Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all related characters and storylines are copyright Joss Whedon and company. Prison Break and all related characters and storylines are copyright Paul Scheuring and company.Author Notes:
This was written before I'd seen season three of Prison Break, but I knew about the escape from spoilers. As such, as far as this series is concerned, Alex never joined Whistler and Gretchen after the breakout. And it will mostly ignore season four, unless they provide me with something I think will be good for the series.
Post-season five of "Angel: the Series". Doesn't comply with the comics. LA is no longer demon-infested. The Scoobies know about Spike return to the world of the living.
Premier Inn is a chain of Bed and Breakfasts in England.
Spike watched Alex for a while, letting the man finish emptying his guts over the side of the boat before approaching and handing him a bottle of water.
“Thanks,” Alex said hoarsely, sipping at the drink. “I knew there was a reason I preferred flying.”
Spike smiled slightly. “Yeah, well ... vampire.”
Alex nodded. “I know.”
He took a shuddering breath and turned his back to the water, wiping at his face and mouth with one hand. “How long until we reach England?”
“We should be there by night fall tomorrow.”
“Thank god for that.”
They were silent for a while, Spike lit up a cigarette and watched Alex. The man ignored him, staring at the various ship parts in front of him. He knew why he was being watched, but he wasn’t ready to talk about it yet.
It had been nearly two months since the convict had started living with Spike and he’d helped retrieve two more slayers in that time – which had been nothing more than locating their living quarters and handing them off to Willow. When Buffy had called for Spike to come to the school, they’d spent a week arguing over what to do with Alex – Spike wanted him to come along but Buffy said he had no place there, and as an escaped convict he couldn’t be trusted. Eventually Willow had stepped in, verifying that not only was Alex trustworthy but even if he did try anything on any of the slayers, they could easily overpower him; he was only human, after all, so Buffy had relented.
Ever since leaving LA, Alex had asked almost every day for an explanation about slayers and everything related to them, but until a day ago Spike had refused to tell. It had taken several hours for Spike to explain everything about slayers – what they were, how they came about, how they went from being one to possibly millions. He’d explained about Buffy’s run as a slayer in particular and how it was only thanks to her and her friends that the planet still existed.
Alex didn’t believe it and he’d told the vampire as much before walking out, using the daylight to his advantage to get some time away from his guardian by hiding out on the deck. But now the sun was down Spike had joined him and Alex could tell he was going to try and get him to talk.
Hoping to avoid it, he pushed away from the railing and headed for the door leading to the bar.
“Do you still not believe it?”
The man paused but didn’t turn. “That I’ve a teenager to thank for being able to live and that there are thousands, possibly millions, of girls in the world with supernatural abilities? No, I don’t.”
“Why not?” Spike asked, stepping away and moving around to face Alex. “You believed in vampires and demons easy enough.”
“I seem to remember thinking you were all a hallucination, actually.”
“But after that.”
“You went all bumpy headed and pointy teeth. I saw ... things with antlers and slime and horns. I was still seeing them after I’d been off the drugs for a month. I had no choice but to believe!” He pushed passed the vampire and entered the bar. Spike wasn’t giving up though and followed him.
“Well what about Willow? You didn’t doubt her being a witch.”
“She had me pinned to a wall three feet from the floor!”
“Well yeah. But really, if you can believe in those why is it so hard to believe in slayers?”
Alex stopped and sighed, rubbing a hand across his head. “Spike, demons and witches are one thing. Super heroes are quite another.”
“Then don’t think of it as super heroes, think of it as ... the forces of good, the forces opposing the demons.”
Alex side stepped him and went over to the bar, sliding onto a stool and ordering a glass of water. Though he desperately wanted something a lot stronger, he wasn’t sure his stomach would be able to take it. Spike sat beside him.
“You’re gonna have to believe it eventually, y’know.”
“I’ll tell you what,” Alex said, turning to the vampire. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
That seemed to satisfy Spike and Alex sighed with relief when the vampire turned his attention to the drinks and the TV.
Alex was incredibly grateful to step off the ship twenty-four hours later – after the wobbliness in his legs had worn off, anyway. They spent the night and day in a nearby Premier Inn – mostly for Alex’s benefit as Spike was more than ready to carry on immediately – before spending several hours driving to Scotland, where they pulled up beside an enormous mansion set in even larger grounds just before sunrise.
Alex stared up as he stepped out of the car.
“Pretty impressive, eh?”
The man nodded, pulling his backpack onto his shoulder and following the vampire up the steps to the front door. It opened before they reached it and a brown haired girl came running out and threw herself at Spike, yelling his name in delight. To Alex’s surprise, the vampire just chuckled and hugged the girl back.
“I missed you, Spike,” she told him, pulling away and looking him over.
“You too. But can we get inside before I turn to dust?” he asked, nodding towards the glow on the horizon.
“Yeah, come on in.”
The girl turned and led them both in. Alex was just as awed by the inside as the out. The girl watched him for a few seconds before saying, “So. You must be Alex.”
Alex dragged his eyes away from the ornate interior and looked at her. “Yeah. Nice to meet you.”
He held out his hand. The girl looked at it so long he was about to pull away, but she grabbed it before he could and shook it. “Dawn Summers.”
He nodded. They dropped hands and Dawn turned back to Spike. “So, you’ll want to see Buffy, I guess?”
Spike nodded, pulling his cigarettes from his pocket and prepared to light one up but Dawn snatched it from him. He looked at her in shock and Alex couldn’t help but laugh. Spike glared at him then raised an eyebrow at Dawn.
“No smoking in the house,” she told him. “Some of the girls complained last time.”
“And what, exactly, am I supposed to do when I want to smoke during the day?”
Dawn gave him a withering look that clearly said, ‘Do you think we’re stupid?’
“We have a smoking room. I’ll show you were it is later. Buffy asked me to show you to your rooms first.”
Alex followed Dawn and Spike up the huge stair case, taking in his surroundings while they chatted and caught up on one another. They went up to the second floor where Dawn took them a relatively large bedroom. The windows had heavy blinds on them, obviously designed to keep out every single ray of light.
“This is Spike’s room,” she said, waving her arms around half-heartedly. “Bed, desk, and everything. This is the bathroom,” she told them, opening the only other door in the room and entering a large bathroom. A second door was on the opposite side and she went through it into another bedroom that was only slightly smaller than the last. “This is your room, Alex.”
Alex nodded, looking around. Though he didn’t show it, he was surprised that he was getting a room. He’d expected to be lumped with another sofa in Spike’s room. He knew better than to look a gift horse in the mouth though, and dropped his bag onto the chair near the door whilst his eyes instinctively took in all the entrances and exit around the room.
“Breakfast is in an hour,” Dawn told them when Spike came through from his own room. “Buffy should be back by then.”
Spike nodded. “I’m assuming you’ve got some blood in the house somewhere?”
He received another of Dawn’s don’t-be-stupid looks as the girl answered. “Duh.”
“Well I only just arrived, lil bit. Might not have had chance to stock up.”
“Yeah, but Angel’s been here for a few weeks already.”
She ran after that.
“What?!” Spike yelled. “Dawn! Get your ass back here! What d’you mean Angel’s here?”
He ran after the girl and Alex grinned, shaking his head at the two. He had never met the other vampire but Spike had told him about their centuries old rivalry and Alex found it so ridiculous.
He began unpacking his bag and it didn’t take long to put away the few sets of clothes he had. He shut the drawer and looked up at the door, feeling someone watching him. The head of a girl of about fifteen was peering round his doorway, staring at him with large eyes. He stared back, waiting for the girl to talk first. He heard whispers from behind her and she turned her head to her companion then stumbled into the room. She glared at the unseen person then looked at Alex.
“Um ... hi.”
“Hello,” he greeted, turning to face her properly, keeping his posture relaxed. The girl shuffled her feet nervously, glancing between him and the unseen friend. They had a quick, whispered conversation and the unseen said something that made the girl snap, “I am not!” and turn to him with confidence.
“Are you Spike?” she asked. Alex was slightly surprised at the question, though he didn’t let it show. He wondered for a moment why she’d been so hesitant to ask; since being able to shower regularly and wear clean clothes, he didn’t think he looked as threatening as he did when he first got out of Sona, so he had to assume it was either a fear of the blonde vampire, or a girl thing he was never going to understand.
“No,” he answered, “I’m not.”
“Oh.” He thought the girl looked almost disappointed. When the second girl appeared in his doorway and peered curiously at him, he decided the hesitancy of their question had been fear of the vampire because they certainly weren’t nervous now. Or at least, the second girl wasn’t.
“Who’re you then?” the second girl asked. Alex moved to the bed and sat down before answering.
“I’m Alex. Spike’s ...” he hesitated before finishing, “friend.”
The girls nodded. Alex had no idea if Spike considered him a friend, but he wasn’t about to tell the girls he was a prisoner, so it would do for now.
“Ah’m Amy,” the second girl said. “This here is Sophie.”
“It’s nice to meet you.”
Amy stepped forward, eying him and standing straight, obviously trying to make herself appear tougher than she looked. “So are you a vampire as well? Ah thought only Spike was comin’.”
“I’m not a vampire.”
“So what are ya? Are you gonna be ‘elpin’ us train?”
“I don’t think so. I’m just here with Spike.”
“Oh.” There was a pause. “Ya didn’t say what ya are.”
Alex frowned at her. “What d’you mean?”
“Well, you a demon or summit?”
Alex laughed. “No. No, nothing like that. I’m human.”
“Can you do magic?” Sophie asked. Alex shook his head. He felt a twinge of annoyance when the two girls looked at him with poorly concealed disinterest.
“Oh. Well. It was nice to meet you, mister,” Sophie said. Amy made a slight noise of agreement but said nothing as the two girls left. Alex watched them go then looked down at his knees, rubbing his hands against them. Somehow the two girls, two teens less than half his age, had managed to make him feel worthless. It was an emotion he associated fiercely with Sona; he felt the sudden urge to find a needle and syringe as he remembered lying on his cell floor, not even trying to defend himself from T-Bag’s kicks.
He shook his head and stood up abruptly, going to the bathroom. He washed his face and gulped down a few mouthfuls of water before looking up at the mirror. He stared at the haunted eyes that looked back at him for a few seconds then turned away. A few seconds was all he could manage.
There was a knock at the door and he called for the person to enter as he quickly dried his face off. Stepping out he found a familiar red-head standing in the doorway.
“Heya, Alex. How you doing?” she asked.
“Alright, thanks. You?”
“Good, I’m good.”
There was pause. Alex cleared his throat.
“So ... not here to pin me against anymore walls this time, right?” he asked.
“Oh!” She laughed lightly. “No. Breakfast is soon and I thought you might need someone to show you the way.”
“Oh, yeah, that’d be good, thanks.”
She nodded and smiled at him, leading him out of the room and through the house to a large kitchen-dining room. He stood in the doorway when he caught sight of all the girls noisily navigating their way around, some with plates, bowls or glasses in hand. Others were seated at the large table, chatting with their neighbours over various different breakfast foods. Willow just smiled at him and weaved her way into the throng.
“Overwhelming, isn’t it?” a male voice said from behind him. Alex turned his head to see a tall, dark haired man standing there, arms crossed.
“Put it this way: the last time I was this close to this many people, not one of them cared if I lived or died, and several would have happily killed me themselves.”
The man smiled. “I know that feeling. I’m Angel by the way.”
“Spike’s friend, right?”
Alex nodded, stepping out of the doorway to let one of the girls through. He leant against the wall, facing Angel.
“And you’re his arch nemesis from what I hear, and a vampire.”
Angel scowled. “Whatever he told you, it’s not true.”
Alex grinned slightly. “He said you once stole his wheelchair and left him helpless for two days straight.”
Angel opened his mouth to argue then paused, thinking. “Alright, yeah, that one’s true but I was evil then.”
“Without a soul. He told you about that, right?”
“Yeah. Sort of.”
Alex shrugged, sticking his hands in his pockets. “I’m still getting used to the vampires and demons and witches thing.”
Angel nodded sympathetically. “It can take some time.”
Their conversation was interrupted suddenly by a familiar voice from above them.
“Well, well, well, if it isn’t the great poof himself.”
The both looked up at Spike’s grinning face. The blonde leapt over the railing and landed neatly in the hallway. He sidled up to Angel, flinging an arm over the other vampire’s shoulders. “I hope you two aren’t talking about me now.”
“What do you want, Spike?” Angel asked. Spike pouted and put a hand to his chest in mock offence.
“Angel, you’re breaking my heart. I’m just here to catch up with my old pal.”
Angel shrugged the arm off his shoulder and stepped away. “Does that mean you’ll go away now?”
Spike rolled his eyes. “Lighten up, peaches. It’s not the end of the world.” He paused. “It’s not, is it?”
“Nope, no apocalypses,” a female voice answered. Alex turned to see a blonde haired woman eying the two vampires with a frown. Alex glanced at them, noticing they’d both stood a little straighter in the presence of the woman.
“Spike, you’ve been here less than an hour. Please refrain from tormenting the other house guests. Angel, stop smirking.”
Angel scowled at the comment and muttered under his breath. The woman ignored them both.
“You must be Alex,” she greeted, holding out a hand. “I’m Buffy.”
“Pleasure to meet you.”
“You’re better off just ignoring these two when they get going. Their arguments can last waaay to long,” she told him with a laugh. “You eaten?”
“Er, not yet,” he answered with a glance at the kitchen. She followed his look.
“Yeah, it can be a little hectic.”
“I only tend to drink a coffee anyway so ...” he trailed off. Buffy nodded.
“Same. I’ll see about getting a kettle for your room.”
“Oh, no, it’s alright.”
Buffy waved away his protests. “It’s fine.”
Alex nodded and thanked her. As Buffy turned back to the vampires, he entered the kitchen, which had emptied a little. He made straight for the coffee machine, feeling horribly put out by the fact that he was the only male in the room. It wasn’t until he had the coffee pot in hand that he had no idea where the mugs were. He looked around, hoping to see where they were or see someone that knew.
“Third cupboard on the right.”
He didn’t see where the voice came from and no one looked his way so he just muttered a quiet ‘thanks’ and fetched a mug, pouring himself a drink and escaping from the room by the second door. The noise level dropped drastically as the door shut behind him and he gave a sigh of relief, sipping at his drink and slipping into one of the chairs that was scattered about the room.
His silence was broken half an hour later when the door opened and Spike stalked in, throwing himself into one of the other chairs with enough force to make it rock. Alex raised his eyebrows as he looked at the vampire over the top of his mug.
“You look like some told you to drink holy water.”
Spike shot him an unimpressed glare. “I wouldn’t look so amused if I were you.”
Alex frowned, instantly wary. Spike’s tone did not sound good. “Why?” he asked suspiciously.
“Well I happened to mention to Buffy about your reluctance to believe in slayers and she thought it’d be a good idea to send you out with the patrol unit tonight.”
“The patrol unit?”
Spike nodded, turning in his seat to throw his legs over one of the arms. “Exactly what it sounds like. A few of the girls will go out to patrol the town and deal with any vampires or other nasties that might turn up.”
“And she wants me to join on this ... why?”
“She thinks the only way to make you believe is to see it for yourself. To be fair,” he added, “that’s exactly what you said on the trip over.”
“Well, yeah, but ...” He trailed off, sipping at his coffee thoughtfully, then said, “I’m not sure that’s entirely safe, y’know. It’s one thing to find the vampires but something else entirely to go looking for them.”
Spike shrugged. “The girls can handle it. It’s what they do. You, on the other hand ...”
“What about me?” he asked, slightly indignant at what Spike was suggesting.
“Hey, I’ve got nothing against you Alex, you know that, and while I’m sure you could hold your own against a human pretty easily, vampires aren’t human. And even with a couple of slayers, they would instantly perceive you as the weaker threat and wouldn’t hesitate to attack.”
“You doubting my girls, Spike?”
Alex jumped slightly at the new voice; he hadn’t heard anyone enter the room. Buffy stepped through from the kitchen, coming into his line of site.
“So I hear you don’t believe in slayers,” she said, arms folded across her chest. Alex drained his coffee and set the mug on the small table beside the chair before answering.
“Ms Summers, might I ask how you first became aware of your ... powers?”
Buffy frowned. She glanced at Spike who just shrugged unhelpfully then looked back at Alex. “Well, my watcher told me about them.”
Confusion flickered across Alex’s face but he shook it off. “Okay, I’m not sure what a watcher is but presumably it’s a person, a human?”
“So tell me, when this person told you that not only did vampires and demons exist, but that a person – you – had special powers with which to fight them, did you believe it?”
“Not at first, I –” She broke off, noticing Alex’s smile and nod.
“Then you understand why I’m sceptical.”
“Hmm. Well in any case, you’ll join the patrol tonight. Then you’ll see that we’re most definitely real. And if it’ll make you feel better, you can always ask Willow to place a few protection spells on you. And Spike will be going too.”
It was more out of politeness than actual desire that he agreed to go along, though he refused the offer for protective spells.
He seriously regretted that decision when he found himself pinned to the floor with a set of fangs just inches from his neck.
Any humiliation at the prospect of screaming for help was thoroughly over-ruled by the prospect of imminent death. He cried out again when he felt the fangs scrape the flesh of his throat, struggling furiously. He managed to free one of his legs and snapped it up sharply. The vampire gave a garbled cry when Alex’s knee connected with his groin, and with a grunt of effort the man shoved the vampire off him, rolling away. A second later one of the slayers – Amy, Alex dimly recalled – stuck a stake through the vampire’s back and he crumbled to dust. Alex didn’t even have chance to thank her before she turned away to fight another approaching vampire.
He yelped in surprise when someone grabbed his shirt and pulled him backwards just in time to avoid being crushed by another, enormous vampire. Spike appeared from behind Alex and leapt on the attacker, landing several punches and kicks before he staked the vampire.
“Alex, stay back!” Spike ordered, even as another vampire leapt on him, screaming at him for being a traitor to his kind. Alex scrambled back, watching open-mouthed as Spike and the two slayers fought off what must have been at least a dozen vampires.
“What have we got here then?” a tinkling, female voice said from behind him. The sound made him freeze with fear. A tall, beautiful woman stepped into his view, crouching in front of him. She smiled and reached out a hand, running two fingers down Alex’s cheek. He shuddered and pulled back but she grabbed his wrist and in one smooth motion, hoisted him to his feet, spun him around and pulled him back against her, his arms pinned to his sides. One delicate hand covered his mouth, preventing him from calling out and pulling his head to one side, baring his throat to the night.
“You’re a handsome one, aren’t you?” she murmured, lazily trailing her tongue across the exposed flesh. He cringed, trying to pull away but she held him still with surprising strength.
He looked up to see Spike’s face contort in anger and then a pair of fangs sunk deep into his neck.
He could feel the blood being drained from him, pulled through his body by the mouth sucking a deadly rhythm on his skin. He felt his pulse rapidly weaken, and a cold sweat broke out on his skin. The hand slipped from his mouth to lazy trail fingers down his throat and across his chest but he didn't have the energy to scream, his mouth dry and his breathing erratic. He was unaware of anything but the sensation of his life slipping away.
Just as his vision started going black, the vampire was ripped away from him and he managed a weak cry of pain when her fangs tore at his skin. No longer supported, he collapsed to the floor, too weak to stand on his own. He saw a blur of blonde and thought he heard someone calling his name just as he passed out.
He woke to the sound of a constant, regular beeping and the unmistakable smell of hospital air. An oxygen tube ran across his face and when he wiggled his fingers he felt an IV line nestled beneath the skin of his hand. His neck ached dully. He blinked his eyes open, letting his eyes adjust to the light and looked around.
As he’d guessed, he was in a hospital room, surrounded by a variety of monitoring devices, all hooked up to him with a series of wires. In the far corner, Spike lounged in a chair, watching him. The vampire got to his feet when Alex’s eyes fell on him, pouring some water from a jug beside the bed and sticking a straw into the cup, holding it out. Grateful, Alex drank until his throat felt less like the Sahara desert and looked up at the vampire.
“How you feeling?”
“Err ... well I’ve been better.”
Spike smiled appreciatively. “I don’t doubt that. I’ll go fetch a nurse, tell them you’re up.”
He left for a few seconds and quickly returned with a female nurse in tow. He stood in the corner as she flitted around the room, scowling when she opened the curtains and stepping out of the rush of sunlight. The nurse checked Alex’s vitals, asked him a few questions and fiddled with a couple of the machines.
“How’s the pain?” she asked as she checked his blood pressure.
“It’s not too bad.”
The nurse nodded. “We don’t need to give you anymore morphine then.” Noticing the surprise on Alex’s face, she added, “You’re friend told us about your heroin recovery, so we’re limiting your morphine to reduce the chance of a relapse.”
Alex nodded. He’d forgotten that heroin was a derivative of morphine. “When can I leave?”
“Well, we’ll need to keep you under observation for a while but you should be free to go by this evening if there are no further complications, though you’ll have to talk with the doctor first.”
“Good.” At the nurse’s amused glance he added sheepishly, “I’m not very fond of hospitals.”
The nurse finished up her check, scribbling notes on a clipboard at the end of the bed. She left again with orders for Alex to get some more rest. As soon as she was gone, Spike pulled the curtains shut, avoiding the rays of sunlight, and came to stand beside Alex’s bed.
“What did you tell them?” Alex asked. Spike raised an eyebrow.
“What d’you mean?”
“Well in America they’d want a name, address, GP, etcetera, and presumably they ask for the same over here. So what did you tell them about me?”
“You worried about the police?” Alex just shrugged. “I gave them your name, my address, told them we were staying at the Slayer manor and that your GP recently died and you hadn’t had chance to register with a new one yet.”
Spike shrugged. “It’s not like they needed much info. They checked your blood type before the infusion. The only thing they were worried about was allergies.”
“No worries there, I don’t have any.”
Spike nodded and they talked idly for a while. A doctor came in a short while later to check on Alex’s wound and when Alex asked when he could leave, he frowned.
“Well preferably we’d like to keep you in overnight, just to make sure there aren’t any complications from the blood transfusion, but you can discharge yourself of course.”
Alex said he would and got dressed as the doctor fetched the relevant forms. He signed them and followed Spike out through the sewers, taking a series of tunnels back to the manor. Alex felt sure they would get lost but Spike seemed to know where they were going and they exited into the manor basement. Alex stopped, his jaw dropping in surprise.
Every wall was covered from floor to ceiling with weapons of every variety. Though there were very few guns, there were plenty of swords, crossbows, axes and all other manor of what Alex would consider more primitive weapons. Piles of stakes were scattered about the floor.
“You let the girls use all these?” he asked weakly, walking up to wall and touching one of the swords. He’d naively hoped that they might just be for display purposes but when he ran his thumb down the edge of the sword it sliced his skin as easily as paper. He stuck it in his mouth to help stop the bleeding and turned to Spike.
“You saw them last night. They’re more than capable of handling all off these weapons after a little training.”
Alex shook his head, looking around again. “This is ... some of those girls are barely in their teens!”
“Like I said, they can handle it, Alex. It’s in their nature.”
“No,” Alex said firmly. “No, young girls are supposed to go to school and make friends and stay out late to see their boyfriend. They’re not supposed to ... to fight demons and vampires and know how to use weapons like these.”
Spike said nothing. He knew that understanding how the slayers worked wasn’t something that he could explain. Alex would just have to come to the realisation himself. Unfortunately Alex wasn’t fond of that idea and he ran for the stairs. He exited into the foyer where he crashed into a dark-haired man with an eye patch, sending them both to the floor. Spike was there a moment later, helping Alex to his feet.
“Get off me!” he snarled, pulling his arm out of Spike grip. Glaring harshly, he spun away and sprinted for the front door.
Alex ignored him and Spike was left standing in the foyer as Alex stormed down the sunlit driveway. He spun, stalking over to Xander as the man got to his feet and grabbing his arm, dragging him over to the door.
“Whoa, hey! Manhandling!”
“Go after him.”
Xander stared at him. “What? I’m not your personal errand boy, Spike. He’s on foot, it’s not like he’ll get very far. He’ll be back.”
But Spike was having none of it. He shoved Xander out the front door. “You don’t know Alex. Go after –”
“You’re right, I don’t!” Xander interrupted. “So why should I go after him? If you’re so desperate then ask Willow. At least she knows him.”
“Last I heard Willow was busy all day and even if she wasn’t in the time it’d take to find her, he could be anywhere!”
Xander just folded his arms across his chest. Spike sighed.
“Look, I’ll make it up to you, alright? Whatever you want, I’ll do, just go after him?”
Xander didn’t move for a few seconds then lifted his head slightly. “Fine. But you better keep to your word.”
Spike just nodded and Xander turned, jogging to catch up with Alex, who’d know disappeared beyond the gate. He caught up with the older man just outside a small village, slowing down to walk beside him. Alex shot him an angry glare but said nothing.
“Spike thought you might like some company.”
“Spike’s an idiot,” Alex replied. “Who are you?”
“And what are you? A witch? A werewolf? Clearly you’re not a vampire.”
Xander’s eye narrowed in confusion and he frowned. “None of the above. What makes you ask that?”
“Well everyone in that house seems to be anything but human. I was wondering what you are.”
Xander laughed then and Alex glanced at him before looking back at the ground. “Not quite. Dawn and I are both one hundred percent human,” he said then grinned slightly and lifted a hand to his eye patch. “Well, not quite a hundred percent.”
Alex gave a wan smile, which Xander thought was an improvement. “What happened, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“Nah, it was years ago now. I had a run in with a particularly evil evil-person who felt I could see too much.”
“Yeah. I’d managed to stay mostly battle-scar free up until then.”
Alex didn’t answer. He’d stopped outside the pub, looking inside. Xander looked him over and asked, “You wanna grab a drink?”
Alex flicked his eyes over the front of the building but shook his head and turned to move on. “No. I can’t.”
“I just ... I can’t. It’s fine.”
He walked on but Xander grabbed his arm. “Hey ... if its money issues, I can pay, it’s not a problem.”
Alex glanced through the window again. Xander could see him thinking about it and before he could say no, he grabbed the older man and dragged him inside.
“Two beers, please,” he ordered. The bartender nodded and fetched them as Xander looked at Alex. The older man was looking around the room, taking everything in with a calculating gaze. The drinks came, Xander paid for them, and the two took a seat in one of the booths, Alex instinctively going for the one where he could see most of the room without having his back to anyone.
“So what’s your story?” Xander asked, drawing Alex’s attention away from the rest of the room.
“Yeah. What d’you do with your life? How’d you end up friends with someone like Spike?”
“You want the long or short version?”
“Tell me the short and I’ll see if I want the long.”
“I was a federal agent who let work get the better of him and now I’m an escaped convict with a history of drug addiction. I just sort of stumbled into Spike.”
Xander stared. “Seriously?”
Alex nodded, taking a mouthful of drink.
Alex chuckled. “Yeah. Something like that.”
“So what d’you mean by ‘let work get the better of you’?”
Alex sighed, running a hand through his hair and staring out the window. He hated thinking about the answer to that question, hated the twist of guilt in his gut, hated rush of cravings that came with it.
“Hey, it’s no big. I don’t need to know.”
Alex nodded gratefully and lifted the bottle to his mouth but the process had already begun and he couldn’t stop the flash of faces cross his mind – Shales, Abruzzi, Tweener, Burrows, Haywire.
He felt a hand on his own and jerked it away, spilling beer over his jacket as he did so.
“Shit, I’m sorry.” Xander grabbed some napkins and began dabbing at the jacket but Alex pushed them away.
“It’s fine. I’m fine. My fault. I should probably go back.”
He stood up and walked out before Xander could stop him. The younger man cursed and quickly wiped up the spilt drink from the table before running out as well. He was glad to see Alex hadn’t gone far, and was slowly heading in the direction of the mansion. He ran to catch up.
“Hey, I’m sorry about that. I didn’t mean to bring up bad memories.”
Alex shook his head. “No, no, it’s fine.”
“It just you were starting to shake pretty badly and I was trying to stop you spilling you drink.” He gave a small half-laugh. “I screwed that up, huh?”
Alex forced a smile and buried his still shaking hands in his pockets. “Yeah, guess so.”
They reached the house and parted ways. Alex headed back to his room, eventually finding it after wandering around what felt like the entire second floor. For a while he just sat on the bed, resting his hands on his knees and staring at them. The shakes reduced to occasional twitches and he sighed.
Standing he went to the chest of drawers and began pulling out his clothes, shoving them back into his bag. He wondered briefly whether Spike would miss him but shook the thought away. He probably wouldn’t but it didn’t matter anyway.
He hesitated when the door to the bathroom opened and Spike stepped out, leaning against the wall to watch him, but he looked away and carried on.
“Where you going?”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t need to leave.”
“Yes I do.” He put the last of his stuff away and zipped up the bag, turning to the vampire. “I don’t belong here, Spike.”
“Well, that’s why you’re called a guest.”
Alex shook his head. “I mean ... here, in your world. I don’t belong with vampires and slayers and witches.”
Spike said nothing for a moment then returned to his own bedroom. Alex sighed and ran a hand through his hair, lifting his bag and taking one last glance around the room before heading for the door.
He turned. Spike held out a handful of cash. “You’ll need this.”
“Don’t even, Alex,” the vampire told him, grabbing his hand and pushing the money into it. “You’re not gonna get very far without some. So just take it. And here,” he handed him a slip of paper as well, “in case you need a hand.”
Alex looked at it. It was a cell phone number. He smiled slightly and slipped it and the money into his pocket.
Spike just nodded. Alex gave him one last look then turned and walked out.