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Walking through Death

Chapter Text

- 17 days after the end -

The soft rays of the midsummer sun, now almost set, dimly illuminated the streets of London, giving the landscape an almost romantic appearance, making the English capital look like an oasis of peace and tranquility.
Too bad that neither of these two things could be found anymore, apparently, not only there, but in the whole world. Of course, they couldn't hear the trumpeting of cars, no more traffic or the din of the crowd that had always animated London, but compared to what was happening...
The bluish-black-haired boy leaned slightly from behind the corner of the house where he had taken refuge for the previous two days, his face and clothes smudged with dust and mud, the light shirt he wore was torn in several places.
He carefully checked that the alley before him was easily practicable and that there were no signs of other presences within a few meters. In his right hand he held a long piece of mirror wrapped at the base in a cloth so as not to cut, it was pretty pathetic as a weapon, he realized, but in that moment it was the only one he had. He cast a quick glance behind him, making sure he had a free escape in case he needed it, and then he advanced carefully into the alley, causing a couple of rattling mice to escape at his own passage. He walked slowly along the dirty, sunken road between the two dwellings, checking that the road he was facing was clear, his ears straining in an attempt to catch as many sounds as possible. He jumped just as the car's burglar alarm at the end of the main road started ringing suddenly, echoing through the buildings.

"Tsk ... one of those crap must have ended up against it..." the boy thought with a slight grimace "better ... if there are others around, they will be attracted by the noise and with a little luck they will ignore me". He walked down the street being careful to continually hide behind the overturned carcasses of the abandoned cars, to the rubbish bins and to anything that could be his shelter. He just hoped that this fortuitous sound diversion kept the zombies busy long enough for him to take cover. There were ten or more days that he moved around the city taking refuge from house to house trying to move more and more towards the countryside, in order to get away from the center of London. After all, given the number of inhabitants that populated the British capital, the number of zombies present now was definitely high. The best choice was to move to the countryside, where fewer people lived and perhaps, with a little luck, the level of infestation was lower.
He had almost managed to reach the edge of the city when suddenly a trio of zombies emerged from behind one of the houses, two men and a woman. The woman was the worst one; her side was completely torn, from which blood and guts were partly coming out. The boy stepped back a couple of steps, tightening his improvised weapon more tightly between his fingers, moving his gaze quickly, looking for an escape route. He knew he had neither the right weapon nor the physical abilities for a body-to-body confrontation with those beings, he would have been torn to pieces while still alive.

As those monsters ascended directly from Hell advanced towards him the boy noticed that, unlike the city street behind him, the path behind the zombies was clear. He retreated again and then took a sideways step, managing to overtake the walking corpses by pure luck, continuing to run along the path that led to the country hoping to be able to sow them somehow. Unfortunately for him it was not so. Partly the tiredness of the days spent running away and hiding was making itself felt all together and in part he had never been a great runner. He could hear the cries and groans of the three zombies who seemed intent on following him to the end of the world as sweat ran down his face and back.

He could hear his ears whistling and his heart in his throat, his mind clouded with fear and anger. He didn't want to die. Not like this, torn apart by beings now without the slightest spark of reason that could do nothing but grope around, drool and eat whatever moved. He refused to make such an end, if he had to die he wanted to do it his way. He just glanced back over his shoulder, noticing with a sense of growing anguish that the zombies were getting closer and stretching their semi-rotten arms towards him. He could not have made a bigger mistake than the gesture of turning as he ran; he didn't even notice the thick branch that had collapsed on the road, ending up stumbling over it, ending up ruinously on the ground, scratching both arms extensively in an attempt to cushion the fall. He groaned in pain as he pulled himself up to his knees as he could, while trying not to cut himself with his own arranged weapon, turning immediately and noticing with horror that those disgusting beings were now less than three meters away from him. Despite feeling every fiber of his body tremble like earth during an earthquake, he raised his fist with which he clutched the long piece of sharp glass, ready to defend himself as he could, not at all intent on surrendering to death that way. One of the zombies snapped before the others doing to reach him when suddenly, preceded by the roar of the engine and by the light of the headlight, a motorcycle came out on the road investing the zombie without much compliments, ruinously sending him to the ground and passing on his head with the wheel. The skull of the ex-man crushed himself like nothing, pouring blood and bits of brain onto the road. The raven-haired young man narrowed his eyes, trying to see beyond the light of the bike, noticing that on the latter sat a boy with hair of a very light blond who must have been about his age.

-Fuck you doing still there on the ground?! Raise your ass and jump on!,- said the blond before getting off the Harley Davidson and holding a metal baseball bat. He walked briskly against the zombies with a snarl, knocking down the other "man" and unceremoniously smashing the woman's skull with a well-calibrated blow of the bat, - move before I change my mind and decide to leave you here! - he shouted before dropping the sole of his right boot mercilessly and repeatedly on the zombie's face on the ground, killing him, splattering his shoes, clothes and minimally his the face with the corpse's blood. The raven sat up trying not to weigh too much on the ankle that he had slammed against the branch and that must have at least dislocated seen the evil he felt, a dull and throbbing pain that expanded along the calf. He approached quickly while the boy put the bat back in the case affixed to the bike, climbing into the saddle and turning towards him. The young man was able to notice only that the other one had the eyes of an ice-blue color before going up behind him and squeezing his arms around his waist while the blond was leaving quickly in the same direction he had come from.

Chapter Text

Act I - Part One -

 

They traveled along the country roads, along the fences which corralled the fields around them could be seen only green grass and a few trees here and there. To the raven-haired boy looked like an infinity even though it was probably only about three-quarters of an hour when he finally began to see the roofs of the houses of a small town. As they turned into a secondary road, getting closer and closer to the edge of the houses, the blond started to slow down, the bike now went at the speed of a man who ran at a fast pace. The raven looked around cautiously, almost as if he expected to be attacked by a horde of zombies at any moment. Nor was it much to blame for his apprehension, especially given the days he had spent living in terror in London.

The village in which they were, however, did not present large or obvious signs of devastation, except for a few bullet holes here and there on the walls and some bodies lying on the ground in the flowerbeds or between the streets. If you ignored those details, it seemed that the place was not even the slightest touch of the zombie plague that had invaded and destroyed the rest of the country. Here and there, on the shop signs and on the railings of the balconies, there were still hanging the festoons and decorations of the Halloween that had just passed, the shop windows were barely made opaque by the cold. If the boy had not known the real cause for which the city was deserted, he would have simply thought that they had happened there during a day of celebration and the inhabitants were all closed in the house enjoying the domestic warmth. Suddenly the blond turned right onto the main road and the boy, who lost as he was observing the city around them, had loosened his grip on his hips, almost flew down from Harley Davidson. The boy at the wheel turned back slightly to look at him badly, glaring at him with light eyes.

-See to be careful and not do crap. I didn't save your ass and brought you here just so you fall and break your head in such a stupid way - he said reproachfully. The raven was tempted to answer him very badly, but given the other boy's ways of doing things, he feared that if he came out with a phrase like "and who asked you to risk to save me?" the blond would have dumped him with his ass on the ground in the middle of the street, leaving.

-Do not create me problems ... I already know that I will be scolded by the others for bringing you here ...- he said with a snort, his face slightly distorted in a grimace of annoyance, the rays of the sun, now about to set, created play of light in his light hair, illuminating them with the colors of fire. At these words the raven looked at him a little confused with a great desire to ask a few questions to his savior. But his hands were so frozen and his whole body numbed by the cold, that now more than worrying about who were the so-called "others" named by the blond, he cared only about when they would finally arrive in a sheltered place. Of that pace he would otherwise have died from the cold, also because of the light clothes he wore, the ones he was wearing when all this mess had begun.

- By the way, I don't even know your name. I guess you have one ... I'm Alois anyway, and now that I notice, you didn't even say thank you for saving you,- the blond said, turning partly towards him. The boy was about to tell him that it would have been much better if he had kept his eyes on the road since he was driving and given the situation they were in, but the zombie who suddenly appeared from behind the corner in front of them and who was coming to him against growling made him lost the use of the word for a moment. Alois had to notice his sudden change of expression because he immediately turned his face, bringing his gaze back to the road ahead. - God what a rupture of balls these are ... Well, it's only one, it shouldn't be a big problem ... But it's better to take it down - he said making a slight grimace. At that words the raven looked at him with eyes that conveyed partly amazement and partly terror. Not too much for the zombie that was becoming decidedly close, but for the awareness that to talk in that way about things like that, with so much tranquility, the other had to be totally crazy.

-Do me a favor, to my right is my weapon, pass it quickly, I'll knock it down as soon as we come to its side,- Alois said, stretching his right hand back, waiting for the other to pass the weapon. The boy hesitated a couple of seconds before moving a hand from the blond's side to the right side of the bike, reaching out to pull the baseball bat from the case and pass it to him, all trying desperately not to fly down from the vehicle in the meantime. He had never had a great balance or good athletic ability and he knew it. The blond quickly grabbed the black leather handle of the steel weapon, the expression almost bored, like someone forced to do something he had already done so many times now that he had got used to it. "It's probably exactly like that ..." the raven thought absently, returning to squeeze his arms around Alois's waist.

-You should turn around, or risk that his blood will end up straight on your face- said the boy, giving him just a few seconds to act as one recommended. The zombie, now not even two meters from them, had stretched his arms towards the bike and its occupants with a growl that rose directly from his belly with a gurgling of the bowels, the mouth that was leaking drool and pieces of skin. Alois did not allow himself to be impressed by the scene, or at least, if he did he did not show it; without even slowing the pace of the motorcycle he slammed the bat violently against the zombie's head, smashing his skull and shedding blood and bits of skull and brain on the road. The blond just shook the weapon to clean it a minimum and then turned slightly towards the other, a smirk painted on his face, it didn't seem to matter that his handsome features and pale skin were stained with a smear of red.

-Seen? They are not a big problem, you just need to know how to do it, if you have a good weapon in your hand you are already in a position of advantage. By the way we will have to see what weapon give to you if you stay with us, we don't need dead weights to take care of, you will have to make yourself useful to the group ...-

-Alois! - the raven's scream interrupted the blond's speech, making him turn forward. They had just turned the corner behind which the zombies they had shot down had popped up, which apparently was not alone: the blond barely had time to brake, the road blocked by twenty walking corpses. Immediately the beings turned towards them, moving en masse, almost climbing over each other to be able to catch them.

-Fuck ...! I had told that asshole that we should have eliminated them immediately instead of blocking them, these bastards were freed! - the blond exclaimed as he crashed the weapon at the first two zombies that had come close to him. For his part the raven looked around with terror: not even one like Alois could do much alone in a similar situation, he understood it too. The only thing the boy was able to do was to cover his nose and mouth with one hand, pushing back the vomit that had risen in his throat when the strong smell of rotting flesh and blood, fresh and coagulated , had come to his face as powerful as a slap. Alois reversed with the bike a few meters, glancing to their right. Only then the other boy realized that they were in the middle of a roundabout and that in the west there was a park entrance. He didn't even notice that the blond had pulled out of somewhere a thin knife and had hurled him at one of the enemies, hitting him in full skull and causing him to crash to the ground.

-Ohi ... OHI! - shouted Alois then making him jump slightly but getting his almost total attention, -see the park on your right ...? As soon as I distract them you run in and then turn left. Lash for the church and knock on the back door, don't stop for any reason ...- he said taking a small pistol off his belt, but instead of pointing it at the zombies he put it in the raven's free hand. - Use it only if you have no other choice ... and now go! - he said making him get off the bike, giving gas and leaving, moving his own vehicle against the wandering. The boy stared at him wide-eyed as the blond risked his own life to save his, again.

- Move jerk! Tell the others that I will make the rounds from the front! - shouted Alois without even turning around, hitting a zombie and keeping another away with the baseball bat. Although his legs were shaking worse than during an earthquake and the weapon that the blond had put in his hand seemed to weigh more than the stone, the raven did as the other had told him, slinging in the park to his right and then turning left , looking for a passage to the huge church that he now glimpsed behind the trees. He felt like a coward of the worst kind running away like that while the other boy risked his life because of him, but he knew that, especially in his current condition, if he stayed with him he would only get in the way. He tried to do as fast as he could, if he could get there quickly he could alert the comrades named by the blond and let them go and help him, preventing him from dying because of him. His body, however, proved by the prolonged absence of a real meal and the events that took place in the last few days, did not want to collaborate. His head began to turn and his vision blurred slightly, confusing him and making it difficult to understand where he was going. The sense of nausea that he had previously managed to suppress miraculously was returning with more arrogance. He had a sudden lack of strength and, for the second time in a day, he ended up brutally on the ground, and this time he was not even able to cushion the blow with his hands. Luckily for him it was long lying on the grass and, apart from being muddy and green, his body had not been damaged. In his right hand he still tightened the pistol given to him by the blond man, clinging to it as if his life depended from it; probably, if in the worst case Alois had died in the meantime and he couldn't get to the church before one of the wandering people found him, that would be his only hope. When that awareness hit him, the raven felt a surge of anger rise in his chest. Was it possible that he always had to be saved ?! He didn't want to be indebted to Alois even more than he already was. No. He would have saved him that time. The boy sat up on his knees, levering with his free hand to pull himself up on all fours and then stand. The church was only a mere thirty yards away from him.
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"Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck ... !!!" in the mind of Alois, at that moment, only that word echoed. If he had initially thought of keeping the bike at a low speed so that those monsters would concentrate only on him, leaving the other boy free to escape as he had told him, then he had no other choice. His beloved two-wheeler made a strange sound and then stopped, completely dry with fuel. A few meters behind him, the zombies advanced inexorably, preceded by the strong smell of decomposition that emanated and that almost made him vomit on the asphalt of the road. Noting that he had a minimum margin of time before those beings got too close, the blond got off the bike, pounding one foot on the ground, hoping that it was only a minimal problem and that his vehicle was not inevitably stopped. - Come on, fuck! I don't feel like dropping right here and picking you up later! Just twenty meters from the fucking church you had to stop?! - he exclaimed, leaning over the left side, checking it. Nothing to do. Unless you push it manually the bike would have remained there. Meanwhile, one of the zombies had come too close to him, only the Harley had separated them.

- FUCK IT! - snapped Alois raising his arms to the sky, his bat still tight in one hand. He gave a powerful push to the side of the bike, knocking the two wheels directly over the zombie, sending him to the ground brutally, blocking him from the chest down against the asphalt.

-You have to die badly, you disgusting pieces of shit!,- he shouted, crashing angrily the skull of the zombie with the bat, opening his head in two and squirting his brains all the way around, "get back in the hell hell from which you came!" yelled, continuing to rage on the corpse now motionless, the delicate face twisted with rage, the disgusted look fixed on a zombie eye that hung limply from the empty socket. Only the dangerous approach of the other wanderers made him desist from his foolish fury on the now lifeless body. In spite of the twenty in which he and the raven had stumbled, only thirteen remained, they were still too many for one person and the blond was well aware of it. If he wanted to hope he could make it, he had to face one, at the most, two at a time. He quickly grabbed the bag he had fastened to the left side of the bike, putting it on his shoulder with a dry gesture. He stepped back a few steps, his clear gaze fixed on the zombies in front of him, then turned his back on them and started running fast, heading for the church he and his group used as a refuge.

He dashed down the main road that would take him straight to the front entrance of the huge stone building, intending to go around and enter from the back as usual, also because it was his only option; when his group had taken possession of the church it had blocked the main door, leaving only the two side and the rear free, so that the whole place was easier to keep under control. Although he was now practically accustomed to gripping it, the steel bat he held in his right hand began to weigh on him terribly, his arms and legs beginning to ache with the effort he had put them through especially in the last two hours. If it had been just a matter of fighting and distracting the zombies in those last moments it wouldn't have been a big problem, but his body was much more tired having been around since the morning of the day before, looking for provisions. Provided that they were in the bag he was shuttling behind, holding it on one shoulder, slowing him down and making his escape slower. He had almost reached the front entrance of the church, ready to make that last effort he knew would bring him to safety, when suddenly a zombie emerged from an alley beside him reaching him with a dead weight. The blond tried desperately not to fall to the ground, but the weight of the walking corpse crushed him heavily, making him end up stretched out on the hard asphalt, stuck under the zombie. Alois groaned in pain as he felt his head bang against the street below, his eyes filling with tears without really wanting it. Only his readiness of reflexes caused him to put the metal bat between himself and the monster before it bite him, trying desperately to push him back with the few strengths that remained to him while the living nightmare above him growled and drooled, leaning towards the blonde, trying to sink his teeth into his flesh.

-Shit...!-

Chapter Text

-17 days before-

The music spread throughout the whole room to a decidedly dizzying volume, shot out of the speakers at the base of the elevated balustrade that ran all the way around the dance floor, packed with people dancing in the most disparate ways. The purple and blue smoke, which came from behind the band's location, now occupied by the DJ's equipment that animated the evening, had completely invaded the floor, making the environment very similar to a hallucinogenic scene. Well, given the stuff that used to be in that night club it could even be…
The sphere-shaped lamps placed above the track changed color to the rhythm of the music, filling the room with strobe light, cleaving the dark at irregular and disparate intervals, making it seem that people intent on dancing moved in jerks. A moment before the girl holding a dangerously tilted glass was next to the DJ's position and a few seconds later she was at the opposite side of the track.

Behind the dance floor there was the area of the sofas, decorated with hanging lamps from the softest, amber light; the seats were in white leather with black metal finishes, the floor was opaque purple and sprinkled with glitter. Here and there the view was fragmented by the square columns that held the ceiling upright. On the side of the track instead, there was the bar of the bar, white as snow and supplied with practically every liquor and drink that a person could think of asking. At the time it was decidedly uncrowded because three quarters of the night club patrons were all too busy dancing on the track to think of getting something to drink.

Sprawled sprawling on one of the small sofas facing the back, his head resting on the armrest and an arm held limply on his stomach, a boy with very light blond hair and skin so pale that he looked like a vampire. He was looking at the dance floor with a lost look , the effects of the joint that he had been smoked before were slowly fading. Like almost every night for two years now, he had gone to the SWX club with his roommate as well as a friend, Hannah, a 23-year-old girl with dark skin and long hair dyed silver, determined to leave behind the bad shitty day he had just spent, drowning his sorrows and too many thoughts that filled his mind with a good dose of alcohol as usual. To be honest, he had not the slightest idea that he would smoke anything other than the usual cigarettes, but then he met Lau, and he was now on his fifth drink... If it was already normally difficult to refuse the drug that his Chinese "almost friend" sold when he was sober, when he was half drunk it was practically impossible. At least he had managed to get something not too strong and the effects were slowly dissipating.

He ran his ice-blue eyes over the room and then onto the elevated metal balustrade. Lau was leaning against it, in black jeans and a blue shirt, a fluo green drink in his hand and an arm surrounding the sides of his beautiful adoptive sister, Ran Mao, a busty girl who always dressed quite a bit succinct and practically never spoke. There was to say that she didn't need the word to make people understand what she thought of them, it was enough to look her in the eyes; most people were completely indifferent to her, practically all her attention was constantly focused on Lau and it seemed that she could not stay apart from him for more than a few minutes. Yet in recent months her attention had also been paid to another person, even if not positively: Adrian Crevan *. For friends, Undertaker, Lau's new boyfriend; fair skin, bright green eyes and silver hair.Certainly Adrian was a particular type, considering that he also did the gravedigger as a job. None of the common circle of friends that the blond and the Chinese frequented would say that two such people would end up together, yet the Undertaker's extravagance seemed to marry perfectly with Lau's distorted mind. The only one who was not at all happy about it was Ran Mao, who never missed an opportunity to get in the middle of the couple or lighten with her eyes Undertaker every time the man stretched his hands on his adoptive brother. Sooner or later the girl would kill him, the blond was practically certain about it.

The sequence of his thoughts was abruptly interrupted by the appearance of Hannah in his visual field. The girl was wearing very tight and silver jeans, torned on her knees and a black shirt with a wide neckline that fell from her shoulder, her long hair fell loose and smooth on her back.

- Hey Alois! Don't tell me that you plan to spend the whole evening on this sofa! - the girl exclaimed, moving with an ill grace the leg that the blonde had stretched on the sofa (not caring in any way that the sole of her boots could dirty the white skin irreparably), sitting next to him. Alois snorted slightly, pulling himself up to sit more composedly, crossing his slender legs and crossing his arms over his chest, turning to look badly at his friend.

- I could even do it. I'm not particularly in the mood tonight ... Maybe I should just go home ...- he murmured with a slight grimace as he pulled back a lock of hair from his face and placed it behind a pierced ear. At those words Hannah looked at him as if a second head had popped up and he had suddenly become green. She would probably have been less surprised if she had seen Obama run naked through the courtyard of the White House

-Who are you, and what did you do to Alois Trancy?- she exclaimed, looking at him half-shocked and taking him by the shoulders, shaking him slightly. She brought a hand to his forehead as if to feel his fever. Alois moved away, raising his clear eyes to the ceiling and then looking at her almost bored.

- I'm fine, Hannah! Simply it was definitely a day to forget ok? -.

-And you seem to have forgotten why you started coming here instead of going home when this happens; because otherwise you end up on the bed listening to depressing music and eating ice cream, with the result that the next day you play the drama queen walking around the house complaining that you have gained weight even if it is not true. I do not intend to endure such a thing again. Did he quit you? You send him blissfully to fuck himself like the jerk he is- she said getting up and pointing her hands on her hips, the serious expression fixed on his friend. Alois sighed slightly looking at her, not entirely convinced. At that point, Hannah reached out and grabbed the boy by the wrist and pulled him to his feet, making him stagger just above the 15 cm heel of the knee-high black leather boots he was wearing.

- What do I always tell you in these cases? Which is worse for him. Any man would like to be with you. Look at you - she said dragging him in front of one of the windows of the room, her hands resting on the thin shoulders of the blond. Alois had no choice but to fix his reflection in the glass; in addition to heels, he wore low-waisted red latex shorts, a black sleeveless croc top that completely uncovered his flat stomach, showing off the elastic of the fishnet stockings that received a thread under his navel. The light eyes were heavily made up with eyeliner and mascara, making him look even more penetrating and sensual than usual. Lips painted with a blood-colored lipgloss. The Hannah reflected in the mirror smiled at him.

-Seen? You're a fucking goddess Alois Trancy, you don't need him, you can have anyone you want,- she said as the blond turned to her, raising an eyebrow just a little, still not completely convinced. Seeing his face, Hannah snorted loudly. She seemed to be looking for someone with hre eyes and then to identify the head bartender, Angelina Durless, now nicknamed by all Madame Red because of her fiery hair and her obsession with red.

-Hey Madame!- Is it true or not that our Alois here is a goddess? - she said dragging the boy to the bar under the interested eyes of most of the boys in the room, one of whom got a loud slap from his girlfriend. As Angelina's eyes rested on Alois, the woman opened a huge smile, resting her elbows on the counter that separated them, leaning over to look at him.

-Definitely, you become more beautiful every day darling- he said giving him a wink and passing him a glass filled with mojitos, -this is a offer from thehouse, go have fun darling, forget the guys too stupid not to notice how much valuable you are- she said doing open the boy in a smile.

-Thank you Madame, I'll try to remember it,- the boy said, chuckling before taking a generous sip from his glass. After all, Hannah and Angelina were right, it was definitely better to stay at the club and have fun with everyone else than to go home and cry, especially because he had promised himself not to throw himself away like that because of someone. He smiled at his friend, who jokingly pinched his side, making him jump slightly.

- So Miss, are we going to dance or not? - asked the biggest one once the blond had emptied the glass, placing it then on the shelf of the bar next to him. Alois was about to say that they would be gone in a second, just long enough to be certain not to risk throwing up on the floor what he had been drinking, when Tik Tok from Kesha left the coffers. Immediately the boy jerked forward, slinging off the track with a huge smile, grabbing his friend by the wrist and dragging her behind with great fun from the girl, who was now looking at him with a satisfied smirk on her purple-painted lips.

-And you wanted to go home, mh Alois?- she said as they made their way among the people dancing, the eyes of half of the people staring at the blond's sensual movements.

-Alois wanted to go home so soon?! - Lau exclaimed in amazement, appeared at the side of the boy from who knows where, with Ran Mao as usual glued to the side. At these words Alois laughed and shook his head, letting himself go to the rhythm of the music.

-Nah, I never could, this is my song! -.

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They were left to dance, drink and smoke, both cigarettes and drugs, since in the end there was Lau with them and no one could say no to the Chinese, something which the man was obviously aware of and on which he had leveraged all the time selling everything and more until, for the common salvation (and because they were days that weren't together) Undertaker had not silenced him with a passionate kiss, then dragging the man with him in one of the private rooms for almost a now, leaving a very pissed off Ran Mao with the rest of the group.

They had decided to go home only around 3 am and since Hannah had a car large enough, the girl, by mutual agreement with Alois, had offered to give Lau, Undertaker and Ran Mao a lift, which despite having one car they had arrived that night at the club with the bus. Hannah would have left Alois at home, where the blonde's 13-year-old brother was waiting for them, accompanied the three friends to the Chinese's home and then returned to the 55th Whitechurch road, in the poor area where he lived with the two Trancy brothers. Despite the late hour it was a Saturday evening and the streets of Bristol were lit and animated by people when they started home with the car, the windows lowered and the song Airplanes sung by BOB and Hayley Williams that was shot out of the speakers of the radio at full volume. That being one of the favorite songs of both Hannah and Alois, they soon found themselves singing it, one arm resting on the edge of the open window, the cold autumn air ruffling his hair. On the back seats Undertaker giggled amused at the "show" that the driving girl and the blond had unwittingly put on, an arm wrapped around Lau's thin waist that, undone by alcohol and by the hour of sex with his boyfriend he had conceded himself to the club, slept peacefully with his head resting on the shoulder of the man with the silver hair. Ran Mao looked at the gravedigger with a murderous look, attached to his half-brother's arm, with a barely concealed desire in her eyes to be able to use the window as an improper guillotine to decapitate the Undertaker.

Alois was so drunk and destroyed by the evening that he found himself lying face down on the bed without even realizing it, his face partly sunk in the pillow and his feet bare. The last thing he heard before sinking into sleep was Hannah's voice telling him that she would be back in about twenty minutes at most, the door of the house slamming and then it was nothing at all.

It seemed to him just a few seconds after he had collapsed that his cell phone ringtone began to resound loudly all over the room, awakening him badly. Alois snorted, pointing an elbow into the soft mattress and pulling himself up with difficulty, looking for his cell phone, just wanting to know who was so crazy as to call him at such a time. After several searches he finally spotted it under the bedside table, it must have fallen out of bed when he turned over in the blankets, reaching out to grab it and pull it up. He barely noticed that the name on the screen was Hannah's before the phone stopped ringing. Confused, the blond looked at the numbers marked in white in the upper corner of the display: it was almost a quarter to five at night. The friend had told him that she would be home in twenty minutes... What the hell had happened? Alois tried to call her back, but the girl's cell phone seemed unreachable. He ran a hand through his hair, placing the electronic device on the bedside table before opening the wardrobe, looking for something more comfortable to wear. After all, he was still wearing the clothes with which he had gone to the club. He let go in a loud yawn as he ran a hand over his face and stretched the other to grab a garment at random from the shelves.

He fished from the closet a pair of gray jeans torn on his knees, a purple short-sleeved shirt that came just above his knees and a black sweatshirt without a zip. He threw the chosen clothes on the bed starting to undress and letting the ones he was wearing fall to the ground, not caring about the red latex shorts that ended somewhere. He changed, then picked up the cell phone again, noting that messages had arrived from Hannah in the meantime.

"I'm coming"

"Prepare a bag with your things. Few things"

"Also wakes Luka up"

"Move!"

Alois stared for a few moments at the messages the girl had sent him, his eyes fixed on the screen of his cell phone without really seeing it. He stood motionless beside the bedside table, despite the words of Hannah telling him to hurry he could not untie his feet from the point of the floor on which he stood, the body that did not want to know to respond to commands. Only when he heard the sound of an explosion in the distance did he succeed in raising his face and looking beyond the window; far away from there, near the city center, flames and smoke rose. -What the hell is going on ...? - Alois murmured in a low voice, his eyes slightly wide open, staring at the scenery that could be seen beyond the window glass. He saw two police helicopters fly over the perimeter, the headlights on and pointed toward the affected area. Remembering the warnings sent by Hannah, he roused himself, putting on his black amphibians and grabbing the old light gray backpack he used to go to school; he opened it, turning it over, dropping all the notebooks and books on the floor with the case, slinging toward the wardrobe and starting to put as many clothes as he could in the bag. Once he had closed the zip of his backpack, he threw it on one of his shoulder, running towards his brother's room, flinging the door open with such impetus that it slammed against the side wall. Luka, who was sleeping blissfully unaware of everything, pulled himself up with a half-cry because of rude awakening, pointing dark eyes full of sleep on the blond, looking at him as if he were crazy.

-A-Alois ...? What is going on? - he murmured rubbing his eyes with one hand and throwing his legs down wearily, pulling himself to his feet. His brother did not even answer, taking Luka's school backpack and giving him the same treatment he had reserved for his own, filling it with various clothes, while trying not to appear too panicky. He was still the eldest of the two, he could not be seen frightened by Luka, not when his little brother had always seen him as his hero.

- Big brother ...? - he called him again when the older one didn't answer him, looking at him confusedly moving around the room while he was looking for anything that could be useful.-What are you doing? What time is it? - he said, glancing at the guitar-shaped clock hanging on the wall of his room, dimly lit by the moonlight coming through the windows.

-I don't know what's going on, but we have to run away, apparently. Hannah sent me messages telling her to take our things and keep us ready to go, she's coming- the blond said, taking a sweatshirt, jeans and a sweater from his brother's closet, -change and come down! - he said just giving him his clothes, not even having the courage to look him in the face, fearing to see the terror that he was beginning to take possession of himself reflected in his brother's eyes. He flung himself into Hannah's room filling a bag for her too, certain that when she arrived they would have to run away immediately and the girl wouldn't have time to take anything. Then he ran downstairs, a rucksack on each shoulder, grabbing the steel baseball bat that they kept leaning against the corner of the stairs they had put there years before, in case intruders entered the house. With the weapon in one hand and the cell phone in the other he dropped the rucksacks on the kitchen floor, retrieving a third from the closet under the stairs, then retracing his steps, filling it with everything they had in the pantry and which he could slip into it.

In the distance he could hear the sound of other explosions and of the helicopter blades splitting the air, it almost seemed to be in one of those apocalyptic films that Lau and Undertaker liked so much. Distractedly he felt Luka's steps on the wooden stairs and moments later his brother appeared at the kitchen door, wearing the clothes he had handed him before, a more confused than frightened expression on his face and a school backpack in his hand, his dark eyes fixed on the backpack that Alois had just finished filling with supplies.

-We'll have to stay away for a long time...?- he asked softly, almost afraid that if he used a higher tone the worst things would happen. Alois tried to smile at him despite the situation they were in. He had to try to be positive, after all they didn't yet know what was really going on. Maybe it was just an evacuation because of some gas leaks, something that would explain the explosions in the center and the presence of helicopters.

-I don't know... Maybe not, but it's always better to be cautious, isn't it?- He said closing his backpack and reaching out to stroke his brother, gently ruffling his dark hair. At those words Luka smiled at him. He parted his lips making to tell him something when they both heard the sound of a very sharp braking and the sound of a door being slammed.

-It's Hannah, quickly, take the backpacks I left on the floor and take them in the car,- Alois said to his brother who, without saying a word, did exactly as the other had told him. The blonde threw his backpack with the supplies over his shoulder, slipping his cell phone into a pocket of his sweatshirt and taking the baseball bat with one hand and the heavy sweatshirt he had taken from Hannah's wardrobe with the other. He flung himself out the front door and nearly slammed right into the girl.

-Hannah! Can you tell what the fuck is going on ?! What did those messages mean? That ...- the friend didn't give him time to say more. She took the sweatshirt from his hand and put it on with a few quick gestures, the air of someone who saw unspeakable things.

- Now we don't have time! I will explain everything to you in the car - he said, lifting one of the cushions of the old battered sofa with both hands and retrieving a pistol from under it. At that sight the blond's eyes widened, going then to aim at the girl, unable even to ask her why they had a similar weapon at home.

- Now let's go! - Hannah said, grabbing Alois with her free hand and dragging him out, getting into the car fast and getting into the driver's seat while the blond settled himself in the passenger seat next to her. Luka was in the back seat, backpacks in the seats next to him. Without delaying, the girl started the engine and took the main road.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

-I don't know how to explain what happened, I'm not understanding anything either... I was taking Lau, Undertaker and Ran Mao back when it all started. There were a series of small-caliber explosions in the center, it seemed like nothing... - Hannah said, her blue eyes fixed on the road, her hands almost obsessively clutching the steering wheel, - suddenly we saw police cars speeding by on the streets, something like a dozen of it... They started to close some streets, they talked about quarantine, a virus that had begun to spread and the need to evacuate the city as soon as possible- she said in a slightly broken voice, the body crossed by chills. Alois heard Luka's hand from behind looking for his own and he slowly gripping his brother's hand between his fingers, his eyes moving quickly from the figure of the girl to the street.

-I don't know how things really are, I just know that that virus drives people crazy... I saw one man attack another and try to tear his skin off with bites...- Hannah said almost in a sob, - the only possibility we have is to get out of here... I left the others at Lau's house so that they would take their things and join us in their car just outside the east exit of the city in twenty minutes. Undertaker said that right now the best thing to do is get away from the big cities and I can only agree with him - she said as he drove fast through the most peripheral streets of the city, headed exactly to the east exit where they should have been meet others. Hannah really hoped she wouldn't have to go too far in the city with the car, but instead remained on the back roads, but her hope dissolved like a cloud of smoke when they found the road blocked by the trunk of a fallen tree.

The girl began to swear mentally, turning the car and entering a street that would have forced them to pass closer to the center, while next to her Alois did not even try to restrain himself, starting to spit swear words in a low voice, a hand still tight spasmodically around the handle of the steel club. Hannah had not exaggerated when she described the situation in which the city was concerned; as they drove through the streets they saw a lot of armed policemen, bodies lying on the ground, people attacking other people as if they had gone mad. The blond realized with horror that there was blood everywhere and that people were devouring each other.

- No fucking ... It can't be, the world can't be totally screwed in one night! It is necessarily a nightmare ...- Alois murmured repressing the strong instinct to vomit that had risen at the sight of such a scene, the clear eyes that could not move from the figure of a screaming woman pours to the ground to which a man was getting her throat torn, finding herself writhing in a pool of blood. Around them sounded ambulance sirens and the sound of bullets from police weapons. They were about to take the last path that would lead them to the meeting point when the blond noticed with a corner of his eye a movement a few meters away to their right; a man was running holding his arm, from which he was bleeding, probably wounded in one leg due to his gait, behind him one of those beings. Alois thought that despite everything he could still do it; he did not seem seriously injured and the enemy was far enough away to allow him to escape. He was about to breathe a sigh of relief, thinking that at least that night someone else besides them would probably have been saved, when suddenly the man's legs seemed to give way making him end up ruinously on the ground between dust and debris, the monster now dangerously close. Unless of a divine miracle he would never have been saved, he too would have died and right before their eyes, yet another person victim of that night of terror. As soon as this awareness made its way into the mind of the blond the boy acted without even thinking twice. He screamed at Hannah to brake and threw open the car door, the weapon tightly in one hand.

-Alois what the fuck are you doing ?! Get back in the car! - the girl shouted looking at him terrified as the blond went around the car, running to help the man.

-I can't see anyone else die this night!- the boy shouted in response as he ran down the street, trying to avoid the debris of the half-destroyed buildings and praying to make it in time. In the meantime the man had managed to pull himself up on all fours and turn around to face the enemy, his black hair messed up and his glasses slightly crooked on his nose. He pulled himself up with difficulty, bringing a hand to hold his injured arm, his sleeve now soaked in blood. He kept his amber eyes fixed on the monster in front of him, ready to hit him with his bare hands in order to save his life if necessary, when suddenly an unidentified object crashed into the head of the being, breaking his skull and spraying quite a bit ' of blood on him. When the dead body crashed to the ground the man saw in front of him a boy with blond hair and blue eyes, his face dirty with blood as his own and a steel bat stained with red in one hand. The boy looked at him, breathing heavily, heartbeat a thousand.

-I... I couldn't let you die like that ...- he managed to say, his eyes fixed on his. His ears were ringing and his head was turning slightly, he didn't think he would ever be able to kill another human being so brutally. He didn't think he was capable of killing in any way. His only consolation was that what he had done by now was no longer human. When the sound of the shots rang out again a few meters away from where they were, Alois seemed to roam, reaching out to the man and grabbing him by the wrist, running with him towards Hannah's car, which the girl held firm with engine running, more than ready to restart. As Trancy had sent the man into the back seats with Luka and the door was closed behind him, the friend quickly got the vehicle started again, shouting at the blond man for the unconscious gesture he had just made. Alois didn't even seem to listen to her, pulling a small first-aid kit out of one of the backpacks and pulling the man's arm toward him so that he could medicate him. Fortunately it was not one of those beings that wounded him, but the broken glass of a window. The man said nothing for the first few minutes of his journey, only going to touch his settled arm once Alois had finished treating him. He noticed that it was a little bandage, but all in all well given the situation in which they were and the means at their disposal. The man glanced at Luka sitting next to him, at Hannah who was driving, still murmuring half-curses at the blond, and then he laid his amber eyes on Alois, whose clear irises had not abandoned him even for a second before.

- I ... I really think I owe you my life. My name is Claude and ... I am indebted to you-

Chapter Text

He was in total shit. Not literally, of course, even if at that moment the blond would almost have preferred to be in a manure pool rather than in that situation.
He felt through the fabric of the jersey that he wore the cold of the rough asphalt above which he was lying on his back, the points of the arms and legs with which he had rubbed violently to the ground burning as hell.
He was probably bleeding from his right elbow, but he couldn't say for sure since all his attention was catalyzed on the zombie above him that he was keeping at a distance as he could with his baseball bat.
As if having beaten his head against the road had not stunned him enough, the smell of death and putrefaction in the advanced state that the wandering roaring above him emanated was making the boy retch. It was a nauseating and pungent smell, hard to forget.

Alois knew he had to find a solution as soon as possible, he didn't have much time; within a few minutes the zombies he had previously spaced out would reach him and be doomed, dying in one of the worst ways ever. He tried to leverage with his arms and push the monster away, at least the time it took to get up and face him properly, but the zombie above him, though now reduced to an empty sack of flesh and bones, was still an adult body against his seventeen year old. He pressed him to the ground with all his weight, moreover, putting pressure on the blond's arms, already sore from the fall, stretching his skeletal hands towards the boy, trying obsessively to grab him, to sink his black and rotten nails into his flesh and tear it apart. A few drops of spit fell from the badly opened mouth of the zombie, wetting a cheek of the boy, who barely restrained himself from letting out a disgusted cry, but let himself go to a grimace of disgust.

He was about to try his last option, that is to throw a huge knee in the stomach of the zombie, hoping that he was not so rotten to make a hole in his stomach, but rather to push him a little away from himself, when he heard the sound of a shot ringing in the air and a bullet pierced the skull of the wandering, splashing the asphalt with dark blood.
Alois immediately pushed the corpse away from him, turning it badly on the road to his side and hastily pulling himself up, giving himself just a very fast check, noting that yes, he was bleeding from the elbow and had both forearms scratched and slightly flayed. He was about to pick up the bag with the provisions with a dry gesture and walk the few meters that separated him from the back entrance of the church, then from certain salvation, when the realization of what had just happened hit him like a slap in the face.
The zombie had been killed by a blow from the church behind him. A blow that, at 99.9%, had been fired from the turret they had used as a guard post. There were only two people who knew how to use the sniper rifle in their group and then alternated with that post; one was the blowhard of Michaelis and the other one was...

A shiver as powerful as an electric shock ran through him from head to toe, making him lose his breath for an instant and make him turn, his blue eyes immediately running to the turret window that faced the street. There seemed to be no one there, although from that distance he was not sure of seeing us clearly enough to distinguish someone if he was at the station. He just hoped that he hadn't been the one who he feared to shoot ...
When that idea crossed his mind he felt a wave of panic mixed with rage sweeping him away.
He heard the footsteps of the zombies coming to his right and tightened his grip on his own weapon, his shoulder muscles stiff, a dark shadow over his ice-colored eyes.
He knew very well that what he was about to do was extremely stupid and dangerous; his sense of survival was metaphorically screaming down everything in his ears when, instead of running away, he flung himself at the first zombie with a snarl.

He grabbed the other end of the bat with his left hand, placing it horizontally and using it to shove the being backwards violently, causing it to collapse back onto the road, his clear eyes staring at it with anger and disgust as ittried to get up again between incomprehensible pants. He lowered the bat on his skull with a dry gesture. Once, twice, three times, until only a pulp remained of the ex-human's head. He looked up from the now permanently immobile corpse at his feet just in time to dodge the attack of one of the other monsters that had been thrown at him. Alois took advantage of the fact that the zombie, due to too much impetus when he threw himself against it, had tilted forward to bring down his weapon on his head without the slightest pity, destroying it.
With his actions he was doing the exact opposite of what a normal person would have done. He was going against all logic and even if doing it for him was almost a habit, right now it wasn't the usual 17-year-old bullshit, but more than a real suicide.
He turned to face the remaining zombies, rolling his baseball bat with one hand, his eyes now apathetic as a sneer made space on his delicate face.

-Come on ...- he murmured, wiping his sleeve over his face to wipe a minimum of blood, his clothes now stained and torn in several places, -Let's play!-

---------------------

The raven boy had run as never before in his life, the gun lent to him by Alois held in his right hand. Even though all the muscles in his body still ached from the tension he had undergone during the motorbike journey, he tried to ignore it, gritted his teeth and tried to increase his speed.
The building in front of him extended more in length rather than in height, externally covered in stone whose color alternated between the very light gray and the dark gray, the flat roof and a square tower composed the entrance. The various facades of the church were decorated with a considerable number of arched windows, divided into triptych or double sections and from what the boy could see, all those too close to the ground, which therefore could have been a weak point in case of attack , had been internally reinforced, darkened with wooden planks. In the courtyard that he was crossing, some gray and rough granite tombstones emerged from the grass. The raven only hoped that it would not happen as in those B movies and the zombies decided to come out of there as well.

There was more than one door that would allow him to enter the church, from his visual angle it counted at least three, but Alois had told him to use the one located mostly towards the back of the building, so he did not hesitate even a second before rushing towards the small dark wood door, opening it wide and slipping into the church, closing it quickly then behind him.
There he leaned against his back, his chest rising and falling frantically in a desperate attempt to catch his breath, his lungs seeming lined with sandpaper, his eyes closed. He could feel the strands of longer hair sticking to his face from sweat, his legs trembling violently from the effort he had just made. He took a deep breath and barely suppressed the retching in his throat and opened his eyes, pointing his dark blue irises on the stone floor under his feet.
As he looked up, he found himself aiming at various weapons, including a sniper rifle. The man who held it stared at him coldly from behind the lenses of his glasses, while a woman with silver hair and amber skin pressed the muzzle of the gun against his forehead.

-Who the fuck are you?- she asked bluntly, her voice betraying a certain surprise, the sapphire irises fixed on him.

-My name is Ciel, but this is not the important thing now ...- he tried to say, raising his hands in surrender, trying to make it clear that he had no intention of making any risky moves against them.

-We're asking the questions here, it's not up to you to decide what's important and what's not,- said a low but surprisingly warm voice to his left. Ciel just looked away, pointing at the person who had just spoken; he was a man with raven black hair and reddish eyes, which stood out on the pale skin of his face. He had to look the same age as the man who was holding the sniper.

-So now you will answer all our questions if you do not want us to open a hole in your chest and throw you into a pit, was I clea- -, the man with the crimson eyes could not conclude his threat that the voice of a boy rose strong and clear from behind his shoulders.

-Ehy! That's my brother's gun! - he said, pushing his way between them, pushing the woman slightly to one side. Immediately three pairs of eyes focused on the weapon that Ciel still held in his hand. The boy didn't even have time to open his mouth to try to explain how things were that she lowered her gun and grabbed him badly by the collar of his shirt, banging him violently against the wall and blocking him between herself and the stone wall.

-Hannah, wait a moment,- the man with the red-tinged eyes said as he stretched an arm to his right so as to block the other companion who, only Ciel noticed at that moment, had made a jerk forward and would probably have acted like Hannah if the other didn't hold him.

-Luka, are you sure this is Alois's gun?- He asked without moving an inch and only moving his eyes from Ciel to the boy. The boy's hair was slightly long and disheveled, of a coppery color. The skin was covered with a light layer of dirt, the dark eyes were full of an unexpected seriousness to be seen on the face of a boy.

-Of course I'm sure, there is a cross engraved on the butt of the weapon,- he said, indicating the detail with a finger.

- What the hell did you do to Alois? - the woman said, removing the safety on the gun with a dry gesture, her blue eyes full of mistrust and anger.

-I didn't do anything to him, but if you don't listen to me, it may be too late to help him,- Ciel said, looking at them badly, annoyed by their accusations, although he understood that they were totally justified. If he had found himself in their same situation he would probably have acted with the same caution, but at least he would have given the suspect the opportunity to explain himself. The man with the glasses lowered his rifle and laid a hand on the woman's shoulder.

-Hannah, get him talking, but you move, explain yourself quickly before I decide to provide an extra vent to your brain,- he said seriously, his golden eyes staring into Ciel's blue ones.
The boy shivered slightly and not from the cold stone against which he was pressed, but from that man's gaze; it burned with such intensity that for a second Ciel he thought he could see Hell in those irises.

- He saved my ass in London and brought me here, we were almost there when we came across a group of zombies, about twenty. Alois mentioned something about the fact that they had freed themselves, I don't remember well ... The fact is that he gave me his gun and told me to run here to you, that he would go around in front ...- said Ciel noting that the woman was increasingly bleached during the last part of his short story.

- That asshole seriously wants to get killed! - Hannah exclaimed angrily tightening her grip on her pistol, a dark shadow had fallen on her blue eyes. She was about to run away who knows where, surely to the aid of the blonde, but before she could do more than two steps a dark shadow darted in front of her, preceded her, slinging at the small semi-hidden staircase behind one of the columns that Ciel had not noticed before.

The boy saw the youngest of the group, Luka thought he understood his name, throwing a look full of fear at Hannah, clearly worried to death for his older brother. On the church and its occupants, that the raven only now noticed that it was not only the four people with whom he had just collided, but a well-matched group, at least from what he could see from his position against the wall, a heavy silence fell.

Sitting on a bench a man with short black hair and glasses was arguing with, the raven didn't know if he was talking about a man or a woman since he was on his back compared to him, a person with a cascade of fiery red hair . Not far from them, intent on cooking something on electric camping stoves, two young men with dark skin and Indian features. Only at the end the young man noticed, sitting on the ground near the altar, a boy and a girl of clearly Asian origins, probably brother and sister due to the similarity, and next to them, a young man with long silver hair holding an arm around the life of the dark one. He saw the boy whisper something indecipherable in the ear of the alleged sister and the young woman's gaze fixed on Ciel, totally unreadable. Ciel felt a vague sense of nausea attack him; it wasn't completely his fault, he hadn't forced the blond to help him, it was Alois who got involved, but the fact remained that if something happened to the other guy it would also be his fault.

He also strongly suspected that the boy's companions would not easily forgive him for his death, particularly the golden-eyed man, Hannah and Luka, and Ciel did not feel particularly comfortable staying in a group of people who probably would hate him. The sudden sound of a shot echoed through the church, spreading from top to bottom, shaking him violently from his thoughts, making him jump slightly. He just hoped that was a sign that the blonde was safe ...
The low murmur that had pervaded the air until that moment disappeared suddenly from the shot, while the people present exchanged indecipherable glances.

Ciel noticed Luka glance at Hannah, in a silent question full of anxiety and fear. The minutes passed with an exasperating slowness, there was still no trace of the blond and Ciel began to fear that he would never see him again except as one of those infernal beings. The raven shook his head slightly, he didn't even want to think about it.
And yet ... If the shot fired before had not been enough, then why had no others followed? What shot ... that shot was used to kill what was left of the blond, now doomed, or, even worse, now he was a zombie too?
Time seemed to slow down in an exasperatingly painful way, almost as if every single second reached almost to infinity before making room for the next one.

After what seemed like an infinite amount of time to the boy, he suddenly saw Hannah abandon her position and make a dash for the door from which he had entered several minutes earlier. The girl walked briskly towards the exit, charging the gun she had in her hands with a dry gesture, the expression of someone who had no intention of having second thoughts about the gesture she was making, the blue eyes marked by a dark shadow. The sole of her dark boots hit the stone floor repeatedly while the sound of her footsteps echoed through the church, fast and determined.
She did not have time to put her free hand from the gun on the handle and lower it so that the door was shaken violently, as if something or someone beyond it had slammed against it with force.

The woman stopped, hesitating; it could very well have been one of the zombies who had freed himself and who had ended up by the parts of the church by mistake. Even if it was only one of those beings it could be risky to suddenly open the door, it could not be alone and at that point they would have been bitter cocks. As he saw Hannah barely back away and the door shake again, Ciel started to reach her, still holding the gun Alois had given him, but before he could move more than a couple of steps in that direction, he saw a cascade of ruby hair passing by and the person to whom they belonged stood next to the girl, holding what appeared to be a short katana.

-Grell! What the hell are you doing? - exclaimed the dark-haired man with the glasses, who first sat on the bench right next to the other, getting up in turn and coming close to Ciel, a slight veil of worry on his pale face, a clearly visible alarm in his clear green eyes.
The red one gave him an indecipherable look from behind the lenses of her glasses.

-In your opinion? I give her a hand. It is better if you are more than one in the case of those disgusting ascents from Hell- she said tightening better her grip on her weapon, while doing with her free hand a nod to Hannah, as if to tell her to also open the door and that she would help her if there was any need.
The girl nodded, carefully reaching out again for the wooden door handle, trying to lower it. She did not even have time to bloom the cold metal that the door burst open suddenly, opening with so much force that it went to clash against the wall.

-Shit, it was so difficult open a door?!- exclaimed Alois staggering inside the church, covered in dark blood and mud. All the people inside the room looked at him in complete silence, too shocked and relieved at the same time to find something to say; shocked by the entrance of the blond, relieved that he was still alive.
The boy closed the door behind him with a kick, probably he had opened it in the same way as in one hand he still held the baseball bat and the other hand was busy pressing on the opposite side, from which he evidently lost blood seen that the sweater and sweatshirt at that point were full of it.

"Alois!" Luka immediately ran at him, lightning fast, his voice filled with relief. He flung himself to hug his brother's uninjured side, who left the baseball bat to caress his thin back gently, a very slight smile that surfaced on his pale, bloodstained face.

The blond seemed to give a damn about the state he was in, despite the fact that at first glance he gave a fleeting impression that he really looked like a zombie himself; his clothes were badly torn in several places and stained with blood and mud, as were the black amphibians Alois wore, his face stained red and his cheek covered with scratches. Not to mention the side that he held with his hand. Ciel saw Hannah go to meet the blond while Claude appeared at his side, the rifle on his shoulder, the expression almost indecipherable, but the raven could swear he saw a spark of relief in his golden eyes.

-Stay calm Luka, it is less serious than it seems ...- the blonde said trying to calm his brother, who, rightly worried, was checking him everywhere, probably scared to find the sign of a bite from one of those abominations.

-They didn't bite or scratch me, don't be so anxious.-
As Alois's eyes rested on the figure of Claude, the blond's voice stopped abruptly, leaving the sentence hanging. Unlike the moor, who until then had shown himself to be almost as expressive as a statue, Alois did not even try to suppress the myriad of emotions that crossed his face. Ciel saw him move from a semi-shook expression to one of mixed relief to ... affection (?), only to turn into dull rage.

He pushed his brother away from him to move steadily toward the amber-eyed man, not before he had picked up his baseball bat from the ground, his eyes as cold and sharp as a blade. He arrived in front of him like a fury, stopping a few centimeters from the other, his face distorted slightly in an angry grimace, turned towards the other in order to look into his eyes.

-It was you who fired that shot, didn't you?- he asked in a cold and charged voice of what Ciel seemed, incomprehensibly, almost resentment. Claude seemed to take a few seconds to understand the blond's words, still a little surprised by the sudden closeness with the boy. For his part the raven did not understand the reason for all that sudden resentment on the part of the blond, after all, even if it had been Claude to shoot, he had saved his life apparently, why take it so much?
He would definitely have to behave in the opposite way and thank him instead of fighting him like that. The dark man was about to answer, in order to give a minimum explanation to that blonde fury that had appeared in front of him, but as he did to open his mouth the boy held the baseball bat better, pointing it to his throat. It didn't matter that he barely got up behind the man, with a similar weapon in his hand it was definitely a threat.

The raven noted with surprise that, instead of resolving the situation in some way, perhaps dividing them, the other people present in the church did nothing, each taking back what they were doing before their sudden entry into that shelter.
It seemed like such scenes to them were not such an abnormal thing and they had decided in principle not to get in the way, leaving them to work things out for themselves. He decided to do the same and to follow instead Hannah, who, sitting next to the altar, was making him sign to reach her, probably to explain to him how things would be carried out from that moment forward.

- I already told you, I don't need your fucking protection! I don't need your help and I don't even want it!- exclaimed Alois, narrowing his eyes, his pale eyes fixed on Claude's amber ones, who looked back without saying anything.

-So next time let me do it, okay ?! I prefer to make a shitty end like the one I was about to do rather than be saved by you! - the blond man shouted raising his baseball bat and forcing the dark to raise his face by a couple of centimeters. Alois was trembling slightly, his entire thin body shaken by a shiver that he could not stop in any way, while he tried in every way to restrain the tears that were a hair's breadth from falling from his blue eyes.
Claude, who had not said or done anything until then, leaving the boy free to yell at him and let off steam, at that point grabbed the end of the bat that was a few millimeters from his chin with one hand, rudely pushing it aside and looking at the blond from top to bottom.

- Have you finished with this scene? It wasn't me who fired that shot, but Sebastian- he said in a calm tone, placing the glasses that had slipped a little with his free hand - he was faster than me and he saved you, so you just put on to scream hysterically for nothing. Stop making the first woman for no reason - he picked him up with just an eyebrow, his voice filled with obvious fatigue.
At these words Alois seemed to become paralyzed and blanched a lot, turning his gaze from Claude to Sebastian, who had just come down the stone staircase at that moment and waved to him, repeating the gesture a couple of times, suddenly running out of words .

-I ... I ... Aaaaah! Leave me alone, heck! - the boy exclaimed in return, jerking away and backing away a couple of steps, almost tripping on his own feet, his cheeks slightly flushed with shame at the miscalculation. He stumbled slightly away in a hurry despite the man's attempt to stop him, Claude's hand reaching out to grab him by the wrist closed over the air.

Alois hurriedly disappeared up the ladder from which Sebastian had just descended, taking refuge on the guard tower, trying to get away as far as possible from everyone else, not wanting to talk or confront anyone. The tears he had held so far slipped inexorably down his cheeks, barely colored with red from the blood they wiped away along their descent.
He dropped the bat to the ground, which fell and rolled on the stone floor with a metallic thud, stopping only when it ended against one of the walls, the legs and arms that hurt from going mad with wounds to report that, however superficial, the they were sending pains all over his body.

He sat in the alcove of the window from which the blow that had saved his life had left, his back leaning against the cold wall, his head turning slightly due to the loss of blood. He cautiously raised his hand from his wounded side, groaning with pain, his hand and shirt covered with dark blood, now almost dry; while fighting with the last two remaining zombies he had ended up crashing badly in a shop window and some pieces of glass were stuck in his right side, going even deep enough. He examined the wound with a sigh of fatigue and only wanted to sleep from there until the next century, noting that he could still see the pieces of glass that popped between the skin and the blood. He absolutely had to extract them in some way and take care of that damned wound that had thrown him such pain that he took his breath away every single step to the church.

The problem was that to deal decently with such a thing he would have to use the right tools: bandages, a pair of tweezers or a needle ... not to mention the disinfectant. That is all things that were in the former parish priest's office of that damned church, which meant that he would have to move from the "safe haven" in which he was and almost certainly would end up clashing with someone in the group. After the scene
he did first, the last thing he wanted was to run into Claude.
Of course, they were a group of twelve people, thirteen also counting Ciel, but the bad luck never came alone and the blond was almost certain that if he went down to retrieve what he needed, he would surely clash with the man with amber eyes to whom he had saved his life when all that shit had begun.

He could not, however, remain for a long time with such a wound without medicating it in some way, he was aware of it, if he had not run quickly to cover it would certainly be infected and then he would have been totally in the shit.
He passed a hand over his face with a sigh, trying to calm down and wiping his cheeks from the tears, getting to his feet with some difficulty, given by his legs that didn't want to know how to support him properly.

He picked up the baseball bat from the ground and then staggered down the stairs, trying in every way not to throw too much weight on the injured side and possibly not to be too conspicuous even though, seen as he was reduced, he looked like a practically impossible undertaking. He slowly descended the stone staircase, finding himself again in the main hall of the church, in the area near the altar where, luckily for him, there were only Lau and Undertaker who slept next to each other.
The blond was surprised not to see even Ran Mao with them, after all the girl practically never left Lau's side, but the good smell of meat that was breeding in the air meant that lunch was being served and probably the Chinese had only gone to get a portion for her adopted brother too.

Alois felt his stomach growl a little, claiming, for good reason since it was almost two days that he didn't make a decent meal, some food, but he knew he had to take care of the wound first, hoping that the others would leave him something .
After all, the fact that the companions were busy eating was a fortune for him; he could have done things calmly and without hitting unwanted questions by mistake.
He was sure that if Hannah or Luka had noticed him, he would not be able to escape their apprehensive care. At that thought he quickened his pace, rushing as fast as he could into the old priest's office, laying his bat against the wall and going to the wardrobe inside which they kept the medicine box, hoping to find everything he could need.
He was so intent on finding what he needed that he didn't even notice the figure that had just come out of the bathroom next to the office and was now looking at him, leaning against the door jamb, his arms crossed over his chest.

- Do you think you'll give me an explanation sooner or later for the outburst to which you have subjected me before, or will you continue to ignore me by pretending that you don't touch it?- asked Claude, causing Alois to jump and partly turn towards him, his amber eyes peering at the boy from behind the glasses.
The blond pressed himself against the desk, his eyes failing to remain fixed on the other's face. It was really true that the bad luck haunted him then, of all the people in the group who could have surprised him at a time like this, with him he had to find himself alone in a room ...

- I don't owe you any explanation. I was pissed off about a series of things that happened, including the attack by a dozen zombies that I told you it was better to kill and not trap, but nobody listened to me. No one ever listens to me and then I suffer the consequences ...- he said in an annoyed tone while with one hand he continued to rummage in the first-aid kit, throwing it a glance every now and then, -I just needed to let off steam and for your sum you were unlucky there, end, I have nothing else to say-.

-Do you really think I believe you? You must really consider me an idiot then. You and I have known each other recently, but I think I can almost say with certainty when you lie, or at least when you do it with me. You can't keep eye contact - Claude said abandoning his conscious pose and instead approaching the boy, placing one hand on the desk and grabbing the blond's chin with the other, raising his face and forcing him to look at his face.
Only then the man realize how pale the other was under the residual blood and mud that stained his face, and above all how much he was shaking. The usually impassive expression of Claude was visibly affected by the concern as soon as, lowering his gaze along the boy's body, he noticed the wound on his side that could be seen through the tear of the shirt he was wearing.

-What the heck did you do ?!- he exclaimed, unable to hold himself back and trying to grab the bottom edge of the blond's shirt in order to lift it and better control the damage the other had done. Alois, letting himself be panicked for a few moments because he was too close to the man, and because he had guessed his actions, quickly moved away, staggering backwards and backing away until he had the wall behind him.

-One of those beings didn't bite me, you don't have to worry about turning me over at night and killing you in your sleep, so leave me alone, I can think of it for myself, it's nothing,- he said, pressing himself against the cold stone behind him, into vain hope that the latter englobed him and spared him the uneasiness in which all that situation was putting him.
Apparently, however, luck did not intend to help him. Claude was on him in a fraction of a second, blocking him between himself and the wall, preventing any attempt to escape him in any way, his golden eyes fixed on the boy's blue ones.

- You have to stop behaving this way, okay? In doing so you don't seem mature, on the contrary, you act like a stubborn child who doesn't want the help of anyone, but you don't even notice that in this way you put everyone in danger! - the man said looking down at him for then bend to the ground, moving to the height of the blond's hips, carefully lifting the shirt so as not to rub the fabric with the open wound, -this is not a wound from nothing as you are insisted on supporting, you have fucking pieces of glass stuck in the skin and you risked that everything became infected. You pose as a person who has no need of anyone and indeed, is here to help everyone, but if your conditions had worsened you would have just caused a lot of problems instead of saving them, you realize? - he said looking up at him again with his amber eyes, pointing them at the blond's face, which at that glance trembled, barely biting his lower lip, driving back tears that had risen to his eyes at those words.

-How did you think to fix a similar wound on your own, explain it to me? You would have only done a number of major damage ... I would also like to understand how the hell you did to reduce yourself this way, Sebastian told me he shot that zombie before he could do anything to you ...- said between his teeth Claude while he tore off the unusable shirt so that the fabric would not get in the way. He placed his glasses on his nose with one hand and then motioned for the boy to sit on the sofa next to them.

- I'm going to call William, he certainly will know better than me how to handle such a thing. You stay good there and please, avoid moving more than you need to breathe, I would like to avoid coming back and find yourself in conditions even worse than those you are in right now - he said, moving a strand of black hair away from his face, his expression betraying a veil of concern for Alois.

The boy nodded slowly, not having the courage to say anything while the man left the room, closing the door behind him and went to call William, the young man with the short black hair who, when he entered, had found intent, as usual, arguing with that red fury that was Grell. From what William had told him and others when he joined the group together with red, before all that mess started, he was about to complete his medical studies in one of the most prestigious schools in London. It was obvious that, of all, the moor had gone to call just him, he only hoped that the two men would not attract the attention of Luka or Hannah; he really didn't want to have pieces of glass pulled out from his side under his brother's worried gaze or while the girl screamed down at him for not being more careful. Alois closed his eyes, letting himself go slightly backwards and resting his head against the back of the sofa, trying not to fall asleep right there. He just sighed, barely restraining himself from running a hand through his hair, knowing that both were disgustingly covered in blood, dust and mud and a real shower was not a luxury he could afford, as everyone else.

Of course, in that place there was a bathroom, and it wasn't bad either, but the water supply at their disposal was limited and therefore they had been forced to wash themselves in pieces, wetting clothes with cold water and passing them on the body : perhaps not the most practical of manners, but at least they were more or less clean. The sound of the door being opened and William's voice made him jump slightly and open his eyes again, staring at him and Claude, who had the foresight to close the door.

-So, let's see how serious is the damage you did to yourself ...- said the green-eyed man with a slight sigh, moving closer and settling his glasses on his face, bending over to check the extent of the wound. Claude, meanwhile, had remained beside the desk, leaning slightly against the wooden shelf with one side, his arms tucked into the pockets of the black sweatshirt he was wearing.

-... Yes ... I believe that in addition to extracting the pieces of glass with surgical tweezers I will also have to put a lot of points ... Otherwise the wound will close too slowly and you risk an infection, with fever and constant weakness as additional consequences ...- William said after giving a meticulous look at the various cuts, -Claude, I really think that I will need your help; you will have to hold him still while I extract the pieces of glass, if he moves too much he only risks worsening the situation by causing the glass to go deeper ...- he added, motioning to the dark to approach and to pass him the first-aid kit.
Claude just let himself go to a sigh before doing as the other had asked him, then sitting on the couch next to Alois, making him partly settle against him, so as not to make him move too much and at the same time make him stay a minimum comfortable in spite of everything.

-Well ... Now Alois, please, I know we don't have anesthetic but, for the pity of my ears and of Claude's, don't scream if possible,- said William, extracting the surgical tweezers, the cotton wool and the disinfectant.
Those words were followed by what Alois thought was the most painful half-hour of his life until that moment.

When William extracted the umpteenth shard of glass, claiming it was the last and went on to put the stitches, he was now so stunned by the pain and effort he made to not scream, an effort that had more repercussions on his lips since he didn't want to let out the slightest sound had bit them to blood, which almost did not feel the needle and the thread pierce his skin repeatedly. The mind trying to stay fixed on the feel of Claude's hands on his skin, on the warmth of the man's chest against his back ...
Somehow he found it decidedly reassuring to have him next to him in that situation, or better, his mind realized that he would almost always find the idea of his presence as a "safe place" in which to take refuge. He roused himself from his thoughts only when he saw William get up with a tired sigh, going to wash his hands in the adjoining bathroom, leaving the disinfectant bottle and the wadding on the desk.

-And I have finished here ... Try not to make excessive efforts for at least a couple of days and not to throw the points, or risks that the wound reopens ... Now, I strongly advise you to clean with the disinfectant the various less deep scratches you made yourself, eat something and go to sleep. I really think you need it ...- the man said leaving the bathroom and heading for the door. Alois thanked him in a tired voice, waving to him before the other man disappeared out of the room, closing the door behind him. The blond made to get up and take the disinfectant and cotton wool, determined to do as the other had advised him, but Claude preceded him, beckoning him to remain seated while he took the bottle.

-Stay good there, I'll do it ...- the dark-man said, grabbing his arm slowly, starting to pass the wadding soaked with disinfectant on the various cuts the boy had made when, because of the zombie that had come at him, he had ended up ruinously on the ground, flaying his skin on the rough asphalt.
At that gesture the boy was about to retract his arm sharply, the defenses that until then, dazed by pain and fatigue, had lowered, now again raised between him and the man. But Claude did not allow him to withdraw, tightening his grip on his arm, not too tight to hurt him, but not too soft to let him go.

- Can I know why now you start doing that again? I could understand if up to now I had given you reasons to doubt me or you had shown me that you didn't trust me, but saw how you leaned on me first and the fact that, despite that was the situation that was asking for it in somehow, you let yourself be touched despite being half naked, it means that you trust me. So I can't understand, you accept the help of others, both from Hannah and Luka... I might think it's because you have known them for a long time, but you also do it with Sebastian or with William or Grell, whereas every time I offer you my help I am rejected in this way, without even a fucking explanation, "said Claude, looking at him seriously, the tone of someone who would not give up that time without having the answers he was looking for.
Beneath that look, Alois felt his body tremble slightly as a weight hit his chest, making him more difficult to breathe. He realized with horror that the tears had once again risen to his eyes and threatened to spur down his cheeks at any moment, right in front of the last person who he would have liked to see him cry.
He freed himself from the grasp of the man with a jerk, getting to his feet and making to head for the door, intending to get as far away from him as possible and out of that room, not caring about the glances and questions others would ask him.
He did not have time to arrive at the door that he felt seized by his left wrist by Claude,

- Fuck Alois answer me! Turn to look at me and face an answer, I'm sick! - the dark man exclaimed angrily, no longer able to hold himself back in the face of that umpteenth attempt at escape, to avoid him in any way, for nothing bothering to let him go again .

-I don't want your heck of help because the first time we met, it was me who saved your life and if you saved mine now you wouldn't be indebted to me anymore and I'd lose even the only bond I have with you ! And I don't want this to happen! - Alois shouted then turning to the other, unable to hold back the tears that ran down his face as he took the dark man by the cheeks and kissed him almost in despair, his slender body now pressed against his.