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Time To Pretend

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Dinner had been a pleasant affair, they were all on talking terms again. Nobody was being shot at by pirates, there was no dark omen hovering about, and the cyborg thankfully wasn't present. Murdoc had been rather level headed, only consuming enough to be buzzed; he even spared the name calling as of late. Their tour was going swimmingly in 2D's opinion, things were finally looking up. Nobody could account for the bizarre and sudden change to their immediate environment. 2D didn't recall how he lost his band-mates in the ensuing panic, but he wished someone had grabbed him.

- - -

Swinging his borrowed bat littered with nails, something he nicked off a dead person, the walking corpse's groan fizzled out as it dropped heavily to the ground. Quickening his pace, 2D pattered down an alleyway, foot falls echoing loudly. Originally their trip was suppose to be a quick tour and interviews, it was suppose to be simple. Gasping sharply, 2D pressed his back to the brick wall of one building, clutching the bat between white-knuckled hands. Barely three days into the madness and everything had gone to shit. The singer thumped his head to the wall behind himself, his heart matched his racing breaths. He belittled himself for stupidly getting split from his friends. Though given how roughly he was pushed about in the initial panic he hardly expected to stick close. Settling himself, 2D patted over his person for the carton of cigarettes and lighter he had. Faintly a scraping noise gave him pause and he peeked cautiously around the corner, eyes darting, trying to find the source of the noise. Relaxing marginally when he saw a crow, 2D leaned back sighing while pulling out the smokes. With his hands shaking he had to fiddle with the lighter more than one to get the nicotine stick lit. He inhaled gratefully once successful, nerves calming some as he exhaled. Just the action of smoking helped. Said cigarette lasted a short moment with 2D's deep puffs. This whole thing reminded him of all the zombie movies, which were better enjoyed tucked under a blanket; this was too much for him.

Distantly he heard a repetitive sound of a car alarm blaring, drawing attention from most zombies. 2D flicked his finished smoke away and rested there, trying to catch his wits. The singer jerked back to panic, dropping the bat as well, when his mobile phone buzzed and chirped with call. Momentarily forgetting how noise could draw investigation from undead, 2D scrambled to dig said device out. Tapping the talk button hastily he pressed the phone to his ear, listening for a tick.

“‘Ello?”

2D held his breath waiting desperately for a response, but found he couldn't hear a person. He frowned. Was he pocket dialed?

‘Get it in the head! The head!’

‘I know! Watch your back!’

Eagerly he gripped the phone.

“Guys? Russ? Murdoc?”

He could make out some sort of shuffling and moans. There was a strange thump noise and the line cut out. 2D hesitated, hoping someone would call back. He knew that wouldn't be the case.

“Shit!”

Pocketing the smartphone, 2D smacked his hand against the brick cursing softer. Stooping to grab his dropped weapon he looked around, giving a precursory glance out of the alleyway before swallowing. Nodding in determination 2D pushed from his spot and took off down the road, to where he wasn't sure, but anywhere was better than standing about.

- - -

After separation from the guitarist and singer, Murdoc and Russel took up residence at their hotel rooms. Both had been in too much shock to coherently think of a plan other than to wait for the other two, hope they returned. When forty-eight hours passed and no sign of 2D or Noodle cropped up they begrudgingly took to the streets to search for them. Finding makeshift weapons they fought their way through the bustle of fresh walking corpses and general destruction to hole up in an otherwise ordinary mall, for a moment of reprieve.

“Jesus,” Russel wiped his brow, “they just keep coming man.”

Murdoc grunted, “Just great! I’ve lost both my singer and guitarist!”

“Didn’t know you cared.”

“Of course I care!”

Murdoc rubbed his temples, brass knuckles glinting in the light. There was congealed blood spattered on his clothing and face. Russel carefully picked brain matter off his sweater, holding a crowbar limply in his other hand. The bassist kicked a small trash bin, growling in frustration.

“Ey man, don’t make so much noise. You’re gonna bring more of those things around,” Russel sat on a bench.

“Fuck. We’re so fucked,” Murdoc paced, barely registering Russel’s words.

They had managed to stumble across a semi-deserted mall that happened to be unlocked. Typical zombie apocalypse location. Russel watched the bassist pivot around, clearly getting increasingly agitated.

“Noodle can handle herself,” the drummer wiped his hands on his jeans. He left unsaid how both of them harbored uncertainty about 2D’s condition.

Murdoc stopped abruptly at the sound of something smashing on the floor below them. Russel looked at the bassist. Murdoc pressed a finger to his lips and motioned the man to a darkened mall store. They ducked into the jewelry store, hiding behind a counter. Murdoc took this moment to pocket the brass knuckles, rubbing his hands, on edge.

“It’s probably another fuckin’ zombie,” Murdoc hissed.

They listened, jolting when another crash happened, closer, followed with the slapping noise of runners.

“It’s another survivor,” Russel moved to get up, Murdoc yanked him back shaking his head.

“the fuck man, we gotta help them.”

“You leave and we give up a prime hiding spot, Russ.”

A flashing security light gave Murdoc’s face a red and sinister appearance. The blood smeared on his jaw up his cheek added to the disturbing image. Russel yanked his arm away from Murdoc and hefted himself to his feet. The bassist cursed under his breath, quickly following the bigger man. Before they could step out they caught the sound of a familiar shriek.

“That’s 'D! And you didn’t wanna help!”

“How was I to know it was him.”

Murdoc shoved past the drummer, rushing to find the source of the singer’s shrill voice. Russel huffed and leaned over a rail, pointing to the blue haired singer fighting with a few undead.

“Hold on ‘D!”

The pair made their way to the lower level in haste. 2D swung his baseball bat, keeping a few zombies back, but they kept creeping out of darkened corners. Russel brought up the crowbar, swinging it into two zombies knocking them back. The singer yelped when a zombie groped at his arm, leaning in to chomp his shoulder. The bassist slipped on the stained brass knuckles again, dodging around a few straggling corpses to reach 2D. He punched the zombie latched to the singer.

“I am so glad to see you two!” 2D smiled toothily.

“Man we thought you were dead,” Russel hollered back while using his now rather bent crowbar.

Murdoc swung a punch into the jaw of another zombie, hearing a satisfying crunch under the brass. He managed to get back to back with 2D, holding his fists up defensively. 2D smiled over his shoulder, utterly glad he was lucky enough to stumble across them. Murdoc shoved a zombie back, turning when 2D shifted to hit a smaller zombie over the head.

“Where’s Noodle?”

“We got separated,” Murdoc shifted, grabbing 2D’s wrist, “keep up face-ache, ‘cause you’re sticking with us this time.”

The bass player dragged 2D haphazardly through sort of slow walking zombies, clocking any that got in the way. 2D nearly tripped over his own feet, leaning into the hand on his wrist. Once out of the mess, the three took off, at least away from the forming horde and mall. They slammed out of the glass doors making for open space in the parking lot. However everywhere they looked there were stumbling and groaning undead, along with actual bodies. Vehicles were parked here or there, some smashed into others or into poles. 2D was fairly certain he saw a small car on fire at one point. Russel urged the singer to move and they quickly vacated the mall vicinity.

Luck would have it they stumbled across a gun store. Russel had been unimpressed, where as 2D and Murdoc found it strange but coincidental.

“So where d’we go from here?”

Russel examined some of the weapons lining the wall of the establishment; guns deeply bothered him, but if it meant life or death he would take up arms. Murdoc had hopped the counter to get at the ammunition.

“How should I know,” Murdoc grabbed a case of shotgun slugs, “we survive. We find Noodle and get the fuck out of here.”

The drummer placed two black long barrel shotguns on the counter in front of the bassist. Said man leered at the weapons.

“Now were talking.”

“Do we need guns? I mean theys moving pretty slow out there.”

“Oh I’m sorry? Do you want to die?”

2D could have rolled his eyes at the sarcasm, if the damage in them made it visible. The singer moved over to the door, peering around the street. Light was fading to night and he hadn’t eaten for nearly a day. The instant 2D remembered the lack of food his stomach grumbled loudly. Russel chuckled as he loaded his shotgun.

“We should probably find some food. Poor ‘D might not make it.”

Murdoc snorted, “If we’re gonna do that, I need something hard to drink. Satan knows I deserve it.”

2D rubbed his flat stomach, “What about Noodle? We should be more concerned about her.”

“We will ‘D, just gotta get some food and a place to hole up.”

“Rum, maybe whiskey,” Murdoc chimed in.

“Who needs sodding rum, Muds. Noodle is out there all alone. Should be looking for her instead of alcohol.”

The bassist waved the singer off patronizingly while slipping a rather nice gun hostler on. Russel filled a bag with as much ammunition possible, tossing a few handguns in for good measure. Murdoc leaned his elbow on the counter.

“Ey’ Russ, pass me some handguns, I plan to be alive at the end of this, while maintaining a good level of dangerous.”

“Lookin’ pretty dangerous already,” Russel passed the bassist the weapons.

2D blew some air through the gap in his teeth, aggravated. He kept his distance from the other men, keeping a firm hold on his trusty bat. The singer flinched when a heavy hand landed on his shoulder.

“Ready ‘D?”

2D nodded, silent.

They proceeded out of the store, heading between vehicles, ears acutely tuned to any strange noise. Working through the streets was slow moving, but eventually they came to a smaller hotel. A few actually dead bodies laid around the entry. 2D gagged, covering his mouth.

“Smells worse than you Muds,” 2D’s eyes closed partially, he smiled behind his hand.

“Fuck off.”

Russel nudged one of the bodies with the gun. Nodding to no one in particular Russel gestured to the entrance.

“May as well make ourselves comfortable. Too dark to keep going about. ‘Sides, there’s probably alcohol and food here.”

“Good enough for me,” Murdoc tread over the bodies, avoiding the blood. He made a face to himself at the squish his boot made upon stepping on human remains; he refused to examine the source.

Russel took up the rear, turning left and right slightly to keep any surprises to a minimum. Murdoc peered around the dimly lit entry, it looked no different to their hotel, minus the quality. Lobby furniture was knocked over, a half eaten woman lay in a heap against an armchair, having missed her opportunity to escape. Glancing over the check in counter briefly, Murdoc moved toward the stairs once certain their was no immediate danger to them. 2D sighed trailing after the bassist. The group had made attempts to be quiet, stepping cautiously through broken glass and foreign debris. 2D hit with his elbow an empty knocked over vase on the front desk. With their backs to the singer they froze at the abrupt shatter of glass. The singer hunched his shoulders nearly to his ears in unrestrained fear.

For a moment things seemed to continue on, having not noticed the disruption. 2D loosened up sighing in relief. Murdoc glared back at the keyboardist through his fringe; Russel shook his head. Both resumed the course and started heading up the stairs. Before the stairwell 2D caught sight of his untied shoe. Hesitating a moment he crouched and started stuffing the laces into his shoe, not able to accurately tie them up. The bassist let Russel go ahead up the stairs, giving the singer a quick look from the first landing.

Snarling more to himself, Murdoc muttered about 2D’s inconvenient timing and stepped down the stairs towards the singer. 2D pushed up on his knee, standing, completely aloof to the zombie lumbering behind him. Alarmed, Murdoc extended his hand out grabbing a fistful of the singer’s light coat to yank him roughly to himself. 2D gave an aborted yelp, staggering into Murdoc’s side while the man took his hand back, bringing up the shotgun and smacked the butt end into the Zombie’s head with force. Said Zombie staggered so Murdoc shoved the shotgun into 2D’s hands and stole the bat from him, clubbing the zombie over the head repeatedly until the body crumpled. Momentarily they both stood there staring down at the twitching zombie.

“Why not shoot it?”

“Just get your arse moving!”

The zombie laid there not getting up. 2D got shoved viciously up the stairs, tripping on the landing. He was tugged up and pulled along the stairs after Murdoc. The bassist seemed anxious if the grip on 2D was any indication.

“Sorry Muds, my shoe was untied,” 2D noticed the laces were flopping again.

“You’re so useless,” Murdoc paused, pushed 2D to sit on the stairs and crouched, hastily tying up the shoes for the singer, “there, now move.”

The singer mumbled, “thanks,” and he made his way up the rest of the stairs, bumping into Russel.

“What the hell were you two doing down there? I heard some noises.”

Murdoc sniffed in displeasure, smacking 2D’s head lightly, “this idiot stopped to smell the roses.”

“Sorry,” the singer rubbed his arm.

Russel pointed to an open hotel room down the hall, “lets just get some rest, yeah?”

Trying not to rush, they carefully made their way to the room. Murdoc helped Russel manhandle some corpses into the hallway before closing the door, pressing a chair to the handle; extra protection. There were two queen beds, a kitchenette and bathroom. 2D closed the curtains and plopped on one of the two beds. Russel set the bag of ammo down with his gun and flopped onto the second bed. The bassist raided the mini fridge with quivering hands, finding a decent supply of small alcoholic bottles. 2D exchanged the shotgun for the bat, leaning it against the side of the bed he had chosen.

Lighting up, 2D laid out on half of the queen, relaxing substantially. The bassist gathered numerous bottles and dumped them on the bed beside 2D’s legs. The singer watched the other man pop open one and basically shoot it, then another and so on.

“You should slow down Muds, don’t know when you’ll get more.”

Murdoc bounced the singer slightly when he unceremoniously planted his backside on the bed near the lanky man. Russel snored suddenly, startling both men.

“How can he sleep after all that shit?”

2D shrugged. The singer grunted annoyed when the bassist snatched the smoke out of his mouth, taking a drag off it himself.

“Oh for- you could have just asked me for one,” 2D pursed his lips when Murdoc took another pull off the smoke, ignoring him.

“Don’t know when you’ll get more 2D, have to play nice and share,” the satanist gave 2D a jagged smirk.

“Fine.”

2D plucked a couple bottles from the pile Murdoc created. The older man didn’t stop the singer which encouraged him. For a few hours Murdoc and 2D swapped a couple smokes between them while drinking the odd mini bottle. The hotel room gained a hazy appearance in the pathetic light of the sideways lamp. 2D felt a soothing haze fall over him quickly. Murdoc drank the harder liquors eagerly giving himself a pleasant drunkenness.

“I probably should have eaten something,” 2D laid further back.

Murdoc shifted, struggling to pull something out of his back pocket. 2D snickered drunkenly at the satanist’s endeavor. Murdoc tossed a partly squished granola bar at the singer’s face, not hard enough to injure.

“Shaddup. Eat the fuckin’ food, Dents.”

2D laughed stupidly picking the bar up, “Thanks. Seems you do care after all. ”

The bassist narrowed his eyes, but didn’t refute the singer’s claim. He was too drunk to care about his reputation. The younger man peeled the wrapper back and munched happily on the warm, damaged granola bar, not at all perturbed by it’s state. For a beat or two there was a comfortable silence between them. Other than 2D chewing and Russel snoring, the room blocked all outside noises to a degree.

“I thought I lost you,” Murdoc fiddled with an open mini vodka, “was outta my mind for the past few days.”

2D paused, wiping his mouth of crumbs. He didn’t want to interrupt the drunk satanist. Murdoc reached out with a free hand, no hesitation while tucking some blue hair behind 2D’s ear. The singer flustered, suddenly hyper aware of his surroundings and the man beside him. Part of him liked the gentle attention, another part worried things would get out of hand if he didn't distance himself.

“Is the shower working you think? Haven’t had one in so long,” 2D laughed awkwardly, leaning away from the hand.

Seemingly blind to 2D’s rapid change in mood, Murdoc observed the singer almost affectionately. 2D swallowed hard, moving off the bed, standing, plucking nervously at his clothing.

“Gonna have me a nice shower, yeah? You just,” 2D gestured half-assed, “wallow.”

The satanist didn’t speak. 2D twiddled his fingers uncomfortable as he moved clumsily to the washroom, closing the door.

“Oh god,” 2D mumbled softly.

As of recently, ignoring current things, 2D avoided the bassist when heavily inebriated, the man was increasingly sentimental and apologetic. It was weirdly endearing. It also made him question his convictions towards the older man, he was suppose to be angry not confused.

He checked the taps inaudibly cheering when the water worked. Not sure how long the water would last 2D quickly disrobed and popped into the shower. The water was lukewarm but he didn’t care, it felt heavenly to wash the grime away. Scrubbing his head, he watched some pinkish water drain away. The door to the bathroom smacked open slowly, catching on some dirty towels piled behind it.

“Y-you know how sorry I feel Stu’,” Murdoc’s gravelly voice slurred over the water, “Is-is it so hard to forgive me?”

2D really didn’t want to do this right now.

“Murdoc you’re drunk. Go sleep it off, you’ll be your nasty self in the morning.”

“I’m so so sorry for-for Plastic Beach, for everything.”

Apparently they were doing this. The singer shut the water off grumbling as he poked his wet head out to grab a clean towel. The bassist leaned into the door frame, watching 2D intently as a drunk man could. Grasping a towel, 2D wrapped it around his torso before stepping out, he felt exposed and cold despite the material covering him. Small drops caught his eyes so he pushed his hair back slightly.

“Can you at least give me some privacy?”

“It’s nothin’ I haven’t seen before,” Murdoc waggled his hand limply at the singer.

“Christ, go sleep Murdoc. I’m really not in the mood for this argument,” the tingle of a headache threatened 2D’s comfortable buzz.

An exaggerated groan escaped him when the bassist closed the door then rested his back against it, 2D stood there in his towel unimpressed.

“I’m sorry, really sorry,” Murdoc swayed as he got up in 2D’s personal bubble, cupping the taller man’s face carefully, thumbs rubbing the other's cheeks.

2D glared down at the satanist, taking the hands away from his face, “you expect me to just pretend you didn’t lock me up? Forced me to sing like a trapped canary!” shaking visible, 2D strained to keep his voice down.

“You made me want to die. To make matters worse you left me when the place collapsed. It took me years of therapy to get a decent night.”

“I never meant for that to-to happen. I didn’t want to hurt you, I wanted the band back together.”

“It's never anything else with you. I get caught in your schemes, always ends up being hurt.”

Murdoc fought to find proper words in his drunken state, hands moving to hold 2D's thinner ones, “I’m still sorry.”

2D wiggled his hands out of Murdoc's grasp, glare deepening, “you’re always sorry, but conveniently only while drunk. I wonder why?”

The bassist dropped his hands to his sides, unsure how to proceed.

2D remembered his psychologist mentioning forgiveness being a key factor for his healing process. Honestly he couldn’t see how that would help sort his feelings out. He forced himself to focus on his anger over the incidents of their previous records, the time spent recovering and how even now the bassist would not properly apologize. But yet a small part of him wanted to take advantage of Murdoc’s drunken state, even a little; he never would. Examining the man in front of him, 2D felt his anger drain away. The bassist was a damaged human for sure, he had serious problems that needed dealing with, but given the state of the world it was pertinent 2D focus on survival. He needed to put aside his boiling rage over Murdoc’s indiscretions at least for now.

“Look, I’m tired of this fight? Can we please just drop it?”

“You forgive me?”

“Far from it.”

He watched Murdoc’s shoulders slump.

“But for now lets pretend I do.”

It was strange watching the usually so sure bassist fidget under his gaze. The man kept twirling his inverted cross, almost nervous. There was hesitation before Murdoc stepped away from 2D, motioning to the door, asking silently for him to vacate.

“Gonna shower too.”

2D grabbed his dirty clothing and stepped around the satanist out of the bathroom. Murdoc sat on the closed toilet, cradling his head in his hands. He was a mess.

2D was fast asleep on his side, facing away from Murdoc when he came out. The bassist felt semi-sober after a cold shower, but his chest still ached painfully. Russel gave a half snorted noise, turning onto his side. The satanist stood a moment, listening to both occupants breathing. Murdoc scrubbed his hands over his face tiredly before making his way to the bed 2D occupied. Crawling onto the bed, he lifted the blankets, careful to not rouse Stuart. Cruelly he thought of kicking 2D off the bed. The drunker side of him wanted to hold the singer and never let go. That side scared him when sober, right now it won out the internal battle.

Gentle as possible, Murdoc slipped an arm under the pillows, shimmying closer to the sleeping singer. He wrapped an arm around the slim waist, maneuvering 2D back into his chest. The singer barely stirred, snuggling further back into Murdoc unaware. Murdoc nuzzled into the still damp azure hair, smiling to himself. He kept his arm tucked around 2D’s middle, pretending for a moment that things between them were okay.

- - -

A thin stream of light shone directly into Murdoc’s closed eyes. The bassist grumbled tiredly, feeling a telltale ache in his head from his burgeoning hangover. The bed was comfortable and his bed mate was equally as nice. Murdoc buried his face into 2D’s neck breathing deeply. The singer squirmed a bit at the sensation.

“Quit moving around.”

“Tickles,” 2D murmured.

Murdoc wanted this to last just a little longer; he spread his hand over Stuart’s stomach under his shirt. Pleasant memories of snuggling in the early hours after a concert, when things weren’t strained, flooded his mind. 2D snorted into the pillow, shivering under his hand. Feeling an interest forming, Murdoc slid his hand further up the singer’s shirt, brushing a nipple.

“You two better not get frisky, I do not wanna see that,” Russel’s voice broke the trance.

2D bolted up, looking at Russel then Murdoc still laying beside him. He rubbed his chest awkwardly as if to remove the sensation of hands on his skin. His face burned in embarrassment at feeling a rather excited appendage between his legs. He thanked the blankets for covering him. Murdoc made no attempt at hiding his bare torso, nor did he look bashful at being caught attempting to fool around with 2D. Russel was eating a chocolate bar, also unbothered by their antics. 2D rubbed his face, they couldn’t get into old habits, no matter how nice. He was still angry at the bass player.

“You look so rested, 2D. How did you sleep?” Murdoc smirked at the red-faced singer. Obviously the bassist was back to his old asshole self.

“Sod off.”

Murdoc slid his hand under the blanket and over the singer’s thigh, barely batting an eye as he cupped 2D rather firmly.

“Oi! What the hell Murdoc?” 2D yelped, scrambling back, falling off the bed, long legs splayed in the air, “arsehole!”

Murdoc cackled as he casually slipped off the bed, stretching and retrieving his discarded shirt. He took a whiff and winced.

“Ugh, this is bad even for me.”

“Could always borrow some clothing from the previous people in here,” Russel nodded to the suitcases beside the bed he used.

Murdoc tossed his shirt and crouched by a case, opening it. Sifting through the clothing he tugged a black t-shirt from the confines.

“Guess this will do.”

The bassist slipped the shirt on, which at the least fit nicely. Briefly 2D admired the bassist's back muscles shift as he tugged the fresh shirt on. The singer caught Russel eyeing him with a bemused expression. He flustered and quickly turned away, attempting to pull on his own jeans only to have black jeans and a bright purple shirt hit him in the back of the head.

“Wear those, your clothes are filthy.”

2D was thankful the satanist seemed unaware. His features soured at the frilly pattern along the collar of the purple shirt.

“This is a woman’s shirt,” 2D glowered when Murdoc barked a laugh out.

“So?”

“Prick,” 2D scrunched his face up.

Russel took up his weapon cracking his neck. The singer changed into the clean clothing, smoothing the wrinkles. Murdoc slipped the gun holster on, arming himself to the teeth with the shotgun and glocks; his slid the brass knuckles on for good measure. 2D slipped the stained coat on, patting himself to make sure the half pack of cigarettes and lighter were present. Russel tugged up the bag of ammo giving a small huff at the weight.

“We ready?”

“Can we please get food, I’m starving.”

Russel nodded while Murdoc blew at his messy fringe, half paying attention, half not caring. Last nights drunken conversation pushed angrily to the back of his mind. They removed the chair, opened the door with a creak, and one by one they filed out tense and ready for an attack.

- - -

Happening upon a Mcdonalds they cleared it of flesh eaters, raiding the somewhat defrosted and couple day old food. 2D was happy to munch on some stale fries and other food items, anything to satisfy his hunger. Murdoc grabbed a semi-fresh muffin, keeping a watch for movement that wasn’t them while leaning against a different table. The drummer sat with the singer eating some apple pies, pop, and fries. Basically whatever hadn’t started going off in four days. Far from ideal, not that any of them could complain.

2D chuckled and tossed a limp fry at Murdoc when the man had his head turned from the singer and Russel.

“Oi, Muds, you should try eating a little more than a muffin.”

“Did you just throw food at me? Are you a child?” Murdoc waved his hand when the singer attempted to talk, “don’t answer that you brainless twit.”

The verbal abuse was familiar, 2D almost preferred that to the strange gentle version. Without noticing, 2D smiled to himself. Russel made a face of displeasure.

“Is this how you two flirt?”

“N-no! We’re not,” 2D covered his face, “it’s not like that Russ.”

“Face-ache wouldn’t know flirting if it ran him over,” the satanist guffawed at his own nasty joke.

Russel shook his head, jabbing his thumb in the direction of Murdoc, “you can do better than that crusty old fuck, 2D.”

Murdoc choked on his laugh, “Hey! I’m plenty fine.”

“Well, seeing as the world sort of,” 2D motioned helplessly, “ended, I have the option of nobody or drunkard.”

Murdoc chucked his half eaten muffin at 2D’s head, smirking when it rebounded hard off the side of his face.

“Aw jeez Murdoc, it was just friendly teasing!”

2D brushed crumbs out of his hair, grumbling under his breath about grouchy bassists. Russel leaned on a hand, smiling fondly. Ignoring the current insanity, things felt relaxed between them. Russel knew it would take more than a bit of witty banter to mend some rather deep cuts in all their friendships, but he somehow felt this situation was good for them. He watched Murdoc and 2D swap comments back and forth, zoned out thinking of their next course of action for finding Noodle. All three were startled by a zombie slapping against the window of the McDonalds, 2D felt his flight or fight kick in. Russel, quick to snatch up the shotgun, hurried out of the booth. Murdoc gritted his sharp teeth.

“There’s more coming,” the singer voiced anxiously, “we should get out of here.”

“Lets get a move on then.”

Murdoc gave little chance for 2D to recover from his scare before he was ushering the singer to a side entrance. Russel followed through last, pumping the shotgun, aiming and firing into the head of a nearby rotting zombie. In unspoken agreement, Murdoc and Russel made sure to keep 2D between them while making their way out of the gathering crowd. The singer remained silent, noticing but giving no objection, it made him feel safe.

Given the noise their movement and Russel's shotgun created, more zombies set about massing around them from all angles.

“Great,” Murdoc sighed, “just fucking fantastic. Reminds me too much of good ol’ Kong Studios.”

“What about the subway,” Russel indicated to a ground level entrance across the street.

“We really shouldn’t.” 2D shook his head.

“We’d be out of sight though.”

The singer remained mute upon Murdoc and Russel making a path towards the subway.

‘What’s the point of putting my opinion out there if I’m just ignored?’ 2D thought to himself, forced to follow the men.

Entering the dank underside of the city a wave of rotting flesh, burnt rubber and stagnant water rushed their senses. 2D covered his nose, his eyes watering. The background noise of the walking dead surrounding the entrance gave an urgency to their situation.

“This or up there. Down here looks safe to an extent.”

“B-but Muds, this is the worst place to go. All my movies say so.”

“‘D, man, this is real, not a movie. ‘Sides, looks like the bodies down here are actually dead.”

The singer chewed at his bottom lip, nervous.

“It’s flooded though.”

“Well I’m sorry princess, would you like to go back up there? Maybe get eaten alive? Hm?”

Whining softly to himself, 2D cautiously walked to the edge of the yellow line on the subway platform. Russel lowered himself into the knee deep water making a face.

“Wait don’t the tracks have electricity in them?”

Murdoc shrugged, “doesn’t seem to be on.”

2D hesitated, watching Murdoc drop into the water.

“Ah fuck, this’ll ruin my boots.”

“It’s the end of the world, who cares. We can probably find you another pair.”

“Good point, Russ. Well c’mon 2D, we haven’t all day.”

The vocalist whined again before finally slipping into the water, cringing at the temperature drop. Murdoc and Russel moved through the water with ease, just avoiding large debris or the odd bloated body. 2D held his bat to his chest, following the men ahead of him. A few emergency lights lit the way as they entered the tunnel. However the tunnel was near pitch black despite the lights. For a short eternity they tromped through the water not speaking, scared anymore noise would bring unwanted attention. 2D hoped Noodle was fairing better than them. The singer gave a strangled yelp of terror when something brushed his leg causing him to scramble away causing loud splashes. Under the dim light and dark water he couldn’t make out the jagged metal sticking out from some wreckage. The singer slammed into the wreckage, catching himself with his arms on some of the shredded metal. Biting his lip, 2D noticed instantly a pain radiating from his calf.

“A-ah!”

Russel hissed trying to shush the singer. Murdoc looked back at 2D giving him a menacing stare. 2D covered his mouth, grimacing at the unexpected pain in his calf. When no groans met with their silence and 2D’s muffled panting, the tense atmosphere drifted away.

“Sweet Satan 2D, what is your problem?”

“Ah, I’m caught,” he tried to wiggle free creating more shooting pains, “my leg is caught on something sharp.”

Murdoc’s dissatisfaction with 2D morphed into genuine concern as he approached the singer.

“What’d you mean caught?”

“It’s in my clothes, I bumped into it,” 2D hunched over a bit biting his lip, “I can feel it digging into me leg.”

“Oi Russ, c’mere a sec’, gimme a hand. 2D is stuck on something.”

The drummer lumbered over and with their combined effort they worked to get the singer free in the near darkness. The singer felt the material of the borrowed jeans tear when Russel yanked the metal back. 2D used Russel as support when his leg was freed, then lifted up and out of the water somewhat abrasively by Murdoc. The singer wobbled at the lack of balance one leg gave him.

“I can’t see a damn thing down here,” Murdoc lowered 2D’s leg, “lets get him up on the ledge.”

“I have my phone on me,” 2D hissed when the water hit his injury again.

Russel assisted the singer to the ledge, standing near his side. Murdoc made 2D rest his leg out straight on the ledge, holding his hand out.

“Wha-?”

“Phone, dumbarse,” Murdoc urged again with his hand.

“Oh,” 2D dug the item from his pocket, unlocking the screen and putting his flashlight app on before passing it to Murdoc.

The bassist put his shotgun aside and took the phone, shining it on the area with the cut. Blood stained the frayed edges of the black jeans. pushing the wet pant leg up to see the cut, Murdoc rolled his eyes.

“Barely worth bitching about.”

“It really hurts though.”

Grunting, Murdoc got the drummer to hold the phone. Using force, Murdoc ripped the sleeve of his shirt off, then tore it open. 2D was mildly impressed by the feat, but didn’t voice it. With considerate care, he tied the dry fabric around the small gash. He rolled the cuff of the pants up so the bandaged gash was uncovered. Russel shut the phone off, reserving some power and tucked it into his own pocket.

“Ta da.”

“thanks Muds,” 2D rubbed the back of his neck smiling slightly.

“C’mon ‘D, we gotta get outta here.”

Russel lent a hand to the singer, helping him back down into the water. Murdoc got his hand on the shotgun and nodded to the tunnel.

“Let us resume.”

Unsure where they were exiting, Russel headed up first, vigilant. The drummer squinted, not seeing any zombies nearby. Signalling the coast was clear, Murdoc came up next, 2D tagging along with a partial limp.

“I guess the first order of business would be to get 2D here to the hospital,” Murdoc indicated to the other man’s leg uninterested, voice mock upset, “he may just bleed out.”

“Oh you’re real funny Muds,” 2D sniped back.

“Can you two quit it for maybe an hour or two?”

The bassist dismissed Russel with a shrug while 2D had some decency looking shamed for their behavior.

However the three kept a tight lip moving forward. The city’s landscape still looked similar to a disaster movie, corpses rotting here and there, cars empty and the sky dark with clouds. A couple stores were smashed and looted so they avoided the areas with glass. Noodle was still missing and they hadn’t made heads to the guitarist’s whereabouts. Not wanting to disrupt their perfect silence, 2D ignored the burning his gash gave him and forged ahead.

"Not like it's important," 2D muttered to himself while walking.

Had they paid proper attention to the dirty papers lying on the ground and half stuck to buildings, any one of them would have discovered a place to go. A military encampment formed at the international airport, a safe place for survivors. 2D stepped on a couple fliers stuck to the ground, his calf bleeding sluggishly behind the make shift bandage, he barely noticed. Everyone was on high alert so attention was elsewhere rather than on him.

Chapter Text

With little success finding Noodle, the three had broke into an apartment for the evening. In the middle of the night something or someone gave an inhuman howl. Murdoc ran a hand through his mop of dark hair, unable to find sleep while sober; the noises didn't help. Russel seemingly ignored the continued chaos and passed out after raiding the apartment for food. The bassist envied the previously possessed man’s ability to sleep anywhere during anything. Part of their arrangement was supposed to be keeping in close quarters, but Russel had refused to share with either singer or Murdoc, citing that if they wanted to get down and dirty he wasn’t going to bear witness to it. At least not again. Even though he wasn't drunk, Murdoc had no qualms about sharing with 2D; normally the man curled up taking no space despite his ridiculously long limbs.

On this particular night 2D was quivering in his sleep, legs and feet twitching, spread from his body instead of tucked up. Murdoc furrowed his brows upon noticing how shaky the blue-haired singer was, he could feel the tremors along the mattress. Had he been asleep before hand he might have snapped at 2D. Shifting to his side he watched via moonlight how the singer trembled off and on. Murdoc assumed it could be due to a migraine, but then 2D had popped a few codeine from the bathroom cabinet. Leaning over the singer, Murdoc pressed the back of his hand to the sweat slicked forehead. 2D groaned in his sleep, his legs continued to squirm. Baffled, Murdoc pulled his hand away, unsure why the singer appeared to be in the throes of fever. Without consideration he grabbed the blankets they were under and yanked them back. The soft light coming from the window gave enough allowance to see a rather dark spot on the bed.

“Damn,” Murdoc was sure what he could make out was blood.

“2D wake up,” he nudged the man roughly.

The singer remained in his feverish state, making a few muffled noises. Murdoc growled and shook 2D harder.

“Stuart wake up!”

“W-what?”

“You’re bleeding all over the bed,” the bassist patted along the bedside table, attempting to find a small flashlight he put there earlier.

“I’m what?” 2D sounded groggy, but not from sleep.

“Just how many of those pills did you pop?”

Murdoc flicked the flashlight on, shining it down towards the singer’s legs. Blood was soaking the makeshift bandage and now the bed. The satanist frowned, it wasn't like 2D to keep discomfort to himself, he complained about headaches the moment they formed.

“Why didn’t you tell me you were still bleeding?”

“I didn’t want to be a nuisance,” 2D mumbled, massaging his drug addled haze away from his head.

“Well not saying anything you still managed that,” Murdoc left the bed, absently setting the flashlight aside. Light shone on the singer and room.

Grumbling he went into the connected bathroom, digging through the medicine cabinet for medication and first aid supplies. He realized that earlier he should have offered to clean the gash up properly, he had been distracted by looking for alcohol. 2D remained where he was on the bed, quaking from feeling both hot and cold simultaneously. Murdoc realized his folly when he barely made out anything in the cabinets and then attempted to flick the light on, irritated when nothing happened.

“Will you bring the torch, can’t see a fucking thing in here.”

Hesitantly 2D grasped the cool metal object, light bouncing about with the movement. He slid his legs off the bed and sat at the edge a moment. Standing, 2D made to walk, got three steps and then collapsed heavily with a noise of surprise. Rushing out at the sound, Murdoc happened upon 2D laying on the ground, pushing to sit up.

“Okay, take it easy Stu,” the satanist helped the singer get upright.

“I don’t feel good Muds,” 2D held his head.

The singer’s stomach rumbled loudly. Murdoc felt an unusual rush of anxiety, something akin to when drunk and confessing.

“Just get your arm around my shoulders, I’m going to move you back to the bed,” the bassist crouched, arm under thin legs and a hand settled on 2D’s lower back.

2D slung his arm around Murdoc’s bare shoulders, leaning into him. Grunting slightly, the satanist hefted the singer up into his arms and carried him back to the bed, depositing him gently. 2D laid on his back, making no further complaints as he was busy rubbing his head.

“Sit tight,” Murdoc scooped up the light and hurried back into the washroom.

Pushing items out of the way, Murdoc found a half used first aid kit under the sink. Placing the small flashlight in his mouth he examined the contents, making sure what he needed was present. He stood once sure and gave a precursory glance at medications in the cabinet behind the mirror. Seeing nothing that stuck out as useful Murdoc retreated back into the master bedroom. Removing the light to talk clearly, Murdoc stopped at the bed.

“Be thanking your lucky stars or whatever, I found a first aid kit.”

2D gave a weak smile and thumbs up. Murdoc set the kit down first then moved the vocalist's legs up so he could sit and lastly settle them on his lap. Replacing the flashlight to his mouth, Murdoc began removing the saturated fabric. He tossed the soiled cloth somewhere, unconcerned where it landed since this was a temporary shelter. Taking some antiseptic wipes from the bag he started to wipe at the injury, light wiggling in his mouth when he grimaced at the blood. He paused seeing blackened veins around the gash. Tilting his head, Murdoc frowned, worried when he also noticed how red and puffy the injury looked. That couldn't be good. He got another wipe and kept cleaning the site until mostly clean. The veins looked darker. He tried to put the black striations out of mind while taking a small bottle of rubbing alcohol in hand.

Murdoc unscrewed the lid, hesitating. 2D had his head resting back against the pillow, clearly unaware of the string of emotions Murdoc was struggling with or the state of his leg. Taking a deep breath through his crooked nose, Murdoc removed the flashlight from his mouth to talk.

“You’re gash is infected,” he held the flashlight out to 2D, “hold this and keep quiet, it's gonna hurt.”

The singer took the light, concentrating hard on holding it steady for the satanist. Murdoc's words didn’t register and when the man poured rubbing alcohol on his open wound he jerked gasping painfully. Murdoc held the leg down with a firm hand. The singer barely kept the light still while his leg was finally wrapped up nice and tight.

putting the kit aside, Murdoc took the light from 2D. Momentarily he considered voicing his unease over 2D's injury but thought better. Patting the singer's knee, Murdoc moved long legs so he could stand. Noticing a damp spot from the rubbing alcohol Murdoc removed the jeans and set them aside.

“Going to grab you something to eat and drink. Just relax and try to stay awake.”

“Please don’t leave,” 2D sounded pitiful.

“I’m just going to the next room, I’ll be back,” Murdoc tilted the flashlight towards the door.

“I’m scared.”

Murdoc stood beside the bed, silently agreeing with 2D. He felt a small swell of dread.

“I’ll be right back Stuart, just hum to yourself.”

2D hugged himself tightly, reminded fleetingly of the dank, wet room back in the middle of the ocean. Even given the years between then and now he still had moments of relapsing memories. Shaking the thoughts away, 2D rubbed his arms humming a song softly. He was safe and Murdoc wasn't leaving him for days, just a few minutes. Murdoc left the bedroom door open just in case while rummaging through cupboards. There were a few candles lit in the kitchen, nearly burnt out, wax dripping onto the surfaces beneath them.

Opening the fridge the satanist gagged to himself, shining the light on what might not be off. Grabbing a few things and setting them aside he moved to the pantry. Seeing as the previous occupants left in a rush, there was a fair amount of dry foods. In no time he was moving back into the bedroom, nudging the door shut.

Murdoc plopped down next to the singer, opening a water bottle, urging him to drink something. 2D struggled to swallow around the thickness in his throat, he drank some of the water before Murdoc replaced it with something to eat. The singer ate little, mostly drinking water and getting through two bottles. Once satisfied the bassist tugged the blanket up, laying down. He motioned the blue-haired singer closer, situating 2D’s head against his chest. The singer wondered why the satanist was being charitable. He had to fight with himself not to pull away when Murdoc lifted his hand to rest it against blue hair, he still ended up flinching. The bassist sighed at the reaction.

“If you get sick just wake me.”

“Am I dying?” 2D felt like he was dying, everything was aching and codeine did little to hide that fact; the older man was being gentle too.

“Shut up. You’re not dying you idiot. You just have a fever,” Murdoc rubbed and petted at 2D’s hair and neck.

“If I am, dying I mean, I don’t wanna leave things bad between us,” 2D mumbled against Murdoc’s skin.

“Stuart I swear to satan. You’re not dying.”

Murdoc relaxed when 2D’s breathing seemed to settle out. He finally flicked off the flashlight in his opposite hand, putting it on the bedside table. Closing his mismatched eyes the bassist made an effort to sleep. He would have missed 2D talking if the singer’s face wasn’t pressed to his chest.

“I can forgive you. I just need time.”

The hand threaded in blue locks shifted, combing lightly through his hair to brush against an ear. 2D's breath hitched at the sensation.

“Try to get some sleep.”

2D remained silent after that, seemingly asleep. Murdoc stared at the ceiling in the dark, watching the light slowly filter in for morning.

———

When the singer laying against him roused from his sleep he seemed more perky and less sick. Murdoc felt a subtle relief, nearly forgetting about the swelling and black veins on the gash. Having received an hour or two of sleep himself, Murdoc rubbed his eyes, exhausted. 2D leaned up yawning, he needed to shave much like the bassist did.

“I feel like I could run a marathon,” 2D chuckled, half aware of the previous night, mostly ignoring it.

“I feel like death,” Murdoc’s voice heavy with lack of sleep.

“Sorry for keeping you up last night,” the singer sat up, tucking his legs close to himself, “I appreciate it, you helping me.”

Resting an arm over his eyes, mostly to avoid looking at 2D, Murdoc sighed.

“Stu your gash looked pretty bad. Probably going to need antibiotics.”

“It feels fine today,” 2D shifted, intentionally dropping his leg against Murdoc’s bare midriff.

The bassist groused at the new weight on his stomach. Murdoc felt 2D shove his arm lightly.

“Look, it’s doing better, no blood spotting through.”

The satanist looked at the leg resting on him. 2D was right, no blood was seeping through the new bandage.

“I still need to change it.”

“But it’s okay now.”

“2D.”

“Murdoc.”

“Don’t argue. You had a fever last night, you don’t just get over it in a night. It needs to be cleaned and redone.”

“But it’s not bothering me anymore.”

“Stuart!”

2D jerked surprised by Murdoc’s outburst. The bassist spoke softer.

“Look, just let me check it alright? You had me worried last night.”

“You’ve been calling me that a lot the past two days.” 2D didn't know why he kept prodding, he knew the other man would snap.

“Bugger off you sodding idiot. I was trying to be nice to you.”

2D shied away when Murdoc pushed him back, moving off the bed to grab his shirt and pants.

“Look after your own injury.”

“Wait, no, Murdoc I’m sorry. It was just an observation. I still want help with my injury,” somehow 2D felt pathetic begging for any attention, but he wanted the satanist to be the kind man from a moment ago.

Murdoc dug through 2D’s coat, bringing out the pack of cigarettes and lighter.

“Hey! Those are mine,” 2D made to clamber off the bed only to gasp sharply when his leg gave out under him causing him to collapse like the night before.

The bassist gave a surprised noise in his throat when 2D flopped hard to the floor.

“What in the hell? Did you just trip on nothing?”

“My leg,” 2D hissed, struggling to hide his pain while griping his thigh, “my leg is spasming, it hurts!”

“You just told me it felt fine.”

“Well it doesn’t feel fine now!”

“Sweet satan, give me strength.”

Pressing a smoke behind his ear, Murdoc pocketed the lighter before putting the smokes back. He crouched near the singer.

“Maybe next time you’ll take my help when I offer it instead of back talking.”

“For fuck sake Murdoc! Just help me up!”

Murdoc got his hands under 2D’s arms, tugging the lanky singer back to his feet, helping support his weight. 2D tried to curl in on himself, his one hand digging into his thigh while the other clenched at Murdoc’s shoulder, nails biting into the older man’s skin. Murdoc grunted at the displacement of weight when 2D leaned forward. A cold sickly sweat broke out on 2D’s face and he lurched partly in Murdoc’s hold, vomiting on the floor in front of them.

“Holy hell ‘D, warn a man.”

“I-I feel dizzy,” 2D slurred through tears and snot.

“Okay, okay,” Murdoc moved the hand from his shoulder, looping the arm around himself, he dragged the shaking man to the washroom.

Nudging the toilet seat up with his foot and nearly stumbling at the distribution in weight on one leg, Murdoc carefully set 2D up with the porcelain bowl.

“What’s going on in here?”

Russel pushed the master bedroom door further open.

“I keep hearing shouting and shit. You two aren’t messing around in here are you?”

“Make yourself useful Russ, go grab some water and find some kind of pain medication. 2D is indisposed.”

“He got a headache?”

“More or less,” Murdoc didn’t give further information.

Russel gave an affirmative noise and went about shuffling through stuff in the kitchen. Murdoc rubbed his shoulder wincing when he pulled his hand back, noticing small traces of blood. Tilting his head he spotted three little crescent cuts on his shoulder.

“Fuck.”

Without prompting he went to the bed and looked around for the discarded first aid kit, hastily getting an alcohol swab once found. Cursing to himself he scrubbed the small cuts abrasively. Russel paused in the doorway, frowning in bafflement at Murdoc’s behavior, water bottle in hand.

“What’s wrong with you man? Look like you’ve seen a ghost.” Russel chuckled at the somewhat overused joke.

“Nothing. It’s nothing,” Murdoc tossed the little wipe trying to appear relaxed, “bumped myself trying to help Dents to the bathroom. Guess I got nicked.”

“Did you also bump him on the way there?” Russel raised a brow, mostly teasing as he leaned in the doorway of the bathroom.

Murdoc didn’t answer.

“Hey ‘D, got you some water, think you can keep it down?”

“Maybe.”

While Russel helped the singer drink some water, Murdoc paced. The bassist knew something was very wrong with the singer. It had all started with the cut. Murdoc mashed the heels of his hands into his eyes groaning to himself. They needed to get to a hospital or clinic, 2D would need antibiotics and so would he if the cuts on his shoulder became infected.

“Murdoc you alright?”

“No! I’m not alright Russ.”

“What’s going on? You two didn’t have a fight again didja?”

“2D’s gash on his leg is infected, he’s sick and needs proper medication, antibiotics,” Murdoc gestured angrily to his shoulder where even he noticed the small cuts were beading with blood again, “and now I have fucking cuts. I can only assume I’m going to succumb to a fever too if his condition is anything to go on. I don’t have a any idea where a hospital is in this city.”

Russel stood, almost in awe, watching the bassist unravel.

“The fucking world is over. Noodle is missing! 2D is ill and there’s not a single fucking person around to help us,” Murdoc aggressively ruffled his own hair, mussing it up, “I haven’t slept in nearly seventy-two hours. I've had no booze in over a day so I'm bone dry here, aching something fierce.”

Even 2D leaned away from the toilet, sweaty, listening and observing blearily while Murdoc ranted.

“Ey’ Muds, c’mon man it’ll be alright. I’ll get us a travel guide. We’ll go to the hospital and get stuff.”

“This thing,” Murdoc motioned palm up, towards 2D, “has a short window before it kicks you in the ass.”

Russel waved a hand, “you feel fine right now, right? Lets go get medication quick. Maybe the hospital will have military, who knows.”

“Y-yeah, hospitals usually have some kinda clue on what to do,” 2D croaked from the washroom.

Murdoc tried to fix his hair, taking deep breaths, “yeah, okay. Lets do that.”

“What about ‘D?”

“What about me?”

“Can you even move around?”

“I’ll carry him,” Murdoc grunted.

“We should just leave him here, it’ll be quicker.”

2D began to protest when Murdoc interrupted, “no, we’re not leaving him here. We go together or not at all.”

“Pretty sentimental of you Muds, but logically 2D would slow us down. No offense ‘D, but we could be back in the same couple of hours with medications.”

“Don’t leave me here alone!”

“We’re not. That’s final,” the satanist shot a look at Russel.

The drummer huffed, “whatever man.”

Russel left the room throwing his hands up. Murdoc looked at 2D, the singer looked back quiet. Murdoc knew it was stupid bringing the sickly man but he couldn't leave the singer now that he was with them.

Packing up had been a timely affair, which Russel continually sighed over. Not having the energy to tell the drummer off, Murdoc helped the singer redress then set up the gun holster on him.

“I don’t need guns.”

“I can’t carry you and the guns so shut up.”

“I can walk,” Murdoc shook his head at 2D.

“You walk like a new born giraffe, I am not watching that, it’s painful.”

“But your back?”

“Fuck off, I can manage carrying your scrawny ass around for an hour. You weigh what? Eighty pounds wet?”

“I’m a hundred something, probably.”

Murdoc backed off and held his arms out, “well, since you’re so damn opposed. Give us a few steps on your own.”

Russel crossed his arms over his chest when he appeared in the doorway again. 2D forced himself to his feet, his legs wobbled dangerously. His injured leg moved listlessly and when pressure was placed on it, 2D bit his lip.

“Wow,” Murdoc clapped, “bravo, really proved your point face-ache.”

“Are you two done? We’re losing daylight.”

The satanist gave Russel a thumbs up, turning on his heel so his back was to the singer, kneeling. 2D wavered and hesitated, his face flushing some in embarrassment.

“Just fucking hurry up 2D before I change my damn mind.”

2D struggled, sliding his arms around the older man’s shoulders. He could barely bend his legs and was thankful when two hands reached back, cupping his thighs. 2D gave a small yelp when Murdoc stood up, bouncing the man partly to adjust himself.

“Almost wish I had a camera.”

“Fuck off.”

The drummer gave a snort before taking the lead out of the apartment. Murdoc carried the singer behind Russel. Getting down to the streets had been an unpleasant experience, really putting Murdoc’s muscles to the test. 2D gripped the older man's shoulders somewhat tight, fearful of being dropped. Gritting his teeth, Murdoc put his mind elsewhere. They had to stop every so often to allow Murdoc a chance to readjust the singer. At one point he hooked his arms under 2D’s legs, locking his hands together so he didn’t have to shift constantly. Russel was right, travel was stunted and by the time they reached a proper corner shop for a map book it was midday. Looking around Murdoc spotted a bench.

Setting the singer down on a bench and huffing as he practically collapsed beside 2D, Murdoc wiped his face with an arm. Russel browsed through a map book, looking for their location. 2D massaged his upper thighs while the bassist collected himself.

“Sweet satan, I really need a drink right now.”

“Could have a smoke?”

“Yeah, pass us one.”

2D snickered and grabbed the forgotten smoke tucked behind Murdoc’s ear holding it for him.

“Ah, right, thanks Dents.”

Lighting the smoke, Murdoc took a quick drag before holding it out to the singer. 2D took it gently, copying Murdoc.

“Looks like there’s a hospital a couple blocks over. Think you can manage that much walking?”

“Course," an obvious lie that both 2D and Russel ignored.

“After we should try and head to the airport.”

2D looked over his shoulder at Russel, “why there?”

“There’s a few fliers on the window over here, says there’s a military encampment for survivors.”

Murdoc nearly gave himself whiplash.

“how far is that?”

“A fair distance Muds, I don’t think you can carry ‘D that far.”

“How far?”

“On foot, probably two days travel, if we were all capable, four since 2D can’t walk. That’s just a guess.”

“Maybe Noodle is there.”

“She probably is, I hope so anyways,” Russel lowered the map book he held.

“We should just take a car,” Murdoc nodded to one of the abandoned vehicles.

“The roads are congested, but we could try.”

Murdoc hopped off the bench, marching towards a vehicle, energy renewed at the prospect of driving. Getting into the driver side of the vehicle he pried cords out, fiddling. 2D puffed away on the smoke, massaging his thighs continually with his free hand. Russel sat next to the singer.

A few choice words came from Murdoc then the car rumbled to life.

“I’m a genius.”

The satanist stood patting the car, “not anything like Stylo, but it’ll do.”

“Damn, any other hidden talents?”

“Not any I plan to share with you. Lets get rolling boys, I want to be out of this shit hole by tomorrow.”

Russel assisted 2D to the car, getting him into the backseat. Given that he had the map, Russel slipped into the passenger seat. Murdoc closed the driver side door and got the car moving. A lot of automobiles were parked or stopped haplessly about in the roads, a great many were driven through stores or piled against each other. Persevering on, Murdoc swung the dinky four door Toyota through obstacles like a professional, maybe dinging the sides once or twice. Russel directed the older man, who weaved between vehicles with caution. Murdoc didn’t want to admit how difficult carrying the singer had been, his back was screaming at him. He also didn’t want the other two knowing how badly his forced detoxing was making him feel. Barely twenty-four hours and he was getting tremors in his hands and a cold sweat along his body. Coming out of his thoughts, Murdoc noticed it had started to rain.

No warning came when a zombie slammed into the car making 2D shriek. Murdoc gripped the wheel tighter, flicking the wipers on. Russel jumped in his seat when another zombie flung it’s self into the vehicle. None of them understood why the flesh eaters chose now to reappear, visibility was limited.

“Muds go faster, there’s a lot of zombies.”

2D’s panicked voice was shrill.

“I can’t go faster, there’s too many obstructions.”

Russel pointed to a sign, “left here, hospital is up the road.”

Murdoc obliged and turned then immediately stopped when he saw how blocked the road was up the hill. Cars and trucks were left in an unfortunate road blockade mostly in front of the hospital at the top which Murdoc could barely make out. 2D whimpered when his head darted back and forth, seeing zombies amassing in the rain. The ambling bodies approached the running vehicle, attracted to the smell of people and rumble noise. Russel smacked the book against the dashboard showing a little frustration at the situation.

Murdoc put the car into reverse and cranked the wheel, hitting a few zombies nearer to them. The singer sunk down in the back when a few bodies hit the back window, laying over the trunk. Putting the car into drive the bassist drove up the wide sidewalk, thankfully knocking some extra passengers off. A loud thunk noise following the tires ascent over the curb. Relaxing, 2D breathed easier when they started to put distance between the horde and them. Making up the sidewalk was difficult, but doable.

The hill made travel hard for the zombies so once a couple yards were between them they seemingly lost interest. At the top Murdoc took the car off the sidewalk carefully, through a narrow path between some stopped trucks. He spotted the hospital through the rainy windshield.

“That’s the place,” Russel closed the map book.

Murdoc nodded as he pulled up, putting the car into park. The entry to the hospital had a red sedan fully lodged with a trapped undead person in the drivers side attempting to climb out, trapped by their seat belt. Aside from the odd open and empty automobiles sitting around, the place was deserted. A couple of ambulances sat, one still idling near the emergency doors.

“Maybe they left a couple hours ago?”

“Lets be quick.”

“We can’t bring ‘D with us,” Russel gave the singer an apologetic look.

“Why? Please don’t leave me in the car, I don’t wanna be eaten.”

Murdoc deliberated over the pros and cons of leaving 2D in the car. Russel gave the bassist a deep frown.

“Murdoc we can’t be carting him around with zombies everywhere. We have to be quick and to do that it means leaving him here till we get back. He’ll be ok,” Russel undid his seat belt, “you gave him guns.”

The satanist peered at the singer through the rear-view mirror. 2D gave the man a pleading look, big black eyes watering. Murdoc covered the mirror with his hand.

“I must be fucking insane.”

“No.”

“Yes, he comes with us.”

“Damnit Murdoc!”

“I’ll be responsible for him,” Murdoc lowered his hand from the mirror, “just like I always have for twenty some odd fucking years.”

Russel pressed his lips together firm. He didn’t argue further, but it was blatant he disagreed with the decision. Hopping out of the car, the drummer slammed his door shut which thankfully the rain hid the noise. 2D trembled in the back seat, clearly upset with Russel’s response.

“I’m sorry,” 2D mumbled, “I can stay here, I don’t want to be a burden.”

“Shut up,” Murdoc opened the door climbing out then tugged the backseat door open, “c’mere Dents.”

2D wiped at his face quickly, shuffling along the seat towards the bassist. Murdoc helped the singer to his feet while keeping an arm around 2D’s middle. He didn’t want to piggy back the man again, it was too hard. Rain matted down their hair and clothing while they inched past the rambunctious zombie in the sedan.

Russel went into the hospital wordlessly, closely accompanied by Murdoc and 2D. The drummer took strides to keep space between him and the two lagging behind. Opening doors reluctantly, hoping to find a store room for medications quickly, Russel couldn’t help think about their situation. It would figure the end of the world would give Murdoc the right push towards making amends; might also be due to lack of alcohol.

Watching Russel make his way further, Murdoc paused with 2D at the reception desk. 2D briefly noticed that the sopping wet clothing hardly bothered him.

“Where is he off to then?”

“Looking for medications I would guess.”

2D could feel the bassist shaking against him.

“Are you cold or something?”

“What? No. I’m wet if anything.”

“You’re shaking like a leaf, what’s wrong?”

“Detox. Haven't been this sober in, well never,” the bassist joked sourly.

Murdoc half dragged 2D around the counter to a receptionist chair, dropping him into it. 2D grunted at the impact against the chair.

“Try not making so much noise Dents, you might wake the dead.” Murdoc snorted softly.

2D scowled, “I didn’t drop myself into a chair Muds, could have been gentler.”

“I’ve been sticking up for your weak arse all day, I even gave you a cuddle before this morning.”

Murdoc’s voice was rough and unkind while he rummaged through drawers. 2D rubbed his hands together, nearly wringing them. Expressing himself with Murdoc was arduous. The older man had always meanly teased him or put down anything that came out. This morning had been nice and he honestly missed experiencing early morning snuggling. Memories of years upon years of torment constantly ruined any progress he made towards fixing their relationship. He craved something normal, some semblance of average or pleasant. He wanted the satanist to understand why he was upset, to own his mistakes and apologize once in a while.

“Why can’t you just be nice to me? What have I ever actually done to receive flack from you?”

Now behind the singer, looking through stuff, Murdoc halted.

“I never asked to be thrown into this shit storm. I was bored with my life sure, but I was content. Then you ruined it by running me down. Everything that’s followed has been me suffering in some way or another.”

“There’s been good shit too. I made you famous!”

“Thank you Murdoc, I’m famous," 2D's voice ran dry with heavy sarcasm, "all the beatings, the verbal abuse and even Plastic Beach pale in comparison to being famous.”

2D felt confidence swell as he pressed on, voice strong.

“I suffer from constant sometimes debilitating migraines, nightmares and panic attacks,” 2D gesticulated with his hands, “but yeah I'm famous, so there’s that? And hey, the world is over so I guess my fame did shit all for me.”

Admittedly 2D was sour over most of the things he listed, yet he was tired of dragging that baggage with him continually. Some part of him wanted to hurt the bassist, even a little. Make him feel and understand the turmoil 2D had suffered through for years. Counseling only got him to a point where he could occasionally articulate his thoughts into words, usually music lyrics. Murdoc flexed his fists off and on, listening to the singer. 2D still had his back to the satanist.

“I don’t even know why I care about you, it’s so irritatingly stupid. Keep thinking I can change you or make you better.”

Relaxing his fists Murdoc stared to the ceiling before he felt calm enough to speak. Guilt reigned in his anger, he was supposed to be working on that.

“You’re not stupid,” Murdoc grumbled, finally moving to sit on the reception desk, “you’re a brilliant singer.”

“That’s all I am though? A good voice, occasionally a good punching bag.”

“Why can’t we do this when I’m piss drunk?”

“Because you have to own up to your mistakes at some point,” 2D leaned back in the chair.

“I will only say this once. Don’t you dare ask me to repeat it,” Murdoc took a deep breath, but couldn't form the words.

He felt extra sweaty thinking about an intimate discussion into their relationship and the issues surrounding it. 2D watched him, silently urging him to continue with his dark eyes. Murdoc stared at the ground definitively trying to verbalize his feelings.

Coughing to clear the tightness in his throat, Murdoc momentarily glanced at the singer, “I’m shit at this Stu, emotions are,” Murdoc paused.

“Difficult for you, I know.”

“I can't be this idolized vision you have of me, we both know that. Besides, these past few years have been better, yeah?”

“They've been nice," 2D picked at his wet jeans, "for the most part. You still yell at me for unnecessary reasons. I hate it.”

2D started to twiddle his fingers again, voice losing the edge it held moments ago.

Wiping his palms on damp thighs, Murdoc watched his feet and ground again, "I was seeing someone before."

"Like a psychologist?"

"Sure, whatever," Murdoc grunted, "point is I was trying to clean up my act."

"That's good Muds, nothing wrong with getting help-I mean talking."

"I know that," the satanist snapped, voice sharp. 2D flinched instantly making Murdoc feel guilty all over again.

Huffing more to himself, Murdoc reigned his breathing in and focused on remaining calm. He reminded himself that lashing out wasn't helping anyone, he had no reason to given it was just him and 2D. The man wasn't mocking him.

“Let me be startlingly honest with you for a moment,” Murdoc looked anywhere but 2D’s black eyes, “fuck me, why can’t I be drunk right now?”

The singer sort of smiled. Murdoc continued on.

“I care about you more than I want and it fucking scares me. Right now my biggest fear is losing you in this chaos and if I was a better person shit wouldn't be so messed up between us right now.”

“I do appreciate it, knowing that you care.”

“Have I not shown that enough? Isn’t it suppose to be actions are louder than words or some shit?”

“Well yeah, but hearing it is nice too.”

Murdoc locked eyes with the singer. 2D watched the older man expectantly.

“I just said it, I’m not saying it again.”

“There are different ways to say it,” 2D grappled with the chair, scooting it closer to the satanist.

2D forced the bassist to look at him again by grabbing at the man’s thighs.

“A sorry would be nice too, yeah?”

There was a twinge of teasing in the singer’s voice that made Murdoc’s hackles rise. His cruel side wanted to kick the singer in the face. However sucking his pride up he leaned forward some, his own hands settling over top of 2D's. The singer's eyes widened slightly.

“I’m sorry Stuart.”

2D blinked, partially alarmed by the genuine tone Murdoc used and the quick kiss that followed his apology. It was short and rather gentle.

“I’m sorry for all of it. There, that good enough for you? ‘Cause I’m not fucking saying it again.”

“Maybe once more?”

“You are really pushing your luck right now,” Murdoc gritted his teeth.

“I want to know you mean it, that I actually heard right. Please?”

Rolling his eyes, Murdoc moved back and crossed his arms over his chest, uncomfortable. 2D saw the stiffness in the older man's posture and wondered if he should lay off.

"Bugger off, I've made my apologies," Murdoc knew exactly what 2D was probing for, what he wanted to hear from him and his chest constricted. He only remembered saying it maybe twice before, though he'd been absolutely wasted on a beach somewhere.

2D felt their heart to heart taper off with the abrupt dismissal from Murdoc. Sliding his hands back to his own lap, the singer glanced over at the noise of Russel returning. Both of them watched the drummer step into the small space behind the reception desk.

“Yo, I found a medication storage room, what are you two doing sitting around? I gotta do everything here?”

Murdoc pushed off the desk, “yeah, yeah.”

2D grabbed the satanist’s wrist, tugging harder than he meant which caused Murdoc to jerk back a bit.

“What in the blazes 2D?”

“Sorry," 2D loosened his hold, "and thank you for say-”

“For fuck sake,” Murdoc yanked his arm away, "don't get all soppy on me."

Not waiting, Murdoc walked away, leaving Russel and 2D behind. The drummer glanced down at 2D.

“Sorry man, didn’t mean to interrupt whatever that was.”

“It’s okay Russ. I can stay here till you two are done,” 2D realized saying that was pointless seeing as he couldn't walk.

Russel patted the singer’s shoulder in a show of comfort. Soon the singer was sitting alone at the reception desk. 2D stared at his lap. He traced patterns on the material while he waited. He often wondered what a relationship with the bassist would have been like had the man been any amount of pleasant or normal. Grumbling to himself at his fantasy, 2D picked at his nails. He just wanted the jumble of emotions to straighten themselves, he hated being perplexed by complex feelings, always gave him a headache. Currently he didn't have one, which was a miracle in itself. He was unsure if he should continue being mad at Murdoc or let their thing work itself out. Quite abruptly something clattered to the floor on the opposite side of the counter. 2D sat ramrod straight looking about for the disruption and who caused it. Nobody was around, but the singer was on edge.

“Guys?”

Soft clicking was heard as something rounded the corner of the counter. 2D peered, wide eyed at the soaked dog standing by the doorway of the reception station and desk. The singer wheezed nervously at the sight.

“Nice doggy,” 2D whimpered, he could see patches of fur missing and bloodied spots.

The dog bared it’s teeth, growling. 2D breathed faster seeing the blood and flesh stuck between the stained teeth. The dog was infected.

“Oh shit,” 2D panted out, voice quivering.

Attempting to keep his movement subtle, he slowly grabbed one of the handguns from the holster he was so thankful Murdoc made him wear. The dog growled again, stepping closer. 2D pointed the gun at the dog pulling the trigger in rapid succession. When the gun didn’t fire the dog leapt at him. In his defense 2D held his arm up blocking the bloodied maw coming at him while screaming. Both dog and singer toppled from the rolling chair. 2D jammed the handgun into the animal's mouth while his arm pushed up against bloodied limbs.

Murdoc and Russel gave each other uneasy looks.

“You just had to bring him in!”

Murdoc bolted out of the room before Russel, rushing to the reception. 2D was on the ground holding a deranged looking mutt back with his handgun and arm. The dog chomped at the singer who was pleading for his life. Realizing his shotgun was in the car, Murdoc cast all reason aside and jumped in, kicking the animal off the singer. 2D used his arms to slide away, backing up under the desk.

Eyeing the forgotten handgun the singer dropped then the dog getting back up, Murdoc stood frozen, unsure how to proceed. Russel slid into the area almost toppling, pulled his shotgun up and shot the animal once, then twice. Briefly Murdoc wondered if that could have been his last moment on this planet if it weren't for the drummer. Or 2D's for that matter. Put a lot of things into perspective.

“That’s it man. From now on we do what I say! I’m sick of this shit happening.”

“I had things under control,” Murdoc started, trying to regain his dominance in the situation.

“Shut up! Get the medication Murdoc. We’re getting the fuck outta here.”

2D crawled out from under the desk, quaking. Russel stomped over and got the singer to his feet.

“From here on you two will shut your gobs and do what I say. I am not getting my ass zombified cause you two can’t look after yourselves. Well! What are you doing? Go get the meds!”

Murdoc nodded and quickly vacated the area. 2D covered his face, trembling violently his heart hammered in his chest. Russel got the singer seated.

“Alright ‘D deep breaths, through your nose and out your mouth.”

“I’m sorry. I’m so useless,” 2D warbled miserably.

“Well you managed to avoid getting bit so you can’t be that useless,” Russel teased while rubbing the singer’s back.

2D hiccuped while crying into his hands, mortified to be reduced to a blubbering mess. Russel continued to sooth him, even when the bassist returned with a bag of medications. Murdoc shifted his weight back and forth on his feet. Awkward that the singer was bawling his eyes out.

“Got the antibiotics, lets go.”

“Go get the car closer, I’ll help 2D to the car,” Russel felt slightly bad exploding at the two before hand.

“I’ll get nitwit to the car, just take the medication.”

“No offense Muds, well full offense actually, but your bedside manner is garbage. He doesn’t need you shitting all over him right now.”

Composing himself before potentially losing it, Murdoc set the bag of medication down and sort of squatted in front of 2D. He took the singer’s hands in his speaking with a derisive tone.

“Listen here Dents, you’re alive right now because of me,” Russel grunted, “and Russ, so chin up and quit your sniveling. We have to find Noodle now and I would really rather not listen to you sob in the background. Okay?”

“O-okay.”

Murdoc stood and patted 2D’s cheek affectionately, “‘atta boy. C’mon lets get you back to the car.”

Russel looked in the bag before closing it, there were more than just antibiotics. Murdoc slipped a finger through the belt loop on 2D’s jean while helping the man walk. Russel sighed, he honestly couldn’t understand their dynamic. At this point he really didn't think he'd ever figure it out. The rain seemed to have let up, the sedan zombie groaned at them when they made by and honestly Russel was almost hoping this was all a strange nightmare.

“I sure hope Noodle is okay, I’m gonna need someone sane to talk to after this,” Russel ran a hand over his face, finally walking behind the two towards the car.

Chapter Text

Driving became a nightmare with night creeping closer. The further they got towards the airport the tougher it was to navigate the roads. Finally Murdoc pulled over. Russel watched the fresh rain continue on as if the world hadn’t ended a couple days back. The drummer gave 2D a check to make sure the singer was still alive. Said singer was doped up on pain medication and antibiotics, probably unaware of anything around him. The head lights of the car shone through the miserable darkness. Visibility had dwindled when the car sputtered to a stop. Murdoc hummed, contemplating their situation.

“I haven’t the foggiest where we sleep tonight. It can’t be in the car.”

“Well there’s a few shops here with gating on the windows, could always stay in one of them.”

“I suppose that would work. Not very comfortable.”

Russel shrugged, “may have places upstairs.”

Murdoc tapped his fingers on the steering wheel to some unknown beat. The rain hitting the car was mesmerizing. He let his mind wander not hearing the drummer talking to him at first.

“Muds, we going inside or what?”

“Hm? What?”

“You all there man? I asked if we’re heading in. Did you take one of those pain meds you packed?”

“Oxycontin, yes. Fantastic stuff really. I see why Dents likes them,” Murdoc pushed his seat back, bumping the singer’s knee.

“Really? Is this a good time to be doped up? ‘D I understand.”

“It helps with the aches since I can’t seem to find a lick of alcohol anywhere. It’s the fucking apocalypse and there’s no booze. How does that even work?”

Russel sighed moving his hands in a placating manner. Murdoc tried to open his door, fiddling with the handle.

“Fucking door is jammed. Why are all the doors in my life jammed?”

“It’s locked man.”

The satanist squinted and unlocked the door. Climbing out of the vehicle and instantly getting soaked, Murdoc closed the door before he opened the back door and grabbed at 2D’s arm, urging him to move out of the car. Russel stood next to the passenger door, basking in the rain for a moment.

At this point 2D was practically comatose, draped over the satanist as the man tugged his limp body along. The singer couldn’t move his left leg at all and it dragged while his right leg half attempted to function. Murdoc was reminded of nineteen ninety-seven all over again and tried to keep the lanky body from slipping completely. Russel took up behind them, keeping an eye through the thick rain for any unwanted visitors. Not that he could see further than a foot. Struggling to get into the darkened shop, Murdoc awkwardly pressed the door open with his side. Once inside Russel locked the door, hoping the glass would do for the night. The musty store appeared rather undisturbed.

Murdoc sighed when 2D’s head lolled forward and the man practically drooled.

“For fuck sake, you've had pain medication before.”

“What did you give him?”

“Same thing as me.”

“You didn’t.”

“I did. What does it matter? It’s keeping him happy. Sort of.”

“Murdoc you can’t give that shit to people with head injuries.”

“He’s had it before.”

“He got off it like ten years ago.”

“What? No he hasn’t, I’ve seen his bottles.”

Russel took 2D off of Murdoc and got the poor singer seated in a semi-comfortable spot on the floor. 2D smiled faintly when Russel crouched in front of him.

“‘D how are you feeling?”

“Gooood,” the singer drew his word out, drooling unintentionally.

Russel shook his head as he carefully cleaned 2D's mouth with his sleeve, moderately grossed out.

“See, he’s fine.”

Russel scrubbed a hand over his face, feeling the stubble growing in since last he shaved. The store they were in looked like a comic book store.

“Oh shit!”

“What?” Russel looked up at Murdoc who had moved behind the counter.

“A good ol’ bottle of rum,” the satanist grinned widely as he shook the bottle, holding it up for Russel to see.

“You can’t drink that man.”

“What in the fuck not? I’ve been dying for a sip.”

“You took some hard painkillers. That shit doesn’t mix.”

Murdoc looked at the bottle.

“I’ve done worse,” the bassist got the lid off only to have the bottle yanked out of his hand, “oi!”

“I am not dealing with you drunk and sick. You’ve been doing pretty good without so far.”

The satanist gestured a vulnerable expression on his face, eyeing the bottle desperately. His mouth felt dry. Russel sneered and turned the bottle over, dumping it’s contents. Murdoc slammed his fist down on the counter separating them.

“For fuck sake! Just one drink wouldn’t have killed me.”

“Spoken like an alcoholic,” Russel grunted.

Murdoc kicked the chair near him, knocking it over, "I am an alcoholic! Damnit."

2D stayed put listening but not putting together what was going on. The satanist swore and threw a few things in a rage while Russel calmly put the empty bottle on a shelf, completely chill.

“What’s all that noise?” 2D cocked his head which nearly had him flopping over.

Murdoc suddenly snapped and tried to grab at the singer from over the counter, someone to take his anger out on. Russel pulled 2D away from the incensed bassist.

“Don’t you fucking dare take it out on 2D. This is your problem, not his.”

“Fuck you! Fuck you both,” Murdoc shoved the cash register off the counter making a horrible crash.

His shoulder tweaked, he missed it in his fit.

“Keep it down man, do you want us getting killed?”

The satanist glared heatedly at the drummer standing near the shelf with 2D slumped at his feet. Through the painkiller a flare of stabbing pain radiated from his shoulder and down his arm. Murdoc gripped his arm tightly, his breath coming in short bursts. His chest tightened and the pain increased.

“Ah fuck, fuck.”

The bassist pressed his face down to the counter top, gasping sharply.

“Are you having a heart attack?”

“No! My muscles are twitching.”

Mind racing, Murdoc tried to go over how long it had been since 2D accidentally cut his shoulder. He didn’t remember how long it took the singer to develop a fever. He couldn’t remember having a fever or feeling one. As the spasms tapered off a strong rush of nausea consumed him and he groaned, leaning to the side of the counter. Russel grimaced when the satanist vomited mostly bile.

“Is this part of the recovery period or something?”

“No,” Murdoc wiped his forehead, suddenly less enraged and more scared, “I might be sick too.”

“Like 2D?”

“Yes.”

“Great. Now I have to drag two of you around.”

“At least I can still walk,” Murdoc coughed again, dry heaving.

Russel propped the singer against a shelf, “I’m gonna set up a sleeping area. We’re gonna get out of here tomorrow the instant we can.”

———

There was a soft hum of some machinery, a generator. Murdoc wondered what it was powering, the machine sounded close to finished. The satanist stared at the ceiling, a common occurrence since this horror show started. 2D slept beside him, almost routine by now. The drugs seemed to help the singer sleep through the discomfort his leg had to be causing. Russel had helped Murdoc bandage up his shoulder and wrap his arm into a sling since the limb had ached and moving it around burned.

Russel slept opposite to them, again fast asleep. Murdoc turned his head to the left to watch 2D’s shoulder shift with his breathing. A small battery powered lamp sat in the far corner of the room giving enough light if they had to leave in the night. Using his viable arm he lifted his hand to gently nudge 2D’s shoulder.

2D took his sweet time to turn over onto his right side, facing the satanist. He looked rather sleepy.

“What’s up Muds?” 2D kept his voice down.

“Can’t sleep.”

2D yawned. Murdoc sort of smiled absently.

“What?” the singer blinked tiredly.

Passing over the question, Murdoc shifted till he was partly on his side, facing 2D. He brought his hand back up, brushing the singer’s cheek lightly.

“Make a great pair we do,” the singer rubbed his own nose when he spoke.

Murdoc nodded, "it would seem so."

“Sorry for getting you sick too,” 2D looked to the bandaged shoulder and arm.

“I’m sorry too.”

“What for?”

2D narrowed his eyes, waiting for some nasty comment. Murdoc rubbed his knuckle along the singer’s cheek again. After taking extra medication, the lack of alcohol was the least of his worries, at least for tonight. He kept thinking about that instant with the dog and how a split second longer they could have been dead. The bassist took a long moment before answering.

“For being a prick.”

Eyes softening, 2D smiled.

“It only took you hm, twenty plus years yeah?” 2D whispered teasingly.

“You deserve someone nicer,” the bassist lowered his hand.

“I think,” 2D started, “you deserve to be happy. With me.”

Murdoc half snickered, half huffed, “aren’t you a sap.”

Part of him realized he noticeably became a sucker for the singer. His earlier tantrum brought on by his habitual need for alcohol thankfully hadn't evolved past a fit. Not that it was a healthy response to lack of booze. Being sober had it’s merits. Murdoc wondered when he’d allowed himself more consideration towards 2D. The singer was observing him. Murdoc shifted himself up closer to the taller man, faces level.

Swallowing, Murdoc stared at the singer's cheek, "I'm not fit to be with you, properly."

"You just need someone there to support you," 2D hesitated when grabbing the satanist's good hand, "I struggle with words, you get what 'm trying to say?"

"This is the worst timing."

"When do we discuss it then? I've been trying for years to settle things. I miss before, I miss being okay," 2D frowned at Murdoc's chest.

"Fresh start then?" Murdoc almost withered under the heated glare 2D directed at him, "I can't undo the shit I've done 'D, it's done. I can keep saying sorry but that loses meaning after a while."

"Don't pretend it didn't happen, that's all I want. It would make things easier," the intensity of his glower simmered down.

"Fine."

Come morning, 2D assumed the man would sink back into his usual argumentative self. He was beginning to enjoy their nightly encounters however fleeting they were, some deep topics were being hashed out. 2D found each time they talked his jumble of feelings started to settle more, so long as Murdoc didn't set them back. Shifting, the singer subtly rubbed Murdoc's knuckles after interlocking their fingers. He was surprised the bassist didn't pull his hand away or comment snidely. He continued to caress the man’s knuckles with his thumb, pleased by the small but important steps they were taking.

“Whatever happens, you know I,” 2D swallowed awkwardly, “I care about you.”

“Good save,” Murdoc mumbled.

“Oh bugger off, you know what I meant.”

The satanist shifted onto his back again, still allowing 2D to hold his good hand. The singer wiggled his body closer to rest his face against Murdoc’s shoulder. The older man relaxed some after the singer stopped moving. Closing his dark eyes, 2D's breathing slowed and after a long moment it seemed yet again the singer was asleep. Murdoc knew otherwise, but went along with the facade.

It's broken,” Murdoc whispered in a hushed manner, "our love."

2D slid his eyes open, breathing soft still. He felt Murdoc press his mouth against his head, careful and with barely any pressure. Letting his eyes flutter shut his heart raced. For a moment it was like they were young and sharing in a private moment together after recording. The satanist use to sing disjointed lines of song when he thought the singer was asleep, his way of being sweet 2D supposed. The vocalist smiled stupidly to himself, he shouldn't get swept into the mess again but somehow found himself doing so.

Sure the singer heard him, Murdoc quieted down finally attempting to sleep. Listening to 2D breath he mimicked the pace and before realizing it Russel was waking them both for a new day. The satanist blinked feeling strangely refreshed at having finally getting a decent amount of sleep.

2D whined, burrowing his face into Murdoc’s shoulder, quite obviously not wanting to greet the day. Russel sat, setting some water and food down next to himself.

“Where did you get that?” Murdoc lifted his head only enough to look over at the drummer.

“Found a stash in the staff room.”

The satanist rested his head back. Russel cleared his throat.

“We need to get outta here so eat something and lets go.”

Murdoc heaved himself up, dislodging 2D who grumbled at the satanist. Russel unscrewed a bottle before passing it to the older man, then when 2D finally sat up he passed another to the singer. 2D chugged the water while Murdoc stared at the water. At the insistent prompting from Russel via a firm look, Murdoc exhaled an expletive under his breath. He tried to copy the singer and gulped the water quick, but the flavorless and warm liquid made him gag. 2D shook his head at the satanist when he went to lower the bottle.

“You have to finish that. Part of detoxing is keeping hydrated and well fed.”

“He’s right. Plus since your immune system is compromised it’s best you keep your strength up.”

Murdoc tossed the bottle behind himself after finishing it.

“There. Happy?”

Russel grabbed something, unwrapped it and shoved it at the satanist. Murdoc turned his nose up at the decidedly healthy looking nature bar.

“Don’t give me sass man, you threw up like five times and it was all bile, so eat the damn bar or I’ll hold you down and make you.”

2D didn’t need help taking what was offered, grabbing a few bars to eat. The bassist snatched the bar biting a chunk off and chewing. He found the taste wasn’t awful, but he certainly wouldn’t have picked it willingly. The drummer sat back, pleased the older man had listened. Despite how frustrating both of them could be, they were sort of a strange family. 2D was an easier person to handle in Russel's opinion.

Their situation looked up when they found the weather had cleared. Sun shone down on the unfortunate state the surrounding city was in. Murdoc stood with the singer near the entrance of the shop, hand gripping the jeans at 2D’s waist tightly. 2D brought a hand up shielding his eyes as he looked around. Not a single zombie could be seen, which was odd but completely useful given their state.

Russel motioned to a blue jeep parked along the road, driver side door ajar; a much nicer ride compared to the small beige car they had ridden there.

“Maybe you can walk me through hot-wiring a car?”

“Best you let Dents do it, you’re more capable right now.”

The drummer sort of smirked appreciatively at the round about compliment. 2D hung onto the bassist’s shoulders, hopping with his good leg as they made there way to the jeep. Murdoc let the singer go to lean against the vehicle and pushed the door open further. The satanist nodded his head to the steering console.

“Gotta get yourself down to fiddle with the wires,” Murdoc stepped back to let the singer through.

Russel stood guard a few paces away, his shotgun at the ready and the bag of ammunition hanging off his shoulders. Last night Murdoc had traded in his shotgun and brass knuckles when his arm became sore, it put a lot of strain on Russel to be the sole protector. 2D still had the gun holster on, but was missing one gun having forgotten it at the hospital.

2D struggled down onto his back, avoiding bashing his head as he tugged the cords out so Murdoc could see them. He let his long legs rest on the ground and only startled when Murdoc stood over them so he could help the singer.

“Don’t get too excited Dents,” the satanist jeered, “just making sure you don’t fuck up.”

Shaking his head 2D ignored how close the man was. Granted he had very little room to move with Murdoc basically caging him to the mats of the driver side floor.

“You’re practically on me Muds.”

Russel peered over at them before turning away. He had nothing to say. So long as their flirting didn’t stop them from getting out of here before anything happened.

“Shut up, I’m showing you the cords you need,” Murdoc sounded affronted.

“Remember after filming 19/2000?”

Russel cringed to himself remembering all too well what he witnessed. Murdoc rolled his eyes, clearly flustered, but doing well to hide it.

“As I recall you dragged me into that situation.”

“Oh christ,” Russel muttered uncomfortably.

2D watched the satanist pull two wires forward while they were talking. Murdoc had to lean his bad arm into the driver’s seat to keep propped up above the singer. He fiddled with the wires one handed. Murdoc was sure his arm was useless, not aware he had mobility of it.

“These two should do the trick.”

“How do I get them to, I dunno, work?”

“Connect them. Obviously,” Murdoc looked put upon.

The singer tugged the wires down and worked at exposing the them. Shifting, Murdoc made to move up and out of the jeep when 2D grabbed the front of his shirt. Murdoc paused and eyed the singer, one eyebrow crooked in question only partly visibly with how he was leaning. 2D gently pulled on the black shirt, urging Murdoc down towards himself. The satanist followed the motion, quite vividly aware of the look 2D was suddenly casting his way. Using his good arm he shifted himself until he could rest his elbow next to the singer's shoulder on the car mat. Murdoc had his other arm pressed to the singer's chest, 2D seemed unbothered. Two hands slid along Murdoc's face into his somewhat mussed hair.

“What's this then?” Murdoc kept his voice low.

2D moved his hands and cupped the man’s face, bringing him in for a kiss. Their teeth clicked accidentally making Murdoc wince but otherwise revel in the fact that 2D had initiated something. Pulling up for a moment the bassist stared intently at the singer.

“Well?”

"It's not broken," 2D grumbled.

Murdoc gave slight protest and struggled to get his good arm under himself. Quickly moving his arms, 2D held the bassist around the waist keeping the man there.

"I forgive you," it was half true.

Murdoc wouldn't verbally admit it, but he was elated. Maybe it was premature, but he felt justified jumping on those three words and believing 2D after years of wanting to hear them. He dove in for another kiss.

2D gasped in surprise when the bassist dipped in for another kiss, an unhurried yet heated kiss. He felt sharp teeth carefully worry at his bottom lip and more weight pressing against him as a hand cupped his jaw. Floodgates open the singer figured, he could relish the rather charged attention he was receiving. Resting a hand at the back of Murdoc's head while his other one stayed at the bassist's hip, he enjoyed the slight barrage of small kisses that followed the first one. Unconsciously he tilted his head up when said mouth traveled over his chin and further. His face flushed when Murdoc started to suck a trail down his throat. Breath hitching, 2D realized this wasn't the time or place for amorous behavior. Not to mention they were meant to be hot-wiring a car and Russel was standing a few paces away. Jolting his thoughts dissipated when a hot mouth moved and closed over his earlobe sucking.

"Oh-"

"Break it up you two!"

Caught like two teenagers, Murdoc smacked his head on the steering wheel groaning. 2D blushed horrified and pulled at the wires prodding them together in haste. Murdoc hurriedly pulled himself out from on top of the singer, unable to hide his obvious excitement. 2D, still red in the face, bent his good leg to shield himself while fiddling. Russel motioned at the satanist.

"Really?"

"What? He started it," Murdoc jabbed a finger at the singer turning himself away, face somewhat red as well.

The jeep purred as it came alive. Russel pointed to the vehicle.

"Get in. Like two horny teens."

———

Russel took up driving since Murdoc seemingly couldn't use his arm and 2D was down a leg. Granted the main road was horrible they managed on some smaller side streets and alleys. The singer and bassist remained silent for the ride, clearly embarrassed. Or in Murdoc's case napping. In his opinion it was a nice change from the usual bickering.

As the airport came into view so did hundreds of bodies, zombies littered along the ground around a huge military blockade. It explained the lack of activity in the city. Russel whistled, impressed as he slowed the jeep down to a stop. Murdoc roused, unaware he fell asleep, to look around. His head pounded, he wasn't sure if bad sleep or sobriety was causing it.

“Why’d we stop? We here already?”

2D leaned forward over the storage console between the front seats.

“Just about, looks like the military have really whipped up a safe space.”

“Finally,” Murdoc mumbled, rubbing at his head.

“You doing okay Muds?”

“I’m fine.”

Without thinking the bassist pushed 2D’s face away. The singer pouted when he fell back into his seat.

“Maybe they’ll have liquor, anything,” the satanist glared out the window.

“Nah man, you’re gonna be shit outta luck. Being sober isn’t so bad, you’re actually calming down.”

Getting the jeep rolling again, Russel spotted a few straggling zombies wandering close to the road. Unworried noticing them, Russel got the jeep down a small embankment. Murdoc gripped his seat while 2D chuckled in the back. The drummer smirked when they reached the next road which was near some open areas surrounding the large airport.

“Lets see how well this baby handles.”

“No lets not,” Murdoc protested.

Russel ignored the satanist and hit the gas, taking them off the road again and down onto some grass. 2D hooted in the back, bopping back and forth with the rough terrain. Murdoc scowled as he clung to the handle above the door. Driving towards the airport, Russel put his foot to the ground, laughing deeply. They needed a reprieve from the depressing situation.

The military blockade loomed the closer they came. It was easy to make out men and women in uniform standing guard behind large fences. The semi-automatic weapons gleamed in the afternoon sun. Russel came to a halt by a large area with multiple gates and barbed wire. Two temporary towers were erected with armed members of the US army watching them, guns trained on the jeep.

“Very warm welcome indeed,” Murdoc muttered.

“I can’t blame ‘em,” Russel responded.

A loud speaker crackled with a distinctly American voice.

“Step out of the vehicle slowly, keep your hands visible.”

Russel undid his belt. Murdoc looked at the bigger man.

“Y’serious? Just like that? This looks wonky mate.”

“Would you rather we keep wandering on with how you two are fairing? They probably have red-cross or something.”

Giving Murdoc no chance to refute the drummer, Russel climbed out of the car, hands visible.

“Ey’ I have two guys with me in the car, one of ‘em can’t really walk so I’m just gonna give him a hand out yeah?”

There was a pause before the voice spoke again.

“Have any of you been bitten or scratched?”

“Nah man, my friends got injured when we were escaping through the city.”

When no further prompting came, Russel cautiously moved to the back door, opening the door and motioning towards 2D. The singer took a shaky breath before climbing out, using Russel for support. Murdoc stayed seated in the passenger seat, he felt off about this whole set up.

“C’mon Murdoc, get outta the car. These guys are pretty serious ‘bout doing things a certain way. Just appease ‘em.”

“Fine, but I better not get shot at by any trigger happy twits.”

“Just get out man.”

Russel helped 2D walk closer to the gate. Murdoc begrudgingly slipped out of the car, obeying and leaving his good arm visible as he joined the other two.

One of the men near the gate gave a hand gesture and the gates were slowly opened for them. One armed person made past them to slip into the jeep. Before they could enter fully they were patted down then ushered to a small station just inside the first set of gates with medical supplies and three military field medics. There jeep drove behind them into the military compound around the airport.

“Before we can let you in we need to test you three for the virus.”

Russel looked nervously at Murdoc. The bassist cast a glance to the singer’s left leg.

“It’s a simple blood test. Barely hurts, once cleared you can get some medical attention for your injuries and some food. Bet you guys are hungry.”

“I’ll go first,” Russel passed 2D off to Murdoc, stepping forward.

The field medic gently pricked Russel’s index finger, smearing the blood onto a flat rectangle paper stick. She proceeded to dip the stick like item into a container with clear fluid, shaking it. Moments later the liquid turned pink and she smiled at Russel.

“You’re clean. Next.”

Murdoc felt his heart pounding in his chest like a trapped animal. Something told him, whether it was the black veins he remembered or the puking excessively, him and 2D weren’t in a good state.

“Bugger, I guess we need to get this over with.”

Murdoc tugged the singer closer with himself. 2D stood on his good leg when Murdoc removed his arm to hold out to the medic. The same lady gave his finger a jab and did the process a second time. 2D, Murdoc and Russel watched with bated breath. The liquid turned pink.

“What the hell? I mean of course,” Murdoc coughed, “I figured I was fine.”

Russel looked at the bassist baffled. Murdoc shrugged, relieved for himself. 2D held his hand out last, dreading the results. The singer winced at the poke to his finger tip and pulled his hand back once she got a dab of it on her tester stick. Time seemed to slow down when the liquid turned black in the tube. 2D tensed when guns were suddenly pointed at him.

“He’s infected.”

“No he isn't, he’s been fine,” Murdoc argued.

“The test doesn’t lie.”

“Well it must have! Stuart hasn’t tried gnawing on either of us,” the bassist threw his arm up growing distressed.

“How far along are you sir?”

“Well it’s been-” 2D started only to have Murdoc cut him off sharply.

“Only a couple of hours! He gashed his leg on something dirty. There isn’t a bite or scratch on him anywhere!”

The singer smiled despite the current position they were in.

“Well that we can deal with,” the woman spoke calmly, “if it was a couple days along there wouldn’t be much we could do.”

Despite her tone the guns were still trained on them. Unknowingly this situation painted a target on 2D for extra monitoring.

“What’d you mean? How long does it take?”

“Usually a week, maybe a day or two longer. People succumb to a fever in the first stages, increased aggression in the following days then complete and utter lose of verbal and motor functions. This is usually where the person dies and comes back a shell of the former person.”

2D dug his hand into Murdoc’s upper arm, clenching tight. He had been sick for four days, maybe longer. The satanist refused to think about how far along 2D was.

“Given that your friend was freshly infected we can treat him,” she motioned to the guards, “the tall gentleman here needs to be treated right away, get him set up on an intravenous for the medication. Your friend will be okay.”

The woman gave them a curt nod and smile. 2D moved along with Murdoc’s support, suddenly a loud buzz filled his ears.

“Muds,” 2D whispered brokenly, “Muds I’m dying.”

“No you’re not. You’re gonna be fine Stuart. Just let them fix you up. Everything will be fine.”

But everything wasn’t going to be okay 2D thought, he couldn’t even pretend everything would be okay. He felt faint and barely remembered being moved into the airport to a sanctioned section for sick and injured. Russel stayed behind since he wasn’t harboring any problems other than hunger. The bassist went along with the military attendant, 2D limply hanging off him. They traveled further into the make-shift medical area.

“TOOCHI! MURDOC!”

The singer and bassist glanced around for the abrupt voice of none other than guitarist Noodle. The young woman threw her arms up smiling widely as she nearly barrelled the men over, hugging both of them in her arms. She was wearing a red-cross uniform over the clothing she’d been wearing the night they were separated.

Murdoc and 2D slipped an arm around her respectively, hugging back.

“Oh! I am so glad to see you two! I thought the worst!” Noodle started to cry, overwhelmed with happiness.

“Oh Poppet, don’t cry, we’re alright. A little worse for wear mind you, but still in one piece,” Murdoc soothed.

“It’s good to see you too Noodle, we’ve been looking all over for you,” 2D mumbled gently.

The military person sort of hovered before Noodle leaned out, waving the man off. The man nodded and left the three to their catching up.

“Wait, where is Russel?”

“Ah he’s out there. Perfectly fine, lucky bastard.”

“I still cannot believe you guys are here! I am thrilled neither of you are dead!”

“I’m basically dead,” 2D said.

“Shut up Dents.”

“What are you talking about? You must be okay, I mean other than an injury since you are limping.”

2D rubbed his face, avoiding Noodle’s searching eyes. Murdoc sucked his upper lip, running his teeth over it. Noodle looked between them.

“2D’s been infected,” Murdoc answered.

“Well obviously not for long, they would not let you guys in otherwise,” Noodle looked at Murdoc noticing the way the older man winced, “oh, Murdoc no… it can't be that bad.”

“Four days, maybe longer,” Murdoc elaborated.

“Four days.”

Both men nodded, 2D wiped at his eyes again. Noodle stepped back motioning towards the doors marked with a red X at the back of the medical area.

“They deal with infected people through there, I can set you up with some medication. It's not too late. I have witnessed them bring sicker people in," she glanced about when she spoke, hoping nobody heard her.

“Thanks Noodle.”

Directing them through the rushing doctors and volunteers like her, Noodle showed them the place with all the infected persons. There were only a small amount, less than 2D and Murdoc had expected to see. Pulling the curtain aside for an empty private bed, Noodle nodded to it. Murdoc situated the singer on the bed, helping him slip his legs up onto the lumpy mattress. Closing the curtain Noodle sat on a small stool beside the bed.

“Let me have a look and see how bad it is.”

2D rolled the cuff of the jeans up on his injured leg. Murdoc chewed on his thumb nail when it was revealed the blackened veins had traveled out further than the bandage. Murdoc paced beside the bed suddenly anxious. Noodle covered her mouth quieting herself, it was hard seeing 2D like this.

“It’s pretty nasty,” 2D peeled the bandage back not even flinching when some of his skin came off with it.

The gash was blackened with skin rotting off around it. Murdoc swallowed, trying not to get sick at the sight. He hadn't even thought to ask about it today, completely forgot. Noodle choked, looking away. The singer closed his eyes tightly.

“I can’t even feel it anymore,” 2D’s voice shook, “I haven’t been able to feel it for a while.”

“Okay,” Noodle swallowed loudly, “okay I can work with this. Just-uh, stay here and do not let anyone see how far along it is.”

The guitarist stood and disappeared, curtains flailing with the motion. 2D sniffed, his eyes filled with tears. This time he didn’t care that Murdoc could see him. The bassist stood to 2D’s side at the bed, sitting at the edge. Using his good arm he wrapped it around 2D’s head, pulling it into his shoulder and chest. The singer started to sob, hiding his face in Murdoc’s black shirt. His fingers bunched up in the material.

Murdoc carded his fingers through the greasy blue locks, pressing his cheek to the somewhat matted hair. 2D struggled to breath through his muffled crying.

“Shits going to work out,” he turned his face slightly, kissing 2D’s head.

The singer didn’t say anything and he barely looked up when Noodle returned. The bassist didn’t move away, letting 2D use his shoulder. Noodle wasted no time asking questions, setting the iv bag of clear medication on a metal rack. She prepped a needle and coaxed a hand from the singer to insert it.

“I will clean the site and give it a direct injection, a cocktail of medications to help. My hope is it will stunt the infection and return feeling in his leg.”

“When did you become so insightful about this?”

“Since I have been here from day one,” Noodle busied herself bringing a kit up onto the bed, opening it to show a small bottle and needle along with other supplies.

A doctor suddenly poked his head in, startling the three of them. Noodle stepped in front of 2D’s leg, blocking the view.

“Dr. Nelson, what can I do for you?”

“I’m short a nurse, are you busy?”

“I am finishing up with a patient, give me a few minutes,” she smiled charmingly.

“Alright, just be in room A3, hurry along when you’re finished here.”

The man left just as quick as he appeared. Noodle relaxed and went back getting gloves on. Murdoc kept an arm around the singer, watching Noodle get some sterilizing wipes.

“I am uncertain if you will feel this Toochi, but if you do I apologize.”

Placing a gloved hand on his thin ankle Noodle looked at Murdoc, “can you hold his thigh, in case?”

The satanist removed his arm from the devastated singer, scooting down the bed to press his hand down on 2D’s thigh. Noodle held the wipe, stalling. Running her tongue over her lips she bobbed her head, having a small internal debate. Noodle began dabbing and wiping the area, heedful of the deadened flesh she cleaned up dry blood. When it was apparent 2D felt nothing, Murdoc removed his hand.

“How did this happen?”

“He got cut on something in the subway.”

“Was there blood on the thing?”

“We were in some pretty stagnant water. Dead bodies floating around and everything.”

Noodle finished cleaning the location, the wipe coming away saturated in black and brown. She grabbed the needle, drawing the full amount of the small container. Murdoc observed quietly.

“What about you? How did you injury your arm?”

“This? Dents cut my shoulder.”

“You are not infected?”

“Apparently not.”

Noodle stuck the needle into the worst spot of the gash, Murdoc recoiled at the image. 2D again barely noticed.

“Take the bandages off, let me have a look at it.”

Too worn to quarrel over the cuts, Murdoc undid the sling. He noticed he had more motor control in his arm than the previous day. Noodle wrapped the singer’s leg with skill, closing her kit up when finished.

Murdoc removed his bandages, letting the guitarist have a look.

“These look pretty good. No veins or infection.”

“I had the same symptoms as 2D.”

“The vomiting and fever?”

“Just the vomiting, I even had a spasm in my arm.”

Noodle grasped the older man’s arm, moving it around. Murdoc hissed.

“Honestly you probably just sprained it,” Noodle inclined her head close to the bassist’s mouth sniffing, “plus you are sober. The vomiting was just a side effect of that. Stopping cold turkey.”

“My cuts burned, similar to how 2D described it,” Murdoc insisted.

“Murdoc there is no infection. You obviously strained your arm and the burning probably felt like the cuts. Did you throw a tantrum?”

The older man looked contrite at the question. He left it unanswered and Noodle raised a brow knowingly.

“Yeah, you’re fine. It is only a sprain and detoxing,” she looked at the singer, “stay with him, he will need a friend right now.”

“I’m not going anywhere.”

Noodle patted the singer’s good foot, squeezing affectionately.

“I will see you later Toochi, try and sleep.”

2D laid on the bed, eyes red from crying. He nodded silent. The guitarist wanted to stay, but knew she couldn’t do anything more other than get upset. Ducking out, Noodle kept their curtains closed.

Flexing his fingers on his bad arm, Murdoc marveled at how lucky he was. It was unfair. Their roles should be reversed. Clenching his fist he ground his teeth ruthlessly. Things were looking up for them and now this was happening. Loosening his fist he lowered his face into his palms. He’d be a bigger inconsolable mess if the singer died.

“It’s ok Muds.”

“It’s not okay.”

2D looked at his lap.

“When it comes to that-” he meant when he turned.

“Don’t you fucking dare ask me that. You’re not going anywhere Stuart.”

“I want it to be you.”

“It won’t come to that. You’re gonna be fine.”

2D wiggled his thumbs. Murdoc stared at the floor, examining the tiles. 2D's voice was small when he spoke up again.

“I love you.”

“Fuck, don’t say that,” the satanist stood, “don’t say that like it’s the last time.”

“Well what do you want me saying then? I'm not sure how else this can work Muds. It's a shit situation and we both know I’m not gonna walk it off.”

2D didn’t look up.

“You’re just gonna have to face the fact that in a couple of days I’m not gonna be Stuart anymore.”

In a fit of rage Murdoc kicked the stool over causing a clatter. He jabbed a finger at the singer, seething.

“Shut your fucking mouth, just shut up!”

“I’m going to die,” 2D said flatly, looking at the other man finally.

“You’re not!”

“I am.”

Murdoc looked helplessly at the singer. Fury turned into realization, an understanding. 2D was going to die and he couldn’t help him. The satanist felt a panic attack swell in his chest. He hadn’t had one of those for eons. 2D reached for him giving him an apologetic expression. Murdoc smacked the singer’s hands away eyes wide as he fled the private section. He threw the curtains aside and ran. A volunteer yelped at being unceremoniously pushed aside by Murdoc.

2D settled his hands back in his lap, “figures,” he muttered bitterly to himself.

The room droned with activity while 2D sat alone, silent and waiting.

Chapter Text

Murdoc bummed a couple smokes off a random person, slipping outside to light up. He inhaled deeply, exhaling slow, calming his nerves some while he watched military personnel rove around. In his mind he played over different scenarios where the story ended happily.

Tapping the cigarette to rid it of excess ash, Murdoc felt his mind slipping into darker thoughts. 2D might change, but he could always keep the singer, just find a gag for him. Shaking his head, Murdoc frowned at the ground. That wasn’t anyway to live. His body still quaked off and on from his sobriety, he forced himself to still. Maybe he could escape into the city with the singer, disappear and leave it at that. Live the last few days with the man in a fuzzy lie. The bassist heard a couple young adults whisper about him, recognizing him. Shoving away from the wall he quickly walked away, puffing on the smoke.

A miserable part of him wanted to get a hold of a gun again, find peace in some poetic Romeo and Juliet ending. He flicked the butt of the smoke away, shuffling along, tucking his hands into the pockets of his jeans. Running off while the singer was in a delicate state of mind probably hadn’t been appropriate. Murdoc stopped, rubbing his eyes firmly with his index finger and thumb. Pivoting he strode back towards the entrance of the airport. Right now he needed to save face. Pushing the door open Murdoc avoided someone stepping out and headed towards the medical section. He hoped the guitarist didn’t notice his absence for over a couple hours. Wandering through the medical room to the back area where the singer was situated, Murdoc hesitated outside the curtain. Taking a deep breath and slowly letting it go he pushed the sheet aside relieved to see 2D sleeping on the medical bed under a blanket. He situated himself on the edge of the bed beside 2D.

“You feeling ok now?”

The satanist jerked when the singer cracked an eye open.

“I thought you were sleeping.”

“It’s hard to sleep.”

Murdoc wasn’t surprised.

“I’m sorry for upsetting you earlier.”

“Forget it.”

2D shifted himself bodily, patting the bed. Murdoc acquiesced the offer, laying on his side with the singer. 2D grabbed the inverted cross, fiddling with it.

“Think I could make a deal for a cure?”

The singer was trying to be playful, but it didn’t reach his eyes.

“Doesn't work like that.”

2D pouted when Murdoc didn't play along. He lowered his hand to Murdoc's chest.

“I figured I'd do this till I was well into my fifties, the singing and performances. Maybe even longer.”

Murdoc watched the singer’s long fingers trace over the material of his shirt.

“Not saying being in your fifties is old or anything,” 2D looked at the bassist.

“Watch it.”

“You hardly look much older than when we first met to be honest, maybe a little thinner.”

“I can’t tell if you’re complimenting or taking the piss.”

“Bit of both I suppose,” 2D snickered.

“Prat.”

2D smiled, eyes moving over Murdoc's features while his hand rested over where the other man's heart was. Murdoc maintained eye contact, quiet.

“I’m going to miss this, our little chats. I was getting use to them. It’s like the world melts away.”

Taking a somewhat shaky breath, Murdoc brought a hand up to cover 2D’s, squeezing softly.

“You won’t be alone.”

“Better not be, that’d be a shit way to end this.”

2D watched their hands. The bassist felt the bony knuckles on 2D’s hand, admiring the thin fingers.

“I’d never admit to it often but I always admired your hands.”

“My hands?”

“Yeah, big and slender. Almost delicate. My hands always look like shit compared to yours. S’why you’re the singer and not me, you’re prettier.”

“Oh,” 2D trailed off, cheeks coloring at the direct admiration.

The bassist rubbed 2D's hand softly, almost playing with the long fingers. It was distracting enough that his mind didn't focus entirely on how sickly he felt without alcohol. The singer pressed his forehead to Murdoc's, content.

“Everything 'bout you is pretty.”

2D felt his heart clench, "you're pretty er-handsome I mean, sorry."

Murdoc snorted, he left unsaid how little he believed that. 2D kissed his forehead, his voice muted.

“I like your voice too.”

Murdoc shifted, miserably aware this was only occurring due to lack of time. He had wasted twenty years not saying anything. He wasn't sure where to begin or if they would have a chance. The satanist slipped his arm under the pillow 2D was resting on, giving the singer space to curl up close. They drifted into silence, relaxing against one another until 2D fell asleep. Murdoc stayed with the singer, not sure when he closed his eyes as well. It was a dreamless.

———

“It’s bad then?”

“Yeah,” Noodle sipped some coffee, sitting next to the drummer. She wanted to say more on the subject of things happening within the facility.

“What are his chances?”

“Honestly I cannot not say. Normally people that infected are not allowed beyond the gates, at most they get shot on sight.”

Noodle was lying through her teeth with such intensity she hoped the drummer noticed. She could trust Russel, but she couldn’t trust the military members standing in and around them. Russel cupped the Styrofoam betwixt his hands, staring deeply into the dark beverage missing the stare the guitarist gave him. They were sat in the seats by a cafe. Noodle bobbed her leg anxiously, trying to catch Russel's eye.

“I pumped him full of an antibiotic cocktail we were instructed to use in treating the infected, so my hope is it takes and he can walk away with a gross scar. Maybe. The area of injury is in need of some work.”

In the back of her mind, Noodle thought of the prototype antiviral serums tucked away in special glass fridges. There was a room in the back hallways of the airport being dedicated to medical use and one in particular held vials of said serum. Three types, each for the varying stages of the infection or so she was told. The doctors and soldiers had made all first aid attendants, or red cross volunteers, swear to secrecy. More than just 'saving lives' occurred behind closed doors, something Noodle direly wanted to convey through silent yet double ended comments, but Russel seemed too tired to catch the cues.

“I’m guessing Muds is sitting with him?”

“Yeah. When did that happen?”

“The whole damn time that’s when. I have never seen two grown men dance around each other or flirt as much as they’ve done. Seriously wanted to shoot ‘em both.”

Noodle smiled, trying not to laugh, for a moment distracted. She rested a hand on Russel’s wrist.

“You are too good a person for that, besides, sober Murdoc is sort of nicer.”

“Yeah, he’s doing okay. Flips out every so often, but way more tolerable.”

They lapsed into comfortable companionship. Noodle took another sip of her drink, sighing as she scratched at her hair. She would need to find a private moment to explain details to the three of them. The loose patterned bandana holding the dark mess back made her grungy hair itchy. Russel chuckled and stroked his chin.

“I feel you baby girl, I haven’t shaved in a day or so and it’s showing.”

“We do have showers and supplies if you want to clean up, I’m probably going to do that later, my hair is raunchy.”

“That rats nest on your head is hair?” Russel grinned.

Noodle shoved his arm playfully. The both of them laughed. Noodle tapered off, she felt relieved and equally depressed, she was happy they were safe. 2D's condition could be fixed if she got her hands on some antiviral serum. Russel watched her, eyebrows pinching,

“Whatever happens Noodle, know you did everything in your power. ‘D isn’t gonna blame you. Hell even Murdoc won’t.”

“I should have tried looking for you guys.”

“Don’t beat yourself up. We’re all adults and we take what we get like one.”

Noodle nodded. She felt a resolve formulate in her. If she managed to get a few vials she could administer them to 2D before the night watch.

“I have to go do some last minute medications, I will see you after, right?”

“You bet. Go on, I’m gonna be right here.”

She stood and took her coffee with her, dumping the half full cup into a bin. Eyeing the soldier posted near the cafe, Noodle ducked her head as she wandered by, heading off towards the makeshift medical rooms. She bypassed the normal triage area and then the infection zone. Slipping through the doors at the end of the room she looked both ways before heading straight to the room they used for storing medications. Glancing nervously around, Noodle entered, leaning back on the door listening for any people in the hall. It still surprised her how little security was posted in important sections, maybe they were spread thin. Satisfied she hadn’t been discovered she moved to a glass fridge with large block letters written on it for the antivirus. The three generators hummed rather softly, powering the three fridges. Noodle opened the first one holding small containers of strictly blue liquid. Running a hand over a vial she tugged a couple out of the small rack holding them. Sparing no time to read the labels she closed the glass door gently and moved to the next one holding green vials.

Pocketing the vials Noodle looked around for a couple clean needles to use. Once satisfied she paused at the door. If anyone could make this right it would be her.

———

The atmosphere was warm, welcoming and whether it was a couple drinks in Noodle didn’t care, they were a band again. The restaurant was bustling, waitresses and waiters weaving between patrons, trays of drink and food wavering in their grasp. Russel was grinning across the table, clearly invested in whatever insane story Murdoc was explaining. 2D snorted at one point and motioned.

“That’s not all that impressive,” 2D spoke louder to be heard over the activity around them.

“Oh no? Please share your most metal experience then. It ought to be good,” the bassist challenged, not at all upset sounding.

2D had leaned forward in his seat, pausing for dramatic effect.

“Well y’see I was once working in this instrument store and outta nowhere I had a car hit me in the face. I ended up living. Pretty insane that.”

Russel laughed and Murdoc rolled his eyes.

“Oh satan.”

“He totally has you beat Murdoc, walking away from two accidents involving you merits a little bit of respect.”

“Hardly!”

2D bit his lip to try and keep from smiling. Russel wiped fake tears from his eyes grabbing his drink. He held his glass up.

“Lets make a toast yeah? A toast to being a band again without weird crap going on.”

“I can drink to that,” Murdoc grabbed up his cup as well.

“Here here,” Noodle laughed clinking her cup with the other three.

There was a crash behind them as someone screamed. The four of them looked over confused. People were suddenly halted, frozen at the sight of someone biting into a woman’s neck. Blood gushed and time resumed.

“What the fuck?” Noodle gasped in horror.

Glass shattered as people slammed themselves through windows, groaning and groping at the customers. Some tried to fend off the crazed looking monsters while others scattered. Not sure what to do Noodle yelled over the sudden chaos.

“We need to leave!”

It didn’t take long for them to get mixed into the crowds of people exiting the restaurant and the people in the streets. Cars crashed, people fled and Noodle felt herself being pushed away from her band-mates. Terror filled her veins when she couldn’t spot blue hair. Someone grabbed her wrist, dragging her away from the restaurant, she tried to fight them off, but they gripped tighter. Everything passed in a huge blur. She focused on her labored breathing while running, anywhere, she didn’t know where.

For the first twenty-four hours after outbreak Noodle wandered hopelessly lost, sore and missing her shoes. At some point she had removed them to sooth her feet only to be nearly assaulted by some person who wasn’t really a person anymore. Depending on her innate super soldier capabilities, she survived and come morning was scooped up with a military caravan. Other survivors huddled on the vehicle with her. She didn’t see the other three and only hoped they also had been picked up.

———

Coming back to herself, Noodle focused on the clean needles in her hands. While haven’t not been completely honest with 2D and Murdoc, as she was sworn to secrecy. Prototype antiviral vaccines were readily available. In her pocket she had two such vaccines, both with varying degrees of potency. Her knowledge wasn’t a hundred percent accurate, but she was pretty sure given 2D’s state that either would work well.

Noodle then proceeded to the door, she peeked out the small windows trying to be sure it was safe. Not hearing or making out another person she carefully pushed the door open and exited quickly. Her heart raced as she made her way down the hall.

“Natalie?”

Noodle halted, gripping the needles in her hand as she turned, hiding them behind herself.

“Dr. Nelson, hey, something I can help you with?”

“Wanted to thank you for the extra help earlier.”

“Oh that, no problem,” Noodle smiled, unnerved by the man’s presence.

“What’re you doing up so late?”

“Wandering, trying to clear my head, it’s quieter back here. Sorry if I disturbed you.”

“Not at all,” Dr. Nelson stepped up beside Noodle, “we could walk together.”

“Sure, I am actually on my way out to meet a friend,” she pressed the needles to her side inconspicuously.

He walked with her, quiet a moment. Noodle felt her palms sweat around the needles.

“I was unaware you had friends that had made it,” the doctor cleared his throat, “sorry that was inconsiderate.”

“He showed up today, fantastic surprise for me really.”

“That is fantastic. Those two men you were with earlier, the odd looking pair,” he paused in his step, Noodle stopped with him, “they looked weird, wouldn’t you say?”

Noodle felt sweat beading on her forehead. Somehow it seemed like Dr. Nelson was probing for answers or that could be her paranoia playing up.

“Yeah, especially that guy’s hair, what a trippy color right?”

The doctor laughed as he resumed walking with her, “that it was. If you’re not busy after your friend, maybe we could have a bite to eat?”

Noodle silently gagged.

“Maybe tomorrow night? I really want to spend time with my friend, I have not seen him since this all happened.”

“No you’re right, of course. You two catch up, I’ll see you tomorrow Natalie.”

Dr. Nelson smiled giving her a wave as he parted ways with her at the entry to the infection room. Noodle hesitated as she gave the man a small uncomfortable smile, waiting for him to leave. Once sure he was gone she rushed to 2D’s private section, pushing away and back into place the curtain causing the rings to rattle, startling both occupants from their slumber.

“Sweet satan Noodle would it kill you to be quiet?”

“I don’t have much time,” Noodle dug out the two vials and set the needles down.

“What’s this?” 2D rubbed his eye ridding it of sleep.

“I withheld telling you two the whole truth. This place is operating under military jurisdiction and that means the government is gone.”

“That was obvious,” Murdoc muttered.

“Well it also means that their science and medical division can perform as they see fit to get results for the military. Basically it is a bit of a lie.”

Murdoc sat up, removing his arm from under 2D. The singer huffed.

“So some shifty shit is going down?”

“I saw the infected people they bring in, some are further gone than 2D, they cut them up and do stuff to them with medications. It’s horrible.”

2D paled. Murdoc coughed looking at the vials, troubled by the information.

“Why would you lie to us Noodle? We’re your friends.”

“I know, I’m sorry Toochi, I did not want too, but it is hard to get out from under their watch here. I could not say anything that may have compromised you or me.”

The entire infection room was dimly lit and most patients were sleeping fitfully. Noodle had tried to keep her voice low, thankful the two had mimicked her. Noodle took a needle and drew from the blue vial, then copied the action with the green vial on the separate needle. Someone coughed in their sleep making the three of them tense for a moment. Motioning to 2D's leg, Noodle nodded to Murdoc.

“Get the bandage off, I have to give him two injections.”

“You already gave him one, what’s this stuff suppose to do?”

“Don’t argue Murdoc, just help me.”

“What is it lately being bossed around? Getting sick of it.”

The guitarist shot him a look. Murdoc slipped from the bed and tugged the blanket down, he undid the bandage, carefully pulling the dressing back trying hard not to tear anymore flesh off. Noodle barely waited for it to be completely revealed before injecting the first needle. The satanist felt his stomach lurch at the sight, he had issues watching a needle enter a wound. Noodle grabbed the second needle.

“I think that test went well Gerald,” a female voice said.

“It could have gone better. The patient, well you know what, there’s always more.”

The two unknown persons spoke softly so not to disturb the sleeping patients as they walked by. Noodle hadn’t heard them enter. She and Murdoc stood still. 2D winced when he could feel a cool sensation wash over his leg from the first shot.

“It 'urts,” the singer began.

Murdoc shoved a hand over his mouth, eyes wide as he peered at noodle. The two voices couldn’t be heard. Noodle pressed her hand down on 2D’s leg and put the second needle in. This time 2D jerked and Noodle lost hold on the needle, alarmed. It clattered to the floor, deafening in the otherwise quiet room.

“What’s going on in here?” The female voice approached the section.

Murdoc scrambled for the needle, while Noodle pulled the blankets up on 2D. She quickly hid the vials under the folds of the fabric. The woman parted the curtain to look at them.

“Natalie?”

“Dr. Webber, hi!”

Murdoc made a face at the name, but otherwise kept silent.

“What on Earth are you doing bothering these men so late?”

Noodle ran over possible things she could say. Murdoc coughed and stepped forward smiling at the doctor, a smooth smile.

“Last minute visit love, to make sure my friend here gets a good nights sleep. Not a problem is it?”

“Well no, but it’s lights out and Natalie shouldn’t be doing anymore checks, we have night staff for that.”

“I caught her on the way out, don’t be too mad at the girl. I’m trying to be a good friend. I just worry about him, I’m making sure to get extra care for his needs.”

Murdoc intentionally spoke with a flirtatious tone, double meaning hanging in his words. The doctor felt a smile tug at her face, clearly interested. Murdoc kept his voice soft and heavy with intent.

“I won’t keep her long, I promise. Unless you’d rather give us a hand?”

Murdoc added a wink on the end and the doctor flushed softly. She shook her head laughing, flustered.

“Oh no, no it’s not a problem. Be quick Natalie,” she gave Murdoc a warm smile tucking some hair behind her ear, “maybe I’ll see you around?”

“Definitely.”

The woman stepped away, still rather warm in the face. Murdoc dropped his smile and sneered. He held the needle out to Noodle.

“That was gross to witness,” Noodle commented.

“I second that,” 2D grumbled, his legs squirming in discomfort.

“Natalie?” Murdoc poked back.

“Do you honestly think they would believe me if I said my name was Noodle? I picked a relatively normal name.”

“It sounds positively awful,” Murdoc quipped.

“Natalie Niccals.”

Murdoc started to grin, “eh, I could get use to that. It’s flattering really.”

“So easily pleased.”

Murdoc grunted and pulled the blanket back down, holding 2D’s knee and ankle.

“Niccals is a good strong family name, don’t back talk your father,” Murdoc’s voice dripped with sarcasm.

Noodle administered the shot and disposed of all the evidence in a small trash receptacle. Murdoc let up on the singer’s leg.

“Oh sorry Dad,” Noodle scoffed.

2D squinted at them, “you could have just made up a name, why Niccals?”

“Had a nice ring to it,” Noodle shrugged.

Hearing the singer talk again made Murdoc come back to their earlier discussion. His temper flared before he could stop it and he gave the singer a powerful, furious glare. 2D withered under the look. All teasing disappeared from his voice

“Pissed me off saying you were going to die now you’re gonna fucking live. Don’t ever say that shit to me again or I swear I’ll kill you myself.”

2D whinged when his leg gave a spasm. Noodle smiled haplessly.

“I need to go. Keep an eye on him and check his injury every few hours. There is a fridge at the end of the room with drinks.”

Not waiting to hear their responses, Noodle rushed out. Murdoc groused to himself as he redid the bandages, covering the singer. He picked up the stool, sitting on it, keeping his distance. 2D looked at him. Murdoc looked away crossing his arms, frustrated with himself.

“I’m sorry,” 2D whispered through his spasms.

“Fucking idiot.”

2D reached a hand out, barely brushing the bassist on the arm. Murdoc batted the singer away, his frown deepening. He was embarrassed at oversharing, he knew there was no reason for it. When the vocalist forced himself up to properly grab at his arm, Murdoc felt a small spike of anxiety.

"What are you doing?"

"Please don't close off, I'm sorry. Come back on the bed," 2D pleaded softly.

Stubbornly the bassist stayed seated, he leaned from 2D's hand. The singer sat back heavily.

“Shut up. The less you speak the better.”

“I'm sorry for saying what I did.”

Murdoc belittled himself for putting them five steps back. 2D retracted his arm, holding it close to himself. The bassist kept silent.

“I’m really sorry Murdoc, I am. I was so sure.”

“Shut it.” his voice was callous.

The singer withdrew himself physically at the tone of voice. He curled up on the bed missing the comforting warmth having Murdoc close gave him. The satanist stayed on the stool, stewing to himself being emotionally distant. 2D faced away from the other man, tucking his legs up under the blanket, his injured leg was freezing to the touch.

"You're being unreasonable," the singer muttered.

Murdoc peered at the back facing him, "go to sleep 2D."

Closing his eyes, 2D endeavored to sleep, his chest tight. It was going to be a long night.

Chapter Text

It took a whole twenty-four hours before Murdoc broke the ice forming between them. The first night was brutal and 2D struggled to sleep with the bassist just sitting there, sometimes coming and going. The man had brought food and water and kept him company in silence. Russel visited and Noodle also came by in the morning to administer more of the vaccine to him. She told the two of them she wasn’t sure how long it would take. She added as side note that she was thankful there weren’t cameras cause she would have been caught by now.

The second night was harder because the satanist still refused to talk to the singer. He ended up finding a magazine, reading it. 2D did offer him a few conversations starters, but he didn’t bite.

Hours of silent treatment and the occasional shifting, to check his injured leg, was all that passed between them. 2D couldn’t even sleep with how tense he felt. When he had softly asked if Murdoc wanted to share the bed again commenting on how sore his back might be the satanist had given him the dirtiest look. That was two hours ago. If the situation wasn’t as intense between them, 2D would be impressed by Murdoc’s resolve to ignore him.

On the other hand he was pleased to feel an inkling of sensation in his injured leg. Whatever Noodle had given him worked far better than the iv he finished yesterday. He turned his head at the noise of a lighter flicking. Murdoc was lighting a smoke, uncaring that they were in a shared room.

“I turned into my father,” Murdoc’s voice was a low rumble, finally breaking his silent treatment.

2D peered at him questioningly, not sure what the man meant. When the satanist didn’t continue the singer shifted so he was propped up better.

“I could have tried harder, been a better man,” Murdoc tapped the cigarette.

“I like you the way you are,” 2D kept his voice demure.

“Yeah? Liked all the name calling and beatings?”

“Well no.”

“Didn't think so.”

“You’re trying, right? That’s important.”

Murdoc held the lit smoke out, an olive branch that 2D wasted no time taking, grateful. Running a hand through his mussed and decidedly disgusting hair, Murdoc cringed.

“I need a cleaning. Finish up and we’ll go find a shower.”

“Together?”

“No Dents, separate. Of course together. What’d you think I meant?”

2D shrugged and took long drags on the smoke before stubbing it out on the side of the bed. Murdoc stood and cracked his back. He removed the blanket and lifted 2D’s legs off the bed. Murdoc took the singer’s hands tugging the man closer to the edge of the bed.

“Try standing on your own.”

“Are you still mad at me?”

“No, I'm mad at myself. C'mon up you get.”

2D struggled to his feet, wobbling. He gripped the bassist’s hands tight, glad to have some support. Murdoc deliberately took a step back, still holding the keyboardist’s hands. The younger man took the step forward, cautiously, giving Murdoc a wary look. The satanist gave little expression, again moving back and urging 2D forward.

Walking on his own felt strangely exhilarating. His leg still felt off, but he could feel his foot. The muscles seemed to work with him when he kept taking a move forward. Whatever drugs the guitarist gave him worked amazingly well.

“S’good, you’ve got mobility in your leg again.”

The calm tone was almost too sweet, like a lull before the storm. The singer searched the satanist’s face for clues, suddenly anxious about what could follow.

“Relax Stuart,” Murdoc gave each hand a squeeze, “I’m not planning anything.”

Years of preparing for an attack made the taller man question the validity of Murdoc’s statement. Murdoc came to his side wrapping his arm around his waist and taking one of 2D’s arms. It was awkward with Murdoc's height difference, not too different from the first few times.

“Shit sleep schedule we have,” 2D quipped while hopping with help.

Murdoc agreed but didn’t voice it. Him and the singer took a walk through the airport, avoiding confrontation from personnel. They ended up having to ask for directions and were given firm instructions where to go to clean up. Once the armed man was out of ear shot 2D snorted.

“No fun for him I suppose,” Murdoc commented.

They moved along haltingly, stopping once reaching their destination. 2D wrinkled his nose when he saw that it was sort of dank and yet too bright.

“What’s wrong?”

“Looks like the kinda place a murder would happen.”

“It’s nearly three in the morning, nobody is gonna be bothering us.”

Murdoc plunked 2D onto a bench inside a shower stall.

“Gonna grab us a pair of towels,” he slipped out, closing the curtain.

2D nudged a shoe off then grunted reaching down to remove his other shoe. Socks came next causing the singer to blanch at his horrendous smelling feet. Waving his hand he sat back up undoing the jeans. After the night in the hotel they hadn’t found another functioning shower, reduced to using wash clothes and sink water if lucky. Straining, 2D lifted his hips with his good foot pressing into the ground. Working the jeans down his waist the singer plopped back and sighed. Perched on the bench in nothing but his y-fronts he wondered where the satanist had gone off too.

He teetered on his feet, still not having full function over his leg after so long. Thanking his long limbs he held onto the top of the stall and stepped over the lip into the shower section. Getting the last article off was punishing, but he managed. Sliding the grimy plastic curtain closed he started the shower. Cold was the first temperature to hit him and he squeaked loudly. Shivering he cranked it to hot waiting miserably until the water warmed up some.

“Bloody hell,” 2D muttered.

“I see someone couldn’t wait,” Murdoc spoke from behind the second curtain, “here.”

A bar of soap and shampoo were held into the shower. 2D was thankful Murdoc hadn’t burst in and gently took the offered stuff.

“You took too long so I went ahead, it feels amazing.”

Murdoc sat on the bench, listening to 2D move in the water.

“I have no clothes to change into,” 2D thought out loud.

“They have shit to pick from. I already grabbed some stuff for you.”

“Oh. Thanks.”

The satanist didn’t reply. 2D scrubbed his greasy hair aggressively, lathering the soap then rinsing. He took extra care to clean himself thoroughly, only avoiding the soaked bandage on his calf. 2D sighed again, enjoying the hot water. After a long moment the water shut off and the singer popped his head around the curtain not too shocked seeing Murdoc.

“I’ll give you a hand re-dressing.”

“I can manage thanks.”

“I've told you before, seen it all. Who’d you think would change your clothes and shit when you were a vegetable.”

“I was nineteen back then,” 2D indicated with his hand, quite sheepish, “I’m forty now it’s embarrassing.”

The satanist took a quick minute to catch what the singer meant.

“You look fine,” Murdoc grabbed the towel for 2D and stood holding it out so his view was blocked, “but if it makes you feel better, I won’t look.”

Still timid about being fully nude in front of the other he visibly relaxed when the older man looked to the side. 2D took the towel, smiling when Murdoc put his back to him so he could dry without being watched. He hurriedly dried off and tied the towel around his body.

“I do need help getting my feet dry.”

Peering over his shoulder Murdoc turned to face the singer again. Snatching up some oddly familiar looking underpants he crouched and helped 2D step into them.

“Those look like mine.”

“They are.”

“How?”

“Looks like the military raided some hotels and homes to clothe survivors. Found your suitcase among the other crap.”

"Bit rude of them."

Murdoc helped 2D step into the underpants, "sorry, for earlier," he kept his head down.

2D wiggled the underpants up fully while Murdoc spoke. The man eventually stood, tugging the towel away and lightly pushing 2D to sit on the bench. The singer hugged his chest, not cold but unsure where to rest his hands. Murdoc rubbed dry both of 2D’s feet then got his feet into fresh socks. He worked some blue jeans over his feet next, just enough to slip on 2D’s runners again.

2D wasn't sure if he should forgive the other or not, Murdoc didn't ask either way. Before the singer could fully tug his jeans up, Murdoc gave his bare thigh a peck. 2D gave a half smile and did up the jeans, sitting once done. He slid his arms into the shirt, popping it over his head and relaxed once dressed.

“Thanks.”

“I’ll redo your dressing after.”

2D kept himself planted on the bench, nodding. Murdoc dropped 2D’s used towel over the singer’s head, ruffling his hair roughly. 2D huffed at getting his head rattled about. Murdoc smirked pulling it back to see how mucked up the damp hair was. Satisfied with his work the bassist dumped the towel and removed his own shirt, unbothered by 2D sitting there.

2D kept his line of sight adverted to Murdoc's chest, “you've lost a fair bit of weight,” he poked the satanist's toned side.

“Oi,” Murdoc batted the hand away, "I took up a few activities."

“You’re quite fit.”

"Like what you see then?"

2D glanced up to give Murdoc a cheeky smile, he gave a slight incline of his head in agreement. The bassist chuckled, turning himself to properly face the singer.

“Have a looksy,” the satanist undid his pants.

Face coloring dark and eyes wide, the vocalist quickly halted him. Murdoc stopped, amused at the reaction.

"Not appropriate Muds."

"Whatever."

2D politely kept his eyes trained elsewhere when the other man removed all his clothes. The shower started again and 2D tapped a beat on his knee. The water helped give him a tune to work with. Murdoc was out before long and took up the second towel, not stopping to warn 2D. The singer kept his eyes towards stomach level, flushing slightly. Murdoc yanked on some unused pants and his boots before 2D noticed. Using the towel to haphazardly dry his hair, Murdoc groaned when he felt how out of place it was.

“I see why you don’t shower often”

The satanist rolled his eyes, he got on the long sleeved shirt he had for himself. 2D studied the tiles while Murdoc moved around gathering up the dirty clothing. The singer chewed at his chapped lips, aware Murdoc was consciously keeping quiet.

“I’ll be back,” said man pushed the curtain aside leaving with the dirty articles of clothing.

2D pursed his lips before standing up and groping at the stall walls for support. It felt great to walk without constantly leaning into someone. Slow steps took the singer into the open washroom type area. The singer winced when pain radiated from the wound, he stood still.

Two strangers stepped into the washroom place and 2D felt like an idiot standing there. They both looked at 2D. The singer smiled slightly.

“Oh shit it’s 2D!”

“This is so awesome!”

2D smiled wider, semi-forced, “Hi, yes I’m 2D…”

“Oh man! Can I get your autograph?”

“Dude don’t bother him,” the friend shoved the other.

“Uh, I don’t mind or whichever, not really doing much else,” 2D felt a sweat breaking out from the pain.

The singer wiped his face slightly, trying to appear composed. The two younger men looked hyped, not noticing the singer’s discomfort. It was at that moment that Murdoc decided to come back, 2D winced.

“What’s this?”

The two glanced at the bassist.

“Oh cool! I went to the concert, it’s so wicked to see you two in person! Considering the whole world ending thing.”

“Ah, fans,” Murdoc mumbled.

The bassist casually walked over to the singer glancing him up and down seeing the sweat gathered on the singer’s face. Rolling his eyes, Murdoc got an arm around the singer to help support his weight off the bad leg.

“Look gents we’d love to mingle, but my mate here is recovering from an injury. Maybe another time yeah?”

“Oh shit! Sorry man, totally.”

“Yeah, no of course,” they backed up giving the musicians space.

Murdoc ever the attention seeker gave the men a pleasant smile and salute before helping 2D leave the washroom. The singer went with the motion, avoiding too much pressure on his leg. Instead of returning to the medical section the bassist took 2D to the temporary sleeping area. The singer felt the discomfort increase, clouding his mind. He missed the leather coat Murdoc was sporting.

“Lets check your bandages,” Murdoc sat the singer on a cot away from others.

2D flopped back. Grumbling the satanist pulled the fabric up on 2D’s leg, removing the soaked dressing. The singer drifted, suddenly feeling increasingly woozy like he was on drugs. Murdoc was talking under his breath while putting a clean bandage on 2D.

“More trouble than you’re worth,” the bassist set the leg down when finished.

2D closed his eyes, dizzy.

“Everything is spinning,” the singer rasped.

“You haven’t eaten much, I’m not surprised.”

Murdoc sat on the edge of the cot by the singer’s legs. 2D clutched at his chest gasping.

“My heart, feels like it’s gonna explode,” the singer struggled into a sitting position again.

“Stop being so dramatic, you’re fine.”

2D grasped at the satanist, digging his fingers into the leather clad shoulder and arm.

“I don’t feel good.”

“If you’re gonna be sick don’t do it on me.”

2D pressed his face into the cool material of Murdoc’s coat, he kept his eyes squeezed shut. The satanist stayed still for the singer.

“My eyes are burning,” 2D whimpered.

Murdoc dropped an audibly louder sigh than necessary. He was still a bit off.

“Muds my eyes they really hurt,” the singer groped at the satanist’s arm firmly.

“Migraine?”

2D pulled a hand back to rub at his closed eyes. He felt like he was crying, he couldn’t tell over the increased pounding in his head and scorched sensation his eyes were experiencing. Murdoc grabbed his hand, shifting on the cot.

“Don’t touch your eyes.”

2D could hear a panicked lilt to the man’s voice and whined pathetically.

“Open your eyes, let me see them,” Murdoc let the singer’s hand go to cup his face, pressing thumbs on his eyelids.

Opening his eyes didn’t alleviate the pain. Murdoc made a noise in the back of his throat. 2D couldn’t see his face, more an abstract blur.

“I’m gonna grab something or someone, just lay down. Don’t move and don’t let anyone touch you.”

For once 2D didn’t argue, laying back on the cot. He had no idea where the satanist was going or what he was getting. He couldn’t think past the forming migraine from the uncomfortable pain. 2D lost track of reality, shaking on the cot, gripping at his head.

———

Murdoc looked around frantically for Noodle, unable to see her among the red-cross members still awake. He mentally cursed himself, it was nearly four in the morning so she was probably sleeping. He didn’t want to go back without help, but could tell he was drawing attention with his strange behavior. Weighing the pros and cons of leaving 2D to the problem he was having he didn’t catch a man approaching him.

“Sir are you in need of help?”

Murdoc eyed the military person. Ever since Noodle’s hushed comments about them he was wary.

“No, I’m fine.”

“You look like you’re trying to locate someone.”

“I was, realized it’s late. It’s fine mate I’ll find them in the morning,” Murdoc vacated, avoiding eye contact.

The man frowned suspiciously at Murdoc’s back as the satanist retreated. The bassist wondered how he would handle the situation from here. 2D was having some sort of medical crisis and their only trustworthy form of help was somewhere sleeping. Not wanting attention Murdoc hurried back towards the sleeping quarters. At a distance the military official followed him back to the room. Lost in his thoughts, panicking silently, Murdoc missed the man shadowing him.

Not for the first time, Murdoc wished for something liquid to soothe his nerves. He stepped back into the softly lit sleeping area, thankful the singer had heeded his request. Approaching the curled up figure, Murdoc reached out, nudging the taller man lightly.

“Ey’ Stuart, I couldn’t find Noodle,” he felt bad, “maybe we could get you back to the room for the sick yeah?”

The satanist had few seconds to register that he’d been knocked to the ground, air pushed out hard. 2D was on him growling, black blood dripping out of his eyes. Scrambling to protect himself, Murdoc held the singer at bay with his arms, grunting with the strain. His mind blanked. People in the room roused from the commotion. The man following the bassist flicked the safety off his weapon striding fully into the room aiming at the lanky singer on Murdoc.

“Don’t shoot!” Murdoc shouted, a sudden fear swarming him, “Don’t shoot him!”

He knew it was stupid, but a deranged part of him didn’t want to see 2D get shot to death even with the glaringly obvious problem. The singer tried to bite at his neck, pushing down on Murdoc’s arms. The satanist shoved up against the singer.

“Everyone evacuate the room! Quickly!”

People started to flee the room and in the back of his mind Murdoc heard a tiny voice say he might die. He grappled with the suddenly much stronger 2D, finally getting leverage and rolled them over.

“Move! I have to eliminate the threat!”

Murdoc held the singer’s arms down, body straddling the writhing 2D, pinning him.

“I will shoot you if I have too,” the man pressed a pager to alert of a threat.

“Are you kidding me right now? You were just talking to me not ten minutes ago!”

2D fought violently against the bassist, gnashing his teeth hard in attempt to bite at something. Adrenaline coursing through his system, Murdoc looked around desperately for something, anything to restrain the singer.

He’s not Stuart anymore.

“Shut up,” Murdoc squeezed his eyes shut, shaking away the voice.

“Sir, just hold him still I can neutralize the threat!”

The satanist looked at the gun trained on 2D, then to the young man behind the gun. The guy looked twenty or so years old. Looking away from the kid, Murdoc had horrible sinking feeling in his gut. He would feel guilty after doing what he was about to do; for now he would make sure to keep the singer safe, even if said singer was attempting to kill him.

Murdoc loosened his hold on 2D and when he got shoved off he used the momentum to roll to the side and back to his feet; momentarily impressed with his agile body despite his age. 2D came at him just at the man jerked into action, firing a shot and missing. He took the singer’s wrists and with effort swung them around until he could essentially redirect the singer at the young military man. The singer leapt on the man biting him in the shoulder, clawing through his clothes.

Murdoc looked away covering his mouth as he gagged, tasting bile at the back of his throat. 2D mangled the kid, gnawing at him. The guy screamed in terror, unable to comprehend what had happened. The man’s struggles weakened as his neck was mauled. The other occupants of the room had long since left only leaving the three of them.

“I’m fucking crazy, I’ve lost it,” Murdoc rubbed his face, standing there, listening to his singer chomping at the body behind himself.

The singer turned his head, black eyes watching Murdoc, blood all over his face and neck. A flicker of recognition came back to 2D’s eyes. The room filled with silence. Murdoc whipped around noticing 2D peering at him from over the corpse. The singer got to his feet, not wavering in the slightest, his head cocked to the side, Murdoc felt a shiver run up his spine. Something was different about 2D compared to the other zombies, the man held himself so still. There was no groaning, no hobbling, just an almost aware gaze.

“Okay mate, lets play nice, preferably without violence, yeah?”

Murdoc held his hands out defensively as he backed up slowly, trying to keep the singer from coming at him.

“Did I scare you Murdoc?” 2D kept his head cocked, smiling apologetically.

Stopping dead, Murdoc gaped. He cupped the sides of his head, staring in disbelief at the singer.

“I’m already dead.”

“No. I haven’t hurt you, have I?” 2D made to move towards Murdoc.

Murdoc jerked away, a terrified look passing over his face as he watched 2D intently.

“It’s okay now, I’m not going to hurt you.” 2D mumbled softly.

“Could have fooled me,” Murdoc jabbed a finger at the dead man.

“I’m sorry for scaring you Muds, I got a little carried away.”

Murdoc choked on an unhinged laugh, “carried away.”

2D dropped his smile and strode at the bassist, grabbing handfuls of Murdoc’s leather coat, pulling the man closer with no trouble. Murdoc instantly started to push at the singer. 2D slid his arms around the shorter man in an unforgiving hug, fingers digging into Murdoc’s sides through the leather coat. Ceasing his fighting, Murdoc tensed, feeling trapped. It felt like a very dangerous embrace. 2D pressed a bloodied kiss to the satanist’s cheek. Murdoc stared at the singer’s soiled neck and shirt, heart pounding.

“I won’t hurt you, promise.”

“I just let you kill that man, that kid. He looked so young.”

“Oh hush,” 2D shushed the bassist, kissing his crooked nose.

“This can’t be happening right now,” Murdoc tried to tilt his head away from 2D, “this isn’t really happening.”

“Why is this so hard to believe? Weird shit always happens to us.”

“Y-you just ate someone! You fucking killed another person with your hands!”

Faintly the stomping of many sets of boots started to approach their location. 2D released Murdoc and gripped the man’s face in a rather firm hold. Murdoc winced under the singer’s hands.

“Please don’t leave me Muds, they’ll kill me on sight.”

The rational part of Murdoc said that 2D should be put down, he was an abomination. The hopelessly stupid part of him, the side that was irritatingly in love with the singer, would keep the man alive despite the risk to his own life.

“There’s a back entrance to the room,” Murdoc felt himself motion to the back doors.

His mind screamed at him that he was going to die. He had no self preservation if he decided to go with the singer. 2D didn’t notice his internal argument and kissed the bassist, blood and all, before pulling away and dragging the smaller man along. Apparently Murdoc wasn’t getting a choice in the matter, but then he’d already decided the moment he told the kid not to shoot 2D.

Chapter Text

Around roughly four thirty in the morning a small alarm had woke people around the airport. Military men and women rushed about ushering survivors, medical personnel and volunteers towards seating areas. There was a jumble of confusion from the tired people and only snippets of what may be the issue. The drummer found himself standing among strangers rubbing sleep from his blank eyes. Unaware the problem was due to his two friends he tried to catch from others what might be going on. Moving through the crowds Russel found the guitarist in around survivors and civilian volunteers. Noodle gave the drummer a tired smile when they bumped into each other.

“Got any clue what the hell is going on?”

“No idea,” Noodle yawned, “I guess a zombie got in? I mean one infected is not a big deal. Probably.”

“Man I thought we left this when we got here.”

“Well only one death occurred so hopefully it does not go into a full blown panic.”

Noodle rubbed her face tiredly, looking around. Russel honestly just wanted a proper nights sleep, it wasn't asking much.

“Did you happen to see Toochi and Murdoc?”

“Nah, haven’t seen those two for almost a day now.”

“They are probably mixed into the crowd with us,” Noodle continued, seeking out someone tall with blue hair.

Granted there were hundreds of survivors at the airport base, spotting one head of blue should have been easy. Noodle scratched her arm lightly not seeing 2D anywhere. She assumed that if they found 2D they’d find Murdoc. The drummer had a better height advantage, also giving the people a scan for someone tall. 2D was always a good beacon to hone in on through a throng of people. Neither of them could make out the singer or the bassist, but it was dim and there were a lot of people.

Russel patted her shoulder softly, “who knows baby girl, maybe they’re still in the medical section.”

“I guess so.”

Noodle had a nagging feeling that something was terribly wrong.

———

They dodged in and out of rooms, noiselessly meandering around patrols looking for 2D, not that they knew it was specifically 2D. However the singer was covered in blood which was a big indicator. Murdoc kept studying the singer, mind racing. The singer caught the satanist staring, though Murdoc hardly hid it.

“What?”

“I don’t know what to think or feel right now, I'm at a loss. I'm never at a loss 2D, I'm always sure of myself.”

2D halted in a small storage room, closing the door behind themselves softly. He could easily make the other man out in the dark, eyes adjusting to the low lighting. Murdoc couldn’t see much of anything. 2D made sure to face the other man.

“What’s wrong? Why are you unsure?”

“You ate another human being! In front of me no less, not exactly easy to forget!”

“Muds,” 2D hissed, “keep it down.”

“You weren’t you then suddenly you were, but you’re not!”

“I am me, I’m still 2D,” the singer rested his hands on Murdoc’s shoulders, “I’m sure of it. I still have the same thoughts and feelings, I just feel better. Like a better version of me. Kinda hyped actually.”

The bassist fought the urge to shove the singer’s hands off himself, almost frightened of getting squeezed ruthlessly.

“I know I wasn’t myself before, but I kinda was, I just had this really strong urge to eat something. Like when you’ve binged two days on just rum and wake up the third day starving for actual food.”

“This is nothing like me. At all.”

“No I only meant the feeling, it’s uncontrollable. I just wanted to sate that hunger.”

“You tried to kill me.”

“I’m sorry about that,” 2D slid his hands up the satanist’s neck, more careful when cupping the man’s face, “I won’t do that again.”

“You’re getting fucking blood all over me,” Murdoc squirmed out of 2D’s hands.

“Oops, sorry.”

The bassist scrubbed at his face and neck, trying to wipe the traces of blood off himself by feel alone. He was antsy, 2D could see that. Looking around the small closet for something to clean up with, 2D spotted some cleaning rags. Taking one for himself, the singer rubbed his face and neck, then his hands. Grabbing a second rag he put an end to Murdoc’s futile attempt to remove the blood.

“I’m sorry for getting you into this mess, I never meant for things to get so crazy.”

Murdoc held still, listening to the singer. 2D finished and dropped the rag like the other.

“It’s like suddenly my inhibitions are lowered,” 2D continued, “obviously I would never eat someone, but I just wanted too so I did.”

“What’s stopping you from doing that to me?” Murdoc’s voice was fearful.

“I don’t want to eat you. I don’t think I would have done it back there either.”

The bassist wasn’t convinced. A niggling voice kept saying to turn 2D in because this wasn’t healthy or safe.

2D stepped closer to the satanist, who in turn stumbled back bumping some brooms. The singer chuckled crowding the shorter man. Murdoc took a sharp inhale, pulse jumping when he was pressed to the wall.

“I promise I won’t hurt you. I forgave you for all your past misgivings, maybe you could forgive me for my lapse in character?”

2D leaned closer, trying to duck his head into Murdoc’s neck. The man scrunched up, hands pushing on 2D’s middle.

“It’s not about forgiving here Dents, you ate someone and it’s bloody terrifying,” Murdoc tried to sound casual, but the tremble in his hands betrayed him.

“I’m just trying to show you I won’t hurt you.”

“We’re currently being being searched for. You are. I don’t think snogging in the closet like a couple of school boys is appropriately how you show that.”

2D grumbled and grabbed the hands on his stomach and interlocked their fingers lightly.

“It’s not fair that you get to torment me for years and still demand something from me. I do one thing and I can’t even get you to properly look me in the eyes. You’re practically shaking against me, it’s upsetting.”

“Stuart that- those things were bad,” Murdoc clenched at 2D’s hands, “they were fucking horrible things and I don’t deserve any forgiveness. This thing you did was also not good and it’s not something you can put out of mind.”

“You want me listing the stuff off by every year? Things that can’t be ‘put out of mind,’ or can I just say one thing in comparison to my indiscretion?”

“Please don’t go there, I’ve apologized.”

“Well?”

“Yes okay!”

“You don’t get to be on your high-horse about this! You don’t.”

“You’re right okay? You’re fucking right. I’m wrong. What I did was wrong and I’m going to keep saying sorry until you believe me.”

“All I want is for you to see me as me, not a monster. Please. I don’t want you being scared of me.”

There was a bit of irony in 2D saying that to Murdoc of all people.

Murdoc broke their hands apart and tugged the singer into a hug, burying his face into 2D’s shoulder avoiding the dampness lingering near the neckline. Taking a deep breath 2D nuzzled into the satanist’s hair, smiling softly. It wasn’t fair. Murdoc could feel an urge to hold Stuart for as long as possible, sooth the man and try to make everything okay again. He had no right being mad at the singer for something he wasn’t capable of controlling. He wasn’t in a position where he could criticize his actions over Murdoc's own past actions.

“I feel the same,” Murdoc ground out, voice muffled against the singer. He never expected to admit it to the man.

“Huh? About what?”

“You, you twit.”

“Oh,” 2D hugged tighter, elated.

“Fuck! Too hard,” Murdoc gasped.

“Oh! I’m sorry Muds, I didn’t realize.”

Holding his ribs, wincing, Murdoc caught his breath, “don’t expect me to be all sappy and shit for you. I would like to get out of here alive first.”

“We don’t have to rush this instant, this is a pretty stellar hiding spot.”

2D fiddled his fingers awkwardly, not that Murdoc could even see that. The tone of the singer’s voice gave away his intentions. Murdoc was reminded of their brief slip in judgement in the jeep outside the comic book store.

“We are not fucking around in the closet while the threat of death is hovering over head, it’s a real mood killer thanks.”

“But we’re here, nobody would find us if we’re quiet.”

“You’re really pushing this,” Murdoc was still leaning into the wall behind himself, “we need a plan.”

“For sex?”

“No! You numbskull, to cover your obvious bloodied state. Someone will look at that and think you’ve just wined ’n dined on some poor sod.”

“I sort of did do that,” 2D cleared his throat softly.

“Don’t remind me, please. Fuck,” Murdoc tried to will his thoughts away from earlier.

“Why not lend me your coat? That could cover my shirt.”

“I happen to like this coat.”

“Muds,” 2D whinged in annoyance, “just give me your coat.”

The bassist mockingly whined back at the singer before huffing and removing the leather coat. He thrust it forward, hitting 2D in the chest. The singer grunted and took it, frowning as he slipped it on and zipped up the front.

“We were making so much progress, now you’re being a prick again.”

“You want me to be nice?” Murdoc asked rhetorically.

“Yes, for once. Be nice to me, like all the time. Nobody will care if you are, and shockingly you might find it’s not so bad," 2D gave a pause in his speech to take a deep breath, “you’re giving me mixed signals, it’s confusing. One minute you tell me you love me then you’re telling me to fuck off. Which is it Murdoc?”

The satanist stood uncertain, not quite able to make out the singer. On the one hand he wanted to shout it for anyone to hear, but the other side of him the dominantly emotionally scarred side of him didn’t. Didn’t want to appear weak or succumb to all the things related to love. Affection was difficult for him.

“Well? Is this some sort of game for you? I won’t have it.”

“Things are complicated,” Murdoc gestured helplessly in the dark.

“You’re so full of shit, forget for a moment the other stuff that happened. Tell me whether you want me or not!”

“Stuart quiet down.”

“Don’t tell me what to do! Just answer my question.”

Voices and heavy walking was approaching their location though because of the heated nature of their debate they missed it.

Murdoc reached for the singer, grabbing at the leather coat, dragging him close. He abrasively dug his fingers into blue hair, dragging 2D into a kiss, missing his mouth in the dark. It worked in silencing the taller man. 2D corrected the kiss, shoving Murdoc back against the wall somewhat forcefully. Wincing to himself, Murdoc ignored the taste of foreign blood in the singer’s mouth.

Distantly the bassist heard the door handle being jiggled. Murdoc jolted in surprise when 2D nudged a leg between his thighs and hands groped his backside roughly. He hadn't expected 2D to get so aggressive. He could feel fingers squeezing his bottom almost appreciatively. The door opened and the satanist was mortified they actually had got caught like two teens yet again. He didn’t let it show of course.

“Gentlemen is this really an appropriate time for this?”

2D groaned in frustration, resting his head on Murdoc’s shoulder. The bassist glanced over to the soldier.

“I have a thing for zombies,” Murdoc blurted, mentally smacking his face, “gets me going.”

“I’m going to have to ask you two to join the others in the waiting area. We have a threat loose and we wouldn’t want you two getting hurt. Please,” the woman had the decency to give them a moment to adjust themselves.

Coming out of the closet, the two were escorted down to join the rest of the survivors. The tension seemed to dissolve between them and the bassist nudged the singer with an elbow, giving him a grin. 2D snorted and looked away.

“I can’t believe you said that.”

“I’m obviously a raging lunatic at this point, I should go with it,” Murdoc dropped his grin slowly, “I’m no good at this.”

They seated themselves away from others, watching the sunrise from a large window. Murdoc stared pensively at the grounded planes and military vehicles surrounding the area outside the immediate building. 2D swapped seats and sat close to the older man. The singer brushed a finger along Murdoc’s jaw.

“You need to shave,” 2D felt his own stubble, “so do I.”

Hesitating a moment the bassist took the singer’s hand. His heart raced while he held the other's hand, he could see blood under 2D's nails. He could work with this situation and 2D being some sort of in-between monster. The world was over after all, who would say shit about them now? 2D leaned in and gave Murdoc a peck.

“I want there to be something between us, again.”

2D nodded, encouraging the other to continue.

“With everything going on I don’t want to wake up one day with you trying to kill me or leaving. I don’t deserve to ask you to stay considering our history.”

“I won’t,” 2D insisted, “leave or kill you. Admittedly I’ve been tempted.”

“Fair point. This condition needs to be dealt with.”

“We’ll wait till this all dies down and talk to Noodle, see if she can help.”

2D smiled fondly at the older man intertwining their fingers, setting their hands against an arm rest between them.

———

Normally Noodle wouldn’t care too much that she couldn’t find the singer or bassist, if they’d been at home that is. After a couple hours stood around, she had seated herself with Russel, quiet and worrying.

“I’m sure they’re okay,” Russel broke their mutual silence.

“Honestly you are probably right, I keep over thinking.”

A few shouts could be heard and everyone was on high alert, pacing and talking louder. Noodle stood with Russel, hovering near their seats, trying to see what might be happening. After some time the military presence dispersed. The survivors and volunteers were finally allowed to go back to their spaces, being told the problem was dealt with. Noodle sighed and rolled her shoulders to loosen up.

“I do not think sleep will come to me anytime soon, want to grab a drink and maybe sit for a bit?”

Russel gave a nod in agreement to her request. They hovered back as survivors made to return to their areas. With less people Noodle spotted the singer and bassist sitting at the windows.

“Hey, there they are,” Noodle smiled, making her way over to the men.

Russel tucked his hands in his pockets, following the guitarist. 2D saw them first and waved.

“Morning, it’s good to see you out and about 2D,” Noodle plopped down across from the two.

Russel took a seat beside the guitarist. The drummer looked at 2D and Murdoc’s joined hands. Noodle saw as well, looking at the two of them.

“Are you two together again?” Russel sounded exasperated.

“It’s in the works,” 2D answered.

Murdoc remained quiet, afraid he’d say something foul and muck things up between them. The singer gave the bassist’s hand a squeeze, being aware of his grip to keep it gentle.

“I wanted to ask you, do you know what the stuff you gave me does?”

“It is an antiviral vaccination for the virus, supposedly to eradicate it and help the person heal. Why?”

“What sort of evidence do you have to say, support that theory?”

Murdoc raised a brow, listening to the singer talk so affluently. He hadn’t noticed till now how well spoken the taller man was becoming recently. Noodle hummed in thought, trying to recall if any of the people brought in actually got better in the strange tests being conducted.

“I can only assume that it does work, but I have yet to see anyone walk away from the testing they do. Like I said before, they do some surprisingly horrible things to infected survivors.”

“So you’re not sure that what you gave me is actually a cure?”

“Well, not entirely. One of the doctors told me it was though, I sort of believe him.”

2D wet his lips nervously, “I don’t know what’s 'appening, but I don’t think it cured me.”

“How so?”

“Well,” the singer rolled thoughts around in his mind, “I sort of ate someone earlier.”

The two stared at the singer. Murdoc looked uncomfortable with the statement. Noodle glanced around before scooting closer to the edge of her seat, leaning in.

“Uh- sorry could you repeat that, did you say you ate someone?”

“Yeah, I’m the person they’re actually looking for. I don’t know what 'appened, it just did,” 2D gesticulated with his one hand, “I’m fairly certain I’m still infected, but I kept my faculties. It’s done wonders for my confidence.”

“This cannot be a good thing,” Noodle commented.

“Well other than the mishap earlier, I’m rather sure this isn’t all that bad. I can finally think clearly, I can walk again,” 2D motioned to the injured leg, “and if I want something I don’t diddle around debating whether I should get it.”

“But you ate someone Toochi, that is most definitely not good.”

“Well there’s no evidence other than my shirt, but Muds lent me his coat till I can change.”

The guitarist was at a loss for words, peering at the bassist for answers the man couldn’t give. Murdoc avoided Noodle’s questioning stare, looking down at his lap. Russel scrubbed his face with one hand, he gestured with his free one.

“You mean to tell me you’re okay being this? ‘D man you can’t go around eating people at all, forget casually.”

2D unintentionally tightened his hold on Murdoc’s hand, grinding the man’s bones slightly. The singer felt cornered. The satanist hissed and yanked his hand away, holding it close to himself. The singer instantly felt terrible.

“Sorry, Muds.”

“Russ is right, this can’t be left like this Dents,” Murdoc rubbed his hand, “you’re going to slip up and do some real damage.”

“I’ll get better, I’ll work on keeping in check,” 2D reached for the hand he’d harmed, “I can work with this, honest.”

Sighing Murdoc let 2D take his hand again. Noodle pressed her hands together deep in thought.

“Maybe I could find out some information without being too obvious.”

2D gently massaged the bassist’s hand in apology while listening.

“You mean take that doctor’s offer up? I don’t like the sound of that.”

“It might be well worth it, at the least I can get some information from him. He likes me.”

Russel grunted at the thought of some greasy doctor putting the moves on the guitarist. Noodle rolled her eyes. Murdoc sort of smirked, almost delighted at the disingenuous behavior Noodle was displaying.

“Dr. Nelson is harmless. He knows things and I think he would be willing to share with me if I agreed to a date. Throw a little charm in there and he should spill his secrets.”

“That’a girl,” Murdoc's smirk widened, sharp teeth visible.

“I don’t like it, but it does sound promising,” Russel sighed.

Noodle nodded her assent before getting to her feet, patting her thighs.

“Let us get that coffee Russel, I’m going to need it if I want to function after no sleep. You two keep out of trouble, please. Try not attacking anyone else Toochi.”

The guitarist stepped away, not worried about Russel following her. The drummer stood too and moved, patting 2D’s shoulder.

“We’ll figure this shit out man, just hold on yeah?”

2D gave the other man a civil smile. Russel went off to get a drink with the guitarist. The singer turned his smile to Murdoc, watching the older man warmly.

“Lets see if we can get a bed and actually sleep this time.”

2D chuckled his approval and soon enough they went off in search of a decent bed to claim.

———

After coffee with Russel, Noodle gave herself a couple hours of sleep before she approached the doctor. Deep down she was uncomfortably thinking about how to get answers out of the man. She didn't want to use anything nefarious to receive the information she needed, but ultimately it was 2D's life on the line if she couldn't.

Locating Dr. Nelson had been an easy case for Noodle. She looked in the usual spots the man took to, to relax after the questionable surgeries he performed. He was all smiles upon spotting Noodle approaching him.

“Natalie! Long time no see,” he was clearly tired, but elated to see her.

“Hey Dr. Nelson, sorry it took so long getting back to you about that offer,” Noodle sat near him, intentionally close.

“It’s been a busy few days. You can call me David, or Dave for short.”

“Well Dave,” Noodle drew his name out, “are you still game for a bite to eat? I’m starved.”

“Absolutely! I know there’s little selection, but how does some canned fruit salad sound?”

“Amazing,” Noodle gave a small laugh, trying not to sound forced.

Moving towards the canteen set up in the airport, Noodle kept a pleasant distance with the man. It’s not that he was inherently ugly, but she wasn’t attracted to men so pretending to pour herself into this ‘date’ felt incredibly wrong. She debated to herself how to put the moves onto the man to get him to talk. It felt rather fake thinking of all the sitcom styles she could try.

“It was pretty scary earlier with the break in,” Dr. Nelson, or rather Dave commented.

“I figured the military had things handled,” essentially they did.

“I suppose you’re right, they never actually found the infected though.”

Dave kept his voice low so not to alert persons around them while they spoke. Noodle blinked to herself, semi-surprised the man was already willing to drop truths to her. Squishing the bafflement Noodle nodded slightly.

“That is concerning,” Noodle was impressed at her ability to sound so relaxed.

“They’re keeping an eye out for any suspicious behaviors. I’m thinking it’s an escaped infected from the back labs.”

Suddenly Noodle realized this man just didn’t care at all what he spilled. She was in awe at the blatant disregard for secrecy that Dave seemed to hold. His arrogance would probably be his downfall.

“Why do you say that?”

Their conversation paused while they reached the front of the queue, gathering their canned goods, already opened. Walking to a set of seats and table, Noodle sat first watching Dave quietly.

“Well we’ve been testing out vaccines as I’m sure you’re aware,” Noodle nodded just to have him continue, “we’ve had some startling results actually.”

“Bad results or good?”

“Depends on how you look at it, but don’t let me bore you with that.”

Noodle mentally cursed. She didn’t want to appear desperate for information. Taking a couple bites of the overly sweet fruit chunks she regarded her options going forward.

“Other than earlier, how’ve you managed? How’s your friend?”

“Well enough, I mean the world has ended. It has been so continuous with me lately I have hardly stopped to think what this all means.”

Dave nodded in understanding.

“I lost my sister before all this.”

Noodle felt her heart go out to the man, but only for the feeling of loss which she understood. The man still had a lot of disturbing qualities to him if the tests and surgeries he partook in proved anything.

“I sort of had a family, not the typical nuclear type.”

“No siblings or parents?”

“I had ‘dads’ and sort of a brother,” Noodle explained, steering away from detail, “I had a really unconventional upbringing.”

Fondly Noodle had flashes of lopsided birthday cakes, awkward movie nights, and Murdoc letting her have a beer for the first time at twelve. She smiled faintly to herself, Russel had lectured the bassist for hours. Dave chuckled at her expression and Noodle came back to herself.

“Looks like you had a pretty decent childhood.”

“Just remembering some fun moments,” she looked down at the can of fruit, “my family isn’t perfect by any means, but they are mine so I guess that counts for something.”

Noticing Noodles use of present tense, Dave tilted his head slightly.

“Are they still around? Was under the impression you had no family left.”

Noodle looked at the man across from her, suddenly aware how stupid it was of her to reminisce. She was trying to get answers out of this man, not spill her life story.

“Well yes.”

“Oh, are they here?”

Mission abort. Noodle thought.

Dave frowned slightly, almost cross at her for withholding such information. It was a ludicrous reaction considering Noodle was only an acquaintance.

“Yes.”

“I figured you knew those strange men, you seemed rather chummy. Cynthia mentioned you were constantly visiting them.”

Suddenly vexed at how he was responding, Noodle cleared her throat.

“I do not see how my family is any of your concern, you and I hardly know each other.”

Her voice barely wavered. Dave sneered, clearly disagreeing with her.

“I trusted you with important information Natalie, I’m appalled you couldn’t bother to give me the same courtesy.”

“Ugh, Murdoc's right, that is a horrible name.”

Standing abruptly, Noodle glared at the man.

“You don't get to- no, you don't deserve to know anything about me. Just because you shared delicate information stupidly, does not mean I owe you anything. You’re an idiot to think any woman, let alone anyone, wants to hear about your medical exploits or torture of sickly people. You should not be mentioning it to begin with.”

Dave stood immediately as well.

“Don’t worry that information won’t be getting out anytime soon whatever your damn name is.”

“Do not fuck with me buddy,” Noodle gritted her teeth, “I am a force to be reckoned with.”

With that Noodle shoved the table at the man, making him grunt when metal met his crotch before she pivoted, stomping away agitated. A part of her realized how irresponsible it was threatening the doctor, but the boiling anger helped her ignore that. Clearly the man was so full of himself, enough to think she would just smile and nod to his garbage.

2D’s condition filled her mind when the rage subsided partly. Noodle rubbed her face, she couldn’t let his situation get out, they would need to leave or risk Stuart being taken as a test subject. Suddenly anxious, Noodle looked around to make sure she wasn’t being stalked before she went on the hunt for her band-mates. Things had gone from moderately safe to treading thin ice. The guitarist desperately willed her legs faster, she needed to warn the group. She had royally fucked up.

Chapter Text

Roused from sleep felt far worse with his growing sleep deprivation. His eyes burned, reddened at the corners, and his mind screamed at him to remain asleep. Russel could yell to the heavens, it had been roughly three or four hours. Noodle was shaking him still despite his eyes sliding open, she was frantic. The drummer tamped out his frustration when he observed her panic.

Rubbing at his empty looking eyes the drummer cleared his throat.

“What’s going on baby girl?”

“I fucked up Russ, I told him I had family here after all the shit he mentioned to me, he plans to hurt you guys!”

“Whoa, whoa, deep breaths Noodle,” Russel sat up properly to assess the distressed woman.

The drummer was no stranger to threats against his life, hell he lived with a man that had literally kidnapped him once. Noodle started to ramble again, voice hurried and some words getting mixed together in her dread.

“I let myself get distracted thinking about stupid things like cake and beer, he asked about you guys and I told him you were all here. He knows about Murdoc and 2D 'cause people have seen me around them too many times! What are we going to do?”

“Hey, okay you have to slow it down. Firstly, Muds and ‘D can handle themselves,” Russel rubbed her upper arms soothingly, “lets take a moment to figure things out okay?”

Noodle nodded, breathing through her nose and out her mouth, sighing. She started to come down, relaxing more with each breath. Russel gave her arms one last squeeze before he settled back against the bed.

“First off, were you followed?”

“No- I do not think so, I did not pay attention.”

“Alright,” Russel looked back to the entry, not immediately seeing anyone, “second, we should probably figure out a place to go if we’re to leave.”

“The only thing I could think is either we go North or South. Either it’s too cold or too warm for the virus to sustain it’s self. I don’t know though because there’s so little information here.”

Five military member marched into the room, guns trained at the ready. Noodle looked over, eyes wide, scared. Russel glanced over seeing them too. Dr. Nelson trailed them and pointed towards Noodle and Russel.

“Both of them. Ms. Niccals broke our agreement to silence and has told her family.”

Noodle clenched her teeth, her hands fisted tightly. Russel patted her arm softly, shaking his head at her. They were quickly surrounded and some sleepy persons looked over confused. None too gently they were pushed along out of the room, guns kept pointed on them.

“You’re an asshole Nelson! People should know what you’re doing here.”

“We’re making history here Natalie.”

“What history? The world is over!”

“Baby girl, don’t provoke him, just comply for now.”

Biting her tongue, having some restraint, Noodle walked along with the drummer between their armed entourage. Dr. Nelson followed along meeting with another group of soldiers waiting in nearby walkway.

“There’s two other men, one is short, dark hair and the other is tall with bright blue hair. Hard to miss.”

Noodle glowered hatefully at the doctor’s back, standing with Russel. The doctor looked over briefly.

“Page Cynthia and Gerald as well.”

“Sir?”

“These four are a real threat to our work, we want to keep that under wraps. Just page them and have them meet us in Lab C.”

The soldier nodded while grabbing their walkie talkie. Dr. Nelson left it at that, walking off. Noodle peered at Russel.

“Lab C is where they take the infected survivors.”

Russel made a face, “shit.”

State of safety had gone from thin ice to utterly fucked. The escorts proceeded to force them along to the dark recesses of the airport where makeshift laboratories had been set up for testing.

———

Watching the bassist sleep may have been considered creepy, but 2D honestly didn’t care. Currently he lay on a bed beside the older man, on his side. They couldn’t find a bed to share, which was fair since only single cots were available. The singer smiled, gazing at the slack expression on Murdoc’s face. The man had practically passed out the moment his body hit the cot. Sleep evaded 2D and he wondered if maybe it was his new condition that disallowed it. Not that he minded.

Enthralled with the sleeping satanist, 2D missed the arrival of the military group sent to fetch them. He didn’t miss the guns being aimed at them or the stern voice asking them to come with them. Confused, 2D reached out, pushing Murdoc’s shoulder distinctly upset at waking the man.

“What now Dents?” Murdoc grumbled.

“Sir we need you two to come with us. There’s been a breach of security and we were informed a Ms. Natalie Niccals discussed sensitive details with both of you.”

Abruptly Murdoc sat up, shaking his head to wake up better.

“What’re you blabbering on about? I don’t know shit.”

“Muds,” 2D warned as he nudged Murdoc again.

“Getting sick of fucking guns in my face,” Murdoc got up, accompanied by his singer.

They were taken to the lab where both Russel and Noodle were sat in some office chairs, guns also pointed at them. Murdoc groaned upon seeing them. The singer and bassist sat where prompted. For a while they sat in silence surrounded by military personnel. lazing in his chair, Murdoc peeked at Noodle

“That date go sour?” Murdoc asked.

“He started to act like a pretentious prick, thinking I owed him information. I sort of lost my cool and shoved a table into his junk.”

The satanist sniggered. Russel looked at Murdoc irritated.

“This isn’t a good time to be laughing man.”

2D rested his elbows against his knees, anxiously twiddling his fingers. Murdoc rolled his eyes at Russel, clearly disinterested in playing nice. The bassist twisted his chair to catch 2D twitching.

“Will you quit that, you look like an addict waiting for a fix.”

“How are you so calm?” 2D warbled.

“Live in the moment Dents, it helps.”

Russel rested his cheek on his hand, leaning into the arm rest on his chair. Noodle folded her hands together, fiddling her thumbs gently. Three lab coat wearing doctors stepped into the room, one being Dr. Nelson. Noodle recognized Dr. Cynthia Webber, but the third man she didn’t know well enough.

“So delighted you four could join us. What freaky bunch you are.”

“You said one of them was injured?” Dr. Webber turned to Dr. Nelson as she spoke.

She slipped on some gloves. Dr. Nelson pointed to 2D making the singer freeze.

“I’m fairly certain that weirdo was hurt. Natalie was fixing his leg the first time.”

Murdoc sneered at the comment.

“My damn name is Noodle." Noodle grunted loudly.

Dr. Webber raised a brow at the outburst, but waved them off, “have him transferred to my lab down the hall. I’ll start my examination there.”

2D tried to scoot his chair back only managing to bump into another soldier. He was grabbed unceremoniously by his upper arms and rather boorishly taken off. Noodle gripped her seat hard, eyeing the people around them. Murdoc leapt from his seat attempting to make a grab for the singer. He was roughly shoved back into his chair. Russel bit his lip, sitting tense beside Noodle.

“You can’t fucking do this!” Murdoc gestured enraged.

Cringing away, Noodle and Russel winced in unison when the butt of a gun was conked over Murdoc’s head. The Bassist slumped over unconscious. Dr. Webber took her leave, heading to her lab where the singer was being moved too.

“You three are a problem,” the unknown doctor commented, “lets get them put away for now.”

With a simple hand gesture the soldiers near the guitarist and drummer gave them similar treatment and moments later everything went blank for them.

———

An unknown amount of time passed for the singer. Unfortunately for three other involuntary participants things dragged. Dr. Nelson and the unnamed doctor with help from some armed officials had the three strapped down to uncomfortable beds.

Murdoc yelled at the men till he was blue in the face. Noodle kicked and screamed as well, imitating the bassist to a T. Russel put up resistance in a calmer manner, loudly stating his rights as a human being. Mostly they were ignored and at one point they gagged Murdoc since he ended up being the loudest. The doctors set up kits for drawing blood.

“You know what I just noticed, you people look strangely similar to this stupid CD my sister bought me.”

Dr. Nelson had flashed a CD case for them to see. Noodle struggled in her bindings spitting vitriol at the man. The case had their faces on the front in four squares. Later Noodle wouldn’t even remember half of their conversation.

“Shit music in my opinion,” he tossed the case onto a desk near a CD player.

Murdoc gave a muffled retort at the comment. The doctor chuckled at the bassist’s reaction.

“Have you finished setting up those injections?”

“Yeah,” the other doctor tapped the needle lightly.

“Lets get started shall we?”

The beds were wheeled into a separate room for testing. In the end they gagged Russel and Noodle too just to avoid being spat on again. Dr. Nelson took notes while the other pried open eyes, shining lights, basically giving them a precursor physical without letting them stand. It was impersonal and uncomfortable. They set up the blood kits to draw blood from the three of them.

Part way through the gags were removed. Drugs were administered. Russel was the first to pass out. Murdoc fought the drugs off for longer, still spitting insults at the men, slurring his words. Dr. Nelson rolled his eyes and gave the bassist more than the recommended dose to knock the man out.

Noodle was left, only lightly drugged. She lost track of time, feeling weak with the large bag of blood they’d drawn. She felt feverish. Things flashed in and out.

———

He barely cracked his eyes open, wincing at the light. 2D blinked a bit more at the brightness blaring down into his face. He didn’t remember passing out. He tried to bring a hand to his face to block the light but found it restrained. Something cold and metal pressed into his arm and wrist; his whole body actually. He lifted his head to look and found he couldn’t do that either.

Bewildered he darted his eyes back and forth in attempt to see beyond the whiteness. His pulse spiked when he couldn’t make out anything.

“It looks like his infection has mutated. He’s got higher functions. His body is working in tandem with the virus, I’ve only seen this in that other case.”

“He’s out survived the other patient. This is unprecedented. Impressive really.”

“How are the other three?”

“Safely tucked away. They won’t be bothering us.”

2D felt tears stinging at the corner of his eyes.

“Please just let me go,” he mumbled, “I won’t hurt anyone else. It was an accident.”

“He seems capable of emoting still, that’s beyond what we expected. I think the combination of Vaccine type one and type two being mixed has given way for something we couldn’t have expected.”

“We don’t need a weapon that emotes. We need a killing machine that will obey and help clean up the mess we’re in.”

The singer sniffed, trying hard not to sob outright. He was terrified and these unidentified people were talking of him like some sort of item, not a person.

“Well lets get a dose of type three,” a female voice, new to the conversation.

Finally the light was turned off. 2D blinked rapidly, tears sliding down his temples as he tried to see around him. Given his limited ability to move he was able make out the doctors from before standing at the foot of the gurney.

“We need to administer it carefully. We over do it and it could just reverse this rare condition he’s in.”

“We should prepare the others to the same level as him, we have three of them. He can be the base and the others can be our tests to see how another one can be made.”

They were going to hurt the others. Suddenly 2D felt a surge of protectiveness fill him. How long had he been out? Were the others okay?

“Don’t! Don’t touch them,” 2D shouted, startling the doctors, “if you touch them I’ll— I’ll kill you! I’ll rip you apart and eat your insides!”

The doctors all shared a chuckle. Dr. Nelson motioned to his restrains.

“Good luck with that buddy. That can withstand even the most pumped up infected.”

The singer felt hot tears pool in his eyes again at being mocked. He struggled against the metal clasps. There were two on each arm and leg, one over his head and finally one over his chest. Apparently undaunted the doctors resumed their conversation, discussing the level of infection to introduce to the other three band members. 2D felt humiliated at being ignored and for being unable to break out. He released the tension in his body, finally letting himself cry pitifully.

After long debate the doctors dispersed and two left while the female doctor, Dr. Webber remained. She moved around out of 2D’s partial view, tinkering about in things. He sniffled and tried to blink his tears away.

“You don’t have to do this, please, just let me go.”

“I’m sorry, but we haven’t had a break through in months.”

“Months? B-but this has only been going on for a week or so,” 2D mumbled weakly.

“I suppose talking won’t do any harm,” Dr. Webber sat at her desk while prepping needles, “this whole thing started probably six months ago.”

She drew a reddish fluid from a vial, 2D couldn’t see what she was doing. Her desk was at the end of the gurney by his head.

“There was an accident in a lab, doesn’t matter where at this point. Some sort of viral outbreak occurred. It was contained, only transferred via bodily fluids.”

Her chair made an irritating noise as it grated against the floor. 2D could tell one of the wheels had jammed by the noise. She had the needle in her hand. 2D eyed her and the needle, anxious.

“During the containment of this lab the virus mutated, became capable of transferring via water. Suddenly it was a much more serious problem. We, us scientists, started around the clock work to find a way to combat it.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Well after today you probably won’t be around to remember.”

“What is that?”

“This is the third anti-viral vaccine we have, it usually induces increased aggression in subjects. You’re a special case though, we don’t know how it’ll take with you. Only giving you a third the dose so fingers crossed.”

“Please no. No. I don’t want anymore shots,” 2D renewed his struggle.

Dr. Webber smiled demurely at the singer. She patted his cheek almost affectionately.

“You remind me of my boyfriend, never liked needles.”

“No no no!” 2D wailed, “Just leave me alone!”

Dr. Webber held 2D’s arm still enough to give him the shot. She leaned up and turned tossing the needle into her bio-hazard bin under the desk.

“There, that wasn’t so bad now was it?”

Burning filled his veins, creeping up his arm into his shoulder. The singer whimpered pathetically, incapable of moving to ease the sensation away. Dr. Webber moved away from him and started to click at something. Distantly 2D knew it was a computer keyboard.

“It burns, it burns a lot, please make it stop,” the singer felt delirious, muttering as it over took him.

Everything was going red. 2D wished for death, anything nicer than this horrible state of fire trapped inside him. When the singer ceased whining the doctor looked over, curious if the man had actually died. She was sure she had given him the smallest dose.

“That’s unfortunate,” she stated, standing to have a look.

2D remained still, deathly still. Dr. Webber sighed checking the singer’s pulse, but found none.

“This wasn’t the result I hoped for.”

She gave a disappointed huff and sat back at her chair heavily. She began to furiously type out the results. The other two would surely be just as dissatisfied. She wasn’t aware of how long she was typing until she glanced at the clock. Nearly three hours.

“I suppose I should have the body removed,” Dr. Webber peeked over at 2D.

She decided it wasn’t worth checking him again, he had no pulse. They could put his body on ice for autopsy later. Unaware of her mistake she looked to the soldier posted by the door.

“What an utter waste. I hope things are working better for the other two,” motioning to the man standing guard, she pointed to the singer, “can you get that moved to our temp morgue, please. I’ve never seen someone succumb so quickly to that vaccine.”

The man nodded stepping up to the gurney. He unclasped 2D’s head and chest, then one arm. He was quiet well he worked, trying not to disturb the doctor further. Dr. Webber muttered to herself continuing her typing. Undoing another clasp the man didn’t notice 2D open his eyes. A hand shot up digging sharply into his windpipe. He choked on the sensation of having his airway grabbed so painfully. The man looked to the black pits staring back at him from the supposed corpse.

Dr. Webber turned on her chair interrupted from thought by the odd noise. Momentarily she couldn’t grasp the situation.

“Jesus Christ!” Dr. Webber reached for a gun under her desk. Hands scrabbling for purchase in her panic.

2D growled and squeezed violently, tearing the man’s throat open. Blood showered down on the singer as he let the body slump down. He tore open the clasps on his other arm and practically ripped through the ones on his legs. His hands were bloodied both from the soldier and from cutting himself open on the metal. With purpose he swung himself off the bed, twisting himself to face the doctor.

Dr. Webber shrieked as she fired on the singer, realizing too late the safety was on. Smiling grimly 2D descended on her.

The guard outside the room busted in to the singer hunched over Dr. Webber’s body, something fleshy in his mouth. Aiming the man started to fire. 2D rushed under the gurney, pushing it up length wise, tipping it over, shoving it towards the man with speed. Startled by the bed coming at him the man sidestepped only for the vocalist to tackle him.

Pressing desperately at his pager his cries gurgled out when he was ripped apart, barely a chance to fight back. The pager laid to the side by the soldier’s twitching hand. The man had pressed the wrong button so the alarm remained silent. The singer leaned up from the bloodied body, he scanned his surroundings, seeing no other threats. In part he wasn’t all aware of his actions, just an instinctual feeling to protect and feed.

He hardly bothered eating the corpse and lumbered off on steady feet, searching out something, he wasn’t sure what. He painted a rather gruesome image.

———

Elsewhere Dr. Nelson tapped the vial of blood in his hand. The guitarist lolled her head around tiredly. She didn’t know how much blood had been drawn, she felt faint. She was horizontal which made her feel worse. The world was spinning subtly.

“What a name, Noodle,” Dr. Nelson started as he prepped something, she didn’t care to look, “how did you get that name?”

“It’s all I could sssay,” Noodle giggled at how slurred her speech was.

She had no idea if Murdoc or Russel were in the vicinity, she hadn’t heard them say anything for who knew how long. She didn’t even know where she was anymore.

“Oh sweetie, I need you to stay with me. Just a bit longer and we’ll let you have a break before part two. You’re a real trooper.”

He was cruelly teasing her, she could tell, but she was just so tired.

“W-where are my friends?”

“Oh your friends are being well looked after, I promise. Only the best treatment for the world famous Gorillaz. Who knew we were in the presence of celebrities!”

Noodle blinked her eyes out of sync, confusion swarming her mind. When had she mentioned that? Did she?

Dr. Nelson flicked a needle in his hand that held something clear. He gave the guitarist a thoughtful look.

“This might be easier if you’re out for the next procedure.”

His partner stepped in from another room, connected by a door.

“I finished with the other tests. Seems the one guy finally passed out, had to give him a third shot.”

“I wonder if Cynthia is having much luck on her end?”

“I can go check, need anything well I’m out? Coffee? Tea?”

Dr. Nelson waved the man off, “no I’m alright.”

The unnamed doctor left, closing the door behind himself. Dr. Nelson maneuvered Noodle’s bed towards the other door. He paused to check her restraints.

“Did you want to see your friends? I’m sure they miss you.”

She didn’t like his tone. If she wasn’t so damn tired she’d wipe that smirk off his face.

Chuckling at her feeble glare he wheeled the bed into the next room which seemed similar in design to the previous. Noodle blearily looked around, unsure where to look. He loosened the strap over her head, turning her face to look over at two other beds. Russel and Murdoc were also strapped in, but seemingly asleep or still. Noodle felt her eyes burn with tears.

“What’d you do to them? Are they alive?” Her heart pounded painfully, but dully.

“They’re just fine. I’m sure.”

“You’re fucking messed up.”

She felt like a small child, trapped, afraid and unable to protect herself and her family. She didn’t understand why this was happening.

Dr. Nelson gave her a cold smile, “when you lose everything and I’m sure you will, you’ll understand why we’re doing this.”

Leaving the strap slack on her head he pushed her bed where he wanted it. He turned a light on, moving it to shine in her face. Noodle squeezed her eyes closed, she just wanted to leave this place. The doctor flicked on some music. Noodle felt sick when she heard the familiar tune and voice waft through the air.

“I’m surprised I didn’t recognize you sooner, probably all that grime hiding your pretty little face.”

She didn’t respond. He moved around her running machines and varies tests instead of administering the clear liquid to her. She felt like the man only kept her aware to blather on irritatingly.

“I actually went to your concert with my sister, decent show. I didn’t think that’d be the last time we’d see each other.”

“So you’re a fan?” Her face was sweating under the lamp making her feel ill.

“Not really, she convinced me to go. Bought me a CD and everything. Honestly I can’t stand the music. It’s a bit funny though, listening to your own music at the end of all things.”

Noodle could hear the soft lilt of 2D’s voice singing his verses for the song. Dr. Nelson jolted when something or someone slammed the door in the other room.

“What now?”

The doctor hesitated, staying where he stood. Noodle wiggled weakly in her restraints. Dr. Nelson advanced to the door, cracking it open to peer out. He honed his eyes to a trail of bloodied prints on the floor. Then he saw the busted door across the other room and the leg resting at an awkward angle near the entry. His eyes darted around the room, puzzled but growing uneasy. He kept the door only slightly parted, scared to step out. The CD player changed songs, on shuffle. The heavy beat of Charger started to play.

2D filled Dr. Nelson’s vision suddenly, swarming him. He gave the doctor a horrible bloodied smile, slapping the door open with more force than necessary. Dr. Nelson scrambled back making an aborted noise as his shoulder hit the device holding the light. Noodle blinked, wincing as she stayed still, willing her nausea down. Light now gone she could open her eyes. Dr. Nelson screamed as he fell to the floor, scurrying away from 2D. The singer stalked the man till he was trapped before pouncing. Noodle stared on in horror, eyes unable to look away. He looked like her adoptive brother, but in that instant he wasn't. 2D was all cruel smiles, blood caked to his face and staining his hair. Her breath caught when the singer dug his teeth into Dr. Nelson's throat. Fighting the leather, Noodle felt bile rise in her throat. She didn’t recognize that man, that monster. His hair was practically purple with all the blood in it. Giving a feeble cry, Noodle fought to get her arms free. She couldn’t hear over the rush of blood in her ears and the stupid CD playing so when 2D came into her field of view she shrieked.

“NO! NO!”

“Noodle! Relax!”

“STAY AWAY!”

“I’m not gonna hurt you Luv. I’d never hurt you!”

He wiped bloodied hands on the bed haphazardly then he cupped her face softly.

“Noodle it’s okay, I’m not going to hurt you. Please calm down.”

Noodle blinked big tears out of her eyes to stare at 2D. She saw a glimpse of Stuart not the creature from moments ago. He was covered in so much red. She hiccuped as she started to cry harder. The singer let her face go and started to remove the straps. Small splotches of red were left on her face blurring under her tears.

“It’s okay Noodle, it’s okay now,” he scooped her up close, hugging her into his chest.

The guitarist sniveled clinging to the singer, completely ignoring the warmish blood soaking his front. He rubbed her back soothingly, holding her close.

“You’re safe now, I won’t let anyone hurt you.”

“You scared me Toochi, you weren’t you,” she blubbered, “you looked like something else.”

“I know Luv, I know. I promise I wouldn’t ever hurt you okay?” 2D used his nickname for her, trying to ease her anxiety.

“Okay,” Noodle held tighter to the thin man.

2D gave the guitarist a kiss on the head, leaning back finally. He swiped his thumbs over her cheeks accidentally smudging some blood on her while trying to clean away the tears.

“I’m going to wake up the other two, you just catch your breath okay? Don’t look in the corner.”

Noodle nodded. She rubbed her face, shaking. The blood loss and adrenaline rush made her feel detached. 2D moved away and undid the straps on the other two. He prodded them both rather hard. Russel grunted after enough poking. Murdoc didn’t budge, entirely unconscious.

“Hey Russ.”

“‘D? That you man, you look pretty red.”

“Uh yeah, I’m a little messy right now,” 2D tried to scrub his hands on his jeans again, “we’re going to need to leave.”

Russel felt similar to Noodle, weak in the limbs and exhausted. 2D poked the bassist again. Murdoc continued to lay there in drug induced sleep, mouth slack.

“Are you two able to walk?”

Russel gave a thumbs up when he pulled himself into a seated position. His vision swam with black spots. He could feel the drugs in his system affecting his mind, but knew it wasn’t a heavy dose. Noodle wobbled as she stumbled to where Russel was. She leaned into the man.

“I feel so sick,” Noodle held her head.

“Same baby girl.”

2D helped Murdoc sit up, though he flopped forward some, unconscious still. The singer rested a hand on the satanist’s chest to hold him up. Noodle had obvious tracks on her face from crying. Russel got a good look at the singer, recoiling at all the blood.

“Christ ‘D what did you do?”

“I dealt with the problem. I don’t know how long till they notice so we should try and get out of here.”

Russel stared, 2D snapped finally.

“Russel! Not the time to have a crisis okay? I’m not gonna hurt any of you. You’re my friends.”

The drummer slid a hand over his head gulping audibly, still trying to comprehend everything. 2D manhandled Murdoc like a rag doll, heaving him up into his arms. Noodle would have laughed at the display if she wasn’t so torn and sick. Russel finally moved off the bed, wavering while walking, using the wall to support himself.

The singer took the lead, carrying the bassist against his chest bridal style. Noodle avoided looking around at the carnage the singer had left in his wake. Russel gave Noodle a glance, his blank eyes were wide, frightened. She just nodded in understanding. They followed the taller man silently.

———

Taking breaks frequently for the drummer and guitarist made leaving, an otherwise easy task, tedious. 2D realized he couldn’t push them and didn’t entirely mind. He had to shift the limp man in his arms a few times. Murdoc’s head kept flopping back, it looked uncomfortable.

“Where are we going to go?”

“I don’t really know,” 2D answered.

“We’re gonna need some kinda vehicle,” Russel huffed, trying to catch his breath.

Noodle rested back against the wall wiping her forehead of sweat.

“Isn’t he heavy?”

“I’m a lot stronger now,” 2D grumbled when the bassist’s head slumped again, “he’s difficult even when drugged.”

They resumed, traveling through the back ends of the airport, the lack of lights hiding them to some degree. Unfortunately it was hitting late afternoon, early evening and people were awake, milling about. 2D hid in a small conference room with the other two.

“I can’t go out there, you two need to regain your strength so you need to get food and rest. I’ll stay here with Muds,” the singer set up the satanist against the wall, “I’ll come get you two when it’s dark.”

“Toochi you can’t stay here.”

“I’ll be fine. Hopefully they don’t check in on the good doctors for a little while. Till then please go recover. You two look relatively normal.”

Russel sighed.

“And, well, Muds aint gonna be going anywhere till the meds wear off.”

“Please, please don’t attack anyone else Toochi, please. Promise me, us, that you won’t kill anymore people.”

“They were going to hurt you.”

“Please!”

“Okay, no more killing. Promise.”

2D smiled softly for her. The image was ruined by all the drying blood smeared on his face. Noodle faltered, but wanted to believe the singer meant it. Russel observed the singer, he could see the man was holding himself with purpose. There were no fidgets or nervous ticks. When he finally caught 2D’s eyes he saw that despite the changes the singer was still himself under the guise. He saw the anxious look.

“Be safe man,” Russel smiled back, albeit still concerned.

Noodle opened the door, making sure the coast was clear. She and Russel gave 2D one more glance before slipping out.

“Just you and me Muds, at least for now,” 2D plopped next to the slouched bassist.

He tucked the man into his side.

“Once we get on the open road it’ll be better, we can put this all behind us, pretend for the time being that everything is normal.”

2D looked down at the mop of semi-curled black hair resting against his shoulder. He wondered if he was like this the first time Murdoc had run him down.

“It’ll be like an extended road trip, we could even nick a couple bottles of wine for you,” 2D laughed to himself.

The singer’s expression turned somber. His voice came out weak, almost choked.

“What am I becoming Muds? Am I a monster?”

Murdoc didn’t say anything. The singer covered his face with a free hand before dragging his hand to his mouth. He muffled his quivering breaths by biting his knuckles. He was a monster.

Chapter Text

Bored senseless, 2D wandered the conference room for a bit. He sat and played beats out on the table in another moment. He laid upside down off the table talking to Murdoc's slumped form. From hour to hour the singer performed varies feats of flexibility while talking to the Satanist.

Growing restless he rolled around on the ground. He nudged the bassist’s boot. Of course currently he got no reaction. He pouted. Every so often he would peek at the analog clock hanging in the room. An incessant voice in his head told him that it was only a matter of time before the bodies were discovered. However as the hours passed into night, finally thought 2D, no alarm was sounded. The singer knelt in front of the satanist checking his pulse on his wrist, thankful to see it still existed.

“You’ve been so boring Muds, how did you do it with me?” 2D tugged the dead weight of the bassist towards himself.

“I sort of see the appeal talking to someone who won’t talk back, but conversation is pretty drab innit?”

With only minor struggle, 2D scooped the man up off the floor. The singer grumbled when Murdocs head lolled back.

“Christ I feel like you’re intentionally doing that, just to spite me or something.”

Bumping his shoulder the older man’s head fell forward. 2D smiled.

“Much better. Lets go have ourselves a shower then grab the other two. Hopefully nobody sees.”

The singer started to snicker, “imagine explaining this to someone. Yes sir I’m just taking my drugged friend to the showers. Oh don’t mind the human remains and blood on me. I was hungry earlier.”

2D felt only partly deranged talking about his brutal murder of six people in a chipper voice. Maybe he was finally losing his mind. Walking towards the door his hand fiddled for the handle while trying to keep a hold on Murdoc.

“You’re so unhelpful Muds, least you could do is open the door for us. That’s what proper boyfriends would do.”

Of course Murdoc remained uselessly unconscious in the singer’s arms. Successful after a few attempts, 2D nudged his way out of the room looking back and forth before feeling it safe to continue. He whispered to the bassist while walking through the darkened areas of the airport.

“Does this make me insane for chatting to you without any answers? I mean I am directing my talking to you. Can you even hear me like this?” 2D slid into the temporary showering area, “Is this considered a drug induced coma? Now that I think about it, this is actually rather alarming. Just how much did they give you?”

He looked at himself in the mirror then Murdoc in his arms. Strangely Murdoc looked rather small.

“I look very unpleasant like this and I’ve forgotten shit we need for a shower.”

Chewing his lip he glanced around for a safe place to tuck the bassist away.

“Listen Muds, I don’t want you thinking I’m leaving you, but we need towels and all that. Not that carting you around isn’t fun. You’re a lot smaller than I thought.”

2D chuckled again before pivoting away from the mirrors and finding a good spot for the limp satanist. He tucked the man in so he wouldn’t flop over. The singer leaned in kissing the older man’s head affectionately.

“I’ll be right back Muds.”

2D thought about the parallels to when they had showered a day or two ago. He shook his head and hurried out of the dank room, cautious of patrols or random survivors still up. Unbeknownst to the singer the corpses were being discovered.

———

Once redressed and cleaned of blood, yet again, 2D carted Murdoc off to the conference room before looking around for Russel and Noodle. He noticed almost immediately there were far more military members patrolling the airport. Acting casual he avoided being questioned and discovered the others sleeping in a shared area.

Rousing the guitarist and drummer he urged them to come along with him to the conference room. They’d need to make some plans on how to make a mad escape. They walked along, keeping their heads down to keep anyone from recognizing them. Safely sealed in the conference room again, 2D closed the door with a click. Patting his jacket pockets he pulled a small flashlight out to flick on. He’d found it in one of the cases when grabbing clothing.

"I think they know about the bodies now,” 2D wandered towards where he’d left Murdoc.

He shone the light around noticing the absence of the bassist.

“And we’re missing Muds,” the singer paused when someone grabbed his ankle.

Jerking and almost shrieking, thankfully covering his mouth, 2D shone the light towards the source of the hand. Murdoc winced, he was hunched over a trash bin. Noodle came to the bassist’s side patting his back.

“glad to see you alive.”

“I feel like garbage,” the satanist coughed, “what’s happening?”

“We were going to discuss how we get out of here.”

Noodle moved away from the bassist to perch on the conference table. Murdoc shifted himself enough to face the group, leaning on the trash bin in his lap. He didn’t care what the others thought. Russel took a place beside Noodle, resting his hands against his upper legs.

2D paced between them, flashlight flickering between the floor and wall.

“I remember seeing some unused ambulances near the airport, kept to the side.”

Murdoc remembered as well, “could use them to leave. say we need to toss a body. Pose as doctors.”

Most of his speech was bogged down with grogginess. The anesthetic used to keep him under leaving him feeling distinctly achy in ways he knew were probably not good. 2D shone the light on himself.

“I could be the corpse.”

Noodle nodded, seemingly agreeing to the idea.

“We could steal some coats from the medical area.”

“It cannot be that easy,” Russel vocalized, “they’re not gonna let a buncha’ doctors out.”

Murdoc stooped to his feet, faltering a moment with dizziness. He straightened up feeling pin pricks of discomfort throughout his body.

“It can, it will, I’m Murdoc bloody Niccals. The world may be over, but I’m not going down without a fucking fight. We’re leaving. Lets grab us some coats.”

2D chuckled at the bassist, “lets take it slow.”

“I’m fine,” Murdoc didn’t feel fine.

The three of them could see the bassist was certainly not fine as they traversed the airport. The older man was sweating excessively and practically wheezing half way through their journey. Noodle tried to take the satanist’s pulse but was swatted away. Russel frowned.

“You are not fine, just let us stop a moment. Catch your breath.”

“I said I’m fine, fuck. Lets just keep going.”

The singer watched the shorter man, concern glinting in his dark eyes. Murdoc motioned 2D’s expression off, he walked past them. He knew the increased sweating, pain and short breath all signaled a delayed reaction to the anesthetic, possibly something worse. If they could get out first he would deal with the issue then, for now he pushed himself to keep moving. 2D shrugged at Noodle and Russel, following the satanist.

“Fine, but don’t blame us. We tried to help your sorry ass, man.”

———

Retrieving lab coats turned into a small debacle when the bassist snatched some medications, popping a couple pills at the protest of his friends. He cited he knew exactly what he was doing, that taking something would help his symptoms. He lied saying his withdrawal was causing them. Admittedly he had kept some Oxycontin on him, but couldn’t find it upon waking; the pain meds had been keeping him sane through the sobriety.

To distract from his rather hasty and morally ambiguous decision to self medicate, Murdoc grabbed the singer forcing him down to a hospital bed. He whipped a lab coat on and urged the other two to copy him. Adrenaline going, he yanked a sheet over the singer telling him to keep quiet. Murdoc took a deep unsettling breath, his chest felt tight.

“This isn’t going to work,” Russel complained.

“It’s going to work, have some faith.”

Without further hesitation they pushed the bed through to the back where they’d been before hand. Murdoc hissed at 2D while they kept an even pace with the bed.

“Act dead Dents, they need to think you’re a corpse.”

“Shouldn’t be hard,” 2D mumbled.

“Shush, dead people don’t speak.”

Murdoc continued on with the other two past some soldiers guarding the busted door of the lab they’d been locked away in hours prior. One of the guards halted them.

“What’s this? Where are you three going?”

“What does it look like? It’s a fucking corpse. We have tests to run!”

Noodle shot Murdoc a look before stepping forward, “please excuse him, he’s been working non-stop. We had someone die during tests. Figured an autopsy was in order then disposing. What happened here?”

The soldier eyed them, especially Murdoc who was breathing a bit hard.

“Just a small mishap, were you not informed? New protocol was put in place, all doctors and scientist are to be escorted to prevent further incident from occurring.”

“We were pretty deep into our examination, we missed the commotion. Is there a person available to escort us to our temporary morgue?”

Murdoc clutched at the bed tightly, his vision was wavering. Russel kept shooting the bassist alarmed looks. The guard eyed them once more before nodding to the other person. None of them realized that was a signal to follow at a distance.

“I can escort you three.”

“Thank you, we shouldn’t be too long.”

The soldier was fairly obvious in his distrust of them. He walked with them, hand ready to pull the semi-automatic weapon hanging on his shoulder. Noodle was tense in the shoulders while walking. With the movement Murdoc focused on the bed, trying to control his breathing to sound less harried. An ache was creeping into his neck and shoulders as they proceeded. Noodle subtly directed the distracted man by holding the side of the rolling bed. She had seen enough of the back halls and labs to know approximately where they needed to go.

The squeak of the wheels kept them company in the silence. Upon reaching the temporary morgue, none of them had expected to see two doctors preforming an autopsy. Noodle froze, surprised. Russel mouthed a choice word. While the others looked confused at their group, Murdoc pressed his hands together and surged forward, slamming his hands down into the exposed neck of the soldier. He felt his body shake with the motion.

When the man went down, Russel stared at the bassist. Noodle opened her mouth, thought better and closed it. She hastily scooped up the weapon off the man popping the magazine out and tossed both components. She pointed to a fire exit at the back of the room urgently.

“What in the high heavens is going on?” One of the doctors shouted.

“Lets go ‘D,” Russel tugged the sheet away.

“Good God!” The other doctor yelped at seeing 2D.

The singer hopped off the bed. Quickly they rushed by for the back doors that lead to the exit. 2D shouted apologies at the two doctors before disappearing behind the doors. As soon as the fire exit door closed three soldiers slammed into the room startling the doctors again.

Noodle took the lead running, lab coat flapping around her. Russel came in close second behind the guitarist. The hallway was narrow and unpainted, nothing like the ones around the main areas. 2D lagged behind to make sure the satanist kept up. Noodle shoved the exit door open forcefully, only then registering they hadn’t planned their exit well. Russel came up near her peering around.

“Where are the ambulances?”

“I d-don’t know, we didn’t think this through very well.”

At the end of the hallway some new soldiers hollered at them. 2D and Murdoc took a brief look back. Guns were aimed.

“Stop or we’ll shoot!”

“Fuck! Fuck, run! Just go!”

2D grasped the bassist’s wrist, jerking the man forward. Though his heart was thumping excruciatingly fast in his rib cage, Murdoc sprinted with the singer. They practically collided with Noodle and Russel, forcing them out of the hall into the open air of the early morning. Shots whizzed by them and hit the doors. Noodle felt reminded too much of the El Mañana shoot, ducking as she ran with the three older men.

“They should be close by,” 2D gestured frantically, “I saw ‘em closer to the entrance!”

Time seemed to slow as they made their way to the entry of the airport. The soft glow of dawn highlighted an ambulance, plus a few other emergency vehicles. With bullets flying and feet hitting the asphalt, Noodle nearly skid around the ambulance. She scrambled to yank the back of the vehicle open. 2D almost threw the guitarist into the back before jumping in himself, slamming the doors. Murdoc clutched his chest as he claimed the drivers side, mentally screaming praise to Satan there were keys. For a moment lady luck seemed to give them reprieve.

“Drive man! Drive before we get fucking pumped with lead!”

Cranking the ignition the Ambulance sputtered dangerously before rumbling to life. Russel yelped when his window shattered; he pressed back into his seat. The satanist got the large truck going, hurdling to the check point they had entered.

Knocking about in the back, Noodle clung to some netting while the singer pressed himself to the opposite wall. The stretcher between them rattled loudly, thankfully locked in. Russel motioned forward.

“Don’t stop man, just gun it!”

Heeding the request, Murdoc thrust his foot into the pedal. People moved away, some fired on them, but mostly nobody managed to stop the ambulance rocketing towards the gate. Russel shielded his face when they flew through the fencing, obliterating it, cracking the windshield when metal flung against it. Barbed wire caught onto the side mirror before screeching off the metal.

“Sound off! Whose alive?”

“Alive!” Noodle shouted.

“Alive,” 2D groaned, laying in an uncomfortable position in the back.

“Thank fuck,” Russel muttered.

Behind them the military ceased their chase when groaning undead decided to use the opening. Although not many around, it was enough to overwhelm anyone from following the rag tag band.

Noodle burst out laughing, nerves frayed as she collapsed onto the stretcher. 2D joined her, anxiety tapering off. Russel smirked, clearly in the same boat.

“I can’t believe we just fucking did that!”

“I can’t believe it actually worked! I promise I will never doubt you again man,” the drummer shoved Murdoc’s shoulder slightly.

2D and Noodle giggled in the back, trying to catch their breath. Murdoc breathed shallowly, finally succumbing to intense pain through his shoulders and left arm, he slumped slightly to grip at the arm, the ambulance swerved violently. Russel gave a shout of surprise, grabbing for the steering wheel, straightening them out.

“What the hell man!”

“I’m having a heart attack!”

“What? You’re kidding right?”

“No I’m not!”

The bassist groaned in agony trying to ease the increased pain in his chest. Russel reached with his foot, pushing Murdoc’s away from the gas.

“Jesus! Noodle, ‘D, someone, give me a hand. We need to stop!”

The singer slipped his arm around the Bassist’s shoulders to hold him back from the steering console. Russel wiggled his foot around to press on the brake. Noodle shoved fallen medical supplies off the stretcher, lurching when the ambulance stopped. The drummer got the ambulance into park and with help him and 2D got Murdoc onto the stretcher.

“What do we do?”

“AED, find an AED,” the bassist gasped.

Russel stayed at the front of the vehicle, not wanting to get in the way in such a small space; he watched on in fret. Noodle dug through supplies on her side while the singer scanned fallen objects and cubicles. He spotted a red zipped bag with AED printed on it. Scooping it up he set it on the stretcher near the satanist’s head.

“How do I use this?”

Already close to complete heart failure the bassist shoved his own shirt up feebly, beyond talking. He jabbed at his torso limply, the spots necessary for the device. Noodle grabbed the bag and unzipped it. She set the AED up and flicked it on. When the machine did nothing she smacked it, panicked. 2D chewed his nails. Russel ran a hand over his head, anxiously looking around for anything to help. Noodle fiddled shakily with the device, she flicked it on and off.

“He’s not breathing, what do we do? He stopped moving!”

“CPR,” Noodle suggested, voice high.

The AED pulsed suddenly making the bassist’s body jolt partly, not a lot. Noodle stared momentarily startled. When the device did it a second time the young woman leapt into action, she tilted the man’s head back listening for any breathing.

“What if he doesn’t make it?”

“Find a blanket or something warm to put on him,” Noodle leaned over the older man and started to give quick chest compressions between the pulses.

2D rubbed his eyes, hardly clearing away tears as he looked for a blanket. Russel tugged off the coat he had on, passing it to the singer. Haphazardly 2D laid his own jacket, Russel’s jacket and a recovery blanket over Murdoc, keeping his chest clear. Noodle built up a small sweat performing CPR on the man and for a tense minute 2D and Russel watched, breath held. When the satanist finally sucked in a sharp breath after another shock, Noodle gave an overjoyed cry. She hurried and removed the device, hugging the bassist. Russel let his breath go in a grateful manner.

“Don’t ever do that again! You stupid old fuck!”

2D joined the guitarist, hugging the satanist with her. Russel brushed his thumb over the corner of his eye chuckling tiredly.

“What the fuck is everyone laying on me for?” Murdoc garbled confused.

“You died you idiot,” Noodle cried, “fucking hate you, scared the shit out of us.”

“Is that all? No need for the water works,” despite that Murdoc weakly patted both of them, still disorientated.

Noodle leaned up gulping a few deep breaths to calm herself. 2D sniveled against the older man, still rather upset. Cleaning her face on a sleeve, Noodle checked the man’s pulse, monitoring it to make sure. She sniffed and distracted herself with checking the satanist so not to start crying again.

“I know we should rest a moment, but we’re still too close to the airport. We need to get moving.”

Russel nodded, “I’ll drive this time.”

The drummer climbed into the drivers seat. Noodle petted at 2D’s hair softly.

“Toochi, give me a hand, we need to get him properly under the blanket.”

The singer bobbed his head as he moved away. The bassist felt his heart clench at the mess 2D was in over him. The singer had redness forming around his eyes. Gently grabbing the singer’s large hand he gave it an affectionate squeeze. Very lightly, 2D returned the gesture before he righted the bassist’s shirt, helping Noodle cover the man properly. They laid the straps over the satanist only securing them to keep the man steady. The ambulance started to move again, a more sedate pace.

———

“I could really go for a rum and coke, maybe straight vodka. Beer. Anything really.”

“You just overdosed on something and had a heart attack like an hour ago,” Noodle gave the older man a bemused smile, “you already want back on the wagon?”

“Only one drink?”

“No. No smoking, drugs or alcohol for you,” 2D gave the man a stern frown.

“I was in the throes of cardiac arrest well before I took those pills. One of them was suppose to stave it off. Obviously I miscalculated.”

The petulant expression 2D gave Murdoc made the satanist choke on a laugh. He winced when he did, chest and torso aching.

“It’s not funny Muds! You died.”

“Well now I’m alive, give it a rest.”

Russel piped up from the front seat, “I don’t think Muds is capable of making bodily decisions for himself, who votes we treat him like an invalid?”

“I’m okay with that,” Noodle commented.

“Right, lets take my body autonomy away, that’ll solve my issues.”

“You stupid prick,” 2D murmured, “you scared us. You could have just died for good. Doesn’t that scare you?”

Murdoc glanced at 2D.

“Fucking terrifies me. Am I going to whinge about it? No. I’m alive, that’s all that matters right now. Live in the moment Dents, it’s a great life motto.”

“I could have lost you, what would I do then?”

“Hopefully off yourself too and join me,” at the sour look the singer shot Murdoc, the man back pedaled, “I don’t know Stuart, I didn’t intentionally die. You’d have Noodle and Russ.”

The singer sulked miserably to himself, “it wouldn’t be the same.”

Noodle slipped out of her spot, climbing into the passenger seat at the front. Although there wasn’t much privacy she didn’t want to pry by watching them bicker. The satanist searched for the singer’s hand only to have 2D snuff him, leaning away.

“Don’t touch me. I’m so angry with you.”

“Stuart.”

“You can’t even take my feelings seriously and things were improving. I was scared I’d lose you for good,” 2D bumped into the cubbies when Russel hit a pot hole, he winced, “I acknowledge your feelings, but you can’t give me the same?”

Fiddling with the straps, Murdoc wiggled free. Shifting over on the stretcher, which lacked much space, the bassist patted beside himself.

“C’mere,” 2D shook his head so Murdoc grabbed at him tugging him closer, something he wasn’t suppose to be doing, “I’m sorry, come lay. Please.”

Yielding, 2D somehow squeezed his lanky body on the stretcher beside the older man. Murdoc tucked his arm about the singer’s waist, holding him close. 2D rested his head against the man’s arm, frowning.

“Oh stop that, I apologized.”

2D struggled to keep from crying. Murdoc sighed pressing his forehead against the singer’s.

“I’m okay Stuart and I’m not gonna go anywhere if I can help it,” tilting his head slightly, Murdoc kissed the singer’s nose gently then his mouth.

“Your reckless and clearly insane,” the singer muttered against his lips.

Murdoc rolled his eyes tiredly, he squeezed the singer with his arm kissing him again. From there they remained quiet, relaxing awkwardly on the stretcher.

———

Russel drove until the ambulance ran dry, pulling over on the shoulder. They had been at it for hours, long since safely away from the airport. Noodle slipped out to stretch and crack her back.

“I wonder if we’re close to the water yet.”

Closing his door, Russel twisted his body to alleviate the numbness in his lumbar. The back of the ambulance opened and 2D hopped out, stopping to hold a hand out to the bassist. Murdoc would normally smack the offer away, but given the strain his body felt from earlier he graciously took the hand. Stepping down onto the ground he grimaced, rubbing his chest a bit.

“I guess we have to walk from here?”

2D peered around the ambulance at Russel.

“Yeah, not much else we can do without gas.”

Noodle came around stepping up into the back of the ambulance. She rooted around the supplies, making a bag of items to take with them. The guitarist made sure to stuff the AED into the bag.

“How’re you feeling Murdoc?”

“Sore as fuck.”

The guitarist nodded, she couldn’t expect the man to feel too well given the circumstances. Once she felt there were enough supplies in the bag she came back out, passing Russel and 2D their coats. The singer draped his over the bassist who ended up tugging it on properly.

No sense of where they were in conjunction to the water, they walked along. Houses lined the streets on either side, a suburban area. Most homes looked ransacked or open from people having fled. Toys and other common things laid strewn on spacious lawns, forgotten in the hurry. Noodle rubbed her arm seeing a few soggy newspapers mashed into the grass under a sprinkler. The device was giving a weak trickle of water, otherwise lacking the amount necessary for a stream. Some family vehicles remained permanently trapped in half opened garages. Yet strangely there were no zombies scattered around.

Something clattered at the side of a home, indiscernible for them where the noise originated. A black cat came out from under a vehicle, trotting up to them meowing. The group gave a collective sigh of relief upon seeing the untidy cat. It purred curling it’s thin body around their legs, looking for attention and food.

“Poor creature,” 2D mumbled.

“Looks like it hasn’t had much to eat for a while,” Russel crouched, gently petting the cat.

The cat nuzzled into the man’s hand, purring loudly. Noodle looked around for any other animals or threats.

“Lets just call it, we can stay in a house and recover. We need to eat, so does this little guy.”

Russel scooped the cat up, which relaxed in his arms content to be carried. A little more walking and the four of them decided on a beige house with an open garage door. 2D and Noodle released and worked the garage door closed. Once shut Russel let the cat down. The animal stuck close, purring still.

“Let me check the house,” 2D stepped up to the door to the house, “I’m stronger and faster.”

Unable to argue with the singer’s logic, the three of them including the cat, stayed back. The singer stepped into the house, closing the door softly. With no electricity running through the home it was dark despite the light from midday. 2D crept through the house carefully, checking all the nooks and crannies for any surprises.

He found a pantry full of dry and canned goods. He gagged at the pungent scent of rotting vegetables in the fridge which was ajar. Nudging it closed he proceeded upstairs. The third step from the top creaked and 2D paused to listen for any movement. Relaxing at no immediate sign of motion the singer continued. He checked through the rooms. A sadness washed over him at the sight of an infants room, painted in bright green with a lonely crib sitting among baby toys. He closed the door softly, resting his forehead on the wood. Desperately he hoped that the family and baby were safe somewhere away from all this.

Finally leaving the door he checked the last two rooms, a washroom and the master bedroom. He found no lingering unwanted guests and so came back down to the garage.

“It’s all clear.”

Looting through the home Noodle found a makeshift way to create a contained fire. With Murdoc’s help the two made food, the bassist needed a distraction. 2D looked at a dated map with Russel, unsure what they were doing.

“We started here,” Russel pointed to the airport, trailing his hand along a street, “now we’re roughly here. We need to get here.”

The drummer pointed to the water front. 2D sat back on the couch.

“Can’t we just make merry here forever?”

Noodle glanced up from what she was cooking, the kitchen being open to the living room.

“We are not staying here Toochi, I want to go home,” Noodle meant England despite the Spirit House having been their home for a while.

Murdoc hummed in agreement opening a can of food just to dump it into a bowl and put on the floor for the cat. The black animal began inhaling the food, not caring what it was. The satanist gave it’s head a pat or two.

“How are we gonna cross an ocean though?”

“Boat, plane, swimming, I really don’t care so long as we go home.”

“Do you think people are sick there too?”

Noodle paused what she was stirring.

“I don’t know, nobody mentioned anything about infection spreading beyond. For all we know the world is actually over. I want to hold out some hope it isn’t.”

Murdoc leaned on the counter near the guitarist. Everyone let pensive silence fall over them. If there was nothing left beyond North America, they would have to adapt.

Noodle served soup to the men before sitting on the island counter with her own. 2D stared at his bowl. He wasn’t hungry for soup. He couldn’t be sure what he was hungry for, but the idea of eating normal food put his stomach off. Sighing the singer set the bowl aside.

“Aren’t you hungry?”

“Not really, probably stress,” 2D smiled at the guitarist softly, “I’ll eat it later.”

Dropping the topic, Noodle nodded while eating.

———

Sleeping arrangements were split into shifts, Noodle suggesting someone should be awake to keep a watch or listen for any disruptions. Too weary to argue they agreed on turns. Russel volunteered for the first watch. The drummer sat up in the living room with a large wrench from a tool kit and the black cat. He waved night to them when they ascended the stairs. Noodle found a kids room with bunk beds and shrugged.

“Night you two.”

Left standing in the hallway, 2D slipped his hand into Murdoc’s, leading the man to the master bedroom. Pushing the door open they stepped in.

“Feels weird using someones bed.”

“I’m sure the owners wouldn’t be too upset.”

“Probably dead.”

2D swallowed, moving away to close the door. The singer leaned on it watching the satanist tug his shirt off. The setting sun cast an array of soft pastels on the room and man.

“You look really good in this lighting.”

Murdoc glanced at the singer, face set in an unreadable expression. Pushing off the door 2D strode closer, hands cupping Murdoc’s face. The bassist didn’t tug away so 2D felt encouraged dipping his head down to kiss the man. He kept it slow, barely creating any heat between them. Hands settled on 2D’s hips bringing him in closer.

Further spurred on by Murdoc sliding his arms around him more snugly, 2D moved his hands to tangle into the bassist’s hair. The singer parted his lips slightly to tease the other man’s lips into opening. Suddenly 2D was being pushed back, with little force.

“I can’t do this.”

“What, why? Was it too much or too little?”

“No, I meant my heart,” Murdoc rubbed his chest, one arm still securely around the singer, “not good timing.”

“Oh, we could just cuddle? No harm in cuddling right?”

Murdoc grabbed the singer’s chin with his thumb and finger bringing him close. He pecked the taller man before completely pulling away. 2D watched the man settle out in the bed before nudging his shoes off to join him. The singer snuggled close, pressing himself along the length of the older man. Murdoc raised a brow at the other feeling a hardness against his thigh.

“Excited much?”

“Shut up.”

Murdoc grinned tiredly while playing with 2D’s hair. The singer shifted to rest his head under the satanist’s chin, ear against his chest. Smiling to himself, Murdoc relaxed marginally. He kept his hand buried in 2D’s hair letting his exhaustion lull him to sleep. The singer listened to the man’s heart beat calmly under his head, unable to sleep. Under his breath he counted the beats to Murdoc’s heart, trying to soothe his mind. He found closing his eyes and matching the bassist’s breathing did nothing to fool his body either. 2D thought bitterly it was rather unfair how his favorite things were being ruined by this virus. He stayed still and loose so the satanist could continue to sleep while he remained unfortunately awake. At the least he could be aware should Murdoc’s heart have any other issues. Time passed and as morning peaked a light glow illuminated them and the room. The singer disentangled from the sleeping bassist to work his stiff joints. For a moment he could pretend it was some romantic get away, almost.

Although the four of them wanted to rush out the door and get to the water, it took almost a week before they decided to leave. Mostly they wanted to make sure the satanist was capable enough to take the journey. Secondly they felt horrible leaving the cat so they brought the bedraggled black animal with them. Lastly it was nice playing house without fear for their lives, but it had to end sometime. They packed, armed themselves and got fresh clothing before heading out on the seventh day, sun high in the sky. It was going to be a good day.

Chapter Text

This particular day was a horrible day. The sun had rose steadily higher into the sky. It got increasingly hot as they made way to the waterfront. Upon reaching it they were all sorely disappointed to see no water faring vehicles; none that operated. In the rush it seemed people had made off with boats, maybe in hopes of reaching Europe or somewhere not infected.

Noodle kicked a few rocks while they stood there at the ocean front, despondent. Their new feline companion mewed softly, twisting herself between legs and purring. Murdoc had been opposed at the idea of keeping her, even stating not to name her. He ended up breaking his own decision and named the poor cat Kraken after his favored rum. Said man dug out a half empty carton of smokes and a scuffed grey lighter. Surprisingly Noodle and Russel nabbed one off the bassist and for a few moments the four of them smoked in companionable silence.

The breeze off the ocean was salty and rather powerful, ruffling hair and clothing. Blowing out into the wind, Murdoc sighed.

“Suppose we could keep going along the beach till we find a boat.”

“What’s the point?” Noodle rubbed her eye while she smoked, “we’re tired. We’re hungry and we’ve been wandering around from place to place since this shit show started. We’re no further than before.”

Russel finished his cigarette first, dropping it and mashing it out under his sole.

“Could always set up shop somewhere, make a life in the ruins.”

“Fuck that,” Murdoc grunted.

“You rather we keep meandering about till we all either die of starvation or infection? Both sound pretty shit man.”

2D listened to them talk among themselves, quietly working on his own smoke. He felt more lethargic as the day wore on. He wasn’t sure why. Murdoc nudged him jolting him from his thoughts.

“Well Dents?”

“Huh? I wasn’t listening, sorry.”

Murdoc rolled his eyes, irritated.

“I asked you what you prefer? Find a boat or play house?”

Part of him wanted to return to England, but the thought of being on some vessel in the middle of the Atlantic terrified him. He shuddered at the thought of creatures in the depths; whales namely.

“Can’t we just stay here, maybe give it some time? Who knows maybe someone will come out here to help in rebuilding or what not. S’how it works in the movies.”

Noodle flicked her half finished smoke into the water, crouching to scoop Kraken up. She pet the cat softly.

“So that’s two against two. Maybe we should draw straws or flip a coin.”

The satanist waved a hand dismissively, frustrated. 2D fiddled with the hem of his borrowed, well it was his now, coat. His smoke remained forgotten when he dropped it. Russel dug through his bag, crouching to find what he wanted. Pulling out a change purse he produced a quarter.

“Why the fuck do you have that?”

“I figured money might be useful if we found other survivors.”

“Monetary value vanished when zombies happened.”

“Shut up man, I thought it might be handy, now it is. Lets flip a coin. Heads we keep looking for a boat since you refuse the use of a plane,” Murdoc gave the drummer a rude gesture, “tails we stay here till we find another opportunity to leave.”

Noodle patted Kraken, standing near Murdoc seeing as they both wanted to leave. Russel used his thumb to flick the quarter into the air. They all watched it come down, landing tails up. The drummer looked at Murdoc and Noodle.

“Guess we’re staying for a bit.”

“Fuck,” Murdoc turned away, “just fucking dandy. Lets go play house till we all die.”

The bassist kicked some debris grunting in pain right after. 2D fiddled his fingers lightly watching the guitarist and drummer. Noodle sighed.

“We may as well find somewhere contained, maybe within driving distance. Sure we could find a vehicle with a key.”

Russel nodded as he put the change purse away and righted his bag. It took some convincing to bring Murdoc round to the decision, but in time the man gave in.

Following their new plans they found some vehicles to stock with supplies before detouring out of the city center. Less density equaled less zombies. In the days that went with their travel away to a semi-secluded home on some land, 2D felt his energy slip away. It became harder and harder for him to function till one day the singer just collapsed in their temporary home. Russel found the tall man sprawled on the ground appearing dead to the world. With help from the others they transferred 2D to the living room couch of the home.

“He’s breathing still.”

“He has a pulse too,” Noodle cupped her chin.

“Probably fucking sleeping then,” Murdoc leaned down pinching the singer, which gave him no response.

Murdoc stood back beside the others shrugging.

“Maybe he just needs a nap, it’s been pretty hot lately and Toochi never does well in the heat.”

They left the singer to his nap, not finding anything wrong with the man that warranted immediate attention. Occasionally one of them would check 2D. It only became a problem when the singer remained in his slumber for more than a day. They found themselves standing at the couch watching the tall man again.

“Maybe he’s in a coma?”

“No, this is something different. I’ve seen him in a coma.”

“Then what? He can’t be sleeping.”

“Hibernating?” Murdoc rubbed his neck, “maybe it’s part of the virus.”

“I’ll be back tonight,” Noodle slipped away heading upstairs.

When she returned both Russel and Murdoc gave her a questioning glance.

“I’m going to ride out to the hospital or a clinic and see if I can find some lab equipment or testing devices. We’re utterly blind when it comes to 2D’s condition, I want to know what’s going on.”

“You’re not going alone,” the bassist looked ready to add more to his comment, but Noodle frowned.

“I don’t need to remind you that I’m capable.”

“Be safe,” Russel said softly.

Noodle gave them a firm nod before slipping out. Her car started up and within minutes the blue vehicle was speeding off down the dirt driveway. Russel moved off to feed the cat. Lifting 2D’s legs, Murdoc flopped into the couch, letting the singer’s legs drop onto his lap. He leaned on his hand, clearly bored.

“Y’know this wouldn’t be so terrible if I had something to cure my boredom. You’ve been no help,” idly the bassist began to stroke the singer’s clothed calf, “could be writing our next big hit, but no. World had to end. Last fucking concert too.”

2D shifted slightly under Murdoc’s hand, but otherwise remained, or appeared, asleep. Waiting to see if the singer roused, Murdoc groused when he was disappointed. Resuming his ministrations, he traced patterns into 2D’s leg. Russel stood in the archway of the living room watching the bassist.

“If he’s breathing he’s probably fine.”

“I know he’s fine. I’m not worried.”

Russel looked unconvinced. Murdoc stared firmly at a spot on the ground, trying to look casual.

“Whatever man, you do you.”

The drummer went back to the kitchen. An hour later Murdoc vacated the living room, letting 2D lay on the couch alone. The day passed in a sluggish manner, Russel and Murdoc tried to keep cool. When Noodle returned it was nearly ten at night and the house was lit up with candles. The guitarist came in with a box, which she deposited in the small office off the living room. Both men came to inspect what she had brought back.

“Y’sure this shit will be any use?”

“Yes, don’t touch that,” Noodle smacked the bassist away, “I can use it to analyze samples. It’s not much, but it may help me understand what the virus is doing to Toochi. So far we’ve all been too distracted with other stuff to think about how he’s managing.”

“And you know how to analyze samples? When did you have time to learn?”

“During the time between albums and tours where we weren’t exactly all on speaking terms.”

Murdoc made a sour face not commenting further. Noodle smiled softly.

“It’s in the past. Anyways, I can’t really set up in the candle light so I’m hitting the hay.”

The floor boards creaked behind them. With alarming speed everyone whipped around prepared to fight only to find 2D standing there.

“Toochi! You’re awake, how are you feeling?”

“Hungry,” 2D voiced slowly, wavering where he stood.

“I can make you something to eat,” Russel grinned lightly.

2D shook his head.

“I can’t eat that stuff anymore.”

“What stuff?”

“People food, normal food. I just vomit it back up. I didn’t want to upset anyone so I hid it,” 2D leaned on the door frame cupping his elbows, “I think I can only eat people now.”

An awkward yet tense silence settled between them. Noodle rocked on her feet slightly.

“Well, you haven’t attacked any of us so that’s good, but I don’t know how long that would last.”

“I won’t—I wouldn’t hurt you guys.”

“We know you wouldn’t 2D, but when you disappear,” Noodle gave an unhelpful motion with her hands.

“You become a fucking monster you’re not you anymore. We don’t know what to expect. You nearly ate me the first time.”

“You won’t let that go,” 2D huffed.

Murdoc muttered something about the singer not letting a certain incident go while crossing his arms. 2D glared at the satanist before thinking better of an argument, he relaxed his features.

“I think I’ll be fine without for a bit, but I might collapse here and there,” 2D sighed rubbing his arms, “it’s not as strong as before, it could increase though, I really don’t know.”

Noodle glanced back at her box of lab equipment, “I’ll set up tomorrow so I can start taking some tests. It’s not the best setting, but that can’t be helped.”

The guitarist shooed the men out of the side office. With that they dispersed to separate areas of the house. Russel retreated upstairs to a room, closely followed by Noodle. 2D planted himself on the couch quietly, flickering candle light illuminating him. The bassist flopped down onto the furniture beside the singer. He rested his arms on the back rest portion of the couch. With no prompting the singer shifted over, resting against the bassist. He dropped his head down onto Murdoc’s shoulder, smiling to himself when the older man slipped his arm around him.

His body felt strange, almost like he had drank too much coffee. Somehow buzzing with energy, yet exhausted from lack of sleep or food, he wasn’t sure. He felt Murdoc’s cheek press against his messy blue hair. For a moment he was safe and okay, he could momentarily ignore the subtle changes to his person.

———

The days dragged into weeks and soon almost four months had passed living in the farm style home. They had made it their own, playing out some mockery of house. Murdoc had found the monotony laborious on his mind, finding no way to alleviate it other than to write in journals he found during bi-weekly raids. He was slowly slipping into a state of sobriety he never imagined reaching having ran out of smokes one month in. Strangely it improved his mental state enough that he was decent human being. The other two found it greatly helped conversation and game nights.

Noodle set up her make shift laboratory in the small office off the living room, studying samples of 2D’s blood. The conditions for study were unsanitary, but she couldn’t do any better. The heat also made slaving over samples difficult and sweaty. She found focusing intently on reading textbooks and blood increasingly hard. Russel suggested raiding a hardware store for plastic sheeting to at least seal in the area, she decided that was more work than it was worth. The drummer had left that debate alone, focusing on Kraken and making life moderately easier without electricity. Somehow they managed.

Occasionally they found new ways to entertain themselves, card games, raiding stores, fireworks, really just anything to keep the draw for self destruction at bay. They even took up instruments in a visit to a music store. Russel found building things for their duration at the farm home created a moderately fun environment. Even Murdoc found routine in their post apocalyptic situation.

However as the days went 2D became less active and despondent. He would sleep for days on end, somehow remaining as normal as one could while infected. This feature of their new life was the only struggle. Other days the singer would actively wander the house or fields nearby the home, aimless and unaware he was doing so. Occasionally when 2D slipped away the bassist would come into the kitchen harried, scrambling to find the singer. Both Russel and Noodle decided after the fifth time to tie the taller man to a cord so he didn’t disappear entirely. Today was such a day.

Noodle used some string to play with Kraken, leaning on the kitchen table, snickering at the black cat. The summer heat left her too drained to work on 2D’s condition. Russel was trying to construct a greenhouse alone in the front yard, thankfully shaded by the home. In a daze 2D hobbled by the drummer his hand crafted cord leash dragging behind him, hooked around his waist.

“Hey ‘D, how’re you holding out buddy?” Russel wiped his brow, glancing to the blue haired man.

The singer mumbled incoherently stumbling off. Today wasn’t a lucid day Russel assumed. He shrugged and resumed working on the wood frame. Despite the lack of electricity and running water, it became essential for them to make something similar to an outdoor shower. It served it’s purpose even if it was horrible. At the least they could be clean and have a way to keep morale up. Russel was proud of his handy work regardless of complaints. The front door opened to reveal Murdoc brandishing a towel, soap and a hand cloth. Russel raised a brow in question.

“Not for me,” was Murdoc’s response as he crouched to grab the long cord laying on the ground.

He yanked the thick line until the singer came back around the house towards him. Russel nodded in understanding.

“C’mere Stu. Feels like I’m taking after a fucking dog.”

“He’s not responsive today.”

“He hardly is anymore,” Murdoc dropped the leash and gently pressed the supplies into 2D’s arms, “take those, you need a bath.”

2D grasped the stuff loosely, dropping the bar of soap. Murdoc sighed and bent to scoop it up. He had no energy to feel frustrated at the singer. Setting the soap onto the pile of things he stood beside the singer. Resting a hand on the small of 2D’s back he urged the singer to walk with him. With the heat they all built up a sweat easily, Murdoc took to wearing a t-shirt and shorts, it’s not like anyone would tease him; they were all roasting in the same weather.

“Y’know it might be easier if—”

“I’m an expert at looking after this idiot, I think I can manage.”

Murdoc lead the taller man around to their make shift bathing station, out of view from Russel. The drummer snorted while resuming his work. Bathing the singer was an ordeal that normally resulted in Murdoc getting quite soaked. At the end of it, dressing the tall man was equally frustrating because the singer always attempted to walk off nude. Today was no different and Murdoc cursed off and on while getting the man into underpants.

“Will you just stop moving,” the bassist forced the singer to sit on the wooden bench near their shower station, “holy hell.”

Murdoc dried the mop of damp blue hair. He hated how lackluster the singer had been lately. He moved his hands to cup the blank face.

“You have a knack for freaking people out.”

He slumped at 2D’s lack of response. Pulling away he got the man into his clean shirt and worked the khakis up long legs.

“Y’know as far as your fashion is concerned this isn’t a terrible look for you.”

Murdoc admired the singer thoughtfully. The soft green polo worked well with the dark brown of the khakis. Maybe it was a bit self-absorbed dressing the singer in one of his favorite colors, but the blue and green were pleasant to see.

2D perked up, head cocking to the side like an animal. The bassist gave the other a troubled look, perplexed at the sudden awareness. He looked around for what could have caused the singer to snap to it. That was when he spotted a person, a normal uninfected individual in the field attempting to hide in the taller grass. His eyes darted to the singer then the leash.

“Stuart no,” Murdoc reached for the leash.

His gut told him if he didn’t stop the singer they would be in a whole lot of shit. The instant he reached the taller man with the leash 2D took off running.

“Fuck! Stuart!”

Dropping the long cord he bolted after the singer. He swore breathlessly at his shorter legs.

“2D! Don’t eat him!”

The survivor gave a surprised shout and jolted to their feet, turning tail and making to get away. By now the shouting had attracted Russel and Noodle, both of which came around looking about baffled. Unknown to any of them at that moment, other survivors were approaching from afar, watching the events unfold.

In a show of great athleticism, Murdoc leapt at the singer, taking him down hard to the ground with a sharp exhale of air. 2D growled and struggled to yank the other man closer, having successfully grabbed the man’s ankle.

“No! Sweet satan you cannot eat him!”

“What the fuck is that?” The survivor kicked at the singer’s face which aggravated 2D further.

Murdoc panted heavily, striving to keep his grip on 2D. He grunted painfully when 2D harshly elbowed him in the ribs. His hold loosened just enough for the singer to surge forward and pin the other man down. A stuttered scream rushed out of the survivor when 2D bit into the man’s arm, ripping huge pieces of his muscle and flesh off. Murdoc stared on in horror, holding his side. The singer devoured the chunk, dipping back in to rip the man’s neck open.

Squeezing his eyes shut, Murdoc covered his ears.

“Okay, everything is okay. Fuck!”

Bloodied hands grabbed at his face after a seemingly brief moment. A few long moments had passed.

“Muds,” 2D sounded like himself, “Muds are you okay?”

“We need to stop meeting like this,” he voiced weakly, slowly uncovering his ears.

“I’m sorry, I couldn’t stop myself. I didn’t hurt you did I?”

The satanist shifted onto his front, stopping at the imagery of human entrails spilling out on the sides of broken ribs. 2D quickly pulled the bassist away from the corpse.

“Just uh, don’t look at that.”

“I won’t be sleeping for a while,” the bassist muttered.

“I broke Noodle’s promise,” 2D pouted, his innocent expression ruined by blood and unidentified chunks on his face and clothing.

Murdoc looked around the singer towards the house at the mention of the guitarist. What he saw made him give a panicked holler.

“O-Oi! Let ‘em go!”

Some strangely dressed people were hauling the two band members away towards trucks. Murdoc was lost, had this been some elaborate plot to capture them? 2D blocked his view rather quickly. Murdoc opened his mouth to protest when a horrible spray of blood hit him. Stunned he blinked, grabbing onto 2D when the man slumped into him. The singer clung to him wincing. There was a darker rush of blood from somewhere on the taller man’s chest or shoulder, Murdoc couldn’t discern where.

“S-sorry ‘bout breaking that promise,” 2D’s legs started to give out.

“Who cares about the fucking promise you idiot, just keep talking.”

People were converging on them. Murdoc made an effort to hold 2D up, distressed with the strange survivors surrounding them. A man raised a hand, hesitant.

“It’s alright buddy, we’re here to help you. Just let the infected go and come with us.”

Hugging the singer tighter to himself, Murdoc bared his sharp teeth.

“Back the fuck off! Let my friends go and leave us the fuck alone!”

“Sir we’re not going to hurt your friends or you.”

“You shot Stuart!”

“Stuart is infected and he just attacked one of my men.”

2D whined pathetically against Murdoc, his grip slackened. Murdoc caught a person trying to circle further around them.

“Get away! I don’t want your fucking help!”

The main man nodded to the other person. Murdoc hissed when a small dart hit his neck.

“We’re going to take care of you and your friends, you’re safe now.”

Everything went sideways. Blearily he could see Stuart’s face in front of him. Boots entered his vision and then he was lifted. He watched the singer’s form get further away as they dragged his limp body. The strangers apparently felt no need to make sure and left 2D to lay in the grass and dirt, a pool of blood forming about his shoulder. Murdoc blinked and everything finally went comfortably black.

When the trucks rolled away a soft breeze blew through the fields. Kraken watched from the window as her new owners were taken away, followed by the darkening of the skies. Coincidentally after months of heat it chose today to rain.

Chapter Text

His eyes slid open slowly. He felt dazed and winced at the small stinging drops of water hitting his face. Shifting onto his side he grasped his shoulder, hissing at the sharp pains. Memories of what had happened came back to him and he lifted his head to look around. He couldn’t make out anything other than wet grass, the remains of the man he had attacked and his own pool of coagulated blood. How much time had passed? Forcing himself up he groaned when his joints almost protested.

“Muds?”

Looking about he couldn’t see the bassist or anyone for that matter. Holding his shoulder he stumbled back to the farm house, pushing his way into the building. Kraken came out of hiding mewing incessantly.

“Where is everyone?”

He gave the cat a questioning glance.

“I guess you can’t tell me much, you’re just a cat.”

Kraken meowed loudly, clearly demanding food. Huffing with little humor he hobbled around, careful to avoid tripping on the cat to get her food and appease her. He explored the house finding nobody. So the strange people had taken them. Sighing he slipped into the bedroom Murdoc had claimed. He needed to assess his injury and he knew there was a big mirror in the bassist’s room.

Attempting to remove his shirt proved difficult when his shoulder protested the movement. Growing frustrated he sat heavily on the bed, he would work on his khakis then. After many stuttered gasps and cringes he finally kicked the clinging fabric away. Taking a deep breath he quickly struggled his way out of the shirt, he cried in pain. Shaking he clutched the wounded area, hunching over himself. It took him a moment to catch his breath. When he was able he wandered over to a body length mirror covered with a sheet which he tugged away to see himself head to toe.

“Oh god,” he leaned closer to inspect the bullet wound, but all he could see was a blackened area with dark veins spreading from it.

The skin wasn’t broken or bleeding anymore. He touched at the spot. It was tender, very tender but healed over. He pulled back looking around confused. How long was he unconscious for? Where were the others? Were they okay? He started to pace, anxiety rising. Admittedly he was concerned about his own well being, but thinking about that made his nerves more frazzled.

“What do I do? What do I do?”

He clutched at his hair. He felt so useless. He was all alone with no idea how to find the others. He stopped and chewed on his thumb nail. What if they were already dead? Abruptly he shook his head, ridding that thought from his mind.

“I—I need to clean up and redress. Start small and work up to the bigger things.”

Not entirely sure where his clothing was he made to the dresser and sifted through Murdoc’s clothing. He pulled a pair of faded grey jeans out and a simple navy blue shirt. He glanced down to his rather wet underpants and figured the older man wouldn’t mind. Grabbing some simple white underpants he worked on changing those first. It took a few tries to dress, but he managed.

Slipping out of the bassist’s room he ducked into Russel’s room and found himself some socks. He nabbed a baseball cap as well. He came downstairs again looking for some shoes. Kraken trotted over to him, purring. Tucking his semi-dry hair into the cap he crouched to pet Kraken.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do with you. I can’t leave you here, but I can’t really take you.”

He stood again spying some hiking boots by the front door, which was ajar. He closed the door softly before grabbing the boots then a coat Noodle had hung up above them. Once dressed to go he looked at Kraken again.

“Did Russ leave your harness in his room?”

Kraken sat and watched him back. He sighed and went back upstairs. Returning to the cat, now carrying the harness and dog leash, he got Kraken set up.

“This place is no use now without the others. We’re going to take a nice long drive, see if we can’t find something.”

He packed some bags and loaded up the black pickup truck Russel had chose. Kraken had hissed her displeasure at being put into the vehicle, he ignored her. Starting the truck he pulled out only to stop and stare at the house quietly, contemplative. He bite his lip resuming his journey down the dirt driveway. He needed to find his friends.

Flicking the CD player on he chuckled at the familiar music of a pop singer. Kraken settled on the passenger seat, grumpy. He grinned and bopped to the music. He had no idea where to look, but he figured they had a fifty-fifty chance going one way or another.

“Guess it’s just you and me for a bit, have to get use to each other. Gonna have to remind me to feed yeah, I’m a little forgetful. Hope you don’t mind I eat humans. Only bad humans, I think.”

Kraken’s ear twitched at his voice.

“I never hurt my friends. Don’t tell them but I had to fight this horrible instinct to eat for so long. I’m kinda beat, mentally. When that guy showed up it seemed like a good idea to have a snack. Muds didn’t agree, but I can’t control myself sometimes.”

The cat made an annoyed noise when they hit a pot hole. She tucked her legs in when no more bumps happened. He continued, music turned low.

“You seem to like me despite my strangeness,” he smiled at the cat.

Kraken appeared to be listening, but honestly she was dozing. He didn’t mind. It was slightly different in his mind, talking to the cat rather than Murdoc while he was drugged.

“You’ll see, when we get home things will be better, I’ll learn to manage my eating habits and you can come live with us. You’ll like it Kraken, we’ll get a nice big home for you to wander about.”

The weather picked up again so he turned the wipers on.

“I really hope they’re okay. I don’t think I could manage if I lost them.”

Kraken had her eyes closed. He sighed gripping the steering wheel watching the road while Britney Spears sang under the rain.

———

The singer drove for a while, stopped places and searched in and around buildings or homes. Nothing stood out as a clue for him. Then again he wasn’t even sure what to look for or what constituted a clue. When night came he kept going, he didn’t need sleep anyways since the mutation happened.

2D was a little under prepared when a zombie appeared in front of the truck on the street. He hit the brakes which made the sleeping cat jerk, rousing her. Agitated with the singer, Kraken hissed, hopping down from the seat to hide in the bags on the floor. 2D gave the cat an apologetic look.

“Sorry Kraken, give me a moment.”

He peered into the night at the zombie walking by the truck, clearly disinterested in him. Part of him feared attack but he figured with his increased strength he could take an undead easily. Sucking up a deep breath, 2D hopped out of the truck closing the door. Idiotically he realized then that he could have just run the thing down. When the walking corpse ignored him he frowned.

“That’s just rude,” he strode over, standing in front of the upright rotting body.

Waving his hand in front of the zombie’s face, 2D tilted his head puzzled.

“Am I invisible?”

The zombie brushed past him, tromping unevenly off the road into a ditch. When the body fell into the water and groaned, unable to articulate enough to climb out, 2D just watched still confounded.

“Weird,” 2D squinted uncertainly, “but maybe useful? I could test this. Noodle would be proud.”

He saddened at the thought of the young woman. Hurrying back into the truck he put the vehicle back into drive. Moving along he tapped anxiously at his thigh, one hand resting on the steering wheel.

“Sorry again Kraken, didn’t mean to give you a scare, gave myself one.”

Said feline remained nestled in the bags. He drove well into the morning, nattering here or there to the cat, just to fill the void with no other people. Occasionally over the next two days he parked to feed the black fluff ball, let her out to do her business and walk her around. Both of them spent another day of travel before the truck ran out of gas. 2D fussed trying to start it multiple times then finally gave up.

“You fancy a walk Kraken?”

Kraken was comfortably snuggled inside a bag, she hardly noticed the singer’s dilemma or question. When 2D unceremoniously scooped her up from the warmth of clothing she mewled loudly, angrily. The singer cooed to her as he hooked the leash to the harness.

“Awe sorry, I know it sucks. We can’t stay in the truck forever,” 2D opened the door and slid out with the cat, “besides once we find the others you know Russel will be frettin’ all over ‘bout your well being.”

He reached in grabbing the most important bag, it carried cat food, a couple weapons and clothing. Nudging the door shut he set off with Kraken, gently tugging the cord.

“Y’know this reminds me of when I was tied up, I wasn’t entirely there but I remember everyone being worried about me. I had a leash too,” he glanced to Kraken, she was less than pleased, “I feel terrible scaring everyone again. I can’t seem to stop that.”

2D worried his lip while they walked.

“Do you think they regret keeping me around? I must be such a burden.”

Kraken trotted beside him, ears flattened in her irritation at having her harness on. 2D thought back to the farm house and his hazy memories.

———

His vision wasn’t focused, everything had a blurred appearance like he was looking through fogged glass. His sense of touch and smell worked in tenfold, which is how he recognized the faint smell of peppermint gum and old cigarette smoke approaching. His mind supplied him with an image of the bassist, even if his eyes couldn’t.

“What are you doing way out here again? If you keep this up we’re going to leash you up like a mutt.”

He understood the words though his mind struggled to give his mouth some to speak back. There was a noise, crunching and suddenly he was looking away from the muggy image of Murdoc to beige fields. He couldn’t locate the noise, but somehow he knew it kept drawing him outside.

“What are you gawking at? There’s nothing out here Dents. C’mon, lets go inside,” a warm hand slipped into his, “I like it better when you’re close.”

Part of him wanted to protest and explain that there was something out there, watching them. He didn’t know how he knew this, just that a part of his mind sensed another person. Murdoc tugged his arm, leading him away from the noise. He was frustrated and so, so hungry. It took every part of him not to turn on the shorter man.

“Tonight you’re gonna stay with me, sick of coming downstairs to find you missing. Gonna give me another heart attack.”

Time meant nothing to him, he honestly had no idea how much time had passed since entering this state. It was somewhat pleasant, living in a haze; it also sucked, he would go in waves of hunger and lucidity.

His surroundings changed as did the temperature. Murdoc lead him upstairs, he nearly tripped, his motor skills were dulled as well. They stopped at the top, he wanted to return outside.

“I miss you,” he felt warm hands cupping his face.

He missed the other too. He missed being normal. If he could just eat he would be okay, everything would reset and his mind would return. Thumbs rubbed his cheek, the skin was again warm and a little rugged.

“I haven’t the faintest if you even understand me like this,” his head was pulled down some and the other man kissed him, the heat from his mouth was much more intense than his hands.

The kiss was brief, probably because he couldn’t articulate a response to the action. Murdoc sighed almost melancholy sounding. The hands disappeared and soon enough so did the fuzzy image of the bassist.

“Just stay here, I mean it.”

For once he was able to obey a command, if for a few minutes. His body and mind was drawn to the field again. There was someone there, he just had to find them.

———

2D hummed a tune while they walked, he would have to thank Murdoc for being so gentle and patient with him. It must have been difficult for the satanist. It honestly must have been hard for all of them, seeing 2D in such a way. Kraken hissed loudly, bringing him out of his strange yet pleasant memories. The cat had stopped, fur puffed up. The singer stopped too looking about for the cause of such rigidity in the cat.

“Kraken there’s nobody about, c’mon. We need to find shelter before night.”

2D lightly wiggled the leash trying to convince Kraken to walk. She remained stiff and ready to attack or flee. Having a peek around once more, 2D spotted nothing abnormal about their surroundings. The road was empty and neither side held anything of interest. He tugged the cord with some force, Kraken skittered behind the singer. Frowning he turned and crouched.

“Kraken I haven’t a clue what’s got you so scared. There isn’t a soul around.”

After a moment the cat seemed to relax. 2D felt more than lost about the feline’s apparent behavioural shift. Sighing he put it out of mind, standing and resuming their journey. There was a faint noise in the air that caused the singer to halt again. Tilting his head up his eyes widened comically at the sight of a plane.

“T-that! That’s a plane! Kraken look’it that!”

The aircraft was high in the sky yet low enough to make out some detail. 2D saw the British Airforce emblem on the side. He waved his arm frantically, almost certain they couldn’t see him.

“I have to let everyone know! Oh god this is fantastic,” he grinned widely at the cat then stared back to the plane, watching it go off towards he didn’t know where, “do’yeah know what this means? It means there’s got to be a military in England. S-so even if infection is there, there’s some sort of centre. We can go home!”

With renewed vigour, 2D scooped Kraken up and took off at a faster rate down the road. He needed to find the other three as soon as possible. Murdoc’s fear be damned they were going to take a plane. Kraken dug her claws into 2D’s clothing, very much disturbed by his exuberant behaviour and manhandling she was experiencing.

———

2D cocked his head at the road sign. Kraken was back to being on the ground. The road forked ahead of them. The singer looked to the left seeing trees. He glanced to the right seeing…trees.

“Ugh, I don’t know which way to go.”

He felt hopelessness again. Some groaning and shuffling made him jerk around, startled by a small horde of zombies stumbling along out of the trees onto the road towards them. He remained tense and unmoving. This was his chance to test the theory. Kraken meowed anxiously. He picked the cat up and held her close. The bodies stunk horribly of decaying flesh. He gagged. When the zombies made past him and Kraken, one of them bumped into him growling, 2D went with the motion. He was lead down the right side.

“This isn’t so bad Kraken…I mean sure they reek and I feel like that one smeared pus on me, but this could work. They seem to know where they wanna go.”

Kraken couldn’t disagree more. She struggled in 2D’s hold. The singer kept her in his arms a little tighter.

“It’s like I’m one of them, it’s creepily flattering and terrible all at the same time. I hope this doesn’t mean I’m rotting.”

2D examined himself while he walked with the zombies. His skin looked moderately normal, a little tan. He figured all the sun he got from wandering the fields did that to him. Briefly he thought to the healed injuries on his shoulder and calf.

“I don’t feel rotten. Maybe I’m deteriorating inside?”

The familiar buzz filled his ears and his vision blurred. Kraken hissed and spit at him. He stopped and let the zombies shove past him. He spotted a struggling group of survivors, three, two men and one woman. His heart rate increased. They were on the road between cars, something had happened and one of them was trapped. 2D shook his head trying to recover himself.

“No, no eating them. I can’t do that again, Noodle would be so disappointed with me.”

But just one wouldn’t be so terrible.

Dropping Kraken, who landed safely and ran to hide from the singer, 2D clicked his teeth.

“Just one. One isn’t so bad,” he walked into the group of zombies ambling towards the panicked survivors.

One of them ran forward and started to peg off zombies. When he came to beam 2D in the head the singer grabbed the iron shovel, halting the man. The guy gave 2D a petrified look, staring into black. 2D grit his teeth, he gripped the handle so hard the wood started to splinter.

“I won’t hurt you, I won’t. I can control myself,” the man jerked away from the singer bewildered.

2D dropped the shovel. The clatter and twang of the metal vibrating loud enough to bring him back to his self.

“that thing just SPOKE!” The man scrambled to help his friends.

“I-I’m sorry! I won’t hurt you,” 2D held his head as he stumbled towards them, pushing a few straggling zombies away.

“Oh fuck! What the hell is he?” The woman’s voice was shrill.

With casual ease 2D broke the last few zombie’s heads with an elbow to the face. He breathed hard through his mouth, the urge to feed pounding viciously in his mind. Reaching a hand out towards them he swallowed audibly.

“I can help you.”

“Stay the fuck away you— monster!”

“No, I promise I’m not actually that bad,” 2D leaned into a car watching them cautiously.

They stared back, clearly on edge. Ultimately they weren’t certain how to deal with the singer. 2D could see the second man was trapped in a car which was pinned between the barrier and another car. He gestured to the stuck man.

“I could help you,” 2D wondered to himself how.

“You won’t hurt us?”

“No, no I’m good. It comes and goes, I can behave.”

The woman and man exchanged a look before backing up some to allow 2D room to approach the car. The man inside the pinned car stared intently at the singer. Hesitating 2D scrutinized the vehicle against the driver side door. He could try pushing it.

Stepping at the side opposite to the two survivors 2D planted his hands against the edge near the hood. Grunting 2D pushed hard against the vehicle. The metal waned under his hands, denting inwards with the pressure. Narrowing his eyes 2D tired more earnestly. Finally the car gave some, skidding towards the survivors, it was slow but definite. His shoulder flared with pain causing him to stop. Slumping into the car to hold his sore side, he huffed.

“That was insane,” the woman stared at 2D in awe, making her way around to the now freed car.

“What are you?”

2D blinked owlishly at the other man, “well I’m a musician.”

“Right. Look man if you want to come with us you’re welcome too. We could use someone like you.”

It was such a kind offer. 2D rubbed the still sore area on his shoulder.

“I can’t. I’m not safe.”

“You would be so useful,” the woman looked over.

2D sighed, “I gotta look for my own friends. Thanks though.”

They accepted his answer and when capable they left him there. He was grateful because he felt his mind slipping. He held his face groaning. He almost jumped them, but he hadn’t. He was good. Scrubbing his face he lowered his hands remembering Kraken.

“Oh bugger,” 2D stepped away from the car, “Kraken! Here kitty kitty.”

He found himself crawling around looking under cars for the cat. When he found the black animal he coaxed her out, taking the leash.

“Sorry love, I shouldn’t have left you.”

2D knelt to give her kisses and pats, soothing her. Kraken eased into his affections, purring softly.

“Lets you and me get ourselves a place for the night.”

———

2D stared at the ceiling his limbs spread wide. Turning his head he was disappointed to see only Kraken curled up beside him. He missed Murdoc and their nightly conversations. Looking at the ceiling again he sighed. Now aware he was safe from harm, at least from zombies, he held no fear just resting wherever. He made a mental checklist.

I eat people.

I don’t sleep.

I don’t think I’m decaying. Maybe?

I’m no closer to finding everyone than the day before.

I don’t get migraines anymore, that’s honestly a bonus.

Pretty strong. I mean I pushed a car.

I miss making music. I miss normal.

The last one brought a deep ache in his chest. He missed writing music and singing. Practice with the gang and late night movies. Smoking on the front step with Murdoc. Discussing current events and painting nails with Noodle. Reading while Russel cooked. He squeezed his eyes shut staving off his tears. Nothing would ever be normal again. He brought a hand up, smudging the start of his tears. So much time had passed with his condition that he wasn’t sure if he could ever achieve normalcy again.

Breathing deep, 2D exhaled into the silence of the room. He had found an abandoned home with which they could spend the night. Or at the least a couple hours. And though he no longer craved it a nice couple drags off a smoke would have been grand at that moment. Being unable to sleep made him bored. Boredom meant he started thinking. Groaning he brought both his hands to his face, Kraken made a noise of discontent. 2D peeked a look at her.

“Sorry Kraken, don’t mind me. I’m having a mental breakdown. But now you’re awake, maybe we could hit the road again?”

She curled up and drifted back to sleep. 2D pouted petulantly.

“Well now, just have a nice long nap, enjoy it for me will you,” 2D grumbled and tugged the ball cap over his face, “I’ll just have me a nice long wank, won’t that be nice? Nobody here to complain ‘cept you.”

With no reaction from the cat 2D lifted the hat and rolled his eyes.

“If I start dwelling on thoughts too long give me a swat. Can’t let my mind wander too far or I’ll just end up being a mess of snot and tears.”

Dropping the hat over his face again 2D closed his eyes and tried to visualize something peaceful. Granted his imagination could be vivid, he always found it tough to fantasize. His reality was always far more insane than anything he could imagine.

Come morning he fed his furry companion before heading out. Kraken was more amendable to wearing her harness, meowing off and on to 2D. The singer snickered at the talkative cat.

“Someone is in good spirits.”

Traveling for hours, pausing again for Kraken to eat, drink and do business, 2D wanted to make it a fair distance. They did manage to make it to the next town or city, 2D wasn’t sure how big the location was. The first thing he noticed was the fair amount of undead wandering around.

“Much more active here, c’mon Kraken lets have a poke around. Might find some clues or something.”

Exploring the general vicinity 2D happened upon some evidence of recent activity. Whether it was from the people that took his band mates he couldn’t be certain. Tire tracks left on a road heading up through the town, or city, towards an unknown destination. Shrugging to himself, 2D figured it couldn’t hurt to check it out.

———

The singer regretted the stupid thought, ‘it couldn’t hurt,’ because damn did he hurt now. Wincing, 2D picked some prickles out of his clothing. The tire tracks lead to a home where a crazed man and his wife had assaulted him the moment he set foot on their property. Fleeing with the cat had landed him in a bush or plant, something scratchy. He grumbled and shook his clothes a bit to be rid of the pin pricks of pain.

“If I make stupid decisions on behalf of us please just meow loudly or something.”

Kraken made no indication that she agreed or disagreed with him. 2D found himself sighing for the umpteenth time that day.

“This is turning into a nightmare.”

He wondered if he’d slip into another haze without food. He dreaded that.

“Lets try our hand at some hot-wiring,” his thoughts quickly slipped to the satanist, “I sort of remember how to do it.”

2D found them a decent vehicle that had good mileage, that he knew of. Hooking the leash to something he set about hot-wiring the car. A few good attempts later the car rumbled to life. 2D hooted in victory before clambering out of the cramped spot on the floor of the car.

“Now we can travel much faster, or until the gas runs out.”

Talking to the cat eased his crushing loneliness hovering at the back of his thoughts. She couldn’t verbally respond, but it was good enough knowing she could listen. Transferring her to the car and tossing his bag into the back he shut the door and off they went.

———

Time passed and as hours became days, 2D felt the clawing urge to feed ebb away his mental facilities. At this point he wasn’t sure where they were, how far they’d gone or if he’d ever find his friends again. Their transport had lasted a substantial amount of time and 2D even managed refueling. Their current residence was a marginally large town with smashed out stores, festering bodies and trash blowing about. His mind was slipping the longer he went without food and in the last day till now he hadn’t spoken a word to Kraken. Speaking was too difficult. His only will to continue was to make sure she was well cared for and finding his friends.

Parked at the side of a street in the main drag, 2D stared ahead blank and unseeing. Kraken meowed and broke his trance. He turned to look at her confused. She clawed at the door like a dog to be freed, possibly to go to the washroom or something else. 2D struggled to follow the request, climbing out of the car with her leash in hand. Momentarily he wondered what cat would taste like, but made a face before the thought fully formed. He had some of his wits about him, he wasn’t going to succumb to these zombie needs that easily.

Kraken meowed again, trying to move around and get them going. 2D sighed and walked with her, glancing around to see if anything stuck out. Nothing did, of course. It truly felt like a horror film now, everything was in shambles no matter where he looked. Brought from his dazed viewing he jerked when Kraken bolted, frightened by a zombie wandering near, her leash slipping from his slack grasp. Fear clenched at his heart and he attempted to go after her, but too late. Standing in the middle of an intersection he fiddled his fingers.

“Kraken,” his voice warbled from disuse, “Kraken come back…please. I can’t do this alone.”

She was gone and it was his fault.

“Stupid, so stupid. They’ll be so mad at me,” 2D mumbled, voice slurring the more he drifted into his hungered state.

And like a switch he suddenly couldn’t comprehend why he had been worried. Sure she was gone, but she was a cat. Cats could look after themselves. Distantly he heard a noise and altered his path wandering away from the street. Searching for the noise he happened upon a small group of flesh eaters stumbling off into a more ritzy looking sector. Not realizing he was following on, 2D went with them, if only to see where that noise was from. It reminded him of the field.

They came to the perimeter of a rather elegant and gated college. Strange, the noise emanated from within the boundary. 2D shuffled along with his new friends seeking an entry. Time ceased for him while like this. It was almost night time when something whizzed past him causing one of the bodies to collapse. His mind screamed bullet and gun, but his body just toddled on like no one’s business. Another zombie dropped and faintly 2D heard louder noises, voices. Shouting maybe. There was a disconnect between his mind and body, enough so he couldn’t quite discern what was going on. His vision was no help and he relied on hearing and smell. Bodies dropped around him like flies until suddenly it was only him standing at the back gates to the property. His mind knew it would be him next, it had to be, but there was no shouting. The guns were silent. The gate creaked open and before he knew it arms were around him, crushing him in a hug. It was warm and safe. He smelt peppermint gum and cigarette smoke.

Chapter Text

Although unconscious for the start of the journey, the strange survivors placed a bag over Murdoc’s head and zip tied him. Russel and Noodle were treated in a very similar fashion. The three of them spent nearly the entirety of the trip like that, minus pit stops to allow them a chance to stretch and do business. After it was obvious the survivors wouldn’t answer questions they remained quiet. It took roughly two days to reach the unknown destination, at which point the bags were removed; the zip ties being taken off previous to arrival. The three of them were mentally and emotionally exhausted after spending two days getting next to no sleep with burlap bags over their heads. When the local area was revealed they honestly couldn’t be more surprised.

The grounds surrounding an old stone work college were bustling with activity, people were moving about either tending to a large garden or other varies plots for self sufficiency. Noodle was impressed by the level of community occurring within the walls, despite the outside world. Taking that moment to stretch soreness from stiff joints, Murdoc cracked his back, he wouldn't compliment these people for a job well done. They had no reason to drag them here in such a manner. Russel was wary of the scouts standing around them, guns held close.

“Come along, we’re gonna take you three to meet with the council.”

Too tired to argue the three of them followed the armed survivors into the college. Rooms had been converted into storage for supplies or varies sleeping quarters. People inside glanced at them curiously, there happened to be children among the survivors. The teacher’s lounge was where the council sat in wait for their arrival. They seated themselves across from the strangers. Noodle rubbed her eyes to rid the sleep gathered in them. Russel hid a yawn behind a fist, trying hard to look more aware than he felt. Murdoc barely made attempts to look at the people across from them, he stared at his hands, still stained in flaky dried blood.

“We welcome you to our humble home, I hope the journey was quick.”

“Your people dragged us into a truck and put bags over our head. Not the picture of welcoming if you ask me,” Noodle crossed her arms over her chest, leaning back into the couch.

“Yeah, what the hell was up with that? Could have just asked us," the drummer frowned.

A few of the council members gave placating gestures, smiling benignly.

“We cannot apologize enough for the treatment which you received while getting here,” the speaker was an older man with a greying beard and no hair on his head, “we hadn’t expected our scouts to bring you back in such a manner.”

“What is this place and why are we here?”

“Well this is a safe haven, we’ve fortified this college campus for survivors. We send scouts out to find struggling survivors and have them watch them, see if they’re violent. We don’t want violence here. If the people show promise we approach cautiously and ask if they want to join us.”

Russel snorted derisively, “real cautious my ass. Your people came at us without introductions man, we were doing just fine.”

One of the men decked out in guns cleared his throat gaining everyone’s attention. The bearded man motioned for him to speak.

“Things escalated and we had to take out a target. The thing killed Greg. We figured it was in the best interest—”

“Best interest? It was in your best interest to kill Stuart was it?”

Murdoc clenched his hands so tight he could faintly feel his nails biting into his flesh.

“You shot him and left him there. You people should'a fucking left us alone!”

“Hey you people were harboring that thing like a fucking pet,” the scout pointed at Murdoc menacingly, “and you let it eat my friend so you got no place accusing me of shit!”

Murdoc leapt at the man, barely giving Russel and Noodle a chance to catch and restrain him. He furiously spat his words out.

“YOU shouldn’t have been there! Stuart wouldn’t have done fuck all if you had of left! Nosy fucking arseholes you lot are, spying on us!”

“You have a lot of nerve! We saved you, you ungrateful prick!”

“I wasn’t in any fucking danger! None of us were! It’s YOUR fault he’s dead!”

The council members tried desperately to cool the situation by stepping between the two men. Both of them were being kept back from each other. Murdoc started to give into the tugging by his friends, he heaved a shaky breath.

“He’s dead,” Murdoc covered his face with a dirty hand, “he’s fucking dead.”

“It may be wise to hold a meeting with you three later, after you freshen up and eat.”

Nodding to the scouts the bearded man gestured for them to take their guests off to clean up. The one scout grunted and he shook his friends off and without much force he urged them along. Noodle and Russel rested a hand each on the bassist, directing him, shooting concerned looks at the older man. Murdoc waved them off, sniffing while they walked. The scouts deposited them in the communal shower room of a changing room. Towels, fresh clothing and toiletries were stored in the lockers.

“Clean up. We’ll take you three for food afterwards.”

With that they were left in the large tiled room. There was the small echo of water dripping somewhere in the room.

“What do we do now?” Noodle whispered, “we lost Toochi and now we’re stuck here. They’re not going to let us leave.”

Russel felt weary, like a rubber band that had been over stretched, he just wanted to sleep and maybe just never wake up. Russel sighed and went to a locker, dug out the meager supplies for cleaning up then moved to the showering section.

“I’m gonna play along until we find a way outta this. I gotta hold onto that hope that things will work out or I’ll fucking lose it.”

The drummer stepped away and got himself a shower going after stripping. Noodle glanced at Murdoc. The bassist kept staring at his hands. Biting her lip she rubbed her own arm awkwardly. She’d never seen the older man like this, at least not while completely sober.

“You should clean up Murdoc.”

She winced when the man shot her a sharp glare. Noodle knew it wasn’t meant for her, the man was clearly distraught and struggling with his emotions. Stepping back from him she jabbed a thumb over her shoulder towards the showers.

“I’m gonna leave you to it,” turning Noodle proceeded after Russel into the large section.

She took a far shower, knowing she wasn’t out of sight, but trusting both of them implicitly not to stare.

Murdoc sat heavily on a bench, back to the showers. He barely moved, even when Russel and Noodle were well finished and dressed. The drummer gave Murdoc’s shoulder a friendly squeeze and Noodle rubbed his back affectionately. They both left him to wallow alone, which he was thankful for. He buried his face into his filthy hands.

———

The following two days preceding their arrival the council gave them a tour and orientation about what was expected. Noodle was silently still impressed by their combined efforts to make a community; however she wouldn’t congratulate the people who killed 2D. Russel asked questions for them, like how they got their supplies, how they managed to have running water, and so on. The council had answered cryptically which shot off the first red flag for the drummer. Murdoc just stuck close to the percussionist and guitarist, hardly saying much, seemingly stuck in his own miserable world. They were told nobody left unless under punishment for disobeying rules, which were simple: no harming others, behave and do your part.

And within that same week they were joining the fray of workers. Noodle took up with their gardening group, wanting a means to see how they cooked and prepped meals via fire powered stoves. Russel took up helping with the children, he found it relaxing to see young happy faces in spite of their situation. Murdoc begrudgingly took up guard duty, the work was quiet and strangely cathartic for his fragile state of mind. He kept to himself at his post, only ever stuck there once in a while with one guy who also avoided talking. Mostly.

It was their fourth night in around dinner time that they gathered around a small table in the school cafeteria. Food was served and conversation took up the noiseless room rather quickly. Murdoc pushed the vegetables and ground meat around, cheek resting on his closed fist.

“It’s been almost five days,” Noodle sipped on her water, “maybe you could say something? Just let us know you’re still here.”

Russel chewed his food making a face at the flavor. Murdoc sighed and dropped his fork, he pushed back from the table to stand. Noodle watched the satanist get up.

“Lost my appetite.”

“Murdoc,” the guitarist sounded dismayed, “please just talk to us.”

“You want to sit in a circle too?”

“You don’t have to be defensive, we’re all coming to terms with the same information. You don’t think we’re upset too? You’re bottling it all up when you know damn well Russ and I are here for you. We’re all you have left now.”

Murdoc clamped his mouth shut, grinding his teeth. Noodle stared up at him imploringly, conveying how much she wanted him to open up to them. He shook his head and turned, leaving quickly. The guitarist exhaled slow and shakily.

“Give him a bit of time baby girl, he’s stubborn, but he’s also probably hurting.”

“I’m sad too, we both are. It’s not like we won’t work through this.”

Russel gave the young woman a hug with one arm, squeezing her upper torso into his side. Noodle leaned into him, dropping her head against his body.

“I hope he didn’t suffer,” the drummer commented.

“Same.”

———

Lack of emissions allowed the sky to clear and the stars shone brightly. Leaning back in the chair on the watch tower erected near the back gate, Murdoc hummed a song to himself. He was amazed, after his out burst and all, they willingly gave him a rifle for his job. The ladder creaked and his tower partner hefted himself up into the space. Murdoc ceased his tune the moment the man appeared.

“You’re here early.”

“figured I’d get a head start.”

The other nodded as he sat himself with a huff into the chair at the other side of the tower. A beat passed with no words exchanged. The man turned his head a bit to look towards Murdoc only seeing the back of his head.

“So you like music?”

“What of it?”

“Heard you humming to yourself.”

Murdoc sighed, “yes, I’m in—I was in a band.”

“Oh yeah? What sort of music?”

“Just about anything now that I think about it, no borders.”

The guy shuffled his chair around to properly face the bassist.

“You play an instrument then? I play drums, well I use too.”

“Bass guitar.”

Murdoc felt uncomfortable talking about this subject something that normally would have him bragging.

“A friend of mine played bass, he also sang some. Poor sucker kicked the bucket after getting bit, had to put him down.”

The satanist shifted in his seat and rubbed his sweaty palms against his jeans. He finally spared a glance over his shoulder at the other man. This topic made unwelcome thoughts of 2D swarm his mind.

“Why are we talking?”

“Figured we could shoot the shit, not much happening. Tell me ‘bout yourself, you got a family?”

Noodle wanted him to open up but talking to her or Russel made him clam up. Maybe he could divulge things to a complete stranger, but then he would have to see this man every other day for who knew how long.

“In some sense of the word, I suppose.”

“You got a wife and kids then?”

His brain unhelpfully gave him a faded memory of the four of them grinning for photos during a tour. He missed that life and the oddly simple image of them being domestic outside of performing. That would probably never occur again.

“I haven’t a wife, never interested me. I do have a sort of adopted daughter and friend here. They’re my band mates actually. Been through thick and thin together.”

“Each to their own,” the man smiled, “what’s your kids name?”

“Er, she’s self named herself Noodle. It sort of stuck.”

Granted it was the only English word they recognized when she arrived. The man raised a brow.

“Interesting, how old is she?”

“She's twenty-seven. Would prefer if she was ten again.”

The man chuckled warmly, “I miss those years, when they’re young. Easier to please. I miss my boy being that age, always impressed with everything I did.”

Murdoc knew how that felt. Noodle had been his shadow a lot of her youth, she did trail 2D and Russel as well, but with him it was a special bond. He never pictured himself a parental figure given his own childhood but Noodle hadn’t minded his rough edges.

“Can you cover tonight? I have something I need to attend too.”

“Sure thing. Nice talk.”

Murdoc slid down the ladder, bending his knees to take the impact before he was off in search of the guitarist. Before hand he nicked a pack of cigarettes from a table in the cafeteria along with the lighter sitting beside it. Finding Noodle was easier given the small vicinity of the grounds and college.

“Oi, you ’n me, lets go.”

Noodle glanced up from a book she was reading to eye Murdoc.

“What for?”

“I’m feeling charitable,” Murdoc shook the pack of smokes, “git your arse up.”

Slapping the book closed the young woman rose from the bed to follow the older man out. She kept in step with him on the way out.

“What’s this about? You seemed eager to avoid me, well us, earlier.”

“Don’t question it,” the satanist stuck a smoke between her lips before she could protest and then one for himself.

When Noodle rolled her eyes and used her lips to prop the cigarette up he lit it.

“Horrible influence we were on you.”

Noodle snorted and inhaled, she didn’t smoke nearly as much and the cravings never struck her. Murdoc got his own started and continued walking with her until they were outside the building.

“Fairly certain it was more a nature vs. nurture,” Noodle blew her smoke out, “thankfully I knew the difference between good and bad.”

“Obviously not well enough, you stuck around.”

“What’s got you all sentimental old man?”

Murdoc took a deep breath, “this whole thing is pretty fucked up.”

“Being replaced with a cyborg was pretty fucked up.”

There was no bite to her comment, Murdoc tensed regardless.

“Nobody wants to let that go, the world is fucking over for pete sake.”

“Sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.”

Murdoc grumbled under his breath before slouching.

“I’m sorry too. Should have tried harder.”

“Y’know it’s not your fault right?”

“Isn’t it though? It’s always my fault. I wanted to go through the subway.”

Noodle furrowed her brow confused. She paused raising her smoke to give him a sideways glance.

“What are you talking about?”

“We were surrounded and Russ suggested the subway,” Murdoc fought to keep his breathing even, “Stuart didn’t want to and I ignored him. He got the fucking gash down there in the water. If we hadn’t gone down there none of this would have happened. He’d be his stupid self but he’d be alive. Safe.”

Noodle stood closer to the older man and dropped her head onto his shoulder. She slipped an arm around his, holding it tightly.

“You can’t be sure of anything Murdoc.”

The satanist continued to smoke while she leaned into him. Noodle let her cigarette fall and gently mushed it out with her foot.

“Lets steal a couple bottles of wine and get raging drunk with Russ.”

The bassist peered down at her. Noodle smirked at him when he grinned in return. Murdoc’s half finished smoke lay on the ground forgotten, smouldering. Sneaking into the kitchen after hours and snatching a couple bottles more than necessary, they made to leave. First Noodle cracked one open right there in the kitchen taking a swig. Murdoc snorted and grabbed it from her to take a long chug from the glass bottle.

“Save some for Russ you boozer,” Noodle giggled juggling three bottles in one arm.

“I haven’t had a lick in months, I plan to get properly smashed,” Murdoc tilted back and started swallowing down more red liquid, he missed this.

He knew the percentage was low enough he could get away with drinking more and silently hoped his sobriety made it easier to get drunk. Stumbling a bit from tilting back he nearly dropped the two other bottles he held. Noodle rolled her eyes and gestured.

“Lets go,” she headed to the door quietly, “and be quiet.”

Murdoc set the empty wine bottle down carefully and slipped back out with her. By the time they reached Russel a second bottle had been discarded along the way and both were rather pleasantly buzzed, not enough on Murdoc's end but it was a good start. The drummer looked at them less than impressed.

“Why are you encouraging him baby girl?”

“C-come get drunk with us in the basement, we need a break. It can be like old times!”

“Shhhh,” Murdoc shushed her snickering.

“You two seem kinda gone already,” Russel tried to keep the smile from forming, “ah hell, lets go.”

Giving a victory hoot Russel promptly halted the noise as he ushered his drunken friends out of the sleeping quarters hastily. Helping both five-foot-something guitarists, Russel chuckled as he lead them down to the basement of the college, avoiding being spotted. Murdoc rambled on about nothing important while Noodle laughed in random intervals over what the man said. Russel smiled fondly to himself, it wasn’t a healthy coping method, but for one night he could admire the try. Tomorrow they could face consequences. Once safely tucked in a storage room with makeshift seats they began passing around a third bottle of wine.

“We-we should make it interesting,” Murdoc stumbled his words.

“Why man? Isn’t drinking interesting enough?”

“A game, a drinking game. Best way to remain happily drunk on this cheap shit is to make it fun.”

Russel shrugged, “Whatcha got in mind?”

“Never have I ever,” Noodle spoke louder before covering her mouth, “sorry.”

“Yeah, yes, that is a perfect game. Rules are simple—”

“Muds we know how to play.”

“Fine fine, shall I go first?”

When nobody rushed to go he lolled his head exaggeratedly, “oh hell don’t clamber for it. Alright, never have I ever had a threesome.”

Promptly the satanist took a sip. Noodle yanked the bottle from Murdoc a short moment after and took a drink. She lowered the bottle and looked between the two men staring at her.

“What? Don’t be so surprised I’m not some prude. Also that isn't how you play you geezer.”

“Shaddup.”

“Christ,” Russel rubbed his face, “never have I ever been in a car accident.”

“Oh rude,” Murdoc grunted taking the bottle back, “I have one or five little incidents and everyone says you’re a bad driver.”

Noodle leaned back partly on her stool, “never have I ever fucked a man.”

Murdoc gave her the evil eye but took another sip. Russel laughed lightly.

“Never have I ever been to the fair.”

Noodle couldn’t think of a time where she visited a fair, not that she was interested in doing so. Russel took the bottle and had a decent drink. The drummer wiped his mouth and tilted his head in thought.

“Never have I ever picked my nose and ate it.”

Noodle guiltily took a sip. Russel closed his eyes laughing.

“We raised you better than that,” Murdoc quipped.

Noodle coughed on her wine.

“Shut up! Totally didn’t. I was a rock star, got to do whatever I wanted.”

The drummer hummed in agreement, she had been a bit unruly at times and constantly mimicking some rather bad aspects of a certain someone. Noodle cleared her throat, her speech was still moderately intelligent.

“Never have I ever snorted milk out of my nose.”

When neither man had taken a sip she grumbled and took another sip. Murdoc rubbed his chin thoughtfully.

“Never have I ever shot a gun.”

“You’re working as a guard though,” Noodle handed the bottle to Russel.

“Eh, seemed easy.”

“What are you gonna do when some zombies come around?”

“Hope none come to my side. Anyway back to the topic at hand.”

Russel realized in that moment that the satanist never did fire his weapon back in the beginning, it had always been him. Part of him wondered why, though he figured some people were anxious about shooting firearms. He’d been uneasy handling the guns, but he felt his life depended on it. He examined his company, they were fairly sloshed, enough to be comfortably prodded to share feelings.

“Never have I ever cared for a comatose patient.”

Murdoc stared at Russel, begging silently for the bigger man to not delve into discussion about 2D. Tonight was suppose to be about getting drunk and unwinding. Noodle passed the bottle to Murdoc and he swirled the bottle a bit.

“You gonna drink? I know you have.”

The satanist hesitated, he remembered looking after 2D.

“In interviews I normally lied about how we started,” Murdoc sighed, “embellish and bend the truth to make it sound good.”

“How so?”

“Jus’ told ‘em what they wanted to hear.”

Noodle rested her hands on her thighs, listening to the bassist.

“Well there aint much to bend man, most of the shit in our backstory is true.”

Motioning with his hand and the bottle, spilling some, Murdoc tried to elaborate with his muddled words, “no, I meant I didn’t bang him up more while lookin’ after him. The second incident was a fluke. I was so fucking embarrassed that I lied about it. Was ready to quit making music and a band, just settle down and look after a sodding vegetable. Was all soppy over the arsehole.”

“Did 2D know?”

“‘Course he did! I made him promise not to tell people.”

“I don’t get you man, if you were so damn infatuated why not just be together normally?”

“Weren’t we playing a game?”

Sensing the bassist was done sharing, Russel leaned back some. Their game resumed after the awkward confession. In the end they all somehow found comfort laying on the floor together sleeping off the effects of their over consumption. Come morning there were three sluggish and hungover persons going about their jobs and a few angry council members trying to find the missing alcohol and culprits. The three of them barely slid under the radar and from there the days blended together. However after their sneaky game of never have I ever they became more relaxed talking about less than pleasant topics within reason. Murdoc would usually have nightly smoking sessions with Noodle, blithely telling her about different things 2D and him did before Gorillaz. Somehow it helped, recounting memories about the singer. Russel started to join them in the place behind the college for a few puffs, though he really found cigarettes distasteful. They shared a few laughs over some ridiculous stuff that had happened to them over the years, gently broaching the topic of Plastic Beach only occasionally. It wasn't all terrible.

———

Weeks passed and although not reasonably long, Murdoc and the other two fell into routine. They found solace in each other and the few new friends among the strange strong hold. Despite there being no outward warning signs, they still felt on edge; possibly remnants of constantly fighting the world while trying to survive. Russel complained nearly every other meal that the meat always tasted funny and every time he did Murdoc lost interest in eating.

When they had a night to themselves to chat about the past and possibly future, many hilariously bad ideas were broached. They did so without aid from liquor, much to Murdoc’s chagrin. The wine binge made him ache for the liquid courage all the more and Noodle regretted giving him a foot back on the horse after he’d done so well. Regardless they found balance and somehow they were finding time to heal, slowly.

Murdoc befriended his tower partner, a retired accountant, Michael. The man made easy and light conversation with the bassist any other night, bland topics, safe in Murdoc’s mind. Such a night was no different. They were sat with their rifles, feet propped on the ledge discussing instruments, mainly guitars since the bassist preferred them ultimately. Michael hardly minded dipping into Murdoc’s territory of expertise. Both of them gave pause when they heard shuffling beyond the stone wall. It was still dimly light out and visibility was moderately good, neither of them had seen anything come near from their spot.

“It’s been weeks and I’ve only ever seen maybe ten of them fuckers dare to come near, always the front.”

“Could be a bird,” Murdoc commented while dropping his legs to lean forward.

Michael got his gun up, positioning himself for the inevitable appearance of an undead walker. They both held their breath only to jerk surprised when a black furry thing darted out of the bushes and through the wrought iron gates. Michael unintentionally fired a shot hitting a tree. Murdoc smacked the man in the arm.

“It’s a damn cat, what’re you doing?”

“It startled me!”

Murdoc rolled his eyes and glanced over the opposite side of their tower to see where the animal ran off too. Cocking his head in confusion at the bright fuchsia leash sticking out from under a bush he got up.

“That thing has a leash, maybe some poor sod lost their pet.”

The satanist made his way down from their perch to investigate the feline. Upon closer inspection the cat hissed at him defensively.

“Oi oi, not gonna hurt you, you stupid creature,” Murdoc grabbed the leash lightly tugging the terrified animal out from under the bush.

When the cat was fully revealed he stared in disbelief at the familiar harness Russel had chosen months prior.

“Kraken? What in the hell are you doing here? How?”

She spit and squirmed when he scooped her up.

“Quit that now, y’know who I am you furry devil. How’re you alive?”

After a few seconds she seemed to settle, recognizing the satanist. She purred in content, finally relaxing in his arms.

“How in the blazes?”

His mind couldn’t keep up with the racing thoughts and questions. She was wearing her harness and leash, which only the four of them knew about. He startled from his thoughts at a loud noise. Kraken clawed him tensing when Michael started to fire shots. Murdoc looked at her then to the tower, his eyes widened. Stuart was alive, he was okay! That had to be the only explanation for Kraken being here.

“S-stop shooting! Wait a minute mate!”

Scrambling to tie Kraken down to a bush branch, which she found distasteful, Murdoc nearly tripped trying to get up the ladder.

“Mike stop! Don’t shoot him!”

“Shoot who? There’s zombies coming over!”

The bassist hauled himself up into the perch, scrabbling for purchase. Michael shot into a crowd of stumbling zombies hobbling along towards their back gates. They had very little in the way of light as the sun dipped, so distorted faces danced in and out of sight through the foliage. Murdoc desperately scanned the rotting bodies for a familiar head.

“Just stop!” Murdoc waved at the man to lower his weapon, but Michael ignored him.

Just then a body dropped and behind the corpse Murdoc spotted the flash of blue underneath red, he was lumbering along with the horde. The man had a dirtied ball cap on, covering most of his bright blue hair. For a brief moment he froze, too stunned to believe what he was seeing. Michael reloaded and while Murdoc had his minor crisis he aimed for the tall pretty boy’s head. Jerking into action Murdoc shoved the barrel of the gun making Michael miss the singer.

“What the hell man? We need to clear out this mess before they get at the gate.”

“Don’t shoot the man with the red hat!”

“He’s one of them!”

“He’s not!”

Michael frowned at the bassist before resuming his firing, he cleared out the main cluster of bodies before once again directing himself towards 2D. Panicked Murdoc grabbed his forgotten weapon up and clubbed the other man over the head. Michael slumped into the small wall around their perch, rifle tumbling out of his hands to the ground. Palms sweaty and heart pounding, Murdoc looked around to make sure nobody saw the commotion. Dropping the gun he practically leapt from the tower and came to the metal gates. His hands shook while unlatching the gate. He nearly knocked 2D over, hugging the taller man tight, holding him close.

“You idiot, I thought you were dead! We all did.”

2D muttered garbled nonsense against Murdoc’s hair. The satanist leaned back to look at the singer.

“You’re in a state,” alarmingly Murdoc thought about dragging a person out like a sacrificial lamb.

“Look mate I’m not about to feed someone to you,” Murdoc knew somehow he would give and break that statement, he was honestly considering the option, “I could lead one person out…do you hear me right now? I’m bonkers. I’m fucking elated too. You’re alive! I don’t know how you did it, but you’re alive.”

2D swayed in his hold, not looking at him. Murdoc squeezed the singer’s arms.

“You stay put, just stay here. I have to tell Russ ’n Noodle.”

The satanist gently pushed 2D into the tree line to hide him, “please don’t disappear. I should make sure Michael is fine, I clubbed him good.”

2D stood there, his head was cocked slightly, eyes bright white instead of black. Murdoc slid his hands down to the singer’s elegant hands, holding them delicately.

“I could get someone,” Murdoc shook his head, “no I won’t. I can’t do that.”

Somewhere along their journey from being a band to now Murdoc had probably lost bits and pieces of his sanity; he blamed the unfortunate imagery he encountered while in 2D’s presence. He brought the singer’s hands up kissing each of them softly. Recognition flickered in the bright eyes and the singer blinked the white away.

“Murdoc?”

“Hi Stuart.”

“Where? What am I doing here? I feel horrid.”

The bassist patted the taller man on the cheek, affectionate yet rough. Murdoc leaned back from 2D, rubbing his knuckles. The iron gate whinged as it was pushed further open, Murdoc looked towards the scout flashing his light around.

“Shit, you need to stay hidden.”

2D rubbed his face struggling to stay lucid, he barely registered Murdoc’s words. Soon the man was missing and he slipped back into a serene haze. Murdoc approached the scout, scowling some when he could make out Jason’s features. The same man who promptly shot the singer weeks prior. This could work in his favor, Jason and him still didn't get on well. Murdoc felt resolute in his quick, yet irrational decision. Jason studied the bassist a tick before frowning.

“Why the fuck are you outside the line? What’s going on here?”

Murdoc let a devilish smirk fill his face, casually saddling up next to the man.

“I saw some brat wander through, came down to inspect.”

Jason felt momentary fear at the thought of a child wandering off alone. The expression Murdoc wore made him second guess that feeling. The satanist wrapped an arm around him, edging him down the slight hill towards the trees.

“I don’t see anyone out here Niccals.”

Holding more firm to Jason’s shoulders, Murdoc steadied his nerves. It was a split second choice and he direly hoped things didn’t turn sour.

“Oh there was definitely someone down here, swear I heard giggling.”

“You’re just fucking with me. Look I get we got off on the wrong foot.”

Forcing Jason further into the trees Murdoc sneered as he pulled his arm back. Jason turned only for Murdoc to shove him hard a few times until he tumbled to the ground.

“No hard feelings mate,” Murdoc stared down at him, hands resting on his hips.

Jason made to get up when some leaves crunched above his head. He peered up seeing glowing white eyes and an eery smile. He shot Murdoc a look then 2D suddenly aware how perilous his situation was. Strangely thus far, the singer made no move to attack; the tall man was poised though.

“You’re stark raving mad! Call him off!”

Murdoc gave a thoughtful glower at the man as he nonchalantly leaned into a tree, he glanced towards the singer, “he shot you 2D. Have at him.”

Said singer gave Jason seconds before descending upon him. Jason used his gun to shield himself in vain, 2D was much stronger and grappled with the man, pushing the weapon down with little effort. Jason strained against him, gasping in terror when 2D got closer.

“You psycho, what the fuck is wrong with you? Get him off me!”

Murdoc examined his nails, a small hysterical laugh bubbled up when he thought about the situation, “I am mad,” his tone deadpanned, “mad you shot him.”

2D dug his teeth into Jason’s forearm leaning heavily into the man. Jason shot a hand into bright blue, knocking the baseball cap off. The singer growled loudly chomping harder until he tasted blood. Jason shouted for help while nearly tearing 2D’s hair to get him off.

“You better not muck his hair up, I happen to like it.”

The man screamed at the bassist, horrified, it was short lived when 2D broke off his arm to dive into his neck. Jason’s life sputtered to a stop abruptly, throat gaping when 2D came up. Murdoc covered his eyes, sliding down the tree with weak legs at the sight. He still had no stomach for 2D’s impromptu meals. Had Jason deserved this? Murdoc felt he did, but he also knew it was pretty fucked up leading a person to slaughter.

“Satan help me, I just aided in murder,” Murdoc stayed seated on his backside, watching on through his fingers while 2D ate his assailant. He laughed nervously while cupping his head, “I can’t believe I did that. What have I done?”

He saw 2D lift his head from Jason’s gaping body, the man was a rather quick zombie.

“You’ve done this to me, I can’t seem to make sane decisions when you’re about. I’ve gone and let you eat someone. Willingly!”

“We could make a murder duo,” 2D joked while crawling over the body towards the bassist, blood dripping off his face, “I missed you so much Muds.”

“I’ve never helped someone murder a person.”

“Oh he was a bad man, he’s been eating other people too.”

Murdoc looked from the mangled body to the singer in front of him. He lowered his hands.

“What?”

“His stomach contents, he ate someone recently,” 2D smiled toothily, leaning close to kiss the satanist, he smeared the other’s cheek with blood, “thank you for helping me.”

It took the satanist a moment to collect himself, meanwhile the singer pressed closer to the sitting man. 2D tried to kiss Murdoc again but the older man halted him and pointed at Jason’s corpse.

“Run it by me again, he was eating people?”

“Yeah, middle aged woman, late thirties.”

“How in the hell can you tell that?”

“I dunno, the taste? Almost like ground beef, but definitely human.”

“Of course,” Murdoc laughed again, voice cracking, “they’re fucking cannibals.”

Some people gave a holler by the gate, Michael one of them; that answered his earlier concern for the man. Murdoc gripped 2D’s upper arm, tugging him up and behind the trees, hiding in the darkness. 2D observed the people come down from the gate with flashlights.

“Suppose I eat them too, would that be over doing it?”

“Yes,” Murdoc hissed, “I only had issue with Jason.”

“What about Noodle and Russ?”

“We’ll have to come back for them, lets get outta here before we’re spotted.”

Wordlessly they disappeared further into the sparsely grown trees. Light from flashlights bounced off the surrounding area until finally they were far enough from being seen. 2D lead Murdoc to a home on the outskirts of the college campus smiling stupidly in the dark at his luck.

“I’m so glad I found you.”

“likewise,” Murdoc wiped his face of drying blood, he felt sick to his stomach.

For weeks they had been eating people. Somehow Murdoc feels they should have noticed. Everything had been so peachy and nice, nobody really gave any indication. Of course it was too good to be true. 2D moved about the house quietly, able to function in near darkness. He came back momentarily when the satanist hadn’t moved.

“Should move to a bedroom, unwind, catch up?”

Groping in the darkness for 2D, Murdoc’s hand caught the singer’s waist. He held his fingers loosely around a belt loop on the singer’s jeans.

“Lead me, I can’t see a thing and lighting anything would give us away.”

Attentive to Murdoc’s inability to see, 2D meandered through obstacles, voicing what the man need avoid while making for a bedroom. Closing the door behind them 2D divested himself of Noodle’s sweater coat he had borrowed; this removed half of his mess. Wiping his face with the fabric 2D watched the bassist carefully make for the bed, sitting once sure he found the right furniture. Although dark 2D could see Murdoc burying his face into shaky palms.

“I need a distraction,” Murdoc muttered, “my mind is racing.”

2D dropped the jacket and backed up opening the door.

“Give me a moment, I’ll be back.”

Not able to stop the singer given his disadvantage, Murdoc stayed seated. The door opened and he heard 2D walk off into the house somewhere. Flopping back on the overly cushioned bed Murdoc groaned. He had no way of blaming alcohol or drugs for his lack of clarity with Jason’s untimely death. This scared him. Was it murder? Darkly he knew he wanted to snuff the man out, 2D being as he was just gave him an excuse. The floor creaked and sudden movement gave to weight shifting beside him on the bed. He could smell mouthwash on 2D’s breath when the man leaned close.

“Would this be a good distraction?” The singer slipped his leg over Murdoc’s waist, straddling him.

He barely made out the shape of 2D’s body and face. Given what had happened he wasn’t sure he could ignore what he’d done. The singer pressed a warm kiss to his cheek. There was a unsettling nausea rising from his stomach, despite it he slid his hands over 2D’s thighs to rest on his hips.

“Nobody here to interrupt us, completely alone.”

“Is this your version of dirty talk?”

“Oh shut it, I was trying to put you in the mood.”

Murdoc grunted slightly, “my night went off handle the moment you showed up, I’m trying to wrap my brain around everything that’s gone on.”

The singer sighed and laid himself against the bassist, tucking his head under Murdoc’s chin.

“How’d you survive?”

“I think my shoulder healed. It’s all black now.”

“I’ve done some shit things. This is beyond fucked.”

“Is it though? Obviously that man had some low morals to be eating people.”

“He might not’ve known.”

“Or maybe he did,” 2D leaned up again, “maybe it’s some obscure lottery system they have and nobody told you guys because you’re new. They can’t be finding too many people off the streets it’s basically deserted. Plus telling you, you would definitely not wanna stay.”

The singer had a point.

“That can’t be sustainable, in less than a year it would collapse. Not enough people about to look after the place ‘cause they’re eating each other.”

Murdoc rubbed his face groaning. 2D tilted his head watching him in the dark.

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m gonna be sick.”

“Think happy thoughts?”

“Weeks Stuart! I’ve been eating people for weeks,” Murdoc winced.

“I’ve been eating them for,” the singer paused to count on his hand, “well nearly six months? Maybe a bit less.”

“You’re a fucking zombie, you have a good excuse. I’m going to vomit.”

Murdoc wriggled out from under 2D and rolled to the edge of the bed coughing. 2D slid up next to him, rubbing his back. The satanist choked on bile, having not consumed much dinner.

“We make a lovely couple,” 2D commented while Murdoc finally threw up on the floor, “we can’t leave Russ and Noodle there too long. What if one of them gets picked for dinner?”

The bassist spat some phlegm and bile onto the floor with his mess, “can we not talk about cannibalism?”

2D helped him sit back, using his borrowed shirt to wipe the man’s mouth. Murdoc blindly batted him away. They laid side by side once everything was said and done.

“Did I actually assist you though? Would remaining on the sidelines while you did your thing be considered that?”

“I don’t think so,” 2D smiled, not that it was visible, “I’m getting better handle over this. y’see I didn’t jump him right away even though I wanted too.”

Murdoc had noticed. 2D continued, “I scared these people on the road way, then I moved a car for them.”

Murdoc drifted in and out, listening to the singer chatter on about his adventures, his voice was oddly soothing. Before realizing it his eyes closed and he slipped into a light sleep. Heightened levels of stress caused his dreams to carry nightmarish flashes of a slaughter house and his friends hacked into pieces being served to him. Waking with a start he panted, looking about abruptly to clear the visual. Early morning light streamed through the curtains and 2D was nowhere to be seen. Instantly his panic had his heart going again as he moved to the side of the bed, foot slipping on his own sick. He slammed down on his back yelping, then swallowed on his gag reflex. He could feel the cold slick vomit seeping into his clothing.

“Muds?”

2D looked in from the bedroom doorway.

“What’re you doing on the floor?”

“Mopping up my mess,” the response was sarcastic.

The satanist got to his feet carefully yanking his sweater off and tossed it to the floor, closely followed by his socks.

“Where were you?”

“Making a surprise.”

Murdoc made to a dresser, digging through the contents for replacement clothing, “what sort of surprise?”

“For you.”

The bassist paused a bit surprised, “oh?”

“Come out when you’ve dressed.”

With that the singer vanished. Yanking a white shirt from the confines of the drawer, Murdoc tugged it on as he went, forgoing socks for now. Before the living room he ducked into a bathroom to rinse his mouth. He saw the bottle of mouthwash and gave himself a swig to swish about. When he came out 2D was sitting in the open living room of the home at the coffee table where two flutes of clear liquid sat alongside some food. It looked rather pathetic and under presented since the food was lacking quality and the drinks should have been champagne.

Some how it managed to fluster the bassist enough that he stood awkwardly at the couch.

“It’s not much, but after all the trouble last night I wanted to make it up to you.”

Romance was not his thing. It really wasn’t. He still felt stupidly flattered by the gesture.

Murdoc came around and sat quietly on the couch across from 2D. The singer passed him a plate of cold beans from a can, surprisingly fresh looking cheese slices and apple. The fruit threw the satanist off seeing as there couldn’t possibly be healthy fruit by now. 2D chuckled at his scrutinizing stare upon the pieces.

“There’s an apple tree in the backyard, no idea how good they taste since it’s late season.”

“That water?”

“Vodka.”

Murdoc failed to keep his mouth from inching into a genuine smile. 2D gave him a fond look back.

“I really shouldn’t encourage drinking so I won’t mention it to Russ or Noodle.”

Murdoc reached for the glass and took a taste, happy to see the singer was telling the truth. 2D grabbed his own flute and clinked it against the bassist’s, giving him a demure smile. If this was the kind of romance he had to deal with he could manage. 2D took dainty sips from the glass, mostly watching Murdoc with unrestrained anticipation.

“You like it?”

“Sort of vapid given our circumstances.”

2D slumped mildly hurt. Murdoc looked at the food voice clearly conveying his self-consciousness.

“Of course I like it ‘Dents. It’s nice.”

The singer perked up, “yay.”

Still disconcerted over the whole cannibalism thing, Murdoc unhurriedly ate the food, appetite still absent; he didn’t want to upset the singer again. 2D swapped seats and settled in next to the older man, casually resting his arm around Murdoc’s waist. The satanist barely startled at the act, in fact he leaned into the taller man while he exchanged between eating and sipping at his vodka. He wanted to savor what little he had.

Part way through the drink 2D lifted his arm to run his cool fingers along Murdoc’s neck, brushing against his ear and jaw. The bassist swallowed audibly when the singer pressed along his side, dipping into the opposite side of his neck.

“I could just eat you up.”

It was meant to be endearing, but after witnessing the singer in action it felt sinister. Murdoc squeezed the glass in his hand, close to breaking it. 2D nuzzled his nose along the trembling pulse on Murdoc’s neck.

“Sorry that’s probably more creepy than sweet now that I think about it,” 2D mumbled against the other’s skin.

“A little.”

2D used his other hand to grab the half finished food from Murdoc’s lap, leaning away to set it aside. Next he reached to set the flute beside the plate. The singer straddled Murdoc’s lap resting his arms against his shoulders. Hesitantly the satanist held 2D’s hips.

“Does this make you uncomfortable?”

“It makes me something,” Murdoc itched to reach out for the drink.

“Do you want to stop?”

“I don’t know what I want right now.”

“That’s fair.”

2D stayed put, he brought his hands up some to play with the dark hair at Murdoc’s nape, it was getting somewhat longer.

“Could work on plans to break Russel and Noodle out?”

“Yes, we should.”

Neither of them moved to do so. Murdoc wondered briefly how an apocalypse pushed them together after years of fooling around off and on. They never put a name to their odd relationship, wasn’t his style. He wrongly assumed the singer had felt similar; or maybe he had been wrong about himself.

Craving some sort of distraction he decided to give into this. Murdoc gently moved his hands up under 2D’s shirt, gliding his fingers along the cooler feeling skin of the singer’s sides. He glanced up from beneath his fringe at the singer enticing the taller man with a heated look. 2D tilted his head down making Murdoc follow his motion, capturing the bassist’s mouth in an eager kiss. It was still early enough in the morning that the people at the survivor camp would just be rousing for daily routine.

The singer lifted his arms when Murdoc insistently pulled on his shirt. The bassist tugged it up over his head, tossing it aside to run fingers over the gunshot wound. 2D glanced at the blackened area.

"Looks nasty, I know."

Murdoc leaned close and kissed over the sensitive black scar, "matches your eyes."

2D shivered when Murdoc continued to kiss along his shoulder to his neck. The bassist slid his hands over 2D's hips, pulling him closer. The older man was much warmer feeling, 2D leaned into him, tilting his head to make room for the mouth trailing along his skin. Timing was maybe inappropriate, but the singer didn't care. The the shared intimacy between the chaos going on, on any given day it was a nice reprieve. As more clothing was shed, 2D attempted to keep quieter, muffling himself against a couch cushion or behind Murdoc's hand. They didn't need a zombie interrupting, there had been enough of those in the past couple months.

Chapter Text

Barely three hours after the debacle both Noodle and Russel were dragged into the teacher lounge to the sight of antsy council members and distraught scouts; plus the unusual sight of one familiar ruffled black cat. Noodle scooped up the bedraggled feline, soothing her no questions asked. Russel sat on the couch with the guitarist a moment later, petting Kraken as well, thrilled to see her well but also incredibly confused. The council members finally sat adjacent to them on their couch. The bearded man, of whom none of them learned his name, clasped his hands together and took a deep breath.

“The three of you have only been here roughly three or so weeks.”

Noodle and Russel exchanged looks of concern, the man’s tone was exasperated.

“In that time you have stolen five bottles of wine, drank nearly four of them, stolen cigarettes and your companion, Murdoc, has yelled at three children on separate occasions and made all of them cry for absolutely no reason,” Noodle tried not to snicker, instead choking on the noise. The member was less than amused.

“Now he’s gone and lead Jason from the grounds and disappeared after killing him.”

Noodle sobered up, blinking in surprise. Russel cleared his throat.

“Look, Muds is a lot of things, arrogant, rude, often tactless and a bit obnoxious when drunk—”

“Prone to unintentional belligerence and plain disgusting half the time,” Noodle added, “but he’s definitely incapable of murder. He gets squeamish at the sight of loads of blood. How exactly did this guy die?”

Russel hummed in agreement, "it’s unlikely he killed this guy.”

“All those things you’ve described make him sound like a damn sociopath! You’re sure you know this man well enough to defend him?” When the council member brushed over Noodle's question she narrowed her eyes suspiciously.

Both nodded without hesitation.

“We’ve both known him for nearly eighteen years,” Russel stated.

“Him and Jason didn’t get on well.”

“Doesn’t mean he’d kill the guy.”

The bearded council member turned to his companions and they discussed in quiet murmurs about what to do about the situation. Noodle and Russel sat in tense positions nearly at the edge of the couch. Kraken settled on Noodle, mainly content to be safely held by one of her human owners. The atmosphere remained uncomfortably strained until the man turned towards them again.

“Unfortunately we don’t share your sentiment over your friend. Evidence says it was foul play. Until further notice you two are banished.”

“Wait, you’re kicking us out cause you found some dead guy and Muds is missing? Flimsy accusations man.”

“Because you three arrived together you two need to take responsibility for his actions. Unless he steps forward.”

“He’s missing,” Noodle held her forehead with her hand flabbergasted over the stupidity of their comments, “how—what the fuck? Do you even hear yourself?”

The bearded man waved them off, “take them to grab their things and ‘remove’ them.”

Russel sighed, “lets just get our things and fuck off. I can’t take this up and down shit anymore.”

The older men and women stared at their backs as the scouts escorted them from the room. Noodle and Russel split off to go to their respective sleeping quarters to gather their supplies. Both received a guard each. When they met up again they were lead from the building towards the front gates where some vehicles sat. Not questioning the way in which they were leaving the campus, Noodle and Russel got into the back and sat quietly. Once away the truck drove further in the opposite direction of where Murdoc and 2D had gone; neither of them knew this. The drive took them through some sparse forest into an industrial area of the city nearby. The person driving didn’t converse with them so the hum of the engine was their only comfort until they seemingly reached their destination. Russel stared out the window, catching the word, ‘refrigeration,’ briefly before the vehicle pulled into a facility.

Stumbling about in dazed hunger a few straggling zombies groaned at their arrival, weakly making attempts to get to the loading bay. A sniper from the top of the building easily took care of the minor problem. Nobody came in or left unless he said so.

“Where are we?”

“Why are we here? You could have easily just shoved us out the gate," Noodle tried to remain calm.

“Shut up, this is where we take all you fuck ups.”

Noodle gave the driver an affronted look, firstly confused and secondly offended by the accusation and tone. Russel noticed the inside of the building was lit up with running electricity, something he hadn’t seen in months, something that also concerned him. The car parked and momentarily it was dead silent, then from both sides people garbed in head to toe black clothing whipped their doors open, seemingly materializing out of nowhere. Scrambling to respond, Noodle punched the man on her side hard in the neck; he choked on a noise coughing, backing away. Kraken screeched in panic, trying to flee, but got caught by her harness and leash which was attached to Noodle’s wrist. The guitarist grunted and rushed to remove her buckle.

Russel yanked his off, having lucked out with a smaller stature person on his side, easily holding them back with an arm. He jumped out, gripping their wrists, turning them bodily to ram into the driver stepping out. More strangely dressed individuals, about ten or so, came flooding into the area with rope. Few held what looked like masks for anesthetic gas.

“What in the fuck is going on here?”

“I think this is some food packaging facility for us,” Noodle leapt from the car, crouching to scoop Kraken up then shift and give a well placed kick to another person’s chest.

The drummer clenched his fists tightly baring his teeth, “oh hell no, I did not survive this long to get fucking cannibalized!”

They quickly got overwhelmed by the darkly clothed people, despite their desperate attempts to fight their way out. Noodle used her strength to grab the roof rack behind her with one arm, lifting herself to kick two people in the head while carrying their feline friend. Russel whipped one of his bags into some people, dodged being grabbed to make his way into the open door of the driver side.

“Get in baby girl! We’re getting out of here,” he put the car into drive.

Noodle jerked when the vehicle started to move with her hanging on. Almost loosening her grip she clung to the rack awkwardly. She flung Kraken into the backseat, practically jogging beside the four door when Russel got the truck going.

“Ah! Russ! Wait I’m not in!” She tossed the leash into the car so Kraken wasn’t yanked out by her. Just as Russel turned slightly and the door came closed against the guitarist causing her to lose grip.

Yelping in pain and surprise Noodle tumbled to the ground, rolling to a stop on the cement floor. The weird people descended on her before she could comprehend. A mask was put over her face as the guitarist viciously kicked and twisted about. Holding her breath she pushed at the mask only to have her arms restrained. Gasping sharply she felt light headed and fuzzy, distantly she heard Russel shout for her. Quickly they hauled her unconscious body off to be processed.

———

Russel couldn’t bring himself to leave no matter how panicked he was and so he stopped at the exit gripping the wheel. In the mirror he saw them drag Noodle off and approach him. He didn’t know what to do. Someone yanked the driver side door open and pressed a gun to his temple.

“Step out slowly. You're going to come with us or so help me I’ll end it right here.”

Lifting his hands slowly, Russel slid out and stood beside the truck. Thinking about it this technically sealed the deal, even if the man shot him he was basically being lead to his death. The person, their driver whose lip was bloodied, dug the gun into the back of his head.

“Lets go big guy.”

Russel was urged forward and lead deeper into the facility. Once away from the exit and the running truck the black clad people proceeded to close the loading bay door lest zombies potentially drift in. The drummer wondered in the back of his mind whether he could fight his way out, over power the driver and take the gun. His fear of being shot made him consider otherwise and so he continued until he was stopped at a frozen meat storage room. There was a person sliding it open to reveal to the drummer both human and animal bodies strung up.

“I am not getting in there.”

“You are.”

The gun dug sharply into the back of his neck making him sweat nervously.

“Get in.”

Russel swallowed audibly, he could not be expected to off himself this way, it was horrible. He would freeze to death alongside the horror show they had created. He assumed the animal bodies were from before the fall of civilization. The driver cocked the gun.

“I don’t care how we do this, I can either shoot you and dump your bleeding body in there or you step in willingly.”

At least if he had his facilities about him he could try and figure out, in short time, how to get out of this mess. Maybe. Russel closed his eyes tightly and stepped through the threshold into deadly cold air. Once fully sheathed in below freezing temperatures he turned, hands still up defensively.

“Good. Better this way. Stress makes the flesh taste off.”

The drummer gave the man a horrified look as he dropped his hands to tuck them under his armpits.

“You people are fucking sick. This is sick! Nobody actually leaves do they?”

“Well other than your friend, no. Be thankful, this is a gentle death.”

The man chuckled, tone cruel and nodded to the person at the door. Russel watched with growing dread as the door slid shut until he was encased in dimly lit ice. Shivering he looked around, straining to see something to help him. He could reopen the door, but he expected the man to be waiting with the gun. Sighing softly he closed his eyes and tried to keep his thoughts pleasant while biding his time. Give it a few minutes, no longer then bust out and pummel that smug fucker.

He had no way of telling time other than to count seconds. So he counted down one minute, then two until the minutes had lapsed in a blur of freezing and shivering. His hands and limbs felt dangerously cold and numb when the door opened for him. Looking up baffled, his eyes landed on Murdoc standing in the doorway to the freezer, handgun grasped loosely in one hand. Briefly he thought he was hallucinating given the amount of time he stood there slowly shaking and losing heat.

“Well don’t just stand there!”

“Holy fuck you have no idea how happy I am to see your ugly mug right now,” Russel rushed out of the meat storage thankful for warmer temperatures.

“I resent that,” Murdoc muttered, “Dents is grabbing Noodle. We’re gonna borrow their truck.”

The satanist chuckled when he said borrow. Russel did a double take when he realized what the shorter man said.

“2D is alive?”

“Yeah, he found his way to us by sheer fucking luck.”

Russel worked feelings into his fingers and feet while they hastily walked along, occasionally pausing so he could shake his limbs. He was beyond thrilled to hear the singer had survived his ordeal, he would probably get more emotional upon seeing him. They didn't account for the darkly dressed people hovering in and around the facility.

———

Waking with a start, Noodle noticed instantly how cold she felt. The next thing she perceived was everything was upside down. Her head felt overly stuffy with all the blood rushing to it. Peering around she jerked in horror at the body hanging beside her, stripped bare and missing pieces of their body. Swaying with the motion she hugged herself, terrified, unsure if Russel was safe or in a state like her. Keeping her breathing slow and relaxed Noodle tilted her head to look up at her ankles, swearing anxiously to herself at how secure they were.

“Okay,” voice quivering she rubbed her arms, “I haven’t hit the worst stage of hypothermia before death. Toes and fingers are numb, but limbs and core body temperature is still viable. I’m still clothed too so bonus.”

Sighing out into the freezing air she watched her breath momentarily.

“Think Noodle. They only recently put me in here.”

Craning her head to search the area she felt her heart jump at the sight of so many dead bodies hanging like meat. Nothing stuck out as useful and she relaxed herself again.

“If I don’t figure this out I’ll pass out from the blood in my head.”

She could already feel the loss of sensation in her legs from the position. Looking up once more she bite her lip. It wasn’t ideal, but if she could hold herself up maybe somehow she could unlatch from the meat hook. The guitarist started to swing herself up, grunting with effort to use her own legs as leverage. Huffing she flopped back to hanging upside down.

“I am not dying here. I’m not.”

Growling loudly, Noodle swung up again, scrabbling for her ankles. She mentally cheered at her success. The slight dizziness from being upright made her pant and fight to keep hold. Gritting her teeth she grasped tightly to her ankle with one hand while endeavoring to grab at the chain of the hook. The ice-cold metal barely phased her when she clenched at it. Desperate, Noodle knew if she didn’t succeed during this attempt it was over, her limbs were starting to lose direly needed warmth and thus strength.

The guitarist reached up with her other hand achieving the desired outcome of taking hold of the chain. Closing her eyes briefly she felt tears of relief prematurely welling up. Pushing herself, the guitarist grabbed for the chain again to tug herself more upright, but misjudged the distance and swiped air. Gasping in bewilderment, terror stilled her heart as she slipped back losing her firm hold. Swinging back and forth, desperately trying to swallow proper breaths, Noodle tucked her arms in close to her torso. She shivered violently. The guitarist felt blood drain down to her head again. She was a super soldier for fuck sake, she should be able to handle a little cold. She couldn't feel her legs or feet anymore.

"LET ME OUT!" It was irrational and Noodle knew they wouldn't listen.

Pushing herself one last time, she slowly reached up to try and climb up her legs and bend in half, but the try fell flat. Growing increasingly distressed Noodle rocked herself in the cool air, she could feel her mind narrowing to a point. The fug claiming her mind blurred her thoughts together.

This couldn't be the end. Noodle didn't want to die like this, body cut up to feed to survivors. Yelling weakly she started to cry without tears. That's all she seemed to do lately was cry or get mad. The imagery around her wobbled with her swaying motion. Her breath swirled around her and she felt so sleepy. Closing her eyes tightly Noodle thought of happier times, warm memories. As her mind slipped into unconsciousness, her arms flopped down and she dangled there. The coloration to her face had drained minus the sickly purple tinge along her lips and eyelids. The freezer door creaked open to outline the image of a tall, thin man.

———

“Here brat,” Murdoc stopped her in the halls of Kong Studios, an unopened low-percentage beer in one hand and a lit cigarette in his other, “happy birthday or whatever.”

She smiled widely at the grouchy bassist taking the cheap alcoholic beverage, holding it tight with elation. With a moment of hesitancy she stared up at him, unsure how to proceed. Grunting the man brought his long nailed finger forward, slipping under the tab and pulling it till the can gave a fizzle noise.

“Knock yourself out kiddo,” Murdoc took a puff off his smoke, watching her.

Ever attempting to please the man, when he held nothing but high praise for her, she took a large gulp of the offending liquid. Swallowing she grimaced, sticking her tongue out. Murdoc gave a genuine laugh at her expression reaching out and ruffling her already sloppy hair.

“Acquired taste, give it a couple years.”

Russel chose that moment to appear in the hallway, probably on his way to find her. He frowned the moment his eyes laid on the can of beer. Murdoc stuck the cigarette into his mouth grunting when he knew the drummer was revving up for a lecture. She stood there, can grasped between small hands. The drummer approached with heavy steps.

“What the hell Muds? Beer?”

“What’s wrong with a little beer?”

“Christ man she’s only twelve, you cannot give twelve year olds alcohol. No kid should get that for their birthday!”

“Well fuck me, I don’t know what little girls want!”

She watched them argue. Russel had always been the voice of reason during the short two years living with them. It was a wonder she managed to survive with a raging alcoholic bassist and a pill addicted singer; not that she was incapable, far from it. And although her English was still sparse she could convey enough with few words.

“Get her a stuffed toy or a new instrument, anything other than drugs, smokes and alcohol. It’s like you don’t think outside of yourself sometimes man.”

During that brief moment she had been so thrilled Murdoc remembered her birthday, last year was a bust; man didn’t even say anything. It was so fleeting, that bubble of excitement.

“Oh Noodle, just hold on. You're so cold."

The singer held the guitarist close to his chest, carrying her out of the meat locker. He came upon three strangers in their almost ritualistic looking black clothing. 2D stood still, Noodle tucked up in his arms. With menacing steps they used sharpened tools to usher 2D back into the cold storage with Noodle. The singer looked for a safe option where the guitarist wouldn't be harmed. Setting her down near the entrance of the frozen room he turned on the three figures, he glared and took an imposing step towards them instead. Startled they held their weapons up in defense. 2D rolled his shoulders.

"Muds said I could go wild."

Shooting a hand out he grabbed a blade with force, shoving it back as he avoided the other two in his advance. He wasn't feeling overly hungry at the moment, but figured he may as well take what was offered. Sliding his arm around the man before the other two could attack he snapped the fragile neck, dropping the body. The other two came at the vocalist brandishing what looked like a machete and cleaver. Dancing to the side, 2D dodged being cut by the cleaver as he tried to get at the person's neck. He hadn't expected a sharp pain in his back close to his kidney. Grunting in pain he growled as he clawed at his current victim before whipping around on the second, machete sticking out of his side. The wound oozed blood sluggishly, thankfully stopped from gushing due to the blade. Murdoc would probably give him shit later for being careless. 2D yanked the woman close by her wrist, gripping tight he could hear bones cracking. Throwing her into the meat cleaver man he pounced when they were distracted, sparing no time to dig fingers and teeth into flesh. He barely ate much before wiping his mouth and hastily scooping up Noodle again.

"Damn I'm sorry luv, I shouldn't have left you by the cold," urgently 2D hugged the cold body and rushed away from the mess he had made, "we just need to wait for Muds and Russ then we're out of here. Promise no more pit stops."

Her fifteenth birthday was amazing and had been a wonderful set up. Russel bought her CD’s she wanted, even though given their recent bout of success she could have purchased them her self. The thought was there.

2D haphazardly baked a cake for the occasion, lopsided and distinctly too salty to be edible. He was covered in flour and flakes of icing sugar when he presented it to her, expression timid in expectation of rejection. Despite the flavor she thanked him profusely, stomaching a piece to make him smile. All of it had been great.

Except Murdoc had again forgotten her birthday, or at the least she assumed so. When all was said and done she retired to bed, smiling to herself. In the coming year they had video shoots to do for their lead hits, for now they could relax back on the coattails of so many chart toppers and royalties.

Opening the door to her room she started with surprise to find the bassist sitting on her bed, looking over a CD case. He looked rather casual in his usual dark fitted clothes. Confused she hesitated in the doorway to her own bedroom.

“How’s ‘bout you ’n me go for a spin in the Geep?”

“It is raining though.”

“Is it? Right, maybe another time.”

The satanist rose from the bed, dropping the CD onto it lightly.

“Got a better idea, come share a couple of drinks, celebrate your birthday with some style. None of that kiddie bullshit.”

A couple years ago she would have readily agreed and still now even she wanted to say yes but a disembodied voice of Russel told her alcohol was bad. Biting her lip she fiddled her fingers, a strange nervous tick she acquired from 2D.

“Russel has said it is bad, should I not listen to him?”

“Now listen here Noodle,” Murdoc stepped closer, hand cupped near his mouth as though to keep others from hearing even though nobody was about, “the way I see it you either live your life how you want, other people be damned or you follow someone’s rules till you’re as boring as the rest of ‘em.”

The guitarist could see the logic in his crude statement, but also the flaws.

“‘Sides, drinking while you’re underage is fun, the thrill of danger and all that other shit.”

Smiling softly she remembered nodding in agreement. The satanist lit up like a Christmas tree, seemingly surprised she had agreed. Slipping his arm around her shorter stature he grinned, leading her off to the recording studio where apparently he had prepared ahead of time. She assumed he would have drank either way.

Somehow her fondest memories of him were always with alcohol. She had gotten drunk for the first time that night.

2D turned the truck on and turned it around, speeding out of the facility. Turning the heat up to max he glanced to Noodle bundled in blankets beside him in the truck. He was too cold to warm her bodily. The singer also cursed their luck. Russel and Murdoc were missing and he couldn't take on that many people at once. The sniper shot at the truck a few times until 2D was too far away.

"Noodle I don't know what to do! They're going to ground Russel and Murdoc up and feed 'em to the survivors! I panicked, I left them there!"

Noodle was unresponsive, lips still purple-blue and skin the color of porcelain. Kraken, who had safely stayed in the same truck, meowed from the back. 2D drove erratically through the industrial area of the city. The wound at his side bled profusely when he removed the blade, but rather quickly clotted, 2D was immensely grateful to his strange virus for it's weird quirks.

"Noodle you have to wake up please. I need your help. I'm so scared right now. I'm useless without everyone," 2D's voice strained on the edge of frenzied.

She had spent years without a birthday wish, without a cake or any presents. Finding herself in the aftermath of El Mañana had left her bitter and as time passed she felt a burning rage build and crumble at how stupid she was for thinking he had cared about her. She knew the plan was idiotic, but stupid fifteen year old her had agreed.

When she found herself on the hunk of grotesque pink trash floating miserably in the middle of nowhere she decided to bring herself to forgive him; enough time had settled her rage and so had the pitiful social media comments. Then she saw the horrible mechanical mess resembling her and all she could see was red. Storming the picturesque studio she remembers assaulting him, grabbing the off white sweater and twisting hard, practically lifting him.

“Noodle! You’re alive! I figured the rumors were just that, y’know, but here you are in the flesh!”

“You—how could you Murdoc? You replaced me with that hunk of cogs and wires! Do I mean so little to you?”

She dragged him up against the wall higher, both impressing and scaring the bassist greatly with her strength. He gripped her arm carefully.

“No never, Noodle, I—I needed a guitarist—”

“Oh of course, it’s all about the stupid fucking band, who cares about the actual people involved right? Where is Toochi? You replace him too or is he somewhere in this shit pile you call home?”

“He’s here, safe. Look Noodle you have to know I wasn’t replacing you. She’s a terrible imitation to the real thing!” Part of her wondered how 'safe' 2D actually was given the obvious deterioration in Murdoc's person.

Dropping the satanist she pushed her mask back, frowning at him through one bad eye and one good. Murdoc sat on the floor against the wall, staring up at her.

“I was ready to forgive you, I really was. I let myself put to rest the whole incident years ago, but then I come here and you’ve gone and replaced me like I’m not worth anything other than the musical talent I provide. I looked up to you…”

“I only made her because I missed you, I missed you so much Poppet,” Murdoc struggled to his feet using the wall for support, reaching for her, he pulled her into a tight hug just holding her close.

She hesitated to hug him, fighting tears back when she finally buried her face into his shoulder. In the following years he would always say sorry in small ways, attempt to make amends and although she would teasingly use it for things she forgave him each time, silently.

———

Coming too, Murdoc wondered if he was dreaming. Everything was the wrong way up and overly warm. Wincing he rubbed the back of his head, quite aware he was upside down. There was the scrape and grind of metal on metal that made the satanist glance around by twisting himself. He blanched when he saw other people strung up, naked and appearing dead. He suddenly noticed he had no clothing on and felt bile in the back of his throat. There were two people dressed in butcher's clothing and plastics working at tables. Blood ran off the surfaces like rivers, body parts were wrapped like meat being brought to and fro. Murdoc looked around for Russel, but couldn't spot the bigger man. This wasn't real. His face started to feel cold and numb in spots as his heart rate increased, this was a horrible nightmare. Squeezing his eyes shut he tried to breath through his nose to calm his erratic heart, but all it did was give him a coppery scent filling his senses. The hook he was hanging from shifted and he started to move closer to a man looking at the selection.

"Well look'it that, this one's alive. Guess the guys didn't bother to freeze the meat."

Murdoc panted anxiously when the man crouched nearer to his face, still above him some. He couldn't form words, in the ensuing dread building in his mind and chest.

"Normally you fuckers are dead before joining us, not a pleasant feelin' being hacked up while alive," the butcher gave Murdoc a pitying look, "guess we'll put you outta your misery."

Standing the man moved away to press a button for the conveyor device Murdoc was hooked too, he was singled out. Approaching him again, the man produced a cutting tool for quartering animal bodies. The satanist watched, eyes wide and glassy as the tool came closer to him. He hoped it would be over quick, he closed his eyes and mouth, trying to restrain himself from screaming. Cool metal touched his neck then pulled away.

"What's the matter now?"

"Looks like a couple got away, we need some extra security though. Seems they killed quite a few of our members."

The man grunted clearly irritated at the turn of events, "give me a moment and I'll be up."

A stinging heat radiated from his right shoulder, like two hot prongs before they were removed. Cracking his eyes open, Murdoc tried to examine the now bleeding shoulder. The man patted the bassist's side roughly.

"That'll help make the slaughter easier on you," it sounded like the man was mercy killing him, but he left soon after speaking.

Both butchers left the room leaving the satanist hanging about with multiple bodies and an assortment of parts. Watching his blood drip and disappear into grating beneath him, Murdoc swallowed loudly. He was being drained like an animal before getting gutted. Struggling to swing about he looked eagerly for something to help himself, a lever or anything he could use to pull himself up some. His blood pounded in his ears as he reached out for a table that was closer since being moved. His right arm seized in pain so he let it drop down. Gritting his jagged teeth he stuck his good arm out, hooking his fingers into the bloodied grating. He used that to propel himself back and forth more substantially and forced himself to grab the table edge. His one arm protested the treatment, but he worked through it. Gasping harshly he turned his head back and forth for the electronic device for moving whatever he was stuck on.

The wound on his shoulder bled down his arm with the new position. Spotting what he needed he stretched his arm out for it, his grasp slipped on the table when his own blood made the surface slick. The bassist clenched at the metal table, reaching once more for the key to freedom.

"I'm not trained to deal with zombies, that's why we got fuckin' guards and people with weapons."

Huffing, Murdoc hurriedly scrambled for the device, hand closing over it. He glanced over it to find something that would help, but it was just a bunch of discolored buttons with no words, having been worn from use. Cold sweat fell over him when he heard the men coming down steps towards the room, he jabbed all the buttons hastily. Rather abruptly all the chains loosened and the bodies including himself were dropped unceremoniously to the ground. Laying in a heap for one sweet moment, Murdoc caught his breath. The men stepped into the room in that instant and the satanist shrugged his bruised ankles free, stumbling to his feet.

"Oh looky here, looks like someone got lucky."

"S-stay the fuck away from me."

Murdoc took up the quartering tool, trembling visibly and trying hard not to fall on his ass. He felt ridiculous, completely naked and bleeding, but it couldn't be helped. Both men split and attempted to circle the shaking bassist. Lashing out, Murdoc tripped as he walked back, smacking into another table.

"You've got bit of fight left in you, impressive really, but you're wounded. Just come quietly, we'll even put you under. Won't know the difference."

Brows pinching the satanist barked out a laugh, "you people-I'm not, I won't just lay belly up now that I have a fighting chance!"

Unexpectedly a large figure rose up from the ground behind one of the men, equally as nude but without extra injuries. The moment Russel gripped one of the butchers in a choke hold the bassist flew shakily at the other man, swinging the sharp edge down against the other. Not letting up, Murdoc grimaced as he hacked at the man's chest and neck, warm blood hitting him. This was the first time the satanist had killed another person who wasn't already a zombie. Hands grabbed Murdoc's wrists, halting his continued stabbing and cutting motion.

"He's dead," Russel carefully got the bassist to drop the weapon, "c'mon man."

Murdoc was pulled away from the mangled butcher, still quivering as his adrenaline started to taper off. Wiping at his face angrily, the satanist choked on raspy breaths letting the panic swell. Russel rubbed his upper back, slightly awkward.

"Muds, hey, it's gonna be alright man. We're alive... Normally I could help you come down, but we're both covered in blood and naked so just try to hang on okay? We need to get outta here, the danger isn't over yet."

But the panic was consuming him and all he could do was hyperventilate. Russel slipped an arm around Murdoc and directed his panicking companion out of the room, careful of disemboweled torsos and limbs, looking for somewhere to get clothing. Ducking into a small locker room, Russel closed the door and got the satanist to sit on a chair. Murdoc cupped his face in messy hands, wracked in hiccups and small sobs. Biting his lip, Russel opened cupboards and lockers looking for anything to help cloth them. He yanked some overly large pants and shirt on, cringing at how it hung off him, then grabbed up another outfit, obviously belonging to the two men they killed. The last time he dealt with a panicking Murdoc, this severe, was years ago. He crouched on his knee working the straight cut jeans onto the older man.

"Shits gonna be okay man, you and I we stick together. Stuffs fucked up, but we're family and we watch each other's backs."

Once he had the bassist in some pants he got up to grab the dry cloth at the small sink, which was probably dirtier than it looked. They had no choice. Performing some shoddy first aid, Russel bandaged up the older man's shoulder then got the shirt on him. Murdoc struggled to calm down, wiping his eyes and nose. Russel poked his head out of the room looking for anyone alerted.

"Thanks."

The drummer didn't skip a beat, "you're welcome, think you can manage an escape?"

Sniffling audibly, Murdoc rose from his seat, stepping closer to the bigger man. Russel gave Murdoc a quick look, noting the redness about his eyes, but not commenting. Something about other people panicking put his own panic at bay.

"Yes."

"Alright, we're gonna need weapons- shit, what about 2D and Noodle."

"They've escaped, I heard them talking about it before-" Murdoc swallowed quietly clearly uneasy thinking about what transpired.

"I got you, okay. We need a route out."

Not for the first time Russel was acting as a buffer, somehow always making sure everyone else was okay above himself. It made him an admirable person and Murdoc respected that in the man.

———

Stopped on a deserted back road, 2D thumped his head into the steering wheel. He had driven away so fast and so far he barely paid mind to where he was going. He noticed color had slowly returned to Noodle's face, her lips were more pink than blue. The singer tucked the blankets around her more snugly.

"I've gone and fucked up Noodle. Russ and Muds-" 2D blinked rapidly, "it might just be you, me and Kraken from now on. I-I don't know how we're gonna do it."

Noodle groaned softly from the fabric nest, shifting about slightly. Momentarily 2D brightened, worries tossed as the guitarist blinked her eyes open tiredly.

"Noodle! You're awake, oh thank goodness!"

The young woman grumbled vexed at being smothered in a hug and musty blankets. Her joints were stiff so she had difficulty pushing the singer back.

"Toochi?"

It dawned on Noodle that the singer was sitting beside her, alive. A rush of happiness filled her cold body and she weakly launched at him, hugging him back, grip tight.

"You're alive!"

"The same could be said about you," 2D snickered, elated.

"How?" Noodle leaned back to search his face for answers, then she tugged his shirt to look at his shoulder.

"The injury just sealed up, I'm really not sure how it works."

Seeing the veins and blackened area where the gunshot had pierced 2D, Noodle frowned in some concern as well puzzlement. The singer seemed no worse for wear over the change. Sitting back she glanced to the back seat then back to the vocalist.

"Where are Russel and Murdoc?"

The wrecked expression he gave her was wrought with guilt and sadness. Noodle shook her head slowly.

"We were suppose to meet at the truck," the singer rushed to explain, "I had to work through some people but I got there and Muds hadn't shown yet. Noodle I-I couldn't wait, we were getting shot at."

The guitarist snapped, "so you what? Left them there?"

2D flinched at her tone.

"I'm sorry I didn't want too, but I didn't want to lose you too, I panicked!"

"You left them there! Take us back! Take us back now!"

"Noodle I can't I- I don't know where we are, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry."

"We have to go back for them, we can't leave them!"

"It's been hours Noodle...I just didn't stop."

Shoving the blankets off the guitarist kicked her door open, stepping out to breath deeply. She paced, legs wobbling, running hands through her hair mussing it up further. She adored 2D, he was her big brother, but she also loved her two dysfunctional dads and he was trying to tell her they were probably dead. They couldn't be.

"They can't be," Noodle's legs gave out and she collapsed on the side of the road, "2D we have to go back, please take us back. They're not dead. We still have time."

Her voice quaked as she sat hunched in the dirt and grass. 2D climbed out and rushed to her side, kneeling next to her. He wrapped her in a tight, but not too firm, hug, holding her into his chest.

"If we go back we risk being captured."

"I want to destroy that facility. I want to burn those assholes alive," she seethed.

The singer pressed his cheek to Noodle's head. The guitarist hugged him back, fingers digging into his back and side. He felt beyond guilty for letting his fear overrule rational thought, he should have stayed. Noodle and him sat like that on the road side for a while, just finding comfort in each other.

———

Noodle and 2D sat side by side, silent in the truck. The vehicle rumbled and bobbed slightly as they drove over the rougher terrain of dirt roads. Noodle had made the singer pull over at a gas station so she could acquire snacks and a map of the region. She told him to take the back road back to the main highway, which they would take towards the college campus. The young woman refused to believe Murdoc and Russel were done for, though logically it had been hours. 2D grabbed a smoke from the pack Noodle had got at the gas station.

“Oh! I completely forgot,” 2D flicked his fingers, smoke falling from his mouth, “I saw a British plane. It was flying about to some location.”

“You decide to share this important tidbit now.”

“I only remembered now,” the singer frowned, “it was an air-force plane, I think. Or it had some British emblem on it.”

"Okay? So what?" Noodle didn't want to think about going to England, she wanted to focus on saving their friends. Potentially.

"Well it means there's probably safety in England?"

"We can deal with that after Toochi. Right now we need to get back to the college."

2D faced forward once again. Kraken was settled on the seat with Noodle, buried in some of the blanket she kept around herself. The guitarist felt much warmer now. Despite the warmth there sat a deep seated chill in her bones that she couldn't quite shake. A beat of silence passed between them, somewhat strained. Nothing but the empty road and twinkling stars high above as they drove along. 2D started to tap a beat on the steering wheel, his nerves were somewhat fried. Noodle tapped her foot in time to 2D's fingers. The guitarist wasn't upset with 2D, he did what he thought was appropriate. Noodle leaned against the window tiredly, partly scared to close her eyes and wind up back inside the meat locker.

"I'm sorry Noodle."

"Stop apologizing Toochi, it's not your fault. Just think positively okay?" Noodle kept her voice even and placating. 2D nodded choosing to remain quiet after that. They drove until the sun rose, Noodle felt the strain in her eyes from no sleep.

———

Russel shoved the bassist down into the bushes making said man grunt in surprise and pain. The drummer laid next to the man mumbling apologies. The satanist rolled his damaged shoulder slightly, wincing. Outside the industrial meat packaging plant there were streets with more facilities, but outside that there was a thick forested area. It wasn't ideal, but survival was more important than running barefoot through broken things and under brush. Escaping had been a game of cat and mouse that took them two hours to accomplish, thanks to nearly getting spotted three times when everyone was alerted to their escape. Once they managed to flee the sniper and disappear into the run down buildings then tree line, Murdoc relaxed substantially. Unfortunately people from the facility decided it was more important to find them than let it go.

"D'yea suppose they saw us?"

"I don't think so, it's hard to tell from this distance."

"They should just let it go, they have plenty of food," Murdoc stuck his long tongue out at the thought.

"Probably some strange rule or some shit that they don't let anyone go."

They watched a guard dither near the tree line then decide against it and walk off. Sighing in relief, both Murdoc and Russel heaved themselves up and quickly continued off into the forest. They made an unfortunate run in with some zombies and detoured around them, trying to remain out of sight of guards and zombies. As night fell upon the city, they found themselves stumbling out of the forested area and into a small neighborhood tailed by zombies. Winding down towards homes Russel hissed when he sliced his foot open on something. Murdoc ventured to assist the drummer and get away from their small gaggle of fans groping out at them. Slamming into a house, they both pressed their back against it.

"They're gonna get in."

"Maybe they'll leave us alone?"

"Doubtful. We should bandage your foot and find shoes," Murdoc sighed, "actually we should disinfect it to be safe."

The telltale noise of zombies came moments later, followed by the thumping of rotting limbs. The drummer and bassist shoved furniture in front of the door before making a light source. They ended up making more sound than the undead corpses at the door. Stumbling and bashing items in the darkness more than once the satanist cursed. Russel flicked on a lighter from a drawer, it would do.

"We better be quick, they'll wise up and come around to a window or something."

"Yeah."

Russel limped about looking for first aid. A growing crowd gathered at the house with each passing moment, smacking and clawing at the door. Via fire light Murdoc hurriedly yanked a kit out from under a sink and propped the other man's foot up. Pouring rubbing alcohol on the injury, Russel grit his teeth, otherwise he remained marginally still for the bassist. They had no time to make sure it was a hundred percent clean so Murdoc tightly wrapped the gash. Swapping spots the drummer quickly helped Murdoc pull off the makeshift dressing from his shoulder.

"Damn he got you deep."

"Just rinse it, we don't have time to dawdle."

Russel cringed as he got the older man to lean forward then poured the antiseptic liquid over the rather deep wound. Gripping his upper arm to halt himself from leaning away, Murdoc bit his tongue nodding. The drummer got the gauze out and rushed through wrapping up the site. Gunshots rang out in the night.

"Fuck," Murdoc pocketed the lighter and Russel tied off the proper dressing.

Carefully sliding the shirt back on they listened, still hearing zombies at the door and distantly a gun, then two guns.

"Those stupid fucking things are going to lead them here."

"Lets sneak out the back."

Murdoc blindly stuffed the medical kit back together before he and Russel slid the back patio door open and darted out. Traveling in starlight was damn near impossible and dangerous. Guards had brought their search to the same area and the added bonus of zombies wandering about made everything worse. While running on empty, both of them fought through their exhaustion to make a stealthy get away by foot. This unfortunately agitated the drummer's injury and he left bloodied foot steps every second foot fall. They weren't aware of this or that it gave zombies something to seek out; the men following them also found it useful.

Chapter Text

Noodle watched scenery blur past them, temple bouncing against the window slightly. 2D kept shooting her looks, concerned but unable to form the proper words to break the ice. The guitarist could feel the dark eyes on her every so often. All she could focus on was getting back to the facility or college. Only when she was completely sure, would she unleash hell. She may just do it regardless.

2D chewed awkwardly on his lip while watching the road, unsure if the young guitarist even wanted conversation. He caught movement and noticed Noodle petting Kraken. Swallowing 2D reached out to flick the CD player on, not aware if there actually was any music. Momentarily it was quiet then a strange almost psychedelic tune started softly, gaining volume gradually. Noodle glanced away from the window to look at the singer.

“Thought a bit of music would help.”

She hesitated before giving him a delicate smile, bopping her head mildly to the beat. Turning the volume up the vocalist tapped his fingers, speeding up. The alternative music temporarily gave him the sensation of being high, which caused him to chuckle.

“What?”

“Sounds like your stereotypical high in music.”

“Same could be said about us,” Noodle quipped, voice more playful.

“I happen to think our music is more upbeat, maybe for road trips or raves.”

“Such a stark different, road trip and rave.”

For a moment they both snickered, basking in the camaraderie between them. Noodle sobered a minute after, voice dejected.

“What if they are dead Toochi? What do we do then?”

The singer shut his eyes fleetingly before considering his words carefully. In the past he floundered with his word, now he was experiencing a similar muddle. What could he say?

“Lets not decide till we’re sure, yeah?”

The guitarist slumped some. 2D apprehensively fiddled his fingers against the steering wheel, not sure how to save his flop at reassurance.

“If we don’t find them,” 2D caught her meaning, “can we at least have a burial thing for them?”

“Of course,” the singer felt tears prick at his eyes, he didn’t want to do a burial it was too final.

Unsettling quietness came between them while the strange indie music bubbled on. Noodle resumed her position against the window, distant again. 2D forced down his burgeoning desolate thoughts and tried to hum and feign brief ignorance, be happy if only to keep from breaking down.

———

Awaking to the unforgiving grooved metal of the storm drain under a road, Russel groaned as his body protested movement. Murdoc rolled his stiff shoulders, cringing at the damaged tissue and muscle of his right shoulder.

“How’s your foot?”

“Damn sore, your shoulder?”

“Not much different. We should probably get a move on.”

Neither of them wanted to swap conversation given their exhaustion.

Crawling out of the pipe they peered around. Determining the coast clear they climbed out of the ditch onto the road. Their night of travel brought them away from major populated areas where they traversed a back road. Cold, tired, sore and wearing ill fitting clothing with no shoes they resumed course on the deserted road. The weather was dipping into mid Autumn and both shivered off and on. A little while passed them as they walked, feet blackened from filth, and blood for Russel. The rumble of a vehicle engine caused them to perk up and turn around. A truck was speeding down the road towards them, coming from the direction of the facility and city.

“You’ve got to be kiddin’ me,” Murdoc mumbled.

Russel motioned off the road towards the ditch and grass.

“They can’t follow us if we book it into the trees.”

The Ford truck gained on them which finally urged them to take off back through the ditch and up the other side. The vehicle skidded to a stop near the shoulder and people hopped out. Rushing through the forest and occasionally cursing at sharp underbrush, Russel and Murdoc tried to stick together. Two scouts followed them into the moderately spread trees. Infrequent shots hit trees or whizzed by, thankfully missing them.

“Where do we go?” Murdoc asked breathlessly, voice edging towards hysteria.

“I don’t know, just run! Damn! Maybe they’ll leave us alone if we get distance between us.”

Adrenaline could only take them so far so it was no surprise when they had to stop briefly to catch their collective breaths. Using a slight incline to hide behind a couple trees.

“I can’t keep doing this,” Murdoc panted, hunching.

“You have too man. We’re not dying out here, you’re not leaving me out here alone,” Russel grabbed at Murdoc’s upper arm, shaking the older man slightly, “you and me are not dying here!”

Russel needed reassurance the older man wouldn’t clock out, he needed them to stick together.

The satanist started to nod, still breathing raggedly. They shared a look before they resumed running. Despite their pursuers being persistent, their aim continued to fail, unless they weren’t attempting to kill them. They ran until somehow they managed to turn themselves around, not sure where the road or the city was. They couldn’t make out the two men and took another moment to pause, disorientated.

“If we keep going we’re gonna get lost,” Russel hesitated with the bassist.

“What are you suggestin’ then?”

“Maybe we hide and take ‘em.”

Murdoc gaped at the drummer, displeased at the suggestion but too out of breath to dispute it. Russel stared back, clearly at wits end and much too tired.

“Listen, either we fight back or they’ll chase us til’ we drop and what then? We’ll get shot or dragged back. Do you want to be ground beef man?”

Murdoc felt a spike of fear run up his spine, he shook his head vehemently. They would have to drag him back dead if it came down to it.

“What’s your plan then?”

“We need to make noise, then hide and wait to pounce.”

“That’s it? Russel that’s fucking full of holes! We’re basically painting a target and saying ‘hi I’m right here!’ What if they’re too near and see?” Murdoc gesticulated, harried.

“Then lets get moving and keep your voice down man.”

The drummer caught Murdoc’s sleeve, pulling him to keep going. They fought through sweat and pain to put more ground between them. However the two male guards quickly gained, making it obvious they were more prepared to out run their escaped prisoners. Sprinting through the trees, Russel pushed to find a decent location to hide his large frame. The satanist kept in pace with the drummer, trying to follow his lead. Alarmingly Murdoc made a noise between agony and astonishment before going down quite suddenly. Russel nearly tripped when stopping, scrambling to come back to the bassist.

Murdoc laid on his side, breathed hard through clenched teeth, clutching his upper thigh. Red formed around his hands on the dirtied pants. Russel watched in awe for a second, almost disbelieving.

“Shit,” the drummer wiped sweat from his face, he drew a blank, “shit!”

Murdoc whinged in pain while digging his hands into the covered wound. Distantly a disturbance in the brush worried them, the men were coming. The satanist groped at Russel with a bloodied hand to catch his attention. Voice overwrought with unbidden distress, Murdoc tried to talk the drummer back down.

“Russ—Russel! For fuck sake, please—just help me! Help me up or—or tie off the wound, you cannot leave me here.”

“Okay, yeah,” Russel swiped his hand over his face again, dirt and sweat mingling on his features.

Crouching, Russel tore some material from his oversized shirt, breathing unevenly in his anxiousness. Tugging the thick strip of fabric around the bleeding leg the drummer tied it off firmly making Murdoc grunt. A tree splintered beside them as a shot rang out and Russel swung the bassist’s arm over his shoulders, dragging the man to his feet. They hurried off through the trees.

Russel’s rational brain tried to explain how the parallels for now and months ago made him a hypocrite. He shook the thoughts away because ultimately his brain was right, he was unreasonably carrying dead weight with him due to sentimental attachment. The drummer could almost laugh at himself, somehow the satanist was damn near as important to him as 2D was to Murdoc. And after all he said they weren’t going to die there or leave the other alone.

Glaring into the foreground, Russel fought to keep moving, the satanist gripped the bigger man and his thigh while gritting through hurried movement. Dehydration, starvation and no safety for nearly twenty-four hours, maybe more, was keeping them on the fringe of delirium. The trees started to blur together as they made their way and in time the firing tapered off as well. Neither of them noticed as blood pounded in their ears. It was increasingly plain that the bassist was having problems stumbling along. This is when Russel finally stopped, practically collapsing with the older man, hitching breaths passing between them. Murdoc flopped onto his back, hair askew and sticking to his face. His leg continued to bleed subtly through the haphazard bandage; he had no energy to put pressure on it and irrationally hoped it would kill him. The drummer lay back beside the satanist, inhaling deeply to gather himself.

Blinking back wetness, Murdoc watched the sky through the tree tops, “when I pictured my death it was a little more dramatic, more flare. I wanted to go out in some amazing blaze of glory, fans devastated but satisfied I had given enough to the world. Maybe over a hundred years old.”

Russel choked on a breathless yet weak laugh, “of course. Nothing less for infamous Murdoc Niccals.”

“Never suspected I would be ground into meat for kids in a stronghold during some fucked up apocalyptic dystopia. Zombies were the only threat, when did it all dissolve into this messy soup?”

“I dunno man. People break down, lose their wits when they lose family. The institutions meant to keep us safe let corruption turn rational into ridiculous as the world falls to pieces.”

Murdoc hummed in agreement, he found his mouth too sticky to talk anymore.

They laid in silence, waiting for the men to come upon them, drag them away. Time ticked away and wind swayed the trees above them, ruffling their clothing. Staying still was more comforting than moving. Murdoc grimaced when he shifted his leg and spikes of stinging heat ran up and down the limb, he felt like a pin cushion covered in injuries. Growing mildly curious, Russel heaved up on elbows, glancing around them. The drummer saw no one in their general vicinity.

“Ey’ Muds, don’t go writing your will yet. I think they stopped.”

Murdoc cracked his eyes open, unaware he’d closed them. He smacked his chapped lips, cringing at how thirsty he felt.

“Are you sure?”

“I’m seeing no one man, I think they actually fucked off,” Russel pushed up into a sitting position, he felt similar to the bassist.

“That can’t be all. They chased us like a pair of lions eager for a kill.”

“I’m telling you, there is nobody around. They left.”

Groaning, Murdoc sat up to have a look.

“What the fuck? They put in so much damn effort to get us then bugger off? What? Can’t finish the job? I was probably too easy a kill they got bored.”

“Whatever it was I’m thankful.”

“Live another day just to die tomorrow,” Murdoc grunted as he sighed, his leg and shoulder would get infected if they didn’t get treated. He couldn’t imagine how Russel was fairing.

“Lets worry about tomorrow when it comes.”

Russel gave them a couple minutes to let it sink in that the men had in fact left. He wasn’t sure why, but he would take what they could get. Helping Murdoc to his feet they made their way towards where the road was suppose to be. It ended up being hours of growing extra weary and hunger gnawing away at their stomachs before they stumbled upon the road. By this point they were faint and the overhead sun peeking out of overcast clouds didn’t help. They decided to walk alongside the road under cover from trees. No words were traded, both too drained to formulate thoughts alone.

They survived being harvested and chased only to fall victim to the elements. Murdoc succumbed shortly after the sun had passed high noon, muttering he couldn’t keep going before dropping like lead. The temperature was still cool and somewhat windy near the road. The drummer backtracked, using a tree for support.

“You gotta keep going,” Russel’s voice cracked, throat dry.

Murdoc shook his head, face rather pale and sweaty. Hanging his head the drummer pathetically urged the satanist to get up. When the older man just closed his eyes, breathing sedate, Russel reached out to give Murdoc a firm shake.

“Don’t you dare give up on me, we need to stick together.”

“Too tired,” Murdoc mumbled, “can’t go on.”

Russel growled, a small burst of energy boosting him and surged forward to yank the satanist up. Murdoc groaned at being upright.

“We’ll collapse when I say we can! I’m not losing you too, I’ve already lost enough friends in my life.”

No further complaints were made from the bassist and so they resumed trudging along. As the sun descended to early evening, Russel took to the road, limbs shaking at the strain. Murdoc struggled to follow, more tempted to lay in the dirtied water of the ditch. The road stretched on for miles with, trees lining one side and distantly a few houses on the other. Russel nudged the satanist voice partly eager, mostly tired.

“Look, houses. We just need to get our asses there and we should be okay.”

“Sure.”

On moderately even ground it was easier to make strides and thus movement was increased marginally. And with eagerness spurring him on, Russel felt some energy pour into him from somewhere. They continued until the first of five or six houses loomed before them. The drummer glanced around to notice it was the start of a small township. Murdoc cared less about where they were and more about trying to work the door open with listless limbs. It was apparent after some jiggling of the handle that the door was locked. The bassist slumped into the door sighing. The drummer leaned out to glance around the property. Two cars sat in the gravel driveway, fairly dusty given the forested area.

“Locked.”

“I’ll check the back.”

Russel stepped off the small porch, barely a few paces away before the door rattled, unlocked from within and the satanist yelped when he tumbled to the ground. A small elderly woman blinked down at the bassist, startled. Russel stared dumbfounded.

“What in heavens are you people doing? I’ll have you know it’s a crime to break into a person’s home,” her stare was stern and voice assertive despite her diminutive stature.

Murdoc shifted and scooted over to Russel’s legs only to have the other man lift him back up. They both watched the woman warily.

“We didn’t think anyone was home,” Russel supplied awkwardly, “we’re sorry for startling you.”

“What a state you two are in.”

“You got water and food? Maybe a proper medical kit or supplies?” Murdoc gestured to his bloodied pant leg.

“Oh my, you two are in a state. Goodness, please come in. I will fetch some water and food. My daughter can patch you up.”

Both too weary to argue or feel suspicious over the woman’s sudden kindness took steps into the home. They were ushered to a comfy little living room, couches decked in pastel stripes while the extra pillows had floral designs, it clashed horribly. The flooring was a deep brown faux wood paneling littered in scratches from years of shifting furniture. Murdoc spotted some black and white photos perched on a book shelf along with a well worn violin in a glass case. Curiously he thought it odd an instrument locked away when it was meant to be played. The living room was otherwise neat and not a single item out of place other than them standing in the middle of the room. Neither of them wanted to sit even though their bodies craved relaxation. The woman patted a couch.

“Please, have a seat. I will get some water to start,” the lady turned and cupped a hand over her mouth, “Yvonne!”

Murdoc and Russel exchanged a look of discomfort before sinking into the couch, stiff despite their exhaustion. Someone timidly poked their head around the corner of the living room archway, pale flaxen hair sliding off their shoulder. The woman huffed and gestured the other into the room.

“Heavens girl, come in here.”

Yvonne stepped around the corner to reveal a tall, spindly body with medium length wispy blonde hair. The woman fiddled her long fingers, appearing nervous. She had dark bags under her eyes and hollow cheeks, she looked almost sickly. Briefly Murdoc had a flash of 2D standing in the entryway, her mannerisms too similar. The image was ruined by the swell of small breasts and wider hips.

“This is my Yvonne. These two are in need of some medical attention, be a dear and grab your kit.”

“But mother—”

“Yvonne no arguing. Get them fixed up,” the mother stepped around to stand next to the young woman, “how rude of me, my name is Ines. You two are?”

“Russel.”

“Murdoc.”

“Well Russel and Murdoc, sit tight. I’ll bring you food and water.”

Ines left the room quickly, leaving her daughter who eyed the two men suspiciously before she also stepped out. Russel rubbed his face, hands catching on the stubble all over his chin and jaw. The satanist was in a similar state.

“Feel bad, maybe we should offer some help?”

“What does it matter? We’re gone the next morning anyways.”

Yvonne came back with a hefty first aid bag. She dropped it heavily on the coffee table, knocking a small stack of magazines aside.

“You two are English?”

“Just me.”

She opened the kit quiet again.

“How’d you two manage not getting tossed into that mess out there?”

“We just kept to ourselves. My mother has a decent enough garden to sustain us well enough.”

“What about water?”

“There’s a well so we still have some running water. I’m sure my mother will offer you time to clean up after or before eating.”

“We can’t thank you two enough, if there was—” Russel was interrupted.

“Yes. Now, where are you two hurt?” Yvonne kept her voice even, the shy attitude suddenly replaced with competency.

“Bottom of my foot, I cut it on something.”

“What about you?” She looked at Murdoc.

“Shoulder and leg. I was shot and stabbed,” Murdoc watched Yvonne pull out the necessary items. He swallowed at the case with proper medical needles.

“I’ll start with you,” Yvonne motioned Russel’s foot onto the small table while slipping on latex gloves.

The drummer grimaced when she removed the soiled bandage and proceeded to clean it of dirt. It stung, but with repeated battering from running left it desensitized enough to ignore. Yvonne was solely focused on his foot.

“You a doctor or something?”

“Paramedic,” she spared Russel a short glance, “before that I was a nurse.”

Swabbing the area down she made a whooshing noise through her teeth at the injury site.

“You’re in luck, not severe enough for stitches. I would suggest if you continue, that you wear shoes and clean it regularly.”

Russel nodded not sure if he should thank her. Yvonne cleaned up the site to her satisfaction then properly bandaged the gash. Stripping the gloves she got a fresh pair on before moving towards Murdoc. At that moment Ines came in with a moderately large tray, bowls of something hot and bottles of water sat on it. Russel assumed they had to have gone into the town at some point to have the water bottles.

Yvonne moved her bag to the floor so her mother could set the tray on the coffee table. Ines smiled kindly at them and motioned to the food.

“Please eat up then you can wash up. Our water doesn’t have great pressure, but it runs.”

“Thank you,” Russel smiled, more subdued, he reached for a bowl of what looked like tomato soup. He hesitated when he felt how hot the bowl was and set it back on the tray.

“It’s nice to have guests after so long.”

Murdoc noticed Yvonne roll her eyes at the elderly woman’s words.

“You need to remove your shirt and pants if I’m to patch you up.”

Normally stripping down wouldn’t have bothered him, not for a woman he was trying to bed say a year ago. This, now, was incredibly awkward, plus he hadn’t even got underpants during their escape so he wasn’t sure taking the baggy jeans off was appropriate.

“Well?”

“I’m not exactly decent under these.”

“I don’t care,” Yvonne sounded annoyed.

Murdoc sighed and removed his shirt, sliding it off over his head which ruffled his already rather matted and messy hair. He winced at the movement and settled his arms at his lap again once he could. Yvonne moved in closer making him tense, he wasn’t a fan of strangers invading his personal space abruptly. Cold yet elegant fingers unwrapped the bandaging on his shoulder to have a look. She clicked her tongue while examining the injury.

“That’s rather deep. Looks like you have some muscle damage,” Yvonne leaned out making eye contact with Murdoc, “I can sew it up after flushing the wound but I can’t guarantee you’ll have complete mobility in your shoulder or arm without pain afterwords.”

“Whatever, nothing I’m not use too.”

Yvonne wasn’t put off by his comment or appeared that way. She kept her gloves on and started to prep the necessary items. Russel chatted quietly with Ines, asking simple non-invasive questions about them and their lives leading up to this moment. Yvonne brought the needle up after gently flushing the site and Murdoc jerked back, unintentionally startling the woman.

“What?”

“I have an aversion to needles.”

“Don’t we all?”

Murdoc forced himself to relax, knowing damn well he needed the injuries treated. Looking to the side he examined the small single pane window and bookshelf with the violin. Yvonne started pressing the curved needle through his skin. He winced and fought from squirming under her. Outside the window was a large backyard with some trees and cars. Frowning he squinted noticing three or four vehicles outside, which would mean there were about six in total on the lot. Murdoc briefly glanced at Ines then Yvonne. Ines was too elderly to drive and her home was only two stories so there couldn’t be that many people in the house.

Yvonne patched up the sutures and leaned back to remove her gloves and clean up the needle. Grabbing some emergency medical scissors, Yvonne saved the bassist taking his trousers off and cut open the spot and bandage. She nudged Murdoc’s side to have him lean over so she had complete access to the spot. He obliged, silent, he was feeling rather anxious again thinking about the cars parked in the back. Russel seemed none the wiser as him and Ines chatted, he drank some water but held off from soup. Murdoc hissed when Yvonne cleaned the bullet graze on his thigh.

“Looks like you got pretty lucky, no major spots were hit.”

“I’ll count my blessings,” Murdoc looked at the blonde woman firmly, voice on edge.

Yvonne gave him a questioning look, “you doing okay?”

“Peachy.”

Slightly weirded out by his stare she resumed working the gunshot wound. Murdoc started when he saw Russel reach for the bowl of soup catching the intent look Ines was giving it. He blindly reached out and batted the drummer’s arm for attention, nearly knocking the soup out of his hands.

“Hey man watch it,” Russel set it the tomato soup aside again.

“Just wait mate, it’s not fair I get to suffer through this while you eat in front of me,” and he was damn hungry, but something just felt off about this situation ever since he saw the cars, or maybe he was paranoid.

Ines seemingly saw it as friendly banter and chuckled. Russel sighed and slumped back into the couch and waved his hands.

“Fine, I’ll wait. Not like it’s much difference.”

“Granted I’m starved, we both are, maybe we could clean up and have fresh clothing? Asking a lot I realize,” Murdoc clenched his teeth and closed one eye when Yvonne started to sew up his thigh, it was much more painful.

“Oh heavens yes you two are a bit dirty. I have a washroom you two can use. Clothing I’m not sure, my husband was a slight man, I may have something.”

Sighing in relief when Yvonne finished, Murdoc relaxed back into the couch when it was properly patched. The blonde woman leaned away and put her pack together. Ines smiled and motioned.

“Come, I’ll show you two to the washroom.”

Russel gave a weary sigh and stood from the couch. Murdoc struggled a moment but managed on his own. He snatched up the water bottles, Russel’s half full, and followed the home owner and Russel. Ines showed them to a rather large room with a porcelain claw foot tub set on a nineteen-fifties black and white tiled floor. Around from the entrance was a small dated toilet with a fuzzy salmon coloured seat cover and a sink of a similar shade. The mirror had cracks in the corner that spread further. Russel stepped into the room first, then Murdoc, both of them glanced around. Ines moved the door to reveal a narrow linen closet set in the wall.

“I’ll find you boys some clothing. The water doesn’t have good pressure so I wouldn’t bother with a shower. Take your time and mind your injuries.”

Ines smiled again kindly and every bit a good hostess before vacating the bathroom and closing the door. Murdoc flicked the lock and grabbed Russel’s arm and tugged him further from the door, whispering harshly.

“There are multiple vehicles in the backyard, way more than they need.”

“What’re you going on about?”

“Russ I saw four or so cars,” Murdoc gestured in the direction of the back yard bottle in his hand, “plus the two in the front, that’s six cars. What does a little old hag and her daughter need that many vehicles for?”

“You’re sure?”

“Yes I’m fucking sure. Something weird is going on here.”

Murdoc paused and shoved Russel’s water into his hands and then opened his own bottle, chugging the clear liquid. The drummer watched semi impressed as Murdoc finished the whole bottle with a loud gasp. The bassist wiped his face.

“I don’t like these women. Not to mention how the two scouts just stopped following us, what was up with that?”

“I don’t know, maybe they lost track of us?”

“Something isn’t right.”

Russel finished his water quietly, watching Murdoc pace with a limp. Lowering his head the drummer also dried his face with the back of his arm.

“Maybe they’ve always had that many vehicles. Could just be old cars.”

“No, I saw a Toyota F150 back there, bright white, newer model.”

“Look, we don’t know anything about these two. Ines gave me little to work with, so until we can, lets just go with the flow. Clean up, redress and regain our strength. We’ll leave right after okay?”

“What if they’re cannibals too?”

“I doubt every other survivor we run into is gonna be a cannibal Muds, I think that was a contained situation.”

Turning away, Russel turned the tub on to the pleasing site of running water. Like Ines explained there was no pressure behind the running water and it was cold, but any sort of water was fine. Russel plugged the tub and let it fill. Murdoc sat on the toilet seat and waited for the tub to fill as well. He was unconvinced about the two women but he would bide his time, he was too weak for a fight.

———

Noodle breathed quietly as physically possible, back pressed to the facility they had escaped only the other evening. 2D stood beside her, poised to jump. They were waiting patiently for the patrolling guard they knew was coming. Horrifyingly Noodle realized she was urging her adoptive brother to violently murder people and for a minute had a small mental crisis; was this appropriate? Should she be egging him on? What would Russel and Murdoc say? Noodle shook her head slightly. 2D gave her an odd look but she ignored it. The heavy boots of the guard were heard approaching. The guitarist glanced up towards 2D, cringing at the white pupil-less eyes. The singer slid away from the wall and he stalked around the corner out of sight, he had insisted Noodle not watch. At the first startled noise, Noodle covered her ears firmly, only blocking some of the sound out.

Minutes later 2D gently tapped her arm, careful to not get anything on her. Noodle glanced at him, uncovering her ears. The singer had tried to clean up some and thankfully removed most blood from his face and hands. Noodle swallowed and gave him a firm nod before they moved to a side entrance. She avoided looking at the dead guard.

Wandering through the facility made the guitarist shiver involuntarily, she kept thinking of the horrible meat locker. Ducking in and around stacked boxes and random corners they opened frozen storage rooms looking for—Noodle hoped not to find them like that. 2D tugged Noodle back behind their current hiding spot when a couple people walked by wearing the black uniforms minus face masks. Once out of earshot 2D let the guitarist go.

“How many more of these meat lockers d’yeah think there are? We’ve already checked,” 2D counted on his hand, “four I think.”

“I don’t know and I don’t care, we’re checking every single one. And if we don’t find them we take someone and make them talk.”

“Okay,” 2D bit his bottom lip, concern filling his eyes.

Noodle kept her eyes trained elsewhere, she would think about the fallout after all was said and done. When they felt safe enough they continued until voices drifted through the hallway heading their direction. Noodle froze. 2D panicked and grabbed her, dragging her back to the boxes, they made a ruckus when some of the boxes toppled. Both of them scrambled to right the boxes but quite suddenly two persons in the creepy black garb came upon them.

“What—who are you two?”

2D exchanged a quick look with the guitarist before he sighed and launched forward at one of them. Noodle tossed a box at the second person before jumping on them and pinning them. The vocalist trapped the woman in a headlock, which she fought to escape with no success. He squeezed her throat some to keep her from making too much sound.

“If you make a noise,” 2D growled, “I’ll tear your neck out.”

“Toochi! Christ, cool it,” Noodle gave him a stern yet scared look.

Feeling cowed 2D coughed and spoke softer, “I mean I won’t hurt you if—wait why am I not threatenin’? I mean these people voluntarily kill and eat others. I kinda have too cause well y’know.”

Noodle straddled the man she was pinning, holding his arms painfully up against his back.

“I dunno, because Russ and Murdoc wouldn’t want you to be like that?”

2D kept to himself the incident with Jason and sighed again, “fine. If they ‘ave killed them though I’m not playing nice.”

“I’ll join you. Now,” Noodle created pressure on the man’s arms making him gasp in pain, “two guys, you people took them when we tried to escape. What have you done with them?”

The woman in 2D’s hold coughed and cleared her throat, “do you have any idea how many people come and go in this place, you’ll have to be more specific.”

The singer tightened his arm over her neck making her squirm, he glared at her then the man on the floor.

“Older bloke with dark hair, busted nose and tan complexion.”

“The other guy is black, a bit bigger, bald and straight white eyes, super hard to miss.”

“They’re gone,” the man grunted under Noodle.

“What do you mean gone? Did you people kill them? I swear to god if you did I’ll fucking destroy everything and all of you!”

“N-no,” the woman rasped, “they escaped a couple hours after—killed the butchers. I don’t know w-where they are! None of us do. Scouts went out after them but came b-back empty handed.”

2D brightened, “they’re alive!”

“Where are those scouts?”

“Back at the college,” the man winced.

Groaning 2D loosened his hold on the woman but not enough for escape. Noodle gave him a grin, eyes alight.

“This is gonna be a wild goose chase. Lets head to the college,” 2D made to shove the woman away when Noodle waved at him to stop.

“Toochi we can’t leave a trail of bread crumbs, the moment we run off these two are gonna alert someone.”

2D cocked his head, “so we kill them?”

“We burn this whole place.”

“Oh! Right,” 2D nodded in understanding and remembrance, they had extra gasoline cans for the truck, but they could use them for arson.

Moving the man and woman, they forced the two into a meat locker with some struggle, hoping no one heard their cries for help. 2D grunted as he bent the handle until it was unusable. Noodle shoved a couple heavier boxes in front to block the door if they managed to escape. Moving quietly throughout they slipped out the way they came in and loaded up with a gas can each. Noodle closed the doors to the truck gently so not to make more noise than necessary. Hastily they poured a trail from the side entry through the main floor to flammable things to help their soon to be budding fire. Tossing their cans into a side room, Noodle produced a packet of matches.

“Shall I or would you prefer?”

“The honor is all yours,” 2D smiled down at the guitarist.

Noodle took a single match and struck it along the abrasive starter, both her and 2D stared at the little flame. Dropping the small fiery stick they quickly moved away when the gasoline lit and trailed off through the building. It seemed less populated during the midday, but this would get the point across regardless.

“We better get outta here,” 2D took off with Noodle, hurrying to avoid being caught.

Safely outside they stood in cover of the neighboring abandoned building beside their parked vehicle, waiting and watching. Noodle stood closer to the singer in case they were interrupted by a wandering zombie. 2D dug out his pack of smokes from the truck and plucked one for himself before offering one to Noodle. She graciously took one, using her lips to hold it she took a match from the booklet and lit it. Getting both their smokes going they stood in companionable quiet, puffing the cancer sticks hoping for a small show.

Nudging 2D, Noodle nodded to a lower window. The smoke and fire was rapidly taking off inside the facility, more so than they expected.

“Well that puts me at ease,” 2D held his cigarette between two fingers, “we should take off. Lets get those scouts. Find out where Muds and Russ are.”

Noodle bobbed her head and dropped her smoke half finished. The singer copied her and they both slipped into their parked truck where Kraken lay in wait for them, meowing happily when Noodle cuddled her.

———

Nightfall came and nothing terrible occurred to them while in the company of Yvonne and Ines. Murdoc was still on edge, uncertain of the two women after all the turmoil and suspicious amount of cars. After cleaning up, which Russel and Murdoc awkwardly did in each other’s presence, Ines brought them fresh clothing and the soup. After she explained that her late husband was somewhat tall and thin, Russel had wrongly assumed nothing would fit. He was mildly concerned when he managed to slip on the larger clothes belonging to the dead man.

He had stood in front of the mirror in the guest room after changing. The drummer stood so he he could see from the side and cringed at how much he had shrunk in the months following the outbreak. Granted he was still larger than say Murdoc or the other two, but he certainly saw the change stress and less food had brought. It was also apparent he wasn’t getting enough nutrition or sleep from the sallow appearance of his face. The bassist leaned on the door frame, lazily knocking on the door, quiet since it was late. Russel glanced over, morose expression set on his weathered face.

“What’s got you so sullen?”

Russel gestured to his body. The satanist stepped properly into the room, nudging the door shut with a foot.

“Don’t let it get to you, we’re all feeling the effects. Trust me,” Murdoc sat on the rickety little bed.

Giving Murdoc a once over, Russel could see the bassist’s face was more angular and the clothing hugged his thin frame. The drummer sighed.

“I didn’t even notice how bad it was till now. Everything was so go-go. I don’t remember feeling this tired at the farm house.”

“We had access to preserves, canned goods.”

Russel carefully sat himself beside the bassist, the bed left little room so their thighs brushed. The drummer dropped his face into his hands. Murdoc delicately laid a palm on the drummer’s upper back, a small gesture of comfort.

“How’re we suppose to find Noodle and ‘D man? They could be anywhere by now. It’s probably just us now.”

Murdoc brought his hand back to his lap.

“I hadn’t thought that far yet.”

The bassist rose from the bed.

“I’m bushed, we’ll deliberate this shit in the morning,” Murdoc pacified Russel with hand motion, “we can’t do much else. You said so your self, we bide our time then take off. 2D and Noodle will be fine.”

The satanist stepped out leaving Russel alone to his thoughts. The drummer shifted and laid out on the much too small bed, feet sticking over the edge. His eyebrows drew together as he stared blankly at the ceiling, not really seeing it. Taking a deep breath the drummer sighed, he slid his eyes closed trying to find sleep. Russel counted the seconds, breathing in every eight seconds and holding it for three before releasing. It was an old trick to help relax his body. Eventually his mind drifted on, pleasantly empty and dreamless. Tomorrow was a fresh day.

Chapter Text

During the night Russel drifted in and out of sleep, constantly alerted to noises he didn’t recognize. No matter how exhausted he felt he couldn’t seem to get a solid couple of hours. Not since the frozen storage incident. Sighing he rubbed his freshly shaved face and stared blankly into space, aware the morning sun was rising by the dim light filling the room. He closed his eyes trying once more to sleep but was jolted from this by a thump in the hallway. Blinking rapidly, Russel strained to listen for more noises but none came. Confused and definitely unable to sleep he rose from the bed and stretched his sore muscles out. Someone cursed softly from the hallway before movement continued on to the stairs.

Russel poked his head out to look around not seeing anyone. Slipping out he moved to the room beside his, knocking softly. There was no immediate answer so he pushed the door open. Seeing the bassist snoring, laying on his side Russel relaxed. Maybe Murdoc’s paranoia was rubbing off on him. He left the room and closed the door, wandering back into his. Sitting on the bed he laid back yet again, he would try sleeping through the morning.

———

“Oi, Russ. Russ,” Murdoc nudged the drummer lightly, “Ines made a huge breakfast. She has actual meat ‘n everything.”

“I don’t think I could eat meat,” Russel yawned cracking one eye open to look at the satanist not sure when he fell back asleep.

“Pork sausages, powdered eggs, fried beans ’n toast. Real proper brekkie.”

He opened his other eye and sat up, “who can argue with that?”

The drummer hardly hesitated to follow Murdoc downstairs where indeed Ines had made a huge breakfast for them. The little old lady gestured to the seats meant for them, smiling.

“I hope you gentlemen slept well enough, I know my beds aren’t all too good nowadays.”

“Like a baby,” Murdoc commented.

“Well hopefully you have a big appetite.”

Ines served them up a heaping plate of food each to which both of them eyed the amount surprised. Yvonne took less, slightly put off at the amount. Ines served herself last before sitting with them.

“So tell me, where are you two from? You seemed rather lost yesterday.”

Pausing mid bite Russel thought of how to answer the question. Murdoc beat him to the punch.

“We came from the city.”

“Oh dear, that place is nothing but trouble. It’s good you two managed to make it out safely.”

“We lost two friends,” Russel ate some eggs smiling at the taste.

“That’s unfortunate.”

“They’re alive, we just got separated.”

Ines nodded in understanding, apparently glad to hear that. A couple minutes passed in quiet where they ate and drank peacefully. Murdoc was still uneasy about them, but he hid it well. Occasionally between eating and listening to Russel chat with Ines he glanced around the room. He spotted two separate doors, one that he saw lead outside and another, locked tight. He found that odd, maybe he’d investigate it later.

After the hefty meal Russel offered to clean their plates but was promptly shooed from the kitchen. Murdoc thanked the woman for the food and moved on to the living room. The satanist kept eyeing the violin before he caught sight of the window, Yvonne stepped into the room.

“You keep looking at the violin. Do you play?”

Murdoc turned. He glanced at the violin then Yvonne.

“Sure, it’s just a smaller guitar.”

“Did you want to play it?”

He was certain the woman was distracting him from asking about the vehicles. Shrugging, Murdoc went along with her game.

“I’ll give it a try.”

The blonde removed the instrument from the glass case. She held it out to the bassist who took it gently. He was partly confused at how willingly she passed over what must have been an important family treasure, he was a stranger. Truthfully he had a small level of experience playing a fiddle. Yvonne held a bow which he took as well. Plucking the strings he cringed at the sound. Sitting he fiddled with the tuning pegs and fine tuner nobs, tweaking them until he recognized the notes.

“You seem to know your way about an instrument.”

Murdoc found it strange how disinterested Yvonne appeared, yet her voice betrayed her by sounding intrigued.

“I play guitar and some piano. It translates well enough if you’ve got skill on other stringed instruments. Part of a rather famous band in fact.”

Russel snorted from where he stood at a different book shelf. Raising a brow, Yvonne sat next to Murdoc, keeping space between them.

“Which band would that be?”

“It doesn’t matter now, worlds gone isn’t it?”

Bringing the violin up the satanist struggled a moment to settle his chin without the proper shoulder support. Grunting he steadied the violin and brought the bow up, surprisingly with proper finger positioning. Russel looked over in mild curiosity, having never witnessed the bassist play anything but his preferred bass or guitar. Gliding the bow over the strings he awkwardly tumbled through a Beatles song. Occasionally hitting the wrong note or shifting his hand too soon. The drummer was semi-amazed. Murdoc huffed and stopped. He lowered the small wooden fiddle.

“I had no idea you could play a violin man.”

The satanist grunted, not giving the drummer a proper response. He felt rather uncomfortable with his audience.

“What else can you play?” Yvonne smiled when she asked.

Murdoc repositioned the violin and started up at a slow pace, hands not use to the finger board or angle. It took a moment but Russel chuckled suddenly, identifying the familiar song. The vocals and drums were missing, but he got the gist of the song.

“Clint Eastwood?”

Murdoc halted with a small screech on the E string, he flustered slightly and lowered the wooden instrument.

“Yeah.”

“It’s good.”

Yvonne nodded, “you can play all you want, it won’t be a bother.”

She stood and politely excused herself to do whatever it was she needed too. Russel sat on the couch near Murdoc.

“When did you take up violin?”

“I didn’t.”

Russel frowned, “so you just picked it up now?”

“No, I didn’t take up fiddle. Not properly,” Murdoc held the bow and violin as he moved from the couch to the small single pane window.

The drummer watched from where he sat. Murdoc nodded for Russel to come over. Sighing, Russel joined him at the small window.

“Look.”

Peering out the filthy glass Russel gave the crowded yard an astonished glance. He counted four vehicles like Murdoc had mentioned, including the white Ford F150.

“That is a lot of cars for two people.”

“Right?”

“We can’t jump to conclusions Muds, it could be any number of reasons.”

The satanist gave Russel a bothered look.

“What reasons?”

“Maybe others use to live here or Yvonne brought cars back with supplies? I don’t know man.”

Murdoc popped his lips in thought. Ines appeared in the entry way of the living room.

“What are you two staring at?”

Both of them jolted from the window like two kids caught with a hand in the cookie jar. Ines seemed unperturbed.

“curtains,” Murdoc gestured haplessly, “you have lovely drapes.”

Russel gave Ines an awkward yet small smile, nodding. Ines chuckled at their strange behaviour and waved them off.

“You boys are odd. I have to tend my garden, you two keep out of trouble.”

Shaking a finger at them in warning, quite hilarious given she was shorter than Murdoc, Ines vacated the room. She grabbed a small bag and slipped out a side door by the kitchen.

Russel smacked Murdoc in the upper arm, “the drapes?”

“I panicked.”

———

With nothing to occupy himself other than dusty copies of nineteen-eighties TV magazines, books printed in another era about chemistry, and the two musical instruments, Murdoc grew antsy. Russel busied himself tinkering with the piano sitting against a wall in a side room with heavy drapes bleached from years of sun pinned back from windows. The satanist sat on a moderately stable wicker chair, knee bobbing.

“If you keep that up I may have a beat,” Russel didn’t bother looking at the other man.

“You can’t even play.”

The drummer purposely hit a high note on the old piano. Murdoc gave the back of Russel’s head a disconcerted frown.

“We should leave.”

Russel took a moment to turn himself on the small wooden bench to face the bassist.

“Where are we going to go Muds? Where?”

“Anywhere. I don’t like it here.”

“We leave now and we may never see ‘D or Noodle again. Best option would be sticking it out. They have a much better chance finding us this way.”

The satanist fidgeted, picking at his nails.

“They’re up to something.”

“Maybe they’re just nice people and you’re paranoid.”

Murdoc gave Russel an exasperated look, his foot continued to tap. The drummer eyed him examining the nervous ticks, sighing dismayed. He didn’t want to go on the run again.

“Murdoc, take a couple minutes and look at this from a logical point. We have no supplies, no transportation, we’re both suffering injuries and we have no idea where we are,” Russel rested his palms, flat, against his upper thighs, “what about 2D and Noodle? I get you’re scared—”

“I’m not scared.”

Russel tried to keep his ire down, “you are and it’s fine, there’s no shame being scared. Hell, I’m terrified right now. We’re completely lost and without direction.”

“Please don’t get preachy.”

“If it’s bothering you so much, go ask them about the cars.”

“No,” Murdoc looked away from the drummer, “I do that and next thing you know we’ll be given a basting and cooked up.”

“Then you need to let this shit go, at least for now. They haven’t tried anything.”

Slapping his knees abruptly and abrasively, Murdoc stood and walked out of the room not stopping to discuss things further. Russel contained an irritated noise and turned himself back to the ivory keys.

Another night approached with quick succession. Russel found himself staying in the same spare room on the same terrible, short and rather lumpy bed. He stared at the fading light on the ceiling. Off and on he heard creaks and whines. His brows cinched tightly when he closed his eyes.

Fuck.”

Russel pulled himself from the bed and stood at the door, he hesitated, listening for more. Silence met his ears and he decided now was a good time as any to peek out. Opening the door he caught sight of the bassist’s back retreating to the stairs.

What is he doing now?

Taking a steady breath, Russel stepped out after the satanist. He reached the top of the narrow stairwell as Murdoc met with the last step.

“Hey, what in the hell are you doing man?”

Murdoc halted and glanced through the darkening house at the drummer. He placed a finger to his lips, shushing Russel. Right after that Murdoc motioned the other to follow him, quietly of course. Finding himself complying, Russel came down to meet with the satanist. Whispering, if only to keep them concealed in the darkness.

“What are we doing?”

“Yvonne disappeared in and out of the basement a few times, figured I’d have a look. She’s hiding something.”

“Not this again.”

“Listen, you can join me or bugger off. I didn’t ask for you to come along so don’t bitch if you’re not gonna help.”

“Fine.”

Part of him was curious and stupidly he trailed through the kitchen towards the basement door. The door had a heavy deadbolt keeping it locked. Something about it’s appearance made it foreboding. Murdoc worked the lock open, wincing at a thunk the door made when it swung open before he could catch it. They exchanged a look, waiting for someone to come inspect.

Nobody came.

A cold draft spilled over the top step, invisible, yet creeping over their uncovered feet. The darkness in the depths of the basement felt impossibly black.

“Well, it’s a basement.”

Murdoc dug a lighter from the confines of the grey slacks he was borrowing. Flicking it on it gave some illumination to them and the kitchen. Turning the bassist held the light up some to see the first couple of unpainted steps.

Steeling himself, Murdoc cautiously took each step one at a time, keeping the small flame out in front. Russel hesitated, less sure if he wanted to continue the investigation, it felt wrong. Murdoc gestured rapidly to Russel making the decision for the drummer. Once caught up they both descended into the thick dark of the basement. At the bottom landing the light showed a rather sizeable amount of clutter tucked in close to the stairs.

“Looks like your run of the mill basement.”

When the fire on the lighter went out the satanist cursed softly and flicked it until it lit up again. Their hearts remained fast even when no obvious danger presented itself. Exploring the bountiful stacks of random items, Russel spied a couple gaudy paintings and travel trunks. Murdoc scanned around to the opposite side a minute later and spotted a clothing rack, two rusty bikes, and what looked like a full body skeleton held together with wires.

“What is all this shit?”

“Family heirlooms maybe.”

“Most of it is useless garbage.”

Russel’s foot caught something on the cement floor, it skittered across the flat surface making a peculiar sound. Both men looked to the ground, lighter above to see what the item was. Neither of them were medical experts, but without previous knowledge it was obvious the bone was human. A femur if Murdoc was guessing right.

Heart rates spiked all over again, but they outwardly kept their cool.

“Maybe it fell off that science thing.”

“Nah mate, it’s got shit attached to it.”

They stared at it a minute longer. The door to the basement loudly slammed shut and both of them could hear in the quiet following the deadbolt sliding back into place. Neither were sure if someone had just shut and locked it because it was open, or if someone knew they were down there.

“I should have never listened to you.”

“Look I’m sure we can explain why we’re down here and things will be fine.”

Russel strained to see a window or separate exit.

“I mean it isn’t as if they’re actually cannibals,” Murdoc swallowed, tone joking.

“No of course not,” Russel quipped.

“Besides, they would notice we’re gone sooner or later.”

“Or they might not.”

“Think positive Russ.”

“You’re the one who suggested this stupid idea.”

“You’re the one who came with, I didn’t force you or anythin’.”

The bassist had a point. Russel silently belittled his choice.

Squinting in the darkness, Murdoc moved towards a boarded window above his head. He reached up, testing the strength of the wood.

“Oi, maybe we could pry these off.”

Russel came up beside the satanist.

“Muds I aint gonna fit through that tiny ass window.”

“Sure you can,” Murdoc struggled to pull on the board, but his height prevented proper leverage.

“You can probably squeeze through, I’ll boost you.”

The thought of leaving Russel alone in the dank, unfinished basement at the mercy of whatever Yvonne or Ines had or had not planned made his stomach churn.

“I’m not leaving you.”

Russel stared at Murdoc. The drummer smiled, small but appreciative. The satanist awkwardly diverted his gaze.

“I’m not asking you to leave, I’d hope you wouldn’t man. Just climb out and come around and get me out.”

“‘Course, I can manage that.”

Russel took the lighter from the bassist, wandering back to where they saw the travel trunks. Dragging them back over to the dinky window he stacked them so he could stand on them, having a slight advantage over Murdoc height wise. Passing the light back, Russel started to yank on the semi-damp boards. Holding the lighter up for the drummer, Murdoc stood to the side uselessly.

Russel tore boards off one by one, avoiding getting splinters, “It’s gonna be a tight squeeze.”

“How tight?”

“You claustrophobic?”

“No,” Murdoc frowned, answering slowly.

“You’ll be fine then.”

Stars twinkled in the sky, high above, Russel could barely make them out at his angle. He stuck his hand out to feel against the small window, getting a general understanding of how to open it and how big it was.

Murdoc felt apprehensive, his hand keeping the lighter lit, trembled.

Pressing his hand flat against glass and pushing, the window completely gave, sliding along the cement with little resistance. It seemed the house wasn’t well made or hadn’t been updated with proper functioning windows. When he was unable to reach any further, Russel brought his arm back.

“Ready?”

“No.”

Murdoc pocketed the lighter, hands feeling for Russel’s shoulders. The drummer cupped his hands together for his foot, which the satanist couldn’t see for the life of him.

“C’mon,” Russel grunted when Murdoc finally put his weight into his hands.

Gritting his teeth he hefted the older man up to reach the concrete ledge for the window. Murdoc slid his arms through, fully pushing the window out onto the grass, then grasped at the outside edges. Hefting himself up and through he bite his lip when the bullet wound rubbed against cool cement.

“Fuck this is smaller than I thought.”

Murdoc was really thankful he didn’t suffer from claustrophobia otherwise he would never have taken this opportunity. Working out of the window he grabbed grass to pull himself out, Russel’s hands pushed on his feet until the drummer could no longer do so. His shoulder tweaked in pain so he laid for a moment, watching the stars. The many automobiles parked in the backyard took over almost all available space. There was no garden that he could see. Turning his head he squinted to see the rest of the yard, which had covered piles of something. What? He wasn’t sure and didn’t actually want to know.

“Muds you okay?” Russel was muffled due to being unable to fully reach the window.

“Yeah,” Murdoc crawled back over to the window, keeping himself out of immediate sight incase someone came around.

“Careful.”

“I’m going to slip in through the kitchen, I'll have you out in no time.”

Russel gave an affirmative noise and stayed put, not that he could do much. Murdoc made to his feet, treading through the grass slowly, keeping his ear trained for noises. He peered around the corner of the house towards the side entry to the kitchen. Murdoc took a deep and steady breath before moving onto the gravel driveway towards the door. He stepped on a sharp rock and hissed in pain, annoyed at the lack of footwear. Thankfully the journey to the door was rather short.

He tried the handle and muttered praise that it was unlocked. Pushing it open the door was quiet, nobody was in the kitchen that he could see. Using the lighter again he navigated the kitchen carefully until he could unlatch the basement door. This time he opened it slowly so it didn’t swing. Russel came up the stairs rather quickly, stepping out beside him.

“Lets get out of here.”

“Now you want to leave?”

“Yeah, there were more bones. I couldn’t see them, but I felt them.”

Not arguing, Murdoc lightly closed the door again and they proceeded to wander the house in search of supplies.

In the dead of night both of them left the house, walking back onto the road, finally wearing shoes. Granted they had no proof the two women had any ill intentions other than the human bones and vehicles.

The moon sat in the sky, casting enough illumination onto the surrounding area for them to safely walk. They both had a small pack each with a meagre supply of water and food, enough to get them a few days before they needed more. Russel kept thinking about 2D and Noodle, possibly looking for them and never being able to see them again. The last thing Russel remembered with Noodle was being separated and put in a meat locker.

“Stop doing that,” Murdoc tucked his hands into the pockets on the coat he stole.

“Doing what?”

“That, the moping.”

“I’m worried about Noodle and 2D.”

Rolling his eyes, Murdoc sighed, “give them some credit, they’ll stumble across us. 2D did before hand, shouldn’t be hard to do again.”

The drummer had no rebuttal to that and afterward chose to walk in silence with Murdoc. They passed the other homes as they drew closer to the small township. Keeping a good distance they skirted the core and found a building to hide in for the rest of the early morning. Most of the zombies around shuffled along, mostly sagging rotten flesh and bones. Hardly a threat.

———

Beating a man senseless wasn’t Noodle’s proudest moment, but as a new day dawned she felt her need to find the other two turn desperate. 2D let her do as she felt necessary, trying to keep his comments to himself. He held her from burning the college down citing that there were innocent children and people there. She took her anger out on the scout they nabbed and then proceeded to leave him beaten and bloody for zombies.

The singer found himself in the passenger seat of the truck, comforting Kraken while the guitarist drove down the back highway. Going on limited information from the scout, they followed the road back to the burnt facility and down towards a small town.

“Noodle you’re driving uh—fast, rather fast.”

2D found in the time since infection not much seemed to scare him, too badly, like before. Other than of course losing his friends, being alone and maybe the scarily similar driving Noodle and Murdoc shared.

“They could be anywhere along this road, we need to make up for lost time. Keep your eyes open and look for them.”

2D pet Kraken to sooth both himself and the cat, it wasn’t working.

The first home whizzed past them on the right hand side, then the next ones. Rather quickly they were entering the township of something, 2D missed the sign.

“Slow down—” 2D jerked when a single zombie flew over the hood of the truck, “okay Murdoc maybe take it easy, yeah?”

Noodle slammed on the breaks and slapped the truck into park, she shot the singer a foul look. 2D glowered back, again calming Kraken.

“I’m not that bad.”

“You’re turning this search and rescue into a crusade, which is making you more upset. Maybe we should take a break, ‘cause if they survived being eaten and shot at they will definitely live another couple hours without us.”

“The more time we waste dawdling the more likely we’ll never find them 2D. I don’t want to stop until we find them, safe and breathing or so help me.”

“The guy said they were on foot right? They’re not gonna get far on foot. They’ll tire out and rest, they’ve probably stopped here to find food and water.”

Grumbling, Noodle agreed to the singer’s logic.

“Lets just stretch and—and knock a few heads? Killing zombies might relieve some stress?”

“Yeah, fine.”

Noodle shut the truck off and moved from the driver side to stand and stretch. 2D relaxed and carefully moved Kraken to the back, patting her head gently.

“You stay here,” 2D smiled at the black feline softly, Kraken laid down and watched him close the door.

Noodle wasted no time grabbing a weapon from the bed of the truck, testing the weight in her hand by swinging it around. 2D leaned against the opposite side of the truck, eyeing the guitarist. She paused to look back.

“What?”

“There’s nothing wrong taking after your parents.”

Noodle’s face pinched up in discontent.

“I definitely think there is in this case,” she slumped a bit, pressing herself to the truck while resting her arm and the wrench over the cargo bed.

2D set his arms on the edge, “not necessarily.”

“Where have you been? Don’t you remember how badly I battered that guy hours ago?”

“Well he kinda deserved it,” 2D shrugged.

Noodle slid away from the truck, “lets go kill some zombies.”

“Avoidance is Murdoc’s favorite way to deal with uncomfortable conversations too.”

When 2D came around she elbowed him in the ribs, not hard enough to hurt.

“Enough psychoanalyzing me, I thought we were gonna get my mind off my crusade and relieve some stress.”

The singer held his hands up, conceding.

With no immediate food, namely fresh human, the undead fell into an almost hibernation, standing still among darkened areas. Finding a few to bash took Noodle time and she found herself climbing into destroyed store fronts to beam a couple motionless zombies. 2D remained at a distance knowing full well he was a repellant of sorts. The guitarist gave a shout, of triumph, which gave the singer a momentary spike of terror. He fought with himself not to rush in and play hero. Noodle came about covered in flecks of decaying human and coagulated blood, shit eating grin on her face.

The vocalist relaxed.

“Better?”

“Much, it’s actually cathartic beating the life out of the undead.”

“Good. That’s mildly disturbing, but good.”

“Don’t worry, you’re safe Toochi, I like you too much for that,” the guitarist winked in jest.

He smiled and chuckled, “thanks?”

Noodle dropped the heavy tool into the back of the truck and stretched her arms. 2D rested against the vehicle crossing his arms loosely.

“Are we to continue or call it a day? It’s getting kinda dark.”

“Keep looking.”

2D accepted the answer and once Noodle clean to a degree, they hopped back in the truck to resume. Noodle drove them in and around cars in the area, but after a while she started to feel dismal. It took her a couple minutes more before she pulled over beside a string of small shops with apartments above. They were on the out skirt of the town, having drove through the core.

Noodle sat there staring ahead, unseeing. The truck continued to idle while she was doing so.

“We staying here for the night?”

“I guess.”

The guitarist finally shut the truck off. Abruptly it began to rain, heavily.

“Lets get inside,” 2D gathered up their bags as he pushed his door open.

Noodle sighed and scooped up Kraken. They both rushed into the building, getting wet regardless of haste. Shaking off excess water 2D crouched and dug out Kraken’s harness and leash, doing her up. Kraken attempted to make it difficult by flopping but the singer only smirked when he managed to get the device on her. Noodle peered around, pushing her hair from her face. There were no zombies present, not that they were surprised given there seemed to be less as they went.

The guitarist pointed to the ceiling

“Lets get upstairs.”

With some fuss, Kraken fought against the leash which 2D tugged on with a frustrated huff.

“C’mon Kraken, enough of that.”

The guitarist snorted and picked up their feline companion, she cooed to the cat and pet her damp fur. 2D dropped the leash and took to exploring the space for a set of stairs.

“She likes you better,” the vocalist pushed open a door to the side of a few shelves.

“I’m a natural with cats.”

2D glanced up the dark stairwell before shooting a look back at Noodle.

“Let me go up first.”

“You don’t need to baby me Toochi.”

2D gave her a petulant look.

“Fine, go ahead. Kraken and I will wait.”

The guitarist waved her free hand, motioning him to go up. Nodding, 2D disappeared up the stairs, taking them slowly and listening for movement.

Reaching towards the door at the top, 2D kept his breathing quiet as he opened said door. Peering around the small hallway he continued through, not able to hear anything off. Creeping along he poked his head into a few rooms before coming into a living space with furniture, the blinds were closed so the room was shrouded in darkness. His eyes adjusted to the minimal light and his ears caught the slight creak in the floor behind him, too late. Pain exploded in his head and stars filled his vision, he gave a pained yelp, stumbling forward clutching his head. Unable to see through the sudden cacophony of distorted imagery he tripped and collapsed over the coffee table.

Faintly he heard a metal object drop and panicked breathing. he dizzily tried to right himself but to no avail, he slumped into the ground again. Hands were on him, turning him over and touching his face hurriedly. Briefly there was a flash of light skittering across his vision.

“Stuart oh fuck, I’m sorry I—I didn’t know it was you.”

“Damn, how hard did you hit him?”

“I—hard, but I thought, agh—”

2D groaned rubbing his head, he felt a slight headache forming. Murdoc snatched the torch from Russel and started to scan over 2D’s head, looking for blood. The satanist couldn’t find any and instantly worried for internal bleeding.

“I’m fine,” the vocalist winced. The pounding in his ears was clearing and the pain turned into a throb.

“The hell you are. Just got clubbed with a metal pole,” the bassist felt along the singer’s head for a distortion in his skull, “all I do is put dents in your head.”

“It’s okay, you didn’t know it was me.”

When 2D went to sit up, as the dizziness tapered off, Russel settled a hand on his back helping him. Murdoc continued to fret, but the singer calmly moved his hands away. Despite the ache in his head, he felt relatively fine, like it was a minor bump to the head. The drummer patted 2D’s back smiling.

“It’s damn good to see you again, really good.”

Holding his head the vocalist gave the other a gap toothed smile before turning some to hug Russel with one arm. The satanist held the flashlight, moderately uneasy.

“Happy you’re in one piece,” 2D pulled back and glanced at Murdoc, the satanist gave him a guilty look, “don’t be so put off Muds, it was an accident. ‘Sides my head is startin’ to feel better already.”

Murdoc grunted in surprise at the sudden armful of 2D. The singer held him close, trying not to crush the man. Slowly the bassist returned the gesture, stroking 2D’s back one handed, easing into the hold.

2D’s hands moved and cupped the satanist’s face. Murdoc blinked, nonplussed. Cool lips found his in a fierce kiss, something the bassist was unprepared for. Russel coughed, awkward, and shuffled away giving them space. Leaning into Murdoc, 2D pressed him into the floor, nearly straddling him. Dropping the torch, Murdoc quickly returned the kiss, hands scrambling to pull the singer impossibly closer.

“C’mon you two,” Russel voiced, exasperated.

The flashlight shifted on the floor, rolling to illuminate Noodle standing in the door way, Kraken in her arms.

“Babygirl,” Russel made quick work reaching the guitarist and pulling her into a warm hug.

Careful of the cat she hugged the drummer back, a few relieved tears gathering in her eyes.

“I’m so glad you’re okay, that you’re both okay.”

Noodle felt the weight hanging on her just dissipate as she almost collapsed against the drummer. Kraken squirmed to be released so Noodle carefully let the cat drop to her paws. Arms free she embraced the other tighter. A moment later she glanced to Murdoc and 2D and cleared her throat. Parting from one another, somewhat dazed and flustered Murdoc cleared his throat while 2D leaned off him.

“Got carried away.”

“S’nice,” 2D mumbled, lips reddened.

Murdoc carefully shifted out from under the singer and got to his feet, fixing his trousers. Noodle awkwardly gave the satanist a hug which he returned. Surprising her further Murdoc gave her head an affectionate kiss.

“Figured you would be fine,” the bassist supplied, “toughest brat I know.”

“Awe,” 2D cooed, upright again.

Murdoc huffed and pushed 2D’s face away, no real aggression behind the action. Russel snickered.

“Piss off, both of you.”

Noodle grinned, “missed you too.”

“Hell,” Murdoc turned away, embarrassed but mostly able to hide it in the dimness.

Russel grabbed the light and set it up on a shelf to brighten the room some. The drummer picked up Kraken and gave her kisses, pleased to see the cat alive as well. She made a small purring noise, rather content to see her favourite human.

2D ran his fingers over the goose-egg forming on his head, wincing. He removed his hand when he caught Murdoc looking at him.

“We’re all together,” Noodle wiped her eyes.

“Yeah,” Russel gave a small but content smile, holding Kraken.

“I’ll grab the bag I left downstairs,” Noodle gestured, “we have some supplies.”

The bassist sat on the arm rest of a small recliner giving Noodle a thumbs up, tired and weary. All smiles, Noodle made her way back downstairs. 2D went to follow but the satanist reached out, catching his wrist. Casting a questioning look at the older man, 2D remained where he was.

Directing the singer over he grabbed narrow hips and rested his legs, open, on either side of the taller man.

“Glad you’re okay. Was worried ‘bout you,” 2D tilted his head downwards, making eye contact.

Russel stepped out with the cat, floor waning as he moved. 2D glanced at the retreating back of the drummer before his attention was drawn back to Murdoc.

“You are okay, right?” he attempted to check for injuries on the older man by eye.

“Shoulder is buggered and I’ve been shot, but otherwise yeah, I’m fine.”

Something about Murdoc’s tone made 2D disbelieve his claim but he didn’t know whether to push the topic. The satanist dropped his eyes to mid chest, his hands tightened on 2D’s waist.

“‘M sorry ‘D.”

“What? For earlier? Don’t worry ‘bout it, my head is fine Muds. Just a bit’a lump is all.”

“No.”

Murdoc avoided looking anywhere other than 2D’s chest.

“Sorry for everything.”

2D stepped in close and enveloped the satanist in his arms. Murdoc rested his face against the chest, listening to 2D’s rapidly beating heart.

“I know,” 2D brought one hand up to pet through dark hair.

Murdoc’s hands clung to the back of the singer’s shirt, almost desperate. He squeezed his eyes shut trying to will away the wetness forming. He could feel the past few days catching up with him, the anxiety, fear, and unbridled need to break down.

“Thought I was gonna die.”

“You’re safe now. Won’t let that ‘appen ever again.”

Noodle and Russel came back into the room to set bags down. Both exchanged a look with 2D who tried to wave them out discreetly. Exiting quietly, Noodle urged Russel to follow.

“Lets light up the kitchen, we have candles,” the guitarist mumbled, she vanished behind the doorway with Russel.

2D continued to embrace the seated man, running his hands along the shaking back, trying to sooth the other. Murdoc kept his face hidden against the singer, hands bunching the other’s shirt tightly along his lower back. The singer heard Russel and Noodle mingling in the next room, light streaming from the area to the hall, just faintly reaching the entry to the living room. He peered down at the messy dark hair. Scooping a hand under Murdoc’s chin he made the man lean back enough to properly see him. Before the satanist could wipe at his face, 2D brushed his thumbs along Murdoc’s cheeks.

2D then took Murdoc’s hands and lightly got him to his feet, pulling him to the couch. Once they were both seated he gently brought the bassist against himself, laying back.

“I’ve got you,” the singer spoke softly.

Comforted by fingers carding through his hair yet again, Murdoc relaxed on the singer, enough to drift off. 2D hummed, listening to the older man breath. Noodle appeared with some water and food, pausing upon seeing Murdoc sleeping on the singer.

“Maybe later.”

2D nodded. The guitarist left them be. Tomorrow, plans about their possible future would need discussing, until then they were safe and together.

Chapter Text

Morning sunlight streamed through windows, brightening the rooms. Fall was turning the leaves to shades of red, orange and yellow. The four band mates found themselves waking to the knowledge they were finally tucked away, safe, where nobody could see them. Noodle had roused first, going about making a breakfast with limited food; it wasn’t appetizing in the least, but when the others joined it had been consumed rapidly. 2D of course forwent eating. Hydrating and scrubbing down to refresh themselves, the following hour was spent looking over a map. Noodle and Murdoc spread said paper over the kitchen table, pinning it down with small objects.

2D stood beside the drummer, cupping his elbows while he watched them. Once smoothed on the wood surface Murdoc turned to grab a felt from the small cup on the counter. He hunched over the map of North America and circled the town they were in.

“Alright, here’s the plan,” Murdoc capped the marker, “we’re currently located here. We need to move from here to here.”

Tapping the circled location the satanist slid the closed writing utensil along the map to the airport they had left months ago. The paper creased under the pressure. Murdoc gauged the individual reactions of unease, distraught and confusion.

"A boat isn't an option anymore," he begrudgingly admitted, "so we're going by plane."

Nodding, Noodle sat at one of the chairs to examine the map closer. Murdoc tapped the airport with the felt.

“My math isn’t perfect, but given the distance this will take us ‘bout a week. It means backtracking towards the farm house, which also means bypassing the campus. Finally we return to the military encampment at the airport, it’s the closest with functioning aircraft.”

Noodle peered at the map, finger trailing the winding lines meant to represent roads. She traced another path before looking up.

“That would be the quicker route,” she leaned back to glance at the three men, “we will need weapons, food, water and medical supplies. Plus Toochi has not eaten in roughly three days?”

2D nodded to confirm her statement.

“What’s that mean?” Murdoc crossed his arms, expression bemused.

“Well after so many days his body goes into a metabolic hibernation to conserve energy, he needs to consume living tissues to keep his body functioning. How many days Toochi?”

“Uh, well last two times it was a couple weeks before that, should be okay.”

Russel sat down to take the pressure off his healing foot. He stroked Kraken’s head, “we should find two capable vehicles, get gas and root through the apartments or stores. There don’t seem to be much for zombies wandering around.”

“Good idea Russ,” Murdoc rested his hands on his waist.

2D rocked on his feet, “so who flies the plane then?”

“I will.”

“You will? Hows that?”

Noodle found displeasure in delving into her time in the program. Shifting herself to face partly away from the others she sighed. Three sets of eyes watched her.

“Among many things, I am a capable pilot. I was given knowledge and training during my informative years in the program, guess it has use now.”

“Regular G.I.Jane, you are.”

Noodle smiled faintly at the odd compliment.

“It’s settled then, Noodle flies the plane, our jobs will be to make sure that isn’t a fuckin’ nightmare. Any opposition is dealt with upon entry to the base. If it’s still standing.”

From there the guitarist made a list of necessary items they would need for the journey and subsequent assault on the base. With no time wasted by midday they were on the move. Unintentionally, or maybe intentional, Murdoc and Russel were placed between the singer and guitarist while searching other buildings for provisions. Although 2D was a natural zombie repellent, neither him or Noodle wanted to take a chance.

Making quick work of the stores they backtracked when enough was found. If necessary they could hit up a gas station on their travel.

Noodle took up the drivers side to the truck they had been using. Russel situated himself with Kraken in the passenger side. 2D and Murdoc climbed into the back seats. The guitarist started the vehicle and quickly got them turned around.

“How did you two manage to find us?”

“We backtracked to the facility,” Noodle glanced at 2D and Murdoc in the back via the mirror, “got information. Moved along.”

She saw the satanist narrowing his eyes at her.

“Seems a little vague,” Murdoc tilted his head to look at 2D.

The singer watched Murdoc, smiling fondly. It was infectious and the bassist found himself giving a small, dopey smile back. Pleased to be back with the singer, Murdoc struggled to form words to express just that. Last night was mostly spent clinging to the singer, apologizing constantly. For now all past transgressions seemingly on the back burner due to their extenuating circumstances.

“Toochi and I threatened a few people. We did what I thought necessary to find you two.”

“I’m grateful,” Russel ruffled Kraken lightly, “wouldn’t know where to look for you two.”

Neither backseat occupant paid Noodle or Russel any attention.

The satanist scooted over to the middle seat, his thigh bumped 2D’s leg. Draping an arm around the vocalist, Murdoc pressed close to the other’s side. 2D melted against the older man, his cheeks coloring when they shared a tender kiss. The satanist ran his thumb along 2D’s pulse, just barely touching his skin. Something about having 2D bundled up and near him made all the turbulent feelings calm. The past couple days fading enough to relax and enjoy the intimacy he always assumed he never wanted.

“Honestly it was touch and feel at points.”

“How so?”

“We had such limited info, it really was luck we ran into you two at the town. We could have easily bypassed it. Glad we didn’t.”

“I kept telling Muds we needed to stay put, crashed with some other survivors that housed us.”

“I’m amazed there were other survivors.”

“Nice people, definitely hiding some dark secrets.”

Murdoc tuned in briefly at the mention of his name, but quickly diverted focus back to the singer pressing his face into 2D’s neck. The taller man snickered quietly when Murdoc left a couple small kisses along his throat. Thrilled to be able to do this, be all over the vocalist without the constant cloud of disagreement, Murdoc found he couldn’t keep his hands to himself.

“Were they cannibals?”

“Unfortunately,” Russel sighed, “didn’t seem that way, it was chance we figured it out.”

Noodle pulled back onto the highway.

“Seems more people would rather eat each other than work together. I cannot see the point, just become vegetarian or cultivate animals again.”

“Too difficult I guess.”

2D flushed darker when he felt a hand slide along his thigh, up and up, until it dipped between his legs to cup him. Murdoc smirked against his neck, rubbing the bulge in the singer’s jeans.

“Did either of you two want to stop for more supplies at the neighboring town?” Noodle kept her eyes on the road.

Murdoc leaned away from 2D, just enough to talk clearly, “yes. Could use some blankets, maybe a pack of ciggys.”

2D squirmed against Murdoc’s hand, terrified of their friends noticing, but rather enjoying the sensation.

“Personally I’d like if Muds kept his hands to himself while we’re all in the car,” Russel grunted.

“Spoil sport,” Murdoc rolled his eyes and removed his hand.

2D blew out some air he unintentionally held, face impossibly red. He rested his own hands over his obvious erection, ducking his head. Murdoc stroked the back of the singer’s neck, lips coming close to 2D’s ear.

“Later then, Gorgeous.”

“It’s a date,” 2D pecked the bassist, still warm in the face.

Russel and Noodle both shared a brief look, rolling their eyes in amusement over the rather sappy exchange of words. If they weren’t fighting then it was all good.

———

The first couple of days traveling through to the meat packaging facility, or what was left, and past the college campus buzzed by quickly. Getting a second truck, 2D and Murdoc opted to ride together while Noodle and Russel remained in the original vehicle. Noodle dispersed walkie-talkies to each truck so they could remain in contact. They exchanged idle conversation over the devices, occasionally switching to companionable silence.

Each pair swapped after each night, at one point 2D ended up with Russel, chatting about music. Murdoc and Noodle discussed interests in movies and places. By the third night that they pulled over to sleep, the singer and bassist struggled to set up their own truck tent while the other two set up with no difficulties. Noodle had suggested raiding a camping gear store for the supplies, they only ran into a couple zombies who were herded away by 2D.

“Do you two need help?” Russel raised a brow, watching as 2D got thwacked in the face by a thin rod.

Murdoc covered a snicker by coughing, looking apologetically at the singer.

“Please,” 2D pouted as he rubbed his cheek.

Noodle smiled and gave the drummer a hand setting up the opposite tent. With the tents done they went about getting cooking utensils going. Kraken nestled down in the tent Russel and Noodle intended to share. For once it felt pleasant, they were somewhere on a deserted back road, barely any foliage around. No zombies, no animals, nothing. Sort of like an impromptu camping trip.

The drummer set up the portable camping stove, something they acquired at the same store as the tents, bringing a large pot water boiling. Noodle brought their medical kit from the main truck and some bundled clothes.

“Time for a bath,” she chirped.

“More like sponge bath.”

“Same difference,” Noodle passed out a cloth to each of them, “afterwards we can start on dinner. Maybe tea for you Toochi?”

“Sounds nice, yeah.”

Each took to wetting the clothes down and cleaning their faces and such without full on stripping in front of one another. Russel finished first and set the pot aside to get going on dinner. Noodle propped a camping chair out, dropping heavily into it, sighing in content.

The singer disappeared around the second truck to clean himself more thoroughly, or as much as one can with a wet cloth. Murdoc joined the taller man a moment later, holding a roll of fresh bandages.

“Mind givin’ me a hand?”

“Could do more than that.”

Murdoc was pleasantly surprised by the offer. 2D winked at him, smiling charmingly despite having a wet cloth down the front of his trousers.

“Later, yeah perv,” he gestured to the respective spots on himself with injuries, “need help redoin’ the bandages.”

“Sure, give us a moment?”

“Don’t stop on my behalf.”

All suave confidence dissipated and 2D blushed, hand and cloth coming out of his jeans.

“Now whose a pervert?”

Murdoc leered salaciously as he got in near to 2D’s side, murmuring heatedly, “well you seemed to be offerin’ a show.”

The years between each fleeting spurt in their off and on relationship had been longer each time they stopped. Usually only occurring during tours or collaborating. To Russel and Noodle it seemed as though they were constantly at each other when not fighting. Truth be told, until recently it had been almost ten years since they fell into bed together. That being said, it was also only recently that their relationship had a decent basis with mutual understanding and more communication. Those early years had been… unhealthy.

The build in desire between them was palpable, continually growing, 2D had to consciously keep his hands to himself when they finally got private moments. He was sort of pleased to see it was mutual if two days ago was any indication. This also meant he was relearning his sexual confidence around the bassist, it felt totally new to him even if they had done this song and dance many times before. Jerked from his thoughts, 2D blinked as a hand groped his crotch rather firmly.

“Muds w-wha— the others,” 2D hissed, voice unsettled in his embarrassment.

“What? I’m jus’ gettin’ you to redo my bandages. Nothin’ naughty.”

2D gave an aborted noise between a whine and gasp when Murdoc massaged him through the jeans.

“Muds we shouldn’t,” the singer sounded unconvincing.

Murdoc pressed himself closer to the vocalist, hand rubbing over the bulge teasingly. 2D clutched the cloth tight in one hand, trying to keep quiet as he turned towards the bassist, hiding his face on Murdoc’s good shoulder. Tilting his face some, Murdoc kissed 2D’s ear softly.

“Gonna show you how sorry I am,” he kept his voice warm and gentle against 2D’s ear, “for however long you want me.”

“I always want you,” 2D squirmed, mumbling against Murdoc’s clothed shoulder, “in the truck, please?”

Murdoc slipped his arm around the singer’s waist, bandages still in his hand as he directed 2D towards the back door of their truck. All awkward limbs, 2D managed to pull himself up into the back seats closely followed by the satanist. With the door closed the bassist lightly tossed the roll into the front seats, doing the same with the damp cloth in 2D’s hand. He then pushed 2D down to the cushioned bench seat. The singer thanked whoever left this truck with keys, the back windows were tinted and with their tent set up it blocked the rear window.

———

Later into the early night they idly shared some snacks and cigarettes, that Murdoc brought from the truck. The smokes gave off a sweet and cloying scent, surrounding their air space with peppermint smoke. A large comforter was spread on the asphalt at the end of the trucks for them to lay on while watching clear skies. Autumn chill settling in as it grew darker.

“S’nice being able to see the stars so clear,” 2D spoke around his fag, ash dangerously close to spilling on his face.

Murdoc plucked the precarious cigarette from 2D and flicked it for him, away from the blanket. He grumbled when the singer turned to kiss his cheek in thanks before taking it back.

“Remember when Toochi made that horrible cake for me? Way too much salt in it.”

2D cocked his head to glance at the guitarist affronted.

“Yeah,” Russel removed his cigarette to speak, “what about it?”

“What did you guys do with it afterwards? I had one piece and it vanished.”

“I worked hard on that,” 2D groused.

“It was a sweet gesture Toochi, honest.”

“That was eons ago, who cares what happened to it. Probably got tossed,” Murdoc stubbed his smoke out on the ground.

“Just curious.”

A beat passed between them. Something streaked across the sky, momentarily bright before dwindling.

“Suppose Europe is stable, what’re we plannin’ to do?”

“Guess we could recuperate, make music again? Move on?” Noodle tossed the butt of her smoke.

“Get therapy,” Russel added, “get ‘D checked by proper scientists?”

“Not sure what I have can be reversed, been like this for a while. S'not so bad, ‘m getting better.”

Noodle sat up, look of consideration on her face. Her mind wandered to the virus and the long term effects to exposure.

“Murdoc,” Noodle looked at the satanist who glanced back, “you’re not infected.”

“I bloody hope not.”

“None of us are infected, 2D excluded. I just had a thought. As far as we know this virus is transferred through bodily fluid, right? I assume blood, sweat, and everything else,” Noodle paused face screwed up in thought.

Russel frowned. 2D remembered Dr. Webber mentioning water as well, but he didn’t think to share that.

“What’s your point Noodle?”

“Back at the farm house I used the equipment I had to study samples of Toochi’s blood and blood from an infected. I have to fill in some blanks but his blood was strikingly similar to an infected, give or take, leads me to believe 2D is contagious or at least a carrier.”

“Contagious? I can’t be, none’a you are sick.”

“I know. Especially Murdoc.”

Murdoc joined Noodle, sitting upright as well.

“If Europe is okay, surviving, it’s because it will have barricaded from the virus. Least likely case, the rest of the world is completely oblivious. We could potentially introduce a deadly, high kill rate virus to the uninfected populous.”

“We can’t just leave him here—”

“Nobody is saying that Muds,” Russel pushed himself up.

“If I was deadly I think you’d all be dead by now.”

“Well another explanation is your virus is mutated to a point where normal infectious parameters don’t occur. You could still be a carrier just incapable of passing it on through the usual means.”

“We can’t know that for sure,” Russel crossed his legs.

“Actually, third option, we’re all immune to 2D in particular by some twist of fate. This one could explain away why for whatever reason Toochi doesn’t attack us when hungry. Maybe the mutations caused a sort of genetic alteration that allows him to retain his memories while 'hibernating'.”

“Gonna give me a headache thinkin’ ‘bout this shit. We’re all moderately healthy, lets leave it at that.”

“I like that option,” 2D remained laying, “sounds nicer.”

“Before this conversation delves into some fuckin’ philosophical mumbo-jumbo about whatever I’m getting some shut eye. Dents, you coming?”

“Sure.”

Murdoc got to his feet, holding a hand out for the singer, helping him when he grasped the proffered palm. Russel yawned, realizing how tired he felt.

“Night you two. Try to keep quiet, don’t want the undead snooping around.”

Murdoc fingered Russel while his other hand got a rather large handful of 2D’s backside just for spite. The vocalist huffed and climbed up into the tent him and Murdoc claimed. Noodle cleaned up their supplies before she too got into the tent on the opposite truck. After settling into her rather comfy sleeping bag, Kraken tucked close, she caught what sounded like whispering from the other tent. Rolling her eyes exasperated, she buried her head into her pillow, pleased things were going decent for them.

———

They rose from the depths of their respective tents, ate and washed up, then packed their supplies and hit the road. They reached the farm house by late noon and further by night. A couple days disappeared before finally reaching the suburbs around the airport. In need of fuel they agreed over the walkie-talkies to stop at a gas station. Russel grabbed their cans to fill, sitting to siphon while 2D suggested him and Murdoc browse the selection in the store portion. Noodle gave the singer a knowing look to which 2D avoided. Both men wandered off to the door of the store.

Noodle sat on the hood of a truck watching her companions doing varies tasks. Russel was attempting to siphon gas to fill some canisters, he kept spitting when he accidentally did it wrong a few times. By the entry to the gas station she spotted Murdoc slapping the singer’s backside causing said man to skitter and sputter. 2D whipped around on the satanist whispering heatedly to the man. She snorted softly.

“What? Something wrong?”

Russel looked up from what he was doing to peer at Noodle.

“If Europe is normal, do you think they will dissolve back into old habits? I sort of like this new dynamic.”

Russel cast a look towards the two men in question, both now inside the store of the gas station.

“This situation has been a strange blessing in disguise for their relationship. Expedited the healing process. Kinda hard to be at odds when the world is falling apart, we need each other. Maybe it’s not proper, but it’s worked in our favor. Murdoc can’t be fighting with 2D while he’s fighting zombies and other violence.”

“True.”

“‘Sides, I can’t see Muds slipping back into old habits if Europe is fine. Half the world is gone, not exactly easy to resume normal course when fifty percent of the fan base is dead.”

Noodle tucked her legs up, resting her chin on a knee.

“I want a proper shower, need one. I would love to shave too.”

The drummer choked on a small laugh. Noodle smiled warmly at the noise.

“Glad your hope for a bright future remains intact.”

“Someone has to do it.”

Noodle shifted and hopped off the truck.

“How much longer for that?” She gestured to Russel’s siphoning.

“I have two containers full.”

“Going to go hurry along the boys.”

“Gonna get an eyeful, baby girl.”

“Truly I have seen much worst,” Noodle gave the drummer finger guns while smirking.

Russel shook his head, delighted. The guitarist marched towards the gas station store. She stopped outside to peer in for the other two but didn’t see them in the immediate area of the entry. Raising a brow, Noodle pulled the door open and stepped in. She hoped they weren't actually messing about.

“Toochi? Murdoc?”

Abruptly both men came stumbling in from a back storage room, 2D slamming his back into the door, holding it shut. Noodle started at their entry. Murdoc shoved stuff in front of the door, a bit frantic.

“What happened?”

“Big—really big thing, monster,” 2D jerked when the door was rammed from the opposite side and he bounced against the metal, “came in a loading door. It’s huge!”

Murdoc came over, slid his hands under Noodle’s arms and quickly carted her to the exit.

“Hurry Dents, we need to vacate.”

Bewildered, Noodle went with the motion, rushing back outside with Murdoc. 2D quickly jogged after them to get out.

“Russ lets go,” Murdoc let Noodle go to step over to his truck.

The guitarist trailed after, stopping when the singer yelped. A large brown bear lumbered around to the front, clearly having figured its way out of the store. The bear stopped close to the singer, It could smell fresh human. Plastering himself to the gas pump nearest to the store, 2D stilled. Noodle stared, eyes transfixed on the rotting bear, she was between the two rows of pumps. Everyone was frozen, unsure how the animal might proceed. Russel rose to his feet cautiously, him and Murdoc being the furthest from the creature. The satanist backed up slightly, edging towards the truck he knew had guns.

“Noodle,” Russel spoke lowly, “step backwards slow.”

“That thing is gonna be faster than me,” Noodle kept her eyes glued to the bear.

Said animal sniffed the air, muzzle titled up showing off how the flesh was missing from it’s bottom jaw revealing blackened muscle and sinewy. 2D inched his way around the pump, careful not to be too sudden. The bear made a bone chilling noise, guttural and deep, before it made for Noodle.

Turning she bolted, smacking into the second set of pumps in her attempt to jump through them. Russel grabbed her arm, yanking her close as the bear thumped into the machine, growling. It corrected its course rapidly and ambled around the pumps to come at both Noodle and Russel. The animal raised up and Russel moved, holding Noodle to his chest acting as a shield. Last second 2D jumped between the bear and Russel enduring the full force of its clawed paw coming down along his chest. 2D stumbled into Russel’s back, eyes watering at the fresh and sudden bloom of searing pain.

Hungry and desperate the bear roared when all it could suddenly smell was infected blood from the singer.

“Oi! Over here you fucking lummox,” Murdoc stood up in the bed of Russel and Noodle’s truck, shotgun in hand, “everyone down!”

Dropping down, well 2D basically crumpled, the three of them held their collective breathes. Murdoc fired at the animal’s skull, missing and catching a limb, he winced at the kick back on his mangled shoulder. He pumped the gun, firing again catching what was left of an ear. Enraged the bear moved towards Murdoc, bypassing the other three. When it seemed he had to get up personal Murdoc hopped from the truck, pumping it again, getting closer to fire directly into its head. He didn't account for how fast the animal was and nearly tumbled, thankful the end of the truck caught his back as he directed a shot to its skull before the bear could clobber him. An explosion of bone fragments and diseased brain matter spattered all over. For good measure he shot it once more, watching it hobble before flopping over actually dead. Momentarily Murdoc stared at it, breathing ragged with his adrenaline.

From the ground Noodle and Russel looked at the bassist in awe. 2D hugged his torso, moaning in pain. Snapping back to reality, Murdoc narrowed his eyes.

“Stuart you utter twat!”

Murdoc stomped over to the singer who was writhing on the ground.

“What were you thinkin’ jumping in front like that? What am I suppose to do if you fuckin’ die?”

Setting the gun aside the satanist knelt to undo the jacket and have a proper look at the mess. Despite his tone, Murdoc was shaking as he got the bloodied fabric out of the way to see the damage. Breathing a sigh of relief, Murdoc caught 2D’s cheek in a rough hand, staring down at the singer firmly. The gashes were just that, deep, but no where serious enough to be panicked.

“You ever do something that stupid again I’ll— I don’t know! You stupid twit.”

“I can heal faster than Russ and Noodle,” the singer panted, "it just made sense to do it."

“Toochi you idiot, you could have been seriously hurt!” Noodle crawled over, voice aggravated yet grateful, “but also thank you.”

Russel huffed, “can we please just make it to the airport in one piece?”

“That depends.”

“On what?” 2D rested back against the ground when his wounds started to clot enough to ebb away the pain. He could breath easier.

“On whether you insist on playing hero every time something goes tits up.”

2D gave the bassist a thumbs up, "I'll be good, promise."

Murdoc ran a hand down his own face sighing.

“Lets get going, hate to find out if this fucker had friends.”

———

The road back to the military encampment around the airport was devoid of zombies, and thankfully animals. Around early evening they bypassed an abandoned ambulance parked on the road side and Murdoc shuddered remembering all too clearly the events during that day. 2D patted his thigh giving him a shy but understanding smile, unsure how Murdoc would react. The satanist covered 2D’s hand with his own, shooting a quick look at the man before watching the road.

From there it was a relatively short trip to the airport which they reached by nightfall. Parked at a safe distance, they camped for the night and once light enough Russel perched on the truck with binoculars, scoping out the vicinity for activity. Noodle fed Kraken before joining the man.

“What sort of planes do you see?”

“Big ones, do we need a big one?”

Noodle mulled it over a minute.

“The flight from here to England is about seven to nine hours if we make no stops, which I really don’t think I could. We’re going to be right over the Atlantic ocean after all. I will need a bigger plane, it’s,” Noodle counted under her breath, “over five thousand kilometers.”

“Are there any people hangin’ ‘bout?” Murdoc came around from the opposite truck.

Russel peered through the binoculars again.

“Pretty quiet over there.”

“Lets go then, may as well do this before someone decides to intervene.”

Stuffing the binoculars back into the pouch they came with, Russel hopped down onto his safe foot. The drummer climbed into the passenger side of the vehicle, letting Noodle claim the driver side again. Murdoc returned to his spot at the wheel in the other truck. Noodle glanced through the window towards the satanist and felt a playful grin tug at her mouth. Murdoc glanced at her, raising a brow, catching her intent despite the space between them.

“Hang on Dents,” he leered starting the truck up, shifting into drive and slamming on the gas.

“O-oh no,” 2D gripped the seat.

Noodle cackled and followed in hot pursuit, Russel gave a smirk of his own. With no other vehicles on the road going to the airport they could race along safely. Noodle drove intentionally close to them so Murdoc sped up to pass her. Noodle cursed good naturedly and tried to pass the man. As the airport grew bigger, Murdoc and Noodle were tied and eventually both crashed through the remains of fencing skidding to a stop across from each other.

Opening her door, Noodle jumped out breathing deeply, smiling. Once the others were outside she gave the satanist a smug grin.

“What’re you smirking ‘bout? I clearly won.”

“I’m pretty certain I did.”

“Noodle won,” Russel interjected, “it was close, but she had a foot on you.”

“Ha!”

“She did not.”

2D stumbled out, stopping beside the bassist.

“It was definitely a tie.”

“2D you’re suppose to support me, you’re on my team here,” Murdoc patted his own chest as he spoke.

“Oh— uh, Muds definitely won then,” 2D affirmed

The satanist slapped his own face. Noodle snickered and scanned the area for people or zombies. The place was empty other than them.

“It’s a bit dead. Think it was our fault?”

The irked looks the three men gave her for the pun made her stifle a snicker. The timing was probably inappropriate but she was in good spirits.

“Won’t ever know will we? Lets get inside to inspect, maybe they left shit we can use.”

In an unanimously silent agreement the four of them headed into the airport, cautious for any unexpected action. Pushing a door open they all poked their heads in to look around. Nothing seemed to be moving around so one by one the four of them entered the large building. Luggage was strewn about the further they went. In spots there were smears of long since dried blood, on the floor and walls, some were hand prints. Noodle cringed upon seeing the palm shaped marks.

“Should we even bother with splitting up? To cover more ground?”

“No,” Murdoc shook his head, “definitely not. Shit goes wrong too quickly these days, better we’re all together.”

With the decision made, journeying through the open areas of the airport revealed more information. A couple utterly destroyed and fully decayed bodies were laying in heaps around the deeper areas of the airport, missing chunks. Obviously a zombie feast occurred. The smell was pungent and only thickened as they approached.

“That is horrendous,” Noodle plugged her nose, “I guess we can hazard a guess that things went south after we left, maybe right away.”

“Seems so,” 2D moved over to nudge a decomposing mound.

Whatever it was, a gaseous noise erupted from it and the pile caved in. 2D skittered away gagging.

“Okay lets not play with corpses. We need to find a flight manual, repair supplies and any other tools necessary for maintenance. Oh, and fuel.”

The guitarist urged the men to a safer location while listing items. They stopped in a seating area, far from gassy, festering blobs.

“Why d’yeah need all that? We should be able to just go.”

“These planes have been sitting here for possibly a year, much longer than normal with no one checking them. I don’t even know if they’ll start let alone have enough fuel. So basics, lets check them all and work from there.”

“That could take weeks,” Russel groaned, “we’ve already traversed through hell and back for what feels like forever.”

“I know! I know that. I’m sorry, I realize everyone is eager to get out of here, I am too, but there is no way we will be that lucky to find a fully functioning plane with all it’s systems just set to go,” Noodle massaged her temples, voice strained, “I mean we have no way of contacting anyone until in range since the places aren’t linked. We’re going in this blind.”

“Is it possible to have this shit cleared away, if we find a decent plane, in say a month?”

Noodle gave Murdoc an aggravated stare, “I have no idea how long it would take. If we work on it tirelessly, maybe.”

2D cleared his throat catching his band-mates attention.

“I don’t want to be a burden on anyone, but in two weeks, or so, I won’t be much use. I can already feel it.”

“Fuck,” Murdoc settled his hands at his hips, pacing, “that’s right, that’s gonna be an issue. This mission has to be expedited. If Dents goes all dopey, we’re fucked. England or Europe being okay or not, they will take him away or gun him down if he doesn’t jump someone first.”

“We split up the tasks.”

“No splitting up—” Murdoc started.

“You wanna get out of here in a week? Well all unspoken rules are out the window Murdoc because now we have to have shit done in six days.”

2D twiddled his fingers, he felt terrible being the cause of stress.

“What do we gotta do baby girl?”

Noodle rolled her shoulders.

“Murdoc you look for maintenance supplies. Russel I need a manual dealing with take off, landing, controls and the works, preferably a few books for different models. Toochi since you’re much stronger you can come with me, we need to test planes and possibly fuel them.”

The satanist fidgeted and the drummer remained quiet while nodding. Although rather anxious about being apart, Murdoc went off with Russel in search of tools and books. Noodle and 2D headed back outside and made rounds to check the planes available. The guitarist made sure to scoop up Kraken out of the truck for the little adventure.

The day consisted of working around the clock to find a viable airplane to work on, the first two were a bust. The drummer and bassist made a trip through the airport upper levels looking in conference rooms and offices for information books or manuals. It was left unsaid how apprehensive Murdoc felt about going off alone to find tools. Russel made no comment. He was aware and gave the satanist an out by offering to help him afterwards. He didn’t want to be alone either.

They poked in and out of rooms, extremely attentive for zombies or more bears, though the latter was less likely. Sure that maintenance tools were down a level or two, they avoided it for as long as possible. Maybe it was PTSD or just plain bad vibes, something was keeping them from exploring the lower area despite needing too. Russel sighed when they discovered a flight manual between an indistinguishable corpse and an open luggage case. The drummer flipped through the book uncertain whether the plane model on the front mattered.

“We’re gonna have to face it sooner or later, guess now works,” Russel motioned to the manual, “got this, lets go browse the tool selection.”

“Yeah, fine. Lets get this over with.”

Taking the long route back to the main floor, Murdoc and Russel bypassed the pile of rotting flesh that spewed gas earlier. As they wandered further more piles were seen, littering the area like strange pus pods made of human tissues. They regretted forgoing weapons upon entering. With the sun high in the sky, a rather clear day, it casted a soft glow through exits and side windows, enough to light the place. Ignoring the mounds the airport was peaceful if a bit derelict. Walking in tandem, Russel scanned the right side while Murdoc glanced along the left side. Passing a couple stores and bathrooms, one which Murdoc recognized as the one him and 2D used. When they made by the triage area the satanist stopped.

"Lets have a quick peek, maybe the poor sods left something good behind."

"Yeah, sure, not like we need to rush this instant."

Pushing through the doors, both drummer and bassist wandered into the triage area only to be assaulted by putrefaction. Wheezing sharply, Murdoc abruptly covered his mouth and nose. Russel did a similar action, stifling urge to throw up. Forcing through the horrid stench, Murdoc went for the infection treatment section, Russel barely managed to keep up. The drummer was lose on where the other was leading him. Soon enough they were in a back hallway, the smell less prominent.

"Noodle mentioned a back room with vaccines. Wanted to get us a bargaining piece, if the shit is laying around."

"Not a bad idea."

Nodding in agreement the satanist went down the hallway with Russel, peering in through small windows on doors. None of the rooms appeared impressive enough to investigate, but Murdoc figured he wouldn't know which one unless he did. Russel motioned him over a minute later.

"This what you want?"

Murdoc peered into the room. Three glass fridges lay in pieces, antiviral vials shattered and spilled all over.

"Damn. They did a real number on this place. Don't think there's much use in picking up broken glass, may as well resume course," Murdoc deflated, voice tired.

Russel shrugged, the detour was nice a distraction. Both backtracked, rushing through the festering section and back into semi clear air. They scoped out the remaining shops, trying to find a maintenance door.

“I don’t see anything for repairs.”

“There has to be something. It’s an airport, they would’ve needed shit to fix the planes right?”

“Sure,” Murdoc tensed when something moved in his peripheral.

Halting he whipped around to look for whatever he thought he saw, fear coursing through him. Russel paused beside him also trying to see whatever set Murdoc off.

“Did you see that? Somethin’ just moved over there,” Murdoc waved his hand towards the darkened gift shop.

Russel examined the satanist before stepping forward to find anything in the darkness. Before hand he would have excused the bassist for being paranoid. After the Ines and Yvonne incident he decided to take the man’s word at face value. He set the manual on the ground before going further.

“Careful Russ, it could be a zombie.”

Russel ran his eyes over items on the floor for a suitable weapon before settling with a small wooden chair from the nearby cafe. Scooping the furniture up he advanced on the shop, teeth gritting.

“Whatever is in there, human or zombie you better not mess with me man, I’m at wits end here. I’ll start trashing shit, yeah dig?”

Breathing harshly, Russel stopped at the entry to the gift store, chair lifted at the ready. His eyes darted around, adjusting to the dimness. There was nothing. Lowering the chair he let a shaky sigh slip out of him. Turning back around he laughed, a tight sound, and rubbed half his face while looking at the bassist.

“Christ man.”

Murdoc grinned back weakly, “fuck, we’re a pair aren’t we?”

“No more freaky jump scares,” Russel stepped towards Murdoc, “don’t think I can handle this anymore.”

“You and me both, I almost wish the heart attack put me out before shit got bad. Almost.”

The percussionist put aside the chair to grab the book, when he leaned over a thin, pale figure of a woman was standing behind the drummer. Ratty blonde hair covered her face and a stained limp lab coat drooped off her frame. Grin sliding away and blood draining from his face, Murdoc grabbed at the other man. Lightening fast the woman had Russel in a choke hold, the drummer coughed and struggled in her arms, back arched.

She was smaller than the man but the strength she exerted terrified Russel. Murdoc grabbed the hefty manual Russel was unable to grasp and without thinking flung it into the blonde head over Russel’s shoulder. It was a knee-jerk reaction and barely thought out. However it seemed to work and the woman growled letting Russel go to right her mandible. Briefly Murdoc caught the name tag attached to her coat. In bold letters the name, Cynthia Webber was written.

Not stopping to think about what that meant, Murdoc urged Russel, who grabbed the book and then took off with the bassist.

“She— she was movin’ around normally!” Russel gasped.

Glancing over his shoulder, Murdoc gave a frantic yell, pushing Russel to run faster.

“Oh fuck me she’s recovered. Run Russ, run!”

“She’s like ‘D!”

“She can’t be!”

They dodged around a corner and towards the exit. Items clattered behind them and suddenly there were more just like her clambering out of hiding spots, coming to get them. Rushing out the door they closed them, leaning on the glass and metal, panting.

“What do we do? We’ve stumbled across a fun new terror,” Murdoc barked out a harsh laugh.

“We get in the trucks and drive around to the planes. Grab ‘D and Noodle— Flee? I don’t know. Christ I don’t know man.”

Glass shattered and both of them darted for the trucks.

———

The Boeing had been left open at the side so they figured it was worth a check. They searched the cabin to make sure there were no unwanted guests before going to the cockpit. The guitarist set Kraken down on a seat before rummaging through the small sleeping quarters for anything of use, she turned up nothing. 2D sifted through the seats and around them and only found pre-trip check lists. The singer looked at the knobs and screens.

“So you know all this stuff?”

“Sort of? I learned the basics of smaller aircraft, like helicopters. I need a manual to brush up and maybe pass on some rudimentary knowledge to one of you, ‘cause I need a co-pilot.”

2D plopped down into the co-pilot seat. He pretended to flick some switches making sound effects. 2D mocked at grabbing something, Noodle was unsure what so she watched on interested. He cleared his throat attempting and failing to sound stern.

“Attention passengers this is your captain speaking—” he made a static noise and grabbed the yoke, jiggling it, “oh no, seems we hit some turbulence! Please be seated and put seat-belts on! Oh no we’re going down— kzzzt— we’re crashin’— kzzzt—”

Noodle’s nose wrinkled with her huge grin. She plopped down in the captain seat and started to actually flick things. Momentarily startled when the plane started up like an old computer, Noodle and 2D exchanged an elated look.

“We’re in business! Only the third plane in too!”

“Where’s the fuel gauge?”

Noodle leaned forward watching a display, she squinted while reading over the information on the screen.

“Well it’s a fair amount, I think we could make it? I don’t know the full logistics of fuel to flight distance. We should try fueling up and work from there.”

“This is fantastic, Muds and Russ will be glad.”

Grin morphing into a pleased expression, Noodle reached around for the pre-trip check list.

“I’ll go over the deets and check the systems, see if we can’t get out of here within the next couple days.”

2D nodded and rose from the seat. He pointed towards the entry.

“I’ll work on fuel.”

“Awesome.”

The singer ducked out and carefully made his way down the narrow steps to ground. Humming happily to himself he went about figuring out how to fuel a plane since he had no idea. During the course of his exploration of the nearby vehicles, two trucks came hurdling over. 2D stood and watched baffled as the trucks stopped roughly, skidding some in front of him. With alarming speed, Russel got out of the first truck, grabbed some stuff from the back and rushed up into the plane. The satanist hopped out and made straight for 2D.

“W—what’s goin’ on Muds?”

“No time,” Murdoc manhandled the vocalist towards the steps.”

Distantly some strange inhuman screeches were heard. 2D decided it was better not to fight the bassist and went back up into the plane. Once in Murdoc turned, sat and shoved with his legs to get the rolling steps away.

“Baby girl, we need to go.”

“What the hell? You guys didn’t listen, we can’t just take off without doing a full diagnostic check of the plane and fueling it,” Noodle remained in the cockpit while talking.

Murdoc sealed the door with a resounding clank noise.

“Well we have a small issue.”

Standing from the seat to glance through the window, Noodle blinked, “what the hell are those?”

“No idea, but lets not find out. Here,” Russel came in holding the manual out to the guitarist.

Taking the book Noodle stared at it. Russel frowned, brows pinching in worry when she continued to scrutinize the book.

“What’s wrong?”

“Russel this is for an Airbus a380, it literally says that right on the front.”

Murdoc leaned in, “what’s the difference? The cockpit looks similar to the picture.”

“No, no it doesn’t! This is a Boeing 747,” Noodle took a calming breath, “okay, this is fine. Different layouts, similar buttons and shit right?”

“You said you knew how to fly one of these,” Murdoc tried to keep his voice even.

“The cat is on the plane?”

Russel nodded, “she was sleeping on a seat.”

“Which of you is the quickest study?”

The singer was stood behind Murdoc at the end of the narrow path to the cockpit. Awkwardly 2D rubbed his arm and shook his head. Russel rubbed his palm over his head giving Noodle a similar uncomfortable response. All eyes landed on Murdoc. The satanist hunched partly, shaking his head vehemently.

“Oh no. No. I refuse, I fuckin’ hate planes! Damn miracle I’m even on one.”

“Man I watched you pick up a violin and play it, you said you’d never learned one.”

“You learned piano pretty quick too,” 2D chimed in.

“Yeah because once you’ve learned notes playing anything becomes fuckin’ easy! That hardly translates to a damn plane!”

“You built cyborg without prior engineering skills,” Noodle stared the bassist down, tone flat, “and as I recall you have a great working knowledge of sound boards which bare a striking resemblance to this.”

She motioned to the cockpit, all lit up. Murdoc swallowed, a cold sweat building on his face.

“I really hate planes,” his voice was losing the abrasive edge.

“We have no choice. I have no idea if those things down there can get in or wreck anything. Obviously we can’t refuel so we take our chances. We have a decent amount and it’s only a seven hour flight, hopefully, but I need a co-pilot.”

Snatching the manual from her hands, Murdoc made his way to the co-pilot seat, sitting heavily. Opening the book he started to brush through the basics, occasionally scanning around him to place a word to a knob or switch. Noodle sat back in the captain seat and put the headset on.

“I’m warning all of you right now, I’m not sure how this will turn out. We may die.”

“Well lets hope not.”

“Yes,” Noodle went over the pre-trip sheet, flicking a few things and turning dials, “I can do the basic stuff like take off and flight, after make sure you’re ready to assist when we are because from there I don’t know what issues might crop up.”

“Fuck,” Murdoc flipped through the book trying to learn things in the span of however long he had.

“Go buckle up boys, we’re taking off now.”

Russel shuffled out of the cockpit and found Kraken, sitting with her. 2D situated himself beside the drummer, buckling up. Unconsciously 2D started to bite his nails.

Noodle muttered to herself as she got the plane moving, she anxiously kept rechecking things, making sure everything was in order. The satanist fretted next to her, browsing through chapters with haste. Without proper direction from the tower control Noodle constantly leaned up to peer out the window, not really seeing much of anything. The strange zombies were missing from their field of view.

Repositioning the plane along the runway took a small amount of time given there were no other aircraft vehicles blocking the way or coming in. The bassist ran a hand through his thick hair, eyes scanning through the text. A faint twang rang up through the plane from underneath them.

“Here we go,” Noodle bit her lip.

Slipping her fingers over the notches of the handle between them she started to press it forward. The plane gathered speed and the numbers climbed as they made down the runway. Clutching the manual, Murdoc watched in disbelief as the aircraft surprisingly managed to take off; his stomach churned. Noodle kept an eye on monitors and leaned around to turn a dial or flick a switch.

“Put your headset on,” she gestured to it beside the bassist.

Eyeing the headset, Murdoc warily put it on, adjusting the mouth piece. Noodle pointed to the navigational display screen, then to another screen showing other garble. It looked important, but Murdoc honestly didn’t understand what he was looking at.

“That’s fuel and this is altitude,” she jabbed the numbers on the screen, “this is our compass, we want to stay on this heading to reach Europe okay? If I deviate you have to let me know because I’m going to be busy watching everything else. If for some horrid reason I lose consciousness, hopefully not, you’ll have to know this shit to take over.”

“Please don’t do that,” Murdoc ground out.

“This lets you know how level the plane is. Obviously we want to remain as steady as possible.”

Murdoc sighed, tension in his body made the healing wound on his shoulder twinge.

“Obviously. What’s that?”

“Shit, uh- that’s landing gear.”

She fiddled around only to receive an alert there was a malfunction with the landing gear. They hadn’t even made it to proper altitude and already there was an issue. Groaning indignant, Noodle pressed back into the seat, correcting the plane on its ascent. The drag would expend fuel quicker, she didn't mention it to the sweating bassist.

“Murphy’s Law,” Murdoc muttered.

“Murphy’s Law,” Noodle parroted in agreement.

Noodle steadied them when they reached the correct altitude and relaxed. The satanist resumed looking through the book, trying to ascertain details for their disquieting flight home, hopefully enough to make a feeble attempt at piloting.