Title: Darkening Of The Light
Author: Restive Nature
Disclaimer: The characters and fictional placings of either of these shows do not belong to me. They belong to Cameron/ Eglee (Dark Angel), Joss Whedon (BtVS) and Whedon/ Greenwalt (AtS). Only the story belongs to me.
Rating: 15 (for a little language)
Genre: Crossover of DA/ BtVS
Time line/ Spoilers: Post Season 5 for Buffy. Up to LAtR for DA. Story set in DA time.
Summary: BtVS/ DA crossover. Life brings about so many changes. Especially when one has just risen from the dead.
Distribution: Is under the discretion of the author, so just ask instead of taking please.
Reviews: While I may not always respond to reviews, they are always welcome!
Darkening Of The Light
Chapter Thirty June 2nd, 2021 1:48 a.m. Seattle, WA Downtown
Alec had just left Crash with Sketchy in tow. The skinnier male just did not know when to quit. If it hadn't been one thing, it was another. For starters, he'd been bugging Alec all night about calling Buffy and inviting her over, even though Max, Cindy and he, Alec had all protested the idea. Max had even slapped him upside the head and told him that Buffy and Logan were having a quiet cousin's night and to forget about it. The off color joke he made about kissing cousin's did not sit well with anyone and earned him another smackupside the head. From Cindy, that time.
And when he realized that he wasn't going to have the easy pickings of a distraught female just waiting for him to pick up her pieces, he had moved on to trying to pick up anything in a skirt around the bar. Unfortunately for Sketch it was the usual crowd, most of whom could mouth his pick up lines along with him. Striking out, he had returned to Alec to whine about his lack of luck. Playing pool didn't distract either Sketch or Alec for that matter. And the thought of winning the promise of cash next pay day, off of Sketch didn't hold it's usual charm, for the cheerful rogue.
And the alcohol? For someone who was strapped for cash, he certainly knew how to horn in on the pitchers for various tables. Alec suspected that he had prepaid a tab with the bartender so that he could claim the lack of hard cash in his pockets when it was Sketch's turn to pay. It was kinda admirably sneaky, but foolish as well. If it were any other bar, they would have pocketed Sketch's cash and played dumb about the whole arrangement.
And it wasn't like Alec found any surcease from the blond man. Cindy was off with her latest honey and Biggs, the traitorous brat, had whisked Max away to a quieter corner. When Alec had swung by, they'd both clammed up and stared at him, the third wheel, until he quickly took the hint and rose up from the chair he'd claimed. Not like they were talking about anything monumental, that he could see. Biggs was just asking for Max's expertise about where to find certain deals around town. The guy had finally found himself a semi-permanent place and wanted to furnish it with more than cockroaches. Naturally he'd ask a woman about furnishing it, but there were about ten that Alec could list off the top of his head that'd be a better choice than Max.
Huh, and Biggs couldn't even be bothered to invite Alec to visit. See if he'd come over with a six pack to split, now. Shaking his head, he automatically reached out to steady Sketch as he tottered and weaved through the street. They were almost to the guy's apartment building and then Alec could finally be rid of him. At least until morning. He sighed, realizing that he was in a bit of a pissy mood and while it sort of was Sketch's fault, the guy hadn't done it intentionally. And after starting the ball rolling, engaging in his usual buffoonery wasn't meant to aggravate Alec, even though it did.
Alec knew exactly why he was upset. He'd wanted the night off, from the drama and the uncertainty that Buffy's return to this life, his lifetime, had brought. He felt things around her that he didn't understand fully and it didn't sit well with him that it was happening. Or more, that he seemed to have no control over it.
But for all that he resolved he wasn't going to think about her for a little while, there was always something that brought her back to the front and center of his mind. If it wasn't overt things like Sketchy droning on and on about her, which was bothersome, like a gnat buzzing around, then it was other little things. Like riding around during work and seeing some flowers that he wondered if she'd like to brighten her day. Eating lunch and wondering if Logan had hit upon something in his gourmet bend of mind to tempt her appetite.
Even just seeing a blond on the street and taking a second glance to see if it was her, even though she had pretty much holed herself up in Logan's apartment. Some part of him always hoped that it would be her. Just to see if he could bring another shy smile to her face. It was with this thought in mind that Alec decided he was going just a little crazy. Probably an okay kind of crazy. At least a normal every day kind, and not the homicidal slash suicidal type of bend his clone went around.
It was bothering him though, this thought of a special brand of crazy, especially after he said goodbye to Sketch who had veered off to his apartment building. Because after a few more steps, Alec heard his name being called. His head snapped up, recognizing the feminine sound before his mind caught up and he was gaping. Had he conjured a vision of her, just because he'd been thinking so hard about her? He wondered only momentarily before scoffing and dismissing the notion. Because she was alone, at night in Seattle, waving to him, seeming a little unsure, definitely frustrated and he picked up his pace, jogging to her across the street.
“Buffy?” he wondered as she turned her face up to him. “What are you doing down here?” Whether he meant out of the lofty corner penthouse suite or the actual location in the city, he wasn't sure. He glanced around, wondering if Logan had taken her with him for some reason. He actually could believe that the man would do that, if it were important enough to his little Eyes Only missions. Or had the bastard needed the apartment empty and set her to wandering so he could have a meeting of some sort?
“Went for a walk down to the park,” she answered, slightly breathless, her eyes darting around now that he was closer to her. Alec mimicked her action, seeing no one of note that he'd have to worry about. But that could change at any given moment. “Saw Angel,” she continued and his head whipped around to stare at her. He could see now very faint tracks of the residue of tears on her cheeks and an almost raging haze covered his vision for a moment. He breathed heavily through his nose as her voice went faint and she glanced away. “Had a fight with Angel and left before I kicked his ass,” her tone was so matter of fact that it snapped Alec out of the haze and he let out a short chuckle. Buffy raised one eyebrow, as if to entice him to challenge her on her word, but Alec was more prudent than that. At least, usually.
“And you ended up down here?” he reiterated. She nodded and sighed. He waited just a moment and then asked quietly, trying to sound amused and not the worried that he was. “Are you lost?” She regarded him, her lips twitching and then she nodded. He relaxed a little and turned on the sidewalk in the direction that would take them back to Fogle Towers. “Well then, I am most glad to offer my services. If you want?”
“You don't mind?” she asked, bundling her arms across her stomach and falling into step with him. Alec paused just a moment to let her step ahead of him and crossed so that he was on the outer edge of the sidewalk, closer to the street. “If you were heading home, I can just do with directions.”
“I was heading home,” Alec confirmed honestly. “But I walked Sketch home first. Dude was seriously trashed.” Her chuckle was a warmth relief.
“I noticed,” she offered shortly. And then rushed to say, “I've been standing on that corner for a little while, trying to figure out what to do.”
“Yeah,” he murmured and cast his mind around as to what to say next. “So, I'm a bit of a night owl,” he explained briefly, without expanding on that. “It's no problem to walk you home. And if I'm tired, I'm sure Logan won't mind me crashing on his couch.”
“I'm a bit of a night owl too,” Buffy offered in quiet confidence. “Walking around wasn't so bad. Unfortunately, I wasn't paying attention right after the... fight.” She sighed and fidgeted briefly and Alec wondered...
“Was it anything major or just like...?” he paused to think of how to phase it. But Buffy beat him to the punch.
“It was the same old shtick that I had a problem with when we dated,” she explained. “Angel has always thought that just because he was older than me, that he knew best. He...” her mouth twisted sardonically. “He has a problem giving up control and letting other people have some say in what's going to happen.”
Alec nodded. Autocratic type. He'd run into that before. Had he ever run into that before. Max was kind of like that. Although she'd had worse days, she had mellowed a little. “I suppose,” he mused, “that now that he's lived another twenty years over and above you...?” he left the question open ended, to let her talk. It seemed to be doing her good at least.
“It hasn't helped that bad habit,” Buffy shook her head.
She didn't speak further on the subject and Alec was left floundering. They were silent until Alec realized that if she had been wandering all this time, lost, that she probably hadn't been able to call her cousin. And if he knew Logan, the guy probably had his head buried in his Eyes Only work, or was ready to call out the cavalry.
“Hey, was Logan expecting you home?” he began, “or...” he trailed off, unsure how to ask. Her soft chuckle made him grin.
“He didn't explicitly say,” she sighed. “Though I was out later than... anyone expected. He's probably wondering where I am.” With each word that passed her lips, Alec could see something draining from her. The good mood, if it could be called that being sapped from her.
“Well here,” he offered, pulling his cell phone from his pocket. And then realized as she stared at it, her eyebrows raised that perhaps... “Oh come on! I know they had cell phones back in the day.”
“Yeah,” she scoffed, finally reaching out for it. Her hand was warm where it brushed his skin, the contact, although brief was a relief to him. “Though not this small. Wow. I mean, I saw Logan's, but...” she was turning it over in her hands, studying it intently as they walked. Alec was surprised that he didn't have to steer her around any obstacles.
“And to think,” he teased as they paused before crossing a street, “it's not even a top of the line model. Or the smallest that they've come out with.”
“Seriously?” Buffy grinned, balancing it in the palm of her hand. “I always wanted one, but really, everyone that I talked to regularly, I was usually around. Or within walking distance of. Or where I had a phone fairly handy. Had a pager for a while.”
“So maybe it'd be a good idea for you to have one,” he prompted, thinking quickly about where he could pick one up for her. It was probably something that Logan should deal with, but Alec just wasn't convinced that the man was thinking along clear lines when it came to his cousin and her safety. “That way, you'd have it for emergencies at the very least.”
Buffy nodded absently as she flipped the cover open and examined it further. “Are they very expensive?”
“Relatively speaking, it depends,” he answered. “Logan's number is programmed in. Max calls him often enough and she doesn't have a phone either,” he explained. So maybe make that two phones he should look into getting. “Press that button for the contacts.”
“The directory?” Buffy clarified before swiping her thumb over the button he had indicated. Her grin faded slightly as she scrolled through and Alec, tried to recall just what he had put Logan's number under. It was a point of safety, secrecy that he listed people under his own names for them, so as not to let information fall into the wrong hands. “Wheels McGimpster?” she demanded suddenly and Alec winced. “Alec! That's horrible!” He cringed, seeing it instantly from her point of view. He chewed on his lower lip, hardly daring to look at her, not wanting to see the condemnation on her face, but she took him by surprise once more and started giggling softly, in fits and starts. Obviously the noise of someone that didn't want to be amused by something so politically incorrect, but couldn't help themselves.
“I know, I know,” he mourned apologetically. “I haven't been Logan's biggest fan and I didn't know his last name when I put his number in there. To be honest, I didn't expect to know him for long.”
“Ah,” Buffy nodded as she pressed another button. “This one?” she asked and Alec glanced to see that she had indeed pressed the right one and the call was going through.
“Yeah,” he agreed. Buffy smiled her thanks and put the phone up to her ear. It was obvious when her cousin picked up, even without his extra sensitive hearing. “Logan, it's Buffy. Hey.” There was a pause on her end as Alec heard Logan's slightly panicked tone and then she was soothing him. “I'm sorry. I just needed to walk off a fight I had with Angel and I ended up getting lost. Thankfully I ran into Alec and he's walking me home.” She listened again and this time, Logan's tone had softened. “I don't know, let me ask.” She lowered the phone and turned to ask of Alec, “he wants to know about how long we'll be.”
Alec was about to put his hand out for the phone, but realized that it was not exactly rude, but not fair to treat her like a child. Wasn't that what Angel did to her? What Logan was doing? “Tell him that barring problems at the checkpoints, it'll be about an hour walk. Or, we can swing over to my place and pick up my bike. Motorcycle,” he clarified, wondering how she would feel about riding on one. Some chicks freaked out about them.
“You have a motorcycle?” she repeated, with a grin. He nodded and when she turned back to the phone, he wondered if it was anticipation of riding it, or a desire to just get home more quickly when she told her cousin, “we're going to swing over to Alec's to pick up his motorcycle. I'm sure it'll be quicker and less suspicious than walking around this late.”
She was right about that, Alec knew. As long as she had her identification with her, they should be okay. He always had his Jam Pony id on him. His attention from that potential problem was snapped to her face when she protested lowly, “no!” She bit at her lower lip and glanced briefly up at him. “He seems just fine. At least he was walking straight. Unlike his friend.”
Alec had to press his lips together so as not to laugh. Logan knew perfectly well that alcohol was not the kind of problem for him and Max and the other transgenics, as it was for normal humans. For one, their higher metabolism processed the alcohol much more quickly than in others. Secondly, just because Alec usually had a drink in hand whenever Logan had seen him at the bar, didn't mean that he sucked it down like a Hoover. Hell, he'd only had about four glasses of beer that night, and one shot of whiskey over a six hour span. Even an ordinary would be fairly sober. Especially given that they were taking more time to walk to his apartment to retrieve his motorcycle.
“Okay,” she was nodding now. “We'll call if there's a problem,” she promised. “Otherwise I'll talk to you when I get there.” He noticed that she didn't call it home. That was interesting.
But at the same time, totally understandable. She'd not been here long enough to establish a connection to the city or to Logan's apartment. Alec wondered what she would, as a legal adult, decide to do now that she had seen her old flame. He was married, it was true, but these were the people that were familiar to her. Like that Tara chick. They had seemed pretty close.
“So,” Alec began hesitantly, “other than your fight with Angel, how was your day?”
“Long,” Buffy sighed and gave him a skeleton of a grin. “Tara came by and we talked about some more stuff.”
“More stuff,” Alec repeated warily. He gestured for the change of direction so that she wasn't surprised when he would be turning and she followed after him easily.
“Identity stuff, actually,” Buffy supplied and then leaned slightly away from him so that she could look up into his face. “It's so weird.”
“What's weird?” he asked, trying to sound pleasant, but inside, his stomach was twisting and turning. She was looking at him as if studying him under a microscope and Alec had never liked that feeling.
“That you're not more weirded out,” Buffy pointed out and the confusion must have shown on his face because she gave him another one of those ghost smiles. “I know I'm pretty... eh, on the sociability scale.”
“Oh no,” Alec protested gently. “Anyone could, I mean everyone understands, even if they don't know the whole story.”
“Oh I get that,' Buffy nodded. “But what I'm trying to say is that I know I'm mostly self involved. With everything happening. And... and you guys have been great, trying to... to...”
“Well, why wouldn't we?' Alec grinned, seeing the thanks she was probably trying to get out, and nudging gently at her arm with his elbow. A friendly gesture, he hoped. “Decent people don't walk away from something that-!”
“But that's it exactly,” Buffy interrupted, her voice getting a little higher in her haste to get her thoughts out, so Alec quieted. He wanted to hear what she had to say about this. “I came back from the dead Alec. Most people would be freaking out, thinking I'm some sort of zombie or... or...” her face scrunched up and he couldn't help the grin he tried to hide from her. It was kind of adorable, the way her nose crinkled. Apparently she caught something in his face as she sighed. “But you guys, well Logan freaked a little right?”
“Yeah,” Alec muttered wryly. “He had his moments.”
“And Max too,” Buffy pressed, almost like she was asking for confirmation, perhaps of what she had seen. “I know I was pretty out of it, but until we got to LA, she was kind of... or maybe, no.”
“Maybe what?” he wondered. He felt like he could almost follow her thought process, but he wanted to be sure.
“Okay, like I was saying,” Buffy shrugged, “there was the whole self involved thing, but when I think back on things, it's like I can, I don't know, detach from myself to see what was going on around me. Does that make sense?”
“It does,” Alec nodded, glancing up at the street sign that they were passing. His apartment wasn't too far ahead now. They were still walking at a good pace. “And what was it that you saw?”
Her voice when she answered, seemed relieved. “Logan was freaking out, trying to keep it under control. But Max was too. Wasn't she?” She sounded like she was unsure of that as her face screwed up again. “Because comparing her quietness in the car on the drive and at the motel and then later...”
“Yeah, I guess,” Alec nodded and then winced slightly. “I don't know that it was all about you and what happened though.” Which might have been an understatement. “Or maybe it was. Did anyone tell you...?” he began to ask, but then thought better of it. She knew three people that had been there and as she had said Logan and Max had been freaking out about it. Max didn't want to talk about what had happened that night, to her, and Logan was focused on fixing his cousin. And Alec knew that Buffy hadn't asked him. But did he want to be the one to tell her? “What happened that night...” he began slowly, gaging her reaction, but she seemed calm, waiting.
“No one ever said,” she offered quietly. “But obviously something had to have happened. People just don't come back from the dead. And if they did, you'd think that there would be even more freaking out. But you... you just didn't.”
“Oh believe me, I did,” Alec laughed truly then. Not just a chuckle or smirk. “That was about the weirdest thing I've ever seen.”
“Yet you kept it together?” Buffy pressed. “Or did you? I was pretty out of it right at...”
“Yeah,” Alec agreed. “There's my apartment up there.” A thought occurred to him and he slowed to a stop. “Buffy, do you really want to discuss this? Because if you do, I have no problem with it. It's just kind of hard to do on the back of a motorcycle.”
“That's true,” she concurred, hugging herself around her middle once again. “And I suppose we don't have to, if... if you don't want to.”
“Oh, I have no problem with it,” Alec repeated, assuring her quickly. “I'm just...” he wanted to be honest with her. “Just worried that something I say might freak you out.”
“Oh believe me,” Buffy grinned, shaking her head, though he could see that it didn't reach her eyes. “I have an amazingly high tolerance for freakiness. I'm just surprised that you seem to as well.”
“Well, you never know how you're gonna react until it happens, I guess,” Alec conceded. “But yeah, why don't we talk? If you don't think Logan will mind?”
“I'm a big girl Alec,” Buffy retorted dryly, but then eased. “But I'll call him again. Maybe tell him we're gonna get coffee or something? Warm up a bit first.”
“Are you cold?” he asked immediately, looking her over for signs of chill. There didn't seem to be really any obvious ones and she shook her head in the negative.
“I'm okay,” she assured him. “Just that cold knot of dread in my stomach.”
“Oh,” he murmured and grimaced a little. “Are you sure you want to hear this?”
She took a long moment before she finally blew out a breath and then answered him. “I think I do. It feels like... like I'm back for a reason. Like something important. And I need to know why. But sometimes, you can't figure out the why until you know the how. You know?”
“Yeah,” Alec nodded with another grin. She really liked going around the word carousel sometimes. “I get it. Well then, let's go up and I'll see if I can scrounge up that coffee for you.”
He turned to retrieve his keys from his pocket, since he actually lived in a secure building, unlike Max and Cindy, who squatted illegally in an abandoned building. As he pulled open the outer door, he felt her hand on his forearm and turned to see her staring up at him. There was no pleasure in her eyes, but at least she didn't look completely miserable. Sincerity. That was what was there as she grinned tightly for just a moment.
“Thank you Alec.”