|Fell In Love With a Dead Boy
Author: Blue GhostGhost PM
Jacob falls hard for someone who is already dead. Well a zombie really. He likes to call him nibbles. m/m slashRated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Sci-Fi - Chapters: 5 - Words: 10,931 - Reviews: 29 - Favs: 44 - Follows: 68 - Updated: 05-30-11 - Published: 05-10-11 - id: 2914198
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Even after the zombie apocalypse the sky is still so goddamn beautiful. Jacob Lee bounds out of the truck like a golden retriever shielding his eyes and grinning like an idiot at the wide expanse of blue that mirrors the ocean below it. God, he fucking loves the San Francisco coastline.
It is like a scene from Vertigo, all those car shots with the characters driving around with that Technicolor sky rolling behind them. He used to think it was because so much of the film was shot in the Hitchcock studio, but now that he lives here he knows the truth.
On a still June day like this, it really does look like that. And it is goddamn beautiful. He hears the car door slam on the driver's side followed by Allen's measured footsteps as he comes to stand beside him.
"Alright it's pretty. I'll give you that," Allen mumbles as he scans the bluffs around them for the undead, giving special attention to the abandoned cars scattered across the parking lot—as always, a scout first—sniper on his day off second. "Now what are we doing here again?"
"We're here to look at the Sutro Baths," Jacob informs his friend excitedly.
"The what?" As if he had been waiting for this moment Jacob opens his guide book and reads with exaggerated authority:
"Built in 1896 the Sutro Baths were the world's largest indoor swimming pool. Commissioned by former San Francisco mayor Adolph Sutro, the glass, iron, wood, and reinforced concrete structure was built on a small beach inlet below the Cliff House, also owned by Adolph Sutro at the time."
"What's a Cliff House?"
"That big restaurant over there."
"Oh." Allen frowns and looks decidedly unimpressed. They have been playing this little guide book game for a few months now. To their knowledge there are surviving colonies in San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. Probably more across the United States that they have no way of contacting. But as they see it, they are most likely the last fucking tourists on earth. It has a certain appeal. "But where are these baths?"
"They burned down, man, in 1966. I told you that in the car." Jacob points to the watery ruins at the bottom of the hill.
"What?" Allen looks at the ghost shapes of buildings as if they are a personal insult. "That's just great. It's like a metaphor for the whole human race Jake. If I wanted to see broken down ruined shit I don't have to drive twenty minutes out of my way, you know. Everything used to be something and now it's not." Jacob rolls his eyes and puts the book in the back pocket of his pants before heading down the overgrown path towards the Sutro Baths.
"Stop being such a whiny bitch, Allen," he calls behind him. "I like them. After, if you want, we can break into the Cliff House and see if their beer kegs have all gone skunky. The book says they serve American seafood, whatever that is."
"Hey slow down," Allen yells back. "You don't know if there are any of them down around those walls."
"Doing what? Sun bathing?" Allen is right though. They haven't made it this long as scouts for the San Francisco Colony by assuming the best of a situation. Jacob slows down so that his partner can catch up, adjusting the neck strap of his shotgun while he waits.
The top of the bluffs are covered in old cypress trees, their branches stretching in the direction the wind has blown them as they grew and blooming nasturtiums spill down the sandy hillsides all orange and yellow and red.
"God, well it is nice not to have that fucking stink for a little while," Allen says suddenly from over Jacob's shoulder. He's right. It smells really good out here, a mix of salt and sun and plants. The undead have a distinct smell and it hovers over the city, even in the areas the colony had reclaimed—a murky ever-present reminder of the less than friendly residents that shuffle about their streets. "You know I would take the first couple of weeks, with all the bodies and dead pets and rotting food over that zombie stink."
"What are you crazy? Don't even talk about that, you'll give me nightmares," Jacob shivers at the memory. "It's not that bad. More of a musk really. Wouldn't want to use it for aftershave or anything, but still."
"A musk? A musk?" Allen demands. "No those hippie weirdoes down the block from us have a musk. Me after a five mile run has a musk…"
"Whatever." Jacob rolls his eyes again. "Did you happen to bring any cheese with that whine? I'm starting to get hungry." It isn't like Jacob isn't hurting too. He had parents and a little brother he misses a lot. He liked Big Macs, cable TV, running water and feeling safe at night in his bed, but it's his job to cheer Allen up, so that's what he does.
At the bottom of the hill there are few walls left, but mostly the baths are just a series of rectangular foundations crumbling into the sea. The seven formally grand Victorian pools are faint outlines covered in ice plants, exchanging salt water indiscriminately with the tides—making a strange seaweed soup full of hermit crabs and sea anemones.
"Come on how can you not like this? It's the Roman baths of San Francisco!" Allen just grunts in response, his sandy blonde hair getting messed up by the ocean breeze. Then the corners of his mouth turn up ever so slightly and Jacob takes it as his cue to keep going. "Oh I'm sorry Allen I don't mean to make this boring for you. I thought there would be strippers and a marching band and a guy selling hotdogs and snow cones. Well shit, must be their day off. I would never try to impress you with just a lousy pile of rocks."
"Should have brought the fishing poles." Allen's voice is flat. If you didn't know him you wouldn't hear the humor in it and you wouldn't know you had won.
"Yeah you're right. Next time." Jacob grins privately into his hand. Then he feels a sudden jolt to his nerves and freezes, face hardening in serious concentration. This happens a lot—his subconscious picks something up before the rest of his brain can catch up. This is what makes him a good scout. This is what makes him still alive.
Allen freezes, equally vigilant behind him, the weight of his rifle shifting in his hands. "Tell me when you know what it is, brother." Allen is a little older than Jacob, but they joined the army around the same time: Allen after a disastrous marriage in his teens, Jacob to earn money for college. Fate had thrown them together as part of a unit sent to help quarantine the Bay Area after the outbreak. A miracle had let them survive. The friendship and trust was a bonus.
Jacob sees the source of his alarm and swears under his breath. There is a small figure down past where the path ends, sitting on one of the old foundation walls, red converse hanging over a tide pool, legs swinging idly, nose attentively in what looks like a book.
It is just close enough for Jacob to make out the basic features of a shaggy black head, caramel colored skin, and a blue hooded sweatshirt. Jacob doesn't want to move, doesn't want to break the pretty picture. It is just too nice and he knows in his heart that nothing could actually be this normal after the sickness. He watches the red high tops swing and squints into the sun to try to get a better look. How old could he be? Fifteen at the most? From here the boy looks happy, like this place is his own secret hideout or something, but in the back of his head Jacob is already doing unwanted calculations.
First of all, he doesn't know everyone in the colony by name and face, but he doesn't have to because there are only a couple of kids and the youngest is maybe eleven. This isn't him. This is an outsider and that opens a whole other can of worms.
Certainly there were still loaners who don't know or just don't care about the colony. You can't force people to join up and follow the rules. He and Allen had been told to fuck off enough times by now that it wasn't as shocking as it used to be. But loneliness and relentless death turned people feral and loony bird and that made them dangerous.
Second, personally, Jacob doesn't trust the sanity of anyone younger than twenty-five. As cute as he looked at a distance, Jacob had to face the reality that the kid was ten when the world went crazy, which meant that one third of his life had been spent watching the undead eat the living.
That wasn't enough time pre-zombie to have a proper childhood. Without enough sane socialization you end up with a generation of psychopaths—like child soldiers or something. It was simple math. The higher the percentage of your life was in the "after" portion of history the higher the percentage of you was a fucked up head case as far as Jacob was concerned.
He heard Allen's breath catch and knew he saw him too. It made Jacob sigh long and deep. "He's not one of ours."
"Nope," Allen agreed thoughtfully. "How do you want to play this?"
"I'll go talk to him."
"Okay, but be careful Jake. He doesn't look like he's been fending for himself for starters."
"Yeah, but he's like 90 pounds so unless he's the world first literate zombie or has some kind of hidden Ninja skills I think I can take him."
"Just go slow okay, brother?"
"Nice and easy, by the book. Don't worry Allen." He gives his partner a shit-eating grin. He wants to tell a joke to lighten the mood the fuck back up, but he knows Allen's all business now and wouldn't like it. He also wants whatever is about to happen next to not be another horrible thing he tries not to think about. Jacob has way too many of those kinds of things rattling around in his brain at this point.
A/N: kinda a reboot of SFC, but kinda not.