A/N: Hey this story is a work in progress about what happens after the movie. If you've read the book you'll recognize one of the scenes. It was too perfect not to include. I don't own anything.
As we drove through the deserted streets of the city I couldn't help but turn to stare at R and the vivid red blood flowing from various wounds on his body. Although I should've been horrified, I couldn't help the elation I felt at seeing the physical evidence of R's newfound humanity. The uneasiness began as we got closer to the stadiums' medical center and I realized this evidence of humanity was also a threat to R's new life. I wanted to protect him just as he protected me during that failed scavenge trip and the subsequent stay at the airport hive. I'm still not sure what made him want to keep me safe but it was my turn to keep him safe now.
"How are you feeling R?" I asked him.
"Dizzy. Cold" he replied still having trouble with his speech.
"Just keep your eyes open, stay with me! We're coming up on the med-center now and we'll get you patched up" I say as my heart starts to seize up. It's only been just over a week since I met R but I've come to rely on him so much I can't begin to imagine watching him die just as we found the cure. Not that we really know what the cure is yet. All I know is that after our kiss in the fountain his eyes dilated and turned a startling shade of blue. The next thing I knew my dad shot him and he started bleeding real blood.
"We're here son, let's go" my dad said as he got out of the SUV and started barking orders at soldiers and medics.
"Julie…" R rasped looking at me in panic as the soldiers started opening the car door.
"It's ok R. They're here to help you inside. The doctors are going to stop your bleeding and we'll get you a transfusion or something. I promise I'll stay with you. Don't worry." At my last words I could see R relax slightly. I don't know where his trust in me came from but as I followed the stretcher R was laid upon into the hospital, I could tell that he was still nervous about all the living soldiers surrounding him. I knew that my dad believed me about R's change but not everyone got to see the transformation first hand. It would take some time to convince the rest of the refugees but I knew the soldiers wouldn't disobey orders from my dad. And the blood still pumping from his recent bullet wound gave them pause enough to realize he was no longer part of the undead army we were trained to battle.
The next few hours went by in a blur as soldiers and medics worked over R's body. My dad made sure I was able to stay in the room but I had to stay out of the way. One of the doctors placed a mask over his face and started the anesthetic. Our eyes met as his began to droop and the fear I saw was heart-wrenching.
My limbs felt heavy when I opened my eyes a few hours later. It reminded me so much of waking for the first time as one of the undead that I nearly panicked until I realized I still had all my memories of the past week and a half. I wanted to sigh in relief until I realized that one of the side-effects of my recent change of lifestyle was the ability to feel pain. My shoulder was unbearable. I could feel various scrapes and bruises all over my body. Even my head felt like it was splitting open. I realized that falling into the fountain and protecting Julie most likely did cause my skull to literally split open. I'm not sure what happened but as we fell all I could think about was making sure Julie got away from those Boneys. In those few seconds I wondered if my body would break and I would finally get the permanent death I had wished for just as I found a reason to live. I wondered if I would just keep moving as I had all the other times I had been hurt while infected. I wondered if the changes I had started feeling ever since meeting Julie would continue if I died. I worried that I wouldn't be able to keep Julie safe from the effects of such a fall. I tried to wrap my body around her to create a cage of protection for her fragile body, but what if we landed the wrong way and she broke her leg. The boneys would surely get her then. I wanted Julie to live a long life. I wanted her to be happy.
As I slowly blinked the grogginess from my eyes, my fingers twitched and I felt a small, cool hand tighten around them. I looked to my right and there she was. Julies red rimmed eyes and tear-stained cheeks came into view and the watery smile she graced me with was enough to make all this pain worth it. While I knew the pain meant I was alive again, I realized I could still only manage the feeblest of smiles to return. It wasn't that my chest didn't tighten in response to her gaze, my muscles just couldn't function in the way required to show my emotions. I would have to re-learn these muscle-memory responses and work the stiffness out of my limbs.
"Hey there you" Julie said as her shoulders visibly relaxed. "I was getting worried."
"What… happ-end?" I asked.
"The medics removed the bullet and stitched you back up. You had quite a few fractured bones from the fall too. They stopped the bleeding and wrapped up the fractures then gave you some pain-killers, but they said you'll feel pretty groggy for a while after first waking."
"Still in… pain" I choked out my scratchy throat.
"Here," Julie offered me a glass of water and a pill. "It's one of the super drugs they came up with when this whole epidemic started. It should relieve the pain but you just have to be careful not to pull out the stitches. They said your bones were fusing back together surprisingly we'll have to be careful not to make them worse."
"Thank you" I said as she helps me sit up and take the pill. I realize how parched I was when the water relieves a fraction of the pain immediately.
"R," Julie sobbed as she cupped his face in her free hand. Her right hand still clenched tightly around his. "I was so worried."
I looked into her shining eyes and with the help of the super drug moving through my system, removed my hand from hers to slowly wrap around her shoulders. I pulled her into my embrace as she carefully laid her head on my uninjured shoulder. "It's ok. I'm going to be ok" I whisper into her ear as I kiss her hair.
"We both will" she says, pulling back to look at my face.
The next day I am ready to leave the medical center. The building has begun filling up with the newly exhumed coming in for medical attention. Julie tells me that the front gate has been opened up and search parties sent out to find those who were cured and needed help with wounds sustained during the battle with the boneys. I try looking for M and fear the worst when I don't see him. I begin to ask Julie in my dis-jointed speech but she answers before I finish.
"He came in earlier when you were still in surgery. Nora found him trying to ask one of the guards about you. She brought him in but he was pretty banged up and I think he's recovering now. We can find him later but right now they need us to clear room for new patients."
So we leave the medical center and as I squint into the harsh sunlight outside, Julie grabs my hand to stop me.
"Look at what you did R!" she exclaims gesturing to the exhumed populace that filled the area outside the med-center. They stared at us in the same way they did at the hospital and deep inside the stadium but with more light in their eyes than ever. "You're curing them somehow."
"We" I insist. "We're… curing them."
She pounces on me, wrapping herself around me and squeezing so hard I feel my semi-healed bones creaking. She kisses me and her warmth radiates into my body. I feel a rush of sensations as my own warmth pushes back.
Julie goes still. She releases me and pulls back a little, glancing downward. A wondering smile creeps across her face.
I look down at myself, but I don't need to. I can feel it. My hot blood is pounding through my body, flooding capillaries and lighting up cells like Fourth of July fireworks. I can feel the elation of every atom in my flesh, brimming with gratitude for the second chance they never expected to get. The chance to start over, to live right, to love right, to burn up in a fiery cloud and never again be buried in the mud. I kiss Julie to hide the fact that I'm blushing. My face is bright red and hot enough to melt steel.
As R and I walk through the streets inside the walled off refugee camp, I realize that he is now the closest thing this post-apocalyptic world has to a celebrity. The newly exhumed and survivors alike stare at us as if our story was already widely known. We hold hands as I steer him back towards my house not thinking twice about it. I don't want to let him out of my sight and with the way he took care of me while he was still infected, I felt it was my turn to care for him.
I was so confused with what was happening around us and for some reason it wasn't Nora or my Dad I wanted to be around. You would think they would provide me the most stability, I had grown up inside these walls with my Dad fighting those infected with the plague and Nora had been my closest friend for years now. But after everything that had happened these past few days, I just wanted to get R somewhere we could be alone.
While we were ensconced in that plane he called home, I had at first felt scared out of my mind. After realizing that he really wasn't going to kill me and eat my brains, I started to relax and have some of the most carefree moments of my teenage life. In the world of today, well of yesterday to be more specific as R had given us hope for a better tomorrow, 19 was not an age of carefree living. Kids couldn't just be kids. We all had responsibilities inside the walled off city of survivors. Once you were in your late teens you were expected to join the security detail, the construction crew, or scavenger parties. The younger kids were taught how to grow food, perform complex maintenance on houses and generators, and how to give standard medical attention.
Now with the corpses beginning to show signs of restored life, I wondered how life would change. Could we go back to how things were before this plague? Could we exhume the world and start restoring the cities and culture?
Part of me worried that it wouldn't be as easy with the other infected as it had been with R and his airport hive. It was as if R's determination to live had shown the others what they could become. I knew we had a dangerous path ahead of us and realized that R and I would have to go out into the dead zones to help exhume the rest of the infected.
All I wanted was to go back to the plane where I didn't have any responsibilities and R took care of all my needs. But again, it was I who needed to take care of him now. I could see he was struggling to hide the pain he was in and as his pace slowed I realized he was still tired. I wondered if he was hungry and if he would be able to keep any food down after not eating human food for who knows how long. I wished I knew how long he had been dead. How had he died? Did he have any family out there? As I concluded we probably wouldn't receive answers to these questions unless he began to recover the memories of his previous life, my hand tightened around his when another question hit me.
What if he had a girlfriend? Or a wife? Or even kids?
Although we hadn't spoken about what was between us, I had begun to assume we were together. I thought of him as a constant in a way I hadn't even thought of Perry as. Nora had joked about R being my 'zombie boyfriend' and I had laughed it off. But in reality she wasn't far off. I did have feelings for R even before his heart began to beat again. I had assumed he cared for me but what if it was just as little more than a friend.
I tried to control my emotions as he turned his head to look at me. He had saved my life. He took care of me and risked his un-life to keep me safe. I wasn't sure who had initiated the kiss in the fountain, but he had defiantly been an active participant. Plus if what she had felt against her stomach during the kiss outside the med-center, what he was feeling wasn't strictly friendly by any means.
"Julie?" R asked with a slight tilt of his head. Although is facial expression didn't change much except for the slight squint of his eyes, I knew he was asking me what was wrong. He had felt my grip tighten around his.
"It's nothing R. Just thinking about what's gonna happen now that you changed"
"Stay, together Julie" R stated. I felt his hand grip mine tighter in the same way I had when we faced down the boneys in the stadium and my dad outside.
I smiled. "Always" I said as we stopped at my door. I haven't heard R say more than a dozen syllables at most, but I find that what he does say is always special and with just those three words I felt myself relax. I shouldn't be worried about how he feels about me. I know that he cares about me and now that we've convinced my dad and the rest of the refugees that the cure is here, I don't have to hide R or my feelings for him.
I remember the last time R and I stood at this door. He had followed me inside the city walls to warn me about the boneys. He risked his life after I had just left him in those suburbs. It wasn't that I had run away from him but I didn't want my dad to find me and kill R permanently.
I lead R inside and helped him up the stairs and into my room. As I helped him lay on the bed, I could hear my father downstairs giving orders to a few of his generals and wanted to go see what the plan was. I also didn't want to leave R.
"Go" R rasped as he caught me glancing at the door and straining to hear the conversation. "I'll be, ok."
"I'll be right back R. I'll bring some soup and crackers up too if I can find them" I tell him as I back out of the room.
R closes his eyes and I see him take a deep breath, something that seems to fascinate me now. I walk down the stairs and into my father's office. He looks up and dismisses his generals with orders to get a few SUVs and supplies ready.
"I'll be leaving tonight Julie. We've decided to drive out to Clark County refugee camp and explain about the cure. We want to pull our resources and spread the word. Spread hope" my dad says to me as he starts to pack up some files and ammunition. He turns to look at me and smiles, "You did a brave thing today, standing up for R against me and the skeletons. I'm sorry I didn't see reason sooner. I'm sorry I shot him."
"I think he'll be ok. He's upstairs sleeping" I tell him.
"Well when I get back in a few days I look forward to meeting him. And we'll have to have a discussion about what's going to happen now" my father gives me a serious look and continues. "I don't know what caused this change, but we're seeing it in the others from R's airport hive. The skeletons aren't changing though. They keep attacking and I'm afraid they're just too gone."
"I think R and I will have to travel hive to hive to show them they could be more. You're probably right about the boneys. It might be too late for them to change back. I'll try talking to R tomorrow about what he thinks happened" I tell him giving him a hug and saying good-bye. I wish him a good trip and he tells me to take care of R. A few minutes later he's leaving the house on his way to Clark County. I grab some supplies and heat up a can of Campbell's soup I find in one of our rations boxes. As I make my way back into my room and place my load on my desk, I look at R. His eyes are open and he's staring at the quotes I have written on my ceiling.
"R, you're covered in dirt and grime," I say giggling. "Why don't I get a bath ready for you? It'll help sooth your muscles too. Here," I had him the soup and crackers I brought up, "Eat a little of this and I'll come get you when it's ready."
"Thank you, Julie" R says in a tired voice. The first time I've heard a clear inflection in his speech. I smile at him and walk into the bathroom as he begins to slurp the soup. I fill the tub with hot water and the last of the bubble bath I had saved from childhood. I was hoping to save it for a special occasion and couldn't think of a better time than now. As I got out a few towels, some rags and soap, I decided that I'd join R in the larger than average tub. While R was taller than the average male, He was also skinny as sin and couldn't see the dimensions of the tub becoming a problem. In fact, after thinking about it, I half wished the tub was smaller.
"Baths ready R," I say as I turn the corner into my room. He's sitting on the bed nibbling on a cracker with the soup only half finished beside him. "How are you feeling? Full?"
"Come on," I sigh. "Let's get you washed up." He either doesn't realize my intentions to join him or he doesn't realize the significance of the gesture. I'm not nervous about him seeing me in my underwear as I know he was looking when I undressed in the suburbs, but I don't want to embarrass him or force him into an uncomfortable situation.
"Bubbles" R says with a slight smile looking at the tub.
"Yea, I was saving them ever since this whole plague thing started" I tell him as I shut the bathroom door and lead him closer to the tub. "With proof of the cure right here in front of me, I figured this would be a great occasion to use them."
"Uhhhhhh…" my speech seems to have fled me. As I hear Julie shut the bathroom door with her still in the room, I realize that there are an inordinate amount of towels sitting next to the tub for just one person. I realize she intends to join me in the warm fizz of the bubble bath. My mind returns to the kiss we shared outside the med-center and my body's reaction to her passion. I begin to blush again and turn towards Julie.
"Would you rather do this alone?" she asks me not quite meeting my eyes.
"No" I quickly tell her. "Stay together."
Julie smiles at me and stretches up to kiss the corner of my lips. "Let's get these bloody clothes off you."
My heart starts beating faster as her hands slide to the zipper on my hoodie. I pray that I'm able to control my body's reaction to her intimate movements. The zipper sounds like firecrackers to my ears. Loud and startling. Julie carefully pulls the hoodie from shoulders and looks at my face for signs of pain.
"We might have to cut the shirt off. I don't want you to pull the stiches out of your shoulder" Julie says. I can tell she's nervous but my brain can't put together the reasons why. She turns around and grabs a pair of clippers from the sink. As she begins gently cutting the fabric and peeling it away from my body, I can feel her breath on my chest. As amazing as it is now to have actual circulating blood flow, I curse the pounding of my heart as I'm sure she hears it. I feel the blood pumping through my veins and try to stop it but I just can't help redirect the flow from its' intended target. As my jeans get tighter I am surprised by the feel of her hands on my chest. She's tracing the scars that litter my frame and although it hurts I'm thankful when her hand slides over the bullet wound her father gave me. I know she didn't mean to hurt me so I try not to show how much it hurt. As the pain allows me to rein in my arousal she catches the slight grimace on my face.
"Sorry R. We'll have to clean that up a little more to avoid infection" Julie says pulling me by the hand closer to the tub. She kneels down and starts to work on my belt. The vision of her on her knees before me begins to stir my blood again. In a faster movement than I can ever remember having, I raise my hand and brush it over another wound to bring about a flash of pain. Again I'm able to push my passion down. I don't know why but I feel this isn't the right time to let Julie see that side of me. She pulls my jeans down, leaving my boxers on, and helps me to sit in the tub.
I'm not really sure what I should be doing in the the water so I look up at her. My heart pounds in my chest and I'm glad to finally be in the tub and under the cover of the pearly white soap bubbles. Julie already has her shirt off exposing her breasts covered by only a blue scrap of lace she calls a bra. She's working her jeans over her hips and exposing her pink panties covered in little red hearts. I realize I'm staring but can't seem to help it. My eyes are glued to her skin and when she bends over to remove her socks I can't help but rest a hand over the bulge she's inspired in my lap.
Julie gingerly steps into the tub, careful to avoid jostling the water or my outstretched legs too much. She sits on the opposite side of the tub facing me. Her legs are hooked over mine so that her calves are nestled on my thighs. I want to pull her closer and kiss her. I want to wrap her in my arms and hold her tight against my body.
"Ok R, let's get you clean again" Julie says as she dips a rag in the water and squirts some body wash on it. She begins gently rubbing the grim from my shoulders and arms, careful to avoid my injuries. She lets the water run over them to clear any loose dirt. She massages my arm muscles and as I start to relax I close my eyes. She gives my chest the same movement then my sides. Next she starts on my calves and moves up my thighs, sloshing the water around as she gets closer to me on her knees. I'm so relaxed it's with a jolt I realize she's getting closer to my lap and my reaction to her ministrations. I try to catch her wrists to stop her but I'm too slow. She brushes the rag over my hip bone and feels the tent my erection made of the boxers against her arm. She stops and stiffens for a moment before looking to my eyes with a surprised expression.
"I'm sorry" I say ineffectually. I don't know what I'm sorry about but I feel embarrassed.
"It's ok R" Julie smiles at me. "We're together yea?"
"Always" I say repeating her words from just an hour earlier. She sits back with her thighs now over mine and reaches up to place one hand gently over my heart and the wound her father had given me. She looks into my eyes as she feels its steady beating, and then pulls my head down to kiss my lips. As I begin to deepen the kiss her tongue slides into my mouth to explore. I place one hand on the back of her neck, tangled in her hair to keep her mouth on mine, and the other hand on her waist urging her closer.
She drops the rag into the water with a slight splash and runs her hand down my stomach and into my boxers to grip my shaft in her fist. As she slowly begins to move my speech seems to revert back to when I was infected. I can get out little more than grunts and moans in response to the pleasure I feel. Julie doesn't seem to care as she kisses down my neck then up to nibble on my earlobe. Her breath is hot in my ear and my mouth forms an 'o' as her hands cup my balls.
"Julie" I gasp as my hand falls from her hair to find her breast. With the hand not busy pleasuring me, she covers my hand and begins to knead her breast with my hand. In a flash she un-hooks her bra and lets it slide into the tub. I open my eyes to look down at her heaving chest and moan as a feel a tightening in my ball sack. Her breasts dip in and out of the water as her hand slides up and down. I place both hands on her breasts and slide my thumbs over her pebbled nipples. She moans and the sound goes straight to my dick. With a grunt my body relaxes and I soften in Julies' hand.
She kisses me one last time then reaches out of the tub for a towel. She stands up and wraps it around herself before grabbing one for me. I wrap it around myself and let my soaking boxers fall from beneath. "Come on," she smirks, "let's go to bed."
I smile and stand up to follow her. She grabs my hand and leads me to sit on her bed before looking around the room.
"I just realized I don't have any clothes that will fit you. I'll have to ask Nora to bring some stuff from the thrift place tomorrow" Julie says blushing a little. I don't know how she can blush after what we just did but it causes a faint pinkening of my cheeks as well. I reach out for her and when she places her hand in mine I pull her down onto the bed with me, removing her towel and mine in the process.
Our naked bodies are pressed together in her small twin bed and as I pull the quilt over us I kiss her forehead.
"Stay together" I whisper in her ear as she snuggles closer. She smiles up at me as she wraps an arm around my side and rests her head on my uninjured shoulder. I realize the pain has all but left my body and am thankful when I finally get what I've been longing for since watching her sleep on the floor of the plane. Julie falling asleep in my arms.