Travelling from southern Ontario to the Vancouver containment zone is an overly complex affair, involving first a bus, then an airplane, then another airplane, and finally another bus. The last leg is longer than it should have been because the previous regional army base had long since been overrun. The new transfers fly into a residential airport well past the suburbs and board a refurbished school bus to take them the rest of the way.
Sam spends the entire trip in and out of a fitful sleep, finding the novelty of military travel worn off after the first few interminable transfers. Still, the late summer sun is only just beginning its descent by the time the bus rumbles up the forest highway to the new base, a collection of buildings that used to be an international college. It’s ringed on all sides by tall trees, and the previous chain link fence around the periphery is supplemented by a second, taller fence that looks electrified. A deep trench rings the base even further, a further precaution even this far out from the quarantined zone.
He doesn’t expect it to be so easy to track down his erstwhile boyfriend, but surprisingly it’s the easiest thing to happen for him a long while. They’re barely off the buses and past the guarded gate of the base before a familiar-looking face holding up the brickwork makes Sam stop in his tracks and cause a minor foot traffic collision behind him.
Emmett turns his head to the sound, looking a little annoyed, eyes scanning the group until he sees Sam. He looks good, Sam thinks, broader in the shoulders and leaner everywhere else, his dark hair grown out a little. Shock registers in Baxter’s eyes for a fleeting moment, vanishing as quickly as it came. “Private Gallagher,” he replies, voice cool. “It’s Corporal Baxter, here.”
“Baxter?” Sam echoes. Up close, it looks like Emmett’s shrunk a few inches; maybe it’s the hunched shoulders from holding up the wall.