So just quickly, Thank you to my lovely Beta, Kim. Not only does she fix this mess in between her crazy schedule, but she reminds me when i totally forget to upload the chapter. haha, my bad.

Also, as some of you know, I'm slow at updates, like natural decomposition is speedier. I am sorry I'm not a bit faster. I'm taking 3 college classes this semester along with my insane animal and children filled home life. Bare with me, this fic will be finished. Thank you for all the love 3

Chapter 12


"What are you doing, Edward!? Get back in here, we gotta go!" Bella's looking at me like I've lost it. But in my head things are starting to click together. If there's someone in that house, maybe they're why the undead keep dropping for no reason the entire time we've been here. I just have no idea how.

I've been filing away all the odd, unexplained things that keep happening and it's starting to get a little too weird to be coincidences. There was the sliding glass door incident, the random zombie appearing out of nowhere, lying in the street and just now with Bella's gnarly old neighbor zombie in the bathrobe. Undead don't just die… again, without help. Maybe whoever is in there has weapons and ammo. My underlying fear is that whoever is in that house is totally bat-shit crazy and attacks me. I've always been in the business of keeping people alive, not the other way around. Killing zombies still digs at my humanity a bit every time I have to take one down. Killing people isn't an option.

I catch myself before shutting the passenger side door and turn back to Bella, leaning in a bit. "Keep these doors locked, love. I'll be back before you can miss me. Someone's in there, I know it and I just need to see if they're ok and what's going on." Bella's looking at me like I've killed her kitten, complete with that bottom lip trembling thing Layla does, but I have to see what's going on in there. They could be perfectly ok and content with staying where they are or they could be hurt or look for a way to escape. They may even have supplies and are willing to trade.

"You should sit in the back with Layla, so you're not seen." I give her my best reassuring smile and start to shut the door before Bella stops me with her hand up, she looked scared.

"Maybe you should take the big knife with you." Her voice is barely above a whisper. I think it's so Layla doesn't hear her and gets freaked out or something. I nod and grab it from the center console and strap the eight inch blade and case to my belt. I tilt my head towards the back, a silent plea for her to do as I've asked. She nods and reluctantly moves to sit with Layla, who's coloring on a pizza menu.

"Daddy, where are you going? Did we forget stuff?' Layla's voice was quiet and she doesn't look up as she asks, just continues coloring in the black and white menu with an orange crayon. "Yeah Lovie, but I'll be right back." She looks up then and gives me a nod but no smile and goes back to coloring; sliding some paper over to Bella so she can join in. I wish I could hear what she's thinking in that head of hers. She's been too calm about everything and it makes me nervous that I won't know when she's reached her breaking point, child psych wasn't something I studied at length, just what was required. For all I know she could have already gotten there and is internalizing everything now.

I waited until they're both situated before locking the doors for them and turn towards Jake's car.

I can still hear some far off undead shuffling around and knocking into trashcans or gutters. The metallic clanging rising above the moans and gurgles but I can't see any in the area. I catch Jake's attention with a wave. He's rolling his window down as I jog over to his car.

"Hey precious, what's up?" I kind of grimace-smirk at Jake. I'm not very good with giving or receiving spontaneous, flirtatious comments in general. I'm even more so awkward in this particular situation, which seems to happen to me a lot.

"Hey Jake, uh….wanna help me out for a minute?" I chucked uneasily. Jake raises an eyebrow at me in question. "You want to pop over to the house across the street with me really quick? I'm pretty sure I just saw a live person in the upstairs window and I just want to check it out. Nothing about leaving a hurt or sick uninfected behind sits well with me." I try to sound solid and sure of myself instead of a nervous babbler as I ask him even though I know this could potentially be a really bad idea.

Jake looks at the house, scanning the front and side yard from where he sits. "What the hell, why not?" Jake gets out of his car and we make our way across the street in a light jog. At the end of the driveway, I point to the worn in walking path that leads to the fence gate. We make it to the front door but it, and all of the first floor windows are boarded up from the outside.

"Wanna try out back?' Jake asks scanning the area around us. No zombies have popped out and the moaning from up the street seems to have faded. The farther away they shuffle, the better.

I nod absently in Jake's direction while scanning around us for possible danger as I lead the way up the path and towards the gate. It's shut and latched but not locked. The gate swings open easily with barely a squeak so I lead us into the yard slowly just in case there's any zombies who've gotten stuck back here. I scan the area as Jake closes the gate behind us.

It's quiet back here. The yard is entirely fenced in and the only way in or out is the gate we just came through. A few toys sit idle on the back patio and a lonely swing set sits in the far left corner. The grass is really long now, making it easy to see the narrow, warn path that leads past the patio and stops at a smaller rectangular window. The glass is intact but as I walk closer I notice its open about an inch.

I look over to Jake and he's trying to get a peek into the back door off the patio.

"I can't see anything in there, the curtains are in the way." Jake makes an almost petulant face like he got screwed over. "Anything through that little one?"

"I haven't checked yet." I lower my voice as I get closer to the window, the curtains are drawn and the very ends are being sucked in and out by the light breeze. I stand slightly to the side as I use a single finger to slowly brush aside half of the paisley patterned cloth so I can look inside. It's dark but I can make out a shriveled cactus on the counter just inside the window, I'm directly over the kitchen sink from what I can tell. It's empty of dishes but clumps of dried dirt and bits of grass cover the bottom.

"I'm over the sink, I'm gonna try and crawl in." I pull the curtain aside farther and listen, but hear nothing coming from inside.

"That's all you sunshine, I'm not actually built like the fairy I portray." I glance at Jake in time to see him flex two decently muscular arms at me, smirking. "Let me in the door?"

I nod at him, rolling my eyes and turn my attention back to the window. It's not all that large and I'm worried I'll get stuck. After a deep breath I open the window all the way. It slides easier than I thought it would and doesn't make a sound. I move the curtains out of the way so I can peek inside. The kitchen is void of people in any form but plentiful in supplies. Stacks of water and Gatorade on one wall, toilet paper on another and dry foods like cereal and crackers against another. If there was a table in here, it'd been moved out to make room.

I gauge my entry and I'm pretty sure I can make it. The counter's clear of kitchen gadgets so I'll just have to slither to the left once I start going in so I don't take the faucet off the sink. Whoever has been coming and going must be taking this way a lot. And, they must be smaller than my 6' frame because this is going to be tight.

With an internal three count I haul my upper body through the window. The plastic frame groans a bit with my weight, I scrape the shit out of my arm on the way in and the screen, of course, falls on my back but I manage to worm my way in enough to pull my knees through and onto the counter. I still myself instantly and check for any sounds. It's silent so I ease myself to the floor and head to the sliding door to let Jake in.

I push the curtain aside and see Jake leaning on the door frame looking utterly bored and picking at his nails. The sliding door is noisy as I open it; squeaky and grating like it hasn't been opened this wide in longer than the few weeks the house should have been empty. I cringe a bit as I force it halfway open.

Jake squeezes through the partially opened door sideways; his shoulders too wide to walk through straight. "Thanks sugar. There was no way in hell I was making it through the window."

I nod in acknowledgement and rub my scraped up forearm. "I barely did. Whoever's been climbing in that way is definitely smaller than me."

Jake nods and turns towards the cabinet drawers by the sink, opening one after another until he turns back to me with a folded kitchen towel. "Here, clean that off a bit. You're bleeding and getting an infection these days is no Bueno."

I take the towel with a quirked eyebrow. "Thanks, man. I know it doesn't seem possible, but under these good looks, I'm actually a trauma doctor." I give Jake a crooked smirk and wipe my arm. I figure I can joke if he can.

"I'm both in awe of your tasty body as I am with your mind, McDreamy, but I think Bella called dibs on you honey."

I snort, "I'd like to think she has."

"You're not my type anyway, Doogie Howser. I like my men to like men." Jake smiles wide.

"Touché." I mumble while surveying the stacks along the walls. "There's a ton of supplies in here, maybe there's more than one person here." Jake doesn't answer, just nods absently.

"You ready for a quick walk through?" I toss my towel on the counter and head slowly out of the kitchen into a hallway. I can hear Jake behind me so I don't wait for an answer. The first door I get to is open. It looks like a home office but with toys and a TV in the corner. The window is boarded up but there's enough light to see no one's in there.

The next door is a bathroom, across from there is a dining room with windows facing the back of the house so they're not boarded. Light streams through showing dust on the table, but still no people, living or dead. I walk into the room further, it's fairly large, fitting all of the furniture in a full, formal set. Nothing is out of place that I can tell. Jake's looking out the windows checking the back yard. "Still clear back there."

"There's a fence all the way around the back, that's why."

I spin quickly to find the source of this new voice and come face to face with a dirty little kid, holding a hand gun with a silencer, pointed at my head.