DISCLAIMER: I do not own Glee, Fox does. And Ryan Murphy. Title from "Zombies Ate my Neighbors" by Single File.
Warnings are: mentions of character death (but not Kurt or Blaine), use of guns, graphic detail.
This was filled originally for Klaine AU Fridays on Tumblr, and I really, really love zombies and have been meaning to write zombie apocalypse fic for nearly a year now.
TUMBLR IS THAT WAY
THE END IS
"Blaine!" Kurt screams, his heart pounding in his chest. The coolness of the wall is hard under his fingertips, a terrible reminder that he has nowhere to go; he's cornered like an animal, the advancing once-was human moving closer and closer. Kurt trembles, staring at the ripped flesh of a cheek brown-black with congealed blood, at the empty eye socket where the remaining pink of the nerves still hang. Bile rises up in a rush, burning his throat as he swallows. He feels nothing but abject terror in this moment, the thick, palpable tang weighing heavy on his tongue as he gasps for breath. His ears ring and every muscle in his body feels encased in concrete. He can only allow himself to be smothered with the smell of death, can only close his eyes and wait for the inevitable death or un-death that will follow. He shouldn't be freezing up like this, shouldn't-shouldn't-shouldn't. "Blaine, oh my god, Blaine!"
The gunshot is sudden and deafening; the advancing walker drops as a chunk of its (it had been a he, a he with parents and maybe kids and a husband or wife—it had been a he with a fucking future that was destroyed in only a few days by a fast-acting strain of virus no one had the ability—or time—to figure out) head flies off in a spray of blood and skin and hair, the low, continuous moan that he and Blaine have been used to hearing all around them over the past week cut off just as suddenly as the shot had come. Kurt turns his head towards the wall as the blood hits him, squeezing his eyes shut and clamping his mouth closed as the sticky spray hits his cheek and neck.
Blaine's over there in a second, gun still held loosely in his hand, and then he's pulling Kurt close, his hands trembling as Kurt releases a deep sob into the sweaty, filthy fabric of what was once Blaine's most prized Brooks Brothers vest. He clutches onto the sleeves of Blaine's shirt, taking deep breaths and trying to pull himself together. Now is not the time to get hysterical. Now is when he needs to man up, to get used to the fact that he and Blaine are going to kill walker after walker to keep themselves alive. Now it's just them and empty towns and a beat-up old Ford Focus. They have no friends. They have nothing.
"Oh, baby, shh, shh. It's okay, Kurt. I've got you. It's okay now," Blaine whispers into Kurt's hair. He strokes down Kurt's back. "We'll be all right. Don't cry."
Kurt pulls back and wipes his hand across his nose, sniffling. He blinks a few times, dislodging the tears stuck to his eyelashes. He looks up, takes in Blaine's face contorted in a mixture of grief and determination and anguish. It's funny, he thinks, that just seven days ago it had been he who had been showing Blaine how to handle a gun.
Blaine's face softens slightly and his eyes flicker only momentarily over Kurt's shoulder to stare at the fully-dead walker sprawled on the floor of the house. "You okay?" he asks, brushing Kurt's hair back tenderly. He rubs away some of the splattered blood from Kurt's cheek and chin.
Kurt nods shakily, closing his eyes and running his tongue over his lips after making sure there wasn't any blood on them. "It's just…god, I don't know why I froze up. I thought I was over all that when I had to—to…."
He trails off again, biting his lip, but they both know what he means. The memory of Kurt approaching his dad—or what was once his dad—with one of Burt's hunting rifles is still fresh in their minds, stark and vivid and painful. To them both it was a father figure lost.
"You were scared," Blaine placates, standing up and turning on the safety of the gun before putting it back in his waistband, covering it up with the stained hem of his button-up. "It happens."
Kurt shakes his head and accepts Blaine's outstretched hand. "Being scared means death now, Blaine. We both know that. If one of us freezes up and the other can't get to them in time…." He doesn't let his sentence finish itself, doesn't want to let himself even think of the consequences of the ifs and could happens.
"I know," Blaine says softly. "I know."
Kurt and Blaine have nothing between them except a rifle and a pistol, a baseball bat already covered in red-brown bloodstains, and a dwindling food supply. Their car rattles and they're almost out of gas, a terrifying prospect in and of itself. The scenery outside their windows along the dusty mains stretch of road would acutely describe that of an apocalypse: cars, abandoned along the roads, many with doors still open, paint a macabre, desolate scene. Kurt rests his head against the window, the glass hot under his skin. As they drive past and he looks out over the landscape he can see, in some, the corpses of humans who hadn't been turned into walkers. An older woman resting against the back seat of a Taurus. A young girl and an even younger boy—siblings, he guesses—sprawled out across the front seat of an old truck. The bloodied, scraped legs of someone lying under an overturned Neon. All rotting, decaying. Dead. Everything is dead.
Except those who aren't dead.
They haven't had the CD player on in days, too scared of making extra noise. The radio has been nothing but static, no hope of them finding a distress signal or channel speaking the words of their salvation through the unused airwaves. It's just them, the road under their wheels, and their occasional strained conversations. Even though they'd both promised not to think of friends and family after escaping Lima with only the clothes on their backs, their weapons, and a car they'd stolen from the street outside Kurt's house he still finds himself doing it too often. The only person he'd seen had been his dad, and, well…dwelling on that only leads to problems.
Still, though, he wonders if Mercedes is okay, or Finn and Rachel. He knows Blaine wonders about Cooper, how California is faring since all communication has been cut off for days now. He can see it in Blaine's eyes, the pain, even when Blaine says he's fine. They're not fine. Nothing is fine.
Most nights they end up pushing their seats back and locking the doors, falling asleep with their hands entwined on the middle console while they pretend the world hasn't fallen to pieces around them.
A gas station looms up ahead, tucked on the side of the road right before a turn-off to a small, residential street lined with towering, dark trees beginning to wilt with summer's heat. The road has been empty so far, and they've been driving for nearly an hour since the disastrous attempt at looting the house. Kurt swallows hard as Blaine pulls into a spot close by the store, his heart beginning to pound like it always does now before they leave the safety of the car. Blaine wordlessly hands him the rifle from the dashboard when he kills the engine, taking his own pistol next. His mouth is set in a fine line.
"It looks okay," Kurt says quietly, gripping the wooden handle hard. The two glass doors are wide open, the inside dark and trashed, but he doesn't see any movement of the alive or undead kind, though sometimes they may as well be interchangeable since you can run into just as much, if not a lot more, trouble with an able-minded human with a gun than you could with a walking corpse. Hellos are a thing of the past now with people turning every day. You didn't take your chances with anyone.
"No assumptions," Blaine says, leaving no room for argument, and Kurt knows he's right. He turns the safety off and cocks the gun, opening his door slowly, looking around before stepping out. Kurt follows suit, trying to minimize the inevitable creak his door will give as he opens it. He steps quietly onto the pavement, looking around quickly before shutting the door with a gentle click. Blaine's already stepping onto the sidewalk in front of the store, gun held out, arms flexing and taut under his ripped, once-white button-up. His hair is greasy and curling and Kurt knows his own once meticulously-cared-for hair isn't faring any better.
Kurt's on Blaine's heels when he steps into the store, every nerve in his body alive, his ears fine-tuned to any suspicious noises. He feels like a coiled spring, a trap, waiting to spring and snap at a moment's notice. He's on edge and he's so sick of it already. Glass crunches underfoot and he winces, taking a tighter hold on the gun as he tries his best to step around the rest of the mess. To him, the noise sounds like an avalanche, an entire china shop succumbing to the rage of a single bull.
A few of the shelves have been overturned, their contents spilled across the floor in the haste of previous patrons and survivors, maybe even a few confused walkers. Bags of chips, most intact, some opened and crushed, litter the far side of the store. Dime-store novels from a stand by the register are littered around the entrance mat. The air is hot and still, thick with humidity, and despite the mess, the place seems to be clean.
Kurt lets himself relax and Blaine does the same, lowering his weapon to his side. "Come on," he says quietly, grabbing a few cans of Pringles and some nuts from a shelf. "Let's just get enough food to last us until we can find someplace to stay for a few days."
Kurt nods, grabbing some canned vegetables off the shelf nearest to him, followed by a few containers of canned fruit. It's not much and it's not fresh, but it'll have to do. Living off soda and junk food won't keep them alive for long, especially if they want to be on the run.
"Grab some water," he says, eyeing up the refrigerated section toward the back. They both still keep their voices low, just in case. "And some Gatorade if it gets hot again like it did today."
They get what they can and take it to the car in increments, both carrying as much as they're able to at once before heading back into the store. On their last trip in and out Kurt grabs a few packs of Extra, thinking that maybe chewing gum will keep him from biting his nails down even further and could help with their lack of oral hygiene. Kurt shudders to think of when they'd both last brushed their teeth, but things like dental care and showers become a luxury in times like this. Sacrifices have to be made.
Blaine's loading the last of the Cheez-Its and the granola bars into the trunk, Kurt standing watch a few feet away, when a walker stumbles around the corner, a snarl on its decaying lips as it lurches towards them. Kurt forces himself not to think of its gender, to not notice the long, blonde hair or the tattered gray tank top stretched across a bloody torso. He focuses instead on the right arm that ends at the elbow, skin hanging in tatters from the splintered white of the bone; he looks at the hair hanging ratty, great clumps missing from a bloodstained scalp, skin torn away to reveal the meat underneath; he forgets everything but the necessities, looks the walker in its dead eyes, and takes aim.
With great, shuffling steps the distance is rapidly closed between them. Kurt remains still, rests the butt of the rifle against his shoulder, and takes a deep breath, closing his eyes for half a second. He does his best to relax, let the tension and rigidity drain from his body. Behind him he can hear Blaine telling him to shoot, his voice wrung and panicked; still Kurt focuses solely on his target as it comes closer.
A snarl, the kind heard in nightmares, followed by a groan. The scraping of feet along pavement, one knee twisted at a gruesome angle. The things that shouldn't be real but are now, things that are a part of the norm for those still lucky enough to have a pulse.
(He doesn't think of before, the first time he'd had this gun against his shoulder; he doesn't remember the timid, frightened way "Dad?" had slipped questioningly from disbelieving lips, Blaine a few paces behind him. Blaine had cried out in horror first. Kurt had shot a second later without a second thought.)
Kurt squeezes the trigger as he exhales, rocking backwards slightly with the recoil. He hits his target dead-on, a spray of blood and brains exploding from the exit wound in the back of the walker's skull. It drops to the ground instantly, the crack from the shot still echoing in the deserted land around them. More will be coming now, drawn by the report, and Kurt can almost feel the change in the air from the imminent danger.
"Come on," he says hurriedly, clicking the safety on and opening the passenger door. He doesn't bother with the creaking this time as he slams it. He hears Blaine close the trunk and hurry up to the driver's side, sliding in and shutting his door. He shakily puts the keys in the engine, locking the doors and fumbling with the keys, the clinking of metal too, too loud in the silence. Kurt's breathing sharp and fast, panic setting in with the fading adrenaline, and it's with great self-control that he restrains himself from begging Blaine to hurry up.
Blaine finally manages to get the keys in and they peel out of the parking lot just as three more walkers show up, stumbling past the body of the one Kurt had just shot. He breathes out slowly and leans his head back against the headrest, closing his eyes as his body slumps. It takes a few minutes for his heart rate to return to normal, for his fingers and hands to stop shaking. A part of him hidden and brushed aside feels sick, abhorred with the knowledge that he'd just blown down a human being.
They're not human anymore, Kurt always reminds himself. They're not human and we have to stay alive. We both do. I can't lose Blaine.
"I love you." He doesn't mean to say it out loud but it's there, the only noise in the car. Kurt notices they're still dangerously low on fuel and his stomach dips, dread settling like an iron ball low in his abdomen.
"Kurt—," Blaine starts warningly, glancing over. His brow is furrowed in worry as he eases up on the pedal. He knows. He knows and Kurt knows that unless they find a gas station within the next ten miles—and the odds are not looking good with the rural area of Tennessee that they're in—they'll have to trek it on foot or find another car.
Kurt places his hand over Blaine's, entwining their fingers. He repeats himself, firmer this time, and tries not to notice the bloodstains on Blaine's clothes, the blood caked and brown across his forearm and on his neck. Blaine finally sighs and squeezes Kurt's hand, looking over again to half-smile at Kurt. "I love you, too. And I promise, Kurt—I'm going to do whatever I can to get us through this. We won't let them take us yet."
Kurt brings their hands to his lips, kissing the back of Blaine's. "I believe you," he says. It's only a half-lie because he still has to be optimistic, strong. He doesn't want to die. He doesn't want to become one of them.
The reality is painful, though, and as they speed along the deserted two-lane road with no other cars in sight, Kurt can only sit back and be with the man he loves, the man he wants to spend the rest of his life with, no matter what that life might be now.
He can only hope as their gas gauge tips further and further into empty.
Hope is their last salvation, because hope lets them believe words on the airwaves will appear, that another human's voice will let them know that the complete end isn't so nigh. Hope gives them a vision of a safe place, a fortress of some kind untouched by this unnamed virus.
Hope is all they have.
Hope lets them sleep at night and dream of a better tomorrow; it's what gives them the ability to make the best of a bad situation and be the teenagers they are as they pretend that a bat or a firearm isn't next to them at all times while they seek solace in bared skin and kisses.