|lisaroquin (lisaroquin) wrote in spookathon,|
@ 2008-10-26 13:23:00
|Entry tags:||author: zephyrina, my chemical romance, spookathon 08|
FIC 08: Monochrome by Zephyrina--MCR Bob Bryar/Ray Toro
Pairing: Bob Bryar/Ray Toro
Summary: “Hey, stranger.” Ray’s tone is quiet, even if his heartbeat is steadily increasing. His finger hasn’t moved from the trigger. “You’re back.”
Disclaimer/Warnings: The guys aren't mine, it never happened.
Author Notes: Zombie AU. ♥ to un_related for her patience and beta work, ♥ to anne_elliot and veecious for the constant cheerleading. Written for the Spookathon '08 challenge.
When Ray hears the knock, he almost jumps up from the chair. The curfew has started at half past nine, more than two hours ago, and he doubts that any of his friends would break it just to pay him a visit. Besides, Frank called in the afternoon, and he made no mention about coming over.
It’s too late anyway, even for Frank, thinks Ray as he heads to the corridor. Truth be told, he’d also have another option at hand concerning the identity of his unexpected guest, but he prefers not to think about it. Given the current state of things, seven days are a shitload of time: no one would turn back after a week of silence.
Another knock can be heard; whoever it is, they don’t have much patience.
Ray frowns, annoyed at the shrill clearly noticeable in his voice: it makes him sound scared while he’s just nervous; nervous and a little hopeful, maybe.
“I’m coming,” he repeats and leans over to pick up the rifle. From when it started, back in November, Ray has taken the habit to keep one next to the door. The authorities can say what they want, that everything’s under control and that people should live their lives in a normal way; still, they’ve established a curfew and the barriers they’ve built up are guarded by the army. Accidents happen, and since Ray is neither blind nor stupid, the rifle stays where it is.
He loads the cartridge, unlocks the safety, puts his finger on the trigger. Now he’s ready to open the door.
“Who’s there?” he asks, turning the key until the lock clicks. The light bulb of the porch is burned out, Ray is reminded of it when he flicks the switch and nothing happens. It’s a bit late to worry about it though, the light that comes from the corridor will have to do.
At the moment, he can’t see anything. Who knocked must have retreated near the bench.
“I have a rifle and there are guards at the cemetery gates. I just have to call for them.”
“No. It’s me.”
Dry leaves are crushed under the soles of dress shoes: last time Ray saw them, they were new and polished, while now they have a dirty, crusted look. It has rained a lot in the past days, the path to his house is full of puddles.
“Hey, stranger.” Ray’s tone is quiet, even if his heartbeat is steadily increasing. His finger hasn’t moved from the trigger. “You’re back.”
Bob takes a step forward, then another, until he stands in front of Ray. For some moments, neither of them says a word: Ray is studying him, making decisions, considering doubts, while Bob doesn’t move, waiting to hear what the verdict would be.
He isn’t in a good shape. His clothes have wrinkles and stains, the hem of his jacket drips water on the floor. In the dim light, cuts and bruises Ray is already aware about look worse than they did a week ago, while his voice sounds a bit off, as if his throat is causing him troubles. Ray cannot see it though, because the collar of Bob’s shirt is buttoned up. Small mercy, whispers a little voice in the back of his mind.
Shuddering, Ray forces himself to smile. This is what he’s hoped - prayed - for, Bob has turned back to him, and he should be grateful about it. People he knows haven’t been granted that privilege, for many reasons. The same reasons behind curfews, barriers, and soldiers patrolling the streets.
He takes his finger off the trigger.
“Get in. Someone could see you, it isn’t safe.”
Bob nods, and Ray has the impression to see something moving under the fabric of his sleeve. A shadow, he quickly thinks, stepping inside and keeping the door open; it must have been a shadow.
It takes Bob a few to reach the living room: he’s limping on the left, another result of the car accident they’ve been in. Thinking about it is like being hit on a sore spot, so Ray prefers to focus on something else. Not that it works; he’s never been good in dealing with pain, and the guilt he feels as he shuts the door and puts the rifle back in the corner, safety on, is a reminder of it.
Heading to the living room isn’t an easy task either, not when Bob sits on the couch in a dirty suit, and there’s soil in his hair.
“So,” Ray begins after some moments, shifting his weight from one foot to another, “it took you long enough.”
Bob isn’t sorry for real, and it doesn’t matter, because Ray knows that none of this is Bob’s fault. Shit happens.
“You need a shower, clean clothes, and-”
Ray hesitates. He wanted to add 'something to eat', but he's unable to squeeze that bit off his lips. "Your wounds," he says in the end, "I mean, we should have a look at them. I should. I'm not a doctor, alright, but I guess I could at least do something."
Again, Bob seems to be struggling with words. He opens his mouth twice before giving up and reaching for his throat; when his fingers curl around it, Ray’s heart clenches a little. No, it isn't Bob's fault. Things went wrong, but Bob shouldn't have to take the blame of it, nor to sustain Ray's awkward tiptoeing around him.
As weird as the situation is, the one sitting in front of him is his boyfriend. Fuck, he loved him. He still does.
“Let me,” says Ray, and kneels on the couch to take Bob's hands in his own. There are fresh scratches on the back and some broken fingernails with dirt under them. Shaking his head, Ray turns them over, exposing both palms to the light: he almost expects to see splinters rather than just scraped, red skin. They're cold, too, but he would try to warm them up later.
Next, Ray opens the first buttons of Bob’s shirt. A thin bandage is wrapped around his neck, kept in place by medical tape, and Ray can’t help but think that it should have been changed days ago, before it started fraying at the edges. He takes it off, ignoring stains and how it feels damp under his fingers.
The cut is smaller than Ray recalled it; he saw it right after Bob got injured, and his panicked brain has backed up the image of him with a large gash in his throat. Still, it’s a bad wound, deep and probably infected.
“Does it hurt?”
“Sometimes.” Bob shrugs, implying that, whatever, it isn’t such a big deal. “It hurts... talking.”
“I guess. They didn't do anything about it, they just stitched it up.”
Holding back a sigh, Ray lifts Bob’s chin to inspect the cut further. What is he supposed to do about it? The only part he recalls of that first aid course taken years ago is about CPR, and at the moment, Bob isn’t dying.
Ray presses his lips together. “We'll clean it, alright?” he says then, a bit too fast.
A fit of coughs interrupts him, and he leans over, covering his face with both hands. That must put some kind of pressure on the wound, because Ray sees tiny drops of blood forming near the stitches. Out of sheer instinct, he puts an arm around Bob’s shoulders and pulls him near; as they are huddled close, it dawns on him that he’s not only trying to comfort his boyfriend, but also himself.
Little by little, Bob stops coughing, the tension in his back eases up. He doesn’t move though, he just places his hands in his lap and keeps on resting his forehead against Ray’s shirt.
“You see.” Bob winces. It fucking hurts. “I wasn’t hoping for a welcome home party, but I expected a ‘dude, I missed you’ kiss.” Pause, he has to swallow twice. “I know I look like shit, Toro. No need to turn the knife.”
“Bob, please. It isn’t that, it’s just…”
Ray feels his cheeks getting warmer, and he knows he’s blushing. Fuck this, he thinks, fuck everything.
When their lips meet, Ray gasps. He’s sorry, it has been an involuntary reaction to the coldness of Bob’s skin. The taste is the same though; at least, that hasn't changed.
“We’re done, I think.”
Bob reaches up. The cut bled a little while he was in the shower, probably because of the warm water; it stopped soon though, well before he turned the faucet off, and Ray made sure to clean it with some antibiotic found in the first aid kit. Now there are layers of thick gauze wrapped around his neck, and Bob touches them with caution. It still hurts, of course, but the pain has somehow dulled out.
“It’s alright.” Ray smiles, closing the plastic box. “Get dressed. We’ll leave as soon as the curfew is off.”
Confusion is plain in Bob’s eyes, so Ray points at the backpacks he dug out from the closet. He filled them with clothes on the first day of waiting, one for each of them. Back then, Ray didn’t know if or in which state Bob would turn back, but he chose to pack all the same, ignoring how Frank kept on telling him to let it go.Time proved Frank wrong, that’s why they have to go away. It’d be almost too easy to guess where Bob went, as they never really kept their relationship a secret.
“We can’t stay here, it’s too dangerous. We’ll cross the barrier; they’re guarded, but I’ve heard that they let people through.”
What Ray says is true, soldiers have been recently instructed to let civilians pass if they wish so; he skips to mention that no one is allowed back in, though. No exceptions; a change of heart isn’t contemplated in the orders.
“Do you remember my parents’ summer house? We’ll go there, it’s the safest place I can think about. The ferry isn’t a suitable option, but the island can also be reached by car; the bridge is still up, I checked on that, and the town is small, perhaps-”
Bob raises both hands, palms towards Ray. No. “The truce is frail. If we run into a strayed group, we’ll be an easy prey,” he says slowly, often pausing between word.
“Listen to me. I don’t want them to put a bullet in your brain, but it will happen if we remain here.” Ray gets up from the chair, shaking his head. “You don’t get what it means. I should have reported about you already; for fuck’s sake, I shouldn’t even have let you in. They patrol the whole area around noon, few hours and they’ll see that you’re… missing.”
Silence ensues, and it’s the kind of awkward silence that Ray hates. He was doing good, focusing on their next steps rather than on the surreal spin his life has taken during the last week, and with a wrong word he’s been kicked back to start. He rubs his eyes, tired. The last thing he wants is to end up arguing with Bob.
“You said something about guards. At the gates.” Bob has to stop talking for a moment, his throat is burning again. “How?”
Ray shrugs. “When the curfew is off, I’m free to leave the house just like anyone else. I’m the town mortician, not the President of United States, you know. Besides, they have no reasons to come and check who’s in my car. Why should they? As long as it looks like you have every right to be with me, they won’t bother you.”
“And what happens when we reach the barrier? Or your parents’ place?”
Ray inhales deeply and reaches out for Bob’s hand. It’s still too cold, too pale, and he tries hard to ignore how uneasy it makes him feel.
“It’ll be fine.”
Until few days ago, Ray thought nothing about living so near to the barrier. He and Bob moved together well before it was built and when people in the neighborhood started to look for other places to live, they chose to remain where they were. If something happened, it would be of huge proportions. At that point, having two or three thousand miles between them and the barrier would be pointless.
Right now though, while he slowly brakes until the car stops before the roadblock, Ray feels glad about their decision. Were they suspecting already that it would end like this? Maybe.
Next to him Bob starts coughing but Ray pays no attention to it. One of the soldiers has left the roadblock, drawing near, and the only thing he can think about is how young that boy looks: not a day older than twenty, nervous, and perhaps a bit scared. If their situations were reversed, Ray knows he would be.
“Where are you going?” The soldier is aiming his weapon at him, safety off and finger on the trigger. He isn’t taking any chances, apparently.“You can’t stay here, it isn’t safe. You have to turn back.”
“We want to cross the barrier.”
Hands fully visible on the wheel, Ray smiles, hoping that it would be enough to convince the soldier about his good intentions. The other doesn’t smile back; instead, he crouches down a little in order to see who else is in the car.
Bob turns. He looks almost normal, now that he’s wearing informal clothes and his minor injuries have been treated but still, there’s little doubt about where he comes from. The soft click they hear informs them that the soldier has just put two and two together.
“What the fuck is he doing here?”
The soldier is ready to open fire, three others are approaching. They have to convince the entire patrol they're harmless or take a bullet for each other in the next few minutes. Ray inhales, exhales, eyes on the wheel. He’s holding on it as a sinking man would. His knuckles hurt.
“We don’t mean to cause any trouble, we just want to cross the barrier. Please.”
“Get out of the car!”
Before Ray could even think about answering, orders are barked and the soldier is pushed aside. The one who takes his place is older, calmer. He’s probably the sergeant in charge of the patrol, and Ray doesn’t know if he should feel relieved or not. At least he isn’t aiming at his head like the soldier did.
“You were saying something,” the sergeant begins. He’s wary, but not unfriendly. An improvement. “I believe you planned to go to the other side, am I right?”
“Yes, that’s it.”
“You and your… friend?”
Ray can hear noises coming from the left side of the car, and he forces himself to ignore them. He doesn’t want to turn and see weapons pointing at Bob. If they haven’t fired yet, it’s just because Bob hasn’t made a movement nor spoken a word.
The sergeant keeps silent for a moment, too, then he takes a step backwards. He has made up his mind. “You’re aware of the fact that you should have reported about him, aren’t you? Laws exist for your own security,” he adds in a low, almost colloquial tone of voice. “Besides, you don’t know what happens there. How it really is.”
Ray shrugs. “I know that I can’t live here anymore, and I just figured that if we crossed the barrier together, then it wouldn’t matter. In the end, the result would be the same.”
The sergeant doesn’t answer.
Hours later, they are on the island, stopped at a red light at the outskirt of the town.
Ray looks around. Bob hasn’t spoken much since they crossed the barrier, partially because of his wound and partially because he still doesn’t agree with Ray’s decision. The sad truth is that Bob is right. Nobody has tried to bother them so far, but it doesn’t mean that they’ve entered the land of milk and honey.
Sighing, Ray rubs a hand on his face. “Maybe a bit, yeah. I guess I should sleep for a while, too.”
Bob nods and reaches out for his shoulder, squeezing it a little.
The light still hasn't changed. Ray is half-tempted to complain about it but a sharp tap against the window freezes him, causing his throat to go dry. A homeless guy is standing next to their car, his nose pressed against the plate glass. Ray can only see so much of him, but the greasy look and the crusted dirt (probably a mix of food and blood) that stains his clothes speak volumes.
The guy stares, a trail of spit dripping from his mouth. After some seconds, he points at Ray with a pleading look on his face, and then he mouths something. ‘Hungry.’
“No. Forget about it.”
To enforce his answer, Bob shakes his head and grabs Ray by his arm, pulling him against himself. They don’t have anything to give to Homeless Guy. He has to go finding his lunch elsewhere.
Ray reaches over and starts fumbling with the the latch to the glove box. It isn’t easy to drive while trying to yank it open.
“Fuck. Can you?”
Bob is frowning, so Ray waves his hand in the air and brakes. Not that there’s anyone on the road at the moment, but they’ve already been in a car accident; neither of them feels the need to repeat the experience.
“Your cut is bleeding again, I wanted to get you a tissue,” Ray explains then, pulling at the collar of Bob’s hoodie. The gauze around his throat isn’t soaked or anything, there’s just a thin stain where the wound is. Looking at it, Ray bites at his bottom lip. “Does it hurt?”
“Okay. Have one, we’ll change the bandage as soon as we’re home.”
The déjà-vu starts when Ray passes Bob the Kleenex box. He's done that before. Before the hysteria and the frenzy, before the night on which Bob had his throat cut open by a shard of windshield, before he died at the hospital and they buried him in a small cemetery of New Jersey. Before he turned back to Ray.
“Hey. Everything’s alright.” Bob lets the box go and takes Ray’s hand in his own. It’s cold, thinks Ray as he runs his thumb over the back of it. It’s cold, but he believes that, in time, he could get used to it.
AN: In this AU, zombies and living people have formed two different civilizations. The barrier is meant to physically divide them, and living people deport zombies beyond it. When this story takes place, zombies have just started to gather together, colonizing the towns that living people left behind.