When the outbreak happened, Stiles was in his senior year at NYU. It was early April, three weeks before finals, and he’d been spending most of his free time holed up in the library working on two final projects that would determine whether he graduated with honors or not. Current events hadn’t really been on his radar, so he was unaware of any odd occurrences in the medical community in the days leading up to the outbreak. Scott was the one who reached him first, telling him he needed to get home as soon as possible because some major shit was going down. Honestly, at the time, Stiles thought Scott was just having some pre-finals hysteria, but then his dad called with a less frantic explanation. By the time he got off the phone with his dad, Stiles was anxious, scared, and a little too shocked to really come up with any type of plan.
Reality hit him as soon as he left the library.
It was chaos. There were people running around and some were lying in the streets, others frothing at the mouth, and still others walking around looking dazed and confused. He figured he belonged to the latter category, only those people had a pale complexion and were moving too slow to be normal. Obviously, there was no way in hell he was taking the subway, so he put his backpack on, buckled it up, and took off running. He hit Jackson’s number on speed dial, hurriedly told him what he'd heard from his dad, and found out that Jackson was still at their apartment watching the news because his morning lecture at Columbia had been cancelled. Jackson had already been in touch with Scott and Derek, was packing their bags while talking to Stiles, and was maintaining a calm under pressure that would totally have turned Stiles on if the world as they knew it hadn't been in the process of ending.
At the time, he didn’t really comprehend that people were actively getting out of his way instead of giving chase. They were avoiding him like he smelled bad, which was probably true considering he’d been running and dodging people. He watched people being taken down, some ripped apart while others eventually got up with that same pale, slow behavior thing happening. It would only later that he would learn the cliché ‘something in the water’ thing was actually true in Beacon Hills. There was something in the water that made the town’s residents and former residents immune to SF493, the official name of the virus that turned humans into a cross between I-Zombie meets Dracula meets The Walking Dead.
Humans infected by Sif, the street name for the disease, became zombies, in a sense, only they craved blood instead of brains. Trust reality to have vampire zombies instead of just plain old brain eating ones that might have been able to be killed by any of the dozens of ways written about in pop culture. Instead, they got some hybrid thing that no one knew anything about at all. The only thing easily figured out was that all of the Siffers didn’t immediately get blood lust and were somewhat functional sometimes, except for the fact that they needed blood to survive yet infected anyone they fed from directly. Unlike in I-Zombie, Siffers couldn’t just feed off corpses or make brain salad to satiate their new urges.
Jackson and Lydia explained it to him using a lot of highly specific microbiological terms that he didn’t quite understand, the two of them speaking a foreign language with the major science geek talk. But it basically boiled down to stuff in a human's blood having nutrients the Siffers needed to survive. Apparently, supernatural creatures lacked this nutrient, since there weren't any reports of supernaturals being infected regardless of where they originally lived. The humans who lived in the key areas of immunity seem to also lack the much sought after Special Blood Thing, which allowed them the ability to avoid attack by Bloodlusters. Siffers also seemed to ignore them, which wasn't as surprising since they didn't really seem to quite grasp what was happening anyway, and, unfortunately, it seemed that there wasn't any way to predict what or when they'd become dangerous. Well, more dangerous.
While there were a large number of them who were trying to continue living like nothing had really changed, even though the world nearly three months post-Sif outbreak was totally different and continued evolving daily, it was just a waiting game for them to eventually snap. It wasn't like there was a never ending blood supply around the world, after all, so they were just as dangerous as the Bloodlusters if they didn’t keep their supply fresh. From what Stiles had seen and heard, there wasn’t really any way to tell what made a Siffer snap to become a Bloodluster, but it was probably some scientific infection biology stuff.
Fortunately, there were safety zones around the world, places where nature, or possibly the supernatural influence (which was one of Stiles’ primary theories that he was planning to research), had caused immunity for the people residing within their boundaries and somehow prevented Siffers and Bloodlusters from crossing their borders. Ely, Minnesota was an epicenter for the Midwest and Estes Park, Colorado was an epicenter for that area while Rutland, Vermont and Asheville, North Carolina had become epicenters for the east coast.
There were also rumors about Jefferson, Texas being a safe haven for the south, but there had yet to be any corroborating evidence. And Beacon County had become the epicenter of the safety zone for the western United States, which spread up towards Eugene, east to the Nevada border, and south about an hour towards San Francisco. People who could reach a safety zone were no longer at risk of being infected nor were they in danger of becoming living feeders, kept alive and uninfected in order to have their blood supply constantly drained for Siffers, so non-infected people were trying to reach safety zones.
Of course, that was all stuff he'd learned after he and Jackson had packed their shit, rented a van, and left Manhattan to head back to Beacon Hills. There had been a detour north to Boston so they could pick up Danny from MIT and Lydia from Harvard, but that hadn't taken too long because they'd managed to get a plan together relatively quickly. Years of battling the supernatural had come in handy when faced with a viral epidemic causing chaos around the world, it seemed. While most people were still trying to get information or find out what was happening, Stiles and his group were already leaving town, managing to get out before traffic became a total nightmare. Traffic that trapped people in their cars, making them fresh lunchboxes for Bloodlusters who couldn’t get any control from the first moment of infection.
It was only after they left Massachusetts and headed west that they really calmed down long enough to start analyzing and thinking about everything that had been happening in the last twelve hours. That was when they figured out the Siffers weren’t even trying to attack them. Jackson and Lydia might have been supernatural, but he and Danny weren’t, so it wasn’t some kind of anti-supernatural thing. They also realized that the world was likely going to get worse before it started getting better, so they focused on getting cross country as quickly as possible. They slept in shifts, only stopping for gas and food, which had been a struggle in itself. The first day hadn’t been too bad, but, by the second, price gouging was happening all over. Jackson had even shifted more than once because the prices were so outrageous that people couldn’t afford to pay them. His unique form of persuasion had led to them paying normal pre-outbreak prices, at least. But, other than horrible price increases, they made it to Cheyenne before the apocalyptic conditions really interfered with their plans.
Cheyenne was where they saw a group of Bloodlusters surrounding some kids and couldn’t just ignore what was going on outside their van. Jackson had attacked, clawing at the Bloodlusters while Stiles and Danny raided a nearby gun store that hadn’t even been looted yet. Of course, it was Wyoming, so the locals probably already had a lot of guns. It was during their stop in Cheyenne where they found out that shooting Bloodlusters in the head or the heart killed them, as did chopping off their heads. Fire also worked, but mostly as a deterrent because Bloodlusters could still attack until the heat was hot enough to destroy their internal organs. They ended up acquiring a half dozen kids in Cheyenne ranging in age from seven to thirteen that hadn’t been infected yet because they couldn’t leave them behind to die, especially when the kids had already lost their families and managed to survive for three days on their own.
It had taken them another day to reach Beacon Hills, but they’d noticed a change after entering Oregon. People were normal, no sign of Siffers at all, and it was so noticeable even the youngest kid had commented on it. By the time they made it home, they had seen enough to draw some of their own conclusions, but nothing was confirmed right away. The internet was normal back then, not the spotty connection they’re only able to get now because Danny’s a tech god, and the news stations were not yet off the air, but there were varying reports all over that contradicted each other because no one really knew what was happening. Stiles had been so happy to make it home and find his pack alive and well that he hadn’t even cared about the rest of the world. There had been a huge pack puppy pile on his living room floor that first night, and some very memorable ‘thank God we survived’ sex with Jackson the next morning.
Then they’d had to get to work helping his dad and other volunteers take care of the people who were showing up with nowhere to go. Food had been the biggest priority because there were enough old warehouses and stuff around Beacon County that could be converted to temporary housing to cover the immediate need, but food was a different matter entirely. That was when he and Jackson teamed up to make their first shopping trip south, going outside the safety zone and raiding the first grocery market they could find. It had already been looted, of course, but there was a bunch of stuff left behind that could totally be used to make meals that wouldn’t suck, so they’d loaded up the truck with the canned goods, baby food, paper products, pet supplies, and whatever dairy, fresh bread, and meat were still on the shelves.
They’d also ended up with several stray dogs, a couple of cats, and four more people who had managed to survive so far. The shopping trips became a weekly thing, gradually hitting all the areas immediately south and east of them outside the safety zone, collecting animals and people along the way, and joined by a couple more trucks driven by immune people who could pass by without notice from the Siffers and Bloodlusters. Each trip helped stockpile supplies, the trucks targeting different shopping needs based on the expected needs of the community, and they always ended up bringing back survivors of both the two legged and four legged variety.
With the influx of dogs and cats, which seemed to be the primary animals that could live on their own and search for food amidst the human chaos around them, Scott had arranged an adoption network for the pets they found. Everyone without allergies seemed to want a dog or cat for comfort in these trying times, and Stiles liked that they were able to save as many pets as they could from becoming a possible food source for Siffers. From Lydia’s research, only humans seemed to be infected by Sif, but that didn’t stop other household pets from being drained, even if their blood wasn’t the same as humans’ blood. Scott was also working with some of the people in their immediate area of the safety zone to possibly try to start doing more animal search and rescue for any possible survivors at zoos, farms, and wildlife parks because it seemed that Siffers and Bloodlusters didn’t attack larger animals.
People were adopting the kids, too. New family units were springing up around Beacon County and the vicinity. He and Jackson had no interest in any of the kids, but they had adopted several dogs who thought Jackson was the best thing ever, following him around like he was their pack leader. It was adorable, really, and a spot of normalcy in a new world that was being formed. The pack had all moved into different lofts in Derek’s building, even Stiles' dad, who was sharing a loft with Scott’s mom, Lydia’s mom, and Chris.
Stiles wasn’t going to ask, and he’d threatened no sex for a month if Jackson ever told him about any specific scents coming from those four. The lofts were a safe space within the safety zone, well-protected with new security measures put in place because Derek didn’t trust anyone, infected or not, unless they were pack. Considering some of what Stiles had seen human survivors doing, well, he couldn’t really blame Derek for his paranoia.
Oddly enough, it had taken the apocalypse to get all of the pack together again.
Derek had been the first to return, back in Beacon Hills before Stiles and his group even made it, quickly followed by Liam and Mason, who were going to college up in Eugene. Then Isaac and Chris Argent had shown up. They’d been in Montreal when everything happened, and Chris had realized Beacon Hills was the only real common thread that might be protecting them both. Kira and her parents had been in DC while Malia had been in Phoenix, Ethan had been in Cleveland, and Braeden had been in Miami.
They didn’t really know why they felt that returning to Beacon Hills made the most sense, but they’d all come back those first few weeks, bypassing other safety zones closer to them than Beacon Hills. Peter had just appeared one day; no one knew exactly where he’d been hiding since Eichen was destroyed. Cora had been the last to arrive, driving up from South America because she'd wanted to make sure Derek had survived. Stiles speculated that it was a pack bond that had pulled them all back, even Ethan, but it wasn't something they really talked about because no one cared. All that mattered was that the pack was stronger than ever, that his dad had sort of taken on the role of law enforcement leader for the California part of the zone, and that Kira’s mom was amazing when it came to leading a huge group of people who didn't particularly know if they even wanted a leader.
“You’re being too quiet. What did I do?”
“Hmm?” Stiles shakes his head to clear his thoughts and looks at Jackson. “Sorry, I was thinking about Sif and the last couple of months. Guess my mind wandered more than I realized. You didn't do anything. For once.”
“For once, he says, like he's a perfect angel." Jackson hmphs before glancing at him. "You still thinking of writing it all down?” He focuses back on the road, fingers tightening on the wheel as he starts to drive slower. There are cars scattered around, left when their owners became dinner or were infected themselves, and the freeway is the worst they’ve come across so far. Considering they’re making their first scavenge into the San Francisco area, it’s not that surprising, but it’s still a little jarring. It’s making him remember Boston, that first day when the world went crazy, and those aren’t necessarily the best memories to have right now.
“Yeah. I was thinking about the timeline, what information we knew and when we figured out stuff.” Stiles shrugs. “It’s probably a stupid project to undertake, but it’ll give me something to do, and we’re going to eventually need books about it. Kira’s dad has already been working with Lydia’s mom on setting up some type of school system, and we’re basically living through our new history. It’s sort of fascinating, in a way, and I’d like to write down everyone’s accounts, find out how it was for all the people who showed up in town after the Sif outbreak.”
“You’re spending too much time with Derek. The history nerd thing is rubbing off on you,” Jackson mutters, lips quirking slightly to let Stiles know he’s just teasing. “Danny can probably get you some international perspective. He’s managed to reach some of the islands in Oceania that have avoided any infection at all. I know they’ve got information on Australia and Africa because he mentioned that last time he went on and on about tech geek stuff, but I don’t know who else he’s contacted.”
“He was telling me about news from Europe that he heard somewhere, but he never specified. Was the island contact just from the radio or was it the wireless stuff he’s been working on?” Stiles looks at Jackson curiously before he laughs. “Nevermind. I’ll just ask next time I see him. It’d be pretty awesome to get accounts from other countries, though. Might also help me with my supernatural influence theory.”
“How did I ever fall in love with such a big nerd?” Jackson slows down and stares at the pile up ahead of them. “Well, that sucks. Guess it’s going to be bumper cars until we get around this mess. Buckle up, babe.”
“You fell in love with me because I’m the best thing that’s ever happened to you, asshole.” Stiles preens, just a little, because it’s totally the truth.
Okay, so maybe he wouldn’t have ever thought it possible when they first ran into each other in a small club in Chelsea his freshman year, but they’d gradually become friends, both sort of glad for a familiar face amidst a crowd of strangers, and eventually the friendship had become amazing sex and dating. Jackson’s told him about his plans to propose in their favorite spot in Central Park after they graduated college, plans that were changed due to Sif. Instead, he’d ended up proposing during their third shopping trip when they’d been fighting a group of Bloodlusters to save a couple of girls not much younger than them. Stiles had said yes while slicing the head off an old guy, so, yeah, not quite the same as romantic Central Park, but this is their world now.
“Considering our current world, you don’t really have a lot of competition,” Jackson says, his tone dry. His lips are quirked into a slight smile, though, as he rams their truck into an old El Camino that’s sideways in the lane. “But I suppose I can’t disagree with that claim.”
“Yeah, this isn’t exactly the world I imagined years ago when I was planning out my future. But, hey, I can still be a cop because we definitely need the law enforcement, especially as more survivors keep showing up. I also still have my awesome boyfriend, who is now actually my fiancé and will eventually be my husband, so that hasn’t changed, either.” Stiles looks at Jackson. “You’re even going to get to study medicine without incurring debt with so many zeros it’s disgusting. Man, I just realized that all those student loans are wiped clean. That’s definitely one benefit to this apocalypse.”
“Only you would try to find a bright side of the Siffer apocalypse. However, being debt free is a pretty good silver lining.” Jackson snorts and shoves a Prius out of the way with their truck. “It’s not going to be quite the same education that I’d have received in med school, but I’m working on some possible lesson plans with the different doctors willing to help train me that should be pretty decent. It’s funny how many of the younger ones rely so much on technology, though. I mean, thinking about it, I might actually learn more when it comes to actual healing than I would have in med school, but, personally, I hope the team working on building more generators is successful because I’d rather have those modern conveniences to help save more people.”
“Yeah, we don’t really want to end up being set back so many years that you become Dr. Jackson, Medicine Man or something.” Stiles taps his fingers against the arm rest and starts paying more attention to their surroundings. They’ve just passed San Pablo and Richmond is up ahead. That’s their destination for today’s trip.
After studying the maps and using intel from survivors that came from the Bay area, the plan of action is to shop Richmond first. From there, they’ll slowly make their way to San Francisco proper with shopping trips in Berkeley and Oakland in upcoming weeks before making their way around to all the suburbs eventually. A lot of Siffers gravitate to the large cities, take over as they attempt to go about their day to day business like nothing’s changed. Some businesses are even still up and running because Siffers don’t seem to realize the world’s basically ended. It’s an odd phenomenon that no one really understands, but it means they avoid cities like Sacramento, Seattle, and San Francisco right now. When resources get lower or they need specialty items that will only be plentiful in large cities, that’s when they’ll deal with Siffer havens.
Despite the fact that their immunity means they could walk right into a haven without even being attacked, they know there are survivors still hiding out or, even worse, being used as blood sources. It wouldn’t be a simple snatch and grab shopping trip that usually means dealing with Bloodlusters and whatever survivors are still in those small towns. It would mean full on attacks, killing people who are somehow maintaining control of the disease, taking out people who might be able to be cured if the groups across the world working on a way to reverse the effects of Sif are ever successful. It hasn’t even been three months yet, and, well, Stiles knows he’s not too crazy about the idea of going in and slaughtering huge groups of people, Siffers or not.
“Maybe we should have focused on the coast first,” Jackson says, not even responding to Stiles’ smart ass comment about Dr. Jackson. That’s probably for the best, though, since it hadn’t been his finest effort. Stiles looks at him curiously, and Jackson frowns. “I don’t know this area, not like the others we’ve been to so far, and I don’t want anything to happen to you.”
“Awww. I love you, too, babe.” Stiles leans over and smacks a kiss against Jackson’s clenched jaw. “Relax, okay? We’re immune to Sif, and we’ve fought enough Bloodlusters that it’s becoming faster to take them out.”
“It’s the humans I worry about.” Jackson tightens his grip on the steering wheel. “Not all survivors are friendly and wanting to be taken to safety zones, after all.”
“Talk about spending too much time with Derek. You’re starting to sound as paranoid as he is, Jax.” Stiles moves his hand to rest on Jackson’s thigh, squeezing gently. “It won’t be a repeat of Santa Clara. That was just a few weeks into our shopping trips, and we weren’t expecting some survivors to be more dangerous than Bloodlusters. We know better now, right?”
“There’s a reason he’s paranoid, and you know it. Why do you think Satomi’s pack scents every new arrival in our county? The apocalypse doesn’t affect everyone the same, and bad people are going to be bad people whether society is still functioning or if it’s gone to hell.” Jackson puts his hand on Stiles’ and squeezes. “I almost lost you in Santa Clara, and I’m never going to let myself get over confident that way again.”
“You weren’t the only one over confident,” Stiles reminds him, remembering Santa Clara and the feel of the gun barrel against his temple. He probably would have been shot in the head before Jackson could save him if it hadn’t been for a Siffer who had attacked the human trying to kill them. So maybe that’s another reason he’s a little less hesitant to kill all Siffers, because he knows there’s humanity still inside them somewhere, and there’s an optimistic part of him that really hopes they can be cured one day. Shaking his head to clear those particular memories, he kisses Jackson’s jaw. “We’ll be careful.”
“Yes, we will be,” Jackson says firmly. “We’re almost there. Radio the others to let them know. According to Maggie and Steve’s map, we need Ethan and Jack to take the first exit. Remind Ethan to grab crutches. Our supply is getting low, and Harold forgot to add that to the shopping list for the hospital.”
“Have I mentioned how sexy you are when you take charge and get bossy?” Stiles asks, winking when Jackson rolls his eyes at him. “Makes me want to drag you into a dark closet somewhere so I can have my wicked way with you.”
“Save it until we’re safely back home, horndog.” Jackson is trying to play it off, but he’s totally smug now. Stiles knows how to read him pretty damn well after being together nearly four years. Despite being an opinionated ass, Jackson’s usually more likely to follow wherever Stiles leads, not particularly dominant even though he fits the alpha male persona rather well, so it is actually arousing when he’s so confident and take charge. This apocalypse has opened Stiles’ eyes up to a competency kink he didn’t even realize he had.
“Watch who you’re calling dog, puppy,” Stiles says, watching as Jackson flushes and licks his lips. Oh yeah. They’ll be finding a dark corner somewhere so long as this is a simple shopping trip. Instead of gloating at how easily he’s able to turn Jackson on by just calling him puppy, Pavlov was so right about conditioning, he reaches for the radio and calls out instructions for the four trucks following them.
Since they’ve become more organized with these trips, they’ve divided the duties based on current and expected needs. There are two large warehouses being used as storage for everything they bring back that isn’t needed immediately, and their basic philosophy has been to load the trucks until they’re too full for anything else. This go around, Ethan and Jack are focused on hospitals, optometrist offices, and pharmacies. Sam, Mike, and Carl are hitting up the hardware stores so they can stock up on tools, building supplies, and materials. Dave and Sarah are on the clothing stores, grabbing everything they can because there are a lot of people arriving with only the clothes on their backs. Isaac and Cora are working with Jackson and Stiles on supermarkets and pet stores.
Next time, he’s going to request additional volunteers and trucks because he thinks the need for building supplies and materials that can be used to create functional stuff around the safety zone are going to be very important as more people start showing up. The generator project is especially important right now because they’re going to be heading into winter in a few more months, and it’ll make it a lot easier if they have electricity for heating and cooking. Danny and his team of Brainiac Computer Nerds are also going to need more tech stuff soon, because they’re trying to tap into existing satellite feeds and Wi-Fi streams to communicate with other safety zones around the world to get an idea how the world has changed.
When Jackson takes the exit indicated on the map two survivors from Berkley had drawn to help them locate shopping resources, Stiles stops thinking and concentrates. He gets his gun out of his bag, checks to make sure it’s loaded, and then starts scanning the area around them as they drive. The sound of the eighteen wheelers draws attention, the diesel engines loud, and soon there are stirrings as Bloodlusters start to appear in windows and doorways of abandoned buildings they pass. Soon, they reach their destination, and the three trucks pull into the parking lot of Hilltop Mall.
“So, how many survivors watched The Evil Dead remake so often that their first thought was to go to the mall?” Stiles sighs before turning to a private channel. “Cora? You and Isaac focus on helping Dave and Sarah this stop. Be on the lookout for survivors and trust no one.”
“Need anything special, Stiles?” Cora asks, the radio crackling. “Isaac wants you to get him ramen, by the way. What? Okay. He says also be sure to grab spices because they sent a request for some from Eureka the other day.”
“Will do. If you see a shoe store, grab sturdy boots and warmer shoes. We’re heading into winter, and a lot of the survivors are wearing sneakers or sandals. I could also use a new cap since I’ve been losing them on these trips.” Stiles looks at Jackson and arches a brow.
“Boots. Good winter coats. A new Keurig since Trixy knocked ours over and broke it,” Jackson says, shaking his head at the memory of their newest dog destroying their stuff. “Lydia asked for girly stuff, so tell them that, too.”
“Cora? Jackson says get girly stuff because Lydia demanded it. Get him some good boots and winter coats for everyone if you find any. Wish this damn apocalypse hadn’t happened in the middle of spring. Anyway, also a Keurig and a new radio because Trixy likes to chew things.”
“Alright. We’ll meet back here in one hour. Stay safe, butthead.” Cora signs off with her usual friendly cheer. He knows she only gives insulting nicknames to those she cares about, though, so it’s all good.
“You know, we’re going to Walmart. We could have got our own Keurig,” Stiles points out as they get out of the truck. He puts his backpack on and secures it before picking his gun up. “Also, we need to start bringing a truck of nothing but volunteers soon to help carry shit. I mean, I’m really working on my upper body strength with every shopping trip, but more hands on deck would mean we get done faster.”
“It also means there are more people at risk,” Jackson reminds him, walking in front of him and sniffing the air. He tilts his head, listening to something Stiles can’t hear. “There’s a group of Bloodlusters coming this way, but they’ll probably continue past when they smell us. I can’t make out any heartbeats, but it’s a big store, so be cautious anyway.”
“Yeah, yeah. I know the drill, babe.” Stiles leans over and kisses Jackson quick and hard. “Focus on the pet stuff then come to the food side. Got it? We aren’t on pharmacy duty this trip.”
“Whatever.” Jackson grips his hair and gives him a thorough kiss. “If you get yourself killed, I’ll bring you back so I can kill you myself, asshole.”
“Ditto, fuckface.” Stiles squeezes Jackson’s shoulder and kisses the freckles on his cheek. “Meet at the front in ten minutes,” he says before he grabs a cart and takes off running to the grocery section.
Their usual routine is to split up at first, once Jackson’s listened and sniffed for any possible threats, then Jackson focuses on pet stuff while Stiles hits groceries. They fill up carts that they roll to the front of the store, and Jackson starts loading up boxes and plastic bins as quickly as he can so they can get put on the truck. It’s a good system, one they’ve perfected over the last six weeks, but it would go faster with more people. Right now, though, the risk of putting more people in danger isn’t worth the reward of finishing quicker.
Stiles starts with peanut butter and jelly. Those are items that seem to go really fast, probably because people are able to bake bread to have with them. One whole cart is soon full, so he races it to the front to find three carts already waiting. The fact that one of those carts is full of medication doesn’t surprise him. That’s what he gets for having a boyfriend who wants to save people. Even if the original reason Jackson decided on pursuing medicine was in an effort to make up for the lives he took while possessed, it’s been a great career path for him because it’s let him acknowledge his instincts to save and protect.
After getting another cart, he heads to canned goods. It takes several carts to get the stuff that hasn’t already been looted. He’s figured out that people in these kind of situations take what they recognize, what they know will be useful, and they end up leaving behind a lot of good stuff. It’s just like the medications. There’s little doubt in his mind that the controlled stuff is all gone, but there’s still going to be antibiotics, allergy meds, blood pressure and diabetes meds, asthma inhalers, and birth control because people in an apocalyptic scenario don’t think about what they’ll need after things have settled.
Fuck. That reminds him that they actually do need to get condoms, lube, and feminine hygiene products because there’s nowhere at the mall with that stuff. He finishes loading down a cart with rice and ramen before running across the front of the store towards the pharmacy area. As he gets closer, he hears noises and pulls his gun out, slowing down and listening intently. He might not be a werewolf, but Chris has spent weeks teaching him some handy hunter techniques that come in handy around Bloodlusters.
The sound of breaking glass and Jackson growling has him moving forward, his grip tightening on his gun. Just to be ready, he takes the safety off and moves closer. He sees several broken jars of face cream on the floor and a ripped bag of cat litter that’s made a huge mess. Jackson’s in the middle of a group of a Bloodlusters who look rabid and confused. It takes him a moment to notice the two kids behind Jackson. Kids. It’s been months since the Sif outbreak, yet these kids don’t look older than thirteen, if that, and they’ve survived. Fuck if they die on their watch.
“You know I hate when you have a party and don’t include me, Jax,” Stiles says, speaking up loudly to draw the Bloodlusters’ attention to him. It works, and he quickly shoots one in the head, no longer flinching when blood and viscera spew in the air from the shot.
“It’s a surprise party. Couldn’t send invitations, babe,” Jackson says, reaching for a leash hanging on the display behind him. He manages to wrap it around one of the Bloodluster’s necks and pull until its head snaps off.
“Okay. That’s gross.” Stiles has to look away because it really is disgusting. Thank God he’s developed a strong stomach during the outbreak or else he’d be shooting while throwing up. “Remind me to never tell any more dog jokes involving leashes, alright?”
“Stiles, watch out.” Jackson howls, distracting the Bloodluster heading towards Stiles. Stiles takes advantage, shooting it in the back of the head. They’re right by the double doors for Outdoors, so he runs out there and picks up a nice pair of shears and a hoe before rejoining the fight.
“Brought you some presents,” he says, tossing the items towards Jackson.
“You shouldn’t have!” Jackson tosses the shears on the ground and starts swinging the hoe, always going for beheading instead of shots because it’s some wolfy instinct or something. He doesn’t seem to believe any of them will stay down and actually be dead if their heads are still attached. Stiles lets him do it because it definitely ensures no one is getting back up again.
“I know. You’re a spoiled brat, but I can’t help it.” Stiles blows him a kiss before shooting another Bloodluster and shoving the corpse in Jackson’s direction. “You kids doing okay? Not infected, right?”
“We’re good, mister.” The oldest one, a girl, is keeping the two younger ones behind her, and Stiles notices that she’s picked up the discarded shears. Smart cookie, that one. “No bites or anything. What is he? He’s not one of them, but he’s something.”
“He’s my fiancé,” Stiles says proudly, making a face when a Bloodluster grabs his shirt. Seriously? This is going to be messy, and he really hates messy. Oh well. No way around it now. He shoots the Bloodluster in the face, wiping his own face with his shirt before just taking it off. Jackson can just deal with him wearing Walmart clothes home because there’s no way he’s putting that shirt back on. “Isn’t he amazing?”
“You’re weird,” the boy says, shrinking behind the girl when Stiles grins at him.
“You’re telling me, kid,” Jackson says, hoeing another head off before looking around. “Is that all of them?”
“Is that all of them, he asks, like we didn’t just take down seven Bloodlusters with some gardening tools, leashes, and a gun.” Stiles snorts before stepping over the bodies and kissing Jackson firmly. When he pulls away, he takes six steps back and shoots over Jackson’s shoulder, knowing it’ll get his irritation across better than words. “Next time, I won’t miss. Understood?”
“Really? You shoot at me in front of the kids?” Jackson snorts before rolling his eyes. “Fine. Next time, I’ll howl for you. I wasn’t really expecting those three to run in being chased by Bloodlusters, for the record. And, fuck, did you seriously have to shoot so close? I think the bullet grazed my ear, dumbass.”
“No, it didn’t. It was at least six inches away from your ear, Jax. Stop being a baby.” Stiles kisses him again because, damn, he could have lost him if the Bloodlusters had somehow figured out a way to take out a werewolf. Not likely but still possible.
“They’re both weird,” the oldest girl says, reminding Stiles they have an audience before he can escalate things to ‘we survived again’ sex in the middle of the main aisle at Walmart. Wouldn’t be the strangest place they’ve had sex, but Jackson would probably bitch afterwards because he’s got a deep seated hatred for Walmart and only agrees to shop there post-Sif outbreak due to the attached pharmacy.
“You’re weird,” Stiles mutters, sticking his tongue out at the kids before he remembers he’s the adult. Right. Ugh. He hates being the adult. “So, who are you and do you want to come back to the safety zone with us? I mean, yeah, you’re all kids, but we totally respect free will and all that good stuff. I’d suggest coming with us, though.”
“I’m Isobel. That’s Hannah, and he’s Leon.” Isobel gives him a look that says she’s totally not impressed with him, but Leon and Hannah seem to be fans so whatever. Jackson snorts, and Isobel gives him a hero worshipping look that makes Stiles snicker. “Hannah lived down the street from me, and we found Leon when we were looking for grown-ups.”
“Well, you’ve found some now.” Jackson stops and smirks. “Well, one, at least.” He drops the hoe beside him and shrugs. “You’re welcome to come back with us. We never force anyone, but you kids shouldn’t be out here on your own.”
“We’re not alone. We’ve got each other.” Hannah walks over to Stiles. “What’s a safety zone?”
“It’s a place where Siffers and Bloodlusters can’t seem to go. It’s safe there, and we’re rebuilding our world.” Stiles ruffles her hair before remembering he had blood on his hand. “Uh, sorry.”
“He’s funny,” Leon decides, walking over to tug on Stiles’ belt loop. “I’m Leon, and I’m eight years old. Hannah’s eleven and Isobel is twelve. How old are you? When can we go? Do you have ice cream?”
“I’m twenty-two, and we can go as soon as we finish getting supplies. We do have ice cream, actually.” Stiles really doesn’t like kids all that much, but he isn’t bad with them necessarily. “In fact, why don’t you three help us load everything into boxes, and then we can leave sooner.”
“Child labor laws,” Jackson teases, bumping their hips together as they corral the kids and put them to work. “Also, you need a shirt. I don’t like how that Hannah’s staring at you. Eleven is a boy crazy age, after all.”
“You’re ridiculous.” Stiles kisses Jackson’s jaw before picking up his discarded backpack. “I’ll grab a shirt, babe, if only because you’ll sulk in jealousy over a pre-teen child otherwise. You keep an eye on the kids.”
“Hmph. You’re ridiculous.” Jackson smiles slightly before slapping his ass. “By the way, when we get home, I’ll be sure to express my gratitude for you coming in with guns ablaze to save my ass. By letting you do whatever you want with said ass, of course.”
“Looking forward to it, Jax.” Stiles winks at him before jogging to the men’s department. While he’s here, he might as well as get a new pair of jeans that don’t have blood staining them, too. He can hear Jackson talking to the kids, his tone patient in a way Stiles would never have imagined back in high school. Not that he’d have ever imagined any of this back in high school.
After all, high school had been supernatural threats followed by college. Then there’d been Jackson and romance and finding love with someone he never expected. Really, he and Jackson getting together is probably what started the entire end of the world reality they’ve ended up with because it’s just that weird to so many people. It’s not weird to them, though, and that’s all that matters. Sure, they don’t really know what the future holds, how the world is going to change post-apocalypse, but this is their world now, their new reality, and they’ll survive what happens because they’ve got each other.