Calleigh made her way out of her bedroom that night and watched Eric fitfully thrash on the couch. This wasn't good. This really wasn't good. She was wondering just how contagious this was, and considering how much contact she had had with him – nothing more than cloths to the face, but with the unknown factors of the virus, even that could cause transmission – she'd be a prime candidate for infection. She had two options, neither of which were that appealing to her. Either she could continue to treat Eric as she had, and run a high risk of infection herself, or she could stop treating him and let the disease run its course. Based on the snippets of news reports she had caught over the past few days, this would mean almost certain death. Then again, it wasn't as though there were many reports of people who had been infected surviving as it was.
She mindlessly twisted the washcloth in her hands. Ever since they had started dating, and even when he had left the lab – though they picked up their relationship basically from where it had dropped off there for a while – she had pictured the white picket fence routine. Prior to this, she had fully imagined, barring the apocalypse or her shooting at him again, that they'd get married, have kids, and grow old together, dying in each other's arms. There was, of course, still the possibility that they could die in each other's arms. Just…it wouldn't be when they were old, and it would be long before they were ready to face that reality.
Running the washcloth through cold water, she let out a sigh. She knew what she had to do. It was for the best for both of them. He would never want her to put her life on the line, but he meant too much to her for her to do anything differently.
"Eric?" she asked, taking the old, dry cloth off his face and replacing it with the fresh one. "You awake?"
"Calleigh?" he asked in reply, blindly reaching a hand out to her.
She grasped his hand in both of hers, feeling the blood pumping through his palm. "I'm never leaving your side again."
"But you'll get sick," he said, matter-of-factly. He wasn't stupid. He had seen the news reports just as much as she had, if not a little more. What he did when she was catching the few precious moments of sleep she could was his business, and his business was watching as much CNN as possible.
She grimaced, hating to hear the words. "I know," she replied, grasping tighter, her eyes wide with a mixture of anxiety and a strange form of confidence. "I'm ready to face whatever comes our way. Together."
"Oh, Calleigh," he said, pulling her close, careful not to breathe directly on her in fear of infecting her – although, she had had so much exposure to him that she was unsure she could even be infected by him anymore. "I love you, you know that."
"I love you too," she murmured and found it in her to smile for the first time in days. They had each other.
If Calleigh was being completely honest with herself, and she probably was, come to think of it, she had lost track of the number of days since the pandemic had first erupted, and taken Eric as one of the infected. It seemed as though every time she thought Eric's condition was taking a turn for the better or for the worse, he'd stabilize back to where he had been - which was good, seeing as how he wasn't dead, but also bad, seeing as how he wasn't getting any better. She hadn't left his side for more than a brief time since then, and she had managed, by some stroke of luck, to avoid being infected.
There were people, however, that weren't as lucky. Horatio had been the first of the old team to die, though, from what Alexx had told Calleigh in the tearful phone call the two women had shared, he went peacefully, in his sleep. Every day, as she watched the news – she had to limit it to one newscast a day, for her sanity – she noticed that the newscasters were suspiciously changing around, as the morning newscasters did the six o'clock evening news, until one day, instead of the normally scheduled newscast, there was a black screen stating that for the foreseeable future, there would be no newscasts on WFOR.
That was the day when Calleigh realized just how serious this all was. Losing Horatio had been a blow to the team, to be sure. And when she heard from Alexx that Ryan had died too, she and Eric both mourned him in their own way. The team, once strong and steady, was crumbling around them. Then, one day, the phone calls, previously a beacon of stability and comfort and a reminder of what their life was like before, stopped coming entirely.
If things were not serious before, they were absolutely dire now.
The last flight leaving Miami for the week took off, leaving Natalia staring out the terminal window. It had been a long shot, she knew that much, but she had to get out of Florida. There was no way she was staying on a peninsula of all things. Best to move inland.
A fellow stranded passenger tapped her on the shoulder. "You miss the flight too?" the stranger asked.
Natalia nodded. "Yeah."
"A few of us are forming a caravan and going to protest in D.C. Want to join?"
Protesting wasn't really her thing, especially when the guy was leaving out what they were even protesting about - but the other part of it definitely was her thing. "I'm in."
"Eric?" Calleigh asked groggily. Looking up at him from her position on the floor, she blinked her eyes open. "What are you doing?"
He was standing in the middle of her living room, solely clad in his boxers, and seemed to be focused on something in the distance. "We have to get out of here," he said, turning to face her. "We're both going to die if we stay here."
"And where do you suggest we go?" she asked, running her hand along the seam of the blanket that had previously draped over Eric. "It's not exactly safe anywhere, and unless you have a brilliant idea to abscond with a boat…"
"That's why," he said, grabbing her hand and pulling her off the floor and into a standing position. "We go underground."
"Underground?" She wrinkled her nose. Not because she was totally aghast at the idea of living underground, but were there even any places that they could find, without digging one for themselves?
"Yes, underground. I remember an old fallout shelter near where I grew up."
"And you suggest that we camp out in there?"
"Unless you have a better idea? Yes, until things get better, at least."
She paused for a moment. As far as outlandish ideas went, this one had some semblance of merit and thought put into it. And the boat would be a horrible idea anyway. "Sure," she said, shrugging slightly. "What do we have to lose?"
"Your lives," an ominous voice inside her said in a chilling whisper. She shook off the whisper as paranoia, but a shiver ran up her spine all the same. Paranoia or not, she knew it was a risk under the best of conditions. And this was not the best of conditions under any stretch of the word.
-to be continued-