"Artie, are you getting this?" Kurt asks, adjusting the camera a little.
"Beautiful stuff!" is the overenthusiastic response. "Just keep your eyes on the prize, Kurt."
Kurt would swear that Artie didn't abuse clichés this much before he became a Newsie. "Uh, okay. How's Brittany doing?"
"She's updating Lord Tubbington's Feline View of a Zombie Uprising."
"Ms P-- Emma?" They ditched formality pretty early on, but sometimes he forgets.
"I'm right here with the tests for when you kids get back," Emma herself says. Kurt can picture them holed up in Brittany's place, their new headquarters since his dad -- since his -- well, anyway, their new headquarters.
Crying now is not going to do anyone any favours. He switches channels on the radio and looks down into the carpark again. There are crows everywhere, just waiting, and he starts to count them, reaching seven before they flurry into the sky as the moaning gets too close.
"Puck. David. Finn. Ready?"
"Affirmative," Puck says.
Kurt doesn't need to ask Will and Sue if they're ready. All he has to do is turn his head and look up at either one of them, standing absolutely motionless as the heat bakes off the school roof, both of them focused on the carpark.
Not so focused that Sue doesn't poke him in the ribs with a toe and mutter, "Get on with it, Porcelain," though.
"Okay, guys. Mob entering the carpark from the east. I count nine." His voice always sounds calmer than he feels. "Don't be heroes, just get in and get out."
They'd discovered this not-quite-defence against the zombies early on, thanks to David's natural thuggish instincts (although he's lucky the flight response kicked in a second later). Zombies might have been one thing that the glee club couldn't defeat by singing about them, but this works in its own way.
The three boys step out from cover and the moaning reaches a crescendo right before each of the guys swings both hands forward. Bright blue liquid splashes into the faces of the lead zombies and suddenly they're stumbling, temporarily blinded. One goes down and that's all it takes for the two behind it to trip.
"Get out of there!"
David and Finn bolt immediately, but Puck pauses long enough to flash a cheesy grin and a V-sign up at Kurt on the roof before ducking away from the reaching arms and fleeing.
Kurt covers his ears as Will and Sue begin to shoot.
Sue hasn't wasted a bullet yet. Will occasionally misses, but each time they do this, he gets a little better. Kurt hopes his aim won't falter the first time one of those things is wearing a Cheerios uniform or moans with perfect pitch or moves just a little too skilfully in spite of the virus.
Kurt counts ten shots and uncovers his ears to hear Sue berating Will for wasting ammo.
The guys are already back at Brittany's by the time Kurt and Will and Sue get down from the roof, film a little close-up stuff for Artie, and get the stupid car started.
Kurt stands patiently in the entryway, looking past Emma as she watches the lights on his test flash. He can go out there and be Artie's on the spot eyes and ears, but he's never been able to summon up the nerve to watch the lights if someone else can do it for him.
"Welcome home, Kurt," Emma says finally, and Kurt hugs her before going on into the house.
Finn grabs him tight for a second and says, "Next time you're gonna be so late, let us know," and then lets go. Kurt moves on to David, who's still getting the hang of hugs, and then Puck.
"Don't get too smartass out there."
Puck just grins. "Smartass gets ratings."
Kurt hugs him anyway, because it's the ritual now, and goes into the living room, which is now half communications hub and half weapons storage and looks like it belongs in the Pentagon rather than suburban Ohio.
"Hey, great job today," Artie says as he enters, pulling away from the keyboard for a second and opening his arms. Kurt leans down to hug him. "That V-sign from Puck's already looking good for our new header image."
"Could you not encourage him to do anything more idiotic than he already does?"
Artie seems to be about to object on the grounds of his ratings and then sees the look on Kurt's face and doesn't push it.
Finally Kurt makes his way upstairs and flops down onto Brittany's bed. He has to hug Lord Tubbington first, who's purring his head off as usual, and then finally nestle up against Brittany, who stops typing immediately to throw her arm over him and pull him close.
"We missed you," she says.
"I missed you too."
Every time he tells her no, no, he didn't see anyone they know out there, she seems relieved. For a Fictional, she can be pretty damn stubborn about not accepting the truth about some things unless she sees it with her own two eyes, or in this case with Kurt's own two eyes. But that's the way she keeps it together, that and spending an hour a day practising cheers with Sue, as though one day Santana and Quinn will show up and join in.
At least it's keeping her in shape for if (when) they have to relocate again.
He slides his arm over her anyway and closes the embrace, because it's what he does, even if Sue denounces it as drippy bullshit (and always hugs him back anyway). It's what he does because it's what Mercedes would have wanted; one little reminder that they're all in this together, even the ones who aren't any more.
"How's our kitty's blog going, anyway?" he asks, nodding at her laptop.
"Oh, he didn't have a lot to say today, so I had to make some stuff up for him. I was writing my blog. Want to see?"
Kurt quickly shakes his head before she can turn the screen towards him. "I'll, um, catch up on my RSS feed later. Right now I'm starving."
Right now he doesn't want to see her blog, with the yearbook photo collage header and DON'T STOP BELIEVIN' emblazoned in red across the top. Right now, after being out there and seeing the bodies twist and fall after each perfect shot, it's a fiction he is not sure he can bring himself to believe.