Disclaimer: I do not own Full Metal Panic or any of its characters. I am not profiting in any way from writing this fanfiction. Full Metal Panic! is written by Shoji Gatoh and illustrated by Douji Shiki and the anime is produced by Gonzo.

-x-

Author's Note 1: I honestly have no idea why I'm writing this fic except for the idea came to me and wouldn't let me go. A zombie Full Metal Panic fic – what am I thinking? I have pages of notes written for this story and I actually know where it's heading (though I'm sure I'll surprise myself with the details). There aren't a lot of Full Metal Panic Alternate Universes. Generally, I do try to stay away from AUs, both reading them and writing them. But as I said, this one just wouldn't let me go. For the zombie mythology that will be used in this story, major props go out to the following: Dawn of the Dead, World War Z, High School of the Dead, Left 4 Dead, Zombies, Run!, Shaun of the Dead, Planet Terror, and The Walking Dead. For a girl who's terrified of zombies, I seem to surround myself with them. Anyway, I hope you enjoy!


The Sickness

By Starzki

-z-

1. This Is It, The Apocalypse

-z-

The day it all began started out like almost every other day.

Things were going according to routine. Sousuke awoke early, around 6:00AM, checked in with the house's perimeter guards via walkie talkie and learned that there were no signs of trouble.

In the hour or so before Lady Kaname Watanabe awoke, Sousuke inspected his weapon cache. He double checked that all of the rifles, hand guns, and shot guns were unloaded with the safeties on, but with ammo available and ready at a moment's notice. The same went for the explosives that lined his weapons closet. Everything was as it should be.

Next, he took the opportunity to clean the guns he had practiced with at the range the day before, his favorites: the Glock 29 handgun and the Steyr SPP semiautomatic. He accomplished this task with his usual quick efficiency.

Sousuke put away all of his weapons but the Glock, which he holstered, then went to the bathroom attached to his small room and washed the cleaning solvent and gun oil from his hands. From that position, he could hear the pipes running water to Kaname's bathroom one room over. She was awake. It was time for Sousuke to go to work.

He was tasked with being with Lady Kaname nearly every moment she was not in her room. And when she was in her room, he was supposed to be in the room just outside her door. He was her personal body guard and had been so since they had been 16 years old.

Lady Kaname was the only child of Shunya Chidori, the heir to the Shou Manufacturing Company that was responsible for creating transportation technologies. Their engineering breakthroughs could be found in anything from cars to airplanes. They were the biggest employer of citizens in Western City and the surrounding areas. The Chidori family was one of the wealthiest in the country and, as such, had many enemies and people who would try to exploit or harm them for a profit.

In fact, Kaname's mother had been murdered in a botched kidnapping attack when Kaname was only 12 years old. Since then, Lord Chidori had turned his estate into a well-defended compound and ensured that Kaname had a personal guard with her whenever possible.

"Good morning, Lady Kaname," greeted Sousuke as his charge left her room and entered his. Her quarters were nearly the entire second story of the main house's East wing. It only was accessible through a guarded staircase that ended in Sousuke's room. From there, he allowed any visitors access to her room personally. There was never really a time that Sousuke wasn't sure where Kaname was or who she was with. It made his job of protecting her that much easier.

Kaname grunted in response to Sousuke. She wasn't mad at him, he knew. She just wasn't a morning person and Wednesday breakfasts with her father were not her favorite. He'd gotten to know her well in the three years, give or take, that he'd been her bodyguard.

"Are you feeling okay, Lady Kaname?" Sousuke asked as they descended the staircase on their way to the small dining room.

Kaname gave Sousuke a sideways glance and answered his question with one of her own. "Why would you ask?"

"You have a doctor's appointment scheduled for later this morning. I wasn't sure if something was wrong. You really need to keep me informed if you're not feeling well. It is my duty to protect you and I can only do that if I can be sure of your capabilities. For example, I wouldn't plan an escape where we would have to run at top speed if I knew that you had a sprained ankle."

"Ugh, idiot," was her answer, but Sousuke could see that she was suppressing a smile and he wasn't exactly sure why. "Yes," she continued with some forced irritability, "I get it. I'm completely fine. It's just a check-up." Kaname's expression changed to one that was more serious. "Yamato reminded me this weekend that I hadn't had one for a while."

"Ah. I wasn't aware that Lord Watanabe was keeping up with your appointments." Sousuke had tried, but he didn't manage to keep the acid out of his voice.

"He's my husband. Of course he cares about my health," said Kaname defensively.

"Of course. I apologize," said Sousuke as they entered the morning room.

Most other mornings during the week, Sousuke and Kaname ate breakfast together in a room just off the kitchen. It was a huge breach of etiquette for the lady of the house to eat with what was essentially a servant, but it made their mornings much less of a production and it gave Sousuke an opportunity to eat. Wednesdays, though, she was to eat with her father in the small dining room without argument.

This Wednesday was no different. Lord Chidori read the newspaper business section and sipped at his coffee. Kaname poked at half of a grapefruit. Sousuke endured the awkward silence by keeping a steady eye on the doorways as well as out the floor-to-ceiling windows lining one wall of the room.

Finally, at what seemed like the appointed time, Lord Chidori set his cup in its saucer and folded the paper and put it aside. Kaname set down her spoon, folded her hands, and kept her eyes on the table. Sousuke braced himself for the usual Wednesday morning lecture.

"Kaname, I hope you realize that I would have done anything for the Shou Company to have passed into your hands. I wanted nothing but financial security for you as well as a way to employ yourself in useful work. Sadly, though, you were not born a boy and the entail under which the company operates states that only males can be legitimate heirs for possession of Shou Manufacturing. It is out of my hands."

Sousuke suppressed his grimace. Lord Chidori started his lecture the same way every time, even that first Wednesday Sousuke had ever accompanied Kaname to breakfast. He wondered if Lord Chidori noticed, or even cared, that Kaname hated any mention of the entail that essentially robbed her of her birthright based on archaic beliefs of gender roles. In the old days she would fume to Sousuke about it, ranting that she wasn't even sure if she even wanted the company if her ancestors were such idiots.

Lord Chidori continued. "Despite not being an heir, you do have a deep responsibility to this family. You have been raised in the finest house in the country and taught by the best teachers I have been able to find. I have not deprived you or treated you any differently than I would have treated a son."

Sousuke wondered at this, too. Kaname was cut off from the world outside of the compound for the most part. She had never gone to school and, as far as he knew, had no real friends her own age. Until he had come along, she had been very alone.

"Your responsibility to this family does not end with your marriage."

Ah, thought Sousuke. Here's the purpose of the lecture this week.

"You were an obstinate child and you resisted this marriage for a long time, yes?"

"Yes father," she answered, not raising her eyes from a point in the table midway between them.

"You are lucky that Yamato was so patient. It is he who is heir to the Shou Company and he did not have to offer to marry you. The moment that I passed away, any wife of his that he had chosen would have, and could have, swept you out of this house, out of the only home you've ever known."

"Yes, father," she answered, her voice dull.

"But you did come to your senses and realized your duty to this family, to me, to remain her and keep up our traditions, as well as the traditions of your new family, in the house that has always been the home of the president of Shou."

Sousuke remembered those arguments well. Back then, Kaname had been more willing to fight with her father. She had been argumentative and stubborn. Inwardly, he had rooted for her in her willingness to throw off their expectations and see what life had to offer elsewhere. But Sousuke knew that his reasons for siding with her back then were purely selfish. He was in love with her, he had been since about twenty minutes after meeting her for the first time. He didn't want to see her in a marriage of convenience to a stranger.

But in the end, Lord Chidori had sent Kaname away to meet and live with Yamato Watanabe and his family. She would learn their traditions, and come to understand the realities she faced if she did not agree to the union. Sousuke had not been invited to go with her. She had been gone for three months. Sousuke wasn't even sure if he would have a job when she returned. She had come home six months ago, a newlywed. Any hope Sousuke had secretly had about being with her as more than a bodyguard dissolved away completely.

"What I can't understand, Kaname, is why your husband does not live with us in the main house. Have you not tried convincing him? You realize that it makes it look like your marriage is a sham or that you two do not represent a united front. We will not have a scandal in this house, young lady. Not while I'm alive!"

"Father," Kaname pinned Lord Chidori with her stare. "Yamato wishes to stay in the small cottage on the North end of the compound. He has not grown up with this much luxury and it will take him time to become accustomed to it and all of our routines. As his wife, I will respect his wishes and see to it that he is happy with me. There will be no scandal, I promise."

Sousuke did not doubt this. Yamato was not someone that Sousuke could imagine being embroiled in any trouble. He was… bland. He was normal height, had a slight-to-medium build, dark hair, gentle eyes, and glasses. He looked like every business man that Sousuke had ever seen.

"It doesn't look good," Lord Chidori finished, but he did not press the issue. Breakfast was over. Sousuke was sure that they would probably hear this lecture again next Wednesday morning, but the status quo with Kaname's relationship with Yamato remained for now.

Sousuke tried not to dislike Yamato. If not for him being married to Kaname, Sousuke would have probably been on friendlier terms with the man. He was unremarkable: quiet, unobtrusive, and polite and kind to Kaname. Sousuke couldn't have wished for a better match for Kaname, really, and with Yamato, she got to stay in her house with everyone she had always known. Furthermore, Sousuke got to remain close to her.

Kaname and Sousuke watched Lord Chidori leave the room and Kaname finally relaxed in her chair, resuming her grapefruit breakfast. Sousuke kept his eyes active. No matter what, he would protect Kaname.

Truthfully, staying close to Lady Kaname was all that Sousuke truly cared about. When they had first met at age 16, Sousuke was a hard young man who had done most of his growing up on the streets of Western City. Kaname had been a fiery, sheltered, demanding girl with a quick temper who had never managed to keep a personal bodyguard around for more than just a few months. Sousuke had fallen for her after she had smacked him with her harisen for wrestling her to the ground when he had mistaken one of the gardeners for a potential kidnapper.

She had more fight and spirit than anyone he had ever known and the job of protecting her with his life was more than a paycheck to him. It was his reason for waking up in the morning. And he had proven his worth by foiling a kidnapping attempt on Kaname mere weeks after being hired. Both Lord Chidori and Kaname had been pleased with his work and he suddenly had more of a home than he had ever known in his life. He would protect it with everything he had.

-z-

Though her days of tutoring and governesses were over, Kaname still loved learning about the outside world, even if she rarely saw it. After breakfast, she led her bodyguard into the house's main library.

Kaname read. Sousuke radioed the head guard at the gates and asked for a status report. Everything was nominal.

Everything was quiet.

-z-

At the appointed time, Sousuke reminded Kaname of her doctor's appointment. She seemed more thoughtful than usual to him, but he didn't press the issue. Before she had been sent away, they'd had a close relationship where she had confided in him. She had taught him, learned from him, teased him, and even had flirted a little. They'd had a strong connection that was now muted. Maybe it was gone. In any case, Sousuke didn't have the right to demand she share her thoughts with him.

Sousuke talked to the driver about the route to the doctor's office. Kaname huffed from the back of the car, annoyed at the delay and show of thoroughness, but Sousuke wanted absolutely no surprises.

The trip to the doctor's office was only five minutes long. Kaname rolled the window down.

"It's amazing how warm it is out," said Kaname. She was right, the mid-February day seemed almost balmy after the recent frozen weather. "I hope it sticks around."

-z-

Sousuke stood at attention on the other side of the exam room door, ever vigilant. Sousuke figured that a large percentage of his recent life could be described as waiting on the other side of the door for Kaname to finish what she was doing.

It could be worse than just waiting for Kaname to finish a physical exam.

In the past six months, about once a week, he'd endured admitting Yamato to Kaname's room at night after dinner. He would never abandon his post, so, in those moments, he would do whatever he could to distract himself from the reality of what was going on with her and Yamato behind closed doors.

However, even though the walls between their rooms were made intentionally thin so that Kaname's bodyguard would be able to tell if something was happening to her, Sousuke never heard the smallest sound from the couple during these nights.

It was his own personal Hell, but the alternative, quitting, leaving her, was completely unthinkable.

Kaname emerged from the exam room holding a large bottle of pills. She let out a shaky sigh and ran her fingers through her hair in a gesture that Sousuke immediately recognized as extreme nervousness from Kaname.

This immediately put Sousuke on edge. She was so rarely nervous. Something must have happened.

"Is everything all right, Lady Kaname?" Sousuke asked, unholstering his firearm, ready to push the door open once again and confront whatever danger was there.

"Sousuke, wait!" Kaname said, grabbing his arm, halting his progression. "I'm completely fine. Really."

Sousuke looked at the pills and back at Kaname questioningly. She huffed a laugh and stuffed them into her purse. "Just vitamins."

Sousuke peered carefully into Kaname's eyes, searching for signs she was reassuring him under duress, that someone else had threatened her into placating him. He saw nothing like that.

In fact, Kaname was giving him the happiest smile he'd seen on her face in months. It was like he was looking at the old Kaname. The one who wasn't married and burdened so much by duty to her family. Something loosened between Sousuke's shoulder blades and suddenly that connection between them was back.

Kaname dropped her hand from Sousuke's arm and looked around self-consciously. She recomposed herself and their moment ended. But it had been there. Sousuke was hopeful it would someday be there again. He knew he could never be with Kaname in the way he wanted. She was of a rich, prominent family with ties to royalty. He was no one: a servant. It could never be.

But he could be with her, and that was enough for Sousuke. For her, he could endure anything.

-z-

The rest of the day followed the normal routine. They spent time in the garden so Kaname could take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather. Sousuke's regular checks to the guards on the perimeter were all normal and quiet.

The late afternoon took Sousuke and Kaname to the house's kitchen. Kaname loved cooking. Though her father disliked that she found an interest where she socialized more with the servants than with the other prominent families in the area, she still spent every afternoon learning about food and helping the staff put together dinners for the family and any guests they had.

It was also the one time of the day that Kaname and Sousuke were separated. All entrances to the kitchen were well guarded and the art of cooking never appealed to Sousuke. He would instead take those hours to go down to the gun range for target practice, exercise, eat, help plan or make changes to the security protocols, and shower and change for the evening.

Sousuke shouldered on his nicer dinner jacket. He would not be sitting for dinner, but Lord Chidori liked all staff, even the bodyguards, to dress for dinner. Sousuke figured that Chidori was trying to make dinner seem as normal as possible for everyone there.

Sousuke knocked on Kaname's door. "Are you ready?"

"Just a minute."

"Who's coming to dinner?" Sousuke asked to make conversation. A small part of him was hoping that she would open up the door and smile at him like she had done earlier.

"Father will be there, of course. And Yamato and his mother. Just family, really." She opened the door in her favorite dinner dress, the simple blue one that complimented her curves. It never failed to render him speechless.

"Shall we, then?" Kaname asked.

-z-

The day it all began had been like most other days in the Chidori compound. The change came at dinner.

As soon as everyone was seated, Kaname cleared her throat.

"Excuse me everyone. I have an announcement to make."

Kaname had their undivided attention. She took a deep breath and broke into another ecstatic smile.

"Well, I don't know how else to tell everyone this, but to just say it out loud. I'm pregnant. Yamato and I will be having a baby."

After a moment to process what she said, the dining room was suddenly filled with happy cheers and congratulations for the expectant mother.

Sousuke was surprised that his first reaction was to be elated for Kaname. She would be such an excellent mother and the fact that she was so happy at the news meant that this was a huge blessing within the house.

"How far along are you, child," Lady Watanabe asked.

"Seven weeks. Dr. Ishii said that my due date is September 3rd."

"Oh, darling, this makes me so happy," said Yamato, visibly pleased. He also looked relieved, like the weight of the world was off of his shoulders.

"I'm happy, too, Yamato."

"Congratulations, Kaname, dear," joined Lord Chidori. "With luck, this child will be a boy and the Shou company's future will be ensured for many years to come.

"Yes father."

Sousuke didn't know why, but at that comment from Lord Chidori, he immediately wished that Kaname's baby would be a girl. A little girl with her mother's beauty, wit, and temper who would never let something like a stupid entail on the family business keep her down. A little girl just like her mother.

Everyone had stood up and gathered around Kaname asking questions and embracing her. She held them off a little and begged to be excused for a moment. She needed to use the facilities.

Kaname turned to Sousuke, "That okay?"

"It's not a problem." Sousuke didn't miss the frown from Lord Chidori at the slip of etiquette at the informal response, but everyone was still too giddy at the news to pay it much mind.

The two left the dining room, through the East, seldomly-used door that led to both a bathroom and a small patio that had been in disrepair through the winter months. Sousuke trailed Kaname closely.

Once in the hallway, Kaname spun on Sousuke and began giggling. She then launched herself at Sousuke, throwing her arms around his neck in her glee.

"Can you believe it, Sousuke? I'm really going to have a baby!"

"Why didn't you tell me before, at the doctor's office?" He couldn't stop the smile from spreading across his face. Again, like before, it was their same old easy connection.

"I wanted to tell everyone at the same time." She took a step back and studied his face. "You're really happy for me?"

"Of course. You are… your happiness is important to me. And seeing you like this is all I ever want for you."

"Sousuke," Kaname's smile slipped a notch. "I know it's weird. But I think things will get a lot more… normal… once the baby's born."

Sousuke didn't know what to make of that comment, but accepted it anyway. A child living in this house would be a wonderful thing.

"I'm glad you're happy for me," Kaname said. "Let's go back in and have a nice dinner for once."

Sousuke nodded, pleased when she held his gaze with a twinkling eye a touch longer than she had to. He opened the dining room door for her.

They entered to a scene of some confusion. Apparently Kiku, one of the kitchen maids, had stumbled into the dining room and collapsed, coughing violently. She had a large wound on her upper arm that had been bleeding quite badly. The wound radiated both dark red and green striations the likes of which Sousuke had never seen, and he had seen his fair share of injuries as a boy.

"Kiku?" said Kaname as she stepped forward to tend the girl she knew from the kitchen. Sousuke caught her arm and forced her behind him while he radioed the perimeter.

"Sousuke, stop. We have to help Kiku!"

After a brief moment of static, Sousuke could hear the voice of the head guard, Abe. "We've got this under control, Sagara."

Lord Chidori, also being shielded by his bodyguard barked at Kaname, "Listen to Sousuke."

"What exactly is going on?" Sousuke asked into the walkie's receiver.

Yamato had run to the girl and helped her hunch over so that she wouldn't aspirate the blood that was now resulting from her unremitting coughs. Kiku looked up wildly, her eyes so bloodshot they were almost black. Her hacking gave way to violent convulsions that flipped her onto her back like a dying fish.

Kaname screamed and Sousuke did what he could to keep her from running to the girl while he assessed the situation, unholstering his gun. The voice from the radio squawked "Some villager was sick and asking for help. We've called the doctor."

Lady Watanabe was crying and making her way to the door, too upset to witness the situation further. Kiku kept convulsing until she came to a sudden stop. Sousuke yelled to Yamato's mother that she should stay in the room, but she waved him off.

"Kiku?" asked Yamato, his fingers searching her neck for a pulse. "Kiku, are you okay?" Yamato looked to Lord Chidori. "I can't find a pulse! We have to call a doctor!"

The walkie in Sousuke's hand crackled to life. "Oh God. He woke back up. Something's wrong! We'll have to call the police!"

"Don't panic and use the proper channel, Abe," ordered Sousuke, his attention moving between Kiku's body and the door.

Lord Chidori's bodyguard made for the phone in the hallway. Kaname was crying softly behind Sousuke, her hands fisted in the back of his dinner jacket. He could feel her trembling. What was going on?

"Is she dead?" Kaname finally asked.

"Yes, I think so," Yamato answered.

As if to object, Kiku suddenly gave a low moan, causing everyone in the room to gasp.

The radio came to life again, "Oh God. Oh God! Don't—" was all Abe said before the transmission died once again.

"She's okay?" Kaname asked, her voice small, but hopeful.

"Maybe," answered Yamato. He leaned his ear down to listen for her breath.

"Yamato! Step away from her!" Sousuke trained his gun on the South door.

In that moment, Kiku's bloodshot eyes sprung open and she gave an inhuman screech. Then, her arms shot up and she grabbed Yamato's head.

Sousuke could hear the click of her teeth when she tore into the flesh of Yamato's neck. It was in that moment that Sousuke knew that life as he had known it was over forever.

TO BE CONTINUED…


AN2: I have notes, mood music, and my thoughts on writing this chapter available over on Dreamwidth or Livejournal if you look under the tag "The Sickness." Thanks for reading! Let me know if you liked it!