[Brief disclaimer: I don't own the characters or the series. Obviously, Mutant Enemy does. Also, this story is set after the end of the series. If you haven't seen the end of the series, be spoiler-warned. Good Evening.

-Dunots]

Awake: One

"Gu-heh!"

He woke up in the middle of a city-sized crater, naked and hungry. As he moved slightly, he made a mental not to add sunburned to that list.

"Uoouuu-wahhh..." he stated in a voice resembling woodworking.

Funny. He had been aiming for, "Where in fuck's sake happened?" He was somewhat glad that particular sentence never made it out. He had an image to maintain. It was when he stood up that he stopped worrying about that image quite so much.

Nothing but rubble. Sure, some of it showed signs of once being a mall, or a movie theater, or a high school, but all rubble nonetheless. At least there was no one around for him to need privacy from.

High school!

Blinking, he shook off some confusing images. A high school, full of... history? It was more than a little confusing, and more than a lot useless. He had more pressing matters to attend to.

"Yeah, like water," he noted, his thirst both overbearing and oddly foreign.

Squinting and putting a hand to his face, part to keep his hair out of his eyes, part for the benefit of the sun, he looked for signs of some kind of grocer. Or waterworks. Or anything salvagable.

And there, in the distance, was the Green and White sign of a Frissy's Grocery, stabbing up out of the ground like some sort of herald. He would have wrote a sonnet, given the supplies and state of mind.

Instead, he settled for a loping run.

Broken glass bit into his feet, and ash found its way into the wounds. He imagined he must be a pathetic sight, indeed; naked, reddened with sun, leaving a trail of muddy blood in a desperate scramble for survival. The pain seemed unbearable, but somehow, he was bearing it. Rather easily, in fact...

And then he was upon the broken remains of the grocer's, food and supplies teasing him from beneath the rubble. A five gallon drum of drinking water lie cracked, a trickle of water still flowing out of the sides. There was still some of the water inside, plenty to fill his stomach.

Furiously, he wrenched not only the cap, but the entire top half of the bottle off, stuffing the broken end into his mouth. The water tasted like honey to him, clearing away a terrible taste he hadn't even realized was in his mouth. Only when it began to taste of his own blood did he stall, more imagery finding its way to the surface of his mind.

Blood.

Of course, it was due to his hastiness that he had sliced his lip open, but he was confused as to why the taste of blood had given him pause. And then that pause became quite long indeed as he took in his surroundings.

The water had been flowing steadily out of the jug, but it was not empty. That meant that whatever had happened to this town was very recent indeed. He must have only been asleep for an hour or two at most. For whatever reason, he had survived whatever disaster had struck whatever town this was.

And that was when he realized something: he had no idea who he was.

With the pressing matter of thirst removed from his brain, he had the unfortunate composure to wonder what, exactly , was going on. A ruckus of questions invaded his conciousness, only digging more furiously at the blank they found.

Breathing deeply, he said calmly, "Come on, old man, you need some clothes."

Better to think of survival first, and specifics later. A quick scan, and he was able to surmise that there wll some houses outside of the crater. Those would be his best bet for supplies and shelter, if memory served.

The worrisome thing was that he knew full well it didn't.

---

He knew how to make tea.

It was a small comfort after his rather unpleasant and very filthy journey to the literal edge of town, but it was a comfort nonetheless. He had found a house with a few five-gallon jugs of water stockpiled, and gone to work making himself some kind of snack. He wondered if cleaning and clothing himself should be first, but he was damn hungry and damn impatient.

It was with a bit of aplomb that he had his pork and beans and chamomile tea over an open fire. A little scavenging had gone a long way, and he had enough food to last the day in only a few minutes. As he slopped the juicy canned food into his mouth, he had a few moments to reflect further upon this disaster area.

He hadn't seen a single body, living or dead, the whole time. Not in the crater, not in the houses, not on the streets. Additinonally, the houses were missing only a few things, but very critical few things. Appliances, furniture, books... all these remained untouched, only shaken and dusty from whatever shok this land to nothing. Clothes, however, were in much more short supply. A few suitcases actually lie open, half full and abandoned.

He could only surmise that the populace had left before whatever had caused this devastation. Something to be thankful for, he supposed, both because of the obvious moral issues, and the more pertinent survival issues. Had they done a more thotough job of exit, he might have had a harder time finding what he needed.

Dropping the tin of beans, and setting the teacup gently on the saucer, he picked up two five-gallon jugs, one in each hand, and ambled lightly into the nearest unexplored house. He needed a bath.

It was more a sponge bath than anything else, but it was very refreshing. He had used up almost a whole jug, but he was certain he would find more. And in any case, he had no plans on staying any longer than he had to. He hadn't seen any cars, but there had to be some kind of transportation, and as soon as he found it, he would drive to the nearest town and...

"And what?" He asked himself, interrupting his train of thought, "Ask kindly if anyone would be so kind as to tell you who you are?"

He had been absentmindedly looking through some toiletries, and he shook his head as he found the razor he had been looking for. Closing the mirrored door of the medicine cabinet, he took a look at himself for a moment, the feeling somehow eerie.

Thin, with cheeks ready to cave in. Brown hair, about two inches long, easily pushed back with water. A scar over one eye, through a particularly dark eyebrow. The red of his skin belied its previous pale color. And his stubble was nigh-on nonexistant.

"Glad I made the effort..." he groused, holding onto the razor and shaving cream. Shaving would have at least given him something to do, a little more time before he had to wonder about...

Clothes. He had to find more clothes. So far he wore only a pair of discarded jeans, but he would definitely need more than that. With a sigh and a glance at his newfound razor, he set off to get ready to leave.

---

Finding a backpack was actually harder than he had anticipated. In retrospect, however, it seemed fairly logical for people leaving in a hurry to take backpacks with them. In the end, he had found a Hello Kitty backpack in the back of a girl's closet, and that was good enough for him.

A few change of clothes, that tea set he had used earlier, some food supplies, the razor and cream, and a shoebox-borne handgun were roughly forced into the backpack, slung on his back tightly. In either hand was a five gallon jug of water, the dense liquid shockingly light, once he got to thinking about it. A lost wallet sat snugly in his back pocket, and about forty dollars (and Frank J. Cumbersworth's Identifications) sat snugly inside that.

All in all, he was ready to find some way out. Stretching slightly in his nondescript t- shirt and jeans, he shook some exhaustion out of his frame and went on the hunt. The main problem with this was that he had no idea if he would be able to find a car, or a motorcycle, or a scooter, or anything he could use to propel himself to the next settlement, assuming there was one.

Logically, everyone should have left, and taken their motors with them. And beyond that, how would he be able to start the damn thing. Of course, he had nothing but time on his hands. The main problem with this was that he would start... thinking.

"Ah!" he shouted, looking about a mile down the road, "Thank flipping heavens!"

Of course, just because he could see what he thought was a car didn't mean he was instantly there. He still had to walk to it. Still had to wait. Still had to ponder. After a moment of uncomfortable silence, he broke into a run, his stolen tennis shoes softly smashing into the asphault road. Better to tire himself out physically than mentally.

The surprising part was that he was barely winded by the time he got there, even with the water. He didn't know hide not hair of his own past, but he sure as hell knew that wasn't normal. The silver lining of enhanced strength and stamina was somewhat undercut by the big nasty, confusing cloud of forgotten memories it surrounded.

His questions could wait, however, until he got out on the road, and to get on the road, he had to get into the car. Dropping the jugs, he headed into the house, looking next to the wide-open front door. There, as he had hoped, was a set of keys on a nail. The car was too old to have an alarm, which might have explained why it was left in the first place. Why bring the old clunker when you can skate out of town in the new car?

"Oh, balls."

The engine was uncooperative at best. With a coughing, grinding noise, it tried over and over to sputter to life, coming irritatingly close a number of times. While infinitely vexing, it was less than surprising. Why bring the old clunker, indeed? Of course, if the car didn't work, there wouldn't have been a newish-looking magazine in the back seat, next to the jugs of water.

It was ten or fifteen tries later, but the car eventually churned to life, his foot quickly finding the gas pedal. He wanted to get moving as fast as possible, hoping to avoid the damn thing stalling out straight away. To be denied salvation so close to resolution...

And then he was on the highway, driving to god knows where.

---

Salvation grasped \ A flittering moth \ Bloodiedly clasped \ A quavering cough.

He had made that up while driving, the first verse of a fairly long poem. He seemed to have an affinity for it, and it kept his mind off of other things. Currently, he was trying to think of a rhyming couplet for,

Downtrodden duellist \ Silent and burdened \ A hidden jewellist \ ...

He just needed a word that meant glowing. Problem was, it had to rhyme. Shining? Bright? Effulgent?

Effulgent.

Effulgent.

Oh. Effulgent.

And there it was. His life. It felt like his memories were pouring back, but that wasn't true. They had always been there. It was more like a haze was pouring away, the cloudy water draining from the fishbowl. Making the effulgent pearl visible again.

"William Crawford," he breathed, "Of London, England."

His times in London with Mum. The obsession with Cecily. The poetry, oh the poetry. His glasses, his papers, his introversion, his rejection. William the Bloody creeping into a back alley, tears in his eyes. Her mysterious face, radiant in black. Teeth in his neck, fading to...

A blinding sun in a crater.

As happy as he was a moment ago, he was equally distraught once he realized a few simple facts. One: He had never seen a car before. Two: He was driving a car. Three: This was distinctly Not His Time.

"Four," he growled, "When the bloody bollocks did I start talking like this?"

It was with more questions than answers that he saw the sign:

Los Angeles - 42.