Life in the Aftermath

America was reborn after the apocalypse, nothing was the same as it had been before 'the end'. Instead of a democracy, we have the militia; instead of people being divided into famous and infamous, we have survivors; and instead of the dead staying dead, they come alive.

For some the change between the old world and the new world, was simple. Those who had nothing when the apocalypse came, had nothing to lose. For those people, this was a start over, where they could use the mistakes they had made to keep them alive, instead of becoming another of the undead.

Read as two girls, best friends and partners in the art of slaying the undead, and their unexpected companions face Militia, Rebels, disease and the undead.

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5. Change in Plans

Vegas’ POV-

        I watched Hollywood, Liam and Zayn runoff into the thick brush and instantly my survival instincts were kicked into gear. I spun around and fast-walked over to where Louis and Niall were trying to support Harry, “Guys, we need to get him into the tailgate, right now.” My voice was demanding and strict, reminding me of my most hated teacher I had growing up. But the seriousness in my tone was enough to get Niall and Louis to do what I asked of them.
 Niall and Louis struggled under Harry’s dead weight, however, but all I could do was watch. Knowing that my pathetic excuse for 'muscle' would only put me in the way.

        “Yeah, the last time he was in the back everything went so smoothly.” Louis called out, voice straining as he shoved Harry in to Niall's arms. But however much physical strain he was under, he still managed to backtalk me with his signature 'sass'. 

        I rolled my eyes at him and snapped back, “Just shut up and get him into the tailgate before the militia get to us; I don’t know how long Hollywood and the others can distract them.”  I grabbed Harry’s ankles as I spoke, while Niall and Louis grasped an arm each. After what seemed like an hour of heaving, pushing, pulling and grunting from Niall, Louis and I- and a few groans from Harry- we were able to get an unconscious and sickly looking Harry into my badly damaged truck. As soon as Harry was settled, as comfortably as possible, in the tailgate the faint sounds of yells and the dim lights of flashlights could be seen behind the hill that our friends has disappeared over. Louis, Niall and I shared a worried glance, all of us hoping and praying that Liam, Zayn and Hollywood hadn't been captured. I couldn't hold back the terrible thoughts of what Dax could do to us if we were captured, of what he would do to the boys if they were caught. Hollywood and I wouldn't be killed, because of our 'past' with Dax, but who knows what he would do to them. There was no time to think about that, though.
 
        I leaped out of the tailgate, my feet hitting the asphalt with a thud  as I barreled to the driver's side door.  “Niall, Louis, you guys stay in the back with Harry.”  I tried to keep my voice strong, yet quiet as I yelled out to them; but a shrill and scared tone wasn't hard to miss as my voice cracked midway through the sentence. A million thoughts were running through my mind, making a mockery of my thought train, as I hastily opened the battered door. Turning the keys was a difficult task of its own, seeing as how the keys somehow got bent, but when it came to actually starting the truck; it only staled. Again and again I tried, each time the same result came. Nothing. I began panicking, my heart beating a hundred miles an hour as my mind raced. I knew the only thing that I could do, and damn I wish that the car would have started. I looked out of the back window, and saw the only motivation I needed to make my decision. Just over the brow of the hill I could see the little dots of the Militia, each one running towards us at full sped.

         I couldn't bring myself to face them as I thought about the only option that would be beneficial to the most people. Opening my car door with a defeated sigh, I jumped out of the car and ran to the back, not even bothering to shut the door behind me. As I ran to the side of the tailgate I tried to disguise the worry and panic sketched into my face, hoping to come of hopeful and determined. I took a deep breath and with one last look at the team of militia that was growing even closer I knew what I had to do.

         “You guys have to go.” I said with a hard tone, and an impassive tone, as I climbed into the back. I already knew Niall and Louis wouldn't  be willing to go, but I had to get them out of danger. Which meant getting them to leave Harry and I behind. Ignoring Niall’s protests I pushed past him and stood in front of harry, facing Louis and Niall.

        “No, we’re not leaving Harry here by himself, defenseless.” He stepped around me and knelt back down so he was next to Harry. The care and determination in his voice was honorable, but also naive and foolish.

        I looked down at Harry and then back up at Louis and Niall, anger now strewn in my cracking voice. “I wasn't asking, I was telling. You have to go, now. And he won’t be defenseless… he has me. I'll stay behind so that you guys can meet up with Hollywood.”

        I tried to push Louis and Niall out of the tailgate, without hurting them; but even with all of the muscle that I had acquired over the apocalypse, there was no way I was going to be able to move them. I tried pushing on Louis’ back but he turned around to face me, "That's crazy, you'll get yourself and Harry killed!" The words came out were demeaning to me, as though I couldn't take care of both Harry and I. I knew that he didn't mean what he said like the way I took it, but those words just made me want to get him and Niall out of the tailgate that much more.

        I looked up at him through narrowed eyes and said with an edge in my voice, "I'm serious, get out of the truck, now. The Militia aren't going to kill me, and Harry'll be fine." 

         “Why can’t Niall and I stay here with you and Harry, we could-we could try and hold off the militia. Or Niall and I could carry Harry and we could all run?” He tried to sound hopeful, like he was trying to look out for all of us. But I knew that he was just trying to stay here, undermine me. Then again, maybe he was just looking out for one of his best friends. A memory from behind the apocolypse popped into my head, one of the magazine covers and various reports saying the Eleanor was Louis' beard. The he and Harry were secretly lovers, but their management wouldn't let them be together. And to keep Harry and Louis' relationship a secret, their management had Louis date Eleanor, as to make people think he was straight. Sad to think that those lies and rumors were headline worthy back before the epidemic.

        I shook my head, coming back to the present and met Louis' gaze head on. His usually clear blue eyes were clouded with heroism and care, but I couldn't live with myself if I let anything happen to him and Niall. "As long as I'm with you guys, the Militia won't stop looking for us. Dax will make sure that both I and Hollywood are brought back to the camp. And now that we've wasted enough time arguing, you and Niall won't be able to put enough distance between you guys and here, if you're caring Harry."

        I pushed on Louis again, my muscles straining as I left all gentleness behind. He hobbled a little, and I took the momentum to push on him again. “You and Niall have to go find Hollywood, Liam and Zayn. That’s your only chance.” I said with my voice demanding as I continue to push on him. Finally, I got Louis out of the back- although he was now looking at me bitterely from the ground, reluctant to be made to run. Turning around I found that Harry of all people, was trying to persuade Niall out.

         “She’s right, mate. You guys wouldn't be able to get away while dragging my sorry arse around.” His voice was weak and frail, as he spoke in a hushed tone. That was enough, though. Harry's pleading was enough to get Niall to stop arguing with me and leave. Niall tried to argue with him for a moment but with a tap on his shoulder by me, he knew it would be no use. "I'm so sorry Harry." He said with tears brimming at his eyes, sorrow and regret lacing his voice. I looked at him, a sudden sadness taking over my demeanor as I saw the look of loss and sadness in his eyes.

         Niall reluctantly stood up and jumped out of the tailgate; standing by Louis, he looked up at me, “What do we do?” He asked, wiping away the few stray tears that had come from his eyes. 

        I knelt down next to Harry, while keeping my bright green eyes locked on Louis’ deep blue ones, “Go find Hollywood. Knowing her, she's already on her way back her. She's gong to be worried that I'm not with you, so just tell her that I didn't go down without a fight.” I smiled at them, with my most reassuring look. Louis and Niall both hesitated, glancing at each other with wondering looks, but with one last remorseful look at me, they turned their backs and tore off into the darkness.

         I sighed and turned back to Harry who was moaning pitifully at my feet. I looked up at the militia who was only a few hundred feet away now, and had clearly spotted us. “Hey there curly,” I said in my baby voice, trying to sound gentle and soothing as he wearily turned his head in my direction, “Remember how I said that I would protect you? Well that hasn't changed.”

        He smiled at me, his signature dimples not forgetting to appear in their usual spot. I could see the fear in his eyes, but he kept the rest of his face somewhat emotionless. The only thing showing besides pain, was concern. "I feel bad that I'm not going to be able to be much help to you, when they come." His voice was slightly grave, but more apologetic than anything. I gave him a small smile before craning my neck around to peer over the side to see who from the Militia was coming to get us. My hand mindlessly traced the gun in my leg holster, setting the safety, and before I knew what I was doing my hand had gripped the gun and was slipping the cool metal into the waistband of my pants. 

        I could now clearly make out the faces that were running towards Harry and I; as expected there was Dax, Victor, Scarlett, Michaeline and Axle. But to my surprise I saw Garret, running behind his father. I couldn't believe that he was with them, I knew his father, the leader of the militia, had an effect on him; but I thought he was stronger than that. I wondered for a second if Hollywood had seen him yet, hopping she hadn't because that’s the last thing she needed right now. I looked back down at Harry, one last time and spoke to him quietly, and slowly. To make sure my words were understood.

        “If anyone asks, I don’t know you at all. In fact I didn't even know you were in the back of my truck when we spun out of control, okay? You were trying to hitch a ride without me knowing.” I said in my most soothing yet urgent voice, that I could muster. I searched his green eyes with my own for some sort recognition as our gaze became more intense. We stayed there in that position for what felt like hours, our gazes matching as we both stared intently into each other's eyes. Him looking for god knows what, and me looking for some sort of recognition. Instead of a nod or thumbs up, however, he leaned in to me and softly kissed my lips. I was shocked and didn't move at first, letting his soft lips touch mine in a stunned manner. I knew that he was cheeky and flirty, from the tabloids before the apocolypse, but we were in a life or death situation, and he was kissing me?

        The kiss was only mere seconds, but to me it felt like hours. I hadn't been kissed since before the apocalypse, let alone like that. He had put so much feeling into it and all the strength he could muster, which is weird since it was a short kiss. It wasn't all that much effort on his part, since we had only been a few inches apart to begin with. But even this little effort, it clearly tired him. He pulled back and gave me cheeky smile, his breath labored. “I hope that I can pull off not knowing you after that.” I laughed at him and blushed slightly before standing back up and jumping out of the tailgate.

        By the time I had landed on my feet, the little ‘A-team’ of militia had formed a circle around the truck with all of their guns trained on me. I smiled, thinking about how intimidating I must seem to them. Dax came into the center of the group, with his signature evil smile plastered on his smug face, “Why hello, Maya. Long time no see.” His voice was calm, but still tinged with a menacing feeling rooted in his Southern accent. I grimaced as he stepped closer to me.

         “Not long enough. But tell me Dax; was bringing the ‘Militia’s best’ really necessary?” I said putting air quotes around 'Militia's best', sounding arrogant and condescending; hoping to get underneath their skin. And from the response of growls from the group I knew that I had pushed a few buttons. A series of scowls and glares, along with some profanities, were directed towards me. Everyone except Garrett and Dax were glaring at me, and I just smirked in retaliation.

        Dax gave me another mischievous smile as he turned his attention from me to the truck, peering over me to see into the tailgate. “You know it was, Maya. You and Sam were my prodigies; my star pupils. It’s a shame that you had to run away… you two could have been captains of your own battalions.” His voice was calm, completely unaffected by my snide comment. I gave a quick smile at Scarlett who was on the other side of Dax, as she usually was, which got me a scowl in return. Scarlett had always been jealous of Hollywood and me because we were better than her and we happened to be the top of our militia groups, before we ran away. My smile soon faded though as Scarlett and Dax brushed past me and climbed into the back of the truck. 

       “Well, well, well; who do we have here?” Dax cooed, clearly speaking to Harry and I both.

        Scarlett turned her head to me, her radiant black hair following her head movement as she gave me a smug smile. “Is this your boyfriend? He’s cute, but I don't see why he'd be hanging around with you. Seeing as how he is so out of your league.”

        She winked, and I had to swallow the anger building up in me. Her openly calling me ugly was enough to have me ripping her throat out, but I restrained myself knowing that if Harry and I had any connection, the Militia would torture him, and use him against me to find Hollywood. I just smiled and glanced from Harry to her with my eyebrows raised. Taking a second to add disgust to my voice as I answered her,  "Him? I don't think so. He's not really my type." I paused before saying with a sarcastic smile, “If you want him, you can have him, Scarlett. He’s injured, so that means he won’t be able to run from you like the rest of them.” I saw her cheeks flare at my comment, reminding me of my useful talent of getting under her skin like no other.

        I could hear Dax and Scarlett discussing him and as I looked around at the Militia that had encircled me. Seeing that everyone except Garrett was looking past me and into the back of my tailgate, whereas Garrett was intently staring at me, as though he wanted to catch my attention. Garret and I locked eyes for a moment, his blue eyes pleading for me to acknowledge him, but I simply turned my head back towards Dax and Scarlett. Ignoring my only useful friend here.

       “You’re not scared of a stowaway, are you Dax? I mean, he just happened to be in the back of my truck when we crashed, no need to worry… unless you’ve lost your edge?” I smiled at Dax smugly, realizing that my intentions had happened. Everyone looked at me, their eyes wide since I had insulted their commander. Dax's eyes narrowed at me, their cold stare sending a chill through the night air. With one swift movement he had jumped out of the tailgate and was taking strides my way, with Scarlett remaining in the back of the tailgate squatting next to Harry, as she pushed him up into the sitting position. Dax made his way closer to me and I took one last look over his shoulder before he was blocking my view. I was able to catch a glimpse of Harry looking at me worriedly, before a leather-coated shoulder came between our gazes.

        Dax came even closer to me, and on instinct I tried to back up; but my back came into contact with Axle, who was standing directly behind me. I was no match for him and all of his sickening muscles, so I turned my head to Dax. He was uncomfortably close to me, his face merely a foot away from mine. I had the unfortunate luck of being able to smell him at our proximity, and I couldn't hold back the visible gag that came from me as I remembered the last time I has smelled it. I glanced at him, for a second, but that was long enough to erupt a million painful memories that I had tried to block out of Militia training. That sickening smile, mixed with our complicated past was no match for me and I closed my eyes quickly, trying to block him out. I could feel his menacing smile, as he gingerly brushed a stray piece of hair from my eyes while cooing, “Open your eyes.” I clenched my eyes tight, refusing to give into him. "If you open your eyes for me, this will be so much easier."

         Before I could even brace myself though, Dax roughly grabbed my jaw and forced my face in him while making my lips jut out in different directions. “Look at me while I’m talk to you!” There was an edge in his voice, one that I knew too well, and against my conscious mind, my body betrayed me. I slowly opened my eyes, seeing his hard smile soften at my cooperation. “Good girl, now do as I say and we won’t have any more problems.” I opened my eyes fully now, peering back into his cold, dead, merciless blue eyes. His gaze went from my left eye, to my right, then back to my left. He looked as though he was searching for something in my eyes, but I had no clue as to what.

        He finally let go of my jaw and turned his back to me. "I don't like it when people lie to me, so I'm going to ask again. Who is this in the back of your truck?"My thoughts became swirled as past memories came back. But I quickly pushed them out, and mustered up all of the courage I could. "I'm not lying, I do not know who he is."

        Everyone had their eyes on him, not one of the Militia squad was looking at me. This is my chance, I thought. I could hear him fake a laugh, "You underestimate my knowledge of you, darling. I can tell when you're lying. So this boy must mean something to you if you're trying so hard to keep your relationship hidden. So just tell me, who is he?" He paused, and I knew exactly why. Normally his threats were enough to get anyone's cooperation, so he was letting his words sink in. Trying to scare the truth out of me, as I liked to call his technique. I kept my mouth closed, and my face impassive as best I could. "Is he one of your good friends? Maybe a recruit for your own little rebellion. Maybe he's your lover... No, no that's not it. He's not your type."

        That was the last straw, and he knew it. Dax gave me a knowing look and turned his back to me, making his way over to Harry who was questioningly staring at the two of us. That word, combined with the innuendo behind it had me shaking from rage. My blood boiling inside of mend I could feel the rage bubbling up inside of me at his words. My adrenaline was pumping, rage taking over my thoughts, and before I could stop myself, I lunged at Dax’s back. Hoping that my element of surprise would be enough time for me to slit his throat with the knife in my boot. As soon as my feet left the ground though, Axle’s attention turned from Dax to me and he roughly grabbed my ankles. He yanked me in mid-air, causing me to fall to the ground, landing on my stomach.

        The wind was literally knocked out of me; I laid on the hard ground, clutching my stomach while simultaneously gasping for air.  I must have sounded like a fish out of water, but I didn’t care. The pain was worse than almost anything else, but my pride and clenched eyes held back the tears threatening to escape. I only opened my eyes to the sound of Harry feebly yelling at Dax, “Leave her alone! Vegas, are you okay?” 

        I opened my eyes wearily, seeing Victor kneeling over me with an evil smile on her face, “Looks like you two do know each other more than you let on. I guess that we’ll have a use for him after all.” Victor looked up at Dax for approval, and Dax gave a complimentary smile in return. 

        I had only just begun to regain my breath and I managed to spit out, “It’s me you want, leave him alone.” I took another deep breath as I saw Victor stand up and summon Axle to his side. He ignored my plea, and shared a look with Axle. 

      "Vegas? Is that what you're trying to call yourself now? How ironic," There was an almost playful tone in his voice, but he quickly replaced it. "And I'm guessing that he doesn't know about your past either?" I rolled my head to the side to see Harry’s face filled with fear as Axle raised his gun and brought the butt down to connect with my head, causing me to black out.

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