Author's notes: well, i was originally going to do a Yoko/David fic, cuz i love that pairing, but i was thinking – i know that Alyssa is supposed to like and respect Yoko, while she grows to like the reporter too; Yoko perhaps has a crush on Kevin that he's oblivious to; David and Yoko have a mutual trust/affection for each other; and Cindy, Mark and George are neither here nor there; but Yoko and Jim are more confusing, cuz Jim is supposed to like Yoko for whatever reason, but she thinks his cowardice and talkativeness are annoying, which i think is interesting, so i ended up writing a friendship fic featuring the pair of them. I like them both – so i just can't have them hating each other!!
If there was a more demoralising and frustrating experience than watching her one ticket to safety flying into the setting sun, Yoko didn't know what it was. She stood, disconsolate, staring after the helicopter as it grew smaller and smaller, vanishing from her line of sight. She couldn't blink, couldn't avert her eyes in case this was just a trick, as though they might return at any moment and save her.
A small part of her resented them for leaving her behind, but she knew they weren't to blame. She was too injured to take along. Though George might have successfully purged the wasp poison from her body, it hadn't been quick enough, and the virus had taken advantage of her weakness. She and Jim were a risk to the others. While there was hope for them, she and the subway worker were a dead loss...
Yoko felt the comfortable weight of Kevin's .45 auto in her belt, a parting gift. She couldn't imagine it would be all that much use to her. She was going to die anyway. Maybe Kevin expected her to die fighting, as he would surely have done. Somehow she didn't want to imagine her last moments involving a bloody battle, especially not with her current companion. She thought of the bitter goodbyes they had shared with their friends, hopes that would never be realised. She and Alyssa had planned on bringing down Umbrella together.
Her thoughts returned to the present moment. Jim was still talking, incessantly. "Oh, why does this shit always happen to me?" he cried, pacing frantically back and forth in a manner that made Yoko feel nauseous. "I finally thought we might get a cure, and maybe we'd escape but noooo, some freaky motherfucker turns up, then the goddamn pilot says we gotta stay behind 'cause we're too infected! Shit, I get that we can't put other people in danger, but if I'm gonna die, why couldn't it be with some Tyra Banks look-alike. I mean, I ain't saying you're ugly or nothing – you alright – but you know what I'm sayin'..."
Yoko refrained from being too annoyed with him, bearing in mind that she herself had been considering how she would much rather have had someone like Kevin to share her last moments with her.
"...I mean, I had dreams, Yoko! I wanted to see one last basketball game before I died... get those sneakers with the red stripe on the side... meet my favourite player... get a good job... find a beautiful woman... and what do I have?! Nothing! I feel sick... God... why me? Why me?!"
"Shut up!" Yoko snapped. "Why can you never just shut up? You're so annoying sometimes!" The force of her scream caught them both by surprise, and she immediately turned away, hurrying away to the welcoming shape of an abandoned car. She tried the handle, hoping the slide onto the leather back seat and sleep. If she closed her eyes, she wouldn't even feel the change. She wouldn't feel the hunger building until the last whispers of life were dragged from her malnourished body. She was famished. She was sure it was from the lack of food and not the virus.
She curled onto the back seat, pulling her knees up to her chin and wrapping her arms around them. Glancing out of the dirty window, she could see Jim was still pacing neurotically, only now he was rambling to himself instead of to her. Every so often he would throw a nervous glance towards the courtyard where the corpse of the monster, Thanatos would be sprawled.
The horror of that final battle was still fresh in her mind. She had fought with all the strength in her small body, and what good had come of it? Her friends had escaped the terror. Or at least, most of them had. David was lying in that courtyard, she knew. Yoko prayed fervently that she wouldn't meet his undead form before she died. Even in death, the virus had the power to warp the body. How bravely he had fought. They had all fought.
She heard Jim's anxious voice calling to her, but she ignored it. She didn't intend to leave the relative safety and comfort of this vehicle. He didn't understand at all. It was quite sad really. They had all been so kind to her, but most of them wouldn't listen to her, not really. She was the youngest and therefore they all seemed to think it was their duty to treat her like a child; they didn't follow her when she asked them to, didn't acknowledge her suggestions with anything more than a slightly patronising, kindly smile. Except for Jim, David and Alyssa. David, who had been more of a friend to her than anyone she'd ever known and was now dead, Alyssa, whom she'd been afraid of at first before becoming allies, was now flying away towards a new life, a future. And then Jim, with his constant whining. She knew he was a good person, but his incessant prattling frustrated her, and he was always there, hovering, asking questions, acting as some kind of commentator, as though they needed someone to remind them how hopeless and terrifying the situation was. And his selfish cowardice, that was something else she disliked. The only way to survive was to look out for one another. She herself might be physically the weakest, but she'd played her part. What the hell had he done? Pretended to be dead, in the hopes the zombies would go away. Hide in lockers. Hide under beds. Run out of the room, only to run back in and hit the zombie when it was on the verge of defeat anyway. No, he was not the person she would have chosen to spend her last few hours with.
Her head jerked up. It wasn't a call this time, but a terrified cry. She pressed a face to the window, her dark eyes widening in disbelieving horror at the dreadful sight of the mutated monstrosity, Thanatos, limping through the wreckage of a shattered brick wall, smoke pluming from its raw and bloodied heart. How many times they had shot that creature... was it indestructible? So, they would not succumb to the virus, but would be mauled by this freak of nature, which Greg had described as a god. Yoko thought there couldn't be anything further from the truth. It was a monster.
A petrified scream escaped Jim's mouth again as he stumbled backwards, the deadly swing of Thanatos' immense claw missing him by mere inches. Yoko was rooted to the spot with fear. It hadn't seen here. And she was no use to Jim. She couldn't help him. Maybe she should stay put...
"Yoko!" he yelped.
She knew she couldn't be a bystander in this. It appeared she would die fighting after all. Kevin would be proud; a comforting thought. She pulled the .45 auto from her belt with her good hand, her left arm hanging uselessly in its sling.
Yoko stumbled out of the car to see the subway worker running towards her, panic stricken. She was mortified. She could barely fire a normal handgun with two good arms, let alone this high-powered gun, with only one hand. Nevertheless, she lifted it, aiming it as best she could at the monster's head. If the obvious target of the heart hadn't been able to kill it, maybe aiming for the head would work... providing it obeyed the laws of 'human' zombies... which it so far had not.
Thankfully, it seemed unable to leap breathtaking heights anymore, making it slower, but not much less formidable. It staggered towards her, and Yoko shook with fear, throwing her aim more than a little. She tried to level her arm once more, tried not to wet herself with terror, tried to ignore the fact that Jim was cowering behind her, shaking like a leaf.
Thanatos took one more ungainly step forward, dragging that grotesque claw in its wake. Yoko aimed, and fired. She planned to empty the whole clip into its head, but only managed one bullet. The recoil from the .45 auto took her by surprise, and she stumbled back, butting Jim backwards into the direction of the wall. He seemed to take this as a sign to flee.
As Yoko recovered, ready to bring Kevin's weapon up again, Thanatos swung at her. She flung herself backwards, crawling awkwardly on hand and knees as the sweep of the mutated bone passed over her head.
She staggered back to her feet, prepared to run away, when in the return sweep of the claw, the tip of the ivory bone caught her ankle, flinging her onto the bonnet of the car in which she'd previously hoped to seek refuge. The glass in the windscreen shattered upon her impact. She felt the raw ache in her body, and the sharp pain of a glass shard in her side, before her eyesight dimmed, and the blackness consumed her.
The first thing Yoko heard was the awful sound of something heavy, slamming against the wall – a slow, laboured movement, but a horrible reminder of the monster that was trying to get in. She was just thankful that it was weaker now, most of its strength exhausted, otherwise that previous blow would have probably killed her. And even if not, it would have broken through the wall by now and finished them.
As her eyes fluttered open, they rejoiced with her other senses in the knowledge that she was still alive. A few more precious seconds were hers. The question that surfaced in her mind though was: how is this so?
Her strained eyes absorbed the image that greeted them. The metal door, bowing under the pressure that Thanatos was placing upon it, the dust rising as it hammered the wall. She recognised this place. She had been here before, with Jim, Mark and David, when they were collecting the V-poison to create Daylight. A cure that only one of them would use, whilst one died, and the remaining two succumbed to the virus. It was the small room, an security guards' room, perhaps, which they had fled to after the giant wasps attacked them.
Thanatos would break through soon, and Yoko knew that they couldn't stay here, but she knew what lay on the other side of the door. She was barely fast enough to evade the wasps before, but now she was hampered by her throbbing ankle, no doubt twisted from its run in with a giant claw.
She was reminded sharply of her injuries. Her arm felt numb in its sling. The piece of glass that had pierced her side was gone, and had been replaced by a bandage. The wound stung with the fresh, raw feeling of antiseptic. Had Jim done this?
She glanced round for him, hardly believing what she was thinking. It wasn't beyond him to face his fear and do a selfless act for another, but the notion that he had somehow gotten her safely – unconscious – away from Thanatos, and then treated her injuries seemed implausible. In fact, it was downright absurd, it had to be.
The subway worker caught her eye, sighing with relief as he saw her awake. He approached, a goofy grin planted on his face, but it didn't distract from the fact that her was sweating profusely, or mask the way his eyes were wide with fear.
"Shit, thank God. For a second, I thought you weren't going to wake up."
"Did... did you do this?" Yoko asked, gingerly placing a hand on her bandaged wound.
"Uh, yeah," he said with a small shrug.
She was about to thank him, not to mention ask him how they'd found their way to shelter, when the wall was struck hard, a loud thud resounding in the small room, causing the pair to almost jump out of their skins. The wall was already buckling, and there was no way it would hold up for long.
"We gotta get outta here," Jim pointed out, placing an arm round Yoko's back to support her as she pushed herself from the metal desk she was perched upon. She reached her good arm round his back and gathering a fistful of his jacket material as anchorage.
He made for the door leading into the wasps' nest, but Yoko stayed stubbornly still.
"We can't go through there!" she exclaimed. "We'll never make it through all those wasps!"
"Believe me, girl, no one hates bugs more than me, but if we stay here we're screwed! I figure we could take the elevator down and try and get as deep underground as possible."
"You heard what that pilot said – they're gonna bomb the whole damn city! If we're deep underground, we might just escape the blast, right?"
He made another attempt for the door, and Yoko, bewildered and using him for support, had little choice but to go with him. His words made so little sense to her. It was certain that the military would have thought of using bombs with enough of a kick to wipe out underground zones, such as the subway, which was probably swarming with zombies. In which case, hiding underground wouldn't save them. In any case, even if they survived the blast, they would surely succumb to the virus.
Then it dawned on her. Jim was still hoping for rescue. She was resigned to her fate, but she had never realised, that amongst that whingeing and wittering, her ally was clinging to the hope that they might be cured. That they could be saved. For some reason, this just made her want to cry. Would she have to break it to him, that this was all there was for them?
The deafening sound of buzzing was an unwelcome memory, but Yoko tried to force it from her mind, and concentrate instead on limping down the staircase towards the lift that would take them down to the tracks down below.
Fortunately, the bees were slow to notice their arrival. Were they already so far gone that the infected recognised them as one of their own? Yoko was both relieved and scared to discover that this was not the case – at least, not yet.
As the heavy lift door closed, she heard the distinct sound of the wasps' stings striking the metal. Jim left go as he operated the controls, and Yoko leaned against the rail for support, her eyes fixed on the space above them. That's where their enemies would come from. Experience told her so.
As the elevator began its descent, Jim took the .45 auto from her and clutched it firmly, his aim following her gaze.
It wasn't long before they came, swooping on the pair. Jim alternated between shrieking in fear and firing the gun, but Yoko didn't know what to do with herself. Her knife was clutched securely in her hand, but it was little use against aerial foes.
A wasp dived at her, and the student flung herself onto the ground, landing heavily on her injured arm, though oddly, feeling nothing. Its sting lodged in the metal grating of the floor, and Yoko seized the opportunity to roll onto her side and stab it viciously with her knife. It made a horrible screech, writhing and expunging an oozing poison before it curled into a lifeless shape.
She struggled to her feet, standing with her back to Jim. Maybe she had no decent weapon, and maybe he wasn't the best person to have in a fight, but she had his back and hoped to God that he had hers.
The moment they cleared the lift of wasps, three more swooped down on them. The wasp closest to Yoko dived again.
"Watch out!" she cried, dropping to her knees as it plunged its sting towards them. Eyes pressed shut, she was silently thankful as she heard Jim copy her movement, before hearing the wonderful sound of the lift coming to a halt.
She looked up. The wasps were rising, ready to dive-bomb them once more. Jim grabbed Yoko again, and the pair began their ungainly retreat towards the door at the far corner of the vault.
He pushed her into the next corridor before scrambling through himself, closing the door on the vicious insects. Yoko breathed heavily, bracing herself against the wall as she tried to recover her strength. Already the door they had escaped through was gathering dents as the wasps tried to break through.
No rest yet.
She limped over to the ladder that would lead to the T-shaped passage below. From there, they could continue on and hope to survive an encounter with yet more wasps, not to mention hope that the giant arachnids had disappeared, or they could seek shelter in one of the rooms that led off from the passage.
"I'll go first," Jim suggested tentatively, "make sure there ain't any zombies." He waved the gun around for emphasis, though there couldn't be any more than three bullets left in it.
Yoko couldn't help but wonder where all this uncharacteristic bravery had come from, but she didn't say a word, waiting patiently as he clambered down.
She held her breath as a gunshot rang out, her heart thudding as she considered the worst. Then she heard a short, nervous laugh and she exhaled, a small smile crossing her lips in spite of herself.
"All clear!" came her friend's voice. "Jump down, I'll catch you!"
Yoko frowned at the hole in the ground that the ladders were extending from. She would do no such thing. Instead she lowered herself into a sitting position at the edge, using her good arm to pull her body towards the ladder. Unfortunately, climbing down was trickier than she thought.
She placed her bad foot on the next rung, hoping the injury was mild enough for her to place a little weight on it for a moment. So she was completely unprepared for the spasm of pain that shot up her leg and caused her to let go of the ladder.
The student's stomach smacked into Jim's shoulder as she landed right on top of him, as he'd been waiting below. The impact threw him off kilter for a second, not to mention winded him, but he managed to wrap his arms round Yoko's legs and lower her to the ground.
She gave him an embarrassed half-smile, which was received with a silly grin, raised eyebrows and a disbelieving shake of the head.
"Damn, girl, you're heavier than you look!"
Yoko's face flushed pink with embarrassment, even though she knew he was joking with her.
They could hear that disturbing moaning sound – the song of the infected – and quickly sought refuge within the room to their right.
Yoko recognised it from before – a small rectangular room filled with a couple of messy desks, a few lockers at one end and a broken switchboard at the other. She leant against the wall while Jim shut the door, hastily pushing a desk in front of it and tipping a locker onto it to wedge the desk in place. It should hold out well against any potential zombie intruders, but seeing as there were no other doors leading from the room, he had effectively just sealed them inside. Not that there was much point in heading anywhere else, but did Yoko really want to face her imminent death whilst locked in a room with Jim Chapman? She honestly didn't know anymore. True, the guy annoyed her sometimes, but he had also saved her life.
"Phew..." he sighed, pulling the subway cap from his head and tossing aside before slumping against the wall next to the switchboard. "I know we're gonna die and all, but I don't wanna do it with a zombie munching on my face, ya know."
Yoko realised she must have seen staring at him questioningly. She couldn't help it, it was just the expression she had developed when dealing with him. Her limbs felt heavy, and she came to the conclusion that it wasn't long now. With a moment's hesitation, Yoko ventured across the room and seated herself beside Jim, to which he raised his eyebrows slightly.
Sliding her arm from its sling with the help of her good arm, Yoko took a look at the ugly wound that spanned her forearm. She could even see the teeth-marks around the twisted, off-colour flesh. Was that gangrene? Perhaps it was better that she didn't know, but she couldn't help but touch it with her fingers, shuddering as she realised that she felt nothing. It was just cold. Now long now.
"Can you not do that?" Jim asked squeamishly.
She placed her arm back in the sling, turning to face him. "How do you feel?"
"Like shit. This really ain't how I wanted to go. I wanted to die old, and in my sleep. And I wanted a beautiful Naomi Campbell look-alike for a wife... but you know, one that was less crazy. And I wanted to play basketball with the pros. And get my lucky shirt signed. And buy my favourite sneakers. And see my family one last time. And... and how about you? How'd you feel?"
"Numb," she whispered. "And cold."
Yoko pressed her eyes shut for a moment, shivering with fear. It wasn't an intense fear now, like it had been while they were rushing through the city, trying to escape. Now it was just dread.
She caught a rustling sound beside her, and opened her eyes to find Jim removing his jacket. He handed it to her, and in response she just stared, unsure how to respond to the random acts of kindness he sometimes presented her with.
"What are you doing?" she questioned.
"You said you were cold. Hurry up and take it before I change my mind," he urged with a slight grin. "I didn't realise it was so cold down here last time."
"Thank you..." she said earnestly, hoping that he heard the gratitude in her voice. Yoko felt a little guilty taking the jacket, but she couldn't pretend it wasn't a great comfort to feel its heavy warmth cocooning her cold body.
"Jim... when Thanatos appeared before... I thought you'd run away, but you must've dragged me to the security office while I was unconscious, because I don't know how else I could've got there... Why did you help me?"
He frowned, a strange, calm expression on his face that she had never noticed before while she'd known him. Usually, it was just a nervous grimace or fearful expression.
"I know I'm a wimp, Yoko. I can't help it, I just get scared sometimes. I dunno how you guys were so brave 'cause all I wanted to do is scream and run half the time. Sometimes I did. But we're friends, right? I ain't gonna leave you to die, no matter how scared I am."
Yoko pulled her knees up to her chest, curling into a smaller shape in order to resist the cold. She stared thoughtfully at the dirty concrete, partly stained with blood. If there was one explanation she hadn't been expecting, that was it. He'd done it because they were friends. Did he really think that? Had he not noticed all those times she'd disagreed with him, had tried to avoid having him follow her, or was he just choosing to ignore them? No one had ever told her they were her friend before. She had assumed David was her friend, possibly Alyssa too, but no one had ever said it, out loud.
It was strange.
Jim shivered, pulling his lucky coin from the pocket in his jeans. Yoko had seen him use it before, but she didn't have the faintest idea why he had a lucky coin, as opposed to articles of clothing, which were usually considered lucky by some people.
"Where did you get that?"
He grinned. "A while back, when I flipped a regular old coin during this big basketball game. I thought my team were gonna lose, so I flipped a coin – heads they win, tails they lose."
"And it was heads! They won! Winning shot by my main man. So I figured this must be lucky, right? I know I just looks like a regular coin, but I'm telling you, this baby's got me outta some sticky situations."
"I have a lucky charm," Yoko commented, prying her necklace from underneath her black vest and running her fingers over it, remembering her mother's face. Yoko didn't really believe in luck, but this necklace had been her grandmother's and her mother's. Just to have it resting softly against her skin was enough comfort, to know she wasn't alone. She opened her eyes, a resolution filling her heart. She gazed at Kevin's gun, laying harmlessly on the floor, only two bullets left in the magazine. "If I start to change, shoot me," she murmured, her thoughts on David, who very well may have risen as the walking dead by this point. "I don't want to live like that."
"Yeah," he said, nodding. "Same here. Oh... I don't feel so good."
"It will be over soon," Yoko replied quietly. A tear slid down her cheek, and she blinked quickly in the hope that no more would follow it. Unfortunately, that didn't work, and the tears continued to seep silently from her ebony eyes.
Jim turned his lucky coin over and over in his hand before flipping it and turning it over to see the outcome.
"Why are you flipping the coin this time?" she asked, her voice surprisingly even despite the tears.
"No reason." He stopped, tucking it back safely into his pocket.
Yoko reached out, sliding her hand into his, and wrapping her fingers tightly around his cold hand. Jim squeezed it back reassuringly, but his face registered surprise. Perhaps he hadn't genuinely believed they were friends after all.
"What're you doin'?" he asked.
"We're friends, right?" she asked, with a small, sad smile.
He glanced up to her tearstained face and squeezed her hand more tightly, giving the melancholic girl a reassuring smile. She smiled back through the tears. For the first time since they'd met, they had reached the same place in their train of thought.
A rattling noise drew their attention to the light metal door.
The ominous moans of the undead resounded from outside.
Yoko and Jim kept a tight grip on each other's hand.
And then they waited.