Actions

Work Header

Did you just say zombie? (the AU)

Chapter Text

 

Kanda was not satisfied with his new job. At all. To be honest, he already hated it with all of himself, but he couldn't quit it, if he wanted to keep his apartment and his just conquered freedom. Living with his stepfather and the two adoptive brothers had always been a torture to him. He was the kind of person who couldn't bear useless speeches, gratuitous sentimentality and, even less, all of the affectionate behavior originating from it. So, when he had the opportunity to go and live on his own, he sure as hell had caught it.

With two meddling half-brothers and an over-protective foster father, there was no way to have a private life in their fucking house. Much less personal space or a place to meditate in peace.

He was an extremely private person: he always minded his own business, hated din, intrusive people, idiots, bothers and, last but not least, each and every kind of physical contact. Especially physical contact; and unwanted confidences. Being continuously touched when someone was speaking to him, as if he couldn't hear their words if his arm was not being poked with a rhythmic cadence, was almost top of his list.

Not to mention the badge with his full name written on it which, for all customers, was an implicit authorization to take a confidence that didn't belong to them, calling him by his first name. And this, this was the thing he hated more than any other. Perhaps it was a mental imprint that his family inculcated into him, since he was of Japanese origin, and he saw it as a form of respect. If you don't know me, if you are not friends with me, you can't afford to call me by my first name. Fuck, I'm not one of your relatives!

Anyways, he didn't care if people would label him as unsociable, rude, or a bastard without feelings. He was what he was, take it or leave it, and he preferred to be alone than to have around people busting his balls, said being rudely blunt.

There was only one person with whom he got along rather well, and she was the sister of a dear friend of his stepfather. They pratically had grown up together, and he had come to considered her as a younger sister. He was used to hiding himself to stay in peace, away from his half-brothers and his stepfather, she used to do the same thing to escape the supervision of her big brother, who suffered from the same overprotective mania as his stepfather. Since they were neighbors, they ended up finding themselves hiding in the same places.

Lenalee was the only one who understood his needs and respected his personal space, even though at times she was a little too much persistent, when she wanted him to indulge her with something. Like going to eat in some fucking fast food or going out with a group of (her) idiot friends.

He stared irritably at the badge pinned to the shirt of his shop assistant uniform: horrible. But there was a positive side to that job, and it was the department to which he was assigned: hardware store. This shopping center was so large that the hardware department covered a truly remarkable surface and the items they dealed in ranged between a very wide array. They also included cutlery of all kinds and sort, and reproductions of weapons, even cutting weapons like swords, up to real weapons in the 'hunting and fishing' section.

That morning he was not particularly in a bad mood, contrary to his usual, because a shipment of katanas had arrived, and they all were beautiful. Exposing them was a real pleasure for him, especially when he could do it in tranquility. The mall had been strangely deserted for about a couple of hours, but he had given no importance to it, the fewer people there were around to harass him, the better he felt.

Until a huge noise was heard, followed by the thunderous sound of broken glass and after that from an explosion of some sort. Kanda immediately thought of a terrorist attack, and as soon as the alarm sirens started to ring, he ran immediately toward the hunting and fishing department, just as a precaution in case the whole mess was a robbery, instead.

He chose one of the most beautiful (and expensive) rifles available, loaded it and begun to wait. When the waiting started to become too long and none of his colleagues showed up, the youth began to think that the situation was more serious than what he had expected. Robbery with hostages, maybe? Why was no communication transmitted from the internal speakers? Not even a warning to stay calm, no instructions to evacuate, no nothing.

He decided to go exploring, at least up to an area from which he could see the outside, to assess how serious the trouble in which he had found himself in was. Because he was sure it was remarkably big.

He certainly couldn't have imagined that this 'trouble' was at apocalypse level: zombie apocalypse, to be precise. No, impossible, it was without a doubt a bad taste joke. He blinked a couple of times, bewildered. Those people really looked like zombies, and they were heading towards him. It wasn't halloween, and he very much doubted that someone was shooting a B series movie inside the mall, so we were back to square one: it had to be a fucking joke.

Irritated by that unscheduled circus, Kanda approached the idiots guilty of ruining his morning on one of the few days he had not woken up with a crooked moon. The closest snarled at him, flailing around to grab his body.

“The fuck do you think you're doing?” Kanda growled back at the man, shoving away what he thought was just a moron in costume.

The latter on the other hand, after taking a step back because of the thrust, emitted an annoying guttural sound and started charging again. Kanda had been instructed with great insistence on the need to never hurt the customers, even if they were caught stealing, and he really couldn't afford to be fired. Which was why, reluctantly, he put the rifle over his shoulder and grabbed both of the screaming clowns by the arm, intending to drag them with him toward the management office. He caused them to fall on their back, instead.

Kanda stared at them while they were writhing, and the vein on his temple started to throb with frustration as he forced himself to refrain from kicking them. When, once they were able to turn around, the two started to crawl, Kanda completely lost his wits. He left them where they were and continued alone toward the management office, yelling loudly to the two fuckwit to go to hell.
Once he got to the management office, he discovered that it was completely empty: where had everyone gone? What kind of joke was this? Another guttural moan attracted his attention and the youth turned abruptly, finding himself in front of three other costumed clowns who... seemed a lot familiar to him.

They had on uniforms like his own and... fuck. They were three of the clerks who worked in the fruit and vegetables department! What the hell was going on? Why were the mall's employees participating in such a bullshit play?

“Kanda! Run!” The cry of alarm suddenly came from another clerk: the head of his department, to be precise.

The man came running from a parallel corridor, followed by another pair of clowns, and he seemed genuinely terrified.

“Mr. Campbell, what's going on?” Kanda asked, not understanding the slightest why the hell was the man overwhelmed by crazy panic.

“Zombies! They are zombies, Kanda!” Mr. Campbell exclaimed, clinging to his arm and hiding behind him. “They devoured Tup and Wilson in front of my eyes!”

“Fuck, would you fucking stop with this fucking prank?” Kanda hissed, every attempt to maintain a civil behavior thrown to the nettles, turning halfway to glare at the man's face.

“Prank?” Mr. Campbell repeated, genuine terror clearly visible in his wide-open eyes.

Before Kanda could realize what was going to happen, Mr. Campbell grabbed his hands and pushed to turn the rifle he was holding towards the zombies, pulling the trigger.

The blow, which was certainly far from being well aimed, only wounded the target, but this was enough to show the true nature of the people that Kanda believed to be clowns. The closest turned to the bleeding one and bit it, promptly imitated by all the others, and more others were coming.

“It can't be true,” Kanda murmured, incredulous. “We are on Candid Camera, there is no other explanation.”
“Shoot it,” begged in turn his boss. “Shoot it, or else the next to be eaten will be us, can't you see?”
“You do it, since you're so fucking sure,” Kanda replied angrily, now convinced that the rifle was loaded with blank cartridges and the whole situation carefully orchestrated. “I don't want any trouble.”
Kanda handed the gun to the man, who didn't have to be told twice: he took it, quickly aimed and shot all of his former colleagues, under Kanda's sceptical gaze. The result was that other zombies rushed up towards them, attracted by the shooting noise and from fresh blood. This time, they looked like supermarket customers.

Mr. Campbell gave the gun back to him with a dry gesture, staring back as if he wanted to say: “See? I was right!”

As a matter of fact, now the joke was starting to get too exaggerated for something that had been organized just to make fun of him; maybe he had overestimated himslef. Still... zombies! What the fucking hell, those things didn't exist!

“I say we flee, before those things get tired of eating each other and start to chase us!” Mr. Campbell urged him in a very upset tone. “We need to get more weapons and ammunition.”

This time, Kanda followed him, although he continued to be dumbfounded by such a surreal situation. Hidden among the corridors, they avoided the wandering zombies not without some difficulty: the things had tripled their number since Kanda had spotted the first two. After the umpteenth time they had to go round back and forth to avoid an isolated zombie group, finally the hunting and fishing department was a stone's throw from them. Mr. Campbell took a gun, a rifle and lots of ammunition for both of them, urging him to do the same thing.

Kanda did as he was told to with some reluctance. Shouldn't they call the authorities? If this situation was the result of some infection, like those ugly zombies from the movies, shouldn't be the government in charge of taking care of everything?

“Do you have a plan, sir?” Kanda asked flatly.

He was pretty sure Campbell didn't have one, so it was better to clear things up and decide a strategy.
“Kill them all, obviously!” The man replied, a crazy expression twisting his face. “We don't have a choice, it's us or them, boy. We'll make our way through one of the exits with gunfire, and once out of this nightmare we'll call for help.”

Supposing that the zombie apocalypse was a real thing, he would say it was a sensible plan; but Kanda was still convinced that the bullets were blanks. So, there was only one solution to prove him wrong: he had to try shooting something that would break, and with real bullets.

He aimed at a vase in which was showing off a fake plant, serving as a decoration to suggest an environment suited to hunting. To his surprise, the vase broke into pieces!

“Fuck!” Kanda exclaimed, meeting Mr. Campbell's frightened look.

Definitely the crazy organizers of this fucking prank couldn't possibly have foreseen that he would shoot at that particular vase, so the bullets were absolutely genuine. As a result, the zombies were, too...
Damn. Fuck. Shit. What had he done wrong in life to deserve this?

“Good Heavens, be careful with that thing!” Campbell barked. “With all the noise you've just made, they'll be onto us soon!”

The idiot wasn't completely wrong. Their guns leveled, the improbable duo cautiously walked towards the nearest emergency exit. Twenty minutes and at least fifteen zombies later, they had reached their destination and were preparing to cross the threshold. A decisive blow given with the butt of his gun, and Kanda unlocked the handle of the emergency door; a moment later, they were out in the sunlight.

The city seemed to be normal. They both looked around: no one screaming with panic, no one running wildly chased by zombies, no strange noises. There were even several people in the supermarket square, including a policeman.

Mr. Campbell, as soon as he saw the man, ran to him, shouting to get his attention.

“Agent! Agent help us! There are people who look like zombies in the mall, and they tear people to pieces!”
The policeman moved slowly, a sign that he had heard them, and also that he could very well be a zombie himself. Kanda couldn't prevent his boss from rushing to him.

“Stop! Campbell!” He shouted to the man. “We don't know if he's...”

Too late. The policeman fully turned around at the very moment he was touched, and he did not fail to firmly grasp his prey, trying to bite it. The person who was in front of the policeman, with whom he seemed to be talking, moved forward, reaching them to join the grisly banquet.

Kanda wanted to shoot the first zombie, but there was a very high chance he could hit Mr. Campbell, too, from that angle. The man was struggling as much as he could, trying to gyrate and break free, and eventually Kanda had enough space to shoot. The zombie cop gave a throaty grunt and collapsed, but the other assailant was too close, and managed to dig its teeth into poor Mr. Campbell's shoulder.

The man screamed, a heartbreaking cry, and engaged a desperate hand-to-hand with his attacker to make it let go of him. The zombie, however, was not willing to give up its meal and bit deeper; until suddenly its head exploded.

The first image that Mr. Campbell saw, as soon as the zombie's body fell to the ground, was Kanda's outstretched arm, absolutely immobile while he was still pointing a gun in his direction with a resolute look.

“Oh, thank you!” The man gasped, cleansing himself as best he could from the blood. “Thank you!”
“We have to do something for that shoulder.” Kanda said, his face dark.

He didn't know much about zombies, but being bitten by one of them was usually not a good thing. Campbell touched the wound and let out a cry of pain.

“Agreed... my car is here in the underground parking lot,” He said plaintively, “I'd be so grateful if you could drive me to the hospital.”

Kanda was expecting such a request, and he knew very well that he couldn't say no to his boss, especially given the situation. He nodded, though reluctantly, and motioned for the man to precede him, since he had no idea which his boss car was.

They kept themselves well hidden while walking alongside the perimeter of the parking lot, until they found an entry to the stairs. It wasn't a good idea to try to use the elevators, if there were zombies in front of the doors as they get out, it wouldn't be easy get rid of them without enough room to fight.

As they reached the right parking level, Mr. Campbell handed to Kanda the car keys, telling him the number of the lot in which he had parked. The man was walking with a shuffling step, moaning every time he had to lean the weight of his body on the side of the injured shoulder, and he clearly could not wait to sit in his car.

As soon as they were in the right sector, he pointed at the car, hurrying to reach the passenger side, and then stopping suddenly, starting to produce a strange gurgling sound. Kanda thought he was going to faint, but before he could decide what to do, Mr. Campbell turned halfway, his face aching.
“I'm fine, I just need to sit down, if you give me a hand,” he said, leaning against the car door.

Kanda used the remote control to release the central locking and approached, inserting the key in the lock, but he didn't have time to turn it. He heard a growl, and immediately after he felt a sharp pain in his arm: a bite. Mr. Campbell was staring into the void with white eyes, his teeth planted in Kanda's forearm, one hand clutched on the youth's shoulder and the other around the wrist of the hand with which he was holding the key.

 

Chapter Text

Kanda immediately let go of the car key, hitting the man with a knife hand strike to the side of the neck, strong enough to detach him from himself, and then he gave him a frontal kick to the chest. This last blow pushed Campbell a fair distance away from him, throwing the man to the ground on his back. Kanda caught his breath, while trying at the same time with feverish movements to retrieve his gun, to permanently prevent that thing from tearing him to pieces, since he could see that Campbell was already struggling to get up. Real luck that he was a good judo fighter, Kanda thought to himself.

Mr. Campbell had now assumed a striking greyish color, his mouth was drooling a disgusting black something, and numerous pieces of skin at various points on his face and arms were beginning to peel off.

It was pretty obvious that this was the effect of the zombie bite from earlier, how long did it take for Campbell to turn? Fifteen minutes? Half an hour at the most? Despite himself, he had to admit that he had just received proof that the zombie apocalypse was real in the worst possible way: being bitten by a zombie.

So what exactly was this whole thing about? Was it some kind of virus, as you could see in all the fucking movies and TV series in the 'zombie apocalypse' category? Because, if that was the case, he too had now been infected by it, and according to the estimates he had just made for Mr. Campbell, he barely had half an hour left before becoming one of those filthy creatures, and joining the ranks of the living dead.

Being absolutely sincere, it wasn't a very attractive prospect. He certainly didn't want to end up like that, but what could the alternative be? Commit suicide before he would turn? Lock himself up somewhere and wait to be saved, hoping that someone already had a cure? Just get himself torn to pieces by those creatures, and get this over with?

A guttural cry tore him away from those thoughts, warning him that his former zombie boss was on his feet again and had him as a target. To hell with it, Kanda told himself, firing twice at the creature in front of him, no one could bite him without punishment and believe he could get away with it. For everything else he would decide afterwards.

He retrieved the car key, got into his boss car and closed the locks. Perhaps, if he could disinfect himself immediately... How many minutes had already passed? He took the phone out of his jacket pocket and opened the fake leather case: it was intact, thankfully. He looked at the time; he would wait another half an hour in that car, and if he realized to be about to change, he would know what to do. In the meantime, he had to understand how serious the situation was, and the phone gave him access to the Internet, so he could look for any breaking news and see if they were reporting riots.
All the on line newscast were reporting disturbances, panic and interventions by the competent authorities, but no one said the real reason for these 'disturbances'. As he suspected, there was something far more serious behind this zombie thing. Something that, if revealed to the population, would have caused global panic and a disastrous attempt to escape en masse. Such a lethal virus could not have been spontaneous. Therefore, it was logical to suppose that behind it there was some laboratory doing fucking experimentation, and that something must have gone terribly wrong.
Kanda looked again at the time: only ten minutes had passed, but his body still showed no signs of strange reactions.

He kept checking all the news sites, desperately trying to find out some more details, such as, for example, if the government had organized a shelter for the survivors and, if this was the case, where it was located.

Some news were talking about 'reporting any suspicious incident to the National Guard', maybe if he did, they could indicate him a safe place to stay until the emergency situation had subsided. Of course, all these plans would have been good only assuming that he himself had not turned into a fucking zombie.

Second time check: still about ten minutes were left before the deadline that he had imposed upon himself as a limit.

This time, however, the outcome was not good. He was starting to sweat, his breathing was heavy and his hands were shaking, not counting a bad feeling of nausea. Kanda took off his jacket and pulled up his shirt sleeves. He carefully observed the wound on his left forearm, as well as the general condition of his skin, including his face, this last check with the help of the mirror behind the sun visor. Everything seemed to be normal, apart from the wound, which really looked terrible, it had to be cleaned and bandaged as soon as possible.

A very sharp pain in the chest abruptly interrupted his every thought, causing him to bend in two. Every muscle in his body began to hurt, but Kanda couldn't resign himself to the sad fate awaiting him, he would never become one of those creatures. He took the gun and pointed it under his chin, ready to pull the trigger; and he was going to do it, when a spasm paralyzed him completely, and he ended up passing out.

When he woke up, he felt good. Okay, well, 'good' considering that a fucking zombie had cheerfully bitten into his arm. Everything was dark around him: how long had it been since he lost consciousness? With feverish movements he groped for his phone, which he remembered to have left lying on the passenger seat and, as soon as he had it in his hand, he pressed a random key to light up the screen. Luckily the phone was still on and it showed him what he wanted to see: it was night now. More than ten hours had passed since he'd been bitten, and he didn't turn. Of course, this was not proof enough to be certain that it wouldn't happen anymore, nevertheless it was very, very encouraging news.

Kanda sighed in relief, leaning against the driver seat-back for a moment and taking deep breaths. Now he had to decide how to proceed, what to do, where to go and take refuge, and above all he had to track down Lenalee! The girl was waiting for him to have dinner together and most likely she had gone to the appointment as scheduled. It was very probable, therefore, that she found herself tangled up in that hell.

As for his so-called family, he counted on them being able to get by on their own, like him.
With the help of the phone light he searched the car, looking for anything that might be useful to him, starting with a flashlight which, fortunately, he found right away inside the glove compartment. He put on his jacket again, disengaged the safety lock for the car doors, and slowly opened driver's one just enough to allow himself to slip out of the vehicle. Once out in the open, he kept a crouched position and remained hidden between his car and the nearby one, leaning over to try figuring out if there were any zombies around, and how many.

Kanda listened for several minutes, but all around him was silence. He didn't close the car door though, for fear that the noise would betray him, attracting uninvited guests, and started to move quietly towards the direction in which he could see the parking lot wall. He decided to grope his way out following it, sooner or later he had to find himself in front of the elevator or the access to the stairwell. In addition, it was highly unlikely that there could be zombies on this side: with the cars having their noses facing the wall, there was barely room to walk.

He had to go back to the mall, there all kind of emergency equipment was just waiting for him to take it, and Kanda desperately needed anything useful. For starter a medical first aid kit, a big enough boy scout backpack provided with all the standard equipment, not forgetting a nice bad-ass Rambo-style survival knife, addition which certainly wouldn't hurt.

Inside the hypermarket the lights had remained on, which was really strange. Was it possible that nobody had reported today's disorders? No police units were sent to check and contain the situation? Anything at all? Kanda took a look around: inside the mall everything was still in operation, all the shops were still open, only, without people. Zombie aside, because even if he didn't see any for now, he was more than certain that the place was haunted by them. Thankfully, working there he knew every corridor, every room in that huge supermarket to perfection; he got his thoughts in order and jot down an itinerary to quickly and safely get everything he needed. From where he was now, the nearest department was the pharmacy, which was just the place where the most urgent stuffs to take were.

From there, very cautiously and with a good amount of luck, he reached one of the public toilets and barricaded himself inside, undressing and starting to wash and disinfect the zombie bite. After he had carefully bandaged his arm, he got his clothes back up and continued his supplying mission, reaching the camping department. There he took the backpack, the canteen and whatever else he deemed necessary in an emergency situation like this was, then he proceeded to the department where he worked: hunting and fishing. He took a bag with enough ammunition inside for an army, another pair of pistols and two beautiful knives: one long and a typical jungle knife. Last, a wonderful katana, one of those semi-sharp reproductions; he couldn't finish sharpening it there, because he would have immediately attracted every nearby zombie to himself, but he was planning to do it at the first hardware store he had run into on his way to Lenalee's home. While he was back there, he also retrieved his shoulder bag with inside the phone charger and the emergency battery, and above all, the keys to his own car.

Now it was food and water's turn. With the backpack on one shoulder and carrying the rifle over the other, so that he could immediately take aim with it if necessary, Kanda headed to the food department.
Once there, it was clear from the start that he would have to face a lot more than 'some' troubles: the zombies seemed to have all gathered there. He could hear loud and clear the strong noise produced by the refrigerators, which was most likely what was attracting them.

Fuck. How risky was for him to approach? In theory, zombies should have been slow, right? Kanda put the ammunition bag down on the ground in a corner with the backpack, and prepared a cloth bag; then, without making any sudden movements, he approached the refrigerator with salami and cheese, things that could last a long time, in short. He filled the bag as much as he could, and right after finishing he retraced his steps, picked up everything he had left on the floor, and rushed back to the parking lot.

It wasn't difficult to get to his own car, it seemed that the majority of the zombies were inside the supermarket. Kanda placed equipment and supplies on the passenger seat and sat on the driver's one, starting the engine and maneuvering to get out of the parking lot. Only at that moment, when the headlights illuminated his surroundings, he realized how many uninvited guests were keeping him company and intended to come and greet him.

Kanda slammed on the accelerator so hard the tyres screeched, and performed a U-turn driving license revoking worth, but, hey, it was a matter of life or death, literally, no one could blame him for anything. Cursing, he ran over all the zombies appearing in front of him on the garage ramp, and without slowing down he entered the main road, heading towards Lenalee's house.

When he arrived, the girl was not at home and the road was deserted. Kanda tried again to call her on the phone, but neither she nor her brother Komui answered, and this really worried him a lot. He decided to explore the neighborhood, maybe she had been forced to take refuge somewhere nearby.
He armed himself properly, then set off for a reconnaissance. Turning the first corner, Kanda immediately found himself facing gruesome spectacles of zombies eating each other, and at a certain point he saw one in particular that was bent over a woman's body. Without thinking, he shot the zombie in the head and ran to take it away from her. As soon as he saw the woman's face, though, he discovered that it wasn't Lenalee, luckily. His bravado, however, had attracted the attention of all the other zombies in the vicinity, and they were approaching him like a river in flood.
Dammit . He brandished the rifle like a club and threw himself at the nearest zombie, killing it and passing over, at speed. After getting rid in that same way of three other zombies lined up on his way, Kanda managed to get back on the main road and then back to his car. He took out his backpack, the bag with the food and the one full of ammunitions, then looked around contemplating the possibility of finding a suitable refuge to spend the night. Given his current health conditions, the search for Lenalee had to be postponed until the next morning.

Eventually, Kanda opted to make base directly at Lenalee's apartment, since he knew where she and her brother kept the emergency key. He entered, settled into a bedroom, and barricaded the door as best he could, since the apartment one had to be left accessible, in case Lenalee or Komui had returned.

Day two: no sign of Lenalee or her brother. Kanda had waited all morning, putting that time to good use by scrub himself up, taking a shower, eating properly and so on. He borrowed one of Komui's shirts and dressed up with clean clothes, noting that perhaps it would be wise to also get a second change of clothes. Komui's pants were loose-fitting, and going back to his own apartment would have been really troublesome, considering his current condition. Kanda felt rather weak, as if he had a fever and probably that was it, judging on how the bite was looking now. His arm had swollen and the skin was dark red all around the wound; it was definitely infected, and he could do nothing about it. He had no antibiotics on hand, only the bunch of over-the-counter drugs he had taken at the supermarket's pharmacy; he had to look for a real pharmacy. Therefore, it was necessary for him to go out, both for that, and to look for Lenalee, not to mention to sharpen his katana, which was much quieter than a rifle as a weapon and just as lethal.

Kanda forced himself to take a couple of aspirins and after that, armed to the teeth, he slipped out of the house to do what he had to do. The hardware store was not far away, Kanda knew the neighborhood well since he had grown up there, although when he started attending college his whole family had moved near the school. Yeah, their adoptive father could not bear the idea that his beloved children were so far away from home, and so he had bought a house in the campus vicinity.
The hardware door was unlocked and Kanda went in, making the bell advising that a customer was coming in tinkle. He approached the counter and waited, but no one showed up, so he reluctantly decided to explore the shop; in silence 'course, 'cause you never know, there might be zombies in the immediate vicinity.

The back was as desert as the rest of the store; on the other hand he had found the grinder to bolt knives and the like. Using it with a precious katana, even if it was a mere stainless steel reproduction, seemed to him a terrible heresy, but he didn't have much of a choice: he needed the blade very sharp.

Otherwise, he wouldn't be able to behead zombies on the first try. Again, he thanked his passion for cutting weapons, which had made him take iaido and kendo lessons; in the latter of which he has excelled. With a katana in his hand he would have been far more lethal than with a rifle or a pistol.
He turned on the grinding wheel and hoped to be able to use it without ruining the blade irreparably; the noise of the machinery was loud though, he couldn't stay there for long, he had to hurry. Kanda stared at the sword for a moment, then unsheathed it, positioning himself in front of the grindstone, a little uncertain on what to do. But his concentration was broken by a sudden noise that made him turn at once, just in time to see one of those creatures hurl itself at him with a snarl.

His body moved on its own, and he brandished the katana pulling a precise slash on the assailant's neck with a nice fluid movement, finding himself in a perfect closing position. Yes, like during his training, and he was extremely surprised by it. Kanda believed that the sword would get stuck in the zombie's body, instead he had beheaded it clean off, without any effort: what the hell? That katana was for sale as a semi sharp , not lethally sharp! Now that he looked better at the sword he noticed that it even had the drain rut for the blood of the killed enemy... fantastic. Yes, he was half sarcastic, because if he had sold one of those, the customer would certainly have amputated themselves some body parts, but he was also enthusiastic. He had a perfectly functional sword. Kanda had heard about these almost perfect stainless steel sword reproductions with already sharpened blades, but he believed it to be just an urban legend.

Well, he certainly wouldn't go to complain about it with the manufacturer. He sheathed the katana, pondering that such a marvel should have a name: Mugen, he decided, putting the sword over his shoulder.
Now, before other guests arrived, it was better for him to fly the coop. Actually, two streets forward there was a clothing store once, it was worth giving it a look; if it still was there, that is.

He came back to Lenalee's apartment in the evening; there was no news of her or Komui, and both their phones still went straight to voice-mail. Despite this, Kanda was extremely satisfied. He had tried his katana more than enough, and he had also got himself a new wardrobe. Maybe he should have kept a tally of all the killed creatures, just for the record. Counting the one at the hardware store, he had already beheaded about fifteen zombies. Yes, he had enjoyed himself and because of that he was a bad person, but he didn't give a glorious fuck.

And now he felt tired, it was time to rest. Kanda had a quick shower, and after that he barricaded himself back in the guest room, trying to get some sleep.

 

Chapter Text

Lavi's stomach rumbled for the umpteenth time that morning; but he had finished all his food supplies, so he had nothing to feed it. He inevitably had to leave the lab and go to stock up with supplies for good, if he wanted to survive the whole week. His colleagues still didn't return from their lunch break, and he wouldn't want to leave everything unattended, but it was necessary, because the dead can't work, and he was just about to die of hunger.

He grabbed his wallet, his bum bag plus phone and keys, then left.

As Lavi stepped outside the door of the small private medical laboratory, he immediately noticed that something was wrong: the street was full of strange people wearing makeup for some kind of event. He watched them from afar, then more closely, when he found himself side by side with some of them on the way to the supermarket.

At one point, intrigued, he decided to approach a random one of the many masked people to ask what they were doing.

“Hey, buddy, what's the event?” He asked to break the ice. “You shootin' a movie?”

When he received no attention, much less an answer, Lavi touched the man on a shoulder to make him turn in his direction and be able to properly talk to him. The reaction the guy had, however, was totally different from what Lavi expected: the costumed man roared at him, trying to grab him and bite him.

At that point Lavi decided that he wasn't interested at all in knowing what they were doing, and he took on his heels, running wildly towards he didn't even know where, as far as possible from that strange people.

Turning the first corner, Lavi found himself in front of others of those strange guys, all of whom were walking at a dragging pace with an idiotic expression on their face. Someone grunted, someone else moaned... Now that Lavi thought about it, they looked like zombies; and they were very disturbing, with that make-up on their face that made them look rotten for real.

Watching them as he passed by, he bumped against something, making a loud thudding sound, and one of the figurants pivoted his head toward him, changing the pace to turn around and walk up to where he was standing. One by one, the other people in the street did the same, some of whom even outstretched their arms towards him, uttering a cry inhuman enough to give anyone the shivers. Something didn't add up. Definitely; or, he had found himself in a restricted area where there was a movie set, and the actors had taken him for one of the cast, thinking that he was playing his part.

Whatever the truth was, he didn't really like being chased by those dudes. Lavi started running, he didn't want to find out what would happen if they grabbed him; but he couldn't get rid of them, every street he turned into was swarming with these figurants. After changing direction at least a dozen times, Lavi decided that maybe it was a good idea to stop and draw his breath, taking refuge somewhere, for example inside a shop, but in the environs he didn't see any. He walked past a small house with a garden, and noticed it had the garage shutter half raised: perfect, he would sneak in there, and stay at least for a while.

By now it had been three whole days and the wound was still hurting like hell. Kanda checked the bandage for the umpteenth time. He was trying to figure out from the bite conditions if he would ever recover, or if it was simply just taking more time for him to turn into one of those monsters hungry for human flesh.

His arm was getting more and more swollen, and around the tooth mark that that prick of his former boss had left him there was now an ugly black bruise, fading into purple as it spread. It didn't look good. How much time did he have left before becoming a zombie himself? Would he realize when the exact moment would come, to make sure it won't happen?

Kanda kept staring at his arm with the rifle resting on his legs, the medical kit laying by one side, and Mugen beside him on the other, ready to be unsheathed. He couldn't block the front door, so he had to be prepared for everything, should the person coming in not be Lenalee.

Kanda disinfected the wound and took a clean bandage, but before he could begin doing the second loop around his forearm, a guy entered his temporary shelter, disheveled and panting.

He had red hair, a shade so intense that automatically attracted attention, and his deep eyes, now wide open due to his shocked expression, were a beautiful emerald green. Kanda assumed a grim grin, hoping he wouldn't have to kill this guy, too.


Lavi entered the garage as quiet as a mouse, sneaked into the intercommunicating door picking the lock (it was a matter of life or death, he would have apologized to the owners of the house afterwards) and went inside. At that point, after a brief look around, he headed for the first room he had run into. He slammed the door open and rushed in, moving the first thing at hand to barricade himself inside, and then he turned, flattening his body against the wall and beginning to look around.

It was at that moment that Lavi realized that he wasn't alone, and that his roommate wasn't at all happy to see him, judging by the grim look he was giving him.

Lavi smiled at the guy, bringing a hand to torment his flaming unruly red hair.

“Err, hi” he began, clearly terrified “Lots 'f bad people outta 'ere! Whatta hell's goin'on?!” Lavi exclaimed right after, hoping to get good news.

Had he not been busy bandaging himself, Kanda would have shot the guy before he could see what was coming in. Today was the lucky day of this dude, apparently. The idiot wanted to know what was happening. Kanda had been asking himself the same fucking thing for three long days now, and didn't have a fucking clue.

“Zombies,” he replied coldly.

“Zombies?” The young man gave him a confused look. “Ya mean... zombies-zombies?!” Kanda nodded and saw him assume an even more terrified expression. He hoped the idiot wouldn't become a ball and chain, because right now he wasn't strong enough to protect someone else. He was barely able to take care of himself. This train of thought stopped abruptly when Kanda noticed that the guy's eyes were staring at his arm, and the idiot had just raised one hand to point at the bandages he was wrapping. “Did they... bite ya?”

Here we go, now he will do something extremely stupid, Kanda thought, like trying to take my guns. His only answer was pointing his rifle at the guy.

“It bit me and didn't survive to tell the tale,” Kanda said grimly. “You want to end up the same way?” He asked right after, now sarcastic.

Kanda saw the young man swallow empty and waited for his next move, merely checking from the window if there were any other guests coming.

Lavi was really terrified, and after what he had just known, he was even more so. He couldn't stop his mind from shouting at him that, oh God, he was barricaded in there with a time-zombie and his fate was sealed. What could be worse during a zombie apocalypse than being locked in a room with an infected person? He had to find a way out! He carefully searched the guy's oriental-featured face for any sign of the illness: he didn't seem at all about to turn. No signs of decomposition, indeed. If Lavi had to be honest, the guy's face was particularly attractive, framed by long, straight black hair, which he kept tied in a low ponytail, and his dark eyes were vigilant and alert, his mouth firm.

“Lavi,” he said, pointing at himself; the youth didn't deem him worthy of even a glance, too intent on scrutinizing outside the window.

Then Lavi noticed the name tag on his shirt: Kanda Yuu, hardware department, it said. He had to be a shop assistant somewhere when the zombie apocalypse started.

“Yuu, how long's been?” Lavi asked hesitantly and received back a nasty look that startled him; he swallowed empty again. “The bite, I mean,” he explained.

The grim expression on the young man's face didn't change; in fact, it seemed to darken even more.

“Three days,” the guy answered lapidary.

Lavi's face suddenly lit up. All that time? If it was true, perhaps they could consider themselves safe, and not only them, all humanity was saved.

“Wow,” he commented enthusiastically “Yer lucid, an' yer movements 'r normal... Lemme see the wound,” he then asked, approaching cautiously.

Kanda didn't lower his weapon an inch.

“What are you, a doctor?” He immediately asked, suspicious.

“Something like that. Researcher Epidemiologist.” Lavi smiled again; he expected that question. “I've a medicine degree, yes, although I'd chosen a different branch from the usual one.”

“Epidemiologist,” repeated Kanda “The hell is that?”

“My job's t'study distribution 'nd frequency of diseases. Causes, development 'nd consequences, so that we can prevent 'em, 'nd prevent epidemics.” Lavi promptly started explaining. “In particular, I'm a biologist collaboratin' in researchin' for possible treatments. I'd be able to synthesize a vaccine, 'f as I think this thing's a virus and yer immune to it. There's a laboratory...”

At that point, Kanda had lost the line of discussion from quite a while, and, frankly, he didn't believe a single word this quack just said.

“We'll never get there,” Kanda answered, but he held out his arm anyway.

Lavi offered an embarrassed smile and pulled out a pair of sterile gloves from his white lab coat, which he hadn't even bothered to take off before going out to do the grocery shopping.

“I'm an optimist,” he said.

Kanda skeptically raised an eyebrow; at least the weirdo seemed professional.

“Good,” he replied, a wide grin forming on his lips. “Because I am the pessimist with the rifle.”

Lavi chuckled softly. Yuu scared him a lot, but he liked the type, so he hoped with all of himself that his intuition was correct. After carefully examining the wound, the consistency of the skin all around it and the mobility of the arm, Lavi nodded to himself, provoking an irritated reaction from his patient.

“The infection isn't too serious,” he informed him “But it's gettin' worse; I've t'give ya antibiotics or at least drain the pus 's inside.”

“Then do it,” Kanda replied, in a sharp tone. “I have no medicine here.”

Lavi had just made him realize he hadn't looked for a pharmacy the day before, so he didn't have the fucking antibiotic.

“With what, a kitchen knife? Then I wouldn't even have what's necessary t'stitch ya up,” he explained, hoping the youth wouldn't insist. “My laboratory's not far from here, if we reach it I can treat ya properly 'nd draw a blood sample t'analyze it. It's very important t'have confirmation that yer really immune.”

Kanda rolled his eyes. He had no intention to be this so-called epidemiologist guinea pig, no way he would let the guy use him to do his experiments.

“Absolutely not,” he rudely spat out. “I must find the girl who lives in this house; if I leave, and she comes back, she will be in danger without me.”

Lavi gave him a sympathetic smile. In his experience, if during an epidemic a house remains empty, it's because the owner can't go back there, and the two main reasons why are always the same: they're either dead or in a medical containment facility. However, getting the youth to aknowledge it in his current state could have been difficult as well as risky. Therefore, Lavi decided for a 'half-truth' explanation.

“I understand yer motivations, Yuu” he began, noticing that the hostile gaze toward him got worse when he pronounced Kanda's name “But think: 'f she hasn't come back, it means she can't. She'd taken refuge somewhere, 'f ya really wanna save 'er life, synthesizin' a cure 's the only way.”

Kanda seemed torn, judging by how his expression had become hard and tense, and his jaw had clenched.

“Fine,” he said “but if you play any dirty tricks, know that I'll gut you without thinking twice.”

Lavi raised his hands in a surrender gesture, offering a circumstancial smile.

“I swear, no dirty tricks. I'm a doctor, y'know, I swore an oath not t'do any harm for any reason,” he said; then he removed the sterile gloves from his hands, and offered to help Kanda get up.

Staggering, the youth gathered his things, shouldered his katana and the rifle, and motioned to the scared so-called doctor to follow him.

“Where is this lab?” Kanda asked once they were out in the open. “Zombies are slow, but not all of them are, so we must proceed cautiously and study the route well.”

Lavi looked at him confused. He had run being panic-striken for several minutes, he had turned into at least ten different roads, he had backtracked once, and even changed direction... in short, he got lost. He had no idea where they were right now.

“Y'know, I...” he began, extremely embarrassed. “I'm afraid I got lost runnin' t'get away from the zombies,” Lavi admitted, and when he saw Kanda's expression becoming so threatening to make him fear for his own safety, he hastened to add: “But I know the address, we can use google maps!”

Okay, he'd just managed to wriggle out of it; or not. Kanda snorted and brought a hand to rub his throbbing temple.

“Fine, haul your ass and look for it!” He answered, peering into the distance to be ready in case some zombies showed up.

Lavi fumbled for a minute with his phone, then pointed it straight ahead.

“That way,” he said.

Kanda stretched his arm toward a car parked nearby gesturing to approach it, and Lavi heard the characteristic beep of the car alarm being disarmed.

“Get in,” Kanda ordered, and while Lavi obeyed he opened the trunk to put inside the backpack and the bags with food and ammonitions. “We'll get there faster with this.”

Following the navigator's directions, Kanda drove the car entering the main road, now completely overrun by zombies, who walked towards the car without caring about being run over.

Kanda mowed them down without mercy, but at one point the creatures began to be too many, and in a moment they found themselves surrounded. The car was stopped and the zombies in the front row started beating against hood, windows and doors, trying to bite even though they couldn't reach them.

Lavi gave the other youth a very eloquent look, his face pale with fear.

“Please, tell me we can get out 'f this situation,” he pleaded, grasping the door handle, as if holding it tight could somehow prevent those creatures from breaking into the car.

Kanda snorted, visibly annoyed. He felt weak, in a bad mood, and he hadn't eaten since early in the morning. He grabbed his katana, disengaged the car lock on his side and moved one hand to push the door open.

“You wait here,” he commanded. “I'll be right back.”

Lavi stared at him with wide eyes: was he really going out to face so many zombies all by himself? The car door impacted heavily on the zombies on the front row, and the one that blocked the small crack that its opening had just created was skillfully stabbed. The first head flew into the air as Kanda passed the zombie he had just gutted, moving on to the next and then turned all about the car. Ten minutes later he had created a secure perimeter, which wouldn't remain as such much longer, but gave them enough time to pick up weapons and luggage, and run into a side street.

Lavi seemed to catch the hint, because he promptly got out of the car and opened the trunk, encumbering himself with backpack and provisions, and also shouldering the rifle.

“I'm ready!” He shouted over the roars of the zombies. “Let's go!”

Kanda gave him a nod and prepared to mow all the zombies standing on their way.

“Stay behind me,” he warned dryly “You and your brilliant ideas. If you think this has a happy ending, you havn't been paying attention!” He thundered caustically. “We are surrounded by a horde of fucking zombies, and it would take a miracle to get us through them alive.”

“Still haven't equipped m'self for miracles, but 'm sure yer rifle's gonna gimme a good hand,” Lavi retorted, standing back to back with Kanda. “Ya move forward, I cover ya.”

Kanda struck the first cutting blow, then a second and trampled on the two fallen bodies to reach and decapitate the creatures behind, followed by Lavi's shots, taking down the zombies on their sides. Limbs were maimed, brains blown up together with a multitude of other heads. At one point, the other creatures threw themselves at the slaughtered ones, starting to eat them.

Another couple of slashes and the two young men got themselves safe in a side street.

“My compliments,” Kanda commented, as soon as he caught his breath “to be a scared poor doctor, you showed true guts. Now let's get to the lab, so you can patch my arm up.”

Lavi smiled and nodded. He would make Yuu as good as new, forget the patch!

They walked at a fast pace, following the navigator's directions on the phone, until Lavi began to recognize the streets. From that moment he took the lead, and finally after two hours of walking, anxiety and clashes with lone zombies, they reached their destination: in the building in front of them there was Lavi's laboratory.

Once inside, Kanda couldn't help asking the question that haunted him from the beginning: how could Lavi be oblivious of everything?

“Hey. How could you not realize that the world was invaded by zombies?” He asked, his tone a little sarcastic. “It's been three fucking days since the apocalypse started.”

Lavi let out a quite stilted laughter and started touching his hair nervously.

“Y'know,” he replied “I'm a labworm. It was a week since I last put m'nose outside, 'nd I went out only because I'd run out 'f food.”

Kanda raised an eyebrow. Labworm. Well, maybe that might mean that the guy was really good at what he did.

He sat on the medical table and held out his arm for the doctor to treat it.

 

Chapter Text

 

<><><><> CHAPTER 4: "Let's go Hunting"<><><><>

Kanda wasn't sure if he could really trust this guy with flashy red hair. What did he say was his name, now? Wait, yes, something like Ravi? Rabi? No, Lavi. It was Lavi, what a stupid name. Anyway, the only thing he was sure of right now was having been bitten by a fucking zombie.

However, three days had already passed since the aforementioned bite, and he hadn't turned yet. So, perhaps this so-called scientist, or doctor, or whatever the hell the guy was, was right about him, and he was immune.

Which brought Kanda back to the aforementioned matter of trust: would this doctor really be able to find a cure? A vaccine, serum, or whatever the fuck it was? Or was he just planning to use it only to save himself?

Kanda was fully aware that maybe now it was a little late to ask all of these questions, since he was lying on a medical table inside the laboratory where the doctor in question had sworn to work. Yes, the place where the guy had led him after their daring escape from the zombies, precisely to examine him, and try to understand what destiny had in store for him.

“Relax, Yuu, 's just a blood draw,” the doctor told him, noting his very scowling expression.

“Blood is not the problem. It's the zombies,” Kanda answered curtly.

“What do ya mean? 'Cause 'f the bite one 'f 'em gave ya?” Lavi asked, acting as if it had no importance. “Ya didn't have any reaction, Yuu, 'nd today's the fourth day after the bite, right? I'd say that by now the chances 'f you bein' immune 'r around ninety percent.” Kanda snorted, signaling quite clearly how he felt about the so-called 'odds' just mentioned to him. “That's why I can't wait t'analyze yer blood with a microscope,” Lavi added with a smile.

“So, you can tell if I'm going to turn or not just by looking at my blood?” Kanda asked, in a deeply skeptical tone.

Actually, let's say that he didn't believe a single word.

“Yes, Yuu” repeated the doctor, whose persistent calling him by his first name was to Kanda like a red rag to a bull. “Presence or absence of antibodies'll tell me 'f yer body 's reactin' to the infection.”

Kanda repressed his desire to punch the impudent doctor, at this time he had other priorities than to force the idiot to use his surname.

“And then? If my blood has the antibodies what's next? Can you make the cure?” Kanda asked.

Lavi nodded with certainty, and brough a hand to rub his chin.

“I should be able to, workin' on it properly, but not here,” he replied; Kanda raised one eyebrow hearing such a statement, an eloquent expression on his face, but the young doctor ignored him, continuing with his train of thought. “This lab isn't equipped for the analysis I should do nor for the procedures I should use. Here I can only start t'study a cure; at some point, though, we'll have t'try t'get to a hospital provided with the right equipment.”

“What a beautiful perspective,” Kanda commented, rolling his eyes. “And I guess there's no way of knowing if these tools would be there or not, without actually going inside said hospital, right?”

The young doctor let out an embarrassed titter, nervously scratching his unruly red hair.

“D'ya get mad 'f I say no?” He asked hesitantly.

Kanda snorted again, this time with extreme irritation.

“What changes if the perspective of beating again the crap out of some zombies makes me angry?” Kanda retorted sarcastically. “I'll have to do it anyway.”

“Maybe we'll be lucky 'nd manage t'avoid them...”

Kanda looked at the doctor in disbelief, this time raising both eyebrows.

“Yeah, sure, why not,” was his enthusiastic comment, and just then he realized that the doctor was staring at him fearfully. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Y'see, ya should hold out yer left arm for me,” Lavi answered, a little nervous.

Kanda grudgingly complied and Lavi knotted the tourniquet around his bicep. He waited a few seconds, felt the veins on the crook of Kanda's elbow to take the pulse, and then stuck the needle in his arm. The syringe quickly filled with blood, showing a beautiful dark red tint.

Kanda watched the young doctor pour the freshly drawn blood into a test tube, then take some of it with a dropper, close the phial, and deposit a single drop on a small glass square.

A second glass square was placed on the drop at an angle and rapidly turned to the left with a steady movement, opposite to the drop. Then Lavi took a second dropper, dipped it in another test tube to take some of its content, and poured a couple of drops on the blood smear; after that he placed the glass square on the desk next to the microscope.

“Now we have t'wait for the slide to dry,” he explained, seeing Kanda skeptical expression. “After I'll have t'add a stainin' t'make a contrast, otherwise lots 'f things can't be seen properly.”

Kanda nodded.

“I didn't think it was this complicated,” he muttered; Lavi smiled at him, keeping on messing about with the instruments. “Can I get off this fucking table now?”

“Not yet, I wanna examine the bite well and take a tissue sample.”

“Why?”

Lavi smiled sympathetically. Kanda's mistrust was expected, after all they barely knew each other, and in a situation like that, let someone use you as a guinea pig without understanding what they are doing to you is not exactly ideal.

“Well, often it can remain a trace of the virus in the tissues around the point 'f infection, if it's a wound,” he explained. “Besides, it's infected. I've t'drain the pus that's certainly inside, and give ya some stitches t'be safe.”

“Fine. Go ahead,” Kanda agreed. “But move your fucking ass, I'm tired of being a laboratory rat!”

“I'll be blazin' fast,” Lavi promised, taking another test tube and a new syringe. “Stand still, please.”

He inserted the needle between a tooth mark and the next one and tried to draw, hoping to get lucky. The first two attempts failed, but the third try actually took something: the viscous yellow-green fluid he expected to find.

“The hell is that?!” exclaimed Kanda, not at all pleased that there was such a disgusting stuff inside his body.

“Don't worry, Yuu” Lavi said, his voice calm and mellow. “As I told ya b'fore, the wound's infected. Even 'f the color 's not usual for pus, 's the product 'f the infection, 's normal. Yer body defends itself and 's healing. In fact, as I told ya when I treated ya at yer friend's house, I'd have had t'drain the pus from the wound and stitch ya up 'f needed, as soon as I had the right equipment. Namely, here.” Kanda gave him a skeptical look, but the young doctor continued. He pointed to the test tube with a satisfied expression, and said: “With this I should be able t'see the antibodies, in the unfortunate event that yer blood didn't show any, but first, I need a term 'f comparison. T'get one I need to identify the virus, and after that t'create a culture 'f bacteria, t'isolate one 'f the viruses' characteristic protein 'nd compare the antibodies; second, I need an electron microscope capable 'f analyzin' with the immunofluorescence technique. Third, but not less important, it's a time-consuming process. The sooner I've the sample from which isolate the virus, the sooner I can start with the whole process.”

For Kanda the idiot doctor might have very well been speaking Greek, and his mind would have been just as muddled; the only thing that was perfectly clear to him was that they would have to go zombie-hunting and get one, possibly alive. That is, dead, but not dead-dead, not definitively, in short.

“Do you have any other good news for me tonight, doctor?” Kanda asked sarcastically.

Lavi spread his arms in a gesture of disconsolate impotence.

“Can't help it, 's how it works,” he defended himself. “With the test I'm about t'do now I can only establish whether 'r not there's been an immune reaction in yer body. However, could be due to something else, there's no way t'be 100% sure until I perform the other test, too.”

Kanda sighed and shook his head slowly. Fuck his fabulous luck!

“One is enough?” He asked, jumping off the medical bed. “Or do you want a couple of them, one dead as a doornail, and one just almost stone-dead?”

For a moment Lavi looked like he was seriously thinking about it, and Kanda stared at him in disbelief, because his question was ironic, he was just trying to provoke the idiot.

“In fact, doin' a comparison 'd be very useful t'me,” Lavi finally said. “But tryin' t'capture a zombie 'd be very dangerous, even 'f yer immune. It can always hurt ya.”

“Just tell me how you want them, and I'll take them,” Kanda repeated, visibly annoyed.

“Ya mean... that ya wanna go alone?” Lavi blurted out instead of answering the question he had just been asked.

“Of course I'm going alone, you're precious to me staying here, finishing these fucking tests!” Kanda snapped, causing the poor doctor to leap back in surprise. “I don't want to take the risk of some zombie biting you too! You're my insurance, doctor.”

“Lavi,” specified said doctor, pointing at himself, his face indignant at the way he had just been treated. “M'kay then, but b'careful. Need ya alive, too, y'know,” he retorted. “For the zombies, let's go for two, one dead-dead, and one just undead. And tie it up for good.”

Kanda placed Mugen over his shoulder, took up the rifle, and headed for the door.

“As soon as I got them, I'll ring the intercom,” he advised the man. “I guess you won't want to smear your laboratory with their infected blood.”

“Oh, well, yes, 'course. I'll be preparin' the equipment, then, t'get down immediately as soon as ya call me,” Lavi answered. “Ya've somethin' t'tie up the 'less' dead one? Above all, gag it so it won't bite.” Kanda showed a huge roll of duck tape. “Oh! Well, I guess it's appropriate in this case,” he said. Then he suddenly remembered that he didn't properly treat Kanda's arm yet, he only extracted the pus from the wound. “Hey! Wait up!” Lavi exclaimed. “I've t'fix the wound first! Give ya some stitches, bandage yer arm...”

“Later,” Kanda answered, as if he really was in a hurry to get this over with and fucking forget about it.

Before Lavi could protest any further and try to stop him, Kanda gave him a smug smirk and left.

There was still enough light to hunt without too much risk. Kanda carefully looked around to get his bearings, because he didn't know the area, and if he wandered too far he would risk not being able to get back to where Lavi's laboratory was. He even took a couple of photos, just to be safe, since he had no idea how long the phone network would continue to work, much less internet or google maps. So the dear fashioned 'old way' should have to do for now.

Kanda reached the end of the street, looked warily in every direction and turned the corner; there was too much silence compared to the prior chaos, caused by the exaggerated number of zombies being there when they arrived. He didn't have a good explanation for this change, but whatever, his first victim was in sight, and it was all alone and limping. Kanda's lips curved in a devilish way as he smirked to himself, and put the rifle back in its bag, unsheating his beloved katana.

“Let's see if you can walk with severed ligaments...” he murmured to himself mischievously.

Taking care of a lone zombie was too easy. Kanda circled around it, first striking with precision just below its right knee, then, when it fell back, he did the same with the left one. Finally, just to be safe, he cut into its left and right shoulder. As the zombie fell on the ground, struggling helplessly, Kanda tied its ankles together with duck tape, then its wrists behind his back, ignoring the angry growling. Now it was dangerous only at bite-range.

He turned the creature on its back, remaining surprised by his rotting appearance: it was even worse than the other zombies he'd seen up until now.

Furthermore, it must have been a kid, judging by its size. It had a completely white blind eye crossed by an ugly scar covering half its face, which was now barely visible after the transformation, and strange tattoos under its eyes. The hair was the strangest part, assuming it really was a kid: it was completely shaved except for a long white Moharan style crest.

Tsk, it had to be a punk, before the infection turned it, or something like that. In the end it didn't matter to Kanda, the essential thing was he had captured his prey... a responsive one, if it could be defined that way. He placed some duct tape on its mouth as well, thanking heavens to wear latex gloves to protect him from the monster's saliva, and then he began to drag it along.

After depositing it in the entrance of the large apartment building in which Lavi worked, Kanda went back to hunting down his second prey: the one to bring back stone-dead.

For a moment Kanda wondered which part his idiot doctor would have preferred: body or head? He decided he would bring them both, for it didn't cost him anything to collect more than one body part.

This time, however, he was not lucky enough to find a second, lonely, wandering zombie that was dragging itself oblivious to God knows where. He almost collided with quite a large group of those creatures, all very decaying and all screaming on different levels, from snarl to rattle, to hissing gurgling.

Tch!

Kanda made an extremely annoyed sound when, turning the corner of yet another street, he avoided by a whisker having a head-on collision with the first zombie of the group. Just the one time he didn't check before entering the street!

He dodged the second zombie as well, noticing that they were beginning to converge on him. Slowly, but they were showing interest in him, which was strange; because in theory, if not disturbed, they shouldn't have reacted. He had entered their field of vision, that was true, but he hadn't touched them... oh, to hell with that, he would ask the annoying doctor about this thing, right now he had more pressing matters to attend to, like slaughtering that column of zombies. Yes, all of them. Kanda unsheathed his katana and put himself in attaking position, delivering the first mortal blow to the creature that had come closest to him. He pratically passed through it, cutting it in two at chest height, then hurled himself on the next target, aiming directly at its neck. Once he had beheaded it, he finished the previous one the same way and threw himself on the next zombie, then onto the next one, and onto the one after that, moving in a semicircular path and widening the range as he made scorched earth around himself.

When, after a time he felt abnormally short, Kanda reached the end of the road, behind him there was only a trail of blood and decapitated corpses, mutilated and rotted in various ways.

He retraced his steps to judge which of the many dismembered zombies put back together (actually, he would just merely put it into the heavy plastic garbage bag he had brought with him in pieces as it was, he just had to pick one) to bring it back to the laboratory.

Not that it was of any importance, but he wanted to dirty himself as little as possible, and thus he was aiming at the best preserved one. At some point, though, he made the mistake of looking at himself as well, and immediately cursed under his breath.

“Fuck, to hell with getting less dirty,” Kanda hissed, noting that he was almost completely covered in blood plus various other spatters of things, due to the impact with his katana.

He grabbed a head from the few hairs it still had and slipped it into the plastic bag, along with its corresponding torso (at least Kanda guessed it was), believing that it could do. Then he thought for a moment, and decided to retrieve the legs as well. Better to avoid having to do this job a second time.

Kanda closed the bag and lifted it over his shoulder, retracing his steps up to where he remembered; in the end he had taken enough reference points. With a little attention he managed to make his way back, and return to where he had tied the kneecapped and incapacitated zombie.

He buzzed the intercom to get the doctor to open the front door for him, and then grabbed the aforementioned zombie by the duck tape that circled around its ankles, starting to drag it with him towards the elevator.

Before he could climb the three steps leading to the elevator landing, though, the elevator doors opened and the idiot doctor emerged from it, visibly agitated.

“Yuu!” He exclaimed. “Ya 'kay? My God, yer covered in blood...”

“It's not mine,” Kanda answered promptly “Don't touch me, we don't know if their blood, too, can infect people.”

Lavi nodded, putting on the latex gloves he had brought to handle the zombies.

“Ya took 'em both,” he commented “Good!”

Lavi put the briefcase he had brought on the ground behind him and opened it, taking out a syringe and a couple of test tubes.

“Which of the two you want to examine first?” Kanda asked, putting the bag containing the remains of the stone-dead zombie down on the floor.

“The dead-dead one first,” Lavi answered. “So ya can throw it back out on the street. We can get a dead-dead one without too many problems, fishin' out another undead one, on the other hand, 's a problem 'f we get rid 'f this one. So, after I took the sample from it we tie it up for good, 'nd put it into the lab's refrigeratin' room.”

Kanda gave him a skeptic look. The prospect of keeping in a room next to where they were a zombie that could bite them, even though it was very unlikely that such a thing would happen, didn't appeal him at all.

“You want to take this thing to the lab and keep it there with us?” He asked, making his disagreement very clear. “It's not a dog, it's a fucking zombie!”

Lavi assumed a sulky expression and put his hands on his hips.

“I know very well what's this thing, and it disgusts me too; but it wouldn't be together with us. We close it into the refrigeratin' room,” he said in a slightly offended tone. “So the cold keeps it still for good, 'cause it becomes frozen.”

Kanda spread his arms in a gesture of surrender, then opened the sack with the stone-dead zombie pieces.

“You're the doctor,” he replied. “If you say so, I trust you.”

It sounded more on the sarcastic side than the words of someone who believes in you should sound, but Lavi decided to ignore this annoying detail and proceed with collecting the samples.

“I guess ya don't wanna gloves, seein' the state yer in,” he commented, and Kanda made an annoyed sound with his toungue. “Gimme the head first.”

Kanda did what he was told, and the doctor opened one of his phials, which had a cotton swab attached to the cap, and skillfully rubbed it on the teeth and inside the mouth of the zombie's head.

“Can I throw it back inside?” Kanda asked, seeing that the youth was putting the test tube inside the suitcase.

“Yep, now I need the torso,” Lavi answered. “I've t'take blood from it, and the safest place t'find some, since it's very dead and in pieces, 's inside the heart.”

Lavi spread a plastic sheet on the floor, and prepared the syringe. Kanda dropped the zombie's head into the bag, then pulled the second body piece up by one wrist, and laid it over the plastic protection.

“All yours, doctor,” he said.

Lavi knelt down, and felt the chest of the zombie's headless torso with his free hand to identify the exact spot to hit, then dived the needle straight into its heart and began to suck. He poured the extracted blood into a new test tube and closed it, putting it back in the briefcase as well.

“Now the hard part,” he said, pointing to the tied up zombie. “B'cause that thing bites 'f ya take the tape off its mouth.”

 

Chapter Text

<><> CHAPTER 5: "Do your job, doctor"<><>

Kanda forced the zombie to a sitting position dragging it by the crest of hair, and saw the doctor assuming a disgusted expression at the sight of the scarred and putrefied face in front of him.

“Yes, it's not a good sight, but this is what I ended up with, take it or leave it,” he said.

Lavi gave a resigned sigh, and took a new syringe and another test tube.

“Why it's shakin' so little?” He asked, afraid to get closer to it.

“I severed the ligaments in its shoulders and knees,” Kanda revelaed. “Then, as a bonus, I fractured both his femurs.”

Lavi's face twitched for a moment in a horrified grimace.

“Eww...”

Kanda stared at him inquisitively, raising an eyebrow to indicate how puzzled the youth's reaction had lef him.

“What's with that face?” He blurted out accusingly.

“All this violence...” Lavi murmured, brow furrowed, as he bent down to try drawing blood from the creature.

Kanda rolled his eyes, exasperated. He had slaughtered an awful lot of those fucking things, and caught the one lying at their feet risking his life every time, and this was the thanks he received!

“It's just a fucking zombie!” He said through clenched teeth.

Lavi turned to him with that troubled and at the same time sullen air that, Kanda had established by now, winded him up even more than the gratuitous smile that the young doctor always had on his lips.

“I know, but it makes me feel bad all the same t'hear ya say these things,” Lavi retorted; then he went back to fiddling with the zombie, which was emitting muffled moans from behind the tape that closed its mouth. “There's nothin' doin', can't catch a vein. Hold it still f'me, Yuu, 'm gonna draw from the heart to this one, too.”

Kanda raised both eyebrows this time, because, hey, first you protest for the inhuman treatment I reserved to it, and then you stick a needle into its heart while (in theory) it's still functioning... Lavi, however, didn't seem to understand the reason for his skeptical face, and offered him a big innocent smile. Kanda sighed. He knelt beside the zombie as well, and pressed its shoulders to the ground from above its head, to give Lavi all the maneuvering space he needed.

If it hadn't been a zombie, both would have been subject to charges for illegal torture practices. Kanda shook his head and snorted with disdain.

Tch. Tell me when I can let go of it, touching these things is disgusting,” he commented, as Lavi filled the test tube with a triumphant expression.

“Oh, well... I'm afraid we need t'take the tape off its mouth now,” the young doctor reminded him as soon as he put away the blood sample. “I've t'take a saliva sample, y'know.”

Kanda snorted even louder, if possible. Why couldn't the idiot doctor collect some other putrefaction stuff, instead?

“It bites if I take the tape off,” he restated, dryly.

“I know, but we can give it somethin' t'bite, and ya keep its mouth shut onto it while I collect saliva, right?” Lavi proposed, offering a hopeful smile.

If he'd had his hands free, Kanda would have brought one to his face, but since this was not the case, he had to content himself with assuming a disconsolate expression.

“Fine,” he hissed, trying to keep his growing irritation at bay. “What do you propose?”

Lavi looked like he was thinking intensely, with the back of one hand covered in a latex glove pressed against his nose.

“My belt?” He finally said, unfastening it and taking it off his pants.

Kanda nodded. It could be enough.

“Tell me when you're ready,” he said.

Lavi swallowed empty and nodded; without interrupting eye contact, he folded his belt into two, and held it like a rigid splint. He left a good safety margin between his hand and the belt end he should have to put into the zombie's mouth, then gave a nod to Kanda.

“Go!” He shouted.

Kanda placed a hand on the creature's forehead, pressing its head to the ground, then with the other hand tore the duct tape from its mouth with a dry gesture. Then he brought that hand back on its shoulder where it had been before, to better keep the creature in check while Lavi slipped the belt between its teeth.

The zombie roared and the young doctor flinched at the throaty sound, reflexively holding the belt with both hands. He swallowed empty again and extended the improvised goad forward until it hit the zombie's chin, causing the violent reaction they expected. The creature immediately tried to bite and failed, because Kanda was holding it down very well.

“I got it, don't get anxious,” Kanda reassured him. “Move your belt slowly until it's right into its mouth.”

“O... 'kay,” Lavi replied.

He nodded and leaned slightly more towards his target, first sliding the belt forward and then sideways until the edge noose was straight in the zombie's throat. At that very moment Kanda let the zombie bite and right after, with a feline leap, placed a knee on its shoulder and the hand that was there under its chin, blocking its jaw onto the belt.

Lavi stared at him raptly. Both from the courage of the young man and from his strength, not to mention the fact that, covered with blood as he was and with his muscles tensing for the effort to hold down the zombie, Kanda looked damn sexy.

“The hell are you doing, don't just stand there!” Kanda growled a few moments later, seeing that he was staring at him, mouth open and a shocked look on his face. “Are you going to move your ass or not? I can't hold it this way forever!”

As a matter of fact, Lavi was staring at him dreamily, but Kanda wasn't able to understand such kind of emotion, which was why he confused the doctor's dazed expression with one of shock. Kanda's angry voice shouting at him shook Lavi out of his dream at once.

“Yup! Comin'!” He exclaimed, rummaging in his pocket with feverish movements, clearly panicked. When he finally pulled out the test tube, it slipped from his hand and rolled on the floor. Lavi struggled along for a few seconds chasing after it and finally got to stop it, directing an embarrassed smile toward Kanda, who was staring at him grimly, all his muscles clenched in the effort of not letting the zombie open its mouth. “Got it, got it!” Lavi shouted, moving on all fours as fast as he could towards Kanda. He opened the test tube and stuck the cotton swab straight into the slaver that was dripping from the zombie's rotten teeth. “Done!” He exclaimed relieved right after, closing the sample in the test tube, safe.

Kanda released his grip and struck the creature's jaw with force, then took it by the neck and grabbed the duch tape, throwing the roll at Lavi.

“Come on, make yourself useful,” he blurted at him. “Find the end and unroll a long strip.” Lavi did as he was asked and waited, till he was addressed with an annoyed: “Move your ass, give it to me.”

Kanda started from the neck of the zombie and turned around its head three times, seeing that the first round ended up right between the creature's teeth, pulling with strenght. He let go of the head and tore another strip of tape, placing it properly to close any possible opening.

“It'll hold, right?” Lavi asked, the briefcase in his hand again, ready to go back to his laboratory with the precious booty.

“If it gets free, we turn it into a mummy,” Kanda said with a shrug. “You go back and get the refrigerating room ready, I'm going to get rid of this thing in pieces and come up with the whole one.”

Lavi nodded and was about to recommend him again to be cautious, but he had just opened his mouth as his eyes met Kanda's forbidding gaze. He closed his mouth again, thrusting the recommendation back in his throat, and gave Kanda an awkward smile.

Tch,” was all Kanda said to him before grabbing the bag and going out; Lavi sighed and headed toward the elevator, mentally making a note to stop thinking about the youth outside of his own professional field. He was a patient to him, nothing more.

The refrigerating room was not very large and it was quite full of perishable stuffs. Lavi snorted disconsolately: he necessarily had to move everything and free a corner, so that the zombie would have no possible way to cause any damage in case it miraculously managed to break free.

It was like playing tetris and his mind didn't even cooperate fetching images of Kanda in that (oh, so sexy!) position he was just earlier... Lavi mentally smacked himself. With poor results, however, since he found himself at the door anxiously waiting for his forbidden dream to return to him, safe and sound.

The elevator finally opened and Kanda came out, dragging the 'alive' zombie tied like a salami in the plastic sheet they had just before floored it onto.

Lavi couldn't prevent his face from showing obvious relief; he smiled at Kanda and motioned for him to follow him.

“This way, Yuu. I cleared the far corner so it can't try t'help himself with anythin',” he explained. “But in any case, temperature should put it in some kind 'f hibernation.”

“You better be right, doctor,” Kanda replied, “because the prospect of having to spend an unknown number of days in the company of a zombie is not pleasant.”

Lavi looked embarrassed, as if he too was hoping it would be just like he had said, but couldn't claim real certainty. He sighed softly and started to walk toward their future makeshift zombie prison. After a few steps, Lavi stopped in front of a metal door with an access code lock. He inserted the code and the door opened with a hiss; he pushed it, and went inside before Kanda.

“Please,” Lavi invited the youth to come in with a broad arm gesture. “Ya can place it over there, bottom left corner.”

The temperature of the refrigerating room wasn't exaggeratedly low, but you could feel the thermal gap. Kanda gave a quick glance at the shelves cluttered with all kinds of preparations, bags of liquids, colored and meticulously labeled containers. Part of him wondered if any of those stuffs might be dangerous as he passed by. He trew the zombie on the ground like it was a sack of potatoes and turned, striding back toward the door. Lavi closed it and gave him a strange look, as if he wanted to tell him something, but didn't have the guts.

“Spit it out. What else you know that you didn't tell me about this whole fucking enchilada?” Kanda asked him directly; at this point he really didn't have the slightest desire to play riddles.

“No, 's nothin', really; just... ya need t'clean yerself up...” Lavi hesitated a moment, uncertain how to define what covered Kanda's body. “From the residuum 'f the zombies? And I was wonderin' where t'go. I've a bathroom here in the lab, but no shower.”

“I can manage,” Kanda replied with a shrug.

“I don't even have towels t'give ya,” Lavi said in a sorry tone, “nor clean clothes...”

At that point, Kanda let out an annoyed snort, which caused Lavi to stop the pathetic apology speech he had launched himself into before it went down a rabbit trail.

“As ugly and cynical as it may seem, we can take whatever we need from the shops around here. At least half the city has turned into zombies, as you had seen for yourself,” he said, and Lavi nodded, assuming a sad expression. “And I'm not sure that reality isn't worse. Considering that, for now, we didn't meet anyone else, it's very likely that the true number of people who survived the virus may be very low. Even in this building the apartments will probably all be empty. I'm going to check if anyone is still in the one in front of your lab, and if not, we'll settle there.”

The idea of breaking into someone else's apartment and take over like squatters didn't appeal Lavi at all, if he had to be honest.

“Ya sure 's a good idea?” He objected. “I mean, if the owner returns...”

Kanda rolled his eyes in frustration. All this complaining about someone who was certainly a wandering zombie at that very moment. In fact, they might have been among the ones he had killed just before.

“If they come back we'll apologize, and that'll be all,” he said coldly.

Lavi spread his arms in resignation.

“If ya say so, but this thing ain't makin' me feel safe.”

Kanda was now seriously wanting to strangle him, but he held bach the urge, he needed the idiot doctor alive. He brought one hand to his temples, massaging them.

“We'll try to barricade the door, okay? Now do whatever the fuck you need to do with the samples you took from the zombies. I'm going to get some clothes and take a shower to clean myself up. After that we'll see how to settle for our temporary staying.”

Lavi nodded, but his mind just couldn't avoid picturing a naked Kanda under the shower, water sliding off his lush body. He mentally slapped himself (again), swallowed hard and tried to maintain a neutral expression, fearing that his lascivious thoughts could be noticed. He didn't want to discover Kanda's opinion on this sort of things in a traumatic way, that's it. Too busy in trying to keep those thoughts at bay, Lavi realized just then what Kanda had just said that he wanted to do.

“Hey, ya seriously goin' out again?!”

“Why not, do you know another way of finding new clothes?” Kanda retorted sarcastically. “I saw a shop around the corner, stop worrying! You're not my mother! I'm bringing sword and rifle with me, what were you thinking?”

“M'kay, m'kay, don't get angry, 's that the prospect 'f bein' alone makes me anxious,” Lavi justified himself. “I didn't mean t'be pushy.”

Tch,” was (again) the only answer he got from Kanda before he saw him disappear past the lab entrance.

Lavi wondered if they could really survive together, because isolating the virus would take time, as would the bacterial cultures.

He sighed and went back to his desk, opening the briefcase and taking out the samples. He separated and accurately classified them, then began to prepare everything he needed to perform the different set of tests he had planned to do. Lavi didn't have an electron microscope in such a small laboratory, so he would try the hemagglutination inhibition assay, hoping that the zombie virus was one of those viruses that agglutinate. Otherwise, he wouldn't see anything, and any analysis would have to be postponed until they reached an equipped hospital.

He prepared a U-type microtiter plate, and placed in it with a pad a saline solution having the same volume as the viral suspension he had just made from the saliva of the first zombie. Then he took an identical quantity of the abomentioned viral suspension and poured it into the microtiter plate wells. Lavi closed the plate and shaked it to make the dilution homogeneous, before to proceed with the serial diluition. He took a hundred microliters from the first well and poured them into the second, obtaining a first dilution. He repeated the process two more times, then added a hundred microlitres of chicken blood, sealed the microtiter plate again, and put it for three minutes inside a Thomas-Boerner shaker. After finishing with this plate, Lavi repeated the entire procedure with the sample coming from the 'alive' zombie. Then he put the two plates into an incubator; at that point there was nothing else to do but wait to see how the various samples would sediment because of gravity. A waiting that would last eighteen hours, maybe more.

From that he would see if the virus was there or not, and how it bound with blood; if it was the type of virus that agglutinated, of course. Thus, a negative outcome didn't indicate the absence of the virus with absolute certainty.

Lavi sighed and took the slides with Kanda's blood, to at least take a look at them. He placed the first under the microscope and adjusted the lenses as he watched: the antibody reaction was there. Only, he couldn't identify them without first isolating the virus and the type of antibodies that were produced because of it; and, in any case, he couldn't do it there. He needed an electron microscope for that type of test.

Well, there was nothing else he could do, and more to the point, he felt tired. Dead tired, if he had to be really honest. Lavi switched off all the instruments that weren't busy in any test procedures, and then closed the laboratory.

He immediately noticed that Kanda had left the door wide open, to let him know which apartment he had entered (illegally). A reckless behavior which indicated a total lack of prudence; or maybe it was due to an excess of self-confidence on Kanda's side? Lavi sighed inaudibly and went into the apartment, looking around cautiously.

“Yuu?” He called.

He saw the bedroom door open and the light on, but when he looked inside there was no one. On the bed, however, a large pile of clothes was thrown on both sides.

“In the kitchen,” Kanda's voice reached to him, “the guy here has a decent pantry.” Lavi went in without thinking about what he might find in front of him, and seeing Kanda before him with damp hair falling down on his shoulders, bare-chested, with a towel thrown over one shoulder, almost scared the living daylights out of him. Kanda was probably dabbing his hair when the stove demanded his full attention. Wait, how could someone like this guy be able to cook? Lavi stared at him with eyes wide open and his mouth gaping. Before he could get a hold of himself, Kanda turned toward him. “What? Did you see a ghost?” The youth commented, raising one eyebrow in blatant suspicion.

Not a ghost, Lavi told himself, but I was very close. He shook his head promptly and closed his mouth.
“No, well, y'know, I didn't expect ya would cook,” Lavi admitted, thus bypassing part of the uncomfortable truth.

“You didn't expect me to know how to cook,” Kanda corrected him.

“Ya got me,” Lavi laughed. “Y'know, ya don't strike me as the kind 'f guy wastin' time.”

“I live alone, and, hey, I have to eat, too” Kanda retorted, “and I don't trust ready meals.”

Lavi laughed again, then suddenly fell silent when he saw that Kanda was filling a dish for him as well.

“For me?” He asked, surprised. Kanda nodded and pointed one side of the set table, laying the plate between napkin and knife. “Thanks, Yuu, truly.”

Kanda made an irritated sound, even though he didn't seem annoyed looking at the expression on his face.

“I should let you starve since you keep calling me by my first name,” he pointed out, “but you're putting yourself out for me, and I'm not ungrateful.”

Lavi gave him a smile so happy that could have dazzled a blind man.

“I... ain't often happen t'me havin' someone appreciate my work this much,” he murmured while sitting down; in fact, Lavi was happy that Kanda had thought of him, though not for the reasons he wanted to.

“Eat, it's getting cold.” Kanda cut him short, before the guy could say anything else mawkish. “I left the bathroom ready to use, you need a shower too.”

It was a statement, not a question. Clearly, when Lavi told him that he didn't have a shower cabin in the lab's bathroom, Kanda must have put two and two together with the fact that he had been shut in there for over a week... Lavi gave out a very embarrassed laugh. Certainly the young man, being (judging by his features) of clear Asiatic origins (he'd say Japanese, given his love for katana swords), had thought of him as a poorly clean person.

“Y'know... I don't have a change 'f clothes either here at the lab,” Lavi confessed, feeling even more like a bum.

“I got you something from the shop nearby, while I was at it,” Kanda revealed without stopping to eat. “Everything's on the bed. You can check before you go take a shower.”

The tone was careless, the youth didn't even bother to look at him in the face as he was talking to him. Lavi was very disappointed, but he tried not to show it.

“Thanks,” he said simply. “I guess I'd have troubles in the next days, without some change 'f clothes.”

Kanda didn't answer. With a certain amount of chagrin Lavi finished eating. It was nothing special, rice and vegetables mixed with grilled pork, but it was good. To accompany, on the table there was a bottle of white wine and hot tea in a pot. Kanda obviously had filled his cup with tea. Lavi had no particular preferences, he did not disdain a glass of wine, if there was some, and he loved tea; however, he often decided for simple water. He poured himself some tea, and then got up to get a jug of water as well.

 

Chapter Text

<><> CHAPTER 6: "Immune"<><>

As soon as they were finished he saw Kanda got up to remove the plates, and stood up as well, picking up his own and approaching the sink.

“No need,” Kanda told him, seeing that he was putting the dishes into the sink. “Until electricity keeps working, we got a dishwasher right here.”

“Oh,” Lavi exclaimed, “perfect. So... I'm gonna give myself a clean-up,” he advised, as soon as the dishwasher's washing cycle was started.

Kanda nodded and headed toward the bedroom, beckoning him to follow.

“You forgot to choose a change of clothes,” he admonished, pointing the left side of the bed with his hand.
They looked askance at each other and Lavi laughed nervously. He couldn't help it, the prospect of sleeping in the same room with Kanda had already made his brain derail.

“True,” he replied, starting to rummage in the pile which had been indicated to him, “I'll fish somethin' right off, but at this point only the underwear.”

Searching through the clothes Lavi realized that, as much as the other youth appeared unfriendly and irritated by whatever he said or did, he must have observed him well. Not only were the clothes of his size, but they were very close to his tastes and to the style of clothing he preferred. Even the underwear: he had taken some boxers with red bunnies on it!

On a second thought, those were a mockery, not a kind gesture. Lavi sighed, but he chose them anyway.

“This guy has horrible tastes in pajamas,” Kanda said suddenly, making him jump, for Lavi was so focused on the clothes to choose. “Both the kind and the subjects are ugly. Extra large size, we fit into these things twice. Well, it's just to sleep, though, nobody will see us. To hell with it,” he snapped, throwing one of the incriminated nightwear to Lavi, who looked at it in horror.

Well, beggars can't be choosers...” he sighed, and added: “So ugly, really. Goin', then, I'll move these later, if ya wanna get in bed now do it, I'll try not t'make too much noise.”

“I'm not sleepy,” Kanda replied, “I want to know about your tests.”

“Ah, yeah, sure,” Lavi promised, nodding. “I'll hurry.”

At least, he wished he could be fast enough, and he really wanted to... but he had reckoned without what his mind knew he really wanted. As much as he tried not to concentrate on it, flashes of images featuring a blood-covered Kanda kept popping up before Lavi's eyes: him holding down the zombie, and then half-naked with wet hair after the shower. And Lavi's imagination filled the blanks, showing him Kanda getting undressed and then completely naked in the shower, with water caressing his body, washing away the blood, hair stuck to his back from said water, which dripped down the fringe locks onto his face... No, Lavi couldn't take it, he felt that he was already getting hard just at the mere thought of being able to see Kanda naked like that. He took a deep breath and held it: he must not touch himself, he absolutely must not touch himself! Oh, it was so embarrassing!

He opened the water and forced himself to get under the spout, rubbing his hair to get it wet before shampooing. Focusing on those simple gestures seemed to help him divert his thoughts from Kanda's naked body. Lavi rinsed his hair and went on to soap his own; he rubbed himself well everywhere except in that particular place, because he was afraid of giving in to temptation. He reopened the water and washed away the soap, ending up staring at his erect sex which didn't want anything to do with going back down.

And then there was a part of his mind that whispered lascivious words: 'what harm could come if for once you give in to the pleasure of the flesh? He'll never know, what do you care if he's in the next room?'

God, he could hear me! What do I do if he hears me? What do I tell him?

'He doesn't care about you, he doesn't even think about listening to what you're doing.'

Lavi took another deep breath: it's madness, he told himself. And, despite everything, he wanted so bad to be able to touch Kanda, that so much as pretending that he was actually doing it sent his brain haywire. He reopened the water and began to touch his body as he would want Kanda to do, ultimately reaching his own manhood, hard as marble between his fingers. Lavi grasped it, positioning his fingers close to the tip, imagining that engulfing it were Kanda's firm buttocks, and then started pumping. He was seeing Kanda bent over in front of him, his own member sliding between the youth's slim, muscular thighs, and a shiver of such intense pleasure ran through his body that Lavi feared he would come there and then. He had to bring his other hand, tight into a fist, to his mouth and bite it to prevent himself from moaning too loudly.

He was so taken by the vortex of pleasure that he no longer knew where he was. He leaned forward to surround Kanda's chest and his elbow touched the tiles of the wall, because there was nothing else in front of him. Lavi bent his head to touch it and pushed forward with his hips, between those perfect buttocks...

He came partly against the shower wall and partly on his chest, immediately propping himself up with his hands on the tiles, panting, trying to keep from slipping down to the floor. With trembling hands, the image of Kanda still vivid in memory, Lavi washed himself a second time, and while rinsing he also cleaned the shower wall from his own seed.

He was ashamed as a dog at what he had just done, and especially at how much he liked it. At how much he wanted to take Kanda, in the exact same way as the fantasy that his fervent imagination had just allowed him to live.

With a sigh of distress he put on his bathrobe and threw a towel over his hair; a mouthwash rinse, in the absence of a toothbrush, and after that he threw their clothes into the washing machine. It was a beautiful house, this one, well-equipped, considered Lavi selecting the wash/dry function on the washing machine. They would have clean and dry clothes the next morning, even though they now had spare ones. Satisfied with his work, he left the bathroom to return to Kanda. He knew that, as of now, he would have a hard time looking at him in the face, for so many reasons, and he wanted to prevent this from happening. The only way was to try to come to terms with his own desires, or he would have had a lot of unpleasant explanations to give.

The basic problem was that he had never had a crush like this on someone before, and never on someone he had just met. He had tried to convince himself that it was just because of the situation in which they had found themselves involved, or the fact that Kanda had saved his life and protected him, but the wheedling had not been so successful.

Honestly, it hadn't worked at all.

“Your hair doesn't behave even when damp,” Kanda pointed out ironically.

“Can't help it,” Lavi protested sullenly. “Mother nature made ‘em like this, red 'nd rebellious.”

“Is it naturally red? Like, for real?” Kanda provoked, an eloquent grin on his face.

Lavi raised his fists to his sides and looked indignantly at him . He could have opened the bathrobe, part of him wanted so terribly bad to open the bloody bathrobe, and show Kanda what he had to offer... He was fairly certain, however, that Kanda would react badly, and he liked very much to remain in one piece; furthermore, he didn't want to get off on the wrong foot, in the unlikely event that their collaboration could lead to something more.

“I've no intention 'f showin' ya that it's true,” he stated.

Kanda shrugged and lay down on the covers.

“What do your tests say?” he asked. “That's not confidential information.”

Lavi ignored this new provocation as well, and tried to put together a professional tone while, with studied indifference, he dabbed his hair with a towel.

“Yer blood shows the antibodies of an immune reaction,” he explained. “I can't identify them 'till I've isolated the virus, but at this point, we're almost certain yer immune.”

Kanda let out a feeble sigh of relief. Even if he didn't want to admit it, the prospect of becoming one of those things made his blood froze.

“So I won't become a zombie. That's at least good news,” he commented calmly.

Lavi gave an affirmative nod of the head, and plugged the hair dryer without turning it on.

“This virus acts with an impressive speed, judgin' from what ya told me about the guy who bit ya. Ya aint showin' any symptoms that may suggest yer beginnin' t'turn, and four days have already passed since ya were bitten. Right now, yer the most precious person on the face 'f the Earth.”

Kanda frowned at that statement: he didn't want such a responsibility on his shoulders, he didn't have the makings of a saviour of humanity; and he hated being forced to do something against his will.

“I don't like this prospect at all,” he muttered, but Lavi had now turned on the hair dryer, and could no longer hear him.

He was watching him, though. He was furtively glancing his way, scrutinizing his every expression, each and every movement of his body, even the slightest. The pyjamas of their unaware guest was too big around him, and Kanda had knotted the elastic band on the waist to make the trousers fit, so Lavi couldn't see much of his body... With what he had seen while Kanda was fighting, though, Lavi's memory was perfectly capable of recreate the youth naked; he was already mentally undressing him, and imagining himself lying next to him. And he was imagining so much more; so much so that, if he didn't immediately stop fantasizing, he would get hard again, and then, yes, there'll be troubles.

The real problem, however, was that Kanda could appear insensitive and careless towards everything and everyone, but he realized very well if someone was staring at him; and he was also touchy about it. Everything for him was a personal attack, so if he was being observed, there was for sure something wrong hidden underneath.

“The fuck you look at me like this?” Kanda snapped at one point, tired of being examined inch by inch even through his pyjamas. “You're thinking of using me as a guinea pig, right?”

Lavi shook his head decisively, and instantly felt panic take hold of him.

“No, I swear, ya misunderstood me,” he exclaimed stumbling over the words, for how agitated he was, “if I was starin' at ya it was unintentional, I was lost in thought!”

That was absolutely true, lost in another world where the two of them were lovers... Better to leave this compromising detail out, though.

Kanda got up from the bed and approached him threateningly. Lavi swallowed hard when he saw the youth just a few inches from his face, but he didn't have time to react that he found himself abruptly attached to the wall behind him. Kanda's forearm was pressing against his throat, and the other arm against his chest.

Unintentional does not exist for me,” he roared. “Why did you stare at me like that? Confess that you want to test your fucking cure on me!”

Lavi could not decide which scenario was more dangerous, let Kanda think that he was a guinea pig for his experiments or confess his lustful desires for him. Finally, he decided that enduring the humiliation of being totally rejected, even with violence, was better than losing Kanda's trust and being badly beaten by him in the process.

“I find ya attractive, m'kay?!” Lavi shouted in the youth’s face.

Kanda's angry expression was instantly replaced by one of extreme confusion.

“What? Come again?”

Lavi swallowed empty: what would Kanda do to him if he told the whole truth? Oh, to hell with that, he was getting aroused at the mere thought of being hit by him! He was so in the soup...

“I find you sexually attractive, 'kay? I was... imagining what you got under your pyjamas,” he admitted in a whisper.

The young doctor blushed violently after such a confession, and Kanda's amazement grew even more, if possible. Was that clumsy naive doctor really trying to fuck him? He had to admit that it took a certain amount of courage to hit on him... alright, doc here hadn't actually really tried to hit on him, he got himself caught while taking his own pent-up fantasies out on him, but in the end it didn't change the substance of things: the guy wanted to fuck him.

“Are you kidding me?” Kanda hissed, pushing harder with his arm, and Lavi groaned under the increased pressure on his throat.

“No,” he breathed. “What you wanna me doin' to convince ya, try to bonk ya?”

Kanda raised an eyebrow and suddenly let go of him, taking a step back, then he gave Lavi a suspicious look. No, baffled; with Kanda it was difficult to understand what emotion he felt, when he showed to feel something other than anger.

“No, having felt your dick pressing against me from under your bathrobe was enough,” Kanda told him; at those words Lavi blushed even more, if possible, matching the same shade of his hair. “So, being beaten arouse you. I would never have pictured you as a rough sex type.”

Lavi was so ashamed that he wanted to bury himself. He spread his arms with resignation.

“I'm sorry, if you want me to sleep on the floor or on the couch in the living room...” He began, but Kanda nipped his pathetic apologies in the bud.

“Why, did you think to try fuck me tonight?” He asked in a brutal tone, although the intention was to be ironic. Lavi shook his head vigorously. “Exactly,” Kanda commented. “There's not a chance I lose sight on you, my dear doctor, you're too important. It's highly unlikely that there might be zombies hidden in this flat, but you never know. So you stay here, with me,” he finished, peremptory, and turned, reaching the bed and literally diving on it. He wrapped himself in the blankets and turned toward the wall. “If you do as much as breathe, I'll kill you,” he promised, and turned the light off.

Lavi remained motionless for an unspecified time, prey to the shock of what had just happened. Yuu said he was precious, yet he'd just threaten to kill him... That was crazy, right? The ridiculous thing was that he was still hard, and the more he thought about it, the harder he became. He sighed, and then covered his mouth with both hands, realizing that even breathing he had made a noise. But Kanda didn't seem willing to react. He wasn't asleep, Lavi was sure of it, but he pretended not to hear him, Lavi was just as certain about that.

He carefully removed the hair-dryer from the socket, and tiptoeing he groped his way back to the bathroom; he locked himself in and sat on the closed lid of the toilet. There, Lavi exhaled a loud, disconsolate sigh. How much of a loser could he be? He almost felt like crying with rage.

Well, he couldn't do anything about it. He'd better sleep on it, at least he would get up less tired to continue his work. Lavi hasten to dry his hair, made his manhood toe the line putting it under the cold water from the bidet, and only then returned to the bedroom, naked. After all, at that point, things couldn't get any worse than this. He groped for the underwear he had left on the bed and put it on, doing the same with his pyjamas. It was at least five sizes too big for him as well, but he ignored the problem, and slipped with as much caution as possible under the covers, next to Kanda.

There was no movement. Lavi started breathing again, he didn't even realize that he was holding his breath as he slipped into the bed. He, too, turned sideways on the opposite side from Kanda, and tried to sleep, as far as he could, knowing that he was back-to-back with the person he wanted most in the world.

The very person who had just cheerfully told him to go to Hell.

 

 

Lavi hadn't been able to sleep all night, exactly as he feared. He couldn't complain about it, though, but he was wondering if Kanda would notice: if so, how would he react?

He did his best to get dressed without attracting the youth's attention, namely wake him up, and after a quick stop to the bathroom, Lavi returned to work in his laboratory. He didn't even try to eat something for breakfast, for fear of meeting with Kanda and having to speak to him. Lavi hoped that the microtiter plates with the virus that he had left to 'stand' would show, indeed, the virus presence.

He was about to analyse them under the light microscope, when a somewhat offended voice called to him, making him jump up from the chair.

“Do you plan to avoid me forever?” Kanda asked, arms crossed over his chest and frowning, “I wanted to scare you, but not this much.”

Lavi allowed himself to sigh above-board, this time.

“I'm not scared,” he assured; he was, but he wouldn't admit to it, and anyway it wasn't for the reasons that Kanda imagined. “Tryin' to respect yer personal space. And I've some important work t'do, as y'know.”

It was Kanda's turn to be upset, he seemed... disgruntled? No, maybe it was his way of showing his regret for how he had treated him the night before, Lavi decided.

In point of fact, Kanda was simply torn between emotions he couldn't handle. He didn't dislike Lavi, though he found the guy extremely irritating, most of the time.

“I don't want to make our cohabitation complicated,” he stated, a shadow of insecurity perceivable in his voice. “I have no problems if you want me. Sex is something I've never been interested in, but I don't dislike physical pleasure. We can both benefit from it.”

Lavi gazed wide-eyed at him in receiving such a 'cohabitation' proposal. It was obvious that Kanda had been pondering the situation for quite some time, but the decision that he had come to clashed with Lavi's beliefs. More with his wishes, to be honest, but in the end it was irrelevant, his answer wouldn't change.

“Are ya offerin' me t'fuck ya out 'f pity?” He asked, and it was more an observation than a real question, to which, in fact, he answered by himself. “No, thanks.”

It was Kanda's turn to be uncomfortable. It was clear that he had foreseen a different answer.

“It's not pity, I just didn't expect you to be gay,” he said. “Let alone that someone could ever try it on with me, come on...”

“Bisexual,” Lavi pointed out, assuming the familiar sullen expression that the other had come to know well. “Answer's still no.”

Kanda stared at him astounded, as understanding made its way into his brain.

“You want... a relationship?” He exclaimed, baffled. “A serious one? With me? No, it's out of the question, I'm not the type.”

Lavi spread his arms and shook his head, staring back at him.

“Not a problem, I know my place, I'll lay off ya,” he stated.

Kanda looked upset for a moment, then approached him, moving close enough to make him jump to his feet from the chair he was sat on.

Lavis' heart stopped: what were Yuu's intentions? He didn't look threatening, though...

“But I don't want you to,” Kanda confessed to Lavi's surprise, closing the space between them. Lavi gaped at him. “You're physically attractive, even if your attitude irritates me; just leave out the feelings and I'm in.”

Lavi swallowed hard, he would have wanted to accept, but he knew too well that he would suffer if he had.

“No,” he repeated firmly.

“Your loss,” Kanda told him in a whisper, then leaned over to claim his lips.

Lavi was so shaken by such a reaction that he forgot to resist.