A/N: So I wrote this for the 2014 After Camlann Merlin Big Bang, and for some reason never crossposted it. I'm going to start doing that now! The full thing, complete with amazing art by thewinchesterswagger (on Tumblr), can be found on my AO3; the link to my account is in my profile. :)
It looks like I've managed to piss someone off, which is really just par for the course. It's all angry words and bright blue eyes and I'm not sure what exactly is being said, only that I'm giving as good as I get.
Somehow the angry spark turns into one of amusement, laughter gradually replacing the sneers, and I leave feeling like something odd and brilliant has happened. Like we're friends.
He smiles before he walks away.
His teeth are crooked, but I don't really notice that. I'm too busy wondering. And probably grinning like an idiot.
I'll find him again, I decide. I'll find him right after I…right after…
What was I in such a hurry for, again?
I'm hungry, too hungry to think straight, but it's not a hunger for anything I can name, nothing that makes sense, except—
I'll never see him again, because the world went to hell and making friends became the last thing on my mind.
Right. I'm dreaming. This is a dream because I'm dead, and the dead do not smile at strangers. They eat them.
Or maybe this is nothing at all because everyone knows that the dead don't dream.
The knowledge settles into me again; the images start to fade away before I so much as open my eyes. By the time I do, I don't think I'll remember any of this.
When all's said and done…maybe that's for the best.
Em isn't a monster. He's just like everybody else.
At least, that's what he tells himself. It's a hard thing to remember when you have your teeth buried in someone's frontal lobe.
Okay, so maybe he is a monster. Technically speaking. But at least he feels bad about it; that has to count for something, right?
There are a lot of things like that, things he likes to tell himself so he can sleep at night. Not that he couldn't go for ages without sleep, because what is it going to do, kill him?—but that's morbid, and he should probably stop.
Right, so: other things he likes to tell himself. He might not remember his own name, but Em likes to think he's a pretty decent guy. Minus the whole eating-people thing. Which, to be fair, he can't exactly help. Nobody can. And nobody can remember how they ended up this way, either, so there's not much chance of working out a cure.
Or maybe they do remember. Maybe everyone except for him is walking around with detailed knowledge of how to bring the dead back to life locked inside their heads, and it would all come out easy as anything if he had the words to ask. If they had the words to tell him.
He doesn't, and they don't, and it's a long shot anyway, so he doesn't think about it too much.
He wakes up in his jet and he's alone again. Which only makes sense, really. He's not sure why he wouldn't be.
Well, he thinks, looking at the serpentine eyes hovering near the ceiling. Alone except for the dragons, anyway.
He's hungry, which is not something that's good to ignore, so Em tugs on the little lever to make his seat jolt upright again and drags himself to his feet. The dragons all stare at him, and he fancies that if he were still human he might feel their gazes boring into him from all angles. He's amassed quite a few of them—figurines, bookends, stuffed ones, a mobile he'd managed to rig up to the roof of the cabin so that now it drifts there, delicate and eerie and nowhere near as menacing as its legendary counterparts. He even has a dragon mug, out of which he'd really love to drink tea if he still liked tea. It's a pretty impressive collection at this point, and he's proud of it.
He brushes his fingers stiffly against his favorite as he walks by; it's a rough wooden carving he keeps on the armrest nearest to what was, in another life, the plane's emergency exit. He couldn't tell you why it's his favorite, only that it is.
There's…well, there's a lot of things Em couldn't tell you. Not least of all because he can't actually speak. It's really frustrating, which makes him think that maybe he couldn't shut up when he was alive or something, because there are so many things he wants to say at any given time. Usually because he's thought of some stupid joke and wants to share it—only he can't, and it wouldn't matter if he could. If he could, he'd still be human, and if he were still human, he would've been eaten by now.
As it is, he thinks, staggering slowly across the asphalt to the airport, he's the one doing the eating. And, well, maybe that's better? He's evolved or some shit like that. He's adapted. And it doesn't even make him a bad person necessarily, because this is the new age, where not eating people's brains makes you the odd one out.
Right. Filed under: Things Em Likes to Tell Himself So That He Can Sleep at Night (Not That It Would Matter If He Couldn't).
Heathrow's electricity lasted for a bit longer than the rest of the area, but it's still been out for a while now, so Em uses the escalator like a staircase. It took practice at first, figuring out how to angle limbs stiff with rigor mortis so that he could actually move down one step at a time instead of taking them all at once and ending up a pile of broken bones. That would suck a lot, he thinks, considering he'd still be…well, existing and all. Just not able to move. He'd rather not find out what that's like.
Anyway, he's mastered the whole escalator thing now, even if there's still something off-putting about going down an escalator that's not moving at all. He just grips the railing tightly and keeps his movements jerky and quick.
A mumble from his left makes Em glance over. It's a familiar face, but then again, they pretty much all are at this point. Dred is a little boy with sleek dark hair who likes to haunt what used to be the up escalator. He's wearing a dirty school uniform with a nametag that's mostly worn off; only a couple of letters are still legible, which is how Em learned his name. Or something close to it.
"Hullo, Dred," is what he tries to say.
"Hnnnngkk" is what actually comes out of his mouth. Oh well. This is the problem with trying to form words on the fly. Em's not actually terrible at speech, considering, but he needs to plan out the words and then concentrate carefully. Otherwise it just ends up sounding like…well, that.
Not that Dred seems to care either way. He just looks at Em with those wide, frost blue eyes of his like he always does. Coming from a little kid it's more than a little unnerving, even for someone who's already dead, and Em finds himself navigating the steps a bit faster.
The security guard with the floppy brown hair—one of their more recent arrivals—is pacing back and forth at the foot of the escalator with a determined look on his face. Em wonders what he was so determined about, sometimes, but he knows better than to ask. He waves instead, more a halfhearted twitch of the arm than anything but at least, he tells himself, he's trying.
The security guard doesn't even glance Em's way, so he keeps shuffling along.
He finds who he's looking for by the luggage carousel, which isn't exactly a surprise. One of the strange things about becoming a member of the undead (aside from, you know, the obvious) is that it apparently turns everyone into creatures of habit. Excruciatingly boring habit; not that Em supposes he's any kind of exception.
So, the luggage carousel. Will's always there, mindlessly sweeping the same two square feet of space with a broom so filthy Em privately thinks it's only making matters worse. Will liked to watch the bags go round and round once, and even though the power's been out for ages he still likes to wait and stare by the carousel, like he's trying to get it going again through sheer force of will.
Em tries to call his name. It comes out a grunt. Damn.
Still, Will seems to hear him. He turns around slowly, the broom's motions stopping as he concentrates on this one movement. Em watches him look down at his janitor's uniform, blinking at his name embroidered into the grey-green fabric with unfocused eyes. Lucky Will, Em sometimes thinks of him. Lucky for having been born with a one-syllable name that even death couldn't do much to scrub away. He might have resented him for it if Will weren't the closest thing to a best friend he has in this brave new world of theirs.
Unfortunately his best friend isn't exactly a fantastic conversationalist. Understandable. So Em tries really hard to get his point across. It takes an embarrassingly long time trying to form that one all-important word, trying to get his mouth and tongue and whatever's left of his brain to cooperate, but Will just stands there. It's not like he's got anything better to be doing, Em reminds himself, and finally manages to spit the word out like a broken tooth:
In what Em thinks is an impressive show of finesse, he even manages to drag the last half of the syllable upwards to make it resemble an invitation. Because really, being dead is no excuse for having no manners.
Will doesn't seem to share his opinion because he's looking at Em like he thinks he's an idiot. Em isn't especially offended, seeing as that's basically Will's default expression at any given time. He sometimes wonders if Will died scowling, and now his facial muscles are frozen that way, but he's pretty sure it'd be rude to ask. It all goes back to the manners thing, so he doesn't bring it up. Instead he waits patiently while Will processes the request.
Eventually he gets his reply in the form of a short, jerky nod. Will's mouth opens and contorts, then closes again, until finally he jerks his head toward the general undead populace milling about the floor.
It's not much to go on, but they've done this often enough that Em gets the message. He grunts an assent, turns around and starts shuffling in the other direction. They'll both round up a handful of others in the mood for similarly fast food (see what he did there? Em thinks he comes up with comedic gold; too bad he can't share it with anyone) and head off to the last city. Which will take somewhere in the vicinity of for-bloody-ever, because speed is not an achievement easily unlocked when you turn into a zombie, but Em supposes that's an upside of being dead—you don't really feel the need to rush anymore.
See, Em tells himself, listening to Will shuffle listlessly away. I'm not a monster. I'm not any different from anybody else.
Semantics, maybe. When everyone around you is a monster too, does that make it okay? Or does it just mean there's a shitton of monsters in the world?
Em thinks it over for about a second.
Then he shrugs and keeps walking. He's too hungry to be thinking right now.