The water went out (or, Adam, thinks, the pipes froze) in the middle of January.
For a month from the end of December, into January, then, they can't get out more than a few feet of the house; snow never seemed to quit falling, building up and blowing into drifts as high as most of the windows. Adam and Tommy would wade out to clear their view but that was the extent of it.
They burn everything they can to keep from creating too much trash. The movies and videogames didn't cover how to deal with that. With how to make a toilet flush when you have no running water. Adam and Tommy figure it out. Adam finds a way to make cornbread in a pan on the campstove. Tommy fusses with wires and car batteries to make a protection system, but it's so bitterly cold outside that there are stretches of days when they don't hear anything, and the wires aren't tripped.
For Adam's birthday, they have Oreos and ice cream made with snow. He doesn't feel thirty. There are days when he feels much older and other days when he still feels so stupid he wants to scream. Like when he messed up cooking some of the beef and they lost it; he'd wanted to cry.
Sitting in front of the fire, Adam thinks of the party that had been thrown for his 29th birthday. How they'd rented out Nabu and he and two hundred of his closest friends had partied until nearly five AM. How he'd gotten so drunk. He tightens the blanket around both him and Tommy and kisses Tommy's neck, resting there for a moment, eyes closing. "Thank you."
Tommy cocks his head to the side, his smile both sweet and inquisitive. "For what? Making shitty ice cream out of snow and powdered milk and vanilla crap? You're the one that saved it from being a total fuckin' disaster." The touch of Adam's mouth makes Tommy shiver, makes him feel warm in places that he barely even thinks about anymore. For Adam's birthday, Tommy had gotten books from the library, the entire Twilight series (gag), and he'd made a card out of plain old computer paper and sharpies after finding a picture of the two of them in an old People Magazine.
"For the best birthday party." Adam smiles, letting Tommy feel it against his neck before he leans up, stretching his back, listening to it crack.
Tommy's bangs are starting to grow back from where Adam went a little too zealously at them. Adam combs his fingers through them and tilts Tommy's head back so that it can rest on Adam's shoulder, like back in Before. Feeling warm, feeling insulated by the snow and peaceful, Adam lets himself drag his mouth along the column of Tommy's neck.
Somehow, it's okay being snowed in like this. It's quiet in ways that let them enjoy battery-powered music and movies without abject fear and worry that something might be coming. They've still got a lot of meat left, trying to ration it out to once a week or so and supplementing with stuff like pasta and soup, and one night, a poor attempt at beef stroganoff made from canned crap. Tommy turns his head to feel Adam's lips against his, answering with something that sounds a little bit like "you're welcome" before his hand comes up to touch Adam's jaw.
Intimacy still feels like the most rare gift, even if it's readily available. But too often, they are too tired, falling into bed to pass out as much as sleep. Gently touching Tommy's cheek now, though, Adam kisses him, his eyes falling shut as he just taste, feels, relishing the heat that moves up his body as a result.
Intimacy is like the words 'I love you', known to its deepest point but not something that needs to be acted on, constantly. They look out for each other; they sleep together, eat together, hunt and read and listen to music. They care. Tommy's amazed at how much he's changed since this time last year. A year ago, god. He remembers Adam's 29th birthday, how they'd just gone all out. They'd been glittery and loud and rock stars. Now loud noises make Tommy nervous, and even music has become unfamiliar, except for what's inside his own head. He turns against Adam to make the kiss easier, feeling his heart speed up and blood flush up under his skin.
There are fewer times now when Adam thinks that this is some kind of isolated event. It's become more that this is his life. Their life. It's not going to suddenly disappear and they'll walk off a movie set into a world where there is sushi and a place to get a manicure on every corner. In all likelihood, everyone they've ever known is dead.
Sometimes Adam wonders if he's dead; he never talks about that.
In front of the fire, though, he lays Tommy out and covers him with his own body, kissing him, working a hand up under his shirt, touching, reassuring, being.
Just being with Adam is reassuring, but something like this that doesn't happen very often, is one of the reminders that Tommy can still feel something that isn't survivalism. It shows him that there are amazing things outside of coping for long blurs of time. The fire is hot enough that he can run his hands up Adam's back under his shirt, then drag his fingertips back down, stopping at the waist of Adam's pants. A year ago, yeah, they'd been high fashion bitches, with their Chanel and Dior and Fendi, Lip Service and Skin Graft. Now they dress for comfort, for weather, for work, for warmth. "Happy Birthday," he whispers on the plush bow of Adam's mouth, and smiles. Tommy's hands move up, pulling Adam's shirt with it, and don't stop until he can pull it over Adam's head and toss it aside. Deep, silent snow; it feels wrong to break it with voice.
There's no talking, no reason to. The fire is hot against Adam's bare back and even when he comes, he muffles his groan in the crux of Tommy's neck. They're chest to back and he knows in this moment that he is alive.
Tommy's chin is tucked down against his chest, panting with heat that's equal parts fire and Adam, and he reaches back to cup the back of Adam's head. Somehow, over winter, the house that Tommy had refused to call home has become exactly that, between taking care of those stupid fucking chickens, being with Adam, being snowed in with him for stretches of days, until Tommy makes himself dig through all of it to get to the henhouse. Days spent just being together, talking about whatever comes to mind, figuring out what they should do next, possibilities, dreams. Unpeople that are taken care of, and Adam that's taken care of in a completely different way. Tommy pulls away only enough that he can twist around to face Adam, tucked inside blankets and duvets that seem to be everywhere they end up. Again, his mouth touches Adam's. Again and again, body against body, lulled and warm and sated.
There's a thump at the front door.
"Shit." Just like that, they both move, clothes on being pulled on quietly, guns never too far out of reach. Adam has the rifle, safety off, in under a minute and he's watching the door.
They never use the front door. They have it barred up. Most of the undead have come through the field in the back.
There's another thump and Adam aims. If whatever it is is coming in, he's going to shoot it in the face.
They hear another thud, a scrabble of claws on the wood of the porch and a whine. Then another thump.
But what kind of animal? From the height of the sound of scratches on the door, it sounds... not huge, but certainly not small. The size of a dog, maybe? Tommy wonders if there could still be dogs out there, and if there are any healthy ones, like healthy people. Like them. "I'm gonna go out and see what it is. Can't have it drawing attention here... or other animals..." Tommy shoves bare feet into his boots, pulling on a coat. "Come with me." Out into the dark, into the snow, where there isn't any light, other than the dim pricks of stars. They can't have simple peace and quiet, can they? They can't do anything without having a spike of fear driven through it? Tommy's frustration flashes across his face as he makes his way toward the back door, his own rifle in hand. "We're not shooting it through the door."
But it can come for them. Foreboding is tight in Adam's belly, making him queasy. But he follows Tommy out the back door and as quiet as they can in the snow, they work their way around the side of the house, guns at the ready. When they get closer to the front, Adam takes a few steps back, ready to swing wide and cover, shoot whatever it is before it can hurt Tommy. Before it can hurt either of them.
Tommy shines his flashlight, and for a second, all he sees is glaring white snow. And then... eyes. Red ones. When those red eyes turn in their direction, a growl begins, a sound like endlessly ripping cloth, and in a flash of a moment, the dog-wolf-coyote-whatever is flaring through the snow at both of them. "Shoot!" Tommy shouts, backing up. He's got the flashlight; he can't get his own rifle up fast enough. But he can see the bloody foam around the animal's muzzle. "Shoot that fucking thing!" His feet don't move the way he wants them to, not in snow this deep, and Tommy falls backwards into a drift.
Adam fires. And he fires and he fires and that motherfucking werewolf-thing seems to keep coming. He can't see Tommy and Adam panics. He reloads as the animal thing whimpers and he stomps over and shoots it again. And again, all the while shouting, "Tommy, you fucking better get up. Get up, Tommy! Tommy! You better fucking get up!" Even as the animal twitches, Adam's reloading, scream taking on a hysterical tinge. "Tommy!"
"Help!" Tommy's voice is muffled, and there's a fine spray of snow before light breaks through it. Look at that, he's still got the flashlight! But it takes some digging and twisting before Tommy can get himself upright and flash the light at Adam. "Did you get it? What was it?" He's covered in snow, ghostly, his voice hoarse and nearly as panicked as Adam's. There's the sound of a howl that dampens down into a snarl, and it's not the dead animal near Adam's feet. Its call brought... more. Tommy disappears back into the drift to try and find his fucking gun, and he flashes the light toward the house. "Fuck this, if there's more, we're going in, I'm not gonna let-" Moving through snow is like moving through water, in great, slow-motion lunges, and Tommy shoves Adam toward the house. "Not to you. Not to you. Come on Adam-"
"They're coming. Shit. Shit, they're coming." Even as he's being pushed, Adam is twisting to look over his shoulder. And he thought life was a horror movie before now. Jesus Fucking Christ.
They aren't going to make it. They're moving too slowly and the animals seem to be able to jump, which gives them an advantage.
"We shouldn't have come outside," Adam realizes aloud, but it's too late now, isn't it. They have to fight. They have to buy some time. "Shoot. Just fucking shoot at them and keep moving."
Somewhere in the back of his head, Adam thinks that at the very least, this is their first major fuck up. Maybe they were due.
Tommy has to drop the flashlight and fire blindly into the dark, and on his third shot, he hears a yelp. "I hit-!" But he has to reload, and there isn't enough time. It was Tommy's idea to come out, this is on his conscience, blood on his hands, if anything happens to Adam. When one of the dog-things lunges at them, Tommy swings his rifle like a club, hitting it in the side of the head. "You leave him alone!" He jams the butt of the gun at another before losing his footing again and stumbling. At least it's backward, toward Adam and toward the house. They'll get there. They have to.
This time at least, Adam gets Tommy by the collar and with adrenaline alone powering him, he tugs Tommy up, then he starts shooting again, one-armed, more spraying the area than firing with any kind of purpose. He refuses to die on his birthday.
And when he shoots one dog thing in the face, he realizes he's screaming.
Oh god, the door's less than ten feet away, and they can get there. They will. Tommy believes this until one of the un-dog-wolf-coyote-thing (like un-people, but animal) closes its jaws around Adam's arm. God, god, let his coat be thick enough! With his own teeth bared, Tommy punches it as hard as he can, in the neck, in the head, in its muzzle, trying to get it to let go. For some reason, Zombieland comes to mind for the first time in a long time: Rule 24 - Use Your Thumbs. So Tommy grabs the un-animal by the head, and the feel of his thumbs digging into its eye sockets is almost as bad as what he'd had to do to poor Monte, but it makes the animal let go. Then Tommy shoves his thumbs in, barely avoiding the weakening snaps of its teeth before it falls. "Inside," he pants. "Now."
When the door is shut and locked, Adam is tugging at his sleeve frantically, trying to get it off, trying to see what happened, if he was bitten. It was so cold and he was so scared, he didn't feel it at the time. The coat sleeve is shredded when he pulls it away, and the sleeve of his cotton shirt is ripped too. He's sure he's going to throw up.
Not on his birthday. Not on his motherfucking birthday. Adam pulls his shirt off over his head and reaches for a lantern.
Carhardts. Thank fuck. He's not bleeding, but he still makes noises that don't have a category.
Tommy's in the kitchen scrubbing his hands until he has to lean over and throw up, himself, partially from what he'd done to the un-animal, and partially because he's so terrified that something's happened to Adam. When it recedes to little more than a hiccup, a dry-heave, he calls to Adam, his voice rusty, "Let me see. Please." Please god, please. Tommy's never been a religious person, but right now he's praying to anything and everything out there that Adam's alright. "I'm sorry. Oh fuck, I'm so sorry. It was- it was my idea- I shouldn't have-" A lantern in his hand, he takes Adam's arm, turning it from side to side, looking for any sign of broken skin.
There is redness, pressure from the animal's teeth, but no more and Adam doesn't even realize he's crying, not until he's got Tommy pulled up tight next to him and he feels a wetness because he's touching skin to skin. "Shut up," is all he says. "Just shut up."
They can hear the remaining things clawing at the door and he feels like a small child in a blanketfort. If he closes his eyes and wishes hard enough and believes, the bad things won't get them.
All Tommy can do is hold Adam, as tight as he can, only pulling back long enough to kiss that red skin. "We're going upstairs now," he says, quiet and firm. "We're going upstairs and we're going to clean up. I'm going to reinforce that door so those things can't get through." He hiccups again, mouth turned down in a fight against his stomach. Adam's okay, Tommy's okay. Somehow they got away. "And then I'm getting up on the fuckin' roof and killing all of them. All of them." Tommy's hands come up to Adam's face, wiping the tears from his skin, and then he's guiding Adam toward the stairs.
He has his rifle in hand, though, and Adam walks with him. "You're not going on the roof," he says, though, feeling numb and a little dizzy as a result of what they just did. "We have to come up with a better plan." Animals. This is new. He can't think; the aftereffect of fear.
Tommy's shaking his head, hands shaking with fear of his own, and something much deeper, much hotter. Rage. "I'm gonna fuckin' kill all of them. I'm not gonna let anything happen to you. I'm not." He doesn't stop touching Adam though, making sure he really is alright, unmarked save for pressure. "Go lie down. Just... you- I did this to you." Something cracks in Tommy's anger and his expression crumples. "I'm going to fucking kill them."
Lie down? No. Adam feels like he's crackling with nerves. He catches Tommy's hands and forces him to look at him. "We can't be stupid." He's talking to the both of them. "We have to be careful. Look at me. Look at me. We have to think."
Tommy's face is red, eyes glassy, blinking too much, too fast. "They can't get up if I'm on the roof." His tone turns miserable. "You got bit. I'll- I'll take care of it tonight, and tomorrow-" When it's light, because thinking about this in the dark sends Tommy into something nightmarish, "-we can figure out... bear traps." The solution seems so simple that Tommy goes numb for a moment, vision unfocused.
And that's what Adam meant by thinking. His hold on Tommy's wrists though is tight. The glassiness in his eyes is alarming. "Bear traps. Look at me, Tommy. Goddamnit. Look at me." Adam can't do this alone. He can't. He can't.
"I almost-" I almost lost you. And that's not acceptable, not by any standard, not by any thought that would keep Tommy in the right here, right now. He can't imagine doing anything without Adam there, and with a hard, choked sound, he yanks his wrists free to hug Adam to him. "I'm sorry," he whispers, hiding his face against Adam's shoulder. "I'm gonna take care of this." Tommy slows his breathing, trying to find some semblance of calm, and gets Adam's rifle. "I'm going to take care of this. Just... stay at the window with me." There's a little bit of a peak that Tommy could stand on, right above the barred front door, and those un-animals can't get to him, and more importantly, to Adam.
"Tommy! God-fucking-dammit!" Adam is shouting again and he's got Tommy by the collar, wheeling him around. "Look at me." He holds the rifle too, eyes fierce and jaw firm. "I need you. I need you."
"I'll be fine. If you're here, I'll be fine." Adam, who's saved his ass more times than Tommy would care to admit, now. "Let me do it. Please." There's no way he'll even be able to sleep, knowing that there's something like that out there. He looks up into Adam's face, seeing the ferocity of emotion there, and fists both of his hands in Adam's shirt, yanking him down into a kiss. There's Tommy's need, as bare and desperate as it gets. "I can't. Let. Anything happen. To you." Words that are broken up between increasingly trembled kisses, and when Tommy pulls back, his lower lashes are wet. "Let me do this."
There's a moment when all Adam does is stare after he leans back from the kisses, checking Tommy's eyes for anything that will endanger them. They have to think. "If you're going up there, I'm going with you." Adam cups Tommy's face and thumbs away the wetness, ignoring his own face and the tracks there. "If you're going up there, I'm fucking going with you."
Tommy's expression firms up, and he nods. "Okay. Just... have my back. I need light to see." Instead of Adam's rifle, Tommy gets his pistols and pushes the window open, glancing behind him at Adam. "Come on, then. So... so we can sleep tonight." On Adam's birthday. On his 30th birthday, which should have been amazing and was amazing until the un-animals had shown up. Tommy's breath comes out in rapid plumes of white. "So I can sleep with you."
There goes the precious heat. But they have to do this. Adam pulls on another sweatshirt and he follows.
The roof is slick and Adam's thinking that this is the stupidest idea they've had so far, but from where they are, they can see the animals, barely, circling the house, standing out from the snow by being gray rather than a nearly iridescent white.
They're smaller, though and as Adam starts to fire, his feet braced on the gutter, he misses more than he hits, which sends the things scattering. "Shit."
"Just hold the light," Tommy whispers, flicking on the light on one of his pistols. There, that's a little better, and he straddles the peak of the overhang to fire, bang-bang-bang, seeing spatters of dark against the white snow. "Fuckers," he's muttering, unaware that he's talking at all. "You won't get us. You won't. You're not gonna ruin this. We've worked too hard. I love him. We've worked too hard." Though the ones that aren't entirely dead scatter at the sound of gunfire, it doesn't take long for them to gather just below where Adam and Tommy are, as if waiting for a meal to drop. "Easy pickings. Fuckers."
Adam can hold the light with one hand, Tommy's collar with the other. He watches, saying things like "left," "there," "right," "no, there." It's so cold that he's not even aware he's shaking. "Only a few more." But inside his head, in a voice that to him sounds like his mother's, he's saying, I love you, too.
It's less than ten minutes before the yard is silent again, and Tommy's shoulders slump. "Back in the house," he says, turning to look back at Adam. "I wanna look at your arm again. And you need to warm up." The beds of his nails are violet, and he's fairly certain that Adam's not in much better shape. "You'll live to be 31." Adam's got his collar, and Tommy braces his weight on the peak of the overhang to lean over and vomit up absolutely nothing at all. "Thank you," he husks, wiping his mouth against his sleeve. "For helping." For holding on, in more ways than one.
They have to get inside. They have to. So that's job one. Then the windows are closed, guns safety'd and set down, heaters turned on, and Adam tucks Tommy up tight to him and pushes him down toward the kitchen for a shot of tequila and something to eat. Just for tonight, they will look the fact that they are alive in the face and give the world the motherfucking finger.
Tommy's easily led at this point, shocked to the point of silence while Adam, of course, does what needs to be done. He waves off the shot of tequila though, because there was that one time in another life that-
-oh, fuck it. He shoots it back and has to fight to keep it there, when his stomach is sore and empty and acidic. Two hours ago, they'd been curled in front of the fire, naked and warm and so good, and now they've been slapped back to the reality that they're trying to live in, now. As Tommy warms up, he starts to shiver, tucking his hands into his sleeves and hunching his shoulders in, and curling up against Adam as much as he can. "What... what do you want me to grab from the cellar?" All of their leftovers are down there, packed neatly on the shelves in the cold cellar. "You should eat. To warm up."
"Tommy, I need you to look at me." This time, Adam says it quietly, soothingly, hugging and rocking Tommy as he says it, tilting his chin up. "Look at me. I want to see your eyes."
When he does see them, he holds Tommy's chin, and he leans in, not looking away, and he kisses him. And when he kisses him, he thinks, I love you because I'm alive. Because they're both alive.
Those eyes that Adam wanted to see close when their lips meet, and Tommy's fingers come out of his sleeves to hold Adam's biceps. When he pulls away to breathe (because he can breathe, because they're alive and okay, the both of them), he looks... better. Less like he's about to break and more solid. More here. "I'm gonna go grab some leftover stew, okay? We can heat it up and go upstairs, or I can get the fire going and we can stay down here."
"Shhh. One thing at a time." When Tommy starts to calm, so does Adam and without even thinking about it, their breathing matches - inhale, exhale. "Stew. We'll heat it by the fire and then go upstairs." Where they can get under the covers and pretend that their world is just fine.
No, scratch that. That's impossible.
They'll tell each other that they're alive.
After another shot of tequila, Tommy goes down to grab the stew. It's kind of amazing how many different kind of vegetables can be found in cans, and they've still got a ton of preserves left behind by Mr. and Mrs. Farmhouse, fruit and tomatoes, beets, even pickles, and after doing some kind of inventory - it makes Tommy feel better to know that they've got so much food - he comes up, and he can even find a little bit of a smile for Adam. "We've still got some time left on your birthday. I grabbed peaches, too." Something sweet for after.
Adam takes the jars and sets them down and he pulls Tommy next to him. Tommy needs to be right next to him. There's a white spot right now in his mind for what just happened. He's blanking it out. If he doesn't blank it out, he will stop functioning. He was nearly bitten. "I love you," he whispers, kissing Tommy again, face cupped in his hands. "Don't leave me. I can't do it on my own."
"I won't," Tommy promises, and his hands find Adam's hair, skating through it, and it's warm where Tommy's fingers are still icy. His lips part against Adam's, tongue tasting Adam's mouth, and with a need that borders on extreme, his hands move under Adam's shirt to touch his skin, live skin with a heartbeat beneath it. Tommy wouldn't even be here if it wasn't for Adam; on the bus, it had been Adam that had asked Monte what was wrong as Monte had come up behind Tommy. It had been Adam who'd hauled them away from the bus, Adam who'd wanted to learn how to shoot. Adam who'd driven them here, driven the U-Haul. It had even been Adam who'd chainsawed that poor cow. "I won't leave you. I can't. I'd-" I'd die.
Whatever he was going to say is cut off when Adam kisses him again. Then he gets the food, the stew and the peaches, and he kneels in front of the fire to heat the stew. It's been happening more lately, but he still doesn't realize it - he's humming, something he's done to soothe himself since he was a child. For the longest time, he stopped, but tonight it's back. "Stairway to Heaven," something his dad used to sing with him.
Hearing Adam's voice, even on such a muted level, makes Tommy's fingers itch for a guitar, but he settles for skimming his hands along the backs of Adam's shoulders. "It's good to hear." His own voice is so quiet, rough with the rollercoaster of ups and downs that the evening's thrown at them. "Should be warm upstairs by now." Where they can curl under blankets and be close enough that they're only a touch away. "I still wanna have a look at you. I just... I need to make sure."
"Just a minute." Adam doesn't put the jar of stew in the fire, but keeps it close, waiting to at least get the chill off. Plus they have to be careful in how they cook food. One bout of diarrhea a month back and they won't forget that lesson any time soon. But they are able, soon enough, to go upstairs and change and huddle under the covers, Tommy snugged between Adam's legs and against his chest, lantern in one hand, his other arm extended, so they can see the skin, unmarked, uncut.
The true relief that Tommy feels is almost crushing, and he takes Adam's wrist and kisses it - his Eye of Ra, the symbol of strength and safety - then kisses the fading red marks on his arm, the inside of his elbow, and then looks up at Adam, his expression entirely unguarded and open. They still have this. They still have each other. "Are you warm now? Are you okay?"
"I'm okay," Adam tells him and it's as true as anything they are able to say these days.
Tommy is beautiful, his face lean, more mature than it was just six months ago. They're aging quickly in this life they have. Briefly, Adam wishes they had a camera. He used to hate cameras, and it isn't as if they could develop the pictures, but there's a sudden urge to make sure someone knows they were here.
They are here.
They eat stew and peaches and don't talk. It's the best birthday Adam could ask for.
When they get up the next day, wrapped in many layers, they have to discard of bodies. The sky is gunmetal gray; another storm is coming. More snow. It's risky to go to town. "Do you remember seeing traps at the store?" Adam asks, pulling another body into the bed of the truck.
In daylight, it's clear that they're coyotes, or were, before they were infected. Tommy was awake before Adam, which isn't something that normally happens; he hadn't slept at all last night, just lying next to Adam, listening to the rise and fall of his breath, and at one point, resting his hand on Adam's chest to feel it, too. Coffee for himself and tea for Adam had been waiting, and after something quick to eat, here they are, getting rid of eight, nine, ten, eleven un-canines. "At the outdoor place? I don't remember. There were fishing rods and a lot of camouflage. We can stop and check on the way back, if you want."
Looking up at the sky again, Adam shakes his head. "I don't trust it," he says, meaning the sky. The idea of getting stranded away from the house is one that isn't worth addressing. "Maybe we shouldn't go today." They're both learning to trust their instincts.
Tommy shakes his head, but he's agreeing with Adam. They're both covered in snow up to their thighs, and Tommy's fairly certain that his balls are frozen. And he's tired, bone-deep and aching. "If we get more snow, they're not even gonna be able to get through it. And it's not like these ones are going anywhere." Plus, with the amount of snow they've got already, a trip that would have taken fifteen minutes at the most when the road was clear takes nearly two hours, now. They don't have the daylight or time. "An'... I think I gotta lie down. We gotta bring the chickens in, too. Those stupid things are gonna freeze if we don't. At least put 'em on the back porch so they're easier to get to."
"Tommy?" With the last body in the truck, Adam wipes his gloves on his pants and wades over. "What's the matter?"
There is so much now to be afraid of. Even a cold, a simple cut; hazards they wouldn't have given another thought to Before. "Go stand by the door and cover me. I'll, um, get the chickens." Even though he's never done it; he'll figure it out.
"We both gotta get 'em." Tommy scratches gloved fingers against his hair and glances toward the other side of the house. "There's like, eight chickens in there. It's not heavy, I can rock it with a good push. It's quiet, we'll hear if anything's coming." As for what's the matter, Tommy doesn't answer. Adam doesn't need to worry about him; he just needs to get a couple of hours of solid sleep. That's all.
Survival is about existing and if nothing else, what last night proves is that for each of them, the other is essential, so while Adam doesn't prod (they have things to do after all), he watches Tommy.
They can't move the henhouse, it ends up being too big and unweildy. Instead, they pack snow tighter around it, leaving vents of course, near the top. By the time Adam and Tommy get inside, their cheeks are ruddy with the cold. They strip off their coats and that's when Adam takes Tommy under his arm and sits him down in front of the fire, crouching down next to him. "Are you all right."
"Fine," Tommy mumbles, leaning his head on Adam's shoulder. "Didn't get a lot of sleep last night. Couldn't... I couldn't relax." God, the Tommy from Before would laugh in the face of Tommy now, who'd barely been able to handle two shots of tequila last night and is suffering from one single night of sleeplessness. "I just need a nap or something." But that would mean leaving Adam alone, at least on some level, and that's just... unacceptable. "I'm okay, babyboy. For serious. Once I warm up, I'll be fine. And maybe... I was thinking... we could heat up some water and throw it in the tub."
"That sounds amazing." Adam smiles at him, pushing Tommy's hair back from his face. "Stay here and rest, okay?" Adam will watch; he'll keep guard. There's never more than a foot between them and a gun at any given time. "Let the fire warm you."
"You gotta rest, too. You've been working harder than me." After something that means to be a kiss, Tommy climbs on the couch, feet pointed toward the fire, and all he has to do is shut his eyes and he's completely, totally done, body finally relaxed on the old, overstuffed cushions, a pillow stuffed under his head. After a few minutes, though, his eyes dart back and forth beneath his eyelids as he looks for coyotes in his dreams, Adam at his back, but when he turns to make sure Adam's safe... no. No. He's infected, and Tommy jerks awake hard enough that his feet hit the floor even before he realizes he's upright. "Adam!"
"Easy. I'm right here. Easy." Adam's ready to guess that Tommy doesn't weigh much over one hundred pounds; they've both gotten thinner. So all Adam has to do is lift Tommy up a little and hug him to his chest. Tommy's pulse is visible in his neck and Adam hums softly again, rocking. "We're okay."
Adam's always felt good and solid and there when Tommy hugs him, and slowly, just like last night, his breathing slows. "I don't even know how long I was sleeping. I didn't even know I was asleep. But I was dreaming, and you- you were-" Infected. But Adam isn't, and Tommy kisses Adam's jaw, grateful and greedy in its own way. "You're okay."
"We're okay," Adam says again and closes his eyes at being kissed. He doesn't even have the energy to be angry anymore, at the universe, at the disease, at any of it. Right at this moment, he's just weary of everyday being a fight. Shifting some, Adam slides behind Tommy on the sofa, arms tight around him and they're cheek to cheek as he watches the fire. "When I was little, my dad would make up stories, because I always complained that the ones in the books were boring. His stories made no sense, but I kind of loved them because he'd have, like, Ernie, the winged pig who toured with the Grateful Dead, or he'd have ... "
Adam hadn't thought of his father in months. "... he'd tell great stories," he says again, trailing off.
Tommy quirks a one-sided smile, settling up against Adam. "Everything's blocked off, right? We can just... we can sit here and just enjoy it." They've done everything they can for the time being. They can enjoy some time off, even if Tommy's exhausted and Adam's resigned. "You think about 'em a lot? Your family?" Adam's all Tommy has now for family. For a friend. For love. And somehow it's enough.
It has to be enough. And it is enough. It's essential. Necessary.
All the doors are locked and if they were to look out the window, they would see big fat snowflakes falling. Adam shifts a little, getting a blanket over them, the guns within reach. Without even thinking too much about it, he closes his eyes, and he drifts off to sleep.
Tommy sleeps in nods and jerks, checking on Adam now and then, and finally, his body overtakes the overstimulated nerves in his mind, and he sleeps too, deep and solid, and thankfully, dreamless. Because Adam's right there, his breath warm on Tommy's neck, arms around his body. Tommy won't wake up for almost another ten hours, feeling rested and oddly calm in the middle of the night, when the storm is full-blown and howling around them. They're safe, in here. He's safe with Adam, and Adam is safe with him.