It's not like Alex is all tamed vampire Twilight shit and whatever, and not just because he doesn't sparkle or anything, but also you don't give up human blood because you can't, it doesn't work like that. But he did give up on the killing thing a handful of years ago because, you know, bodies are unexpectedly heavy and always difficult to get rid of and there's a point at three a.m. when you're trying to cram a dead guy into a dumpster and he's bleeding all over your coat that you kind of start doing the seriously why do I put myself through this crap? thing. So, anyway, Alex ended up falling into that path of the guy they just call The Professor, who's supposedly one of the oldest vampires ever but looks about thirty and is actually kind of hot if you like short British guys with guilty consciences and easy smiles, and, well, fuck, who didn't go through that phase? And he trained Alex up and taught him how to stop and when enough really is enough, and now he always asks first and takes his meals to the ER afterwards, covers what their insurance doesn't and everything.
It's kind of saintly, really, but with more torn arteries.
Alex doesn't mind hospitals. He died in one, actually, a few handfuls of years ago, but he doesn't really remember it because he was too busy bleeding and flatlining and so on, and even waking up in the morgue wasn't the worst experience ever, just kind of cold and he was in one of those gowns that don't cover your ass which is kind of a lame way to enter the world of badass vampire but he recovered and it's not like he avoids them or anything. Sean tends to get all ooh, hospitals, bad omens, dude but then Sean is the kind of special that comes from being able to take whatever hallucinogenic substances you like without ever being killed by them, and the fact he can still string sentences together is pretty impressive, he deserves some kind of undead medal.
Anyway, the nearest hospital is like all hospitals; badly-decorated, overcrowded and filled with the kind of striplights that makes everyone look washed-out and dead so no one glances twice at Alex, who still doesn't sparkle whatever Sean might claim on those kind of nights, but who is the shade of pretty fucking pale that does tend to have people wanting to check that whatever disease he has isn't a) terminal (which: ha) or b) infectious (which: really, ha). It's not like it's a place Alex would go out of his way to hang out in, but a few hours in triage a couple of times a month isn't really a big deal, and it's a small price to pay for not having to throw out blood-ruined clothes and/or dealing with that guilty conscience thing that periodically pops up to go hey, so about all those bodies...
Tonight there seems to have been a barfight downtown somewhere because there are a load of really, really drunk guys lying around with bits of glass sticking out of them in places where there really shouldn't be bits of glass, and the smell of blood everywhere is starting to give Alex a headache because you can have too much of a good thing, yeah? and anyway this blood is starting to get old and congeal and, just, ugh. Alex has always preferred his blood fresh and hot, and maybe he's periodically broken into a blood bank when desperate times called for desperate measures; blood banks aren't the worst as long as you don't really mind the aftertaste that's basically battery acid. Alex keeps his eyes half-shut while tonight's meal - a pretty blonde girl poured into an impressively tight pair of jeans; not that Alex is particularly attracted to her, but stereotypes can be oh so fun sometimes - drifts in and out of easy consciousness. All she really needs is a blood transfusion and maybe a little extra iron and she'll be up and about and fine in like a day. Doctors occasionally like to question Alex about the fact he brings in patients with similar injuries a couple of times a month but he's got a story he's fabricated about a shady bar downtown where he drinks, and he's such a good samaritan, doc and anyway vampires have always been a little too persuasive for their own good. No one's turned up with garlic - harmless - crosses - itchy - or stakes - admittedly actually dangerous - yet, anyway.
It's not like Alex causes really serious injuries so they usually leave his meals to the interns, who get to feel useful and express tired gratitude that they're not dealing with vomiting and/or kids who've managed to glue random things to random bits of their bodies. Alex kind of pities people who get stuck with the nightshift; sure, his life is just one long nightshift, but it's not like he's ever really been fond of sunlight - in life, his skin was the kind that turned lobster red the minute there was anything less than complete cloud cover - and it's not like he's really got a choice. These kids, though, tend to have the limp, tired look of plants kept in the dark, existing in this twilight world with the vampires and the stupid drunks and the people who hit four a.m. and thought fuck it, now's the time to overdose.
Alex is jerked out of his musings on who exactly thought that shade of green was a reassuring colour to paint anywhere and whether that guy over there is going to be laughing like that when they start pulling those bits of bottle out of his leg by someone nervously clearing their throat and saying: "Miss Blaire?"
Alex's meal makes a sleepy sound of confirmation and he looks up to find the latest in the long stream of caffeine-frazzled interns in coats a little too big for them looking down at him. The guy looks down at his notes and back up, saying: "and you must be... Mr Summers. What relation are you to the patient?"
So stilted, but it's early days yet, and Alex kind of loves the interns for how hard they try.
"Just a concerned citizen," he responds easily, pulling the words out like a slow drawl, adding in a hint of a charming smile that means questions don't ever get asked.
The intern frowns slightly and hesitates before he offers a hand. "I'm Hank McCoy," he says, and Alex takes it, keeping his smirk in place simply because it's kind of fun to be a little scary. It's not like the casual intimidation thing comes from being a vampire - Sean tries, god does he try, but no matter what he does he just manages to look like a vaguely petulant teenager - but it adds a certain edge to it that Alex never had when he was alive and striving so hard to be cool. "I'll be taking Miss Blaire in for an examination. Did you happen to see the... accident?"
"No," Alex responds, like he always does. "I just found her like this and thought I'd better get her to a hospital."
He says the same words every damn time. It's probably just as well the nightshift are too damn tired to compare notes on their breaks.
"You did the right thing," Hank tells him, and yes, they always say that. Alex is pretty sure he could teach the freaking course on relating to patients by now; he's heard every single scripted line by now, he's sure. "Would you like to accompany her?"
Alex keeps his half-smile going as he says: "I've got to be getting home" - not entirely a lie, sunrise is in an hour and he'd kind of like to not end tonight crispy around the edges - and: "I trust you with her."
This normally flusters the interns like mad, and if you can't get a little fun out of teasing the sleep-deprived med students then where can you get your kicks these days, only Hank doesn't so much as blink. Instead, he smiles back and says: "Thank you, I promise to take good care of her."
Alex stands up because that usually gets them; he's not quite the Buffy swishing leather coat of a cliché because whatever Sean might say periodically he still has some self-respect, but he sticks with muted colours and usually getting in anyone's personal space freaks them out; pheromones and everything, hairs rising on the backs of their necks. Hank just continues to hold his gaze through the thick glasses that should make him look kind of weird and like a loser and instead actually make his already quite big eyes even bigger. Disney eyes, and they shouldn't be pretty but they really are.
Alex realises he's having a moment thinking about how pretty a human medical intern's eyes are and, wow, maybe he is losing his edge. He looks away first, which is maybe even worse.
"Great," he mumbles and, okay, this is weird, Hank should definitely be jittery by now just from proximity if not from Alex himself. He looks like he could be jittery, all nervous smiles and accidental blushes and repeated pushing up of his glasses, but apparently Alex can't make that happen, and that's just fucking sad. "I'll get going then."
Hank nods slightly in acknowledgement and he's not even fiddling with his chart, not even slightly twitching. This isn't fair and Alex doesn't want to be the one leaving this situation disconcerted but apparently he doesn't have a choice. He looks over his shoulder a handful of times as he walks out, to where Hank is helping his meal into a wheelchair to be taken into the ER, but Hank doesn't seem to feel that he's being watched, and doesn't look up once.
"You need to get laid, man," Sean says, because that's Sean's standard response to everything, just with the occasional "dude" thrown in for variety.
"I have no idea why you're my best friend," Alex responds. "Actually, I have no idea why I even know you."
Sean grins at him, deliberately obnoxious, all pointed teeth and shiny eyes. He's kind of an after school special all on his own, really, a collection of accidents and bad ideas and the kind of recklessness that even the undead flinch at. He's also maybe the nicest guy Alex knows, and he let him sleep on his couch when Alex was doing How Not To Kill People 101 with The Professor, sweating and shaking and not sleeping and hallucinating and all kinds of other shit that he could really have done without.
"Worst friend ever," Alex reiterates, and keeps channel surfing while Sean stares at the wall. Alex doesn't ask anymore.
"You could ask Angel," Sean offers at last, which is somehow even worse advice than the getting laid thing. "She's, like, the scariest person I know. No offence."
Angel is actually genuinely terrifying; she's kind of short and really pretty and slightly adorable and five minutes in her company kind of makes you want to move back in with your parents and never, ever get out from under your duvet ever again because the world contains people like her and can therefore never ever be safe. Alex still isn't sure how she does it; he's kind of too scared to ask. And damn, that's kind of sad actually.
"Yeah," he says, "no."
Sean rolls his eyes slowly and elaborately, which might be for effect but which might also be because he's all but fried his brain by now but, whatever, Alex is not judging, Alex cannot judge anyone because he's so fucking lame he can't even freak out medical students.
"It's been like a week," Sean points out, "and you're still being a loser about this. Get over it already."
Alex scowls but it's not his fault, he's totally within his rights to worry about this. He likes being the scary motherfucker people edge away from even if they're not sure why, and pretty interns with weirdly hot nerd glasses should be disconcerted by him, that's all. Of course, whenever he says this Sean just gets increasingly unsympathetic, but Sean's never been scary, he has no idea what he's missing. All Alex has ever really had is scary (and, okay, he's been reliably informed that he also has a really nice ass, but that's a whole other thing entirely).
"Seriously," Sean says, when all Alex does is scowl at him, "stress is totally bad for you. It leads to, like, heart attacks and shit."
Alex raises an eyebrow. "I'm sure that would bother me more if I actually had a heartbeat."
Sean shrugs. "Too much brooding leads to Edward Cullen," he says blithely, and Alex feels totally justified in throwing the remote at him.
Technically Alex doesn't need anything to survive but a certain quantity of blood a handful of times a month, but being around (alive doesn't quite fit, and undead just makes him sound like he should be shambling about with bits of anatomy he might want later falling off him while moaning for brains and dribbling, which is no one's idea of a good career choice) gets pretty freaking boring without snacks. The more hardcore vampires - the kind who wear human bones for jewellery (which just serves to make them look really batshit insane and like they have no fashion sense) and talk about shit like supremacy and annihilation - think you should keep humans chained up for snacks, but Alex has always thought that seemed kind of a dickish thing to do and anyway however great people taste after you've changed it never really makes up for the fact that blood only really comes with one texture.
Anyway, what all this means is that Alex is not at all hanging out in the all-night diner opposite the hospital because he's being a creepy stalker or anything, he's hanging out there because they make good, cheap coffee and fries. The fact that he can see both the parking lot and the ambulance bay through his seat by the window is just a coincidence, or something.
This is maybe the most loserish thing you've ever done Sean informs him via text.
Alex bites into his lower lip and only doesn't reply with something mean because Sean unfortunately has kind of a point.
He's on his sixth mug of coffee - caffeine doesn't affect him anymore, which is both kind of awesome and kind of irritating - when he gives up on all sense of aloof coolness and just starts staring over at the hospital. At least the characters in ER had the good manners to come outside and play basketball periodically, or wait for ambulances, just to make observing them - Alex refuses to call it stalking, he is not stalking - easier.
He's pretty certain Hank McCoy The Unflappable is working tonight because interns don't get to have lives or hobbies or time off, and half a dozen other interns have already come and gone here, all looking anaemic and bemused and nowhere near as attractive as Grey's Anatomy would have him believe. Angel really likes medical shows, okay, and Alex is way too scared of her to ask her to ever change the channel: at least, that's his story, and he's sticking to it.
Cup of coffee number eight causes the waitress to tell him that she refuses to be responsible for his inevitable death by caffeine overdose, frowning a little until Alex smiles at her and she starts giggling, a flush spreading across her face.
Well, at least he's still able to charm waitresses.
When she's gone away, kind of trembling a little, Alex shifts a little in his chair to find that, while he was distracted, Hank has finally turned up. He's still in the ridiculously dorky glasses and is wearing an actual tie and slacks that deserve to be burned and his hair is a mess in a way that really doesn't look like he's been having rampant sex, and Alex's brain is unfortunately still attaching adjectives like pretty to him. It's terrible. Hank places his order at the counter and then turns around; he catches Alex's eye before Alex can look away, and does the half-smile of remembrance, walking over immediately even though Alex is projecting unapproachable to such a degree that all the people at neighbouring tables have pulled their chairs as far away from him as is physically possible.
"Hey," Hank says casually, "um, I know you from somewhere." He frowns in thought, biting into his lower lip, and Alex mentally kicks himself for the way his eyes flicker across Hank's mouth immediately. "Didn't you..." His mouth twists, and it's maybe worse than the biting, and Alex is so glad Sean and Angel aren't here right now. "You brought someone into the ER a couple of weeks ago, right?"
Interns don't usually remember him; just the fact he made them nervous, and they edge away from him in the corridors. They do not come up to him and start talking to him.
Alex smiles carefully; he doesn't show his teeth, but the smile is the kind that implies he has them and isn't afraid to use them. It's the kind of smile that can make a grown man cry, let alone the kind with an honest-to-God pocket protector. "Yeah," he says slowly. "You're, uh, Hank, right?"
Hank doesn't even seem freaked out by the fact Alex remembers his name despite the fact they only spoke for five minutes several days ago. Alex is beginning to think he might be some kind of confusingly sexy geeky robot made for the sole purpose of annoying him.
Instead, he says: "can I sit here?"
Alex stares at him for so long that Hank starts shifting, some kind of excuse dropping off his lips, but Alex interrupts him with: "hey, go ahead."
Hank drops into the seat opposite him and pushes his glasses up his nose and oh god this is maybe the worst situation Alex has ever been in.
"So," he begins, because lulling people into a false sense of security is the oldest vampire trick in the book, "how's your night going?"
Hank shrugs; he looks tired, overpale, and Alex's brain treacherously says something worried about Hank not eating properly before he can stop it. It doesn't matter; interns don't eat properly, that's kind of the point, they're supposed to subsist on coffee and sandwiches and Snickers. "Busy," he replies, "there's been a fire in an apartment block, so we're pretty slammed."
Alex nods in what he hopes is derision and which probably actually looks like sympathy. "And you're the unlucky bastard stuck on the nightshift, huh?" he offers.
Hank shrugs in this way that should make him look socially inadequate and which he actually wears really well. Alex is beginning to think he's going to have to kill him and find somewhere good to hide the body just so all this shit can stop.
"I don't mind," Hank says. "You meet interesting people." His gaze flicks up to meet Alex's and, no, fuck no, hell no, he is not flirting, Alex refuses to let him be flirting. People don't flirt with Alex, not ever, they just tend to giggle and blush and rub themselves against him until he either fucks or bites them. People aren't coy around vampires because people aren't stupid.
Alex doesn't have time to formulate a suitably psychopathic-sounding response before the waitress comes over with Hank's coffee in a paper cup and a takeout bag. In fact, his brain has gone horribly blank. Hank looks up at her and gives her a sweet, slightly shy smile that Alex has never had aimed in his direction. Apparently he's so completely not scary that not only can he not intimidate Hank, he can't even make him shy either. Alex is seriously going to have to go oldschool, move into a crypt somewhere - he's not sure where to find one, but google will know, right? - and never show his face to anyone ever again.
"Well," Hank says, lips twitching slightly in a completely different kind of smile, "it was good to see you again, Alex."
He's gone before Alex can really register the fact that Hank actually remembered his name.
Has he turned up yet? Sean demands a few minutes later.
Yes. Alex responds, because it's tell Sean about the wreckage his life has become or start telling random people in this diner, and he still has some shreds of respect for himself even if the rest of the world doesn't. We kind of had coffee.
At five a.m? Practically a date. Does he smell crazy super edible? Sean replies. Alex is seriously finding out whoever introduced him to Twilight and punching them in the face.
And then he thinks about it and resists the urge to bang his head against the table. He smelled like coffee and girly fruity shower gel and a bit like dead people.
Dude. Sean says almost instantly. You are in so much trouble.
Yeah, Alex already knows.
Angel reaches for more popcorn and tells Alex to man up with a derogatory eye roll that somehow physically stings. She's wearing these really distracting boots and Alex doesn't even like girls all that much and he's still distracted by them; they're black and a bit too shiny and manage to be slutty without actually being hooker-y. Alex is internally impressed and a little bit disconcerted because Angel is freaking disconcerting, okay, and also faintly concerned about what she plans on doing with those spike heels later.
Sean bursts out laughing even though Alex feels Sean is in no position to judge him at all ever since at least he's not the one using his immortality to participate in a one-man study into which drugs leave you incapable of feeling your legs the most.
"I do not need to man up," Alex mutters. He's totally manly enough, thank you very much. He has muscles and an awesome growl he's spent years perfecting and he's killed, like, kind of a lot of people, he's all shades of badass.
"Right," Angel says dryly. "Because it's not like you're about an hour away from walking into that ER with a note saying Do You Like Me? Tick Yes or No written on it or anything."
"Dude," Sean says. "Hank is totally too cool for you."
Alex seriously has no idea why his friends are his friends. He should call them something other than that. There should really be a word for people who you hang out with even though all they really do is annoy you and periodically save your life a bit.
"He wears sweater vests," he protests. "He probably alphabetises his CD collection and irons his underwear and actually knows what all those stock market terms mean."
"I'm with Sean on this one," Angel shrugs, eyes on the movie that none of them are watching.
"You don't even know who he is!" Alex protests.
"Field trip," Sean singsongs cheerfully. Even after years of knowing him, Alex still can't work out if Sean is actually high all the time or if that's just his personality.
"You didn't," he says.
Angel shrugs. "Facebook stalking is so passé," she informs him.
Alex cannot believe his people-who-he-hangs-out-with. "But Sean can't even walk in straight lines!" He isn't wailing, no matter what either of them will later claim.
They both ignore him, and after a while Sean says: "also, no one even has CD collections anymore. It's all iTunes and shit."
"Hank looked more like a vinyl guy to me," Angel muses. "He looks oldschool. He probably sends letters and everything."
Alex bangs the back of his head against the wall. "How are any of these things things that make him cooler than me?"
Angel pats him patronisingly on the knee as she reaches for the popcorn, and Sean provides: "your life is made of emo tears, dude."
"I hate everything about today," Alex mumbles, covering his face with his hands. "Especially you two."
"Oh," Angel says, "does this mean we're not invited to the wedding?"
Alex only doesn't throw popcorn at her because she'd probably stake him in his sleep.
"Hello, Alex," Hank says.
This is so beyond not fair it needs a whole new scoring system. Alex is going to have to find an appropriately melodramatic way to kill himself because Angel and Sean are going to mock the fuck out of him later.
Vampires are predators, okay, and they're adapted to wandering around at night blending in with the shadows and not letting their prey know that they're there until it's too late. Sure, the human might feel a little nervous, a crawling of the skin they can't quite place, but they won't be able to spot the vampire until the vampire wants them to. That's how it works, how it's always worked, and Alex is actually genuinely fucking good at it.
He's starting to think he's going to have to just label Hank as his nemesis and be done with it.
"Is there any special reason you're on the roof of the ER?" Hank adds cheerfully, like this is a perfectly normal question he asks on a regular basis.
For all Alex knows he does. And then he remembers that that bit really isn't the issue at hand.
It's two a.m. and Alex is on the roof of the ER and Hank can see this.
"I was thinking of jumping?" he suggests, because it's the only thing that comes to mind.
Hank nods thoughtfully. "Alright," he says. "I see you thought to go to Starbucks before giving in to your suicidal urges."
Alex has no idea when his existence got to so completely stupid. "Wanted one last latte?" he suggests.
Hank sticks his hands in his pockets, streetlights reflecting off his glasses as he looks up at Alex. "It's a single-storey building," he says. "Chances are you'd just break a lot of bones."
Alex thinks about accidentally-on-purpose dropping his coffee on Hank, and then gets distracted by a whole train of unwelcome soaking-wet-Hank thoughts, and by the time he realises Hank is still waiting for a response of some kind all he's got is: "vertigo?"
Hank swallows a laugh, mouth shivering deliciously (no, Alex forcibly reminds his brain, no part of Hank is delicious apart from his blood, which is probably pretty nice because Hank is almost definitely conscientious enough to eat things with actual vitamins in them periodically) and says: "right. Would you like me to fetch you someone from psych?"
"Not really," Alex says.
Hank nods, looking thoughtful. "Okay." He walks back inside again.
Alex exhales heavily even though he doesn't breathe anymore because sometimes there are just moments when a really good sigh is the only thing that works, and tries to work out what he's going to do now, other than stake himself/get Angel to stake him on his behalf/move to another state.
The door to the roof opens a few minutes later and Hank appears in a shaft of golden light and oh, Alex hates the universe basically a lot.
"I'm here to talk you down," Hank announces. "And I also brought snacks."
You couldn't make this shit up; Alex is pretty certain Sean is not going to believe him later, and maybe he just shouldn't tell him, because I told him I was suicidal and he went to a vending machine for me is always going to sound pretty fucking weird. When he doesn't say anything for a long moment, Hank adds: "I also kind of need a break, so if you could maybe not be talked down until I've had time for a coffee I'd appreciate it."
Alex raises an eyebrow. "You want to abuse my potential mental breakdown so you can play hooky?"
Hank shrugs. "Are you having a potential mental breakdown?" he asks.
"...I haven't decided yet," Alex allows. He decides not to correct it to it's basically all your fault.
"I brought you an extra coffee?" Hank offers. "I'm not sure how you take it, but I've got cream and sugar with me."
There's an almost-nervous edge in his smile and Alex says: "fine, I'll think some more about jumping."
"Thanks," Hank says, walking over and handing him a paper cup. He looks thoughtful and then perches on the low wall running around the edge of the roof. Alex debates for a minute and then sits down next to him. He thinks about saying something clichéd like we've got to stop meeting like this except that none of this has been a coincidence and he's pretty sure the only way this month could get worse would be if a restraining order was added into the mix.
"So why are you really up here?" Hank asks after a while, offering him a half-smile.
Alex takes a sip of his coffee, frowns, and accepts the packet of sugar Hank offers him. "You don't believe in my suicidal urges?" Hank just keeps staring so Alex adds: "fine, it was a bet."
"Right," Hank says. "Okay. I'm not sure I want to know any more." He ducks his head, smile flickering at the corners of his mouth, and Hank really needs to enjoy looking at him less, that would make all this a lot easier. "Have you at least won the bet?"
"Yes," Alex says, because he should get to win something tonight.
It's all a bit surreal, the both of them sipping hot coffee under a shining silver moon, and after a few minutes Hank produces candy bars from the pocket of his white coat and they end up discussing how his night his going and it's all like something out of a terrible romantic comedy movie and Alex doesn't even really care. Mostly he likes the softness of Hank's laugh, the way his hair falls in his eyes a bit too much, and the way they're having an actual conversation and Hank hasn't started giggling and asking him to bite him yet.
"You've got-" Alex begins and then realises he's committed and he has to go through with it, reaching to smudge chocolate from Hank's bottom lip, and the way Hank automatically sucks his lip into his mouth and ducks his head afterwards is almost gratifying. It's too dark to tell, but Alex is pretty sure he's blushing. He makes a mental note to tell Sean and Angel that Hank is nowhere near as cool as they both seem to think he is before he remembers that they're not being told any part of this because it's all a bit too stupid and doesn't show him in the best of lights. Sure, stalking is basically the number one vampire hobby and no one's really questioned it until now but still, it all smacks of obsession and Alex is really not in the mood for the appropriate white opera mask.
"Um," Hank begins, the word wavering a little, "Alex, do-"
His pager goes off, startling them both, and they remember simultaneously that the edge of the roof is not really the place to jump in shock and start laughing. Hank looks at the screen of his pager, squinting slightly, and sighs. "I need to go."
"What happens if I move onto the roof of the actual hospital?" Alex asks. "That's, like, a lot of floors."
"Then psych actually get called in," Hank says, "and no one brings you a Milky Way."
"Pity," Alex sighs. "I was thinking maybe I'd never have to buy candy again."
Hank grins, wide and ridiculous and so freaking dorky and Alex is startled by how much he wants to kiss him. "Patients are dying," he says. "I assume, anyway." Hank grimaces and nods, waving a vague hand in farewell at him before he's heading back inside.
Alex has no idea how to feel about any of this anymore.
The thing about being a vampire is that you tend not to get things like nervous or socially awkward anymore because, well, the worst has already happened and, contrary to what television would have people believe, no one goes around staking them on long boring nights because they've got some kind of crazy vengeance thing going on when really they'd be better off having therapy and being kept away from sharp things. There's not a lot of point in getting nervous about things when you're dead and, if pushed to it, can rip a guy's throat out with your teeth.
So Alex has no idea why he's bordering on anxious for this particular ER trip, shaky hands and worried thoughts, and it's just as well he doesn't have a heartbeat anymore because he feels like it would probably be pounding, and all of this is so ridiculously embarrassing it's just as well he's stopped telling Sean the details (although this hasn't stopped him from sending Alex texts containing bright, cheerful messages like How's Operation: Be A Stalking Stalker Who Stalks going?).
"Dude," Bobby says - he's an old what-sort-of-passes-for-friend who hands himself over every couple of months because he likes being bitten, just not in a fetish-y way, no, really, you just don't get it, Alex - "you're, like, jumpy."
Alex wishes Bobby was still rendered virtually unconscious by blood drinking like most people are, because that would be so much easier, although he doesn't say it aloud because it's kind of nice for Bobby to pretend he's got an uncontrollable love of bar fights to the doctors in order to help him out.
"I'm not jumpy," Alex responds tersely, keeping his eyes on his hands, while around them people cry and doze and assure each other that things will be alright.
"Also bitchy," Bobby says, flicking idly through a magazine. His fingers are stained with dried blood that spilled from where Alex bit into his wrist and he looks too pale, and Alex watches him for a while to avoid looking towards the actual ER.
He's not apprehensive about something that doesn't even matter, jeez.
"Mr Drake?" says a pretty blonde doctor, a long night in her posture, and Bobby looks up and smiles. Alex bites down a scowl because it doesn't even matter who treats his meals, really. She turns to Alex. "Are you-"
"He's leaving," Bobby says, as Alex says: "Yeah, I'm with him."
He ignores Bobby's urgent, wide hang on what the fuck are you doing eyes all the way into an exam room, where Dr Darkholme - which sounds appropriately melodramatic, Alex can appreciate that - disappears off to do something Alex wasn't listening to anyway.
"What is wrong with you?" Bobby demands. "You never stay, that's kind of the whole point, and don't tell me you've developed some kind of insta-crush on the doctor because I know you have a type and that doesn't include her."
Alex hates everything about his life up to and including the bit where it isn't actually even a life but there's no technical term for what it actually is.
"I," Alex says, and then finds he has nothing to follow that up with.
"Oh good," Bobby says. "If you're having some kind of psychological breakdown could you maybe go away and have it somewhere that doesn't involve me, because I've already bled out enough for one night."
"Fine," Alex mutters. "I hope they have no blood of your type left and they have to keep you here all night."
Bobby smiles. "See you in a few, Alex."
Alex passes Dr Darkholme on the way back but doesn't stop to answer her question; she smells overwhelmingly like fruity shower gel and it kind of makes his brain hurt. Instead, he makes his way towards the main desk, eyes skimming quickly over the crowded whiteboard covered in stereotypically messy doctor handwriting to establish that, after all this, Hank isn't even in the ER this evening. Not that Alex even cares or anything (and god, he wishes he could still lie to himself about that).
He stops dead in the middle of the ER, looking back over his shoulder. Unlike what Twilight would have everyone believe, vampires can't smell everyone's individual blood types or anything, because that would be creepy and weird and stuff, but they do have heightened senses of smells because they're predators, after all. And Alex's brain finally connects that smell of girly fruity shower gel that was all over Dr Darkholme to something, because he knows that smell. It's the exact same thing Hank smells of.
Alex only doesn't punch through the nearest wall because it's been a really long night and he doesn't think he can handle any more fallout.
"I hate everything," Alex informs Darwin as he opens the door, "and everyone seems to find it really funny and, really, I deserve sympathy and you're basically the only person who isn't crap to me all the time."
"What's up?" Darwin replies, and: "you do remember how we're not actually dating any more, right?"
They were never really properly dating, mostly they just had lots of Chinese takeouts and sex, but Alex doesn't bring that bit up because whatever it was it was awesome until it wasn't and they're both basically over it now. He's also not really sure how to sum up what's actually happening right now without sounding like a loser ("but you are a loser," Angel keeps telling him; she spends far too much time hanging out at Sean's apartment these days and Alex can't work out if she's just there to torment him or if there's something else going on that no one's going to ask about because Angel is still the most terrifying ever).
"Is this about the med student thing?" Darwin asks eventually.
"He's an intern," Alex corrects, and then stares in horror. "How do you-"
"I think the only word to describe Sean at the moment is gleeful," Darwin informs him with a smirk, reaching sideways to grab his coat. "Come on then."
"Are we going to kill Sean?" Alex asks. "Because, you know, that would be awesome."
Darwin rolls his eyes. "I'm being a good ex and taking you out to drown your sorrows over your prospective new ex."
"Oh," Alex says. "Right. Hang on. That's really fucking depressing."
Darwin flashes him that grin that sometimes makes Alex wish they'd managed to make it work after all, claps him on the shoulder, and heads for the stairs.
Alex doesn't know the bar Darwin takes him to, but that's cool; Darwin's always been better at actually blending in with humans, being intensely likeable until they get over how much he disconcerts them, and so tends to go to places a lot more populated and better-lit than the places Alex and Sean tend to hang out.
"Next time, it's a strip club," Darwin informs him cheerfully. "I'll buy you three drinks and then you're on your own."
"Best worst ex ever," Alex says, and Darwin smirks into his beer.
It's a little too crowded in here and Alex is sort-of relieved to find that something about him must still be working because people edge away from his bar stool, cramming into each other to avoid having to brush against him. There seem to be about six different birthday drinks parties going on and a load of other people and he feels uncomfortable around so much humanity, crowding in around him. He's starting to think about suggesting they go somewhere else where they don't have to shout at each other to be heard when he looks over Darwin's shoulder and spots the group of people who all have the tired-to-the-point-of-insanity expressions that only interns wear, and a minute later spots Dr Darkholme, sitting comfortably on Hank's lap and laughing.
He bites through his glass.
"Man," Darwin says, following Alex's eyeline, "Sean was not lying, you've got it bad."
"Shut up," Alex mutters, draining his drink and then accidentally-on-purpose elbowing it onto the floor to destroy the evidence.
"Your life is so hard," Darwin murmurs, rolling his eyes, and orders them both more drinks.
Alex keeps his gaze determinedly in front of him because he's really not interested in finding out any more about Hank and his apparently gorgeous blonde girlfriend, so the first he finds out that Hank's been sent to order more drinks is when he hears the startled: "...Alex?"
He doesn't want to look, he doesn't want to look, but he can't stop himself from turning. Hank is a little flushed, hair still a mess but in a way that's prettier than when he's working, and he isn't wearing a tie for once. Alex has no idea what to do with himself. It's kind of the worst thing ever.
"Hi," he manages, and it comes out a little strangled but luckily it's loud enough in here to cover that. "Um. What are you doing here?"
Hank smiles, ducking his head a little and oh, Alex really needs to stop finding all of this endearing. "I was about to ask you the same question, actually."
Alex has no response to that, because apparently I can now stalk you unintentionally isn't really a good answer, and he's desperately trying to think of something when Darwin leans over him, offering a hand and saying: "Hi, I'm Armando, I'm Alex's boyfriend."
Alex turns to look at him so fast he hears something in his neck click, but Darwin is just looking friendly and cheerful and not like he's being a complete asshole. He's dimly aware of Hank shaking Darwin's hand and it takes him a long moment to turn back around.
Hank is actually blushing now and won't meet Alex's eye. "Right," he says, stumbling over the word in a way he hasn't until now, "um, well, it was, um, nice to see you?" He smiles weakly, lips shivering, eyes on his shoes. "I'll, um, yeah."
Alex waits until he's disappeared down the bar to buy drinks before turning to Darwin. "What the actual fuck?"
Darwin is grinning to himself, looking far too happy about things. "Did you see that?"
"I saw you being an ass," Alex snaps.
"That's a matter of opinion," Darwin says, shrugging, because he's permanently unflappable. "But the important bit is that he likes you back, Alex, so you should probably stop being so ridiculous about all this."
Alex blinks a few times. "...what?"
"I know you were too busy staring at me like a loser," Darwin says, "but you should've seen your boy's face when I told him he were dating. He's got it bad for you. So, you know, you should go deal with that sometime."
"You just told him I have a boyfriend," Alex reminds him, in case they're forgetting about the actual problem at hand.
"So?" Darwin shrugs. "Tell him I'm delusional or an ass and you were too surprised to correct me in time or something."
Alex turns this information over in his head. It's still too loud and crowded in here and Hank's already back with his friends. "...you knew this was the bar the interns drink in," he says slowly.
Darwin grins. "Don't say I never did anything nice for you."
The plan was that Alex wasn't going to tell Sean any of this, but he forgot about the part where Darwin and Sean apparently spend their time being bitchy teenage girls and calling each other up to discuss Alex's lovelife, and Alex would really like to know where he can get new friends from sometime soon. Anyway, Sean starts plaguing him about going to fix things using increasingly confusing metaphors, and then, when Alex doesn't go anywhere, complains about how he and Angel are planning a spring wedding and Alex had better hurry up before they lose the timeslot.
"I hate you," Alex informs him, and Sean just shrugs and says: "what are your feelings on lilies?"
Anyway, when all of that got tiresome Sean informed Alex that he was going to go to the ER and deal with this for him, and Alex is pretty sure the only thing worse than being rejected by Hank would be Sean getting rejected on his behalf, so he's manned up and taken himself down here even though he would kind of prefer to just stay at home listing all the reasons Darwin is wrong wrong wrong and this is all going to end in tears.
Hank is leant on the reception desk, coffee in one hand and a chart in the other, biting his lower lip in a way that's intensely distracting, Dr Darkholme next to him laughing about something. Alex should probably stop irrationally hating her sometime because he totally doesn't kill people any more even though he'd like to make an exception, but there's something about the easy, happy way she's in Hank's space that makes his teeth a little sharper.
"Stop it, Raven," Hank murmurs, smile fond, and Alex's brain is torn between something horribly teenage girl about how pretty Hank's smile is and something sarcastic along the lines of who calls their child Raven, really? Raven pushes herself upright and smacks Hank's ass on the way past to make him jump, and Alex reconsiders murder again. Anyway, there's clearly no point to him being here, so he turns away a second too late, because Hank looks up just in time and calls, startled: "Alex?"
Alex keeps walking but Hank follows him anyway, catching his arm just as he gets out the doors. "Alex, are you alright? What- what are you doing here?"
Alex shrugs him off and Hank pulls back immediately like he's been burned. "It doesn't matter," he says.
Hank bites his lip. "I just... before you go, I just wanted to apologise if I was out of line," he begins. "I- I didn't know you had a boyfriend, or I would never have-"
"Darwin's not my boyfriend," Alex says, because even though he needs to get out of this situation he hates the awkward, anxious expression on Hank's face. "He's just an asshole who thinks he has a sense of humour."
"Oh," Hank says, and Alex is beginning to think he enjoys it when Hank blushes just a little too much. "Oh. Right. Um."
"Anyway," Alex says, "I should probably go."
"Wait," Hank says, putting a hand on his shoulder again to turn him back around and no one touches Alex, they just don't, they know on an instinctive level not to but that doesn't seem to affect Hank because the next thing Alex knows Hank is kissing him. It's clumsy and their teeth clash and Hank tastes like sleep deprivation and coffee and Alex is too startled to kiss back with any sort of finesse and it's the best kiss he's ever had, fuck.
Hank pulls back and his lips are shining in the light spilling out of the ER and all Alex really wants to do is kiss him and get it actually right this time, when Hank smiles this absolutely gorgeous smile and says, softly: "Alex."
And all of a sudden everything rushes into his head; he's a fucking vampire and Hank is a human and Hank has no fucking idea about any of it and it's really, really unfair to do this to him when he thinks he's possibly getting a boyfriend out of all this and Alex can't do that, it won't work, it can't work, this isn't a fucking Twilight novel, and oh, this isn't fair.
"I have to go," he says, even though he feels like the worst kind of asshole, and refuses to look back.
"I wash my hands of this," Angel says, lounging back against Sean with her feet in Darwin's lap, looking all queenly and bored and shit.
"Why are all of you here?" Alex asks, frozen in his doorway. He has no idea how they all got into his apartment because he's been very careful about not letting any of them have spare keys and he has especially no idea where they got the popcorn from.
"It was going to be an intervention," Sean says with big shiny crazy eyes, "but then we remembered you're annoying when you're getting laid, so we're just here for the mocking."
"We brought snacks," Angel adds, and seriously, Alex has no idea why he knows any of these people.
"I'm not annoying when I'm getting laid," he offers, scowling.
"Remember how I kicked you out?" Sean says brightly, while Darwin just laughs and Alex isn't in the mood for any of this, he isn't. It's been a week and suddenly avoiding a place he never had cause to go to has gotten all difficult all of a sudden and while he really doesn't want to use the word "angst" as either a noun or a verb it's kind of getting to the point where it's actually the only relevant thing to describe this emotion.
"I really, really don't want to do this," he says quietly instead of rising to the bait. "So, if we could, you know, not, that would be the first awesome thing to happen in forever."
Darwin props his chin on his hand. "Didn't you have the best kiss ever a few days ago?"
"You are not allowed to use words against me that I said when I was so drunk I couldn't walk and tried to flirt with a phone booth," Alex points out.
Darwin grins; his teeth look especially sharp. "You didn't flirt," he corrects, "you tried to hug it and you cried and told it you were in love with someone with lamentably bad hair. I was kind of impressed you managed the four syllable word."
"I repeat: could we not?" Alex says.
Angel's usual look of casual disdain looks heightened. "The boy who ran doesn't get to dictate anything."
Alex opens his mouth but Sean's scrambling off the sofa in a blur of lurching and indignity and unexpected enthusiasm, saying: "oh my God, Alex, you have to fix your shit, okay?" Alex blinks patiently because if you wait long enough with Sean he usually manages to figure out what he's actually meant to be saying. "Like, Hank, dude."
Hank's name hurts a little bit. It's the worst ever.
"I don't-" Alex begins, but Sean is apparently not done.
"Like, what if he never reaches out to anyone ever again?" Sean demands in a voice that actually screams italics. "Like, he might be afraid of relationships and become a shut-in and live in a house with, like, cats and he'll be all mumbly and small children will TP his house on Halloween and one day he'll get a shotgun and-"
"I think what Sean's trying to say is that you're basically a dick," Angel cuts in smoothly. "Although I actually wouldn't put the shut-in thing past Hank because, you know, he picked out those glasses for himself."
Alex blinks at them some more.
"Hank deserves an explanation," Darwin adds after a while. "People get complexes about these things."
"Also you don't get your apartment back until you do it," Sean says helpfully.
They all glare at him until Alex sighs and says: "fine. Fine. I'm getting new friends as of tomorrow, just so you know."
"Good luck with that plan," Sean mutters, clambouring awkwardly back onto the sofa without crushing Angel or the popcorn.
Alex sighs and goes.
"I'm with a patient," Hank says, doing an impressive job of keeping his voice steady; Alex would almost believe it except that Hank is staring down at the chart and his knuckles have gone white.
"Do you get visitors like this often?" said patient chirps, chin propped on her hands, grinning brightly at him. Alex misses the days when he was scary and didn't make people think mancandy at any point when he was present.
"No," Hank says firmly. "I do not get visitors ever. I am not having a visitor now."
The patient tips her head to one side. "Can I have this visitor then?"
Hank huffs a little bit and says to his patient: "I'll be right back."
He grabs Alex's elbow on the way past, fingers digging in a little bit too hard, and drags him into what seems to basically be a closet full of drugs. Alex is sure it has a technical name but his brain is too busy freaking out and thinking other things like HANK. ENCLOSED SPACE. in big neon letters.
"Well?" Hank demands.
"Look," Alex begins, "so, I've been kind of a dick, but, um, I can explain. Really." Hank stays quiet, waiting, and Alex finally manages to fumble out: "I'm a vampire."
Hank says nothing. He doesn't laugh, he doesn't freak out, he doesn't ask for further information. He just stands there, and eventually sighs: "...and?"
It takes Alex a moment to get it, and when he does his guilt turns into immediate anger. "You already knew?" he asks. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"You didn't tell me," Hank points out. "When you didn't bring it up I just assumed you knew I knew."
"Why would I assume you knew?" Alex asks, and then forces himself to take breaths he doesn't need and thinks about it. "So that's why you're not scared of me, then."
"People are ever scared of you?" Hank does a very bad job of swallowing down his smile. "Oh. Sorry. What I supposed to be all oh, Alex, you're so mysterious and scowling and sexy, please take me?"
"I have no idea why I like you," Alex says. "In fact, I'm thinking of not liking you any more. You have no redeeming features."
Hank adjusts his glasses slightly. "I'm sorry. I could start being scared now if you like?"
Alex folds his arms and leans back against the shelves, hoping they don't collapse and shower him with painkillers because that can only really make this worse.
"Why aren't you scared of me?" he's not whining, he's not whining, he's not whining. "I mean, okay, you might be used to my pheromones, but vampires are dangerous."
"You've been coming into the ER at least three times a month with injured people for over a year now," Hank tells him. "I figured if you were following the Brotherhood path of All Humans Should Die and Be Turned Into Pudding you wouldn't be bothering."
Erik Lehnsherr is the leader of the amusingly named Brotherhood; he's appropriately angry-looking and wears a melodramatic cape that somehow manages not to be silly and also happens to be actually married to the Professor. Alex has no idea how they haven't killed each other; he's torn between being desperate to know what their sex life is like, and being utterly terrified of the answer.
"Oh." Alex says, because there doesn't seem to be much else to say. "So, you're, like, informed?"
"I've dated vampires before," Hank says, not even having the decency to look apologetic. "And I maybe swapped charts with Raven that night so I could finally meet you."
Alex stares at him some more. "I hate you," he says blankly. "Just... you could have mentioned some of this."
"I have a patient to see," Hank says, still looking frustratingly unrepentant. "But, you know, I'm pretty sure no one's going to come in here if you want to carry on sulking."
Alex pushes past and goes to sulk in triage, just to spite him.
He's not sure why he's so angry; maybe it's just the realisation that he's looked like even more of an idiot to Hank than he knew, and that something very simple has been made stupidly complicated. He's not sure what it is, but he's basically seething.
"I shouldn't even be this bothered," he mutters aloud.
The very very blonde woman sitting opposite him - who's wearing a white bikini and a raincoat for no logical reason, WTF - raises a disinterested eyebrow.
"No, but really," Alex tells her. "He's just a guy, right?"
"They're always just guys, honey," she says, and somehow manages to make the endearment sound like the worst kind of insult. She might even be able to give Angel tips.
"He's not even that pretty," Alex explodes, which comes out sounding like a lie. "And he likes me for wha- who I am, and he's stupidly smart and wears fucking sweater vests and I still want to see him naked, like, a lot." He sighs. "My life is the worst."
Disinterested Blonde Woman's eyebrows lift even higher. "I have no idea why you're still sitting here," she says.
Alex thinks about it some more. "Oh my God," he says, and makes a dash for the ER.
"Have to borrow your doctor again," he informs the not-at-all-displeased-looking patient, grabbing Hank's arm and dragging him out.
"I'm trying to work-" is all Hank manages to get out before Alex kisses him. It's a good kiss; much better than the last one, and at some point Alex gets shoved up against the wall and he gets the feeling they're being watched by at least eight patients who are lying around on gurneys and therefore cannot get away, and he doesn't even care. Hank is an insanely good kisser considering he still kind of looks like he's all the worst kinds of socially awkward, and Alex can't help but think this bodes really really well.
"I get off at six-thirty," Hank says breathlessly when he eventually pulls back and, oh yeah, people still need to breathe, Alex had kind of forgotten about that part. He contemplates saying something like here's hoping and then gets the feeling Hank would actually call the whole thing off if he did.
"Great," he says instead, "I have some people I need to kick out of my apartment."
Alex wakes up at sundown to find Hank in nothing but boxer shorts attempting to towel-dry his hair, and there's a steaming mug of coffee on the nightstand.
"Sorry," Hank says, face screwed up and looking slightly weird without his glasses, "I've got to get to work. I already tried to call in sick and Raven called me a string of insulting things so I figure it's probably not a good idea."
Remembering Raven takes all the afterglow out of Alex. "Right," he says flatly.
Hank sighs and the next thing Alex knows he's back on the bed with him. "Have we discussed the part where Raven's my roommate yet?" Hank asks. "I mean, I could tell you later because jealousy sex is awesome, but I'm already running late, so. Maybe not."
Alex huffs a little and Hank leans to kiss him, slow and wet and deep and thorough, and, okay, this is going to sound terrible and a little bit psychopathic, but Alex had completely forgotten just how warm humans are. He leans into, it, fingers curling into Hank's damp hair and, fine, he maybe owes his friends flowers or something because this is totally better than all the other alternatives. Hank finally pulls back, pressing light kisses to his bottom lip, making a soft sound of regret.
"I have to go to work," he says.
"I'm going to hate your job, aren't I?" Alex sighs, slumping back into the sheets again and, okay, ouch, the skin of his shoulder is really kind of sore. "Damn, I thought I was the one who was supposed to be biting you," he mumbles.
Hank grins, one of the quick and filthy ones Alex has only just learned he has in his repertoire, gone in an instant, and returns to trying to re-find his clothes. Alex contents himself with the fact Hank looks wonderfully walk-of-shame and will have to wear yesterday's clothes all night, because there's a sense of pride and I did that about it all.
"You could always come back here after work," he offers, light and careful as he can manage even though he's always been really terrible at being careful.
Hank smiles slightly. "Am I going to get back here to find you still in the process of trying to throw your friends out by chucking popcorn at them?"
"No," Alex replies, "because I will have staked them."
When Hank's left on a kiss tasting of coffee and the ridiculously athletic sex they had earlier, Alex gets a text from Sean. So, when are you having the mutant baby thing?
Alex tries to reply with something scathing and then finds that he's still too full of the afterglow. It's kind of the best worst thing ever.