This is a new kind of story for me-not the kind I generally write. For one thing, it's an extended, multi-chapter story. For another, it's a crossover. But mainly because it features a real person. For the record: I don't think that Alex Day would do any of this is in real life, even if it were possible, but the character he portrays himself as as Nerimon might do. This is obviously fiction
So how does this work? I just talk, and you sit there and scribble in that pad, yeah? Right, I'll admit it straight away, then, shall I, so that we can get all the flowery 'Let's share our feelings' stuff out of the way: I was terrified that night. I was really properly scared… and I don't think I had been before, not in my entire life. I mean for a start, Charlie and I—Oh, he's my flatmate. Well, anyway, we were mugged, and isn't that frightening enough? And I know, it sounds really wimpy to be that afraid of being mugged, but it wasn't like we were just beat up. They had a knife and they were vicious, and nearly killed us….and Charlie….he was so close to…so on the brink of….Oh my God. He was…. in a bad way—unconscious, let's just say that. And I was close to going the same way, the way they were waving that knife about. And somehow it ended up in my hand…and before I realized what happened…I…It was self-defense! You very well know what I'm trying to say! I don't want to! Please don't make me say—I KILLED THEM! Happy now?
And they were lying there, dead. And Charlie was lying there, almost dead. And I was lying there, exhausted, and scared and not knowing what to do…and then this woman… I thought I was hallucinating at first…but this woman appeared out of nowhere—no not out of nowhere, it was like she came from the night itself, I can't explain it beyond that. And she looked like she was made of this mist…it's really hard to explain. And she...she—Yes, I know I need to continue, thank you very much.—She kneeled over me, and she whispered in my ear "Alex Richard George Day. Be my champion." And I looked at her properly, and somehow, I knew who she was, even though I'd never seen her before. She was Death itself, and she was getting closer and closer to me, until she was right at my face. And still she was whispering, "You shall be my champion, Alex Day. You shall be Death's champion," and I was so scared. You've got to remember that, I was so scared, and the only thing that was in my mind was to save myself—so right as she was upon me, I shouted "No! No, wait—Take…take Charlie!"
When I said that, she pulled away from me, and she had this sort of… oh I don't know how to describe it…this sort of smirk on her face. She asked me, "Are you offering Charles Joseph McDonnell to me as champion?"
If I'd have been in my right mind, I'd have said no. I don't know what I'd have done, but I'd have said no to that. I wasn't in my right mind, though. I was so concerned with preserving myself that I just nodded.
And so she sort of…hovered over to Charlie, who was laying there breathing real shallowly. And I wanted to shout at the woman to stop, but I was too petrified by fear. And she was right on top of his face, and was about to—well, actually, I'm not sure what she was going to do, because just then there was a voice: "No."
I whirled around, and I saw that man—you know the one I'm talking about, the one that ordered that I come here.
"No," he said to the woman. "You will not take him as a champion."
I probably would have been afraid of him, if I hadn't met him before. Yeah—I did some work for him. I don't know if I should…No, I'm just not sure if he'd want me to…Right, fine—He'd come to me a year previously having heard about Chameleon Circuit, and its success. He was sad—no, sad's not the right word—numb. He seemed numb, when I first met him. He'd told me that there'd be a war soon, that he'd need a way to control people. It was the only way, he said. He said an old friend-turned-enemy had done something like that once, when he tried to do something evil, but he needed to be able to control people to protect them. Now I know that it must have killed him to need to something so similar to what that other man did.
But nevertheless, he said he wanted Chameleon Circuit to make an album that'd do just that. So we made Still Got Legs. And when the whole thing happened with Michael being trapped being trapped in France, we freaked—well, Charlie and I did, anyway, because we were the only two who knew the real reason we were making the album. We thought someone in the British government must have known what we were doing, and we thought we'd all get hanged for it. And, we wouldn't be able to do what we needed to for…well, for you know who. But he has connections, our friend does, so he pulled some strings with RedBull and got us to France, and the album happened.
A few months afterward, he came to the flat to—well, not thank me exactly—but sort of to acknowledge that I'd helped him. And when he said he'd give me something in return one day, if I needed it, I told him to take me with him. I wanted to run with him and see the universe.
"No," he told me.
That made me angry. "I've just worked my ass off and risked my own security to make you an album."
"You can't come with me. I'm sorry."
"I have my reasons, Alex Day."
I'm not proud of what I said next, but it seems to be a recurring pattern with me. When I get upset about something, I lose my head. I say things that…well, I dunno if I don't mean them or not… but I say things that I shouldn't. "You're afraid, aren't you? You coward!"
He was silent for a moment. We both were. I saw the silent fury building in his face. "What did you just say?"
"You are a coward. I dunno how to make it clearer for you."
Without warning, he grabbed me by the t-shirt and shoved me against the wall. "Take my advice and be careful, Alex!" He looked at me for a few moments more, madly and angrily, then he dropped me and was gone.
After Charlie pried what happened from me, he somehow got in touch with the man, and I dunno what he said to him, but it was enough to get him to come and find me. I was walking down the street to my flat one day, and I heard a voice coming from an ally as I passed it. "Alex Day."
I turned and saw him, and I suddenly felt a rush of shame come over me. I regretted what I'd said to him.
"Walk with me," he said.
We walked in a silence for a minute or two, and then, before I knew what was happening, I found myself spewing words. "Listen: I'm really sorry for what I said. Calling you a…well, you know. Because you're not. You're really not. You're one of the bravest—"
He silenced me with a hand. "Alex, do you know why I reacted the way I did?"
I responded that I didn't.
"Because you reminded me of me."
I dunno what I was expecting him to say, but it wasn't that. "Of..of you?"
"Yes. Of me. When you called me a coward, what did you really want?"
"I dunno…I was trying to get you to me with you, I guess."
"You were trying to manipulate me, yeah?"
I didn't want to admit that, but I knew it was true. "Yeah."
"Oh, Alex. I manipulated people into doing all sorts of terrible things throughout my life, but when I was young, and cocky, and thought the entire universe was mine, it was always for things like you wanted. Selfish things. I called someone…my best friend…a coward, and it got him into all kinds of…" he trailed off. "Well, you get the point."
I didn't know what to say to him. Young and cocky and thought the entire universe was mine. That sounded like me.
"But you can see what I've become," he continued. "You know what I've done to my people. You know where that leaves me? Alone. Entirely alone. You don't want to turn into me, Alex. You really don't. That's why I wouldn't let you come with me—because you do not need my influence on you like that. Maybe you're right; I'm afraid. I don't want to screw up another life."
When I looked at him and realized how hard he had to try not to cry, I felt regret swell up in my chest. I didn't know what to say.
He spoke again before I said anything. "Now, go home, Alex. For your own good, don't look for me again." And he left.
That encounter left me in a sort of awe of him. I was afraid of him, yeah, but I also knew that he was on my side. I knew that he was ridiculously powerful.
I was relieved, therefore when he appeared that night, in the ally, because I was so afraid of the Death Woman, and I knew, somehow, that he'd stop her. For one thing, he'd stopped her from getting Charlie.
When she heard him, she drew away from my flatmate's face and turned to look at the man. "Ah, little Theta-Sigma. It's been such a long time. You've grown… Are you offering yourself to me as champion in the place of this boy?"
"No. No more champions."
"But my last champion is gone. I find that I need to fill the vacancy."
The man called Theta-Sigma gazed at her. His façade dropped. "So Kosechi's really...I mean this time it's final?"
She nodded. "You will not see him again."
The man closed his eyes, and sighed as deeply as I've ever heard anyone sigh. "Right. Still, no more champions. I'll make you a deal, though. Next time I find myself falling into you're lap, I won't run away. You can have me."
"Do you swear it?"
"Then we must seal the oath." She drifted toward him and planted her lips onto his own. And then, just as suddenly as she'd appeared, Lady Death vanished into the night.
The man kept his eyes focused on the patch of air that had previously been the woman for a moment. Then he turned to me, his eyes filled with…something. Disgust, maybe?
"You," he practically spat at me. "Stay here. Do not move. I'll be back in a moment."
He walked over to Charlie, who was still sprawled out on the ground, and gently lifted him up.
"What're you—" I started to ask but was interrupted.
"I'm bringing him to the hospital," said the man, as he opened the door to his Box. "He's hurt badly."
It didn't occur to me to run away in those few moments I was on my own, but even if it had, I doubt I'd have been able to anyway. I was so weary. Soon, though, the Doctor returned, and told me to get up.
It took a minute and several attempts, but eventually, I managed to get onto my feet. "Is he going to be alright?"
"He'll live. It'll take a while, but he'll be fine. But I want to speak of you." There was no warmth in his voice. It was icy, and I felt chilled by it.
"Yes, you. You're coming with me."
"But I thought—"
"I see now it's more dangerous to leave you to your own devices. You need to see why you need to change."
Once, I would have been overjoyed to travel with this man, but now, I just wanted my own flat, and to be with my flatmate. We'd just nearly been killed, after all. "For how long?"
"However long it takes for you to change."
"What about Charlie?" I didn't want to leave him on his own, not in his condition.
"He'll be fine. His family will find out soon enough, and they'll stay with." Perhaps he saw my mind trying to think of another excuse, because he said, "There's nothing you can do to get out of this, Alex. Come."
And so, reluctantly, I followed him into his Box.
Right, that's an hour, yeah? See you next week.