Eternal Soup Kitchen Of The Soul by Reremouse



People like him and he wishes they'd stop. Because this isn't what the world's supposed to be like after it ends. Humanity is supposed to turn on itself, animal, primal, vicious - Xander knows a few things about primal.

Instead, humanity banded together, old and young, big and small, to scratch out some kind of life from the rubble, life that involves scavenged clothes from the places that didn't make it - and soup.

God.

The world ended and there was soup.

Whoever's writing the book of Xander's life should be fired for incompetency because as sweeping post-apocalyptic openings go, soup sucks.

He's picking through another Stepford living room, an abandoned technophilic paradise turned to technophilic hell when the power grids failed. It kinda gives him some satisfaction.

Makes him feel like he's coming up in the world.

See - he wasn't doing too well before the world ended.

In fact, he could say he was living his own personal hell and the first thing he did after the world ended?

Was take a shower.

Sleep in a real bed.

And he's ready to thank all those funky-named gods that sleeping in a storm drain paid off and the world didn't end in a flood.

There's nothing good in the downstairs closets - surfboard, basketballs - who the fuck needs a surfboard after the world ends? There's an unopened box of Boost Bars too and there is no power on earth powerful, big, mean or scary enough to make those appealing.

Starvation's not that bad he knows - it's a lesson he learned well before the world ended - and anyway, there're cans of Campbell's in the kitchen.

And Xander scored a great can opener on Magnolia Street.

He's stuffing tee shirts into his backpack when seven inches of furred, clawed hell races up the inside of his pants leg and five minutes and some creative cursing later, Xander's holding a ferret - at least he calls it a ferret and thinks of it as a ferret - but it's probably a demon.

"Ow," he tells it and it slithers its way into the kangaroo pouch on his hoodie and curls up like an alien baby.

He calls it Fluke. He should've called it Little Furry Bastard.

But it's been with him since it crawled out of the same storm drain he did so Xander figures they're survivors together.

He rubs his leg.

Fluke sticks nose and whiskers out at him and yawns.

"Little furry bastard."

Xander stuffs the bag until it bulges. Tee shirts and a new hoodie, piles of socks and clean underwear only one size too big.

Because if there's one thing Xander's learned, it's always wear clean underwear to the apocalypse.

You never know who you're gonna meet.



He makes it four houses over in five days. There's a lot of sleeping involved, a lot of mooching. A couple of gardens with vegetables still growing and there's nothing like the end of the world to make a man appreciate a fresh tomato.

Fluke's eating tomato seeds off Xander's finger under the full moon when the light goes dim.

Not that the light going dim at odd times is exactly uncommon after the end of the world but this time it's kind of special.

"Harris?"

Special in that one more special trick fate has up its sleeve for Xander Harris kind of way. "Spike."

"How'd you get here?"

The question could have a lot of different answers. Xander chooses the shortest, "I walked."

"From Africa?"

Xander shakes his head and jerks a thumb behind him. "From Petaluma."

Spike still looks kind of impressed.

It's gratifying.

Right up until Fluke takes a big bite out of the meat of Xander's thumb. "Ow! Jesus!"

"Want me to eat it for you?" Spike offers like a helpful guy. Like this happens every day. Like nothing's weird about meeting up like this after an Apocalypse.

"No thanks. He's a friend."

"You let your friends bite you these days, do you?"

Xander's not sure what to answer to that. Because he's pretty sure both he and Spike remember a time when he didn't.

He last saw Spike around that time.

And even now it doesn't exactly occur to Xander that this isn't weird at all.

That Spike might just have been following him for a while.

It wouldn't be the first time.

But Spike's cunning evasive tactics have been successful and it doesn't occur to Xander to ask.

Fluke's buried himself in the pouch of Xander's hoodie before Spike can make good on his offer.



Xander takes off some time the next morning between dawn and noon, sticky and glad he packed extra underwear from the last house where they fit.

It's nothing personal leaving Spike behind.

He thinks of it as a compulsion.

What Xander doesn't do is think he's actually leaving Spike behind. It never occurs to him for a moment that Spike won't catch up to him after its dark.

Which is why he makes it interesting.

He's been in and out of an entire subdivision by the time Spike blocks the moonlight tonight.

Xander holds out a Williams Sonoma barbecue skewer. "Marshmallow?"

Spike gives it the kind of look Xander remembers.

He shrugs and eats it himself. "Would've been a s'more if you'd gotten here sooner." He looks around him. It's kitchen detritus. He's always surprised the soup kitchens haven't made it out to the suburbs. "There's graham crackers."

"No thanks," Spike says. He sits and lights a cigarette from the fire in a kinda dangerous way for a flammable guy like Spike. "They stunt your sex drive."

Which just goes to show where the priorities lie.

Xander eats another graham cracker out of spite.

Fluke eats the crumbs.

Spike sits down and pulls a flask out of some pocket. Takes a long drink.

It's whiskey.

Not that Xander can smell it but it's Spike - so of course it's whiskey.

Spike passes the flask.

Xander drinks and coughs. "Whiskey and marshmallows: not a winning combination."

"Poof."

"I'm not the guy who chases a male piece of tail across the post-apocalyptic landscape."

"Nah. You're the guy who rolls over when he finds you." Spike's not looking at him when he says it and that takes the sting out. Like Spike doesn't mean it in any bad way.

He probably doesn't.

This house has a great bed too so when Xander rolls over for Spike in it, it's a pretty good thing.

That's the thing about living in the great post-apocalyptic days of the world: he doesn't have to explain himself to anyone.

Neither does Spike.

It occurs to him somewhere around day three - unless it's day four - maybe that's what he and Spike needed.

Because he's pretty sure Spike's obsessed with him, willing to believe Spike loves him. But Spike doesn't always like him.

Apparently, it makes the necessary difference.

And that thing about graham crackers?

Urban legend.

And thank god because what's a post-apocalyptic world without s'mores?










End




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