So I decided to write some fic for the Delicious Ficathon, and I said “Hey, why not stretch myself? I can come up with a pairing that’s not on the list, and as a personal challenge, I can ship Jack with someone other than Eugene. This will be fun!”
No. There is no joy when Jack is not with Eugene. It turns out I am only capable of writing angst under these circumstances. Aaaaaangst.
Pairing: Jack Holden/Evan Deaubl (Runner 7)
Summary: An AU where Evan Deaubl, the future Runner 7 of Abel, is the one to stumble through the remains of the rave.
He had known that keeping a pet safe during the apocalypse would be difficult. Even for something quick and with fairly sharp senses, there was a lot of careful thought and skill that went into avoiding the horde. Getting an innocent creature through that was always going to be tough.
Bonnie was fine, of course. It was the more recent addition that was proving troublesome.
“Jack, you are really going to have to watch your feet. We don’t want you trying to travel on a broken ankle.”
The young man rubbed at the shin he had just banged on a tree root. A slight scratch, not actively dripping blood, so they would be fine waiting to patch it up until they made camp. Evan could take care of it before he led Jack through the evening’s round of stretching; Jack would always skimp on stretches if not badgered.
Evan knew it was foolish, dragging a twenty-something with him through the woods until he got to the nearest base. When the military convoy he was in had been attacked and disbanded, the parting instructions were clear: get to Mullins as fast as possible, not engaging any hostiles or civilians along the way. He could do the most good from the structure of a base, not wandering through the forest picking up refugees.
But when Bonnie sniffed out the last survivor from some sort of party just as he was waking up (or coming down, as the case may be), Evan had to trust her judgment. She was an intelligent animal and not one to dole out affection lightly. Despite the smell that clung to him, she had started licking the young man’s face immediately. It would be difficult to walk away from someone with that stamp of canine approval.
“Alright, so what Disney villain would you want on your side during this?”
“Like, if you have to kill zombies together, would you rather have someone sneaky like Judge Frollo or some big bruiser like Gaston?”
Jack ended up doing this about every other hour of walking. He could focus and keep a good look out for a while, but eventually he needed something to fill the silence. Evan would not admit it, lest Jack think he could chatter all the time, but it was a refreshing break from military types or Bonnie. Despite the exaggerated shock and disappointment upon learning that Evan was not much of a music type (he had a soft spot for musicals from his mother, but other than that, it was whatever was on the radio), Jack had finally come across something they could talk about: children’s media. Evan had babysat enough nieces and nephews over the years to have most of the Disney canon down by heart.
“One of the non-human villains, to avoid the risk of infection. Scar would be the best bet, if he were sure to be on my side. A sentient lion would make this trip more than a bit easier.”
“Right, good one. I’m thinking Maleficent, so I could just ride the whole way on a dragon. Anything to avoid more walking and hiding.”
He punctuated the statement with another stumble, and it seemed like as good a time as any to look for places to spend the night. Evan had a few more hours in him, but he was used to this sort of thing. It was different having to look out for someone who was not.
Jack almost fell off a cliff the next day.
The edge was obscured by brush, and Evan only just managed to grab his backpack and haul him away from the steep drop.
He pushed some branches away, past a few that were already broken, and could see that the path below evened out after the initial drop, and would probably be quicker. He shuffled and climbed his way down into the roughage, then turned around to help Bonnie and Jack get through safely. Jack walked ahead, and actually stopped himself from tripping over the newest obstacle.
They evidently had not been the only ones to be surprised by the drop. A man around Jack’s age, maybe a bit older, lay in a crumpled heap beneath some bushes. There was a flattened trail where he had dragged himself, but with a leg broken in three places, he had had no chance of getting anywhere before bleeding out; the gravel beneath his shattered knee was stained a rusty red. Nothing had bitten him, so they did not have a crawler to deal with.
It also gave them more time to loot his things.
Evan filled up their backpack with cans and stowed away the man’s length of steel pipe for a backup weapon. Jack scanned through the weeds and found a first aid kit; the man had accidently crawled in the wrong direction to come across it. He stood over the body, clutching the box that could perhaps, with some stroke of luck, have saved this stranger.
Evan gripped him hard on the shoulder. It never got easy to see bodies. Perhaps Jack’s first, if the zombies did not count.
Jack slipped an IPod out of the dead man’s pocket and listened to Miles Davis with one ear bud for the rest of the day. They did not discuss any Disney characters.
The few times they had shared a sleeping bag before, it had been about conserving warmth, creating a cocoon with the two bags (one military standard, one scavenged from a sporting goods store) that Evan, Jack and Bonnie could all fit into. This was the first night it was actually about comfort, if there was even room for such a luxury in the world anymore. Jack tucked himself against his chest and curled into his arms without a word.
The tent was situated in a good bottle-neck set against another cliff. Evan would sleep for a few hours now, with Bonnie outside the tent to bark if anything approached, then he would do another perimeter check around midnight. He had heard a stream when they were walking, so they might take some time in the morning to collect and boil water, in order to stretch out their supply of bottled. While they were doing that, Evan could check over their weapons, his baton and Jack’s cricket bat, for any damage from the skirmish around midday. At this pace they had another week and a half until they reached Mullins.
Jack shifted against him. His arms curved instinctively to hold him closer. He wanted to let the planning go, to just feel the warmth of another person against him. But there was still a great deal to think about, and a great deal more to do.
The people at Mullins would send Jack to a suitable township or base, one that could train up its civilians more effectively than he ever could. They would part ways, Jack would be settled and safe, and Evan could go about his job.
The idea should not have stung as much as it did.
There was a chance, however small, that they would also need him to head out for a settlement. An understated military presence could be a needed source of order and structure for people trying to make it in the woods. He would not be wasting his time if he was helping care for people.
Getting to stay with Jack might just be an extra bonus.
He skimmed his hands over the mess of dirty red hair falling into Jack’s eyes. A few hours’ sleep, and then back to the job. He just needed something to remind him to rest.