[A/N]: Okay, before I start, allow me to just say that it was my intention to take a break from writing part two of Icing Sugar and write a quick story in which Antonio died instead. Unfortunately, old habits die hard, and I literally went in the wrong direction for an entire page before realizing that I'd put them in the wrong positions for this to play out as I planned. I didn't bother fixing it because I was too busy laughing at myself.
I know zombie-related AUs are a bit overused sometimes, but again, this was just something to do during my break from writing more Icing Sugar.
Also, there is suicide involved here, so if that may trigger you in any way please tread carefully.
Antonio propped himself up on his elbows and grinned at Lovino. "No, it's definitely twenty-six."
"It's only been twenty-five days. You're delusional," Lovino retorted, flopping down on the bed, careful to avoid Antonio's leg.
"We got here two days after I fell from the balcony, remember?" That had certainly not been a pleasant experience, and it had been accentuated by the fact that it was a drop into an alley full of the walking dead. Lovino had practically (literally) carried Antonio around until they'd come across an empty house in the middle of fucking nowhere. He ran his hand through his boyfriend's hair as said boyfriend huffed irritably.
"That was twenty-five days ago, you moron."
"Twenty-six. I've been keeping track."
Lovino pressed subtly closer to him. "Why would you do that?"
"Because I'm confined to a bed with nothing better to do."
"You'll be fine again in just a few more days." Taking his free hand, Lovino laced their fingers together. "Then you have to help me build a barricade around this place, okay?"
"We're staying?" Antonio really didn't think that was a good idea, seeing as the last time they'd stayed in one place too long they'd both almost been killed. And the time before that. And the time before that. Packs of zombies were bound to pass through everywhere at some point.
Lovino nodded slowly. "Yeah. I mean, we haven't been bothered too much living here. Just the occasional stray. I think maybe it's just too far out for any packs to reach."
"Well, last week there was that group of five..."
"Five, Toni. I can handle five by myself. Once you're back on your feet we'll be capable of a lot more, and with a barricade in place it will be much easier."
"If you say so."
"We can leave if you want," Lovino murmured, resting his chin on Antonio's chest.
He supposed it was unlikely that they'd find another remote building with a windowless room in its centre. Admittedly, it did feel very safe in there, and Lovino seemed certain that they wouldn't be in danger. "No, no. I just want to make sure it's something you're okay with, and not just because I hurt my leg."
"I definitely want to stay," he assured him, then stood and began to remove the bandages from Antonio's leg. "And not just because of this."
"Then it's home."
It didn't really show in his face, but Lovino's eyes lit up. He'd talked about that a lot before the world had gone to shit and the dead had started walking. And killing. Having a home to share, not just a dorm, and if he was being honest Antonio himself had further developed that dream in his mind, adding pets and paint colours and luxuries that they probably wouldn't be able to afford. But to call anything home with Lovino would be enough for him.
"You're lucky this isn't infected." Lovino certainly didn't bother using the ointment they'd found in the washroom sparingly, presumably because the wound had almost healed so they wouldn't need it much longer, and he was still worried about the possibility of an infection. Fresh bandages were wrapped gently around his leg from the knee down. "Then we would have a much greater issue on our hands."
"Well, it isn't and it won't be. Come here," he held out his arms and smiled as charmingly as he could manage at Lovino. It worked well enough; the Italian sank into his embrace, turning off the flashlight that hung above the headboard as he did so. "What time is it?"
"The sun was setting when I came in here, so it's definitely night. Probably 9-ish by now."
Antonio chuckled lightly, rubbing his back. "Sleep, then."
Already Lovino was barely conscious, and he only managed a tiny nod before his head slumped against Antonio's shoulder.
"Goodnight, mi corazón."
Antonio was dreaming. He knew he was dreaming, because everything was good and right and peaceful, and he was painting walls in shades of red with Lovino, who muttered angrily about the stains on his shirt. When he told him that perhaps he should have worn a different shirt, Lovino merely stuck his tongue out and continued working. And Antonio laughed. For the first time in a long time, he felt completely carefree.
As he counted days on his fingers or scratched them into the headboard of his bed, the worry still did not return, for in dreams he was safe from the monsters of reality. Everything seemed to move faster in his dreamland; each tally mark by his head was accompanied by a full day of Lovino bustling about around him, carrying food, changing bandages, giving kisses, fighting off the monsters that wandered too close for comfort. The cut on his leg healed until he felt ready to walk again, but still he was told to stay in bed 'just a few more days, I don't want you hurting yourself.' And while he felt confined and perhaps even a bit useless, he knew Lovino would return to him without fail every day.
On the twenty-sixth day, it occurred to him that he wasn't sure what happened next, and while he tried to recall it before it happened, as he had with all the other events in his dream, his sleep was interrupted by movement and noise. Cracking an eye open, Antonio saw a very faint silhouette of Lovino standing and retrieving a knife from beside the bed.
"Shhh." Lovino pressed a finger to Antonio's lips, effectively silencing him. There was a faint sound from the kitchen - glass breaking? - and Lovino unlocked the door and slipped into the hall. His footsteps faded as he crept away, but Antonio sat straight up, completely alert as he listened to know how many there were, how many had already gotten inside, if Lovino would be okay by himself...
Something growled, loud enough for him to hear clearly, even from a location not optimal for eavesdropping on anything anywhere in the house. It was cut off, though, and Antonio would have breathed a sigh of relief if Lovino had not cursed shrilly in the same instant. A chair scraped across the floor and more glass broke. He so desperately wanted to get up and help but he found himself frozen in place. Besides, he'd probably be more of a liability than anything. The scuffling went on for a few more minutes, throughout which Antonio didn't think he breathed at all. When silence fell again, it stretched on for so long that he began to feel genuinely scared, but then something must have fallen over, dislodged by all the commotion. The very audible and equally colourful string of profanities that drifted down the hall was the most beautiful sound he'd ever heard.
The footsteps came back towards the room, the door flew open, and there Lovino stood illuminated by moonlight the filled the hallway, blood staining half of his shirt, almost like the paint from Antonio's dream. He staggered over to the bed with an armful of bags and containers and dumped them beside it.
"Lovi?" Antonio reached out and caught his arm just as he was turning around, and he was shaking, and the Spaniard felt a cold, gnawing fear in his stomach. "What's wrong?"
"I...I'm sorry, Toni. I didn't..." Even his voice was shaking.
"You're bleeding." It came out sounding like more of a question than a statement. A 'please confirm that this is not your blood, because I really don't want it to be.'
"Five," Lovino murmured, then laughed dryly. "It's funny that I said I could handle five. Damn it. I'm sorry."
"Why are you apologizing, Lovi? You didn't do anything wrong." His heart hammered in his chest, his hand found Lovino's side, felt the blood welling and spilling out from a wound with jagged edges, as though a chunk of skin had been torn out.
"I thought there were four. I only saw four. It was dark. I didn't know. I didn't know. Oh God, I'm so sorry." He saw it then, teeth sinking into his stomach from behind as he swore loudly and fell backwards and...knocked something over.
Lovino stumbled slightly as he backed away from Antonio and rushed out into the hall. Antonio made to stand up, and fuck he felt ill, and please please please let him still be dreaming, but Lovino swept back into the room and dropped more food from the kitchen, pushed him back down onto the bed, and disappeared once again. Rather stunned, Antonio lay back and listened to him rummage around in the washroom cabinet for a few moments before returning with what must have been the last bottle of ointment and roll of bandages.
"Do not leave this house," he began; his voice sounded strained and he swallowed thickly before continuing, "Do not leave this room until you are absolutely certain that you can take care of yourself, okay?"
His throat felt constricted and his eyes stung as Antonio nodded slowly. "Okay. Okay. I love you, Lovi. God, I love you so much." He cupped his face - his skin had already begun to grow warm with fever - and kissed him. As he ran his thumb over Lovino's cheek, he realized that he was crying, but Antonio hadn't noticed it in the darkness of the room. He turned the flashlight on, flooding the area around them with pale, dim light, but as weak as it was, it was still enough to outline the terror on Lovino's face. He felt the tears gathering in his eyes spill over.
"I love you, too. I love you, and I'm so, so sorry. I didn't mean...I just...I'm sorry, Antonio." Lovino's eyes scrunched up and he sobbed pitifully. Antonio barely had his arms around him before his face was pressed against his shoulder, the heat of the quickly-rising fever warming his neck.
"Don't apologize. Please."
Lovino nodded, his shoulders shook, he kept bleeding, and please let it just be a nightmare. He didn't know how to deal with this. He curled his fingers into Lovino's hair and held him as close as humanly possible. And for fucks's sake, he didn't know what to do.
"I have to go," Lovino whispered, and fear rolled in Antonio's gut, in his chest, his head. "I'll just block off the door from the outside, so nothing can get through. I'll make sure you can get out, though. Okay?"
"Antonio, I have to-"
"Don't leave me here." Don't leave him ever. He tried to hold Lovino back as he moved away from him but his fingers wouldn't function properly and he was only reaching out into emptiness until hands clamped around his wrists and drew him forward for one final, desperate kiss.
"I love you." Warm breath ghosted over his cheek and then Lovino was gone, the door slamming shut behind him.
And Antonio could not move. He simply sat there, arms still outstretched, uncomprehending as furniture was dragged down the hall clumsily, bumping haphazardly against the door. When it stopped, he heard Lovino's laboured breathing, heard him slump against the wall outside.
"Wait..." He forced his legs to move, lowered himself to the floor, and tried to walk for the first time in weeks. It was a lot more difficult than he'd anticipated; he almost fell over the moment he stood. But Antonio managed to stumble over to the door, feeling panic rising in his throat. "Wait! Lovi!"
"I'm sorry, Antonio." There was a few quiet clicks from the other side of the door, and Lovino exhaled heavily.
"Lovi! What are you doing!?"
Silence. Antonio pushed frantically against the door, the stupid damned door with a stupid barricade in front of it that was separating him from Lovino. If he could only keep his feet firmly against the hardwood floor. But his injured leg protested to every bit of pressure, every movement, and soon his tears were from both fear and pain as he put all of his strength into just getting out of that damned room. He detected a muffled sob from the hall - thank God, he was still alive - and his attempts to free himself became more frenzied, he became more and more distraught with each passing second because this was not how their lives were supposed to play out. This was not how it was supposed to be at all.
The door only creaked open the slightest bit, not even enough for him to see into the hall, but he knew Lovino was there and he needed so desperately to see him. He knew he was dying; anyone who got bit died. He at least wanted to be there for him, sit with him for however long it may take for the virus to spread and shut his body down. That tiny movement of the door was enough to tell him that yes, he could still do that, even if Lovino thought he could just sit there and wait it out alone.
"Lovino, please let me out. Please, I just want to-" Pop. "...Lovi?"
It smelt like blood. Everywhere. On his hands, around the door, on the bed. Everything was bathed in that iron scent taht burned his nostrils and it petrified him, because that was Lovino's blood. And now it was growing stronger. He received no response from the man on the other side of the door, and fear curled itself around his heart.
Unable to support himself any longer, Antonio fell to the ground and dragged himself back over to the bed, feeling under the mattress for a gun he knew was no longer there, one reserved only for emergencies. And when he opened the nightstand drawer, he found that one of their treasured silencers was gone as well.
"They're attracted to noise, Toni. Only use the gun when you have to, and if you do, use a silencer. That way they won't hear, and they won't come."
"Oh God..." He was going to be sick. All he could smell was blood and all he could see was Lovino sitting just outside with a gun in his hand, listening to Antonio begging him to be set free. He was on his feet again, pretending that his body was not screaming in protest, and straining against the door. "Lovino, Lovino, no no no."
There must have been a loveseat directly in front of it. The legs ground against the floor with a harsh sound as it moved slowly forward, centimetre by centimetre. Finally, after what seemed like hours, he could slip through the opening, into the hall, and there was Lovino against the wall and oh, everything was suddenly so surreal as he dropped to the floor in front of him and please please please. He took Lovino's chin in his hand, breathed his name tremulously, was not given a response of any kind. His stomach lurched, and when he lifted the Italian's head slowly to look into his eyes, the bile rising in his throat finally made an appearance.
"In the head, Toni. Remember, you can only kill them by destroying their brain."
He used his sleeve to wipe away the rivulet of blood that had trickled from the centre of his forehead down the bridge of his nose. Of course, there was much more blood behind Lovino, but he forced himself to act as though it was not there, as though he couldn't see the little bits of pink flecking the wall among it. It was so, so wrong. He couldn't fully register the fact that Lovino was dead, because it was wrong. The sky should have been falling. The ground beneath him should have split in half. The universe should have collapsed in on itself because his entire life was dead. Instead everything was silent and still.
And it wasn't right at all.
His breath came in short, ragged gasps, and the walls around him spun in the ghastly silence. Lovino's blood was everywhere and he could still smell it everywhere and he thought perhaps he was dying as well. He wanted to die. God, he'd never even thought that way before. He'd never wanted to be dead before. And now he did because he was afraid and lost and suddenly so, so alone. Because he'd lost his reason, the one person whose existence he had not realized meant so much to him.
He didn't want to live without Lovino.
It didn't take much thought after that. He removed the silencer from the gun - they were intended for one use, and he wouldn't have to worry about drawing the attention of any monsters anyway. The back of Lovino's head felt sticky and peculiar when it touched his shoulder, but he didn't want to think about it as he drew the other man into his lap, wrapped his arms around him protectively, told him he loved him over and over as whimpers tore themselves from his throat.
The gun against his head felt oddly comforting. He knew what it meant, of course, and supposed that was why; he found himself welcoming the idea of death.
It was funny, really, how quickly things could turn terrible. When the world changed and monsters took over their lives, killed their friends, Antonio had thought for some time that it had been the worst thing to ever happen. But he had remained hopeful, if only for Lovino's sake. And eventually he had learnt that maybe life could be okay, even in a world that made no sense.
Lovino dying had never been a possibility to him. Feeling completely and utterly hopeless had never been a possibility. The end of humanity had seemed like the worst thing that could happen, and he had remained certain even through those days that life could go back to the way it was.
Now he knew it could not.
He was scared, so scared, and escape from this new agony was oh so close. His finger brushed thoughtfully over the trigger, curled around it.
"Goodnight, mi corazón."