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My Life You Can Take

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Heather Chandler’s yelp of pain reaches Veronica immediately, even through the thickening horde of zombies around them. The brunette’s head goes up and she turns on her heel, raising her bat to strike whatever laid a hand on her girlfriend.

Heather Duke beats her to it by a second. She splits the offending zombie’s skull with a meat cleaver in a few well-placed blows. She wipes the gore off on her pants, gives a brief nod to Veronica, then turns back to the throng to slice into another zombie’s throat. More zombies surround them, blocking Veronica’s view of Duke.

Chandler backs up against a chain link fence, clutching at her arm in an attempt to staunch the flow of crimson. It does little to help the wound.

Veronica rushes over. “J.D., cover us!” she shouts, and one by one the zombies around them begin to drop. Never before has she been so acutely grateful for his accuracy at long-range sniping. “Did it scratch you?” she asks, trying to pry Heather’s hand away to size up the damage. “Betty’s got a med kit. Once we clear out these fuckers, we can patch you up.”

Heather shakes her head, tears streaming down her face. “Ronnie, I can’t,” she whispers. “Oh my God, I love you so much. I love you so much Ronnie, but I can’t.” She lifts her hand from her arm to reveal deep bite marks. “I’m so sorry, Ronnie, I’m so sorry–”

Veronica stares at the injury in disbelief for a moment before she clamps both of her own hands over it and presses a desperate kiss to Heather’s cherry red lips. “Look, we can– we can do something about this,” she insists. “There’s gotta be some way to stop the infection from spreading, right?” She kisses Heather again. “Right?”

Heather grasps Veronica’s shoulders gently, lovingly, then she starts to sob as she shoves Veronica away. Tears are streaming down her cheeks, drained of their usual color. Her ironclad composure is crumbling before Veronica’s eyes. It’s like watching the fall of fucking Rome. “Ronnie I can’t– you have to– oh my God just go. Ronnie please go– I love– I love you so much, but you have to go!” she pleads.

“I’m not leaving without you!” Veronica screams. “Heather, please!”

Heather tosses her pistol and the remainder of her bullets at the other girl’s feet. “Veronica, listen to me! Take the gun, take the bullets, and get the hell out of here! You can’t save me, you can’t save everybody all the time, and I’m so sorry because I know how bad you want to, but you have to think of yourself. Think of the group!”

“I am thinking of the fucking group, Heather, without you I’ll–” Veronica swallows against a lump in her throat. “I don’t know what I’d do if I lost you. Just come with us.” She takes a step closer. “There’s gotta be something we can do for you. We can fix this, I know we can–”

“Don’t waste Betty’s supplies on a walking corpse, Veronica, don’t be stupid!” Heather spits. “Everyone who gets bitten by one of those things gets sick and dies. You saw what happened to Kurt and Ram! That’s how these things work! I’m going to die; we can’t do anything about it. So take the fucking gun, haul your ass the fuck out of this horde, and keep living. That’s what you can do for me.”

“Heather!” Veronica cries, reaching out with one trembling hand.

Heather turns away; the brunette notes numbly that her girlfriend won’t look her in the eye. “Go already! You have to leave me!” she insists. “J.D. doesn’t have a thousand bullets, he can’t hold them off for you forever!”

Veronica is sobbing now too. “I’m not leaving without you!”

Heather screams in frustration, and she pulls at her hair as blood trickles down her arm. The bite is already bruising in sickly shades of green and purple around the edges. “Mac, I’m bit! I’m bit! Code blue!”

The blonde head of Heather McNamara pops up several meters away, already holding back tears as the reality of the situation sets in. But let it never be said that Mac can’t handle herself in a crisis. She makes a mad dash for Veronica, and before the brunette has a second to resist, she’s being forcibly dragged away.

“Don’t do this! I love you! Heather Chandler, I love you!” Veronica howls.

Heather doesn’t respond. Her gun and bullets are still on the ground, and some part of Veronica’s going to regret the wasted weapon and ammo later, but right now all that matters is getting back to Heather. She thrashes in Mac’s grip, but the cheerleader holds firm, shouting to Duke over the groans of the undead, “We have to go! Now!”

Duke resurfaces and slashes a path through the crowd for them, J.D. picks off zombies from a nearby rooftop, and Betty and Martha are waving to them urgently from down the street. “We’ve found a safehouse, come on! You can make it!” Martha calls. So close to safety, Veronica thinks, but the light of her life, the indomitable Heather Chandler, is still out there. She’s been bitten, but she can’t seriously be giving herself up to the horde. Heather is many things-- a bully, an infuriating egomaniac, a fiercely loyal friend, and a great kisser-- but she isn’t a quitter.

Veronica spots her standing in the middle of the horde, like a rock surrounded by the surging sea. Her head is held high with her shoulders back, facing her death with a dignity beyond her years, because of course she is. She’s Heather fucking Chandler, and Veronica loves her, and she’s being bitten and scratched but still she refuses to flinch.

The brunette can see Heather tying back her short ginger hair with a familiar red scrunchie. Then she raises one clenched fist high into the air, and a gunshot goes off from the rooftop.