Serah grins at him when she pats her bloated belly. She's streaked with blood and has chunks of gray brain stuck in her hair, has a death grip on Snow's spare machete, but when she smiles like that and tells him, "We're expecting a baby," she looks like a mom.
Next to him, Vanille squeals in excitement- shoves past him and Serah's too quiet sister to fold her hands across the bump. It's still small, probably in the third or fourth month, but it brings a smile to his face. He remembers his wife and how she'd mashed fish sticks together with pudding, how she'd nagged incessantly, but been so unbearably sweet at the same time.
That first glimpse of Dajh, all doe dark eyes like Bambi. How he'd fallen in love and taken care of him even after his mom had gotten sick. How they'd played in the rain and how Dajh got addition and subtraction far faster than he ever had.
How the virus had spread and Dajh hadn't come home from school.
Snow grins beside his wife; happy, proud, and just as streaked with blood as they all are. His pistols are cold in his hands, biting into his palms and he glances cautiously around the abandoned apartment they're crashing in, checking for danger and the location of the others. Hope's lounging on the trellis of the window, casting an ever watchful eye at the ground below, occasionally making aborted movement for his bat whenever something moves below them. Fang's propped up against the wall, gun cradled against her shoulder. She looks like she's sleeping. Probably is.
Vanille and Serah are still talking about nutrients and vitamins and where will you have her? while Lightening tries to hide a smile. She's mostly failing at it.
Sazh scratches his arm. It hurts.
"What are you gonna name her?" Vanille asks, stooping to press her ear to Serah's belly. Serah laughs and shakes her head. "Silly, we don't know that yet! We were actually thinking about Hope, but then we actually met him and-" she shoots him a fond glance, teasing. The kid's blushing. "-Hope probably wouldn't appreciate us stealing his name."
"How do you know it's gonna be a girl?" he asks, and Serah shrugs. "Just a feeling," she beams.
The room is too dim and his arm itches. His legs are numb.
"Hey, I thought I saw a working water fountain down the hall, I'm gonna go check it out," he calls over his shoulder. He's half afraid that Hope's gonna ask to go with him, but no, the kid's meandered over to Lightning's side. She's showing him how to clean his gun. He smiles.
When he turns to go, Fang's got one eye open- eying his wrist like- well. Like it's contaminated. She slides to her feet, smooth and graceful, like the alley cats that the infection will never hope to wipe out. Offers to walk him to the door.
"Are you sure you're-"
"I've got it," he says when they reach the door- turns to face her. She looks worried.
"Because if you-" she starts, and he doesn't want to hear this lecture, doesn't want to hear that if he comes back that she'll handle things, so he snaps a bit too loudly, "I said I've got it."
She looks like she's going to hit him, so he sighs and grins a bit. Holds up his hands to placate her.
"Look, I'm not gonna threaten Vanille, or you, or the kid, or Serah. Promise." She looks like she's about to argue, so he taps one gun against his temple. "I'll even do it far enough away that you won't have to worry about any of them zombies, alright? You worry too much."
Her eyes soften, just a bit. "When did it happen?"
"Couple blocks from here. Guy looked like my granddad, I swear."
Doesn't mention that it probably was, but Fang probably gets it anyway. "Take care of them, okay? All you kids are too much for an old man like me." He opens the door and even with previous warning, Hope's head shoots up, alarmed. He waves the kid off.
He isn't expecting any sympathy from Fang, so he's surprised when she leans in- gives him a quick one-armed hug, the kind guys give their buddies and grins at him, pretty face cocky. "Don't let a zombie eat you on your way there, k, mister?"
He grins back, slides through the door. The hallway's safe, but he'd expected it to be. Blocked elevator and locked and bolted iron door, it was getting out that was the problem. Leans through the crack to tell her, "Taking the stairs, I'll lock it, but make sure you bolt it behind me, all right, kid?"
She grimaces, but doesn't protest the name as much as she usually does. He smiles and adds, "And seriously, don't let anything happen to that kid."
Fang nods and he lets the door slide shut.
He gets down four flights of stairs before he starts seeing them through the windows on each floor he passes. Stuck inside like rats because Snow and Lightning had smashed the elevators and jammed the doors. He slides out into the back alley and jogs three blocks before his breath starts coming in gasps and his vision starts going. Stops when he sees the fountain in the square. Remembers the first time he'd taken Dajh to see it, how he'd smiled and asked if he could go in.
There are only a couple corpses around, in the alleys mostly. When they finally see him and shriek, he's already got the gun pressed to his temple. His arm is numb and the blood in his veins feels like fire.
"I'll be home soon, Dajh."
Shuts his eyes, pulls the trigger-