Actions

Work Header

Still Here

Chapter Text

They were on the run.

They had no home, no shelter, no food, no water, and no medicine.

They had nothing and they were tiring.

"Ain't gonna last much longer Rick." Daryl told his leader, friend, lover. "People are tired, we haven't got much left."

They were on the open road with abandoned cars that offered nothing to help their survival. They were on a short break to allow people to catch their breath.

"I know. I know." Rick nodded his head. "How are you holding up?"

"Okay." Daryl shrugged. "Better than most. We need food and water. Let me try to hunt or something."

"No." Rick said firmly. "No one leaves the group, not right now."

"Rick," Daryl stepped closer. "We ain't gonna make it much longer. I can at least try to find us some food."

Rick looked back at his man and shook his head. His heart said hell no but his mind knew a different answer. He grabbed Daryl behind the neck and brought the man closer, their foreheads touching one another.

"I can't-" Rick's voice caught. "I can't lose you."

"Not gonna lose me Rick." Daryl tried to reassure his love. "Can take care of myself."

"You know as well as I do, anything could happen." Rick countered. "I know you can take care of yourself but…I need you. After what happened, the prison… I need you with me."

"I understand." Daryl cupped Rick's face. "The want, the need, to protect the ones we love. I feel it. I feel it with them, with you. But Rick, we need food. We can't protect each other if we starve."

Rick nodded his head and looked down knowing he was defeated.

"Okay. Let’s go." Daryl said as he tried to pull away, but Rick stopped him.

"Hold up." Rick pulled Daryl back and kissed him gently on the man's lips before parting. "Take Glenn with you."

"Rick-"

"That's the deal." Rick silenced Daryl's protest. "You can go hunting but take Glenn with you. He's quiet and he's fast. He can get into places you can't."

"Alright." Daryl sighed hating this. He didn't want to take Glenn.

"Good." Rick leaned in again and stole a kiss. "Be safe."

"Always."

With that Daryl took off and gathered Glenn. Maggie didn't look to happy about being separated from her husband but accepted it without too much fight. She hugged herself after her and Glenn kissed goodbye. She sent a little glare at Rick but said nothing. Rick didn't mind, he understood. He didn't want Daryl out there anymore than she did Glenn.

He walked off hoping to set up a perimeter not wanting to get caught by surprise, humans or walkers alike.

00000000000000000000000

Glenn had a knife out and a gun with three bullets at the ready should he need it. Daryl was walking next to him just as armed with the addition of his crossbow. They've only been hunting for 15 minutes and already Daryl had managed to get a couple of squirrel.

Glenn had nothing but he already knew he wasn't here to hunt but to help should something happen. He wasn't here to kill animals though he would if the opportunity arouse. No, he was only here to watch Daryl's back so nothing happen to the man while he focused on bringing food back to the group.

While Daryl kept his head down looking for tracks, Glenn kept his head up looking for anything else. They walked for another 10 minutes and were about to head back when noticed the trees thinning and seeing a part of a road.

"Hey look," Glenn called softly. Daryl looked over. "Let's check this out before we head back."

Daryl nodded and wordlessly started to head in a different direction. He trusted Glenn and his instincts. More times than not, Glenn could always spot something where no one else could, including himself, at times.

They walked over to the tree line and looked out cautiously. It wouldn't do if someone saw them and tried to take a shot, or worst there was a herd of walkers out there just waiting to see fresh meat.

"Well, I'll be damned." Daryl lowered his crossbow and stared at a beautiful sight.

"I can't believe it. This wasn't on the map." Glenn said breathlessly. "We would've noticed."

"It could be something new. It was an old map after all. Shit like that needs to be updated regularly, right?" Daryl commented as he pointed to their salvation.

It was a building; a big one. It was a store to be precise and it looked untouched by anyone. It must of got run down early in the whole end of the world bit. Daryl's shoulders sagged in relief. He was so worried about his people and he was ashamed of the small amount of meat thrown over his shoulder. It wouldn't even feed five people comfortably let alone twelve.

"We need to get back to tell Rick." Glenn said. There was hope in his voice and a spring in his step when he started walking back.

"I agree." Daryl walked with him, hope in his chest too though he didn't voice it like Glenn. Who knows what could be in store for them when they searched it.

00000000000000000

"Are you certain?" asked Rick in shock. Daryl and Glenn had just got back from their hunting and not only did Daryl have meat with him but also the best news they had in quite awhile.

"More than certain." Glenn pushed.

"It's there Rick." added Daryl. "Saw it myself. It's there and it looks like no ones touched it."

"It could be a gold mine Rick." Glenn waved his hands to prove his point. "I saw some of the items in there. There's food at the very least, so there's got to be water, maybe even medicine. We can't pass this up."

"Ok, ok." Rick held up a hand to calm Glenn. But the guy had a point. It was too good to pass up. It out weighed the risk of another group conflict. They were too low on supplies to pass this up.

"Did you see anything else? Any signs of people, or walkers?" he asked.

Glenn shifted and Daryl looked down.

"I'll take that as a no." Rick sighed and rubbed his forehead. "Okay, we all go but only a few of us go into the store just in case someone else is already there. We can't have the whole group exposed and if we do run into trouble, we have back up."

It sounded like a good plan in theory but in this world anything could happen and even the best of plans fall through.

"I'll get the others." Glenn ran to the other people in the group happy to spread the news of the store.

"You okay?" asked Daryl coming closer. "You look tense. This is a good thing Rick."

"I know, but that's what I'm afraid of." Rick started. "Every time we get a break, able to get a head, we always run into trouble. One step forward, two steps back."

"Can't think like that." Daryl rubbed his love's arm. "We start thinking like that then we're good as dead already."

"That's why I'm only telling you and not the others. Can't afford to look weak in front of them like that."

"Jesus Rick, they're family. They ain't gonna over throw you if you show an ounce of weakness."

"Aren't they?" asked Rick giving Daryl a look. "They may be family but they also consider me their leader. They've put their lives in my hands, having faith that I'll lead them to the right path; the path that keeps them alive. If even, for a second, show signs that I don't know what I'm doing, people will go insane, will try to do their own things. Some will try to lead and fail; others will just be stupid and make mistakes. I fear that every damn day. That, I'll fail them."

"Damn Rick…" Daryl pulled Rick into a supporting hug. He wasn't much for igniting physical contact but Rick needed this. God, he didn't know! He didn't know that Rick was carrying such a dark burden that his own family would turn on him at the sight of weakness.

"Sorry," Rick's voice was muffled. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't've said that."

"No, no, no." Daryl hugged tighter not wanting to let Rick go. "I'm glad you said it. Now I can tell you how stupid you are. I can assure you Rick, that that's not gonna happen. Will there be mistakes? Yeah. But I can damn sure tell you that we are family and we'll never do that. People can get angry but we will never fault you for leading us. Hell, you're the reason we've gotten this far. I'm proud to call you my leader."

Rick squeezed his hunter hard one final time before pulling away.

"Thank you. I needed that."

"No problem partner." Daryl let his arms fall completely from Rick. "Now let's hit that store."

"You got it." Rick smirk. "We're gonna be fine."

"You're damn right we will be."

000000000000000000

It didn't take them long for all of them to get to the woods edge leading to the clearing of the store.

"Damn…" Rick said in awed. He didn't want to say it out loud but he had his doubts about this store that Daryl and Glenn had found. But it turned out for the better. What they said was right. It looked abandoned and there was little sign of people milling around.

However, what he did find was not people but walkers. Not many but it was enough to be more cautious than before. For if there were walkers outside there was a good chance there were more of them inside.

"Up ahead." he motioned.

"I see 'em." Daryl answered back as he aimed his crossbow.

"No," Rick stopped the bow man. With a hand his lowered the bow. "Not now. They haven't noticed us yet. If they are people in the store they're gonna notice us taking them out."

"How do you wanna do this then?" asked Daryl as he glanced at his leader. "Can't leave 'em. We don't know what we're up against."

Rick looked back at the group behind him. There were too many of them in one spot. They needed to split up and circle back.

"We go around." Rick finally said as he turned back to his people. "Me, Daryl, Glenn, Michonne, and Carol are gonna go around back and see if we can see a way in. The rest of you need to stay put and be ready to leave at the first sign of trouble."

"Alright." Michonne moved towards them both.

"The hell we will." argued Maggie. "I'm not letting you take my husband and then tell me to leave if things get dice-y."

"Me too dad." Carl piped up "I want to come too."

Others started voicing their opinions too not liking one bit about the plan.

"Quiet!" Rick hissed. "You're gonna draw walkers!"

That got them to shut up.

"Listen," Rick pushed a hand through his hair and rubbed his face. "I know that most of you don't like this plan but it's the best one we have. We go in and things go wrong, we're gonna need the rest of you to carry on! Carl, if something goes wrong you have to look after Judith and Maggie, you have a sister who loves and needs you as well. I also need you to look after everyone. You're one of the best we have and you need to step up if things go bad."

"What about us?" Sasha asked, her brother and bob standing behind her. "We not good enough?"

"It's not that." Carol moved and stood closer to Rick and Daryl. "Our group works best with each other. No offense but you haven't been with us long enough. We know each other's moves, the way we think. It's just easier with just us."

Rick nodded confirming Carol explanation.

"Go then." Tyreese pressed forth passed his sister. "But make sure to come back with or without supplies."

"Oh, we plan to come back." Daryl left, Michonne following him.

"And with supplies." Glenn finished as he followed the hunter swordswoman.

"Carl," Rick knelt and hugged his son. "Be safe and be careful. Look after Judith."

"I will dad." Carl hugged his dad. "But you're coming back."

"I'd like to think that yes." Rick took one last look at his son and nodded before going. He stepped up to Beth who was holding Judith and rubbed her tiny head with love. He smiled and gave her a kiss.

"Take care of her for me."

"Always." Beth smiled as she hopped Judith up and down not wanting her to start a fuss. "Take good care Rick and come back alive."

Rick nodded and left hoping it wasn't the last time he was going to see his family. Carol was beside him trailing after him; a comfort in its own right. Carol had come a long way since he'd first met her and it was relief to have her by his side, to help him make the tough choices when he couldn't.

"It'll be okay." Carol spoke. "We are the best at this. If we are going to come up on top, it'll be us."

"Thanks Carol."

0000000000000000

Getting around back was easy and there were fewer walkers than in the front. Daryl and Rick took point with the others close behind them. They found a couple of door and checked each one.

There was only one that was open. The others were locked.

Rick and Daryl shared a look. That wasn't good. It meant someone was already in there or at the very least they had been.

"Continue?" asked Daryl.

"Yes." there was no hesitation in Rick's voice.

Daryl nodded and they were in.

The hall way wasn't lit but flashlights took care of that problem. It may have been day light outside but there were areas where they were no windows and electricity was like a myth in this new world.

They started checking rooms; one by one by one.

"Clear."

"Clear."

"Clear."

It went on and one. They got into the main employee room of the back of the building when they paused. With several flash lights, they searched the large room before deeming it safe. Rick and his crew were about to push on when he saw Glenn lingering in the back. He stopped causing the others to hold up as well and went over to the Asian.

"Something up, Glenn?" he asked shaking Glenn out of some trance.

Rick noticed that a woman who was decaying on the floor with a bullet wound to her temple. Off in the corner, he say a young boy who couldn't before more than sixteen years old. He head two head wounds; one, that looked like a gun shoot and another, a knife that finished the job the bullet couldn't.

"Uh, no, no. Just-" Glenn sighed as he looked down at the paper in his hands. He handed it to Rick.

Rick took the note and read it.

My Dearest,
I have finally found you. We will be together soon. All of us. God forgive me!

"She opted out." Glenn said in sadness. "Taking her son with her."

Rick shook his head. It was horrible, this world, but it was theirs' and they had to live in it now.

"Don't let it affect you, Glenn. You know how bad it is out there. Some people just can't take it. Everyone had their breaking point."

"I know." Glenn looked down. "But it still hurts to see it sometimes."

"Trust me, I know." Rick dropped the letter to the ground. "Let's go. We have a job to finish.

"Right."

With nothing in their way to stop them they preceded to the main area of the building; it was quiet. There were no walkers.

"Holy fuck." whispered Daryl as he saw shelves and shelves of food.

"I can't believe it." said Glenn. "It looks like we were right."

"Well," Carol made a face. "Mostly."

Neither were right or wrong. The store was mostly stocked, but not fully untouched. Many items were gone or smashed on the floor, or rotten.

"It's more than we've seen in a long time." Michonne sheathed her sword ready to start gathering everything she could carry.

There was a crash and section of food fell on the floor.

Everyone in an instant raised they weapon and Michonne took up her sword once more.

They were not alone, and it was no walker.

"Come out where we can see you!" Rick hollered when no one came forth. "We know you're there!"

They heard rustling and tensed. In a heartbeat moment Daryl caught movement from the corner of his eye and spun around.

"Hold it!" he shouted as he leveled his bow at the two figures running away.

Whoever they are, didn't listen.

"Stop or we shoot!"

That got their attention. Both figures stopped and straightened knowing they were fully and utterly caught.

Rick stepped closer.

"Turn around." his command absolute. "Slowly."

There was a moment before they hesitantly did so. They both turned slowly and they saw who they were taking to; a man and a woman. Both have seen better days. They looked tired and hungry, and most off, scared. Both looked very young looking, no older than mid 20's early 30's.

The man had stepped in front of the woman slightly as if to protect her, but Daryl could see that the man, was not only scared but he was trembling slightly. The guy was terrified but was willing to take the hit first if it meant the woman would have a chance to run away.

Daryl lowered his bow some, aiming at the waist instead of their heads. He knew bad people when he saw them and he could tell they weren't such people. They didn't look hardened by the world; just simply surviving in anyway they could, like trying to find food.

"Rick." he made a point to look at his lover, his leader, to tell him that these new people didn't seem like killers, just people trying to survive.

"You sure?" asked Rick and Daryl nodded. Rick sighed not completely knowing what was going to happen now.

"Hey, look man-" the new guy tried to talk but the woman pulled him back, probably scared that they'll be provoked into shooting them.

The man turned and they both started whisper harshly before the woman sighed and stepped back a little. The man cleared his throat to talk, still clearly scared shitless.

"Look, we are just trying to find food and medicine. Probably the same as you." the man started. "We know how hard it is out there, just like you. We can share and then go on our separate ways, deal? No need to shoot anyone."

"And if we don't?" asked Rick, his gun still raised high. "What's stopping me from shooting you and your friend and taking everything?"

"Rick…" Daryl couldn't believe what he was hearing and neither could the rest of the group. No one wanted to believe that Rick was so far gone that he would kill innocent people because he didn't want to share supplies.

The two new people froze eyes wide and about ready to piss their pants.

"Cisco, let's just go." the woman started pulling on the man back again.

The man, Cisco, wouldn't have it. Somewhere along the line the guy grew a pair and stepped forward not back like the woman wanted him to.

"We are not leaving." Cisco told the woman before turning to them.

"Nothing." Cisco said. "There's really nothing we can do if you guys choose to kill us. But we're not leaving, not without the things we need at least."

"Then, it's agreed." Rick said. In a swift motion he put his gun down making Cisco flinch slightly thinking he was going to die. "We'll share."

Both groups relaxed some knowing that the impending fight was postponed, for now.

"My name's Rick." the leader started first. "And this is Daryl, Michonne, Carol, and Glenn."

"Cisco." Cisco pointed to himself. "This is Caitlin."

Caitlin gave a small wave still nervous.

"Nice to meet ya." Rick said.

"So are we good?" Cisco gave them a look. "Like no killing, or shooting, or any bodily harm to us what so ever?"

Rick smiled and damn it was a nice sight to see from Daryl's point of view.

"Yeah, we're good."

"Cool." Cisco gave a thumbs up and continued on his way like they didn't almost kill the both of them. "What do we need Caitlin?"

"Here, here. I made a list of everything we need." she waved a crumpled piece of paper with wording on it.

"Daryl," Rick whispered. "Watch them."

The hunter nodded as the rest of his people went about getting the things they needed as well. He didn't join them; he bluntly just stared at the new people and watched as they collected their things.

Occasionally, they'll look up at him but he didn't falter under their stare. In fact, Daryl was having a heck of a time watching these people do their thing. Cisco, in his mind, was down right hilarious and his presence just screamed nerd and dork. Caitlin, on the other hand seemed uptight and everything had to be in order.

Two very opposite personalities. Daryl wondered how they came together in this world.

000000000000000

"He keeps watching us!" Caitlin whispered. "It's creepy."

"Dude, Cait, he's just trying to make sure we don't do any funny business." Cisco tried to amend.

"It would be less intimidating if we were the guys that had the weapons to back up that claim." she pointed out. "We don't even have a gun anymore."

"Well," Cisco shrugged. "Not that kind of gun anyway."

Caitlin rolled her eyes. "Like it would work if we tried."

"Hey! Most of the things I make work thank you very much Cait!"

"It doesn't matter." Cait waved her hand. "There's too many of them anyway."

Cisco slumped. "Yeah, you're right."

"Come on." urged Cait. "We still have stuff to get."

"Like what? Seems we have a lot now." Cisco motioned to the huge duffel bag of food and supplies.

"Not nearly enough. That's, what, gonna last us three days maybe a week tops. You know that Barry needs a lot to sustain him! Especially now!" Cait harshly whispered. "He could die if we don't get him enough food to eat."

"I know! I know!" Cisco paced back and forth. "We have enough for now. We can go and come back."

"You know we can't!" Caitlin pointed to the group across from them. "If we don't get what we need now, they'll take the rest and if they don't others will. We need this stuff more so than anybody."

"Okay," Cisco stopped and waved his hand. "What else do we need?"

"Grab another bag and start packing it with more food." instructed Cait as she started to walk away. "I'm going to grab the medicine."

"Hey, hey, no!" Cisco jumped in front of her. "That's a bad idea. The pharmacy is on the other side with them. They might kill you if you cross over to their area."

Caitlin took a shuddering breath.

"I know." she breathed. "But we won't last in this world if we don't have proper care. Barry might be able to heal fast but he's not invincible, as we've seen. Those bites are effecting more than I like and we are just humans."

"Technically, I'm a meta too, so…"

Cait rolled her eyes.

"Stop it. You don't have healing powers and we need that medicine. I'm willing to try."

"Just ten minutes ago you were trying to pull me to leave and now you're trying to willingly interact with them?"

"That was before…" Cait started walking closer to the other group.

"Before what?"

"Before they showed that they're good people."

0000000000000000

Daryl watched the two people talking, grabbing things, talking some more, and then arguing.

Interesting. They were fighting over something, and over something stupid too if they're actions said anything.

Then, they were coming over here. Well, the girl was any way. The guy, Cisco, was trying to stop her but she wouldn't have it. There was determination in her step and a hardness look in her eyes, like steel, that wasn't there before.

"Rick," Daryl called to his leader. "We've got company."

Everyone in his group stopped and watched as the new comers came closer to their space. Everything became quiet and the only sound there was, was the groans from the walkers outside.

Rick and the others came forth like a shield preparing to back each other up if need be, should things go south.
Caitlin and Cisco tensed as the crossbow man called out to Rick getting everyone's attention. Cait gulped and swallowed her fear. It was for Barry, she told herself.

It was for Barry.

That thought alone sealed her determination to get that medicine.

They watched as the others from the group stepped forward and it was nerving to see them all staring at them, tense and ready to draw their weapons if trouble arose.

"Hi?" Cait started not knowing where to begin. "Look, I, uh, um, I need to, uh, get over there?"

Her statement came out more like a question because of her nervousness while she pointed her finger to the other side of the room.

"No." Rick said as he made a show of putting his hand on his gun. "We agreed to share but this is our side, you chose where you wanted to be so stay there."

Caitlin bit her lip. It was for Barry, she kept saying over and over in her head.

"We need the Pharmacy. We need medicine." she stated. "I won't take all of it. We'll share like we agreed on. You can even watch to make sure."

Daryl looked over to his leader and shared a look with his group.

"You a doctor?" asked Rick.

"Well, not really that kind of doctor but I know what I'm doing. I'm a scientist." Caitlin edged back some into Cisco more fearful now than before.

"I am too." Cisco stood in front of Cait. "We both are."

"Interesting." Rick tilted his head. "Do you know how all of this happened then? Why people are coming back to life? Were you apart of it?"

"Dude, no!" Cisco scrunched up his face. "We aren't that type of scientist, well ok, maybe Cait is, but just a little bit!"

Cait glared at Cisco and shook her head. He was digging their grave with each word that was coming out of his mouth.

"But that's like weaponizing the T-virus. Yeah, no, we don't do that. That's bad guy stuff. We don't create stuff like that. We're the good guys."

Daryl smirked. This guy Cisco was one of a kind for sure.

"T-virus?" Glenn spoke. "What's a T-virus? Is that what created the walkers?"

"Walkers?" asked Cait.

"The dead people that come back to life." Michonne said. "It's what we call them."

"That!" Cisco pointed to the black woman. "Right there is an awesome name for them. Better than zombies."

"What's a zombie?" asked Carol confused. She was getting a headache trying to keep up with this newcomer.

"Oh my god…" Cisco's voice was horrified and stricken. "How-How, just how? How do you not now what the T-virus is and what zombies are?!"

"Want to fill us in?" Rick's voice was tense and threatening. He did not like how this was panning out. They were wasting time.

Cisco was about to answer when Caitlin stopped him.

"Cisco," she hissed, jerking him around. "Has it gotten through to your head that maybe they don't know it, it's because it doesn't exist here! Stop messing where you shouldn't be messing."

"Hey!" Rick yelled. He hated being ignored. "Are you gonna answer my question or what?"

"My bad, ok?" Cisco's attitude did a 180. "It's just a movie I saw, you know, before and I was referencing off of that but you guys clearly don't know what it's about or even what it is so I'm just going to drop it, ok? Ok."

Daryl huffed. This guy sure liked to ramble a lot. But as Daryl looked at the man, he saw no lie, so it probably really was just a movie reference that no one got but Cait. That's wasn't too surprising since they were both scientist and probably watched the same weird science-y bullshit that other normal people wouldn't.

"Alright," Rick let it go too since Daryl didn't call bullshit on their story. "So, let's get back on track then. You know about medicine and can help the sick if need be?"

"Yes." Cait stood up taller. "I've helped many people before and after this whole thing, though I'm not a real medical doctor, I'm a bio-engineer scientist so I know a lot about the human body."

"You're not going to kill us or kidnap us now are you?" Cisco couldn't help but ask. In this world, a doctor was considered priceless and most people would kill to have a doctor in their group now.

"No." Rick shook his head and finally took his hand of his gun. "But we need to talk, if it's alright with you."

Cisco and Cait shared a look before looking back at the other group.

"Ok."

"Shoot." Cisco winced. "Sorry, bad choice of words."

Most members of Rick's group cracked a smile at the joke.

"How many walkers have you killed?" asked Rick.

Both looked uncomfortable at the question and avoided their glaze. Cait looked at Cisco and shook her head subtly. They couldn't know the truth.

"How many?" Rick pressed.

"Five." Cait answered first, honestly.

"Two." Cisco muttered out, a total lie. He had killed way more than that, but not by normal means. They couldn't know that though so hence the lie.

Rick and his group were taken back at the answers. Usually, people couldn't tell them how many; probably killed hundreds, if not thousands. And here these two people had survived the end of the world for so long only killing seven walkers between them? How?

"How many people have you killed?" Rick asked the second question.

Both of them shook their head no, shocking the group again. How?!

"Why?"

"What do you mean why?" asked Cisco.

"Why didn't you kill people?" Carol asked. "We ask these question before we let anyone in our group but usually we get completely different answers. People have killed hundreds of walkers and yet you only have killed seven between you. People have killed people for survival; some have killed for even less. How is it that you have such little experience? Are you lying to us? Do you think us dumb?"

"No!" Cisco raised his hands to calm her. "No we don't. It's just uh, well, you see…"

Cisco was torn between telling her that Barry had done most of the killing or saying nothing at all. It wouldn't do to tell them they had more people, would it?

"No, we don't." Cait spoke. "We don't kill because killing is wrong. But that doesn't mean we aren't capable of it. We know how hard it can be out there."

"So, why haven't you?" asked Rick. "Why is your kill list so small?"

"Never thought I'll be in trouble because I didn't kill someone." Cisco ran his hand through his hair. "I can't believe this."

"You have another person in your group." Michonne said watching the two for their telling signs.

Both tensed and both looked away. Guilty.

"You do." Michonne stated fact. "Why isn't he here? Is he dead?"

"Or is he waiting in hiding to let our guard down?" Carol was grabbing her gun again.

Rick was the only one to stop her.

"If he were here, we would've noticed by now." he said as he turned back to the two. "Where is he?"

"Some where's close." Caitlin said. "He's not well; sick and exhausted."

"Our friend," Cisco jumped in. "He's our fighter and he protects us when we can't ourselves."

It made them sound weak. Having to rely on Barry because they themselves couldn't do what was needed to survive. It wasn't entirely their fault though. Barry didn't want them to have to kill. He didn't want them to change like others had to in their world; twisted and dark, cold and uncaring.

It was hard not to lose yourself in this world.

"Where is he?" Rick was firm in his question.

"I'm not just going to tell you were my sick, exhausted friend is and risk having you kill him in his sleep." Cait snapped back.

Rick put his head down to think for a moment and then raised his eyes back at her.

"Fair enough." Rick stepped down no longer feeling like these people are a threat to him and his group. "Your friend got a name?"

"Barry." Cisco answered. "And if it's not too much trouble, we really need to get these supplies back to him, so can we get our share of the meds?"

Rick looked at the others and nodded while waving a hand. "Let them through. Glenn, go with them. Make sure they're doing what they say they're doing."

Glenn nodded.

"Thank you." Cait said as she and Cisco walked passed the wall of people with one Asian trailing behind them.

They made quick work of finding the remaining supplies, though little it was a hell of a lot more than most places had.

"So, your friend, Barry, right?" Glenn started. They nodded listening. "How sick is he?"

Both Cait and Cisco shared a look. They couldn't tell the truth, could they? Cait shook her head. No, no they couldn't. At least not now.

"Very." she said. "He's malnourished, dehydrated, and exhausted."

"And yet, you guys look fine. A little on the skinny side and in need of a shower, but fine." the Asian commented giving them a disbelief look.

"Look, I don't know what you're implying but if you think we let him get like this, then you're wrong." Cait swirled around to glare at the other man.

Glenn raised his hands surrendering.

"It just seems odd is all."

"Barry," Cisco sighed. "Barry likes to put the world on top of his shoulders with no help and doesn't even ask for it. He would always take watch stating he was fine, skip a meal or two to help ration better, and probably put stuff back while we weren't looking. It's just the way man he is and it finally became too much for him and he crashed."

"Sounds pretty heroic." Glenn commented.

"You have no idea." Cisco smiled, acting like there was an inside joke that Glenn wasn't aware of. "Barry is one of a kind. He's a fight and a protector; it's what he does."

"Then I can't wait to meet him then." Glenn said. "We could use people like Barry on our side if he's anything like you say he is."

"He is." Cait said firmly. "And he'll be glad to help your group like you're one of us."

"What she said." Cisco pointed to his female partner.

"Good." Glenn nodded his head. "That's good."

They stopped talking for a period of time and started to do what they actually came over here to do; get medicine. Of course Caitlyn was truly the only one who was the most experience with this so she was in charge of finding the things they really needed.

"Can one of you guys help me?" asked Caitlin. "If we're going to divide the medicine evenly I'm going to need one of you to hold one of the bags."

"Do you want to do it?" asked Cisco. "You know to make sure everything is evenly divided."

"I would but I don't know how I feel with a man on look out with only two walkers under his belt." Glenn spoke. "If we're gonna be part of the same group we're gonna have to trust each other at one point. I'm gonna trust you to divide the meds equally."

"Are you sure?" asked a shocked Cisco. "Cause I can totally look out. I might not have as much experience as you but I won't get us killed, if that's what you're worrying about."

"No offense but I'm not gonna trust you with that. I'll take look out and who's to say I won't look at the bags later to make sure it was divided." Glenn gave a look that told Cisco he was going to check, no ifs, ands, or buts.

"You got it." Cisco went to help his friend and left Glenn to be look out.

Glenn shook his head as the two scientists collected the meds. The next couple of days were going to be quite interesting learning about the duo soon to be trio.

"Here, here." Cisco held out a bag to help Caitlin. "Let's get it on."

"Ok." Cait started and was sorting everything out. She was fast and precised. She was the best to do this; knew what was what and what was useful and what wasn't.

She was almost done when she came across a certain section of medicine. She slowly took a hold of one of the many bottles and read it twice to make sure her eyes weren't deceiving her; adrenaline. Next to that were Ritalin and Adderall; both energy enhancing drugs, however, both very addicting.

She looked at Cisco and showed him one of the bottles. They locked eyes and an understanding came between them. They couldn't share this, at least not half and half. They were about ten bottles of each drug, it would be five and five but that couldn't happen. They needed this more.

Cait dumped two of each in their bag and two in the others'. Between her and Cisco, they pocketed the rest. The other group didn't need it as much as them; they would never know, even if they checked.

A couple of minutes later and they were done.

"Ok." Cait straightened up. "We're done. Everything's divided."

Glenn looked back and nodded. "Everything is clear here, let's get the meds back."

They both nodded and off they went.

Chapter Text

"They're taking too long." complained Carl. "They should've been back by now."

"It's a big store." Maggie said. "The good news is that they're no gun shots. That's a good sign. It means that what ever is going on in there isn't too much for them to handle with just knives."

"I still don't like it." Carl started to walk off.

"Hey, where are you going?" asked Maggie. "We need to stick together."

"I'm just checking the premiere." Carl waved his hands around. "We're like sitting ducks out here."

Maggie didn't argue back. He wasn't wrong. They were out in the open and anything could happen. But things have been quiet; Maggie didn't know whether that was a good thing or not though.

"Don't go too far then!" she called out to him. "Your dad would kill me."

Carl gave a wave in understanding.

So she let him go off. She knew that he wouldn't go far and he was more than capable of protecting himself. She had other things to worry about, like keeping the rest of the group safe.

"Do you think it wise of him to go off like that?" asked Tyreese asked. "It's not safe away from the group."

"Carl can handle himself." Maggie stated. "I won't have let him leave if I didn't think otherwise."

"Ok…" Ty's voice trailed off.

"He'll be fine." Beth said confidently. "He's a tough kid."

"Still a kid." Ty tried to argue.

"In this world," Maggie started. "It doesn't matter. I saw Carl grow from a scared kid to the man he's becoming now. Like it or not, he's a survivor and knows how to survive in this world we live in."

Tyreese opened his mouth to say more, to argue that she was wrong no matter how she spun her words, when Sasha grabbed his arm.

"Let it go." she said when he looked at her. "She's right and you're right. He is just a kid but a kid that knows how to survive. It's just how the world works now."

"I know." Ty sighed and looked down defeated.

00000000000

Carl flinched when blood hit his face. He could taste the iron in his mouth and casually spit the dirty blood on to the ground in a grimace.

"Damnit." Carl cursed as he wrenched out his knife from a walker he'd just killed. He hadn't expected to get hit with that much blood or he would've titled his head more to avoid it.

That was his fifth one and he could still hear more walking around. He didn't lie about walking the perimeter, he was doing it, he was just going out of his way to kill as many walkers as possible.

"Fuck." Carl sighed and walked on.

He wouldn't dare curse like this in front of his dad or anyone in the group for that matter. They would just tell his dad on him. They already thought of him as just a kid and not someone capable of doing things that needed to be done. He was so tired of that.

He'd grown since being a scared little kid crying for mommy. Mommy was gone and she was never coming back. Carl made sure of that. He shook his head to get rid of the memory. Now was not the time, nor did he ever want to think about it again.

It was a long time ago and he had forgiven himself with his dad's and Daryl's help. He was forgiven but he would never forget. He would always remember her but not in her last moments. He'd like to think of her before the world went to shit and everything and everyone went crazy.

Yeah, he liked those memories.

A groan caught his attention and twigs were snapping as another walker came upon him. It was a man or at least it use to be. It's skin grey and flabby. It was barely holding on to the bones and muscles that allow it to move. Half of its face was hanging off and Carl didn't even think twice about it.

It was nothing new.

There were groans of hunger and its jaws were snapping repeatedly at seeing Carl. The walker thought he found himself a meal.

Carl smirked and stoked the handle to his blade. That was funny; a walker thinking. Carl was no easy meal and walkers were easy to kill. It was when there was a herd of them, did they become a problem.

No, the only real threat in this world anymore is the one predator that was always there, even before the end of the world. The one enemy that was never noticed, until it was killed or be killed; people, humans, the living.

Kill the dead, fear the living.

Carl will never forget or forgive. He will kill anyone who would hurt his family, without hesitation.

"Come on," Carl teased. "That's it. A little closer."

Carl waited for the walker to come to him, not even feeling the slightest bit of fear. It was only one walker and it wasn't even overly tall either. He could handle it no problem. And handled it he did.

With a slight jump Carl rammed the sharp tip of his knife in the brain, thus ending another walker.

"Too easy." muttered Carl as he wiped the blood off onto his jeans. It wasn't like they were clean anyway, just another stain to add to the rest.

When no more walkers showed up, Carl continued his walk. Eventually, he was going to have to turn around. He decided he was going to walk a little more and then turn back. It wasn't the best idea to not be with the group when his dad and the others come back. His dad would be so pissed off at him.

Carl walked a little ways and was ready to head back when he heard groans, and not just from one walker. It was from several as best as he could tell. Not one to walk away, he changed coarse and started to walk to the groans, hoping to see how many there were. If it was less than five he could deal with it no problem. Any more than that, he would risk using his gun or the risk of losing his life.

"Okay, okay, let's see what we have here." Carl could hear the groans more clearly and slowed his walking to remain silent as possible to scan the situation without detection.

Carl stop in front of a bush and was gently moving brunches out of the way to see the scene in front of him. Eyes narrowed as he spotted a run down shack built for god knows what and three walkers clawing at the door and siding. There were two males and one female. All three walkers looked like crap, with their skin hanging off, their cloth filthy, and gashes exposing bone on all three of them.

There was only one possible reason for walkers to behave like this. Someone was in there, alive, possible armed, or injured. Carl weighed his options. He could kill the walkers and see what was inside. Whoever was inside could kill him but if he had the power to do that, then the person could've easily killed the walkers. It was unlikely, Carl decided. It was a risk and it could happen but again, unlikely.

Or he could walk away. Let whoever was in there die of starvation, an injury, or when they finally tried to break out in a desperate attempt to escape. Carl almost left. He had already turned around, was ready to walk away. He didn't know this person or owe them anything.

But, Carl sighed, it didn't feel right to do that. Something deep inside was clawing at his insides, telling him it was wrong to leave and that he should at least kill the walkers. He tried to leave more than once but each time he felt this horrible feeling inside dragging him back to the shack.

"Alright, already." Carl gave up. "If anyone asks, I did it for the potential supplies."

Carl shook his body and loosened up, mentally preparing himself for the fight and to face whoever was in that shack.

"Let's do this." he pepped himself up. With one last wave of his arms, he went in head first into the situation.

Was it the best plan? Probably not.

Did it work? It sure as hell did.

Carl had already killed one male walker before the others even had time to turn around. With one down and two to go, it would be a piece of cake. With a powerful kick he knocked the female walker down and went for the other. He killed that one too just as fast. By the time the third one had gotten to its knees, Carl was already there making the last killing blow.

"Too easy." Carl grunted almost disappointed by the outcome. He was hoping for more of a challenge. The thought made him stop. What was he thinking? He shook his head. He should be grateful that it was easy. Nothing good ever comes from a hard situation where you can die.

Never mind. Back to the shack and hope that the person or people in there were friendly.

"Hello!" Carl called out. "Is anyone in there? The walkers are dead now. You can come out now."

Silence. There was nothing. No one answered and there was no movement to indicate that there was someone alive in there.

"Maybe they died. Better check and put them down and see if there's any valuable stuff I can take back with me." Carl cautiously knocked on the door just in case.

Still nothing.

"I'm coming in. Don't shot or stab me."

Carl grabbed the door knob and slowly turned it. It opened easily enough and it swung open without resistance. With only a second of hesitation, Carl went through the opening knife and gun at the ready. He firmly shut the door behind him. He didn't want walkers wondering in.

Nothing happened.

Carl sighed in relief and dropped his weapons to his side.

Then a groan sounded to his left. He snapped his gun back up, ready to shot the walker before it could bite him. Carl blinked. He saw nothing. There was nothing there, only empty space.

The groan sounded again and now that Carl heard it again, he could hear a difference between a regular groan then from a walker. This didn't sound like a walker, it sounded more human like. With slow measured steps he walked towards the noise.

"What the-?" Carl gasped.

There was a man lying on a shitty cot. Carl could see the man breathing and he could hear the guy groan again in pain. And god damn, the man had every right to groan in pain. The guy was shirtless but it wasn't bare skin that Carl saw but a torso wrapped completely with gauze and both arms as well. The gauze was almost completely soaked with blood too.

Honestly, Carl didn't know how this man was alive still. Now it left him with a serious decision. Did he leave the man here to die or did he let the group know and maybe help him if they could? He didn't know. The survivor in him said leave the man to his fate, take his stuff and leave, but the human side of him, was arguing that the man deserved a chance to live. He already held out this long, the man was determined to live.

"Shit I don't know."

It only took a few minutes before Carl decided. He'll leave and take the man's supplies but he'll be back. He'll tell the rest of the group and then they can decided what to do with him.

"Sounds pretty good to me."

Carl went and grabbed the other's supplies. The moment he touched the bags though, a hand shot out and grabbed his arm. Carl shouted and his gun accidently went off from the sudden touch.

"Shit!"

Not only would the walkers nearby would hear that but his group as well. He was in so much trouble!

"I-It's n-not you-rs." the man gasped and choked as he tightened his grip on Carl.

"Fuck! Let go!" he wrenched his arm back and took several steps away. The man's arm fell useless without Carl to hold it up.

"God damnit, now everyone knows we're here."

The man didn't reply too busy coughing and probably choking on his own blood. Carl sighed and went to help him when he caught sight of what was under the bandages. Some gauze had come loose on the arm that had grabbed Carl revealing to the outside world what had caused so much bleeding.

Carl jerked back and had his gun at the ready again.

"You're bit."

Being bit was an understatement. There wasn't just one bite, there were several. The man's whole arm was covered in bite marks and Carl would bet anything that the rest of his body was much the same state.

Now begged the question, how was this man still alive?

Carl shook his head. This was not the time to figure this out. He could already here the moaning and groaning of the dead outside. They heard the shot and were making a bee line for the shack.

"I need to get out of here." Carl said as he looked at the man. The man had blood seeping through the gauze and there was a good amount coming from his mouth.

He was a dead man and there was nothing Carl could do to help him. So, being a child that grew up in the apocalypse, he snatched the man's bag again and left. He did not feel regret that he didn't put the man down as he should've. It would have been a mercy killing, something Carl would have done in normal circumstances but this was not.

Call him cruel, call him a monster, or call him a survivor, but he purposely left the man behind alive. The man was already dead, the bites on his skin would ensure it, but he was alive enough to be a distraction to the walkers. The walkers will hear the noise, and smell the blood and go running for him, enabling Carl his escape.

0000000000000000000

Both groups were being respectful of one another, neither wanted something bad to happen so everyone was awkwardly polite and sometimes disturbingly quiet. Each person was carrying a bag or two filled with anything they needed or wanted. It was getting to the point where they were running out of hands to hold everything.

"We should bring the others in." suggested Daryl. "It's about as safe as it's gonna be and they won't do anything to harm the others."

Rick nodded in agreement.

"You're right. There's a lot more stuff than I could imagine. This is good, almost too good. We need to make sure this stays ours. We need a place close by that we can take and hold for awhile. We can sort out the supplies, see what we really need and then come back for the rest." Rick pushed his hand through his hair already trying to think of the possibilities.

"The two over there said they had a place for their ill man, Barry, right? You think it's big enough for all of us to hunker down in for 'while?"

"Only one way to find out." Rick started to walk over to the two with Daryl close behind him.

Cisco saw him coming before Caitlin. In a fit of nervousness he started to hit Caitlin repeatedly trying to get her attention.

"What?!" she asked annoyed.

"Big bossman is coming our way with his body guard." Cisco replied, his voice a few pings higher than normal.

Caitlin turned a half step to face Rick and Daryl. Her body jerked a little in surprise to see them so close so soon.

"What can we do for you Rick?" she asked calmly though her body language said otherwise.

"The place that you're holding your fallen man, is it big?" Rick asked straight to the point.

Cait scrunched her eyebrows together, her eyes facing up and tugged her lips to the side showing teeth and a little tongue.

"Eh, not really." she finally gave her answer. "When we said it was a shack, we weren't lying. It can maybe fit five of us at most."

Damn, thought Rick. There goes that plan.

"Do you know any area around that might be about to fit all of us together?" he asked.

Cisco and Caitlin looked at each other and thought real hard. Cisco narrowed his eyes and an eyebrow went up as an idea started to come to him.

"We don't know the area too well but I distinctly remember seeing a small building a few miles from here."

"Oh!" Caitlin's eyes lit up and she pointed at him remembering. "That's right. We saw it on our way here but passed it because it had zombies and Barry was so sick at the time that we passed by it as soon as we could."

"You think you can find it again?" asked Rick hopeful, a light shining in his eyes at the thought of a place to stay for awhile.

"Of course!"

"We can try." Cisco smiled causing the other three to give smiles of their own.

"We are in an agreement then."

A gun shoot ripped through the air.

In a second everyone froze, smiles gone, and tension filled the air.

The light in Rick's eyes gone and in place of that light was a darkness that Cait only saw in him in the beginning.

"Move out! Now!" he gave the order and within seconds everyone gathered their things and was heading out.

Cisco and Cait had no choice but to follow. They were pushed to the middle, knowingly or not, for protecting. Out of everyone there, they were the less experienced in killing walkers and to know that they were at least somewhat doctors made them valuable and could not be lost so soon after being found.

"What was that?" asked Daryl. "Who the hell is shooting?"

"I don't know." Rick said as they ran back out the way they came. The walkers around them were buzzing with renewed energy at the sound of the noise. "But we're going to find out. It was close."

"Maybe our group?" asked Carol.

Rick shook his head. "They know better."

"Something musta happened then." conclude Glenn.

"This is a little crazy. Shit is going down. Stay close." Cisco whispered.

"Don't I know it." she whispered back. "We need to get to Barry! He's all alone out there unable to defend himself. If those walkers put enough pressure on that door it won't hold. We need to get to him."

"I know." Cisco agreed. "But we can't get to him like this. We stick with them from now until we hit their group and see where it goes from there. If they try to make for a different direction that Barry's we split off from them. Agree?"

Cait nodded. "Agree."

It was settled then. Hopefully, for them it won't come to that. Caitlin knew that they needed this groups' help. They were lost and mostly alone. There was little hope left to getting back to their home but they haven't given up yet. It was just that Barry was so weak because of his powers and wanting to use them for good. They were running out of time. If they couldn't find a stable food source for Barry, he could be in big trouble.

"Get ready." Michonne warned as the door they went through came closer.

They made it to the back of the store and were out the door faster than anything. Each person had a knife and gun in their hand at the ready. As they ran back to their group walkers were heading to towards the noise, catching them in the crossfire. In perfect form, they killed walker ever walker. Any that got close were knifed in the head. Thankfully, they were pretty spread out and could get picked off easily; there was no use for guns yet.

When they made it back to the group, Rick instantly knew what was wrong. The group was tense but ready for any walkers that got too close. Even Beth who was holding a fussy Judy was holding a knife in one hand, ready to end anything that got close to them. Many of their remaining group were already killing walkers that were getting too close when they joined back with them. He instantly saw who was missing.

"Who the hell are they?!" Maggie yelled as she spotted new people.

"Where's Carl?!" he yelled as he knifed a walker close by effectively ignoring her question. "Did he shoot his gun?"

"I don't know!" Maggie answered not worried at ignorance. "He was checking the premiere. We were exposed and he wanted to make sure everything was alright."

"You let him go." Rick growled not liking the thought of his son alone and possibly in trouble with the lone gun shot.

"You know as well as I do that he can take care of himself and he is more than capable of scouting the area." Maggie defended herself.

True, she was pissed at herself that she let this happen. If Carl truly was the one to fire off a round, that meant he was possibly in trouble and it was her fault for letting him go. But she was sticking to her guns, that at the time she thought it was perfectly alright for him to go. He was a capable fighter and had a smart head on his shoulders. He would've been fine.

Maggie just prayed that Carl was alright and wasn't going to make a lair out of her.

Rick nodded only because she was right though he was still pissed at the thought of his son in trouble. There was nothing they could do now but fight and hope that his son was okay.

"Which way did he go?" asked Michonne. "We need to get out of here and regroup. Come back for the rest later."

"That way!" Sasha pointed to direction Carl went.

"Let's go." Rick moved his group to that heading. It was a little slow going. Walkers were coming at them and in order to move forward they had to cut through them one by one.

"So you're with us now?" asked Bob as they started to run.

Both nodded their heads unsure on how to go about this. They were still on edge with the group and now with the gun shot.

"I'm Caitlin and this is Cisco." Cait stated panting from running and talking.

"Nice to meet ya."

"Like wise." Cisco stated. As they ran farther away from the store and more into the woods, the more things looked familiar. Dreading the turn of events, he immediately turned to Caitlin.

"Oh my god, Cait!" Cisco grabbed her arm and shook it. "We're heading for the shack!"

"Shit." she said as she too realized that their heading was going straight for Barry. "This is bad. They don't know about Barry. And that gun shot. Oh god, I hope that gun shot wasn't this Carl person putting him down!"

"Oh god, I think I'm going to be sick." Cisco replied just thinking about the death of his best friend.

"No!" Caitlin said. "We can't think like that. Not yet anyway."

"You're right." he nodded. "We still have hope, right?"

"Right." Caitlin nodded.

They ran and killing walkers every few feet. They were making a beeline for the shack and it didn't take them long to reach the little clearing the held the small beaten down building.

All around it walkers were trying to get in. Cait and Cisco's faces paled. Barry was in there and from what they could see; the door was open as well. In the middle of the craziness, they could see a boy in the crowd of walkers. They could visibly see the boy struggling to hold his own as he fought his way out of the walker herd.

"Go, go, go!" Cisco pushed Cait. They had to get to Barry. They had to.

"Carl!" Rick yelled drawling more walkers their way. He didn't care. He knew that he could kill every single one of these bastards. And in Rick's mind, the more walkers that were on him, the less there were on his son.

Now that the search for Carl was over, the group focused more on killing any walker that got close. Beth and Bob were the only ones not actively getting involved. Beth had Judy in her hands and couldn't fight properly even if she wanted to. And Bob, who made himself the pointed protector of the two, hung back and killed anything that tried to attack the girls behind him.

The others in the group, however, were pushing with all their might to each their second youngest member. Rick took point with Daryl next to him watching his back. The others followed doing their best not to break off and to stick together.

Caitlin and Cisco followed the other group as they went after the leader's son. They were getting close, and though they had little experience in killing, they were holding their own just fine. Both had a small knife in one hand and were killing any walker that got to close. It was a bit of a struggle. They were not use to it and it was tiring them out quickly.

The only thing that had them going was knowing that Barry's life hung in their hands. It was their job to protect him when he was down and at the moment they both felt like they were failing him.

"Carl!" Rick yelled. He son was only a few feet away! He could almost touch him! "Come this way!"

"Dad!" Carl fought as hard as he could. God, why did he have to be an idiot? He should've never fired off that shot. His family was now in danger because of him.

"Almost there!" Daryl encouraged. "Come on kid!"

It took a bit of time but Carl did push through and he was by his dad's side, who immediately wrapped an arm around him. But they didn't stop to celebrate though. Walkers were still around them, but the herd was thinning. It wasn't anything like the farm or the highway herd but it was still big and they still had incoming walkers to watch out for. For now though, they didn't have to constantly fight.

"Where did you get that bag?" Caitlin stopped and Cisco zeroed in on said bag as well.

"I found it, and who are you?" the kid, Carl, snapped at them.

Both shared a look. The kid didn't just pick the bag up at random. That bag was the exact one they left Barry with.

"Did you shoot him?" asked Cait with a glare. "Did you kill him?"

"What?" Carl asked and shook his head. "Of course not! It's not like it matters any way. The guy is probably dead by now. He was choking on his own blood when I left him."

"You left him?!" Cait screeched as she made her way to the shack. "Barry!"

"Wait for me!" Cisco followed as he ran after her. Both of them taking down walkers that near the shack and going inside it.

Rick glanced over to Daryl and the latter nodded as he took point and started taking over the lead as Rick took care of his son. The group around them moved protectively around them to cover them.

"What happened?!" Rick was stern and pissed. "You know better to shoot off your gun. And better yet, you shouldn't have left the group. And what do you mean you left a dying man to be eaten by walkers."

"I know dad!" Carl defended himself. "But we were sitting ducks out in the open like that and you know it. I just wanted to help protect the group. I found this shack with walkers crawling all over it and decided to see if I could help someone. The guy inside is bit! He's infected! I grabbed his stuff and was going to return to you but the guy reacted and it startled me. I pulled the trigger. I know it was stupid. I left him there so he could distract the walkers to make my escape."

Rick didn't know what was more of a shocker; that his son was so cruel to leave a man, dying or not, to be eaten by walkers or that the two newest people in their group were hiding such a big secret. Rick put his head down in thought before looking back up to meet his son's eyes.

"What you did was indeed stupid and reckless. Something we can't afford to do. No!" Rick stopped his son from speaking. "You don't get to speak now. It's my turn. Things could've ended very badly today because of this. I'm very disappointed and from now on til I say, you are to do everything I say with no objects and you are to stay with the group period. If you want to do more for the group you're gonna have to earn our trust back. Got me?"

Carl defiantly looked away. Rick grabbed his son's face and ripped it back to him.

"I said, do you understand?! Or am I not speaking English enough for you?"

Carl bit his lip and nodded.

"Say it."

"I got you." he whispered.

"Good." Rick stood and his shoulders slumped before he wrapped his arms around Carl. "I'm so glad you're ok. Never do that again."

"Ok." there was little else Carl could do besides hug his dad back.

000000000000

Cisco and Caitlin wasted no time in getting inside, hoping for the best and dreading the worst. They had to take down a few walkers but nothing they couldn't handle. Caitlin was the first one in the room they put Barry in.

She gasped and turned away, already crying.

"What?" Cisco came up and Caitlin pointed to the bed. He gulped, knowing it was bad but he looked anyway. He instantly saw why Cait was crying.

The bed that held Barry was empty and covered in scarlet red blood. Cisco bowed his head and fell to his ass feeling like a complete failure. There was no Barry, there were walkers all around way before they came to the scene and they were way to much blood. There was no way Barry could have survived.

"Damn it Barry!" Cisco buried his head in his hands, his breath shaky trying not to out right sob his grief. "Why?!"

Caitlin slid to her knees in front of him and together they held each other crying in grief over their lost friend. How many was that now? How many of their friends were gone because of all this?

"We can't stay here." Caitlin whispered. "The undead are still coming and we need to move."

"What's the point?" asked Cisco bitterly. "We've been here, what, two weeks? And look how many of us are left! It's just you and me and how long is that going to last? Huh?! It's all my fault! I'm the one that got everyone killed!"

"Stop it!" Cait slapped him. It wasn't hard but it was enough to get Cisco to stop his rambling. Cisco sat there in silence holding his cheek. "True we are here because of you but we all agreed to go! We all knew the risks and we went anyway! It's not entirely on you Cisco!"

"We thought we knew the risks!" Cisco argued. "We thought we were going against other metas and other super powered people! Not this! Nothing could have prepared us for this! I was the one who programmed the machine, not you, or Barry, or anyone else! Just me! So, this, this world is all on me."

"No, it's not." Cait said firmly as best she could. Her eyes glistened from tears still falling, her eyes going back and forth trying her hardest to get Cisco to listen to her.

"No matter what you say Caitlin, it is and we both know it." Cisco said with such finality in his voice that Caitlin knew she wasn't going to win this battle.

"Let's discuss this later. We need to go." Caitlin got up and held out her hand from her friend to take. Hoping that he would take her hand and not ignore it, choosing to stay here, waiting to die.

"There is no discussing it later. It's settled." Cisco concluded but despite that took her hand anyway much to Caitlin relief. Bother her and Cisco adjusted their bags that had slipped on the ground in their grief. It was time to move on.

"Let's go back to the others." Caitlin said. "There's nothing we can do for him."

"Okay." the utter defeated and depressing tone in Cisco voice shook her to the core. Never was Cisco so down that he would sound like that. He was always the glass is half full kind of guy and to here him so far gone was disturbing.

They got only a couple of feet away before they heard a thug sound.

"Was that you?" asked Cisco as he burrowed his eyebrows together.

"No…" Caitlin trailed off as she searched around for the source of the noise.

A thug was heard again. Back into the room they just left.

"It could be a zombie." Cait said as she got her knife at the ready. "Be careful."

Cisco nodded and they headed back to where they were.

Thug!

"There it is again!" Cait harshly whispered.

Thug!

"There!" Cisco pointed to a closet door. "It's coming from there."

They both went to the door and inspected it.

Thug!

They both jumped back as the closet vibrated a little from the hit. Someone or something was hitting the door.

"On three." Cait said.

"What?" Cisco questioned. "How about no? Obvious, a walker got stuck in there. I say we leave it to rot."

"That's not the right thing to do and you know it!" Caitlin fired back.

Cisco rolled his eyes and prayed to god that whatever was behind the door wasn't going to kill him.

"On three." Cisco raised his knife, ready. "One…"

"Two…"

"Three!" Caitlin jerked the door open and Cisco raised his knife to deliver a powerful blow…when he stopped short.

"Oh god…" Cisco dropped his knife and Caitlin soon followed as they both hugged a bloodily but very much alive one Barry Allen.

"Barry!" Caitlin cried as she hugged her very much alive friend. She never thought she was going to see him again!

"Dude, we thought you were dead!" Cisco sniffed as he tried his hardest not to sob again. At least, this time it would be in relief and not grief.

Barry was breathing heavily. Hitting the door took a lot out of him and that was after escaping death, again.

"I…I 'eard." Barry was so out of breath and in so much pain it was hard for him to talk. "N-Not 'our fa'lt…"

Cisco couldn't fight Barry and just hugged his best friend tighter. The tears he was so desperately trying to hold back were coming in waves.

"How did you manage to escape the walkers?" asked Cait as she took stock of her friend. Barry looked no different than when they left him here. He's bandages were soaked through meaning the wounds were bleed more, but other than that Cait saw no new injury on Barry.

"Craw'ed." Barry's eyes were half lidded and he seemed like he was going to kill over any second but he was indeed alive.

"You dragged yourself in the closet?" Cisco pulled away. Barry nodded. "Thank god you're alive Barry. I was so sure you were gone."

"I'm 'kay." Barry closed his eyes and was starting to lean heavier on Cisco. "Tired…"

"That's okay." Cait assured him. "It's fine now. We're back. Just rest."

Barry nodded and he was out like a light before anyone could say otherwise.

"Okay, we have to do this fast." she said as she dug into her bag. "Cisco, we need to get new bandages on him. I have to stop the bleeding or we really could lose him."

"What do you want me to do?" he asked.

"I need gauze. I wasn't able to grab them in the store but we have plenty in the bag that the kid stole from us. Go get it."

"Right." Cisco just prayed that they didn't take off with the bag with them.

00000000000

Rick and his group were stationed around the shack waiting for the two newest members of his group, or could he even call them that anymore? They held such a big secret from them that Rick was rethinking his approach to let them stay.

Daryl and Carl were next to him while Beth and Judy were behind him being protected by Bob. The others were picking off any remaining walkers and were keeping an eye out for anymore should another herd pass by.

Should that happen, he would leave them. Doctors or not, he would not risk his family for people he barely knew.

He suddenly heard sobbing and felt his heart twitch for their loss. It was a kill or get killed world they lived in now. Only the strong survive and the weak perish.

"Damn shame." Daryl expressed his grieve for the pair. They seemed nice enough, a little naive, but nice. It was never easy losing someone no matter how many times it happens. You just get better at coping with it.

Rick nodded and was patient enough to let them have their grief, for now. He would give them a few minutes before going in there. They could wait around forever. They will either come with them or stay here. It was that simple. He wasn't going to dragged them out or force them to leave. It was their choice and if they chose to opt out like most people, he would let them.

Two minutes passed, and Rick was going to get it another three before going in there when the man, Cisco, came running out. Rick tensed as did everyone else. People lost in their grief could be very dangerous. Rick knew that first hand.

Rick knew that it was a possibility that they would blame his son with their friend now dead and he was fully prepared to kill them should they try to harm even a hair on top of his head.

True to his instincts, Cisco ran right to Carl. Rick immediately put his gun to the man's head effectively stopping him from whatever plan he was going to do. Daryl followed a second later and now Cisco had a gun and arrow pointed at his head.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" Cisco held his hands up. "Don't shoot!"

"I won't if you explain to me why you were charging straight at my son." Rick growled out.

"The bag." Cisco immediately said pointing to Carl. "I need the bag."

"What for?" asked Carl. "The guy's dead."

Cisco glared and Daryl tightened his hold on his bow. He had never seen so much rage on the happy go lucky guy's face. Something changed.

"That guy's name is Barry." Cisco said in a hard tone. "And no thanks to you he's alive. But we have to stop the bleeding or he could die."

"About that." Rick lowered his gun some. "My boy said he's bit."

"So?" Cisco snarked.

"Bits kill and bring you back as one of them dumbass." Daryl pointed out. "He's a dead man. There's no point in trying to save him. We should put a knife in him now and save us the trouble later."

"I dare you to try that." Cisco snarled as his hands became fists. He might not be able to control this part of his powers well, but he could feel it now. The vibrations just waiting to be let lose on these people who think they could kill his best friend and get away with it.

"Are we done yet?" Carol came up to them. "We have the walkers under control but there's no telling if more are on the way. We need to move."

"Give me my bag." Cisco took a step forward. "The faster we can bandage Barry the faster we can get out of here."

Rick looked at his son who had the bag. It was obvious that the bag held medical supplies if Cisco's words were any indication. Rick was hard press to even give it to him despite the bag being Ciscos'. The supplies should be used on the living not the already dying.

"Bandages can't help you. Nothing can help your friend." Rick tried to break it to Cisco gently.

He didn't know how it was possibly but the kid clearly didn't know that once you're bit it was over. The only cases people could be save is to cut off a limb and if his son's description was any indication, the man had multiple bits all over his body.

Cisco glared. They were wasting time!

"You don't know Barry like I do. He'll live and come out stronger than ever." Cisco took another step.

"Oh honey, he's gonna die. There is no stopping it. Once you're bit, it's over." Carol gave him a small sympathy smile.

"Fine!" Cisco snapped. "Don't believe me! But the bag is ours and I demand that you give it to me. What we do with it shouldn't be any of your business."

"We can't do that." Rick said.

"Why the hell not?!"

"Because the bag of supplies should be used on the living not people who are already dead." Rick explained.

Cisco's eyes widened taken back. Cait was wrong. They weren't good people. Maybe he should just attack them and take the bag back. Dark eyes shifted back and forth studying the surroundings. It was no good. Rick's people were scattered and should he attack they would kill him without a second thought.

Damn it. Cisco cursed himself. He really wished he had Barry's super speed right now.

"Cisco! What is taking so long?" Cait emerged from the shack. "We need those bandages."

"They won't give the bag back!" he replied. "They won't let us help Barry!"

"What?!" she screamed and ran the rest of the way. "How dare you!?"

"It's nothing personal." Rick raised a hand hoping to calm her down. "We just can't let you use supplies for people who are already dead."

"Barry's not dead!" she yelled with clenched fists. "And that is our bag that your son stole from us. We demand it back."

"Sweetie, he is already dead. You die from getting bit. And what are you gonna do if we don't?" asked Carol so sweetly it was sickening. "You have no weapons to help you and we out number you."

"Cisco…" she whispered. "Can you…?"

"Too many…" he answered back already knowing what she wanted him to do.

She nodded and turned back to the others. They couldn't win with force so it was down to brains then.

"Barry isn't dead." She said firmly and calmly. The complete 180 reaction put Rick on edge. "He was bit yes, and yes, I do know what happens to people when they get bit. Tell me how long does it take for people to die from a bit? I've seen a few minutes to a few hours. Barry's first bite was a week ago and he's still alive."

"Lair." Carl stepped up. "How is that possible? I saw the bit marks. There is now way that he got bit that long ago and still be alive."

"It's because he's fighting the virus." Caitlin answered without hesitation looking each one square in the eye. "He is tired and weak but still fighting it. If we can keep him stable he could beat the infection. He could be immune to it, maybe even develop a cure for the rest of us."

The words were heavy and the thoughts on everyone's minds were heavier. Rick couldn't deny that even if they were lying, if there was even a slight chance that it was true, it was worth fighting for it.

"Daryl…?" Rick glanced over to his lover.

"They aren't lying." Daryl lowered his bow. "They are telling the truth or at least they believe what they're saying."

That was good enough for Rick. He looked at his son and nodded his head over, motioning for him to give their bag back.

"But dad-" Carl tried to protest.

"Give it to them son." Rick waved his hand. "If there is a slightest chance of getting a cure, we should at least try."

Carl listened to his father and gave the bag back. Cait took it and ran back to the shack as fast as possible.

"If there is the slightest hint of your man turning, I'll put him down myself." Rick warned.

"It won't come to that." Cisco sounded so sure to them. "Barry always comes out on top."

"Don't be too sure about that." Daryl said. "Everyone's luck runs out sometime."

"Not this time." Cisco said back. He knew Barry was going to live. They just needed to make sure he was stable and kept in a safe place.

He left and went back to Caitlin. He had just got into the room and she was almost done. The blood wasn't so noticeable but Barry was still out of it, but he seemed to be resting better than before.

"How is he?" he asked.

"Well," Caitlin sighed. "Considering how things have been, he's doing okay. The blood has slowed down a bit and he seems to be resting easier than before. He still has a fever though. We need to get him somewhere safer."

"You're right. But how are we going to get him there?" asked Cisco. "We were barely able to carry him last time and he was conscious then and trying to walk, now, he's just dead weight."

Caitlin glared at him and put her hands on her hips. Cisco winced and nodded while looking down.

"Yeah, wrong choice of words. I get it."

"And we have other people who can help, Cisco. I'm sure we can get a couple of guys to help us if we ask."

"They're going to have to." Cisco decided. "We can't leave Barry here and they need Doctors. So if they want us to be with them, Barry needs to come as well. No Barry, no us."

Cait nodded. "Well, he's ready to be transported, as much as he can be anyway. Ideally, I wouldn't want to move him at all, but we don't have a choice, do we?"

"No. I'll go get them to help."

"Okay."

Cisco came back out and mentioned for them to come over. Rick and Daryl stepped up.

"We need help to move him. He's alive but out cold. Cait and I can't carry him on our own."

"Bring us to him." Rick said. "We can help move him."

Cisco nodded and showed them their first look at Barry.

The first thing Rick thought when he saw Barry for the first time was young. The man was young, almost a kid himself. Barry was covered in gauze and he could even see blood already seeping through. His son was right. There was no why that this kid could survive let alone be the cure.

But…if they were telling the truth like Daryl said then it was worth a shot. Worse case, the kid dies and they put him down for good. Best case, the kid lives and he would hopefully be immuned and then hopefully they could get a cure.

Rick could only pray that the best case would come to pass.

Chapter Text

It was morning; the sun was shining and the birds were singing.

Barry winced as the sun hit his eyes and turned over with a groan. It was waaay too early to deal with the sun. The sun needed to go away and let him sleep so he could get up early tomorrow to go to work.

Work….

“Shit!” Barry jerked awake and jumped up. He looked at his watch; 8:00am. “Shit, I’m late for work!”

In a flash of lightening, he gathered his fallen cloths and quickly put them on. They were cloths from yesterday, but Barry couldn’t help it at this point. He was already going to be late even with his speed.

A second groan from the bed broke Barry from his panic and his eyes softened at the figure in bed.

“How is it that the fastest man alive is still late for work?” the figure asked as he rolled on his side towards Barry. “You need to explain that to me one day.”

Barry chuckled and docked his eyes down in embarrassment.

“Just lucky, I guess.” Barry shrugged his shoulders and went back over to the bed. He crawled on his hands and knees over the figure in bed. “It’s just me being me.”

“No kidding.” the man smirked teasingly. “You should take a minute and chill with me. You’re already late. You can always get there in a flash.”

Barry rolled his eyes. “Always with the puns, huh, Len?”

“They never fail me. Don’t be jealous.”

“Never.” Barry said and kissed Len on the lips.

They parted after a moment and Barry sighed happily. He glanced down and looked at the gift he had given Len last night. It was a light bluish/white snowflake that had lightning bolts all around inside it. It was a beautiful piece of jewelry that cost a pretty penny. Barry didn’t care, Len was worth it. In fact, seeing Len wear it did things to Barry so much so, that he wanted to jump his boyfriend all over again.

Len caught Barry staring at the jewelry around his neck. It was a beautiful piece of art that Len loved even though he wasn’t much of a jewelry guy. In fact, he only had the one pinky ring and that was from a heist to remind him that even the best laid plans can go wrong.

“Take a picture red, it’ll last longer.” Len teased smirking up at his boyfriend.

“Don’t tempt me.” Barry smirked back as he fingered the necklace. “I might just do that.”

“I can’t believe you got this for me. A bit much for a sixth month anniversary, ain’t it?”

“You don’t like it?” Barry frowned.

“No, no.” Len sat up quickly. “I love it. I just wasn’t expecting it. I feel like I shortchanged you, Scarlet. I just gave you the biggest dinner of your life.”

Barry’s bright smile replaced that darkened frown. Len felt so relieved. He never wanted to make Barry feel bad about anything, especially not about this.

“Defiantly the biggest, I couldn’t get enough! But, Len, relationships aren’t about who can give who the most expensive present.” Barry gave a gentle smile. “You do it because you care and love that person with all your heart. You want to do things like that. I wanted to give you that. I love you, Len.”

Yesterday was their sixth month anniversary and it was amazing. Both men decided to go out and have dinner and go to the ocean to stargaze then come back home to have hot steamy sex.

It was perfect all up until Barry blurted out the ‘L’ word. Len was halfway out the door before Barry figured out what was wrong. Of course, they both talked about it and eventual Barry was able to get Len to stay the night.

“Even though I would love so much to stay in this bed with you here, all day long, I have to go. I really enjoyed last night Len, really.” Barry finally got up but not before looking back at his lover.

“I meant what I said too, last night and just now.” Barry continued causing Len to look away.

Barry followed Len’s eyes not willing to let the other man run away. “I love you. And that’s not going to change any time soon. I know that you’re not ready to say it back and I completely understand and I’m willing to wait until you are.”

“What if I’m never ready?” asked Len sitting up, Barry leaning back to give Len room. “I don’t have a good track record for love. I may never be ready.”

“And that’s okay.” Barry soothed. He rubbed Len’s arms up and down trying to calm the man. “Even if you’re never ready, I know that you at least care about me and that’s enough.”

“That’s not fair to you.” Len argued.

“That may be true.” Barry confessed. “But isn’t it my choice to stay with you? Len, I’m willing to stay and try this thing whole heartily. I’m hoping you’re going to too. I will stay with you until you tell me otherwise and actually mean it.”

Both thought back to their third month when Len tried to push Barry away for his ‘own good’. That didn’t work out well. Both parties got hurt and solved nothing in the end. But they both stuck through it and talked it over and decide to try once more.

Barry cupped both hands on Len’s face locking his eyes with the others’.

“I love you and I know you care about me, and that’s enough.”

“For now?” Len bit back.

“For always.” Barry promised kissing the other man. The only thing that broke them up was Barry’s phone ringing.

“Crap.” Barry sighed because he knew who was on the other end of that line. “Gotta go.”

Len smirk. “Go get ‘em tiger, stay frosty and try not to piss people off.”

“Are you kidding? It’s me. People love me!” Barry grabbed his phone and started heading out.

“Sure they do.” Len said before Barry sped away.

While running, Barry was laughing, feeling on top of the world despite knowing he was going to be late for work. He was almost there when there was movement in the corner of his eye. Whipping his head around he saw…himself?!

Shit! He was ghosting! Again! Why?! Barry knew from past experiences that something awful must have happened. Before Barry knew it he was almost in front of the precinct and had to stop running. The ghosting stopped but the heavy lead feeling in his gut did not.

“Holy crap, this is no less freaky than any other time I’ve done this.” Barry told himself as he walked a normal human pace. The worst part about ghosting was that he never knew when he was going to do it and why would he do it. It must have been extremely important for him to run back into the past.

The precinct was just up ahead and now that Barry had a moment to think, he thought back to the ghost and how he saw himself. This wasn’t a normal ghosting. It was usually him dressed the same for that day, but this was different. He wasn’t wearing the same clothes as his ghost. No, his ghost form looked haggard looking and was wearing jeans, an off-white wife beater, and black/white plaid shirt.

What concerned Barry more was that he looked like shit, like he was actually in a shit storm and lost. He looked beaten up, clothes ripped, and dirty looking. What was worst was he knows he saw blood. It was on his face and clothes! He cringed at the thought of what he was going to go through to make him run back to the past. Did someone die? Oh my god, did multiple people die?!

Barry was completely shaken up by that thought and now he had to go to work, late, and act like everything was normal. God, help him.

00000000000000000

For hours, Barry was staring at his case files but not registering a single word. Even, being as fast as he was, he couldn’t concentrate on a single thing. All he kept thing about was him ghosting and what it could all mean. Obviously, something bad happened, something so bad that he would mess with time again.

Barry had sworn after Zoom that he was done with time traveling. For a moment he really considered saving his mom after Zoom but ultimately decided against it. He didn’t want to make things worst so he could have a better life. So why did he ghost? Did someone die? Had it been Joe? Iris? Caitlin? Cisco? Oh god, what if it was Len? Barry shook his head not wanting to think about that. Had he faced a meta that he couldn’t hope to defeat and the only way to beat him was to travel back and stop it before it began?

 

Before Barry could question it more, a large hand clapped his shoulder, causing the young man to jump violently.

“Jeez, Barry.” Joe put his hands up in surrender. “I’m unarmed.”

The tension in Barry’s body released and he sighed as he sat back down knowing there was no threat at hand.

“Sorry.” Barry sighed.

“What’s wrong son? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” Joe smiled warily trying to joke to make Barry feel better, but the statement only made things worst.

“It’s nothing. Nothing. Just not a good day today.” Barry tried to play it off.

“Hey, Barr, you know that if something’s wrong you can come to me with anything right?” Joe leaned down some making eye contact with his foster son. “If something’s bothering you, you can talk to me, and see if we can talk it out.”

“I know, I know.” Barry waved Joe’s concern away. “It’s nothing. I just have a lot on my mind. It’s nothing I can’t handle on my own.”

Joe stared at his son not believing him one bit but figured that he’d let it slide for now. He’ll let Barry try to handle this on his own first. He knew that if the younger man needed help, he’ll ask for it. Maybe not himself, but he will talk to someone about it. And that was good enough for Joe, for now.

If Barry couldn’t handle it, he’ll jump in if it comes to a point. Barry always had a knack for getting into trouble. Whether, when he was younger or now, trouble always sought out his son. Joe had learned to help his son out in all staged, whether it was to help prevent a mistake, help right a mistake, or help with the after math of said mistake. Joe knew it all and so wasn’t concern at the moment. However, if Barry continued this, he would have to step in. He won’t like his son suffer needlessly.

“Okay, son. But if you’re in over your head, I’ll be there for you, thick or thin.” Joe remained his foster son.

“I know Joe. And I’m glad. I might take you up on that, but later though, not now.”

“Okay.” Joe nodded. “I’ve got to go now. I was just checking in on you. Got a case down town. So, I might be awhile.”

Barry nodded. “Have fun. Be safe.”

Joe smiled and turned to leave.

“Oh, and Barry?” Joe called back.

“Yeah Joe?”

“Make sure you at least do some of your work. I don’t want the Captain on your case again. One of these days, you’re going to get fired.”

Barry smirked. “Awe but the Captain loves me.”

“Just do your work Barry.”

“Will do Joe. It shall be done, promise.”

Joe gave a two-finger salute and went on his way. Barry waved him goodbye but the moment Joe was out of sight, his smile disappeared and was gone in a flash. As quick as Barry could, he did his work, well, most of his work. He just couldn’t find it in him to do all of it. Ever since he saw himself ghost, he’d been itching to tell Cisco about it.

Now, that Joe was going to be out for the rest of the day, most likely, Barry could slip to Star Labs and have a talk with his favorite nerd buddy.

“God, I hope Lisa’s not there.” Barry paused in his work at the thought.

If Lisa was there, he was fucked. She and Cisco have started having ‘not dates’ as Cisco has stressed repeatedly. More so because they didn’t want Len to find out. Ever since Zoom and Len time traveling, The Rogues and Team Flash have been partnering up to help protect the city from other metas and other equally dangerous threats.

Of course, The Rogues did stupid shit every once in a while, but it was mostly for old times’ sake and to have fun. Len, in particular, loved to rob banks and other riches just so he can don the outfit on and have at with the Flash.

Yup, all fun and games now.

00000000000

Cisco was typing on his laptop and glancing up at the new machine they had acquired. They had found it in their latest bust of the government, namely General Eiling. They had no idea at the time what it was but knew that it wasn’t something they wanted the General to have. So, they took it about two weeks ago and now were doing extensive tests to find out what it was and why the General had it in the first place.

A week into testing Cisco cracked the first piece of the puzzle. The man in question, had discovered a breakthrough in history, well, the non-secret human history. The machine opened portals to different Earths of their world like with Earth 2 but so, so much more. Which was why it was under non-secret human history, because no normal human being knew that time travel and hoping dimensions were possible yet. Cisco himself has the power to do that same thing and don’t get him started on Len and the others time hoping their way through history.

Now, it was week two and Cisco was running tests for the sole purpose on getting the machine to run properly. He was so close too! All tests were coming back green and positive. All he had to do was get this last test to run through and he could get this baby to work.

The computer beeped and Cisco’s fingers stilled as he watched the laptop closely as the computer ran the test or simulation.

“Come on baby…come on.” Cisco mumbled to himself. The simulation was almost done when a whirlwind came through the lab.

“Barry!” Cisco jerked back in his chair and clutched the computer to his chest. “What the hell man?!”

“Sorry…” Barry rubbed his neck knowing his scared the crap out of Cisco and didn’t mean to.

“Jeez, you’re going to get me a heart attack one of these days.” Cisco grumbled. “And what are you doing here anyway? You’re supposed to be at work right now, right?”

“Yeah, I am. Got done most of my work though and decided to have an early day.” Barry started.

“Okay…” Cisco knitted his eyebrows. Something was up. “Is everything alright? There haven’t been any meta sightings all day.”

“It’s just, well uh…” Barry glanced nervously to the side.

“Yeahhhh?” Cisco waved his hand so Barry would continue.

“I-I…well, ghosted today.” Barry bit his lip. “I looked like shit too.”

“No! No, no, no…!” Cisco jumped up being sure to put his laptop on the table gently. “I don’t want to know. The less I know the better. God, Barry! I thought you said you weren’t going to mess with time again?”

“I know okay?!” Barry exclaimed looking more than just upset but angry as well. “I know a made a promise. Don’t you think I haven’t been questioning it every single second since it happened? I know I promised Cisco. What concerns me is why I did it? Cisco, you didn’t see me. I looked like hell, I had blood all over me, my clothes were basically rags with how torn up they were. And what I mean by clothes, is regular average joe clothes! I wasn’t wearing the suit or even the outfit I’m wearing now!”

He promised he wouldn’t do that anymore. It made him angry that he would break a promise like that. It also terrified him. What could have been so bad that he would break a promise as serious as that one?

“Okay, okay.” Cisco held up his head and stared at the ground for a second, like the floor was able to come up with the correct answer. Then he looked up to Barry, who he could tell was visibly upset and angry. “Since we know you’re going to ghost maybe it won’t happen?”

“Yeah, like that’s worked before.” Barry muttered darkly.

There were plenty of times in the past where he knew that he was going to ghost but could do nothing to prevent it. Most of the ghosts were life and death threats, either to his life or to another. It was like anything he did to prevent it just made it happen all the same. Knowing he was going to ghost was not enough. If it was going to happen, it was going to happen. No matter what Barry felt on the matter.

“Yeah, you’re right.” the other man said in defeat. He knew as well as Barry that if Barry ghosted, that it was going to happen no matter what anyone did.

“So, you said you looked like hell?” asked Cisco trying to talk about something else.

Barry nodded.

“And you weren’t in the same clothes as now?”

“No.” Barry shook his head. “It was the strangest thing. Most times when I ghost, I’m wearing the same clothes as I did when I saw it. This was different. I was wearing jeans, an off-white wife beater, and black/white plaid shirt. I don’t even own an outfit like that! I was covered in blood and not just red either. There was black gunk; I’m guessing it was blood too. It looked like it anyway.”

“Could it be a meta with black blood? That’s not too big of a shock considering what we’ve been through.”

 “I was thinking about that too, but I just don’t know.” Barry was frustrated Cisco could plainly see.

“I guess we have no choice but to wait it out and see what happens, huh?” Cisco tried to play it down.

“Yeah I guess you’re right.” Barry shrugged.

No matter how hard he thought or how much he worried about it, nothing was going to change things. It was going to happen and it as just over all better to just go with it and hope for the best. It was all Barry could do to not lose his mind over it.

“Did you tell Joe yet?”

“Hell no!” Barry jerked his head. “Unless things take a turn for the worst he doesn’t need to know. At least not yet.”

“Riiigght.” Cisco drawled it out. “Well, that’s up to you. I won’t say a word.”

“Thanks man. You’re the best.” Barry smiled and hugged his friend. “Don’t know where I would be without you.”

“Probably dead somewhere in a ditch?”

Barry laughed whole heartily. “Probably.”

The forgotten laptop started to beep loudly.

“Oh shit.” the man hug forgot. Cisco ran back to what he was previously doing before Barry almost gave him a heart attack.

“What is it? A meta?” Barry was instantly on alert.

“No,” Cisco replied. “I’ve been running more test and simulations to see if I can get the machine to work properly and all’s been a go expect for one. I was running it again before you showed trying to kill me via heart failure.”

“God, I said I was sorry.” Barry threw his head up but then got serious again and leaned closer to see what Cisco was doing. “So, did it work?”

Cisco’s hands stilled and started in wonder on the screen.

“Cisco?”

Suddenly, a wide bright smile graced the darker man’s lips. His darker eyes looked over to his friend. Barry could visibly see the excitement in Cisco’s eyes.

“It worked.” he stated. “It actually worked! Ha Ha!”

Cisco fist pumped the air and whooped. He jumped and grabbed Barry.

“Can you imagine all the possibilities? I know that I can do these things and like time travel is old news but this! This we can use anytime. It won’t drain my energy and we can use it to find other heroes like you Barry. There won’t be guess work on who is in what Earth. I’ll have all the info on every good guy and bad guy their Earth has!”

“That is amazing Cisco! We could have a multiverse alliance or something. We could help anyone in need. Damn this is amazing.” Barry put his hands on his head not believing that this was actually happening. That they won’t be completely alone in fights against stronger enemies. The possibilities were endless.

“We should try it right away.” Cisco said and he started typing more and more. “Say tomorrow?”

“Wait, what?” Barry stopped and questioned. “We don’t know what’s going to happen, we should try it gradually in case things go bad.”

“What do you think I’ve been doing this last week?” Cisco raised an eyebrow. “I’ve been testing and retesting to make sure it’s safe for humans to pass. That last simulation was the last thing I need to prove to me that it is indeed safe, and we can use it to our advantage.”

“I don’t know Cisco. This could be dangerous.” Barry cautioned. “We can’t afford to be lost in another Earth or worst; this could kill us.”

“Have a little faith man.” Cisco’s voiced laced with hurt. “I would never put you guys in danger like that.”

“I know.” Barry sighed. “I know you would never do anything to hurt us on purpose, but this is new technology. Something we’ve never used before and we should be cautious. Just keep doing tests; like using objects and see if it really works or not.”

“Okay.” the other man said in defeat. “I see your point. Give me a week and I should know if it really works or not.”

“Hey,” Barry called out. “We’ll meet back here in a week and if it works, we’ll take it for a spin that day. Sound good?”

“Yeah.” Cisco smiled and nodded. “The whole gang?”

“No.” he shook his head. “We still need people back here to protect this Earth in case a meta shows up. I say it’s just us and some of The Rogues.”

“The Rogues really?”

“Yeah.”

“Why?”

“Just in case we need them.” Barry stated. “We can use their unique knowledge and their anti-hero ways. We have no idea what people are like in the other Earths and might need their area of expertise.”

Cisco gave a sly smirk. “You just want Len there.”

Barry almost blushed. “Not true, in fact, I rather he be here and not possibly in danger but to be honest I don’t think he would let me go alone with just you and Caitlin.”

Dark hair bounced as Cisco nodded. “True.”

Barry smiled and continued his day like it any other day he had, putting his ghosting incident to the back of his mind. When the ghosting never happened as the days ticked by, Barry had forgotten about the whole thing.

Chapter Text

It was one week today that Barry and Cisco agreed to try the machine out. All tests that Cisco conducted came back with positive results. He even started sending things to another Earth; started off small like a pencil, to larger things like an old style tv. Everything had gone without a hitch, so now, the group was here and ready to go.

 

So now, the group was standing at Star Labs ready to go, with each person having a small bag of supplies with them. Len was leaning against the wall with Mick not far from his side. He wore a black turtleneck shirt with dark navy colored jeans forgoing his parka. Since his time with Rip Hunter and the others, he’s forgone the coat more often than not. It became a habit now and really only wore it when he was teasing Barry on random heists.

 

Mick was in his full-on traditional heatwave outfit. He looked menacing and told everyone who questioned him to fuck off. He was wearing it for a reason. He was going to be on a different Earth with unknown enemies. His heatwave outfit gave him a small comfort and eased his nerves. It also gave him a nostalgic feeling. He had been Chronos for so long that it was nice to be in his traditional outfit again.  

 

“Are you sure this is going to work?” asked Len in a slow drawled out voice. He was very skeptical, and he was the one that time traveled. “It’s not going to kill us, is it?”

 

“No, it shouldn’t.” Cisco was racing around to put together finishing touches so they can start. He was wearing a space shirt that held all their planets in a cool geeky pattern with blue jeans. 

 

“Right…” Len didn’t believe the guy for a second, but Barry was going, so he was going too.

 

Barry came up to his boyfriend and clipped his arm, for not believing in his best friend. It didn’t hurt, but it sent the message. He, unlike Len, had every faith in Cisco. If Cisco said it wasn’t going to kill them, then it wasn’t, simple as that.

 

He gave Cisco an encouraging smile as he leaned into Len. He was wearing a white t-shirt with a light gray hoodie over top, tan pants, and white shoes. A shiny golden necklace was peeking through his shirt. It was a lightning bolt with tiny snowflakes littering the inside much like his own necklace, just the opposite design.

 

He gave that to Barry a few days after their anniversary feeling that needed to give his lover more to show his love even though he couldn’t say it. Of course, Barry protested, but Len held strong. Eventually Barry gave in and now wears it every day.

 

But that wasn’t the only surprise of the week. Oh no, Barry just had to top him.

 

Imagine Len’s surprise one week ago when Barry came home and gave the news. Of course, the first thing Len said that he was going with Barry no questions asked. He even had a whole argument lined up in his head on why he needed to go with the speedster. This wasn’t the first time Barry wanted to do something insane and didn’t want Len involved in fear that he could get hurt.

 

Len scuffed at the nonsense. He could take care of himself. Had been doing it for thirty years and could still do it now. It did touch a small part of heart that Barry was worried about him and wanted to protect him but a much larger part of himself was beyond annoyed that Barry thought he was incapable of taking down the enemy and coming out

alive.

 

All of his thoughts and worries were for nothing though when Barry readily agreed that he could come and gave no argument whatsoever. It blindsided Len for a few seconds before he could right himself again.

 

“You’re damn right I’m going.” Len had said one week ago before pulling Barry into a heated filthy kiss like no other.

 

“Lenny, if Cisco says it’s not going to kill us, then it’s not.” Lisa piped in wearing her own traditional outfit of a black shirt, jacket and pants.

 

She glanced at Cisco briefly, her heart speeding up a little at the sight of him ‘geeking out’ over the machine. She had liked him for a while but was patiently waiting for Cisco to make the first move. It was taking forever for him to do so. She knew that he feared her brother, and still was most days, despite her liking him. It was only a few short months ago that Cisco finally grew a pair and faced her brother.

 

Oh, he got totally beaten up for it but in the end, Len gave his blessing on the condition that he could revoke his blessing at any given time for any given reason.  

 

“It better not.” Mick said in a gruff tone. “I rather like living at the moment.”

 

“I’m sure everything is going to be fine.” Caitlin assured as her heels clicked on the floor as she walked, her black and grey dressing hugging her every curve. She was helping Cisco but not to the same extent as him. This was his area of expertise, not hers’.

 

Mick glanced at her then the floor before nodded. Unknowns to most people in the room, Mick had developed something for the polite scientist. He didn’t know what it was, sure as hell isn’t love, maybe attraction? He didn’t know but he knew was that if she were ever in trouble, he would do his best to protect her, which he couldn’t say for a lot of people. The only people he would ever try to protect were Len and Lisa and he guessed Barry now too, because he was Len’s and he made Len happy.

 

“Are you sure you want to go in that?” Lisa asked as she looked at Caitlin. “A dress and heels?”

 

“Well,” Cait bit her lip. “I’m not much of a fighter, and I can run in heels. The only reason I’m going is to help you guys with the talking mostly. We all can’t go in guns blazing.”

 

“Says you.” Mick could help but say and mentally winced when Cait shot him an unreadable look. He didn’t know what it was, but it wasn’t good.

 

“Exactly why I’m going.” Cait made her point.

 

“And exactly how are you all going to get back if Cisco and Caitlin are going?” asked Iris crossing her arms making her red jacket flare a little. Under her jacket she wore a short sleeve black shirt with black dress pants. After saying her farewells, and watching the team leave, she had to go to work “Shouldn’t Cisco stay in case something goes wrong?”

 

It was a valid point as everyone stared at the man in question.

 

“Hey, I’ve spent three weeks testing this baby and discovering its’ secrets. I know this machine inside and out now. I have all the data and mechanics here anyway.” Cisco defended himself as he held an iPad up. “If something does go wrong, I can fix it from here, software fixing anyway.”

 

“And if it’s hardware?” Joe pointed out. He was wearing his normal black suit and tie. He too, had to go to work ever this. It wouldn’t look good for Barry and him to be absent at the station. “How are we going to fix it?”

 

“Jax and your son are just as good as me when it comes to mechanics.” Cisco replied. “And if worst comes to worst, I’ll get us out using myself. I can create portals remember between our Earths?”

 

That was a valid point too. He was their back up if they couldn’t get back. It was settled.

 

“Can we get a move on?” asked Mick a little impatient. “I’d let to get this done sometime today.”

 

Most people rolled their eyes at Mick’s behavior, but Cisco glared.

 

“You can’t rush things like this. It’s needs to be set up right or else it won’t work.” he said.

 

This time Mick was the one to roll his eyes.

 

“Alright, fine, whatever.” Mick crossed his arms and glared at the wall.

 

Cisco sighed and refocused on what he was doing. A few more tweaks and some buttons pushed here and there! It was all done.

 

“Alright you guys! It’s all set. You ready?” he asked and was replied with nods and yes. Of course, that was silly question. Everyone had been ready to go for almost an hour.

 

“Let’s get this baby started!” Cisco put in the calculations and the dimension that they wanted and hit the start button. “Okay, everyone get on the platform.”

 

“You’ve got the high calorie bars, right?” Barry asked before they headed to the machine.

 

“Yup!” Cisco popped the ‘p’ while holding his small bag in his hands. “I’ve got you buddy. And I have some on me just in case.”

 

“Awesome. We might need those incase we’re cut off and we need my speed.”

 

The crew that was going crammed themselves on the platform that was near the machine. Joe and Iris were the only ones not going and so sat back and watched from afar.

 

“You come back you guys, you hear me?” Iris warned. “Or I’ll come get you myself.”

 

“Don’t worry Iris we’ll be fine!” Barry smiled and waved trying to reassure her.

 

“You better be.” Iris had a smile of her own.

 

“Good luck son! Be careful!” Joe waved as well hoping that this wasn’t the last time he was going to see his son and friends.

 

Everyone could hear the machine powering up and blood was pumping fast with adrenaline.

 

“Barry.” Len whispered over the humming of the machine.

 

“Yeah?” Barry glance at his lover.

 

“Whatever happens, don’t die and play hero.”

 

Barry smirked. That was the closest ‘I love you’ sentence yet.

 

“I’ll try not to. And don’t you die and play the hero either.”

 

Len rolled his eyes with a smirk. “Wouldn’t dream of it.”

 

Because everyone knew that Len wasn’t a good man. He wasn’t the hero; he was a villain that liked to help out his boyfriend occasionally. He still robbed banks for Christ sake!

 

“Here we go!” Cisco hit something on his iPad and lightning appeared around them. It shocked them but it wasn’t hurting them. They were taken back in awe at the display until the lighting started to fluctuate.

 

“What’s going on?” Iris stepped back in fear. The once beautiful display of lightening was chaotic and angry looking.

 

“I-I don’t know.” Cisco was taking in readings and trying his best to understand what was going on. In the tests, nothing like this came forth. Why now?

 

Barry groaned as he started to feel lightheaded. It was like something was draining his energy. He felt so weak and was getting weaker.

 

“Barry.” Len’s voice cut through his haze. “Are you alright?”

 

Barry wanted to so badly say he was fine, but he wasn’t, far from it.

 

“I’m-I’m goi’ be sic’.” Barry mumbled out before he collapsed to his knees.

 

“Barry!” he heard people scream his name before a bright flash of light blinded his vision and then darkness as he passed out.

 

0000000000

 

A flash of light left the surrounding area blind for a moment. It was so hot and intense, that all animals fled as quickly as possible. The light faded almost as quickly as it came leaving behind eight confused and frightened people behind.

 

“Where the hell are we?” Mick growled as he searched the surrounding area, the heat gun at the ready.

 

“I-I don’t know.” Cisco stuttered as he franticly worked on the iPad in his hands. The readings and words made no sense to the engineer.

 

“What the hell?” Joe groaned as he got up. “Iris?”

 

“Here.” Iris got up as well. “How did we get here? We weren’t in the machine.”

 

“You must have got caught in the blast, and that’s why you’re here.” Lisa theorized.

 

“What do you mean you don’t know?!” Len, meanwhile, yelled at the long hair man. “Where the hell are we and what the hell did it do to Barry?!”

 

Both he and Caitlin were kneeling next to an unconscious Barry. Cait was checking him over and was doing everything she knew to get Barry to wake up. Nothing was working but she continued her efforts.

 

“Barry…” Len called out softly to his lover as he cupped Barry’s cheek in one hand and held the cold gun with the other. “Come one, Barr, wake up. What’s wrong with him?”

 

“I don’t know.” Cait shook her hand. “Physically speaking everything is normal. He shouldn’t be unconscious like this.”

 

“This is anything but normal!” Len shouted. “Barry is not responding at all! Obviously, something is wrong! Fix it!”

 

“Hey! I’m doing the best I can!” Cait shouted back. “I have no idea what’s going on or what happened either.”

 

“Lenny, stop it.” Lisa put her hand on her brother’s shoulder. “This isn’t Cait’s fault. She’s doing her best. How about we give her some room to work, yeah?”

 

Len shook her hand off and glared at everyone until his eyes landed on Cisco.

 

“You’re right.” Len glared harder. “It’s not her fault. It’s this morons’. Where the hell did that machine take us?”

 

“It’s not making any sense.” Cisco started to pace.

 

“Well, maybe you should start filling us in.” Joe suggested as he knelt near Barry. He couldn’t get too close as he allowed Caitlin to work. Iris was right next to her dad as she watched her friend tend to her foster brother.

 

“Okay, okay.” Cisco combed a hand through his dark locks. “This is what I can tell so far.”

 

Everyone but Cait was giving their full attention. Cait was only giving half of hers’, the other half focused on trying to get Barry to wake up.

 

“We are not in any of the Earths that I saw through the machine and we’re certainly not on the one I programmed to land on.”

 

“What does that mean?” asked Iris. “If we’re not on any Earths then, are we on another planet?”

 

“No, we are on Earth, but just not any of the Earths we know of.”

 

“You’re not making any sense Cisco.” Lisa frowned not able to follow what Cisco was getting at. “How are we on Earth but not on Earth?”

 

“Let me see if I can make it clearer. Hold on.” Cisco grabbed a nearby sick and started to draw in the dirt.

 

He drew a round circle.

 

“This is our earth.”

 

He drew another circle next to the first one.

 

“This is Earth 2.”

 

“And these are on the multiple Earths that I saw in the machines data base.” he drew several more circles next to one another. “Each Earth in our universe is connected somehow. There is a line that connects us all, which is why I can take us back to our Earth if we needed to.”

 

Cisco drew lines to every circle connecting each one.

 

“And this is where we are. Outside of that connection.” Cisco drew a single circle far away from the others.

 

“I still don’t get it.” Joe shook his head so confused. Iris nodded her head in agreement.

 

“I get it.” Mick surprised everyone. “We are not in the same universe anymore. There won’t be doublegangers or any similarities like you saw with Earth 1 and 2.”

 

“Bingo!” Cisco pointed to the pyro with his stick. “But there’s more to it. We are not just in a different universe but a whole separate reality.”

 

“Why do I get the feeling that that’s stone cold bad?” Len said sarcastically.

 

“That’s because it is.” Cisco had a haunted look in his eyes. “This reality is completely separate from our own, with its own multi-universe. We have no connection with this Earth whatsoever.”

 

“I hate to ask this,” Iris started. “But if we have no connection to our Earth, how are we going to get back home?”

 

Everyone looked at Cisco, even Cait stopped what she was doing to look for that answer. Cisco looked down and then to each individual people in the eye.

 

“We don’t. There’s absolutely no way to get back.” Cisco words would forever haunt their minds.

 

000000000000000

 

“What the fuck?!” Len yelled. “What do you mean we have no way back?!”

 

“Just like I said.” Cisco said unnaturally calm. “I can’t take us back home and I’ve tried several times to get the machine to take us back. It’s not working. The machine is either broken or it’s because of the same reason I can’t get us home.”

 

“And what, pray tell, is the reason you can’t take us home?” Len sneered. “Barry needs medical attention and we have no fucking clue about this Earth. We are sitting ducks out here and vulnerable.”

 

“The reason is what I just explained. We are in a different reality! There is no connection between this world and ours.”

 

“You haven’t even tried!” Len reasoned.

 

“I don’t have to try!” Cisco was at his wits end. “I can feel it. Or more accurately, I can’t feel it. I can’t feel our home. I don’t feel the connection to vibe into to get us back.”

 

“So, we really are stuck?” Iris hugged herself.

 

This was not what she had in mind when she woke up today. Here, she thought she only had to worry about Barry and his team, going to meet their doppelgangers, and now it’s just much worst.

 

“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you people!” Cisco yelled as he shoved a hand into his eyes. The guilt and shame were overwhelming him.

 

“This is all your fucking fault!” Len growled. “You better hope Barry wakes up soon or you’re getting up close and personal with my cold gun.”

 

“Len! That’s enough!” Lisa intervened. “There’s no use putting the blame on him. What’s done is done and now we need to find a place to stay.”

 

Len sighed heavily through his nose. His glare never left though as he calmed down. If Barry didn’t get better soon, there would be hell to pay. He was not going through this shit alone. He needed Barry. He always felt better when Barry was here to smile or laugh. It just made things better in the world.

 

“Fine.” Len huffed. “But this isn’t over. Your ass will be on ice if we don’t figure this out soon.”

 

“Right...” Cisco saw that one coming a mile away. That wasn’t good. Len made puns for two different reasons; for fun and for danger. And they certainly weren’t having fun. Cold puns were Len’s specialty when it comes to dangerous situations.

 

“Help me with him.” Cait requested when she heard they were moving.

 

“I got him.” Len went and pick his love up. One arm went under Barry’s knees while the other went under his shoulders. Despite Barry being slightly taller than him, Len had more muscle mass. It was easy enough to pick him up, and if anyone saw his silently struggle in the beginning, no one commented on it.

 

“Do you know what’s wrong with him yet?” asked Iris as she walked up beside her brother.

 

“No…” Cait shook her head. “I can’t find anything. There are no signs of blood loss, injury, or anything that would indicate something was wrong. It’s like he’s sleeping.”

 

“W-wait, wait!” Cisco stopped causing them to follow suite. “Remember Barry not feeling good when we activated the machine?”

 

Everyone nodded.

 

“Then the machine overloaded causing us to come here?”

 

“Get to the point, poindexter.” Mick urged.

 

“Okay, okay.” Cisco held up a hand. “I think I know how we got here and why everything happened the way it did. Barry is a speedster who produces lightning because of his powers. And lightning is a form of…?”

 

“Energy.” Cait gasped as she looked over Barry again. “That’s why I can’t find anything wrong with him! There is nothing wrong with him.”

 

“Then why the hell isn’t he awake yet?” asked Iris. “If he’s fine, he shouldn’t be unconscious!”

 

“Hold up!” Len hugged Barry closer to him. “Are you saying that, that machine literary sucked Barry dry of his energy?”

 

“Exactly!” Cisco pointed his finger at Len. “The machine siphoned Barry’s naturally produced energy and in result caused it to overload.”

 

“But where does that leave my son?” asked Joe. “Will he wake up?”

 

Cait nodded. “He should once he regains his strength back.”

 

Len sighed as the other continued to talk around him. Thank goodness Barry was going to be alright. He would never admit it anyone, but he was genuinely scared that Barry would never wake up. He body sagged in relief of hearing the good news. Now all Barry had to do was open those beautiful hazel eyes of his and everything would be right in the world.

 

“Come on.” Joe announced. “It’s getting dark, we need to find shelter.”

 

So, they walked on, and walked some more and more. If felt like they were walking for hours in the woods, with no real direction to go. Iris took off her jacket long ago and stuffed it in Cait’s bag. Joe followed suite and took off his jacket and tie and just whipped it over his shoulder. Lisa was the last one to take off hers’. She didn’t about this world or it’s dangers. A leather jacket could provide some protection should they get hit. But after hours of walking with no end in sight, the heat got the best of her. It was just so damn hot out.

 

Mick, of course, was the only one to leave his on. He didn’t feel the heat like the others. This was nothing compared to what he could create. Fire was hot, hotter than this sorry ass weather. Yup, Mick didn’t shed a single sweat in full on heatwave gear, while everyone else had stain marks going down their backs and up their ass cracks.

 

“We should take that off of him.” Iris suggested as she pointed to Barry’s hoodie. “We can’t afford him over heating as well.”

 

Len glanced down at his lover and couldn’t help but agreed with Barry’s foster sister. She was right. Though out of it, Barry was flush from the heat and if Len focused, he could hear Barry breathing heavier. The heat was obviously affecting him but he at the current moment he couldn’t voice his complaint.

 

“Here.” Cait offered her help. “Put him down and keep him steady and I’ll take it off.”

 

Len nodded and did as told. He gently put Barry down and held him upright while Cait unzipped his hoodie and took it off of him. With the article of clothing gone and stuffed in her bag, Len could visibly see a difference without it. Barry’s flush went almost completely away, and he seemed to be breathing easier.

 

“Thank you.” Len gave his thanks. She smiled her welcome before resuming on.

 

They walked for a few more hours after that and found nothing. It was almost pitch-black outside and still they hadn’t found shelter of any kind. They were lost and they were no sign of people anywhere in any direction. They had no choice but to stop and make a makeshift camp in the woods.

 

“You can’t be serious?” Lisa stared in disbelief. “We have no idea what’s out here and you want to camp in the middle of the woods. Have you seen any horror movies at all?”

 

“I’m with the lady on this one.” Cisco agreed. “One, I hate the dark and two, this is worse than a horror movie! Literary anything could come out and kill us!”

 

“Calm down Cisco.” Cait tried sooth. “We don’t have much of a choice.”

 

“Cait’s right.” Iris supported. “There’s nothing around but trees, we haven’t seen a living soul in miles. Everything will be okay.”

 

Mick surveyed the area. It was true, they were very vulnerable here and they haven’t crossed another living being since they got here, but that also worried him. Except for birds and the occasional squirrel there was nothing out here. There were no people or large animals from what Mick could see, not even a rabbit has passed them by yet. That was never a good thing. He glanced over at his friend and partner in crime and worried about him as well.

 

Len panted softly a little red in the face from carrying Barry for so long. Mick had tried to switch with him, but Len couldn’t bring himself to do it. He had strong urges to protect Barry while his boyfriend was down and didn’t want help from anybody.

 

Mick understood and backed off. He could understand the feeling well enough. He glanced over to Caitlin and knew that if the situation was reversed, he would probably do the same if not worst; he might actually kill somebody if Caitlin ever got hurt like that.

 

They set up camp or something similar to a camp, they had very limited supplies for they weren’t properly prepared for this. Mick volunteered himself to get wood, Len stayed by Barry’s side not willing leave for any reason, and Cait was right next to Len hoping to figure out how to help Barry more than they already were. Joe was trying to get a fire going with the wood Mick had already brought back, and Iris with Lisa were getting what little food they had prepared for them to eat.

 

Cisco, well, he was on the iPad, mumbling to himself and rapidly doing something on the screen. No one knew what but they could guess what Cisco was doing. He was trying to find a way home, or at least something to help them out.

 

It was well into the night when it happened; the fire had gone down and was just ambers now. They didn’t really need it now that the food was cooked and eaten. It was a warm night; they could do without it. Joe was on lookout making sure nothing surprised them while they slept. He looked to his right and saw his daughter Iris and Lisa huddled together with Cisco not far away from them.

 

Joe was by himself, but he was closer to Cait from where she slept which was right next to Barry in case something happens to his foster son in the night. Right next to Barry and Cait was Len. He had not left his son’s side for anything, not even food. Lisa had to bring it to him.

 

Joe glanced around the quiet woods, and couldn’t help but thing, what would become of them?

 

Snap!

 

A twig snapped made Joe jerk straight up. He tensed and had his hand on his gun, at the ready. More twigs snapped under the weight of something heavy, and it was making Joe nervous all the more.

 

A groan sounded and Joe felt a chill go done his spine. Something was terribly wrong. He immediately got the others up.

 

“Get up! Get up!” Joe sounded the alarm as quietly as he could. He got Iris up first then Mick. They proceed to wake everyone else up.

 

“What’s going on?” Len asked immediately when he felt Mick wake him up. There was only one reason for Mick to wake him up in the middle of the night and it was always bad.

 

“Something’s coming.” Mick explained.

 

Everyone was up and ready, with the exception of Barry, with their limited weapons up but holding to see what was coming at them. The more noise that was coming towards them, the more tense they got. The groaning and moaning was the worst part. They knew that whatever was coming towards them wasn’t good and it made their hearts race from the unknown.

 

000000000000000000

 

“Oh my god! What is that?!” Lisa shouted as the creature came into view. Everyone in the group was shocked at what they were seeing not believing their own eyes.

 

“Is it human?” Cisco’s voice waivered.

 

“It looks like it might have been at one time.” Cait pointed out. While everyone was distracted by the danger in front of them Cait grabbed her bag and hugged it towards her chest like a lifeline. Shit was about to go down and her bag had much needed medical supplies in it should anyone get hurt. She couldn’t lose the bag; it was greatly needed.  

 

The creature indeed looked to be a human at one point, a woman to be exact, but the skin was grey and falling off. Blood was splatter all over the body and its’ torn dress. It had dull lifeless eyes as it growled at the sight of them. It flared its’ hands out, snapping its’ jaws towards them.

 

“Everyone get back!” Joe whipped out his gun. “Stop! Or I’ll shoot!”

 

The creature ignored Joe’s words and continued on; growling, clawing, and snapping.

 

“I said stop!” Joe warned. “This is your last warning.”

 

It didn’t.

 

Joe had no choice. With a wince he fired his gun. The noise of the firing sounded all the more loudly in the empty woods. The bullet hit the woman’s shoulder to effect.

 

“What?” Cait questioned not believing her eyes. The creature got hit but all it did was push the thing back a few steps before it continued on like it was never hit.

 

“Hit it again.” Lisa said.

 

Joe fired again, this time it was the chest. The result was the same, it staggered back a little more than before, but it still held its’ ground and came back for more.

 

“How is this possible?” Joe asked in bewilderment, his eyes widened from disbelief.

 

“Shit man…” Cisco whispered. “This can’t be! There’s no way…Joe! Shoot it in the head!”

 

“What?” Joe looked over to Cisco.

 

“Do it. It should go down for good.” he answered back.

 

“What? Like some fucking zombie?” Mick inquired. “How is that fucking possible?!”

 

“We’re in a different reality with two meta humans and three high class criminals with high powered guns and you think that zombies are impossible?”

 

“Kid’s got a point.” Len drawled out; eyes narrowed not liking this new development

 

“Well, whatever you’re going to do, do it fast!” Lisa urged. “It’s getting too close for comfort.”

 

“Shoot it in the head!” Cisco yelled again.

 

Joe wasted no time and did just that. However, this time Cisco was right, the creature staggered and fell, dead for good this time.

 

“I still can’t believe it…” Cait gazed on confused. “Zombies don’t exist! They can’t. It’s not physically possible.”

 

“Well, what do you make of that?!” Lisa shouted as she pointed to the thing.

 

“Whatever it is, it’s dead now.” Len confirmed as he checked on the kill making sure it wasn’t going to get back up anytime soon. “We should move. Gunshots are loud. We’re too exposed and I don’t want to be here if more show up. I have a very bad feeling about this.”

 

Everyone was in agreement and readied themselves to move out when a bone chilling scream echoed the air. Everyone turned their head to see another one of those things sinking their teeth into Iris’s throat. But it was not just the one zombie like creature, there were hundreds of them! All of the coming out of the woods moaning and snapping their jaws.

 

“Iris!” Joe screamed and starting firing off rounds. “Oh god!”

 

Barry groaned and moved as more gun firing was heard. He struggled to open his eyes and even when he was able to; his vision was blurry at best. He could hear weird noises all around him; moaning? What was that? Barry started blinking hard trying to clear his vision. He twisted his body trying to get up. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up and he could hear screaming.

 

“Iris!” That was Joe! What was happening?! Did something happen to Iris?

 

Oh god, please no. Barry thought as he pushed his hands to the ground.

 

“Oh my god! Shoot them! Shoot them!” he could hear Lisa yelling in the background.

 

God, what was happening? Barry pushed himself up; mouth open, eyes glazed over.

 

“Get Barry! Get Barry!” That was Caitlin’s voice.

 

“I got him!” Barry felt hands on his body and turned his head to the person whom they belonged to; Cisco.

 

“Barry buddy! We seriously need your help right about now!” Cisco was screaming into his ear, trying desperately to get Barry off the ground. They had only managed to get to a stand before danger was trying to strike them down.

 

“Move it Cisco!” he heard Len yell and could he the sound of the cold gun powering up before firing, killing anything that got near them. “There’s too many of them!”

 

They were in trouble and all he was doing was laying around being dead weight to Cisco. God, he shook his head trying to clear his vision more. His loved ones were in danger and he felt too weak to help them.

 

“Barry, snap out of it!” Cisco slapped his friend in the face. “We need you!”

 

Barry gasped at being hit but it seemed to have worked. His vision was starting to clear, and his head didn’t feel like lead anymore. He could think lucidly again!

 

“Cisco…?” Barry shook his head and his vision was crystal clear once more as he surveyed the area around him, he almost wished he’d never woken up.

 

 “Oh, thank god!” Cisco was so relieved to have his friend back, but the relief was short lived when reality hit back home. “We need you! There’s too many for us to fight! They’re zombies man! Zombies!”

 

Barry didn’t respond. He couldn’t. There were things attacking them! Disgusting human like things and they were attacking his friends and family. He could see Len, Lisa, and Mick firing off their guns left and right trying and failing to hold back the creatures. Cait was behind Mick looking petrified and hopeless as the pyro did his best to protect her. Then he saw his family; Iris was on the ground bleeding from the neck and Joe was standing over her, firing his gun at anything that came too close.

 

Barry was quick to act but it wasn’t fast enough.

 

When Iris went down Joe screamed and cried as he shot anything that came close to his baby girl. He didn’t bother to check for a pulse when he got close enough. He could tell from her lifeless eyes that she was gone and something in Joe broke. Now with iron hot rage, he opened fire on any creature that came near.

 

He knew that she was gone but he wasn’t going to leave her here with those things. He would die before he left her here. And he knew that it was high possibility. His gun only carried so many bullets, and he didn’t have a lot of back up either. He wasn’t prepared to get sucked in or he would have brought more artillery.

 

Even with her gone, he still had something to fight for besides not leaving her to these creatures. He still had Barry to look after and all of their friends were counting on him not to lose his shit, to keep focus until the threat was gone.

 

He was prepared to give his life to protect his son and his friends, what he wasn’t prepared for, was Iris getting back up after knowing she was dead.

 

There was a sound of movement behind him and he quickly turned ready to shoot another creature in the head when he saw who it was that made the noise.

 

“Iris…?” Joe lowered his gun in shock. Everything around him faded into the background as he stared at what he thought was his dead daughter.

 

Iris snapped her head up at the voice and Joe gasped. Iris’s eyes were dull and lifeless like the rest of them and he couldn’t react fast enough when she lunged at him. His arms flew out, throwing his gun far away from him and out of reach.

 

“Joe!” Barry ran as fast as he could, but it wasn’t fast enough. He couldn’t use the speed force! He could only run as a regular human. He could still feel his powers, but it was weak, like him, and he would need time to recover it.

 

He saw what had happened; he was so confused as to why Iris would attack their dad, but his mind made the conclusion that Iris wasn’t Iris anymore.

 

“Stay back Barry!” Joe cried though blooded teeth. “Run Barry! Run!”

 

“Not without you!” Barry ran headfirst into the crowd of zombies that were attracted to Joe’s blood and screams. He got his first bite on his arm as he tried to each his foster dad.

 

“I-I love you s-son…” Joe had tears in his eyes from both the pain in his heart and pain from his body.

 

“Dad no!” Barry’s never really called Joe his dad, only once or twice and in this moment, Barry wished he had said it more. “DAD!”

 

Barry felt another sharp pain as another bit into his shoulder. He grunted and had no choice but to pull himself away. He felt the rips in his skin but barely felt the pain, there was no pain greater than the pain his heart was going through right now.

 

“Dad…” Barry cried as he watched the zombies eat his foster dad alive. Tears were uncontrollably running down his face as he saw movement to his left. “Iris?”

 

Iris was limping and covered in fresh blood. Her eyes a deadly grey with no life to be seen expect the excitement of fresh meat. Her hair was matted with blood and her mouth was oozing it as she continued to chew on whatever was in her mouth.

 

“Iris?” he called again; tears fell harder than before. His entire being was in pain, he felt like it would consume him if he didn’t get a handle on it. In that one moment, Barry wished he had died with his father.

 

“Please, don’t do this.” Barry begged his foster sister. “I don’t want to hurt you.”

 

Iris continued and Barry could only take a step back. Two steps and his foot hit something metal. He quickly looked down and saw his father’s gun lying there. He picked it up know what he had to do but didn’t know if he had to the heart to do it.

 

He brought the gun level to Iris’s head.

 

“Iris…” he spoke. “If you are in there at all, please show me a sign. Stop this! Please! I don’t want to kill you! Please show me you’re still in there.”

 

Iris didn’t respond at all just continued on walking towards him with snapping jaws.

 

Barry’s vision blurred with tears as he sobbed for his dad to be alive, for his sister to hear him and to stop this. He didn’t have the heart to shoot her and let her continue her way towards him.

 

Once pearly white teeth, now yellow and rotting, sank into his skin, right over his collar bone. Barry winced and yelled out, not from the physical pain but from the emotional one as he brought the gun to his sisters’ head and pulled the trigger. Blood splattered his face. The effect was instantaneous like the puppet having its’ strings cut. Iris immediately fell limp and Barry screamed out his hurt and pain. He clutched his sister to his chest cuddling her with one hand on her head and the other wrapped around her body still holding his father’s gun.

Chapter Text

“Barry! Barry! Come on! We have to go!” Len went over to his lover and grabbed him. The cold gun was pointed out with one hand and trying to drag Barry with the other.

 

“I’m not leaving her!” Barry cried shaking his head and hugged Iris’s body harder. He couldn’t leave her. There was no way he could leave her like this.

 

“Now Barry!” Len tried again as he fired at the creatures getting too close to them. He couldn’t do this much longer; he was going to run out of charge on his gun.

 

“Get him up!” Mick fired his gun, burning as many as he could. “We need to go!”

 

Barry didn’t move. He didn’t care. After seeing both his father and sister die right in front of him snapped something inside. He felt lost. He just wanted to die.

 

“Barry!” Cait screamed. “Please Barry!”

 

When Barry didn’t move Len growled in frustration. He needed to get Barry to move! As he looked at the dead body of Iris, he felt his heart clench. Not only did he feel the loss of a friend but that was Barry’s sister, Barry had to be in unimaginable pain. But now was not the time to morn, they could do that later. Right now, they needed to get the hell out of here before more people died.

 

“Mick! Cover me!”

 

“Hurry up!” Mick moved to cover his friend. “We can’t hold up like this! I’m running out over here!”

 

“Look at me Barry! Look at me!” Len had no choice as he put his cold gun down to give Barry his undivided attention.

 

Barry just shook his head and cried harder.

 

“Leave him here!” Mick looked over. “He doesn’t want to go!”

 

“I’m not leaving him here! God damnit!” Len didn’t want to do this, but he grabbed Barry and slapped him across the face as gentle as he could but still getting his point across.

 

The hit stunned the other man, long enough for Len to grab Barry’s face with both hands. Barry was a mess, but Len was not going to give up. He would not let the person he cared about the most go out like this!

 

“Look at me Barry!” Len urged his boyfriend. “We need to go! You have to leave her here!”

 

“No, no, no…” Barry was getting over the slap and was starting to get hysterical again.

 

“Enough Barry!” Len shook him trying to get through to him. “If we don’t get out of here, we’re going to die!”

 

“L-Len…” Tears were running down Barry’s face, his heart broken showed painfully. “Dad…Iris..!”

 

“I know, I know, baby.” Len sooth his hands over Barry’s face trying to whip away the tears that kept coming. “But we need to go. If we don’t, the rest of us will die here. Do you understand me Barry? We will die here.”

 

Barry looked down at Iris. Her face looked almost peaceful like she was just sleeping. The only thing that disturbed this image was the blood spatter on her face. Barry brought up a hand to cup her face, Len took one of his own hands and put on Barry’s hand.

 

“I know it hurts baby, but we need to go.” Len urged as calmly as he could with the chaos around them. “Let her go, you need to let her go. We are all going to die if you don’t.”

 

Barry sobbed but he nodded. Len sagged in relief. He was finally getting to Barry.

 

“I’m out!” Mick yelled as his gun stopped working. “Time to go!”

 

“Okay, baby let’s go.” Len helped get Barry up.

 

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry…” Barry gently place Iris down saying once last goodbye before leaving her.

 

They got up but since they were distracted, multiple undeads were already upon them. Len didn’t have time to fire his cold gun and knew that it was over for them. His eyes widened and his heart was beating out of his chest. This is what seeing your death feels like, Len could only assume. He had never felt this all consume fear before, never during a heist, never with his father, and never while fighting meta humans.

 

“Len…!” Barry jumped in front of the undead shielding his love from the onslaught. His scream was bone chilling and heart wrenching. He felt them. All of them. Multiple bite marks could be felt on his back, each one just as painful as the last, the blood soaking his white t-shirt.

 

Hearing Barry’s scream, Len snapped out of it and fired his cold gun at every last creature that was hurting his Barry. He was successfully able to get all of them off and quickly grabbed Barry before the other man fell.

 

Barry gasped in pain but all he could do was hold on and follow Len’s lead.

 

0000000000000000

 

“We need to get out of here!” Cisco screamed as he and Lisa tried to fight their way through. It was hard considering Cisco was weaponless and the charge on Lisa’s weapon was almost gone as well.

 

Len was dragging Barry away; Mick was guarding Cait as best as he could with an empty gun. He was bashing their skulls in using the hilt of the gun.

 

“Take him! Take him!” Len passed Barry to Cisco. Barry was panting and barely able to stand.

 

Now that Len had free movement again, he started blasting away as many dead as he could. He and Lisa were the only ones that could defend against the herd that was pressing upon them. He and Lisa were in the front blasting their way through, making an opening for them to escape.

 

“Oh shit!” Cisco ducked and waived as best as he could while holding Barry up, but unfortunately one did seek up on them. “Ah!”

 

Barry might not have his powers, but he wasn’t going to let any one of those things hurt his friends, not again. Instead of biting Cisco, Barry threw up his other arm and took the bit for him. Barry screamed in pain and tried to throw the dead man off of him.

 

“Help!” Cisco yelled as he struggled to pull the dead creature off of his friend. Cait, hearing Cisco’s cry, picked up a nearby rock and smashed it into the undeads’ skull, effectively killing it.

 

In that short amount of time, Mick, Lisa, Len got separated from them. They had not heard the cry for help and pressed on not realizing that they were leaving their friends behind.

 

“Cisco, Cait, Barry!” Lisa was the first to notice and she immediately tried to turn back. Len, hearing his distressed sister turned back as well, firing the cold gun as he went.

 

“Barry!” he cried out trying to close the gap between them. He was almost there when his cold gun ran out of charge. “Fuck! Barry!”

 

With only Lisa’s gun as defense there was no way they could break through the wall of zombies. But Len didn’t care and tried to run headfirst into the crowd anyway. That was the plan before a large arm wrapped around his middle stopping him from doing so.

 

“No!” Len struggled. “Let go of me god damnit! Let go!”

 

“We can’t win!” Mick yelled in his ear. “We can’t get to them; we have to go.”

 

“No!” Len punched the arm holding him. “I’m not leaving Barry!”

 

“We have to!” Lisa came over shooting, covering them as best as she could. Soon, her own gun would be useless, and they would be screwed. She watched as Mick man handled her protesting brother away as fast as he could while she brought up the rear. She gave one last look to their three friends before abandoning them.

 

“I’m so sorry Cisco…” Lisa had tears falling from her eyes as she ran with her friend and brother. “I couldn’t protect you. We couldn’t get to you.”

 

She sent a silent apology to Barry and Caitlin as well. They were more than just friends, and this was killing them on the inside to leave them behind like this. Mick might be able to pull through, but her and Len? Yeah, there was no coming back from this. They were never going to be the same again after this day.

 

000000000000000000

 

“Oh god, what are we going to do?!” Caitlin cried as she realized they were surrounded. Inch by inch the undead were getting closer, Barry was down, they had no weapons, and their friends were long gone.

 

“Shit, shit, shit…!” Cisco was panting above Barry trying to get the other man to move. It was no use though; Barry was barely conscious and was all but dead weight.

 

“Cisco…” Caitlin whispered, tears raining down her face. As the zombies started to reach their hands out for them, Cait closed her eyes. She was accepting the painful death that greeting them.

 

“Caitlin!” Cisco yelled as the dead descended upon her. With a shout of fear and adrenaline Cisco grabbed Cait and held his hand out.

 

Crashes of bodies littered the area. Cait gasped as she jerked her head up. She watched as Cisco shot vibrations out his hands, left and right none stop. There was no control, only outburst of energy flooding the area.

 

“Go! Go! Go!” Cisco screamed as he pushed his attacks passed his limit.

 

He had never been able to use this power before to such a degree. It was taxing on his body. He could literally feel his energy draining. Sweat was pooling down his forehead and into his eyes, breath was uneven and hitched as he tried to gain control over himself.

 

“We need to get Barry!” Cait struggled to get the man in question up. “I need help. Stand up Barry!”

 

Barry groaned and tried his best to follow her command. It wasn’t working, but thankfully he didn’t have to. Cisco dropped to his knees panting. He lifted his hand to attack again. There were still zombies around, but thankfully only a few.

 

“Stop!” Cait left Barry and knelt next to her other friend. “That’s enough! We have a clear path now. We can try to catch up to the others.”

 

“Y-Yeah…” Cisco panted and coughed. “Ju-Just give me a se-second.”

 

“We don’t have a second.” Cait insisted. True, most of the undead were gone but the few that remained were heading right for them and this time Cait knew that they were truly defenseless. There wouldn’t be another miracle moment.

 

“Oka-ay.” Cisco grunted as he got up. He didn’t know how they did it but both friends were able to get Barry up and started to drag themselves to safety, and hopefully back to their friends.

 

0000000000000000

 

The sad truth was, they weren’t able to catch up with Len, Lisa, or Mick. After the herd had come it was a disaster. Wounded and barely alive, they only had one choice. They had to stop and take shelter. Thankfully, they found a nearby house that was left abandoned by its’ owner. The housing was a mess, and everything was scattered and/or shattered on the ground, but it had its beds and a lockable door.

 

It wasn’t nearly enough but it was all they had in this new world.

 

Cait immediately put Barry on the closet bed, which, thankfully was on the first floor. Cisco laid heavily on the living room couch, not able to go any farther. It killed him inside that he couldn’t help his wounded friend. But he was so tired that he, himself, wanted nothing more than to just roll over and sleep this nightmare away.

 

While Cisco recovered from his episode, Cait was using whatever she could find as bandages for Barry. In her bag, were supplies, but not nearly enough to cover this. She had to cut away his already torn shirt to reveal the dozens of bit marks in his skin.

 

“Oh god…” Cait cupped her mouth at the extent of the injuries. “I don’t know how I’m going to fix this, but I’m going to try.”

 

Barry was completely gone. He had tried to help them by walking earlier but it was no use, his legs gave out followed by the rest of his body. It was too much for him to handle, even with accelerated healing.

 

Cait used her medical supplies at first, then bed sheets and tape to recover the rest. She already knew that the blood was going to soak through the gauze in less than an hour hence the bed sheets, but she needed more. She was able to find some water and alcohol as well in the bathroom. There wasn’t much left in the house, but it would be enough to take care of Barry. Barry was bleeding heavily, and only time would allow the wounds to heal.

 

She worked for hours, carefully cleaning the bits, padding them as much as she could. She found a few that were too deep and need stitches if Barry was going to have a chance to heal. She only had a small sewing kit in her bag; enough to stitch a few small deep wounds but that was it. She used all she had on Barry. She prayed that it was enough.

 

God, she felt so unprepared. She felt so stupid for not bringing more! What kind of doctor was she?! Everyone here was depending on her to make them better, to heal them and she didn’t even bring enough supplies to do so!

 

“How’s he doing?” Cisco slurred from the couch interrupting her hate filled thoughts.

 

“Better.” Cait responded back while shaking her head. “The bleeding is finally slowly down.”

 

“That’s fantastic.” Cisco coughed and groaned. His body was shivering, and he could feel sweat coating his entire body.

 

Cait frowned as she took more notice of Cisco’s condition. She was so focus on Barry that she had completely ignored her other friend. She got up and walked over to the couch. Her footsteps were heard as Cisco peaked through his eyelashes at hearing her movement.

 

“Are you okay?” she asked.

 

“Just peachy…” Cisco moan and another shiver racked his body.

 

“That’s not your line.” Cait attempted to joke but there was nothing funny about this. She started to inspect Cisco and brought her hands up to his forehead. She winced at the temperature.

 

“Len can suck it.” Cisco joked back with a grimaced. God, he felt like shit.

 

“You have a fever.” Cait told.

 

“I think I used too much energy.”

 

“Yeah. I’ve never seen you like that before. What you did was very brave and I’m glad we were able to survive that.”

 

“I don’t feel brave.” Cisco admitted. “In fact, I’m scared shitless. I was so worried and scared that I just reacted. I’m not brave.”

 

“Well, I don’t believe that.” Cait said with a hint of a smile. “You might not have been able to control it, but it worked, and you saved our lives Cisco.”

 

“Yeah, after sending us here to our deaths.” Cisco reminded her. “It was the least I could do.”

 

“We’re not doing this again Cisco.” Cait urged. “We couldn’t have foreseen this! It was no one’s fault. It’s just how it is.”

 

“We’re not. I could have! Should have! It’s not. It’s mine. They’re dead because of me!” Cisco brokenly urged because he was too damn tried to have a full blown debuted.

 

“Okay, you’re exhausted. You need to rest. Have some water and I’ll see if I can find us something to eat.” Cait said as she held some water to Cisco to drink.

 

“Thanks.” Cisco accepted the water but continued to hold her arm. “Whatever happens, don’t worry about us. The first sign of trouble you get yourself out and leave Barry and me behind.”

 

“You know I can’t do that.” Cait placed her other hand onto Cisco’s trying to get as much comfort as she could. “I’m not leaving you here.”

 

“You will if things start to get hairy.” Cisco insisted. “I don’t want anyone else to die.”

 

Cait gave a small sad watery smile. “No one else is going to die today. Don’t think about it. Just rest and we’ll deal with it tomorrow, okay?”

 

Cisco looked like he was going to urge with her again but eventually he just sighed and relaxed back into the couch.

 

“Okay.”

 

00000000000

 

“Stop! We need to stop!” Lisa called as she panted heavily. “I can’t run anymore.”

 

“Are they still following us?” Mick asked as he searched around them.

 

Lisa looked around and besides their heavy out of breath panting, there was nothing around them.

 

“I think we’re good.”

 

“We are not good.” Len rumbled. “We haven’t been good since the moment we got to god forsaken world!”

 

“Listen-” Mick tried but Len cut him off and decked him as hard as he could. Mick fell to the ground not expecting the hit.

 

“Lenny!” Lisa screamed from the attack. “What the hell?!”

 

“That was for pulling me away.” Len snarled.

 

“You mean saving your life?” Mick countered. “Because you sure as hell would be dead by now if it wasn’t for me!”

 

“I don’t care!” Len shouted. “Barry is back there! I could have helped him!”

 

“You would have gotten us killed!” Mick debated.

 

“I would have thought of something.” Len persisted. “You had no right! No right to drag me away!”

 

“You think I don’t know that?! I left someone back there too!” Mick got up. “You know as well as I do that we had no choice!”

 

“Oh yes! We all know!” Len’s voice grew sarcastic. “Sweet innocent little miss Caitlin! We all know you’re so infatuated by her, but you don’t even give a damn about her enough to save her life!”

 

“How fucking dare you?!” Mick roared as he tackled Len to the ground. “I’ll kill you for that!”

 

“Guys enough!” Lisa tried to diffuse the fight, but it was for nothing.

 

The two men screamed and battled their way through their rage, hurt, and fear. Nothing could stop them, no matter how many times Lisa tried to intervene. Mick had the power, the muscle but Len was quicker and smarter. It was touch and go on both sides, each one trying to pound out their pint up feelings.

 

It was finally ending with both men on the ground, out of breath and bloodied.

 

“I’m never going to forgive you.” Len said with certainty. “It wasn’t your choice to make.”

 

“You would be died.” Mick said firmly. “And if you went, Lisa would’ve gone and then she would be died too!”

 

“Enough already! This is useless!” Lisa tried to talk. “What’s done is done. We can’t take it back!”

 

“Screw that!” Len painfully got up and started to walk in the direction they just came from. “I’m going back to them.”

 

“That’s suicide Lenny!” Lisa grabbed her brother. “Don’t do this.”

 

“I don’t care.” Len growled. “I’m going back. Mick can stay and be a bitch.”

 

Mick huffed and he too painfully got up.

 

“This is the thanks I get for saving your life.” Mick staggered as he got back onto his feet.

 

Len frowned and glared at his old friend and crime partner. Without a single bit of hesitation Len calmly walked over to his friend and looked him square in the eyes. Mick had a black eye already forming, a busted lip and a gash on his forehead that was dripping blood down the side of his face.

 

Len didn’t even spare a thought and punched Mick as hard as he could again. Mick, tired and not expecting the punch again, hit the ground hard and was down for good this time.

 

“You have my greatest thanks.” the drawl of the Caption Cold personal working wonders on his sarcastic words.

 

“Was that really necessary?” Lisa cocked an eyebrow.

 

Now that Mick was out cold, Len felt himself fall emotionally and physically. The glare that had dominated his face was gone and left behind a sad broken look of despair. He could feel his eyes prickling from unshed tears, and his heart cracking into two.

 

“Lisa…” Len gave a watery sigh.

 

“Oh, big bro…” Lisa came up and hugged her brother tightly. “Everything is going to be alright.”

 

“I don’t see how.” Len gave a sad chuckle. “Barry… he’s…”

 

“We don’t know that for sure.” Lisa tried to comfort but they both knew the truth. “We can go back in the morning and see for ourselves.”

 

“That’s too long.” Len shook his head. “We need to find them now or we’ll never find them.”

 

“You know as well as I do that, that’s not an option.” Lisa spoke truth. “We have no weapons to defend ourselves, my gold gun is about done, and now you’re injured and Mick’s out cold. We don’t even have our bags anymore. We have nothing but the clothes on our backs.”

 

“Lisa,” Len pushed. “I need to know.”

 

“I know you do. I do too.” Lisa rubbed her brother’s arm. “Cisco is back there, and you know how I feel about him. I also know that you care deeply about Barry, but Mick is right. You would’ve been killed back there, and I would have followed you to the end.”

 

“I know.” he looked down.

 

“Even though Mick didn’t say it, he would have followed you too.” Lisa supported the fallen man.

 

“I know.”

 

“Come on.” Lisa stepped away. “Let’s get your savior over there and find a safe place to lay low for the night. We need to gather supplies and we’ll head back to the clearing in the morning, okay?”

 

Len sighed as he crotched down next to his fallen friend. No, it wasn’t okay. Nothing about this was okay. There was high possibility that Barry was died and just thinking that sentence made Len’s heart break even more. No, nothing was okay.

 

“Okay.”

 

00000000000000

 

Recovery took a lot longer than Cait thought it would. For two whole days, her and her friends had been hiding out in an abandoned house. There was bare minimum water and even less food. Their supplies were nonexistent and there was nothing that Cait could do about it.

 

Barry had started to recover. It was slowly but surely. The bits were still very much visible, but the bleeding had stopped for the moment and there were no signs of infection yet. He hadn’t regained consciousness yet, but Cait wasn’t too overly worried. Barry’s body had gone through a great ordeal and with such a small amount of supplies, Cait couldn’t help any more than she was already.

 

Cisco was a totally different case. He had no wounds or injuries for her to attend to, but he had yet to wake up either. He’s fever did break within the night though, so that was one plus going for them.

 

Cait could only think of one reason why her friend wasn’t waking up. Quite similar to Barry’s really. It was due to the overuse of his uncontrollable powers, he overtaxed his body and thus had to recover said energy. Cait could only hope that, that was it. Anything else and they were screwed. She had no equipment or technology to run test or investigate things farther.

 

“It’s like the world doesn’t know it ended.” Cait spoke morbidly. “It’s so pretty.”

 

Cait watched the sun set in the distance. It was a nice sunset with pink, purple, red, and orange. So normal and standard that one would think that it was just an ordinary day, and people weren’t getting eaten from the horrible dangers of the world.

 

She watched the last rays of the sun go down and saw day turn into night. Today was the end of the second day here and soon it would be the beginning of the third. She turned back to Cisco to check up on him. She put her hand to his forehead and was pleased that his fever was still gone, and he seemed to be resting peacefully now.

 

“Let’s take a look at you too…”

 

She moved on to Barry and was also equally pleased that no new bleed had occurred today, and he seemed to be resting easier as well. She sighed as she sat down on the computer chair, she snagged from another room.

 

A gurgled sound entered the room but Cait wasn’t scared or the least bit surprised by it. She’s been hearing that sound for over a day now and was even starting to feel the effects of it. Cait rubbed her stomach to ease her discomfort but to no avail.

 

“Damn it.” Cait moaned.

 

They say that you can last up to three weeks without food, Cait wanted to call bullshit on that one right about now. Two days without food and she felt weaker than she’s ever been. She knew that Cisco and Barry, especially Barry, would feel the same. They had some water, but it wasn’t enough to last them for more than another day.

 

Cait had been trying so hard to get liquids into both of her friends but it wasn’t enough. They couldn’t recover properly without food and water. They needed more though. Cait bit her lip trying to come up with a solution. Obviously, she needed to get food for them. That would mean she would have to leave and bare the unknown dangers of this new world. She would have to leave the only safe place she knew of.

 

“I don’t want to leave…”

 

She was scare shitless out of her mind.

 

“I don’t want to do this alone.”

 

But she wasn’t alone. She glanced at Barry when he twitched in his sleep. She could hear the soft light snores of Cisco from the couch. She rubbed her stomach more trying to distract herself from her hunger pain.

 

This wasn’t a debut. This wasn’t about what she wanted; it was about what they needed! So, as the night of the second day turned into the morning of the third, Cait knew what she had to do.

 

Chapter Text

It took Daryl, Glenn and Cisco to carry Barry with them. The rest surround them protectively as they walked through the woods. Rick took point like normal with Carl, Michonne, Beth and Judy at his side. The only difference today was Caitlin was also taking point. She was leading them to the building that she and her friends saw earlier.

"It should be just up ahead." She pointed in front of her.

They had been walking for hours, taking small breaks when they could. They were miles away from the shack and the building should be up ahead. At least Caitlin prayed that it was. She was 95 percent sure it was up ahead. The area looked familiar, but she was no expert tracker hunting in the woods.

"I see it." Michonne announced.

"Oh, thank god." Glenn muttered, sweet beating down his back, red in the face. "I don't know how long I can keep carrying your friend."

"I second that." Cisco agreed. "If he wasn't my friend, I would be seriously doubting this carrying crap."

Glenn got a tiny laugh out of it.

"It's almost over." Maggie said next to her husband. "Just a little farther.

Daryl didn't say anything. He won't admit it out loud but Glenn was right. He didn't know how much longer he could go. His muscles hurt, back ached, sweat pouring out everywhere and he was probably beat red like Glenn.

"You need a break?" asked Ty. "Let me switch with you."

"Oh yes please." Glenn agreed whole heartily. The trio stopped and let Glenn and Ty make the switch. Glenn stretched out so very thankful to be let free.

"Do you need to switch too?" Bob asked the other two men. He might not be as strong as Ty or Daryl but he could hold his own just like Glenn and the new guy.

"No thanks." Cisco immediately said. "It's only a little bit more and he is my friend. He's helped me more times than I can count. I got this."

"Daryl?"

"Nah man." Daryl declined. "Good as gold over here."

"Okay, just let me know if anyone needs a break."

"Thank you." Cisco replied already knowing that unless he dies on the spot he won't be asking to switch. Guilt was eating him inside. Despite what Cait and Barry have said, it really was his fault that they were here and he would be damned if he didn't do his part in helping out in any way he could.

"I don't know why we're carrying him." Sasha whispered to Carol, both women guarding the rear. "There's no point. He's just slowing us down. He'll be dead soon anyway."

"From what I've heard, he's made it more than just a few days like this and hasn't died yet." Carol answered. "He's two friends are confident that he'll pull through."

"Wishfully thinking and pipe dreams." Sasha shook her head. "I'm not taking my eyes off him for a second. One move that looks like he's turned and I'm gonna put a bullet in his brain."

"If you're gonna do that honey, make sure it's a knife. Guns are too loud." That was all Carol was going to say in the matter. She knew just like everybody else that they were taking a risk having the infected around, but Rick was the leader and he wanted to make sure.

Even if there was a slight chance that this guy could be the cure, it was worth the risk. If he did die, they will handle it just like any other walker.

They walked a bit more and Rick called them to a stop.

"Daryl." Rick called from the front and Daryl came to his call. Bob was right there in his place holding onto the injured man.

"What's up?"

"I need you and Michonne with me."

In front of them was the building that Caitlin said and true to her word there were walkers crawling around but not as many as he thought. The building was small but it was enough to hold them all. It looked like it was a maintenance building of some sort in the past, but for now, it was their temporary home.

"There's not that many. The doors look like their intact too." Daryl started listing off the situation. "We can easily pick the walkers out front, but there's no telling what's inside."

"Right." Rick nodded. "I need you to start picking them off while Michonne and I head for the doors. No need to cover us. We can handle it til we get to the doors."

"Then what?" asked Daryl. "I'm supposed to just let you walk in and not come back out."

"S'not like that." Rick amended. "Once you're done killing these guys off, come after me and Michonne. The others can handle anything that wonders in close."

"Okay."

Everyone was in agreement and they plan started with the three darting out killing as much as they can. Between them, Daryl only had to kill two more before heading in after the two. Sasha and Carol made it their job to take out any walker that wondered close.

Only three more walkers had to be put down and it was only a few minutes before the trio came out and motioned for the others to follow. They didn't hesitate to go to them and they were all safely inside the building. Everyone looked around their new temporary home.

The inside was much like the outside; cold grey metal. There were computers, chairs, and papers scattered everywhere, like the people here left in a panic. Which considering how the world is now, it was probably true.

They were able to set up with no hassle and everyone helped out whenever they could. Michonne and Daryl patrolled the area repeatedly to make sure no one, living or dead were aware that they were here. Barry was carried to the back and set down as gentle as possible. Cisco and Caitlin spent their time trying to make sure Barry was as comfortable as possible.

No one wanted to get near them. They were too nervous about the man who had multiple bite wounds. People were afraid that Barry was going to die any second and come back as a walker.

"Here." Beth handed out a blanket to a surprised Caitlin. "It's not much but it'll help your… friend."

"Thank you." Caitlin said sincerely as she put the blanket over Barry's body. It was shocking that Beth came over. No one else wanted too.

"No problem. I really am rooting for him to pull through. I really am. " Beth smile and went on her way.

Both Caitlin and Cisco settled around Barry. Caitlin used her lap as a pillow for Barry and Cisco sat at Barry's feet. There was little talking, most were resting or even sleeping from such a hard day’s work. There were a few who were looking over their supplies and taking inventory on it.

For hours the group just rested, waiting, sleeping, it was a boring time. Caitlin and Cisco were actually asleep sitting up, heads slumped over.

"Something's off with them." Daryl said to Rick as he stood next to his leader. "I don't know what but it's there."

"You think they're trouble?" Rick questioned.

Daryl shrugged his shoulders. "Maybe, not sure yet. They seem innocent enough but I can't help but feel something's off."

"We'll keep an eye on them and see how things go. I'm more worried about the other guy they have, Barry."

"Walking time bomb." Daryl grunted. "Should've finished him off already."

"If there's a chance that what they say is right, I'm not going to risk killing him yet. I want an eye on him every second until he pulls through or he dies."

"Sasha got that covered. Haven't taken her eyes off them since we got 'em." Daryl motioned to said female of the group.

"It's not a bad thing."

"Look at them." Daryl glanced behind him at the trio. "I don't know if they're just plain dumb or they truly believe this guy's gonna pull through. They're not even concerned."

"We will just have to make sure that the worst doesn't happen should he turn. The first sign, we put him down."

"Got it." Daryl nodded.

Rick took a swift look around. Everyone was minding their own and weren't paying attention to them. He closed in on Daryl and ran a hand over the hunters arm ever so gently.

"I don't think this is the right time." Daryl blushed at the intensity of Rick's stare.

"No it’s not but I'm not going for that. Just want to be near you, to be able to touch you." Rick leaned in and kissed his hunter. "To be able to kiss you."

"Ah quit it." Daryl said embarrassed. He still wasn't used to this feeling relationship crap, but it was getting better. Even though embarrassed he gave Rick a kiss of his own, not afraid to show the other man his affection.

Rick smile and gave a light chuckle. "How can I when I got this glorious man in front of me?"

Daryl's blush darkened. "Stop it. We're supposed to be on the lookout for walkers."

"I think we can do both." Rick joked but he did get more serious and started to actively search for dangers.

However, that didn't stop him from intertwining their fingers together to remain connected. Daryl didn't protest nor did he pull away. In fact, he gave his Rick's hand a squeeze to express his love for the other in ways words couldn't.

00000000000000

It was in the middle of the night. Everyone was sleeping except for one person who was on watch. Even Sasha who elected herself the watcher of Barry had fallen victim sitting up with her gun in her hands. Carl had volunteered to take second shift which was the worst shift. He wanted to prove to himself and his father that he could be trustworthy and handle more responsibilities again.

Earlier today, he had disappointed his dad and that was one of the worst feelings to have as a child. It was worse than when his father was just angry, he could handle angry, but not disappointment. He needed to prove himself again. He needed to prove to his dad that he could handle himself, that he could do more for the group than what he was currently allowed.

Everything was quiet for the night. There were no walkers and no one living from what Carl could see from his station. All he could do was sit back and wait, cleaning his gun a little to occupy his time. It wasn't like there was anything else to do anyway.

Carl paused in his gun cleaning. He thought he heard something. He quietly peered out the window and waited. He was sure he heard a moan. One walker was nothing to be alarmed at but one could lead to many in such a short amount of time that it was important to be on the look out for such.

Nothing happened.

Carl shook his head. He must've been hearing things.

Moan…

Carl snapped his head around. That wasn't coming from outside! His heart pounded in his chest thinking the worst; a walker got in! He whipped his eyes in all directions scanning for a threat that he could hear but couldn't see.

Moan…

There it was!

Carl zeroed in on the source and was slightly calmed when he saw it. It was that man; Barry. He was moaning and twitching. Thinking that Barry had ultimately died, Carl quickly got his knife from his belt. He was calmer now that he knew where the source of his terror was coming from. He could handle this. He had killed more living and non-living things than he would care to share. He could do this. He could give the man his mercy that he should've done in the shack.

He silently walked over and knelt in front of the trio of friends. The other two idiots were still sleeping oblivious that their friend had died and was coming back as a walker. But that's what he was for. He was here to keep watch over everyone to ensure that they would live to see another day.

The knife glinted in the moonlight as Carl brought his weapon up slightly ready to give the killing blow. He hesitated though. He was waiting for Barry to open his eyes. He wanted to make sure that Barry was turned and not just in more pain.

He still didn't understand why his friends weren't giving him pain meds. It seemed cruel to leave their friend suffering like this. They should've just killed him and saved him the pain and despair.

Barry moved again and groaned. Carl's breath hitched as he tensed ready to kill the newly formed walker if he had to. Barry moved his head side to side and Carl just tightened his hold on the blade more.

Finally, Barry turned his head towards him and Carl could see his eyes moving like they wanted to open. Carl wiggled his fingers on the hilt of his blade; he was ready. Eyes slowly opened and arm muscles tense ready to strike. Hazel eyes looked up at him but Carl had already set his knife into action and it was too late to stop himself. In the little amount of time only three things were going through his head,

He was going to kill Barry.

Barry wasn't a walker.

It was already too late.

But faster than Carl thought possible; Barry brought his hand up and stopped the attack. Carl gasped at the sudden halt of motion not believing his eyes. He was sure that his knife was going through Barry's soft white flesh.

Barry, for the most part, stared up at him in confusion. He had seen this kid before, right before all those walkers came in. Right before Cait and Cisco showed up. Narrowing his eyes, he looked around and saw Cait and Cisco sleeping next to him and when he looked around further, he noticed a shit more people littering the area.

Turning back to the kid, he slowly let his wrist go, hoping the kid wouldn't try to kill him again. The boy didn't and he backed away some to give Barry some room, or maybe he was startled. Barry didn't know.

"I-Is that…" Barry's voice was hoarse but he noticed it was stronger than when he was awake before. "The f-first time you've t-tried to kill m-me or the second b-because I feel like-like this is your sec-second attempted on my-my life."

Carl gaped at the man in shock for a minute before noticing his mouth was open and quickly shut it. His heartbeat calmed down from being startled and he could breathe easy for now. There were no walkers and Barry wasn't died yet, not from the infection or his own hand.

Carl cleared his throat as he tried to gather his thoughts to answer Barry's all true statement.

"I-I guess second." Carl coughed slightly embarrassed. It was one thing to do what you need to survive but he had tried to end this man's life twice now. And not for any good reasons. The first time was selfish and the second was because of fear and pride. It was getting a little ridiculous.

"Hmm…"Barry hummed as he shifted and his eyes grew heavy. He was so tired. "T-Try not to-to make it a-a third, o-okay?"

Carl nodded and made a slight promise to himself that he would not try to kill Barry a third time, unless he knew without a doubt that he was a walker. As far as he could tell, Barry seemed like a nice enough guy. I mean hell, he almost killed the guy twice and Barry cracked a joke about it. Carl couldn't see a bad guy doing that without a lot of sarcasm and Carl couldn't hear any from Barry.

"A-Awesome…" Barry's voice trailed off as he went back to sleep.

Carl watched the man a few minutes more before deciding that Barry was still alive and wasn't a walker and that he didn't dream of Barry waking up. With nothing to do Carl sighed and went back to the window to remain a lookout. In a few hours he can wake up his dad for his shift and he could go back to sleep. And boy did he really wanted to go back to sleep. He had enough for one night.

0000000000

The sun peeked over the horizon and everyone was slowly waking up. Rick stared at the sunrise thinking that something so simple can remain unaffected in this new dangerous world. If anything it was one of the only things that remained the same since the world ended. It never changed and Rick liked to get lost in the sunrise if only for a few seconds. Just a few moments to pretend that none of this ever happened and everything was back to normal.

A shift next to him broke his trance and turned to the body next to him. Daryl was waking up and his bright blue eyes peaked out into the world once more. Rick smiled softly at the man next to him, then back to the sunrise. Yeah, Rick liked to pretend that none of this ever happened, that the world never ended, but the truth was, if the world didn't end, he would've never have met Daryl.

Daryl was one of the few good things that Rick had in this world, right next to Judith. And he wouldn't give that up for the world. He would rather fight every day in this new world than give Daryl up for a normal one.

"Hey…" Daryl called out softly as he slowly got up.

"Hey." Rick still had a smile on his face as he leaned in for a kiss. "Sleep well?"

"Hmmm…" Daryl hummed from the kiss. "Yeah, you?"

"It was alright. It was quiet tonight."

"That's good though." Daryl bumped his shoulder to Ricks'. Rick shrugged.

"Maybe. Boring though. I was having a hard time staying up for watch." Rick confessed.

"You should've told me. Would've kept you awake." Daryl smirked and Rick returned one of his own.

"Oh no," Rick gave a faint laugh. "We would've done more than that."

"Shut up. I wasn't thinking that." Daryl blushed. "Get your mind out of the gutter."

"Uh huh." Rick wasn't buying that shit for a second.

Daryl blushed hard. Of course, he was thinking exactly that but he still felt embarrassed when it was said out loud. It was one thing to think it and another to do it. Eventually, Daryl cleared his throat and tried to push pass this teasing.

"So, did the kid die yet?" Daryl questioned as he glanced at the three friends across from them; all three were still out of it.

"Not yet." Rick too looked over to the three new people. "Have to admit, the kid's strong. I don't know anyone who could've survived that many bites for so long."

"Yeah, it's unheard of." Daryl agreed. "It's seems like what they told us was true. Like they said, he's been bit for days and hasn't succumbed to the bites yet."

"But has he gotten better though?" Rick questioned. "It’s amazing that he's been fighting the infection this long and still be alive but is he beating the infection or just stalling it before the inevitable happens."

"Guess we'll have to ask the scientists then."

Under watch from Daryl and Rick, the said two scientists were slowly waking up themselves. Caitlin groaned as she rolled her neck, and then winced. There were definitely knots in her neck. A moan to her left told her that Cisco was waking up too and turned her head to her friend.

"Remind me never to sleep sitting up again." Caitlin said as she rubbed her neck with her left hand.

"Ditto…" Cisco shook his head to clear away his restless sleep. "I feel like I never went to sleep."

Caitlin hummed in agreement.

"How's Barry?" Cisco asked as he started to get up. "Is he doing okay?"

Caitlin looked down at her injured friend and brushed a hair through his greasy hair, paying no mind to the feel of it. Unlike yesterday, Barry seemed to be sleeping easier and when Caitlin put her hand to his head, she was delighted to discover that his fever had gone down.

"His fever is down." Caitlin beamed at Cisco, joyful at the good news. "I can barely feel it."

"He's beating it." Cisco started in awe. "I mean, I knew he would, he has before but there was always that little tiny doubt, you know? It was so much worse the second time around. And it's been so long since his fever started and when it hit the hardest I thought for sure we were in trouble."

"Yeah." Caitlin replied as she continued to pet Barry's hair. "It still amazes me what Barry can do, and how much his body can take."

"I know what you mean." Cisco came closer just staring at his best friend. "God, we live through this stuff and I still have a hard time grasping it."

"Hopefully, within a day or two, he'll be up and recovering without our help." Cait said. "Since the fever is almost gone, that's the next step, granted that nothing else happens, again."

"Which it will." Cisco said immediately. "Something always happens."

"Shut up Cisco. You're not helping."

"You know it's true. It's been happening for five days now."

"I know but let me be arrogant for now."

Cisco grinned knowing that he won. As he looked around he watched as others from the group were waking up as well. Sasha, in particularly, woke up with a jolt and fastened her glaze immediately over to them. She had her gun raise slightly like she was thinking the worst happened while she slept. He watched her calm slightly when she realized that Barry wasn't a threat, yet, but continued to bluntly stare at them with her gun at the ready.

"That's getting annoying." Cisco mumbled to himself but started to look elsewhere not caring anymore about the gun pointed in their direction.

"Hey," Caitlin touched his shoulder. When he looked at her, she pointed to off to her right and noticed that the leader of the other group was coming towards them.

Cisco gulped at seeing Rick and Daryl coming up to them. Even though no one has tried to kill them yet, it was still uneasy dealing with them. He just didn't trust them yet, and had no idea if or when these people would try to hurt or kill them.

"Can we help you?" asked Caitlin as the leader and his lead man came over.

"Yeah, we uh, have things to discuss. I'm sure you know about some of them." Rick started.

"We can take a guess but please enlighten us on what you would like to know." Caitlin said as politely as she could but Cisco could practically see her sneer from a mile away.

Rick crouched down and Daryl followed suit. Out of the corner of their eyes, the four people saw the rest of the group zero in on the conversation. Each person wanting to know more about the three new people in the group.

"We need to know more about you." Rick said as he looked them in the eye. "We know that you're scientists and you have some medical training but other than that we know next to nothing about you."

"We could say the same about you. We know nothing except you guys seemed to survive very well in this world and I can see that most of you have been together for quite some time."

Rick nodded his head. 

"That's true. You see, we want to go back to the store and get the rest of the things there, but since we know nothing about each other, there's gonna be a lack of trust. We can't have that. We've survived this long because of our trust in each other. To know that we have each other's back should something go down."

The two shared a look, both knowing that they couldn't tell these people the full truth, at least not yet. Daryl narrowed his glaze; he didn't like that shared look. They were up to something.

"I can see that. Let's start off small." Cisco finally agreed and began pointing to each person in their little group. "Well, I'm Cisco, that's Caitlin, and this is Barry."

"I know that we've introduced you to a few in our group already but I'm going to go over them again in more detail. Daryl is my second man and our hunter," Rick pointed to his lover and righthand man. "If I'm not around, he's in charge, understand?"

They both nodded.

"That's my son Carl," Rick pointed to the boy who always got them killed.

"Michonne," they looked at the samurai woman wielding the sword.

"Dude, you're a totally badass." Cisco gushed star-eyed. "I've never seen anyone wield a sword like you before."

Michonne smirked, chest puffed out, proud of herself. "Thank you."

"Carol," Rick continued. "Glenn, Maggie, and her sister Beth."

The two waved at the people being introduced.

"The baby Beth is holding is also my daughter, Judith."

"Awe, she is so cute!" Caitlin was the one gushing this time.

"And then there's Tyreese, his sister Sasha, and Bob." Rick finished.

"Well, us three, are not from around here." Caitlin started.

"We can tell that already." Daryl grunted. "You have no southern bone in your body."

"I'm going to choose to take that as a compliment instead of an insult." Cisco glared.

"So, what were you doing to land yourself here?" asked Rick.

"We were doing research on a machine that could do amazing things." Cait answered and Cisco gave her a look that said, 'Really?! That's the best you could come up with?'

"What things?" asked Daryl. Cait's answer screamed bullshit and Cisco's look to her just supported this theory.

"Classified." both answered. Well, at least they got that one down.

"Uh huh." Rick didn't believe any of their shit and neither was Daryl but they didn't push it, for now. "How long has Barry been bit, exactly, you said something about a week?"

Caitlin bit her lip, she really didn't want to tell him that information and looked at Cisco. Could they tell them? Cisco coughed and looked away nervously.

"You might not believe us if we said it." Cisco tried to beat around the bush and hoped they wouldn't push.

"Try us." Rick said firmly. "And don't even try to lie. Daryl is a real good judge of character and knows how people act. If you lie we'll know."

Well, so much for that. Cisco felt sweat dripping down his back. Great, a human liar detector.

"The first couple of bites were about a week ago. These new ones area  few days old." Caitlin finally said and cringed.

"A week?!" multiple voices shouted before settling down realizing how load they were.

"Now, I know your lying." said Sasha as she aimed her gun at the dying man. "We should kill him right now before he turns."

"No!" Cait tried to cover Barry as much as she could, planning on taking the bullet for him.

"Don't even think about it." Cisco stood between her and his friends. His hands in fists again, just waiting for the chance to blast her away.

To their surprise, Carl also stood in Sasha's way.

"Move it kid." Sasha motioned.

"You can't kill him." Carl simply stated. He turned to the Caitlin and Barry and he waved his hand over to Barry's body. "At least not yet. He woke up last night."

"Oh my god! He did?!" Cait had tears in her eyes. This was good. This was a good sign. Barry's fever was going down and he even woke up for a period of time.

"Put the gun down, Sasha." Rick commanded. "If it comes to that we'll handle it but we are not going to kill the man until the bite kills him."

"Which it won't come to that!" Caitlin insisted, slowly uncurling around Barry.

"You know Barry's going to make it. There's no need to keep pointing the gun at us, man." Cisco pointed out.

"We don't know that." Sasha replied. "He is bit and infected and though it is a miracle that he's survived this long and he is improving some, he could still die."

"No, he's not." Caitlin defended them. "Barry's fever broke, I guess sometime last night, and woke up from what Carl said. I can barely feel it now."

The news was unexpected and a shock rang through the group. It was not possible. No one had survived a bite before unless taking a limb off before the infection spread. In each person something bubbled inside of them. Something they haven't felt in a long, long time. It was hope. Not just hope for a safe haven or a safe place to stay and try to rebuild against this world but hope for a cure; a cure that everyone had given up on.

Everyone looked down at the kid in Caitlin's lap. He could be their savior. And Barry, well, he was still asleep blissfully unaware of the hope he had given these survivors in a dying world.

"If he's fever is going down and if he did wake up like Carl said, he's fighting off the infection, there's still hope." Glenn spoke up.

Sasha spared each of them a look before listening to Rick and lowering her gun. Cisco sighed as he too started to relax now that there wasn't a gun pointing at Barry's head. He wasn't the only one, many people in the group relaxed now that the fight was over.

"So, what does this guy do?" Daryl pointed to Barry trying to change the subject. "He a scientist too?"

"Not really, kind of." Cisco made a face and shrugged his shoulders. "He's a forensic scientist that analyzed crimes scenes. He's smart though. Could be noble prize winning if he could sit still long enough."

Caitlin cracked a smile at the inside joke. Barry could never sit still even before becoming the Flash, Joe confirmed this.

"Well, guess we have that in common." Rick commented. "Before the world ended, I was a police officer, the sheriff's deputy to be exact."

"That's neat." Cisco smiled. "Not doing too much arresting now that the world's ended huh?"

They all gave him a dry look and Caitlin sighed embarrassed. 

"Sorry." Cisco said sheepishly. "I tend to joke when I'm nervous or in danger or scared."

"Which one are you now?" Daryl smirked.

Cisco took a moment to think about it and even put up an index finger before answering.

"How about all three?"

That got a laugh. The air around them loosened up for a bit before reality came back.

"How did he get so many bites?" Maggie asked softly, pity was clear in her eyes. She couldn't imagine going through that much pain. To be bitten so many times and still be alive through it all. "Did you encounter a herd of walkers?"

Both persons in question lowered their heads in despair. Their first night in this new world cost them dearly and it only got worse from there. It was hard to think about it. Who would've thought it would lead to this when they woke that morning excited about seeing new worlds. If they had known, they probably would've left it well enough alone.

0000000000000

"Yes, mostly." Cisco finally found his voice. "Most of the ones on his back and arms came from a big herd that nearly killed us."

"You don't have to say more if you don't want to." Michonne offered an out.

Caitlin nodded but Cisco continued.

"The herd came through in the night." he said. "We weren't prepared and it cost us at least two of our people. The other three got separated. We don't know if their alive or dead but there's hope, right?"

Several people nodded. More than most they knew what it felt like to be separated and hoping against hope that they would find each other again. It worked out well for them, for those that survived the prison, and hoped that it would happen for their three newest members as well.

"Mostly?" Beth question with scrunched up look. "You said most of the bites were from the herd, how did he get the rest?"

"He wasn't always this sick." Cait mentioned. "He was fighting off the infection just fine before, but as the days went on, he just got weaker, and slower. We didn't have a lot of food or water. It was hard to keep our strength up, and he didn't want our help."

"He was grieving." Cisco took over. "Self-destructing even. He just wanted to do everything on his own. Granted, he always did that even before, but this was the worst. He wasn't taking care of himself. We got careless when we encountered a group. A fight broke out and the gunshots attracted the undead. Barry took several bites to get me and Cait out safely."

"It got to the point that it was too much for his body to handle." Cait said. "He started to shut down and eventually it got to this point."

"That's amazing…" Bob gasped. "To be bit for so long, and still keep going! Even getting bit more along the way, and he's still alive."

"Yeah, it almost seems unreal." Carol stated. She gave a look that took them, she didn't completely buy their story but they were sticking with it.

"Well," Beth spoke. "I, for one, am glad that he's gonna pull through this. This is what we've been looking for. Hope for a cure, to end all of this."

"Almost too good to be true." Ty stated.

"We don't know if we can make a cure from Barry at this point." Caitlin confessed. "We are going to need a lab set up and do tests. Without that, Barry being immuned is worthless until we know more."

"Then I say we look for that next." Daryl elected. "We find a safe place to hunker down and start looking for supplies. I'm sure we can find something out there. People nowadays aren't really looking for chem. labs."

"Daryl's right." Rick nodded. "We'll start looking as soon as possible. But for right now, we need to focus on getting the rest of the supplies from the store ad start from there."

0000000000000000000

Barry woke up with a start. His eyes snapped opened and he gasped out, mostly from the pain of moving suddenly.

"Hey, you still you?" a cold voice rang out startling Barry again. "Whoa, calm down will ya. Not gonna kill ya, yet."

Barry coughed some and moved his head around. He came upon a black woman with her hair up and gun out, ready to shoot him in a moments notice.

"What is it with people and wanting to kill me?" Barry's voice as horse and he wound up coughing again in the end.

"You got bit. That's cause enough to want you to die." she answered back.

"And yet, I'm still alive it seems."

"So it seems." she nodded and agreed. "For now."

Barry nodded to that. "For now."

"I'm Sasha by the way." the woman lowered her gun but not her guard. Barry could clearly see how tense she was and he knew that if he made any saddened movements it could end his life.

"Nice to meet you." Barry winced as he tried to sit up. He felt better and didn't feel like death was knocking at the door anymore but god dammit he felt weak and Christ he was hungry.

"I wouldn't do that." a younger white female come into view. "You should rest more. I doubt you're better enough to sit up."

"I'm fine." Barry tried to wave away their concern. "I can handle it."

"Okay…" her voice tone clearly stated she thought otherwise. "If you say so. But anyway, I'm Beth."

"Nice to meet you." Barry repeated back as he tried to get up again. "Where are my friends?"

"They're not here."

Now there was a voice he knew. Barry turned his head more and saw the kid from before, only this time he wasn't trying to kill Barry. In fact, he was holding a baby and Barry doubted that he was going to try to kill him a third time any time soon.

"What's your name?" Barry asked. It seemed appropriate since he's talked to the kid twice, and said kid tried to kill him each time. It would be nice to know of his attempted murder's name.

"Carl. And this is Judith." Carl held Judy higher for Barry to get a good look at her.

"She's a cutie." he commented.

"That's what your friend Caitlin said." said Beth.

"She's totally right though." Barry smiled as he stared at Judith. Her bubbling nature was making Barry feel better. He's had a rough week. "Where did my friends go?"

"They went with our remaining group to get more supplies." answered Sasha. "When we found you, we also found a grocery store filled with supplies. We were only able to grab some of it before we had to leave the area."

Barry's eyebrows knitted. "Why?"

"Because this dumbass fired off his gun and set the walkers running." Sasha motioned over to Carl. Barry had to think about it for a moment but then he remembered.

"I remember." Barry pointed at the kid. "You tried to steal my bag. I tried to take it back and then you fired your gun."

"Yeah…" Carl was visibly embarrassed with his face having gone red. "You startled me and I accidentally pulled the trigger."

"You left." Barry stated. "And I was almost attacked by those things."

"Walkers?" Beth supplied.

"Is that what you call them?" asked Barry. Personally, he was calling them everything from thing to zombies. It didn't matter what they called them though. They were monsters that took your loved ones away.

Barry's eyes moistened at the thought but pushed it away for a later date. Right now he needed to focus on the present.

"Walkers, Bitters, Geeks." Carl started to list the names off. "It doesn't matter."

Barry nodded and tried for the third time to get up and well, third time's the charm. Though weak and tired, Barry was able to sit u right. Black dots invaded his vision but he quickly shook them away. His arms were shaking and his back was killing him but he was up and god did it feel good to do so.

"See?" Barry was overly pride of himself. "Told you I could do it."

"Whatever." Carl waved him to the side, not caring at all of his accomplishment.

The rest of the people around him shook their heads in either disbelief or amusement, Barry didn't know, probably both. With the new ability to sit up he leaned his back against the wall for support and sagged heavily. Damn, just sitting up took a lot out of him. Barry didn't like it, not one bit. He hated being weak and he had been weak since the moment he got here.

Len…Barry thoughts drifted. If only he were stronger, he could have saved everyone.

"Do you know when my friends will be back?" asked Barry trying not to think bad thoughts.

"No idea." Carl shrugged and came closer to sit next to him.

"Okay." Barry said softly as his thoughts drifted off again. He didn't know what else to say. Of course there was plenty to ask if he really wanted to, but suddenly he didn't want to talk to anyone right now.

"Do you want to hold her?" Carl randomly asked after a period of silence went over them. "She's usually good for people, even strangers."

Barry smiled and nodded not going to pass up holding such a cute baby as her. Judy fussed a little at the exchanged not liking the sudden shift in position but she quickly settled down and was paying attention to Barry.

"Hello, little one." Barry said in a gentle voice. "Who is the cutest of them all?"

Judy giggled as Barry talked to her; sometimes in a baby voice and others not. The other three people in the group had smiles on their faces watching Barry and Judith react to one another. It was always heartwarming to see a baby so filled with joy and happiness just from the simplest of things. The new person to her was very entertaining and they stayed like that for a few hours before Judith started to fuss again. Beth came and got her after it was clear that Judy was hungry or needed to be changed.

"I got her." was all Beth said as she took over and started to feed the tiny baby.

"She's something, isn't she?" asked Carl.

"Yeah…" Barry gave a sad smile. "She's a wonder, that's for sure."

Everyone sat in silence again but not as long as the last time.

"So, you got a girlfriend in your life Barry?" Beth boldly asked as she hand feed Judith her bottle. "A cute guy like you must have one."

"Beth!" Sasha hissed. "That's a very personal question. Leave the poor man alone."

"What?" Beth's innocent doe eyes grew big playing the part nicely. "It's not like there's anything else to do until the others get back and I hate the silence."

"So you ask him that?" Carl said dryly.

Beth shrugged her shoulders showing no shame and looked back at Barry expectantly.

"Well?" she asked. "Do you?"

Barry gave a sad tiny laugh. He felt like he was going to cry.

"There is or was." Barry spoke but his eyes were firmly on the ground.

"Nice going Beth." Carl hissed.

"Oh," Beth said disheartened. "I didn't know. I'm sorry for your loss."

"No, no, it's okay." Barry looked up. "You didn't know. I know your question was all for fun. It's just, we got separated and I haven't seen him since then. I don't even know if he's alive or not, but I have hope that he's out there somewhere looking for me too."

"Whoa, you're gay?!" Beth shouted excitedly.

"Beth!" Sasha couldn't believe the audacity of the girl.

"Uh bi, actually." Barry tilted his head in confusion and wariness. "That's not going to be a problem, is it?"

"Oh no!" Beth waved his concern away with a giant smile on her face. "You'll fit right in here. But damn, it's not fair Sasha. The cute ones are always taken or gay."

"Or both." Sasha said with a teasing smirk on her face. She was a lot less tense around him and was starting to relax more. Which made Barry feel a shit ton better knowing she wasn't going to go trigger happy on him.

"So what does he look like?" ask Carl. "So we can be on the lookout for him if we see him?"

"Oh, here! I have a picture. Please be careful with it though. It's all I have of him." Barry thought about his lost necklace as he slipped a hand into his front pocket and took out the tiny picture of his boyfriend. It really was all Barry had of him in this world. Everything else with either back home or lost. He didn't want to lose this one.

Beth was the first one to snatch it away. Her jaw dropped at the sight of his boyfriend. Barry smirked. As it should be, his boyfriend was hot.

"God, he is so handsome. You're so lucky." she gushed like a teenager. "What color are his eyes? I can't see them."

"Blue."

"Let me see." Sasha took the photo and her reaction was much the same. "How long have you've been dating?

"Eh, only six months but we've known each other a lot longer." Barry answered. Eventually, the picture rounded back to Carl and Barry watched the kid's reaction.

"He looks nice." Carl said as he handed the picture to Barry. "What's that in his hands?"

Barry looked down at the picture of his lover. Len was dressed in a leather jacket and black pants and boots. He was holding a rag cleaning the Cold gun. He was so focused on his cleaning that he didn't notice someone take the picture of him. It wasn't the best picture of Len by far but it brought a nice warm feeling inside that Barry couldn't explain.

"That's his gun. It's specialized just for him and only he can use it." Barry tried to explain the best he could without giving too much away. He didn't know how much his friends told these people but as far as he could tell, it was zero.

"Whoa. I didn't know that they made guns like that." Carl was amazed like any young boy his age.

"They don't." Barry said. "Cisco made it like that. It's one of a kind."

"Awesome!" Carl exclaimed. "Do you think he would make me one too?"

"Ehhh…" Barry made a face knowing that no; Cisco couldn't make one, even if he wanted to.

"That's a no kiddo." Sasha answered for him which Barry was grateful for.

"Damn…" the kid huffed.

"Language." Sasha scowled.

"Dad's not around."

"Doesn't matter. I won't have you tell him that I allow you to do that when he's not around."

"I wouldn't tell!" Carl defended himself.

"I don't trust you not to." Sasha counter attacked.

"I wouldn't!"

"Sureee…" Sasha's voice trailed off with a smile. "Not up for debate. No cursing where we can hear you."

"Fine!" Carl pouted and Barry smiled at the scene. It was almost if the world didn't fall about. That he wasn't trapped here with his friends, his family didn't die, and he was living out his normal life with Len by his side.

But then reality checked back in and Barry felt all the more sadder. He glanced down at the photo and sighed. There was a lot of uncertainty going around. But there was one thing that Barry did know for certain. He was not leaving here without Len, period. He will find Len alive or dead but he would find his lover, no matter what.

Chapter Text

The five of them lazed around with Sasha and Carl switching watch shift every so often. It was really boring with nothing much to do besides wait for the others to return. It must have been a few hours since Barry had woken up and he was still in the same spot he put himself in. His stomach growled, and he felt himself go dizzy. God, how long since he’d last eaten, he didn't know but it was a while that was for sure.

"Carl?" he called out and the young boy turned his head, signaling that he was listening. "Can you hand me something to eat? Maybe something with a lot of calories? It doesn't have to be healthy."

Carl tilted his head at the strange request but complied nonetheless. In the whole time, he had been with Barry, the man hadn't eaten at all, so he knew that Barry must have been starving.

"Here." Carl came back over from the supplies, holding protein bars, a small bag of chips, and a pudding cup.

"Oh no, that's too much." Barry shook his head, though in reality, the food was far too little to sustain him.

"Don't worry." Carl waved his concern away. "We have plenty of food right now, and you haven't eaten anything since you've got here. You could use a good meal."

"Thank you." Barry said softly genuinely touch. He knew that giving away so much food can be hard on survivors.

"Your welcome." Carl smiled.

"They should be back soon." Sasha commented. "They said they would be back by mid-day."

"Hopefully nothing went wrong." Beth spoke her concern. Judith was asleep so Beth was able to take a breather and walk around on her own.

"They'll be back." Carl said with utmost confidence. "You'll see."

Barry didn't speak as he was too focused on eating the food in front of him. He groaned a little at the taste, it was just too good. He felt like he hadn't eaten in weeks when in short it had only been a day or two at the most. He couldn't really remember much when the fever hit the hardest.

"So, Barry," Sasha moved from her post over to the man. "I can't help but ask, how long have you been bitten?"

The other two members of the group turned their attention onto him, but were confused as to why Sasha asked a question, they already knew the answer to. Sasha discreetly held her hand up telling Carl and Beth not to say anything.

Barry smiled sheepishly.

"To be honest, I don't really know." he said. "Once the fever hit me the hardest, everything became blurred and I barely remember anything. I have no idea how long I was out, but I could guess anywhere to five days or more."

"Oh…" said Sasha disappointed. She was hoping for more.

"How did you get bit so many times anyway?" she asked. "Did walkers corner you?"

"It was more about trying to protect my friends." Barry admitted. "I didn't want them to get hurt and decided to take the bites myself."

They gasped. It was one thing to hear it but another to hear from the actual person. It still baffled them why a person would do such a thing.

"That's suicide though!" Carl exclaimed. "Why would you do that?"

Because I can take it. Barry thought but didn't say it out loud. He would then have to explain to them how he knew he could take it. He really didn't want to tell them about his powers and the speedforce. It would only make things worse.

"I was already bit you know. I took the first bite trying to save my father." Barry was skidding around the truth. "When my friends were in danger, I just took the hit for them. What was one more?"

"That's amazing! It's a wonder that you're still alive!" Beth was completely taken in with awe.

"Got lucky?" Barry shrugged his shoulders. He didn't know how much to tell and what was already told by Cait and Cisco.

That was one they heard a car pull up. Carl quickly went to the window, gun ready, and Sasha wasn't far behind him. Beth went to Judith and was ready to scoop her up should the car hold unsavory people.

"It's okay." Carl signaled. "It's them! They're back!"

"Really?" Beth smiled glad that they were together again. It was always a risk when they separated even if it was necessary. "Are they all okay?"

"It looks like it. Stay here." Sasha opened the doors with Carl to help out the group with the supplies.

"It's not like I can go anywhere." Barry mumbled and Beth cracked a smile at him.

Getting the supplies inside was a whirlwind of chaos that Barry couldn't keep track of. There were so many. So many people were moving, and Barry could feel himself getting tired just by watching them. But he had to stay awake. He wanted, no, needed to see his friends and make sure they were well. In a matter of minutes, he was able to see his friends, and he was so happy. The smile he could feel on his face was so big it was hurting his cheeks.

"Barry!" they both shouted when they noticed him.

"Oh my god, dude!" Cisco gushed. "I'm so glad you're up!"

"How are you feeling?" asked Cait as she pressed her hand on his forehead.

"Hi guys." Barry couldn't stop smiling. "I feel pretty good. I still feel really weak though."

"That's expected." Cait gently explained. "You're getting over a severe infection."

"So," Barry looked passed his friends and saw the rest of the people staring at them. "Who are they?"

"Oh!" Cisco jumped up and turned to the others. "We ran into them when we were looking for supplies. Tried to kill us at first."

"What?!" Barry tensed, trying to get up. He needed to be up if he was going to protect his friends.

"Whoa, whoa!" Cisco raised his hands to stop Barry.

"It's not like that Barry." Cait put her hands on his shoulders to push him back down. "They're just trying to survive, just like us. They decided to take us in."

Barry grunted as he settled back down against the wall.

"Yeah." Cisco agreed. "They're cool."

"I'm Rick." Rick stepped up. "I'm the leader of this group. It's a pleasure to finally meet you."

"Uh, thanks? I'm Barry." Barry didn't know what else to say. "It's nice to meet you too."

"I know that we asked your two friends this, but we ask everyone new before we let them in your group." Rick started.

"Okay…" Barry motioned for him to continue.

"How many walkers have you killed?"

"I-I don't know; a lot. I lost count." Barry shrugged slightly ashamed. He hated to kill anything, but it was necessary.

"How many people have you killed?" Rick asked the second question.

"A few…" he whispered while looked down. He didn't want to remember his kills of actual people.

"Why?"

"Fear, misunderstandings, surviving, because I had to protect my friends." Barry listed. "Pick one."

The cold silence was deafening, and no one wanted to think about what happened to the three friends. They knew that it was a cold world now. It was killed or be killed. The group knew this more than most and knew how hard it was to survive out there, killing the dead and fearing the living.

"Understandable." Rick finally said with a nod and a sigh. He knew it was a harsh world out there. "You three are more than welcome in our group. We need doctors and we protect our own. You can help us, and we can help you. In this group, I'm in charge. What I say goes, understand?"

Cait and Cisco nodded but Barry was a different story. His eyes hardened and had a glint to them that Rick could only find as threatening.

"And if we don't agree to what you do or where you go?" Barry dared to ask. He needed to find Len and couldn't do that if he couldn't search around the area without being questioned and ordered.

"Then you can take your leave." Rick waved to the door. "I don't have time to argue with people unless for good reason. People die less that way."

"Barry…" Cait voiced her concern. "We need help and they can help us."

"We were doing fine on our own." Barry defended. "We don't need them."

"Dude, I know you feel like that you can do this by yourself, but we can't. We need help." Cisco sided with Cait.

Barry looked at his two best friends in disbelief. Betrayal was clearly seen in his eyes as he continued to stare at them. How could they? Why did they need help? He was defending them fine on his own! They didn't need the other group! It wasn't even about pride of needing others' help; it was the fact that looking for their friends was no longer an optional now.

"And what about Len, Lisa, and Mick, huh? How are we going to find them if we can't look for them properly?" asked Barry as he glared, hurt by his closest friends.

"Barry…" Cait sighed. "We want to find them too, but we don't even know if they’re alive."

"They're alive." Barry snapped at her.

Len not being alive was not an option. He had to be alive. And if he wasn't and if he really was dead, then Barry will still find him and put him down. Len would not want to exist that way and he would get a proper burial if it came to that. He wasn't leaving this world without him and god damnit if he had to leave his friends to do it then he would.

"You don't know that Barry." Cisco said softly.

"You're going to give up on Lisa that quickly, huh?" Barry's question made Cisco flinch.

He almost felt guilty for the low jab but then he remembered why they were arguing in the first place. How dare they both give up on them! All three were fighters to the end! They were alive; Barry knew it in his heart.

"Who's Len, Lisa, and Mick?" asked Michonne. "Friends?"

"Len is more than that, right Barry?" Beth giggled.

That shocked the group. More than friends? Rick side-glanced Daryl. Could it mean what he thought it meant?

"Len is Barry's boyfriend." Beth explained.

That blew the group away, but it also eased some unseen tension. This new news helped get a more detailed look into the new group. Rick knew that with this new information, he wouldn't have to hide his relationship with Daryl. He could be easier around the newcomers in knowing that they wouldn't give him or Daryl unnecessary comments or looks.

"How does she know that?" Cait asked Barry a little worried. Despite people being more accepting to same-sex relationships, there were still people out there that were completely against it and would react violently sometimes.

"I told her." he said simply.

"Are you sure that was a good idea?" Cisco looked around making sure that no one was going to attack them.

"It's cool." Barry said with a smile. "Beth said it was fine."

Both friends were still worried and were being cautious. If the others in the group chose to attack, they were helpless. Cisco could try to blast them away but, with so many people, there was a good chance that they would get shot down before making an escape.

"We won't give anyone trouble for who they care about." Rick said it slowly making sure his message would get through.

Rick looked at Daryl and he saw his lover nodded. He turned back the trio and cleared his throat to get their attention. With Daryl's permission, he would be able to put their fears at ease.

"See?" Barry waved a tired arm. "It's fine."

"So, you're not going to hurt Barry?" asked Cait cautiously.

"No." Rick shook his head. "I have no reason to. Who he loves is his own business and we're fine with him being gay.”

"Bi." Barry chirped. His friends rolled their eyes in announce.

"Bi." Rick nodded. "In fact, to prove to you how fine we are with it and to ease all fears and tension, I'm going to tell you a little secret of our own."

He waved for Daryl to come closer and wrapped his arms around his lover intimately. He watched the trio's eyes bulged as they got the message.

"Wait, wait, wait…" Cisco shook his head, holding up his hands. "You and him?"

"That's right." Daryl growled. "You got a problem with that?"

"No, man, I'm good. Just making sure."

"Told ya, ya'll fit right in." Beth spoke with mischievous dancing in her eyes and a big smile on her face.

"That you did." Barry nodded with a smile of his own.

"So, back to my original question," Michonne brought the subject back up. "They are all friends, correct?"

"Yes." Barry said.

"They're the ones that got separated from us from a herd of walkers." Cait informed. "We've been looking for them ever since but with no such luck."

"They're out there." Barry said firmly. "I'm going to find them, no matter what."

000000000000000

Later in the day Barry was moving around and felt better than ever since arriving to this world. Sure, he had recovered from bits before, but never this fast. The ones on his back are just now fully closed. Barry chalked it up to not have proper food and the fact that his body just fought off a new highly fatal virus that has killed more than half the human population.

He was mingling with the other group when Cait butted in and asked if she could talk to Barry alone.

"You should be taking it easy." Cait warned Barry when they were secluded from the others. It wasn't something they needed to hear.

"I'm fine Cait. I'm healing again." Barry waved off her concern. "I should be good as new soon."

"I know that." Cait hissed through clenched teeth. "But the others don't."

"Oh…Oh shit!" Barry's eyes widened in realization. "That's right, they don't know!"

"Exactly." Cait inclined her head to make her point.

"Can't we just tell them?" he asked.

"Oh yeah," Cisco cut in. "Sure, we're going to tell complete strangers that we have two meta humans, one of which is the fastest man alive who can run through walls and travel through time and heal at an accelerated rate! Yeah sure, no biggie."

"Ah man…" Barry forced himself to sit back down and play pretend that he was still hurting and in much needed recovery. "Are you we can't go tell them?"

Each shared a look. If that wasn't a loaded question, they didn't know what was. The hard truth of the fact was, no they shouldn't tell the group. It could be disastrous. But the reality was, the group was bound to find out eventually.

"We should keep it our secret for now." Caitlin decided. "We can't afford to be kicked out, as much as I hate it. We need them to a degree. It was hard to be out there for less than a week; they have lasted months, maybe even years, I don't know. But the fact is, they have been surviving from the start and that makes me think we have a better chance with them than on our own."

"She's got a point." Cisco looked at Barry.

"I'm not going hold back if one of us is in danger." Barry warned with a serious look on his face. "I'm not going to risk our lives just for their sake of mind."

"Fair enough." Caitlin caved. "But only if the situation is dire, deal?"

"Deal." Barry nodded.

"Alright listen up everyone." Rick announced himself getting everyone's attention. "We are rested, and we now have a destination as well. At first light tomorrow, we are going to head north and see if we can find anything that could help us in setting up a lab so Caitlin and Cisco can hopefully start the new beginning of ending this world. Any questions?"

No one said a word.

"Then it's settled." Rick finished and went over to Daryl.

Barry watched them from his seat on the floor and felt heartache at seeing the lovers embrace and share a quick peck on the lips. He really wished Len was here right now. Len always made things better. Whenever Barry was uncertain about something Len always had a way of figuring stuff out and helping Barry when he really needed it.

God, he missed him. He knew Len was out there somewhere. He just had to find him. And god damnit he would!

"Wait for me Len." Barry whispered praying that somewhere Len could hear his message and wait for him. He was out there somewhere, and Barry wasn't going to leave until he finds him.

"What was that?" Cisco turned to his friend. "Did you say something?"

"Nah, just talking to myself." Barry deflected.

"You know that's a sign that you're going crazy right?" Cisco gave him the stink eye.

"That makes you off your rocker because you, my good sir, always talk to yourself." Barry countered.

"Hey, man! Not cool." Cisco defended. "I only talk to myself when I have a new cool invention or idea in my head."

"So, every second of every day?" Barry smirked.

"Touché…" Cisco admitted as he pointed at Barry with a finger. "But you have not won the war. I will get back at you."

"I'll be waiting." Barry smiled.

Caitlin sighed and rolled her eyes. She was surrounded by children.

00000000000000000000

Of course, that mentality didn't last more than a couple of days. The Flash team was fairing very well since joining Rick's group. They were able to sleep better knowing that they had people to cover them and keep them safe. The food that they scored from the store kept their bellies full and each day the group was getting stronger and stronger with steady food.

They spent days traveling trying to find a place to hunker down and build a lab, but nothing seemed good enough, safe enough to stop.

Then, their first stroke of bad luck hit them. The cars that they were using ran out of gas. They had to stop and make do with what they had.

"We need to siphon gas from somewhere." Daryl said. "We can't just leave all of our supplies. There's too much to just carry around."

"Yeah, I know." Rick replied. "We need to find a town or something. Let's take a look at the map we have."

So, Rick pulled out the old map that they were using and spread it out onto the hood of one of the cars. His group gathered around him, curious to see where the nearest town was and how long it would take for them to get there.

"We're here." Rick pointed to the small back road. "And the nearest town is here."

Daryl squinted his eyes at Rick's finger pointing to the nearest town.

"That's a long walk." Daryl commented. "At least ten miles."

"The day is almost over." Maggie told them. "There's no way we can make it there, find gas and make it back before sundown."

I could. Barry thought to himself. Yeah, he might pass out in the end because of the lack of energy but he could make that trip and back. It would only take a few minutes at most, but he couldn't tell them that. He couldn't tell them anything and it killed Barry a little inside to not do so.

"We're just going to have to wait for tomorrow." Rick told them. "We make camp here as best as we can and start fresh early in the morning."

"You sure it's a good idea Rick?" asked Daryl privately as the others went about their duties to make a safe camp. "We're kinda out in the open."

"And where do you think we can go Daryl?" asked Rick. "There's nothing out here for us to hide in. It's not like we have a choice here with our cars out of gas."

"Let me have a look around?" Daryl offered. "I might be able to find a building. Something that's not on the map."

"I don't know if I want you out there." Rick admitted. "We have food and water. We can make do with what we have here."

"I'm not a child Rick!" Daryl snarled. "If I want to go out there, I will! It's not about what you want. It's about what we need! And we need shelter!"

Rick sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.

"I know Daryl and I'm thankful for you and everything you do. I know you're not a child, but you have to understand that it's hard to let you go out there sometimes. I just don't want you to get hurt."

"It's the end of the world Rick." Daryl stated. "If I get hurt, I get hurt. But I know what I'm doing and I'm the best at what I do. It doesn't have to be long. Give me an hour or two at least."

"One hour." Rick immediately hooked onto that. "I'll give you one hour before I come looking for you."

"Deal." Daryl sealed it with a kiss.

Daryl took off leaving Rick behind to watch his back as his hunter took to the woods.

"Do you really think that was a good idea?" asked Michonne.

"Not really." Rick admitted. "But I can't very well stop him."

"As the leader of this group, I do believe that you can if you really wanted to." Michonne countered.

"Maybe with the others but not him. Not Daryl." Rick told her. "He's more than just a member of this group. He's my partner, my equal. I may give him more leeway than the others but I'm also harder on him than the others. Things like this, I can't stop him, even if I wanted to. And trust me, I really want to."

"Alright. As long as you're okay with him going out there."

"I'm not okay with him going out there, but before me, Daryl was he's own person and he was basically born and raised in the woods. Who am I to try and stop him from doing what he does best.” Rick repeated Daryl's words back to her.

"Well, hopefully it'll pay off and he'll find something out there."

"That's the idea."

"Do you think he'll be able to find shelter?" Caitlin asked her friends.

"He might." Cisco shrugged while Barry nodded.

"I'm getting the feeling that if anyone can find shelter out of nowhere, it's him." Barry commented.

"Don't worry." Beth came up to them. "Daryl's really good at hunting and scavenging. If there's something out there, he'll find it."

Beth sounded so sure that neither person questioned her before she went over to her sister. All the others could do was wait and they did. Before they knew it, it was over an hour and Rick was pacing back and forth, ready to bolt out into the woods to find Daryl. However, despite wanting to go out to find him, he stayed put in fear that once he left Daryl would show up.

"We should go look for him." Sasha said. "He's been gone too long."

"I know." Rick stated.

"So, why are we looking for him?" Sasha argued.

"It's too dangerous out there." Bob told her.

"Bob's right, Sasha." Tyreese spoke to his sister. "We can't afford for others to go missing out there."

Rick was grateful that Ty had his back, but he was almost certain that he was going to go into those woods if Daryl didn't show up soon. Another half an hour had gone by and Rick was arming himself up, preparing to go out there even if it was a bad idea. He had just marched to the edge of the woods when Daryl popped out a few feet horizontal to him.

"Daryl!" Rick called to him. "I told you an hour! Where the hell were you?!"

Daryl didn't have time to really reply before getting hugged by Rick.

"And why are you soaking wet?" asked Rick as he got a good look at his hunter

He leaned in for a moment before backing out and put some distance between him and Rick.

"Sorry. I fell into a god damn river. It's why I took so long. Had to climb out of it." Daryl mumbled. "I found a place though."

"You did? How far?" Rick questioned excitedly that they wouldn't be out in the open. "Wait, you fell into a river? Are you hurt?"

Last time something like that happened, Daryl had came back looking like a walker and got shot for it.

"No, I'm okay. Nothing broken and I only got a few scrapes."

"You should change clothes." Rick advised. "Don't want you getting sick."

"I'll change when we get to the house."

"House, huh?" Rick looked at Daryl. "Did you check it out. Is it safe? Will it fit all of us?"

"I wouldn't bring you there if it wasn't safe." Daryl narrowed his eyes insulted. "Yeah, I checked it out and yeah, it'll hold all of us."

"You did great Daryl." Rick stated as he brushed his hand on the back of Daryl's neck.

Daryl blushed and shoved Rick's hand away gently. He didn't want to put on a show for the rest of the group. They always seemed to love it when Daryl or Rick showed affection for one another and he hated how they would stare sometimes.

Daryl led them to the house and true to his word, the house was already cleared out and it indeed fit them all comfortably. The house in question wasn't that big but it wasn't no one bedroom place either. It had three bedrooms and one bathroom. There was just enough room for them to move about and not be completely on top of one another, but it wasn't big enough to have privacy and should something happen everyone was within earshot.

Everyone settled in and put everything they were carrying on the ground and started to set everything up. Of course, they weren't unpacking completely since they would be leaving tomorrow, but food needed to be made and small comforts were laid out for everyone.

It took several hours for Rick to realize that Daryl didn't change his clothes and was still in the clothes that were soaking wet, well, they were probably only damp now. He rooted through Daryl's bag and grabbed some clothes for his hunter. He wasn't going to let Daryl stay in those clothes for another second.

"Here," he handed Daryl the dry clothes. "You need to get out of those wet things before you get sick. What happened to changing when we got here."

Daryl shrugged slightly embarrassed and annoyed. He didn't need dry clothes. The ones he was wearing were almost dried anyway.

"I forgot and there's no need." Daryl pushed the clothes away. "I'm almost dry anyway."

"Come on Daryl." Rick insisted "For me. I don't want you to get sick and those clothes need to be washed now away."

"Fine." Daryl snapped. "But I'm telling you that I don't need them."

"I know, but it's more for my peace of mind then." Rick smiled as Daryl grumbled and went to the only bathroom they had to change.

Less than fifteen minutes later, Daryl, in fresh dry clothes, was in the living room in front of the front door. He was ever keeping guard and Rick wished that his hunter would take a break for once. Carol's voice echoed throughout the house as dinner was done and for everyone to grab some.

Daryl was the only one who didn't go for food and opted to stay put near the front door looking out the window as best as he could.

"Hungry?" Rick asked as he came back into the living room carrying two bowls of chicken noodle soup, on for Daryl and one for himself.

"Please don't tell me that we're eating this because I fell into the river?"

Rick laughed lightly and shrugged his shoulders.

"You'll have to ask Carol on that one. I didn't have a hand in this. I promise."

"Sure." Daryl didn't believe him, and Rick dramatized mocked hurt that Daryl didn't believe him.

"Here, eat." Rick gave Daryl his bowl and then dug into his own. After a few minutes he looked up and noticed that Daryl barely touched his dinner.

"You okay?" asked Rick. "Aren't you hungry?"

"Not really." Daryl shrugged. "More tired than anything."

"Well then, you get some sleep. I'll take first watch. I'll leave the food for you later just in case you get hungry later tonight."

"Okay." Daryl whispered as he got up and settled into his bedding. Before he could close his eyes, Daryl was falling fast asleep.

Rick frowned as he caught Caitlin's eye. He really hoped that Daryl wasn't getting sick, but if he was, Rick was glad that they had a doctor with them now.

"Caitlin." Rick went to her. "Do you have anything to give to Daryl if he gets sick?"

"Yeah, why? Is he sick? Is it because of falling into the river?" she asked.

"Possibly." Rick nodded his head. "He was acting strange and just now; he didn't really want to eat but instead sleep. Daryl isn't the type of person to refuse a meal like that."

"Hmm…" Caitlin hummed. "It's possible that he might come down with a cold. If that's the case, I might have some medicine to help with the symptoms, but if it's just a cold, there won't be much I can do. He'll have to fight it off the old fashion way."

"I was afraid you were going to say that." Rick sighed. He should've been more vigilante. He might have caught Daryl sooner and made him change his clothes before catching a cold. "Well, we're not sure yet, but it's a high possibility when he wakes up."

"I'll be ready if that happens." she promised him.

"Thank you." Rick said.

"No problem."

00000000000000000

The next morning, Daryl awoke feeling worse than he had the night before. Last night, he just felt off. He wasn't sure what was wrong other than that he was tired and went straight to bed. But now, his throat felt raw, and he could vaguely hear himself wheezing when he took in deep breaths.

With a quiet groan, he sat up, goosebumps immediately appearing on his arms as he pushed his blanket back and stood up. Every inch of his body ached when he did so. His muscles throbbing dully as he moved into the un-occupied bathroom to take a piss.

Picking up his crossbow, he headed to the front door. He tried to stifle the dry, rattling cough that suddenly overtook him as he opened the door quietly, hoping not to disturb anyone. He already knew what would happen if anyone saw him like this. God, they'll be all over him! Especially Rick! Daryl didn't need that. He didn't want that. So, as carefully as he could, he tried to sneak out of the house to be by himself.

"Where are you going?" Rick asked sleepily from his place in the living room.

"Need t' check the perimeter." Daryl managed to choke out, trying to sound as normal as possible but choking on the 'to'.

"I'll come with you." Rick offered. "You shouldn't be out there alone."

"I’d'n't ne'd you're h'lp." Daryl's voice cracked horribly when he tried to protest.

Rick narrowed his eyes at hearing Daryl's voice. Daryl squeezed his own. Fuck! Busted!

"You feelin' okay, Daryl?" Rick started to inch closer to him.

" 'm fine..." Daryl grunted trying to prove to Rick that he was indeed fine. However, a cough slapped him in the face for lying as he basically coughed up his left lung.

"Yeah, that doesn't sound like fine to me." Rick was certain now. Daryl was sick. "Cut the crap, Daryl. You're sick."

"N't si'k!" the hunter snarled, giving his lover a miserable looking glare. "Jus' le've me be!"

"Can't do that." he said. "You need to rest. Caitlin has medicine for you to take."

"'m fine." Daryl urged. "I don't need medicine or rest."

"Well, I think you do." Rick insisted. "Come one. Let's get you back to bed and see if we can make you feel a little bit better."

"Said 'm f'ne." Daryl told Rick before leaving the house.

Rick sighed as he watched Daryl leave. He let him because he knew that if he pushed too hard, Daryl would completely close up on him. He didn't want that, but he also didn't want Daryl to get hurt either. So, Rick kept his distance, but he made sure to keep one eye on Daryl at all times. He wasn't going to let his hunter get hurt, even if the cause was himself.

Daryl didn't get far. His hope was to check around the house to make sure it was safe and to maybe catch some food. There was no such luck. Daryl only just started before he was forced to stop. He leaned back against a tree, Daryl inhaled deeply through his nose, hoping the sudden wave of nausea that now plagued him would go away. He felt dizzy. His vision blurring slightly and seeming to tilt the world dangerously to the left. It made him feel even more nauseous. Then, the next thing he knew, he was crumpling to the cold hard ground on his hands and knees, gagging uncontrollably.

It hurt. Everything hurt.

His stomach, his head and his sore throat burned and throbbed with every dry heave that racked his body, causing it to convulse uncontrollably. He was cold and then hot. His body couldn't seem to pick one or the other. He was trembling from head to toe and feeling more miserable than he had upon waking up.

Rick…he needed Rick. No matter how embarrassing it was that he was sick, his body and heart were screaming for his leader.

When he finally got his body under control again, he slowly got to his feet. God, his legs felt weak and shaky as he leaned against the same tree again. Humiliating as it was, Daryl wished he didn't walk away from Rick and only wished to be in his bedding with Rick wrapped around him.

With that thought in mind Daryl slowly and painful went back to the house. He didn't have far to go but it seemed like miles were in front of him. Thankfully, Daryl didn't have to worry about that. Once Daryl came stumbling into view, Rick came rushing out. Daryl sighed knowing that he was safe, and Rick would take care of him, no matter how much he hated that thought.

Daryl stumbled sharply and he started to fall. Luckily, Rick was close enough that he caught his sickened hunter before he crashed to the ground.

"Daryl, what's wrong?" Rick asked him. "Talk to me!"

"S'ck…" Daryl admitted, mumbling into Rick's chest.

"Ah hell…" Rick sighed as he rubbed Daryl's back in some form of comfort. He had known all along that Daryl was sick. Hell, he even suspected it last night before all of this happened.

"Rick!" Barry called out to the leader from the front doorway. "Is Daryl okay?"

"No, he's sick. We need Caitlin." Rick replied before getting a better hold on Daryl. "Come on darling, do you think you can walk?"

"Y-y'ah…" Daryl tried to walk, he really did. He was determined to walk on his own, but that didn't happen.

They didn't make it two steps before his knees suddenly buckled under his own weight and he almost went crashing face first to the ground. Thank god, Rick was there and held him up with his own strength. His crossbow laid on the floor now. A place he would've been if not for Rick. Rick didn't give Daryl a second chance to walk and took it upon himself to lift Daryl bridal style and took him into the house where everyone was waiting nervously.

Daryl groaned both in pain and embarrassment. He didn't want people to see him like this, but it hurt too much to tell them to fuck off. Rick laid him on a mattress in one of the bedrooms. Caitlin was waiting for them as Rick placed him down.

Immediately, Caitlin pushed Rick aside and focused all of her attention on Daryl. She had gloves on and she was tilting his head this way and that. Daryl really wanted to push her away but didn't seem to have the strength to do so.

"Daryl, I need to know what you're feeling." Caitlin talked to him.

"I...I don't know..." Daryl stated confusion.

Caitlin frown, not liking that answer.

"Are you coughing?" she started to question him. "Sneezing? Are you feeling cold, warm? Do you feel like you're going to throw up?"

"Y'ah." Daryl nodded his head which made the pounding in his head worst. "M' he'd."

"You're head?"

"H'rts." Daryl groaned in pain as he lifted his hand to his head. Fuck, this hurt!

"What's wrong with him?" asked Rick worried. "He shouldn't be this sick after one night."

"It's still possible." Caitlin stated. "I don't have a lot of equipment so it's going to be hard to determine some things, but I'll do my best."

"...'m gonna be sick," Daryl muttered as a pitiful whimper escaping his raw throat. His body ached as he moved to sit up.

"Whoa, whoa, okay!" Caitlin held onto him. "Cisco, I need a bag or a bucket!

"I got it!" Cisco made it just in time for Daryl to wrap his hand around a bucket and threw up.

"That's it, easy, easy." Rick rubbed circles in Daryl's back. "Get it all out. That's it."

"Do you need anything else Cait?" asked Cisco.

"Can you go look in the bathroom and see if there's a thermometer I can use?" she asked of him and he went off to the bathroom immediately.

"Here, swoosh this around so can get the taste out of your mouth." Caitlin held up a bottle of water and allowed Daryl to sip on it before spitting it back out into the bucket.

Now that the episode was over, Daryl bodily flopped back down onto the bed, all of the sudden energy he had was gone.

"I couldn't find anything Caitlin." Cisco came back with bad news.

"That's alright, it's fine. I'll just have to judge manually." Caitlin dismissed it. "He's running a fever, but I just don't know how high. Since we don't have a thermometer, I rather be safe than sorry. Cisco? Grab me some rags, sheets, anything we can use so we can wipe Daryl down. We need to get his temperature down."

"I'm on it."

Caitlin frowned as Daryl started to shiver and grow pale. This was no simple cold or flu. She was suspecting something else.

"Here, here." Cisco came back and had two rags with a bowl filled with water already.

"Thanks, Cisco." she said as she set the supplied on the nightstand.

"Do you need anything else?"

"No, not for right now. Can you wait outside the door? I might need something else."

"Yeah, no problem." With that Cisco left Caitlin with Daryl and Rick.

"I'm going to strip him down." Caitlin announced. "We need to get his temp down."

"No…" Daryl heard and was not please. "'m f'ne."

"Daryl, darling, I know you don't like people seeing you, but this needs to happen." Rick tried to comfort Daryl as he started to gently take the hunter's shirt.

"Just…you…" Daryl looked at Rick with blurry eyes. "Just…you."

Rick looked to Caitlin to see if it could just be him to do this.

"I'm sorry Daryl but I need to see something. I have a suspicion and I need to confirm it."

"Suspicion? What suspicion?" asked Rick.

"I think he has an infection." she answered.

"Infection?!" Rick looked on in disbelief. "That would mean he was injured."

"Correct."

"But Daryl's not hurt." Rick was convinced.

"He's symptoms say otherwise."

"Daryl," Rick turned to his lover. "Are you hurt?"

Daryl's eyes looking to the left and not saying a word confirmed Cait's theory.

"How could you not tell me?" Rick questioned hurt that Daryl would hide this from him.

"I d'd't th'nk 't bad."

"Daryl, any injury could be bad, even a small one." Cait gently explained. "I'm guessing you got it when you fell into the river?"

Daryl nodded.

"All of that muck and river water is probably why it's infected. Let me take a look at it. Where are you hurt?"

Daryl pointed to his right leg, upper thigh.

"Okay, help me Rick. We need to take a look at it Daryl." Caitlin motioned for Rick to help take Daryl's pants off as well.

Daryl tensed, not liking someone other than Rick looking at such a private place even though he was wearing boxers. It was very uncomfortable for him and it probably showed plainly on his face. Once Rick lowered his pants just enough to see the wound, Caitlin was thankful that it wasn't as bad looking as she thought it was. Clearly, Daryl did try to clean it out and he had it wrapped up, but the wrapping had bled through, and it looked dirty, hence the infection.

"I'm going to reclean it, rewrap it and give you antibiotics." Caitlin stated as she started her work. "Rick, you can take the other rag and start wiping him down."

With a rag she started to reclean the wound out, using a bottle of water, giving the bowl of water to Rick. Daryl must've got this wound on a sharp rock or something because it wasn't too deep for stitches and it wasn't too long. It was just jagged and rough looking. Rick held Daryl's hand as Cait recleaned the wound. With his other hand, he was wiping Daryl down.

Daryl grunted as Caitlin worked. It wasn't like doing it yourself, Caitlin made sure she was getting everything out and that meant putting the rag and her fingers inside the wound if need be. Daryl would clench his hand hard against Rick's when Caitlin did something particularly sensitive to his wound.

"There." Caitlin stated as she tossed the rag aside. "Almost done. Just have to rewrap it."

Before Daryl knew it, Caitlin rewrapped his wound, gave him some medicine and called it a day for him. He wasn't allowed out of bed until his fever was down and he could stand on his own. Well, that part sucked. Daryl hated being confined to a bed. It was one of the reasons why he didn't tell Rick about the injury in the first place. Both Rick and Cait left as they gathered the supplies and left the room so he could sleep in peace.

"How is he?" asked Cisco.

"He'll be okay."

"Awesome!" Cisco smiled. "I'm going to tell the others. They're so worried."

"So, he's really going to be okay?" Rick asked just to be sure.

"I'm almost positive, Rick." Caitlin said with a knowing smile. "The infection was a nasty one, but we caught it early. With the medicine he should be fine. The only thing we can do is take care of him, keep him comfortable and wait for his body to get rid of the infection."

"Okay." Rick sighed in relief. "Thank you."

"No problem Rick, it's what I do."

They went back into the living room and everyone started to ask questions about Daryl. Even though Cisco told them that the hunter would be okay, they wanted to hear it from a doctor and their leader. After a few minutes of telling everyone that he would indeed be okay, people when back to what they were doing beforehand.

"You did good Caitlin." Barry praised her while bumping into his shoulder playfully.

"Like I told Rick, it's what I do. I mean, how many times did I nurse your butt back to health?" she asked.

"Too many to count." Barry replied.

"Exactly."

Cisco grinned as everything was settled back to normal now that Daryl was taken care of. He watched Rick go back to the bedroom, probably to watch over Daryl.

"We still need to go to town today." he heard Michonne's voice in the air. "We can't just sit here all day."

"Well, who else is going to plan this?" asked Maggie. "Daryl's down and I doubt that Rick's going to leave Daryl here by himself."

"We can still do it." Glenn stated. "We're just as good as them. We can make the trip."

"Who wants to go and who gets to stay?" Carol spoke up. "We can't take everyone. Too many people. And we can't leave this place unguarded in case something happens here."

"I'll go." Michonne volunteered.

"Me too." Glenn stepped up as well.

"Same." Sasha said glaring at Ty and Bob to say otherwise.

"I can go." Carl stated.

"No." the group all stated at once discouraging the kid and making him angry.

"I can help. I'm not a child anymore."

"Carl, help your dad and Daryl. We know you're not a child, but this is something too dangerous for you." Maggie said. "Besides, they're going to need you to watch the house while we are gone and to protect Judith too."

"Fine." Carl left in a huff.

"I'll go talk to him." Beth said as she went off to find Carl. She knew that she would be staying as well. She wasn't much of a fighter, not like Maggie and Michonne anyway.

"So, just Maggie, Glenn, Sasha, and Michonne? That's it." Barry asked looking around.

"I'd normally go with them," Carol started. "But with Rick and Daryl down, and them going to town, there's not a lot of good fighters left. I feel like I should stay and help guard the house. Carl and Beth can only do so much."

"Hey, we're here too!" Cisco chirped in. "We can help."

"Honey, you've barely killed anything." Carol said in the sweet polite tone. "And we barely know you. I would feel safer if I stayed."

"I would like to go too." Barry stated surprising everyone.

"You just got back on your feet Barry." Caitlin said giving him a knowing look. "I don't think you should be doing this so soon."

"I think that I should." Barry spoke as he looked to the group. "We're part of a group now and I believe that we need to start helping out a little more. Carol's right, we really don't know each other but why not fix that?"

Surprise and shock were seen throughout the group at Barry's words. Cisco and Caitlin were used to this type of thing, but they were smiling anyway. Barry knew no bounds to his kindness, even if he had a shadowiness to him now. It was still nice to see the light overcoming the dark in Barry.

"I don't have a problem with that." Michonne smiled. "Does anyone have a problem?"

"I do." Sasha spoke up. "You're supposed to be the cure, right? Why would we put you in harm's way?"

That made Barry pause.

"I'm still a fighter and I always will be." Barry started. "I need to be out there, not just to help and protect this group but to find Len as well. I can't do that sitting around and even if Len wasn't out there, I'd still be volunteering to help, because that is what I do."

"Okay. You can come." Glenn immediately agreed. Something in that speech spoke to Glenn in some way and it also helped thinking back on what Cisco said in the store. Barry was a fighter and a protector; it's what he does. Glenn had doubted them back in the store but now, now he could see exactly who Barry was for sure.

"This is a bad idea." Sasha warned.

"We'll see." Maggie said backing up her husband. If Glenn believed in Barry, then she would too.

"Come on. It'll be a piece of cake!" Barry said with all smiles trying to turn everyone in his favor. They all agreed within minutes.

It was settled and the group left a few minutes later after telling Rick exactly where they were going. Of course, Rick protested but the group overruled him and he let them. They were right. He didn't want to. He wanted to stay here with Daryl, and he was glad that the group had taken it upon themselves to go for the gas they needed. He didn't have to worry about it anymore. He knew that his group would find the supplies they would need and come back. They had to.

Chapter Text

 

Once the group left, Cisco floated around to see if anyone of the remaining group needed help. Barry was right. They barely knew these people, so why not fix that. So, he spent a good hour helping the others with random odd jobs. He was in the middle of helping Bod clear the house a little. It was old and broken down. It was a horrible place for a baby to roam, so, he spent his time picking up anything a baby could get their hands on and cause harm.

He noticed in the corner of his eyes the supplies that Caitlin had used on Daryl. They were still in the hallway against the wall. Since Cait was done, he thought he would pick them up and clean everything. Once he picked up her used gloves, he froze and felt the first signs of a vibe coming over him.

It was dark at first and then he saw a watch tower, then a metal gate. It looked to be a town, but he saw no people. Then, he was suddenly in a room and Caitlin was sitting on a chair. God, she looked horrible. Her hair was messed up like she hadn't brushed it in a while and her eyes were bloodshot. The scariest part was that she was holding a gun in her lap.

"Caitlin…" he whispered in horror. Then, the oddest thing happened. She looked right at him! That had never happened before. Sure, Barry could sometimes get a lock on him, but no regular human ever saw him.

"The pain is just too much Cisco. I’m sorry."

She was even talking to him! But then with a swift movement, she raised the gun and aimed it at her temple.

"Caitlin, no!"

A loud shot echoed in his ears as he saw nothing but blood stains on the wall next to her.

Cisco gasped as he pulled out of the vibe. He was shaking, trembling even. He dropped the gloves and crash on the floor not able to comprehend what he saw.

"Oh fuck…" Cisco panted as he wiped his face and head over and over again. "Shit…"

Cisco couldn't believe what he saw and oh my god, how was he going to tell her?! He couldn't! How can you tell one of your best friends that they were going to off themselves? It's just not done. Barry…he needed Barry for this one. He could tell Barry and then they could tell her or at least find a way for this to not happen!

0000000000000000000

Barry knew he shouldn't have said that it was going to be a piece of cake. Why in the hell did he have to say that?! Of course, it wasn't going to be a piece of cake. Who thinks like that anymore anyway?!

"We're getting cornered!" Maggie shouted as she cut into the head of a walker. "We need some way out now!"

They had made it to the town, and everything was going smoothly until suddenly it wasn't. They had found a small parking lot on the outskirts of the town, which was perfect. They didn't have to venture in any farther than they had to. They encountered very little walkers and were easily able to kill the ones that they did see. Barry shamelessly showed off a little to show that he was fine and capable of handling himself.

But then something changed in the middle of siphoning gas. Barry could guess that the walkers heard them or smelled them, possibly both. The ones trapped in the buildings were going crazy and then everything gave. Walkers, hundreds of them spilled out onto the street and started to circle around them.

They tried their best to stay ahead of them and still keep the gas that they came for. It was getting harder though. It seemed that the more they killed; more would pop up in its place.

"Keep together!" Michonne tried uselessly to keep everyone together so no one gets overwhelmed, but the more they fought, the more separated they became.

"We need a plan!" Glenn bashed a head in on a walker. "This is getting us nowhere!"

"Does anyone see a break in the herd?!" Sasha stabbed a walker. "Anywhere we can force our way through?!"

A shout distracted them as Maggie got caught by a walker. It's teeth inches from her arm as she tried relentlessly to push it off of her all the while fighting others that were getting too close.

"Maggie!" Glenn got distracted and soon he had two walkers descend upon him too.

One by one the group was falling to the herd of unexpected walkers and as each person fought for their lives, time slowed down. Barry blinked and there he stood in the middle of the fight with everything moving at a snail's pace.

Barry looked around. Everyone in his group was going to be eaten today if he didn't do something now. He didn't access his powers on purpose, knowing that it was dangerous to use them in this world, but he instinctively accessed them because the people he cares about were about to die.

Barry didn't even have to think about it. He knew what he had to do, even if it cost him his life to do so.

He ran.

He grabbed Maggie first, then Glenn, Michonne and finally Sasha. He ran them out and he even grabbed the gas that was left forgotten on the ground when Maggie first got caught. He didn't stop until everyone was safe and by then he could feel the pull of the energy he used. He felt dizzy and tired as he came to a stop and let things speed back up into normal time.

Once times started again, his group was still screaming and calling out to one another thinking each person was going to die today. Not while he was around, Barry thought to himself as he sat down. Shit, he was tired. He was going to need to eat a lot when they got back. Well, if he got back. They might kill him now that he revealed his powers.

"What the hell?!" Sasha whipped around looking all over the place as she tried to grasp what had happened. "Where the hell are we?"

"About a mile away from the town." Barry answered breathlessly. Man, he's never been so out of breath before, only running a few miles.

"How did-? What did you-?" Michonne was lost for words.

"Maggie!" Glenn was all over his wife as he examined her for bites and scratches.

"I'm okay. I think I'm okay." Maggie tried to reassure her husband. Slowly, they both got up from the ground and stared at a panting Barry.

"How did you do that?" asked Maggie, her eyes wide. "How did you run so fast?"

"It's a long story."

"Well, you better start talking!" Sasha stomped over to him and raise a handgun to his head. "What you did was impossible and yet you were able to do it. Was it because you were bitten? What are you?!"

"Put that gun down." Michonne ordered as she aimed her katana at Sasha. "It doesn't matter what he is. What matters is, is that he saved our lives and shouldn't have a gun pointed at his head."

"You're not concerned?!" Sasha asked in disbelief. "You're not worried that he could kill all of us and we wouldn't even know it?"

"Is it a little creepy? Yes." Michonne admitted. "Should he have told us? Yes. Am I afraid that he'll kill us? No. You wanted to know why?"

"Why?"

"Because with power like that, he could've done it ages ago but didn't. If he wanted us dead, if he wanted to take our supplies and run, he would've already done it. Hell, he could've left us all to die in that town and save himself, but he didn't. That's why I'm not concerned."

"I agree with Michonne." Glenn spoke looking between Sasha and Barry. "He saved our lives. More importantly, he saved Maggie's. So, I don't care what he is. He's on our side and that's what matters."

"You people are crazy!" she shouted at them freaked out. "Do you think the others would be so accepting once they hear about this? And furthermore, are your friends like this? Can they do what you just did?"

Everyone looked at Barry curious as well.

"No." Barry shook his head. "Caitlin doesn't have anything. She's just a really good doctor."

"And Cisco?" Sasha questioned.

Barry hesitated but ultimately nodded.

"He's fast like you then. Did you just lie to us?"

"I didn't lie. Cisco has powers but they're not like mine." Barry admitted, hoping Cisco wouldn't hate him for that.

"What does he do?"

"Sasha, maybe we should wait until we get back?" Maggie tried to step in, but Sasha dismissed her.

"What does he do?" Sasha snarled.

"He can vibe people sometimes." Barry stumbled over his explanation.

"What does that mean?" Maggie asked.

"He can see glimpses of future events." Barry hung his head silently hoping his best friend will forgive him. He also purposely left at the part where he could use his powers to attack.

"He can tell the future?" Sasha's eyes widened. "Then why the hell hasn't he been telling us to avoid things. We sure as hell could've had a heads up about the town."

"He can't control it like that." Barry urged. "He accidentally activates them more times than not and he can't exactly predict the future because the future can change."

Sasha tched before putting her gun away. This was too much for even her to handle all at once.

"Why are you like this Barry?" Michonne asked. "How did you get powers?"

"Like I said it's a long story and if it's all the same to you, I really would like to get some food and a safe place to tell this, with everyone so I don't have to say this more than I have to."

"That's fair." Michonne put her sword away and everyone started to head back to the house.

"So, why don't you just zip us back to the house since you're so fast." Sasha sneered.

"I can't. You see, my powers just don't work from nothing. It needs energy. It takes that energy from me."

"That sounds tiring." Maggie commented.

"It can be. I need to eat a lot of food in order to replenish that energy. Think of it like a very, very, high metabolism. The more I use my powers the more food I need to eat. Without replenishing the energy that I'm using, I'll become weak. I'll even pass out if I don't put back in what I used."

"Wait…" Glenn stopped them. "Are you saying that if you don't eat enough and you use your powers, your body will literally starve to death?"

"Exactly."

"That's horrible." Maggie whispered.

"Yup, you're telling me." Barry scratched the back of his head. "Where you guys could go a few days without food and live, I may die because my body burns a lot more calories than a normal person. It's even worse if I use my powers too often which is why you haven't seen them until now and probably won't see them again for a while."

"You're going to have to show Rick and the others what you can do. They're not going to believe us until they see it for themselves." Michonne said.

"I can do that. Just can't run around like I did before."

00000000000000000000

Cisco knew the moment the group got back that something was wrong. Barry looked embarrassed and sheepish, maybe a little nervous too, while the people who were in the group where bluntly staring at him like he had wings or something.

"Oh my god, you told them!" Cisco accused as he pointed a finger at Barry. At least Barry had the decency to look a little ashamed of himself. "Dude!"

"I'm sorry. There was herd and Maggie almost got bit and then everyone was going down! I didn't mean to, I swear. It sorta just happened!"

Cisco sighed.

"How much do they know?" asked Cait as she placed a comforting hand on Cisco.

"What are you guys talking about?" asked Carol but she was ignored.

"Uh, just me, and what Cisco can do, mostly." Barry said scratching his head. "Figured we'll tell them together all at once?"

"You suck dude." Cisco wasn't mad per se but he didn't know how he felt about everyone knowing about everything just yet.

"Is someone going to tell us what the hell is going on?" asked Bob.

"Apparently, Barry and his little group are more than what they lead us to believe." Sasha told them.

"And what does that mean exactly?" asked Ty.

"Are you going to tell them, or should I?" asked Sasha turning to Barry.

"No, no. I'll tell them, but first, we need to get Rick in here as well. He should be here to hear this." Barry said.

"I'll get him." Carl got up. Within a few minutes, Rick was trailing behind his on with a questionable look on his face.

"What is it that I hear that you guys have been hiding something from us?" Rick said tensely. He didn't like it when people lied. He's killed people because they've lied to them.

"I just want to say that I am sorry that we hid this from you, but once you hear our full story you could understand why." Barry started.

"Explain." Rick ordered roughly.

Barry looked at his friends.

"You're the one who spilled the beans." Cisco waved for him to start.

"Okay." Barry sighed hoping that this won't end in bloodshed and fighting. "Me and Cisco, we're…different than others."

"Different how?"

"I don't know if you'll believe me if I just told you so I'm going to show you." Barry said as he held up his hand. With a deep breath, he vibrated his hands blurring the appendage to the normal eye.

"What the hell?!" a shout of shock rang through the group for the people who hadn't seen his powers yet.

Barry stopped his hand and instantly felt weaker than before. He looked at Rick who had taken a step back with his hand on his gun, ready to shoot him if need be.

"What did you just do?" asked Rick. "How in the world did you do that?"

"I'm a speedster." Barry said as he looked to everyone in the room. "That's what they call people like me."

"People like you?" Beth whispered. "There are more like you?"

"Yes. There are a couple more that we know about anyway."

"So, why haven't we seen them?" asked Carl. "If there are more people like you, then where are they?"

Barry was really tired, and he really didn't want to explain that they were from a completely different world.

"We're not from around here." Cait took over thankfully.

"We got that already." Carol told her. "We can tell that you haven't been out in the outside world long and that you're definitely not from the south."

"No, it's not just that." Barry spoke. "We're not from your world."

"Holy shit, you're aliens!" Carl cursed.

"Carl!" Rick scuffed the back of his son's head.

"But dad!"

Cisco laughed and Caitlin giggled.

"No, no…" Barry chuckled. "We aren't aliens per se. We come from another world; another Earth."

"What?" people were so confused.

"Okay, okay." Cisco waved his hands and butted in. "I can't take this any longer. Has anyone ever heard of the multiverse? Raise your hand. Really? Anyone?"

"You mean where they could be multi-worlds created by each decision we make? Each decision creating a whole new world." Beth guessed.

"Correct!" Cisco pointed at her. "We have a winner!"

"How is that possible?" Sasha stepped up not believing a word of what they were saying. "The multiverse isn't even a proven theory yet, let alone people actually hopping universes like teenagers in movie theaters."

"And yet, we are here." Cisco waved his hand over himself and his friends.

"Okay," Rick raised his hand to stop everything. "Let's say we believe you and you're from another Earth. How did you get here and why are you here?"

"Well…" Cisco felt awful about this. "We've Earth hopped before and we wanted to find more Earths with more allies that we could call upon or essentially swop notes and information. We just didn't know how to do this just yet, but we did eventually find a machine that did exactly that. I tested it for weeks and was so sure that it was safe, and I had everything I needed to hop to different Earths and be back to our own Earth in no time."

"But something happened, I'm guessing." Rick stated and Cisco nodded while looking down and wiggles his index finger up and down at Rick.

"We have another winner." Cisco's voice was considerably duller and dead sounding.

"Cisco…" Cait felt horrible that Cisco was telling this part.

"What Cisco didn't account for was me." Barry took over. "When I use my powers, I generate energy, mainly lighting as I run. The machine siphoned that energy and sent us here. This wasn't the Earth we were meant to be on. This isn't even our reality of Earths that we could've gone to."

"What do you mean?" Maggie asked. "This is still Earth."

"Yes, but not in our reality. This is much bigger than the multiverse theory." Cisco stated. "Here, I found a pen and some paper. I can show you so you can understand better."

Cisco showed them what he had shown Team Flash the first day that they arrived. It took a little more explaining because at least Team Flash had a basic understanding and it was them that it happened to. Half the people in this group didn't even believe them, let alone trying to understand.

"This is so confusing." Carol shook her head and stepped away from the drawings.

"I think it's cool." Beth said with a smile.

"Me too." Carl backed her up.

"I really don't know what to think." Rick admitted. "But I believe what I saw, and I trust the words of my group. The real question is, are you a threat to us?"

"Rick, I thought that that was a given." Barry said. "If I wanted to hurt you, I would've but I'm not that type of person. I only hurt the people who hurt my family and friends. So, as long as you don't hurt the people I care about, you have nothing to fear from me."

"Okay then. I can get behind that." Rick nodded.

"Wait, that's it?" Sasha stepping up to the group. "We have no idea what he is capable of or Cisco for the matter. And you're just going to keep him in the group?"

"Yes, you've got a problem with that, you can leave instead." Rick gave her the choice, but Sasha didn't take it.

She kept her mouth shut since she didn't want to be kicked out of the group. She left the others and went outside. Behind her, Bob followed knowing that his lover was upset and wanted to comfort her.

"Baby, it's fine." Bob came up to her. "So, what if he's different? He saved your life Sasha. You owe that man your life and you want to demean him? You can't say that it's right."

"No, you're right." Sasha relaxed against Bob. "Just scared is all. A man with that type of power can be dangerous if left unchecked."

"I know, but Barry seems to be a good person, even if he has great powers. He isn't using them for bad, so give him a chance? For me?"

"Fine." Sasha smiled and kissed Bob. "For you."

"So, you can run like super-fast right?" Beth asked.

"Yeah." Barry nodded.

"What else can you do or is that it?" she continued.

"Well, I can heal pretty fast. It's probably why I survived those bites from the walkers."

"So, you're not a cure?" Rick questioned silencing everyone. "You healed because of your powers, not because you're immune."

"Well…" Barry looked to Caitlin for help.

"He could still be the cure." Cait answered. "Barry doesn't just heal fast, he's immune to all known diseases and illness, with the exception of a few things. This new virus included. There's a reason why he got sick and it wasn't just because of the bites."

"Right!" Cisco pointed. "Barry got sick because his body hadn't been introduced to this virus strand yet."

"But now that he has," Cait continued. "His body will be able to defend itself properly next time he gets bit."

"Are you saying that if Barry gets bit again, he won't get sick like last time?" asked Michonne.

"Exactly." Caitlin nodded. "He's body now has immunity to this virus. If I can get my hands on a lab, I might be able to reverse engineer his immunity out of his blood, so it'll work on normal everyday humans."

"I just need to get this straight." Rick waved his hand. "Barry is still the cure, correct?"

"Yes, in theory." Caitlin said firmly. “I need a lab to make sure.”

"Good. There's still hope that we can end this then. We just need to get you guys to a lab." Rick nodded and that was all he needed to know.

"So, you have powers too?" Carol asked Cisco.

"Uh, yeah?" Cisco hesitated.

"What do you do?" she asked.

"I can vibe, Erm, well predict the future and see the past sometimes." Cisco ran his hand through his tangled hair. "I also can create vibrations so strong that they can hurt someone if I concentrate hard enough."

"You don't sound too certain." Michonne noticed. “Barry only told us you can see the future sometimes.”

"Yeah, I'm not like Barry" Cisco shrugged his shoulders. "I haven't had my powers as long as Barry and I haven't been able to practice them as much. When I use my powers, it's usually accidentally or involved in extreme situations; like stressful oh my fucking god type of situations."

"Are your other friends like this?" asked Maggie.

"No." Caitlin stated. "They're human."

"So, what do you do?" asked Beth, now really close to Barry. "Were you a superhero with all of those powers?"

"Yeah," Barry lightly laughed. "I was a hero. It's why we wanted to go to different Earths so we could gather allies and information."

"What were you called?" asked Carl who was right next to Beth.

"The Flash!"

0000000000000000000

It was the next day and all of the excitement about learning of their abilities had calmed down some. Daryl was getting back onto his feet with Caitlin's observation and Rick hovering over him. It was annoying for him, but he tolerated it for the most part. It warmed something inside of him that Rick cared so much about him when most people in his life didn't.

Now that they have the gas they need and Daryl was on the mend, Rick decided that it was time to go. They couldn't wait around for much longer and their goal was still to find a lab that Caitlin and Cisco could use. They were packing up to leave when Cisco found Barry a little a ways from everyone and thought it was the perfect time to tell him about what he had seen.

"Barry, could I talk to you for a second man?" Cisco came up to him.

"Sure, what's up?" asked Barry.

"Nothing good, I'm afraid." Cisco lead them away from the group so none one would overhear them.

"I don't like the sound of that."

"Dude, I vibed last night." Cisco told him straight up.

"Oh man, for real?!" Barry said excitedly not knowing what Cisco saw. "What did you see?"

"Caitlin's death, suicide, murder, I don't know." Cisco pressed the palm of his hand into his eyes. "I can't get it out of my head."

"You saw-?" Barry choked. "You saw her? What do you mean Caitlin's death?!"

"I saw her man!" Cisco was freaking out as he spilled what he saw exactly in his vision. "And then she told me that the pain was too much and offed herself! Oh god, Barry! What do we do?!"

"We don't let her do this, that's what." Barry was pacing back and forth.

"How? We have no idea where she even was." Cisco gripped his hair tightly. "All I saw was a watch tower and a metal gate! Then the room she was in. That could be anywhere!"

"Shhh." Barry cut his hand through the air silencing him. "Not so loud! Do you want people to hear us?"

"I just-I-I can't." Cisco looked down. "I don't know what I'd do if she killed herself because of me trapping her here."

"She's not going to die Cisco." Barry said sternly. "We have at least some idea of what place she's in. She's in a town with a watch tower and a metal gate. So, we look out for communities. See if any have something like that. We can't just assume that the future is set in stone. We've changed the future before."

"Yeah! Like the one time."

"We still did it and we can do it again. You said that she was in pain, while she doesn't look like she's in pain. We just need to look out for her. If she starts showing signs of distress or maybe depression. I don't know! But it's not going to happen! We won't let it."

"You sound so sure Barry." Cisco whispered. "How do you know that the vibe won't come true just like the rest of them."

"Because Caitlin is our friend and I refuse to let her kill herself. There is no other option but to succeed." Barry said with such determination that Cisco couldn't help but believe him.

"Okay, Barry. We can do this!" Cisco was slightly pumped to change the future. "We can't tell Cait though. Who knows what that information could cause. Besides, how do you tell one of your best friends that one day, they're just going to go kill themselves?"

"We don't. You're right. We don't tell her."

"Do we tell anyone else? I guess not huh? People probably wouldn't believe me anyway."

"When we find Len and the others. I might tell him. He's very observant, so if anyone is going to notice a change in Cait's behavior it'll be him.

“Sounds like a plan man!” Cisco stated, thinking of ways to help stop this horrible future.

"Let's just get back to the others before they see we've been gone too long and start looking for us." Cisco clapped his hands and guided Barry back to the group.

"We're moving on." Rick announced as they packed up their things and went back to the cars.

Daryl was right next to him. He wasn't fully recovered yet, but he was strong enough to stand, walk and talk and that was enough for them to move on. And now that they have gas, they could continue to find a place that could house a lab and to find supplies with the cars.

They drove around for hours before making a stop. People were tired, even with it just being the start of the day. They had been riding around for so long that people needed to get out and away from each other. Some also just needed to stretch their legs and go to the bathroom.

"We should check out the house." Daryl commented as he nodded to the house, they stopped next too. It was easy to tell that it was abandoned, and no one was in there, except maybe walkers. All of the doors and windows were open and unchecked. If someone was in there, they were dumbasses that didn't know how to survive.

"We are." Rick nodded. "You're not."

"Are you fuckin' kidding me?!" Daryl spat at Rick. "I'm fine Rick! I'm healed and good to go."

"You're not healed and you're not good to go until Caitlin says you are." Rick argued. "She says for you to take it easy. You're not supposed to be out of bed as it is, but we can't afford to stay in one place for too long. She says you're good enough to move around, but not to fight. Give yourself time to heal Daryl."

"I'm not weak!" Daryl insisted.

"I didn't say that you were." Rick said gently as he placed his hands on Daryl's arm. The man tensed at the contact but didn't move. "I just want you to be in top shape before fighting again if we can help it. It's a simple search of the house, Daryl. It's okay for someone else to do this. It doesn't always have to be you."

"I feel useless." Daryl quietly admitted. "I can't help the group."

"You're not useless Daryl." Rick reassured him. "You're one of the best fighters and the best hunter I know. You just need another day or two to relax and heal up okay?"

"I want to help."

"Help by healing." Rick stated. "Do it for me, please?"

Daryl grunted and stepped away from Rick breaking contact. Rick looked on worried that Daryl might try something but was relieved when the hunter nodded and walked back to the cars.

"He's taking this well." Michonne snuck up from behind him causing Rick to jump a little.

"Yeah," Rick sighed. "As best as he can anyway."

"He feels the need to help protect and provide for us, but he needs to heal, and no one is going to fault him for that." Michonne commented. "We certainly won't."

"He's just restless and stubborn." Rick said with a smile.

"That too."

"Come on, let’s search this house and be on our way." Rick motioned towards their target.

"After you."

They searched the house, him and Michonne. They didn't find a whole lot, but they weren't expecting too. Most houses were empty these days. It didn't surprise them, no, they were used to it and it would've been more of a surprise if they didn't find something then the other way around. What did surprise them was a massive group of people jumping out at them, guns raised and ready to go right before they were about to leave.

"Stay right there!" an older man shouted as the group reached for their own guns. "We have you surrounded, and we will fire if you don't do exactly what you're told."

"My name is Rick!" Rick stepped up towards the presumed leader for the rival group. "Let's not be hasty. We can talk this out."

"There's no need for talking." the rival leader said. "We're plain robbing you, if you hadn't noticed."

"That's a really bad idea." Rick commented as he glanced a Barry. Barry nodded, ready to go.

"And what makes you say that?" asked the man.

"Because you are fucking with the wrong group." Rick warned. "If you lower your weapons now, no harm done, and we'll all be on our way."

"Are you plain stupid or something?" the man scoffed. "Shoot 'em boys."

Barry took that cue and ran. Before anyone could blink all of the enemies' guns were a pile at Rick's feet. He flashed back to his spot wavering, darkness creeping in the corner of his eyes. Cisco and Caitlin each supported him as they knew he was weak from that little run and needed the help.

"What the hell?" the man gasped as his men responded similarly staring at their hands in shock.

"Told ya." Rick smirked.

The man grew red in the face despite what had just happened.

"Fuck you!" the man whipped out a small handgun to the surprise of Rick's group and shot off round after round.

Barry couldn't take another run or risk blacking out, so Rick's people were left to duck and dodged the oncoming bullets while firing back their own. Because of the chaos, the rival men were able to get their guns back and it was an all-out gunfight before anyone could stop it.

"Barry, get their guns again!" Rick shouted at the fastest man alive.

"I-I can't!" Barry yelled back. "I don't have the energy!"

Rick cursed at his luck. He had one of the most powerful men in the world and he couldn't even use him. Of course, this wasn't the only problem. Because of all of the gunfire, they attracted the one thing all humans feared in common; walkers. And it wasn't just a few, it could be classified as a herd too.

"Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god!" Cisco chanted as he ducked behind a tree.

"Cisco!" he heard Caitlin's voice. "Use the gun!"

"I never got it to work right!"

"Now is good a time as any!"

"Are you serious right now?!" he looked at her like she was crazy.

"We need to do something!" she told him. "You designed it specifically for this moment."

"Yeah, but I never got it to not work on humans and the exploding part!"

"I'm pretty sure, it's okay to use it on humans this one time." Caitlin said it in a tone which Cisco did not appreciate!

"Fine!" Cisco grumbled as he searched his bag for the item. He had to dig deep because he hadn't worked on it for a while. The gun was black and grey with red lining. It wasn't sleek by any means. It was trash parts put together as best as Cisco's mind could.

"Now Cisco!" Cait pleaded as the walkers got worse, attacking people, killing them. Thankfully, all of the people killed were from the other group.

"Okay! Okay! Well, here goes nothing!" Cisco fired the gun and a lot of things happened at once.

Zombies heads were exploding along with the humans. People were screaming, guns were still firing, and Cisco could hear a ringing in his ear. Then, the gun stopped. It was out of charged. 

“Holy Shit!”

“What the fuck was that?!”

“Cool!”

“They’re still coming!”

Most of the rival group was gone, and so were a lot of walkers, but not all. There was still a lot more around them.

"Use it again!" Caitlin commanded.

"I can't! It's out of charge!" Cisco shook it, frustrated, before accidentally dropping it when a walker attacked from the side. "Oh shit!"

"Cisco!"

Cisco used a knife and plunged it into the walker's head. He looked up and saw Caitlin ready with her gun. She had been prepared to shoot the zombie before Cisco ended it. Now, he wasn't the best fighter, but he wasn't helpless.

"You okay?!" she asked him, and Cisco nodded. "Good, we have to go!

"What are we going to do!?" Sasha shouted.

"Shoot and run!" Daryl called back.

"Carl!" Rick shout to his boy. "Stay with me!"

Carl tried the best he could, but it was hectic.

"Beth, stay close!" Maggie grabbed the girl who was holding a screaming Judith.

"Can we get to the cars?!" Glenn tried to move towards said objects but was getting pushed back by walkers.

"Leave them! They're gone!" Rick ordered.

"Most of the supplies are in there!" Caitlin said.

"We have no choice. It's either live without them or die trying to get them!" Rick told them firmly, no matter how much it hurt to do so.

With reluctance, they all left the supplies they had worked so hard for. They ran and ran but it seemed no matter how fast or far they ran, the small herd was still around them.

"We can't keep this up!" Michonne told Rick as she slashed through walkers. "We're getting tired. I'm getting tired."

"Keep going!" Rick ordered them. "We have to keep going."

Everyone was tired and they were running out of bullets. They all started to use their knives and blunt objects more to conserve ammo. Caitlin was holding onto Barry as they ran. He was weak, but he was still able to fight. He just couldn't use his speed.

"Barry! Run us out!" Sasha told the speedster. "You did it before!"

"I can't!" Barry stabbed another walker. "I don't have enough energy to speed myself out, let alone everyone."

"Then Cisco!" Sasha turned to the other meta. "Use yours!"

"I don't know how!" Cisco defended himself. "I have no control over them!"

“Use that weird gun thing then!”

“I dropped it!”

"You're both useless!" Sasha sneered. "What's the point of having powers and a specialized weapon if you can't use them!" 

"We'll think of something!" Rick reassured them but even he was starting to have his doubts.

"She's not wrong." Barry said. "Cisco, try to use your powers!"

"What? Dude! You know I can't!" Cisco stared at him in disbelief.

"Try anyway!"

"It's not that easy!"

"Try anyway!"

"Fuck!" Cisco swore to himself. He wasn't much of a curse but at this moment he felt it was necessary.

"I believe in you Cisco!" Barry tried to give his best friend confidence.

"That makes only one of us buddy!" Cisco yelled but he did what Barry wanted and tried.

Nothing!

"It's not working!" Cisco tried he really did but nothing was happening, and the walkers seemed to be closing in.

Barry couldn't fault him. Once upon a time, he couldn't control his powers too well either. Barry let it drop, and he wasn't going to make Cisco try again. He started to think of a new plan, hopefully one that would get them out alive.

Then Caitlin was ripped away from him with a scream.

"Caitlin!" Barry cried as he watched his friend fight off a walker that snuck up next to them.

"Caitlin?" Cisco looked over and saw that one of his best friends was going to be eaten and then something clicked inside of him. "Stay away from her!"

Cisco raised his hand and vibration shot out surprising everyone. It was like the first night all over again. Cisco wasn't really controlling his powers, but they were working, and he was trying his hardest not to hit anyone. He turned and tried to get every single walker that was near them.

It only lasted for two minutes but it was enough to make a clear patch out of there and Cisco killed dozens within that time frame. Cisco swayed as his powers stopped, and it left him feeling drained.

"You did it Cisco!" Barry ran up to his friend and caught him as Cisco fell to the ground. "Whoa, I got you man. Hang in there!"

"I did it Barry." Cisco whispered weakly.

"You sure did!" Barry beamed down at his best friend before Cisco closed his eyes in exhaustion.

000000000000000

It had been two days since the attack from the rival group, the herd of walkers and Cisco's show of powers. After a night's rest Cisco was back on his feet, happy and proud that he was able to use his powers to save the group, but it came with a cost. They had little supplies now since they lost their cars. They put looking for a lab on the back burner. They needed to find a place to get supplies to help themselves before they could help the world.

It was later in the day when they came across the train tracks. Next to the tracks was a sign.

SANCTUARY

FOR ALL

COMMUNITY

FOR ALL

THOSE WHO ARRIVE

SURVIVE

There was a map with Terminus in bold dark letters and a path that would lead anyone reading it, right to the so called sanctuary.

"What do you think?" Rick asked everyone.

"Could be a trap?" Daryl stated the obvious. "There's no telling what's gonna be there."

"Daryl's right." Carl said next to Daryl. "There's no way we can trust this."

Rick nodded suspecting that too.

"Even if it's a trap." Michonne spoke. "Can we afford not to at least investigate it? We don't have a lot of supplies now. We should at least look into it before dismissing it."

"I agree with Michonne." Carol said. "Although, I say we only send in some of our group and not all. In case things go south, we'll have people on the outside to back us up if something goes wrong."

"It's worth a shot." Maggie agreed.

More and more of the group agreed that they should at least take a look at it but only send in a few members in case something happens. Rick was in total agreement with them; however, there were only three people that didn't voice their opinion.

"What about you three?" asked Rick. "What do you say about this?"

"I agree that we should go with caution." Cait voiced first. "If the place truly is good, we might be able to set up the lab there as well."

"Same here dude." Cisco gave his thumbs up.

"As long as I can look for Len and the others, I don't mind." Barry really couldn't care less. As long as he could still venture out to look for Len, he didn't really care where they went.

Barry could admit, even if only to himself, that he was becoming detached from the others. Sure, he forced a smile and laughed at the right times, but he wasn't the same man who first entered this world. Still lost in his grief from losing his father and sister; it was still fresh and raw in his heart. Being separated from Len was just another hit to his heart. He still had friends to protect and he would do so until his last breath, but it could feel himself shutting down mentally.

He wasn't built for this world. Barry knew without a shadow of a doubt that should he lose everything to this place, he wouldn't be able to live with himself.

"It's agreed then." Rick started. "We head for Terminus."

And so, they did. It took them a few days to reach the perimeter of Terminus. Everything was peaceful and quiet. That just rose the anxiety more, not knowing what was going to happen next. Since they didn't want to risk everything, the group looked around for something suitable to keep their extra stuff and a safe place for Judith in case things so sour.

"This is what's gonna happen." Rick laid out the plan. "Bob, Beth, Judith, Ty, Carol, Cait, Cisco, Barry, and Carl stay here, while the rest of us head over and check this place out."

"I should be there." Barry was the first of many to protest. "You are leaving behind most of your fighters. If things get out of hand you may need more people."

"No way!" Cisco argued. "If Barry's going, I'm going."

"Me too." Cait piped in.

"Dad, I can't stay here. I should be with you." Carl was angry and hurt that he was getting left behind, again. He had thought that he'd proven himself to his father that he could handle himself. Guess he was wrong.

"Enough!" Rick really hated it when people try to overrule him. "Didn't I say that I'm the boss and what I say goes? You can't come Barry. You are the cure and your friends are needed to make that cure. We can't risk you."

"You know as well as I do that I'm more than that." Barry pushed. "I can be the one thing that determines whether you live or die. And Cisco can be the same. In high emotional times, his powers will be a great asset to us, you saw yourself. If we're going to be in that much trouble, he’ll come through."

"Awe thanks man." Cisco smiled but the pressure was on. It was true that his powers did appear during dangerous events proof being just a few nights ago, but still, he had no control over them. It might not turn out good in the end.

"Fine." Rick sighed. He really couldn't argue with that. "But Cait stays."

"But-" she tried to protest.

"No buts." Rick said firmly. "You are the only one who knows how to make a cure and you don't have powers to help us. You stay here."

"He's got a point Cait." Barry said gently. "Don't worry; we'll be back before you know it."

Cait tried to give a smile but it was faulting under the bad feeling she was getting from all of this.

"Yeah, we'll be fine!" Cisco wrapped an arm around her. "Nothing can stop Barry when he gets going."

Cait was politely not going to point out how wrong Cisco was. There were a lot of things that could stop Barry, like a lack of food for instance and overusing his powers without replacing the energy being used.

"Ok…" she gave in knowing there was no more point in arguing.

"Dad…" Carl tried again while the others were occupied. "Why can't I go? I can handle myself."

"I know son." Rick leaned down to be eye level with the boy. "But this isn't about you being able to handle yourself. I know you can."

"Then why?" Carl was so confused.

"If things end badly," Rick grabbed his son's shoulders. "I need to be able to count on you to help keep the group together. I need you to protect your sister. If we fall, then you get out as fast as you can."

"Not without you." Carl would never leave his father behind.

"You will if that's what will keep you and your sister alive. That's all that matters to me. Understand?" Rick tried to get through to his son.

"Understood." Carl looked down. He understood but didn't like it.

"Then it's decided," Rick said. "Barry, Cisco, Michonne, Daryl, Sasha, Glenn, Maggie, and I will go. We scoop out the area and go in from the back. Catch them off guard and hopefully see exactly who they are before they see us."

 

Chapter Text

The morning was already a hot one and it was barely passed dawn. Caitlin’s heart was beating out of her chest as she stood in front of the outside door. She was terrified. She was going to leave the safety of the house in search for food.

 

The first thing she did though was changed her clothes. She was in a dress and high heels for god sake! Defiantly not zombie apocalypse wear. If she had known that she was going to be running around for her life in the middle of the woods, she would have prepared herself more. Looking around the small house for new clothes she was able to find a pair of jeans and a simple purple t-shirt with black sneakers.

 

“I can do this.” Caitlin repeated over and over again to herself. She wasn’t ready to face this, but it didn’t mean she wasn’t prepared. Knowing that those things were out there, Caitlin armed herself with a large chief knife.

 

Taking a deep breath, she touched the door handle and turned it. It clicked open and the door silently swung out revealing the outside world.

 

Nothing happened. Some birds swiped passed her in a flurry but other than that; nothing.

 

“I can do this.” Caitlin griped her knife harder and took her first step outside. “So far so good.”

 

She took her step cautiously and with great hesitation. She felt that one wrong move and she would be dead. It was an awful feeling and she never wanted to experience it again. A squirrel darted out from under a bush causing Caitlin to yelp in freight. She jumped two feet in to the air waving her knife around before realizing that it was just an animal and it could do no harm to her.

 

Caitlin sighed in relief and started to calm down. She glanced back to the house only a few feet away. Maybe she could just turn around and wait it out? Hope for the best? She wasn’t getting anywhere here. She just got scared by a squirrel for gods’ sake!

 

No. She shook her head and turned forward. She would not let that happen. She wasn’t going to sit by as her friends slowly died before her eyes. She was better than that, damn it!

 

“God I’m so stupid.” Caitlin scowled herself for her ridiculousness. “Get a hold of yourself! You need to bring food back to Cisco and Barry! They need you! Without that food they’re going to die.”

 

Steeling her nervous she started her journey again, but this time, she knew there was no turning back. They would be no doubts or hesitations. They needed the supplies and she was going to get them, even if she died trying.

 

Caitlin walked on slowly but surely and was quite surprised by how peaceful it was. She was expecting more, like zombies everywhere clawing for you or people trying to gut you. There was nothing and if Caitlin concentrated hard enough, she could almost imagine that this was just simple walk in the neighborhood enough of a life or death situation.

 

The first house came into view and Caitlin felt her heart skip a beat at the front door. It was slightly open but there was no way to tell if something or someone was in there or not. She took a deep breath and tried to calm her racing heart. With a test jerk of her knife, she readied herself and went to the house in question.

 

The door was silent as she opened it fully. She let out a breath that she was unknowingly holding. There was no one behind it waiting for her.

 

“That’s a relief.” she whispered to herself.

 

She checked the house out, being cautious and looking into every room. There was nothing here. There was no sign of life and very little supplies to pick from. She was able to snag a thing of toothpaste, some bed sheets, one roll of toilet paper, and a baseball bat. She also found a big backpack to hold all the supplies in.

 

There was no food, however. Not even a can of spam.

 

She twirled her new weapon with ease, testing the weight and found it was very lightweight. She still had her knife, but a baseball bat will give her more distance than a knife would. She found a thick black belt in the bedroom and wrapped it around her so she could halter her knife.

 

With nothing left of use to her, she left and was glad that the house didn’t hold the dangers she feared. She was greatly saddened that it held little supplies though, so she would have to hit another home in search of food. She just hoped that the next house would be just similar to this one. She hoped to find a house that had little danger like this one but with supplies she needed.

 

The next house, however, she would not be so lucky in. It will really hit home just how bad this new world really was to Caitlin.

 

Caitlin moved on to the next house, hoping for the best, expecting the worst. As she opened the door to the next house, the door screeched with rusted hinges. She cringed. Already it was looking bad. Nothing happened though so Caitlin assumed that all was good.

 

Immediately, she repeated what she did to the previous house. Looking through all the rooms, checking to make sure there were no dead or alive people. Each room she came across she was mentally taking in things that she could take with her.

 

This house had a few bottles of water, more sheets, a thick blanket, a hunting knife, a berretta pico gun, but no food.

 

Caitlin was just about done with this house when she heard it. Thunk! Caitlin jumped at the sound. With her heart pounding she raised her bat in the air. There was silence for a moment and for a second Caitlin thought that maybe she just imagined it, when it happened again.

 

Thunk!

 

Caitlin turned and saw a closed door across from her; she hadn’t checked this one yet.

 

Thunk!

 

The door raddled from being hit from the other side.

 

“I can leave.” Caitlin started to back away. “I don’t have to do anything. Whoever it is, is trapped in there. You’re safe out here.”

 

Caitlin started to walk away, but the more Caitlin thought about it the more she just couldn’t leave. What if the person was alive but too weak to do anything but bang on the door? Even if it was a zombie, they’re slow and she had a bat. She could take them. She couldn’t just leave them in there.

 

Decision made, Caitlin went for the door. The noise had stopped but Caitlin knew that there was someone in there, she just didn’t know what. Taking a deep breath, she slowly and silently turned the handle, hoping that whatever was on the other side wouldn’t hear her open the door and jump her.

 

Caitlin was trembling and had unshedded tears in her eyes from fright. She pushed the door open and she took a look inside.

 

“Ah!” Caitlin gasped as lowered her bat in shock.

 

Before her, was a boy, maybe around five at the most. He was standing in the center of his room in a light blue onesie. His back was facing her but she didn’t need to see his face to understand what happened to him.

 

The room was covered in blood. Two bodies were on the ground eaten beyond recognition. The boy’s onesie was splashed with blood and there was even some dripping from his hands. Caitlin’s mouth hung open not believing was she was seeing. She must’ve made a load noise for the boy slowly moved to face her.

 

Caitlin sobbed. The boy’s face was half chewed off and one eyes was hanging from the optic nerve. She covered her mouth with a hand as her vision blurred from heavy tears.

 

“Oh god! Oh my god!” she cried as she backed away.

 

The child growled and snapped his teeth at her.

 

“No! No!” she shook her head. Her heart hurt, blood was rushing to her head, she felt sick to her stomach, and she couldn’t think straight. “This can’t be happening…it can’t be…”

 

Caitlin knew in the back of her head that if the world did indeed end like she thought it did, then deaths of children were all too real. However, just like a lot of people, she didn’t think too heavily on it. Always thinking and hoping that the children would be spared. It was a lie and the truth was now staring her right in the face.

 

Life felt unreal. Caitlin felt disconnected, like she was floating slightly outside of her body and watching herself carrying on without her. She saw herself back away step by step from the zombie child but for each step she took, he took one as well.

 

Suddenly, she was back and Caitlin was press up against the wall with nowhere to go but forward. The child was just a few feet away and closing in fast knowing there was fresh meat in front it. Caitlin pushed herself farther into the wall but there was no give. She wasn’t going anywhere.

 

She sobbed. The weight of the baseball bat in her hand fell like lead instead of wood. She knew what she had to do but her emotions were getting the better of her. This was a child, someone’s little boy! She couldn’t do this! There was no way she could kill a child, even now.

 

The boy staggered closer. The closer and closer the boy got, the more Caitlin felt something deep emerge inside of her. It started small at first, like a tiny candlelight in the midnight sky. With each step the boy took that tiny flame grew bigger and bigger and bigger!

 

The instinct to survive alit in Caitlin like never before. The thoughts of Barry and Cisco swarm in her head. She couldn’t die here! She was their last hope to survive! If she died here, then they would too!

 

That thought alone got her to move.

 

Her hand tightened on the handle and just when the boy was about to take a bit out of her, she swung it down as fast as she could with a shout. The first hit not only stunned the boy but her as well. She stared at the bat in disbelief. Not believing that she had done it! She hit the child!

 

A groan sounded causing Caitlin to look at the child zombie again. The hit didn’t kill him. He had fallen to the ground, but he was trying to get up. There was big gash to his head now, but it wasn’t big enough to stop him.

 

Once she saw the boy getting back up, she yelled as she swung at him again and again and again! Each strike becoming easier and easier. The blood splattered everywhere! On her face and down her front. It was disgusting but Caitlin paid it no mind at the time. She just kept swinging and swinging, yelling more and more.

 

By the time she was done the boy’s head was no more. There was no telling what the boy looked like anymore. His head and face were smashed into the carpet, blood seeping into the white fibers.

 

Caitlin was panting and gasping, tears running down her face. The bat slipped through her bloody fingers and hit the ground with a soft thug. Her eyes emotionless as she slid down to the ground next to the child’s body. She couldn’t handle it. She could feel herself breaking as the realization of what she really did hit her hard. It was unforgivable. What she did was unforgivable. She was a monster.

 

“What have I done?” she brokenly asked.

 

She hugged her knees to her chest, and she cried the hardest she’s ever did swallowing in her misery.   

 

000000000000000

 

Caitlin didn’t know how long she stayed like that; hugging herself, trying not to completely fall apart. She slowly raised her head up, a headache pounding in her temples. Her eyes were a bright blood shot red and swollen from the tears that had fallen. Her thoughts were sluggish and borderline none existed.

 

Her eyes jerkingly went to the dead body beside her and she could feel another wave of sadness fall over her. With a watery sigh she locked down her emotions and stopped the new tears from falling.

 

She needed to get moving. She had spent so much time grieving that Caitlin knew she needed to get a move on. Her friends were counting on her to bring food back and she wasn’t going to fail them.

 

That thought got her up. Caitlin was oddly calm; too calm. It was as if she was at peace with what she did. It wasn’t right, she knew. But she had no choice. This was the world she lived in now. You had to kill to survive. There was no time to grieve, you just had to push forward.

 

She picked her bloodied bat back up without a single thought of disgust and silently walked out of the house, never once looking back again. Caitlin was in a daze. She felt nothing but calmness as she walked forward. She walked on going to one house to the next. She was able to find a few supplies here and there but no food.

 

It wasn’t til the last house in the neighborhood did Caitlin hit the jackpot.

 

The last house was tiny compared to the others, not as beautiful or rich looking. To Caitlin’s surprise, it was locked as well. She actually stood there dumbfounded for a moment not sure how to break in, or even if she should break in. It was locked for a reason right?

 

Only one way to find out.

 

Caitlin was hesitating but the thought of her friends fueled her on. With her bat, she busted the handle open and the door swung freely without it. Nothing happened. No zombie came running and no immediate danger made itself known. She took that as an invite to go in and start looking around.

 

Caitin could only guess that no one bothered robbing the place because it looked like a dump compared to the others. There was no art on the walls, no state of the art technology, or even a flat screen tv.

 

It didn’t take long for Caitlin to search the house. It was so much smaller than the others. A smile broke out so big that it hurt her face as she found exact what she was looking for; food!

 

“Yes! Finally!” Caitlin picked up supply after supply, as much as she could carry. She was able to find a duffle bag thankfully or else she would’ve had to leave much of it behind.

 

This house was untouched! No one had entered it since the world ended, she assumed. She couldn’t believe how lucky she was at the moment and just when she about to give up hope too. Caitlin sent a silent thank you to whoever was listening to her pleas.

 

Caitlin didn’t know how long she was in that house gathering as much as she could carry but once she was about to leave it became apparent that she wasn’t alone anymore. She froze mid packing, with a can of tuna in her hands hovering over her new bag. The hair on the back of her next stood up and she took a quick glance to her bat that was just a few feet away from her.

 

A cough behind her caused her to jerk and turn around quickly. Simultaneously, she grabbed her weapon and raised her bat at the ready.

 

“Well, hello there missy.” a middle aged man greet with a slimly smile not looking at all scared of her display. “Looking mighty fine there sugar.”

 

“Hi.” Caitlin gasped, terrified at the sudden presence of an actual living person. This was the first person any of them had come across since arriving here. Caitlin had half a thought that maybe people were existent and that zombies ruled the world. Well, there went that theory.

 

“Seems to me, we found a gold mine in this here home.” he continued on. “Be a mighty shame to argue about it.”

 

“Well, you can have a few things, but I put claim to the stuff I have already. There’s more to share. You can have the rest, I’m not cruel.” Caitlin suggested trying to appease the man.

 

She was terrified that he was going to try something. She didn’t know what it was about him but there was something about this man that put her on edge. Her whole being was screaming at her to get away!

 

“I would say not darling.” the man creped closer. “Names Mack and yours?”

 

Caitlin didn’t answer. She did not want this man knowing her name.

 

“Awe, don’t be like that sweetness. Mack’s a good guy.”

 

“I believe you.” she replied. There was no fucking way she believed him.

 

“So how about you join me, and I’ll keep you safe from those geeks.”

 

“I’m good. Thank you.” she denied.

 

That didn’t sit well with the man. His cheery smile melted to cold hard fury.

 

“Now, I’m giving you a good deal here!” he started to raise his voice. “You being all alone and such. This is no place for a young miss like yourself.”

 

“I’m not alone.” she defended. “And even if I was, I wouldn’t go with you!”

 

“You bitch!” the man suddenly became violent and lunged at her.

 

Caitlin yelp and swung her bat. The bat made contact, but it only stunned the man. He fell gasping for air from the hard-unexpected hit. While he was down, Caitlin grabbed her two bags and ran out of the house as fast as she could. The weight from her supplies wore her down and slowed her to a degree but she wasn’t going to leave hard earned supplies to this pervert. She was going to at least try to get them to Barry and Cisco.

 

“You cunt!” she could hear the man say as he got back up to follow her. “You’ll pay for that!”

 

A gunshot echoed into the blue sky.

 

Caitlin yelped as she ducked. The guy was shooting at her! He was fucking shooting at her! Two more rounds filled the air but all, thankfully, missed Caitlin. She was zigzagging trying her best to stay one step ahead of him. But it was all for nothing when she tripped over uneven ground.

 

She cried out when she hit the ground. Her ankle hurt but it wasn’t too bad. She self-diagnosed that it was merely a twist at most. She scrambled to gain purchase in getting up when she heard footsteps behind her. 

 

“I got you now bitch!”

 

She turned and there he was with a gun pointed to her head. Caitlin started to cry suddenly realizing that she really was about to die. She wasn’t going to be able to make it back. She was going to fail her friends; she was going to die.

 

Sorry guys, she thought in her head. She even closed her eyes not wanting to see it coming and feared the pain she was about to feel.

 

Then, a miracle happened. Just as Mack was about to pull the trigger and kill the cunt in front of him, a geek blindsided him from his right and bit into his arm like it was nothing. Mark screamed to high heaven as pain registered in his system. The shot that he was about to fire killing Caitlin missed and went wide.

 

Caitlin gasped at the screen in front of her. Mack was still screaming and trying to rip the zombie off of his arm. For a moment, for a single moment, Caitlin thought to help him. She knew that he was a creep but no person should die such a horrible fate. Caitlin tensed to help Mack when two more came upon him and she knew that it was no use helping.

 

Now that she knew there was no helping Mack, she saw her chance to escape and unfortunately, left the man to his fate. Caitlin could still hear his cries of agony as she limped back to the house her friends were left in

 

0000000000000000

 

It took longer to get back to the house then it was to leave it. Caitlin’s limp grew worst the more she walked on it, but she knew it wasn’t broken, which she was greatly thankful for. She would be dead weight and useless if she couldn’t walk.

 

Caitlin sighed in relief as the house came into sight. Knowing that she only had a few more feet to go, gave her a boost in energy to walk fast and to ignore the growing pain in her ankle. She didn’t even make it all the way to the house before the front door was ripped open and Cisco came running out.

 

“Cisco!” she called out.

 

“Cait! Caitlin! Oh thank god!” Cisco ran all the way to her and nearly tackled her to the ground with a bone crushing hug. “Oh thank you, thank you, thank you…!”

 

Caitlin leaned into the hug putting weight off of her injured ankle. She smiled and sighed in relief that Cisco was up and going to be okay.

 

“Cisco, what are you doing out of bed? You should be resting.” Caitlin scowled but there were no heat in her words.

 

“Resting?! How can I be resting, when you were nowhere to be found?!” Cisco pulled away and shook her a little. It wasn’t meant to hurt but to get his point across.

 

“Calm down Cisco. We needed supplies. We needed food. Barry needed food. So, I got some.” Caitlin answer pointed to her findings.

 

“Screw that! Oh my god! Are you okay? Are you hurt?” Cisco franticly asked as he got a good look at her. She was covered in blood and dirt. She looked exhausted and now that he thought about it, he could have sworn she was limping before he high tailed it to her.

 

“Yes, I’m fine.” she insisted but then Cisco gave her a firm look narrowing his eyes.

 

“Okay, maybe not completely okay but I survived and I’m here now, alive. I have food, water, supplies for us to use. It was worth the trip.”

 

“Caitlin.” Cisco grabbed her shoulders and looked her square in the eye. “I don’t care about any of that stuff. Well, I do but not right now. All I care about is you. You could’ve been killed out here today! You should’ve waited for Barry and me to wake up to help you.”

 

“And when was that going to be?” Caitlin felt defensive. “I had no idea when you or Barry were going to wake up! And you know Barry’s metabolism! Even without using his speed right now, he’s healing those bite marks. He’s literally starving to death in that bed. I had to do something!”  

 

She was touched that Cisco cared about her but he also made her feel like all of her hard work today was getting thrown back into her face. She survived through a lot shit today and didn’t appreciate him questioning her.

 

“Okay, okay! I understand. I’m sorry.” Cisco raised his hands in surrender. “I just…you gave me a heart attack when I woke up and you weren’t there. I was so worried about you and I had no idea what happened. I thought you were dead Caitlin.”

 

Cisco looked so distraught that Cait couldn’t stay mad at him for worrying about her. She did leave without letting them know where she was going and what she was doing. In her defense, she really thought that she would be back way earlier than this and wouldn’t have to worry them in the first place.

 

“I’m sorry too.” Caitlin gave a small smile. “What’s done is done though. We have supplies now. You’re awake and now all that’s left is for Barry to heal and wake up. Have you checked up on him?”

 

“Yeah.” Cisco nodded. “He’s wounds are healing really slowly though. It’s worrying me. They should’ve healed by now. Some are still sluggishly bleeding.”

 

“That is worrying.” Caitlin agreed. “He’s healed bones faster than this. It’s must be because it’s a zombie bit. He’s body is not only trying to heal the bits but perhaps fighting off the virus and infection as well.”

 

“I thought that too. Should we be worried that he’ll turn into one of them?” asked Cisco worried.

 

“No,” Caitlin shook her head. “At least not right now. He would be a lot worst if he was losing the battle with the infection. The last time I saw him, he was resting peacefully. If I had any second thoughts of him not beating this, I would have tied him to the bed or something. I wouldn’t have left him free on the bed like that.”

 

Cisco nodded understanding.

 

“Let’s go into the house and we can talk some more, and you can see the supplies I got.” Caitlin suggested. “We can also go and check up on Barry. Make sure he’s comfortable.”

 

“And you’re going to tell me about your trip outside, right?” Cisco looked her up and down taking in her state. She looked horrible and almost didn’t want to know what kind of hell she had to go through to get the supplies for them.

 

“I really don’t want to talk about it right now.” Caitlin waved it off as she started to go for the house. “Later?”

 

“Later then.” Cisco allowed her that much. “Here, let me help you.”

 

He took the duffle bag from her shoulder and with his other side took some weight off of her bad ankle.

 

“Are you sure you’re okay?” he asked.

 

“I twisted my ankle on my way back. It’s nothing serious.” she answered pushing away his concern.

 

“If you say so…”

 

“Well, I do say so.”

 

0000000000000000

 

They both went inside the house and Cisco was quick to put her on the couch. Caitlin moaned in relief as she slid down on the cushion, relieving pressure on her ankle. Cisco also put her newly found supplies down in front of her and awkwardly stared at her. Cisco’s eyes were burning as both were silent for a few minutes not sure how to go about things.

 

Cisco was dying to ask questions but Caitlin was less than enthusiastic about it. She didn’t want to relieve the horrors she experienced today. This world was worse than she thought. It brought tears to her eyes as her mind brought up the possibilities that could have happened if she didn’t escape that man.

 

“Caitlin?” Cisco knelt down with great concern in his eyes. He could see her tears and it troubled him immensely that she was in pain, both mentally and physically. “Please tell me what happened?”

 

“Can you check up on Barry?” she avoided his question.

 

He sighed but did what she asked. Cisco could tell that she needed space and wasn’t going to push her just yet. He went into the bedroom that held their speedster and did a thorough checking. Barry still had a slight fever from what he could tell, but he was breathing normally and was sleeping rather than unconscious.

 

“He’s doing fine.” he came back in. “Merely sleeping now. He still has a slight fever but for right now he’s good.”

 

“That’s good. He should be waking up soon and we’ll be able to give him food now.” Caitlin winced at the mention of food. There was nothing else to say now but the story of her supple run.

 

“Caitlin?” Cisco knelt back down. “I know something happened out there and I’m not going to push you to say anything, but it helps to talk about it. You know that. I’m here if you need to talk. I will listen.”

 

“Oh Cisco…” Caitlin, without warning, started to sob.

 

It took Cisco by surprise and immediately brought Caitlin into a hug. She didn’t push him away but clung to him like he was her lifeline. It brought tears to his own eyes listening to Caitlin sob. He was right; something awful happened out there to her. He tightened his hold protectively. He’ll be there next time for her. She won’t have to go through anything alone ever again.

 

Cisco promised himself that he would protect Caitlin and be there for her always; swore his life on it.

 

Too bad he was unknowingly going to break that promise in the near .

 

Once Caitlin called down she told Cisco what had happened to her. Cisco pulled her back into a comforting hug again both for her and himself. He couldn’t believe what she experienced and was distraught that they really were living in this hell of a world. Then self-blaming reared its’ ugly head again. This was his fault. Caitlin would’ve never had to go through this if it wasn’t for him. God, he hated himself for putting his friends through this!

 

Cisco didn’t voice his thoughts. He knew that it was a lost cause. Caitlin would deny it but he knew it was true. He also didn’t want to make things worse. Caitlin was already upset; he didn’t want to add to it.

 

“Why are you crying Cait?” a voice from the other side of the room sounded making two head swirl around in shock.

 

“Barry!” Caitlin smiled tears anew but this time for a different reason.

 

Barry was leaning slightly on the door frame and a little out of breath, but he was awake and standing on his own!

 

“Hey, my main man!” Cisco let Caitlin go and went towards his best friend.

 

Barry gave a smile seeing his friends alive and whole. He was so worried when he lost concussions that he was never going to see them again. He frowned slightly when Cait got up and saw her limping a little. He defiantly remembered her not having that before the world went dark. He’s thoughts started to race as to why she was hurt in the first place.

 

“What happened Caitlin?” Barry asked worried.

 

“I’ll tell you later.” Caitlin said as she hugged him tight relieved that he was alive and on the road to recovery. “Come on. You’re probably hungry. We have food.”

 

“Since when?” asked Barry as he was dragged by Caitlin.

 

“Since now.” she answered back.

 

“Cisco, do you have those bars? I really could use one right now.” Barry asked causing Cisco to look away. “Cisco?”

 

“I lost most of them when we got attack.” Cisco reluctantly admitted.

 

Barry felt his heart drop. This wasn’t good.

 

“You said most? How many do we have left?” he asked urgently.

 

“Five.”

 

“Shit.” Barry dropped his head. “Never mind then. We need to save them unless absolutely necessary.”

 

“Here, Barry.” Caitlin drawled his attention away. “Eat this. You need to regain your strength back and maintain your calorie levels.”

 

Barry sighed and took the food offered and started to eat it.

 

“Why don’t you go back to bed Barry and eat it there?” Caitlin suggested. “You need your rest too. There’s no danger around right now, so you should rest while you can.”

 

“Sounds like a plan.” Barry yawned to make his point. Truth be told, he felt like he was going to pass out any second now. He was so tired.

 

“Here, let me help you man.” Cisco put an arm around Barry. “We can’t have you falling down now. Not when you’re just starting to get back on your feet.”

 

The two went to the bedroom and Cisco came back out in the living room within a few minutes.

 

“He’s already out of it. Didn’t even finish his food.” he commented.

 

“That’s alright. As long as he ate something, he should be fine. He’s not running or using the speed force, so resting is priority right now.”

 

There was a silence between them for a moment, before Cisco spoke up on something was truly brothering him.

 

“I hate to be the one to say it,” Cisco said. “But this is an apocalyptic world. Food is going to be hard to come by.”

 

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.” Caitlin didn’t want to think about it.

 

“We are already at that bridge.” Cisco insisted. “Caitlin, you had to go through hell to get the little food we have. This might feed us, what, a day or two with Barry’s appetite?”

 

“Like I said, we will cross that bridge when we get there. We can ration.” Caitlin suggested. “As long as Barry doesn’t use his powers for anything, he won’t need to eat as much. We can do it that way. We have to! I don’t want to think about the alterative if we don’t.”

 

“What’s the alterative?” asked Cisco already know the answer but wanted Caitlin to say something different.

 

“Death.”

 

He fuckin knew it.

 

 0000000000000000

 

Barry slept through the rest of the day into the night and well into the next morning. Cait was forced to rest despite her protests but Cisco was insisted on it. His defense was he needed her to heal too. Once Barry and her were healed, they were going to go out into the world and try to hopefully find their friends and loved ones.

 

“Cisco, I’m fine!” was the first thing Barry heard when he woke up. He felt weak and tired but he was much better than the last time he woke up.

 

“And I’m telling that you need to rest more.”  Cisco sounded really serious.

 

Barry groaned as he pulled himself up from the bed. His body felt sore and strained. He was having a hard time getting his body to corporate with him. He eventually managed to get out of bed and walked slowly out of the bedroom. As he walked, he passed by a window and was shocked that it was still day light out. Either he barely slept, or he slept longer than he thought.

 

“And I’m tell you I’m fine.” Caitlin countered. “See I can walk. There’s no limp and I don’t have any pain.”

 

“That’s bull and we all know it.”

 

“Uh guys…” Barry interrupted awkwardly. “What’s going on?”

 

“What’s going on? What’s going on?!” Cisco tilted his head, eyes on the ground like he couldn’t even believe that he had to explain something like this. “Is that Caitlin thinks she’s alright but I can tell that’s she’s not alright! You’re still hurt.”

 

“Caitlin?” Barry turned his attention to the female of the group with concern but with a sense of calmness. “Are you okay?”

 

“Yes!” Caitlin expressed heavily. “I don’t know how many times I have to repeat myself. I’m fine. We should be worrying about you Barry, not me.”

 

“I’m healing.” Barry waved it off.

 

“Slowly.”

 

Barry waved that off too. He knows that. It didn’t matter because he was in fact healing.

 

“You still haven’t told me what happened, Caitlin.” Barry got serious. “What happened out there?”

 

Caitlin looked away not wanting to repeat her story.

 

“Cait…?” Barry hunched a little trying to catch Caitlin’s eyes. “I need to know what happened out there. Are you okay?”

 

“I’m fine really.” Caitlin insisted.

 

“You are not fine.” Cisco argued back before turning to Barry. “She had to go through hell out there. She had to bring down a zombie and she got attacked by a man on her way back. Nearly got her too, but another zombie stumbled upon them and ate the man attacking her. She was able to get away because of that.”

 

“Oh Caitlin…” Barry was horrified, and he knew that it was the short story and not the long one. “I’m so sorry.”

 

Caitlin teared up again at the reminder. “The zombie, he-he was just a little boy; a child.”

 

Barry didn’t know what else to do but pull her into an embrace. He rubbed her back and made shushing noises hoping it was a comfort to her. In his head, much like Cisco, he promised that she wouldn’t have to go through with that again. He would put that burden onto himself. She will never have to do something like that again. What he didn’t know was that he too, would be breaking that promise.

 

When she started to calm down after a few minutes Barry pulled away.

 

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Barry asked one more time.

 

“I’m fine. I’ll probably have some nightmares but really guys, I’m okay.”

 

Barry looked at Cisco, giving a look that the other did not like.

 

“No! She is not fine. Cait, you’re not fine.” Cisco insisted.

 

“Cisco…” Barry interrupted. They were going in circles at this point. “If Cait says she’s fine then she’s fine. We can’t stop her from leaving this house no matter how much we want to. The fact is, is that we have people out there that we need to find and we can’t stay here forever. I don’t like it either but we need to go.”

 

“Barry you know that she’s not fine. She’s hurt and she went through that attack!” Cisco tried to reason with them.

 

“I know, I know!” Barry waved his hands up and down trying to calm his friend down. “How about this? We trust Cait that she’s fine and the moment we see her start to falter we stop. Cisco, you know we can’t stay here. We have to go.”

 

Cisco lips thinned at the suggestion and put his hands on his head. He paced a little back and forth thinking about it. He didn’t like it plain and simple but Barry was also right. They couldn’t stay here. They needed to move on.

 

“I don’t like this.” Cisco pointed while still pacing.

 

“I know.” Barry answered.

 

“And what about you?” Cisco stopped and looked pointedly at the speedster. “Are you even up to leave?”

 

“I am.” Barry stated. “I’m mostly healed. I still have pink scar tissue in some areas and I still have open wounds in the deeper bites but I’m good, honest.”

 

“I hate this.” Cisco hunched over seemingly defeated. “I can’t believe that this is happening.”

 

“We know Cisco.” Caitlin tried to comfort. “But we’re in this together. We’ll make it.”

 

“Not all of us.” Cisco said morbidly but cursing his mouth. “Shit! I’m sorry Barry.”

 

Barry looked down and he honestly just wanted to do nothing but cry in a corner, but they had more pressing issues right now.

 

“I-I can’t think about this right now.” Barry looked up with his eyes, head still down.

 

“Barry…” Caitlin took a step closer hoping to help Barry with his pain, but Barry recoiled and gave himself some space.

 

“Don’t!” Barry snapped. “I know that they’re gone and they’re not coming back.”

 

“You know it’s not that simple.” Caitlin stated. “You haven’t properly mourned them Barry.”

 

“I’ll mourn them when we find Len and the others. I’ll mourn them when everyone is safe.” Barry denied any comfort from them and walked away.

 

“You think he’s going to be okay?” asked Caitlin. “I can’t imagine what he’s going through. I mean, they were our friends and it’s a huge loss, but they were his family. The pain must be unimaginable.”

 

“Honestly, I don’t know how’s his functioning right now. You know as well as I do that Barry is hurting and will continue to hurt. I can’t imagine losing my family and I don’t even talk to mine. I can’t even begin to think what Barry is feeling right now.”

 

“We should keep a close eye on him.”

 

“Very close.” Cisco agreed. “We can’t have him being reckless or start to shut down on us. We can’t let that happen to him. It could literally be his and our deaths. We need him with his head on straight.”

 

Caitlin nodded and the two prepared themselves to head out within the hour.

Chapter Text

“Ready to go?” asked Barry. He and his friends gathered what little they had and were just about ready to leave the house behind.

 

“Good to go.” Cisco gave a thumbs up. Caitlin smiled and nodded her head.

 

“Good.” Barry nodded back. “Just be careful out there guys. We still don’t know what’s really out there.”

 

Like Barry needed to tell them that. They all had witnessed it firsthand how bad the world was out there.

 

“Here we go.” Cisco said as all three left the house. Just like Caitlin was the first time out, they all tensed, expecting something to happen once they stepped one foot out of the house. When nothing immediate happened, they took it as a sign to go forward.

 

The first hour went by without of hitch.

 

“This isn’t so bad.” Cisco commented. It was almost like the world didn’t end and they were just taking a walking in the woods.

 

“Shhh!” Caitlin shushed him.

 

“Did you just shush me?” Cisco said in overdramatic shock. “You did not just shush me?!”

 

“Shush!” Caitlin repeated, half teasing and half serious. “You’ll jinx us!”

 

“You shushed me! I can’t believe-Barry!” Cisco whined like an eight-year-old.

 

Barry rolled his eyes and ignored his best friend.

 

“Oh, don’t get him involved! You’re on your own.” Caitlin countered.

 

“That’s not fair! Barry, Caitlin’s being mean to me!”

 

“Oh my god. Really Cisco?!” Barry whipped around to face his friend, at the same time keeping an eye out for anything dangerous in the area. “Now is not the time.”

 

“But…She…The shushing! Barry, come on man!” Cisco stuttered out.

 

Barry could only shake his head. Now was not the time to be doing this. Of course that didn’t stop a smile forming across his face at his friend’s antics. He truly loved Cisco with his quirks.

 

Cisco sighed in defeat, knowing he was completely outnumbered. “Fine…”

 

Then another went by. They only thing that they’ve come across were birds and squirrels.  

"I'm hungry." Cisco blurted out. “What do we have to eat?”

Caitlin looked over at him and rolled her eyes but stopped all the same. Removing her backpack, she held it in front of her and unzipped the larger pouch. She pulled out a can of sardines and offered it to Cisco.

“No. No way in hell I’m eating those!” Cisco exclaimed while backing away. “Those things are nasty! Barry can have them!”

“Hey.” Barry protested. “I don’t like them anymore than you do. I don’t want to eat them either!”

“Super speed bro! You can eat them so fast without even tasting them!”

“It totally doesn’t work like that and you know it!”

“Can’t I have something else? We should save them for last.” Cisco tried to get out of it.

Caitlin rolled her eyes. Children, she was friends with children.

 "It's not the greatest thing to eat but it's better than nothing. I told you we need to ration. This is rationing."

“Girl, I know we have better things to eat than this crap!”

“We do.” Caitlin relented. “But we need to save that when we’re really hungry, not like hungry for a snack.”

“You know what?” Cisco raised his hands in surrender. “Keep it. I’m not that hungry yet.”

Caitlin said nothing as she put the can back into the pack. She then pulled a water bottle out of her backpack.

“Here.” she offered. “It won’t fill you up, but it will take the edge off. Just be careful not to drink too much. We need to ration this too.”

Cisco nodded in thanks and took three sips before giving it back his friend.

“And what about you Barry?” asked Caitlin as she put the water back. “You’re probably hungry too.”

“No, no, I’m good.” Barry answered with a slight smile. In truth, he was starving. Like stomach was eating itself starving but he wasn’t going to tell them that.

“Are you sure?” Caitlin had a look in her eyes that told Barry she wasn’t buying his bullshit, but he didn’t falter.

“Yeah, I’m sure. We should save the food until we absolutely need it.” Barry countered thinking to himself that the food that they had wasn’t enough, not even close.

He could eat all of their food and still be starving. While Caitlin and Cisco were busy getting everything together and ready to go. Barry took a peek at their food supplies. Caitlin was not kidding when she said that they needed to ration. They had enough food and water for two days maybe three if Barry skipped his rations.

Barry tilted his head; an idea was forming. It was a bad one and one that would probably do more harm than good, but it was the only thing he could think of. If he didn’t eat as much, the food could last in theory, three to four days maybe even five if Barry was careful. He’d just had to put food back and not eat it.

It’ll be murder on his system, and it could possibly kill him, but Barry was determined to do it. He’s friends will live even if it meant him dying in the process.

Another hour goes by when it happened.

Barry was dizzy from dehydration, lack of food, and exhaustion. He knew that he should eat and drink something, but he was stubborn, and he didn’t want to take any of the food Caitlin was offering. He knew that his friends were worried about him not eating or drinking, and they had the right to be.

He only narrowly avoided falling over a few minutes ago nearly collapsing as the minutes tick by. There were spots dancing in front of his eyes, clouding his vision, bright and blurry and shining like stars. Barry knew he was in trouble. He had to eat something, anything, just so he could see and walk right. It would due his friends no good if he passed out now. They were in the woods with no protection and barely a weapon between them.

Fuck, his plan was not going as well as he thought it would.

“Caitlin?” Barry stopped walking and called out.

“Yes?” she answered back.

“Can I have some food and water?”

Caitlin smiled in relief glad that Barry was going to eat something. She knew what he was up to, but she hadn’t called him out on it yet. She was worried sure, but she knew that urging was only going to make things worse and make Barry use more energy than he had.

“Of course.” she handed him a box of crackers and a bottle of water.

Cisco kept his mouth shut about the unfairness that Barry got crackers and he got sardines. He too was worried about Barry and how he was doing. He held his breath when he saw Barry stumble and nearly fell flat on his face. Thank god Barry wised up and started to eat, or Cisco didn’t know what he was going to do.

Barry finished the crackers off fast and the water even faster. To be fair, there wasn’t much left to begin with since throughout their walk Cisco and Caitlin were sipping from it too. Barry was just giving the empty bottle back to Caitlin to save for later when one of the undead came upon them.

“Shit man!” Cisco backed up afraid. He was having some nasty flash backs from their first night on this earth. “Those things are horrible.”

“What should we do?” asked Caitlin. “It’s just the one. Do we kill it?”

“I say we go. It’s slow. We can out walk it.” Cisco voted.

“No.” Barry’s voice was firm. “We kill it. Hand me the knife.”

“But Barry…” Caitlin wasn’t so sure about this but handed the knife over all the same.

Barry stepped up in front as his faced his first zombie since the attack a few nights prior. He seemed to study the undead creature; it was disgust. It was a male, older, probably sixty or sixty-five with blood stained white hair and milky white eyes. Its clothes were once a Hawaiian shirt and white shorts but were now nothing but blood-stained garments.  Barry tensed. For the first time in his life, he absolutely, honest to god, hated something and felt red hot rage like no other.

These things were the reason why he was feeling like shit, lost and broken. They killed Iris and then Joe. Len, Lisa, and Mick were lost out there somewhere because they had to run away from these things. They were the reason why Barry hated life right now. They were the reason why his heart felt like a void; dark and twisted.

He looked this zombie in the eye and knew without a doubt that he was going to kill it and feel nothing. And he did. With a steady swing of his arm the knife came down with purpose and hit its mark steady and strong like its wielder.

It was when Barry was distracted with killing the thing he hated most right now was when another came up and grabbed Cisco. It was another older man wearing clothes identical to the firsts.

 “Oh my god! Let go! Let go! Help me! Caitlin, shoot it!” Cisco screamed as he fought the walker, but the old man’s grip held fast.

“Cisco!” Caitlin cried. “Oh my god! I can’t! The noise will draw more in!”

“Hang on Cisco!” Barry was on the ground having followed his recent kill attached to his knife. He pulled the blade, but it didn’t move, stuck in the zombie’s head.

“Cisco move out of the way!” Caitlin shouted as she raised her bat, but the pair were heavily struggling, and Caitlin was too afraid to swing in fear she was going to hit Cisco instead of the zombie.

The zombie’s jaws snapped at Cisco, nearly catching the guy’s chin. Cisco’s eyes widened in fear. He didn’t want to die. Using one of his hands he tried to access his powered to blast the zombie away but got nothing but air.

“Hurry up! I can’t blast him!” Cisco pleaded as his own shoulders shook with the strain of keeping zombie out of his personal space.

Only a few seconds went by as Barry ripped the knife out of the other zombies’ head, but it felt like hours to Cisco.

“Dammit! Anytime now!” he yelled. He couldn’t keep this up.

Barry, in his rush, thrust the knife into the shoulder instead of the head. There was no scream of pain; there was no flinch or even a grimace of notice of having a sharp weapon implied into one’s flesh. The undead kept going, proving to them further that these things were not alive.

Cisco was covered in black reddish blood now and boy did that gross the hell out of him.

“The head Barry! The head!” Cisco urged as he felt himself losing the battle of strength with the zombie.

With a shout Barry tried again and this time succeeding. The zombie stopped instantly and fell to the floor. Cisco sagged in relief. Thank god! He saw his life flash before his eyes!

This time Barry kept his knife in his hands, and he was panting heavily. He looked at his best friend. He heart was still pounding in his rib cage. He thought he almost lost him too.

“Are you okay?” Barry asked as he crowed his friend. “Did it hurt you? Bite you? Anything?”

“I’m good. I’m good.” Cisco was panting trying to calm his frantic heart. “Oh, gracias a Dios! ¡Estoy vivo!” Oh, thank god! I’m alive!

“Oh Cisco!” Caitlin ran up and wrapped her arms around him. She had been so scared that he was going to die and could do nothing but watch the scene in front of her.

Barry joined in too. He had almost lost his best friend. That was too close of a call. He wasn’t going to let that happen again. Not while he was around. They hugged it out for a few minutes just basking in the fact that everyone was alive and okay.

Looking up at the trees, Barry noticed how low the sun was getting. He knew that they had to find a place before night fell.

"Cisco? Caitlin?"

"Yeah?" the both asked still hugging and didn’t seem like they were going to let go anytime soon.

"It's going be dark soon. It’s not safe. We're going need to find some place to sleep for the night," he said. "We'll start out again first thing in the morning."

"Where should we go?" Caitlin asked.

“Yeah. We’re kinda in the middle of the woods.” Cisco kindly pointed that out.

Barry shrugged, looking through the trees.

"The woods got to come to an end somewhere. Maybe we can find a house or a barn to sleep in. There’s still hours left for us to find a place, but we should find one sooner rather than later. We can’t be out here when night hits." Barry commented and the others completely agreed.

They both nodded and let each other go. They had a place to find. Their very lives. depended on it.

They walked on for another hour before something else came upon them. Not undeads, but the living; humans.

“I was thinking about building a specialized weapon. You know, for the zombies. If I could get my hands on some supplies, wiring, and chemicals, I could probably get it done even with limited technology here.” Cisco had been talking for a while about anything and everything. Most recent thing was building something to kill the zombies without wasting bullets or getting really close to knife them.

He spoke in low tones so Barry could hear most of the sounds around him, but Barry really wished his best friends would shut up. He loved Cisco, he did but the man had a mouth on him that would get on anyone’s nerve in the apocalypse.

Cisco was just getting into the design specs when Barry heard something off with his surroundings. It made him stop suddenly causing the other two to stop as well and Cisco fell silent.

“Barry…” Caitlin called out in a harsh whisper. Fear was evident in her eyes as she scanned the woods around them.

“Shush…” Barry made another hush sound as he held up his right hand. “Something’s wrong.”

And there was something indeed wrong. The birds that were chirping earlier were gone and the woods were quiet, not even an animal scurrying around.

“Maybe we should-” Cisco stepped up and began to suggest but he never got his idea out when a gun shot fired hitting the ground inches from his front foot. “Holy shit!”

Barry tensed and he felt the lightning spark behind his eyes. He was weak and his was tired, but he wasn’t about to let someone kill his friends.

The woods started to make noise then. Leaves and sticks crunching under weighted feet. The sounds were coming towards them and fast. Barry braced his legs ready to run or defend if he needed to. Caitlin held her bat securely at the ready. Since whoever was coming towards them had guns, she doubt a bat would be much use, but it made her feel better to have it ready than not.

Bodies of people came out of the woods, several wearing black army gear, but they were no army. The armor had graffiti paint on it, each person had a different style and color; blue, purple, green.

There were seven total; five men and two women. And that was only people they could see. Who knew if they had others waiting out of sight ready to ambush should they need to help their comrades. Barry looked side by side. They were surrounded in a circle; each with an automatic gun.

“Hi,” Barry started first, eyes never leaving one person for too long. He was ready for anything. The speed force already humming under his skin. “Can we help you?”

Several of the members chuckled like he had said a funny joke. Maybe he did. Who asks the armed enemy if they could help them? It was probably a first for them. They were probably used to scaring the shit out of people, but Barry wasn’t scared. He had faced worse than them and lived.

00000000000000000

 

Len and Lisa were able to find a small house not far off abandoned. Lisa made quick work in securing the house before Len could stop her. He was carrying Mick on his back and let me tell you, that man was not light in any sense of the word. Len’s back was killing him, and he wanted nothing more than to drop his friend and walk away, never to look back.

 

Deep down in his hear though, Len knew that he couldn’t do it or at least not go through with it. He can fairly easily see himself throwing Mick to the ground and leaving him there, but he would come back. In this new world, he would never leave the people he cared about to the hands of the undead.

 

Len was still cursing Mick for pulling him away from Barry and the others. It’s weighed heavily on his heart that he could save them. There was no proof that they were dead. There was still hope that they had gotten out too, but it was slim.

 

Now, they were all sitting in the living room of two-bedroom house, but no one was going to sleep alone tonight. Len threw Mick on the couch, who grunt and was just now starting to wake the fuck up. Then, with Lisa’s help gathered the two beds and pushed them into the living room next to the couch were Mick was gathering his barrings.

 

“You decked me.” Mick accused.

 

“I did.” Len admitted with no fear or care to Mick.

 

“I’m going to get you back for that.” Mick promised and Len didn’t give two shits.

 

“See that you do.” Len was too busy worrying about their missing members than a possible future beat down from Mick.

 

He has proven over and over again, he could take Mick on, so he wasn’t afraid of the promise of pain. He was already in pain. What he needed to do was think of a way to get to Barry before it was too late.

 

“Everything’s quiet.” Lisa announced from her station at the window. “I don’t see any of those undead creatures.”

 

“Zombies.” Mick grunt in disbelief. “Who would’ve thought?”

 

“Mick,” Len called to gain his partner in crime’s attention. “Lisa and I have decided to go back in the morning. You can come with us or not, but we’re going.”

 

“You know I plan to go back there too.” Mick said. “I only stopped you then because it was suicide. Now, even if it’s too late, it’ll be safer with the herd hopefully gone.”

 

“We won’t be too late.” Len insisted firmly. There was no other option about it. “We are going to find them and then we’re getting the hell out of this world.”

 

No one had the heart to tell him that the possibility of it being too late was very real and unfortunately, was the more likely scenario.

 

“We should take watch in shifts.” Lisa suggested. “I can go first. You two rest.”

 

“I’ll take last shift, if you don’t mind.” Len said. “I want to be gone as soon as day breaks.”

 

“Fine by me.” Mick agreed. It was settled and they all hunkered down of the night. Mick was the only person to truly get to sleep out of the three of them. 

 

Len was a wreck and he knew it. His once calm collect thoughts were sporadic and scattered. He couldn’t form a solid plan in his head to help Barry and their other friends. All he could think about was Barry getting bitten and all the blood he was losing. God, what if the others were right? Len clenched his eyes to stop the tears. He reached a hand to a secret necklace that few knew about it. He could only wear it on certain occasions, but it was always with him, no matter where he went.

 

He was able to wear it around his neck this time. He was with people who knew about him and Barry and they knew he had the necklace. It was a gift from his lover on their sixth month celebration. It seemed like a lifetime ago.

 

He pulled it out and started to rub it to comfort himself. It was a snowflake with lightning bolts engraved in the design. It was custom made and cost Barry a pretty penny that made Len mad at the time. They have only been dating for six months; Len did not deserve something this expensive, this beautiful. But Barry insisted and told him that even though they’ve only started dating officially for six months, they had known each other a lot longer that.

 

That Len deserved it.

 

Len didn’t deserve shit, but he accepted the gift especially when Barry started to pout. He had no choice but to accept and embrace the happiness it made Barry when he wore it.

 

“I’ll get you back Barry.” Len promised into the night. “I swear it.”

 

Lisa had first watch and even after waking Mick for second, she had a hard time falling asleep, too worried about Cisco. She felt like a failure. She couldn’t protect him. She still had charge in her gun but chose to save herself, her brother and friend. She just prayed that Cisco could forgive her.

 

She didn’t have really anything to remember him by except for the gold gun. She stroked the gun lovingly. He had made it specially for her and only for her. Lisa frowned as she thought about how nothing was happening between them. Sure, they flirted and sent lovey eyes at each other but neither made a move to make it official. Cisco was too scared of her brother to make a move and to be honest she had too much fun with flirting and gaining different reactions from him.

 

As Lisa finally let sleep take hold after her shift was over, she vowed that if she found Cisco again, she was done playing circles around him. The moment she saw him, she was going to kiss him so hard on the lips that the guy will have short circuit. She gave a silent giggle at the thought.

 

 Mick sighed as he settled on his shift. He had slept well, and it troubled him. He was hard man with an even harder past. He had learned over time that things happened and there was nothing you could do about it except move one. He cared little about anything except for a few things, like fire, Len and his sister, and just recently, one Caitlin Snow. He rubbed his hands as he thought of her.

 

She had gone through a lot as well. She had gone through a marriage with her husband’s death, not once but twice, and then all that horseshit with Zoom. He knew that she wasn’t looking for anything from anyone. She had been hit one too many times, so Mick kept his distance.

 

He pulled out a purple scarf from his jacket. He never pulled it out while he was with other people. It was Caitlin’s and it helped calm him down when things became too much. He remembered how he got this in the first place. The Rogues and Team Flash had just formed their alliance; their relations new and vulnerable. No one really trusted the other and no one was ready to make the first move.

 

They had been on a job when it happened. Mick didn’t see it coming. No one had expected to be attacked. He got hit hard and he was down and out. He had gash on his head, a cut on his arm, and crater size hole on his side. Caitlin was there and came to his aid. She was wearing this scarf and used it as a bandage to help stop the bleeding.

 

In the end, the job got done and Mick lived to see another day. The scarf though was a lost cause. All the blood had soaked through it and there was no way it could be restored again. Mick didn’t care and since Caitlin wasn’t expecting it back, he washed it up as best as he could and kept it to himself.

 

He only ever really pulled it out when he needed to. He didn’t want anyone knowing about it. It reminded him of her and her kindness that day. It was probably the first day that he saw her for who she really was and the beginning of what he felt for her now.

 

He cared deeply for her, more than he could ever admit. It hurt him to know that she was likely dead right now. It killed him that he had already accepted it and he was already in the process of moving on.   

 

00000000000000000000

 

Morning came but Len felt like it wasn’t soon enough. There was nothing to gather, they had no supplies, and only Lisa’s gun had any charge left. Without electricity, Len’s Cold gun was useless, and they didn’t have the necessary supplies to refuel Mick’s Heat gun. Pretty soon, they weren’t going to have Lisa’s either.

 

They needed weapons, food, and water. And despite the urgency for these things, Len was insisted that they were unimportant. Barry and the other came first, anything else could be along the way or after. Len would use his fists and the hilt of his gun before making a detour to Barry.

 

They walked back from where they came. It was slow going for it was dark last night and things tend to be different looking at night. They had to track their footsteps on the ground and more than once, they got lost before picking up the trail again.

 

Soon, they were back to the clearing. Len felt hope blooming in his chest when he saw the dead bodies littering the ground. Some were intact but others were ripped to pieces. Len hurried other to the last spot he remembered seeing Barry at and found nothing.

 

“No…” Len franticly looked around. “They’re not here.”

 

“Told you.” Mick grunted.

 

“Of course not.” Lisa said. “They probably were able to get away and tried to find a safe place to lay low like us.”

 

Len sighed. He was hoping that Barry would be here. He didn’t know why but he could just imagine Barry popping out with that stupid smile on his face greeting him like everything was right with the world. It was disappointing that he wasn’t here, but it also meant that he was alive, somewhere. He just had to find him now.

 

“They couldn’t have gone far.” Len theorized. “We need to search the area.”

 

“Not just to look for them.” Mick countered. “We need better weapons, and I don’t know about you but I’m starving.”

 

“Mick’s right.” Lisa agreed. “We can look for Barry, Cisco, and Caitlin but we also have to look for supplies. We can’t be walking around here with our thumbs up our asses. We should also look to see if we can find our bags.”

 

Len scoffed. He didn’t like that plan at all even though logically it was sound.

 

“Think of it this way big bro.” Lisa tried to convince him. “Look at all of these dead bastards. We didn’t do this. So, it was either Cisco or Barry that did. It means that they’re still alive and fighting.”

 

“Fine.” Len huffed out. “We look for supplies as well as Barry.”

 

“And Cisco.” Lisa peeped in.

 

“And Caitlin.” Mick also said.

 

“Right.” Len couldn’t give two shits about the other two.

 

Sure, he’d protect them and look out for them, but it was only because of Barry. Barry was really the one he cared about. He didn’t care if the other two left and never came back, but it would make the other three most important people in his life miserable. So, he guessed it was better to have them around.

 

With the decision made all three separated to look for their bags but made sure they didn’t stray too far from each other. They had no way of knowing what was going to come next.

 

“Damnit, I can’t find it.” Lisa expressed her dismay.

 

“Well, I found mine.” Mick announced almost smugly.

 

Lisa scoffed and crossed her arms. She rubbed her bare skin hating herself for taking off her jacket. She couldn’t find her bag anywhere in this mess. Too many limbs and body parts were covering the ground and she didn’t want to touch them in the slightest. Just looking at the remains made her want to vomit.

 

“How about you, bro?” she asked Len.

 

Len was staring at the ground, shoulders tense. He didn’t bother looking for his bag. He didn’t care at all for it, but he looked anyway just to see if he could easily find it. His scan of the area revealed nothing. Len shrugged his shoulders. It only had clothes anyhow.

 

No, what bothered him right not, wasn’t the bag, but the body in front of him.

 

“Are you okay Len?” Lisa asked as she walked over to him. “What are you staring at?”

 

Lisa didn’t wait for Len to answer before she looked for herself. She gasped and looked down feeling despair.

 

“Oh Iris…” Lisa whispered as she looked their fallen friend and Barry’s foster sister. “You didn’t deserve this.”

 

Len stepped forward and picked Iris up much like how he did with Barry just yesterday and started to walk away.

 

“Where are you going Len?” Lisa asked confused.

 

“To bury her.” he simply said.

 

Lisa nodded with tears in her eyes.

 

“Do you need help?” Mick asked fully ready to help out in this.

 

“No.” Len’s eyes were cold and harden.

 

Mick stepped back and let Len do his thing.

 

Len carried Iris out of the death pit the clearing had become. She was light, lighter than Barry. Len’s mind was flashing back to last night, reflecting on what he could’ve done differently, to prevent all this death and to keep the separation from happening.

 

He picked a nice beautiful spot that he knew Barry would approve of. It was away from all that death and destruction. No, this place was peaceful, and it had purple wildflowers growing everywhere. He sat her down gently and started to dig.

 

Len ignored the feeling of dirt going under his fingernails and didn’t even flinch when he hit the rocks buried there naturally. He just kept going not feeling anything. Len was there for a while, digging and not letting anyone help him. He didn’t know why but he felt like this needed to be done by him alone.

 

Lisa and Mick kept guard as they watched Len slowly kill himself in the heat to dig a big enough hole to rest Iris’s body in.

 

“We should help him.” Lisa commented.

 

“He doesn’t want our help.” Mick replied. “Let him do this. We can’t stop him, and it’ll only delay his progress if we try to help him. Leave him be.”

 

“I still think we should. The heat must be getting to him. He’s wearing a turtleneck for god’s sake.”

 

“If he collapses then we help him.”

 

Lisa huffed feeling like no one was listening to her. Len was slowly killing himself and it was taking too long to get this done. Len was all for running headfirst into the woods to find Barry and the others but now he was wasting time in doing this himself. However, she listened to Mick and let her brother be.

 

After hours of digging, Len felt like the hole was big enough for Iris to be put to rest. He hopped out of the manmade hole and grabbed her. He laid her inside and folded her arms over her chest like in a real funeral. Len picked some wildflowers and place them in her hands and around her body making her look more at peace than before. He got out and stared down at her when he heard footsteps coming his way.

 

“Barry would have wanted that for her.” Lisa quietly said. “Thank you for doing this. She deserves a proper burial.”

 

“She deserves more.” Len replied. “She was Barry’s sister. She should have more than this. Be in a real church with her family and friends, with Barry. Not like this. Not with just us three here.”

 

Lisa slipped her hand into his, trying to give him comfort.

 

“You’re right. She deserves more but this is the best we can do. Barry would be happy you did this regardless. When we find them, you can tell him you did this and maybe we can come back here. Let Barry visit her and make his peace.”

 

“I will.” Len looked over to her. “Thank you.”

 

“No problem.” she smiled before it faltered, and she bit her lip. “You didn’t happen to see Joe did you.”

 

Len shook his head, sadness clouding his eyes. “He was gone. I didn’t see him anywhere.”

 

“Oh…” Lisa’s hand tightened in his own. “We should say a prayer for them.”

 

Len nodded before bowing his head as did Lisa.

 

“O God, by whose mercy the faithful departed find rest, send your holy Angel to watch over this grave and the grave we cannot give. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

“Amen.” Lisa repeated as she raised her head. “That was beautiful Len. I didn’t know you knew that. I assumed we’d just say a few words of love.”

 

“I may not care about god and his faith, but this isn’t about me. I know from Barry that his family cares about their religion. He told me that prayer when he talked about his mother’s funeral. I guess it just stuck to me.”

 

Lisa gave a sad smile and was thankful when Len let her help finish burying Iris.

 

000000000000000

 

In the end, they didn’t find the others. For two days they tracked their missing members, but it seemed that they were always a step behind them. They felt like they came close multiple times especially in the first house they came across. It was their strongest lead and it was what kept them going for the days to come.

 

The house showed signs of people living in it recently. The bed was used, and blood stands on it and they found multiple food wrappers discarded. The item that sold the deal was Caitlin’s dress she wore the day coming here, not realizing she was going to get sucked into the portal as well. She must of changed into more suitable clothing and left the dress behind.

 

“Damnit!” Len roared as he flipped the living room table and sat heavily on the couch. “They were here! They were here and we missed them! Damnit!”

 

“Hey, hey Len!” Lisa went over to her brother. “It’s okay. It’s going to be okay. At least we know that they are indeed alive. We know now. They are alive, all three of them. It’s a good lead. They can’t be more than a day or two out. We can still catch up with them.”

 

“She right.” Mick agreed. “We still need those supplies though. We should consider looking for them next know that we know they’re alive. We can’t keep chasing them around without some sort of protection.”

 

Len looked like he was going to argue on that.

 

“Don’t be stupid.” Mick interrupted. “You know as well as I do that, we won’t survive out here on Lisa’s gun alone. Hell, we don’t even know how long that’s going to last. She’s maybe got one-two more hits and it’s done. We need more, knives, guns; hell, some explosives would be better than nothing!”

 

“You’re right.” Len gave in. He’s eyes going back and forth formulating a plan in his head. “We need that stuff. There should be more houses a long this road. It looks like it can lead to a neighborhood. We check that out and leave.”

 

Mick grunt silently thanking whoever was listening that Len was finally thinking with his brain again and not his dick. Lisa smiled as her brother got him. He was finally thinking clearly again. He wasted no time in leaving the house. He assumed there was nothing worth taking in the house anymore knowing that Caitlin was there. She would have searched the house thoroughly and taken anything that would help.

 

“Thank you.” Lisa said after Mick left.

 

“For what?” Len’s brow scrunched in confusion.

 

“For coming back.” Lisa answered. “I thought I was going to lose you there. You weren’t thinking straight at all. It’s not like you. You always have a plan. You worry me when you don’t.”

 

Len sighed know that she was right. He wasn’t himself. It’s been a long time since Barry was in trouble like this and it had shaken Len to the core. He wasn’t used to Barry being down like that and not able to help. He felt useless and powerless; he wasn’t in control and he hated it! It made him short sighted and he hated that too. He was a man with a plan, always, period. It was truly unlike him not to have one.

 

Lisa had a right to be concerned.

 

“I know.” Len admitted. “I’m…sorry I worried you.”

 

Lisa smiled. Len didn’t apologize often if ever. It was nice when he did.

 

“It’s okay. I know how you feel. I care about Cisco, but I also know they we can’t help them if we’re dead. We need food. We haven’t eaten last night and it’s not mid-day. We’re going to get hungry soon and if we don’t find food, we’re just going to get weaker and then we can’t help the others.”

 

“I know.” Len sighed and just gave up. He was going to find Barry but for right now, unfortunately, it wasn’t a priority. Barry and the others were alive and that was enough for now. “Let’s get going. The faster we find supplies, the faster we get back to looking.”

 

“Okay big bro.” Lisa headed out with Len trailing behind her.

 

“Wait for me Barry.” Len whispered to the wind as he scanned the tree line for any signs of life. “I’m coming for you.”

Chapter Text

It’s been four days since they’ve arrived in this new world and Len was no closer to finding Barry. He was frustrated, annoyed and above all worried. They had supplies now and were not in danger of starving to death any time soon. They also were able to obtain weapons; Len had two handguns and three knifes, Lisa also had two hand guns but one knife, and Mick had the most weapons of all with three hand guns, one shot gun, three knifes and a hand grenade they picked off of a fallen solider.

 

They have learned a few things about this new world as well. They haven’t met any living people yet, but they’ve seen the undead. They started to notice things the more and more they encountered them. Most of the zombies had bites or scratches on them. However, they have been a few they were not bit or scratched but had obvious signs of dying from something else. They could only come to the conclusion that if you die, you turn, and if you’re bit, you’re dead.

 

They were one the move with no real destination in mind when a call for help rang in the air.

 

“Help us! Some one! Help us! Oh god!” a woman’s voice broke the silence.

 

They all stopped and looked at one another.

 

“We should help.” suggested Lisa.

 

“We should go the other way. It’s obviously dangerous in that direction.” Mick pointed out.

 

Len did a quick debate in his head. Logically, Mick was right. They had no business helping others. The goal is find Barry and their friends and get the hell out of this world. But then, Len thinks of Barry and he knew that Barry would help anyone calling for assistances. He didn’t want to disappoint Barry in not helping this person. He can already see the look in Barry’s eyes and it physically pained Len to have it directed at him.

 

“We scope it out. If we can help, then we’ll help.” Len finally said making Lisa smile and Mick huffing in annoyance.

 

“This is ridiculous.” Mick muttered shaking his head. This was such a waste of time.

 

They went in the directions the cries of help were coming from to see a woman and a young boy surrounded by the undead. They were the first alive people they have come across since landing in this mess. Both were filthy and frightened as the woman tried to fight the zombies off with what looked like a pocket knife. She was failing. Sooner or later one was going to get through and get them.

 

Len took action immediately at seeing the situation. He used one of his knives to quickly and quietly pick them off. They had learned early on that using guns only drawled them in faster. Seeing Len take action, Lisa and Mick were not far behind. Lisa wanted to protect her brother from harm and Mick was reluctant but wasn’t one to miss a fight.

 

Together, all three killed the undead with the strange woman killing the last one with her pocket knife. With the last one dead they could breathe a sigh of relief. All of them were panting and coming down from the adrenaline rush.

 

The woman turned her attention to them. She had dirty blonde hair with brown eyes. She was medium height and was average weight. Her face was pale and she looked really tired.

 

“Thank you.” the woman breathlessly said. “For helping us. I was sure we were goners.”

 

“It’s no problem.” Len smirked putting on his charm. “Glad to help.”

 

“My name’s Gina.” she offered. “And this is Nick.”

 

Said boy was hiding behind his mom some but gave a friendly wave with the introduction of his name. He looked a little like Barry, Len noted with a painful ping to his heart. Nick was tall and lanky with brown hair and hazel eyes. He had freckles along his cheeks and nose and full plush lips. He still had baby fat around his face but he had high cheek bones from what Len could see. If the kid ever makes it to adult hood, he’d be a looker for sure.

 

“Can we go now?” Mick asked impatiently with crossed arms.

 

“Mick!” Lisa hissed. “Don’t be rude.”

 

“No worries.” she waved them off. “You have somewhere to be. We do too.”

 

“Where are you heading?” asked Len more out of curiosity than actual caring.

 

Gina shrugged her shoulders.

 

“South.” she simply said. “I’m looking for my husband.”

 

She ruffled around a bit and pulled out a picture from her front pocket.

 

“Have you seen him?” she asked. “He’s name is Brian.”

 

Len looked at the picture with Lisa looking over his shoulder. It was a family photo. He could see were the boy got his main look. Brian had brown hair and hazel eyes; he was tall but not lanky like the boy. But Len just assume it was due to age more than anything. The guy had muscle and was not fat in any sense of the word. A soldier came to mind as Len continued to look at the picture. He looked like he was in the army or something the way he was holding himself.

 

“I’m sorry.” Len gave back the picture. “We haven’t seen him.”

 

“Oh…” Gina looked saddened and disappointed. “Thank you anyway.”

 

“But you might be able to help us.” Lisa stated. “We’re looking for people too; three of them; one girl and two guys. Have you’ve seen a group like that?”

 

“I’m sorry we haven’t.” Gina shook her head as she gave them a look of understanding. “It seems we both need to keep going. Good luck in finding your people.”

 

“You too.” Len stated. “Good luck finding your husband.”

 

“Thank you.” Gina gave them a small smile, both parties fully knowing that at this point it was like finding a needle in a hay stack.

 

With an awkward goodbye, the two groups parted ways and went in different directions.

 

“I hope that woman finds her husband.” Lisa commented on.

 

Mick grunted not caring at all. Len just nodded. He couldn’t care about a strangers’ problem. He still had to find Barry. That was he’s only concern.

 

“Let’s just keep moving.” Len stated keeping his eyes forward and his ears open.

 

Lisa nodded knowing not to push.

 

They walked on for the rest of the day. There was no sign of Barry or the others. Len was beside himself but kept remaining himself that Barry was tough and had superpowers for gods’ sake! He was alive somewhere and Len was going to find him. He just had to keep his doubts in the back of his mind until he does.

 

Lisa sighed as she watched the world around her. She was keeping her eyes and ears open for any sudden movement indicating another undead creature. Of course, within minutes her mind was drifting. She thought about Cisco and how she missed him so much.

 

She remembered all of his reactions to her games and he’s little quirks when he was ‘geeking out’. It brought a smile to her face just thinking about him. A stray tear slid down her left cheek without warning. She quickly swiped it away not wanting the others to see. She wasn’t going to give up of him. He was with Barry and if anyone had a chance at surviving this, it was Barry. He could heal from anything and he had super speed.

 

Lisa knew that Cisco was in good hands.

 

Mick was growing angry. Not the frustrated angry like Len but just down right angry. He hadn’t been able to set fire to anything in days and the itch to do so was growing every passing minute. If he didn’t do something soon, he was going to go crazy. Granted, being trained to be Chronos helped his obsession immensely. However, this situation was highly stressful and he was falling back into old habits.

 

Caitlin would be so disappointed in him right now. It almost made him cringe just thinking about it. Not that she’d know how he felt about the disappointing stare. He was invisible to her in almost every way. But he could still see it and he almost feels guilty for wanting to leave the woman and her kid behind.

 

“Let’s stop here.” Len announce unknowingly bring back both members of his group. “There’s no point in continuing. The sun’s almost gone.”

 

Lisa glanced to the sky realizing that he was right. The sun was setting and they maybe had an hours worth of day light.

 

“And where would you like to go?” asked Mick as he looked around. “There’s nothing here. We’re not sleeping out in the open.”

 

“There isn’t anything around for miles. And we are, just not on the ground.” Len answered.

 

“What do you mean?” asked Lisa confused.

 

“We’re going to be sleeping in the trees.” Len smirked cruelly.

 

“That’s just wrong. I can’t sleep in a tree!” Lisa screeched. “I’ll never be able to fall asleep without falling to my death!”

 

“That’s why we have rope.” Len pulled several yards of thick mountain climbing rope from his pack.

 

Mick didn’t say a word as he fully agreed with him.

 

“This is horrible!” Lisa continued but sighed when both males ignored her.

 

They all had a quick cold meal for dinner and went about sleeping in the trees. Len paid Lisa no mind as she started to yell and complain all the way up to the point where he got her in a stable tree and tied her in.

 

“I fucking hate this idea.” Lisa death glared at her own brother, who didn’t take it to heart.

 

“I know. You’ve expressed your dislike ever since I told you the idea. And quite frankly, I don’t care.” Len calmly said making Lisa pout and turn away.

 

“I’m not talking to you right now.” Lisa stated with her arms cross.

 

“Fine by me.” Len was all too happy to say.

 

Maybe finally he can stop hearing her whinny voice now. He got down and found a sturdy tree of his own and tied himself in. It was going to be a long night but at least they were high enough that the undead can’t get them. Only live people who had the sense to look up would see them and it was enough for now.

 

Day break came all too slowly for all three people. Barely any of them slept but they lived to see another day and that was sufficient for them to not complain too much. They untied themselves and came down to have an equally cold breakfast of protein bars and can beans.

 

“This is disgusting.” Lisa winced at the taste of cold unseasoned baked beans.

 

“Just eat it.” Len snapped at her not wanting Lisa to start complaining all over again.

 

Mick just watched the two. Lisa was moodier than usual and Len had a chip on his shoulder since day one. It was going to be a hell of a long day.

 

It was time to move on. They lugged their packs on and started to walk again.

 

It was about mid day when it happened. The walking was slow going but it was uneventful up to this point.

 

“Uh guys…?” Lisa stopped and had an odd expression on her face.

 

Both Len and Mick stopped at the look on her face. It was cross mix of humiliation, anger, and shame.

 

“What is it?” Len barked losing his cool early on. If Lisa stopped them to complain again, he didn’t know what he was going to do with her.

 

“You wouldn’t have, well uh…” Lisa looked away ashamed.

 

“Lisa if you don’t spit it out, I’m gonna-” Len started but Lisa spoke over him.

 

“I got my period!” she blurted it out and her face turned red like a tomatoes.

 

“Haha!” Mick gave a laugh embarrassing Lisa more. Well, that explained why he felt Lisa was moodier than usual. Typical.

 

“Okaaay…” Len drawled out with a sigh. This was unexpected and defiantly wasn’t welcomed. “Are you sure?”

 

“Are you kidding me?! Of course I’m sure!” she yelled. “I can feel it!”

 

Len winced and raised his hand. Fuck no, he was not hearing this. This was his baby sister and he was not going to hear about her bleeding time.

 

“We need to hit a store.” Lisa said urgently. “I can’t go on like this. I’m not going to bleed into my clothes either. They’re all I got!”

 

Len nodded frustrated. Not really at Lisa but just the situation in general. They had to stop looking for Barry again and they had to find something for Lisa. She was right; they couldn’t just let her bleed everywhere. Who knows what could smell it and it would be horrible to see that blood going down her pant legs. They needed to find something quick.

 

Unfortunately, it took hours for them to find a store they could hit. By that time, Lisa had already bled through her underwear and was slowly working on her jeans. Despite complaining earlier, Lisa was not going to draw attention to herself this time. It was horrifying that this was happening to her. She felt humiliated and ashamed though she had no reason to be. It was just how Mother Nature was.

 

Why were guys so lucky not to have this? Was all Lisa could think about as she trailed behind her brother and friend. She wanted to stay slightly behind because she didn’t want them to see the blood stains. It was bad enough she could feel them, she didn’t want them to see her blood stained clothes.

 

They had to take down a few undeads before they were able to get into the store but once in, they didn’t see anymore threats. The store, thankfully, had clothes too. It was like a mini walmart; they had a little bit of everything.

 

Lisa was quick in getting what she needed and more. This was their chance to restock on supplies and to get a change of clothes. Lisa was all for that. They haven’t been able to get a shower since getting here and washing your face and hands didn’t count! While the boys got food and water, Lisa was getting clothes. She had just finished trying her new clothes on, when she heard a noise. She froze thinking that they had missed someone and they were just now coming out.

 

She waited and tried to listen as best as she could. There! She could hear it again. But it wasn’t where she thought it was. She thought it was a person outside of the fitting room she was in but it wasn’t. Lisa leaned her head closer to the walk of the fitting room and closed her eyes.

 

Scratch!

 

Lisa’s eyes popped open and jerked back. Someone or something was scratching at the wall on the other side of the fitting room! Silently, she grabbed her stuff trying not to make a single sound. If it was the undead, then she might be able to go undetected. If it was a person then she might get the drop on them.

 

Now dressed and ready, she ventured out and followed the wall to see if she could find a door of some kind. After a thorough search, there was nothing so Lisa doubled back and went the other way. Her odd behavior didn’t go unnoticed. Len and Mick stopped what they were doing and focused on the female member of their group.

 

 

“Lisa.” Len called out.

 

“Shhh!” Lisa jerked her finger at them as she followed the opposite wall.

 

“Something’s up.” Mick commented.

 

Len was concerned now and fingered his knife of choice. He went over to her and Mick followed him with a knife already out just waiting to strike something.

 

“What’s wrong?” Len whispered as he walked up to her.

 

“I hear something.” Lisa answered.

 

“It could be anything.” Len noted. “What is it?”

 

“Don’t know. Scratching noises.” Lisa was more concentrated on finding the source than answering her brother.

 

“We have what we need.” Mick said. “We can just go. No need to find out what it is.”

 

“I want to know.” she said with a look towards him.

 

“It could be trouble.” Mick warned.

 

“Or it could be someone who needs help.” Lisa countered but all three knew that it was highly unlikely.

 

Mick let her have her way but he was ready for the shit to go down. Then, he’ll rub it in her face that he told her so.

 

Lisa was successful this time around and found a door that said ‘employees only’. Lisa didn’t hesitate to open the door. She pulled out her knife and Len followed suit as she went deeper into the room. There were stacks of papers and random things littering the area but the source of the noise was in the back corner trying to claw his way out leaving blood stains on the wall.

 

“Shit…” Lisa stared at the zombie.

 

She could feel her heart beat increase but this time it wasn’t the usually adrenaline/fear mixture when seeing another zombie. No, this was different. This feeling she was having was because not only was the zombie a young boy but it was a very familiar young boy by the name of Nick.

 

“Damnit.” Len cursed at seeing the undead creature, causing said being to turn around at hearing them. Len’s breath hitched and his eyes widened.

 

Nick, a boy who greatly resembled Barry, was facing them. His skin was pale now, no longer the soft healthy pink. His eyes, which were once hazel, were now a sickly green/yellow. His face was covered in blood from a head wound that was enough to kill the boy but not enough to keep him from changing.

 

It was a horrible sight and Len could see nothing but his Barry in Nick. This was a foreshadowing moment if Len ever saw one. It was like fate was giving him a glance into his future and it was ugly. Len didn’t want it. He would rather die than to see Barry like this.

 

“We should put him down…” Lisa whispered but she felt drained. Like all of her energy was gone just by looking at the child zombie.

 

The creature came at them growling and snapping his jaws. He was coming for Len and Len didn’t move a muscle to defend himself. Mick glanced at the siblings to the zombie. Neither sibling made a move to put him down so Mick step forward like a shield. With a quick and powerful thrust he put the boy down for good.

 

As the body fell to the ground, Mick felt an ounce of sympathy for the boy. Someone so young shouldn’t have to die like that. It was a slap in the face how cruel this world really was here.

 

“Rest in peace.” Mick had the decency to say. He turned to the siblings. “Can we go now? Told you, nothing but trouble.”

 

“This was not trouble!” Lisa snapped at him. “He was a boy who should’ve been able to grow up! But despite that, he’s gone now. It was a good thing we put him down, a good thing! No one should ever have to exist like that.”

 

“That’s how the world is here sweetheart.” Mick sneered. “I don’t make the rules here. You have to know, I’m acting like this because it’s a dog eat dog world right now. We have no idea how long this has gone on for, but it’s been awhile. People turn on people. You can’t trust any body and there’s no time to mourn. Once you stop, you’re dead! It’s just how it is here.”

 

Lisa sniffed and turned her head. She didn’t want to admit it but he was right. It was like Mick was made for this cold hard world. She didn’t fit in it nor did she want to, but it was becoming clear that she was going to have to change if she wanted to survive.

 

She looked around the room. She didn’t want to say it but she was looking for Nick’s mother. If he was here, then she was here right? After looking around for a few seconds, Lisa found her in a dark corner with sleeping bags rolled out with their packs next to them; everything was covered in blood. She was dead too, like dead, dead. She had a bullet hole in her temple with a gun in her hands.

 

Next to her was a small note. Lisa picked it up and read it.

 

My Dearest,

 

I have finally found you. We will be together soon. All of us. God forgive me!

 

That was it. There was nothing else. Len came over and took the note. He read it too and shook his head.

 

“She must’ve found him dead.” Len theorized. “Couldn’t take the thought and killed her son and then herself.”

 

Lisa was crying knowing exactly what had happened without Len telling her. She probably waited for her son to fall asleep before shooting him in the head. It was enough to kill him but she must have flinched for it left the brain intact. Nick must’ve bleed out and then turned. God this world was disgusting. She felt something in her heart break.

 

00000000000000

 

They left the store with heavy hearts and even heavier bags. They looted the place carrying as much as they could. It wasn’t nearly the amount in the store, only a fraction really, but it was enough to keep them going for a few weeks if they rationed right.

 

It was hard to believe that they were planning that far ahead. It seemed like yesterday that they were in their own world and were just planning to be away for a few days. Like it or not, they were stuck and they didn’t know how long it was going to be before they could go home again, if they can go home again. It seemed unlikely with each passing day.

 

They walked on for a day and a half before they came upon train tracks. They stopped ad debated if they should just cross them or to follow them. Either way, it wasn’t like they had a specific direction to go. Their friend’s trial ran cold two days ago and they had no idea where they could’ve gone.

 

“What’s that?” asked Lisa squinting her eyes to see better.

 

“What?” asked Mick. “I don’t see anything.”

 

“The sign.” Lisa pointed. “Isn’t that a sign up there?”

 

Len narrowed his eyes trying to see it as well. Lisa was right at the very least. There was something there. But neither men could see it. Damn, they were getting old.

 

“Let’s check it out.” Lisa walked forward.

 

Len and Mick shared a glance before Len shrugged and fallowed suite. There was no harm in checking it out. It would only be for a few minutes and then they could be on their way.

 

SANCTUARY

FOR ALL

COMMUNITY

FOR ALL

THOSE WHO ARRIVE

SURVIVE

 

There was a map with Terminus in bold dark letters and a path that would lead anyone reading it, right to the so call sanctuary.

 

“What is this?” Lisa re-read it making sure her eyes were deceiving her. “Is this for real?”

 

“Maybe.” Len stared long and hard at the sign trying to decode every little detail.

 

“Should we go?” she asked.

 

“No.” Mick was quick to answer. “We can’t trust people, remember? We have no idea if this is true or not. We can’t risk it.”

 

“But we might be able to get help.” Lisa countered. “We can have a home base instead of walking around in circles. We can have shelter, food, water. We can start leaving messages behind for Cisco, Barry and Caitlin to see. We might not have to find them; they would be able to find us!”

 

Lisa had a very good point but something inside Mick screamed no.

 

“Well, what do you think Len?” she pulled her older brother in. “Should we go? And before you answer, we only just lost their trail two days ago. What if we lost their trail because they saw this sign and started to head towards it too. Even, if I’m wrong, we should at least have a look just in case.”

 

Lisa made another good point; a point that Len couldn’t refuse. She pulled the Barry card and now Len needed to know if Barry was there or not.

 

“We go.”

 

Mick scoffed at the decision but he didn’t protest. He still firmly believed that they should go towards this place, but Lisa was also right. What if Cait was there with the others? They could just walk away because of uneasiness. They had to at least check it out before deciding on it.

 

So, they went.

 

The tracks seemed endless but for the most part it was relatively quiet. They didn’t cross anything they could hurt them; dead or alive. They even saw some deer that Mick tried to kill but he was too slow and they escaped him. Lisa even got in a good laugh when Mick fell face first trying to sneak up on one. Len smirked at his friends’ misery. They could’ve easily killed the deer with their guns but the fear of the zombie hearing them ruled that idea out.

 

So, canned peas with canned chicken were their lunch that day. To lift their spirits, Lisa pulled out three candy bars with a shit eating grin on her face. Mick was all for it and practically swallowed his whole. He wasn’t much of a candy eater but he did have a sweet tooth and eating cold canned everything worked on you after a while. Len shook his head in disapproval. They should be saving it and rationing it, and Len told Lisa just that.

 

“Stop it.” Lisa hit Len’s shoulder. “Just eat the damn candy bar. It’ll make you feel better.”

 

“I highly doubt that.”

 

But Len took the bar regardless and started to eat it.

 

The candy tasted magnificent on his taste buds and it did lift some of the stress he felt but he wasn’t better. Nothing was going to make him better except finding Barry. That was his sole purpose right now. Lisa smiled at her brother eating the candy without complaint. She knew that he wasn’t better like she said but she knew it would help, if even just a little.

 

“We should find shelter soon.” Mick said as he finished off the bar. He casually threw the wrapper over his shoulder and stared at the siblings. “It’ll be dark before we know it.”

 

“I agree.” Len nodded as well as Lisa. She didn’t want to sleep in trees again!

 

They got off the tracks and started to search for something they can fortify for the night. If they had to Len was fully prepared to sleep in a tree again. He told Lisa this and got a good laugh at her scrunched up face. Even, in the face of the end of humanity, he would always find a time to annoy his little sister.

 

It didn’t take them as long as they expected to find a small building. It was a little run down but it will do. It looked at one time to be some sort of storage building, probably for a small time business owner. It looked like it was abandon for a whole lot longer before the end of the world. But it had four walls and roof and that was enough for Len.

 

Mick and Len were the first ones in the building. It was a single rancher building with little to no hiding places for people or undead to get the jump on them.

 

“Shit.” Mick cursed as he saw the inside of their temporary home. “Not good.”

 

“What?” Len stepped inside. Mick had to step sideways to let the smaller man in. “Shit.”

 

Their temporary home was just as ugly inside if not uglier. The place was a mess, but that wasn’t what made them curse. There were a few deads inside. All of which were permanently killed though so it wasn’t a worry. In the farthest corner of the room, however, laid a ratty cot that was covered in blood and soiled bandages.

 

“We’re going to have to take the undeads and that cot out first.” Mick said. “It stinks to high heaven in here! Never did like the smell of death.”

 

“Right.” Len agreed and both went to mess. It was clear that the building held nothing for them and there was no sign of danger right now.

 

When they got closer to the bloody muck, Len stopped and his breath hitched.

 

“What’s wrong?” asked Mick.

 

Len shakily stepped forward and bent down grabbing something that once resembled a grey hoodie off the ground. The article of clothing was soaked through with blood and had dirt brown stains littering the hoodie.

 

“It’s…it’s Barry’s.” Len gasped out clutching the garment in his hands.

 

“We don’t know that.” Mick tried to wave off. “It could be anyone’s.”

 

Len pulled the tag out of the hoodie and gave a sound of distress. Mick gave him a questionable look and Len answered by showing Mick what he found. Mick looked and saw writing on the tag.

 

“Property of Barry Allen.” Mick read out loud before cursing. “Shit.”

 

“Barry always had a habit of writing his name on his clothes.” Len said with a blank look. “He told me it started in college. He and his roommate wore a lot of the same clothes so he started to write his name on his so he could distinguish which were his and which were his roommates’.”

 

“It still doesn’t mean anything.”

 

“It means they were here!” Len shouted. “At best Barry is still hurt, still bleeding, after all this time. At worst, he’s dead.”

 

“There’s still a chance.” Mick tried to say but no sooner of saying that, they could hear something coming from the back.

 

The building was a one story rancher with a back door just across from them. They could hear squishing sounds of something awfully familiar. They shared a nod and went to the door. Len had a hand on the door nub and looked at Mick silently asking if he was ready. Mick took out a knife and with another nod Len flew open the door, revealing what was behind it.

 

Mick was quick to react and lunged out prepare to kill anything that was considered a threat but he stopped short and dropped his knife.

 

“What?” Len asked when Mick stopped.

 

He looked around the door and his heart stopped beating in his chest. His body grew cold, much colder than even the famous Captain Cold was used to. Before them were seven bodies, five were males and two females. Four males and one of the females were dead and gone. The other male and female were eating one of the male bodies still.

 

The male on the ground had blonde hair with cold dead pale blue eyes and was relatively short. The other male had short spiky brown hair, with no shirt on and jeans. His face had been eaten beyond recognition and his torso was mostly gone as well. The female had a t-shirt and jeans on; her face was chewed up as well and covered in blood from both her own wounds and the fresh blood from her kill.

 

“Caitlin…” Mick whispered sadly. The zombie rose its’ head, long matted brown hair swaying as it stood up to Mick’s call.

 

“Barry…” Len choked as he watched the male stand up as well from the call.

 

Len could feel his breath hitching as he tried to study to the face of the body. There was no face left to look at and there was so much blood that Len couldn’t prove or disprove that it was in fact Barry. The only thing left intact was a single green/yellow eye, staring at him with a hunger like no other.

 

He looked around trying to find a sign or something, anything that would tell him with out a doubt that they were who they thought they were. Len looked to the right and saw a bag, one he recognized and he swore in his head. The bag was Caitlin’s, haphazardly thrown aside but it was hers’ without a doubt.

 

However, there was still hope! The bag didn’t mean that this was Barry. It just meant that Caitlin was here, like the hoodie. It was just proof that they were here. It didn’t mean it was them.

 

Mick didn’t know what to think. He couldn’t be sure if it was her or not. The thing had her hair and body structure but because of her face being chewed up, he couldn’t tell. Her eyes were a pale lifeless yellow and her whole body was covered in dirt and blood. Mick felt his eyes prickle. He had to shut them tightly to stop the tears from flowing.

 

There was no positive way to prove that it was her but as Mick glanced over to the male body that suspiciously looked like Barry, Mick couldn’t help but think that it was. They’ve been searching so long, been fighting so hard to find them and this was the end game. Even though, he knew in the back of his head that them being alive was highly unlikely, Mick still had that tiny hope of finding them alive and well. Mick now felt betrayed by fate and felt sickened that this was how life was now.

 

The zombie resembling Caitlin reached out to him as she got closer. He held her back with little effort physically but mentally he was waging war in his head. He looked at her, really looked at her. He could see the similarities and it broke his heart to see them. With no physical proof, he could only go on what he could see and what he saw was Caitlin, his Caitlin.

 

Tears pooled in his eyes as he reached for his back up knife.

 

“I’m sorry.” he whispered as he plunged his knife into her effectively ending her existence. “I’m sorry, I couldn’t protect you. I’m sorry.”

 

As Caitlin fell, he followed in her decent. He hugged her to his body wishing and praying that it wasn’t true, that it wasn’t her.

 

Len was trapped in his own horror show. He paid no mind to Mick or his sorrow; he could only focus on the male coming at him, eager to eat him. Flashes of the boy Nick came to mind and Len could only shake his head in denial. No, no, no, no! He stumbled back. He wasn’t ready for this. He couldn’t handle this!

 

“Barry please…” Len begged as the Barry got closer to him. “If it really is you, please stop.”

 

The male didn’t and was on Len in seconds.

 

Len grunted and muscles protested with the struggle of holding Barry back. He was panting fast and he could hear ringing in his ears. Blood was pumping to his head and he felt dizzy. All Len could force on was that single eye staring back at him with a need to kill fresh flesh.

 

If this was Barry, if it truly was Barry, he would not want to be left like this. The urge to hurt, kill, and eat people. Len knew enough that it would destroy Barry if he were alive.

 

Alive…

 

Len looked down in despair. He was already putting Barry in past tense. He was already accepting that Barry was dead and no longer here. He shook his head in denial but his arms were growing tired and he knew what he had to do.

 

With a shout of fury and sadness, Len took out his knife and stabbed it into Barry’s head. The action was immediate. Barry stopped moving and fell limp on the ground. Len blinked, sudden almost numb to the action he had just done.

 

He knelt down and gently touched the hair noting that it was similar color and length to Barry’s. Len checked the body again. He had to make sure. In his heart, he wanted to be wrong. Wanted to have hope that Barry was alive and he was going to find him. But what he saw and what his mind was telling him was the exact opposite.

 

Everything pointed to this male corpse being Barry, and what Len saw next sealed the deal.

 

 Len saw that the right hand was fisted with something shiny inside of it. Len felt his heart drop. With shaking hands he pried the fingers open, and he felt reality hitting him full force.

 

It was a necklace; a lightening bolt necklace. The same exact one he had given Barry a few days after they’re sixth month anniversary. The little golden chain was snapped but it was Barry’s!

 

Len felt tears pooling in his eyes and spilling over silently as he stared at the male in front of him. His hand in Barry’s hair, gently petting it, trying to soothe hurts that couldn’t be soothed.

 

Barry…Len squeezed his eyes shut, shaking his head in denial. Oh god! He’s Barry!

 

“Guys, what’s taking so long?” Lisa could be heard in the building. “Where are you?”

 

Neither man had the energy to answer her and decided that she could find them just find on her own. Foot steps echoed in the mostly empty building heading right for them.

 

“Why did you-Oh god!” Lisa gasped at the scene in front of her. Both Mick and Len were on their knees, holding on to half eaten people.

 

People who were very familiar to her.

 

“Is that…?” Lisa’s throat closed up.

 

The two bodies looked exactly like Barry and Caitlin. Though she didn’t see Cisco anywhere, her mind thought the worst and it was too much. She quickly went to the side and throw up what little she had in her stomach. She panted from the action and wiped her face with the back of her hand.

 

Len and Mick were silently crying confirming what Lisa feared. She went to Len and silently hugged him from the back.

 

“Oh Lenny…” Lisa tried to comfort rubbing her brother’s back and shoulders. “I’m so so sorry.”

 

“Lisa, it’s, it’s him…” Len’s voice is shaky at best as he raised his hand holding the necklace.

 

“Oh no, I’m sorry Lenny. I’m so sorry.” Lisa didn’t know what else to say. She couldn’t tell that it was going to be alright because it wasn’t. None of this was alright. Nothing was going to make it better either.

 

“Is that Caitlin too?” Lisa had to ask. She already knew the answer but she needed it to be confirmed.

 

“It’s her.” Mick said blankly. “I can’t really see her face but there’s too much evidence not to say it isn’t them.”

 

“And…Cisco?” she was hesitant to ask but she had too. If these two were here then Cisco wasn’t far behind. She looked around but all she saw was a blond haired, blue eyes body half eaten. She wanted to throw up at the sight but at least it wasn’t Cisco.

 

“Haven’t seen him. Don’t give a damn.” Len muttered bitterly.

 

“Len! How could you say that?” Lisa shouted.

 

“Because he’s the reason why we’re here in the first place!” Len roared and hugged Barry to his chest not caring about the blood getting on him. “And now, both Barry and Caitlin are dead! And he’s no were to be found. He left them! Just wait til I get my hands on him. I’m going to ice his ass!”

 

“Okay Len, first off, no, it’s not. There was no way to predict this would happen. And second off, he would never, ever, abandon his two best friends, ever! And thirdly, your gun is out of juice. You can’t ice a fly even if you wanted to.”

 

“Well, I damn want to okay!” Len yelled. “I’ll find a way. He’ll have so much third degree frostbit, he’ll be a talking stub.”

 

“Knock it off Len.” Lisa was upset and mad but she could also understand the pain Len was feeling. The only good thing in his life, besides her and Mick, was dead, gone, never to be talked to, or touched ever again.

 

Barry did so much good for Len but now he was gone and Lisa surely hoped that he doesn’t take her brother with him.

 

“Just leave me alone Lisa.” Len turned his head back to Barry. His heart hurt, it felt like it was constricting in his chest.

 

Lisa huffed before turning to Mick, her eyes softening.

 

“Hey…” she walked up to him much like she did to Len. “Are you going to be okay Mick? Okay duh, stupid question. I know how you felt about her, I’m so sorry Mick.”

 

“I’ll be okay.” Mick said though he continued to stare at Caitlin. “I already knew that this would happen. I knew since day one. I had hope differently though.”

 

“We all did.” Lisa comforted.

 

“I just need a moment.” Mick bowed his head and if Lisa didn’t know Mick as well as she did, she could’ve sworn Mick had tears in his eyes.

 

Lisa left and went to search around finishing what her brother and friends started. Just like they assumed, the building held nothing of use. She tried outside, hoping to find something. She didn’t take more than five steps before she tripped with a yelp.

 

“Damn it…” Lisa hissed as she held her knee lying on her side.

 

That fucking hurt! With pain still throbbing she slowly stretched out her leg. A groan escaped her lips as the limb straightened. But after a few leg stretches the pain dulled significantly. Lisa didn’t feel any permanent damage but she was still on the ground and had to see if her knee could hold her weight.

 

There was only one way to find out. She twisted her body around, moan in discomfort and got up. She wobbled a little after the first initial balance but she stabled on her own and sighed in relief that he knee did in fact hold up. There were only twinges of pain as she started to walk again.

 

“Fucking hate the apocalypse.” Lisa said to herself as she searched the ground. She was trying to find what she tripped over. She wasn’t the type of girl to fall over her own two feet.

 

“Aha!” Lisa cheered as she found what she was looking for. It was a wooden handle, covered in dead grass and leaves. “What the…? Of all the things to find in a place like this, at this exact moment.”

 

She moved the dead grass and leaves away and it revealed an old shovel. Lisa glanced over in the direction where Mick and Len were sure to still be at. Her eyes teared up and she gave a small sob of her own.

 

Lisa was a tough woman but even she had her weak moments. Everything was just too much too fast. They had already lost so many people, and Lisa feared that Barry’s death would destroy him. Finding this shovel made things more real, more permanent. Giving this to Len may not be the best but it was something that needed to be done.

 

Just like with Iris, Barry and Cait deserved to be buried properly. With her decision made she went back to her brother and friend. She walked back without tripping this time and just like she thought, neither men have moved from their fixed position.

 

“Len…” Lisa softly called to her brother. She walked over to him and knelt down, shovel in hand. “Here.”

 

“Get that thing away from me Lisa.” Len growled.

 

“You know what needs to be done Len. You buried Iris, Barry and Caitlin deserve to be buried too. And we should bury the others. We might not have known them but they deserve a burial as much as the next person.”

 

“Not like this.” Len hugged Barry to his chest crying. “Not like this.”

 

“I know that this isn’t what you wanted for Barry but it’s what we have. I’m not going to rush you but it has to be done. Both Barry and Cait need this. Give them their resting place.” Lisa tried to sooth and comfort as best as she could but Len and Mick wanted none of it.

 

They just wanted to be left alone, so Lisa let them be. She went into the building and sat there watching them mourning their loved ones. Lisa felt her own tears slipping out and let them. Unlike her brother and Mick, she still had hope. Hope that Cisco was alive and well. She could use that to push herself forward. She almost felt guilty and selfish for her thoughts. Mick and Len didn’t have that option anymore. Their greatest loves were dead and gone.

 

It was almost night time when Lisa heard one of the guys move. Lisa had given up watching them a few hours ago, and instead made a proper camp within the building. She cleaned the place up as best as she could and took the undeads outside. She laid out what little they had bed wise and had food ready for the guys when they were ready. She mainly spent her time checking the premier making sure nothing was going near them in their time of vulnerability.

 

Lisa went over to where Len and Mick were stationed.

 

Len had put Barry down and had stood up but was still silently staring at Barry’s body. Len’s tears dried up hours ago and now he just felt numb. He glanced over to his best friend who was much the same as him. Mick was still holding Cait but there was sense of resignation in his eyes.

 

Since the moment he saw Caitlin as one of the dead, Mick had been in denial. In the back of his mind he knew. He knew that it was her and that she was gone but a large part of him was surprisingly against this. He heart had skipped a beat when he came to realize who it was. He didn’t want to believe it, wanted to deny it from here to back home, but here she was, in his arms, gone.

 

Len looked over to the shovel next to him and with a heavy heart he bent over and picked it up.

 

Lisa watched from afar as Len dug up the ground. It was slow at first like Len didn’t want to commit such an act but the more he hit the ground the more aggressive his hits became.

 

Len panted as he pushed the shovel into the ground once more. When he first started his heart was heavy, his limbs didn’t want to work. His whole being was against this. But the more he dug the more he let out his frustrations. When he first saw Barry he was in denial much like Mick, but then realization kicked in and he had cried his fucking eyes out, but now, now he felt the cool calm rage of fury. He was angry damnit!

 

How dare Barry play the fucking hero!? Again! How dare Barry get himself killed?! This was why he wanted to come with the speedster! To avoid this! But in the end, he couldn’t do a single thing. Not one single thing.

 

Len thrusted the shovel deep into the ground and it stayed there as he leaned his forehead on the handle, eyes closed.

 

Why? Why couldn’t he save Barry? He came on this stupid mission for one reason. One! He could care less about the other Earths, only the one he was currently living on. But it was important to Barry so Len couldn’t scoff at the notion. He came to keep Barry from doing something stupid. Heh. Barry was notorious for it.

 

Len opened his eyes.

 

It was all his fault. He only had one job on this mission, and it was to protect the one he cared about most. Len growled at his own thoughts. Even now, with Barry dead and long gone, he still couldn’t say the damn ‘L’ word.

 

“God, fucking, damnit.” Len was angry; angry at himself, angry at Barry, hell, angry at the whole god damn world right now.

 

“Len…”

 

Len turned around and saw Mick with Caitlin cradled in his arms.

 

“Yeah…”

 

“You have room for one more?”

 

Len softened at the question.

 

“What kind of question is that?” Len scoffed. “Of course there is. Take the shovel, I’m done with it.”

 

Len gave his friend the tool after Mick set Cait down gently. He ignored his friends as he started on the second grave while he went to grab Barry.

 

As Len grabbed his boyfriend, he noticed that the kid was lighter than the last time Len carried him. It sent a sense of doubt through him but Len shook it off. Barry had a higher metabolism that anyone here. It was completely plausible that Barry’s body was literally eating itself to stay alive with food being so scarce. And wasn’t that a disturbing thought? Len was disgusted with himself.

 

He laid Barry down in his newly dug grave and crossed his arms like he did with Iris. Mick was already done and Cait was lying in her own grave as well. Her arms weren’t crossed but place slight over her stomach arm over arm.

 

Len sighed.

 

“Give me back the shovel.” Len motioned. “We need to dig out the others. Lisa is right. We might not know them but somewhere, someone does. They deserves this too.”

 

Mick nodded and handed the tool back to Len. Len made quick work of the other graves. There was no emotion attachment to this being so, it wasn’t as hard as Barry’s. While Len dug the holes, Mick went back and grabbed the others to bring them to their graves. Once the holes were down, Mick and Len laid them down gently.

 

“Could you say that prayer? You know the one before?” Mick asked once he stepped back and was once more standing in front of Caitlin’s grave.

 

“Of course.” Len was going to do that anyway but first he had to do something. Len looked around and saw some red and blue flowers growing wild near them.

 

Len was quick to pick them. Not just for Barry and Cait, but the others as well. He gave Mick a handful of each color and together they placed flowers over their loved one. Len placed them much like with Iris but he focused more on placing flowers over Barry’s heart. Len tried to express his feelings with actions than with words. Trying to tell Barry how much he did care about him without saying it.

 

Len saw the mixture of blue and red and couldn’t help but think of them intertwined. Red for his scarlet speedster and blue for his frosty cold. Len gave a small sad smile. He could feel tears prickling his eyes again. Len was quick to wipe them away. And here he thought he was done with tears.

 

He made quick work in putting some flowers on the others too. He didn’t know them but he felt it was only right to so the same. 

 

Mick placed flowers all around Caitlin; some in her hair, her hands and around her body. Mick was just done with the whole thing but he could do this for her. The red reminded him of fire. He initially wanted to burn her, let the flames take her away but he knew Caitlin enough that, that wasn’t what she wanted, so he did this for her. The blue around her calmed the red down. He had heard from Cisco and Barry how Caitlin was Killer Frost in another world and couldn’t help but think that blue defiantly suited her.

 

The both stood back silently with bowed heads, giving their fallen loved ones a moment of silence. Mick nudged Len. It was time. With a deep breath Len started his prayer, the same one he had given to Iris and Joe.

 

“O God, by whose mercy the faithful departed find rest, send your holy Angel to watch over these graves. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.”

 

Mick was the first one to move and started to bury Caitlin. Len made no move and let Mick have his moment. For Mick, burying Caitlin was the final hit on the nail. No matter how much he had hoped for her safe return, she was gone. She was gone and he was here.

 

It always seemed to be like that, which was why Mick had kept his distance from her in the first place. People always leave him behind, whether it’s through death or by choice. Mick is always left alone. Even Len had left him for a time. Lisa had as well, way earlier in their meeting. She didn’t like him, still don’t sometimes, but they were all he had now, all he will ever have as far as Mick knew.

 

Mick placed the last bit of dirt on Caitlin’s grave. He was tired, so tired. He was tired physically and most importantly mentally. He gave Len the shovel to let his friend take his turn. Len took the tool but just stood there staring at Barry’s body.

 

Mick felt for his friend and crime partner, he really did, because, unlike himself, Len had Barry. The two had known each other for years and just recently started dating. He knew that Len loved Barry, even if the man didn’t say it out loud. This was a hard hit for both of them. Mick knew he would be alright, but he was worried about Len. Len had been so sure Barry was alive and well, that finding him dead was a low blow.

 

The pyro gave Len a comforting clap on the back.

 

“I’ll be inside. Don’t let this consume you. Take the time to grieve and move on.”

 

“Please don’t give me that shit advice.” Len wasn’t hearing it. “If I had charge in my gun I would ice you.”

 

“It’s not shit advice. But I know you’re in pain, more so than even me. Just don’t do anything stupid.”

 

“If you think I’m going to kill myself than you don’t know me at all.” Len growled.

 

Mick knowing that he was pushing it started to leave.

 

“Wait.”

 

Mick turned around at Len’s voice.

 

“How is it you’re so calm about this?” Len questioned. “I expected you to be setting things on fire. I know how you felt about Caitlin.”

 

“I don’t have anything I can use to set a fire with.” Mick made an excuse.

 

“Bullshit. I know you better than that. That wouldn’t have stopped you.” Len smirked, which Mick returned.

 

“True.” the pyro shrugged not denying it what so ever.

 

“I feel the urge.” Mick said softly. “But I have more control over it since being Chronos.”

 

Len looked away at that. He was the reason Mick was subjugated to that. He had left his friend and partner behind.

 

“And Caitlin wouldn’t like it if I did that.”

 

Len turned back to Mick who was staring softly to Caitlin’s grave, then looked at Len square in the eyes.

 

“I’m not calm.” he told Len. “I’m anything but calm. I want to kill something, or somethings. I want revenge. But I know I’m not going to get it right now. I’m not too worried. There are many zombies around here, and I’m going to kill every last one of them.”

 

The darkness in Mick’s eyes and the hardness in his voice made Len shiver. He almost felt bad for the undead. Almost being the key word. Mick was going to destroy them for what they did, all of them, and Len was going to be right next to him helping him every step of the way.

 

Mick walked away after that saying his piece. Len continued to stare at Barry as he pulled the golden lightening bolt necklace from his pocket. He stared at it long and hard before glancing at Barry. He knows that he should put the necklace with Barry. It was his after all. It was his gift to Barry and he should have it but Len’s heart clenched at the thought of parting with it.

 

In this world, he had nothing that belonged to Barry, no pictures or otherwise. Len felt his own necklace and felt tears coming again. He did have one thing but Len was selfish. He wanted more, needed more.

 

God, why didn’t he tell Barry he loved him? It was Len’s greatest regret with the other man. It weighted heavily on his heart. Why couldn’t he say three fucking words?!

 

“Len?”

 

Len turned to see his sister looking at him with pity and concern.

 

“Go away Lisa.” he turned back to Barry’s grave.

 

“Len you’ve been out here for hours.” Lisa said stepping forward. “I’m worried. You haven’t eaten or taken a break. It’s dangerous out here, please, come inside with me.”

 

“I can’t part with it.” he randomly said.

 

“What?” asked Lisa not understanding.

 

“Barry’s necklace.” Len lifted his hand to show his sister said item. “I can’t part with it. I know I should give it to him. He should be wearing it, but I just can’t!”

 

“Then don’t give it to him.” Lisa tired to answer correctly. “If you want to keep it then keep it.”

 

“It’s his though! He should be wearing it.”

 

“Lenny, I don’t think Barry would mind if you kept it. But if it upsets you that much then give it Barry.”

 

“I can’t.” Len stared downward. “I don’t have anything of Barry’s besides my own necklace. It reminds me of Barry when I look at it.”

 

“Len,” Lisa came closer. She put her hands over his one and closed his hand into a fist, entrapping the necklace inside. “Keep the necklace. It’s not going to hurt anyone, Barry or otherwise, to have it. It reminds you of Barry. It’ll remind you of the good times you had with him and it’ll help you mourn him.”

 

“I just feel like a thief.”

 

“You are a thief Len.” Lisa gave a playful smirk.

 

“Not to Barry.” Len said seriously wiping the playful smirk off Lisa’s face. “Never to Barry.”

 

“Think of it this way.” Lisa started. “You keep the necklace, fix the chain and wear it to honor Barry. People will see it and they will ask about it. Barry will always be part of our lives.”

 

“Thank sis.”

 

“No problem bro.”

 

They stayed silent for a few minutes before Lisa and the courage to say what she had to next.

 

“I think it’s time you finished what you started.” Lisa mentioned the grave.

 

“I’ll do it when I’m good and ready.” Len growled. She didn’t understand! How could she, when she still had hope to cling to?! Cisco could still be alive but Barry and Cait were as sure as dead!

 

“Please Len,” she pleaded as she placed a hand on his shoulder. “It’s gotten so dark and I can’t see anything to warn you. If a zombie comes out, I can’t protect you.”

 

“Did you know what Barry told me on our sixth month anniversary?” Len asked instead, avoiding Lisa’s pleas.

 

“No, what?” Lisa asked a little taken back by the sudden change in topic.

 

“He said…” Len closed his eyes and swallowed the lump in his throat. “He told me he loved me.”

 

“Lenny…” Lisa’s eyes were wide and filled with shock. “Did-did you say it back?”

 

Len remained silent.

 

“Lenny…?” Lisa touched Len’s shoulder forcing him to look at her. “Did you say it back?”

 

“No.” Len looked away. “I ran like a coward. Barry talked me down before I made it out the door.”

 

“Len!” Lisa punched him. “That’s awful! How could you do that to Barry? At least you told him later right?”

 

Len didn’t say a word.

 

“Oh my god…!” Lisa whispered. “Lenny…!”

 

“I know…” he shook his head.

 

“You didn’t…?”

 

“No.” he shook his head more.

 

“Len…” Lisa’s eyes softened and side hugged her brother. “I’m so sorry.”

 

“So am I.” his breath was shaky and his breath was hitching.

 

“Say it now.” Lisa suggested. “Say it to him now.”

 

“There’s no point. He’s dead.” Len blinked and felt a tear fall down his cheek.

 

“It might make you feel better.”

 

“It won’t.”

 

“How would you know?” she insisted.

 

“Because, I’ve been saying it in my head over and over again since the moment I’ve allowed myself to believe that it’s Barry!” Len snapped at her.

 

She didn’t flinch.

 

“Saying it out loud might make it different.”

 

“It won’t.” he said firmly. “Barry deserves better than that. He deserved to hear it out loud, alive and whole.”

 

“I’m sorry to say this Lenny, but you missed that chance.” Lisa’s eyes softened and had tears in them; for both her brother and Barry.

 

“Then I’ll never say it.” Len said. “And that’s final.”

 

“I can’t force you bro but I still think you should.”

 

“If god is real then maybe I’ll see him in the after life.” Len smirked. “Or maybe life and death are both cruel and I’ll just go to hell while he’s in heaven.”

 

“Don’t think that.” Lisa put a hand on her brother’s cheek. “Don’t ever think that. You are a good man. You’ve changed so much.”

 

“I was never a good man Lis. I’ve stolen and killed people. I’m pretty sure that means I’m going to hell.”

 

“Knock it off.” Lisa clipped the back of his head. “Besides we have no idea that heaven or hell exists.”

 

“Hell exists.” Len said instantly and surely. “We’re living in it.”

 

“Yeah.” Lisa completely agreed. “And we’ll survive. We’re survivors.”

 

“You’re damn right.” Len smiled. “Won’t be pretty but we’ll make it. We always do.”

 

“As long as you’re there with me, doesn’t matter what the world throws at us. We will live on. Barry, Caitlin and if Cisco is gone too, we will remember them and they will live through us.”

 

“That’s some deep shit right there. You read that in a magazine.” Len teased.

 

“Shut up old man.” Lisa bumped him playfully.

 

“Not a chance in hell train wreck.”

 

“Heh.” Lisa gave a small laugh before sobering. “I really am going to miss them.”

 

“Me too.” Len nodded. “How’s Mick?”

 

“About as well as you can expect.” Lisa shrugged. “He’s quiet and closed off. Just resigned and accepting what happened. I don’t think he’s shutting down though. He just needs time.”

 

“We all do.”

 

Lisa squeezed Len’s arm. They both stared at Barry’s grave for a few more minutes before Len moved away from Lisa and lifted the shovel to be use once more.

 

“I’m sorry.” Len whispered as he tossed the first pile of dirt onto Barry. “I’m so sorry that I didn’t protect you. You deserve better than this. I can only hope that where ever you are now, you’re happy.”

 

While Len was mourning over Barry’s, Lisa went close to the woods edge. It was the same area Len gathered the wild flowers from before. She had watched from afar when Len gathered the blue and red flowers. She scanned the area with sharp eyes looking for something specific. It took a few minutes but she grinned when she eventually found it.

 

Len was just about done with Barry’s grave. A few more piles of dirt and he’ll be satisfied. Lisa came back walking up behind him. He hadn’t even realized that she left in his grief. One last shove of dirt and Len struck the shovel to the ground next the newly formed grave.

 

He turned to really look at her and in her hands were flowers. Not the red and blue that he had found earlier but the ones in her hands were yellow and purple.

 

“Lisa…” he silently questioned.

 

“They were my friends too.” she answered back. “I might not have loved them like you and Mick but they were still friends so I’m going to honor them too.”

 

She waited until Len was done Barry’s grave and then he made quick work on the others. Len almost felt bad that he was burying people and he didn’t even know the their names.

 

She knelt down in between the two graves and placed the purple flowers on Caitlin’s grave and the yellow on Barry’s. With the remaining ones, she left a mixture on the others grave.

 

“I think it’s fitting.” she commented. “Purple always did look good on Cait and the yellow instantly made me think of Barry and his yellow lightening.”

 

“I think they wouldn’t have it any other way.” Len wrapped an around his sister. “Thank you.”

 

“Like I said, they were my friends too.” Lisa wiped a few tears from her face.

 

They gave a moment of silence to their friends before Lisa decided that it was time for them to go in. Len would have stayed out there all night by Barry’s grave if Lisa didn’t drag his ass back to the building. Mick was up waiting for them, a knife in hand just waiting for a reason to use it.

 

Both men gave a nodded of understanding before Lisa forced food towards Len and made him eat dinner before going to bed. Len didn’t sleep that night, and Mick only got an hour or two after really trying hard to do so. Lisa was the only one who got more than three hours of sleep. She didn’t sleep well though. She was worried about Cisco and if he was still alive out there.

 

In a way, Lisa thought that Len and Mick had it better. Not because their love ones were dead but just the sole knowledge that they were was better than not knowing at all. She almost envied them because they could move on now. She couldn’t. She’ll search high and low for Cisco until the day she finds him or til the day she dies.

 

Which in this world, might not be for much longer.

Chapter Text

The sun was just peaking over the horizon when Lisa woke up. She gave a small moan as she twisted on the hard ground not wanting to wake up. She was just so tired, both physically and emotionally. She still could barely wrap her head around what had happened. Barry and Cait were gone, possibly Cisco too, but there was no proof. It was cruel. Just a few days ago, everyone was happy and whole. Everyone was together and everything seemed to be going right for once.

 

It was true, you know? The saying; all good things must come to an end. Lisa just didn’t know how soon the end was. Lisa always had some doubt that this happiness wouldn’t last but she had foolishly assumed it would a few years before things fell apart. Life was totally unfair.

 

Eventually, she opened her eyes and looked over the small camp set up.

 

She frowned when she spotted Mick and Len. They were both up and god she couldn’t even imagine what was going through their heads right now. Mick was sitting across from her and was flicking his knife back a forth casting a glare of light over his face stone walled face. Lisa could only assume he was pretending it was fire. She had caught him numerous times with a lighter, flicking it on and off to keep calm.

 

Len was across the room staring out one of the few windows this place had. He was staring directly at the newly dug graves. She couldn’t really see his face but she could give a very educated guess. His face would be emotionless, closed off, down right cold, but on the inside he was raging war with himself.

 

Probably blaming himself. Lisa knew her brother well.

 

“Good morning.” she gave as a formality. Mick grunted a response. Len didn’t even look at her. Well then… “I guess I’ll get us breakfast.”

 

Breakfast wasn’t even close to what Lisa gave out for them to eat. A few cans of beans and a granola bar for each person. That had more food, better food too, but they needed to ration as much as possible. It didn’t make the food taste any better though as Lisa grimaced into her own can of cold beans.

 

Lisa finished offer her meal in moments and still starving. Mick was picking at his but at least he was taking a scoop every once in a while. Len was completely ignoring his. With a sigh Lisa mentally prepared herself for the battle ahead.

 

“Len, you need to eat.” Lisa tried to convince her brother while holding out the food for him to take.

 

“Not hungry.”

 

“Don’t care. You need to keep up your strength. And the can is already open Len, don’t let this food go to waste. At least eat the beans.” Lisa countered with logic. Surely Len wouldn’t let food got to waste in a time where food was scarce and hard to come by.

 

“You eat it then.”

 

“I already ate. I’m full.” Total lie but she wasn’t going to tell Len that. “You eat it. Please for me.”

 

“Leave me alone Lis.” Len sighed as she continued to stare at Barry’s grave.

 

“If you won’t do it for me, then do it for Barry.” Lisa tried again bringing out the big guns and the low blow shots.

 

Len shot her a glare. “That’s low, even for you.”

 

“Doesn’t matter.” Lisa brought the can up again. “Eat it. For Barry.”

 

Len looked down and away. Without a look, he took the can of beans from Lisa and started to scoop some into his mouth.

 

“Thank you.”

 

Len didn’t acknowledge her, but Lisa didn’t care. Len was eating and that was all that mattered.

 

They stayed at the building for a few more hours before Lisa decided it was time to leave. If it was up to Mick or Len, they never would leave, but Lisa knew they had to. They still needed to find Cisco whether he was dead or not, they needed to find him. They also needed to see if they could find a way home, if there was any chance what so ever.

 

Lisa was in denial but in the back of her mind she knew there was no going back even if they did find a way back to Central City. Barry and Cait were here, dead, but here. Len and Mick would most likely stay in this world and fight to the death or self destruct in Central without them. Lisa knew this because if Cisco was dead and gone she would feel the same way.

 

“Are you ready?” Lisa asked. “It’s time to go.”

 

“In a minute.” Len mumbled out.

 

Lisa looked down and sighed. Len was at Barry’s grave and Mick at Cait’s. Both were reluctant to leave the disturbed earth.

 

“You’ve said that already, several times. We have to go.” Lisa insisted.

 

“Why?” he asked. “There’s nothing else here.”

 

“Cisco, for one.” she argued. “And we are survivors remember? We live on keeping our loved ones close so that they can live on through us.”

 

Len didn’t answer back.

 

“Do you want to die?” asked Lisa. “Do you want me to die?”

 

“No.” Len snapped sharply. “They’ll have to get through me before they ever touch you.”

 

“Len, it’s not safe here. I know it’s hard, I do, but if we stay here, we’ll die. All of us; me, you and Mick. We can’t stay here. Please Lenny, please.” Lisa was begging now. She didn’t want to, it wasn’t in her nature but she’d do anything for her brother. They needed to leave, not just because it wasn’t safe but Lisa feared that Len will lose the will to live if he had to face Barry’s grave every single day if they stayed.

 

“Mick…” Len looked over to the pyro.

 

Mick took a moment and shut his eyes, probably mentally preparing himself. He opened them and looked over to his partner in crime.

 

“I’m good to go when you are.” Despite saying he was ready to leave; Mick’s eyes fell back to Cait’s grave and stayed there.

 

“Okay,” Len took a deep breath. “Okay.”

 

Lisa trailed a hand on her brother’s arm. “Let’s go Len. We have to move forward.”

 

Len looked to the sky. Lisa could see tears gathered in his eyes. Len was fighting so hard not to cry again.

 

“Okay.” Len repeated but with a final tone in his voice. He was ready, even though he wanted nothing more than to stay here for the rest of his days. There was nothing to live for besides Lisa and Mick. If he ever lost them, it would be the end for him. There was no coming back from all of this loss.

 

Lisa mentally sighed in relief when both of her boys left with her. She was terrified for a moment that she lost them. Lisa knew though, that the only reason Len was going was because of her, and the only reason Mick was going was because of Len.

 

With hunched shoulders and heavy hearts, they soldiered on leaving behind the graves of their loved ones and what little hope they had.

 

00000000000000

 

They went back to the tracks for they had nothing else to really go on. They had no purpose or destination. They had been walking for less then an hour now and no one spoke a word since leaving the graves behind. They were no comforting words or gatherings to ease their passing. It was just them and the unknown, filled with walkers and dangerous around every corner.

 

All was not lost though. Cisco was still out there, or at least that was the hope but with the grave of their loved ones just barely a mile away, it seemed grimed and useless. Lisa still had that tiny candle of hope but wouldn’t dare voice it now nor did she put much weight into it.

 

“Help!” a voice cried. “Oh god, help me!”

 

The cry for help was close and it had the trio tensing at the distressed call.

 

“Should we help?” asked Lisa uncertain.

 

“No.” Mick immediately said as kept walking. “Nothing but trouble.”

 

Lisa glared not liking Mick’s attitude, though he was right in a way. It was risky to help someone they didn’t know but it didn’t feel right to Lisa to just ignore the cry for help.

 

“Len?” she asked.

 

“We shouldn’t get involved.” he stated. “It could be a trap.”

 

“I don’t know. That sounded real to me and it doesn’t sit right to ignore it.”

 

“Then go play the damn hero and leave us out of it.” Mick waved his hand in the direction of the cry.

 

Lisa rolled her eyes. So rude.

 

“Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit…!” a fat man busted through the trees surrounding the tracks. There were at least a dozen undeads following the man, and because of his heavy weight set, he wasn’t running too fast, letting the monster trail close behind.

 

The group jumped in surprise with the sudden appearance of the fat man and the things trailing behind them.

 

“Damnit.” Len cursed. He was in no mood for this! He just wanted one day of peace god damnit!

 

“Well, ok then! Let’s party!” Mick said with glee as he took his knife out and started speed walking towards the walking undead. He was going to enjoy this. The moment he had to put down Caitlin, he made a promise to himself to kill every last one of those undead bastards and he was going to keep his promise.

 

“Mick, you idiot!” Lisa hissed and went after him.

 

Len shook his head and went after them both with his own knife out and at the ready. By the time he had gotten there, Mick had already killed five of them, and Lisa two. Len took out three of his own, the closest ones to the fat man as said man coward behind him.

 

Out of breath, the man sat down on the ground heaving for air. Len grimaced just looking at him. He was weak and pathetic with a black out dated mullet hair. Knowing, that he was safe now and protected, the man drop his guard completely.

 

It made Len sick.

 

He sneered in disgust that this shadow of a man, no, not even a man, could survive this long but Barry, his beautiful, strong, super powered boyfriend could not. It made Len question how the world could be so cruel to let one as weak as the turd behind him live while the strong, good willed people died.

 

“Thank you, thank you, thank you.” the man thanked repeatedly from his place on the ground.

 

Len huffed in announce while Mick and Lisa killed off the last of the zombies.

 

“I don’t know how I can ever repay you, but if you follow me, I can help you.” the man offered which made Len chuckle not believing a word coming out of the guy’s mouth.

 

“We didn’t do it to save you.” Len corrected. “You were just in our way and my friend here has a dislike for these walking dead bastards. You were just an after thought.”

 

The words were harsh but true and Len was not sorry for saying them. The fat man flinched at the violent words but didn’t shy away from him.

 

“Be that as it may be, you still saved my life and for that you will get a reward later on, once I’ve fulfilled my mission.”

 

“A mission?”

 

“Affirmative. It is the up most importance that I am returned to my group to complete it.”

 

“And just what exactly is your mission?” Len questioned irritated beyond belief.

 

“To save the human race as we know it. I have a cure for this disease.”

 

Silence broke out upon the three person group, each just staring at this new man. It was a good minute before Mick broke out laughing. Lisa looked at the fat man like he lost his mind and Len tilted his head in thought; a dark ugly thought.

 

“A cure?” he asked stepping closer to the strange man.

 

“Affirmative.”

 

“How would this so called cure of yours work exactly? Could it bring people already turned back to what they were before? Could it cure the dead?” Len was urgent as he asked.

 

His heart sped up at the thought. If this man, though strange and out of place, had the knowledge to bring people back, could he have brought Barry and Caitlin back? A dark twist feeling entered his stomach. Did they have to kill them? Did they kill them for nothing?

 

“At this current moment there is no certainty.” he spoke. “The cure is designed to prevent people from turning and killing the virus, not bring people back once they’ve turned.”

 

Len let out a mental sigh and relaxed some. Thank god, he didn’t kill Barry for nothing.

 

“What a load of bull?” Mick called the man out. “You really thing we’re going to believe that bullshit you’re spewing.”

 

“Mick!” Lisa hissed before turning back to the strange man. “Is it true? You have a cure?”

 

“I do.” Black hair waved as the man bobbled his head up and down.

 

“What’s your name?” Len narrowed his eyes suspiciously.

 

“Eugene.” he answered. “It’s nice to meet your acquaintance. Would you be so kind as to tell me your name as well?”

 

“Len. This is my sister Lisa and our friend Mick.” Len pointed to each of them.

 

Eugen nodded to each of them.

 

“Thank you for saving my life, but we must get going. I was separated from my group when those walkers came upon us. They are surely worried about my ware abouts.” Eugene told them as he started back to where came from.

 

“I don’t know about this.” Mick said cautiously. “It could still be a trap.”

 

“I doubt it.” Lisa snorted. “You can’t fake what that guy is oozing. I wouldn’t have even looked at a guy like him on a good day.”

 

Mick tilted his head in a nodded reluctantly agreeing.

 

“We follow him, but be ready for anything.” Len gave the order.

 

Both nodded completely understanding. Tensely, all three followed the weird man named Eugene.

 

They didn’t even get ten feet before they could hear footsteps and voices yelling.

 

“Eugene!” a deep male voice echoed the area.

 

“That’s Abraham.” Eugene informed them before making a call of his own. “Over here!”

 

“Where?” a female voice shouted this time.

 

“Here!” Eugene shouted louder. “Rosita!”

 

The foot steps grew louder and before they knew it two more people were upon them, both panting, eyes frantic.

 

Wow. Len thought idly. These people really believed that this man had a cure and were desperate to find him.

 

“God damnit Eugene!” a man big and red strutted up to them. He could only be the one called Abraham. “I told you to stay close to me! Why the hell did you wonder off?”

 

Eugene flinched at the scolding and eyes went down.

 

“I saw a potentially editable plant and went to inspect my suspicions to be true when the group of walkers walked between us. I am pleased to see that you and Rosita have made it out unharmed.”

 

“Of course.” Abe snorted as if he was offended by the mere notion that a walker could take him down. “And are you? Unharmed I mean. You didn’t get bit or scratched.”

 

“Negative. I am unharmed.” Eugene shook his head. “I had help. These three kind people assisted me when I came upon them.”

 

Abraham looked between Eugene the trio before him. To Abe the three people looked anything but nice, but they did save Eugene so they couldn’t be all bad. He analyzed each person with a critically eye and he found that all three looked like they could handle themselves if push came to shove.

 

“Thank you.” he spoke to them. “For saving him. He’s a very important man.”

 

“We know.” Mick said with gruffness in his voice. “Science geek here told us he had a cure. I doubt that it’s really true.”

 

Abe glared with hard eyes. Not only did this man insult Eugene but also his mission, his new purpose in this life, the only thing that was keeping him alive at all really. He instantly hated this man.

 

“Look,” Lisa stepped up after seeing Abraham’s glare. “We are just skeptical. It’s hard to believe that there’s a cure for this whole thing.”

 

“Well, believe it sister.” Abe snapped. “We are on a mission to Washington. You all seem like capable people. If you are interested, you are more than welcome to come along, but let’s get this straight. I’m in charge.”

 

Len tsked as he looked away for a moment. He really didn’t like overly confidently dominate types. Got a lot of ego and not enough brains.

 

“So…?” Abe urged. “Are you coming or not?”

 

“Sure…” Len drawled out, surprising Lisa and Mick. They didn’t think they would. “We were on our way to a place called Terminus. Ever heard of it?

 

“No.” Abs shook his head. “What is it? And why do I care? Is it in Washington?”

 

Oh god, the single mindedness.

 

“Doubtful.” Len said truthfully. “When we came upon Eugene or should I say, when he came upon us, we were following train tracks to a place called Terminus. It’s supposed to be a safe zone; food, water, shelter. At least, that’s what they should have since they’re putting signs up.”

 

“And…?” Abe said impatiently. “What does that have to do with us?”

 

“Well I don’t know about you but we have very little in supplies. Sure we have enough now, but Washington is a long way from here. We could use more supplies, weapons; maybe even get a car or two. See where I’m getting here?” Len tried to sell his pitch.

 

Honestly, since Barry was gone, there was no real reason to go to the safe heaven but if they were going to travel all the way to Washington, Len preferred not to do it on foot, with little food and even less weapons.

 

“I do.” Abe nodded his head. “We are low on supplies. Maybe we can restock there. But we’re not doing anything stupid. We need to be smart about this. We can’t just walk up there and expect things to go smoothly. We find this place and make sure it is what it’s suppose to be.”

 

“I completely agree.” Len smirked. “So we’re in agreement then? We’re going to Terminus?”

 

“To Terminus.” Abe nodded.

 

The deal was sealed.

 

0000000000000000

 

Fuck! Len thought as he and the rest of his group dodged bullets being aimed at their feet. How could this have happened? Len had a plan, a good plan and it went to shit in a smoke screen within just a few minutes.

 

The plan was simple. Len and Mick would enter the gates while Lisa and the others came around back while they were distracted and scope out the area. Len and his group made it to Terminus but before entering they flanked around and tried to assess the train compound as much as possible.

 

They didn’t find anything damning about the place. It seemed nice on the outside and what little they could see on the inside. They spent hours combing the area trying to see the strengths and weaknesses of the place before heading in. They had found a single blind spot and that was only because of the horrible guard they had in the area. The guy was lazy and Len could tell that he was bored. It was easy to see that he hated his job and wasn’t putting his mind to it.

 

That gave them the opening they wanted, what they needed in case things fell apart. So, with such short amount of time and what limited knowledge they had, Len came up with a plan.

 

Len and Mick would go in the front, make a little bit of distraction causing most of the residents to focus on them while Lisa and the others came through the blind spot and make assessments on the place. If something were to go wrong, they had guns and the man power. They could put up a fight and they had an escape route to fall back on.

 

It was shitty plan to begin with and Len knew this, but with what they had it was the best he could come up with. So, with the plan at full speed and each person having a gun, except Eugene which pissed Len off to now end, they marched to Terminus.

 

It started out great. He had Mick lean on his shoulder appearing injured as they walked to the front gate. It wasn’t locked and that rang warning bells like no other to both of them. How could this place be secure without some type of lock at the very entrance? That was a bad sign, and Len should’ve listened to his gut and called it all off. He didn’t know why he didn’t thinking back.

 

Both men went inside and were greeted by the sight of an elderly woman cooking food.

 

“Hello.” Len drawled out but the woman wasn’t startled in the least of having new people greet her from out of no where.

 

“Hello.” the woman turned to the with a creep happy smile on her face. “Welcome to Terminus.”

 

“Yes.” Len replied scanning the area. “It’s a lovely place you got here.”

 

The woman’s smile grew bigger. “I’m glad you like it. Come, you must be starving.”

 

“We are but I’m a bit banged up at the moment.” Mick talked this time. “You guys got a doctor in the house?”

 

The smile strained for the moment. “Of course. I’ll get help right now. Just one moment please.”

 

She left, and Len was as tense as ever.

 

“Don’t like it.” Mick commented. “I think this was a bad idea.”

 

“You and me both.” Len agreed. “But we’re here and we need to play it by ear. Lisa and the other are most likely already in. We can’t leave now.”

 

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this place.”

 

“Me too.”

 

She came back swiftly and with a man much younger than her.

 

“This is Gareth. He’s our leader.” she stated.

 

“I said doctor lady, not leader.” Mick complained making Len nudge him to be quiet.

 

“Excuse the misunderstanding. We do have a doctor but we only have the one.” Gareth replied trying to soothe the situation. “We can’t risk him being exposed to strangers without clearing them first. Doctors are priceless these days.”

 

Mick opened his mouth, probably to complain again but Len butted in and cut him off before theses got messy.

 

“Perfectly understandable.” Len drawled. “So what does it take to get cleared to see a doctor these days?”

 

“You will lay down your weapons and let me inspect each of you.” Gareth started.

 

“Not gonna happen.” Mick immediately said. “No one’s touching me.”

 

“I’m afraid that’s a none negotiable rule.” Gareth’s facial features strained much like the elder woman.

 

“There’s always exceptions.” Len easily said. “My friend is hurt. We could really use you’re help.”

 

“I’m afraid that that’s not gonna happen either.” Gareth said right back. He strolled confidently right up to them. “Especially when your buddy here isn’t hurt.”

 

Len’s eyes widened a fraction. Busted.

 

Both men tensed but Mick tried to play it off even though they both knew that the jig was up.

 

“What are you, a doctor? I’m pretty sure you don’t know a thing about what I’m feeling right now.” Mick tried to cover for them.

 

Gareth smirked.

 

“I saw you and you’re little group before you even got close. You weren’t injured and before you try to deny this or make up some kind of story, think about this very carefully.”

 

Gareth gave a sharp whistle and people were coming out each man and woman holding a gun. Len tensed farther. That was a lot more people then they saw earlier. Len cursed in his head for making such a fatal mistake. See! This was why he took weeks, sometimes even months to prepare for heists. He liked planning things to the very second and he was damn good at it!

 

This, this was mistake the moment Len suggested it. He should’ve listened to Abraham. They should’ve just taken off to Washington like the other man suggested and took their chances there.

 

Mick tensed ready for a fight knew they had little chance of winning, but he would be damned before he would go down without a fi

“Still not sure yet?” Gareth asked. “Still thinking about fighting and taking what’s ours, because I’m sure that’s what you came here to do, am I right?”

 

Neither man answered which lead to Gareth shaking his head in amusement. Then, a man came up beside him and whispered something in his ear. The amusement left Gareth’s face for a moment before coming back full swing. He even chuckled darkly before pulling his attention back onto Mick and Len.

 

“Well, if you haven’t changed your mind yet, how about a little incentive?” Gareth gave another sharp whistle making both partners in crime on edge not knowing what was coming at them next.

 

Len, in a hundred years, never expected them to come out with a struggling Lisa and the others from their group. Mick had to hold him still or else he would have taken several steps towards them in order to protect his sister. Lisa stopped struggling when she saw Len, her eyes pleading with him to forgive her.

 

“Ah, so they are with you.” Gareth deduced when saw the looks of their faces. “My men found them sneaking around in the back. Probably would have never have caught them so quickly if it wasn’t for this bumbling idiot right here.”

 

Eugene put his head down in shame and Len wanted nothing more than to murder the fatso right then and there. Lisa wouldn’t have been caught on her own. It was why Len was so surprised to see her. She was good at what she did, almost as well as him. She wouldn’t have been so careless, but it wasn’t her that got them caught. It was the useless sack of shit that caused this.

 

“Now, I’ll ask one last time.” Gareth moved around the group so effortlessly, confidence just oozing from him with each step. “Lay down your weapons and let me check each of you. You will surrender to me and will calmly do what I tell you to do, understand?”

 

Len and Mick looked at each other before nodding. Len looked over to Lisa and told her with his eyes alone what they were going to do. When Lisa nodded, Len was satisfied that she knew what was going to come next.

 

Both Len and Mick put an effort to relax and started to pull out their weapons. Now that Mick no longer had to pretend to be injured he stood full height and proceed to take his gun and knife out.

 

Seeing that the two men were surrendering, Gareth’s men made the mistake of creeping closer and that’s when Len and Mick made their move.

 

Len couldn’t tell you what happened next except for a few details. It all happened fast and furious style. Mick was shooting people left and right. Len was knifing people trying to get closer to Lisa.

 

Lisa had broken free when Mick made the first move, using the shock to take the person’s gun away shooting them point blank in the face. She then joined the flurry of action shooting anyone who got close.

 

Of course the other group was firing right back at them. Everyone had to duck for cover once the shock wore off and everyone who was alive started to fight back against them.

 

“You okay?!” Len asked from his cover to his sister.

 

“Yeah!” Lisa forced a smile. “Never better!”

 

“This is all your fault!” Abraham yelled as he slammed himself next to Len. “We should’ve went to Washington! Now we’re in this bullshit!”

 

Shit, he didn’t even notice or even cared to notice what had happened to the other people in his group. Abraham was next to him, Rosita was a few feet away to their right firing as well, and Eugene was next to Rosita cowering like a scared pup with hands covering his ears.

  

“Yeah, yeah, yeah…” Len drawled knowing that it was his fault but he wasn’t going to let them see he cared about it.

 

“If Eugene dies, it’ll be on your head that you killed the human race!” Abe continued.

 

“It was Eugene’s fault that you got captured in the first place, from what I hear.” Len responded back.

 

“Hey!” Mick roared from his cover a few feet away to his left. “More shooting, less talking.

 

Len gritted his teeth and followed Mick’s lead. He opened fire on as many people he could between the crosshairs of his gun. It wasn’t much put he brought down quite a few people before his gun gave a sounding ‘click’.

 

“I’m out!” he told Lisa.

 

“Me too!” she replied. “What do we do Len?!”

 

Len panted, eyes going back and forth trying to think of a plan. There was none. His mind was empty. His smarts and intelligence was failing him. With limited weapons and lack of manpower, there was only one thing they could do; run.

 

“Run!” Len yelled as he threw his gun at someone. “Anyone who has bullets cover us!”

 

They all tried to hightail it out of them with Abe and Rosita covering them because everyone else was out of bullets and there was hardly a way to get more.

 

That’s where they all are now, running for their lives but the more Len was running the more Len could tell something was up. The bullets which were aimed at their heads and hearts were no being aimed at their feet. Each corner they took led them to be stopped with a rain of bullets till they turned around and headed into a different direction.

 

They were being led. Len’s mind supplied. He didn’t know where they were getting led to but it couldn’t be anywhere good. They passed several disturbing areas. A room with lit candles and horrifying messages and then an area where everyone could clearly see rotting dead bodies that have been stripped of most of their flesh. Then they reached to a clearing with abandoned train cars all lined up.

 

The bullets stopped firing leaving them to wonder what was going to happen next.

 

“Hey!” a voice yelled catching everyone’s attention.

 

Gareth was standing just off a ways with his gun drawn pointing straight at Lisa. Len tensed as he prepared himself to jump in front of her. A bullet skids passed his left foot before he could take another step.

 

“Ah-ah.” Gareth tisked. “None of that. We don’t need heroes now and I really don’t want to kill any of you at the moment, but I will if I have to.”

 

None of them made another move.

 

“Good.” Gareth smiled knowing he had everyone’s full attention. “Now, this is how it’s gonna be. You all are gonna get into that train car and you’re not gonna try to escape and hurt my men. You will be given a chance to join us.”

 

“And if we refuse?” Mick grunted. “I really don’t feel like joining you dirt bags.”

 

“Well,” Gareth continued to smile. “Then you are gonna be helping us survive in this harsh world.”

 

“What exactly does that me?” Lisa asked.

 

“You’ll find out.”

 

“Now wait a minute here!” Abe stepped up causing guns to aim his way. “We can’t stay here! We have a mission to complete! This man here is the key to saving the human race. We need to get to Washington!”

 

“Ha!” Gareth threw his head back. “That was a good one. And before you continue, just to let you know, only the strong survive! Those weak and useless will feed the strong ones and help us survive this hellhole. I could care less about saving humanity. Humanity is dead.”

 

“We first, always.” a chant broke out as many member spoke the statement at once.

 

“We are always first.” Gareth jerked his gun. “Now get in the car.”

 

None moved.

 

“Guess we need a little incentive.” Gareth muttered as he pulled the trigger.

 

Lisa cried out as the bullet hit her top right arm. The action was instantaneous as she clutched her arm in pain and fell to her knees form the shock of getting hit.

 

“Lisa!” Len cried as he raced to her side. Gareth let him and soon he was smirked something deviously.

 

“Now, I will say it again.” Gareth caught their attention once more. “Get in the freight or the next one will be in her head.”

 

Len glared at the man. If looks could kill. Gareth just smirked at him with amusement in his eyes.

 

“Now.”

 

That got them going. One by one, each person went into the car until it was only Mick standing at the door entrance waiting for Len and Lisa who were still on the ground.

 

“You too, big guy.” he waved his gun to get Mick inside.

 

Mick scowled and looked to Len for any cues. Len looked back at him and nodded his head while flicking his eyes to the car. Mick grunted but went inside. He fucking hated this!

 

“You too.”

 

“I’m going to kill you.” Len suddenly said as he helped Lisa up. “You better watch your back because I’m coming for you.”

 

“Don’t waste your breath sweetie.” Gareth grimaced. “No, that doesn’t sound right. Honey cakes, no. Sweetie pie, no, no, too cold for that. Oh, I know, Snowflake! That’s what I’ll call you from now on!”

 

“You’ve got to be kidding.” Len said drily. “What the fuck in wrong with you? Are you a stonecold idiot?”

 

“Now, now,” Gareth shrugged. “No need for that.”

 

“I’m going to kill you.” Len said it with certainty.

 

“Please try.” Gareth waved him off. “Now get in there.”

 

Without much choice, Len did what Gareth said and went into train car. The door closed behind him sealing their fate.