Disclaimer: Marvel owns several of them, JossWhedon and Fox the others. Shadowlands was a concept created by Alicia Mc. No money is derived from this fanfiction. (The song at the end isn't mine, either. Well, the tune isn't.)

Rating: PG/13

Dedication: Happy (slightly late) birthday, my Kosling!

Headaches in the Morning

by Ana Lyssie Cotton

In the blink of an eye, she was gone. As if she'd never existed. Her smiling face, her dark and slightly insane eyes... Crystal had washed over them, and she was gone.

He threw back his head and screamed into the night, loss and rage echoing up into the sudden cliffs above him.

"GAH! Shut up, you idiot! I've got a headache."

A wordless snarl left his lips, and he whirled to face the man who'd spoken.

He was the same height, nearly the same build. Their clothes differed slightly. The other man wasn't wearing a black leather trenchcoat. He merely wore a black catsuit of some sort. It shimmered slightly.

A shock of blond hair was smoothed back in an attempt to be tamed. If it was anything like Spike's, it was merely lying in wait for that moment when no one was looking. Then it would divide itself up and split into individual clumps that would only be noticed when there was something elegant about.

"Bite me."

"No thanks." The man turned away from him, rubbing at his forehead.

Spike considered his options, even while some part of him mourned Drusilla. He could bite the guy, maybe get a decent meal. Or he could actually ask him questions.

Knowledge was of far more importance than food. For now.

"Hey."

The man glanced at him, "Oh. You're still here. I thought you'd go away."

"Not that lucky, mate."

"You *are* a halucination, aren't you?"

"Uh, no. Definitely not."

"Oh. Well, I couldn't be sure. My head is *killing* me."

"Better than me killing you."

"...yeah. Probably."

"Look. Sorry, mate. We got off on the wrong foot." Spike considered, "You don't have a smoke on you, do ya?"

"No. I made Dai hide his from me two days ago. He disappeared not long after that." The man considered, "I'm Alex."

"Spike."

He nodded, "So, Spike, what brings you to this neck of the woods?"

"Dunno."

"How sad. I don't either."

"Aw, bloody 'ell."

"Yeah."

Silence fell for a bit, both lost in apparent thoughts of other places and people. Spike broke it, suddenly hopeful. "Got any booze?"

"Nope."

"Bloody. Hell."

"Yeah."

--

Dawn broke over the tops of the cliffs, streamers of pale silver light slowly creeping down to touch the rocks on which the two men sat. Spike considered moving, but then decided he just didn't care. The sunlight would kill him, but Dru was already dead anyway.

It seemed fitting, somehow.

His companion shifted so he wasn't in the direct line of the sun that began filtering down, but otherwise stayed silent until midmorning.

"I've always liked sunrises. Lorna used to grumble at me when I'd drag her out of bed to go watch them on the roof of the X-Factor base. But she seemed to like them, eventually. Of course, I always had coffee for her--that probably made a difference." The voice was soft, diffident.

"The last sunrise I saw was almost 150 years ago."

"Really?" Alex blinked at him, "You're an External, then?"

"Nah." Spike straightened slightly, adopting a Pose. "I'm a vampire," he said, nonchalantly.

"Oh. Is it painful?"

"What?" Spike stared at him, "Are you a blithering idiot? 'Course it's not painful. 's like... bein' free. Livin' your life the way you want."

"And never seeing the sun rise."

"So. There's compensations." He shrugged, "You live with 'em."

Alex nodded, "I get that. I'm a mutant. Basically screwed from birth to live as an outcast among my own kind. Compensations. Yeah."

Spike pulled a pack of battered cigarettes from a pocket and lit one. He glanced at Alex. "Want one?"

"Nah. Don't smoke."

"I thought--"

"Dai smoked. I threatened to burn them all next time we had a fire."

"Ah."

"Spike..."

"Hrm?"

Alex gestured at the sunlight slowly creeping up the vampire's legs. "You're a vampire. I thought vampires and sunlight didn't mix."

"Don't."

"So..."

"Suicide."

"Painful."

"Burnin' in Hell is painful."

"Self-immolation, though..." Alex shook his head, "I don't get it. Why?"

"Drusilla." Spike sighed, "I'm gonna miss her. She was my everything."

"A woman. Right."

"Yeah."

Silence fell again. The sun crept higher in the sky until it was directly over the little glade, its full power shining down on the hapless vampire.

"Y'know," Alex said after a while, "I bet you burned as a child."

"How d'ya figure that?"

"The hair. You're very pale, too." He pondered, "I don't have any sunblock on me."

"And?"

"Well, since you don't seem to be bursting into flames at any time, why don't you get out of the direct sunlight?"

Spike pondered this, then shrugged and stubbed out his last cigarette. "Yeah. Sounds good. I'd hate to have a sunburn after all this time."

"I've got some water, if you're thirsty."

"Blood would be more filling."

"I wouldn't suggest trying," Alex replied evenly.

"No." Spike sighed as he flopped down under the shade. "Water's fine."

For now.

--

Alex Summers had gotten used to the vagaries of the shifts. In one world, pop out into another. And it's always different. Sometimes, the people who appear are those he knows. Other times, total strangers. If they were amenable, banding together seems to help in some way.

This time was no exception. A new place, a new companion. This one was a vampire, but Alex really didn't care anymore.

"So what do we do for fun and entertainment round here?"

"Survive."

"Sounds dead boring." The vampire flopped back on his rock, "I suppose I could eat you."

Alex rolled his eyes. Apparently, the blond had a bit of an ego problem. He had to continually state that he was cool and bad. "And then what would you do, go for a swim in the lake?"

"Could be amusing."

"It's infested with piranhas."

Spike rolled to look at him, "And you told me?"

"Why not?"

"Because I could have died, and you'd be safe."

"Oh. Gee, I didn't think of that."

Spike frowned at him, "No need to be sarcastic."

With a shrug, Alex stood, "No need for me to stay, either. Have fun in the sun, Mr. Vampire."

"Hang on!" Spike stood, too, "Don't leave yet, we're just getting to know each other."

"Yeah." Looking away from the suddenly needy vampire, Alex shrugged, "But I have places to go, people to see, shifts to fall into."

"And do what?"

"Fall into them."

Crossing his arms, Spike snorted, "You're not doing anything, then. Why don't you stay, have a cuppa?"

"In case you hadn't noticed, there's nothing to make tea in."

"True, but I'm sure we could find something, steal it maybe."

"In the middle of a forest."

"Well... There's a hitch, yeah. But we can work around that." Spike began to stride out of the sunlight and into the shadows under the trees. "C'mon, we haven't got all day."

"Just a lifetime," Alex muttered, giving in and following the rapidly disappearing leather jacket.

--

Green hair. Alex saw her before Spike did, and was stunned for a moment by her appearance. Slender, almost emaciated, her hair lank as it fell down her back in tangled ringlets. Her eyes were pale green, no lustre too them, and he felt his heart clench.

She saw them both, and her eyes passed over him, no recognition. But she did know Spike. "Spike!"

As the woman Alex had once known as Lorna Dane pounced on the vampire, it was obvious she knew him very well. The vampire shoved her back, his surprise evident. "Do I know you?"

"It's Lorna, Spike!" She touched his face, puzzlement in her eyes. "Do you not know me, beloved?"

The vampire coughed and backed further away. "Definitely not, pet."

"Lorna?"

She turned her pale eyes to Alex, "You know my name, and he does not. Curious."

"Probably." Alex looked at Spike, "Well, you've found someone else to irritate. I think I'll be going now."

"Not without me!" The vampire patted Lorna, "Nice to meet you, kid. Have a good life." Then he ran, following the swiftly disappearing back of Alex. He caught up shortly, "What's with the quick run, Alex?"

"I knew her." Alex replied shortly, wondering how soon he'd find another shift line.

"Ooooh. Old girlfriend, then. Sorry about that."

"Yeah."

"Still, you have to admit--under all the grime, she was a looker."

Alex shot him a look, "Drop it."

"All that long green hair... Mmm."

Grabbing the vampire by the arm, Alex shoved him against a tree. "I said DROP IT."

"OK, OK," as Alex released him, Spike fastidiously rolled his shoulders and brushed his sleeves off. "I was just pullin' your leg, no need to get tetchy."

"That wasn't anywhere near tetchy," Alex replied wryly.

"Right, so, this bird. She meant a lot to you, then."

"Yeah."

Turning away from him, Spike nodded, "Know the feeling. Let's get out of here."

--

At midday, they found a line of shimmering air. For a moment, both watched as it slowly crept towards them, turning things beyond it to a watery grey.

"Well, now that we've found one, what do we do with it."

"Step through it."

"Oh, well, if it's that easy," Spike stepped forward, one boot sliding into the shift as it moved over the grass under them.

Alex watched in fascination as the shift line seemed to pause, as if waiting for Spike to continue through it. He did, disappearing from sight a moment later. For a moment, he considered not following Spike. Then he discarded that idea as boring. Besides, this world seemed empty. Anything had to be better than it.

He stepped through.

Spike was smoking on the other side, the smoke drifting lazily into the cool evening air. "Thought you'd never get here."

"Anything interesting?"

The vampire gestured with his cigarette, "There seems to be a fire in that direction. Could be people."

"Lead on, then." Alex shivered as the cool air bit into the skin of his face and neck. "I really wish I'd kept that hat GW left behind."

"GW?"

Alex shook his head, "Let's make speed."

They walked quickly through the rocky, foresty terrain, Spike leading as his was the better nose. Shortly, they came to an upraised portion of rock, and went around it to the right. As they approached, light began flickering across the ground, and Alex nodded at the confirmation. "People." He glanced at Spike. "Behave yourself."

"Mind my manners, like a good boy." Spike snorted.

"Don't tell them you'll suck their blood, for instance."

"Oh, you under-estimate me terribly. I'd be hurt, but we're nearly there."

And they were. A step more, and the last obscuring bush was out of the way. A small fire crackled merrily in a shallow firepit, casting light on them and the pack that sat next to it. There was no sign of the person who had lit the fire, though there was a tiny cavelet under the overhang of the rock ledge.

"Well, that was anti-climactic."

"Indeed." Alex studied the fire and the pack, then stepped around them and peered into the cavelet. "Nothing. Maybe they stepped out for a smoke?"

Spike was silent.

"After all, they might have gone in search of dinner. Still, why leave the fire unattended?"

He turned to find Spike standing with his arms in the air. A man was behind him, the point of his arrow in Spike's back, his bow drawn and held leisurely, as if the man had all the time on the world for the two of them to die.

"Um. Hi." Alex said.

The man nodded at him, "Step away from the fire."

Following instructions and gestures, Alex went to stand against the wall. Spike joined him a moment later, and their captor studied them. To Alex, he was familiar in some way.

Abruptly, he relaxed the string and lowered the bow, "I thought so. You're Alex Summers."

"Yes?" Alex blinked, "You're vaguely familiar, but I can't really..."

"Clint." The man's lips twisted into a half-smile, "Hawkeye, in some circles."

"Oh. Right. The Avenger."

"Ex." He shook Alex's hand, "Who's the fairy?"

Spike yelped, "Hey! I'm right here!"

"This is Spike. He's a vampire."

"Oh, yeah, play nice, you said."

Alex shrugged, "What else should we do, lie to him?"

The vampire huffed and pulled out a cigarette, "I'm going to go smoke this. You two pansies can talk up a storm while I'm gone."

Waiting until he'd disappeared into the dark, Alex chuckled. "He's been fairly tame."

"Really." Clint snorted, "Vampire, huh."

"Well, he said he'd drink my blood."

"Ah." Fingering his bow, Clint nodded towards the fire, "There's some food if you're hungry."

"Thanks." Alex sat down next to the fire and sighed.

Clint moved around, spreading the small blanket from the pack out, and then sitting on it with his own sigh. "Think we can sleep with him around?"

"Sleep with who around?" Spike was back, smelling of cigarette smoke.

"You."

"Never fear, Captain America. I'm sleeping the sleep of the damned tonight." The vampire yawned elaborately. "'Sides, you probably taste funny."

"I'll take first watch," Clint volunteered, looking vaguely amused.

"Thanks."

"Yeah, yeah."

-finis?-

There's a question mark, because, well, there could be further adventures of the Three Blonds of Shadowlands....

One final note: To the tune of 'We Three Kings' maybe I'll finish it later (as well)....

We three blonds of Shadowlands are

Surviving well, we walk through the fire

Forest, river, piranhas and tigers

Slipping between the worlds.

Oh-oh, Shadowlands, she broke the worlds

Shadowlands, right through the earths

Cascading, slipping, never-ending

Time is not our mortal friend