Author: Stars (simplystars)
Summary: It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel... fine?
Fandom: due South
Spoilers and/or Warnings: Here there be zombies. But, umm. Nobody dies. And there's actually very little violence. So... not your typical zombie apocalypse? *g*
Title, Author and URL of original story: Containment Breach by keerawa
That's great, it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes, an aeroplane
REM, It's the End of the World as We Know It
Dief’s nose leads the way as they track the perp through a maze of littered alleys and abandoned, rusting warehouses. It’s not a high speed chase, no; more like a slow, cautious stalking. Being a wolf, Dief is all about stalking, but… something is not right. Something most definitely smells wrong. It worries Dief enough that he utters a low, unhappy whine, pausing for an extra-thorough sniff at the odd, disquieting scent.
Spiky-Ray is impatient with the delay; he growls at Benton. (Jesus, Fraser. My one-legged grandma coulda caught this guy by now. What’s the mutt’s problem?)
Dief curls his lip in Spiky-Ray’s direction, a not-so-subtle reminder. (Oh, great! Now he’s pouting.)
(Well, you did hurt his feelings, Ray.)
(You know, I did not sign up for this – you tell me, Fraser, who else is partners with a Mountie and a cranky wolf?)
(No one, Ray.)
(That’s right, nobody but me. So get him to cut me some slack, okay?)
Dief stops beside the last warehouse in the row and his Humans fall quiet. The puzzling scent wafts strongly from one corner, where a man-sized gap has eroded in the crumbled aluminum siding. The odor clings to the sensitive lining of Dief’s nose, simultaneously repellant and alluring, like week-dead caribou mixed with the nasty-sharp disinfectant Constable Turnbull uses to sanitize the pack-den. Dief rubs his face vigorously against one furry leg, trying to relieve the burning itch that makes him want to sneeze, and frantically flicks his ears at Benton. Silence is necessary, now; the saturation of the smell permeating the air around them indicates that the threat they face is far more dangerous than a single fleeing fugitive.
Spiky-Ray checks his gun, the snick of the chamber like a gunshot in the stillness, and the trio slip inside the gloomy building.
And then there is chaos.
Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn
REM, It's the End of the World as We Know It
Harding Welsh contemplates his pastrami-on-rye with a dour eye and absolutely no appetite. Scowling, he slowly lifts his gaze, directing the full force of his displeasure toward the stone-faced, black-clad Feds sitting on the opposite site of the battered metal desk. “Excuse me, gentlemen, but I don’t think I heard you correctly.”
Welsh shoves his chair back with such force that it protests, a shrill, nails-on-the-chalkboard screech that abruptly ends with a crack! when it hits the wall behind. Welsh leans across the paperwork strewn over the desk’s surface, resting his weight on his arms in a loom so menacing it has been known to send grizzled, veteran detectives scrambling for cover.
The Fibbies don’t even blink. The older one, who could be mistaken for Santa Claus if Santa Claus ever snapped and became a cold-blooded serial killer, repeats himself calmly. “Lieutenant Welsh, you will produce Detective First Grade Stanley Raymond Kowalski –“ and damn the man for sounding so amused, it’s not like they ever thought Vecchio’s cover would hold up to any kind of decent scrutiny, “to be taken into our custody, or you will direct us to where he can be found.”
Welsh takes a small bit of satisfaction in the crocodile’s smile he gives them. “I’m afraid the Detective has called in sick today. Isn’t that right, Miss Vecchio?” he barks at Frannie, who is hovering near the open door.
She nods hesitantly, wide-eyed. “Yeah. Um, I mean yes. He was feeling, you know, under the umbrella.” Trying to be helpful (and that’s how so very many of Welsh’s administrative nightmares begin, with Francesca Vecchio or Constable Fraser trying to help someone) she adds matter-of-factly, “Ray got gnawed on by some goon yesterday.”
“Where is he now?” Junior Agent asks.
“How should I know?” Frannie replies, frowning in confusion. “But oh, that reminds me, Harding – he said he’d better be covered by workman’s comp this time. Or maybe it was workman’s comp time…?” she trails off uncertainly, biting her lip. Welsh shakes his head and shoos her out, closing the door firmly.
Evil-Santa-clone stands up, face cold and implacable behind the inevitable dark glasses. “We’ll see ourselves out, Lieutenant.”
A chill lingers long after they’ve gone. Welsh doesn’t wait. He calls Huey and Dewey into his office, sends Dewey out to take a citizen’s complaint about aliens living in her tool shed, and tells Jack to find Kowalski.
“Wow, what’s with all the loonies lately?” Welsh hears Dewey lament as he follows his partner out of the office. “Aliens in the tool shed! And before that it was ‘officer, my neighbor tried to sniff my neck’, and that call we took about the guy with the chainsaw trying to climb the fence at the cemetery… People are just weird, man.”
left of west and coming in a hurry with the furies breathing down your neck
REM, It's the End of the World as We Know It
The phones ring off the desk.
Frannie knows, she knows the proper expression is “off the hook” or even “off the wall” – she’s not dumb, okay? But her phone doesn’t hang from a hook, and it’s not mounted on the wall. It sits on her desk, see?
So, yeah. The phones ring off the desk, and Harding won’t stop pacing. Back and forth, back and forth, again and again in the corner of her eye and if he doesn’t quit it she’s going to go in there and… stomp her foot, or something.
He could at least close the blinds if he’s going to drive her crazy like that.
Crazy. The whole world is crazy, and she’s close to losing her bag of marbles, too. Not that she knows how to play marbles, or anything, but thinking it reminds her of Fraser and Ray and that brings her right back to why Harding’s stomping around his office like a bear in a deli.
Except that Harding hasn’t touched his food.
Jack Huey is in there with him. She thinks he’s trying to report in, only Harding keeps interrupting to shout and wave his arms around. Only it doesn’t look like he’s yelling at Huey, so it must be the Fed he’s bellowing at. Frannie doesn’t much like the Feds, except the ones in the movies – and even then, only sometimes, when they play good guys like the Men in Black. So she’s not worried about Harding getting in trouble, aside from his blood pressure. But she is worried.
She ignores the phone, which continues its near-ceaseless high-pitched ringing, and looks instead at the television in the break room (which she can see from her desk, if it’s angled just right and none of the really tall patrol officers are in there beating up the vending machine). The sound is off, but that doesn’t matter because Frannie can read the text scrolling across the big red BREAKING NEWS banner at the bottom of the screen. She’s read it a few times, now, and though it says exactly the same as what she heard the Fed snarl at Harding, she still can’t quite believe it.
Jack finally gets the chance to explain that Ray wasn’t home, his apartment was empty. Frannie wonders if that includes the turtle, because what will happen to the turtle if nobody’s around to feed it? That’s just not fair. But then thinking about the turtle makes her think about other pets, cats and dogs and rabbits and oh god, horses and cows and sheep and all those animals trapped in barns, behind fences, no food or water…
A hysterical giggle slips out; Frannie slaps both hands over her mouth in horror. She’s sitting here worrying about animals when Ray… when Fraser… when all of them, Ma and Harding and Ray, her Ray, the whole world could be -
“A unit has been sent to the Consulate. Kowalski will be taken care of,” the Fed snaps with awful finality as he exits first the office and then the bullpen.
Harding stands in the doorway, arms slack at his sides, and watches him leave. “You and I both know it’s gone too far for that, Agent Carson,” he says to the agent’s back.
He gets no reply. Harding shakes his head again, in disgust or regret she isn’t sure, but when he calls her over, she goes.
When all hope is gone is when we come face to face with Reality. - E. Raymond Rock
“Kinda hungry, Fraasher.” Aside from the gnawing in his belly, Ray feels funny, too. Only it’s not in the funny-ha-ha way, it’s more like funny-fucking-strange. His tongue is heavy and bizarrely floppy – he has to concentrate when he talks, or the words begin to slur together. And parts of his body tingle (again, not in the good way) like he’s been out in the snow up north with Fraser and his mittens and socks aren’t quite up to the task.
Things seem… muffled. He’s always had a squint, but now when he fumbles his glasses on, nothing sharpens up. Fraser’s voice sounds oddly hoarse.
“Shall I make you a grilled cheese sandwich, Ray?”
For a minute or two the mud clears from Ray’s brain, and he wants to reply Turnbull makes it better - but then he remembers that Turnbull’s not there. Or Thatcher, either. It’s just him and his Mountie and the wolf all alone in the Consulate.
Ray licks his lips carefully. “Whozat the door? Fedzagain?”
Fraser smiles at him reassuringly, but he’s standing just out of arm’s reach, close enough for Ray to see that it’s Fraser’s best I’m-in-denial, faker than fake, meaningless curve of lips. “Agent Carson of your federal government. He seems to be under the mistaken impression that I’m harboring a fugitive.”
The twisting pang in his gut isn’t all hunger. This isn’t Fraser’s battle to fight, one man against the United States government. It was Ray’s fault anyhow, Ray’s mistake in judgement that led to -
“No, Ray.” Fraser moves toward the door, maybe to go make Ray a lunch that he won’t be able to eat, if the pattern holds and food continues to make him nauseous.
But what’s so much worse, the truly awful thing that Ray won’t admit, can’t admit even to himself in the farthest, darkest corners of what’s left of his mind, is that while vision and hearing and touch have all been dulled, he can still smell. He can smell Fraser. And Fraser’s always smelled good, all minty-fresh and clean like Canadian snow, but now…
Now he smells Fraser, and Fraser smells good.
Ray’s mouth waters.
When every hope is gone, 'when helpers fail and comforts flee,' I find that help arrives somehow, from I know not where. - Mahatma Gandhi
Lying in the hallway, Dief lifts his head and yips once, sharply. He won’t come into Fraser’s office anymore, refuses to be in the same room with Ray. Once-friendly eyes now stare at Ray with distrust and suspicion; he growls low in his throat if Ray moves around too much or approaches too near Fraser. As a result, Fraser has banished him – to the hallway, because Dief won’t let Ray out of his sight, either.
“No, he didn’t eat. But his condition doesn’t appear to be deteriorating as rapidly as predicted, either.” Fraser carefully carries the laden tray to the kitchen. He puts the tomato soup back on the stove burner to boil – no sense letting food go to waste – but discards the grilled cheese sandwich.
When the soup has reheated and had a chance to cool slightly, Fraser pours it into a mug and takes it into Inspector Thatcher’s office, settling into the chair by her computer. It was a shame that ignorance and hysteria had provoked such an immediate and extreme flight reaction, but Fraser is grateful that some things, in particular, were left behind.
Right now he needs access to information, if Ray is to be effectively treated and cured of Kampala Syndrome.
”It’s a zombie!” Carson sputtered, red-faced with frustration.
“He is a decorated officer of the law,” Fraser corrected, cold with his own rage. “And I would prefer a less derogatory term for those afflicted with Kampala Syndrome.”
Uncomfortable in the hardwood chair, Fraser shifts his legs and arms to relieve the ache low in his spine. As he does so, his holster bumps into the arm of the chair and the unfamiliar weight digs into his side, heavy against the wool of his uniform jacket.
”Look, Fraser, I’m sorry,” Jack Huey said, grim-faced. “I had to tell them.”
“No need to apologize.” Fraser held out his hand; Huey shook it, grip tightening as his sharp eyes registered the adjustment to Fraser’s uniform.
A gun. Ray’s gun, the gun he had been forced to confiscate - and not for the reason he’d given Jack Huey. Ray’s gun, still loaded and lethal.
“I’m sure you remember we have strict gun control laws in Canada.”
Huey backed away, suddenly cautious, perhaps unsure where Fraser’s loyalties might lie. “Are you carrying it for us out here, or Kowalski in there?”
“Neither,” Fraser murmurs to himself. He pauses for a moment, listening to the rustle of blankets and the thump of fist-against-pillow as Ray, groaning, attempts to ease his body’s discomfort long enough to nap. In the hush that follows, the clack of Fraser’s fingers on the keyboard echo in the merest whisper of sound.
He will protect Ray – from criminals, from public hysteria, from the arrayed forces of the United States government, from friends turned foe. And he will also protect Ray from despair, the loss of hope, from any rash action.
“Why?” Ray had moaned when his fingers fumbled, as Fraser plucked the gun from his failed grip and holstered it in his Sam Browne. Fraser took a moment to check the catch of the snap, waiting for his own hands to stop trembling. Then he took a deep breath and met Ray’s anguished glare with calm certainty.
“You’re my partner, Ray."
Fraser will protect Ray, even from himself.
Outside the Consulate, heavily-armed soldiers rapidly deploy from a dozen black Humvees. Barriers cordon off a defensive perimeter that empties the entire block. The gathering news media clamors for attention, for scraps of information or official-sounding rumors; helicopters race across the sky.
Inside the Consulate, Ray sleeps in Fraser’s cot. Dief slips away to the kitchen to gulp water and then returns to curl up, watchful and alert, at his post in the hall.
Fraser scours the internet (googling "Kampala virus" returns only 135,000 hits; as much as he finds the term offensive, "zombie virus" gives him four times as many search results) and makes plans.