This is a very long one shot that i couldn't split. Series Four ended with Hal tied to a chair with Tom and Alex watching over him. This is my interpretation of what happens afterwards with some flashbacks included. The characters of Hal Yorke, Tom McNair, Leo, Alex and briefly Pearl belong to Being Human, Toby Whithouse et al. Once more i'm playing with the toys in the toybox but i promise not to break them and i will put them back when i'm finished. All errors are my own and unintentional. This is also my first attempt at writing Tom, Alex and Leo. Love to hear your thoughts.
"It's perfectly natural to be afraid."
Hal regards him.
"I'm not afraid." he tells him but the other man looks at him and he smiles softly as if he believes him but Hal isn't stupid. They haven't been friends for very long but already it seems as though he can see through him. He doesn't believe a word that comes out of his mouth and to be honest, neither does he. It's far too early to consider what they have as a true friendship. In all truth Hal isn't sure what to call it.
"Have you done this before?" Leo asks. Hal sighs quietly and watches as Leo opens the door that leads down to the cellar. He turns to look at him and Hal looks away.
"Not with any great success." he confesses in a low voice. Leo continues to watch him.
"Obviously, otherwise you wouldn't be here with me now. Come along." He goes through the door and Hal hears him begin to walk down the stairs. He pauses. His mouth goes dry and he swallows reflexively. The footsteps pause.
"Are you coming Hal?" His voice echoes from the staircase. Hal sighs and slowly follows.
It's a medium sized room and barely furnished. Hal's expression is wary as he sees the weighted down chair in the centre, the heavy looking chains and thick leather straps that are draped over the seat in preparation. There are sheets of newspaper arranged underneath and around it. A single naked light bulb is suspended from a low ceiling casting its weak glow around the confined space. In the corner of the room is a mattress, a pillow and some blankets. Hal takes it all in without a word. He doesn't comment on the metal ring that has been drilled into the wall. The irony of it has not been lost on him.
"At least I get a mattress." he murmurs more to himself than anything else but Leo hears him and he knows he's thinking of the cell that he'd occupied, where Hal had visited him almost every day of the five months they'd had him incarcerated there.
"Are you sure that you want to do this?" Leo asks him. Hal turns and looks at him. He has asked him this question several times since he decided to walk away from his old life. He nods, just the once.
"I'm sure." he confirms.
"You still have time to walk away."
"I know but I won't. I always keep my word Leo." The two men look at each other.
"Alright then, you need to…prepare yourself." He waits. Hal shrugs off his suit jacket and he hands it to Leo who folds it over one arm. Hal's clothes are expensive. He seems to have a weakness for well-cut suits, costly shirts and shoes that cost more than what Leo earns in a year. He supposes that it's a perk of being an Old One. Hal is always nothing short of immaculate in his attire. He's only ever seen him with his shirt collar unbuttoned once and that was the evening they'd had their conversation about hope and cycles and death. It feels like a long time ago now when in reality it was barely a week. A week since they had made their escape. They'd fled to this town by the sea and rented this place with cash provided by Hal, he didn't say where he got it from and Leo didn't ask. It's all just a framework at the moment, pie in the sky dreams for Leo but in time he hopes to make it his dream come true. He turns his head in Hal's direction and watches as he slips his braces off his shoulders and begins to unbutton his shirt. His movements are usually precise and purposeful but now he's slower and more contemplative and Leo realises right then that his new friend is afraid. He pretends to ignore the slight trembling in Hal's hand as he hands him the shirt and slides the braces back onto his shoulders, over the plain white vest that he wears. He kicks off his shoes and peels off his socks. He straightens and then looks at him and he looks strangely…vulnerable. He pauses for a beat.
"I'm ready." he informs him in a low voice.
"Tighter, you must make the bonds tighter." Hal instructs. He glances up when he hears Tom quietly sigh.
"Don't worry, you can't hurt me." he lowers his voice as Tom glances at him. He winces as he gives the thick leather belt that binds one wrist to the arm of the chair a final, vicious yank. Well not completely perhaps. He waits as Tom binds the other wrist just as securely.
He looks down at his bound wrists and he flexes both hands slowly and deliberately. Already he can feel apprehension churning in the pit of his stomach. He lifts his eyes again to Tom's face watching as he slowly retreats to sit on the arm of the sofa across from him. Hal quietly sighs.
"You don't have to sit guard Tom." He keeps his voice low.
"Someone has to keep an eye on ya."
"I'd rather you didn't."
"Tough because I am." Hal stares at him.
"It won't be pleasant." he begins and Tom nonchalantly shrugs.
"I've seen loads of unpleasant things Hal; I think I'll survive this."
"I'll say things…disgusting vile things that will shock you, will upset you."
"Sticks n' stones mate."
"And there'll be…" Hal pauses and averts his gaze for a moment. He swallows before lifting his eyes back to Tom's face "bodily fluids…" he whispers. He watches how Tom glances down to the base of his chair and he straightens slightly.
"What kind of…bodily fluids?" he asks warily and Hal rolls his eyes.
"What kind do you think? Quite possibly all of them." he hisses and he watches how his friend's expression changes, sees the mild alarm and disgust brew in his eyes. Hal shakes his head in irritation.
"Actually I'm beginning to think that now is not the right time to do this…"
"Hal, it's happenin' mate, there's nothin' you can do or say that'll make me change my mind. So calm down, if there's a mess then we'll clean it up just like we always do."
"I need more time to think about this…" Hal's voice rises slightly as the emerging fear curdles in the pit of his stomach. Tom sighs loudly and he slowly gets to his feet.
"This was your suggestion Hal, your idea. It'll be okay," he goes towards him and his voice lowers almost soothingly. "I got your back." he reminds him.
Hal glares at him.
"Am I not allowed to change my mind?" he grinds out. Any further words are cancelled out as pain grips his insides. It crushes and steals the breath from his lungs. The intensity of it makes him clench his fists and close his eyes.
He can do this, what was it that Leo said to do? He casts his mind back and all of a sudden he hears Leo's voice echoing clearly inside of his skull.
Breathe. Just breathe Hal.
It rips through him, sharp claws that tear through already tense muscles. Hal clenches his hands into tight fists, his knuckles showing starkly white. Across from him Leo watches.
"I can imagine…that you're…enjoying this…seeing me…suffer." Hal gasps once the spasm passes. Leo stares at him.
"I don't enjoy it Hal. You're in pain, how can I enjoy that?"
"Oh please, the least you can do is be honest with me. I know that you are! After all I enjoyed every moment of your pain in that cage every month. You earned me a lot of money. I could see you hated it, that you hated taking an innocent life and it was because of me. I put you in that cage." Hal hisses at him. Leo shakes his head slowly.
"No you didn't."
"Yes I did. Who do you think ordered your kidnapping? How do you think they knew where to find you? I'd been watching you for days, I could smell you." he snarls, baring his teeth angrily. He watches Leo get to his feet.
"What are you expecting me to do with that bit of information Hal? Hate you enough to want to kill you?" he slowly shakes his head.
"I can see that you're in pain and that you're just…lashing out. You warned me about that, about the desperation."
"And if you believe that then you are a fool!" Leo slowly approaches him. Hal is white pale with dusty greyish shadows beneath both eyes. He sees the anxiety in those eyes and he recognises it. He will do anything, say anything to be free.
"You need to learn how to breathe Hal, breathe through the pain." He tells him in a low mild voice.
"Breathe? Don't be so preposterous. It hurts…it really absolutely hurts so I fail to understand how fucking breathing will help matters!" he's desperate and he tugs futilely at his bonds. He watches as Leo pauses and then crouches down in front of him, into his line of vision. His brown eyes are patient and calm. He shows him no fear and that's a new experience for Henry Yorke because everyone is afraid of Lord Harry.
Right now Hal hates him because of that. Pain burrows deep inside of him, radiating constantly throughout his body without relief. It claws and tears and rips through sinew and muscle and it is utterly unrelenting. He has forgotten that it can feel like this, that it is this punishing. He's bound to this chair with his arms chained behind his back, with his legs tethered to the floor like a common criminal. Indignation keeps the pain company and he clings to it with what little dignity he has left.
For a short while all that can be heard is the sound of Hal's laboured breathing.
"Sure it can Hal. It'll help you to focus. Take a deep breath and fill your lungs. You can do it." he instructs in a low gentle voice. It doesn't soothe Hal, instead it annoys him, it annoys him intensely.
"Go fuck yourself!" he snarls at him instead. He lunges at him and at the same time his eyes blacken. The restraints around his chest stop him. Leo straightens and he takes a step back. Hal glares up at him.
"Don't you know who I am Leo? I don't have to do anything." Leo regards him for a moment with a dubious expression on his face.
"Oh I know exactly who you are Hal. I know how important you were. I've never forgotten what you are nor have I forgotten that it was you who asked me for help. You came into this willingly."
"And I made a mistake. I demand that you untie me this instant."
"And what if I don't? What are you going to do to me? No one knows that you're here; your vampire friends think that you're missing, most probably dead. It's just the fear talking." He crouches down in front of him once again but this time he keeps out of striking distance. A tense moment ticks by, punctuated by the sound of Hal's still heavy ragged breathing.
"You need to learn how to breathe. Take a slow deep breath and make sure that you fill your lungs. As you breathe out, slowly count to ten either in your head or out loud, whichever you're comfortable with and it will help you to focus against the pain, against the panic and against the fear."
"It's utterly ridiculous!" Hal retorts scornfully. Instead of looking affronted, Leo just grins at him.
"How do you know if you won't even try it? Or are you just afraid that a lyco might be right about something for once?" he goads. Hal regards him and his eyes slide back into their usual colour.
"You don't like the idea that I might be right." The realisation makes Leo smile even more and Hal feels the annoyance begin to fester.
"You won't be." he mutters in response.
Tom watches him warily. Hal is determined to do this even though he did accuse him of sneaking up on him.
"D'you think he's alright?" Alex whispers. Tom just nods, still watching him. He's doing something, it's quiet, under his breath and if he were a betting man which he most certainly isn't, he'd bet that he's counting. He's never helped a vampire through something like this before. He didn't even think that they could go through detox but he does remember the vampire who lived here before, Mitchell…he remembers that he didn't drink blood either so he must've gone through something like this as well. McNair always said to never trust a vampire and that the only good vampire was a proper dead one. He never got the chance to get to know Mitchell and Annie wouldn't talk about him after everything but he does remember that McNair didn't like him at all. He wonders what McNair would've made of Hal or the fact that Tom now considers the vampire his mate. His admission to Hal had come out of nowhere but it was the truth, he did consider him to be his best mate.
His eyes widen as Hal's head comes up and his eyes begin to widen. They fix on Tom's face with something akin to panic. His body makes an odd kind of lurch that alternatively fascinates and alarms the werewolf. Then understanding dawns and he quickly looks at Alex who is watching Hal with equally horrified fascination.
"Get a bowl." he instructs and Alex stares at him in disbelief.
"A bowl, the one out of the sink. Now." Alex huffs out a sigh.
"Why?" she demands placing an indignant hand on an equally indignant hip.
"Because if ya don't, there's gonna be a hell of a mess in here in about ten seconds. Go!" he raises his voice and with a sigh Alex disappears. She's back in an instant, the washing up bowl in her hands. Tom grabs it from her and lunges towards Hal as he vomits.
Blackish red bile fills the bowl and Tom tries to avert his gaze. It seems to never stop and it leaves Hal weak, dazed and slumped forwards in his chair only supported by his restraints. Tom slowly looks up at Alex who still stands nearby watching in silent disbelief. He glances back at Hal. His chin is on his chest, his eyes are closed and more of the bile stains his mouth and the front of his shirt. Wordlessly he looks back to Alex and hands her the bowl. He sees her disgust.
"Get rid of it, rinse the bowl an' bring it back."
"Jesus Christ I'm not his bloody nurse!" she exclaims and Tom frowns at her.
"Please…I'm sure he'd do it for you." Alex regards him and the bowl dubiously.
"Somehow I doubt it."
"Then you sit with him while I do it then." Tom snaps and Alex looks back at Hal. She gives a long suffering sigh and stomps closer to them. She takes the bowl and she glowers at them in turn.
"Just for your information, this wasn't part of the job description!" she hisses and disappears out of the room.
Alex eventually returns with the bowl duly rinsed out and a tea towel folded inside. She hands it to Tom and then retreats back to the sofa. Tom regards her for a moment.
"He's our mate Alex, he needs our help." he reminds her. Alex sits up straight and she glares at him once more.
"Correction, he's your mate. His mate killed me and some other mates of his got rid of my body and thanks to him I am now stuck here!" she snaps.
"But thanks to 'im you've got a place to stay. He coulda left you there but 'e didn't. 'E needs to get clean again an' he can't do that by 'isself."
"Oh yeah, he also drank some of my blood, did I tell you that?" she retaliates, her whole posture still spiky and outraged and Tom sighs.
"Yeah you did, loads o' times and he didn't do it on purpose." he corrects her. He picks up the tea towel and gently he dabs at Hal's chin and mouth. Alex watches how Hal's eyes roll beneath the lids but don't completely open. She sighs and gets to her feet and approaches them both once more. She crouches down in front of the vampire and fixes Tom with a steely expression.
"Fine but I'm not cleaning up any more vomit." she informs him. Tom glances at her and he slowly smiles.
"That's okay, I can do that."
He's distracted by the sound of Hal taking a breath. He watches as his head lifts up and his eyes open.
"Alex…" Tom warns as Hal's eyes flood black and he lunges, fangs on full display.
Both of them fall backwards in their haste to get out of the way.
Tom watches him, at how he stares at Alex. He reminds him of how a snake watches its prey. He's so still. Slowly Tom gets to his feet. He helps Alex to stand up.
"Hal…" The vampire doesn't respond but he continues to stare at Alex with black eyed fascination. Tom slowly turns his head to look at her to see her staring back at Hal.
"What's he doin'?" she mutters out of the side of her mouth.
"Watchin' you for some reason." he mutters back.
"Why don't you leave us alone for a bit Alex?" Tom suggests quietly and he continues to watch Hal. He's staring at the point just past Tom's left shoulder where Alex is standing.
"Why…he doesn't bloody scare me!" Alex hisses. Tom glances at her and he frowns.
"Alex…" he hisses and her expression is fierce.
"I have four brothers, I cleared up his vampire puke so seeing him all black eyed and fangy is not going to make me have an attack of the fucking vapours, I'm okay." She snarls softly. Tom rolls his eyes and he returns his attention to Hal.
"Fine…" he sighs under his breath and he takes a sideways step in front of Alex all the same.
The vampire blinks but his eyes remain polished black. He turns his head very slightly and regards him.
"Do I scare you Tom?" he enquires. The werewolf straightens marginally and flexes his shoulders just slightly.
"No ya don't." he replies and he sees how Hal's gaze sharpens and he tips his head very slightly to one side.
"Really? Then why is your heart pounding in your chest like a jackhammer?" he smiles very softly as Tom shifts restlessly, guiltily it would seem.
"At least do me the honour of being truthful Tom. I detest being lied to."
"I weren't lyin'. You gave us a fright that's all."
"Liar." he whispers.
"I'm not lyin' Hal. You caught me by surprise."
"Then why try to send Alex out of the room?"
"Because she don't need to see you like this."
"Like what exactly?"
"Like this." He points at him.
"Oh, a vampire you mean? Isn't that what I am? I'm a monster, a craven, soulless beast and the moment I'm free then the first thing I'm going to do is rip you apart piece by disgusting piece." He keeps his voice soft but the threat is implicit. Silence fills the room as vampire and werewolf stare at each other, willing each other to be the first to blink. Hal sighs, a low languid sound and he tilts his head and he looks past Tom at Alex who is slowly emerging.
"And you hiding there. It's a pity you're already dead but I suppose Cutler thought he was doing me a favour. Always so eager to please."
"Your blood…" he begins and his voice is loud in the stillness.
"Your blood tasted…divine I have to admit, a rare vintage. Maybe I should've had more." A hint of a smile plays around his lips but he doesn't break eye contact. Alex glares at him as she moves to stand beside Tom. Her body language screams defiance.
"Okay fine big scary vampire, is that the best you got?"
"Maybe it's too late for you but did you say you have four brothers? I wonder whether their blood would taste as nice as yours did. I wonder whether flavour is a genetic trait, it's not something I've thought about in any great detail if I'm to be perfectly honest but for you i just might investigate further."
"Alex…" Tom growls as she makes to go towards Hal. He grabs her around her shoulders and she looks at him with fury in her eyes. In the background Hal laughs.
"Oh Tom, let her play with the big scary vampire, better still, let her untie me and she'll find out first hand!" Hal jeers.
"Oh I already found out the first time thanks…"
"Alex, don't. He's just tryin' to get a rise outta ya." he whispers. He tightens his hands on her shoulders.
"Come and play with the big boys sweetheart." Hal lowers his voice invitingly and Tom turns his head and he glares at him.
"Hal!" he exclaims.
"I know that ain't you talkin' mate. I know you don't mean it." Tom's voice trembles as he struggles to keep calm.
"Don't I? You think you know me Tom but in truth you really don't."
"Then why don't you introduce y'self? Come on, tell me some stories. What was it that other vamp called ya? Lord Harry wasn't it? Tell me about him then." He goes to sit on the sofa arm again and he waits. Silence stretches out between them once more.
"Come on Hal, I'm waitin'." He sees how Hal sighs and closes his eyes. When they open again they're back to their normal colour and the fangs are gone.
"I'm…Tom I'm sorry." he whispers. He hazards a glance at Alex.
"I didn't mean to…say the things that I said." he murmurs shame faced.
"Yeah ya did but it's okay. You warned us you'd do this so it weren't such a big shock." Tom interrupts and Alex looks at him in shock.
"Umm…excuse me?" she exclaims.
"It won't be the last time…and it'll get worse before it gets better." Hal admits.
"I know." Hal regards him with new respect.
"You really are my friend aren't you?" Tom smiles faintly.
"Yeah, I really am." he confirms.
"I don't like being touched and I especially don't like being touched by the likes of you." Scorn drips from every word. Leo regards him sternly as he lowers his hand.
"I thought you'd be bored with baiting me by now. It doesn't work." he answers calmly. He pushes his hands into his trouser pockets and takes a few steps backwards.
"I just haven't found the chink in your armour yet but I'm working on it." Hal mutters darkly and Leo rolls his eyes.
"You won't find it because there isn't one."
"Everyone has a weak spot Leo."
"You've been here for five days now Hal. You've thrown every epithet, insult and obscenity you can think of at me. Surely you've had enough by now?" his answer is how Hal glares at him. He hasn't had anywhere near enough. Instead Leo sighs.
"You're burning up with a fever which is unusual because I thought vampires were cold blooded." He frowns as he mulls it over.
"It's part of the…process. It doesn't last for long." Hal responds eventually. As the craving for blood increases, he feels like he's being consumed by fire from the inside out. He feels like he could spontaneously combust. His hair sticks to the back of his neck and to his forehead and there is a fierce pounding inside of his skull that competes with the constant feeling of wanting to throw up. He's disgraced him in that manner already and suffered the indignity of Leo cleaning him up like a child. It was humiliating.
"Is there anything I can do to help ease the symptoms?" Leo asks and Hal stares at him.
"There's just one thing and I don't think you're willing to do that somehow."
"No I'm not."
"Not even if I begged, said please?" Hal pokes.
"You've already tried that, last night it was I believe." He sees the exhaustion etched in the vampire's face. The dusty shadows beneath those eyes of his have darkened somewhat and a rough stubble shadows his jaw. Neither of them has slept properly since Leo chained and shackled him to the chair. He knows that Hal is waiting for him to weaken. He gets the impression that the vampire is used to having the upper hand in every part of his life and to relinquish even the slightest part of it does not sit comfortably with him.
"I have money. It's yours, name your price." Leo regards him. Sweat sheens the vampire's skin and he's edgy sitting shackled to that chair. He's finding it hard to sit still. He hears the desperation, he can see it.
"I don't want your money Hal. You paid for the lease on this building and that is more than enough."
"Damn you, I need to get out of here, untie me you fucking hound, let me go, I command you!" the explosion of rage is shocking but in truth Leo has been waiting for it. It's been slowly building. He watches how he goes scarlet with anger but as quickly as it explodes then it dissipates. Leo regards him impassively.
"Do you feel better now?" he enquires after a couple of moments have passed. Hal glares at him.
"No. I don't want to be here, I want to leave." he mutters.
"It's easier for you to go back to what you know isn't it? But remember the reason why you wanted to leave in the first place." He shuffles a little bit closer to him.
"What are you so scared of?" Hal stares back at him and little by little the hardness he sees there disappears to be replaced by anxiety, by fear. Leo sees tears rim his eyes.
He doesn't reply.
Hal wakes suddenly, a gasp dying in his throat. He lifts his head and opens his eyes. Everything is blurry and he blinks and tries to focus. As his mind begins to clear, he notices that Tom is sleeping on the sofa, his legs dangling over the sofa arm. He listens to his soft snores and he envies him the oblivion. The room is in semi-darkness, a single lamp burns in the far corner but all it seems to do is create more shadows than light.
He's hot, feverish. He can feel the sweat slide over his skin. His head pounds.
His eyes scan the room. He can't see Alex. No doubt she'll be lurking somewhere nearby, ready to poke at him and torture him a little bit more. So he drank some of her blood, it wasn't as though he knew it belonged to her. The blood on the floor however he refuses to think about.
But the taste of it, Jesus Christ he will never forget the taste of it.
As if on cue he feels his mouth begin to water as he remembers the sensations, the feel, the taste of it in his mouth. It burns his senses alive once more. He could walk out of here if he wants to, he could lay on the charm without a second thought when it concerns blood. He feels his eyes begin to change as bloodlust rises and takes possession. He tests the leather straps that bind his wrists to the arms of the chair but they hold fast. Frustration flares instead.
All of a sudden she's in front of him and her appearance is so unexpected that it stops Hal in his tracks.
"So you're awake now are you?" he lifts his head and he looks into her eyes. Her skin is as pale as his, stretched over impossibly high cheekbones.
"Alex." Her name comes out as a shaky whisper. She stays on the periphery and he doesn't blame her. He takes a breath and pauses for a moment.
"What time is it?" he asks, his voice low. His head feels weird, cloudy almost; the pain seems to be easing.
"No idea, late." Alex replies with a shrug. An awkward silence stretches out uncomfortably between them.
"About earlier…" he begins.
"Oh the puking? Well at one point I was seriously worried whether your head was going to start spinnin' around…" she smiles but it slowly fades at his look of confusion.
"Oh come on…you mean…The Exorcist…possibly the best horror movie ever created…no?" she huffs out a sigh.
"Why am I not surprised?" she mutters with a roll of her eyes.
"Given what I am, watching anything like…that is never a good idea. I don't need to be reminded." He looks away. Yet again she manages to make him feel small and insignificant and all she has to do is speak to him.
"It's not real…" she begins and he lifts his head and stares at her.
"But I am and believe me, whatever that story is about, I am much, much worse." he hisses back at her and sees her expression change.
"You didn't seem so at the café. I thought you were quite…sweet in a shy…weird…care in the community kind of way. And then you were late for our date."
Good God so much has happened since then.
"You see what I want you to see." Hal mutters and he glances down at his legs. He wants her to go away and leave him in peace. He hopes that she gets the hint.
"Oh yes, I saw alright." she taunts. Hal looks up. He blinks.
His eyes slowly go wide. His mouth drops open.
"Catherine?" he whispers. She regards him and she then smiles. It's slow and filled with knowing, with satisfaction.
"Hello lover." she whispers. Hal's brain struggles for purchase, tries to understand. He turns his head, scanning the room, looking for Alex. She was just here a second ago. He can't see her. What the hell is going on?
"Christ, what are you doing here?" he hisses at her. A faint smile lifts the corner of her lips. She slowly approaches him and he can smell her perfume, the faint rose scent that he remembers clinging to her skin. Her chocolate brown hair is unbound and it flows over narrow shoulders, covering skin he remembers as being like ivory velvet. She looks fragile; the simple blue gown that she wears drapes her body perfectly. It hides a body created in heaven itself.
"I thought I'd pay you a visit. It's been such a long time Hal. Oh look at you. I was so…insanely in love with you, do you remember?" she stops and then kneels by his legs. He stiffens as she lays her head in his lap, his eyes wide with abject horror.
"Jesus, you can't…you can't be here…you're…" his words halt as she lifts her head suddenly and looks into his eyes.
"I'm what Hal? What am I?" she enquires sweetly. She waits.
"You're…you're dead!" He watches how she smiles. It's almost beatific. She gets to her feet. He watches her warily as she moves slowly around to stand behind him. He feels the hair on the back of his neck stand up and prickle. He starts violently as he feels her arms slide over his shoulders, the palms of her hands sliding down over his chest and stopping at the waistband of his trousers. He's absolutely frozen solid.
"So I am." she whispers close to his ear. He turns his head slightly to look at her and she smiles into his eyes.
"You stole my heart Hal, how many vampires can claim to have done that? Though you didn't tell me that was what you were I remember. Not until it was far too late." He flinches as she presses a kiss on his cheek. It feels cold and clammy and his stomach begins to churn with fear. She straightens and moves around and she lowers herself almost daintily onto his lap.
"Catherine…please…this is insane." Hal replies in an uptight whisper.
"Is it really? Do you know what I think is insane? That the man that I fell so madly in love with, under whose spell I was so completely under, could turn out to be such a cold, soulless murderer." She glances down between them. She trails her fingers down from his collarbone and she pats his chest again almost consolingly.
"I'm s…sorry." he stammers feeling how her hand strokes the skin through the thin material of his shirt. She can't be here, this can't be happening but yet it is. Tom is still sleeping and Alex... He swallows.
"Oh you pretended, you were so good at that I remember. You pretended to be a decent kind human being but in reality you were the furthest thing from decent or even human. I didn't find that out until the last possible moment, when you ripped my heart out of my chest. Literally." And with that she punches her fist into his chest. His eyes widen and he gives a gasp as it penetrates his ribcage. He feels bone crack and splinter and white hot pain roars through his entire system. He can feel it, he can feel her hand inside of his chest and he wheezes as she rips it out again. By now he's trembling and he's panting. He stares at her with wide, stunned eyes. Her hand is soaked in his blood right up to the middle of her forearm. It streams through her fingers. She's holding something in the palm of her hand and his eyes drop to it. With a gleeful smile she uncurls her fingers.
She holds his dead black heart.
Tom bolts upright when he hears Hal's agonised scream. His brain crashes to brutal consciousness and he's on his feet before he realises what is going on. He turns and sees Alex standing in front of the vampire, a look of pure fear on her face.
"I didn't do or say anythin' to him, I swear." she babbles as Tom looks at Hal.
"One minute we were talking and the next he…" Her words fade as Tom goes to Hal. The screaming has stopped but his back is arched as if in pain, his eyes are wide open and it takes Tom a second to realise that he isn't breathing.
"Jesus…Hal…" he grabs his shoulders and he shakes him hard.
"Hal!" he exclaims.
Hal gives a loud gasp and at the same time he seems to come to. Tom lets go of him as he gasps again. Tom watches how he looks down and then around, his eyes wide and panicky. He looks at Tom in confusion.
"Y'alright mate?" Hal frowns.
"What?" he looks at Alex and Tom sees his expression change very slightly.
"You were screamin' the place down…" Tom reminds him. Hal blinks and gives his head a little shake.
"Was I? I...no I wasn't." He looks down at his shirt again.
"You called me Catherine." Alex interrupts and Hal's head snaps up and he stares at her with wide stunned eyes.
"I did what?" he whispers.
"We were talking about horror movies, you were all dark and gloomy and then you completely zoned out on me. After that you started screamin'."
"I don't scream." Hal mutters and he looks away.
"Well you were doing something pretty close to it just now." Tom watches him. Hal's pretty shaken up by whatever it was that made him react like that. It was probably a nightmare.
"But you're okay now though aren't ya?" he interrupts suddenly and startled, Hal looks at him. He just nods.
"Yes." he whispers.
He says nothing as he threads the chain through the handcuffs through the metal ring in the wall and secures it. Leo leaves it long enough so that Hal can lie down and sleep if he feels like it. The irony of the situation isn't lost on Leo but he doesn't feel the urge to taunt the vampire and needle him about his circumstances. Hal was the one who suggested all of this restraint in the first place. The vampire is worn out; he can barely keep his eyes open. He waits as Leo tests the strength of the chain and the ring and he lies down once he's satisfied. He has to admit he finds his compliance unsettling. Hal lies down without a word and Leo carefully places the blanket over him. He closes his eyes but Leo knows that he doesn't sleep.
"I will see you in the morning." he tells him in a low voice. Hal doesn't respond but Leo sees how he trembles.
He slowly climbs the stairs and leaves the cellar. He quietly closes the door and unhooks the key that is suspended on a small nail nearby and he locks the door and fastens the padlock.
A few minutes later he returns with a bundle of blankets and a pillow. He arranges them on the floor in front of the door and he looks at them.
No, the irony of the situation has not left him at all.
Hal is sitting on the mattress the next morning when Leo reappears. He's carrying a small tray which contains a delicate china tea cup and a small plate of toast. A change of clothes for the vampire is looped carefully over one arm. The two men watch each other. Hal places the tray on the floor beside the mattress and then backs away and places the clothing on the chair. He turns and he looks at Hal who is eyeing the tray with widened eyes.
"It's just tea and a slice of toast. It's yours if you think you can stomach it." Hal's eyes tip to Leo's for a moment before he tentatively reaches forward and with both hands he carefully scoops up the tea cup. The chain rattles noisily through the ring as he does this. He looks at the cup for a moment before he looks at Leo once more.
"Thank you." His voice is low but Leo hears his gratitude.
"I could unchain you if you'd like?" To his surprise Hal shakes his head.
"This is fine." he assures him. Leo watches how he slowly, reverently lifts the cup to his lips and takes a tiny sip. His eyes close in bliss.
"How do you feel?" Leo enquires. He watches how Hal's eyes remain closed for a moment or two, maybe longer before they open and focus on him.
"I'm scared." he whispers. Leo tilts his head to one side.
"Of what exactly?" he asks curiously.
"Of everything. I've done this before and it never lasts. What if it fails and I'm worse than ever…when people talk about monstrous creatures I'm so much more than that, so much worse."
"The difference this time Hal is that I'll be by your side and we'll take each day as it comes. We'll take each moment as it comes if we have to, we'll break it down into easy manageable pieces for you. We will make it work somehow." he promises.
"I want it to work."
"Then we will, by whatever means necessary."
"He's determined to do this isn't he…get clean I mean?" Tom looks away from Hal and he looks at her. He nods.
"Yeah." he agrees.
"What'll happen if he fails?" her voice lowers. Tom returns his attention to Hal. He's slumped forwards in his chair, his chin is on his chest and he looks like he's asleep. Tom frowns faintly.
"'E's an Old One Alex. Remember what they were like. 'E was one of 'em, 'e was cruel, vicious and cold. They're all gone now apart from 'im and if 'e slips then we'll all be in big trouble."
"An' not think twice about it. One of the other vampires called him Lord. Never 'eard o' that before."
"He's an actual Lord?" Tom shrugs.
"Dunno, 'e never went into details. 'E might be." Tom sighs quietly.
"I know you don't know 'im like I know 'im but when I first met 'im I 'ated his guts and he 'ated mine but 'e's me mate now and I 'ave to look out for him, look after 'im. He's alright once you get to know 'im."
"He's an arrogant pain in the arse." Alex mutters.
"Yeah, 'e's that as well but e's Hal. Give 'im a chance, ya don't 'ave to like 'im but give him a chance. He might grow on you a bit." He grins at her and she rolls her eyes and quietly chuckles.
"Yeah, like mould."
Tom places the cup on the bedside table and he looks at Hal. He lies on the bed, listless and unmoving.
"Cup of tea for ya. I can't promise it's as nice as Annie's tea and if you don't like it then you can blame Alex, she made it." he tells him. Hal doesn't respond. He just continues to stare straight ahead. Tom sees how he shivers like he's cold.
"Come on, you can't lie in bed all day feelin' sorry for y'self. Drink up." He looks around, sees a chair and drags it to his bedside and plonks himself down onto it. This does get Hal's attention. He frowns.
"What are you doing?" he asks. His voice is low and husky. Tom folds his arms.
"Keepin' ya company."
"Don't you think you've done enough of that recently?" Slowly, laboriously Hal sits up. He rakes his fingers tiredly through his hair and it sticks up in untidy, un-Hal like tufts. He blinks and reaches for his cup. He holds it between both hands and looks down into it.
"How are ya feelin'?" Hal slowly lifts his head and he looks at him. He wants to confess his fear, his feelings of self-loathing and how close he feels to giving up and allowing himself to free fall into oblivion. Instead he smiles faintly.
"Exhausted." he murmurs instead and he takes a sip of his tea.
"It'll take you a while afore you feel more like y'self I reckon so don't worry about stuff. Me 'n' Alex can take care of things for a while." Tom assures him. Hal looks at him once more. He replaces the cup on the bedside cabinet.
"Thank you." He goes to lie down again.
"You don't like your tea do ya?" Hal pauses. He glances at the cup and wordlessly shakes his head.
"Neither did I but she offered and I couldn't say no. There's plenty of time for her to get better at it I suppose, wi' a bit o' practice." Hal tries to imagine Alex making tea and a whisper of a smile drifts across his face. He lies down again. He still aches and his head feels like it's full of wet towels. He's exhausted but he can't let go enough to allow himself to sleep. He turns his head and he looks at Tom who hasn't moved from his chair. All of a sudden he feels glad, stupidly glad for his company.
"I remember the first time I went outside after I went through detox with Leo." Hal watches how Tom's eyes sharpen with interest. Tom hadn't known Leo, not like he had but during the brief time he'd been here, they'd struck a chord with each other.
"We went for a walk along the sea front. It was freezing cold. I couldn't stop shaking, I'm not sure if it was because it was cold or that it was part of the…process. I'd been in Southend for three months and the sun had just appeared over the horizon. There was hardly a soul to be seen." He pauses as he remembers. It feels as though it was yesterday.
"We saw her standing on the esplanade and she was crying. Leo took one look at her and decided there and then that we had to help her. He could never refuse a damsel in distress." Hal smiles softly, reminiscently.
"She ignored us for a little while but Leo persevered until she realised that we could see her. She was lost you see, had no memory of her passing so she came back to our barber's shop and in time she took care of us and Leo fell in love." He pauses again as his throat thickens at the bittersweet memory.
"Pearl." Hal stares up at the ceiling and he nods.
"Pearl." he whispers. He turns his head and he looks at Tom.
"Between us we must take care of Alex, we must try to help her find her unfinished business."
"What if she don't find it, what then?"
"We take care of her anyway." Tom frowns.
"She won't like that, she's bossy that 'un." He pauses as a thought occurs to him and he regards Hal suspiciously.
"You're not gonna fall in love with her are ya?" he sees the expression of pure horror that crosses the vampire's face.
"Good God of course not!" he exclaims. He pauses.
"I did drink her blood after all." he murmurs as an afterthought.
He sits by his window and watches life go on outside. Everything has changed beyond recognition. Leo is gone; Pearl has gone and now so has Annie and the baby. The cycle came so perilously close to ending. Almost but not quite. He turns his head and his eyes take in the room that has become his over the last few months. His books are arranged in size as well as alphabetical order on a bookcase flanking his narrow single bed. The photograph of Leo is back on the mantelpiece in a new frame after Kirby destroyed the original. He turns his head and looks at the coffee table and the small suitcase that rests upon it. A small smile lifts the corners of his lips and he goes to it. He opens it, revealing its contents. He pauses and his eyes take in his room again.
He can begin again. He can break down each day into small manageable sections. He can create a new rota and he knows that Tom will help him. It took time to set up originally and it will take time again. He can do this. He smiles faintly at the confidence those four words give him. He can.
One by one he lifts out the small ivory coloured dominoes and one by one with practiced care and precision he begins to arrange them.
The outside world begins to fade away.