When One World Ends Another Begins
Author's Note: This story has more than one main character and more than one main pairing as well (with both het and yaoi couples) so expect to be reading what's going down with Zack one chapter and then someone else next time, even the side characters may get a few chapters along the way. Also, I put this under Kingdom Hearts because this will have a ton of Final Fantasy characters, that's not to say Sora and co aren't a part of this story, they are. However, they're much younger than the main cast at this point so they'll be side characters who will either get boosted up to main character status during a time skip or sequel should either of those things happen.
With all that out of the way I also wanted to say that this is a zombie apocalypse story so fair warning any character can die and not all couples will have a happily ever after together but if you can get past that enjoy the story!
Chapter 1: Not Just Another Day
Chapter Summary: Zack Fair figured it'd be just another school day like any other, ignore his math teacher, flirt with girls, admire his crush from afar, go to Kendo practice... what he didn't expect was a zombie outbreak during lunch, well at least now talking to his crush doesn't seem so hard in comparison.
(Every chapter will have a new summary)
If there was one thing that Zackary Fair couldn't stand it was algebra. The thought that he had not just the rest of this year but next year with it as well was quite disheartening to the teen. He believed wholeheartedly that most people would never have to use it after graduating. Zack had planned to be one such person and that was why instead of listening to the most boring teacher talk about it, he was playing King's Knight.
It was most assuredly a much better way to pass the time.
A hand slammed down on his desk causing the dark-haired teen to jerk up with a start into the glaring face of his least favorite teacher, "Oh hey what's up Mrs. K?" He smiled innocently while trying to slide his hand further underneath the desk and out of sight.
"It's Mrs. Kusaribe."
The hand laying on top of his unused math book is now in front of him palm up as she looks expectantly at him.
He grins sheepishly and uses the hand not hiding the phone to rub the back of his head, "Can't I just put it up there's no need to take it right?"
She doesn't budge, "Hand it over or it's another detention for you and unlike you I have better things to do with my time."
Sighing but not auguring he slowly raises his phone and places it reluctantly in her hand for her to take away and she happily does so before carelessly tossing it onto her desk causing Zack to wince at the treatment his poor cell phone is having to endure.
"Now then after you get done waving around that stick of yours this afternoon come see me and I might give it back."
The teenager ignores the snickers and grumbles internally about how it's a sword not a stick even if it is made of wood.
Eventually math ends and he is the first one out despite having a window seat at the far corner of the room, "Freedom!" He cries dramatically at his exit this gets some nearby girls to giggle and he in turn smiles and waves, "Ah, so you've bore witness to my daring escape of the awful lair known only as algebra class!"
The blonde girl giggles while her redhead friend rolls her eyes, "And what a daring escape it was oh fearless warrior." He opens his mouth for a witty comeback only to lose his train of thought when something pink catches his eye.
Like a moth drawn to a flame his head turns completely forgetting all about flirting with the two pretty girls before him instead all he sees is her.
The girl he's had a massive crush on since first grade when she let him borrow her forest green crayon after he lost his. That green had been his favorite color but that day he found a new favorite green, her eyes.
After that he completely embarrassed himself by saying something along the lines of how they should make an Aerith eye's color crayon.
After that he avoided her for the rest of the year.
She was at her locker now and he still hadn't moved an inch but the brunette didn't notice, she never did unless he spoke and that was always a bad idea because unfortunately, every time after that first moment whenever he opened his mouth instead of saying something smooth or interesting. He just blurts out whatever with no filter.
Like that one time, he overheard her asking a friend for advice on her pretty white dress and he said she'd look better in pink. He'd been right of course but the other girl completely chewed him out right then and there making him realize that Aerith probably thought he was saying that she didn't look nice in her white dress and that was why he steered clear of the girl.
She made him brain dead and stupid.
He watches as her and another girl leave their lockers and get lost in the crowd before sighing and rubbing his face with his palm muttering to himself, "Pathetic…"
The bell startles him from his self-pity party and so he hustles to his own locker to get the books he needs before taking off in the same direction that she went, they had literature together after all.
Zack mentally pats himself on the back for making it just in time before the door to the classroom closes, the last thing anyone wants in Mr. Rhapsodos class was to be late. Okay the last thing would be to fall asleep, but tardiness took a close second.
It wasn't hard to stay awake though because unlike algebra this class had two things going for it first and foremost Aerith was in it and next was the redheaded instructor's passion for the written word. He could even make something like poetry sound captivating and Zack found that stuff to be dull on good days so yes Mr. Rhapsodos class had a lot going for it.
That is of course why that hour moves so much faster than the one dedicated to math, two classes later and Zack is attending his second favorite class, lunch.
Only second to kendo though that was an after-school club instead of class, but it stilled counted in his mind just like lunch did.
Goofing off with the other kendo members at lunch kept his focus mostly on his food and his pals and away from Aerith and her pretty green eyes for the most part that's why when a feminine scream tore through the lunchroom he had no idea where she was.
Unlike him she didn't stick to one lunch table.
It happened so fast one scream and then another until the one could taste the fear and confusion. Next thing Zack knew it was all out pandemonium and he had no idea what caused it at first as he got pushed to and fro amongst the panicked students.
Certain words started to stand out even with the cries, "Oh god I'm bleeding!"
"He's eating her!"
"She bit me!"
That's when someone knocked the wind right out of Zack landing directly on top of him and snarling in his face with their own covered in blood.
A lucky landing and quick thinking had him holding off the snapping mouth with his arm at the other boy's throat before throwing him off. Zack jumped off of the floor to see the person who attacked him now chewing down on another guy one that he had probably unknowingly threw the flesh-eating monster at and just like that Zack's lunch made a reappearance.
Standing in the middle of his high school cafeteria surrounded by blood and vomiting his guts out is how Angeal found him and not so gently grabbed his arm and hauled him and another student out welding his bamboo sword.
Dazed and shocked Zack gets a wake-up call when the other student his teacher had been defending falls to the ground with a scream, one of those things was gnawing on his ankle and Angeal just tripped over top of them trying to ward off another one.
Zack does what he does best and charges in unthinkingly and shoulder slams the oncoming creature while Angeal rights himself again while Zack catches himself, so he doesn't topple onto the body he rammed.
"Of all the dumb-"
His instructor cuts himself off as he takes out another one, "It's spreading… we have to go." That said he tosses the bamboo sword at Zack who catches it and follows after him, "What about you?"
"Don't worry about me, the gym is right up ahead, and I can avoid them until I have another one." It's like he said with agility he didn't need the weapon as badly but despite his training Zack wasn't up to his mentor's level just yet.
Still he only had to knock away one on the way there mostly because they seemed to be thinning out as they neared their destination.
Pushing the doors open more forcefully than normal Angeal entered the gymnasium with the teenager on his heels, "Why didn't we run into many of those things on the way, you said it was spreading?"
Angel didn't pause he strolled over to the far side of the room while answering, "Probably because the closest exit is in the opposite direction, those things went where they would have more…"
"People to eat…" Zack finished for him gripping the kendo stick tightly while looking around warily as if expecting one of those flesh eaters to jump out of nowhere while Angeal was using his keys to open the storage room where they kept the club stuff during school hours.
"Keep watch I'll just be a minute."
With that Angeal flips the light switch and enters the closet, "Sure…"
The older man knew that he had to hurry as his student was counting on it, he'd already failed more than one before even seeing his prized pupil standing in the center of that carnage, but he had to make time for this.
His slightly shaking hand reached into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone, it had two new text messages.
Both from Genesis.
He clicked on it and the first one read,
12:46 pm - Don't be a noble idiot I'm on the opposite side of the campus.
Genesis knew him too well it seemed and was trying to reason with him, not that it would have worked had it just been him by his self without a kid depending on him.
The next text was thankfully one that put air back into his lungs when he read it.
12:59 pm - I've made it out so get a move on.
He quickly types his reply.
1:08 pm - I'll message you once I'm out.
Pocketing the phone, he grabs what he came here for all the while feeling his phone vibrate with another message but resisting the urge to check in favor of grabbing some extra weapons and a shoulder bag to carry them inside.
Zack was so focused on guarding the room that when Angeal's hand lands on his arm from behind him he nearly jumps out of his skin, "Sorry, come on."
He nods and tries to look like his heart has not turned into that of a hummingbird's, of all the things he could think about at a time like this and his mind chooses to settle on how fast hummingbirds' hearts beat.
Running to the gym had been the best option before but this time Angeal told them they needed to move fast but not so much as to attract unwanted attention or be unable to avoid running into something.
Zack could feel the cold sweat rolling down his neck as the two carefully made their way to the nearest science classroom, it was Angeal's idea to use the larger than normal windows in there to get outside.
The fact that they were nearer than the closest doors made them the best option in Zack's mind as well.
The hallway was like something out of a horror film, there was blood and the occasional limb that Zack did his best to not look directly at but what was more worrisome were when they passed by a body.
He didn't want to look at them in fear of seeing someone he knew but he couldn't not because they might get back up and attack, "…I recognize her."
Angeal chanced a quick glance at the body blocking the door to the classroom they needed to enter, "What's her name?" He asked as he knelt beside the student's body to move her all the while keeping a close eye for any sign of movement.
Zack bites his lip and recalls a pretty girl with a great sense of fashion who he was pretty sure was the one who got Aerith to start curling the bits of hair near her ears. Now though her stylish clothes are bloodied, and her blonde hair matted, "I think it was Terra."
Angeal moved her to rest against the wall before standing back up looking like he'd aged years in just a few seconds before turning the knob and entering the classroom once again with Zack at his heel.
The classroom was disarrayed but there was no blood to be seen as the two made their way to the window Zack once again the lookout as Angeal set about unlocking and opening a window that probably hadn't been opened in years.
If anyone had the muscle for it though, it'd be his kendo instructor.
The noise at opening the window made Zack wince and look around for any possible foes but there was none that he could see, but a groaning outside of the door told him that they were still there. He hoped it wasn't Terra waking up as one of those things but quickly shoved it aside as Angeal was carefully looking before leaping out of the window gave him the go ahead to climb through first.
The window was large enough to crawl out of when opened but it was in no means comfortable for the teenager so he couldn't image how it'd feel to someone with his teacher's physique, but anything was better than waiting for whatever made that noise to find them.
After Angeal wiggled his way out and landed in a much more dignified manner than the younger had they weighted their options, "Which way?"
"If we go to the parking lot, we could get a car." Angeal mused aloud while scanning their deceptively calm surroundings.
"What's the likely hood of a bunch of other people having thought the same thing?"
Zack wished he wasn't.
"Still but we need as much distance between us and here as possible so I think we should at least try to see if it's an option."
"You're the adult."
Angeal didn't reply but instead cautiously made his way around the building sticking close the walls as he went. As they got closer to the entrance and thus the parking lot they started to hear more, it wasn't the chaotic screams of the lunchroom but still plenty loud enough to know that those monsters were probably getting themselves one hell of a meal.
That thought made Zack feel ill but as he'd already lost his lunch, he felt reasonably sure that he could stomach the sight now.
Angeal was the one to peek around the corner while Zack anxiously awaited behind him for instructions. It wasn't something he was great at as he liked to do things his own way and learn through trail and error but an error in this situation was something they couldn't afford.
That is why he would refer to Angeal.
No sooner had the teenager thought this when a familiar voice reached his ears, "Maria, this way!"
Zack didn't think he rarely did when Aerith was involved, "Zack-"
Angeal made to grab at the boy's arm as he passed but it was no use, he'd seen it coming and dodged before darting right into the nightmare that was currently happening in the parking lot. As a teacher he wanted to rush to his students aids as well but doing so who've put the one he had managed to save in jeopardy but as that student was now endangering himself doing what Angeal had wanted to do since he saw his students fending for themselves he mentally apologized to Genesis before rushing in as well.
Aerith had been near the cafeteria doors when the student staggered in, it caused her to pause all thoughts of throwing away her leftovers to go grab a book from the library with her spare time forgotten.
Everything happened so fast, one second, she saw him and the next he pounced and bit into the skin of the closest student before pulling back to show that same screaming student's ripped out flesh dangling from its mouth causing an uproar.
Aerith was pushed out of the room quickly after that and had to keep up less she be trampled in the wake of equally terrified students. The brunette wasn't sure how long she ran down the halls with the others or when she met up with Maria from her archery club.
It was Maria that pointed out that the green-eyed girl had never dropped her plastic tray during the run, as far as weapons go it wasn't ideal, but it was better than nothing. The orange tray was empty now and some of the left-over milk may have gotten on her otherwise clean pink dress, but she was still grateful to have it when more people started to attack.
Swinging it in her defense had somehow resulted in both her and Maria getting outside and into the parking lot. Maria had dragged her that way as the slightly older girl had a car, but she wasn't the only one as most of the other students who had one also thought it was a good idea.
"So close!" Maria called out as they darted around another running body whether it was a person or one of those things was up for debate as there were too many people for the once sizable parking lot to not cause confusion.
Just as the two are nearing the car something jumps over the hood of a truck and directly into their path, Aerith grabs Maria's arm with her free hand and pulls her back the way they came before another one comes running down the narrow path the two girls have found themselves on in between the rows of cars.
Letting go of the other teen's arm she swings her bloodied tray to knock the one in front of her off balance, but it won't last long so she frantically looks for a way out before calling out over the noise, "Maria, this way!" and shows her the way via dropping to the ground and crawling underneath the nearest car during which she had to ditch her weapon as it was slowing her down but she made it to the other side where the row in between the cars looked more open.
Pulling herself up from under the car she ignored the gravel digging into her arms and stayed bent beside the car to help pull out Maria but as the girl was crawling through she screamed a was yanked back, "It's got my leg!" Aerith wasted no time in grabbing her arm and pulling it but as she was distracted with this horrifying tug of war the brunette didn't see the creature coming up behind her until there was a thud behind her.
She chanced a quick look back to see Zack with his bamboo sword having knocked back her would be attacker, "I'll hold them off, so hurry."
Aerith didn't need to ask who them were as more were started to head their way. Another hard pull and the crying girl was out from under the car and in Aerith's arms. She was sobbing but it wasn't from relief.
"I-It g-got me."
Aerith's eyes trailed down to her exposed leg that was covered in bites, it's resemblance to a chicken leg with meat hanging off of it would be disturbingly accurate if not for all the blood. Instead of dwelling on that though she just hugged her tight to keep the wounded girl from seeing the damage.
"I-It's going to be okay."
Neither of them believed this.
Zack was aware of what was happening, but he couldn't keep this up much longer nor could he tell Aerith to just leave the girl behind, that's when Angeal arrived knocking the horror show rejects out of his way and quickly accessed the situation.
He bent down beside the two scared girls, "I'll carry her."
Aerith nodded and let the teacher take charge, "Alright Zack I'll need you to keep things off of us long enough to make it to the car." Zack nods.
Angeal's car was in the staff section while they were in the student one, Aerith noticed this while the two men seemed to silently communicate on how best to get there.
"Maria's car's closer."
They both look at her and then Maria who was mostly silent aside from her weakened cries adds, "Y-Yeah, keys are in my pocket."
Without anymore words the group makes it to the car in record time with Zack leading the way with his bloodstained kendo stick.
At the car Aerith pulls out the keys trying to hurry but not jostle her friend too much, once she has them, she unlocks all the doors with the press of a button and Angeal opens the back seat to lay the injured girl inside.
Aerith climbs in the back with her and lets her use her lap as a pillow while the Angeal takes the drivers seat and Zack the passengers one holding onto the bamboo stick as well as the duffle bag Angeal had brought with them from the gym.
The car starts but they're not out of the woods yet as Angeal had to navigate through the other cars and bodies both moving and not, it takes them a lot longer to get out than any of them had thought. It was tense and quiet aside from Maria's whimpers of pain.
Aerith runs her fingers through the girl's hair and keeps her head down trying to ignore the outside world as the car is buffed with what is likely bodies flinging themselves at their car, but she doesn't want to deal with that right now.
Instead she focused all her energy into comforting the dying girl in her lap.
Zack glanced back through the rear-view mirror to look at them worriedly before shifting his gaze to Angeal who's face appears to calm but the teenager doesn't believe it for one second. If this was spreading like a disease, then how far did it go?
"For the first time ever, I think I'm glad that my dad takes so many trips to the capital at least he's far away from this."
Aerith jerks as if out of a dazed state, "I need to go home, my mom… we live nearby."
Angeal's hands tighten on the steering wheel before he nods stiffly, "Alright just give me the directions." As she proceeds to do just that Zack starts looking for his phone only to come up empty handed, "Shit." His exclamation pulls the two talking parties' attention to him, "My phone it got confiscated…"
If this were any other situation Angeal would be lecturing him about the proper place and time to use his phone but it was not so he didn't say anything about it even when Zack almost wished, he would just for the normalcy of it.
"Can I borrow one of yours? I'd like to call my mom she lives in the next town over, her and my little brother."
Aerith was able to pull hers out easily as it was on the side closest to the door, so it didn't require much movement. Her handmade hip pouch was made for dresses like the one she was wearing today as it had her id, money, and cellphone inside.
She carefully reached forward to hand him the phone as he reached back for it, their fingers toughed during the exchange and Zack wondered how he'd have reacted to that brief first touch had the world not seemingly just ended before tossing that thought away and turning his attention to the phone.
It was white with pale pink and baby blue flowers painted on it, he thought it suited her.
Bringing up the contacts list he froze and realized then that she wouldn't have the numbers programed no he'd have to dial them himself. That in mind he brought up the dial pad and stared and stared and then groaned.
"I don't know my mom's number! I don't even know Cloud's."
Frustrated he reached back to hand Aerith her phone back before he did something stupid and tossed it in anger. Aerith took it back gently and gazed at the distracted boy in worry. Angeal sighed, "You only just now noticed?"
Zack shrugged as he flopped back down in the front seat, "I guess I never knew how much I relied on my contact list before."
Angeal nearly responded when Aerith gasped, "Maria!"
Zack swerved his head back to the two girls, "What's wrong?"
"She's… not breathing."
There was silence until the two teenagers felt the car pull over and looked at Angeal, "We have to leave her." He didn't want to say it let alone do it but it was for their own safety he'd risked it enough just by bringing her but leaving her behind to be ate when he could at least prevent that would've been too cruel.
Aerith said nothing as he came around and opened the backseat and carried her out, "It feels like it should be raining doesn't it?" Zack asked the quiet girl who was staring at the bloodstained seat mournfully.
"It's raining somewhere…"
Her watery green eyes meet his and he agrees.
After Angeal removed her body he came back much to quickly to have taken it far or buried it but neither asked any specifics instead they focused on the road to Aerith's house.
Normally it was a ten-minute drive from her house to school when her mother took her, a bus ride was longer due to all the stops made but today felt like twice as long as any bus ride ever had to the girl.
However, they did eventually arrive at the small cottage like structure that was her home, it set off a little ways away from the surrounding neighborhoods and had enough trees that it almost felt like they had their own little home in the forest.
Before Angeal had completely stopped the car Aerith was already opening the door and darting for her front door, the older man cursed and quickly unbuckled his seat belt and followed along with Zack.
The door wasn't locked as it hardly ever was so Aerith barged right in startling her mother who was sitting upon the couch folding laundry like it was any other normal laundry day.
Elmyra Gainsborough wasn't the type to upset easy but seeing her daughter barge inside looking rumpled and bloodied an hour before school let out for the day was enough to nearly give the poor woman a heart attack as the shirt fell from her hands as they flew both to her chest and mouth simultaneously.
Aerith tackled her mother in a hug not caring about perhaps getting the clean clothes dirty or scaring her mother even more if that was possible, she just wanted her mom. Part of her had thought maybe her mom wouldn't be alive when she arrived, and another part wanted nothing more than to have a good cry on her shoulder.
The last part is what she went with.
Holding her sobbing daughter her eyes land on two young men standing at the door and they harden.
While Aerith was being comforted by her mother who was looking at them none too friendly Angeal was responding to half a doze text messages from Genesis and Zack well he didn't have anything to do so he carefully made his way to a nearby radio and flipped it on.
Apparently, the city was rioting, and it was spreading.
"A riot, seriously?" Zack didn't know how to feel about the report but at least it seemed to help Aerith's cries die down.
"Is that what happened at school sweetie?"
Aerith shakes her head before pulling back from her mother and looking her in the eyes, "No there was this student only I don't think he was a student at all and at lunch he… ate someone."
Elmyra's eyes grew wide, "Wait a minute-"
Angeal cuts in then despite the rudeness of it he feels he needs to import the seriousness of the situation, "It seemed kind of like rabies if a human was to get such a thing… everyone who got bit started to bite others."
"That's not possible." The mother protested.
"I would've said the same thing if I hated seen it."
Zack stayed silent letting the adults hash it out, he was more worried about how widespread the radio was saying these 'riots' were. That meant it was likely that his mother and Cloud were in danger. The teenager was so caught up in his thoughts and the radio crappy 'stay in doors/stay safe' solution that he didn't hear what they decided until he heard his name.
"Then Zack and I will head there but here's the address if you two change your mind."
"Wait what-what are we doing?" He asked glancing back and forth between his teacher and the Gainsborough women. It was Angeal who answered him.
"Genesis' family has some very secure land up in the mountains north of here we're going to meet him on route and haul up there until this is all over."
Zack closed his eyes and took a deep breath in theory it was a good plan, but he couldn't do it.
"Sorry I have to go check on my mom and Cloud first."
Angeal frowned, "Where do they live?"
"Nibel, it's the next town over really small you'd probably pass right through it and not even know it." It was also most definitely at least twenty miles out of the way even if it was also to the north.
Angeal sighed and rubbed his forehead tiredly before pulling out his phone and typing another text to Genesis the other man wouldn't like it, "Alright we can stop by on the way and get your family."
Zack grinned, "Thanks Ang."
The teacher usually got onto his pupil for the informality but this time he just shook his head, "Alright then we should head out you ladies be careful."
"Wait you're not coming?"
Mrs. Gainsborough was the one who answered, "We will do as is recommended and stay put."
"But-" Aerith smiles though it's not her usual one it's more strained, "Don't worry about us we can lock this place down tight, just take care of yourselves."
Zack wanted to disagree, but it wasn't like he was sure that this place in the mountains was any better and then there was the fact that he was making Angeal go out of his way and possibly putting them in even more danger.
This might be the last time he ever saw her and to think those could be his final words to her, smooth to the end it seemed.
As if somehow sensing his gloomy thoughts she grabs a note pad by the radio and writes something down before ripping it off and handing it to him.
"Here this way we can keep in tough."
"This is… your number?"
Of all the ways to get the girl of his dreams to give him her number it had to be because the world might be ending.
"It is, I know you don't have your phone, but I figured you can use Mr. Hewley and let me know when you make it to the mountains."
He glances at his teacher who nods, "Okay."
"Good and when you call to tell me that you're there you'll see that we're okay too."
It wasn't the best solution, but it was better than nothing, so he'd take it. "Thanks, Aerith."
"Oh, good I didn't think you knew my name." She teased.
"What?" He was dumbfounded.
"Well you've never said it."
"What, really?" He said it all the time, though that was probably inside of his head.
Before either can continue their first ever real conversation both Elmyra and Angeal call for them, one to leave and the other to help board up the windows.
"Coming." "Be right there." They called out together.
They look at each other one last time before separating with a wave and in Zack's case a heavy heart, he hopes that this isn't the last time he sees her.
Author's Note: The next chapter features Cloud so I hope you'll keep reading! I probably should've warned you up front that I'm no good at action scenes though. Anyway, drop a review if you'd like to!