His heart was beating so fast and hard that he felt like it would be his downfall. His entire being was shaking, his breath trembling like the wings of a humming bird. A cold sweat covering his skin as a crushing pressure weighted on the back of his neck. He was so scared. So doomed. Zombies were roaming all around the counter behind which he had found refuge.
Earlier, they had decided they needed to take some risks in order to fetch more food: they had a new girl in their group now and a sudden fire had damaged their supplies, which meant they needed more food. Lawrence, Zion, Harry and Eugene had voluntered to go and had planned on going to a store slightly further than any place they had gone before. Lawrence had said he wanted to increase their chances to find more food by going somewhere they hadn't been before. Eugene hadn't exactly be pleased by it but had remained silent: the others already had the bad habit to treat him like a child because they were all one year ahead of him, he hadn't wanted to give them any satisfaction by staying safe at school…
But right now, he damnly regretted it! Their trip had been just fine until Lawrence had slipped on a can, making a tremendous noise by falling. They had been mortified at first, holding their breaths… And the zombies had come from everywhere. Eugene had lost sight of the others, fighting and dudging as much as he could before finally fiding refuge by jumping behind a sushi counter. He had heard Harry's voice in the distance, calling for him, and nothing more. Did the others succeed in getting out? Was he all alone now? Another sound of falling cans made him jump and cover his mouth to prevent any sound from escaping. He had to stay quiet!
Was this how everything would end? Would he die alone? Eaten alive? His eyes burnt from fear and despair. He would never be able to escape! The place was full of zombies! He wasn't a believer and yet he prayed, with all his heart, mind and soul. Anybody! Please! Another noise. They were close. So close. He couldn't even allow himself to sob. His heart seemed to be so loud, thundering at his temples! He swallowed difficultly his own saliva, looking up to the holes in the cellar where he could see the late afternoon night disappearing quickly. Too quickly. Soon enough, he would be in the dark. He had a flashlight in his backpack but it would more than surely sign his death sentence. He was trapped. Despair had never been so crushing.
He forced himself to breath deeply in silence nonetheless. He had to find a way out. No matter how, he had to. He had at least to try. Even if he knew deep inside he was already dead meat. He was about to get on his feet when a sudden ruckus made him jump and ball: an entire shelf must have fallen down. With such noise, zombies would come by hundreds now! Trembling, he got on his feet, staying hidden as much as he could by being doubled up and slowly got out of his hide out. He almost let out a terrified cry when almost meeting a zombie but thankfully, the creature was facing the other side, slowly going to the origin of the noise. He moved as silently and as fast as he could, following the wall and drawing away from the now zombie meeting.
Each step gave him the impression he was being loud as hell, but as no dead walker seemed to notice him, he kept going, his heart pounding so hard it might rip open his ribcage and ran by itself. He stopped many times to check out his surroundings and felt almost joy as he approached the door they had come through ealier that day. But it was very short, his heart sinking as he spotted a dozen zombies roaming around the doubled door. He mouthed a silent F word. He had been so stupid to think he could make it. He was trully doomed. He would never get out of this place alive! He was about to collapse, despair filling his mind and clouding his judgment.
Suddenly a hand came from behind and grabbed his face, silencing him as his back hit something hard and warm. He would have let out a shriek if that hand didn't cover his mouth and nose. He frantically move his head to catch a glimpse of what had caught him and stopped moving as a warm and low voice murmured against his ear:
"Stop making a fuss."
Zion! Slowly he nodded and the hand let go of his face. The redhead was just behind him, his eyes focusing on the zombies around, making sure they hadn't been noticed, his bar of steel ready to swing. His simple presence relieved Eugene for a moment: Zion was a warrior, a fighter, he always protected the group along with Ethan. He was reassuring. Even in such desperate circumstances. His companion suddenly seemed to see somthing and grabbed his hand, guiding him to a door nearby. A shelf had fell across of it but didn't prevent from opening it. After a brief glance, Zion gestured Eugene to slip in. His small frame was an advantage for this and the boy was inside the room in no time. It was sort of a small storage space, with shelves running along the walls and a small barred window. Zion slipped in after him, wincing as the metal shelf whined under his weight. They closed the door in a hurry and held their breath, listening. The zombies kept growling outside but they didn't seem to have notice the two fugitives. Exhaling slowly in relief, Zion pressed his forehead against the door while Eugene let the back of his head leant against it. They both peeped to each other and slowly began to laugh.
It was a nervous relieved laugh. The pressure slightly relieving itself. Dusk was slowly making its way, it would soon be dark, but they still could see without using a flashlight. Eugene needed a few seconds to get his breathe more normal but suddenly noticed his damp cheeks: tears were freely running down his face. He turned around so Zion couldn't see them and tried to wipe them with his sleeve.
"You alright?" His companion asked nonetheless.
"Yeah, fine. It's just very dusty in here." The blonde mumbled.
"Eugene…" Zion came closer and put his hand on his shoulder, forcing him gently to turn around.
The youngest looked at him and dropped almost immediately his eyes. He was crying, like some stupid weak kid! He hated to feel so vulnerable! But he had been so sure it had been the end… He had been so certain he would die here and then, alone, frightened, in the most painful way. He thought Zion would be annoyed or worst make fun of him, but the redhead did neither of those things, simply putting his bar of steel aside and taking him into his arms. It was unexpected, warm, comforting and welcomed. Eugene didn't think twice before holding onto him and nestling his face in the crook of his companion's neck, sobbing as silently as he could. Zion didn't say anything, simply holding him tightly as if preventing him from falling apart. After a minute, the blonde slowly pulled back, his eyes red and his face slightly flushed:
"It's okay." The older boy smiled. "We should be good for now."
He looked around and decided to move one of the shelves in front of the door so they wouldn't get any surprise from the outside. Zion seemed so calm and confident… His presence was as reassuring as it was irritating. Eugene envied the redhead for being able to focus in such circumstances. The dim light was slowly followed by the darkness of the night. Soon it would be pitch black. Zion found an old cardboard box and dismantled it so they wouldn't be straight on the ground to sleep.
"It's all we've got but it should prevent the cold from the ground from freezing us."
"Good idea." Eugene squatted at his side and opened his backpack.
He could at least hold onto the redhead's calm and try to equal it. He rummaged in his bag and extracted a box of instant noodles and a portion of dried meat pieces. He also had a small bottle of water that he put in front of them.
"It's all I've got." Eugene shrugged.
"That's great!" Zion beamed. "My bag is still in the store, somewhere. Lost it when I let myself fall from the roof."
"The roof…?" The blonde rose his eyebrows.
"Yeah, the entrance was crowded with zombies. I couldn't get back in."
"Back… You got out?" The youngest was slowly realising what it meant.
"Yeah." Zion nodded and looked at him. "What? I couldn't exactly abandon you here, could I?"
"But… I could have been dead by then." Eugene whispered.
"I had to try at least."
Eugene stared at his companion with wide eyes. He had come back for him. He had risked everything for him without knowing if he was even still alive… He dropped his gaze. Would he have done the same? Probably not… He felt grateful and yet he couldn't quite understand.
"Why…? Why would you do that? It was reckless and stupid! What if I was already dead? You would have died for nothing!"
"But you were alive and I did good by coming back. Can we drop it and leave it like that?" Zion mumbled, annoyed.
"No! It's not okay!" Eugene insisted. "I'm not some kid you have to protect at all cost! You can't just toss away your life to save everyone!"
"It's not everyone! Just you!" The redhead burst out, trying very hard not to talk too loud.
"Just… Me…?" The blonde frowned, not quite sure he was understanding it right.
"Fuck…! Yes. I'd toss everything away just for you and only you, Eugene." Zion told him a bit harshly.
"Why…?" The youngest could only whispered.
"Do you really need subtext?" His companion sighed, looking away, souding almost defeated.
Eugene stayed stunned even if his brain had already guessed the reason half way in the conversation. He gulped down and stared at the older boy, his face slighlty flushed as he stubbornly looked away. Eugene allowed himself to sit before murmuring:
"You never said…"
"It's not exactly something you claim out and clear." Zion replied, still not looking at him.
The blonde was disconcerted. Never had anyone expressed their feelings towards him. He was a normal teen and hadn't exactly had much admirers nor love declarations. He hesitated and grabbed the dried meat package and held it towards his companion.
"Here. Eat that."
Zion finally looked at him and had an half smile, bemused. He nodded and took the gift, but couldn't quite help himself as he teased him:
"So my sacrifice is worth a package of dried meat?"
"Just eat it already !" Eugene mumbled, his face redening, feeling stupid.
The redhead laughed lowly and opened the package, eating a piece of dried meat. It wasn't much but they had already had less than that. He rose an eyebrow though as Eugene opened the instant noodles and began to eat it just like that.
"What? It's good." The blonde frowned.
"I really doubt that." Zion pulled a face.
"Just try it!" Eugene insisted, breaking a piece of his instant noodles and holding it out to him.
The redhead slightly rose his eyebrows, his eyes going from the offering to the two big chocolate eyes. He hesitated and slowly grabbed the blonde's hand. It was almost a tender gesture. He could have sworn he heard Eugene suddenly holding his breath as he brought the boy's fingers to his mouth, taking the dried noodles with his teeth. He mouthed it and then, as he looked back into the blonde's eyes, he licked the tip of his fingers.
Eugene shivered at the warm contact of Zion's tongue against his fingers. He felt a sudden hot flush as he couldn't take his eyes of the scene. His companion then pulled back, letting go of him, chewing as he smirked:
"Not bad actually."
The youngest slowly took his hand back. The redhead's defiance had something hypnotic, fascinating… And he felt like he wanted to take away that arrogant smirk. What was he thinking? He then rose an eyebrow and let out:
"Won't you even let me have some?"
He was referring to the dried meat even if he knew how it could sound. Zion seemed taken aback for a second before glancing at the package in his hand. His whiskey coloured eyes went from the package to him and, slowly, he held him a small piece of meat. Eugene grabbed his wrist and approached his face. His eyes never left Zion's as he slowly took the food in his mouth, his lips brushing against his companion's fingers. He could feel those fingers slightly trembling as the redhead watched him.
What was he doing? He didn't even know. He wanted to take that confidence off that face, to take the upper hand. Zion's eyes were intense in the dim light and suddenly, he grabbed Eugene's jaw, his face coming so close that the blonde's heart missed a bit. The redhead's voice was so low it felt like a predator's low growl:
"Don't play around if you're not into it. You would only burn your wings."
With that he let go of him and turned around, letting Eugene startled. He hadn't expected such a strong reaction… He stared at the older's boy back, feeling petty. Had he hurt him? Had he gone too far? He bit his lips and came closer, on his knees.
"Zion…? I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be a brat… Or insensitive."
"It's fine." The redhead slightly snapped, visibly annoyed.
"No. It's not."
Eugene came closer and gulped down before hesitantly sliding his arms around his companion's torso. He could feel Zion jumping and stiffening at that. He pressed his forehead against his elder's shoulders blades, holding him tighter.
"I'm sorry. Thank you for saving my life."
Zion slightly relaxed at those words but it was very subtle. And Eugene knew it. He gulped down and murmured:
"I… I played with fire. I get it. And I'm sorry if I hurt you. I… I never… I never had anyone telling me that they cared or that they liked me enough to risk their own life. So… It's a bit disconcerting. And I have a shitty temper."
"I like your temper." The redhead replied lowly, his head slightly turning towards him.
"I know nothing. At all. So… I don't know if it's a good idea but…" He bit his lips and added. "Kiss me."
This time, Zion turned around more, forcing Eugene to let him go and face him. The blonde seemed almost younger for how lost he looked. He hesitated, his usual stubborn expression totally vanished, and looked up to him:
"I never kissed a guy."
"Eugene, you don't have to." Zion frowned, puzzled.
"What do we have to lose? If I don't like it, you'll know and I'll too, and we're mature enough to resume being what we were." Eugene rambled. "But… If I like it…"
The redhead didn't wait for the end of the sentence, capturing his lips. It was a shy, unsure and hesitant kiss. It was as if Zion was afraid to burn himself, but it was still soft, warm and tender. When they parted, Eugene's breath trembled slightly, opening his eyes on his companion's lips. They were wet, opened, inviting. The blonde's chocolate eyes went up to the redhead's ones. And, timidly, he came back for them.
Zion's heart was hammering against his ribs as Eugene kissed him once more. He turned slightly more and tried to slide his arms around the blonde's waist. He wanted to pull him to him, but he didn't dare to. He didn't want to scare him. It was clumsy, shy and yet very tender. Eugene hesitated and, instinctively, came closer. Still on his knees, he put his hands on his companion's shoulders for support. After another second, they parted, flushed and short-winded, Eugene soflty pressing his forehead against Zion's, their eyes locked.
"... So…?" The older of the two murmured, concerned.
"I… Think I… Liked it." The blonde confessed.
"Really?" Zion insisted.
"I think so." Eugene murmured, his face flushed.
A small smile came across the redhead's face, a genuine one, simply happy. The blonde felt touched by it, offering a small smile in response. Zion then dared to tighten his embrace, hugging Eugene tightly, his forehead now against the blonde's chest as he whispered:
"I really thought I had lost you today."
"But you came back for me." Eugene smiled shyly. "Thank you."
Zion smiled and let him go. They ate at the light of the flashlight, being careful not to turn it towards the door or the window. They laid down on the cupboard and stayed against each other to share their body heat, Eugene accepting to be the little spoon. He felt protected and safe despite their situation and even succeeded to fall asleep.
When he woke up, the light wasn't bright. It was still early. They were used to get up early everyday. But unlike everyday, he awoke in a warm cocoon and not alone. His cap was near his backpack, his mask with it… He must have tossed them during the night… He needed a few seconds to focus his mind and notice that the hand under his sweater, on his stomach, wasn't his. He tried not to move too much but enough to look behind him. Zion was still sleeping, using one of his arms as a pillow and the other one holding the blonde and disappearing under his sweater.
The day before had been intense. So intense. He had thought he would die, all alone, than Zion had come to his rescue even if he didn't know if he was still alive… And had more or less confess his feelings for him. And as if all this wasn't enough, they had kissed, he had decided he liked it, and they had slept together. Really… He could never had imagined it. Zion above everyone.
But the redhead had always been true and honest, sometimes rude but never too harsh. Eugene turned around to face him and winced as it woke him up. He looked almost like an upset fox.
"What time is it?" Zion asked.
"I don't know… Around 7 o'clock, I guess." The blonde shrugged.
"Right… We should head back to the high school." The redhead smirked sleepily. "Their faces will be memorable."
"Yeah…" Eugene chewed on his lips before adding. "Zion? Would you mind if the others know about us?"
"Hm? No. Of course not. Would you?" Zion gave him all his attention.
"I… I think I'd like them to know." The youngest shrugged, his head nodding. "Especially Scarlett."
"Are you already getting jealous?" The older boy shuckled.
"No!" Eugene wrinkled his nose and frowned. "Just already exasperated."
Zion couldn't help but laugh, annoying Eugene a bit more. He loved how the blonde, who had seemed so genuine about all this, was now his better self already and pouting about probabilities. He loved how in it he was already. And above everything, he loved that he had had the guts to come back and had told him about his feelings. Survival wasn't easy but this would surely make it much more bearable.