last01standing: ([BtVS] Hush)
[personal profile] last01standing
Title: Slouching Towards Salvation
Disclaimer: I have never owned a television show in my life.
Ships: Max/Logan
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Manticore is gone. Jam Pony is gone. Just Max and Logan now. They’re all that’s left. Well them and the hoards of zombies outside.
Author’s note: Written for the [community profile] jam_pony_fic fication for [profile] geeky_apple The prompts were: “Somebody getting a haircut, Logan in bed, a dripping ceiling.” To me, this screamed ZOMBIES. And hey, who am I to disobey? After all, it’s not a real fandom unless it’s had at least one zombie apocalypse.

Slouching Towards Salvation

The hair falls the floor in soft curls, lock after lock and every single strand feels like the worst sort of betrayal. He can see Max’s fist clenched at her sides and he knows this must feel like cutting away her freedom.

“Logan,” Max says softly, “it doesn’t have to be perfect.”

Snip-snip and another beautiful coil of hair falls to the floor. He can see her barcode staring out of him an unobtrusive row of lines that used to mean everything before the world went to hell but doesn’t mean a thing anymore.

After all Manticore is gone. Jam Pony is gone. Just Max and Logan now. They’re all that’s left.

Well them and the hoards of zombies outside.

_______________________________________________________________________

Wherever there’s still a TV on, Eyes Only’s face is on the screen repeating the same sixty second message on a never ending loop. 60 times an hour, 1440 times a day, 10,080 times a week, 43,200 times in that brutal first month.

Do not attempt to adjust your set. This is a streaming freedom video bulletin. The cable hack will last exactly 60 seconds. It cannot be traced, it cannot be stopped and it is the only free voice left in the city. The virus that has been dominating the news originated from a hospital in Gillette Wyoming long thought to be the base of a covert genetics lab called Manticore. One of the test subjects carrying an extremely potent virus has escaped from the facility.  Effects of this virus can already be seen spreading through the surrounding areas. The infection is spread through saliva, usually transmitted through a bite. If you know someone who has been bitten, they should be quarantined immediately. The infected are members of the walking dead and can only be destroyed by removing the head or destroying the brain. If you hear this message, I urge you to take all necessary precautions to remain safe. This has been a streaming freedom video bulletin...via the Eyes Only informant net. Peace...out.

Peace out.

Peace out.

Over and over and over again.

_______________________________________________________________________

When Max closes her eyes, she remembers that first day, remembers the last time she saw Sketchy, proudly showing off a bite mark from a trust with his lady, remembers the way he went limp on his bike and toppled over, stone cold dead in the lobby of Jam Pony. She remembers the way his eyes were tinged red when they opened up again, remembers how hard Normal screamed when Sketchy had grabbed him, remembered the way Original Cindy’s face had looked streaked with blood, remembered how she’d ran and ran and rand until she was outside Logan’s door. Remembers how it had taken three hours for her to stop shaking.

“It’s going to be all right,” he’d promised.

She’d believed him.
_______________________________________________________________________

The black death, the worst plague in humanity’s existence wiped out anywhere from one third to one half of the population according to the experts.

It is worse than that. It is two months since the first outbreak, five weeks since the last non-Eyes Only video broadcast, four weeks since they’d had to leave the penthouse, three weeks since they last saw another person alive, two weeks since the first time, one week since they left Max’s curls lying in a heap at the abandoned warehouse and they’re starting to loose hope.

“There’s no one else out there,” Max says as they barricade the doors for the night.

“There are a lot of people out there,” Logan says, hands tense on the rims of his wheelchair. “Just not, you know, live people.”

“I don’t know how much of this I can take,” Max whispered. The moaning was starting up again outside, a low unearthly call that Logan can barely remember life without. “I mean Manticore’s gone, but here we are, running, hiding.” She runs a hand through her close-cropped hair. “Sometimes I just want it to stop.”

“I don’t know about you, but I don’t relish being eaten alive,” Logan says, with a shrug. “This is better than nothing.”

“I’m tired, Logan,” Max whispers. “I don’t know how long I can keep going.”

Logan rolls himself forward and grabs her hand. “Max, I—“

And then she’s kissing him, her lips hot and desperate against his own. He only barely manages to click the wheelchair’s breaks into place before Max is on his lap, mouth still pressed up against him. He reaches up to where the thick tangle of curls used to be and clenches at air. Then he adjusts, finds her cheek, keeps going.

It’s the only thing that keeps them warm anymore.
___________________________________________________________________

The ceiling is leaking. It drip, drip, drips down onto the bed where Logan sleeps dead to the world. Beside him, Max stirred. Logan is jarred into awareness, instantly on the alert. “Cool it sleepy-head,” Max says. “You never used to be this light a sleeper.”

There’s a gun under the pillow. Logan takes solstice in the feel of the cold metal against his hand. There aren’t many bullets left. Only a few more boxes they keep tucked away in the warehouse and the two Logan carries in his pocket just in case.

“The ceiling’s dripping,” Max says.

Drip, drip drip.

“It must have rained pretty hard last night,” Logan says.

Max grins and rolls out of bed. “Fresh water!” she says gleefully.

Logan shakes his head and performs that same transfer to the wheelchair that feels more natural than walking ever did. They dress on opposite sides of the room, facing the wall instead of each other. Even after all they’ve been through, they’re still awkward with each other, stuck in the same loop they’ve been circling since they met.

They keep the collection buckets on the roof, but the water’s only ever really good the first day it falls. Any longer and it goes stale, attracts bugs, evaporates and then it’s no good. It seems to rain every day in Seattle, but it never seems to be quite enough.

Max comes back ten minutes later and presses a plastic glass into his hand half full with fresh rainwater. They clink glasses and share a few pieces of stale bread for breakfast. It tastes better than pre-pulse wine.

______________________________________________________________________

In the third week they have to leave the penthouse. There’s no food left, no reliable means of getting fresh water. Getting out is an adventure. Max wants to use the skylight, grappling both of them and the wheel chair down forty plus stories. Logan would rather just stay up here and die. The elevators haven’t been working for days and there have been moaning coming from outside his door since before day one.

(he has these dreams sometimes where sweet old Mrs. Moreno tears a hunk out of Bling’s arm. He wakes up and doesn’t know whether to scream or laugh.)

He blocks most of the trip down from his memory and all he can remember is the warm touch of Max’s hand on his back and the feel of her breath on his neck. He doesn’t look down. If he did, he thinks he might have discovered exactly what dying felt like.

____________________________________________________________________

You don’t last this long without taking out a few of the undead along the way. Not even if you had a transgenic body guard looking out for you. Logan remembers the feel of the gun, the way the blood splattered out of the thing’s skull like it was the still alive, the sting of recoil that almost toppled him over. He knows what it feels like to have one of those thing’s heads cave in sideways when he brains it with a baseball bat. He knows just how hard it is to pull the wheelchair around the bodies.

He wonders when all the death stopped bothering him. He wonders when he’d finally let go of all of Eye Only’s idealism, when he’d stopped trying to make the world a better place and started just trying to survive, when he’d started living.

He is not the same Logan Cale he was three months ago just like Max is not the same girl she was before this all happened. They’ve blurred into something different, something almost impossible to separate MaxandLogan, smashed together into one word, one person. If either of them falls, neither is going to get back up again. They’re in this together now, for better or worse.

It’s because no one else is left.

But not just because of that.

Logan would have liked to think they would have gotten this way eventually, reach the point where they were impossible to separate, but doubts assail him in the night. He wants to think this thing they have is about want, about love and not just about need.
_____________________________________________________________________

They settle into a routine. They check for fresh water, scavenge for food, take out a few of the living dead along the way with a crowbar or a quick headshot. They try to find a place with power, a safer place than the one they’re at, but they never do. They check the TVs to find Logan’s eyes on every channel (until three months in and the recording stops, the software finally fried. It feels like the end of an era.)

They check the houses for survivors, but there are none, just legions upon legions of the walking dead.

At night settle into bed listening to the low roar of the zombie’s moans. Logan’s not sure he’d be able to sleep without it.
_______________________________________________________________________

“We’re not the only ones,” Logan whispers in Max’s ears one night.

She’s breathing softly, evenly. She doesn’t sleep much, but when she does, Logan can’t help but watch.

“I want you to know that. It’s a statistical improbability. We’re just too near ground zero. The rest of the country had time to prepare. Time to set up contingency plans. There’s someone out there. If not in this country, then overseas, Australia, Mexico, Spain. You’d like Spain you know.” He mumbles into her too short hair until he feels his own eyes begin to droop. “I love you, Max. I don’t think I could do this without you.”

_______________________________________________________________________
 
Sunday morning—or is it Tuesday afternoon? He can’t remember anymore, he’d lost track of time ages ago, days, weeks, years. He can’t say. He marks the time by the thinning of Max’s frame, by the depth of the circles beneath his eyes, by the desperate kisses at night and the frantic movement of hands on skin, by the feel of a zombie’s head when its skull caves in, but the number of times he fingers the pair of bullets in his pockets.

It’s starting to be normal. The desperation’s fading. Max is grinning as she comes into the room, he hair has started to grow back out again, not long enough to provide grip for a zombie, but long enough to cover the barcode, long enough to have bangs falling in front of her eyes. It’s a terrible look for her. It draws out the thinness of her face, the gaunt glint in her eyes. She looks like a scruffy little boy more than a woman. He’s not sure he’s ever loved her more.

“I’ve got a present for you,” she says, smile tugging at the edges of her full red lips. “Close your eyes.”

Logan obliges, slipping his hands underneath his smudged glasses. “I hope it’s a pony.”

“Even better,” Max says. “Remember when you told me you wanted the wheelchair model with the jet thrusters?”

“You’re kidding,” Logan says, eyes still pressed firmly shut. “That was forever ago.”

“I’ve got the next best thing,” Max says and places something gigantic, heavy and metal into his lap. “You can open your eyes now.”

Logan does and starts laughing when he recognizes the object sitting in his lap. “Max, where the hell did you find a flamethrower in post Pulse Seattle.”

Max grins. “I have my sources.”

“I’m guessing this isn’t a legal purchase then.”

“Hey you can’t pin the moral stuff on me anymore, Mr. I Trespass and Steal Food to Survive. What next, you start charity work for the undead Americans?”

It shouldn’t be funny, but they’re both laughing, in hysterics almost and the sound is so foreign in the streets of Post-Pulse Seattle, in the streets of the zombie ravaged Seattle that Logan likes to think it’s the start of something new.

______________________________________________________________________

“You know we should get out of this city,” Max says one day as they sit playing poker on an upturned bucket perched between them. “Head south, start looking for survivors. I’m sure I can score us some gas somewhere. The panic had people hoarding so if we’re lucky, we may be able to get enough to make a decent run at it.”

“That could take weeks,” Logan says.

Max shrugs. “We’ve got all the time in the world.”

Logan hesitates for just a moment. It’s hard to break a routine. Even after everything, Seattle’s home. Seattle has always been home. Leaving is a foreign concept to him. He’s gotten use to it just being him and Max.

“You never know,” she continues cautiously, “there might be survivors.”

“You’re all I really need,” Logan says before he can stop himself. They’re still not good with this talking. They can write volumes in subtext, in every small movement, but I love you, I need you, you’re everything. They don’t say it aloud. They don’t ever say it aloud.

“You need more than that,” Max says. “I know you remember, Mr. Save the World. You need some hope. You need to know there’s something out there besides just you and me.”

There’s a silence that stretches for miles and Logan touches the pair of bullets nestled in his pockets before nodding slowly. “Yeah,” he says. “Yeah, all right.”

________________________________________________________________________

They pack the car to the brim, every scrap of food, every weapon, every drop of water salvaged comes with them. Logan’s forced to abandon old Bessie due to a fender bender with a legion of the undead and the only truly workable transport they find is sorely lacking in hand controls. He transfers carefully to the passenger’s seat as Max adjusts the seat. They speed out of the city, leaving a hoard of lurching undead behind them in favor of deserted roads and miles of highway. Max rolls down the window, singing off key as the wind blows at what’s left of her hair.

They’re survivors. Logan knows that much. He finds himself bobbing his head to Max’s discordant harmony and dangling an arm out the window and slowly, very slowly, he unfurls his finger and lets the pair of bullets he’s held onto since this thing began slip through his fingers and clatter down onto the pavement. They’re going to make it. There’s really no other option.

They speed south out of the Seattle.

Towards California.

Towards hope.

(end)

(no subject)

29/2/08 06:02 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] yourlivewire.livejournal.com
i kind of loved this. and i now want to see more of the zombie!DA universe, where max and logan team up with other survivors and are awesome and have a lot of apocalypse!sex.

They’re still not good with this talking. They can write volumes in subtext, in every small movement, but I love you, I need you, you’re everything. They don’t say it aloud. They don’t ever say it aloud.

sigh, my favorite.

(side note: uh, we were supposed to use all three prompts for this challenge? 'cause i was under the impression where you picked one out of the three and wrote based on that. :/)

(no subject)

10/3/08 21:09 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
YAY!! I TOTALLY GOT AWAY WITH DA ZOMBIE FIC AND BARELY ANYONE HAS ACCUSED ME OF WRITING CRACK!!! Thanks so much for reading!

(I think we were just supposed to pick one. My three were all super vague though so I just used them all. I would be terrified if someone had used all my propmts at once. That would end up being the crack to end all crack.)

(no subject)

29/2/08 15:48 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] savannahjan.livejournal.com
They can write volumes in subtext, in every small movement, but I love you, I need you, you’re everything. They don’t say it aloud. They don’t ever say it aloud.

Beautiful line! Wonderful!

This was a great story. Good job.

(no subject)

10/3/08 21:10 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Thanks so much. I'm still secretly cheering about how no one reading this story has called me crazy yet. This is very much a good thing.

(no subject)

29/2/08 16:43 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] mrsevilpigeon.livejournal.com
Lucky Mari, now I want a zombie fic too! This was awesome.

In your own unique way, I think that may have been the most romantic Dark Angel fic you've ever written.

Perhaps you could write a side snippet - the one where Mrs. Moreno chomps down on Bling. I would read it.

(no subject)

10/3/08 21:12 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
See, this is what I was saying! Everyone should be writing zombie!fic! The world would be much better off for it. *nods*

...romance? Hee. That was COMPLETELY accidental there. It was supposed to be about the zombies! (aw, no, sometimes I'm writing in a good mood and everyone gets to live! Horray!)

(no subject)

10/3/08 22:21 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] mrsevilpigeon.livejournal.com
They both get to *live*? I just assumed (knowing your work) they were abducted, anal probed, and dissected by alien-zombie-vampire-werewolves(TM) somewhere around Redding.

Seriously, all of your stories are awesome, but that one was more so.

(no subject)

11/3/08 03:19 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
...believe it or not that was my attempt at a happy ending. Though in retrospect, implied anal probing would have been far, far more fun. Plus, dissection! How awesome (and by awesome I mean deeply disturbing even for me) would a fic be where someone was dissected while conscious. Wait, come to think of it, that's a Stephen King short story I listened too one time. Soooooo creepy.

(no subject)

11/3/08 16:33 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] mrsevilpigeon.livejournal.com
Perhaps we could colaborate on a fic where Normal gets an anal probe? Hmm, I'm getting weird ideas again...this can't be good.

(no subject)

29/8/08 10:43 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] roses-in-may.livejournal.com
Thats what i love about your fic - you write for plot. :)

(no subject)

29/8/08 21:57 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
=) Plot's always been the first thing on my mind. I grew up reading sci-fi concept stories and it rubbed off.

(also, I write for zombies, but that goes without saying.)