Okay. This is AU, in that Kyle didn't die, nor did Audrey, and Michael didn't 'do a Daniel Jackson'. set after the events in the film, cause I really liked the idea of where it all went from there…… And there's OC's. sorry. x

Just three weeks since it had started

Long enough to start new routines, but not long enough to forget the enormity of sudden events, or the confusion and frustration of never really knowing exactly what had gone wrong.

They had listened to the radio's, tuning them in to the crackling, barely audible pirate stations posted way out in the desert somewhere. The stories and minute scraps of information they heard thrilled them and devastated them in equal measure.

That was where most people had gone, leaving the small town in dusty, heavily loaded cars, heading out on single track roads until their rumbling silhouettes were swallowed by the dust or the darkness, following the tinny voices that beckoned them through the yawning distance.

In three weeks the population of that small town had gone from just over three thousand, to a smattering of individuals.

Kate had met Kevin in the supermarket.

Near the fresh produce isle.

There had been a minor standoff between them before it became immediately obvious that neither of them were a threat, even in the looting stakes. With everyone gone, the town was a free for all. Kate hadn't even taken to hoarding yet.

With guns lowered and barely a word spoken they had packed into their bags enough food for a couple of days, taking with them the last of the fresh fruit, and silently left the store.

Mr Gardner was the reason Kate had stayed, her elderly neighbour that lived below her in the only block of flats the town had to offer. He was usually cared for by his niece, but she had been one of the first to leave, leaving him frail and crippled in the one bedroom apartment.

Kate had heard him crying through the thin floorboards.

The apartment block offered them better prospects than the other houses or stores in town. The bottom floor had no windows at all, and the rest came equipped with safety bars and shutters which were locked from the inside. Entry was provided only with key, that was used to pass through two doors and the elevator.

It also offered the best view.

Which is how Kevin managed to spot the beaten up pick up careening down the road, it's plume of dust had been visible since it rose above the horizon. He'd called her over from where she had been preparing a can of peaches for Mr Gardner to take a look. She hadn't seen a car for days, even then, they had been travelling the other way.

They watched it move closer, neither of them betraying any sense of emotion as they peered through the shutter slats. It slowed down until it nearly stopped, and Kate could imagine the occupants casting wild glances left and right to assess the threat before slowly pulling in at the junction, the car rolling and jerking across the uneven blacktop. They lost sight of it when it disappeared behind the old burger joint but followed its passage marked by the kick of dust that swilled in the thick desert air.

*

Five minutes was all it took for them to gear up and head out, their practised steps barely making a sound on the rough and sandy streets. They ducked and turned through narrow alleys and side streets until they came up against the main road, its once crowded shop fronts empty and littered with the debris caused by hundreds fleeing the town. Kate ducked down behind a stationary Chevy, and watched as Kevin advanced a few meters ahead to tuck himself up against the wall of an aged and peeling drugstore.

She leant forward, carefully minding her bare arm as it brushed against the burning metal of the car's bumper. Narrowing her eyes she caught sight of a young girl, no more than eighteen years of age clutching what appeared to be a rolled up coat to her chest. Kate watched as the girls eyes moved from point to point, always fleeting. Evidence of practice.

There was a young man in the back of the truck, crouched low with a gun balanced on his knee ready to aim. His overalls had been slipped from his shoulders and tied about his waist in deference to the crippling heat.

There was also someone in the cabin of the truck, but the way the sun glanced off the window made it impossible to make out more than their shadow. She shifted, her legs aching in their stance as she cradled the rifle against her stomach, keeping its tip from betraying her position. She cast her gaze over at Kevin, his face glazed with sweat as his finger played against the safety on his own pistol.

She had already made her choice. They clearly weren't hanging around, maybe stopping off to refuel before heading back out. She would let them go, and stick to the plans she had already made. The more people who thought this town deserted, the better.

Rocking back on her heels, she motioned to Kevin.

He stepped backwards, and in the same moment the door to the drugstore flew open.

She had only known Kevin for just over a week, and there were few things she could have told anyone about him. He was quiet. He was brave to the point of idiocy, and he was always first out the door, but when caught off guard he jumped a mile. And if the gun skittering across the sidewalk didn't alert them, then his cough of surprise certainly did.

They turned as she bolted upright from behind the car.

There had been two of them in the drugstore, but only one of them had a gun. Currently aimed at her. Kate panicked slightly, hefting her rifle more firmly in her grip as she peered down its length. There was a scuffling noise to her left and brief glance told her that the man from the back of the pick up and joined in.

Silence.

Heavy and insufferable.

It seemed all eyes were on her, but her focus stayed on the man within her sights. Focused enough to watch his lips move, the same pattern, over and over. She couldn't hear, but she could understand. 'Ain't got time for this.'

Something in this man's litany, in his unwavering eyes bereft of any malice made Kate's shoulder drop, the rifle tip aimed at the ground.

A couple seconds later, he followed suit, a slight frown marring his dark face as the man who had been in the drugstore with him strode out across the empty street to where the pick up lay idling, wrenching open the door and slamming it shut behind him.

The resounding crunch of metal on metal jarred them all from their bizarre reverie, and the eyes of those who had come in the pick up all swerved to settle on the vehicle, the man who had jumped from the back swung around on one foot and raced to the window of the cab, pressing up against it, his gun thrown over his shoulder on its strap and forgotten.

Kate loosened her grip but still maintained her hold on the rifle, slightly perturbed by this sudden change and still aware that she was facing an armed man. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Kevin take a few steps back, lowering his hands from where he'd thrown them up as the two men had turned to face them.

Standing in the blazing heat of the road it was obvious that any threat was over, that any attention deserved to be on the truck, whose sole occupant had seemingly necessitated their sudden arrival.

"Is someone hurt?" Kate barely recognised her own voice, so used to only speaking in hushed tones. She could feel the anxiety rolling off Kevin, could almost sense his fingers itching to pick up the gun that lay closer to the stranger than it did to them.

The man looked them up and down, sucking at his teeth in a nervous gesture before he shook his head slightly. "Not hurt, no. Just sick." the way he shifted made it apparent that he was uncomfortable talking to her.

"Sick how?" she asked, fingers flexing around the butt of the rifle.

The man shrugged slightly, looking back quickly at the truck. "I dunno, she got a fever."

Kate nodded, unsure what to say. She watched as the man released the grip on his gun, stowing it back in the waistband of his pants. She let the rifle hang loosely at her side.

"Where are you from?" she called over to him.

"Me? I'm from Vegas." she could tell he was distracted, but Kate found herself developing a sense of nervousness. These were real people. Not those things that flocked around the town weeks ago, that took away those who weren't quick enough to run, rending their shrieks and screams through the tempestuous night. They were human contact. They were going to leave. This was the longest conversation Kate had had in days, and they were going to leave. Beside her, Kevin remained silent.

"You drove all the way from Vegas?" something turned in her stomach, wondering just how far this went.

"Nah man, we drove from paradise falls." he motioned with his head over Kate's shoulder. She knew the place, a little truck stop and diner out in the middle of nowhere just off the main route out of this town, she'd only stopped there once though, and she'd be hard pressed to even remember what she'd eaten in that tiny beaten up café.

She looked over at the truck, catching brief glimpses of motion from inside. She could feel the heat sitting on her shoulders, pressing down like a physical weight. She wondered how hot it was in the pick up.

"You need to get her someplace cool if she's got a fever." she said.

The stranger looked at her shrewdly. "You a nurse or somethin'?"

Kate fixed him with a look. "I know enough." she said, skirting around any details. She watched him shift his weight, scuffing his shoes ever so slightly against the dusty road. He eyed her again, seemingly weighing his options as he chewed lightly on his lip.

"you want me to take a look at her?" she offered, sensing the questioning look that Kevin threw her.

"I dunno man." eyes to the ground, "We supposed to keep going."

Kate almost laughed. "Keep going to where?! Next town's about hundred and fifty miles. Ain't nothing but gas stops till then." She swung the rifle strap over her shoulder. "And from the way people left here, they're gonna be running on empty too."

She could see that what she said had disturbed him. The thought of driving that distance through the desert was harrowing at the best of times, but with the prospect of no fuel, in an ageing pick up without air conditioning. It would be hell.

"Listen," she straightened up, "If she's sick, if she needs help, I might be able to." She could never let things go, it was one of her flaws, sometimes more of a hindrance than a help, but it was an innate part of her. She couldn't not help. that's why she had stayed, to help. To see that poor Mr Gardner was safe, and fed. To make sure that Kevin kept his head, giving him purpose and focus. Its how she'd ended up out here.

He was rubbing his hands against his pants now.

"Let me try, and you can be on your way." She tried her best not to look hard faced, but days of dust and grime lent a dark and gritty veneer to her already tanned skin. Slowly she let the strap of the rifle slide down her arm, coming to rest at her wrist where she held it out. She flashed a brief glance at Kevin, his eyes wide and slightly fearful, as though wondering if maybe she had gone mad.

He took a step forward, still so uncertain. Leaning forward he lifted the gun from her wrist, taking it in a two handed grip. He was sucking on his teeth again, an argument running through his head before he turned to her and jerked his head, motioning toward the pick up, he led her over.