AN: Written for the prompt "the world ended when 99% of the planet’s population just vanished” on LJ’s comment-fic community.
It was a joke, a comment thrown out during the existentially strange aftermath on the night Claire watched her brother—her last remaining relative—die of old age, surrounded by his family; she’d pretended to be a relation of herself in order to say goodbye at his bedside.
Drinking the equivalent of a liquor store had seemed like a really good idea at the time. Even when he’d shown up—as he always seemed to do, just when she was ready to throw it all in and shove a sharp object through the back of her head—and joined her, tried (again, as he always seemed to do) to get her into bed.
“I’ll make,” she’d said, her words slurring and her brain foggy, “you a deal.” And thank God she’d finally found the amount of alcohol that would allow her to get drunk, soften the edges of reality. “When the world ends.”
“When the world ends, Claire?”
“Come find me then.”
At the time, it had seemed laughable, impossible. The world ending? The world was a lot like her. Like him. But end it did. With no rhyme, no reason, no warning. She just woke up one morning, years and years later, to an empty city. She found some people, dotted throughout the country, holed up together, wondering what happened and looking desperately for messages from loved ones, words of comfort from a no-longer-existing government.
Standing on a balcony in an empty hotel overlooking the long, lonely stretch of highway, she contemplated flinging herself, head first, onto one of the pointed, wrought iron rails on the fence below her.
Then he was there.
“Hello, Claire.” His voice was in her ear, just as soft and beguiling as it had been the night she was left alone in the world; his fingers gripped her hip. “Don’t forget your promise.”