lb_lee: M.D. making a shocked, confused face (serious thought)
[personal profile] lb_lee
Hi everybody!  This story was prompted by [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith , who wanted more of the Zombie, from Battle the Universe!  It was sponsored by cloudiah!  Thanks much, and enjoy!

Zombie’s Birthday
Summary: The Zombie does a lot of things for its internal family, and one day, they decide to thank it.

The Zombie did not understand the world like most humans.  Sometime during the Lost Years, between presidents and their mother’s death, something had happened to the Zombie that destroyed its higher functions, something no one knew except the Zombie itself, who couldn’t tell.  If it even remembered, which was debatable.

It couldn’t speak, couldn’t sign… no one was even sure how much it understood.  But it tried.

After the Lost Years, Lorry met the perfect woman, dated the perfect woman, and then lost the perfect woman, because Kara decided she was a liability. (The perfect woman was not Lucinda.  This was before Lucinda.) Confused and frustrated, Lorry got drunk to keep teetotaler Kara off the front, and then used the time to rant and rave at the mirror about how everything would’ve been fine if he’d been normal, it would’ve been great, it would’ve been perfect

Eventually, he collapsed into bed to sleep it off.  While he slept and Kara sulked, the Zombie got up and drank a liter of water.  Lorry woke up feeling better than he had any right to, and for years after that, he thought he didn’t get hangovers.  He never realized the Zombie did.  It just didn’t care.

Before she was the system leader, Kara was the system nightmare.  She terrorized everyone with threats and front locks.  Anyone who tried organizing the system would wake up to find gashes on their arms, relationships destroyed, and the furniture rearranged.  Anything was permissible, as long as it kept the system silent, obedient, and safe.

For years, Kara held the system in the iron grip.  But then Lucinda arrived, and Lucinda was smart, so she figured out what was happening, and she challenged Kara.  She bet that Kara was used to coasting on fear and confusion, not fighting directly, and she was right.

So Kara threatened to kill TJ, still deep in the Long Sleep.

And the Zombie, who never showed much emotion, who rarely seemed to pay attention to anything, lurched out of the formless haze of their subconscious, howling.  It bear-hugged Kara and sunk its teeth into her shoulder, and while Kara tore and screamed at it, Lucinda moved in.

When she was done, Kara needed leg braces and her iron fist days were over.  The Zombie, everyone thought, was surely dead, but after lying there for a moment, it staggered to its feet and shuffled off, dripping ichor and fluids.  It seemed unconcerned.

It was Lucinda who got the system’s act together, who first suggested the idea of a headspace and set up the calendar.  She didn’t have much fronting power, but inside, she was smart and strong, good at observing, analyzing, and organizing.  Kara cared about ends over means, while Lorry had no head for strategy, so Lucinda filled the gap perfectly.  With her savvy, the system finally reached equilibrium.

Then she and Lorry fell in love.

Normally, this would’ve been good news.  But ever since the drunken mirror-rant, Lorry had sworn to bachelorhood, and Lucinda had always only liked girls, which called a bunch of things into question, and it all blew up in panic and tears.  Which was how Lucinda ended up watching Desert Hearts with a pint of ice cream and chocolate syrup, while the rest of the system wisely hid.

Except the Zombie.

“What do you want?” Lucinda asked, hoarse from crying.

It sat next to her on the couch.  It ignored the movie and ice cream.  It wanted the bottle of chocolate syrup.  Lucinda let it have it.

“Jerk,” she snuffled. “Stupid straight white boy jerk.”

The Zombie sucked placidly on the chocolate syrup bottle.

“He’s ruining everything,” Lucinda said, and started crying again.

She spent the rest of the movie curled up on the Zombie, who shared the chocolate syrup bottle.  It didn’t offer advice or politics, or even commentary on the movie, but she found that refreshing.  It was nice not to have to analyze.

When TJ finally roused from the Long Sleep, zie was scared and confused and positive they were still in high school.  Waking up in a strange apartment with no memory of how or why was terrifying, and at three in the morning, all the rest of the system was asleep.  Except the Zombie, who didn’t sleep.

It couldn’t answer questions, of course, but it sat with TJ and petted zer back, making its soothing buzz croon until TJ calmed down.  Then it pulled Lorry’s wallet out, and that was how TJ found out that ten years had past, they’d had a sex change, and their legal name was now Lorry Hammond.

After TJ had finished crying over that, the Zombie led zer to the calendar on the wall with notes and schedules color-coded in black, blue, and green.  TJ had found a bright yellow highlighter in the desk and scrawled in big letters, WHAT IS GOING ON?

It took a few hours for folks to get back to zer, but that was okay.  The Zombie stayed with zer the entire time.

TJ never forgot it.  Zie was sure zie'd met the Zombie before, but couldn't remember where.

Nobody knew the Zombie’s birthday, of course, but TJ had decided it should be January 1st, and that there should be a party.

“This is ridiculous,” Lorry complained as he pushed the shopping cart. “It won’t know.  It won’t care.”

“Shut up and buy it, dude,” TJ said, and Lorry did.

That afternoon, they sang Happy Birthday to a bemused Zombie, who wore a festive paper hat.  It took a moment for it to understand that the present was for it, and that it was supposed to tear the paper off with its hands, but once it did, it enjoyed the ripping sound.  When it found the squeeze bottle of ‘syrup de chocolate,’ it began flapping its hands excitedly.

“See?” TJ said. “It’s spiced with cinnamon and chili!  The Mexican grocery had it!”

The Zombie made a happy noise.

TJ made hot chocolate for everyone, and the Zombie settled in with a mug.  It wasn’t entirely sure what was happening, but it was happy.

It felt good to be appreciated.
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