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Filling in the blanks

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Gail had known it was the end of the world for a while already— everyone she loved was dead— but when she woke up one morning and made it all the way to the grocery store without seeing a single live person, she decided that was the end of it. She abandoned her previous plans of stocking up her fridge with some fresh fruits while she still could, and instead filled her entire trunk to the brim with alcohol.

She went home, drove straight through the garage door, and considered dragging all the bottles to her kitchen before changing her mind, and just bringing a wine glass to her car, and then changing her mind again, and emptying a vase, grabbing a pack of straws, and finally just used that as a vessel for several litres of Chardonnay.

 

One afternoon several weeks (that all really blurred together) of being a drunken mess later, when she woke up at 4 pm, hungover, clutching a wine bottle and not having washed her hair in more days than she could remember, she abruptly decided that that too, was enough of that. She snapped out of it, cleaned herself up, and then her whole house, and made plans for the next day.

The next morning she woke up bright and early, and went out to look for other people. She stepped outside, and fought the impulse to scream, instead letting out a quiet sob. There was no one to be seen anywhere. She climbed into her car stuck partly in the wall of her garage, and drove out. She drove all the way to work, and the supermarket, and every route she used to take back when she still had a daily routine. She found absolutely no signs of life, and sorrow began to creep up on her again, and Gail found herself on the verge of tears, before she rounded a corner and stopped dead in her tracks, slamming on the breaks a tad too late.

Her car knocked over a bright orange sign that read ‘Quarantine: Virus Outbreak’, however the more overwhelming part was what lay behind it. An entire parking lot— and presumably the entire parking complex of several floors behind it as well— were littered with white sheets.

The second Gail stepped out of her car, she nearly gagged. The stench of rotting flesh surrounded her, yet still, for a reason unbeknown to even herself, Gail just had to go look closer. She didn’t know what she had been expecting, as if somehow, against all odds and signs of reason, she wasn’t approaching a battlefield where humanity had lost, littered with corpses of everyone in her city. Everyone she went to the gym with, who went to her restaurant, who she waited in the grocery line behind, was likely lying lifeless somewhere in front of her, or in another ditch just like this one, or in their bed under their own covers instead of these white, government issued ones, but either way, the thought and reality of it was depressing.

What she found when she looked into the nearest make-shift grave wasn’t exactly something she was not expecting. To be fully honest, Gail didn’t know what to expect. It seemed perfectly reasonable— to be expected even— that there would be a dead body there, staring with open, bloody eyes, into his own blood-stained sheet, yet perhaps she’d been hoping for something else.

Regardless, whatever it was, suddenly, Gail was overwhelmed with feeling. Loss. Sorrow. All familiar emotions already at this point, but somehow in this moment, they were larger. What Gail certainly wasn’t expecting was that she’d start crying, but at this point she did. First a singular tear rolled down her cheek, but then the floodgates were opened, and she fell to her knees and sobbed, and cried, and screamed until her voice was raw.

 

Completely unaware of the passage of time, at some point Gail looked up and realised the sun was beginning to set. She drove to the nearest and largest grocery store, noting that they all seemed inexplicably stocked up, and tried to get in. Frustrated that the doors were not opening despite her waving her arms wildly in front of them, she got in her car and drove right through the glass doors. Entering the large unlit building, she looked at her grocery list and stocked up on important supplies: canned goods, water, toilet paper, flash-lights, batteries… Looking for the latter, she happened upon a hover board. She stared at it for a while, and chuckled to herself.

‘Fuck it. I’m riding a hover board.’

She opened it up right there in the aisle, and set it down on the floor. She took a deep breath, and put one foot on it, let out her breath and put the second foot in place. Except that clearly it had not been quite in place, because the hover board shot right out from underneath her, and Gail hit her butt on the floor and her head on the shelf.

Stunned by the stinging pain in her tailbone and the newfound ringing headache, she stayed on the floor, besides herself with laughter. Eventually she rose to her feet, and walked to the frozen section to hold some ice to her injuries. She also decided on getting some first aid supplies, and before going back out to her car, walked back to the electronics section and grabbed the hover board (as well as a helmet, elbow- and knee- pads) to try again later.

Once at the door, she looked at her car in the doorway, more than slightly damaged from having crashed into things twice now without any kind of repair afterwards; acting upon her new YOLO ideology, she walked out into the parking lot and picked out a fancy-looking, luxury sports car (happy to find the keys simply in the ignition) to load her groceries in to and drive away in.

On her way home she stopped by a gun store; no sense in ruining her new, expensive car. No matter that she didn’t know how to use a gun in the first place— there’s a first time for everything, and it seemed that in this new world, Gail was a fan of learning new things.

Gail got home seemingly a new person. She no longer felt the need to drown her sorrows. Tragedy had struck, and Gail was determined to use that to make herself a better person, and set to work on doing all the things she’d always wanted to but had never done in the old world.

She rode fancy new technology to places, she went to the firing range (which could be anything she wanted it to be really), visited the Grand Canyon, and Broadway, looking for survivors on the way, but having come to terms with the fact that she was alone, and eventually, broke in to the White House, where little did she know it, life as she knew it would completely change, yet again.

Chapter Text

It was a picturesque scene. There she was, in the White House, walking through what appeared to be a large, glamorous ballroom, when just as she looked up to admire the high ceiling and its glass chandelier, a woman fell down from it, right into Gail’s arms. It was just like a movie; the other woman slipped, screamed, and then came down exactly where Gail instinctively held out her arms.

Only, it seemed that what you always see in movies is a tad unrealistic, since once the other woman fell into Gail’s arms, she didn't stop falling, and her momentum brought both of them crashing down. As the falling force pulled Gail’s arms downwards, her upper body began to follow suit, so to prevent from toppling onto her face, she impulsively stepped forward. Whatever happened after that had all been instinctive split second movements (one arm shot out somewhere to brace herself against the floor, and somehow one of her legs seemed to have gotten trapped under the woman’s head) that Gail considered in hindsight had been rather dumb, but it all seemed to have worked out for the best.

Gail was left sitting on the hardwood floor with her right knee under the other woman’s head, right arm under the woman’s upper back, and left hand pressed to the floor to support her own weight, effectively placing her practically on top of the woman that fell into her, Gail’s face inches from the stranger’s, and her eyes staring right into big beautiful brown eyes— that she would eventually come to find shone gold in the sunlight, and lit up at the sight of a certain baby named after the rise of the sun.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
But then again so was Gail.

Her head was spinning (that she would later blame on the falling down, and would swear had nothing to do with the beautiful woman in her arms), and her thoughts were running wild.

After what had probably been a moment too long of getting lost in the stranger’s eyes, she pushed off of the floor with her left hand and started getting up, as the other woman followed suit. Gail slowly straightened herself out, and wiped her palms on her jeans. Then, in what probably looked like a very exaggerated fashion, Gail took in the sight of the rest of the woman. Besides having mesmerising eyes, she had a beautiful figure and long legs (and a wonderfully short flowing dress that showed them off, that Gail of course observed in perfectly appropriate way), tan skin, plump lips, dark hair, and eyes that seemed to draw Gail right back in to them again.

 

Gail was startled from her thoughts when the woman spoke.
“Hi,” The stranger began perkily, “I’m Erica” She said, with an unmistakeable underlying Australian accent

Gail blinked dramatically, once, twice, and then her agape mouth twisted into a smile. Thrilled to find that she didn’t seem to be hallucinating, Gail attempted to reply.
“Umm… Hi.” She hesitated, “There’s… You’re…” She stuttered, flabbergasted.

Erica smiled encouragingly (and it was a beautiful smile at that, Gail noted), and Gail remembered to add her name.
“I’m Gail Klosterman.” She announced.

After smiling at each other and staring deep into each other’s eyes— for another moment that was probably too long to be socially acceptable, but was entirely too short in Gail’s opinion— Gail took a a step forward, closing some of the distance between them, and tried, for a second time, to speak a coherent sentence (to be fair it had been a while, but even in the old world, Gail was known to occasionally stumble over her words in front of a pretty girl, although anyone who noticed wouldn’t dare point it out, ever).

“You’re-“ Gail began.
“Real?” Erica suggested, “Yeah. Are you?”
“Yup. Are there… others?”
“No, I’m alone. Have been for a while now.”
“Well, not anymore hon. We’ve got each other now.” Gail replied in her own Southern lilt, with an uncharacteristically positive attitude and a wide grin.

And have each other they did; they were practically inseparable from this point on, although I’m getting ahead of myself again.

 

They spent the remainder of the day exploring the white house together, and in the evening Gail fired up the White House stove with a generator from her car. She made the kind of 5 course meal she used to make at her restaurant (not quite, but the best she could do without any fresh food), the kind she hadn’t had the excuse to make in a while. The effort did not go unnoticed; Erica spent the whole meal complimenting the chef— for more than just her cooking— which made Gail blush more than once, but she would blame the heat rushing to her cheeks entirely on the steam coming from her pot.

Over dinner the two talked about anything and everything. Both just happy to have someone to talk to and someone to listen to. Gail inquired about the origin of the Australian accent, and Gail was asked about her own. They both spoke about their life, briefly about what they did before the virus, mostly about what they’d done since.

Erica divulged that one of the first things she’d done was go clothes “”shopping””— which had really been more of a ‘clothes taking spree'— and now she finally had the wardrobe she’d always wanted. She explained that since then she’d mostly just been wandering around aimlessly, and hadn’t found a single sign of life, up until running — or rather falling— right into Gail.

Gail talked about going through her bucket list, but by the end of dinner, the white wine had begun to slur her words rather noticeably, as well as seriously remove her inhibitions. When the conversation began to slow, during a pause, the two began to lean closer to each other, and Gail closed the distance, pressing their lips together for a tentative kiss.

Gail pulled back, and licked her lips, which still tasted like Erica’s, who at that moment tasted of a 600$ bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. She looked from Erica’s lips to her eyes, asking a silent question, which Erica answered by leaning back in and kissing her back, deeper this time. Gail thought about stumbling around to find the bedroom, but decided against it since she didn’t even know where to begin looking; they ended up making love right there on the table.

~~~~

Gail got up early that morning, quietly leaving the makeshift bed (read: pile of pillows and blankets haphazardly lain on the kitchen table) they had fallen asleep on the night before, careful not to disturb the woman sleeping next to her— who ended up waking up 40 minutes later anyway to the smell wafting over from the next room, where Gail was baking crêpe pancakes.

As she put the pancake she had just flipped in the pan back on the heat, Gail looked up to see Erica in the button down Gail had been wearing the night before, with most of the buttons open and no pants on, leaning against the doorframe. Gail bit the inside of her cheek and tried to turn her attention back to the pancakes in front of her (but failed).

If Erica knew the effect her standing there like that was having on Gail, she wasn’t letting it show.
She took in a deep breath, and her eyelids fluttered from both persistent sleepiness, and delight at more of the scent she had enjoyed while waking up. Gail felt a tad of pride about her cooking skills, and a lot of other feelings about Erica standing there, that she ardently pretended weren’t there.

“Hey you.” Gail said softly with a smile. Erica smiled back coyly and walked towards the alluring scent of the nicest breakfast she’d had in a while. Rounding the corner of the stove, Erica approached Gail from the back, and wrapped her arms around Gail’s waist, resting her chin on her shoulders.

“Hmm,” Erica hummed, “Smells lovely.”
“Do you like pancakes?”
“Mm-hm,” She hummed in agreement, pressing kisses on Gail’s neck. “I do” She whispered in Gail’s ear, evoking a similar hum from Gail’s mouth. As Erica hugged Gail tighter, and gently nibbled on her ear, Gail closed her eyes and let out a moan. Then Gail’s eyes quickly shot open, and she let out a string of minor curses, when she had put her hand right on the burning stove.

 

Erica wrapped Gail’s hand up with a bandage and a kiss, and the burn hurt just enough that Gail didn’t notice the goosebumps on her skin when Erica touched her so gently, or the butterflies she felt in her stomach at the smiles she was getting. The younger woman took over in making breakfast; she listened intently to Gail’s instructions on how to flip a crêpe in the pan, without a spatula, giggled intensely when she managed to stick a pancake to the high ceilings, and cheered enthusiastically when, 8 pancakes on the floor and lots of encouragement later, she finally managed to flip one (never mind that it really just folded in two).

All the while Gail did as she was told, seated patiently and not touching anything, really just distracted by what seemed like a miracle sent by god. Later she would pretend that she would have felt this way about finding anyone at this point, and that her reaction was just that of someone deprived of human contact for several months who suddenly found someone who reciprocated; she would tell herself that none of it meant anything (especially not that this person was a woman), that it was just a match based on need— which even later, she would come to find was a total and blatant lie.

But in this very moment, she was too distracted by falling for Erica to realise that she was, and over the next couple of months she focused on being alive, and Erica, enough not to think about the fact that she was living with Erica.

 

During their time together, the two of them got closer then they even thought possible. Erica kept on getting gourmet meals regularly, even as unspoiled food became more sparse, and Gail kept on getting smiles, and butterflies, and goosebumbps, and very confused about her feelings. The pair road-tripped the United States, while Gail got Erica to do things she never even dreamed she would (its not as kinky as it sounds, but boy did they do some kinky stuff). They did everything, checking off items from Gail’s bucket list as they went along, and stopping whenever either saw something that seemed mildly interesting— that is until one day, they spotted a billboard sign that was supposed to have direction’s to an interstate highway, but was covered in some sort of yellow graffiti,
‘Alive in Tucson’

and everything changed yet again.