odette_river: (asoiaf; sansa)
[personal profile] odette_river
Title: and I knew nothing
Fandom: Artemis Fowl/Young Wizards
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 1,194
Summary: “Surviving,” he says. A gung-ho answer. A non-answer. The thing he'd promised Holly he'd do.
written for [livejournal.com profile] zombi_fic_ation
title and cut text from "The Waste Land" by T. S. Eliot

Red hair, he thinks, and then he thinks how the color is so different than that of blood and then he thinks, How morbid, and by then he has his sword out and ready. Butler's last gift to him. He could get emotional about that, but he doesn't. This isn't the time or the place, and the sword is incredibly useful. It's not too long to be unwieldy, more of an elongated dagger, really, but it's long enough to keep him out of biting range and that's what matters.

“Relax,” the girl says. “I'm not going to eat a chunk out of you today.”

Oh. So she's alive. He lowers the sword slightly.

She'd startled him. He'd climbed down from the attic of the convenience store where he'd been staying for the past three days, and there she was, standing right there between the shelf of canned soups and the shelf of smashed boxes of crackers. He hadn't seen a living person in a long time. He doesn't have to apologize for the way he acted.

“A little jumpy there,” the girl says.

She's unarmed. Or at least he can't see any weapons. Which is strange. He doesn't like it.

“With good reason,” he says.

She raises her eyebrows. “Irish? What are you doing here?”

“Surviving,” he says. A gung-ho answer. A non-answer. The thing he'd promised Holly he'd do. The thing he'd promised Butler he'd do when he'd found the man with a bullet in his head and the gun in his hand. The only thing left to do.

She laughs. “Aren't we all?” And then she picks up one of the boxes of crackers. Crumbs spill over her fingers. “Are these still good?”

He's still holding the sword between them like an idiot.

She opens the box and tosses her head back, dumping bits of crackers unceremoniously into her mouth. She makes a face, drags her hand over her mouth. “Sort of stale. Is there any water around here?” She brushes past him and his sword.

Actually, running into the boy had sort of freaked her out. She'd been on her own for a while, slowly making her way through the city, and she'd pretty much accepted that it was dead. But that's what happens when you expect something: Life pulls out another surprise.

Anyway, the guy looked even more freaked out than her, especially with the sword he kept waving around, so she figured this was an okay place. He didn't have the look of a survivor about him, but then again, appearances. And he had holed up in a pretty good store.

It turns out that there isn't any water except the couple of bottles that he's got stashed in the attic, which isn't going to last him very long and isn't going to do her any good at all. She figures it's time to move on, and she says as much.

He blinks those big eyes of his at her and looks startled. Powers, she really is surprised that he's on his own.

“Look, we pack up what's still good here and we move out.” This is what she's supposed to tell everyone she finds. Get them out. Head east. Find the cats. Get offworld. Most people think she's insane, but given all the dead people walking around, some of them believe her. She isn't sure how to read this guy yet.

“Where are we going?” he asks.

She squints at him. “Out of the city. Then I'm going west and you're going east.”

It's not so easy to get out of a city, not one this big. The dead may be sluggish, slow to react when the living have managed to hole up unseen for so long, but they have numbers on their side. This is always the problem.

One street away from the store, they run into three of the dead: two women and a man. Not in very good shape. One of the women is missing an arm.

“Time to put that sword of yours to use,” she says.

He already has it out, but he's looking uncertain.

She sighs. “Try not to get in the way.” She thinks the last two words of a spell and by the time the dead are within range has a lightning bolt buzzing comfortingly in her hand.

He's staring at her incredulously.

She ignores him, makes quick work of the dead. The smell of burned flesh is fresh in the air. It stopped making her gag a long time ago.

“Magic?” he says.

She looks at him—unwashed hair, wrinkled clothes. He's not as surprised as he should be.

“How did you do that?”

She shrugs. “It's useful, to a point.” She doesn't think about her sister. Doesn't think of the huge, failed spell diagrams. Doesn't think of lives burned out just like her lightning bolts.

“But you're human.”

“And you should count yourself lucky.”

“I mean you're not one of the People.”

It's her turn to look at him suspiciously. Irish. Ronan had tried some stuff with the Good Folk when this had first started. Obviously that hand't worked either.

“I'm a wizard,” she says. For all the good it does her.

He offers to take the first watch. They climbed up to the roof of some office building and set up next to the air conditioning unit. She produced a sleeping bag from her backpack, a tiny little thing that somehow expanded into a good-sized bag. Now he's looking at her and sort of envying the sleeping bag.

She cracks an eye open. He can see it glitter. “Don't watch me,” she says. “Watch the stairs.”

She's right. He turns to face the stairs. They didn't sweep the building on their way up, so even if no one jumped out at them, the dead might still be close. He shakes his head. Zombies. He's slipping. He'd always insisted on calling them what they were. Pop culture popularized the idea, and regardless of what caused this, there was no point in euphemisms. He'd told Foaly as much, once.

He doesn't know how long it's been—Dairine had said she'd do a spell to wake her up when it was time to switch—but suddenly he's wide awake and listening, startled out of the memories in which he'd been drifting.

He hears it again—creaking hinges—and without thinking about it, he's on his feet, sword raised. Butler would be proud.

Two seconds later, the zombie is through the door. It's a teenager, about his age, dragging one leg, which is why it took so long to get through the door.

He swallows hard and waits. No use rushing in. Holly taught him that. They'll come to you; you just have to wait. Like all the others, this one comes too, and his sword darts out. It takes him three hacks, which Butler always said was two more than necessary, but in the end it's done.

When he turns back to Dairine, she's there, sitting up, staring at him.

“Hmm,” she says, and it sounds like an experiment. “My watch.”

Date: 2012-10-21 12:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lilting-grace.livejournal.com
Well that just combined three of my favorite things into one. <3

Date: 2012-10-21 06:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] odette-river.livejournal.com
Haha, glad to hear it. :)


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