Author's Note: A tag to Shallow Grave, because my mind simply refuses to leave it there.
Warning: Rated for strong language. I remember when I used to be afraid to use the word 'damn' in a fic. Oh, how far I've fallen.
It wasn't everyday he was the story. Alex looked up, pulling out a cigarette with shaking hands. They had wanted him at the hospital for another week, but he didn't like it there. It reminded him of Juliet, and she's something he'd rather not think about. Preferably ever again.
"Were you in a relationship with Juliet?"
Alex grimaced and then glared at Jeremy, his so-called friend. Only this wasn't like the times they had gone for beers after work, he knew that almost-manic gleam in Jeremy's eyes because he got the same one every time he was after a hot story. And he knew that Jeremy would have no trouble screwing him over, if it meant headlines. Betrayal was not new.
"Wasn't everyone?" he snapped. "We never fucked, if that's what you're after, and you can go ahead and quote me on that."
"Alex," Jeremy said, sighing. "Can we try to be civilized? You know how these things work, play along."
"It's not a fucking game anymore, though, is it?" Alex asked irritably. He took a long drag, and as he inhaled the smoke he relaxed a little and gave in--played along. "No, we weren't in a relationship. She was fucking David, though, mostly just to keep him from killing her, I'd find out later."
For the first time since he arrived, Jeremy glanced over at him with something like sympathy. "This is fucked, you know that right? God, Alex, what they did to you…"
Alex shrugged, nonchalant. He may have, maybe, made himself out to be the victim in all this, but he was good at spinning stories to a certain agenda, and he'd done more than that to keep himself out of prison. "Yeah, well, the lesson in all this is putting your flatmates through a psyche-evaluation before signing them on the lease."
Jeremy grinned a little. "I will be quoting you on that."
"Whatever," Alex said. "Just make sure you remember I'm the fucking innocent in all this."
"Of course," Jeremy said. "The police aren't pressing charges, anyway, right?"
"What the hell would they charge me with? Getting pinned to the fucking floor with a butcher knife?" Alex leaned back on the couch, feeling strangely like Cameron must have, in his interview. He would have been better off letting Cameron live here; they'd probably all still be blissfully ignorant of each other's insanity and grabbing pizza on Friday nights.
Then again, he wouldn't have a million stashed under his floor boards, either.
"Well, you did have knowledge of a criminal offense--"
Alex waved him off. "I knew something was going on, sure, David was losing his fucking mind and Juliet not much better, worse even, by the end--but I didn't know what, and I certainly didn't know about any money. I tried to call the police the moment I got it figured out--I was working the story, you know, and so David tried to kill me."
Jeremy frowned. "Yes, about the money. How much did you say it was?"
"A million or so," Alex said. "Juliet could barely lift the damn thing. She's probably living it up now, though, huh? What's a couple of murders for a suitcase full of money?"
"Despicable," Jeremy said with a nod.
Alex nodded empathetically. "Exactly. And I was bloody trying to defend her from David, too, but she knew I'd tell the police about the money, you know? And she wanted it, it was all either of them cared about."
Jeremy looked a little as though he thought the same might be true of him, but Alex knew there was no way to determine motives. It was his word against a dead man's and a missing fugitive, they had nothing else to believe and no proof to the contrary. He knew how this worked.
"Is it true that your roommate David was spying on you and Juliet?" Jeremy asked.
"Just look up," Alex said. "The psycho drilled holes in the fucking ceiling."
Jeremy looked up, and sure enough, there was an erratic set of holes in the center of the ceiling. He frowned. "Have you thought about moving?" he asked.
"Blood stains are notoriously hard to get out," Alex said, primly, "and the holes in the ceiling are bloody creepy, to be sure, but the location's great. I'm sticking around for now." Also, there's a million under the floor. Alex grinned over at Jeremy, who didn't seem to know how to take the smile.
"What about flatmates?" he asked. "Do you plan on finding new roommates now that you have the place alone?"
"Are you mad?" he asked incredulously. "After all this?"
"That's a no, then," Jeremy said, writing in his notebook.
Alex rubbed absently at the bandage on his shoulder, wincing when the pain flared up.
"Why is it that you didn't tell the police your fourth roommate had died right away?" Jeremy asked. "Isn't that obstruction of justice?"
"I told you, David and Juliet told me he left, that he was in a bad way, and had asked not to tell anyone he had been here to start with. I only wanted to help, you understand. If I had any idea what they were doing, obviously, I would have come forward immediately."
Alex watched Jeremy's reaction carefully; glad to see he was eating it up. It was just his good luck that a news reporter being the unlucky victim of greedy money hungry flatmates was good publicity.
"I mean honestly," Alex continued, "taking a dead man out to the woods and burying him without his hands or feet? It's sick, absolutely sick, and I can't believe they even thought of it."
Jeremy nodded. "It certainly is a sordid story, isn't it? But you're well now, right, Alex?"
Alex nodded, opening his mouth to release a stream of smoke. "Sure, yeah. I mean, I get nightmares and the such, but who wouldn't? I wish the fucking police would leave me alone, though. They seem to still believe I had more to do with this then I said."
Jeremy grinned broadly. "Well, after this story prints, you should be off the hook. People are going to love you, you're a hero, you know? And the police will probably just drop it and focus on their search for Juliet--the real villain in all this."
"As they should," Alex agreed vehemently. He was angrier at her than David, truth be told. David he had expected it from, but Juliet, that had come from nowhere. They could have left together, they would have had the money, and it would have been fine. She had gotten greedy, though, if this all hadn't been her plan from the start.
She hadn't counted on him, however, in any of many her plans. He's not really surprised; he's used to being underestimated.
Jeremy's voice pulled him back out of his thoughts. "You're sure you don't know where she would have gone?"
He knew exactly where she'd bought a ticket for, but if she was smart she would have gone somewhere else. Either way, he hadn't said a word about it. He didn't know if it was some bizarre loyalty to her, or the fact that if she was caught, she would most definitely tell the police this had all been his idea.
Not that he planned to be in a position where he could be found by anyone much longer. As soon as the story died down, became a vague idea in people's minds, he would be heading off somewhere far away and glamorous with enough money to more than last him the rest of his life.
"No," he said. "No idea. I don't get how her mind works, she's mad, absolutely mad, and I couldn't even make a guess." He put out the cigarette and got to his feet. "Is that it then? You should have enough for your story."
Jeremy got to his feet. "Yeah, sure, Alex. You get some rest."
Alex walked him out, and closed the door behind him. After it clicked closed the silence snuck in, under everything. He glanced up, watching the holes in the ceiling suspiciously as he made his way to his room. There was no one up there, anymore, he told himself. All that mattered was the story, the money, love and happiness for ever.
So who was he to complain that there was only one name now on the plaque beside the door? He had won, after all.