Twelve years on, Davenport can still walk into a pub and receive free drinks based on his name alone.
“It’s an honour, Mr Davenport,” says the young man who offers him a beer. Johnny’s sent him, apparently. He’s not a very tall fellow, a bit too loose-limbed – and he needs a haircut, Davenport notes – but he’s got a perfect, halfway-sheepish smile and an unplaceable charm that tells Davenport that he’s the sort who breaks hearts because he doesn’t know better. Something about the corners of his eyes. Davenport’s not even looking.
“So tell me,” says Davenport, straight to the point. “What exactly do you want?”
“I want to learn everything. Close range combat, Pulser skirmishes, warehouse stakeouts, that stunt with the flamethrowers – everything.”
Davenport regards the young man long enough to make him visibly discomfited. “You must have been, what, three years old when the Plague ended?” he asks, taking the glass.
“You’re too bloody young, and probably stupid,” Davenport tells him, pulling out a pack of cigarettes from his jacket pocket. B&H, Johnny’s brand. The smell had clung to them when they’d emerged from Orli’s basement to a world that had declared them heroes.
“I’ve got a lighter- here-” the young man scrambles to light Davenport’s.
Well. At least he’s been properly trained.
“You should go back to Johnny,” Davenport says curtly, standing to leave, beer clutched in one hand and cigarette dangling from his teeth. “He likes to teach.” Before he can, though, the young man catches his shoulder.
“That course on how to barricade ourselves in our homes and wait for things to be over isn’t going to help us survive, and you know it,” he says heatedly. “Johnny knows it.”
He wears determination well, in the same way resolve had suited Orli.
“And you don’t suppose that’s exactly what we did?” Davenport bites out, shrugging the hand off. “We hid in a basement like everyone else for eleven months, almost a year, waiting, as you put it, for things to be over.”
“But you had a plan,” the young man begins, “You fought-”
“And then we hid. The others, the ones with the chainsaws and Raid insecticide bombs - they didn’t exactly survive.” Boyd had; McAvoy had amputated his arm almost immediately after the zombie had bitten it. Some people called it a sign of McAvoy’s genius, but Davenport put it down to the fact that McAvoy is - was - fucking deranged. He had died taking out about a hundred and fifty of the buggers in a disused Home Depot, with an improvised flamethrower that had eventually exploded quite spectacularly.
And Orli - Orli who had punched in the final codes to lock the steel barricades on his basement door, all the while on his way to turning into a zombie himself - must have been one of the many who’d scrabbled viciously against the windows and walls in the ensuing months, while Johnny and Davenport scrambled to get the Pulser to work.
“You need to teach me,” the young man repeats. Again, there’s something about his eyes. It makes Davenport want to ask, why.
“Listen - what’s your name-”
“Zachary,” says Davenport, as patiently as possible, “You need to bugger off.”
“I won’t,” the young man - Zachary - tells him. “And I was eight when the Plague ended, Mr Davenport, and even then I was old enough to realise it was an end in name only.”
“And what the fuck do you expect me to do about it?”
“Teach me what you know,” Zachary says fervently, “I’ll be the best.”
Boyd and McAvoy and Orli and Dom - they’d been the best, and the best deal out of the four had been a mechanical arm and a lifetime in quarantine. He would have to break this boy to see how far he could go, this boy who’d looked out over the fence and glimpsed the apocalypse outside their bubble, this prison.
“The best means shit,” Davenport snaps. And then, after a pause, “You’d better learn to make a decent cup of tea.”
He must do something about that smile, Davenport thinks.
The first thing Davenport says when Johnny finally answers the phone is, “What the fuck.”
“What what the fuck?” Johnny repeats, his voice fuzzy either from sleep or drink.
“You know what, Johnny Depp, you little prick.”
“’s fucking ginormous,” Johnny mumbles, and then there’s a lot of rustling and a loud thump that Davenport takes to mean he’s rolled off the bed.
When it seems to him that Johnny has righted himself somewhat, Davenport continues, “Why the fuck did you send the boy, Johnny?”
“You bloody well know which,” Davenport replies through gritted teeth. “Not very tall, needs a haircut, talks like he hopped out of an action movie?”
Johnny chuckles. “I see you’ve met young Zachary, then. Take care of him, he’s a lovely boy. Wicked dancer, too.”
“What the fuck am I supposed to do with him?”
“You know the drill,” says Johnny, not bothering to hide his amusement at Davenport’s exasperation. “Instruct him in the art of making a proper pot of tea, teach him how to fix a Pulser and hurl pipe bombs round corners, and if he’s good enough with his guns and gardening tools, let him find his way around a flamethrower. On Tuesdays, you can make muffins together.”
Davenport rolls his eyes. “Thanks.”
“Always a pleasure.”