A/N: Hey, guys. This is a story I've been semi-working on for...well, a while. The initial idea - of the mutations - was set into play back in 2010. The idea with the name (and this tiny prologue bit here at the beginning) came into play a few months ago. The characters presented themselves to me about a week ago when I had a dream of the main character, Alec, having to...well, do what he does in this chapter. There originally was a very small prologue (only a few lines) but I might not actually put that in until the end, as a sort of "look-back" at the story :) So, yep.

Tenchi-chan has been growling at me to post this, so XD Here it is.

Anyway, please enjoy my new baby :) Could potentially be slash...probably will, knowing me ;)

Song listening to: "The Last Something that Meant Anything" by Mayday Parade


Slow Burn

"The end was not swift - it was a slow burn."

By Averick

Warnings: Story contains assisted suicide/murder (depending on how you look at it), angst, potential tragedy, potential (probable) slash, and foul language. Rated T for now, but violence and other factors might up it to M. If this bothers you and isn't your glass of pineapple juice, please return to the fridge...etc.

Chapter One: To Kill a Friend

Six years ago…

So fast. Everything happened so fast.

"Alec, please."

"No," Alec hissed, shooting his best friend a glare. "I'm not doing it, Silas." He shook his head and glared through the tears filling his eyes. In his hand he held a long, jagged blade. The very blade Silas got him not even six months ago, on his fifteenth birthday.

Now he stood facing his best friend. Silas' eyes were too glossy for him to be aware what he was saying. Otherwise he wouldn't ask this of Alec. But right now, the fever tearing through him left him nearly invalid. The hole in his shoulder where teeth ripped through flesh wasn't helping matters, either.

"You know I'm right," Silas said quietly. His voice was rough and weak but he refused to keep from talking, refused to just rest and take it easy. "It was a zephro, man."

"I know," Alec hissed, because it wasn't like he could simply forget. He knew what it was, and in the back of his head, he knew what it meant.

Ever since M-Day two years ago, sightings became more frequent. The government tried to contain it, but it was failing. The world was slowly coming to an inevitable end and the government kept trying to give people hope. For Alec, the hope died a year ago when he lost his family.

All he had left was Silas, his childhood friend. And right now, Silas had a high fever and his breaths came in short, clipped rushes. Deep down, Alec knew what was happening. Despite the fact the government tried to contain everything, he'd seen far too much of this to know it would be okay.

Even so, there was no way he could just give up.

"Just do it," Silas said, and Alec shook his head again.

For nearly an hour, they'd been doing this. When it started, Silas seemed fine enough. Sore, but that was to be expected since he'd gotten a bite taken out of him by a zephro. Steadily things had gone downhill, though. He'd seen it enough to know its process.

"You'll be okay," he said weakly.

Silas tossed him a look, but the anger in it was less prominent due to the way the brown orbs were so glazed. A grimace overtook his pale, sweaty face and tremors ripped through his body. In an instant, Alec was at his side, running a damp washcloth across his forehead, knife forgotten as the blade hit the ground with a low clang.

"Tired," Silas murmured, eyelids beginning to droop, but his jaw was too strained for Alec to believe in the hope of a comfortable sleep.

Alec swallowed. "I know you are," he said quietly.


He closed his eyes, struggling to keep the moisture from getting out. "I know," he repeated softly.


"I…no," Alec whispered, lower lip trembling despite how hard he bit down on it. "I can't, Si, I…I can't."

Pain crossed his friend's face when more tremors tore through him, leaving his body to spasm. It lasted only a few minutes but felt like an eternity, and they just kept getting longer. Alec rode it out with him, keeping the cloth moving around his face and forehead, trying to offer any relief he could.

"H-Hurts," Silas whimpered, throwing his head back in the cold cement ground. It wasn't comfortable, probably, but Alec hoped it would help with the soreness – the cold did that sometimes. He also hoped it would bring the fever down, but so far, it just kept going up. He barely had a fever an hour ago – now it just kept climbing.

"I know it does," he whispered. "But I can't, okay? And you'll be okay, just…just relax, okay?"


Another spasm tore through him, leaving him breathless and moaning.

"P-Please…it h…h-urts so m…much…"

Alec tightened his grip on the knife, which he held next to him as he knelt next to his friend. "I know, Si…I know it hurts, but…"

Fever-glazed brown eyes stared at him imploringly. "Please…I can't…it h…hurts…"

Alec snapped his eyes closed, struggling to breathe through the rising fear coursing through him. He knew the second it happened that this would be what it was like. He knew it'd be like this. He'd seen it before.

Silas was bitten by a zephro, one of the mutations to spread after M-Day.

The zephroes and the neutrohales were kept in a containment facility during the early days. The cells which mutated were originally forced into their host bodies as last-hope procedures for life-threatening illnesses, like cancer and AIDS. However, things went horribly wrong, and for a while, they tried to fix their mistakes. The first mutations were kept concealed and contained, unknown to the general public, but slowly it started to spread.

Both mutations were deadly. To be bitten was a death sentence.

And Silas was bitten by a zephro a few hours ago. Alec had seen the poison take hold of his parents, lay crying with his sister as she died in his arms, and now he sat watching his friend, the last link to his family, as he choked for air, body quivering with each labored breath.

Zephroes possessed certain infective chemicals in their saliva. It had been explained to Alec, when his parents were bitten, that their mouths were like garbage cans – riddled with diseases and insanitation. Once they bit into their prey, that was it. The poison, the infection, spread through their body and if the zephro didn't kill them, the infection soon would. Neutrohales were no better. In fact, maybe they were worse.

To be bitten by a neutrohale meant certain change. To be bitten by a zephro meant certain death.

"P-Please," Silas gasped as a coughing fit tore through him, eyes wide, pupils blown as he looked at Alec, breaths loud and scrambled. "I'm b…begging you, m-man! Just…p-please…"

Alec knew he should do it. He should do it to keep Silas from this pain, to protect him, but all he wanted to do was save him. "Si…please don't ask that of me," he whispered as he ran the rag over his friend's forehead again, brushing back dark brown bangs long-drenched with sweat.

"Please… d-don't want…to g-go like t-this…" A quick, shaky breath. "Please, 'lec."

Alec's hand stilled and his breath caught in his throat at the nickname. He hadn't heard it in a long time. He'd also never heard Silas in this much pain before. Combined, it just left his heart aching so damn much

"For me," Silas continued.

And, shit, what could he say to that? No?

"O-Okay," he choked out, nodding. "Okay, Si."


"I…I'll do it, just…God, Si…"

"T-Thank…y-you…" A trembling hand clasped his wrist with a strength he didn't know his friend possessed, before the strength vanished and the grip fell away with a shaky, staggered breath. "Th-ank…you…"

The relief in Silas' voice had the tears finally leaking out of Alec's eyes, trailing down his face in little, salty rivulets. He lifted his knife and held it over Silas' chest, struggling to ignore the way his hand shook. If he did this right, it would be quick – one little mistake and he'd only add to his friend's pain, and he couldn't do that.

"I'm sorry," he said, lower lip trembling.

I just wanted to save you.

"I'm sorry."

I don't want to hurt you. I don't want to do this, Si…

"I'm sorry."

With a cry, before he could lose his nerve, he plunged the blade downward. It stabbed through Silas' shirt and skin to rest comfortably in the swell of his chest, severing arteries. Silas released a quick, pained gasp before his eyes fell on Alec, and a relieved smile ghosted across his face.

And then he closed his eyes, and that was it.

That was how Alec killed his best friend… his last connection to what was, but would never be again.

A/N: And there's that. Hope it sounds okay? Next chapter, it's six years into the future, so ;) Thanks for reading and please review!