Me yet again. I will actually finish this one and update soon as it's only going to be three parts. It was inspired by BBCThree's 'In the Flesh' but I also remember someone writing a oneshot/short fic about something a little similar a while back (sorry I can't find it at the moment and let you know). If you're in the UK and haven't seen 'In the Flesh' I think its pretty good and the first 2 parts are still on iPlayer, the third and final part is on Sunday (no, I'm not being paid to advertise)
Anyway, you don't need to have seen the programme to understand this fic, although I'm taking some ideas from it (mostly in this first chapter) the rest of the story will kinda be my own-ish, its just the version of the undead, and a few details that I'm using.
Disclaimer: let's say I don't own much...
Anywho, enjoy... I think.
Death isn't always the end, no matter how much some might hope it is. Sometimes weird things happen, unexplainable things, and you get a second chance, even if you don't want it.
The younger the person who passed the harder it is for all around them. At the age of 17 it hits all who knew them, hard. It changes the surrounding and fellow teens with a new respect for life, a new fear for loss and understanding of the world around them.
In Lima Ohio, the Glee club, New Directions, of McKinley High found themselves huddled round a hole in the ground, a hole in which a coffin was slowly being lowered into.
Even Santana wasn't able to keep a straight face, no matter how she had felt about the deceased girl in life she was sad now in her death. Brittany just held onto her, and cried into her shoulder. Puck couldn't keep control no matter how hard he tried. Mercedes and Kurt comforted one another, Blaine stood by his boyfriend, his hand squeezing Kurt's shoulder.
Finn just broke down; he looked ready to jump into the grave with the coffin. He kept muttering 'No' in denial that this had happened. Sam looked both lost on how to feel and who to stand by. Finn looked the worst, so he decided to be ready if he did want to take the jump.
Tina, Mike and Artie stood by too, all with tears in their eyes. Mr Schue was speechless. The deceased's Parents stood by too, holding one another, supporting one another before they just fell to the ground in a hopeless pile.
How much more could this glee club take? First Quinn then only weeks later here they are burying another of their own. Another prominent member of their strange family had come to their final resting place. At their head a grave stone would forever stand to tell passersby of who laid here.
A gold star sat top centre of the dark headstone, with the words underneath:
18th December 1994
8th of March 2012
A little over two weeks after Quinn's passing and they lost Rachel too. No one could understand what happened, they were just all in glee club one morning and Mr Schuester came in, with red eyes, his hands almost trembling as he read the notice clamped between his finger and thumb.
They were now two family members short...
As violently as her life was taken away, Quinn woke, the rush of her blood through her veins her heart beating heavily in her chest and the unnatural hunger than burned in her stomach as much of a shock as that truck when it hit her.
Darkness surrounded her, she reached out to the sides but didn't get far before her fingers were stopped by fabric lined wood. After a few heavy breaths she could feel the temperature rising. There was material close to her face too. She was trapped.
As the cells rejuvenated in her body she felt another take over, another instinct kick in...
She didn't know how it happened, how she'd had the strength, but minutes later she had clawed and broke her way free of her coffin and was climbing out of that hole in the ground, and she wasn't alone. As she looked around, through the moon lit graveyard she saw others, climbing out of their own graves and stumbling away. She just followed them into the night, joining the hunt.
"Just 8 weeks since the rising of the dead and already we are seeing some of the PDS sufferers return to their homes. Just 3 weeks after the rising and already a medication was created, and the walking dead rounded up for treatment and counselling, but we need to ask ourselves, can we trust them and this medication or could they just turn again. What do you think Paul?" The female newscaster turned to her associate to get his opinion
"We shouldn't give them the chance they should be destroyed, Janet" he said outright
The female news caster, Janet, was quick to then add her own opinion "But what about those who have had loved ones returned to them, do you think they'd feel the same?"
"Honestly Janet I can't imagine a worse kind of hell" He admitted with ease.
"Well, your thoughts aside Paul, I look forward to being reunited with my brother, who left us late January" she muttered lowly and the camera focused on the pair saw the opinionated man, know as Paul, suddenly look guilty. Janet suddenly perked up "Now, we are joined by Dr Caldwell at one of the countries many PDS sufferer's recovery units" The camera turned to reveal a man sitting the other side of the woman "Please Doctor can you inform us of what work has been happening at the recovery centres, are the PDS sufferer's still a risk?"
"Well it would be wrong to say there's no risk, but our programme is very secure. It is the law for these people to take the medication, or antidote, if you prefer, and it is simple to administer. The medication itself is very simple with no risk of it not working on anyone with PDS-"
Leroy nervously turned the television off when he noticed the time. He'd heard enough of these discussions on the news anyway, every channel, every day and night it was the top story.
He turned to his husband and softly asked "Are you ready?"
The taller man just looked up at the clock on the wall "Is that the time already?" he said shakily. It was only nearly half twelve but they had a long drive ahead of them.
"Yes, if we want to pick her up at three we better leave soon" they were both so nervous, they'd seen the images of the... PDS sufferers on the TV, with their pale, grey, skin and clouded eyes. That would be the hardest thing for them to get used to.
"Did you mention this to anyone?" Hiram asked his husband. They still hadn't moved from their seat on different sofas.
"No" he shook his head "... I didn't want Rachel going through any stress when we got her home. I wasn't sure if Finn might try come see her... or any of her friends. I thought it was best to not even mention it" he saw Hiram nod in agreement "Did you say anything to anyone?"
"No" Then he remembered speaking to someone the other day "... Judy Fabray spoke to me at the Grocery store the other day... she half asked about Rachel. I just told her we hadn't heard anything" he explained
Hiram wondered why that conversation had come up. It was stupid to wonder though "So is-"
"Quinn is coming back too" Leroy nodded "But I don't think we should tell Rachel straight away"
"No" Hiram agreed quickly "... not after that letter she left us" he swallowed audibly and tears sprung to his eyes as he remembered reading that note they'd left them, with the explanation of her guilt and pain.
Leroy rushed to his side and soothed him "Hey, hey" he hushed as he rubbed the taller man's back "it's okay. We've got her back"
"Have we" he coughed "... what if she's not the same?" the fear was evident in his eyes. He wasn't sure if he'd be able to hug her when he first saw her, no matter how much he wanted to.
"She's still our Rachel, and we'll help her" Leroy assured his husband as he took each of the taller man's hands in his own "Are you ready to do this?"
Hiram breathed in deeply, the cool air extinguishing the pain and sadness from the weeks and months before.
"So how are you feeling today?" The councillor asked the girl who sat across from him in the pure white room.
"Better... I think" she answered slowly as she searched her mind for something more interesting to discuss.
"Why do you only think you feel better?" the man pushed as he flicked back through his notebook for more notes on his meetings with this girl. When he looked up from his notes he saw the distance in the girls cloudy eyes "Rachel?"
She blinked awake again "I keep having this dream" she folded her arms protectively across her front, wrapping her hands round the tops of her arms. The clothes they were given so basic, as white as all the walls and floors and ceilings around them. It felt like a prison here, not an advanced rehab facility for an unexplainable disease.
"Go on" he urged
"It's more of a memory really. I'm hunting with this boy... he might be older than me" it's not like she communicated with him like a normal human, she didn't get his name. "But anyway, we were hunting together. There's this girl, and we trapped her... we took her by the neck and..." she had to stop as she breathed shakily "Sorry, I don't want to say anymore"
"It's okay" the doctor reassured her, not wanting to get her too worked up before she took on the stressful task of returning home.
"No it's not" she spat in disgust at her own actions "I killed and ate people" the thoughts churned what was left of her rotten stomach "I'm a monster"
A new voice interrupted "No, you did what you needed to do to survive" both the doctor and Rachel looked to the door to find it open and one of the boys, a similar age to Rachel just standing there "If you hadn't given in to the hunger it would have torn you apart" but now they had the 'medication' to stabilise them and remove that instinct and those primal feelings.
"Justin, that's enough" The councillor tried to interrupt.
"Come on Doc" the boy shrugged cool-ly. Rachel just smiled softly at him. He'd been a good friend to her since they'd both started their recovery here. He also had such a positive look on life... well this life. "She doesn't need you talking to her making her feel bad, we should be talking to one another, helping each other get through this"
"Justin, please just wait outside. I will see you after Rachel's session is over" he said more sternly
He sighed, not one to push the authorities too far "Sorry Rach, tried to rescue you, see you later" he smiled at her, making her feel comfortable for a few moments in her miserable second attempt at existence.
When the boy was gone Rachel asked her assigned doctor "How long was I dead?" she knew it was late April, maybe early May, already but she wasn't sure how long she'd even been dead, and in this place, facing the truth every day, she wasn't afraid to ask.
"Um" he checked over his records "well the rising happened 9 days after your..."
"Death?" she asked bluntly
"Yes that" for a doctor and councillor he should have been more used to coming out with the truth, he had to face it in his job every day. She didn't want to ask anymore questions, she knew the people who rose had only been dead recently and hadn't died of old age. The only other question she was brave enough to ask was why it happened or what had caused the rising, and no one had been able to answer that one.
Of course she had other questions but asking them would probably just kill her hopefulness. So they returned to the real reason they were here.
"So Rachel, how do you feel about returning to society?"
Leroy tapped his foot nervously as they sat on a bench in a long corridor. Further down the hall sat another pair of people, a man and a woman who he didn't know... why would he, people had travelled from miles around to get here in time for their set up appointment, to pick up their family member.
He watched as the door opposite the pair opened. He saw them stand up and rush forward as two others emerged, one in a nurse uniform.
They'd been told they were the last to pick up their loved one from this 'batch' of reformed undead. That was probably why it was so quiet, they knew they were currently in the 'dorms'. So they knew Rachel was being talked to by her own nurse just on the other side of the doors opposite them.
Hiram had been staring at the wall next to the double door, there was a poster, one that was everywhere at the moment, including on the cover of the booklet they'd been given a couple of weeks ago when they got the phone call saying Rachel was in the recovery programme. They'd known she had risen when they braved a visit to her grave and found the ground had sunk slightly and a hole in which something... or someone had crawled out of.
Back to the posters though, it was on one of those thing- no it was of a PDS sufferer, smiling, letting everyone know they looked different but they weren't different... not anymore, thanks to 'medication'. Most hated the posters, many were torn down, gratified on. But surely this was just another difference people would have to accept.
Both anxious fathers were distracted from their distraction when the door in front of them opened. They sat up straight with bated breaths as the nurse smiled at them then stepped out of the way to reveal... Rachel... as pretty and perfect as before she left them.
The fathers glanced at each other with shock but pleasant shock. They both stood up ready to finally greet her. She didn't wear her white hospital clothes anymore, they'd put her in a long sleeved sweater like she used to wear, for some familiarity, and jeans rather than a skirt to cover her pale legs.
"Rachel" Hiram breathed "Sorry we thought you'd look a little, um" his eyes obviously glanced at the poster, making her smile sadly "Different" he offered with a nervous chuckle
"It's the cover up" she explained "And coloured contact lenses" That's when they saw the only obvious visible difference, the inside of her lips were grey, almost blue.
Hearing her voice made it all so real again. They didn't hesitate to close the gap and envelope her in a hug. They almost hesitated when their fingertips first grazed her skin when their bodies pressed again the sides of hers at the coolness of her body and skin. She wasn't cold, just not as warm as usual.
"Okay so you've got all our details" the nurse said, interrupting their moment. The men pulled away to see the middle aged woman smiling at their little reunion
"Yes" Leroy confirmed as he squeezed Rachel's shoulder
"Good, a PDS community care officer will visit your home tomorrow to show you how to administer the medication and give you their contact details if there are any problems" she told the two, still nervous, fathers. "And you Rachel, you know there are people you can contact if you need to"
"Yes" the girl just said quietly
"Okay then, this is where we part ways" the nurse finished "I'll escort you to the exit" She had nothing but her fathers and the clothes on her back, so leaving was going to be quick and smooth.
Rachel wasn't sure if she was ready for this, returning to society, the place she'd tried to escape in the first place. Life... and in this case death too, was cruel.
Quinn sat in front of the mirror at her dressing table, staring at her reflection. She'd only been home an hour and already got a nasty surprise when she was collected earlier that day. Luckily her crazed, zombie, state hadn't wandered far before being captured and sent to a recovery unit so the journey had only been an hour by car to get home. Just one hour in which she had to sit with both her father and her mother.
At least he hadn't moved back in, he was just in her life again. She guessed her mom and he and reconciled at least on friendly terms after her passing... so maybe he did care about her... or maybe it was a way back in so he could get his house back.
She kept brushing and moving her hair, trying to find a simple style that would cover the permanent stitching just on the left side of her face, it almost disappeared into the hairline and it was delicate stitching so it wasn't that noticeable. But still she imagine nothing would be good enough, she wouldn't be good enough if she didn't look normal and perfect for her broken family, especially if Russell was still downstairs staying for dinner that they'd be sitting down to in an hour or two.
The blonde did think of other things while she sat there. Mainly how would her friends react, would they still be her friends?
When the Berry's arrived home they parked the car in the garage. Rachel wondered if that meant her fathers were ashamed of her, or hiding her. They suggested she go to her room when they finally got inside, to reacquaint herself with her home.
As soon as she stepped inside the room she recognised straight away they'd changed the carpets. When she sat on the bed she felt the mattress was different too... it was new. And the sheets were obviously not the ones she'd last laid on.
Other than that everything was exactly as she left it, meaning even when they moved everything for the new carpet to be laid they'd put it back exactly how she left it... she would have cried but...
"Rach, dinner!" she heard Leroy call up the stairs. This was it, the next step she took would be like she'd come back to that moment months ago. The day she'd come home from school and she just couldn't take it anymore and she'd made a decision there and then.
She imagined they called her for dinner when they got home later that day... only she never left her room.
She had to this time though. So she got up, not even looking back at the bed she'd be sleeping in tonight and left the room to join her fathers downstairs. When she got to the dinner table both her dads were busying themselves, setting the table for the three of them.
"It's your favourite tonight, vegan lasagne" Hiram told her proudly as he set the dish in the middle of the table.
"Oh, daddy I'm sorry" she said nervously "I can't eat"
"Really" his shoulders dropped. "Couldn't you just try a bit?" he encouraged hopeful. Leroy watched on, just wanting to see how this ended.
Rachel's hid her disappointment, if he still wanted her to eat it meant he hadn't really read the damn booklet he'd been given, at least not in detail "Of course daddy" she quickly gave in, the guilt of what she'd already done to them making her concede too quickly.
They just wanted to be normal again, well their kind of normal.
She took a seat at the head of the grand, oversized dining table that was always ready to accommodate many guests when the Berry men wanted to entertain their circle of friends. A father sat either side of her as they started to dish up Rachel's favourite. They watched as she accepted the food, anticipating what she would do next.
She smiled at them as she cut into the piece on her plate with her fork, she then scooped it up and put it in her mouth. She chewed slowly savouring the flavours she couldn't taste and swallowed "It's really great dad, perfect" she told Hiram with her best fake smile
"Oh good" he beamed back. Leroy smiled too. Everything could be fine again.
Suddenly something didn't sit right with Rachel and she wasn't surprised "Sorry I need to go to the bathroom, I should have gone before I sat down" she muttered her apologies as she left them to continue their dinner. Again they didn't seem to notice how odd it was that she was going to the bathroom... she didn't need to go, she never would again.
She barely reached the toilet when her rotten insides rejected the food she once craved, mixing the mouthful she had forced down with a black rotten sludge as it splattered in the toilet basin. With another cough and heave, more of the black substance projected from her mouth and tainted the insides of the white porcelain beneath her.
When her stomach stopped convulsing she flushed the chain on the toilet watching the black liquid fade in the basin. It didn't all go though. She decided to clean her mouth out as she waited for the system to refill. She rinsed her mouth out with just water and made sure to not swallow even a drop, afraid of what it would do to her. She then took her cover up out of her jeans pocket, where she planned to always keep it for emergencies
She flushed the toilet again; removing all evidence of her... incident then washed her hands and rejoined her father's as if nothing had happened.
She mimed eating the rest of her dinner, constantly complimenting them on how wonderful it tasted and how she'd missed it. They noted that she wasn't actually eating, but they ignored it, not caring that she didn't actually eat, just happy she was sat by them again and they were whole again.
"Quinnie, dinner!" Quinn was removed from her thoughts and exploration of the damage to her body when her mom called her down for dinner. She hadn't felt brave enough to check her scars and permanent stitching from where they'd fixed her up, when she was in the recovery unit. She never had a minute to herself there so she'd always been afraid to look at herself with others around.
"Coming" she called back as she flipped her hair back over the face stitches and got up to leave her room.
When she got downstairs her parents were sat at opposite ends of the table, leaving her a space in between them. When she saw that a plate of food was already at the table, set at her place she stopped. Before she'd even sat down she looked straight to her Judy and with guilt apologised "Sorry mom, I can't eat"
"Oh" the mother actually looked at her apologetically "Sorry Quinnie, I thought I'd read that somewhere but I must have forgotten"
"Please Quinn, still take a seat with us, you don't mind do you" okay that was unnerving, what had got into Russell, why was he being nice?
"Um sure" she almost nervously tucked the loose strands of hair behind her left ear before remembering that wasn't a good idea "It looks really great mom" she complimented Judy when she sat down again.
"Thank you Quinn" the mother just nodded, Quinn could feel the nervousness radiating from her though.
"So Quinn" Russell started "I assume you will be returning to school soon, to finish your senior year. Or will you retake senior year as you've lost the time"
"Ah, well I haven't really thought about it" she'd already said goodbye to him so long ago, it was weird to be talking to him again. It must have been weirder for him though "I guess if its okay I will go back soon, and if I can I'll graduate this year but if it doesn't work out I'll retake" it wouldn't be so bad, she had friends through glee club who would still be their next year.
She didn't want to really think about that though, she didn't want to be answering questions right now either, she wanted to be asking them, one in particular: Why had she been buried when Judy knew she wanted to be cremated. Not that it was a normal thing to discuss with your parent when you're a teenager but she had been specific when it had come up.
"Well hopefully the school can help you out" Russell reassured her "It's not like... well no other kids have gone through what you have" Quinn noted how he couldn't actually mention PDS or even any of the derogatory terms for what she was. And he was normally comfortable using any frowned upon term for anything
"Except... well except one" Judy muttered
"Who?" Quinn asked as she looked between her parents. She couldn't think of anyone her age who'd been as unfortunate as her.
"Oh her" Russell nodded in realisation
"Who?" The girl asked again, desperate to find out who they were speaking of.
"That Berry girl" As soon as Russell said those words dismissively Quinn felt dread pass through her body.
"Rachel?" she kept her voice strong, not wanting him to hear it tremble "What happened to her?"
"Weak fag spawn" Russell muttered, proving he didn't mind using those kind of terms.
"Russell" Judy chastised lowly. She had become acquainted with Leroy and Hiram since her divorce and held nothing against them. The man opposite her was not her husband so she had to remind herself not to let him push her around or dictate her opinions.
"What Judy she was, she always had been" from everything he heard about the girl in recent years, she was just a loser, a weakling in the McKinley High food chain.
Quinn hated herself for knowing she was the reason he thought that, when in truth. Rachel was the strongest person Quinn had known "What happened to her?" she asked again, while managing to keep all her emotions in check.
"Oh... she killed herself" Russell told her nonchalantly with an equally dismissive wave of his fork. "Like I said, weakling" he stabbed another piece of meat on his plate then looked to his ex wife to ask "The Berry's haven't heard anything?"
"No, I don't believe so... we were lucky" Judy said as she smiled fondly at Quinn. There was something there though glistening in her eyes... Quinn knew immediately what it was: fear
Meanwhile all Quinn could feel was gut wrenching pain at the thought Rachel was dead. That annoying diva, despite everything, had brightened most days for Quinn and now she was gone. Why on earth had she killed herself though, why would she do that? Had the bullying been too much? Was it all Quinn's fault?
Rachel was dead...
Let me know what you think...
I know there was a lot of explaining, but Quinn and Rachel will be reunited in the next chapter, if you're interested :/