Hello, all. I don't even know where this story came from. I'm just gonna roll with it. Mostly told from the journal my main OC, Katelyn O'Leary.
Disclaimer: Alas, I do not own the MCU.
My life was perfectly normal, thank you very much. Wake up, get ready for the day, grab my backpack and head out to loot the city. In the afternoons, trade with Tom for food and supplies and news of any other survivors. Then I go home to hiding place in the old, half-destroyed Stark Tower and prepare to start the day over again.
Okay, maybe that's not a normal life. But for the apocalypse, that's as normal as you can get.
I won't start with some big long backstory like those normal apocalypse books you read. I'll keep it short and simple: aliens invade. Drop bombs. World goes boom. Lots of people die and only a handful survive. And then they leave. Just, the end, good day, see you later. They came for the sole purpose of destroying the home of millions.
Of course, the Avengers, the designated go-to in times of dear God the world is ending were no help. As soon as the aliens showed up: BOOM! Goodbye, Avengers facilities. Goodbye, Stark Industries. All dead. All gone. The world gave up hope after that.
How did I survive, you may ask? I'm an NYC girl. I've lived on the streets for years. As soon as Stark Tower was destroyed beyond repair, I took my backpack and hid inside the remains and watched as the world was ripped apart around me.
I don't mourn the losses of billions. They don't matter to me; I didn't know them. I mourn the losses of everyday life. Digging in dumpsters for old pop tarts and pizza boxes. Pick-pocketing rich people. Running from the cops.
Aw, that's sad, you may think. You shouldn't be homeless at only seventeen (because that's how old I was at the time), especially because you've done nothing wrong. But most of you would walk right by me like I'm nothing. I actually prefer this life to my old one.
Moving on. I'm only keeping this journal for the sake of any other survivors out there, or for looking back at my past for a laugh. Or, hey, to show those alien motherf**kers what they did.
If you're an alien and you're reading this: SCREW OFF.
Before all this, I just so happened to be a writer. It's easiest for me to write in first person, so please bear with me. If you don't feel like it: SCREW OFF. Don't mind my language, either.
Anyways, on with the miserable story that is my life. I snatch my backpack, always packed with three fresh bottles of water, a simple first-aid kit, a third of my current food supplies, and my weapons. In the front, I stick what I hold dearest to me: a rusted hunting knife, a few photos, and a bag of candy including my last package of gum, three Tootsie-Pops, a full-size package of Starbursts and three large bags of Skittles.
I pick my way through a path of debris that's now familiar to me after two years. Down seven flights of stairs, jump the four-stair gap on the third level, shimmy through the door cracked open a foot, avoid the tetanus-ridden pole sticking down from the ceiling, jump over the piles of scattered papers, careful not to make any noise, out the still-working automatic doors and into the remains of the decimated New York City. Onwards to my job: looting and trading.
I head to my first stop on the day's trip, a place most survivors go to. There's a once-beautiful cathedral a few blocks down, looking immensely out of place in the big city. A lot of times survivors make it there to search for help, only to die there. Death doesn't phase me anymore, then again, hardly anything does.
I'm rewarded with one fine specimen, a man probably around forty years old. Freshly dead, gone within the night, I suspect. This is good, because that means he'll probably have stuff that's actually worth something nowadays on him.
Looting from the dead. That's how I make most of my living. Do I show remorse? I can't pray over them, I'm an atheist. But I always thank them, tell them that they deserve better. Then I pillage everything I can. Except clothes. I have a thing against taking clothes.
Looting from the dead. In a church. Guess I'm going to Hell.
First I search his pockets. In the jeans pockets, I find a wallet. Worthless. In the other jeans pocket, a cell phone. If there's information on it, it may be valuable. I pocket the phone and leave the wallet.
I score much higher in the coat pockets. Nothing in the outside pockets. But hidden inside the inside pockets are treasures. In one, a small shotgun. Shotguns are perfect, because they're easier to carry than rifles or larger guns. Huge market for them, according to Tom. In the other pocket, a package of pop tarts. S'mores flavored, two of them. Expire in another year.
Pop tarts. Honest-to-God pop tarts.
Our ancestors traded in cows and metal. These days we trade in shotguns and pop tarts.
I'm keeping the pop tarts for myself. I don't care how much they're worth. I'm keeping the honest-to-God poptarts for myself.
I don't spend much more time at the cathedral. The shotgun alone is enough to get me by for two weeks, three if I'm careful. And this is only the first stop on my daily looting run. Nevertheless, I scour the pews in case this guy had a girlfriend carrying more pop tarts on her. Sadly, no luck, but I find a couple of watches that still work. With these plus the shotgun, that's food for another month.
On to the next stop on my grand tour of looting. The alleys between buildings I normally avoid, but today I'm feeling lucky. I don't find much, which is why I usually avoid them, but I do find a shopping cart half-wedged between two dumpsters. Perfect. I can use this instead of my pockets to carry my goods from now on. And if looting gets scare, I can trade it off with Tom.
Henry's Ice Cream Parlor was a small business with a big secret. The world's biggest stash of a rare plant was what made their Chocolate Mint Delight so popular. This certain plant was extremely addicting, guaranteeing a long and booming life for the parlor. Survivors who haven't been weaned off the stuff are still begging for the plant, and I'm the only one that knows where they are. I sneak into the parlor and slip into the back. There's a large safe, big enough for me to walk through. I know the code combination-I'm the one that changed it.
11-10-15. KJO, my initials, standing for Katelyn Josephine O'Leary. I slip into the safe and peel a few handfuls of leaves from the branches. Over the course of two years, I've stripped down maybe a third of the leaves. I stuff the ones I've taken into my pocket and exit the safe, making sure it locks properly behind me. I slip out the ice cream parlor door with my gear in tow.
The last looting stop on my usual route is only a few blocks away, but it takes me the longest to walk because it's the most dangerous. Lots of people are waiting this close to my usual traders, prepared to mug anyone in sight. Instead of bothering with my usual gun, I just take the shotgun from the dead guy in the church. I glance around cautiously before I make my way down the street towards the Empire State Building.
Tons of people come here, hoping to find some sort of help. It was one of the most well-known buildings in New York City, and in the early stages of the bombings the UN put out safe locations. Even now, two years later, stragglers make it to the building only to find no help waiting and to die. Another perfect looting location.
I make my way down the street, my head swiveling around. Most of the muggers that usually hang around this area have had their asses whipped by me at least once, and most of them know to leave me alone. Even so, one can never be too cautious, especially during the apocalypse.
Thankfully, I don't see anyone. This doesn't encourage me, though, they're probably hiding in the alleys or something. I march straight through the blasted-open doors of the Empire State Building.
The stench of death greets me, as it does everyday. But immediately I can tell that something is off. I pick my way through the main floor. I catch the swish of air behind me and whirl around, sensing movement, my shotgun raised, safety off, my finger over the trigger.
"Hey!" The man's eyes widen and he raises his fists. I scan him up and down, searching for a weapon. Brown hair, brown eyes, probably around my age. I couldn't call him a man, then, more like a boy forced to grow up too fast. Like me. He has metal cuffs around his wrists, some sort of weapons. I wonder how much I could get from Tom if this boy were to, say, drop dead in front of me. Sensing my moment of indecision, the boy lowers his hands and slides his sleeves down over his wrists.
"Who are you?" I say roughly. "What do you want?"
"N-nothing," he says, startled. "Can you, maybe, lower your gun?"
"Who are you?" I repeat.
"My-my name's...Tom Holland," he says. I narrow my eyes. The way he hesitated before he said his name...I don't like it.
"Tom," I say quietly. "I know a Tom. He's a few blocks away from here. Does trades. You know him?"
This Tom nods. "I just got around, started trading with him."
I nod and lower my gun. "Well, Tom, a friend of Tom's is a friend of mine."
Tom nods again. "And you are?"
"I don't disclose my name to strangers," I say. "In these days, if you're a friend it means I won't immediately kill you." All thoughts of looting lost, I turn my shopping cart around to head to Tom's. The other Tom's, the trader's. Not this guy.
This Tom nods. "Well, I'll...see you around, I guess," he says.
"I wouldn't count on it," I call over my shoulder. I push the cart out the door and immediately jump back. Two more guys are standing outside the door, quietly talking. They both jump when they see me too. I don't recognize either of them.
"Is our friend still in there?" one guy, for some reason carrying a bow and quiver of arrows, asks. "Kid around your age, brown hair?"
I nod. "Tom Holland."
The other guy sighs in relief. "He's been in there for hours. We've been standing here for hours."
"Funny," I say. "I didn't see you when I came in."
Both men look uncomfortable. "Um...Jeremy Renner," the guy with the arrows, Jeremy Renner, finally says, holding out his hand. I shift my gun and he drops his hand. "And that's...Robert. Robert Downey."
"Jr.," Robert Downey Jr. adds. Both men look extremely familiar, but since Jeremy Renner is wearing sunglasses and Robert Downey Jr. has his hood up, I can't really tell.
"Not nice to meet you," I grumble. In my head I eye the bow and wonder how much I could trade for it. I push the thought out of my mind and head straight ahead, in the direction of Tom's trading post. I hear them both talking behind me, and I ignore them. It's most likely I'll never see them again. Stay alone and trust no one are my rules for the apocalypse, and I intend to keep it that way.
I stop in front of Tom's shop. It was once a public supermarket. Now, the shelves are entirely looted and the only area still used was once a small back. Tom's Tradings is hastily painted over the windows in red paint. There are many other traders around NYC, but Tom's is by far the best.
Standing behind the counter is a middle-aged man with slick black hair. He grins when he sees me, as always. I check the clock above him that somehow still works. Four o'clock on the dot, as always.
"Katelyn!" he says. "What have you got for me today?"
The man standing in front of him clears his throat. "I believe we were in the middle of a deal."
"Sorry," Tom says to the man. "But there really isn't a market for Captain America uniforms at the time. Now, if you had a super-soldier serum…"
"No," the man says, coughing. "I better be going. Friends waiting near the Empire State Building." I startle. Four of them in one day…
"Excuse me," I say, catching the man's arm as he's leaving. "But they wouldn't happen to be Tom Holland, Jeremy Renner, and Robert Downey Jr., would they?"
The man nods. "That's exactly right," he says. "How did you…"
"I ran into them," I explain.
The man nods. He looks eerily familiar...I feel like I should know him. Maybe he's an actor, or something? "Chris Evans. And you are…?"
"Nobody important," I respond. "Good day." I push my shopping cart up to the counter and watch as the familiar-looking Chris Evans walks away.
"Tom Holland," Tom says. "I've seen him around here before. His name is very similar to mine."
"Tom Holland, Tom Hiddleston," I say. "Eerily similar." I plop the shotgun, watches, and plant remains onto the counter. He nods as usual when he sees the plant and the watches, but his eyes widen when he sees the shotgun.
"This…" he says, turning it over possessively in his hands. "This is a real beauty. Full cartridge?"
"Full cartridge," I confirm. He grins.
"Anything else spectacular?" he asks.
"A package of S'mores Pop Tarts," I respond. "But I'm not selling."
His eyes widen even further at the mention of the sweets, but he looks disappointed when I say I'm not selling.
"Alright," he says. "Three watches, nine cans of soup."
"Make it ten," I say. "One is a Rolex."
Tom nods. "Ten cans of soup for the watches. The usual 40-ounce bag of rice for the plants. As for the shotgun...well, I'll see what I can wrangle up."
I nod as he scoops everything off the counter and heads to the back, where he keeps all of his stored goods. As he looks, I chat.
"What would a bow and arrows be worth?" I ask.
"I'm not sure," he grunts, placing the soup and rice on the counter and then going back for more. "Not much of a market for them, but I'm sure something if guns get scarce. Oh, hunting season would be a good time for the market for them. Why? Do you have any?"
"No," I respond. "Just wondering." He places my goods for the shotgun on the counter and my eyes widen. Four boxes of Lucky Charms cereal. Seven cans of mixed fruit. Eleven cans of vegetables. And, best of all, a Hershey's bar. An honest-to-God Hershey's bar. This is-well, this is almost as good as the Pop Tarts, but not as rare. This is the fourth, maybe fifth Hershey's bar I've gotten from Tom, but I've never even seen Pop Tarts.
"There you are," he says. "That satisfactory?"
"Definitely," I grin. "I'll see you Tuesday."
"Why not tomorrow?" he asks.
"I'm taking the day off," I say, grinning as I pile the food into my shopping cart. "A well-deserved break."
"Alright," Tom says. "See you Tuesday."
I nod and push my cart out the door, grinning to myself. If I'm careful, this could last me a month and a half, maybe two.
I almost begin to whistle as I walk. I don't think anything could ruin my good mood right now.
Of course, that just had to jinx it. Ten minutes later, a bit after I've passed Henry's Ice Cream Parlor again, I run into trouble. Or rather, trouble runs into me.
"Freeze! Put your hands behind your head!" I sigh. This never ends well...for the other guy.
I stop and slip my hunting knife out of the front pocket of my backpack, which I've placed in the shopping cart. I slip the knife up my sleeve and conceal it, then do as he says.
He emerges from the dark alley, gun pointed at me.
"I was just gonna take your food," he says, looking me up and down. "But maybe I'll take you, too." He reaches for me. Faster than he can see, I've sliced a narrow cut down the side of his face. I roundhouse kick him in the ass and then slap the gun out of his hand. It clatters to the ground noisily.
Of course, I hadn't counted on him having friends. Two more men run out of the alley. One scoops up the gun, the other catches me off guard and pins my arms behind my back.
The guy with the gun hands it over to the first man. Blood runs down his face.
"Just for that, maybe I'll kill you instead," he snarls. I suck in a deep breath and let out a bloodcurdling scream. Maybe one of those guys I saw before is still around, but by then it will probably be too late.
Might as well go out fighting.
I backwards-knee the guy holding me in the crotch, then lunge for the man with the gun. He ducks out of the way and I stumble forward, into the crumbling wall of the building in front of me. I use the momentum to push off, straight back into the man that was holding me. One well-placed jab to the neck and he's down.
Two to go. I hear someone running, too far away to be much help. Two men, but as far as I know they're with these two.
"HEY!" one man shouts. "Leave her alone! Kid, stay right there, don't move, we're coming to help!" I snort. Yeah, right. I lunge for the man with the gun again, knife drawn. After a little squabble in which his friend stands back nervously, the man collapses at my feet. A single drop of blood drips off my knife onto the ground.
I gesture with my head back towards the alley. "Go away. And don't come anywhere near me again."
The man nods nervously and takes off, leaving the gun and his friends behind. I scoop up the gun and point it straight at the two other men that have almost reached me.
"Stop right there," I say. Both stop and back up a few feet, putting their hands in the air.
"Whoa," one says, the one that didn't shout. I recognize him as Jeremy Renner. Honestly, by the way he stuttered over it, I doubt it's his real name. "Hold up. You're the girl from the Empire State Building."
I nod, keeping the gun pointed at them.
"Where'd you learn to fight like that?" the other man asks roughly.
"You pick up a lot living on the streets for seven years, and then living through an apocalypse for two," I say. I lower the gun an inch, but keep my finger over the trigger.
"Alright," Jeremy Renner says. "Alright. Where are you staying?"
"That's none of your concern," I say sharply. "Who's he?" I wave the gun at the other man for a moment.
"Seb...Sebastian Stan," the man says. He lowers his arms. I notice the glint of sunlight on metal.
"Freeze," I say, my tone so drastically changed that both men immediately stop. "What's in your hand?" I say to Sebastian Stan.
"N-nothing," he stutters nervously.
"I need to see your hand!" I practically shout. I don't trust that I'll turn my back and end up with a bullet in my brain.
Sebastian Stan sighs and rolls up his sleeve.
"You...have a metal arm," I say, stunned. Then I shrug.
"You're not...scared?" Jeremy Renner says in disbelief. I shrug again.
"You see a lot of strange things living on the streets in New York City," I explain. "Will you be staying here long?"
"As long as necessary," Sebastian Stan says.
"We've been moving around quite a bit," Jeremy Renner elaborates.
I nod. "If you ever need anything, food, supplies, anything...just go to Tom's Trading. Tom Hiddleston. He'll know where to find me." I hardly make this offer to anyone. But these people are strange. I want to know more about them.
I turn back to my shopping cart. I'll trade in this gun next time I go to Tom's.
"Wait!" Sebastian Stan calls. "We still don't know your name."
I pause. They obviously have fake names...so why don't I have one, too? Something Tom will know me by…
"Josephine," I say. "Josephine Coulson."
Both men freeze at the name Coulson, just as I thought they would. Uncle Phil was always a suspicious man, never told us what he was really up to. One Christmas, before my mother died, we arrived at his house to find a man that looked something like Jeremy Renner. Something is up with these guys, and I intend to figure it out.
I turn away and grab tightly onto the handles of my shopping cart full of goods, keeping my bloodstained knife in full view of anyone who dared to try stealing from me again.
I break into a run once I'm sure Jeremy Renner and Sebastian Stan aren't following me. I don't stop until I make it back to Stark Tower. The doors open automatically, as usual. I set my shopping cart full of goods aside and go to the manual override for the doors. I bolt them shut, because I can't shake the feeling that I'm being followed, that I'm being watched.
This is going to be fun, getting a shopping cart full of stuff up seven flights of stairs. I guess I'll have to use the elevator pulley that I rigged up maybe a year or so ago. I chose my room to be on the eighth floor because it's smack in the middle of the building, and the old Avengers used to live on that floor. I'm not sure who's room I'm living in, but I think it was a guest room.
I unload my goods in the small kitchenette and take note of my supplies. Apart from what I got today, I had four cans of vegetables and a box of Cheerios, plus two cans of mixed fruit in my backpack. Oh, yes. I'm definitely taking the day off tomorrow.
Normally I'm not so lucky in my trading as I was today. On a usual day I'll be lucky to get two or three cans of food, plus my rice. The rice I go through quickly, and sometimes my place will be looted when I'm out. That's why I keep most of my supplies, all of my weapons, and at least a third of my food on me.
Sometimes I wish I had someone with me, for company. Today has been the most I've talked in a long time. Usually it's just Tom, and that's only talking about trading. I have noticed, though, that people often times leave me alone. I go to Tom's every day, and I knew him from before, from living on the streets. I guess he's kind of like a father to me.
Anyways, I take a can of mixed fruit, one of the old ones that's about to expire, and eat it in four huge gulps. I didn't eat this morning because I wasn't sure how much food I would be able to get today. I go ahead and eat another can. Then a third. Oh, who cares. It's not like I have anyone else to feed.
I put everything away into the proper cabinets. One for fruits and vegetables, one for grains (the rice and cereal), one for soup, and one for bottled water. I only have one pack of twenty-four left. I make a mental note to remember that for the next time I have something worthy of Tom's precious supply of water. I can get plenty from the tap, because the plumbing still works, but I don't trust that the running water will keep going or how clean it is.
Now I'm sitting here, still writing, and I still have the feeling that I'm being watched. I'm sure it's just my mood, what happened before. But I know there's more to the story of the strange people with fake names than meets the eye.
Alright, I hope that chapter wasn't too bad. Yes, yes, I know the Avengers' code names are pretty bad. Bet you can guess who is who! Thank you for giving it a read. If you're hooked, follow! If you liked it, drop a review or give a favorite! Thank you, my MCU fans, and have a lovely day!