 

“Ah, that’s the best part.” Ellen replied. Lifting the arm into the air, she pressed a small button on the underside of it. Some soft blue light appeared in the previously black colored areas on the metal limb. Shiro’s eyes widened.

 

“Woah! Woah, okay, holy shit!!!” He exclaimed. Keith got up from his chair worriedly.

 

“Shiro, hey, what’s going on?! Does it hurt?!” He asked in a panic. Shiro reached out and put a hand on Keith’s shoulder.

 

A metal hand.

 

“Keith…It feels amazing. It’s like…It’s like this was always my arm…thank you so much, Sanda.” He almost laughed with joy. Keith and Kuron both sighed in relief.

 

“Well, Mr. Holt was always a genius in these technical aspects.” Ellen replied.

 

“What did you say?”

 

Ellen turned around, suddenly face to face with a very emotional looking Pidge.

 

“Who made that arm? What name did you just say?” She pressed, more firm this time.

 

“Yes, Samuel Holt, your father made this prosthetic. Many months ago.” She replied. Pidge felt like she was going to have a stroke.

 

“My dad…Matt…they’re both here ! Oh my fucking god I was RIGHT, why didn’t you tell me they were here, take me to them right now! I have to see them!” Pidge shouted.

 

“Miss Holt…listen to me. First I want to find your mother, then…then I’ll take you to them.” Ellen replied.

 

~~~~~

 

Pidge and Colleen, as well as Hunk, his parents, and Adam were following Sanda down the hall.

 

“Alright…well, Sam and Matt are…out here…” She lifted her arm to address a doorway to a vast courtyard. Pidge was about to dash out, when she saw a small sign of writing next to the entrance on the wall. She looked it over.

 

‘In honor of the many brave souls who fought to the end. The price for freedom is one through sacrifice.’

 

Pidge felt her blood run cold, and her face contorted into a mixture of a scowl and a choked sob. Without a word, she suddenly bolted, shoving past Ellen and out into the courtyard.

 

“No! Please NO! ” She whimpered. When she finally dashed into the light of outside, the sight before her made her freeze. Nearly hundreds of grave markers stood straight and solemn. Most were most likely from before the walkers, but Pidge felt the pit of anxiety growing in here stomach.

 

“Oh, no…” She said, the words barely audible to her own ears. Sprinting on, she began to look at each grave marker, desperate to prove that they weren’t among them. As she spun helplessly around, looking at every name she saw, her eyes filled with tears and her mind began to cloud.

 

Pidge thought about her family dinners when they were all together. She thought about that night on the roof. She thought about his initial acceptance to the Garrison, his fateful final day on Earth before he was trapped in space for a full year. She thought about how he gave her his glasses, how he pushed her to keep studying, how he always looked after her while their father was on missions in space.

 

Pidge remembered everything.

 

Her feet came to a stop near the back of the courtyard. Her eyes trained down on two identical black grave markers.

 

There they were.

 

Pidge dropped to her knees, a look of horror and disbelief frozen on her face. To the right, the grave read “Matthew Holt”. To the left read, “Samuel Holt”. Behind her, Colleen dropped onto her knees as well.

 

“I-I’m so sorry…” Pidge whimpered as she cried toward the ground. “ I was too late …”

 

“Sam…Oh my god, no…” Colleen cried softly, staring at the two graves. From beside her, Pidge’s tears streamed down her face the hardest they’d ever done. Her breaths were short and sharp as she tried to compose herself. She felt a pair of large, warm, comforting hands come down on her shoulders. Hunk kneeled beside his best friend, while Olivia consoled Colleen.

 

Behind the four of them, a small crowd watched in silent respect. Pidge looked up, her brain could process many things easily. This was not one of them.

 

A strained scream of agony ripped its way from Pidge’s throat as Hunk pulled her into his embrace as she sobbed with all of her energy.

 

She was too late.

 

After a few minutes, Olivia convinced Colleen to leave the graves and go back inside. However, Pidge stayed there on her knees for nearly hours, sobbing and shaking, and Hunk stayed right there with her.

Chapter Text

Lance walked down a dark hall, a dazed look on his face. He saw small clouds of fog along the floor, wisping away as his feet took more involuntary steps in his current direction. ‘Where even am I? Wasn’t I just in the Garrison?’ He thought.

 

After another lifetime of walking, Lance found a door. The metal door was rather creepy looking, it was a pale gray, with rust near the bottom, and a few splotches of red seemed to stain the floor just in front of it. Lance didn’t want to go in, but his arm raised and turned the handle anyway.

 

He descended down the most ominous set of stairs he had ever seen. At the bottom, the red splotches became red puddles, and the red puddles became red pools. Lance felt his hands start to shake.

 

“I was wondering if I’d ever see you again.”

 

Lance yelped and spun around. The figure in front of him held a small smirk as she watched him take her appearance in.

 

“...Rachel?” He asked, unsure. Rachel laughed.

 

“Miss me?”

 

Lance broke the distance between the two of them and pulled her into the tightest hug. “Rachel, I’m s-so sorry…I tried, I-I…” She pulled away and shushed him.

 

“Lance, it’s okay. There wasn’t anything you could’ve done.” She said gently, smiling and wiping away some of his tears.

 

“I’m sorry we always fought before. I always loved a-and admired you as a person. You kept the family grounded.” He blubbered into her shoulder.

 

“Me? Sure, I may have kept spirits up, but you kept people going . Look around, silly. Everyone still alive is alive because of you, Lance. If that was my time to go, then so be it. My story is over. But yours, mi hermano , is just beginning. I was born only 7 minutes after you, so I’ve known you just about as long as you knew me. And I know that you will beat this world. You are the strongest boy I’ve ever known and I know damn well you won’t stop now.” Rachel’s voice was filled with determination. Lance just watched her speak, still dumbfounded.

 

“N-None of this is r-real, is it? Rachel, I miss you. You and I always stuck together. N-Now…How do I do this without you? Why can’t I just let go??” He asked. Rachel patted his shoulder.

 

“You fight, Lance. Fight for your family. Fight for your friends. Pidge, Hunk, hey, even Keith now. I guess it took me to die for you to finally reconcile.” Rachel smirked, “Lance, you’re capable of more than you think you are. And you need to know that. Yes, I’m gone, but I’m still with you. I’m always with you. You don’t have to let go of anything because remembering the ones you’ve lost only makes you stronger.” She smiled.

 

Lance pulled her into another hug and let himself smile. “I love you, Rachel.” He mumbled.

 

“You’re so pathetic .”

 

Lance froze and reeled back. He shrieked as he looked into the eyes of his sister. Only now she was in her undead state, glaring furiously at him.

 

“You got me killed, Lance. You’ll get EVERYONE killed. You were so insecure about yourself, you let yourself get captured, caused a shootout, and got Coran killed. What did he ever do to you, huh? What’s your problem?” Undead Rachel shouted at him.

 

“R-Rachel…what’s going on?” Lance whimpered, backing away. Undead Rachel laughed bitterly.

 

“You think you can save people? You couldn’t save me, Lance. Lisa’s dead, Coran is dead, I’m dead, and I’m dead because of YOU!” Her voice continued to rise until her last word was a scream, as her pale skinned finger poked his chest, which sent Lance free falling backwards into a dark, black abyss.

 

Panicking, Lance screwed his eyes shut, then opened them again. He was no longer falling, now standing in a strange looking room. It appeared to connect to the same stairs he’d walked down when he turned around. Looking back in front of him, the floor was made of a strange sea foam green tile, with several drains on the floor.

 

“N-No! Please don’t do this! You don’t have to do this, I-I can help!” Lance raised his head, seeing two new figures standing over on the tiled area. One of them was chained to the wall, arms cuffed above their head, legs cuffed down as well. The person standing before them held a gun to their chest. Lance’s eyes widened, and he reached out, trying to yell and save the figure, but no sound came from his mouth.

 

“No! PLEASE-!” The gun fired, blood spraying from the restrained shadowed figure’s chest, splattering onto Lance’s face. The distraught teen screamed as he stared down at his blood soaked hands. He stumbled backwards, his back hitting something metal. Suddenly, he felt a hand grab at his back, and he shrieked again, wrenching his body away from the wall. He looked behind him, seeing a hand reach out from behind some metal bars.

 

“Please…Please h-help…” A raspy male voice pleaded. Lance started to tremble and his breathing rate increased. He broke out in a run, heading for the stairs he’d descended from. But, as he turned a corner, Undead Rachel launched herself at him, tackling him to the ground and biting into his throat. Lance couldn’t make any sounds as his neck gushed blood.

 

“NO!!!” Lance shot up in his bed, flinging the bed covers off of him and racing for the door to the room. From the other bed, Hunk was startled awake.

 

“Lance? Lance! Hey hey hey!” Hunk raced over to his friend, who had fallen to his knees and was shaking like a leaf. “Lance, talk to me. What’s wrong, buddy? C’mon, say something.” Hunk coaxed, wrapping his arms around Lance.

 

N…N-No sé… ” He whimpered.

 

“Did you have a bad dream? Lance, you have to talk to me…” Hunk begged softly.

 

Y-Yo vi …Rachel.” He choked out, before looking up at Hunk, face desperate.

 

Este lugar es el matadero…Este lugar es el matadero… ” He cried, Hunk just held Lance as he eventually calmed down, shushing him like a caring mother would.

 

~~~~~

 

That same day, a bit later on, Lance sat in the Garrison’s training room. Hunk sat next to him, keeping him company. They watched as Olivia, Nancy, Rebecca, Carson, Shiro, and even Silvio and Nadia all stood facing several different human shaped targets placed several feet away. James stood to the side of them.

 

“Alright, first things first. If you’re ever out in the world, and need to use this, your safety can’t be on. Or else the gun won’t fire, and you’ll most likely be dead.” James instructed. He held up his own gun and flipped the safety switch to off. The others followed his example. As they continued, Adam and Keith came in.

 

“Is Shiro here? He’s not in the med bay anymore.” Adam’s face was sprinkled with worry. Lance nodded and gestured to the gun training going on in front of them. Keith walked right up to Shiro, gently tugging at his shoulder.

 

“What are you doing in here? You’re supposed to be resting .” Keith asked accusingly, crossing his arms. Shiro sighed and looked at his metal arm.

 

“I have to learn how to function with this, don’t I? What’s the point of even getting it attached if I’m gonna sit there and let it be dead weight?” He reasoned.

 

“You gonna keep interrupting my lesson, Kogane? Or would you prefer to join us, you could probably use the training.” James scoffed. Keith gave a death glare, and his fist clenched, but Shiro put a hand on his chest.

 

“Let it go, Keith. It’s not worth it.” Shiro said quietly, watching Keith grit his teeth and practically begin to seethe. But, Keith listened, and turned and stormed away. James watched him leave with an uninterested look.

 

“Anyway, as most of you should know. A gun is not a toy. You have to always be careful with one, and always treat it like it’s loaded, even if you know it’s not.” He instructed. He pulled out the clip filled with ammo and showed it to them. “This is where all of your bullets are. When you’re dealing with a handgun, usually you stick this into the bottom. Everyone try that, slide your clip out of the gun and then stick it back in.” Everyone complied, sliding their clips out, examining them, then sliding them back in, Silvio and Nadia having a small bit of trouble with the second part.

 

“Now, I want all of you to look at the top of your guns. There should be something that you can pull back, then pull it.” They followed through with that as well. “Good,” James continued, “now this is where we get even more serious. Now that you’ve done that, you’ve fed a round from your clip up into the chamber of the gun. Meaning if you pull the trigger, you’ll fire. Now, I want you all to aim your guns at the targets in front of each of you.” Once again, the group followed orders. From her spot, Nancy looked over at Silvio and Nadia with a frown.

 

“Why should they be doing this? They’re just young, they shouldn’t have to.” She protested. From against the wall, Luis agreed.

 

“I don’t want my children to have to fire guns. It isn’t right. Nadia’s only 6 years old, she shouldn’t be anywhere near guns.” He said firmly.

 

“Unless you want your kids to die out there, sir, they need to learn at an early age. This is how the world is now. The sooner you realize that, the better off you’ll be.” James replied, turning back to the lesson.

 

“Alright, now I want you all to take your first shots. See if you can hit anywhere within the target on the person. That would be a good start.” He instructed, “if you ever have to shoot with just one hand, a good tip would be to maybe close one eye to aim, preferably you should use the same eye in relation to which hand you’re shooting with. So left handed, aim with your left eye, and vice versa. Like this.” James demonstrated, turning to Olivia’s target. He closed his left eye and aimed with his right hand. He fired a shot, which hit the cardboard human silhouette square in its head.

 

Everyone began to follow suit, only they were using two hands properly. Olivia fired four shots. The first two hit the right shoulder just outside the target circles. The third one hit the chest area, and the fourth hit the lower left hip area. James nodded a little.

 

“Not bad for a first attempt.” He said with a small smile. Nancy only fired three shots, the first two hit outside the target range near the chest, while the third one missed completely.

 

“Hey, still not that bad. At least you’re hitting the targets on your first tries, that shows you at least know what you’re doing. Keep trying.” James encouraged. Shiro was attempting the one handed shooting approach with his metal arm. All of his shots fired missed entirely. He let out a small groan of annoyance.

 

“Why don’t you keep at it with your…er, real arm, for now? You might have better luck.” James said in response. Shiro looked away, trying not to feel embarrassed.

 

Carson and Rebecca both were managing average hits. Rebecca actually managed to get a direct hit on the target's chest. She jumped up happily when she did.

 

“Woah! I did it! I got a kill shot!” She cheered. Carson smiled at her, trying again himself, this time his shot hit the neck. He pumped his fist and victory.

 

“Look at me go! Soon I’ll be able to protect my lovely Ronnie from anything!” He declared. From behind him, Veronica scoffed with a smile.

 

“We both know I’d be the one protecting you, idiot.” She chuckled. Carson just sighed.

 

“I know you would. That’s why I love you.” He cooed. James rolled his eyes.

 

“Both of your shots were kill shots, on humans . Alive people. You want to get headshots to deal with the dead. A chest shot or neck shot won’t do anything to put the dead ones down.” He said in response to their claims.

 

Lastly, Silvio fired several shots. A lot of them missed, but near the end, many began to land on the target. A couple near the chest, one by the stomach, and one even landed a few inches from the forehead area.

 

“Look, Papí ! I did it!!” He cheered. Luis saw how happy his son was, and couldn’t help but smile at him. On the very end, Nadia’s face was scrunched with concentration. She fired. Miss. She fired again. Miss. A third, a fourth, a fifth, all missed.

 

“No fair! None of mine are hitting! This is stupid!” She pouted, tears welling up in her small eyes.

 

“Don’t worry, maybe with a bit more practice, you’ll start hitting the target.” James reassured. From beside Nadia, she felt a pair of hands gently take hers. Lance was kneeling down beside her.

 

“Here, hold it like this.” He guided her hands to a slightly different position while gripping the gun. “Now, sometimes when I shoot my big gun, I hold my breath, and that makes my aim better so I can kill those big bad muertos . Why don’t you give it a try?” He offered. Nadia nodded, and sucked in a big dramatic breath, her cheeks puffing out like a pufferfish.

 

After a few seconds of aiming, and Lance’s hands helping her a little, Nadia fired. The bullet landed right in the target’s forehead. She did a small gasp and smiled brightly.

 

“I did it! I did it! ¡Gracias, tio Lance! ” She gave him a big hug. Lance returned the hug softly. The door to the training room slid open again. This time, Ryan entered, helping Miguel walk. Nancy noticed this and rushed over.

 

Ay , Miguel, you shouldn’t be walking!” She scolded, gesturing to his bandaged leg. Miguel shrugged it off.

 

“I had to come see my family. Haven’t had time to properly reunite with mi hija .” Miguel replied, giving Veronica a strong hug.

 

“I tried to convince him not to leave, but I decided I’d rather keep my hands.” Ryan joked, “and besides, Ina’s working on some sort of cane for him to use, so he won’t put too much pressure on his leg while he walks.” He added.

 

“Ryan, I can't thank you and Ina enough for this.” Veronica smiled. Ryan gave a charming wink back.

 

“No problem. Best to stick together, right? Better than leaving people to die.” He lowered his voice at the last part. Near the targets, James signaled for the others to stop shooting.

 

“Alright, everyone, that was a very decent first day of gun training. I think you all have serious potential to master this. But for now, it’s lunchtime.” He said, taking everybody’s guns, and putting them in a bag, which he handed to Rebecca, who took them back to the armory. Then, he left the room to get ready for lunch, shooting a side glare to Keith as he walked by.

 

~~~~~

 

Adam sat alone at a table eating his food, when Curtis walked up shyly.

 

“Uh…H-Hey, Adam.” He waved. Adam looked at Curtis indifferently.

 

“Curtis.” He replied, “you need something?” Curtis looked at the ground awkwardly.

 

“Well, no, I-I was just wondering if you’d like someone to sit with. Where’s Shiro?” He asked. Adam chewed his food, unamused.

 

“I already brought him some food to the bed bay after just barely convincing him he needs to take a rest.” He replied bluntly, waiting for something else. When Curtis just stood there, Adam rubbed his face.

 

“Fuck it. Sure, sit down. It’s not healthy to hold grudges this long.” He replied. Curtis gave a small smile, sitting down across from him.

 

“I’m sorry about how things ended between us, back in the academy…” Curtis mumbled sheepishly. Adam, looking rather surprised, almost found himself smiling.

 

“It’s the end of the world, so you know what? I forgive you.” He replied.

 

The lunchroom felt awfully crowded as Lance made his way over to a table with his tray of food. Not long after he sat down, Keith, Ryan, Ina, Windy, and Nadia Rizavi sat down with him.

 

“Hey guys, what’s going on?” Lance asked casually, taking a bite of his food.

 

“Nothin’ much. I just schooled Alicia in a game of pool so you know, I’m kind of a big deal.” Nadia bragged, stretching her arms.

 

“Nadia, the only person who could possibly care so much about pool after the end of the world.” Windy joked, before turning to Lance and Keith. “I don’t think we’ve ever personally met before. I’m Wendy. Wendy Srinivasan. I was in Lance’s class at the Garrison, but kinda stayed in the shadows you know.” She said.

 

“Don’t sell yourself short, Windy, you were one of the best pilots in the class!” Ina replied. Keith raised an eyebrow.

 

“Why Windy ? What does that nickname even mean?” He asked. Windy groaned and put her head down in her arms.

 

“I come to school super tired and misspell my name one time and suddenly it’s my new nickname for life.” She mutters.

 

“Aw come on, you know you like it.” Ryan teased, “you just gotta embrace the nickname!” Windy rolled her eyes and pushed Ryan’s face away.

 

“Yeah, yeah, whatever.” She said with a smile. Just then, Hunk sat down on the opposite side of Lance, smiling.

 

“Hey everyone! Just finished serving up everyone’s food and can finally sit down! Even Colleen came to lunch, I think she’s feeling a bit better today. I wonder how-.” Hunk was cut off as the cafeteria doors slid open, and the very person Hunk was speaking of walked in.

 

Pidge hadn’t changed her clothes at all, her hair was slightly messy and her eyes were puffy. She walked past everyone and was headed to the lunch trays, when Hunk stood up and met her.

 

“Pidge! Pidge, hey! Come here, come share my food with me. You should eat, alright? You weren’t at breakfast this morning.” He said with worry. Pidge sat down beside Hunk, and began to apathetically pick at the food. While she did, James also entered the cafeteria, his eyes already trained on Keith. The other MFEs saw this and lowered their heads.

 

“Great, incoming drama in three…two…” Nadia mumbled. James stopped at the table, glaring down at Keith.

 

“Problem?” Keith snarled. James crosses his arms.

 

“I hope you know that interrupting my weapons training earlier was a foolish thing to do. What if Shiro’s arm malfunctioned and he’d pulled the trigger when you tapped him? It’s still new and could have defaults.” From the seat, Pidge internally laughed at that comment.

 

“What’s the big deal, man? All I wanted to do was talk to my brother. You sound like I punched you in the face.” Keith retorted.

 

“Oh, yeah, you did that too, remember?” James shot back. Keith slammed on the table.

 

“Are you still holding on to that?! Oh, my god, get over it!” Keith shouted.

 

“Your group is clearly becoming a problem. We should have never let you in.” James sneered.

 

“Damn right.” Came another person’s voice. From the table next to them, a man was looking over, watching the argument. Hunk recognized him as Darren, the man who’d given them the cold shoulder when Iverson showed them around.

 

“Goddammit, Darren, don’t do this.” Kihyun muttered, glancing apologetically at the other table.

 

“What? They’ve been here a full day and they’ve done nothing but freeload off of our food, medicine, and ammo supply.” He spat.

 

“Three of our people were injured ,” Hunk spoke up, shooting Darren a death glare, “hell, we BROUGHT you guys an entire car full of supplies that Terri scavenged! And maybe you’re blind but I was literally just in the kitchen serving all of you today’s lunch. You should’ve just sat there and ate your food.” Hunk went back to his shared tray with Pidge, angrily taking a bite.

 

“How long until your group starts actually earning their keep then, huh?” Joaquim piped up from behind Darren, “man’s got a point, you know.” More people started to gather around the edge of the growing circle of conflict.

 

“Wouldn’t surprise me if they’re only here to take all of our supplies and leave in the night!” Lauren scoffed.

 

“God, do you ever shut the hell UP, Montgomery?!” Pidge snapped, looking up at the snobbish woman. Lauren seemed taken aback.

 

“Don’t speak to me like that, you brat!” She hissed.

 

“Bitch, I’ll speak to you however I damn well please. We’re not in school anymore, so I’ll treat you how you deserve to be treated. Like fucking trash. This applies to you too, Dos Santos .” Pidge glared.

 

“Who knew the little missy here could speak? Here I thought all she knew how to do was cry and roll her eyes. Maybe she got that from her dead father.” Lance suppressed a gasp, and Hunk scowled.

 

“Don’t you ever talk about them like that.” Pidge said with eerie calmness. Darren scoffed.

 

“Or what? What can you possibly do, your brother isn’t here to defend you, because he got himself killed -!”

 

“ENOUGH!” Hunk suddenly yelled. He shot up from his seat, and socked Darren across the face. The man fell to the floor in a heap. He looked up, seeing Hunk looking furiously down at him.

 

“You little shit!” Darren cried, standing up and lunging for Hunk, only for the latter to trip him and send him crashing into a wall.

 

“Hunk! Stop!” Olivia cried worriedly from the crowd. Joaquim went to attack Hunk for that as well, but Keith tackled him to the ground and pinned him down. Lauren went to throw a punch to the back of Keith’s head, but Lance picked up an empty tray and smacked her across the face with it.

 

Everyone began to shout as Darren got up once more, this time actually punching Hunk in the stomach. Jake, Alicia, Adam, and Rebecca were all trying to keep the rest of the people watching from intervening. Pidge let out an anger filled cry, kicking Darren’s ankle and sending him to the floor. Then, she pulled out a concealed gun, and aimed it at his head.

 

“Nobody talks about my family like that.” She choked out, arm trembling. Everyone froze, even Lauren and Joaquim.

 

“Hey!” Darren hissed to Colleen, who was watching, “you gonna stop your kid or what?!” Colleen didn’t reply, just shook her head and watched. Pidge cocked the gun again, tears threatening to roll down her face.

 

“Pidge…Pidge, stop. Come on, p-put it down.” Lance slowly stepped between the two, holding his hands out to Pidge, “you don’t want to do this, alright? You talked me down, now I’m returning the favor.” Lance reaches for the gun.

 

“Put the gun down, Pidge.” He said gently. Pidge surrendered, letting Lance take the gun.

 

“I-I have to…I have t-to go.” She sobbed, running out of the room.

 

“WHAT is going on here?!” Ellen shouted from the doorway as Pidge ran out, “Mr. Bell, Miss Montgomery, Mr. Dos Santos, this kind of behavior is not tolerated. Letting these people in may have been a sticky subject, but they are HERE now and that is not changing, so live with it, or you can leave. I want you three to clean the kitchen after every meal for the next week.” Ellen scolded, before walking out once more. As everyone settled down, Allura came up to Colleen.

 

“Colleen, you should check on Pidge. I think…I think she might have a few things she’d like to tell you.” She said. Colleen looked confused, but left to follow Pidge anyway.

 

“This was your fault, you know.” Keith mumbled to James. The latter rolled his eyes.

 

“Yeah, sure, you being careless this morning is my fault. Okay.” James stormed out of the room.

 

“James! Dammit, come back!” Ina groaned, “Shit, I’ll go get him. Maybe then I can smack some sense into him and he can apologize.” Ina then jogged away to catch up with him while Allura checked up on everyone involved in the scuffle.

 

~

 

“Katie.” Colleen called out to her daughter, who was walking several yards ahead of her.

 

Katie! ” She called again, a little louder. Pidge ignored again.

 

“Katie Marie Holt, stop walking now.” Pidge stopped at her full name, turning around to face her mother.

 

“I miss them, Mom. I-I miss them so much.” Colleen lurched forward and embraced her daughter, who matched herself around her waist, crying into her stomach.

 

“Katie, I know this is hard, alright? I know Matt was always there for you whenever you needed support. And I’m sorry there were times I was working late. If Matt were-were here I could apologize to him, too. You two children were the best things to happen to me since I met Sam. All three of you were my driving force, and even though Matt and Sam are…gone. I’m going to keep fighting. You should, too. Wherever they are, I’m sure they’re so, so proud of who you are.” Colleen cupped her daughter’s face in her hands as she bent down to look her in the eye.

 

“I d-don’t think dad and Matt would be proud of…of a killer.” Pidge practically had to push the final word from her mouth. Colleen seemed to freeze, but didn’t move.

 

“What do you mean?” She asked calmly. Her lack of any real emotion unsettled Pidge a little, after all, Pidge and Colleen shared the trait of going scarily calm when angry.

 

“Th-The day Lance and Hunk found us. R-R-Right before that wh-while I was out…A man attacked me a-and I pushed him into some walkers but then shot him in the head. I don’t know if shooting him was, like, merciful or-or cruel, but I still killed someone.” She tearfully admitted. Colleen didn’t say anything for a bit, and Pidge refused to take her eyes off of her feet.

 

“A-Are you mad at me?” Pidge asked quietly. Colleen tilted Pidge’s head up so they were looking at each other.

 

“Katie, you are still my little girl. No matter what happened, I trust that you made the right call. And believe me, I will always love you.” The two girls held each other tightly as they silently cried together.

 

~

 

Elsewhere, Ina trekked down hallway after hallway, looking for James. It seemed that the boy had just disappeared completely.

 

“James! James, where the hell did you go?” Ina shouted down the halls as she went. Eventually, she got to a hall she frankly had never seen before. As she walked around a corner, she felt a little unnerved. Compared to everything else in the hall, there was a really old and run down door. It was a pale gray color and was rusting near the bottom. She was about to walk past and get away, when it suddenly started to creak open.

 

Ina let out a terrified shriek and flinched back, only to be met with Ellen Sanda exiting that room. The older woman looked shocked to see Ina, and quickly shut the door behind her.

 

“Oh, hello Admiral…” Ina said, catching her breath, “I was just…looking for James…Say, what’s behind that door? I’ve never been this way before.” Ina asked. Ellen was silent for a moment.

 

“Oh, it’s just the boiler room. The damned thing has been acting up lately. You know what, you’re smart, you think you could help me figure out what’s going wrong with it?” She asked. Ina nodded.

 

“Sure, why not? I’m sure it won’t take long.” Ellen gave a small nod of thanks, then reopened the door and gestured for Ina to follow her in. The two of them descended down some stairs, which Ina noticed were rather rickety and creaky.

 

“You know, I don’t exactly have much experience with boilers.” Ina admitted sheepishly. From in front of her, Ellen raised an eyebrow.

 

“Is that so?” She replied.

 

“Well, there was this one time my uncle needed help with his boiler, and I was able to fix it, but it was a rather small one, so-.” Ina’s speech was cut short as a pistol was smashed into her face. Instantly knocked unconscious, Ina fell to the floor. Ellen turned around and looked at the girl.

 

“Did you really have to hit her that hard?” She asked, annoyed.

 

“Well I had to make sure she got knocked out. Better safe than sorry.” Kuron retorted, stepping out from a shadowed area.

 

“Nevermind, just help me get her secured for the next stage.” Ellen began to grab Ina’s legs, so Kuron grabbed her form by her underarms, and the two of them dragged her off.

 

~

 

James sat angrily in the rec room, staring out of the window, when Alicia, Windy, and Nadia came in.

 

“Well, there you are!” Nadia exclaimed dramatically, “Way to run off after that mess you created earlier.” She added. James groaned.

 

“Don’t you start, too.” He sighed.

 

“No, listen, James. Your little rivalry with Keith needs to stay strictly pre-apocalypse. We have bigger things to worry about than a petty grudge.” Alicia interjected.

 

“Listen, I don’t need to hear this lecture. Either use one of the games or just go.” He snapped.

 

“For your information, we only came here because Ina hasn’t come back from looking for you yet. We figured maybe she found you and you two were having some kind of heart to heart.” Nadia explained, “but it looks like she already left.” James raised an eyebrow, and stood up.

 

“Um…Ina was never here.” He said. The three of them looked shocked, and slightly worried.

 

“What do you mean? Where is she, then?” Alicia asked.

 

“Have…Have we even seen Ina since lunch?” Windy asked, slightly unease showing through her voice. The four of them shared alarmed glances, before they all left the room.

 

~

 

Ina’s head was throbbing. Was she bleeding? She tried to feel her forehead for any blood, but she found she couldn’t move her hands. Struggling some more, she realizes they’d been cuffed above her head. Her legs had also been cuffed down as well.

 

“Help! What is this?! Somebody, help!!” She cried. Ellen and Kuron stepped out into her view.

 

“Do not worry, Miss Leifsdottir. Everything is alright.” Ellen said calmly.

 

“Wh-What do you mean?! Get me unchained!” She begged, thrashing her arms and legs arms much as she could.

 

“I’m afraid we won’t be doing that.” Ellen replied. Ina’s blood ran cold, and she started to struggle harder.

 

“You see, I’m looking for the cure to this whole thing. Surely, if I can figure out what’s causing this epidemic, I’ll be famous, regarded as a hero. If that plan fails, at least I can fall back on studying these…undead beings, to see if they retain any knowledge of their previous form.” Ellen explained. Ina’s eyes bulged.

 

“W-Wait! What are you gonna do to me?!” She shouted, beginning to panic. Kuron stepped forward, handing something to Ellen.

 

A gun.

 

“You don’t have anything to worry about, child. With a brain as intelligent as yours, I’m sure you’ll be the exact subject we need for this.” Ellen responded with out of place calmness, “Now, just stay still, and everything will be alright.” She aimed the gun to Ina’s chest.

 

“N-No! Please don’t do this! You don’t have to do this, I-I can help!” Ina shouted, tugging at the cuffs keeping her in place, “I-I can help you with this!” She pleaded, sobbing.

 

“You are helping us. You’re participating in the study.” Ellen deadpanned, cocking the gun.

 

“No! PLEASE-!” Ina’s scream was cut off as Ellen fired the gun. Blood shot out of the wound, and Ina’s eyes went wide, but then her body slacked mere seconds later. A thick trail of blood oozed from her chest wound.

 

“Clean this up. Get her prepared for the next stage.” Ellen instructed, calmly wiping some of Ina’s blood from her face and clothes.

 

“Got it, boss.” Kuron replied. As Ellen nonchalantly left the basement, Kuron set to work. He immediately started up a stopwatch, then unchained her body. Avoiding the large pools of blood formed, Kuron dragged her body down a small hallway. A line of what looked to be cells sat patiently waiting. Some had blood stains inside them.

 

Kuron lazily tossed Ina’s body inside, closing and locking the cell door. He walked away after a minute of looking at the body, to go clean up the lingering blood. When he looked at the mess, he scoffed. The tile flooring was such a bitch to clean, especially because the drains were supposed to do it for him.

 

Ellen came out of the basement, this time no interruptions. She took a minute to wipe her front just in case any blood was still lingering. Then, she walked off casually down another hallway.

 

“Admiral! Admiral, wait!” She heard Sablan’s voice as she passed another hallway. Growling to herself, she stopped, and put on a pleasant expression.

 

“Yes, Sablan? Is something the matter?” She asked.

 

“I felt it would be important to inform you that nobody has seen Ina Leifsdottir since the conflict that happened at lunch. Rizavi claims that she had gone to look for Griffin after he’d left, but Griffin never saw her. Nobody else knows about this, I figured we shouldn’t cause a panic right away. What should we do?” He asked. Ellen didn’t reply immediately, instead, she looked to the ground, then back up at the gray haired man.

 

“Give it another day before you cause a panic, like you said. This place is pretty large, after all. Never know what you’ll come across.” She replied mysteriously, before turning and walking away.

 

“Oh…alright then, Admiral.” Sablan said awkwardly, before walking away in the opposite direction.

 

~~~~~

 

Kuron sat across from the cell, watching the unmoving body with a bored expression. Until, the body wasn’t unmoving anymore. A hand twitched, and a faint moan came from her. Kuron sat up straight, pulling out the stopwatch and stopping its runtime. The zombified Ina stood up. Her eyes were now a milky gray color, and her skin had become even more pale than she’d already been. She took notice of the man sitting a few feet from her, and lunged. The metal bars kept Kuron safe, but walker Ina continued to snap, snarl, and bang at him.

 

Kuron seemed to not take any notice. Instead, he looked at his notebook, writing some notes down.

 

“Reanimation time; 4 hours, 36 minutes, and 51 seconds. Subject shows no sign of previous intelligence. Most likely another fail.” He said as he wrote it down. Standing up, he moved his chair to the side and took one last look at the zombified girl.

 

“Better go tell Sanda.” He muttered, “man, she won’t be to pleased to hear this.”

Chapter Text

“You’re telling me she showed no signs of previous intelligence?” Ellen asked, voice slightly annoyed. A few feet in front of them, the zombified Ina was still banging at them from behind the cell bars.

 

“Nothing,” Kuron sighed in defeat, “I tried asking her questions of things she had clear knowledge of, but no results. Just…the snarling and clawing in my direction.” Ellen turned away, putting her face in her hands.

 

“There must be something we aren’t taking into account. There must be something that’ll get us to our goal!” Ellen fumed.

 

“Admiral, just relax for a moment.” Kuron tried to deescalate her mood, but she turned to face him.

 

“I will not leave this earth without the praise I will deserve for finding the damn cure. I don’t care how many people I have to test on, I. Will. Find. It.” She growled.

 

“You’re right, we will. Just…maybe we should lay low for a while. Picking off the newcomers should be an easy thing to do. Less suspicious.” He replied.

 

“You have a point, Kuron…” Ellen mused, “better than sacrificing any more of our people anyway.”

 

“Just one thing?” Ellen looked at Kuron, his face unusually somber, “please don’t use Shiro. He’s my brother, we’re lucky to be reunited as it is.” Ellen considered his words, before nodding.

 

“Very well. But let’s lay low about this for the rest of the day, people are probably still going to be searching for poor Ina here.” She pointed out, gesturing to the walker still snarling at them.

 

“Speaking of her, should I…?” Kuron pulled out a knife. Ellen shook her head.

 

“No. Just put her with the others for now. And make sure you keep an eye on the reserved subjects as well.” She added, before leaving the basement. Kuron sighed, and picked up a lead which was leaning against the wall, and opened the cell to where Ina was.

 

The zombified girl lunged at him, but he kicked her to the ground, flipping her onto her front. As he pinned her down, he clasped the lead around the neck, then stood up again, leading Ina further down the hall. They reached a set of double doors that were chained up and had a large wooden board between them.

 

“Sure. Sanda leaves me to do everything myself.” He muttered. He quickly shoved Ina into another cell so he could properly unchain the doors. He made sure to make as little noise as possible, then once the doors were free to open, he grabbed Ina’s lead once more, pushing open the doors.

 

Numerous counts of walkers immediately took notice of the two figures entering their space. Kuron quickly pressed the button to unhook zombified Ina from the lead, pushing her into the massive herd. He instantly backtracked, slamming the doors shut. He slid the wooden board between the handles as the first walkers began to bang and growl to be free.

 

“Shit shit shit…” Kuron panicked as he fumbled with the chains. At last, he clicked the lock to the chains and backed away from the now secured doors.

 

“Piece of cake.” He said sarcastically to himself.

 

~

 

“Mom? You in here?” Pidge called, entering the room she shared with Colleen. Nobody was in the bed area, but she saw the lights on in the bathroom, and went to go check.

 

“Mom? Mo- oh.” Pidge stopped calling when she saw Colleen standing there. Her hair had been cut from its former ponytail length, to a much shorter cut that didn’t go down past her head.

 

“Your dad…always liked it shorter. Figured it was time for a cut anyway.” She replied, setting down the scissors.

 

“It looks nice. I think he’d be impressed with your self cutting abilities.” Pidge said with a small chuckle.

 

“I wouldn’t hear the end of it, he never liked when I would bring up his days of being a hairstylist.” She joked, then her face fell.

 

“I know you’re missing them.” Pidge said before Colleen could continue, “It’ll be okay. We still have each other.”

 

“I know.” Colleen smiled, wrapping an arm around her daughter’s shoulder and walking out of their room together, “and I’ll never let you go.”

 

~~~~~

 

The following morning, Lance sat upright on one of the med bay’s beds, with Ryan using a stethoscope to check his vitals.

 

“Sorry if I’m a little bad at this…” Ryan spoke up awkwardly, “usually Ina does this, but, well, it’s almost been a full day and nobody’s seen her.” He sighed.

 

“Relax, man, you’re fine.” Lance reassured. He fidgeted with the hem of his shirt, then looked back up. “You think Ina’s okay? I mean, there isn’t really anything in this place that could kill you, but still…” Ryan shrugged a little.

 

“I hope so. You know, I actually did see her after lunch. I was heading to the infirmary to check on Shiro, when I saw her head for the northwest hall. I was a little confused because no one likes that hall. It’s creepy as hell.” Ryan shuddered. Lance quirked his head to the side.

 

“Creepy? What do you mean?” He asked innocently.

 

“Well, for starters, the lights down that hall are very flimsy and always flicker. And there’s this really creepy door. It’s a strange gray color, and so rusty near the bottom, I think there’s even some blood on it too.” Ryan murmured the last bit. Lance’s body went rigid as he pictured the door in his head.

 

Sounds like the one…from my dream… He thought uneasily.

 

“Well, you seem to be doing better, I think you’re okay to head back now. Breakfast should be getting served soon.” Ryan said after taking Lance’s blood pressure. Lance gave a small, quiet nod of thanks before briskly walking out of the med bay.

 

~

 

“Feeling any better?” Keith asked as Pidge sat down next to him, “Damn, can’t believe we missed the breakfast rush. But hey, room to ourselves.” He smiled, pretending to lean back and put his hands behind his head like he was relaxing at the beach. Pidge chuckled, and nodded in response to his question.

 

“Yeah, I think so. My mom and I are looking out for each other. I’m just glad I have her still around, she’s one of the last people I care about. And you guys, too.” She said with a smile, playfully shoving at Hunk, who was sitting across from her.

 

”At least good ol’ Hunk here is a chef god. He makes THE best breakfast in all of...everywhere!” Pidge dramatically cried to Keith, making large hand motions, “whatever food you can think, Hunk masters it!” Hunk blushed and looked at his lap.

 

”Awww, Pidge...” He gushed. Suddenly, the cafeteria doors slid open, and Lance sped in. He stopped at their table and was breathing heavily.

 

“Woah, Lance…you okay?” Keith asked, carefully putting a hand on Lance’s shoulder.

 

“Y-Yeah I’m fine. Can one of you, uh, come with me? There’s something I need to see and I…well, don’t want to do it alone.” He admitted.

 

“I guess I can help.” Pidge offered, “it would give me something to take my mind off of…y’know.” She shrugged somberly. Hunk made a small noise of protest.

 

“Pidge, you haven’t properly eaten in almost two days. You should stay and eat this meal. Food is important.” Hunk argued softly.

 

“Look, I’ll come back, I promise. I just have to do this one thing, alright?” Pidge said as she stood up from the table. Hunk watched her with a worried expression.

 

“...Alright. I’ll save it for you.” Hunk relented. Pidge gave him a small hug and then dashed away with Lance.

 

“You’re the man, Hunk!” She called as Lance practically dragged her from the room. Hunk watched them leave, before turning back to Keith. The two were now alone in the room.

 

“You good here by yourself?” Hunk asked, standing up to go save Pidge’s food. Keith nodded.

 

“Yeah…Shiro’s busy with Adam, figured I’d let them have some time to themselves.” He replied, Hunk quirked an eyebrow, and Keith groaned. “ Not THAT kind of busy !” He protested.

 

“I’m just messin’ with ya!” Hunk held a hand out while laughing, “see you around.” He waved, as he walked out of the cafeteria.

 

~

 

“Ow! Lance! Quit…Quit pulling so hard!” Pidge winced and yanked her wrist free from his hold. The two of them stopped and Lance spun around to face her. His breathing had increased and he sounded panicked.

 

“Woah…Lance, what’s wrong?” Pidge held his shoulders and looked at him.

 

“Pidge, this is going to sound crazy, but I think…I think Ina’s dead.” Pidge backed up suddenly.

 

“Why the hell would you think that?!” Pidge exclaimed.

 

“I-I don’t know how to explain it! Yesterday, I had a dream. There was this girl, chained up in some basement looking room. And someone shot her. Right in the heart, a-and now that I’m thinking about it more, the girl sounded kind of like Ina wh-when she screamed for mercy. But it makes no sense!” Lance put his hands on his head.

 

“Look, I’ve had my share of weird dreams, so fuck it, let’s go to wherever you think you saw this.” Pidge took Lance’s hand, this time dragging him along.

 

After another few minutes of navigating the halls, Lance turned a corner and froze. When Pidge gave him a confused look, he shakily pointed forwards.

 

“Th-That’s the door from my dream…It’s r-real…” He whimpered. Slowly, the two of them inched forwards towards the door.

 

“I’ll go down, you stay up here and keep watch alright?” Pidge nodded in agreement. As gingerly as possible, Lance creaked open the old door. He gulped when he saw that there were indeed a set of rickety stairs leading down.

 

“Be careful, alright?” Pidge whispered nervously. Lance smiled anxiously, but nodded. He continued down the stairs, and Pidge looked down the hallway both ways.

 

In the basement, Lance immediately covered his nose. The smell was horrid, and was something you wouldn’t get from any other room. Lance’s nerves were on edge as he forced his feet to move him forward. He turned around a corner, past walls of pipes and a big boiler. He stopped in his tracks and gagged.

 

A large puddle of dried blood stained a mini tiled area, the red stain surrounding a drain in the floor. Lance looked away and held the wall with one hand.

 

“This can’t be…Th-This can’t be happening.” He mumbled to himself. Lance tried to steady his breathing, backing away from that area. He stopped when he felt his back hit something metal.

 

“Jesus… Ay, ¿qué hago? ” Lance breathed. All at once, something grabbed the back of his shirt and tried to pull him. Screaming in terror, Lance yanked himself away from the mysterious force.

 

¡No me toques, carajo! ” He whirled around, seeing an arm reaching out from the other side of the bars. The area was poorly lit, so Lance couldn’t see the figure inside.

 

“Please…” The raspy male voice said, “please…help…” Lance trembled and his eyes darted around his surroundings.

 

Que carajo, ¿dónde estoy? ” Lance yelled as he ran off down another dingy hallway. He reached a set of double doors, the ones chained and boarded up. At first he didn’t notice the doors secured shut, and tried to push right through them. When the doors didn’t budge, he looked down.

 

“What the-?” Lance said to himself, when the doors suddenly jumped out at him. With a yelp, Lance jumped back as numerous snarls and moans came from the door. Lance knew immediately what that was.

 

“Oh, my god…Oh my god…” Without wasting another second, Lance turned and bolted for the stairs. He whizzed past the creepy cells, and past the bloody drain. He sped right up the stairs and slammed the door shut, much to Pidge’s shock.

 

“Pidge, come on now, we need to get everyone and get the fuck out of here.” Lance took Pidge’s hand again and started to run with her. As they ran down the hall, Pidge tried to get his attention, but Lance was in tunnel vision and refused to stop.

 

“Oh my god, Lance! Tell me what you saw!” Pidge persisted. Slowing to an intense speedwalk, Lance turned.

 

“There’s a locked door with a herd of walkers behind it down there.” He said, voice wavering. Pidge’s eyes bulged.

 

“Well, what the hell are we waiting for? Let’s go !” The two of them ran off down the hall in search of their group.

 

~

 

The man in the cell watched with dismay as Lance panicked and ran away back up the stairs and out of the basement. Several minutes passed, until he reached under a small cot he called his bed, and grabbed a small shiv. Carefully, he began once again to chip away at a deteriorating part of the cell wall.

 

Psst. Psssst! Hey, stop! They’re gonna notice you-!” A second voice from another cell started to whisper urgently, but was cut off as two sets of footsteps entered the area.

 

“What’s going on here, hm?” Ellen’s voice echoed through the cells.

 

“Sanda. I was just-.” The man tried to stutter, but Ellen cut him off.

 

“I know what you were trying to do. You thought you could escape, get help, and tell everyone what we’re doing down here. But you are not going to ruin this for us. We’re keeping you and him alive because we think you’re more valuable in research than as a subject, but I’m starting to wonder if I made the wrong call.” As she spoke, Kuron went to another cell, dragging the younger man, either late teens or early twenties, into the same cell.

 

“What are you doing with him?” The man asked furiously. Kuron pulled out a gun and aimed it at the younger one’s head.

 

“Either you start cooperating, or he won’t be alive to see the world get back to normal thanks to us. To me .” Ellen’s ultimatum made the man’s fists clench.

 

“Let him go. You don’t have to put him in the middle of this.” He spat. Ellen shook her head.

 

“At this point, letting him go would only raise suspicions. I’m afraid we can’t do that. Make your choice.” Her voice lowered dangerously. Kuron pressed the gun into the young man’s temple.

 

“D-Dad…” The young man squeaked out.

 

“Alright. Alright fine. Whoever your next…volunteer is, I’ll take some blood samples and see if I can find something.” He relented. Kuron lowered the gun, still roughly grabbing the back of the young man’s tattered clothes.

 

“Very well, then. Kuron, let him go.” At that, Kuron shoved the young man into the older man’s arms.

 

“Now remember, you made this choice. If you want to backtrack, you won’t be the only one paying the price, Sam.” Ellen said darkly as she closed the cell door.

 

“...Fuck you, Sanda.” Sam hissed. Ellen just shrugged her shoulders, and her and Kuron walked away and out of the basement.

 

“D-Dad, I-I’m…” Sam shushed him.

 

“It’s okay…It’s okay, Matt. We’re…We’re gonna be okay.” Sam reassured. Matt just rested his head on Sam’s chest and tried to steady his breathing.

 

~

 

Lance and Pidge burst into the Garrison common room. Lance’s family, as well as Colleen, Shiro, and Adam were in there.

 

“Jesus, you two! Where’s the fire?” Veronica joked.

 

“Fire? More like walkers .” Pidge panted, trying to catch her breath. Everyone sat up straight.

 

“What do you mean? Is something the matter?” Shiro asked. Just then, Hunk came in, as well as his parents, followed by Allura and Romelle.

 

“I saw you two go by. Everything okay?” Hunk asked.

 

“And we heard a commotion start from in here.” Marcus added.

 

“Listen, this is gonna sound… extremely insane, but the basement is full of walkers.” Lance said quickly. Everyone looked around, becoming frightened.

 

“Silvio, Nadia, go with Romelle over by the corner. We need to have an adult conversation.” Luis said sternly.

 

“But we want to listen!” Nadia protested.

 

“Go, now.” He insisted. Sadly, Silvio and Nadia went and sat down farther away, guided by Romelle.

 

“Alright, now what do you mean it’s full of walkers?” Adam asked.

 

“We mean it’s full of walkers! Duh!” Pidge shouted, exasperated. “It’s not safe here anymore, we need to get everyone and get out of here now.” She said quickly.

 

“I think Sanda is…killing people and letting them turn. T-There was a bloody drain, a-and restraints.” Lance added.

 

“Mother fucker , I knew she was batshit crazy!” Veronica yelled.

 

“Calm down, hija , let’s give it a moment before we get angry.” Miguel tried to calm her down.

 

“She wanted to leave you guys out there to die. You should’ve never trusted her.” Veronica added.

 

“She what ?” Colleen asked in disbelief, her face twisting into a scowl. Pidge looked at Veronica, a similar face to her mother’s also on her face.

 

“I never have.” She growled.

 

“So what’s the plan? Are we making a run for the cars and getting out of here?” Olivia asked, pulling Hunk close.

 

“We might have to, but we should see if anyone wants to come with us. It’s possible Sanda’s the only one behind this.” Shiro replied, “is everyone here?” Shiro surveyed the room.

 

“I’m going to look for Ryan, James, Nadia, and Windy. They might want to come with us.” Romelle spoke up. Allura stood up with her.

 

“I’ll go with you.” She said firmly, shooting Romelle a smile. Adam stood as well.

 

“I’m going to get Curtis. He deserves to know, too.” He said. Shiro pulled him in for a kiss, and stroked his hair.

 

“Be safe, okay? See if you can find Kuron also!” Shiro called as Adam, Romelle, and Allura left the room quickly.

 

“Marco, Luis, go grab as much of our stuff from our rooms and get back here. !Rapido! ” Nancy ordered urgently, ushering her two oldest sons out.

 

“Everyone meet back here as soon as possible, this is serious.” Shiro called as the others left the room as well.

 

“Hey, uh, Shiro?” Lance’s voice was laced with a new layer of worry. Shiro turned around and met his eyes, “...where’s Keith?” He asked.

 

~

 

“I’m sorry to bother you with this, really, I just couldn’t find anyone else.” Ellen sighed, a smirk hidden on her face.

 

“It’s no problem, I guess. I’ve fixed my fair share of appliances with my dad before.” Keith shrugged. He followed Ellen down the same stairs. At the boiler, Keith inspected it for a few seconds.

 

“Nothing…seems to be wrong with it, though? Are you sure it needs work?” He asked. Ellen turned to face him, a wicked smirk on her face.

 

“Oh, there’s nothing wrong with the boiler, I just needed a way to get you down here.” She said calmly.

 

“What-?” Keith started to say. Growing uneasy, he started to back away, when something smacked the back of his head, and he fell down to the ground. Barely conscious, Keith coughed and looked up. Kuron moves next to Ellen and they both stood over him.

 

“Y…Y-You fucking…” Keith choked out, before he slumped down, passed out. Kuron immediately grabbed his body, and started to hoist it towards the drain. Ellen walked over to the cell.

 

“Now’s your time, Mr. Holt. Time for you to prove your worth.” She said with an evil glint in her eyes. Sam and Matt stared back, sharing frightened glances.

Chapter Text

Keith’s head was spinning. His eyes opened ever so slowly and he groaned in pain. His vision was still coming back to him, but he was able to just barely make out the outline of someone standing in front of him, examining something above his hands. To his groggy vision, the figure looked vaguely familiar.

 

“...Pidge?” He mumbled, trying to focus his eyes. The figure stopped and stared.

 

“Not…exactly. I’m her brother.” Matt replied. Keith blinked a few times, the focus in his vision beginning to improve.

 

“M-Matt? Holy shit…you’re alive?” Keith asked in disbelief. Matt nodded solemnly.

 

“Yeah. Dad and I both are. Sanda and Kuron plan on forcing Sam to help them with this and are using me as the incentive.” He shook his head.

 

“Wh-What are they even doing?” Keith pressed. Matt nervously turned towards the direction of the basement door.

 

“Sanda wants to find a cure. She’s taking people down here and killing them to do it. It’s what happened to Ina, and you’re next.” He said in a nervous hushed voice, just in case.

 

“Fuck…You’ve gotta unchain me. We can get out! We-We’ll grab Sam and get the hell out of this basement!” Keith tugged at his wrist restraints. Matt looked torn, and he sucked in a breath.

 

“Keith, I can’t. We have no weapons. They have guns. Even if we tried they’d still probably kill all of us.” Keith slumped back in defeat, “the best I can do is buy you as much time as possible.”

 

“I understand…Thanks, Matt…Pidge would be proud. She was… heartbroken when Sanda told her and your mom that you were dead.” Keith offered a weak smile. Matt smiled back, then suddenly did a double take.

 

“Hold on, what did you say?” He asked, voice becoming increasingly alert, “are you saying Pidge and mom are here ?” Keith nodded.

 

“Yeah! They’re part of our group! Shiro, Adam, Hunk, and more! They’re alive, too, Matt.” As Keith talked, Matt lowered his head, softly laughing out of relief.

 

“Oh, thank god! This whole time I was so worried… We always used to have each other’s backs but I, obviously , haven’t been around. I’m just glad she still has mom. Pidge was always so stubborn, mom always knew how to persuade her, though.” He sighed, rubbing his eyes. “Shit, no, Keith. Sh-She can’t be here. Sanda is crazy, Pidge could be next ! If you’re able to get free you need to get your group out-!” Before he could continue, they heard the sound of the basement door creak.

 

“Shit!” He whispered, standing up straight and backing off as Ellen and Kuron entered.

 

“H-He’s been tied up, miss.” He said quietly. Ellen flashed a glance to him, before turning to Kuron.

 

“You handle this one. I’m taking Holt Junior here back to the cells.” She turned back to Matt, roughly grabbing his arm. “Get moving.” She snapped coldly. Matt turned to look at Keith as he was dragged away. Matt quickly mouthed “Good luck!” to him as he was pulled around the corner.

 

“Kuron…Kuron come on, please. Don’t do this…We’re Shiro’s brothers! H-He wouldn’t approve of this!” Keith thrashed his arms as hard as he could. Kuron fiddled with the gun.

 

“No. Shiro is my brother.” He replied coldly, inching closer to Keith’s face. “Do you know how much time Shiro spent looking after you? How much he neglected our relationship for some…bratty teenager.” He spat.

 

“I didn’t…” Keith trailed off as Kuron continued.

 

“Every time I tried to make plans to see him again, it was always ‘ Keith has to do this!’ or ‘ Keith is doing that!’ Fuck me, I guess, right? How do you feel, knowing you came into our lives and just royally fucked everything up? What the hell did Shiro even see in you? Potential? ” Keith could feel the tears in his eyes begin to water at the surface.

 

“Hell, you stole his car when you first met him, and yet he treated you more like a brother than he ever did with me!” Kuron shouted, “so what makes you so fucking special?” Keith couldn’t form words properly for a moment. His eyes remained trained on the floor.

 

“I had nobody. My dad was dead, nobody wanted a child like me in their family. Shiro is a good man, Kuron. Maybe he did see potential in me, maybe he thought I could be the next greatest flyer at the Garrison. But he saw a child first. A lonely, miserable child with nobody there to look out for him. He knew I needed a home. He knew I needed family and he provided that!” Keith’s voice rose, as well as his head. The tears were freely flowing down his cheeks now. “Maybe I’m not related to him by blood. But I am just as much his brother as you are. So go on. Kill me. Kill me and see just how much your brother will want to be around you.” He smiled bitterly, almost wildly.

 

“With pleasure.” Kuron presses the gun to Keith’s chest. “Say hi to your father in hell for me.” Kuron’s finger twitched on the trigger.

 

“Do it.” Keith grinned evilly up at him.

 

Kuron! Put that down, dammit! We haven’t even taken his alive blood samples yet! If you shoot him now, so help me, you’ll be his replacement!” Ellen shouted, coming back around the corner. Kuron growled, but complied and lowered the gun.

 

“Heh, that’s what I thought.” Keith taunted.

 

“Shut up !” Kuron cried, swinging the gun into Keith’s head again, knocking him out cold once more.

 

~

 

“Shit…Who saw Keith last?” Shiro asked anxiously as he faced the rest of the group.

 

“I was with him at breakfast, but I left him in the cafeteria alone. I’m sorry, I should’ve stayed!” Hunk said.

 

“It’s not your fault Hunk, you didn’t know any of this. But Keith could be in legitimate danger right now, we need to go help him.” Shiro said with urgency.

 

“Wouldn’t it be helpful to make a plan first-?” Veronica started to ask, when the doors slid open, and everyone came in, led by Allura, Romelle, Adam, Marco, and Luis. The latter two were also carrying several bags of supplies and belongings. Pidge clenched her jaw as she saw Iverson.

 

“Would anyone like to tell me just what is going on?” Iverson boomed, annoyed.

 

“Did you know?” Pidge asked, stepping forward towards him. Iverson raised an eyebrow.

 

“Know what?” He questioned. Pidge made a point to address everyone standing behind him.

 

“That the basement here is filled with walkers.”

 

The crowd talked in hushed panicked murmurs.

 

“Walkers?!” Lauren cried, “they’ll escape and kill us!”

 

“Can we even trust Sanda anymore?” Jake shouted.

 

“This place isn’t safe! We should leave!” Tim shouted above everyone else.

 

“No! Nobody is leaving!” Iverson yelled, “Where’s Sanda? She should know about this.”

 

“She does know… she’s the one who’s been putting them there.” Colleen sneered to the one eyed man. He seemed taken aback.

 

“I… was not aware. This is, uh, certainly a shocking discovery.” He stammered.

 

“What’s worse, we think she has Keith locked up down there right now, ready to kill him and add him to her walker collection.” Lance shivered uneasily.

 

“You going to help us rescue our friend? Or will you just turn a blind eye to that, too?” Pidge asked, sarcasm dripping from her words.

 

“O-Of course not… yes, send a group to get him. The rest of us can figure out what we can do to prepare in case anything happens.” Iverson replied.

 

“Well, I’m leading this team.” Shiro said almost instantly, “Keith is family, and I’m not letting anything happen to family.”

 

“Speaking of your family,” Adam interjected, “did anyone else realize that Kuron is also not here right now?” Shiro scanned the room.

 

“You don’t think he’s…” Lance began, but he didn’t finish as Shiro put the pieces together in his mind.

 

“Shit… Shit, shit okay… we have to do this now , who’s coming with me?” Shiro asked. Lance instantly raised his hand.

 

“I’m coming. I can show you the fastest way to that hallway. Time is crucial.” Shiro nodded in acknowledgment.

 

“I’ll come. Need all the willing volunteers you can get, right?” Nadia Rizavi offered.

 

“Right, anyone else?” Shiro looked to the crowd.

 

“I’ll go.” Miguel stood up. Nancy grabbed his hand.

 

“No! Mi amor you can’t! It’s too dangerous!” She pleaded. Miguel turned to her and smiled.

 

“I’ll be fine, dear. No need to worry. I love you.” He kissed her on the cheek and walked over to Lance, his limp still moderately present from his leg wound.

 

Papá , mom is right, you were shot in the leg!” Lance protested.

 

“And you were beaten and knocked out and suffered internal bleeding. Your point?” Miguel chuckled, “I’ve been letting you do a lot of dangerous things on your own lately, but I am your father, and it’s a father’s job to protect his son.” He said firmly. Lance looked worried, but relented. Shiro gathered four handguns from Rebecca and handed one to each member of their rescue party.

 

“Let’s go save that mullet boy.” Lance said, in an overly deep voice, pretending to sound cool. As they left, Nancy watched through the doorway with worry.

 

“Be careful!” She called out. Lance and Miguel turned back, each offering a blown kiss to her.

 

~

 

Keith came to once more, this time no longer putting up a fight. Sam stood in front of him, holding a syringe.

 

“Mr. Holt…?” He croaked out. Sam gave an apologetic look, before sticking the needle into Keith’s arm. The young boy gave a small whimper.

 

“I’m sorry about this, son. I’m sorry. I’m doing the best I can to buy you time.” Sam reassured as he drew blood. In a much more hushed tone, he added, “We’ll figure something out, I promise.” Keith let his tears flow as the removal of blood made him fatigued, and he passed out once again.

 

~

 

In the large common area, Nancy sat alone, silently crying to herself.

 

“Don’t worry, mamá , they’ll both get back alright.” Marco consoled, putting a hand on her shoulder. Luis and Veronica came over as well.

 

“Exactly, Lance is toughest young boy I know. He can fall down and get right back up.” Veronica added.

 

“Both he and dad are going to be okay. They have each other to watch their backs, and Shiro and Nadia as well.” Luis commented. Nancy felt a little bit better, and she smiled to her remaining children.

 

“How did I get so lucky to have such wonderful hijos like you? Come here.” Nancy pulled the three young adults into a big hug.

 

Nearby, Hunk paced back and forth in a corner of the room, his nails nervously being chewed on.

 

“Hunk, sweetheart, are you alright?” Olivia asked gently, putting a hand on his shoulder, stopping his pacing. He turned around to face them.

 

“I’m doing okay, I guess. Just kind of, well, anxious.” He replied.

 

“About what? You can still talk to us.” Marcus said gently, the three of them taking a seat on the floor.

 

“I’m just… worried for Lance and them, you know? What if-if something bad happens to them put there? I could’ve stayed with Keith, why did I walk away? He could be dead and it’ll be all my fault.” Hunk lowered his head. He felt a pair of hands wrap around his shoulders.

 

“Hunk, don’t be silly. None of that could be your fault. You don’t want to think like that, alright? You’re our little boy, and we hate seeing you upset. Let’s just agree to blame this on Sanda. She’s the one behind all of this.” Olivia coaxed softly. Hunk nodded after a moment of silence.

 

“Yeah… Yeah, this is Sanda’s doing.” Hunk repeated, “thank you guys. I love you both.” He smiled, and Marcus and Olivia embraced him in a hug.

 

“We love you too, my son.” Marcus sighed happily.

 

Nearby, a small crowd of the survivors were hatching a plan of their own.

 

“What if this walker mob really does get out, what do we do?” Windy asked with uncertainty.

 

“We should go get weapons! Who knows when this could happen!” Lauren cried out. The others murmured loud agreements.

 

“Everyone needs to calm down!” Allura shouted over the loud crowd, “we don’t even know if the walkers can get out by themselves. Maybe they’re locked up somehow. We need to just take a breath and solve this rationally.”

 

“Oh, your group is so great at solving things rationally, huh? Is that why I got a lunch tray to the face yesterday?” Lauren quizzed bitterly.

 

“I beg your pardon? Do you have anything else you’d like to share?” Allura shot back, stepping up to Lauren. As the two women stared each other down, a small group snuck out of the room, consisting of Sablan, Rebecca, Calvin, Alicia, Tim, Kihyun, and Darren. The seven of them slipped out of the room unnoticed, dashing down the hall towards the armory.



“Don’t think I won’t hesitate to defend myself.” Lauren sneered.

 

“Defend yourself, Is that what you call cowering away after you’ve been hit once?” Allura chuckled. Romelle interjected, pushing the two away from each other.

 

“Enough!” She shouted, then pointed a finger at Lauren, “Sanda may be a two faced bitch, but she made it quite clear that we’re all one big group now. So unless you want to get knocked on your ass again, I suggest you stop picking fights.” Lauren absorbed her words with a stunned expression on her face, then she turned and walked away in a huff.

 

“This is exactly why we all fucking hated your class, Montgomery!” Pidge shouted as she cupped her hands around her mouth. While Pidge gave Lauren her death glare, Iverson came up beside her and Colleen.

 

“Hello, Holts.” He began awkwardly. Both girls turned to look at him.

 

“Iverson. What is it this time?” Colleen asked, a hint of sarcasm in her voice.

 

“It’s been quite a while since we’ve seen each other-.”

 

“Not long enough.” Pidge muttered under her breath. Iverson appeared to hear this, but opted to ignore it.

 

“It’s been a while, and… I wanted to formally apologize for how we treated the… situation with your family last year.” He said in a formal yet sincere tone.

 

“Well, little late there, don’t you think?” Pidge questioned, arms folded over her chest.

 

“Yes, I know this is… long overdue, but here’s hoping you believe in ‘better late than never’.” He replied. Colleen sighed.

 

“Apology accepted, I suppose. We’re in this together. No point in holding grudges. Right, Pidge ?” Colleen said, turning to look at her daughter. Pidge returned the gaze, then looked back at Iverson.

 

“Sure, I guess. But don’t expect me to stick my neck out for you anytime soon.” She said as she rolled her eyes and walked away.

 

Near the doorway, Adam stood, watching the empty hallway. Curtis came up beside him.

 

“You worried?” He asked. Adam remained silent for a moment.

 

“A little. But not for Shiro, if that’s what you mean. That man is the strongest man I know. Surviving a year in space, and now he’s got a metal arm.” Adam chuckled, “there’s nothing that’ll stop Shiro.”

 

~~~~~

 

“Wake up, kid. It’s time.” Keith startled awake to the sound of Ellen’s voice. He groaned, finding that he was still chained up.

 

“Why do you do this?! Is this what you did to Ina? Do you just pick someone and kill them with no remorse?!” He shouted.

 

“Hey, now, not everyone that participates in my study is from here. Sometimes I’d go out and find small groups or lone survivors. They’re the easiest to pick off. The reason for doing this, Keith, is so much greater than you understand. Sure it can be about the money, or fame after I figure out the cure, but what about the power ? Nobody would dare oppose the great woman who saved the rest of all humankind from these walking corpses. So what if I have to sacrifice… a few lives along the way?” She explained. Keith just shook his head.

 

“Y-You’re psychotic…” He breathed quietly.

 

“Maybe I am, only a little. But who’s going to care when I save the world.” She replied smoothly, before stepping back to let Kuron take the center once more.

 

“For the record, I’m going to enjoy watching the light leave your eyes.” Kuron said with a smug smirk as he leveled his gun with Keith’s heart. The chained boy lowered his head.

 

“Go on. Do it.” He mumbled. Kuron’s finger twitched on the trigger. Just as he went to fire, the telltale creak of the basement door sounded. Then, a screeching battle cry rang out. Lance came barreling around the corner, charging straight into Ellen and sending both of them right to the ground.

 

Kuron .” Shiro let out a betrayed breath upon seeing his own brother about to kill their adoptive brother. Before Kuron could reply, Shiro charged him, smashing his back into the wall just a few feet away from Keith.

 

“He was… getting in… the way!” Kuron cried in strangled intervals. He managed to land a punch to Shiro’s gut, but the metal armed man bounced back, pinning him back against the wall again.

 

“So you were going to KILL HIM?! You’re NOT the brother I grew up with! Go to hell!” Shiro yelled back, punching Kuron with his metal arm. On the ground, Lance wrestled to stay on top of Ellen. The latter raised her leg and kicked him off of her, making him fall to the floor in a daze. Before Ellen could continue her assault, Miguel rushed to his son’s aid, grabbing her and throwing her against the wall, causing her to slump to the floor as well.

 

Lance stood up and looked at the incapacitated woman. With a scowl on his face, he held his gun tight, and smacked the gun into her temple as hard as he could. Ellen went flat on her back, knocked out cold. Kuron saw this, and immediately fled down one of the basement hallways.

 

“Is everyone alright?” Nadia asked, checking Shiro’s head and body for any visible injuries. Miguel looked over Lance as well.

 

“I think we’re all okay. No one’s hurt too bad.” He panted, then his gaze focused on Ellen’s unmoving body. “Is… Is she dead?” He asked.

 

“I don’t know.” Lance replied quietly.

 

“Can somebody, um, get me free?” Keith piped up. Shiro immediately sprung into action.

 

“Oh my god, Keith , I’m so glad you’re okay. How did this happen?” Shiro asked, tugging at the handcuffs around Keith’s wrists, then he tried one ones down at his ankles.

 

“Sanda and Kuron, they… knocked me out to be a part of their experiment.” He explained, “Kuron was jealous of me. Of us. How we seemingly had a closer bond than you two did.” Shiro paused, surprised.

 

“Kuron was always the jealous type. Maybe if he didn’t stew in his own self pity and jealousy then this could’ve played out different.” Shiro sighed. Lance began to dig through Ellen’s pockets, until he found a silver loop of keys.

 

“Shiro, look! Keys!” He tossed them over to Shiro, who quickly began testing them on the cuff locks. After about three key tries, he freed Keith’s wrists, then the next key was for his ankles.

 

“Alright, Keith’s free, hallelujah, let’s get the hell out of here!” Nadia exclaimed, inching for the doorway, but Keith froze.

 

“No! We can’t go yet!” He protested. Shiro raised an eyebrow.

 

“Why?”

 

“The Holts. We have to save them.” Keith looked panicked and desperate.

 

“Keith, Pidge and Colleen are safe with everyone else. It’s okay.” Shiro reassured, but Keith grabbed his wrist.

 

“Not them! Sam and Matt! They’re alive and Sanda has been keeping them down here!” Keith cried. Lance gasped and covered his mouth.

 

“They tried to get my help… I ran away… Come with me, I know where they are!” He shouted, and the five of them ran down another hallway, following Lance. After a quick minute of navigating dark, ominous basement halls, Lance came to the hallway of barney prison cells.

 

“Sam? Matt? It’s Keith! I got help, we’re here to rescue you both, too!” Keith called.

 

“Keith! Third cell, left side!” Matt’s voice called. The group raced to the source, stopping at the bars upon seeing the weary faces of the two male Holt family members.

 

“Commander Holt…” Shiro said in surprise.

 

“Good to see you, Shiro.” Sam smiled.

 

“I’ve got Sanda’s keys,” Lance said with a small smile, “let’s get you guys out of here-.”

 

“That is it !”

 

The seven individuals turned, startled. Kuron stood at the very end of the hallway, in front of the chained up double doors.

 

“Kuron, what are you doing?” Shiro shouted.

 

¡Ay, carajo! ” Lance muttered, trying out the keys faster.

 

“If I don’t get the life I want… Then nobody gets to live at all!” He screamed, beginning to unchain the doors.

 

“Lance, hurry!” Keith shouted impatiently.

 

“I’m trying !” Lance squeaked back nervously. Kuron yanked the unraveled chains from the door handles, then began smacking the doors and rattling them, before sliding the wooden board out as well.

 

“I got it! I got it!” Lance practically screamed as he turned the key in the lock and threw the cell door open.

 

“GO!!! MOVE, NOW!!!” Miguel shouted in an authoritative voice. As everyone began to run, Shiro turned back, watching as Kuron stood mere feet from the door as walkers pushed their way out.

 

In seconds, numerous walkers had latched onto his twin and began to tear into him. Even the zombified Ina took a chunk out of Kuron’s shoulder. Shiro felt a tinge of guilt, but blocked out his twin’s screams of agony as he joined the rest of the rescue team as most of the other walkers began to chase them.

 

“Ah, my leg!” Miguel winced as he tried to run. Lance came up and pulled his arm around his shoulder.

 

“Here, we can help each other move. It’s a son’s duty to look out for his father.” Lance states confidently. The seven of them raced up the basement stairs as the walkers followed suit. Lance and Miguel made it out of the room just mere seconds before the first walker touched ground floor.

 

“Shiro, what do we do? Should we go back to the others or get more weapons from the armory?!” Keith questioned. Shiro looked behind them, seeing the massive herd following them down the hall.

 

“We’ll be cornered if we go to the armory this way, we have no choice but to head back to the others!” He replied. Taking up the back, Lance and Miguel worked together to run alongside one another. All of a sudden, Miguel’s injures leg gave out, sending both McClain’s tumbling to the ground, with groans of pain from both of them.

 

The group stopped and turned in horror. Keith quickly ran back, grabbing Lance’s hand and pulling him to his feet. Lance turned around, and grabbed Miguel’s wrist to help him up, but Miguel yelled in pain and couldn’t stand.

 

“Lance, go .” Miguel told him. Lance’s breath hitched.

 

No ! I can save you!” He screamed. The walkers were now just feet and inches away. Lance pulled out his gun, and desperately fired off round after round, killing as many walkers as he could. But it was all for nothing. A few walkers got too close, and began biting into Miguel’s legs. The man screamed, and so did Lance.

 

“GO NOW!!!! ¡¡¡CORRE!!! ” Miguel howled as more walkers encircled his lower body, tearing into him. Lance began to sob as Keith grabbed the back of his shirt and had to forcefully pull him away.

 

“Dammit, Lance, come on! We have to go! Move it!” He shouted, before forcing Lance to turn and run alongside the remaining members.

 

As they ran, Lance forced himself to keep his head looking straight forward. Every few seconds, he squeezed his eyes shut and tried his hardest to block out the sound of his dying father’s screams.

Chapter Text

A small group of seven people walked down an empty hallway at a quickened pace.

 

“Sablan, is this… is this right?” Rebecca asked, unsure. The gray haired man turned to her.

 

“Yes. It is. Come on, we’re almost there.” He replied as the two of them lead the way, with Calvin, Darren, Tim, Kihyun, and Alicia following behind.

 

~

 

“Are they still not back yet?” Hunk asked anxiously, wringing his hands.

 

“Not yet.” Pidge replied with a vaguely nervous huff of air. Hunk whimpered quietly and started to pace back and forth again. Pidge noticed and walked over to him.

 

“Hunk, hey. Look at me, alright? They’re gonna be okay.” She reassured softly. Hunk felt Pidge’s small hands on his shoulders. “Say it with me, alright? They’re gonna get back okay.

 

Hunk watched her lips, and took a shaky breath. “Th-They’re gonna get back okay… yeah. They’re gonna get back okay.” He repeated, giving her a tiny smile. “Thank you, Pidge-.”

 

“CLOSE THE DOORS!!!”

 

The sudden yell from down the hall made everyone stop in their tracks. Seconds later, Shiro, followed by Keith, Nadia, Sam, Matt, and Lance barreled back into the common room.

 

“Holy hell, you guys! What’s going on?!” Adam asked, rushing to Shiro’s side.

 

“Are you all okay??” Allura pressed, but received no answer.

 

“The walkers… in the basement… they’re loose and headed this way…” Nadia panted from her new spot lying on the floor.

 

What ?!” Hunk exclaimed fearfully. In no time, everyone was shouting in a panicked frenzy.

 

“Iverson, lock these doors NOW!” Shiro shouted. Iverson nodded, and hastily scanned his Garrison ID badge over the nearby door scanner. The doors slid shut with the quiet metal hiss, this time sealing closed and locking.

 

“H-Holy shit. There were so many of them.” Keith breathed. Next to him, Lance was leaned against the wall.

 

“They… They…” He stammered.

 

“Lance, what’s wrong, sweetheart?” Nancy asked, coming to his side. He looked up at her with tear stained eyes and cheeks. Her face fell.

 

“...Where's your father?” She asked, voice barely audible. Lance launched himself at her, crying once more.

 

“He saved me. We fell and he pushed me forward and told us to run and then he just… oh my god he’s gone , Mamá , h-he’s gone…” Lance sobbed. Nancy’s face was slack as she cradled Lance. It didn’t take long for her to start crying as well. Behind them, Veronica, Marco, Luis, and even Silvio and Nadia, all joined the hug as they all silently cried together.

 

“Kuron didn’t make it out alive either. But after what I witnessed? I don’t think he deserved to live.” Shiro sighed, shaking his head.

 

“Shiro’s right. That son of a bitch deserved to get ripped apart.” Matt growled.

 

“Matt. Language .” Sam scolded quietly.

 

“...Matt…?” A small voice asked from within the group. Pidge pushed past the people standing around, seeing her very own father and brother standing mere feet away from her. “ Dad ?”

 

“Katie…” Sam broke into a wide smile. In seconds, Pidge raced across the room, launching herself onto her father. Colleen wasn’t far behind. Her and Matt formed their own huddle of family reunion tears.

 

“D-Dad…Matt, oh my god, I-I thought you were dead. They said you were.” Pidge cried, hugging Matt.

 

“We’re alive. We’re… okay, considering.” Sam replied. Colleen embraced Sam in a firm hug, and he looked at her now shorter hair.

 

“I see you cut it. It looks beautiful.” He smiled. Colleen couldn’t help but laugh as joyful tears stained her face.

 

“I’ve missed you.” She sighed.

 

“I thought I’d never see you again…” Pidge whimpered quietly as she tightly held her brother. Matt just smiled and softly stroked her hair.

 

“Never thought you’d be this happy to see me. Where’s all the jokes, huh?” He teased.

 

”I thought you died, asshole.” Pidge laughed through tears, “give me this one time. Then I'll really get you.”

 

“I hate to interrupt the mourning and the family reunion, but we’ve got a very pressing problem .” James spoke up, pointing towards the doors. Everyone turned, and sure enough, banging began to sound on the other side.

 

“Shiro what’s the plan?” Adam asked quickly.

 

“How many guns do we have here with us right now?” He asked.

 

“Mine.” Nadia said.

 

“Mine.” Lance’s voice barely registered.

 

“Mine too.” Shiro finished, “anyone else?”

 

“I’ve got this.” Iverson pulled a small revolver from a concealed holster on his hip, “does it help?”

 

“And I’ve got this rifle.” Jake added, taking his sniper rifle off of his shoulder, “someone else can use it.”

 

“Anything we’ve got will work. But we need more.” Shiro responded urgently.

 

“I’ll take the rifle.” Colleen spoke up, taking the rifle from Jake.

 

“Will a couple people be willing to make a run for the armory?” Shiro asked.

 

“I can. I’ve done my fair share of scavenging and dashing before I made it here.” Jake offered casually.

 

“I can go with you, too. I’ll know which guns and other weapons to grab.” Windy agreed. Carson turned to Veronica.

 

“I’m going, too.” He said with a smile.

 

“Carson, no! Come on, it’s too dangerous.” She pleaded with him.

 

“I have to do something, don’t I?” He leaned in and the two of them shared a kiss on the lips, “I’ll get back safe, Vero. Don’t you worry.” He gave a charming smile, before he joined Jake and Windy as the three of them sprinted down a separate hall.

 

“Lance, you’ve got a gun, do you think you can handle being out front lines at the moment?” Shiro asked gently, putting a comforting hand on the boy’s shoulder. Lance kept his eyes fixed towards the ground, and shook his head, handing Shiro his handgun.

 

“I’ll do it.” Hunk stepped forward, “I can.” Shiro smiled, giving the gun to him.

 

“I appreciate this, Hunk.” Hunk nodded and smiled.

 

“What about knives? Any type of melee weapons, does anyone have one?” Iverson suddenly asked in addition.

 

“I’ve got my knife.” Pidge said. Matt looked at her and Colleen with a surprised look.

 

“Since when did you both become so skilled in weapons?” Matt asked, an eyebrow raised.

 

“Oh, my sweet Mattie,” Colleen chuckled, “there are some things your dear old mother knows that you’ve never heard.” Matt just held out his arms, his face only doubling in confusion. Pidge was no help, as she just laughed and shook her head.

 

“Oh! I have this thing!” Sam exclaimed, pulling out his makeshift shiv from a pocket, “it’s not very big, but better than nothing, right?”

 

“Excellent. You know how to kill these things?” Shiro asked. Sam just nodded.

 

“The head puts them down.” He said. Now Shiro nodded.

 

“Good. Now, we just wai-.”

 

“Uh! Shiro? Everyone?” Romelle’s panicked voice came from near the locked doors. She was backing away slowly, and everyone saw why. The metal doors were starting to cave ever so slightly, little by little. Veronica and Luis quickly moved the distraught Lance and Nancy out of harm’s way, and Allura pulled Romelle to her side. The door suddenly cracked, and indentations formed.

 

“Shit, shit… It’s gonna give! Weapons up!” Pidge yelled urgently. Everyone immediately pulled out whatever small knives they carried on them. Shiro, Nadia, Iverson, Colleen, and Hunk all held up their guns towards the door.

 

“We’ll shoot them, if it gets too chaotic we’ll back up and the people with knives can take the front, then we’ll cover you from behind! Got it?” Shiro shouted as the doors began to get forcefully shoved apart. The group behind them nodded readily, as the first walker struggled its way through the bent and curved metal. Its body scraped on the metal, and blood leaked from its arms and torso.

 

It growled and snarled and stumbled closer. Hunk steadied his arms, and took the first shot.

 

~

 

“What are we grabbing when we get there?” Carson asked as he speedwalked alongside Jake and Windy.

 

“Everything. We get in. Grab guns. Grab anything else. Then go.” Windy replied.

 

“Well, that sounds easy enough.” The three of them rounded the corner to the hallway with the armory doors. They stormed into the armory, and froze when a gun was stuck in their faces.

 

“What the fuck?” Jake asked, staring back at the face of Darren. He, along with the other six were in the armory, loading several guns and knives into duffel bags.

 

“Put the gun down, Darren.” Sablan ordered, exasperated. Darren shot him a glare, but lowered the gun.

 

“When did you guys get here--? Whatever, help us grab guns, we have to get back to the group NOW!” Jake urged, racing through the room and picking up a few guns left in the room.

 

“We’re not going back there.” Alicia replied, slinging her own lookout rifle over her shoulder. Jake looked at her, confused.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“He means we’re getting out of this hell hole while we still can. Sanda is a lunatic and we don’t plan to stick around for her to wind up killing us.” Calvin said smoothly.

 

“Wait… you’re abandoning us?!” Windy cried.

 

“And you’re taking most of the weapons.” Jake noted sourly, seeing many of the armory’s guns loaded into many bags, “there’s only seven of you, how many weapons do you need?”

 

“Can’t be too sure.” Tim interjected. Jake rolled his eyes at the man and huffed, brushing past him.

 

“Look, take one of these bags and the rest of the guns left in the room. If you all are crazy enough to stay and fight like this… good luck.” Sablan said, before leading his group out of the armory.

 

“I’m sorry…” Rebecca said quietly as she slid past the three. Darren was the final one out of the room. As he left, he whirled his gun on them.

 

Don’t try to follow us. Then I will shoot.” He snarled, before catching up with the others.

 

“Fucking COWARDS!” Jake yelled as he watched them go down the hall and reach the corner. They stopped and looked to the right.

 

“Oh, shit! Walkers!” Kihyun shouted, shooting down the hallway. Darren fired as well, before they opened a door behind them that led outside and quickly slammed it shut. Walkers then began to pour around the corner and took notice of Jake.

 

“FUCK! Part of the herd broke off! Grab anything you can NOW and let’s fucking GO!” Carson slung the offered duffel bag over his shoulder, also grabbing a couple extra pistols from the shelves. Jake spotted a duffel bag not like the Garrison’s. He realized it was the bag Shiro’s group had brought, and quickly grabbed it.

 

Windy breezed around the room, grabbing boxes for bullets and tossing them to Carson or Jake. She spotted a long red and white sword leaned up near the back. She remembered seeing Keith hold it outside the walls and grabbed it hastily.

 

“That’s all we can get, go go go!” Carson shouted. The three of them immediately broke out running out of the room. As they entered the hall, the walkers had almost reached the armory doors.

 

“Shit!” Windy cried, shooting an approaching walker in the head as she turned to flee. Without turning back, the three of them ran as fast as they could back to the others.

 

~

 

Nadia fired her gun, sending yet another walker to the ground. The gun wielders in front held their positions as a few walkers at a time wriggled their way through the small opening between the door. However the small opening was continuing to be bent open further, allowing more walkers at once to get in.

 

Iverson shot down two walkers, then stopped to reload.

 

“There’s too many! We’re gonna run out of ammo!” He shouted as Colleen covered him. Everyone behind him held their knives at the ready, just in case. Luis kept Silvio and Nadia behind him protectively.

 

“Fuck, watch out!” Veronica exclaimed, seeing both sides of the metal doors snap off, and fall to the ground, allowing the full herd to advance. Everyone screamed and took several steps back.

 

“Stay calm everyone! We’ve got this!” Shiro encouraged, continuing to shoot. The walkers spread out in a wider line, bullets flew in a whirlwind of noise. A group of walkers was getting closer, and closer to the front lines, until…

 

All of the walkers near the front were shot dead from the side. Jake, Windy, and Carson raced back into the room, throwing the duffel bags to the ground.

 

“Excellent timing, you three!” Ryan said with a hint of sarcasm as he grabbed a gun from the bag. Keith noticed his sword and took it. He smirked confidently as he gripped the handle firmly. Lance eyed the bags on the ground uneasily. He looked over at the heaps of walkers being gunned down and stabbed. In a split second, Lance made a dash for the bag. He grabbed his prized rifle, loaded rounds into it, took aim, and fired, blowing a walker’s head off.

 

He pulled the lever back to feed another round up, and fired again, another headshot. Veronica stood next to him, firing her own pistol as well. She turned to him briefly and smiled.

 

“Nice shot, Lancey.” Her voice was surprisingly genuine for words that would normally come across as teasing. But Lance turned back to the herd and fired some more rounds off. Near the edge of the group, Lauren and Joaquim fired into the herd. Lauren began to inch closer to the herd.

 

“Lauren, dammit! Get back here!” Joaquim yelled over the gunfire.

 

“We have to push them back! Why don’t you stop being stupid and help me!” She retorted. Almost instantly after she said that, a walker lunged at her. “Oh, fuck!” She cried in fear, dropping her gun. The walker ripped into her arm, making her scream in pain. More walkers shambled towards the scream as Lauren fell to the floor.

 

FUUUUUCK!!! ” Lauren screamed as walkers devoured her body from the stomach down. Joaquim watched in horror as she was eaten. Allura noticed this and hurried over, and without missing a beat, she raised her gun and shot Lauren in the head, ending the screams.

 

“Bitch deserved it.” Allura said under her breath as she resumed shooting the walker’s out in front of her. Keith kicked a walker in the chest, slicing a second walker in the face. The first walker lunged back, but Keith stabbed it right in the skull. He turned to his right, slashing the head right off of a third walker, then kicking a fourth to the ground and stabbing it in the eye. A fifth walker lunged at him, and Keith tried to swing at it, but his sword was stuck.

 

“No no… Grrrngh! Come on!” Keith muttered. He ducked away from the walker as it was suddenly shot in the head. Lance lowered his gun and nodded to Keith with an uneasy smile. Keith yanked his sword from the walker’s head and fell back to allow the others to shoot easier.

 

Lance watched Keith back behind him, and tinted to shoot again, only he froze. Within the herd of walkers, he saw something.

 

Or some one .

 

Lance saw the form of an undead Rachel, but she wasn’t moving, and stared back at him with a devilish glare.

 

You killed him, Lance.” Her voice echoed in his head. His hands started to shake.

 

“No… No, I didn’t… I didn’t…” Lance was too frightened, he didn’t see a walker getting closer and closer to his face.

 

“Lance? Lance!” Marco and Veronica shouted, noticing their brother beginning to fade out of reality.

 

“Watch out!”

 

In an instant, the image of Rachel disappeared and the walker, mere inches from him, was shot in the head. Windy stood, gun smoking.

 

“Little too close, don’t ya think?” She shouted. James turned to the commotion, and gasped.

 

“Windy! Behind you!” He tried to warn, but it was too late. Before she could react, a walker grabbed ahold of her left arm and took a heavy bite out of it.

 

“Windy?! Fuck, NO !!” Ryan shouted, shooting the walker in the head, then opening fire on several oncoming walkers around them, shooting five consecutively in the head. Windy fell to the ground in a panicked state, crying out and clutching her bitten arm. Ryan raced over, scooping her up bridal style and rushing her to the back of the group.

 

“Keith! Keith, come here, I’m gonna need your sword!” Ryan yelled desperately. Keith did come running seconds later.

 

“Ryan? What’s going-? H-Holy fuck…” Keith breathed, seeing the blood gushing from Windy’s bite.

 

“We’re amputating the arm now. I need you to do it, one clean cut. Please .” He begged firmly, while hurriedly slipping off his orange Garrison jacket uniform. He quickly tied it around Windy’s bicep and rolled up her sleeve. “ KEITH ! Come on, man! Do it!” He yelled.

 

“What’s happening over there?” Silvio asked, voice trembling as he shakily pointed at the gruesome scene of Windy’s bite.

 

“Is she gonna die?” Nadia asked fearfully as Luis pushed his kids away.

 

“Don’t look, just don’t look, you two.” He said quickly.

 

“Keith! D-Do it! Please!” Windy cried as she looked down at her bleeding arm. Keith gave the vote wound one last look, before raising his sword and cringing.

 

“I’m sorry.” He muttered, before swinging down as hard as he could. The force combined with the blade sliced clean through Windy’s arm, cutting it just near the elbow crease. A howl of pain erupted from Windy as James quickly rushed over, offering his Garrison jacket as cloth to put pressure on the arm and stop the bleeding.

 

“Fuck… F-Fuck…” Windy panted, before slumping unconscious in Ryan’s arms. Keith stared at his sword, the top was completely drenched in a deep shade of red, Windy’s blood. Keith lowered the sword and stared off into the never ending herd of walkers as the group continued to shoot.

 

~

 

Down the Garrison hallways, towards the basement door, the last few straggling walkers stumbled away from the door. In the basement, lying unmoving in the drain area, lay Ellen Sanda. Her chest slowly rose and fell.

 

Suddenly, her eyes snapped open. Her green-gray irises looked around the dark, musty room. She slowly stood up and grabbed a gun discarded in the shadows near her place on the floor. She checked its magazine, seeing it still had half a clip left, then chuckled to herself.

 

She moved her head and suddenly winced in pain. She reached up and felt her right temple, where a bit of blood was still leaking. Grimacing, she gripped her gun firmer, and slowly began to make her way out of the basement, a vengeful scowl plain on her face.

Chapter Text

The deafening sounds of walker growls combated the ear splitting gunshots going off at the same time. Pidge shot two walkers in the head, letting a third draw closer so she could kick it in the knee, then drive her knife into its head.

 

Next to her, Matt held a stance for an approaching walker. He slashed it across the cheek, then drove the knife through its face into the brain.

 

“Not bad.” Pidge nodded, smirking at him.

 

“Yeah, for being held prisoner six odd months, I think I’m doing pretty good.” Matt panted, shoving a walker down to the ground and stomping the skull open with his boot.

 

“Getting tired?” Pidge teased, shooting another walker, then cursing silently when she realized her gun was out of ammo.

 

“Give me another hour or so. I’ll get back to you.” Matt replied cheekily, while Pidge tossed aside the empty clip and pulled a full one from her back pocket and loaded it in.

 

On the ground behind everyone, Ryan sat holding the unconscious Windy in his lap.

 

“Ryan, we need your help fighting them, man! Come on!” James shouted, shaking his shoulder. Ryan just shook his head.

 

“What if she turns? I have to make sure she doesn’t attack anyone if that happens!” He shouted back. James looked back and forth between the two, before standing back up. Ryan noticed a stray walker and shot it in the head, before turning back to Windy’s unmoving form.

 

~

 

Ellen limped through the empty hallways, looking through each room in search of anyone at all. She walked a little farther, until she reached the infirmary doors. Up ahead, she saw the last cluster of walkers turn the corner, heading for the large common room. Among them being Ina.

 

Ellen was about to follow after them, when a drop of blood dripping from her temple reminded her that she still had to treat her injury. Grumbling to herself, Ellen entered the infirmary instead.

 

~

 

Keith sliced a walker’s head in half, then turned and stabbed another one in the eye. He swung back around once more, slicing two walkers’ heads off at the same time. He stabbed a walker through its stomach, holding it out until Veronica shot it in the head. Yanking his sword out, Keith thrusted it into the back of another walker’s head, pulling it free then immediately slashing through a final walker’s forehead.

 

“Keith! Get back!” Shiro warned. Keith turned, seeing thatcthe oncoming group of walkers was too much for him to handle, so he cautiously stepped back behind the gun wielders.

 

“We need to push these shits back!” Carson shouted to Veronica, “Sure, Lauren died trying but surely we can do better, right?” Veronica turned to him.

 

“We just need to hold them off! There can’t be too many left!” She yelled back.

 

“All I know is that there were truckloads of them! All of those moans behind that door did not sound like just a hundred or so!” Lance interjected.

 

“Well then, looks like we’ve got plenty more fighting to do!” Veronica groaned, shooting three more walkers dead. Off to another side, Hunk backed against a wall, shooting as many walkers as possible.

 

“Ohhhh dear. Ohhhh bad! Oh bad, bad, bad!!” Hunk whined to himself as more walkers closed in on him. He managed to shoot two more before his gun made the dreaded click of no more bullets. He shoved one walker away, and as the other lunged at him he held it away from him with as much strength as he could muster.

 

“No. No. No. No. NO.” Hunk groaned as the walker snarled and snapped its teeth at him. The other walker started to come back for him. Hunk tried to reach for his knife sheathed to his side, but couldn’t. A shot suddenly passed through the attacking walker’s head. Hunk stood there, frozen as he watched it fall. Olivia stood with her gun up firmly.

 

“Thanks, Mom!” Hunk shouted, before smacking the other walker across the face with the back of his handgun. He knelt down and began repeatedly bashing the head in to make sure it was dead.

 

“You okay, Hunk?!” Olivia cried out to him over the growls and gunfire.

 

“I’m fine! No bites!” He replied back. Olivia handed him a new clip for his gun, and he took it with much haste. Just as he loaded it in, Olivia shot another approaching walker as he turned around.

 

“Thanks… again!” He smiled.

 

“Love you.” She said, before shooting a few more times.

 

Colleen fired madly into the herd, watching contently as multiple walker bodies fell to the ground dead from her shots.

 

“That’s right, undead fucks! Come get some!” She yelled, firing off quicker rounds. Seven walkers fell dead as she sprayed them with bullets. Jake looked over and watched her shoot.

 

“Damn, Mrs. Holt! You’re rocking that rifle, that’s for sure! If we take this place back you should be on lookout!” He shouted.

 

“Mr. Barley, don’t even think about trying to get out of lookout duty!” Iverson cut in, glaring at him. Jake chuckled.

 

“Whatever, old man!” He teased. Iverson chose to ignore the previous comment, stabbing a walker in the head instead.

 

Colleen continued to fire, but she felt her arms getting fatigued and she started to pant as a drop of sweat rolled down her forehead.

 

“Colleen, honey, take a break, alright?” Sam offered gently, putting a hand on her shoulder.

 

“Take a minute to rest, Mom, we got this!” Matt added, driving his knife into the top of a walker’s head.

 

“Alright… alright…” Colleen surrendered, stepping back as Sam took her place. A walker lunged for him, but Sam thought fast, whirling around it, grabbing its hair on the back of its head, and stabbing it in the back of the head.

 

“Nice one, Dad!” Pidge winked. Sam smiled back, but instead Pidge gasped. A second walker was mere inches behind him. Pidge quickly shot and fired, killing it. Sam flinched heavily and turned, seeing the walker flop to the ground.

 

“Huh… nice one for you too, kiddo!” Sam repeated, winking back.

 

~

 

Ellen softly groaned as she applied bandages to her temple.

 

“That good for nothing boy…” She muttered, speaking of Lance, “ he did this. Him and all of those worthless people in their group. I’m gonna take care of them. I’ll make sure of it. And I’ll make sure those lousy Holts pay for betraying me.” She chuckled darkly. She stood up from her spot on the infirmary bed, and grabbed a pair of scissors to cut the bandage roll around her head.

 

She set the scissors down and picked up her gun.

 

“An admiral’s work is never done, I suppose.” She reasoned to herself, cocking the gun as she left the infirmary.

 

~

 

Allura swung her machete down into the skull of a walker, yanking it out as Romelle raised her leg and kicked a walker back, shooting it dead as it tried to rebalance itself.

 

“Need a break yet?” Allura asked, a hint of playful teasing behind the question. Romelle looked at her, raising an eyebrow.

 

“What’s that supposed to mean? I could go all day .” She retorted, giving a playful smirk as she flipped her gun around and let out a cry as she swung it into a walker’s temple as hard as she could.

 

“So you say.” The white haired woman said in a singsong voice. She stabbed another walker through the eye, “Let me know if you get tired, I can cover you, alright?” This time the statement was sincere.

 

“Will do. Same goes for you too, Allura.” Romelle replied, holding out a walker as Allura swung at it with a hard enough swing to take its head off. After that, they turned to the herd.

 

“Oh, shit , look at how many are still coming!” Romelle gawked. Allura pulled Romelle back a little protectively. Iverson was nearby, gun firing like mad.

 

“Careful, you two! Their numbers are increasing! This might be the eye of the storm, so to speak!” He shouted, shooting a few more walkers.

 

Luis held his knife, Silvio and Nadia standing behind him. Nancy stood out just in front of him, a gun in her hand, but no bullets fired.

 

“Come on, Mamá ! You can do it! Shoot one!” Luis encouraged. Nancy spotted a walker nobody had killed yet, and raised the gun.

 

Dios me perdóna por lo que debo hacer… ” Nancy mumbled to herself, before she took her first shot. The bullet pierced the walker’s head and it fell to the ground. The older woman watched in a shocked state.

 

“Excellent job! Keep at it, Mamá !” Luis shouted. Nancy, with newfound confidence, aimed her gun again and continued to help shoot at the herd of walkers, shooting many more in the head.

 

“I’m sorry, Miguel…” She silently cried as she shot, thinking of how her husband would’ve been proud.

 

Nearby, Adam held two knives, stabbing a walker with his left hand, kicking a walker away with his right foot, yanking the knife out, then repeatedly stabbing at a walker with both knives, eventually driving one stab into the head, right between the eyes.

 

“Easy there, tiger.” Shiro joked, holding his gun steady and shooting another approaching walker.

 

“Gotta make sure we don’t die today, right, ‘Kashi?” Adam smirked, twirling a knife between his fingers, before slamming it into the temple of a walker, he watched the undead body slump to the ground as he pulled the knife free.

 

“God, you know you look so hot when you’re stabbing these guys to death?” Shiro sighed. Adam shot him a teasing glare.

 

“Don’t get distracted, dear, you might get eaten alive.” Adam lightly chuckled. Shiro shot two more walkers.

 

“If I play my cards right will you eat me instead?”

 

Takashi .”

 

“Yeah, yeah, stay focused, sure.” He smirked to himself. Iverson watched as the herd thickened as the large clumps of walkers made their way to the front, the numbers being hard to control. Matt slashed at a walker, accidentally slitting its throat instead of killing it. He gagged at the dark blood gushing out, this time stabbing the walker in the head. Next to Iverson, Marcus reloaded his gun.

 

“There’s too many of these fuckers, man!” Marcus shouted worriedly, “What should we do?!” Iverson stood in thought for a moment, before nodding to himself.

 

“We may have to abandon this place. We’re gonna run out of ammo before we can kill them all, then we’ll be royally fucked!” He shouted.

 

“If you say so!” Marcus nodded in agreement, cocking his gun and moving back up to shoot at the herd. Iverson solidified his plan, moving out in front of everyone. Romelle shot a walker next to him, and he nodded to her out of gratitude.

 

“EVERYONE!!!” He yelled, “GRAB ANYTHING YOU CAN!! WE’RE MAKING A BREAK FOR IT!!” He ordered.

 

“What?! NO. We can defend this place!” Pidge protested, firing furiously into the crowd of walkers.

 

“There’s too many walkers! We’ll all be killed!” He reasoned loudly.

 

“No we WON’T!”

 

“Yes we WILL, Miss Holt!” He shouted at the top of his lungs, “if you could just stop being stubborn for one minute and just LISTEN-!” Iverson’s rant was cut short as a deafening gunshot rang out. Romelle flinched and froze as she felt blood splatter across the side of her face.

 

“What the hell… Iverson?! ” She screamed in horror. A bullet hole was now in Iverson’s head, blood leaked from it as his limp body collapsed on top of Romelle. She fell to the ground and let out an agonizing scream as her ankle was twisted painfully underneath the large man’s body.

 

“HOLY SHIT!” Pidge exclaimed, watching the lifeless body of her former instructor collapse. She looked up, seeing Ellen standing in the adjacent hallway, gun still aimed.

 

“SANDA’S SHOOTING AT US!!! MOVE!!! ” She warned. Everyone ducked back, trying to stay low and away from the sporadic gunfire, while still keeping the walkers at bay. Romelle heaved Iverson’s body off of her, trying to crawl to Allura, but her ankle gave out as she tried to stand. Olivia saw this and raced over to help.

 

“Come on, sweetheart, get up! You can do it!” She encouraged, helping the young blonde to stand. Just as the two limped to safety, Ellen fired a shot which hit Olivia right in the ankle. The woman screamed and fell forward, luckily being caught by Marcus.

 

Mom!! ” Hunk wailed.

 

“I’m okay… I’m okay…” She repeated, grabbing Hunk’s hand. Veronica was doing her best to shoot the walkers and keep them back.

 

“I’ve got you, honey, it’ll be alright!” Marcus reassured as he helped Olivia limp towards the back of the group to safety.

 

“Come on, guys! We can’t get distracted!” She shouted. Ellen stopped firing into the crowd, instead setting her sights on Veronica. She raised the gun and held the trigger firmly. Carson looked over and saw the admiral approaching her.

 

“NO!” He cried, and in a split second moment, Carson dashed in front of Veronica, throwing her out of the way. Ellen fired the gun, the bullet hitting Carson directly between the eyes. Veronica watched in despair as her boyfriend’s body crumbled to the ground a few feet away from Iverson’s.

 

CARSON!!!! NO!!!” She cried, tears welled up in her eyes, and she let out a scream of rage as she began to shoot back at Ellen. The admiral was screaming now.

 

“YOU ALL DID THIS!!! YOU DESERVE THIS PUNISHMENT TO BE BROUGHT DOWN UPON YOU!!! I WAS TRYING TO SAVE THE WORLD, BUT YOU WERE ALL JUST IN MY WAY!!! NOT ANYMORE. I’D RATHER BE DEVOURED ALIVE BEFORE HAVING ANY ONE OF YOU UNDERMINE MY ATTEMPTS TO BETTER HUMANITY!!! I’LL GET THE RESULTS I WANT!!! ONCE AND FOR ALL!!!” Ellen screamed, continuing to blindly fire into the crowd of walkers, actually killing a few.

 

Suddenly, as soon as she stopped her rampage, a bullet crashed through her abdomen, then another directly through her chest. The woman moaned in pain and fell down to her knees as a thick red stain coated the center of her dark green Garrison uniform.

 

Pidge stood firmly. The muzzle of her gun smoking as her hands trembled. Her breathing was sharp, but her face was one of pure rage. Stabilizing her arms, she looked Ellen dead in the eyes, before whispering.

 

Fuck you, bitch.

 

Pidge fired a third and final shot. The bullet soared right into Ellen’s skull, sending the woman’s body flying backwards and collapsing on the ground. A new fresh pool of blood began to form around her entire body. Pidge took deep breaths as she lowered her gun.

 

“She took my family from me… bitch had to die.” She mumbled to herself. She was so stunned, she didn’t hear the oncoming walker to her right.

 

“Watch out, Katie!” Sam called. He stepped up between her and the walker, wrestling it until the two of them crashed against a wall.

 

“Dad!” Pidge cried, aiming the gun. But when Pidge pulled the trigger, nothing happened. She was out of ammo again. “Shit!” She cursed.

 

“Get the fuck… off of me!” Sam growled to the walker as it snarled and gnashed at him. When things looked bleak, the walker was finally shot. Some of its blood splattered onto Sam’s face and clothes. Colleen stood there, gun in hand, a small smile on her face.

 

“Guess my break’s over, huh?” She smiled. Sam took a moment to catch his breath, running to his wife.

 

“Have I ever told you how much I love you?” He panted, embracing her. As the group began to resume killing walkers, Joaquim stared at the bodies of Ellen, Carson, Iverson, and Lauren.

 

“This is your fault…” He muttered, looking at Pidge, “ your fault !” He shouted louder this time. Everyone turned to look at him.

 

“Back off, man! Sanda was crazy!” Jake shouted.

 

“Besides, don’t follow in Lauren’s footsteps and go picking fights!” Pidge said, “it won’t help your case.”

 

“No, she was right all along. All of this happened because your group showed up!” He shouted, voice growing increasingly hostile.

 

“Step back, Joaquim.” Allura warned, but instead Joaquin pulled out a knife.

 

“No! I’m going to get justice for Lauren! Maybe Sanda wasn’t even crazy! Maybe your group made her this way!” He yelled, advancing on Pidge.

 

“Leave her alone!” Hunk shouted, charging at the man. Joaquin just shoved him down to the side, making him groan in pain.

 

“Killing you all is the only way to stop this.” Joaquim raised the knife and went to slash at Pidge. “ I won’t let you get anyone else killed! ” The young teen shielded her eyes and stumbled back.

 

I said leave her alone! ” Hunk screamed as a gunshot rang out. Joaquim’s body stopped as a bullet passed through the side of his head. Thinking quickly, Pidge heaved his body into the group of walkers, most of them began to stop and feast on the five corpses lying in the room.

 

Hunk stood there with his gun.

 

“Oh my god… I-I just… I… N-No…” He whimpered, watching the dead Joaquim’s body be eaten.

 

“We don’t have time to stand here and gawk! Let’s do what Iverson was saying and get the fuck out of here !” Adam ordered. Everyone agreed, and turned for the main doors.

 

“Ryan! Is Windy still alive?” Nadia asked. Ryan felt Windy’s neck for a pulse, and after a few seconds nodded, relieved.

 

“Y-Yeah… she still has a pulse!”

 

“Good! Grab her and let’s go!” She shouted, running past him. Pidge watched Hunk stand there frozen, and grabbed his arm quickly to have him turn and run. Hunk snapped out of it, seeing his mother struggle to stand.

 

“Dad, carry the gun bag! I’ll help mom!” Hunk shouted. Marcus nodded, letting Hunk take Olivia’s arm as he grabbed a bag of guns and dashed for the doors.

 

“Romelle, can you walk?” Keith asked quickly. Romelle limped towards him, and he handed her his sword. “Use this! I’ve still got a knife, don’t worry!” Romelle nodded out of thanks as Keith rushed away.

 

“Come on everyone, let’s move!” Adam yelled as the main doors slid open and everyone ran out into the light of day.

 

As the group ran, Hunk, Olivia, and Romelle took up the back. A lot of the walkers began following them outside.

 

“Shit, where’s all the Garrison vehicles?!” Adam groaned.

 

“Fuck me, I bet Sablan and his group stole them.” Jake muttered.

 

“They left us? Why would they do that?” Marco asked, annoyed.

 

“Who knows… but we can’t focus on that now! Come on!” Adam directed the group onwards They quickly reached the gates, and Adam fiddled with the controls until they slid open to let them out.

 

“Get to the RV and other cars!” He ordered.

 

“Won’t the walkers follow us?” Lance asked wearily.

 

“We’ll just have to get moving before they do, then!” Adam sighed, running alongside them. As Hunk, Olivia, and Romelle reached the gates, Olivia’s injures ankle gave out.

 

“Are you okay, Mrs. Garrett?” Romelle asked as she and Hunk helped her stand.

 

“Yes… Yes I’m alright.” She replied softly. The three of them watched the oncoming herd. “Hunk, give me your gun.” Hunk looked at her, confused.

 

“What?”

 

“Give me the gun.” She said again, her voice slightly strained. Hunk obeyed, pulling the gun out and placing it in her hand. Olivia then slipped her arm off of Hunk’s shoulder, and then took his arm and draped it over Romelle’s.

 

“Go, you two. Get back to the others.” She encouraged firmly. Hunk’s breath hitched and he stepped forward.

 

“Mom, no -!”

 

Yes , Hunk. I’m slowing you down with this leg. The best I can do is lock these gates and give you all the chance to escape. If go with you, they could catch up and get us both. Now go.” She said as tears rolled down both of their faces. Olivia limped her way over to the gate controls, also pushing Hunk and Romelle past the gate barrier. Olivia presses the button to close the gates and stood solemn as they began to slide shut.

 

“I love you… so so much, my son. Beat this world for me. Kick its ass. ” She smiled tearfully.

 

“I love you, Mom. I love you!! ” Hunk shouted, starting to cry as the gates closed all the way.

 

“C-Come on, let’s go.” Romelle gently coaxed, leading Hunk away from the Garrison as he helped her walk.

 

Inside the gates, Olivia turned back to the herd. She checked her ammo, then raised her gun with a determined grimace on her face. She fired one after the other, taking down as many walkers as she could. She saw the zombified Ina stumble towards her. She hesitated for a second, before finally putting the young girl down for good with a shot to the head.

 

“We’re almost there, Hunk. Almost there…” Romelle breathed heavily, trying to keep him distracted.

 

Olivia checked her ammo one last time. One bullet left. She looked up, seeing that there were still massive groups of walkers advancing on her. She looked down at the gun and smiled sadly.

 

“Take care of him.” She whispered, looking to the sky. Looking back down, Olivia started to cry silently as she raised the gun to her temple. She shut her eyes as the walker moans grew louder and louder.

 

“I will always. Love you. My son.”

 

Hunk and Romelle stopped cold as a single gunshot rang out. Hunk covered his mouth and felt his legs turn weak. He opened his mouth to let out a cry, but no sound came. Romelle felt her eyes watering as well.

 

“Hunk… Hunk, I-I’m so sorry… I…”

 

“Let’s go… th-they… they’re waiting for us…” Hunk said through small rapid breaths. Romelle just nodded silently, and the two of them limped as fast as they could in the direction of the rest of the group.

Chapter Text

A walker shambled along the side of the RV. The sound of several pounding footsteps made it turn around. Before it could even let out a snarl, Keith thrusted his sword into its face.

 

“Get Windy inside the RV now! There should be some bandages in one of the cupboards!” He shouted, looking behind him as Ryan and Nadia raced into the RV, with Ryan still holding the passed out Windy in his arms.

 

Marco aimed his rifle and shot a walker approaching them from the back of their vehicle caravan. “What are we waiting for? We gotta go or these fuckers are going to be on top of us!” He pressed to Keith, shooting another walker.

 

“Romelle’s not here! We aren’t leaving her behind!” Allura shot back, swinging her machete into the side of a walker’s head.

 

“Hunk and Olivia aren’t here either…” Marcus added, his voice laced with worry.

 

“They’ll make it. I’m sure it’s only because Hunk’s helping them. He’s a good kid!” Allura said as her and Marcus each stabbed a walker side by side.

 

“Wait, look! I see something! Someone coming!” James called to the group. Two figures made their way into view. Hunk and Romelle. Once they reached the group, Allura rushed over and took a Romelle into her own arms.

 

“Let’s go now! We can’t wait any longer!” Hunk shouted as he ran for his family’s car. Allura and Romelle followed, getting in the backseat.

 

“Hunk. Hunk .” Marcus repeated, grabbing his son’s shoulder, turning him to face him. “Where’s your mother?”

 

Hunk’s eyes were glossy with welled up tears. “ We have to go. ” Was all he said as he climbed into the passenger seat. Marcus stood still as he processed the information. He walked around to the driver side of the car and climbed in, not saying a word as he started the engine.

 

Nancy, Luis, Marco, Silvio, and Nadia piled into their car as everyone else clambered into the RV. Lance slammed the butt of his rifle into the face of a walker as the Holts got in.

 

“Lance, come on!” Veronica called as she held open the door. Lance looked at the walker emerging from the trees around the road, and cursed to himself as he dashed in. Veronica slammed the RV door shut and turned to face the others inside.

 

“Where are we headed now?” Adam asked from his seat behind the steering wheel. The group shared a few looks amongst themselves. Colleen looked at Pidge, then turned to Adam.

 

“I know a place. Let me show you.” She spoke up with a small smile.

 

~~~~~

 

The caravan slowed to a stop outside of the Holt family summer home just outside of San Diego. Pidge hopped out first, followed by the rest of her family. The faint sound of the ocean waves from beyond the row of homes reminded Pidge of better times.

 

“It’s still… intact.” Pidge thought out loud, “I would’ve thought it had gotten destroyed after the government deployed those bombs. I watched it on TV, the day we last talked, Matt. It was… terrifying.” She looked up at him. Matt smiled and hugged her against his side.

 

“But we’re together again. Everything’s alright now.” Sam smiled as he and Colleen shared a kiss. The group disembarked the vehicles and made their way up to the house. Adam grabbed his bow and stepped out of the RV. Shiro looked at him with a quirked eyebrow.

 

“Didn’t you take that into the Garrison?” He asked. Adam cliched his tongue.

 

“You really think I’d trust them to look after my bow here? Thought you were smarter, ‘Kashi.” Adam teased, using his other free hand to take Shiro’s remaining real hand in his.

 

“Door’s unlocked…” Colleen said worriedly, looking back.

 

“Don’t worry, it’s fine!” Sam quickly reassured her, “Matt and I… we met up here, after Matt escaped the city.” He explained. Pidge and Colleen let out a sigh of relief, and Colleen opened the door. As most of the group shuffled inside, Pidge noticed something out of the corner of her eye.

 

“Hold up. Walker to our left.” Pidge called.

 

“Just the one?” Lance asked as he passed them.

 

“Seems like it.”

 

“Come on, Pidge and I can handle it. You go rest, Lance.” Matt offered. Lance shot him a small smile and continued inside. The Holt siblings approached the walker, but Pidge suddenly stopped.

 

“Oh… Oh, fuck.” Pidge softly cried, putting a hand to her mouth. Matt stopped as he saw this.

 

“Pidge, hey… what’s wrong?” He asked gently. Pidge gestured to the still approaching walker.

 

“That’s our neighbor. Colin Edwards… He was only 9… God, he used to always want to play with us, he was so… innocent.” Pidge noticed his bloody shirt was torn down near the collar, and a heavy bite mark was visible on his chest.

 

“Shit, you’re right, that… that is him… Jesus fuck.” Matt sighed. “I can, uh… I can take care of him.” Matt pulled out his knife and advanced on the undead boy. Pidge turned away as Matt carefully slid the knife into the back of the zombified Colin’s head.

 

“Le-Let’s go inside… I can’t look at him like this anymore.” Pidge pleaded. Matt just nodded and the two of them walked back across their front lawn and inside the house.

 

~

 

“Take her upstairs, use the master bedroom for her.” Sam instructed to Ryan. He nodded and carried Windy upstairs. Lance watched them go up and turned away. Luis watched his younger brother, and finally decided on speaking up.

 

“Lance. What’s got you looking so freaked out?” He asked. Lance just stared back at him, before grabbing his wrist and whisking him into a downstairs guest bedroom. As soon as the door shut, he started to cry.

 

“Lance, ¿qué pasa? ” He asked.

 

“I’m just screwing everything up… I got Dad killed, I got Windy bitten all because I can’t get Rachel out of my head…” He sobbed.

 

“What do you mean, you got Dad killed?” Luis asked, confused.

 

“We were running, I was helping him… We both tripped to the ground. Keith came back and helped me up, and I grabbed for him, but I wasn’t strong enough. He told me to run instead, but I stayed a-and I tried to pull him up, but it was too late. They’d already grabbed his legs and started to bite.” He threw his hands in the air, letting them smack against his legs limply, “then I saw Rachel in the crowd of those walkers and Windy saved me, but since she wasn’t looking ahead in order to help me, she got bit. My fault.”

 

“Lance… you’re hurting. Dad’s death wasn’t your fault. He was injured… He told you to go, he was willing to sacrifice his life for you to live because he loved you.” Luis told him firmly, “I don’t know if you think we’re going to hold it against you but none of us will. In fact we’re all in the same boat, we’re all grieving him and we have to be there for each other, so why would we tear down our own family, when we’re all that’s left?”

 

Lance smiled at his brother’s words and looked down at his hands sheepishly. “Thanks, Luis. Guess your title of ‘family therapist’ still rings true.” He joked.

 

“Oh, stop…” Luis chuckled.

 

“I’m serious! Do you know how many times you diffused some arguments between us all as kids? I’m surprised you didn’t actually become a therapist. Seriously, I don’t understand how our parents handled us.” Lance sighed, a ghost of a smile on his face.

 

“So, you feeling better?” Luis asked. Lance hesitated, but nodded.

 

“For now, yeah. Obviously my problems aren’t gonna go away overnight, but… I think it’ll be alright.” He said a of them exited the bedroom. As they did, Silvio and Nadia wandered over.

 

Papí , I’m hungryyyy!” Silvio whined.

 

“Me toooo!” Nadia chimed in. Luis chuckled at his kids’ theatrics.

 

“You’re not hungry, you’re just bored.” He replied.

 

“Hey! I just remembered that we have some coloring books and crayons upstairs! Follow me, I’ll get ‘em for you!” Matt offered. The two kids cheered and raced up the stairs with Matt following slowly behind.

 

In the kitchen, Sam stood alone at the sink. A mini calendar reading October 8th, 2018 say on the counter next to him. Colleen entered the kitchen behind him and looked at it.

 

“October 8th? That’s the day after this whole mess began…” She thought out loud.

 

“Yeah, Matt and I were here that day. I know changing the calendar doesn’t really mean much anymore, but…” He trailed off. Colleen reached out and flipped the calendar pages back until she reached April 17th. Then she dug through a few drawers until she found a pen, and drew a small 9 over the 8 in 2018.

 

“What’s one more time gonna hurt?” She smiled. Sam returned the living gaze, and was still for a moment, before he turned back and reached out to turn the faucet. Water came out of the sink and he smiled proudly. He stuck his hands under the water stream and proceeded to wash the walker blood off.

 

“Running water, huh?” Colleen quietly gasped in surprise.. “Looks like Katie’s ‘water renewing’ tactic actually worked last summer.”

 

“Doubt that there’s much left in its system, though. You think we could get any hot showers out of it?” Sam asked hopefully. Colleen sighed wistfully as she wrapped her arms around Sam’s neck.

 

“Oh, I would kill for a shower.” She laughed.

 

“You and me both. After months of being in that basement, I feel like a grungy rat.” Sam huffed. Colleen paused and looked down.

 

“I’m sorry for… for what that bitch did to you and Matty. She told us you’d died. God, we should never have listened-“

 

“You don’t have to say that. I know the circumstances seemed pretty hard to deny.” Sam cut her off softly, “The only thing I wish happened differently, though… is Katie having to take that shot. She shouldn’t have had to do that…”

 

“I know, I know… She just feels the need to protect her family. Us. I can’t exactly blame her because I know if she hadn’t taken those shots, I would’ve.” Colleen said, her eyes closed.

 

“I don’t want to talk like that. Let’s just… Forget all that and go be with our kids.” Sam turned to look at her. Colleen just smiled and nodded.

 

“Alright. I’ll be out here in the living room for when you finish up there.” She said, then kissed him on the cheek. “I’m so happy to have you back again.” She said quietly as she walked out.

 

Sam smiled as she left. Once she was gone, he turned on the faucet once more, cupping his hand under the water stream and bringing it to his lips to drink. He turned the faucet off and stared out the kitchen window, seeing a few birds take flight from outside.

 

In the corner of the living room, Hunk sat near the corner, his knees pulled close to his chest. He held a small photo in his hand and silently cried as he looked at it.

 

“Hunk? What are you looking at?” Marcus asked as he came and sat down beside his son. Hunk handed Marcus the photo. It was a picture of him, a slightly younger Hunk, and Olivia standing on a beach shore, all looking happy as could be.

 

“She loved the beach.” Hunk quietly sniffled. “She-She should’ve been here.”

 

“I already miss her so much, too.” Marcus sighed. “Your mother was always so confident in herself and her decisions. It’s what I always loved about her. You know she proposed to me ?” Hunk looked over at him and chuckled silently.

 

“I can totally see her being the one.” He laughed.

 

“And it wasn’t just kneeling down with a ring, either. No, that wasn’t grand enough for good ol’ Olivia Rose. She had fireworks, a violin player, and even a pony .” Hunk leaned in closer as his father told all the little details. By the time he’d finished, both of them were smiling.

 

“Your mother was the most wonderful person. I know she made the choice to give you a better shot at surviving. To give all of us a better chance.” Marcus said.

 

“Yeah… She’s amazing like that.” Hunk nodded as the two of them dived into comfortable silence, enjoying each other’s physical comfort.

 

~

 

On the upstairs balcony overlooking the backyard and beach shore, Pidge stood as the winds from the ocean blew her hair lightly across her face.

 

“Need some company?” Matt asked with a small smirk as he approached. Pidge smiled as she saw him, and launched into a hug around his body. Due to her being notably shorter, her face only came up to around his chest. Matt returned her hug equally tight.

 

“I know I’ve said this so many times already but goddamn, I missed you so much.” She said, trying to keep her tears back.

 

“Pidge, it’s okay . Nothing's gonna tear me away all of a sudden.” He chuckled. Pidge let go and adjusted her glasses.

 

“Bae Bae, um… she got… she got bit. A few months back. Walker got into the house, Mom and I didn’t lock down properly before leaving.” Pidge explained, rubbing her eyes. Matt’s face sunk.

 

“Shit… I’m sorry you had to go through that. Did Mom…?”

 

“Yeah. Yeah she did. She did it outside, then we, uh, buried her in the backyard, next to her old doghouse.” Pidge fiddled with something in her pocket and pulled it out.

 

“Before we left the house with Lance and Hunk, I grabbed a couple of these. Didn’t know if I was gonna see you again, figured I didn’t want to let you both… fade away, I guess.” Pidge handed Matt one of the small folded photos. It was a picture of Matt and Pidge, with Matt holding Bae Bae in the air. The picture had been taken only a year ago. Both of them looked so happy, and Bae Bae’s tongue was dangling out of her mouth as she appeared to be smiling along with them.

 

“Such a cute picture.” Matt gushed, “Times sure we’re different… Man, I miss casual summer days.” He sighed.

 

“I’m with you there.” Pidge stared out at the ocean waves, “Matt, what if we stayed here? We have enough people. We could fortify this out, the Edwards’ place. We could make ourselves our own community, a-and not have to worry about the walkers as much!” Her eyes lit up as she paced across the balcony back and forth. Matt reached out and stopped her.

 

“Pidge, securing a place like this… It’s just not logical. What happens if another herd rolls through and we’re cornered on the beach? Or in a house? It’s too open. All the trees across the street, someone could just climb them and snipe us if they wanted. I know what you’re trying to do and I admire it, but we have to truly take time to solidify which place would be most ideal to do it.” He replied. Pidge’s head drooped down and she huffed.

 

“I know, you’re right… I guess part of me just wanted to keep this place. It was our second home. We already had to lose our first. What if we never have a home again?” She asked anxiously. Matt wrapped his arm around her as the two of them looked back out over the shore.

 

“A home isn’t a place Pidge. It’s where your family is. With us, home is everywhere.”

 

~

 

Windy’s eyes snapped open, and she shot up on the master bed, breathing heavily.

 

“Shit! Jesus, y-you’re alive… Thank god.” Ryan hugged Windy tight as she calmed her beating heart.

 

“I… I am alive.” She repeated softly. Her eyes trailed down to where her left arm would’ve been. “So, that really happened, huh?” She asked sarcastically. Ryan’s shoulder’s bounced as he lightly laughed.

 

“So, do you feel hot? Any fever? Feeling weaker than usual?” He asked.

 

“N-No… No fever. I don’t feel hot.” She replied. “Where are we?” She suddenly asked as she took in her surroundings.

 

“Commander Holt’s house. He let us use this room. Figured you could use a good place to rest.” He smiled sheepishly.

 

“Beats a couch, so… thanks, I guess.” She smiled back. The two sat in silence for a moment, before Ryan cleared his throat.

 

“You know, I got so worried. I thought for sure we were gonna… gonna lose you. The five of us, James, Nadia, you, me, Ina, we’ve always been so close, and after Ina… I just had to make sure you were okay. I haven’t really left your side since… that happened.” He admitted.

 

Windy looked towards the window. “I didn’t think you cared about us that much.” She shot back, a hint of teasing in her voice.

 

“I care about you that much.”

 

Windy’s head snapped in his direction and the two locked eyes. She felt her heart suddenly beat a little faster. “You… You, um…” Windy couldn’t form a proper sentence, but it didn’t matter. Slowly, both of them leaned in closer to each other, until Ryan’s lips met hers. After a few seconds he pulled away.

 

“Yeah, I do.” He smiled. “Even before all this. I always enjoyed hanging out with you so much. I was just… nervous to say anything in case you didn’t feel the same.”

 

Windy stared into his beautiful eyes, before grinning happily back. “Yeah… I do.” She replied, her grin shifting to a more teasing smug one.

 

Suddenly the bedroom door opened, and Nadia walked in. She saw the two of their faces mere inches from each other and smirked.

 

“So, you two are finally a thing?” She asked smugly. Ryan quirked a brow.

 

“Finally?”

 

“Yep. James and I have had a bet going whether or not you two would get together for literal years. Looks like I win! Heck yeah! It’s a shame that money doesn’t mean shit anymore. He would’ve owed me 15 bucks.” She moped as she walked away. Ryan and Windy looked at each other and just laughed.

 

~

 

Downstairs, Shiro sat on the couch, his real hand delicately tracing along the metal of his new arm. Adam sat beside him. Sam came out from the kitchen, seeing the two.

 

“So, I see Sanda gave you my latest model.” He noted, silently asking permission to touch it. Shiro obliges, lifting the robotic arm up and Sam grabbed hold of it.

 

“If anyone had to have it, I’m glad it was you. Don’t think I could trust anyone else to not break it.” He chuckled.

 

“I’m just glad I don’t have to go one armed all this time. You’re a real lifesaver, Mr. Holt.” Shiro playfully punched the older man’s shoulder.

 

“Me? What about you? You helped get me out of these damn cells.” Sam retorted, “if anyone’s a lifesaver here, it’s you.” Shiro ducked his head modestly.

 

“So how does that feel? Any pain in it?” Sam asked. Shiro shook his head.

 

“Nope. Not at all. Your designs are quite literally flawless.” He replied. Next to him, deep in thought, Adam suddenly turned to face Shiro.

 

“Shiro, I’ve been… thinking.” He began, “You know how we never got a chance to officially get married, before… you know, the end of the fucking world? What if… What if we just say fuck it, we’re married? Maybe it’s stupid, I-I dunno. Part of me just wants the satisfaction of knowing we’re husbands , I guess. There’s no way to really have a wedding anyway.” Before Shiro could respond, Sam suddenly gasped in remembrance.

 

“But what if you could have a wedding? Several years ago my brother couldn’t find a priest to marry him and his wife, so I decided to go become ordained and perform the ceremony for him. I could still do it for you two if you’d like.” He offered. Adam was practically bouncing in his spot.

 

Shiro looked between them and began to laugh happily. “Let’s do it! Let’s have a wedding!” He exclaimed, embracing Adam in a hug. Pidge, Matt, Nadia, Ryan, and Windy all descended from upstairs as this was happening.

 

“What’s going on?” Pidge asked, seeing the three men’s happy expressions.

 

“Shiro and Adam here are finally getting married. Good on those lovebirds.” Lance cooed from the other side of the living room.

 

“A wedding? Oh, yes, I love weddings! Do you have any decorations? I’d love to help set something up!” Nancy offered.

 

“Count me in, too! I always wanted to be an interior decorator, this is… well, close enough!” Allura added cheerfully.

 

“I’d like to help. Need anything moved?” Hunk asked.

 

“There’s a bunch of folding chairs down in the basement. I don’t think you’ll be able to carry them all by yourself, though.” Sam explained.

 

“Don’t worry, I’ll help you, Hunk.” Marcus smiled as the two of them found the basement door and headed down.

 

“This is it…” Adam whispered to Shiro, almost in disbelief, “We’re gonna be married.”

 

~~~~~

 

About an hour later, most of the group sat in a few rows of folding chairs. Shiro stood beside Sam, anxiously waiting to see his groom emerge from the house. Matt and Pidge stood supportively behind him. From the front row, Hunk, Colleen, and Lance were all almost in tears at the sight of their happy friend.

 

Keith sat on the edge of the other end of the front row. Next to him, James stood guarding the ceremony with a gun. He turned and subtly looked at Keith, before whispering.

 

“Hey. Hey, Kogane.” Keith turned at the sound of the voice.

 

“What do you want? Are you gonna cause another argument?” He asked, exasperated. James paused and shut his eyes for a second.

 

“No. I’ll admit that was… immature on my part. I just wanted to say… Good work back at the Garrison. You were risking your life to help us, and you even saved one of us.” He said, subtly pointing to Windy. Keith looked at her, seeing Ryan sitting to her right, both of them secretly holding hands and smiling contently.

 

“She wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you. Just wanted to let you know I’m thankful. And… If we’re gonna be surviving together like this, it’s best if we try to… set aside any beef from before. So… I’m sorry, Keith.” Keith was almost stunned into silence by his words.

 

“Wow, uh… well, a-apology accepted. And, uh, no problem about saving her. It was the right thing to do after all.” He shrugged, turning back to the front. James awkwardly cleared his throat, before standing back up straight and focusing on keeping his watch.

 

The back door to the Holt house opened, and everyone turned to look. Veronica held the door as Adam stepped nervously out and began slowly walking between the aisles of chairs up towards Shiro.

 

“Isn’t this so beautiful, Romelle? It’s like… we’re back to before, almost.” Allura sighed. When she received to reply, she turned. Romelle was looking down at her lap, her eyes seemingly puffy. “Romelle? Are you… alright?” Romelle lifted her head and looked at Allura.

 

“It should’ve been me. Olivia sacrificed herself to save me . Buy me time. I should’ve been the one to save her.” Her gaze followed to Hunk, who looked happy, but Romelle could see the lingering hurt beyond his smile. “His mother should be sitting here with him, not… not being where she is now.” Allura rubbed her arm sympathetically.

 

“Olivia was a noble woman, she chose to do this. It’s not your fault, I promise. We all are grateful to her because if not for her, we’d still have the herd tailing us.” Allura quietly reassured. Romelle managed a pained smile, but nodded.

 

“I still feel terrible. I don’t think I can even look at Hunk. What if… What if he does blame me?”

 

Adam finally reached Shiro, stopping and standing directly across from him. Sam cleared his throat and began.

 

“I hate to start this off on an awkward note, but… I don’t recall exactly what I say, would you be alright if we skipped to the ‘I do’ bits?” He asked, quiet enough for only those two to hear.

 

“I don’t mind at all.” Shiro smiled, never breaking eye contact with Adam.

 

“Me neither.” Adam agreed, shaking his head.

 

“Well then, without any more delays. Do you, Adam Walton, take Takashi Shirogane to be your… apocalyptically… wedded husband?” Sam asked. Adam felt a tear drip down his cheek.

 

“I do.” He nodded.

 

“And do you, Takashi Shirogane, take Adam Walton to be your… apocalyptically… wedded husband?” Shiro just wanted to leap at Adam right then and kiss him.

 

“I do.” He repeated softly. Everyone couldn’t help but smile.

 

“Well then… I now pronounce you husbands. You may kiss the groom.” Sam stepped back and Shiro immediately spring forward, kissing Adam deeply. Everybody clapped softly, with a couple hearty cheers from Lance and Pidge. James and Veronica shushed them, reminding them that walkers could still hear them.

 

“So…” Adam began, pulling away from their long kiss, “Adam Shirogane it is, then?” Shiro just smiled.

 

“You’re so perfect. I love you so so much.” The two of them kissed again, and took each other’s hand and walked back towards the house, with everyone else following behind.

 

“Sooo~, how does an after party sound?” Pidge asked jokingly, “anybody got any alcohol?”

 

“Ooh! I want to finally try alcohol!” Matt cried excitedly.

 

“Shut up you’re still a baby 19 year old.”

 

“Am not! And I turned 20 back in May so haha! Besides why would you have alcohol, you’re still freaking 15!”

 

Sam smiled as he watched his children head inside. When nobody was looking, Sam pulled something out of his pocket and began heading down to the beach. From the doorway, Shiro noticed this out of the corner of his eye.

 

“Hang on one moment, babe, I’ll be right back. Just gonna go check on Sam for a minute.” Shiro pecked him on the cheek and began to follow Sam. As he walked away, Pidge turned back as well. Seeing both of them walking away, she squinted her eyes suspiciously.

 

“Sam! Mr. Holt, where are you going?” Shiro asked as he jogged up behind Sam as they both now stood on the beach shore. Sam stopped but didn’t turn around.

 

“You should go back, Takashi. I don’t… I don’t want anyone to see this.” Sam turned around slowly, and showed Shiro what was in his hands.

 

A gun.

 

“Sam…? What are you doing with that…” Shiro trailed off as Sam held out a hand. Shiro went silent as he watched Sam roll up the bottom of his shirt. Plain as day on his ribcage was a bite mark.

 

“...It happened with the walker right after Katie dealt with Sanda. I’ve… known the whole time. Please just go. Let me keep myself from turning, I don’t want any of them to see me like this-.”

 

“Dad? Shiro?” Both men froze at Pidge’s voice. Sure enough, Pidge, followed by Matt and Colleen came walking down the path and stood behind Shiro.

 

“Is that a… gun? Dad, what’s going on?” Matt asked anxiously. Sam shook his head and wordlessly lifted his shirt again. Everyone fell silent.

 

Oh, my god. ” In seconds, Pidge was across the distance and latched to her father.

 

“N-No… No no nononono! I just got you back, this can’t be happening, it ca-can’t-!” She sobbed. Matt and Colleen rushed over and crowded him as well.

 

“Dear god, Sam… why didn’t you say anything? We could’ve…” Colleen tried to reason, but Sam stopped her.

 

“There was nothing you could’ve done.”

 

“Bullshit! I could’ve been faster…” She cried.

 

“I could’ve done it, I wasted too many bullets on Sanda… I could’ve stopped this.” Pidge backed away, her head spinning.

 

“I think it’s best if… I take care of myself now. Before I’m too weak to do it.” Sam sighed, then he turned to face Colleen.

 

“Honey, I love you. So much. That’s been true since the moment I met you. We’ve been together for so long, it’s hard to remember life without you. But you’re strong, you’re smart, and you are Bad. Ass. I know for a fact you’re going to keep this family safe.” Colleen just smiled tearfully and looked at the ground. She hugged Sam once more, a tight, long lasting embrace.

 

Sam let go and solemnly looked to Matt. “Gosh, Matt. Where do I begin? Ever since you were a young boy you were always so optimistic and hopeful. Even when we were stuck in space you never gave up that we’d get home. And we did. You never gave up that we’d get to see Katie and your mother again. And we did.” Sam steppes closer and or his hands on Matt’s shoulders, “so you keep believing you will survive. And you will. ” Matt cried as Sam brought him in for a hug. “Take care if your sister, alright?” He added. Matt sniffled and nodded.

 

“I will. I promise. God, I’m gonna miss you so much, Dad.” Matt quietly whimpered as they hugged.

 

“I’ll miss you, too, Matt.” Sam said, barely audible. He then finally turned to Pidge.

 

“Katie… My little girl. Look at you, you’ve already grown up so much. You are so smart, and so brave. You’re never afraid to do what has to be done and I’m so proud of you for that. You don’t take anything from anyone. You hold your own when needed and have the most fiery personality I’ve ever seen. I love you, Katie.”

 

“I lo… love you, too.” Pidge cried, rubbing her eyes to clear as best as possible. Sam bent down and the two of them shared a tearful hug.

 

“One more thing, alright?” Pidge backed up and listened, “take care of yourself .” Sam smiled. He stood up and slowly moved to Shiro.

 

“Listen, Shiro, I know it’s… a lot, but… I want you to be the one to do it. Please.” Shiro had to stop and process the words churning through his head.

 

“Sam… I don’t think I can.” He finally said slowly.

 

“Please, Shiro. I can’t ask anyone else to do it… We’ve known each other for so long, it’ll just be one second and then… it’s over.” He pleaded weakly. Shiro bit his lip and screwed his eyes shut.

 

“...Alright. Shit, alright… I-I’ll do it.” He finally relented. Sam grasped his real hand in his.

 

“Thank you, thank you so much.” Sam handed Shiro his gun, and stepped backwards. Pidge watched him and her cheeks stained with tears.

 

“I love you, Pidge. Be great in life, kiddo.” Sam winked, his eyes also wet. Pidge started bawling harder, and Colleen wrapped her arms around her and Matt, turning themselves all around.

 

“Don’t watch… Don’t watch…” She chanted, to her children and herself alike. Shiro stared ahead at Sam and raised the gun.

 

“I’m so sorry, Sam.” He murmured. Sam just closed his eyes and smiled peacefully. Shiro’s finger trembled on the trigger. At last, the deafening shot rang out. Pidge let out a strained sob as she heard a body fall to the sandy ground.

 

Up at the house, Lance and Hunk were talking to one another when the shot went off.

 

“Holy crow! What’s going on down there?!” Lance suddenly exclaimed. Everyone came running from inside the house.

 

“Let’s not sit around, let's find out! Come on!” Hunk called urgently as he broke into a run after everyone else.

 

NINE MONTHS AGO

 

The sun shimmered brightly over the summer beach. Colleen was lying calmly on a beach chair, sipping on a glass of wine. Matt was carrying an inflatable inner tube that looked like a donut towards the water. Pidge was several feet away, feverishly digging away a tunnel of sand that led all the way up to their summer home.

 

Sam noticed her and kneeled down in front of her on the opposite side of the sand tunnel. “Whatcha making there, Katie?” He asked, intrigued.

 

“You know that water purifying device I made for the science fair last year at school?” She asked. Sam nodded in response. “Well, I brought it here with us, and now I’m digging a trench from the ocean to the house, to hook this machine up to some pipes and give our house its own source of fresh water !” She declared proudly. Sam looked at her work and nodded his head, impressed.

 

“Interesting… So where did you get the pipes?” He asked suspiciously, pointing to the rather large pile of metal pipes and tools long next to her feet.

 

“The Edwards’ gave them to me.” She replied quickly.

 

“They did? Oh, really?” Sam smirked.

 

“Yes! …After I agreed to babysit Colin tomorrow.” She added sheepishly. Sam laughed as Pidge frowned at him.

 

“Ah, well, as long as you got them responsibly . Just remember, be careful with tools, don’t break anything already there, and have fun.” Sam called as he walked away. “Oh, and we’re having lunch in a half hour! We brought peanut butter cookies, your favorite!”

 

“Thanks, Dad! Love you!” Pidge yelled back as she turned back around to her sand tunnel and continued digging.

 

NOW

 

Everyone raced down the slope towards the beach. As they saw the others down there come into view, everyone froze. Shiro, Colleen, and Matt all stood, teary eyed and still, while Pidge was on the ground, cradling Sam’s body against her. Loud sobs and rivers of tears escaped her body as everyone looked on in horror.

 

“Holy fuck… Shiro, what happened?” Adam asked. Shiro didn’t say anything, just stared at the dropped gun in the sand.

 

“Mr. Holt… Oh my god, Commander Holt is dead .” Curtis panicked.

 

What . Happened .” Jake pressed, looking between them all.

 

“H-He was bitten.” Colleen answered simply. Lance, Hunk, Keith, and Allura all pushed past the group to run and be at Pidge’s side. Lance and Hunk both placed supportive hands on her shoulders, while Keith and Allura sat beside her.

 

Blood continued to leak from the bullet hole in Sam’s head, and tears continued to stream from Pidge’s eyes. As her dead father lie there, she could only think one thing.

 

‘It was all for nothing. You spent months searching, but now he’s dead and half of your search was all for nothing .’

 

As the sun began to set upon the Pacific Ocean beach, the survivors all looked between the other and shared solemn glances.

 

Not one set of eyes was dry that evening.