Quotes are taken from this post and refer to the December 2004 Tsunami
The fifteenth of October was clear, sunny, redolent of eucalyptus, and very quiet. Kind of like the fourteenth. And the thirteenth. On the twelfth there'd been some rain. Apart from that, pretty much the whole month had been sunny, clear, fragrant. And quiet. Very quiet. It was getting hard to remember what the world used to sound like.
Xander pulled the list out of his back pocket, unfolded it with his free hand and his teeth, and consulted it. Razors. Check. Shaving cream. Also check. Soap, toothpaste, floss. Checkity check. Band-Aids.
Somehow, he never could get enough Band-Aids.
He hoisted his pack, stowed the list, and started off again with the flashlight at shoulder level, lighting the way. Funny how it was always near-dark inside stores, no matter how bright it was outside. The designers just weren't thinking about apocalypse, that was the problem.
"Great design, Mr. Brady," he said, flipping the beam up to illuminate the sign over aisle 7. Personal hygiene, check. "But we'd really like to see something with smaller windows. Could you do that for us? Maybe no windows at all. Maybe underground. A tunnel to get in. That'd be great." Halfway down the aisle, he thought he heard a sound, and froze. Over toward the greeting cards. Something moving. Or not. Shit. He flicked the light off and stood still, waiting, for a full minute. Nothing.
"A whole line of bunker drugstores," he said finally, starting forward again. "Hell, the whole city's going underground. Do you watch any Romero, Mr. Brady? Because we're thinking, when the last guy on the planet is wandering around trying to find Band-Aids, we want him to have to run a vampire gauntlet, in and out. Adds thrills, you know?" Band-Aids, a wall of them. He dropped the pack, flipped the top open, and straight-armed a shelf in. "The viewers love that shit."
His heart was racing, like it didn't get enough of this day in and day out, like there was any point to getting excited about the possibility of fangy death next to the mouthwash. The autonomic nervous system was a real marvel. Eighteen months past all hope, and it still wanted to pick up a flaming stick and swing it around in the night.
"Mr. Brady," he said, closing the pack and hauling it back up onto his shoulder, "fuck this."
He clicked the flashlight off and forced himself to stroll out into the daylight without looking back.
"Razors." Xander tossed them onto the table. "Dental floss. Batteries. Kleenex."
"God, you're a girl."
Xander skimmed it across the table without comment. "Iodine. Vitamins."
Spike leaned back in his chair, studying the label on the tube he was holding. "This's the wrong kind."
"No, it's right."
"It's wrong, it's supposed to have blue and red—"
"It's right, because it's the only kind there was."
Spike lowered the tube and stared at him. "In that whole big bloody place, you couldn't find a single bottle of the right kind?"
"Feel free to go check it out yourself, Spike. Beautiful day out there. Cloud-free."
They stared at each other for a couple of seconds, then Spike shook his head sadly. "Don't know why I keep you, frankly."
"Because I'm Donut Boy."
Spike's face got sadder. "No more donuts though, are there?"
"Cigarettes." Xander tossed the carton over, ran his hands through his hair, and sat down. "That's it."
"Nothing to read?"
"Sorry, we're way behind the looters on the porn front."
Spike light-fingered the carton off the table without looking at it, a lost and melancholy expression on his face. "No hair gel, no donuts, no more porn."
"You people should have thought about that before you ended the world," Xander said, rubbing his eyes. Post-shopping trip, his body was leaden and exhausted. Adrenaline did that. Malnutrition, too.
"The thing you have to realize," Spike was saying, "is that you were all so fucking irritating. Overrunning the planet. Multiplying. Driving those fucking SUV things. You can't exactly say you were a good thing."
"No," Xander said. It was dim in the basement, with the curtain pulled over the window. He had just the faintest sensation of light through his eyelids. All he wanted to do was sleep.
"Given the chance," Spike said, "you'd have done the same to us."
Xander let his chin fall forward onto his chest, and propped his temple on his hand.
"Seemed like a good idea at the time," Spike said, in the tone of a man who'd just opened Door Number Two to find nothing but a brick wall.
Spike had his nostalgic moments, over donuts and porn, and sometimes it even worked out that Xander was nostalgic in complementary ways at the same time. Sometimes they could sit together in whatever boarded-up hovel they were currently infesting, share a six-pack, and talk about the old days. Xander talked mainly about little stuff: never finding out what happened in the last Nightcrawler arc, not being able to get an espresso anymore. Spike talked mainly about old stuff: no more hunting newsboys along the promenade. Their conversation went at odd angles, meeting up occasionally and always straddling the same thing, which was that the world was gone and they were lost without it.
Spike had more practice at letting go, though. He didn't spend all his time in the glory days. Which was too bad for Xander, because it meant Spike had time and energy to spend on the other main object of his attention, which was: Xander.
As far as Xander could tell, the only reason he was still alive, Robinson Crusoe in California, was that Spike wanted a pet. Or maybe a rabbit's foot. Whatever. There was some percentage for Spike in keeping Xander kicking, and as far as Xander had figured it out, the percentage boiled down to three things. Which were:
1. Xander was a live, breathing souvenir of the pre-apocalypse world.
The last one had been a surprise to them both.
He reflected on that as he rubbed his cheek against Spike's inner thigh, and worked his hands around behind Spike's ass.
"You totally get off on the Scooby thing, don't you?" he asked. "Tell the truth."
Spike paused in tugging his zipper down, and seemed to think about it. "Used to. Now it's just…" He shrugged and gave a wry half smile. "You're good at it."
"Thanks." He baffled himself by not sounding bitter; for a second they stared at each other. Then Spike finished pulling his zipper down, and his dick sprang out and tapped Xander on the nose.
"Speaking of," Spike said, and let his head fall back.
Xander sighed and earned his keep.
"I don’t like it." Spike was frowning, studying the front of the Kum 'n' Go. "Too bloody quiet, for one thing."
"It's quiet because it's full of dead people," Xander said in a reasonable tone. "Come on, we need lighters. And Vienna sausage."
"If it were me in there, I'd be waiting for a couple of wankers to wander in all unawares."
"Great. Be awares, then." Xander started forward, shifting his pack to ease the cut in his shoulders. "I'm busy being hungries."
Spike hissed wanker under his breath, which by this time was like sweetheart, or darling, or my foolish little bird of paradise, none of which were things that Xander actually remembered ever being called. The Kum 'n' Go was dark, the windows broken, the door torn off and lying in the parking lot. Those were good signs—if it had already been looted, there wasn't any reason for anyone to be hanging around, waiting to bite a hole in his neck. That's what he told himself, but it was still a relief to hear Spike's footsteps fall in behind him.
"Hello?" Xander tapped the barrel of his flashlight against the doorframe. "Bloodthirsty nightspawn? Anybody home?"
Silence. The flashlight skimmed over tipped aisles of candy and chips, some blown-out soda cans, a few dark stains on the lino. There was a lingering whiff from the stuff that had gone off—milk in the coolers, ice cream, a few sandwiches and what must have been some fruit by the till. Xander's stomach turned a slow barrel roll, and he propped himself against the door for a second, to let his head clear.
"Don't like this," Spike muttered again, and Xander clenched his jaw to keep it from letting out the mouthful of acid he suddenly had in there.
"Yeah, you ate already." Which you'd know, if you were following along at home, by the presence of a fresh Band-Aid on Xander's throat, and the absence of a couple of feral tabbies from the neighborhood. Spike said he couldn't get by on cat alone. Apparently it made him hypoglycemic.
"Should do this kind of thing during the day," Spike said, in total ignore mode.
"Agreed. But I'm hungry now, and we need lighters now, and we're here now. So maybe you could stop being all Ancient Mariner for one freaking minute, because in case you hadn't noticed, the world has ended, and that's really all the doom I can handle in this life—"
Then something came at him hard from inside the store, a blur of black elbows and pain, and the flashlight went flying and he hit the cement. The thing came with him. There was a cold weight on his chest and belly, a rotten smell, desperate sounds in his ears. Something scrabbled at his neck. He couldn't lift his hands—his arms were pinned.
Holy shit, he thought. I'm going to die in the parking lot of the Kum 'n' Go.
It was probably unhealthy that even at that moment, a part of his brain considered his fate with rabbinical neutrality, and deemed it ironic but fitting.
He squawked for Spike, and something hit him hard in the face. When he rolled back into the world he was lying spread-eagled with his face to the stars, a mask of something warm and sticky over his face. Cautiously, he raised his head. Pain was his reward. Mentally, he added Tylenol to the list of things they needed from the Kum 'n' Go.
Spike was crouched a few feet away, stuffing things into Xander's backpack, which must have come off at some point. There was nobody else around. Xander let his head fall back to the cement.
"I told you," Spike said grimly, jerking the pack closed and standing up.
"That you did," Xander said.
There was the click and grind of the lighter, then the smell of cigarette smoke. Spike's toe prodded Xander's shoulder gently.
"You all right?"
"Great." Xander raised a hand and touched the wetness on his face. He had a cut under his right eye, and the cheek was starting to swell. "How many were there?"
"Just the one." Spike leaned over—Xander could hear the shift in his voice—and patted the Band-Aid back onto Xander's neck. "Clipped you nicely, though."
"Mhm." Xander rubbed his fingers together, his mind taking the slickness and thinking of other things. Simple, boring things from another world. Dish detergent. Gin and tonics. Hand soap. "You want some of this?"
Spike dropped down on top of him, a knee on either side of his ribs, and handed over the cigarette. Then he licked the blood off Xander's face, while Xander stared at the sky and wondered if he was really, for real and true, the last person left alive in the whole world. He didn't wonder about it very often, because if it was true then he was about seventeen months and three weeks behind in putting a bullet through his brain.
Even after the end of the world, there were such things as campfires on hillsides at dusk, and a belly full of roast rabbit and whiskey, and the Starfire backstory issues of the old Teen Titans comics, the ones with Wolfman and Perez, before the art went all to shit.
"Mexico," Spike said, recrossing his ankles and linking his hands behind his head. He'd been trying on destinations for size all day long.
"I don't speak Spanish," Xander said, without looking up from Starfire's rack.
"Don't have to."
"I don't want to be murdered and eaten in a language I don't speak."
Xander snorted. There was a reasonably companionable period of silence, long enough for Xander to wonder how the hell they got the whole slave-girl banquet scene past the censors.
"Sure. And then maybe the Netherlands."
"You're a defeatist."
"My side already lost, Spike. Defeat is pretty much what I do."
"But you do it so well." That came with a nice smile, and Xander smiled back a little, before going back to the dancing girls. "Look, we've got to go somewhere. Can' t just keep going in circles in this bloody state."
"Sure we can."
"Well, I'm sure I'll die soon and then you can go wherever you want. But while I'm still sort of alive, I'm staying put."
"God, why couldn't I have been in London when all this happened? Or no, wait—Marrakesh."
"I'm sure you'll end up there again sooner or later," Xander said absently, flipping a page.
There was a long silence, which Xander thought was empty until he glanced up and realized that it was actually full of something, at least on Spike's side. Spike was watching him with a heavy-lidded, considering expression. It was the sort of look he usually wore when he wanted a blow job.
"My face hurts," Xander said. His eye was still swollen, and the bruises were truly impressive, like someone had rubbed an oil palette into his face. He was going to have a serious scar on that cheek. And it was true, his mouth and jaw still didn't feel right.
"C'mere," Spike said, as if Xander hadn't said anything.
Xander closed his eyes, rubbed his temple, and went over.
"Lie down," Spike said, patting the grass beside him. The fire popped and settled. Xander flumped down, wincing at the stiffness in his neck and back.
"Seriously. I'm still too messed up."
"For what?" Spike was all innocence and amusement, reaching out a hand to press Xander flat on his back in the grass, then letting the palm rest on his shoulder. Friendly and authoritative. The way the Mafia invited you to sit down and enjoy your fettuccine in clam sauce. The way you told a dog to sit and stay at a stoplight.
I am a Mafia spaniel, Xander thought, staring up at the stars. The fire was warm on his right side, and Spike was stretched out alongside him on his left. The whiskey was blurring the edges of everything, and the rabbit had actually tasted good. Rabbit was growing on him.
"Spike?" he said warily, feeling his eyelids begin to lower.
"I'm kind of not in the mood."
"For what?" Same fucking amused, innocent tone of voice. Xander closed his eyes.
"For getting you off."
"Never said anything about getting me off." The hand on his shoulder moved up his neck and into his hair. Strong fingers rubbing his scalp. God, he was a spaniel, yes, fine, it felt amazing. Then Spike's other hand touched his belly, wandered south, and started to undo his jeans. Xander considered his options, and decided on a silent frown. That was good—it meant he'd registered disapproval, but he didn't actually have to put a stop to anything.
"Too bad you're not a girl," Spike said absently, closing his fingers around Xander's dick and starting to stroke.
"Too bad you're an asshole."
Spike laughed without sound and rubbed his thumb in a soft, contemplative circle around the head of Xander's cock. It was abundantly clear, by this point in the whole catastrophe, that Xander's was not the first chain Spike had yanked. He was good at it, even if he didn't do it very often. Xander still hadn't figured out why he did it at all. Entertainment value, he guessed.
He lay still and took it like a man until he couldn't help it anymore, until the sheer shock and pleasure of being handled took over and he had to buck, make sounds, breathe like a wildebeest. The orgasm barrelled up from the soles of his feet, straight up the highway of his hamstrings. Do not pass brain, do not collect $200. Or any self-respect. Go directly to self-criticism session.
"Thanks," he said faintly, when he had his breath back. Spike was wiping his hand on the grass. Was there anything worse than watching a soulless demon wipe your spilled seed off his fingers while wearing that irritating Gotcha smirk? Not anymore. Not since Maria Shriver bit the dust. "I don’t suppose I could convince you to kill me now."
"Maybe tomorrow," Spike said, and rolled over, bogarting all the warmth from the fire, to fall asleep.
The compromise was 101, and the ocean. They ended up in Albion at dawn, watching the waves roll in pink over all the little stones. There were a few dark figures hanging around up the beach a ways, doing suspiciously nothing much, as far as Xander could tell.
"Don't worry about it," Spike said, apparently guided by some keen vampire scent gland that told him when trouble wasn't brewing.
Xander sat on a log and rolled the stiffness out of his neck, watched the pink glow bleed over the horizon, and thought about nothing in particular. At some point, the figures up the beach drifted away. The pink turned slowly to red.
"How far to Japan?" Spike asked, shading his eyes with his hand as if he thought he could see it.
Xander didn't answer, caught up in thoughtlessness. After a minute Spike sat down next to him and started running pebbles through his hands. The red was starting to look a lot like sun.
"We should take off," Xander said finally, glancing sideways at Spike. It was a total surprise, like a flick in the forehead, to see the bereft look in Spike's eyes. "You okay?"
"It's all fucking gone," Spike said, as if he'd just realized it.
Xander hesitated, then nodded. "Yeah."
Spike examined the stones left in his hands, then shrugged self-consciously. "I keep thinking," he said, "that it's going to start over, somehow."
"There's got to be more of you, right? You can't actually be the last one left."
Xander said nothing, watching Spike's fingers on the stones.
"Keep thinking I'm going to find you a girl, and then it'll all start up again."
"Um," Xander said. "I think we need to review the module on genetic diversity."
"Well fuck, is this really supposed to be it?" Spike sounded dangerously close to tears; Xander stood up in panic.
"Come on, you're going to fry."
"You people were morons," Spike said miserably, "but we were worse. What were we thinking?"
"'Tastes like chicken,' if I have to guess. Come on."
"Morons," Spike said again, letting the last stones dribble through his fingers. With alarm, Xander noticed that he was starting to give off little plumes of smoke.
"We're going back to the car," he said firmly, getting a hand in Spike's underarm and hauling him to his feet. "If you burn to a crisp, so help me God, I'm not naming my firstborn after you."
Spike let himself be led for a few feet, then jerked his arm free and started patting his pockets for his cigarettes. The fact that he was practically alight didn't seem to bother him. Xander tried sheep-dogging him a little. He was bigger, after all.
"Piss off," Spike snapped, cupping his hands around the lighter flame while smoke rose from his ears. Xander waited anxiously, shifting his weight from foot to foot. When Spike finally lifted his head, his face was composed again, cynical and sexy and unaged.
"Don't know why I keep you," he said, blowing out a little more smoke than seemed logistically right or healthy. Xander held up the car key in mute response. Then he turned and started running for the parking lot, listening for the inevitable sound of Spike falling in behind him.
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