When the superflu hits New York it hits fast. It seems like one minute Lily is cracking open a beer to celebrate an impromptu day off, and the next she’s burying her husband.
Things kind of slip sideways after that. People keep dying and the names keep piling up (Ted, Mom, Michelle, Amy…) but it’s all just aftershocks in the wake of losing Marshall and none of it seems real. None of it touches her. She sits on her couch and watches America unravel in bold Technicolor and can almost forget that this is really happening. Can almost believe that it’s just one of those hokey disaster movies that Barney brings over and Marshall insists on watching even though they all know that it’ll mean he won’t sleep for a week.
Lily has always found those movies kind of dumb, but she’d put up with it because the sex that night would always be amazing. Sometimes they’d even let Barney stay over for that part. Not often, but sometimes.
The sex had been amazing, but she wishes that she’d paid more attention to those movies now. Now that the world really has come to an end it would be nice if she had some idea what she was supposed to do.
The TV doesn’t really help with that, but she keeps watching it all the same. Curls herself up on the sofa and doesn’t look at the space beside her.
It doesn’t occur to her that she’s waiting for something until it finally arrives. “It” being an ineffectual thump at the front door followed by some muffled swearing and a key sliding in the lock before the door swings open, pulling Lily away from the TV and the weird military game show that seems to have taken over from the news.
“-like a moron instead of, oh I don’t know, using the spare key Lily gave me in case she and Marshall ever got stuck in some kind of bondage sex swing and needed someone who would bring a toolkit instead of a video camera,” Robin strides in with two guns strapped to her belt and a hunting rifle slung over her shoulder.
“I was trying to lend the situation the drama I thought it deserved,” Barney grumbles, rubbing his shoulder and trying to straighten what looks like a suit made entirely of camouflage and olive green. “And, fyi, it is physically iiimpossible to trap two or more human adults in a sex swing for longer than seven minutes and thirty eight seconds. Or the average length of time it takes to climb out a window, onto the neighbour’s fire escape, down a ladder and over a fence to freedom.”
“Hey, Lily,” Robin ignores Barney and tosses a gun into Lily’s lap, rolling her eyes when Lily squeaks. “Oh, come on, the safety’s not even off. Don’t be like sissy boy here.”
“For the last time, Scherbatsky: that was a very manly war-like shout-”
“What… what are you doing here?” Lily picks up the gun between her finger and thumb. It’s heavier than she thought it would be and warm from where it’s been sitting snug against Robin’s hip.
“Getting you, of course, dummy,” Robin heads into the kitchen, raising her voice as she rummages through the cupboards. “Now grab a bag and pack light but warm. Bring things you can layer up and don’t forget gloves. We’re going north and it’s going to be cold.”
Lily has never really given much thought to what she would do in the event of an Apocalypse. Fortunately, it turns out that Robin has.
“There’s a cabin up in Saskatchewan,” Robin explains as she runs her thumb along the edges of Lily’s kitchen knives, testing them for sharpness. “My uncle Clete kitted it out a few years back after he became convinced that America was going to invade Canada and replace all the Tim Hortons with Burger Kings. He’s always been a little… excitable when it came to his Timmy’s. Anyway, the cabin has its own well and a generator and enough frozen Timbits to last us forever. It’s a bit of a hike, but I think the three of us can make it there before the snow sets in and wait this out.”
“The three of us?” Lily manages to get out. Her chest feels tight and like something is forcing its way upwards, some emotion that she’s almost forgotten how to feel.
“Well… sure,” Robin suddenly becomes a little too engrossed with the knife in her hand, a light flush rising on her cheek. “I mean. If you want to. Do you… not want to?”
Lily looks from Robin to Barney and back again. At the dark sweep of Robin’s lowered eyelashes and the restless grace of her hands as she checks and rechecks their armoury with quick economical movements. At the new tightness around Barney’s mouth and the laser tag vest he’s wearing under his suit jacket. She’s willing to bet that he started out the week with that tie wrapped around his head before Robin made him take it off.
“Do you want us to leave you alone?” some of that tightness has made its way into Barney’s voice now and Lily can’t let that happen. Not anymore.
“Leave me alone?” she says. “Oh Hell no. I’m sticking with the chick with the guns, thank you very much. If Sarah Connor here says we’re going north, then that’s good enough for me.”
Robin raises her head at that and smiles so wide that Lily can’t help but smile back, feeling that pressure in her chest start to blossom open. She’s so overwhelmed by remembering what it feels like to have hope again that she almost misses Barney’s over the top sigh.
“Well, that settles it,” he says. “It really has to be the end of the world if I’m going to Canada voluntarily.”