Eternal thanks to Moon for betaing despite a hectic schedule. Also, this fic wouldn't exist without your input, even if I didn't use the Alex you initially suggested.

This takes place approximately a year after the end of X-Files, though Alex is obviously still alive. Stranger things have happened. It also deals quite strongly with the events of the Angel finale.

Captive Audience

Alex shadowed the two men as they climbed the steps leading to a non-descript building. More accurately only one was a man. The other was a green demon of unspecified origins. He frowned, glaring at the shadows cast by the building when he saw movement. Something ghosted through the shadows and he thought for a moment that it was a large cat of some sort but it disappeared before he could be sure. It wasn't the first time he'd noticed it in the last while, but it had never been this apparent. Dismissing it from his mind he turned his attention back to the building.

There were several minutes of intense fighting within before everything went silent. It was only through years of enforced self-discipline that Alex remained hidden in the shadows of a building further down the street. Several tense moments later and the sound of two gunshots rang out in the quiet street. It was only when he saw the green demon exit the building and walk in the opposite direction that he made his way into the building himself.

He paused, listening for any sign of life, but heard nothing. The place was silent and Alex hoped that it was not because his quarry was gone. As he stepped further into the building the sharp smell of blood hit him, but familiarity made it easy to ignore. He made his way down the hallway and paused in the doorway. It was clear to him, as he watched the crimson pool spread slowly around his quarry, Lindsey McDonald, that the weeks he'd spent tracking the man might soon have been in vain.

Alex dropped down to his knees beside the man, resting his gun within easy reach. He pressed two fingers to Lindsey's neck and waited. Eventually he felt the too rapid and thready pulse. Leaning his ear to Lindsey's mouth he waited for signs of breathing. Finally he felt a faint breath. After seven long years of research and investigation he was not about to let his only lead die.

Moving quickly Alex shucked out of his coat and T-shirt with some difficulty. The coat he draped over Lindsey to try and retain some warmth. He flipped open his phone, dialled a number and then pressed it to his ear using his shoulder. After laying down next to the injured man, hoping to provide some much needed warmth, Alex pressed his bundled T-shirt against the more serious of the two bullet wounds.

"I've got your parcel," he said blandly when the call was answered, voice betraying none of his impatience. "There's some extensive damage to the packaging, so you might want to return it, but I think it's salvageable. When can you pick it up?" He paused, listening to the response. After reciting his location he let the phone drop, not willing to reduce pressure on the bullet wound long enough to disconnect the call.

A few minutes later Alex heard a car door slam and someone walk into the building. Alex turned to watch the door intently as the footsteps seemed to wander for several moments before coming in his direction. A man built like a football player stopped in the doorway and surveyed the scene waiting for Alex's permission before entering further. Alex nodded as he climbed awkwardly to his feet, retrieving his gun as he went.

"Doc sent me," the man informed him as he lifted the bag he was holding in emphasis. He quickly got to work making sure that Lindsey could be moved before he simply scooped the injured man into his arms and went out to his van. Alex followed close on his heels. The man settled Lindsey in the van, hooking him up to an IV and placing an oxygen mask over his mouth and nose.

Alex climbed in next to Lindsey, watching him intently for any signs of his condition worsening. Miraculously the man seemed to be holding steady. He was a long way from fine, but he wasn't getting any worse either.

Alex was acutely aware of the fact that it took almost ten minutes to reach their destination. They pulled into the garage of a suburban house and waited for the garage door to close behind them before the man opened the door and reached to check Lindsey's vitals once more. A tall, gaunt man who'd been standing in the doorway came and assisted the other man as they placed Lindsey on a gurney. The doctor nodded for his apprentice to take the injured man away. Alex had never learnt the doctor's name nor had he given his. Both preferred it that way. Clearly the doctor's newest apprentice was similarly inclined.

The doctor turned to Alex and indicated for him to follow with a jerk of his head. Alex was reluctant to leave Lindsey at this point, but he trusted the doctor as much as he trusted anyone.

The doctor led him to a small study where a laptop had already been set up to transfer money. Alex leaned over the screen and began to type. While having the man at his back made him uneasy he knew that the doctor wouldn't leave until the transfer was complete. The doctor always wanted the money upfront. He never performed surgery without it.

"The usual fee?" Alex asked, to which the taller man nodded sharply. He knew that he would be required to pay the same amount whether Lindsey lived or died, but the doctor was one of the best he knew. The only reason he wasn't still practising legally was his penchant for experimentation, but as long as he patched Alex up from time to time, Alex wasn't going to hold it against him.

He transferred the money and stepped away from the laptop. Alex had a number of accounts with varying amounts of money. Some of the money was payment for his work, some from stolen artefacts and paintings and some was siphoned off from companies he knew would hardly miss it. The doctor moved in and verified the transfer before leaving silently. Alex followed at a more moderate pace. The doctor stopped him at the top of the basement stairs.

"My operating theatre is sterile," he informed Alex and his expression, though blank, seemed to convey distaste at Alex's appearance. It took Alex a moment to remember the sticky blood that covered his arms and chest and stained his jeans. "Bathroom's to the left."

Alex paused, ready to challenge the taller man, before falling back. He knew better than to argue with the doctor about his operating theatre. He entered the bathroom to find an old and threadbare towel and an equally old, faded tracksuit. Thankfully, both were clean, but Alex was hardly in a position to argue.

Alex stripped with a little difficulty, unstrapped his prosthesis and stepped into the warm spray, letting it wash away the blood and sweat. Impatience, and the fact that he always felt unprotected without his weapons, pulled him from beneath the water.

Working the awkward straps took some effort, but Alex was well used to the task after seven years. He dressed in the tracksuit and made his way down to the basement. There was a lower basement level, which he'd never seen and never really had the inclination to explore, but the basement proper was more than familiar to him. He moved to a dark corner where he stood silently, watching as the doctor and his apprentice worked on Lindsey. It was clear from the intense concentration of both men that this was not going to be simple.

Some time later the machines attached to Lindsey settled into a constant, high-pitched whine. The doctor grabbed the paddles, spoke a quick "clear" and pressed them to the dying man's chest. Lindsey jolted with the shock, but the steady whine continued. Alex took several steps forward before he stopped himself. In that moment the only thing that he needed in the world was for Lindsey to live. Every fibre of his being was geared at willing the man's lungs to inflate, his heart to beat. Alex watched anxiously as it happened three more times.

"Clear," the doctor said again, defibrillating Lindsey once more. The first beat startled them all, but by the time the second came the doctor and his apprentice were working swiftly to stabilise Lindsey and remove the second bullet.

Alex moved out of the basement as silently as he'd entered once they'd begun to stitch the incisions closed. He knew everything he needed to for the moment. Lindsey was alive, though whether or not he'd stay that way was another matter entirely.

Alex watched as Lindsey shifted a little before letting out a pained groan. His movements had increased as the sedative was reduced. It was time to see if there was any further damage before he was moved. Blue eyes blinked open, trying to take in everything about his surroundings, even through the haze of drugs. Eyelids closed of their own accord before they were dragged open again.

"Where'm I?" he slurred, looking in Alex's general direction. Alex remained where he was, half hidden in shadows.

"Safe, for now," he replied.

" 'S not hell 'gin izit?" Lindsey asked, eyes drifting shut again. Alex made no reply, though he did file away the information. He waited for Lindsey to fall asleep again. Clearly Lindsey was unable, or unaware enough, to remain awake for an answer.

Alex stepped forward and stared down at the other man's features. He'd done a lot over the course of his lifetime for one reason or another, most of them immoral, and yet he found himself unwilling to force the answers he wanted – needed – from Lindsey.

Lindsey eased into a natural sleep, the first time since his ordeal that his conscious mind had not been dulled or suppressed by drugs. He dreamed.

All around him were the crumbling remains of a city, though he couldn't see any identifying features that would place it. There was only massive steel and concrete carcasses and shattered glass. The silence was oppressive but he was loath to break it.

A grey fox sat at his feet. It seemed familiar and he was sure he'd dreamed it before. The fox rose to its feet and took off, dodging quickly through the ruins. Lindsey followed, barely hampered by a memory of pain. Finally the fox came to a stop in a bleak and broken courtyard. Directly across from him Lindsey saw a figure cloaked in shadows. The features were shaded but Lindsey knew instinctively the moment their eyes met.

A leopard melted from the shadows, bounding towards them. The fox dashed towards it and Lindsey winced, averting his gaze. There was a flash of light and for a moment Lindsey felt more whole than he had in his entire life.

Alex sat in the corner of the room watching Lindsey. The man was pale against the white sheets, but Alex had expected no different considering the amount of blood lost. There was a bag of blood hanging from the IV stand. Alex preferred not to think about where it had come from. The doctor preferred not to give painkillers that would cause too much confusion or disorientation so Lindsey's forehead was marred with a pained frown.

"He should not be alive," the doctor said from the doorway, his dark eyes searching Alex's for something, though Alex wasn't entirely sure of what. Alex's own gaze was drawn back to the man in the bed. "The wounds themselves were not grievous, a shoulder wound and a chest wound, though surprisingly neither hit anything vital. However, the blood loss was severe." The doctor paused, watching his patient's steady breathing. "I will watch him for one more day. After that he's your problem, whether he survives or not."

Alex nodded, having expected no less. He didn't bother to ask for further elaboration on what was done or what the doctor expected, he wouldn't get any.

"Keep him sedated until it's safe to move him," Alex added. There were questions that needed to be asked and he wasn't about to do that until Lindsey was in an environment he could control and where there wouldn't be others to overhear.

Lindsey raised a hand to wipe groggily at his face. He winced as the movement caused pain to lance through his shoulder and chest. There was a brief moment of panic before he remembered Lorne and the gun. The panic was quickly replaced with bitter resignation. He really should have known better than to believe that Angel would accept his change of heart. Though he did find it rather ironic that for once he was saving the day and Angel was betraying his allies. Still he'd managed to survive, though he wasn't entirely sure how.

A brief memory of dark green eyes surfaced. Lindsey struggled to remember where it came from before he gave a mental shrug. Things were still a little too hazy for him to be too concerned with chasing down errant memories.

He forced his eyes open, grimacing a little at the light, dim though it was. The first thing he saw was a stained ceiling and he frowned in distaste. It reminded him of a time he thought he'd left far behind. He lifted his head a little to look around the room, not entirely sure as to why he felt anxious.

He gingerly levered himself up when he heard someone moving about in the next room. Moments later a man moved out of what Lindsey saw to be the bathroom. He looked up, familiar green eyes meeting Lindsey's own and Lindsey immediately released the breath he'd been holding. They stared at each other for a long moment, measuring the other up and trying to pinpoint weaknesses. Lindsey was sure that he had more than a few on show at the moment.

"Who are you?" he asked, willing to concede at this point when there was no chance that he'd win.

"Alex," the man replied, circling the bed. Lindsey followed his movement feeling uneasy with just how vulnerable he was.

"Thanks for the help, Alex," Lindsey said as he levered himself up, ducking his head as he did so. His hair fell forward, obscuring his pained grimace. "I've got places to be, but I guess I owe you one so if you ever need a favour or something…" he continued with false sincerity.

"In that case I'm collecting," Alex replied, placing two painkillers the opposite side of the beds to Lindsey, who scowled.

"I'm sure you've noticed, but I'm not exactly well off."

Lindsey watched Alex's expression closely trying to determine precisely what the other man was getting at.

"It's not what you have that I want. It's what you know."

"Yeah well, apparently I don't know as much as I thought I did," Lindsey said, eyes drifting to the painkillers though he remained resolutely on his side of the room.

"You'll know about this," Alex assured him, looking pointedly at Lindsey's right hand. Lindsey's eyes narrowed.

"That project was stopped," Lindsey answered automatically.

Alex noticed that the reply was a little too quick and the gaze was held a little too long. His smile was smug and self-satisfied as he slipped his right hand into his jacket to his concealed shoulder holster. It was clear to him that Lindsey was lying and it would be simpler all around if he could convince the man to divulge the information without too many complications. He'd hate to have to resort to torture after all the effort it took to fix up Lindsey.

"You aren't of any use to me then," Alex said lazily as he withdrew a gun. He flicked off the safety with his thumb and brought the gun up, aiming at Lindsey.

Lindsey steeled himself instinctively, the memory of what happened only days ago clear in his mind. It occurred to him that he owed no allegiance to Wolfram and Hart, especially now with the firm in ruins and the Circle of the Black Thorn destroyed. He certainly didn't owe Angel and his moral sensibilities anything.

"But I'm sure I can find a suitable alternative," he added, careful to keep his voice even and his expression composed. He knew what Alex wanted, and, taking into account the man's familiarly rigid left arm, he knew how desperately Alex wanted it. That gave him a distinct advantage.

Alex lowered his arm, flicked the safety off and returned the gun to his holster in a smooth, practised movement that made Lindsey shudder just a little. He was sure now that he was dealing with a professional killer who would have no reservations about killing him if the answers he gave weren't satisfactory. He wasn't entirely sure why he found himself empathising with his troubled and desperate captor.

"You've got one day," Alex told him. Lindsey nodded as he eased himself back down onto the bed once more. It was just as well that they'd reached some sort of agreement since he was feeling more than a little light-headed.

Lindsey scowled at Alex as the assassin entered the motel room. He deliberately rattled the handcuffs confining him to the bed. When Alex had gone out over an hour earlier he'd restrained Lindsey, which he really didn't appreciate, especially since the water he'd been drinking had gone straight through him. Lindsey hadn't been too pleased to discover the catheter at that point. Alex ignored him as he began to lay out the food he'd gotten.

It hadn't taken much for Lindsey to work out that the reason the two single beds had been pushed together was so that Alex could keep an eye on his condition. Not that that made him feel better about the whole thing. It wasn't the first time he'd shared a bed with another man, sexually or otherwise, nor even with a man who'd threatened to kill him, but it was the first time when he felt so weak and vulnerable.

"A catheter?" Lindsey said, affronted. It wasn't the catheter itself that irked him, rather that he'd been unconscious and unaware at the time. The hand, while useful, had been the last straw with Wolfram and Hart. They'd controlled him plenty while he was awake and aware, he hadn't appreciated them making decisions for him when he was unconscious too. At least conscious he'd been able to counteract their machinations.

Alex glanced up briefly, expression callously amused before he fished the keys out of his pocket and unlocked the handcuffs. Lindsey gingerly rubbed his wrist to ease feeling back.

"I was shot twice, it's not like I'm going to attempt any daring escapes," Lindsey said with a roll of his eyes.

"Somehow I doubt a little thing like a bullet wound would stop you."

Lindsey suppressed a smile at the wry reply. He was beginning to feel far too fond of the man who had essentially kidnapped him.

"You could at least let me go to the bathroom on my own."

"I don't trust you," was the blunt reply.

"I'm not the one who goes around indiscriminately kidnapping and drugging people."

Alex simply watched him impassively and Lindsey sighed, knowing that while he had been kidnapped and drugged he was also alive. That fact definitely trumped all the rest of it.

"How long has it been?" he asked.

"About five days."

Lindsey nodded, keeping his expression clear of just how much that disturbed him. Control was not something he let go easily. Alex lay back on his bed, lean body stretched out, as he ate Chinese. Lindsey pondered the incongruence of seeing such domesticity in such a forbidding man as he watched him out of the corner of his eye.

"Eat," Alex growled, turning to look at Lindsey with fathomless dark green eyes. Lindsey, who had looked upon far more terrifying creatures, was not intimidated. He perused the bag Alex had brought in and grabbed a packet of crisps before lying down as well. He couldn't help but notice that there was evidence of at least three different takeout places and junk food from some or other convenience store.

"I wasn't sure what you'd eat," Alex commented without taking his eyes off the small television. Lindsey decided not to antagonise the man with the gun and made no reply, though he did smirk as he opened the packet.

"We're going to have to visit some of my contacts," Lindsey ventured, even though Alex was already aware of that fact. He'd been there when Lindsey's phone calls had gone unanswered or his contacts had hung up on him.

"We'll set out at midnight." Alex reached into the packet once more and withdrew a bottle of water, which he handed to Lindsey. "Drink," he ordered. "You need to replenish your fluids."

Lindsey leaned heavily on the railing as he climbed the stairs. Alex walked slowly beside him. Lindsey knew that the other man had slowed his pace to match Lindsey's slow progress though neither man said anything. When they reached the top of the stairs Alex lightly touched Lindsey's elbow to steady the man when he swayed.

This was the fourth snitch they'd visited in the last hour. Two of the first three were simply gone and the other one had run when they'd arrived. Lindsey was hardly in any position to chase after the demon and Alex was hampered by both the arm and the fact that there was no way he was leaving Lindsey to wander off.

Alex rapped sharply on the door and listened for movement within. The door was opened and a cautious eye peeked through the slit in the door. The red eye widened.

"You don't let us in right now and I'll come after you with everything I have," Lindsey warned, voice low and dangerous.

"You're not with Wolfram and Hart anymore. Not that there's much of it left," the demon replied.

"Think that makes me any less of a threat?"

With great reluctance the door was opened and they found themselves staring at a pale, almost white, demon with dark red eyes and horns that bordered his hairline and eyebrow ridges.

"We have some questions," Lindsey said.

"What's in it for me?" the demon demanded as he looked over first Lindsey then Alex suspiciously.

"I don't get angry," Alex threatened as he pushed his way into the apartment. Lindsey followed after him.

The apartment was dark and dingy and the furniture threadbare but it was clear that the demon had made it home. Despite the fact that this was clearly a loved home there were boxes and bags in the process of being packed. When the demon entered behind them Alex positioned himself by the front door while Lindsey stood at the window that led to the fire escape. The demon sighed expansively.

"What do you want to know?"

"Fairfield Clinic," Lindsey said. "Where is it now?"

"I don't know what you're talking about," the demon said as he began to pace the room. He really didn't like the way that the man by the door was looking at him.

"The clinic wasn't shut down, just one of the donor sites. I'm sure there were more," Lindsey replied.

The demon remained reticent and Lindsey had to refrain from massaging his shoulder, which was beginning to ache.

"Look, I'm tired and sore and I really just want to take some painkillers and get some sleep. He's impatient and just a little psychotic, I'm sure," Lindsey told the demon, though he glanced at Alex as he said it. Alex smiled slow and sinister. "The longer you keep us here the more aggravated we're going to get. You really don't want us aggravated."

"All I know is that the Pocklas were moved to a compound on Acker Drive three years ago. I don't know if they're still affiliated with the clinic or not. I don't even know if they're still there after the Reckoning."

"Reckoning?" Lindsey asked with a frown. He hadn't heard of anything on that scale, but he could hear the emphasis put on the word and it made him apprehensive.

"Wolfram and Hart struck out at Angel in a big way. Took hours to clean up the mess. The FBI is calling it gang warfare."

Lindsey glanced at Alex who seemed just as surprised as he did. Neither of them had had much opportunity to see the repercussions of the fall of the Circle of the Black Thorn.

"Anyone with any sense is leaving. Wolfram and Hart left a power vacuum here and there aren't many who're willing to stick around to see who's going to fill it."

Lindsey glanced at Alex, but could see that he hadn't been moved by the new information. Clearly nothing short of a new arm was going to persuade the man to part ways with him.

"And Melman?" Lindsey asked, putting aside the reckoning for now, though he'd need to investigate it further if only to find out who'd survived and who hadn't. He couldn't help but hope that Lorne had been waylaid by the fighting on his way out of the city. If Lorne hadn't then Lindsey hoped that he'd run into the demon at some point in the future.

"I don't know," the demon insisted, still pacing as he tried to keep both Lindsey and Alex in his line of sight. "I just know demons, I don't know anything about the rest."

"Acker Drive?" Alex questioned watching the demon closely as he nodded. Alex nodded as well, satisfied that they weren't being lied to. Lindsey crossed the room to stand at Alex's side as they readied to leave.

"It's none of my business," the demon began and he seemed to be looking through them rather than at them, "but bonds are a dangerous business and yours is a real doozey. Not a professional job, that's for sure, but a lot of raw power went into it."

The demon seemed impressed in spite of himself.

Alex frowned in confusion, though the expression was quickly wiped from his features. Lindsey glanced from Alex to the demon and back again before stalking from the apartment. Once they were down the stairwell a ways and were unlikely to be interrupted Lindsey rounded on Alex.

"You bonded us," he snarled. "You had no right."

Alex shifted so that he could better protect himself from possible attack, though he didn't reach for his gun.

"I have no idea what you're talking about."

"There are easier and less invasive ways of convincing people to do what you want than binding them to you," Lindsey sneered, one arm coming up to wrap around himself. He curled his other hand into a fist.

Alex watched Lindsey carefully, turning over in his mind what the other was saying. He wasn't entirely sure what being bonded meant, or what precisely it entailed, but he assumed that it was the reason for the strange softening of his hardened heart when it came to Lindsey. He hoped it was a result of the bond, he really couldn't afford to go soft at this stage in the game. He also knew that he could use this to his advantage.

"Make sure the surgery happens and I'll release you," he said.

Lindsey glared fiercely, but his posture shifted from threatening to wary.

"Forgive me if I don't trust your word."

"You don't have much choice," Alex replied and, taking a risk, he turned and carried on down the stairs. He remained tense, his attention focussed on the threat behind him. After several long moments Lindsey sighed heavily and followed him down the stairs. Noting the pale features and the sheen of sweat on the other man's brow Alex decided that it'd probably be better to rest up before they left for the clinic. He'd need backup and at the moment Lindsey was in no shape to provide it.

They arrived at the clinic midmorning. Lindsey was looking better after some rest and a good meal, though he still glared at Alex every opportunity he got. Alex marched straight through the reception area to the offices beyond. Immediately the security guard in the reception area started after him. Alex was sure that the security guards were hand picked guns-for-hire. With a few swift moves the guard was down and Alex continued down the passage, as even more guards came after them.

Alex ignored them for the moment as he stormed into the doctor's office. The guards followed, weapons at the ready. Lindsey took up his position at Alex's back, making sure that the guards didn't try anything while Alex wasn't looking.

"There's almost two million there," Alex stated, staring at the doctor intently as he dropped a briefcase on the doctor's desk. "I want an arm."

The doctor indicated for the guards to stand down as he reached for the briefcase and opened it. Upon seeing the amount of money he smiled slowly.

"I think something can be arranged. When were you hoping to have the operation?"

"Now," Alex demanded. After seven years he couldn't quite believe that it was actually going to happen. He couldn't help but think that the possibility was going to be taken away from him if he didn't get it done as soon as possible. He wasn't entirely sure he'd be able to come back from that.

"I had another client scheduled, but I'm sure we can make some changes," the doctor said ingratiatingly. He picked up the phone and was put through to his nurse. "There's a client you need to prep for surgery."

Alex gradually clawed his way towards consciousness, feeling refreshed but groggy. He felt the bed beneath him shift and turned to see Lindsey asleep beside him. With Lindsey's features relaxed in sleep and not glaring at him or pained Alex decided that Lindsey was really quite attractive.

Without conscious thought he reached out and ran his fingers through Lindsey's hair. It took a moment for him to realise that he'd reached with his left hand and that the hand, and the arm to which it was attached, was a pale shade of blue.

Alex swore, quite colourfully, in several different languages.

"Whassat?" Lindsey murmured as he woke. Alex snatched his demon hand back, though it took far too much concentration for Alex's liking not to continue running it through Lindsey's long hair.

Lindsey blinked his eyes open and took a moment to orient himself. He noticed Alex clutching his demon arm and winced.

"Right," he murmured, "about that…"

"My arm's blue," Alex said unnecessarily.

"Yeah, I noticed."

"Why is my arm blue?" he asked, still in shock.

"Near as I can figure the doctor was harvesting cheap demon parts from the reckoning," Lindsey's tone was apologetic, though there wasn't much he could have done since he wasn't actually in the operating room and once the operation was done it was done, there wasn't any going back. It wasn't like they could sue the guy for malpractice. At least not since Wolfram and Hart went under.

"I have a demon arm."

"It does have some advantages," Lindsey volunteered.

Alex glared at him for a moment before he actually thought about it. A demon arm wasn't as bad as oilean, and it could be useful. Plus, he had a left arm again. At this stage that was the only thing he really cared about.

"Such as?" he prompted.

"It's stronger and less prone to injury."

"The drawbacks?" Alex immediately asked, because he knew there had to be some. Lindsey winced.

"It'll respond to your emotions and subconscious desires more readily than you generally would. It's from a race of demons who are slaves to their impulses."

Alex nodded slowly. That certainly explained running his hand through Lindsey's hair earlier. Lindsey was certainly attractive, but Alex was not going to act on that particular impulse. He'd gone soft enough over the last few days as it was.

"You've got your arm, you can release me from the bond now," Lindsey told him, expression becoming closed off once more.

Alex swung his legs off the bed and stood. He had to concentrate on keeping his demon arm at his side and not reaching out to the man opposite him.

"I don't know how the bond came into being," he admitted, "but I wasn't above using it to get what I needed."

Lindsey watched him sceptically trying to see if he was telling the truth. Finally he sighed and nodded. Even if it wasn't true there was no way he was going to get the man to admit that. All that mattered now was getting it dissolved. He really didn't want to live the rest of his life stuck with Alex.

"If you didn't create this then you wouldn't be averse to finding someone to get rid of it," Lindsey said, eyes narrowed. Alex shrugged as he looked down at his arm and flexed his fingers.

"I have what I want."

Alex stood in the corner of the darkened room with his arms folded. It happened to be the only place in the incense-laden room next to a window. Despite the hot weather he wore long sleeves and leather gloves. Lindsey sat in one of the chairs at the table staring disdainfully around the room. According to what sources he had left this woman was supposed to be the real deal, one of the few still left in town, but the room was filled with all the stereotypical paraphernalia that came with fortune telling. There was even a large glass ball filled with some sort of smoke parading as a crystal ball in the centre of the table.

"Forgive me for not seeing you sooner," the woman said as she entered the room, her voice soft and ethereal, "the spirits deigned to communicate with me, and I could not ignore their summons."

Alex glared at her and Lindsey sneered. She watched them for a moment before removing the scarf tied around her head and the excessive number of bangles around her wrists.

"I see you haven't come to be told that you'll be as good as married within the year or that your business venture will succeed," she said as she sat down. She studied Lindsey for a moment. "Though I do see death in your future," she added with a grin, before cocking her head to one side and frowning. "And your past." She broke eye contact swiftly and exhaled before returning to look at him. "How can I help you?"

"We've been bonded," Lindsey said, posture stiff and glare accusatory, though it was aimed at the man behind him rather than the woman in front of him.

"I assume you want to get rid of it then?" she clarified. Both men nodded. "Alright, let's see what we're working with." She closed her eyes briefly then began to look at them, or rather around them. She frowned when she came to Lindsey's right hand and especially Alex's left arm but made no comment. When she finally blinked and focused on them once again, she was frowning deeply. "I can't help you."

"What do you mean you can't help us?" Lindsey demanded.

"I mean that the bond is strong. There're no subtle workings, though it more than makes up for that in sheer power. It was born of blood and death and that kind of thing doesn't just go away," she explained.

"But there is a way of dissolving it?" Lindsey asked, staring at her intently. He could sense that Alex had moved to stand at his shoulder and it made him uneasy to be so aware of the other man.

"There might be, I don't know, but you're going to have to work out how to do it yourselves. There isn't a being in the world, no matter how powerful, who'll be able to do it for you without doing irrevocable damage."

"You son of a bitch," Lindsey snarled as he turned to face Alex. "This is your fault."

"I didn't do anything," Alex growled back. Lindsey rose to face Alex and both men glared fiercely at each other.

"Stop it," the woman commanded, her voice firm. All appearance of an airy, clichéd psychic dissolved away. "You're both being ridiculous. The bond wouldn't exist unless you'd both wanted or needed it on some level. You're going to have to find some way to live with it."

"Thank you for your time," Lindsey said curtly before he left the room.

Alex didn't even look at her as he stalked after the furious man. He caught up with Lindsey outside where the other man was sitting on the curb, head in his hands. Alex eased himself down next to Lindsey and they sat in silence for a long while.

"Any decisions that affect both of us have to be mutual," Lindsay said finally. Alex nodded.

"I'm not giving up my work," Alex stated firmly.

Lindsey glanced sidelong at him but nodded. He'd made a number of educated guesses as to what precisely it was that Alex did and while he did not necessarily approve he really couldn't judge until he knew more. Besides, he'd been in the position where he'd have done just about anything to survive too.

"As long as I don't get dragged into it. We'll both contribute towards researching what this bond is exactly."

"I won't stay in LA."

"I wasn't planning to anyway."

"Do we have an agreement?" Alex asked, holding out his hand. Lindsey nodded and firmly shook it.