Author's Note:  This is the sixth story in my "It's the End..." series.
Author: Hope1iz
Rating: R to be safe
Disclaimer: I don't own any of these shows or movies and I'm not making any money from this fic
Warning(s): There will/may be spanking/discipline of adults. VERY AU (given that there is more than one crossover involved).
Verse/Setting:  Post-Angel; Harry Potter; Numb3rs; S4-NCIS:LA; Avengers; It's a Good Day to Die Hard; and S8-Supernatural.  Pre-series finale ST:Voyager.


Character bios:
-Lindsey McDonald (b. 1974) is from Angel. 
-Ian Edgerton (b. 1962) and Colby Granger (b. 1972) are from Numb3rs. 
-Hermione Granger (b. 1979) is from Harry Potter.
-Owen Granger (b. 1955) is from NCIS:LA.
-Tom Paris (b. 2346 age 24) and Chakotay (b. 2329, age 41) are from ST:Voyager.
-Dean (b.1978) and Castiel (b. ?) are from Supernatural
-Clint Barton (b.1971), Loki (b. ?) and Natasha Romanoff (b. 1984) are from Avengers.
-John McClane (b. 1955), Matt Farrell (b. 1978), Lucy McClane (b. 1982), and Jack McClane (b. 1984) are from the movie franchise Die Hard. 


IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT
WHAT IS TO COME…

 
July 5, 2013
Phoenix, Arizona
 
Clint had remained silent during the introduction, his aim never wavering. The only indication that he'd heard Dean at all was a slight raising of his eyebrow when Dean had indirectly chastised Castiel in front of them. Dean did his best not to fidget, obviously uncomfortable with the fact that he had an arrow pointed at him. Clint half expected the younger man to get belligerent and start demanding for him to back off and lower his weapon- but before the boy reached that point, the older brunette whose room they'd been brought to decided to calm things down.
 
"I am Commander Chakotay and this is Lieutenant Tom Paris," the man stated in a calm, serene voice. Chakotay continued, "Your manner of arrival indicates that…well I'm not sure what it indicates to be honest. At the risk of putting myself and my colleague at risk, however, I will state up front that we aren't from around here, so if you are looking for answers from us, you'll be sorely disappointed."
 
Clint nodded at the brunette then glanced at the irritable Dean, who had placed himself between his friend - who was still whimpering although he was attempting to sit up - and the arrow Clint still had notched. Clint looked into the eyes of the one who had introduced himself as Chakotay, then into the eyes of Tom and finally Dean. None of them looked to be ready to attack - and even if they did, Clint had no doubts in his ability to get himself out of a bad situation. He gave a quick look at Loki, who gave him an imperceptible nod; Thor's brother was prepared to back him then. Raising his chin slightly and straightening his shoulders, Clint lowered his weapon.
 
"Agent Clint Barton - for S.H.I.E.L.D.; and this is Loki." He slanted his head in Loki's direction. He didn't offer any other information - yet - waiting to see what would be said. He found it interesting when Chakotay turned toward Tom and the younger man shook his head with a slightly confused look on his face and whispered, "Never heard of S.H.I.E.L.D."
 
Clint was about to say he wasn't surprised - S.H.I.E.L.D. mostly kept to the shadows and even the more secretive of the government agencies knew very little about them. He didn't get a chance to however, as a pain coarsened voice carried through the room, "That is because it does not exist in your time or reality…"
 
# # #
 
Two hours later, Chakotay managed to keep his sigh to himself as he finished paying for the room and handed the keys in. Tom was waiting outside the office, next to Loki, while Clint stood a few feet beyond that calling his base for a shuttle.
 
Chakotay shook his head, heading out of the office to stand next to them before glancing at Loki again.  Loki. After learning that they had been transported by Q into a different reality (not just 300 years in the past like they'd originally thought) the discovery that mythological Norse beings and angels actually existed and walked among men wasn't that much of a stretch. It was a little unsettling, but not as much as he might have expected.
 
Tom had seemingly accepted it also. Although the news did appear to bother the man a bit more than it had bothered Chakotay. Tom couldn't seem to stop fidgeting in agitation. Of course part of that could be because he wasn't entirely behind the idea of the two of them joining the other four at the base for this S.H.I.E.L.D. organization.
 
Chakotay hadn't been all that keen on the idea himself, but the reality of their situation was that they needed information in order to figure out what to do and how to return to Voyager. Unless Q suddenly decided that he'd made a mistake and came back for them (and that didn't appear likely at the moment) their best chance was sticking with this odd group that had formed. A highly secret organization that fraternized with mythological beings seemed like a good place to go for information and help.
 
He had been relieved and a bit proud when, despite his obvious misgivings, Tom hadn't disagreed with him when he said they would follow Barton's plan. As difficult as the boy had been prior to their unexpected trip - he'd almost expected a full blown argument about it.
 
Loki hadn't seemed to care one way or another - deferring to the archer in a way that the commander would have never anticipated. If he was the mythological Loki, wouldn't he more likely be in charge? Chakotay hadn't felt comfortable asking about it though and it really wasn't important to their plans anyway. The main thing to note was that Loki hadn't argued when Clint declared they would all return to S.H.I.E.L.D. base.
 
Actually, the only one who argued was Dean. From what the younger man had said when everyone was offering their explanations, it hadn't surprised him. The youngster seemed to live just the wrong side of the law and obviously had no trust for anyone in uniform or government. 
 
He had been surprised when Castiel had firmly said they would go to the base as well - and quelled Dean's arguments against going with one stern look. After seeing how the young hunter was with the angel, when Cas had been in pain and unable to move - Chakotay would have bet money that Dean was the one in charge. Now, it wasn't so clear. Perhaps there was no one in charge of their group and whichever one was the most convinced they were right was the one that won whatever disagreements cropped up?
 
It was hard to say. The two hadn't yet left the hotel room as Dean had said he needed to discuss something with Cas. If the look of trepidation on the other man’' face was anything to go by, it wasn't going to be a pleasant discussion. Yeah, it was a bit difficult to see who was in charge of their group. It probably didn't matter. Currently, Clint was in charge of all of them. Chakotay was perfectly fine with that; especially since the archer - sensing that Chakotay was a leader - had informally named him as second in command when he told Loki to "Do whatever the commander tells you to do…" as he’' walked off to make his phone call. Speaking of which…
 
Clint shut his phone with a click and walked back over to the other three men in front of the main office. "The shuttle will be here in about thirty minutes. I'm giving the other two fifteen more minutes for their talk before I go knock on the door. Everyone have everything they need? If so, I think we have enough time to grab some coffee from that donut shop across the street…" the archer glanced from one to the other a slight grin on his face.
 
"We're ready. Lead on." Chakotay smiled back.
 
# # #
 
Dean had waited for the other four to leave the motel room and he was certain they were far enough away not to hear before he'd rounded on Cas. "I TOLD you not to go flitting us around anymore. The first time had obviously strained you and worn you out. Just what made you think that was a suggestion and not an order?!"
 
Cas had swallowed, his mouth dry, and been unable to look Dean in the face. "I knew it was an order, but I also knew we needed to get this group together…."
 
Dean snorted in exasperation. "Dude…we were on a base with shuttles and aircraft. Instead of kidnapping an agent and his pal - and by the way…not so keen on having arrows pointed at my heart, thanks - we could have found some way to convince them to get a shuttle and pick the other two up. You obviously knew where they were - or could sense it at any rate."
 
Cas eyed Dean skeptically. "I didn't think they'd listen…or if they did how long it would take to convince them. And I had to get us all together tonight…"
 
"Why?" was Dean's simple question.
 
Castiel blinked in consternation when he couldn't answer.
 
Dean frowned. "Why did it have to be tonight Cas?"
 
"I do not know…" Cas, who had moved to the edge of the bed so he could sit next to Dean, looked at his hands. "I just felt strongly that I needed to bring us all together and I needed to do it soon…" he whispered.
 
Dean sighed and ran a hand over his face, suddenly weary. "Ok. I've learned that usually your feelings are reliable and should be listened to. And usually when you tell me you feel something strongly, I go along with it - even if I don't like it. So why didn't you just tell me that back at the base? Even if you had to do that flitter-jump thing, I could have at least helped you by finding a way for us to reach those two without you having to weaken yourself further by cloaking us."
 
Cas finally looked up - a sheepish smile on his face. "I didn't think about it…" he finally admitted. Dean rolled his eyes.
 
“Well. At least that's honest. C'mon. Let's get this over with." Dean reached over and took hold of Castiel's arm, tugging the smaller man toward him.
 
"What…" Cas protested faintly, his eyes widening. "But I told you - I felt I HAD to do what I did!"
 
"Yes, you did." Dean agreed easily as he managed to pull Cas to his feet and by his right knee.
 
"You agreed that if I felt that strongly, it was better that we go with my feeling!" Cas shook his head frantically, as he tried to block Dean's hands from undoing his jeans.
 
"Yes. I did." Dean again agreed easily, as he grabbed hold of the angel's two hands, and somehow managed to grip his wrists with one hand so that he could use his free hand to divest Castiel's backside of any protection.
 
"Then why….?" Cas finally gave up fighting and slumped as his jeans and boxers fell to the floor and Dean tugged one more time so that he fell over the hunter's lap.
 
"Because you didn't tell me before you did it. I would have agreed if you'd told me. But you didn't tell me. You didn't give me the option of changing my mind - and you scared the crap out of me because I thought you were going to do what I said, and you didn't! AND I WASN'T EXPECTING IT!" Dean couldn't help but raise his voice at the end and punctuated the final words with a harsh smack on Castiel's sit spot.
 
Cas couldn't help it, he jerked, legs kicking out behind him and hands flying back to protect his bottom. It didn't take much effort at all for Dean to tug him in closer so one arm was trapped between their bodies, and shift one leg so that it trapped both of Cas's legs to hold them immobile. Dean finally took hold of the arm that hadn't been trapped and gently pinned it against his friends' lower back. "I'm not punishing you for doing what you feel needs doing. I'm punishing you for allowing me to believe you would not do something that you had every intention of doing. I don't expect that we will always agree - but I expect us to be honest with each other and not keep our plans secret…" Dean's voice was soft and almost hurt sounding.
 
Cas swallowed hard, the hurt in Dean's voice making the fight leach right out of him. "I'm sorry Dean. I…I have no excuse. You are right." Cas closed his eyes tightly in shame and lowered his head, allowing himself to go limp and accept the punishment.
 
Dean blinked, relieved that Cas had understood so quickly. Maybe this punishment wasn't necessary after all - if his friend was already so contrite.  Cas seemed to realize where Dean's thoughts were heading, because he whispered - "If you had allowed me to believe something untrue and kept your plans from me, you'd be in the exact position I am right now. And you'd deserve it. Just like I do...."
 
Smiling crookedly and chuckling softly, Dean muttered "you're right." With that, he raised his hand and smacked down hard. The next five minutes were harsh. There wasn't an area of skin on Castiel's bottom that Dean hadn't changed from very pale to vivid red; there wasn't a spot that didn't burn, sting, or tingle from the admonishment; and although he knew and felt he deserved every smack and had done his best to accept the punishment without complaint - by the time Dean stopped smacking and shook the stinging numbness out of his own hand, Castiel had pulled the closest pillow to him and buried his face into it to stifle the pained sobs he couldn't control.
 
"Shhh…we're done now Cas. You did good…." Dean awkwardly rubbed his friend's shoulder and neck.
 
"F…for…forgive me?" Cas choked out in a whispered voice, sounding like he didn't think Dean would.
 
Dean frowned. "Of course I forgive you, ya big lunk! We're friends. You always forgive me, don't you?" Dean shrugged then gently helped Cas stand up before fixing his clothing for him since Cas was too busy wiping his eyes and nose on the sleeves of his shirt.
 
"Eeeew, man! That's just gross. Let me get you a Kleenex…" Dean snorted and grabbed the box of tissues next to the bed and handed it to the angel. "C'mon. Let's get you cleaned up so we can meet the others outside. I think I saw a donut shop across the street. Maybe we can get something to eat before we go off to the big, bad, government secret base…" he teased, relieved when Cas gave him a crooked grin back.
 
# # #

They'd all gotten their donuts and coffee and not much talking had gone on. None of them wanted to draw unnecessary attention to their group by mentioning things that shouldn't be mentioned in public. Forty minutes later, the shuttle had arrived and they were all on their way to the base.

Dean couldn't help but notice that Cas was shifting uncomfortably in his seat and finally had to say something. He leaned over and tried to keep his voice low so the others wouldn't hear, although the look Clint and Loki  sent him indicated that they could hear anyway.  He frowned at his friend. "Dude, I know we have a deal that you block your angel powers whenever we have to 'discuss' something - but we're through discussing. You don't have to make yourself miserable. Let yourself heal already!"

Cas didn't seem bothered by the idea that their group would know he'd been spanked however as he answered in his normal voice so that all could hear. "I am letting myself heal Dean. It…just…isn't working right." The angel frowned, trying to hide how much that worried and confused him. "It wasn't just my powers that were affected…" He shifted again and couldn't help a slight gasp that occurred when his side brushed the arm rest of his seat. Dean, of course, noticed immediately.

"What's wrong with your side?" Dean demanded, quickly shifting in his own seat and pulling Cas forward before tugging his shirt up to look at his friend's torso. His quick intake of breath caused everyone else to lean forward so they could see. "What the hell, Cas? You were bit just under your rib! Why in the hell wouldn't you mention something like that?!" Dean's eyes flashed in irritation and worry.
 
Cas blinked in surprised consternation. "It had disappeared…I figured it was healed." He raised his arm up and tried to peer at the bite mark. It was a dark bruise, almost black. Cas shook his head, not understanding.  "I promise Dean - it had disappeared. The patient bit me, and so I had to subdue her - she scratched me when I had to subdue her. The scratch didn't disappear - but I swear the bite had disappeared within seconds!"

Loki slanted his head then pointed out. "It was probably the bite that made you sick. If it had truly healed, it would not be returning now."

Clint frowned. "I don't like this. My bosses have just informed me that this 'flu' has been popping up all over the globe in major cities. Seems like whoever was ground zero, managed to infect a bunch of people who were on their way to an airport - since flying is the only way they could have moved so fast."

Dean frowned. "Do they know how it is spread?"

Clint shook his head. "No. No one has a clue. They do suspect that it was spread through sharing of bodily fluids - which would fit with Loki's theory that it was the bite that made you sick. None of the other patients have shown up with bite marks - so far - but there isn't really enough information to go on.…"

"They are arranging to bring a couple of the patients to the base so that they can be observed and possibly we can find some way to get a cure…" Clint continued.

Cas frowned, but nodded. Something about that plan gave him a very bad feeling.

# # #

Ranch just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada

Hermione had finally moved outside to be with the rest of her family and to participate in the conversation that was going on.  She'd learned a lot about the man she'd drunkenly married in those few short hours. She'd gotten the impression that he wasn't one to trust easily and that he had many secrets that he'd rather not share - but for some reason, despite this - he'd truthfully answered any question her grandmother asked.

As a result she and the rest of the family now knew that the man had been orphaned at the age of nine. They knew that he had bounced from one foster home to another until the age of twelve, when he'd somehow slipped out of the system and started working with itinerant farm workers. Despite this, he'd managed to continue going to school and somehow earned a scholarship to go to college because of his grades. They knew that he had been a lawyer in Los Angeles for Wolfram and Hart (he hadn't wanted to answer that, but given that her uncle and cousins had already sussed out the information, he didn't see the sense in not answering). 

He'd refused to answer anything about what he'd done on his job, when his grandmother has asked.  He'd whispered, "I did things I'm not proud of. I'm not a good man…" and then he'd withdrawn into himself, a faraway look in his eye. Nana had watched him worriedly, but for once was at a loss for words.
 
Uncle Owen, who had been listening intently and watching him closely, seemed to have made some type of decision regarding him, since he'd gone into the house and returned a few minutes later with two cold beers. He'd handed one to Lindsey before sitting on the chair next to him and leaning back. "You might have done bad things, but that doesn't make you a bad man. Makes you human. Far as I see it - s'long as you know when you've done wrong, are sorry for it, and are trying to do better - you're still good." That was all her uncle said, but it seemed to help Lindsey as he'd relaxed fractionally, popped the tab on the can and leaned back as well.
 
Hermione wasn't sure how much time had passed after that. The sun was low in the sky when the phone had rung. Owen had answered. The conversation hadn't lasted long, but everyone was bored enough that it had caught all their attention. He'd smiled slightly at the expectant looks all turned in his direction.

"That was Wendell. He and Monica had finished their visit and were going to come home, but his car won't start. He wants me to come give them a jump. You all come with me. We can pick them up and then go get ice-cream." Owen didn't ask - he knew his mother and he knew she would jump at the chance to get herself some Butter Pecan. He suspected the others would come along just to do something different.

No one had argued. They'd quickly piled into Owen's vehicle heading toward the address Wendell had given him. When they arrived, Wendell was waiting by his car. Monica had gone back inside the house where it was cool. The men had wasted no time in hooking the cables between the two cars and soon Colby's parent's vehicle was purring just as smoothly as Owen's. 

"Well, let me go get my wife and we can meet you at the Baskin Robbins." Wendell had smiled at his brother before turning to go back inside. 

It was at that moment they heard the scream. 

All three agents had gone for their guns, while Wendell who was closest to the door slowed for only a moment before he began to run toward the house. Lindsey - in his effort to be as non-threatening toward the family as he could be, had left his own weapons in his truck. Except for the dagger he kept sheathed over the ankle of his left leg. He quickly drew it and moved to stand protectively beside Hermione. Nana was in Owen's truck, but she opened the window and looked out worriedly. "What's wrong?"

No one would be fully able to explain what happened that evening. It was etched into their memory with crystal precise detail - but no words could fully explain the horror of what they witnessed. 

There was a second scream and Monica was running out of the house. "Go! Run!" she was crying even as she was running toward her husband. The next thing anyone knew - something human shaped had run out the door after her, inhumanly fast. 

Wendell had just enough time to gasp out, "Annie?" before the thing had barreled into Monica, biting her savagely. It was then up and running toward Wendell.

"Shit!" Lindsey had cursed loudly, dragging Hermione bodily to Owen's truck and shoving her in before yelling to Nana to close her window.  He'd then moved to head toward Monica. All three agents were shooting at the thing that had attacked her - but it wasn't slowing down at all. It lunged at Wendell, biting him as well before it veered in the opposite direction of the family and ran across the street where another man was just getting out of his car from being at work.

The three agents were about to pursue when they'd heard Lindsey curse loudly again in what appeared to be different languages and sounding terrified. They'd turned in time to see Wendell convulsing on the ground. Monica - who literally looked like a walking corpse - got up and turned toward Lindsey with a loud growl before she was speeding toward him.  Colby acted without thinking. One shot through the head and what had once been his mother dropped to the ground, two feet away from the young lawyer. And then Wendell was up and speeding toward Ian. Owen took that shot.

A quick glance across and down the street and it became obvious - whatever illness Annie had suffered from - it was spreading quickly. They didn't have enough bullets and even if they did - they would never be able to stop all of the 'creatures' that had once been living people. They had to get away. Without a word, the four men had piled into Owen's vehicle and peeled out of the driveway.

Not a word or sound could be heard in the truck. They were all in too much shock.

# # #

New York City, New York

Jack pulled into an empty parking space in front of his sister's apartment building before turning to look at the woman sitting quietly next to him. He wondered for -- not the first time - how he had been lucky enough to catch her eye and keep her affection. Especially since his job so often kept him away from home and he couldn't tell her anything about it. The fact that she'd been willing to accept 'I can't talk about it' as an answer, without getting upset with him - well he'd never had that type of luck before when it came to the women he dated. Currently, she seemed a bit withdrawn, and it worried him.

She'd been happy enough when he'd gotten home. She was excited about Lucy's dinner. He had gotten home later than expected, so she was completely ready by the time he walked in the door. She'd just taken him by the arm and marched him into their bedroom where she'd laid out the clothes she wanted him to change into, gave him a lingering kiss on the lips and then pushed him toward the bathroom. "Hurry up and shower - we have to leave in ten minutes…" she'd grinned at him before going to locate her phone that had started ringing.

He wasn't sure what the phone call had been about. What he did know is that he finished his shower and dressed in record time, but when he returned to the living room not much more than 5 minutes after leaving her, her mood had gone from happy and anticipating to quiet and worried… anxious. She had been that way ever since they'd left home and gotten into his car. He was about to ask her what was wrong, when she seemed to realize he was staring at her and turned to look at him with a small smile.

He smiled back at her crookedly. "Everything all right?" he asked softly.

She opened her mouth as if to say something, but then wrinkled her nose as she realized she didn't know what to say. "Yes…I…a friend called. Asked if I had been watching the news about this flu that is going around. They were worried and just wanted to make certain I was being careful." She shrugged slightly.

Jack frowned before forcing a smile again. His office had been buzzing with talk about this 'flu' as well. There was some speculation that it might not actually be a flu and might be some type of biological attack - but so far no information of use had been uncovered. He'd wondered if they would be calling him in to go find information, but at the last minute they'd sent another agent. He couldn't say he was upset that he wasn't the one sent on the job. Something about the whole situation made his skin crawl.
 
He looked into Nat's eyes. She was obviously trying to hide her own worry about the situation. Leaning over, he gave her a quick kiss before opening his car door and exiting - quickly moving around to the other side to open the door for her. He quickly locked the vehicle then put an arm around her waist. "We'll be very careful. It is easy enough to avoid getting sick if you take the proper precautions. We'll warn Lucy and Matt too…" he tried to sound unconcerned and was rewarded with a bright smile as they walked into the building.

# # #

Natasha was more worried than Jack could have realized. The phone call had been from S.H.I.E.L.D. At first she had thought they were calling to find out the status of her mission - and she'd quickly informed her handler that she still hadn't located the file and that she couldn't talk at the moment because she wasn't alone. Phil's voice had stopped her before she could hang up.

The news he'd given her had been more than worrying. To think that there was an illness that had taken all of one day to spread from south of L.A. to pretty much every continent, and spread so fast that hospitals in areas all over - not just the United States, but the world - had to set aside quarantined wings in an attempt to keep the virus from spreading any further. And it wasn't working.

She'd quickly asked if she was being brought back in so that she could work on that problem - it wasn't like she was making any headway in her current assignment. Phil had told her no - that she was to remain where she was and continue to attempt to get the file. But he cautioned her to be careful. New York City was apparently one of the 'hot spots'.  She'd quickly agreed and hung up the phone since she'd heard the shower stop and knew Jack would be coming out within a few minutes.
 
What Phil had told her really didn't worry her too much. She'd been in areas where there were outbreaks of various deadly infections before. You just took precautions to protect yourself and kept doing what you did.  No - what he said to her didn't worry her. It was what he hadn't said; mainly, why he would feel the need to warn her about something that wouldn't or shouldn't affect her job in the least, if they weren't planning to recall her for it.

She hadn't realized she'd been thinking on the matter so deeply until she caught Jack staring at her. Of course he was curious and a bit worried as to what had caused her mood to shift so quickly. Tired of hiding things from him, she decided that at least in this case she could be honest about what was bothering her. Well, mostly honest. 
 
So she'd told him as close to the truth as she could without actually giving her role away. She wasn't surprised that he didn't try to offer platitudes about not needing to worry - for a CIA operative he was refreshingly straight-forward.  What he said made perfect sense - be careful, take precautions, and warn the rest of the friends and family to do so as well.
 
She suspected that he knew about as much as she did about this 'flu'. It would be so much easier if she could just confess to him what her job really was. Then maybe she could actually… she barely kept herself from sighing and shaking her head in frustration.  She couldn't tell him. As much as she thought it would be better for him to know, she'd been ordered to continue as is. She just wished it didn't make her feel so damn guilty and sad.

She forced herself to push the nagging worry and concern down so by the time Jack had made it around the car and opened the door for her, she was as ready as she could be to face the rest of Jack's family. His quick kiss and the supporting arm around her waist actually did help calm her nerves - if only slightly. She couldn't help but give him a grateful smile as they walked inside.

# # #

John sat at Lucy's kitchen table watching as she put the finishing touches on the meal she'd been preparing all afternoon. Matt hovered nearby genially following whatever orders she barked out at him without a hint of irritation or hurt feeling. John barely kept from grimacing or chuckling in a resigned manner. 

The boy was head over heals for her. It was obvious. And John couldn't blame him. His daughter was a special woman. That's why it irritated him to no end that she had decided Matt was the one she wanted. Oh, nothing against the kid - he was a good boy; emphasis on boy. 

John knew Matt hadn't held down a job for longer than 6 months at a time - either because he was too laid back for them and they'd asked him to leave, or because he had found something about their system that offended his sensibilities in some way or another and he'd quit.  John had no illusions that it would be Lucy doing the majority of financially supporting their happy little family when they got married. 

And if she thought she was going to be springing this huge surprise on him during this little family fete… well he'd allow her to think she had surprised him. He wasn't about to admit that he frequently checked up on the two of them and as a result knew that Matt had bought a ring two weeks before (selling some rare edition comic book he'd had since he was a kid - at least she hadn't paid for her own ring).

He had a feeling Jack knew the surprise as well. In fact the surprise for Jack was likely going to be the fact that she'd enlisted his girlfriend to trick him into showing up to the same dinner as his old man. John smirked sadly.

Lucy noticed. "What's wrong Dad?" she asked nervously.

"Nothing sweetie," he shrugged then snorted slightly. "I just think it might have been better if you let your brother know I was going to be here. He's liable to take one look at me and turn around and head right back out the door." He couldn't help the slightly depressed tone in his voice. 

He'd thought he and Jack had made some headway in repairing their relationship after Russia. But soon after returning home, his son had begun going off for work and he never seemed to have time to return calls or meet up for a quick meal or anything. John was beginning to think any thawing of his son's feelings towards him had been purely imagined.

Lucy frowned. "I got Nat on my side. If he doesn't want to sleep on the couch, he'll stick around - even if he is pissed off at me." She gave her father an impish grin.

John couldn't help but laugh.

# # #

Fifteen minutes later, Matt had let Jack and Nat into the apartment and John was wishing that he could laugh again - if only so that he wouldn't feel so much like choking up. (Not cry. McClanes didn't cry.)

Jack had taken one look at him, shot his sister a dirty look and turned to head right back out the door again. Only the grip of his girlfriend Nat kept him from leaving. She'd drug him over into the corner and was having a rather spirited 'discussion' with him; if the way she kept glancing in his direction and then giving his son a cajoling look was any indication, Jack was being a bit obstinate. John knew she had won the argument when Jack's shoulders slumped and he'd sighed out a resigned, "Fine!" loud enough for everyone else to hear it.

Lucy had given Nat a grateful smile and then given Jack a tentative hug - which he'd had no problem returning. Whatever ire he'd felt at her subterfuge had quickly disappeared. He'd even given Matt a playful punch on the arm before turning to face John. "John…"

"Junior..." John somehow managed the right blend of exasperated fondness with a hint of paternal superiority that he knew would get under his son's skin. If the boy was going to be difficult, then John wouldn't make it easy for him either. He was rewarded with a disgruntled glare.

"Jack…call me Jack…" his son muttered but his voice held no heat. John raised an eyebrow but didn't say anything. If it hadn't been for the fact the kid had been avoiding him for so long, he'd never think that the boy had any problems with him.
  
"Well, dinner is ready!" Lucy nervously waved everyone to the dining room table where she had placed the meal.  John looked at the arrangement and couldn't help but smile at the seating placement. It was their apartment and yet Lucy and Matt had placed him at the head of the table - placing Lucy to his left with Matt beside her and Jack to his right with Natalie beside him. Jack had just sighed softly and kept quiet.

Matt looked at Lucy. She gave him what must have been some pre-approved sign because he cleared his throat and looked at all the others. "Lucy and I have some news that we…." his words cut off at the loud ringing of not one but two cell phones.
 
Jack and Natasha looked at each other in embarrassed surprise as they said in tandem, "I'm sorry…I have to take this…"

Jack gave Matt an apologetic smile, while Nat did the same for Lucy. Neither of them dared look at John, certain that they'd see disapproval on his face. They wouldn't have been wrong. Of course they would have also seen worry.

"You're certain…" Nat was saying into her phone.

"When?  Where?" Jack was barking into his - while attempting to make it seem like he wasn't barking.

"I'll do my best…" Nat finished just as Jack was saying "Understood." They both hung up, then looked nervously at each other and turned to face the other three.

"You need to pack up a small bag - essential items only…" Jack began, addressing his sister.

"Wh…what? Why?" Lucy spluttered, looking from her brother to her friend and back again.

"That was a friend…" Nat began, ignoring Jack's quick glance at her. "This flu that is going around…it is spreading much too quickly. He says…it is dangerous to stay in the city because the infection spreads more quickly in heavily populated areas - the quarantines aren't working…"

"My boss needs me up north." Jack broke in. His family knew who he worked for so he hoped that would catch their attention enough for them not to argue. "He says I'm allowed to bring you all with me. But we have to leave now. We've got to get to the airport to catch the flight he's arranged…."

"It's not the flu, is it?" John said softly, his voice firm.

Jack swallowed hard as he finally faced his father - looking into his eyes. "No. It's not."

John pushed back his chair. "OK. We're going. Get changed into something you can move easily in and then pack one change of clothes; any medicines you need; also pack some food that won't spoil. Nat is about your size -let her borrow something to change into and carry with her…" he waited for Lucy and Matt to nod, and for Lucy to take Natasha's hand and lead her into the bedroom to get some items before he turned to Jack.  "I've left some stuff here. You can use what you need." With that he turned and headed to the guest room where he kept clothing, not waiting to see if his son followed.

# # #

It hadn't taken long before they all had the items needed stuffed into two packs. Jack was looking out the window. When Lucy and Nat started to head towards him he almost told them to stay back - he didn't want them to see - but then he stopped himself. If they were going to get out of this building and to his car so that they could get away from the city - they were going to not only see, but be in the middle of the chaos.
 
The view wasn't nice in the least. While details could not be seen, it was obviously bloody chaos. People were being attacked by other people. What didn't make sense was the fact that as soon as one person had been felled, the attackers would move on to someone else - then after what could only be called convulsions - those who had been attacked joined the attackers. Lucy gasped and turned toward Matt, hiding her face against his shoulder.
 
John had to give the guy credit. He had turned pale at seeing what was going on below, but he wasn't cowering. He was doing everything he could to be brave for Lucy. The kid was made of stronger stuff than even he probably realized. Giving Matt an approving nod, John went over to stand next to his son. Nat had stopped on Jack's other side and was looking down at the street, an almost clinically detached look on her face. John supposed that was better than going into hysterics, but it was interesting in and of itself.

Jack stepped away from the window, pulling his gun out of the back of his waistband. "Stay here. I'm going to make sure the hall is clear before we head down…" he turned and headed for the front door of the apartment.

John frowned. "Wait a minute…We should stay together. Guard each others backs. And we won't have to backtrack…."
 
Jack shook his head in immediate frustration. Damn it. He should have known his father would argue against his plan - he was always so willing to jump feet first into any situation no matter how dangerous.  Well not this time….  "No, John. We don't know exactly what we are going to be facing."  He hesitated, but continued - knowing that the rest of the group needed to know what they were up against. "Whatever it is, they appear to move very quickly. It is going to be dangerous enough once we get to the street, but if any of them are in the stairwell it would be a trap. Just stay here and guard the others. If I'm not back in five minutes - you work on getting them out a different way." He handed his phone to Lucy. "Call the last number on recent calls and they'll tell you what to do…" he moved toward the door again, only to realize his father was following him.
 
Stress, worry, and outright fear for his family over rode Jack's common sense and he acted without thinking. He pulled his gun up and pointed it at John.

"Stay here with Matt and the girls. When I know it is safe, I'll come back. Just do it, John!" Jack snarled. 

"You know - I let that go the first time you did it. I'm not letting it go this time." John growled back, irritated at his son's actions.
 
Pushing the boy's arm down and twisting the gun out of his hand, John spun Jack around and landed a punishing blow to his butt. "You... do... not... point... guns... unless... you... are... prepared... to... use... them...."He punctuated each word with another hard smack. By the time he was done, every inch of Jack's arse had received attention and felt like it was on fire. 
 
"We'll finish discussing your penchant for pulling guns on your father, later - in private." John promised sternly. He waited for Jack's small nod of acknowledgement before releasing him.
 
Jack's face turned beet red and he couldn't meet the eyes of the other three in the room. If he had, he would have noticed that none of them seemed overly shocked at what John had done and two of them even had empathetic looks on their faces.

"You'll lead, Nat can guard Matt and Lucy in the center, and I'll bring up the rear," John stated authoritatively as soon as he had released his son.

Jack and Lucy gave him an incredulous look. Oddly, Matt seemed unsurprised at the order. "Nat...how can you expect Nat..." Jack began.

"She carries herself like a spy." John shrugged, "am I wrong?" he asked, giving Natasha a crooked and almost sheepish grin. She raised an eyebrow - curious as to how he'd observed that when her spy boyfriend hadn't caught the clues. Although to be fair, she had been working very hard to make certain Jack didn't figure it out. She smiled back. The smile faltered when she heard Matt. 
 
"Yeah - she's Black Widow...agent for S.H.I.E.L.D. and team member of the Avengers..." Matt stated knowingly.  It wasn't until he noticed everyone staring at him with varying degrees of surprise or suspicion that he realized he probably shouldn't have admitted to that knowledge.
 
"How...?" Natasha began - a threatened and threatening undertone in her voice.
 
"I...uh...I may have hacked into someplace I really shouldn't have hacked into..." Matt admitted hesitantly. "But I didn't tell anyone else, honest! And as soon as I realized what I was reading, I got out as fast as I could..." he hurriedly said when Nat took a step toward him. 
 
He was thankful when John put a restraining hand on the woman's arm; until John said calmly. "You and I will be having a discussion about this later, as well."

# # #

John didn't know whether he would say luck was finally on their side, but the hall and the stairwell had been clear of threat. A few people had opened their apartment doors and peered out. Lucy and Matt had used those moments to attempt to urge other people to flee the city as well. All had refused - believing they were safer staying holed up in their homes. 

Lucy was visibly saddened by her neighbors refusal to listen to the warnings given, but they didn't have time to waste trying to argue and convince people. They'd continued on their way, quickly moving down the stairwell and out to the street.

Just before opening the door so they could make a run for his car, Jack held up a hand and whispered to the group behind him. "They move fast - we can't afford to stop. Not for anyone. No matter how much we might want to." Everyone nodded - but it was obvious that he meant the warning just as much for him as for the others.

After that, it was a blur. It had been necessary for Natasha, Jack and John to shoot several of the attackers - it was now obvious that while they had once been people - they weren't any longer. They'd discovered rather quickly that shots to the body did nothing to slow down the creatures - only a shot to the head would stop them. It also became quickly obvious that the creatures were attacking and biting people - and within moments of being bitten, the people were 'dying' and then rising up as creatures themselves. All this was observed and noted, but not thought on by the group. There was no time to think about it.

Jack pushed the auto-unlock on his car throwing himself into the driver seat as Lucy, Matt, and Natasha poured into the back and John jumped in beside him in the passenger seat.  "There are more guns in the trunk." He exclaimed as he quickly turned the car on and peeled out of the parking lot.

Lucy shifted over onto Matt's lap so that Natasha could lower the seat and reach into the trunk - pulling the duffle holding the weapons out and unzipping it.  Nat quickly handed secondary weapons to John and Jack along with the appropriate ammo. She didn't question when Matt and Lucy also each took one of the weapons with ammo. John, however, raised an eyebrow when he saw the move.

Lucy gave her father a crooked grin. "We've been taking lessons at the shooting range. Figured - with you and Jack as family, we might need to know how to use them…." Her grin broadened when both John and Jack chuckled.

Double checking the trunk to make certain any available weapon or useful item had been removed, Nat put the seat back into position so that Lucy could move off of Matt's lap. Matt glanced at her curiously. "You didn't take one of the weapons…" he remarked.

Nat smiled grimly, showing him her own secondary weapon - a handgun she pulled from seemingly nowhere. 

Matt nodded then looked out his window, watching as they sped by frantic people trying to escape. "All the scenarios I might have imagined about the end of the world - never thought zombie apocalypse would actually be the one that was right…" he muttered, still a bit in shock.

"It's not the end of the world," John firmly answered back. "We're going to make it."

The confidence and surety of his statement went a long way to calming the younger members of the group down.

# # #

In shuttle, heading toward S.H.I.E.L.D. base somewhere in the Chihuahuan Desert

Chakotay had been leaning back in his seat, trying to rest before they arrived at the base and began what he suspected would be a very long and tiring interrogation. He had no doubt he and Tom would be answering a lot of questions. The younger boy - Dean - had apparently come to the same conclusion as he had closed his eyes and leaned back as well. Tom was talking to Loki and Clint. None of the group were actually sleeping - save Castiel, who apparently was as far from fine as an angel could be. When the reports began to filter through on the shuttles radio, it had caught Clint's attention first - and then Chakotay's attention.  Tom and Loki had taken their cue from the other two men and Dean opened his eyes alert and ready for action. 

At first the reports didn't make sense, but as more information and sounds began filtering through the airwaves it quickly became apparent that the base they had been heading to was no longer an option. The infected people that they had brought there to observe in an attempt to find a cure for the virus had apparently turned violent - attacking the doctors and nurses. What happened after that was mass confusion - they heard growling and screaming through the radio but nothing was making any sense.

Frowning, Clint had pulled out a laptop that had been sent on the shuttle for his use. He'd quickly pulled up a feed to the security cameras of the base. All the men had gathered around him, watching events as they occurred on camera. 

"We can not go there." Cas stated grimly as he returned to his seat.

"No shit Sherlock…" Dean mumbled, running a hand through his hair in agitation.

Clint had by this time gotten on his phone and was speaking in low tones to someone on the other end. When he finally finished the conversation, he didn't seem overly pleased, but resigned. He moved up to speak to the pilot giving him directions before returning to the back with the rest of the group. "We're no longer going to the base. I have been instructed to head to the main headquarters of S.H.I.E.L.D. Currently they are in the middle of the ocean - far away from any of the outbreaks. Beyond that, I can’t tell you anymore."

Chakotay leaned back in his seat again, the images he'd seen still running through his memory. He answered softly, "After that, we see what we can do to help - if your leader will allow us to."  He wasn't surprised when Tom, Dean, and Castiel all nodded in agreement.


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