"Are they gone?" Chris mouthed, looking up from behind the desk. They'd jumped for shelter in this ruined classroom the second they'd heard movement outside, but they knew that wasn't always enough. Taylor cautiously craned his neck up over the windowsill and ...
Outside, four men with dark rifles and opaque, carapace helms gestured to each other silently, their body language relaxed and almost indifferent to their ruined surroundings. Taylor gently lowered himself back down and shook his head at his buddy, putting up a finger to keep him quiet. Chris was younger - barely eighteen, they thought, but it had been hard to keep track of the exact date since everything went screwball. It had been hard to keep track of basically anything these past few years - the implacable march of the seasons had been their only real guide, as it made food or fuel scarce or forced them into shelter as they struggled to survive.
Sitting quietly, all Chris and Taylor could do was stare at each other and wait as the tread of the patrol passed by. They'd hoped the school might have had an overlooked stash of canned food or at least functioning plumbing. Instead they were heartbeats away from being caught and killed by whoever it was that sent these armed men out into the wilds. Last spring they'd gone right up to the walls of one of the citadels, fifty foot tall and quiet as a tomb, looking for food or shelter or anything just to make life a little easier, but it might as well have been a necropolis.
So they'd gone back to the Quarantine Zone empty-handed, and now the patrols were here, probably dropped off by a helicopter or some other impossibly advanced thing that belonged in the Before Times, like some ancient chariot of the gods resurrected out of spite for the survivors of the human race. It was bad enough they'd seen their families and friends wither and die from the plagues as "essential" personnel were sequestered and rescued. Now, those same people had come back, sealed and armored, with nothing but contempt and tracker tags for the survivors. Only people without such tags could scavenge safely - get too close to food or something valuable, and these patrols could come out of nowhere to drop you like a sick dog and deposit you back in a quarantine zone. Same fate if you were caught even without a tag, but the chances of getting caught if you were quick or smart were much, much lower.
Which meant the two men sat, still as corpses, for the patrol to pass, and then ten minutes more, just in case. Finally, Taylor felt it was safe enough to gesture for them to get up, and they stiffly rose to a crouch, confirmed the coast was clear, and stalked back through the empty, ruined hallways of the school. They's checked the cafeteria and found it bare, but there was a water main break still spilling fresh water nearby so there was hope that maybe they could at least refresh their flagons before moving on.
Padding barefoot into the expansive athletics facilities, Taylor couldn't help but marvel at how wasteful the whole place seemed. The massive fields, overgrown, wrapped in a track of dead pavement, stands soaring high as watchtowers and empty as tombs. He'd been young when the Plague came and people hadn't taken it seriously; young enough to survive with nothing but a bad fever, but he'd been old enough to go to his cousin's football game and see throngs of people cheering, not a care in the world but whether their color was going to win that night.
Chris slipped ahead of him into the low building under the stands, poking and prodding at boxes and barrels of old clothes and gear left behind, most of it ruined or soiled from neglect and exposure. They'd been here before - taking elastic, using the athletics gear for armor or building scrap, lifting anything light and useful for the long hike back. But it never hurt to check again, to see if the wildlife had discovered something they'd missed, or just look over it all with more desperate eyes.
They were carefully - and quietly - checking the lockers when they heard the snap-hiss of a shower sputtering to life down the hall, and they froze, locking eyes. They were alone here, right? They'd told the other scavengers where they were going, and everyone else had different targets today. The only other people they'd seen had been -
Taylor slowly put his hands on Chris' shoulders, gently shushing down the panic in his buddy. If this soldier was turning on the shower .... maybe, just maybe ... they had a chance to learn something.
Stalking along the wall of lockers, Taylor waved the other scavenger in behind him, carefully checking each step on the chipped tiles before taking the next. Around the corner, the sputtering hiss resolved into a shower of wet, crackling noises as whoever it was plated with the water, testing it or running a hand through it. Heart beating like a deer in full spring, Taylor carefully, slowly peeked around the last locker in the row.
It was definitely one of the soldiers - they'd left their weapon propped up on a bench, carelessly. But next to the airgun was something that caught Taylor's breath: the soldier's helmet. He hadn't seen one of them without the bulbous, midnight-black helmets in years, maybe even since they'd been herded into the Quarantine zones by the wildfires. Following the line of discarded body armor to the shower, he gaped at the sight.
The soldier was stripped to the waist, his armored undersuit hanging off a muscled midriff like a discarded skirt. A dusting of chest hair glistened with little droplets of water as he ran his hand through the sputtering stream coming off the showerhead, but the look of delight on his face - a *clean-shaven* face - was pure and wide-eyed. Biting his lip, the soldier darted his head under the water, then giggled, yanking it back out before diving in, face into the uneven spray, and heedless of getting his clothes wet.
Taylor stared, astonished, as the man rinsed and reveled in the feeling of a shower - and a hot one, somehow, judging by the steam coming off the tiles. He didn't notice Chris slipping past him and gently picking up the soldier's weapon until the other scavenger primped the chamber with a little pressurized hiss and pointed it into the shower.
The soldier froze, stepping slowly out of the spray and leaving his hands out where they could be seen.
"Fuck, Zane, that's not funny." The soldier laughed, shaking his head to clear the water. "I know it's against protocol but fuck, man, the water's still hot somehow and -"
"Solar heater." Chris coughed, and the soldier went still. "Was all the rage back before the Plague."
Slowly, the soldier turned to face them. Now that they were face to face, Taylor could see he was terrified. As he went to pull his armor back up, Chris took a threatening half-step forward.
"Hey, clearly there's been a ... misunderstanding or something, here." the soldier said with an unconvincing smile. "I didn't mean to ... steal your hot water or anything. I didn't know anyone was living here."
"Because we're not allowed, remember?" Chris muttered, bitterly, but Taylor shushed him.
"Hey, no, like -" the soldier began, awkwardly going for the seal on his suit again before Chris gestured with the airgun. "Look, lemme just pull my pants up, OK?"
"And press an alert button or something?" Taylor kept his voice down, though he figured the shower would cover the conversation if the other soldiers were still around. "I don't think so. Keep your hands up."
"Look, guys, I'm more scared of you than you are of me, trust me, OK?" The soldier pleaded. "Like, you're immune, I'm not. If you get too close to me, I could..."
"What, become just like us?" Chris brandished the weapon, stepping closer again. "Like my mom, and brother, who died while you were safe in a bunker?"
"No, hey, look, don't be like that it wasn't -" the soldier put his arms out, pleading. "I didn't choose to - "
"Nobody did!" Chris yelled, stepping even closer - and Taylor saw what was going to happen a split second before it did.
As he cried out, telling Chris to keep back, the soldier sprang forward, knocking the gun aside and wrestling it from Chris's grasp. The other scavenger went down with a fight, struggling for the weapon before getting clonked in the head decisively - but not so quickly that Taylor wasn't able to get close himself.
He spat, a full glob of saliva flying into the air and landing perfectly on the soldier's face, splattering across his nose, open mouth, and clean-shaven chin.
The soldier stared, for half a second, the gravity of what had happened soaking in before he lunged for the shower, frantically scrubbing at his face and pawing for something in his belt. Taylor helped Chris back to his feet, checking out the obvious bruise forming on his buddy's face and gesturing for him to go take care of it.
"Relax, it'll be fine." Taylor sighed, kicked the weapon away, then padded - carefully, on the wet tile - to the whimpering soldier. "Nobody's died from it in years."
"Nononononoo ..." the soldier scrabbled through some pouches, sobbing as he yanked out, then discarded a bottle of pills, a perfectly good gauze pad, and other bits and bobs. "Nooooooo...."
"Fuck, look here, soldier." Taylor barked, and the soldier stiffened, almost twitching around to look at him. Wow, seemed to be going a lot quicker than it used to. Or maybe the dude really had no immunity after all. "Come over here."
Reluctance written all over his face, the soldier shuffled forward on his knees, armored plates clacking on the tile. His face was a grimace of disgust, fear, and despair. It made Taylor feel a little righteous, to cut the well-fed, pampered man down to size while he stood, barefoot, in hand-mended clothes and a rag bag, completely in control.
"Stop crying." And the soldier did, gagging on a sniffle. Taylor leaned forward, taking him by the chin, until the soldier slapped his arm away and looked up at him in surprise and rage.
"All right, ground rules." Taylor stepped back. "You can't hurt me or Chris, that's my friend there. You can't think about hurting us, and if we're in danger you'll defend us. My name is Taylor. Tell me your name."
The soldier sneered, then a look of horror glazed across his face as his mouth opened and he started to croak out a sound.
"You will tell me your name, and you will not be able to resist any order that I give you." Taylor sighed. This part was tedious. He'd done it once, before, with Chris back in the day, and from what he could tell it was really easy to fuck it up. The solider sighed, then went slack, and mumbled something. Catching himself, he looked up at Taylor with wet, angry eyes, and sighed.
"My name is Rick Yates." the soldier spat, frowning. "Please, man, just ... let me go, OK?"
"They won't take you back anyway, now." Taylor looked over shoulder to see Chris returning. "You OK, man?"
"Yeah, sorry about that." Chris mumbled. "I let him get inside my head."
"It's OK. I should have said something." Taylor had worked hard to give his buddy some behavioral guardrails after it became clear the kid had got infected from him, somehow. Whoever it was that had infected Taylor, way back in the day, they'd either died early or wandered off without ever doing this to him - and people with quick fevers tended not to have long-term bonds like the one he'd formed with Chris and now Rick.
"Please, just ... let me go." Rick sobbed, craning forward on the tile. "I won't say anything, I'll be good, I'll just -"
"You know you can't. They test anyone who goes into the citadel and you're already sero- serra -" he snapped his fingers, forgetting the word. "You know what I mean."
"Seroconverting." Rick wailed, biting back tears. "I know."
"So you'll be infectious, and they'll either shoot you or just throw you back out here with everyone else." Taylor shook his head. He really hadn't intended to do this - once they'd got the drop on the guy he'd intended to just ask a few questions, maybe steal the helmet and gun, then leave before he could call anyone for help. Now they had another mouth to feed, even if it was a strong and capable one. Oh well. Here they were. "Do you have a tracker on you, or in your gear? Don't try to hide anything from me that you'd think I would want to know. You should - no, you *will* be fully honest with me whenever I ask you a question."
"Yes. In the helmet, left jaw." Rick looked at it mournfully. "And ... on my right ankle."
"You can put your hands down if you want, but take the tracker out and give it to me." Taylor gestured for Chris to handle the helmet. Rick dutifully passed him a slender stylus - no buttons, interfaces, or anything. He'd have looked right past it without a second thought. After a second Chris pried a similar antenna from under the jaw of the helmet. "When are they expecting you back?"
"Soon." Taylor cursed, jaw clenching, then sighed. "But ... I can tell them to go ahead without me."
"Do it. Don't do anything I wouldn't want you to do while talking to your buddies." Taylor thought for a second. "And ... don't omit anything you would normally add, if you were really asking them to go ahead."
He gestured for Chris to hand the helmet back, then to pick up the weapon again. Rick slipped it the helmet on, becoming momentarily a strange creature - armored in form-fitting composites from the waist down, with his neck and head consumed by the bulbous black outlines of the helmet, and nothing but muscle, skin and hair in between. Taylor enjoyed the sight while he waited, then for a moment more.
"When you're done, please take the helmet off again." He said, and Rick stiffly peeled it off. "What did they say?"
"They're going to mark me as out on a solo patrol for the next few hours, then I'm supposed to check in." The soldier sniffled. "I told them I wanted to check out if there was something worth salvaging for a later team."
"Good job." That would buy them some time, at least. "Look, I didn't plan for this. I want you to believe that."
He could see the belief settling in to the other man like an uncomfortable collar, dragged just a little too tight. Damn, he had to be careful, especially when the guy was this fresh. "Your body is going to start resisting the infection, if it hasn't already. That is OK - it won't alarm you anymore. When you get warm, you're going to enjoy it, but if you start sweating and feel clammy, you're going to tell me or Chris right away, as safely as you can."
"OK." Rick mumbled, dejected. "I will."
"Hey, Chris, c'mere." Taylor gestured, and the other man padded over. "I'm going to ask Chris to infect you, too. It's going to be easier to have two people helping you through this, believe it or not."
"No, please, c'mon -" Rick pleaded, obviously desperate to cry out again. "I don't wanna -"
"Rick." Taylor squatted down next to the muscular soldier, slapping him on the shoulder. "You and Chris are going to kiss, passionately. You're going to enjoy it a lot, and you're not going to worry about becoming infected."
Chris knelt down in front of the other man, knee to knee, and gently lifted his clean-shaved face forward, until they were brow to brow. Slowly, tenderly, their lips touched, then with more force, until they were embraced, sloppily shoving themselves into each other with hungry abandon. After a moment, they separated, panting, and Chris looked up at Taylor with a wolfish, happy grin. The older scavenger gave him a wink and a thumbs-up.
"All right, c'mon soldier boy. Let's get you somewhere safe before you get silly." Taylor helped the other man up, gathering his discarded things and helping him tuck them all back. Chris twisted the faucets to cold and refilled their flagons as Taylor checked and stripped the rifle. Rick kept his head bowed, forlorn and sullen, as they stalked out of the ruined school.
It was only an hour's hike to the half-ruined house they were living out of on this scavenger trip, but by the end of it Rick was obviously beginning to hit the second stage of infection. When Chris moved their brush cover aside and pried open the door to the basement under the house, Rick was wheezing slow, even breaths with regular encouragement and reinforcement by Taylor and frequent gulps of cold water. By the time they had him on the camp bed they'd salvaged on their first trip out here three years ago, he was shivering and twitching. Thankfully once they'd stripped him and got a blanket over him, he was in a better state, but the soldier was rapidly sliding out of lucidity. Once he was out, emitting only the occasional snore and the odd fitful murmur, Chris had nestled into his place under Taylor's arm and cuddled into him for warmth.
"What are you gonna do with him?" Chris whispered.
"He'll come with us, babe." Taylor murmured back. "I think he'll pull through just fine, like you did."
"Are you gonna ..." Chris looked up, searching. "Um, like me?"
"Would you like that, buddy?" Taylor smiled, and Chris gave him an answering grin. "You did that to yourself, you know. He might not feel the same way, and you know it goes badly if someone just ... orders it."
"Yeah, I know." Chris huffed. "Still ... he looks pretty good naked, doesn't he?"
"That he does, buddy." Taylor kissed his friend's brow. "We'll see how it goes. For now, let's just try to keep him alive."
For the next three days, that was their main task. Since he'd been cross-infected by both of them, either could leave to scavenge, while the other kept watch and took care of their new charge. Rick mostly shivered, alternately sweating buckets and trembling from cold. When Taylor came back with a brace of rabbits one day, he found Chris curled up around the other man, whispering calming phrases into his ear and gently stroking along his chest as the former soldier whimpered and cried.
"Tough afternoon?" Taylor asked, skinning the catch and carefully tending to the wood stove in the corner. "He seemed OK when I left."
"I think he's coming through the worst of it, actually." Chris replied. "He's strong, and he'll pull through."
Saying it helped to make it so, of course, and Rick's fever broke that night as he fell into an exhausted slumber. The next day he stirred groggily, looking around for them as they prepared breakfast and offered him one of his own rations.
"Thanks," the soldier grumbled, though with an actual tone of gratitude. He hungrily scoped up the food, coughed, then took a sip of water. "What... what now?"
He looked small, curled up under a moth-eaten blanket and disheveled. A little pang hit his heart, but Taylor steeled himself. He had a responsibility to both Rick and Chris, and to the rest of the people in the quarantine zone.
"You'll remember, I told you to be honest earlier, right?" Rick nodded, gravely. "OK, good. I want you to be honest with me and Chris, now. Tell me how you feel about us."
"I -" Rick stopped, closed his mouth, and looked thoughtful for a moment. "I ... don't hate you? Anymore?"
"That's a good start." Chris chortled, and Taylor shushed him. Rick looked a little disturbed at his own admission, like he was grappling with the implications of what he'd said.
"Do you feel safe with us, right now?" Rick nodded, absentmindedly. Taylor stood up, and the other man's eyes followed him. "When you look at me, what comes to mind?"
"I ... you're going to take care of me." the soldier said, obviously confused. "You're both going to take care of me."
"We are." Taylor reinforced the statement, eyeing Chris, who caught his meaning and repeated the phrase as well. "We're going to take care of each other, right? We're good friends, we like each other, and when we're together we keep each other safe."
Rick nodded along, murmuring the mantra as Chris repeated it, completely indifferent or ignorant of the fact that he was practically naked in front of two men he would have shot without a second thought a mere four days ago. What's more, the soldier was becoming ... slack, his grip on the blanket slipping, exposing a thick, pump cock that was obviously rising as the virus they shared re-architected him and connecting them indelibly. Chris moved and sat beside him, and Rick leaned into him. Taylor smiled, then sat on his other side.
"You're gonna be OK, man." He said, and Rick nodded sagely, with almost a vacant look on his face. Taylor took a deep breath, one that seemed to flow through his lungs and out of theirs. Then he smelled Rick, rank from three days of fever, and he gagged a bit. "C'mon, let's get you washed up, OK?"
The shower stand they'd concealed in the ruined garage was nothing to write home about. They'd had to rig up a water tank and fill it themselves with buckets from the nearby stream, so the flush of cold water and weak pressure made them all long for the functional shower head at the abandoned school. Rick was still weak and needed a little help to stand upright when the water first hit him - and Chris helpfully stripped off to assist, claiming it would help to save water. Taylor manned the pump while watching the two snuggle up a little bit under the spray, Rick's trimmed dark hair contrasting nicely with the coppery-red chest hair and untidy mop that covered Chris to his shoulders. It was obvious after the first sluice of water that they weren't just cuddling for warmth, either.
Patting each other dry, Taylor sent them in to clean up and showered himself off as well. The virus make people obedient, but the growing wisdom was that later stages of the infection were more like ... influence, rather than obedience. Taylor had infected Chris when they were both teenagers, and the flush of hormones and a postapocalyptic reliance on each other during the earlier days of the plague meant they'd become very, very close indeed. Once someone's body was past the fever they couldn't be infected by anyone else, which meant stable-ish societies could reform - but only if everyone was already infected. And people like Rick had been waiting it out in shelters and fortresses, expecting it to kill everyone off.
Sighing and finishing off the last of his lukewarm shower, Taylor scraped most of the water off with a rag and padded, naked, back to their hiding place. Stepping into the dim space beneath, he let a smile grow on his face at what he found.
Chris was gently kissing their new friend on the camp bed as Rick held him, giving little happy moans as Chris' hands wandered south, gently stroking along the muscular chest and abdomen of the dark-haired man. Taylor grinned as he sauntered down to join them, feeling his own erection rising, even the flow of precum just starting to well up as the sight of the two men before him registered to his senses.
Rick gave a happy groan as Chris moved down to his cock, gently kissing at the thick erection rising from the join of his crotch. Taylor slipped to the soldier's other side, wrapping his arm around the muscular waist and gently kissing at the arc of his neck, watching Rick's eyes roll back with pleasure. This was something he and Chris had discovered, that the connection between them made sex and erotic contact more pleasurable. He could feel the sensation rising in himself, too, the warmth of body contact flushing towards something else entirely.
He could feel the flush of warmth rising along Chris' core as well, and the answering response within Rick; it was a loose, mindless joy that washed away worries, insecurities, and anxieties. The touch of Rick's body against his was like hot stone, radiating between them and sending tendrils of awareness all along his body. Chris rose up to join them, and they shared a long, sloppy kiss, jaws and tongues and fingers exploring with abandon. Touching Chris' run of rangy, reddish body hair felt like the first fumbling explorations they'd shared, just as the novel feeling of Rick's firm, muscled back cried out to him. The feeling of Rick yanking Chris up to him, gripping wiry buttocks with wide, strong hands - became a similar sensation along his own buttocks, within his own hands, a web of shared touch and desire.
Rick's cock slipped, fumbled, pressed - driving into Chris as Taylor's own slender dick slipped into his mouth, firmness hardening as the soldier groaned into it and licked, slowly, along its length, savoring and nursing as his own breached into Chris' ass. The warm, tight feeling rippled through all three of them, tight warmth causing Chris' dick to twitch in sympathy against the rippling muscles of the soldier as his ass clenched against the thick meat sliding within him.
The sensory fuzz of the virus filled them, letting heartbeats flow within them, cockroot to strained, clenched arm to flexing buttocks and slack throats. Taylor let his prick slide down the soldier's gullet, the slick of his precum becoming a tickling taste in his own mouth as Rick's saliva flowed free and he gleefully sucked down, huffing and moaning as slender flesh penetrated deep. Chris' groan hummed through Taylor's chest as the younger man licked and kissed along his flanks, flexing and jerking to the sensation of the thick cock flexing within him with joy.
Taylor knew, dimly, distantly, that they wouldn't be able to sustain this forever - the insane stimulation of their minds and bodies thrusting, gripping, and clawing at each other was too much for any mind to bear. He didn't care. The flush of blood on the soldier's pecs as they glistened with sweat, the feeling of power as his hand wrapped and nestled in the dark hair, and the feeling of stubbled jaw against his crotch as his dick reached within and granted them all the sensation of fullness - it was too much to reject that. Beside him, Chris trembled at the sensation of being impaled on the thick cock of their new lover, feeling the deep prodding as his own cock felt the sensation of his ass being invaded and the slick, hungry care of the soldier fucking himself on Taylor's longer cock. Rick's own awareness seemed to rise into them more slowly, first only the fumbling pleasure of warmth around cock, becoming the desperate hunger for the meat sliding down his throat and the tension of his back and body flexing with desire and resistance, the desperate need to sustain this pleasure as long as humanly possible.
Feeling themselves riding too close to the edge, Taylor reluctantly extracted his cock from Rick, as the soldier whined and whimpered for it, then dove in to kiss the other man, leading Chris to join him as they messily, gloriously reveled in the touch of skin against skin and the rub of hair and jaw and tongue against each other. Chris maneuvered himself onto his back, some subliminal message leading Rick to follow him, legs wrapping around the taunt muscles of his ass and inserting back into the warm, tight embrace as his own legs spread and the wild run of hair on his own ass was exposed. Taylor wasted no time, leaning down to kiss along the soldier's back, and slowly, evenly, worked the head of his cock against the exposed breach of Rick's ass. The tender flick, press-flick, flick, press - he could feel the other man running wild, frantically bucking and whining mindlessly for more, to feel the fullness and completion that Chris' own mind was reporting to them.
So Taylor watched, and felt, as his dick slid into the virgin ass of the soldier beneath him, groaning with the sensation of his cock sliding into the tight, immaculate globes dusted with dark, wild fur, slick with sweat and precum. The sensation fed back into his own mind, and he felt the invasion of a slender, blunt cock breaching him, filling him - all while be pressed deeper and deeper into Rick, and the soldier groaned with delight at the pressure filling him as Chris squeezed him down, cock and ass pressing into each other and sensation flickering and flowing across their minds like a stream of pure sexual energy.
Chris was the first to pop off, his dick exploding over his hairy, reddish chest in a flood. The wet slap of his cock against Rick's chest sent the spurts flying all over them, and the soldier groaned, maddened by the smell and taste of it, overwhelming his senses and shocking all three of them in its intensity. Rick lurched for the chest of the man beneath him, hungrily licking and breathing between hiccoughin moans, letting his hips frantically hammer into the redhead's ass. Behind him Taylor could only grip his hair and his waist as the other man bucked and twisted, driven mad by the sensation and hammering his thick cock into their lover with abandon. Rick's orgasm was an epic wave of trembling, a seizure of pleasure and jerking, uncontrollable writhing as the girthy meat stabbed and thrust within Chris, and Taylor felt the already-tight ass of the soldier clench and twist along his length, until all he could do was clamp himself onto Rick's back and thrust implacably as the other man drove himself insane with the pleasure of their sex. His balls triggered into the soldier in the middle of the wild ride, a mere wave in the storm of their sex, almost lost in the tumbling mess of arms, legs, and cocks as they writhed around each other in the lingering throws of their passion.
It took them an hour to gingerly extract themselves and go for another, much calmer shower, and they cuddled naked together under their pile of blankets rather than bothering with food. Rick, still exhausted from his fever and now from the most thorough fuck yet of his young life, was asleep in an instant, but Chris and Taylor cuddled against him and each other, letting their muscles settle and the warmth of their touch put the cold at bay. Sharing a little look, the two scavengers held tight to their new lover, and let sleep take them in turn.