and that was how the world ended

nc-17 | major character death | sexual content

"I don't hear sirens anymore."

"Come away from the window," he urged her for the third time. He had forgotten what exactly he was searching for, but that wasn't stopping him from rummaging through drawers.

"There's so much smoke. It seems like the fire's so much closer than it really is."

"Donna." Socks and shirts and ties and anything to avoid thinking about -

"I heard they burned down the hosp-"

"Will you get away from the fucking window?" He grabbed the mug that was sitting on the top of his dresser and threw it against the wall. He saw her flinch when it shattered. She finally stepped back, sitting down on the edge of his bed.

"Sorry," she whispered. Her lower lip was trembling, and he knew it was only a matter of moments before the waterworks started. Before this week, he wouldn't have thought it possible that a human being could cry as much as she did. His touch had soothed her before, so he took a deep breath and knelt down in front of her, squeezing her hands.

"I'm sure the fires haven't reached your apartment yet," he assured her, even though he had no way of knowing. "We'll wait until morning, and then -"

"What's the point? Does it matter whether I die here or in my own home?"

It would start with a small cough, innocuous enough, except for the bit of blood that she'd hack up once in a while. Then her face would become red and blotchy as the capillaries under her skin burst. The cough would get worse. She'd start having seizures or hallucinations. Eventually, she'd slip into a coma, and die of kidney failure or an intracerebral hemorrhage.

It would all be over in less then a day. If he was dead by that point, nobody would bother to bury her. Abbey's body was still probably on the floor in the Oval -

"They said people might be immune." His voice was hoarse. And a few people were still alive; someone had been throwing produce at the building when they left work.

"Yeah, well, they obviously didn't know what they were talking about. We're not special, Josh. We're not ..."

The tears began again. She slipped her hands from his, curling up on the bed and turning her face into the pillow. He hesitated for a moment before lying down next to her, spooning her body and rubbing her arm. She shifted, turning over so she was facing him, his arm lazily thrown over her hip.

He had dreams that started like this, with Donna lying in his bed for some random, stupid reason.

"Maybe Toby had the right idea."

It took him a moment to realize that yes, she had just said that. The thought had crossed his own mind; one of his neighbors owned a gun, and it wouldn't be difficult to break into her place now, but -

"You can't give up hope." A piece of hair fell down over her face, and he brushed it back.

"Why not?"

Good question. He just kept touching her face, because he didn't have a good answer, because he had pretty much given up hope when Leo gave him the estimates from the CDC. When he offered to take her home, it was with the expectation that they'd die here. But he couldn't ignore the fact that it was almost 72 hours after they had definitely been exposed, almost 100 hours since they had probably been exposed, and neither of them was sick yet. The average incubation period was supposed to be between 2 and 10 hours.

Then again, he found it hard to believe that, if he was going to survive an apocalyptic plague, the universe would be so kind as to give him Donna.

Although maybe this was the universe's way of punishing her.

"The cable is out, but we could watch a movie," he suggested. "Keep our minds off ... things."

"I don't want to watch something featuring a bunch of people who are probably dead now."

"Okay."

She moved, again, closer to him. Her breath hit his lips, and before he knew what he was doing, his mouth was pressed against hers. He might have initiated it; he wasn't sure. Then she was on her back, pulling him over her, and he was surprised when she tried to remove his shirt.

"Donna?"

"Why not?"

"Are - ?"

"Just. Please."

"I don't -"

"Josh. I'm just tired of sitting here waiting for one of us to get sick or for the fire to come this way. Please."

Her voice cracked on that last word, and if he had any strength left, that zapped it.

Buttons popped and fabric ripped as they each removed the other's clothing. Her skin was warm and soft, and she closed her eyes as he slowly ran his hands over her. This could be the last sight he'd see before he died, he realized. It was Donna's face and Donna's eyes and Donna's body, but the way she kept pleading with him to do it already was decidedly not Donna, and it was the only thing that kept him from plunging into her.

Well, that, and the fact that when he slipped two fingers between her folds, he discovered she wasn't prepared at all.

"Just give me a minute," she said. He watched as she licked her fingers and pushed his hand out of the way. She rubbed herself slowly, her head turned to the side and her eyes clenched shut. He found himself suddenly, inexplicably irritated.

She gasped when he covered her fingers with his, mimicking her movements. Eventually, her hand fell away, and he massaged her flesh more urgently, feeling the warmth and wetness grow.

"Okay," she said, but he didn't move. Her face was more relaxed than he'd seen in days. When he pushed a finger inside her, she started making small, indescribable noises of pleasure.

"Please, Josh." She grabbed his hips, trying to urge him into her, but he resisted, choosing instead to kiss his way down her body. He heard her protest, but she didn't try to draw her legs together, and when his tongue made contact, she moaned. He was exhausted, and he knew his movements were sloppy, but she didn't seem to mind.

After she came, he went back to his dresser, digging a box of condoms out from under socks. She let out a hollow laugh when he returned.

"What's the point?"

He ignored her question, pushing his sheathed erection into her. When he felt her warmth surrounding him, he knew any hopes of giving her a second orgasm were dashed; there was no way he could hold out that long.

"Harder," she grunted.

"No."

"Josh."

"No," he said more firmly. It was important to him, now, for some reason, that this not be a frantic fucking. She just stared up at him, her eyes wide, her mouth open. Propped up on one arm, he caressed her face, pleased by the sounds emanating from her throat, the way she was gripping his back.

Maybe they could just do this until the end of time.

She kissed him as he climaxed. He reluctantly got up to get rid of the condom. As he turned around, wiping his hand on his thigh, he paused, taking in the sight of her lying on his bed. Her pale skin was flushed - from their lovemaking, he assured himself. It was the vision of her, limbs stretched out, legs parted, face relaxed, that made him finally break down, because it wasn't supposed to be like this.

He was vaguely aware of her arms wrapped around him. She might have been trying to get him back onto the bed, but his body didn't seem to want to move. They ended up next to it, the wood from the frame digging into his side.

"I've been expecting this," she muttered in his ear. "You've been practically like a ... robot ever since ... ever since ...."

And then she was crying, too, squeezing him as tightly as he held her. She was warm and naked and at any other time, he'd be counting his blessings, but all he could think about was the fact that his mother was dead. Sam was dead. Leo was dead. CJ was -

"God, Josh, shut up!"

And that was when he realized he had been talking aloud. He offered an apology and almost choked on her hair.

He woke up some time later, his face buried in a pillow. Donna's scent lingered on the bed, and that was what kept him from thinking it might have been a dream. He rolled onto his back, concern growing when he realized she wasn't there with him. He didn't usually peg Donna for a fuck-and-run girl, but that was before the world ended.

Before he could scramble for his boxers, though, she was back, carrying a piece of his luggage. Her hair was damp, the grey cotton fabric of her t-shirt turned dark where it hit her shoulders.

"We need to leave. I think the fire's coming this way, and I think I heard gunshots a few minutes ago. I saved you some hot water. You should get a shower."

He didn't really process everything she said, but he nodded anyway. He stood up, dismayed by the way she averted her eyes to avoid looking at his naked form. She only met his eyes when he was right in front of her, cupping her face gently. She whispered the words that had become a mantra for them.

"I don't feel sick."

"Me neither," he said. He kissed her - morning breath be damned - and she responded, her arms encircling his waist.

"You better hurry up," she gasped when they parted. "I've been packing some clothes and non-perishable food and Pepto-Bismol - I don't even know why I packed the Pepto - and there were some things that I packed but I had to take out because I think we need to conserve room and ... is there anything you ... like, mementos or something?"

There were, but he couldn't justify packing them, so he just shook his head.

"You've got that box in your trunk, right?"

"Uh, well, I haven't ... exactly been keeping it in the trunk. It's in the ... uh ..."

"I'll find it," she assured him. He wanted to ask her where she wanted them to go, but he just turned away and ducked into the bathroom. When he came out of the shower, he found a pair of sweats laid out on the bed. There was no sign of Donna, or his luggage, and he began to worry again.

"I've got everything in your car," she said as she walked back in the room. "Your gas tank is about three-quarters full, so that's -"

"You went outside? Who said you could go outside?" She cocked her head at him and he sighed, pulling the shirt over his head. "It's dangerous outside, Donna. You said there are people with guns, for crying out loud."

"That's why I took your baseball bat."

"What are you going to do with a baseball bat?"

"What are you going to do? Talk them to ... look, I can handle myself just fine."

No, you can't, he wanted to say, if only because that would mean she didn't need him. What if she was just using him for a ride? Maybe she was planning on stealing his car and leaving him out in the middle of nowhere. Maybe she was taking him along so she could kill him and eat his flesh when the food ran out. Maybe she just wanted a fuck buddy.

"Don't do that." Her voice was soft; her hands were on his face. "Don't leave me like that."

"I ... what are you -?"

"You were somewhere else. Don't do that."

"Okay."

And he kissed her again, because she was there and warm and she still smelled like Donna, underneath the scent of his shampoo.

They didn't linger long inside his home. There didn't seem to be a point. He doubted they'd ever be returning here, and he didn't want to obsess over what he was leaving behind. He put on his shoes, ran his fingers through his hair, and walked with her out to the street. He could smell the fire now, the familiar acrid scent tinged with something he didn't recognize.

It was probably burning flesh, he suddenly realized, and it made his stomach turn.

Donna was in the process of opening up the driver's side door when the sound of an explosion caused her to drop the keys to the ground. He turned his head just in time to see a ball of smoke and fire rising up in the distance, coming from the general direction of -

"Oh, my God," she breathed. "Do you think we're being bombed?"

"I don't think there's really anyone left to bomb us."

She shook her head violently. "You don't know that. It can't be like this in every country."

But he did, and it most likely was. She hadn't been there for the final meetings; she didn't hear what Hutch and Fitz and Nancy had to say about who had done this and how incredibly intricate the attack was. She had probably dismissed the reports that the virus had been engineered by some radical faction somewhere, still clinging to the idea that this was some natural phenomenon. He could tell her the truth now - the fact that she didn't have clearance was certainly moot - but there was a glimmer of hope in her eyes, and he couldn't bear to crush it. It wouldn't do any harm to keep her in the dark about the nature of the plague and the fact that the human race was slated for extinction by the end of the month.

Anyway, telling her would only intensify his guilt, even though the most cynical, paranoid person on the planet couldn't have predicted this.

"You're right," he lied. "So maybe we should get out of here as fast as we can."

He let her drive as he studied the road map from his glove compartment, trusting her to navigate around abandoned cars, random corpses. At some point, he dozed off, awoken by her hand gripping his arm insistently. They were stopped at an intersection, surrounded by trees and farmhouses.

"I'm not sure where we are."

He tried to work the kink out of his neck as he peered out the window, locating the street sign. He returned his attention to the map, determining where exactly they were.

"Okay. Um. That way's a dead end, so I guess go left. Then go straight for another ... I don't know, bunch of miles. Then there's another intersection and ... I don't know what we do at that point."

"I guess we'll figure it out when we get there." She squeezed his hand. He tried not to focus on the two dead bodies lying in the grass.

(fin.)