Title: What We Are
Rating/Warnings: I'm saying M just to be safe. Language, implied sex, implied violence. (If anyone would like to dispute the rating, go ahead)
Summary: The government is hiding its prized immortal being from everyone. No one knows who it is, or if he even really exists. Even the being in question doesn't know whether he's alone in the world, or just waiting. The government would like to keep it that way. However, you can only push someone so far before they rebel.
The British were coming.
It was an almost scary thought. Alfred grasped his hands tightly around his musket, the cold metal chilling him to the bone. The rain soaked through his clothes and the mud filled his shoes while he ran from house to house, sending out a warning to all who would listen.
"We have to fight now!
Alfred hated it. He hated sending people he knew into battle, people that would die before their enemy. He hated that he had to throw them to the British, but he knew he couldn't hope to win. He could let himself be found. They would try to kill him, and when he didn't die…
He didn't know what would happen.
"Move!" a man roared before he barreled past Alfred, shoving him to the side. Alfred crashed into a group of tools that had been leaning against a house, and they all crashed to the ground. He jumped back when a door open and a woman looked out, but she shook her head and returned to the house when she saw him.
Alfred could hear the shouts and screams from the battlefield. He walked forward and disentangled himself from the tools, and tried to run through the muck. He slipped and slid, and when he finally reached the edge of the town he tripped and grabbed onto a fence to keep himself upright. The rain came down harder and he could barely see the field before him, where the explosions of gunfire boomed and people died. He took his gun and it slipped in his hands. He caught it and tried to load it though he could barely see, and he could only feel pain and cold and-
Alfred opened his eyes slowly. His neck was stiff, and he stared blearily at the back of the chair before him. His arms were crossed and his fingers dug into his skin. He probably had bruises, even though his jacket should have been thick enough to keep him from clenching too hard.
"Come on, man. They're unloading already, we gotta go."
Alfred shook his head and let his arms fall into his lap. It took him a moment to remember where he was, but one look out the tiny window to his left and down on the tarmac brought everything back. He had left the Middle East no more than twenty hours before, and had been brought to Switzerland for another of the vigorous meetings. He and twenty other men and women.
The man that had been sitting beside Alfred tossed a duffel bag at him from the overhead compartment. Alfred grunted when it hit his chest and knocked him back towards the wall.
"You coming yet?"
Alfred yawned and stood slowly, ducking down so that he wouldn't hit his head on the overhead. "I'm on it. Christ, do you ever shut up?"
The man didn't answer him. Once there was an opening in the aisle, he took it. Alfred cut in line behind him, getting ahead of some old woman and squeezing down the aisle while trying not to get caught on a seat or armrest.
Stepping out of the tunnel and into the airport was like being released from a prison. Everything was open and roomy, and had Alfred not been pushed along by his traveling partner, he probably would have paused to chat with some woman that was walking by (she had a nice ass, what could he say?).
"Pushing me around is totally uncool," Alfred told the man, and he shrugged.
"So what's your name, anyway?"
"William," Alfred chirped. He slung his duffel over his shoulder and looked at his companion. "You?"
"Clark." Clark led the way down the length of the airport. Alfred insisted on stopping once to grab a burger from one of the many shops in the terminal, but then they had to continue on and find their way out of the secure area and to the waiting buses.
It wasn't hard to find their way. Alfred pointed out a group of Americans that had gathered in a small bunch and Clark nodded his agreement. It was definitely their group.
"Hello, ladies and gentlemen!" Clark interrupted their conversation. "You look like you're heading out into the city for a good time!"
"More like heading to a lame-ass meeting for old dudes," one boy said. Alfred looked at him. He was probably around seventeen years old, and the idea of it was rather surprising.
"I take offense to that!" a woman nearing fifty laughed, and the group (minus the boy) joined her.
"Well, we'll make this one fun," Clark said. He clapped a hand down onto Alfred's shoulder and grinned. "This is William, I'm Clark. Where the hell is the bus?"
The groups were always diverse. Alfred looked around the bus, looking at the many people that had fallen asleep during the drive. The seventeen year old kid, the fifty year old businesswoman, various American soldiers of different rank and regiment, a few college-aged girls, one guy that looked like he ate way too much, and those were only the ones that Alfred could make out in the darkness.
Night had come while they drove, and for what was probably the millionth time in his life, Alfred was in the middle of a group of strangers. It was always unnerving, knowing that the people he was with would never know more than a name. They weren't allowed to know each other (except for their code names), weren't allowed to talk about anything serious. Weather was an acceptable topic; so were video games.
All of it was because the government wanted to hide one of "their" projects. They wanted to hide the one person that had seen everything, the one person that had been around since the ships had arrived in the new world and had seen history unfold. They gathered random groups of people that would definitely not meet in real life, groups of people that would be shipped together all over the world to attend meetings of national importance. Like hiding a tree in a forest, they hid a "human" with other humans.
Every country did the same thing. Every country had its own group, its own special "human" that it had to hide and keep safe. A meeting of ten countries would have over four-hundred people speaking. Every person had a secret ballot to voice their opinions on issues, and the only ones that worked and sent decisions were held by the people being hidden.
People like Alfred.
Alfred sighed and sat back in his seat. He didn't want to sleep. Sleep meant dreams, and dreams meant nightmares. How many wars had he been in? How many people had he killed, or seen die? How many times had he arrived to a group meeting to find that someone was suspiciously missing? How many times had he wondered if they had discovered his secret, or if they had been suspected of being special by an enemy and taken?
The groups were a waste of time. Alfred wished he could step forward and shout, tell everyone that he was the special one, the one that everyone wanted to kill or worship. How many lives would he save doing so, because by then he would be the target and not the people that were recruited in silence for the oh-so honorable position of being cannon fodder?
He couldn't tell anyone, because no one had acknowledged that those special beings existed. The countries danced around the idea, but no one wanted to openly speculate their existence. It was an unspoken truth: the first country to have an immortal being exposed would be attacked by others for designing human weapons. Divert attention and use another country as a scapegoat. It was how history had always been, and it was how the future would forever work.
Clark snorted in his sleep and Alfred looked over at him. He fidgeted and turned over in his seat.
The bus hit a bump and lurched to the side, and Clark's head dropped onto Alfred's shoulder. Alfred looked down at him, but he didn't push his head away.
Alfred wondered if Clark would live. Would he live long enough to get out of their stupid system, or would he die for something he didn't understand? Who would replace him when he either aged or died? Protocol and recruiters had made sure that every person was replaced with someone that looked just like them, to help make the guise more real. The only problem was that while the replacements all looked the same, they were different people. They had different voices, different ideas, different hopes and dreams. The government agency that ran the project liked to believe that their attempts to keep Alfred hidden by using similar-looking people around him at all times worked. In reality, while others didn't appear to notice the differences, Alfred saw every one.
It tore him apart, knowing that they would die before him, for him. He didn't want that.
The bus hit another bump and Clark fell into Alfred's lap. He jolted awake and looked groggily at Alfred. "S'ry," Clark mumbled before he pressed against the window to go back to sleep, and Alfred sank back into his seat.
Alfred shut his eyes. He should sleep. He always thought about the past and the possible future when he travelled between meetings, among the people that lived lies to hide him. It was easier when he slept, because he didn't have to think about it.
Alfred slid his security card into the slot below the elevator buttons. The elevator rose up to the seventh floor and the doors opened. Alfred placed his security card in his pocket and held up his ID for the guards that waited outside the doors. They nodded him through and he walked to his room, where he used another card key to open the door.
Security was always tight at the meetings. They didn't want to risk an international incident by letting strangers onto the floors reserved by important officials and the groups, where someone could get hurt. They also didn't want the members of those groups to mingle. Mingling meant that secrets could get out, and it meant that people could begin to make assumptions about what their purpose was. They didn't want them to speak between meetings, and the only times they actually met face-to-face without being monitored were when they were traveling between meetings and hotels, or from their respective homes or duties to the countries where the meetings would take place (and usually those trips would leave them too exhausted to even consider speaking with one another).
Alfred clicked the door shut behind him and tugged at his tie. He pulled it loose and tossed it on the table by the bathroom door. While the rooms were rather extravagant (central living room with separate bedroom for added privacy in case of visitors), the room service left much to be desired. It was easier (and safer) to run down the street to a bakery for edible food.
Alfred shoved the food he had left over from breakfast into the small fridge by the TV. He had four hours to blow before the first meeting of many began. He turned on the TV and flicked through channels to find something in English. When the only thing he found was a channel of soap operas, he turned back to the news. He hated translating. It always made his head hurt. Centuries of learning different languages didn't make using them any easier.
Alfred dropped back on the couch and took his watch off his wrist. He made sure the alarm was set before he sprawled out and stared at the screen.
It wasn't supposed to be a military action. Not really.
Alfred leaned on a railing and looked out over the waters where The USS Maine burned. The explosion had rocked the city, and Alfred had known deep in his bones that things were changing too fast to stop them.
It scared him. He had seen war too many times. He had seen too many deaths, too much bloodshed. Another explosion shook him and he watched the smaller boats shuttling people away from the burning wreckage. He could do nothing but watch. He could see other men running along the shore, trying to find a way to get to survivors.
He wondered what the country would think. Would they go to war with Spain? They had come to Cuba with the intent of showing their military might, of seeing if they could somehow quell the fighting without getting involved. It hadn't worked. They had been attacked (most likely. There would probably be an investigation). People were dead. The Maine was sinking.
It was never supposed to be this way.
Alfred looked down, away from the flames. There was another small explosion, and Alfred could hear the rounds of ammunition in the ship as the heat set them off.
Alfred looked up quickly to see the captain approaching. His face was drawn in pain, whether it was physical or emotional Alfred didn't know.
"You should get back inside. There's nothing you can do here."
Alfred tightened his hands around the railing before him. "I can do more than you."
"But we're not going to let you." The captain motioned around them, at the people that were running about in a panic trying to find some way to help. "We can't afford to let them know about you."
"So I have to sit inside like a little kid, wasting the power I have while people die?"
"There's nothing you can do," the captain repeated, and Alfred let go of the railing.
The beeping of Alfred's watch alerted him to the fact that he had dozed off. The news had ended and people were yelling at each other on the TV, something that reminded Alfred of the soap operas in his own country. He grabbed the remote and turned off the TV. He made sure he had his ID cards before he left his room. The other members of his group were waiting outside in the hall, and they acknowledged each other briefly before stepping into the elevator as a group and descending to the garage where they would be met by government cars.
The ride to the meeting center was done in silence. They were spread through five vehicles, and there was nothing to talk about. They each had their modified phones, which they would use to text decisions and comments to a central computer which would then present the text of the true representative to whatever group they were gathered with. Alfred ran his thumb along the black casing of his, smoothing the edges of a Superman sticker that had long started to warp and chip away from wear and tear.
Alfred was already thinking of what he would do later, when the first meeting was done and the groups were shepherded away from the groups from other countries. Alcohol was the first thing on his mind, followed closely by burgers and fries. He stared out the window at the old houses they passed, not really seeing them.
Maybe he would mix a milk shake with something. He wasn't sure if he wanted to be drunk or buzzed, if he wanted to remember another night where he tried to forget about life and death. He didn't know if he wanted to get trashed and wake up in his hotel room to the disgruntled faces of some secret service agents, or if he wanted to find himself beside someone, pretending that he was going to wake up and not leave before whatever partner he had found himself with woke.
The car passed over a bump and jolted Alfred to attention. He raised his eyes to take in the large gates that the vehicles were passing through, and he put his phone in his pocket. He found the briefcase at his feet and took it with him when the car finally stopped and the door was opened by an attendant. Alfred's steps were confident, the same as every other person in the group as they merged into one unit and walked into the building together. They paid little attention to the other gatherings of people, hailing from countries around the world to keep up the illusion that there was a group of people that stood above the rest of humanity.
Alfred didn't even know if there were other immortals. It wasn't as though he had ever met them (not that he would have ever gotten the chance). It was very likely that he had been found out somehow, and other nations had decided to step in and start rumors to try and deter whatever the US could be planning with him. Alfred wasn't sure whether he wanted to know if there were others like him; while it would be nice to meet someone and know that he wouldn't live long past them, it was also a lonely existence. He would never be allowed to meet another person like himself, as it would be as good as treason.
"The meeting is taking place in the main auditorium," one of their drivers read from a card. He remained sitting in the car and leaned out the window towards them. "Room 157."
Alfred nodded and fell in with his group. They made small talk, mostly about the weather and shows on television, then they walked through the towering double doors into a room that was already filled with groups from other nations.
Immortality wasn't as awesome as people made it out to be.
Alfred had heard praises and promises since he had been born, the words of people that believed immortality was the last hope for the tribe he had found himself in. They had taken him from the mother that had died, found him in a dead colony and resurrected him. He had been their hope. They had placed their lives in his tiny hands, had believed that he could save them from the people that shared his skin.
It hadn't stopped the slaughter. Alfred had been left alone in the woods, a child (almost an infant) who could only wander and cry, searching for anyone to make him feel better, loved.
He was found by a stranger, a man that saved him from the wilderness and gave him a home. He stayed with the man for three short years before a family took him in, and he grew with them, loved them.
He lost them during the fighting. He lived, a hole through his heart and blood in his mouth, tasting death and returning from it. He survived the fighting, moved from place to place until he died again, only to be found by the government of the country he lived in.
They took him, used him. He had become the "hope" for another group of people, except that they wanted him as a secret weapon. He was their tool, meant to hurt instead of protect, and they became his chain.
Finding a bar not under the careful watch of the government was a chore, but Alfred had figured it out. Once the group members had been deposited back at the hotel, guards would set up watches around local bars and hang outs. Alcohol had led to many revealed secrets in the past, and no one was willing to risk another threat to national security.
So Alfred had been forced to find ways to get around without a babysitter. After almost three hundred years and various technological revolutions, he had it down to a "T." Cell phones were the greatest help. While the cell phones used by the group and its guards were heavily protected and encrypted, Alfred had managed to find a small scanner he could carry in his pocket. A quick pass by unsuspecting guards and pulled the info from their phones, which Alfred would upload to his computer. He would settle back while he watched tiny dots move around a digital map, the program working with cell towers to find where men were located as well as registering voice signals from ongoing calls.
Alfred's plans were an art that had been perfected over time, mostly because the security detail assigned to him was surprisingly lax and uninformed. Those that knew his secret assumed he had no idea how modern technology worked (beyond the allure of games on his cell phone); he was well almost three hundred years old, and old people didn't do technology. While the government thought Alfred would shy away from technology, the reality was that he embraced it. He loved the newest video games, the newest contraption to make burgers with, the newest cell phones, and anything that would get him away from his ever-present guards.
Alfred stretched his arms above his head and groaned. There was a small bar right in the center of the city, hidden among some high class restaurants. Sadly there was no fast food joint nearby, but he could find one across town and sneak away from his guards when they looked away. It wasn't a terribly long run to the bar.
Alfred turned off his laptop and put it in the hotel's safe along with his phone (he didn't need to get caught with his own trick). He checked that he had his wallet before he left his room, and as soon as he walked down the hall and stepped into the elevator, he could tell that he was already being watched.
Alfred hailed a taxi as soon as he left the hotel. He had marked five guards at attention in the lobby, and two more in the black SUV that followed his taxi at a distance. The cabbie looked surprised at the request to go across town for a fast food restaurant (especially after he had just left a five-star hotel), but Alfred had just brushed it off as being homesick. Alfred kept his eyes ahead and joked with the cabbie, pretending that he wasn't watching the black SUV that followed behind them.
They arrived and Alfred pulled his wallet from his back pocket. He stuff the bills into the cabbie's hand and climbed out of the taxi quickly. He didn't want to give the guards following him too much extra time to get out of their SUV so that they could follow him inside.
Alfred didn't spare the taxi a glance when it drove away. He was already inside the restaurant and ordering. He looked around quickly to see how he would be able to get out, and decided on the bathrooms. He took his food to a table and at, pretending not to know who the men at the counter ordering were. He recognized them as guards he had met on many occasions before, and remembered that he had fooled them and escaped quite often when they were watching.
Alfred wasn't sure if them knowing about his tendency to disappear would help or hinder his escape attempts.
Alfred ate quickly and stretched his arms over his head. His guards didn't bat an eye when they saw him hurry to the bathroom, and Alfred internally cheered for his luck. It didn't take too much to push the window outward so that he could hop up and slip through the frame.
Then Alfred was home free.
It didn't take Alfred long to reach the bar. He was a fast runner, and the alleys weren't filled with government agents waiting to snatch up group members where they didn't belong. He grabbed the black railing that rose from the ground and followed the stairs that led below the ground and into the basement of an old office building.
Thankfully there were no neon lights on the walls.
That had been Alfred's greatest concern. He wanted a place where he could have a few drinks and let everything wash over him (as it had done time and time again). He wanted a place where he could decide whether he would think about life or not, a place where he could sit and listen to the clinking of glass and murmured conversation without worrying about watching his every move in case he caused a national emergency, or one of his guards decided that he had to leave with no explanation.
Alfred grabbed a booth in a corner for himself and waited for the waitress to wander over. It was a nice place. The wood was old and a deep brown (almost black), the lights were low and Alfred could've fallen asleep there. He asked for a beer when the waitress checked on him, then he let his eyes wander. The place probably wasn't very popular, but then again it was a Tuesday night. There were a couple full tables in the middle of the floor (both occupied only by men), and three booths where small groups of women chatted with each other. There was another booth in the opposite corner that was only occupied by one man, and Alfred would have wondered what his deal was if he hadn't been sitting alone himself.
The waitress returned and set Alfred's drink before him. He caught her wrist and grinned.
"Can I order my next five right now?"
The waitress shrugged with a small smile. "We'll see how you fare. I'll keep it in mind."
Alfred nodded to her as she left, and he pulled the glass of beer closer. He wondered why it wasn't a mug or something sturdier than a glass, but the rowdy crowd was probably a weekend thing. The employees probably didn't have a reason to worry about types of glasses on nights when barely anyone showed up.
"There's a meeting in Switzerland. You won't be coming back."
Alfred remained at attention. The man behind the desk didn't spare him a glance.
"You fucked up," the man continued. He flipped through a folder. "They were just soldiers. What if someone had seen you? What if they found out about you?" He snorted. "You're lucky we got them away, otherwise we might've had to solve the problem ourselves."
Which meant the general would've shot his own men. Alfred shivered, but he kept his body from showing his discontent. He'd only had a second to decide to save them, a second to react to the IED and throw them back. He'd almost lost an arm, would've been killed if he had been mortal, but he had saved six men.
Six men that the general was talking about killing.
"We can't use you anymore. Do you know how much trouble this puts us in? I knew you were stupid, but not this stupid." The general shut the folder and stood. He rested his hands flat on his desk and his desk chair rolled a foot behind him. "You have duties that are far more important than the people here. You would do well to remember that." He grabbed the folder and threw it towards the other side of the desk. Alfred didn't move. "You're dead. We can't use you here anymore. There's an agent waiting outside to deal with you. You're done here. Dismissed."
Alfred took the folder and turned. He marched from the room where he was taken into the custody of a government super-goon. In no time at all they had shoved him into a small room where he was scrutinized. His hair was dyed blond instead of the brown it had been, and he was given glasses. He was on a plane within hours, fatigues traded for civilian clothes, another soldier sitting beside him and five government agents watching them from the back of the plane.
Alfred was dead. Again.
His death hit him less every time. When his deaths had first meant something in the eyes of his government and everything had to change whenever he lived through an accident, it was traumatic. He had panicked, cried, shut down. As time passed it affected him less, until he accepted his death and new beginning with a curt nod and silence.
That didn't mean it didn't still hurt deep down.
Alfred didn't know where the time had gone. He remembered-
Alfred stared at the back of the head before him. The hair was deep red, and almost reminded him of blood in the low light. Alfred slowly pushed himself up into a sitting position and the bed sank beneath him when his weight centered on one spot. The sheets slipped around him and he leaned forward to rest his forehead on the palm of his hand.
It was a hotel room. Small, cramped, a queen-sized bed that probably saw more action in a week than Alfred saw in a year. The TV in the corner was a small thing, and Alfred could guess how expensive the room was. Probably a thirty-dollar-a-night deal with no mini-fridge and an icemaker down the hall.
Alfred sighed and looked away from the drab walls and down at the man still sleeping beside him. if he recalled correctly, the man had introduced himself as Edward before joining him in his booth, a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Alfred had coughed, unused to the smoke (he had been forced to quit years before, when the anti-smoking movement began) and Edward had snubbed it out in a glass ashtray while frowning rather distastefully (his expression had been rather severe, if only because of the large eyebrows that accentuated the look). It had been pretty straight forward after that. A few drinks, an agreement to go back to someone's hotel room, renting another hotel room entirely because neither wanted to go back to theirs, a few rounds of sex that probably only felt amazing because it had been so long…
Alfred pulled the blanket up over him and hesitated. Did he pretend he had never woken? Would it be weird if Edward woke up in Alfred's arms, held against his chest as if they really had a relationship?
Could Alfred pretend they had something, pretend that he wasn't going to be alone for the rest of his life? It was a one night stand, they both knew and accepted that fact, but maybe Alfred could lie to himself for a little bit longer.
Against his better judgment, Alfred slowly lowered himself back down onto the bed and tried to make his position appear random, something he didn't think hard about. He slipped one arm over Edward's side and let the other rest above his own head.
A few more hours wouldn't kill him.
"How's it feel to watch history being made?"
Alfred didn't answer. He sat backwards in the dining chair, his arms crossed over the back and his chin resting on his arms. The man crawling about the face of Mount Rushmore bored him, truth be told. The government might be excited about their heroes being made into a monument, but their reasons for wanting Alfred to like it didn't make sense to him.
The only reason they kept Alfred around and protected him so closely was because they forced him to become a part of their history. They didn't care about who he was, but what he was. They may have fooled him in the beginning, when they told him he was "special" (and they may have meant it then), but he had grown. He looked young, but he had lived far longer than any of them. He knew when he was being used, and he knew when he was stuck. They were always going to keep him on a tight leash, and they were always going to use him for whatever they wanted.
Why should he care about them?
Alfred woke later to an empty bed and a note taped to his forehead.
No need to check out.
He almost laughed. Sometimes he forgot how young he looked, but it always hit him when people gave him advice and told him things he already knew. He crumpled the note and tossed it into the waste bin.
Alfred dressed quickly. The sun was rising and there would probably be repercussions for losing his guards. Not that it mattered. He had gotten what he wanted (and more). The most his government could do was give him a slap on the wrist.
Alfred was significantly happier on the way to the next meeting. Clark didn't say anything, but it seemed obvious that he noticed. He would stare at Alfred until the look was returned, then he would turn away and pretend he hadn't looked at him. Alfred considered asking him about it, but letting it go was easier.
Alfred slouched back in his seat when the meeting started. He kept his hand wrapped around the cell phone in his pocket and listened to the main speaker present his points. He listened to the options presented and typed his answer into the phone, and just as he sent it his phone started to vibrate.
Alfred pulled his phone out of his pocket and glanced down. He slid it open silently and pressed a button to see the text message that had been sent.
30 seats right. ditch cronies, meet at bar.
Alfred tried to keep his face blank when he glanced to the side, but it was hard when he found himself looking at a man in a business suit that looked a lot like the one that he had bedded the night before.
His phone vibrated again.
Stop staring. see you later
Alfred slipped his cell phone back into his pocket and ignored how one of the members of his group looked towards him. He kept his eyes on the speaker in front, but he was already trying to figure out what he had done.
Worst case scenario? He had had sex with a government agent (if it was a foreign government, he was in that much more trouble). Best case? It was a nobody that would forget everything and leave him be when they returned to whatever "lives" they had.
Alfred swallowed. He really hoped he hadn't fucked up too badly.
Against his better judgment, Alfred snuck out again. His guards were angry after he had ditched him, but little had been done to prevent it from happening again. He had more people following him when he went to a local restaurant, and more of them stood outside the windows of the men's room. They obviously didn't think he would leave again, and they knew he wouldn't use the women's restroom.
He used the women's restroom. The only person in there was in a stall so he wasn't seen (and he didn't have to deal with screaming and armed guards bursting in). It was getting dark when he hurried down the alleys, and he knew he was being careless, but the more he thought about Edward the more curious he became. How the hell had Edward gotten his number? Alfred hadn't even known that Edward was attending meetings (as an actual group member), and the fact that Edward had identified him so quickly left him confused. Had Edward known before? Had their chance meeting been planned?
Alfred thumped down the stairs and into the bar. He looked around quickly, but there was no one of interest. It looked like the same group of men from the night before, as well as another man that had joined them. Alfred walked over to the booth he had chosen the night before, and the waitress walked by.
"Back again?" She tapped the table next to where he rested his arms. "Same thing as last time?"
Alfred nodded and she disappeared. He was starting to wonder if he had made a bigger mistake than he had thought, but in mere moments the seat across from him was occupied. Edward had a glass of beer before him, and he stared at Alfred. Alfred blinked, caught by surprise, and Edward took a sip of his beer.
"This is a good place." Edward set his glass down, and Alfred was struck by how he kept his eyes locked on him. "Maybe tonight we'll drink a little less. Might make the poor waitress a bit sad, but it'd be nice to keep our wits for after."
Alfred wanted to ask what "after" was, but he wasn't sure he wanted to know. His beer was placed before him and the waitress disappeared back around the corner where the bar was.
"I guess now we know why we didn't go to our own hotel rooms." Edward chuckled. "I've already taken care of one for tonight."
Alfred had been reaching for his own drink, but Edward's words made him stop. He arched an eyebrow. "Are you just really horny or something?"
Edward didn't look amused. "There's a lot more to do than sex when you're in a hotel room." When Alfred didn't look convinced, Edward sighed. "An untapped hotel room."
Alfred understood. He fidgeted in his seat and took a drink to give himself some time to think. He wasn't sure what he was supposed to think. He had no idea who Edward was, no idea if it was some kind of trick. Sure, Edward had been at the meetings, and he had belonged there.
Alfred just wasn't sure why Edward was there. Had he been a group member like Alfred, or was he part of security?
"Drink up." Edward didn't give Alfred time to continue his thoughts. "I don't want to stay here longer than necessary. We have things to do."
Alfred drank. He'd take the plunge. What did he have to lose?
"I'm going to go out on a limb and say you planned our meeting last night." Alfred sat on the bed while Edward wandered around the room. It was a floor above the one they had had before, but it looked exactly the same. Edward sat down at the small desk by the window and removed his jacket.
"No." Edward tossed his jacket towards the bed, and Alfred looked down at it when it landed beside him. "Purely chance. I didn't know about you until I saw you this morning." Edward turned his chair so that he faced Alfred, and he leaned forward. He placed the tips of his fingers together and flexed them. "So. Are you immortal?"
Alfred stopped breathing. He kicked his shoes off and slowly pulled his legs up on the bed. "Immortal?" He sucked in some air. He had to think of something to say, something that would throw him off. "Are you… I don't think I wanna be here."
"That doesn't answer my question." Edward let his hands drop in his lap. "I think we both know there's something wrong with our little… assignments. We both know there've been talks, and everyone has ideas. Every government wants their own secret to immortality, and what would make more sense? What other purpose could these little government gatherings have?"
"You're fucking crazy." Alfred shook his head. He wasn't sure if he should leave or stick around. It was possible he could change the topic, call Edward crazy and get his ass out. However, something about Edward made him want to stick around and see what would be said.
Edward sighed. "Well, we came here for more than a conversation. Would you like to..?"
Alfred nodded quickly and pulled at his shirt. Anything to change the conversation.
Alfred's hands slipped on his musket. He tried to load it, but the mud made it impossible. His fingers slipped on the metal and he cursed. Dirt and mud were getting into everything, and he wasn't sure if it would even fire anymore.
People were shouting. The explosions were getting louder, closer, and Alfred pulled the bar from the barrel and slid it into its holder. He pulled back the hammer and tried to get a spark, but his shaking hands and the rain didn't help him at all.
The mud squelched behind him and he turned quickly. He raised his musket in a panic when he faced the redcoats before him, but his hands let go before he could even try to intimidate them.
Alfred felt cold when he sank facedown into the mud. He had never been shot before. He didn't feel anything, but there was an emptiness in him. He tried to move his hands but his body wouldn't listen to him.
Cold hands, those of his killer, reached down to pull at him. He was turned onto his back and though his body couldn't move, he could still see.
"His musket wasn't going to fire. You didn't have to shoot."
"Don't be stupid. We couldn't have known that when we came." The shooter checked his jacket. "Just a kid."
"Can't believe how many they're getting involved in this. What do they think they're going to get with this independence of theirs? They've never run their own government."
"Hmm." The man touching Alfred frowned. "War is ugly business." He leaned closer, barely hearing his companion's words. "He would've been a good kid."
Alfred looked into the green eyes of his killer, and he realized he was no longer dreaming.
Edward watched him silently, and his eyes widened slightly when Alfred opened his mouth and choked.
"You shot me." Alfred blinked. "You killed me."
Edward turned his head away from Alfred, down at the pillow where he could think.
"You were there for the Revolution," Alfred continued, forgetting to breathe while he tried to get everything out. "You shot me."
Edward looked back at Alfred with wide eyes. He moved his lips a few times and tried to find a way to speak. "Oh," he finally came up with. He swallowed. "Then I suppose your name isn't William."
Alfred shook his head and Edward shut his eyes.
"Well then. I suppose I should tell you, my real name's Arthur."