A few quick notes on this fiction. This little piece was inspired by GeeLady's "Gone With The World" and its universe. I have gained her permission to compose this piece. For those that have read it; most of this will take place in the compound. For those that have not; go read it. It rocks. You don't have to know it if you just think "Oh, AU, sure, that works." But it'll make a lot more sense if you read the story above.
Disclaimer: Gone With The World universe by GeeLady
Characters belong to Craig Thomas and Carter Bays. Not me. Story line is my own.
Arch shook his head. He wasn't going to let it happen like this, he couldn't. He knew he didn't have a choice. But he couldn't let this happen. The gun was at his face, the fight knocked out of Foot… but they were going to take 'Pod away. They had fought so far to keep 'Pod from their hands, even after their fights and spats… no, no Arch was not going to let them take 'Pod. Arch closed his eyes.
"If you have to, then take us too. It said they could use us. Could use Browns. Take us too." Arch knelt down, shaking Foot. He could feel 'Pod's eyes on him. He missed those eyes.
The Outbreak had not treated the group kindly. Lily was the first to go. They had found out about the massive unknown virus that swept the world through, of all places, Metro News One. Robin had been the one to give it, Sandy had died the night before. That was just the start of it. The instant they found out, the group put Robin, Lily, and Barney together, in quarantine, away from anyone. In Barney's apartment they knew no-one would get in.
Until Barney called them, sobbing, hysterical. He and Robin woke up to find Lily dead. Ten minutes later Ted and Marshall, who was in a stupor, arrive to find Barney sitting alone in his room. He was blank, he couldn't answer any of their questions. It wasn't until they went on a search that they found Lily and Robin, wrapped neatly in Barney's sheets, resting in the Suit Room. Marshall almost killed Barney. He blamed him for killing his wife, their friend. Ted managed to lock him out of the room. Barney was in no shape to be murdered; he was not with them. He had shut down, not even aware that Ted was shaking his shoulders.
It took Ted a week to calm Marshall down. They had managed to bury Robin and Lily in relative quiet, Barney sitting not far away, eyes still zoned out. They had beside him after the deed was done, trying to ignore the chaos that was going on around them. There were the evacuations, the digging for blue-eyed survivors and systematic murders of them. Ted wouldn't let that happen, not until Barney told them what happened. And why he was still alive. Blue Eyes died, they carried the Death. How had Barney not?
Another two weeks, dragging him around as they moved about. They couldn't stay where they were, there were too many people on the lookout for apartments to live in, for food to take, for safety, for blue-eyes to kill. No, they had to keep Barney until they found out how he survived even when their women died. They had managed to get to down to Pennsylvania, away from N.Y., away from the segregation and hardships before their gas ran out. Stuck in the car on the side of the road, in the middle of the night, middle of no-where, Barney finally came out of his shell-shock.
"I told her not to touch Lily. I told her that Lily was sick, let her be, the others would be here soon enough." Marshall turned, eyes narrowed in hate. Ted held his arm, taking his hands off the steering wheel of the now dead car. Let him finish. Tears were rolling down the pale cheeks as life slowly came back to the sivlerblue eyes. Barney's voice cracked.
"But she didn't listen. She had to wrap her up. I hung up the phone, and she was slouched over Lily. They, they were both…" He was shaking. His voice was so broken by the end they could barely understand him. Just a few sentences, barely enough to fill a cup. But Ted and Marshall understood it. And after that, Marshall was never mad at Barney for the death of the girls again. Ted climbed into the back, pulling Barney tightly to him and held his friend. Marshall watched, unsure as to what to do. Barney just sobbed into Ted's jacket, trying hard to catch enough air so he didn't pass out. But he was weeping so hard into his friend's shoulder oxygen was too difficult to come by.
"Why didn't I go? I'm a blue eye, I should have died with them! Why am I here?!"
"Shh, Barney, shh. It's not your fault." This was not like Barney. But Ted could understand to an extent.
"I never- I never told her." Barney gasped for breath, a look from Ted made Marshall dig for a map and start folding it into a type of bag. "She never knew."
"She knew Barney, I'm sure she knew. It's Robin, she wasn't stupid. She knew man, she knew." Ted glanced at Marshall, pleading very clearly.
"Barn." The big man was hesitant, memory of Lily still fresh in his brain. He knew what Barney was going through… only his Lily knew he loved her. "It's okay man. Come on, we gotta find somewhere to go."
They wandered aimlessly. Days, weeks, months… none of them knew where they were going, what they were doing. The three hadn't said much since they ditched the car that night. There wasn't much to say. Marshall tried to move on, knowing that he wasn't the only one to lose his wife. He took charge of protecting the group. Ted spent most of his time trying to find food and shelter. They had nowhere to go, no idea where to go… but he wasn't going to let anyone get hurt. It was just the three of them. Marshall might be security, but Ted though for the future. Marshall and he were going to be fine, Barney on the other hand…
Barney had taken to cooking. They had to be careful of him. Two people in a group was alright, they could get along. But three? They stood a better chance of survival with three. And Ted couldn't bring himself to banish Barney. He was a liability, but he was their friend first. Marshall wouldn't lash out at him anymore, but it didn't mean he didn't still think it unfair that Barney lived and Lily died. It'd quell with time, but for now, it was still strong. Either way, he had to keep under wraps. During the day Marshall and Ted would go on the lookout for food, for their next resting place. Barney would stay behind in whatever shelter they could find, managing the embers he carried around in a jar for their fire, dividing their food, boiling what little water they had to keep it clean. He was the quietest of them all.
"I found a place we can set up in. I mean it this time guys! I don't think we'll ever have a problem there."
"Right, sure we will."
"Barn don't be that way."
"That's what you said last time!" Ted winced at his friend's words, avoiding looking at him. Marshall put up a hand to keep Ted from saying anything back.
"Barney, I think the water's hot."
"Thanks Sasquatch.." Barney had turned bitter since their last "place." He didn't say much, but when he did it was sour, leaving a poor taste in Ted's mouth.
Ted had found an empty storage shed, thinking it'd be a great stay. They wouldn't have to move anymore, they could close the heavy door, let the smoke go out the fan atop that was meant to keep the items stored inside from getting damp. They'd be safe from wind and rain, and it'd be dark inside and out so no one would see their fire. It was perfect! Until Marshall grew paranoid at the scratching outside and opened the door. There was a man begging to get in. What was one more person Ted offered, saying that he could be good as a scavenger or something. But he was a brown-eye, like Ted and Marshall. He was introduced to the group as "Mel" and waved to Barney who was in the corner, over the cooking fire (separate from the real fire) and made himself at home. It wasn't until Barney served them food that Mel got a good look at the blond.
"You're a blue!"
"Huh?" Ted and Marshall looked up from their pie-tins of beans and corn.
"You! It's your fault my daughter is dead!" The screech caused a wild dog to bay outside, raising more attention from whatever people might be around. Ted wasn't stupid enough to think they were the only ones to find this place. There was a clatter, and the main warmth and light fire was scattered as Mel lunged at Barney, clawing at his face. Marshall managed to find the right man, throwing him outside into the moonlight to make sure. Ted grabbed Barney, Marshall grabbed Mel. Barney was howling in pain, hands clamped over his face. Mel was raising an alarm. Blue eye, blue eye, blue eye. They had to run. Marshall snapped his neck, then ducked inside to stuff a few embers into their jar along with their sack of provisions. Ted helped Barney to his feet, and lead him and Marshall out into the world again. Once more, they were on the run. They kept on all night, simply moving. Ted heaved Barney over to Marshall after a bit, allowing him to get a bit ahead and look for a place to spend the last of the night. They paused in the gutter once. It was almost dawn, and Marshall had been trying to get Ted to stop for the last hour. Barney had passed out. Using the ember, they opened the jar, letting air it, letting it glow. They could see the deep gashes in his face from the un-cut nails of "Mel." The man had tried to gouge Barney's eyes out of his head.
They tore the bloody shirt Barney had on, making it into rough bandages for the time being. They couldn't stop long enough to take real care of it; they could be followed. So they closed the ember again, letting it suffocate to put out the flame, keeping its heat and a smidge of life. Throwing the jar's strap over Ted's shoulder Marshall hefted Barney back onto his wide shoulder, splitting the weight of the foodbag before taking off again.
It was well into mid-morning before Ted and Marshall stopped under a tree again, laying Barney carefully. They had no idea what they were doing. With Barney out cold neither of them knew how to make a fire. So they couldn't clean the water. But they had to flush out the wounds on their friends face; they were already looking nasty. It was dark before the blond roused, groaning as he touched his bandaged face. Ted knew he had made a mistake.
"It won't be like last time." Ted shook the memory from his mind, his face set. "No one will be there this time, I can almost guarantee it. It's a cemetery. Survival or not, people still get the hee-bee-gee-bees in cemeteries."
"So I can take the bandages off?" Hope. There was hope in Barney's voice. It was full of sarcasem, but there was still a hint of hope.
"I'm sorry Barn, we can't do that."
"But Ted just said-"
"Barney." Marshall pulled his arm around his friend's shoulder, resting the blonde's head on his beefy shoulder. For all their time on the run, living off meager food, Marshall was still a big man. "Even if there's no one around our house, there will still be people when we go out. And if the army does a raid again we have to protect you. There might not be time to wrap your eyes up again. Better not to see then to be dead because you have blue eyes."
"But I want to see!" Whining. One thing that Barney would never grow out of.
"Stop being such an arthropod."
"What the fuck did you just call me?!"
"I'm no fucking furry!"
"Barn, that's not what Ted-"
"That's disgusting! I might have the libido of a rabbit but I'm not going to screw one."
"No way in hell, that's a sick fetish, even for me! You architects and your buildings. No wonder the office looked the way it did, like some big penis or something. God, does looking at bricks constitute as porn for you or something?!"
"And even if I was into animals some stupid anthro character is just stupid. It's not like I'm some kind of Styloctenium Matschieor anything."
"He didn- some kind of what?"
"Dude, you dug yourself too deep. Come on, man up."
"Man up, man up, man up." Marshall and Ted started a chant under their rock, grinning from ear to ear as Barney hunched over the can of dinner.
"Fine, shut up! It's a type of bat."
"Styloctenium Matschie, it's a Stripe-Faced Fruit Bat. True story."
"Dude, you're a striped fruit bat? You have any idea how gay that sounds."
"Considering as there are no women Ted, yeah, I do."
"Pift, you're a bat?! Ted, Ted, Stinson's a furry!"
"Shut up Big Foot!"
"Dude, really. He's right. You're a furry."
"You started this."
"No, I called you what you call yourself all the time."
"An Arthropod is a barnacle Barney. I wasn't saying you were a furry. You were the one that jumped to that. Hiding something from us?" Barney froze. Looking very white he went about his business, ignoring the chuckling duo behind him. Dinner was served in silence, the three of them falling on the food the second it was put in front of them. They had always eaten like this since the Outbreak. Quiet, always quiet. Food had to disappear quickly, or it had the chance to be taken from them. Beans, always beans. But this time they had a bit of carrots with them. A welcome change.
"We need new names." Marshall broke the mute meal, making Barney jump and Ted quark an eyebrow.
"Yeah, new names. We're trying to leave our old life behind, right? Isn't that what you keep telling me Ted? It'd be perfect. We can let everything go. Barney can let go of everything and everyone that he screwed, you can move on from Mosbius Designs, and I can let go of Lil." His voice broke on the last word, Ted and Barney knew that this was going to be a huge step for Marshall. None of them wanted to let go of their friends. But they had to survive. If they held onto them any longer, any tighter, they would only survive.
"What did you have in mind?"
Barney was open to it? Ted glanced at him, watching as he quickly ducked his head back down and stuffed his mouth with food. He was letting go of Robin by doing this. But he knew that, they all knew that. Barney was a man of many masks, Ted just couldn't fathom how many.
"I think we should call you Arthropod now." That's right Ted, dig back into that. Barney scowled.
"Then you should be Archie, because, you know, you get turned on by arches."
"That didn't even make sense."
"How about you Sasquatch, what's your name?"
"Stop calling me that!"
"I think you should be Big Foot Marshall."
"Ted you can't be serious."
"Architect, not Ted."
"You're going to use that name?"
"Only if you seriously want to have new names."
Marshall sat quietly. They finished their food, each thinking on their titles. Barney was the one to break the silence this time.
"Only if you shorten my name to 'Pod. The 'anthro' part needs to be nixed."
"Shorten mine to 'Foot' and we're good."
And just like that, the future didn't look so dark.