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New Fic: Baggage

Baggage
Fandom: Being Human UK
Rated: PG
Category: Season Five Trio Friendship, Halex. Angst, Friendship, Family.
Series: Five. Post “The Final Broadcast” but pre extra scene.
Spoilers: Nothing specific, but “The Final Broadcast” for the state of our trinity. Also, mild references to Ian and his idiosyncrasies.
Word Count: 1755
Summary: Everyone’s got baggage, but some people have a whole lot more than others. Good thing a burden shared is a burden halved. Or in this case, split into thirds.

xxx

Alex blinked.

“Hal?” she asked, all confusion and insecurity.

Hal sat up straighter and looked at her. “Yes?”

“What’s wrong?”

“Noth… nothing. Why?”

“Well,” explained Alex, “apart from the fact that you’re stuttering, you just turned off faster than a light switch.”

Now it was Hal’s turn to blink in confusion. “I did… I did what?”

“Well, things were just starting to really get going, and now you’re all the way over there,” answered Alex, pointing to him.

Hal looked around. He was indeed as far from Alex as he could be without leaving the couch, which only a few seconds earlier had been the site of some serious wooing while a movie played on the telly.

“I’m sorry,” he muttered. “I just… need to go.”

Alex stared at him in disbelief for a moment before finding her voice.

“You need to go?”

“Yes,” confirmed Hal.

“It takes us months to do this and now you need to go? Just like that? You picked a fine time to go all squirrely again.”

Hal ignored her choice in adjectives and slid over to her. He kissed her lightly on the forehead.

“I’m sorry, but yes. I need to go,” he said.

“And where, pray tell, do you need to go?” asked Alex, crossing her arms and continuing to stare Hal down.

“Just… somewhere. It’s important.”

“It bloody well better be,” huffed Alex.

“It is.”

Alex sighed and waved him off. “Fine. Go on, then.”

“Thank you.”

Hal vanished before Alex could respond. When he was gone, Alex stopped the movie, then flipped through the channels for a few minutes. But shortly, she turned the telly off and sank down into the couch.

“Bloody hell,” she murmured. She ran a hand across her face and let out a big breath. As she did so, she suddenly yelped.

“Ow!”

She ran her hand over her face again and when she reached her mouth, she closed her eyes in realization as she remembered the small cut there. Hal’s earlier ministrations had been enjoyable enough for her to forget about it, but she’d split her lip yesterday while trying to crack a walnut with her teeth. Hal had berated her for it, but that had been the end of it.

Until now. Alex dabbed at her lip again, and her finger came away slightly red. Her lip wasn’t bleeding on its own, but if she messed with it, it oozed. And Lord knows Hal had been messing with it earlier. Alex sighed and gently licked her lips. She couldn’t taste any blood, but she knew Hal wouldn’t have had the same experience.

He might be human now, but there were some things from his old life that he could never let go, and this undoubtedly qualified as understandable baggage.

Alex leaned her head back and stared at the ceiling, wishing for all the world that she could Rentaghost to follow Hal and talk him back off the ledge.

She sat up a moment later.

“Well, no sense in wishing, Dad always said,” she muttered. Then she started pulling on her shoes.

When she was finished, she stood up and walked to the window. Hal’s car was outside, so wherever he’d gone, he’d done so on foot.

“Right, then. Off we go,” she said to herself.

It took her twenty minutes to find him sitting on a park bench staring at nothing.

He didn’t notice her come up behind him, so she touched him on the shoulder.

“Hey.”

Hal jumped like he’d been shocked, then nodded at her stiffly.

“Hello,” he said.

Alex chuckled. “Don’t be like that.”

“Like what, exactly?”

“All… formal-like.”

Hal sighed. “And how would you have me be, then?”

His voice had an edge of irritation to it, and Alex sighed as she came around the bench to sit next to him.

“Now, don’t go getting all pissy. I didn’t mean it like that. I just meant…”

She trailed off, and Hal looked at her for the first time since she’d arrived.

“What?”

“Well, just that after everything you don’t have to be like that. It’s okay to relax, you know. I mean, Jesus, you were practically down my throat back at the house.”

Hal stood up and took a few steps away.

“Don’t remind me.”

Alex’s eyebrows rose all the way to her hairline. “Excuse me?”

Hal turned back and shook his head. “No. I meant I shouldn’t have left like that. It was discourteous.”

“No. No, you shouldn’t have.”

“I’m sorry. But I…”

Hal looked down at the ground and actually rubbed the toe of one shoe in the dirt like a child caught in some sort of mischief. Alex might have laughed if he hadn’t looked so very miserable. As it was, she took pity on him.

“I know,” she said.

Hal looked up. “Know what?”

Alex gestured at her lip. “It was this, wasn’t it?”

Hal’s eyes got shiny before he nodded.

“It’s alright,” said Alex. “I get it.”

“You do?”

Alex nodded. “Yeah. I mean, this type of thing is part of us, like it or not.”

“I suppose so,” said Hal, sighing in defeat.

“So, what are we going to do about it, then?” asked Alex, when Hal didn’t say anything more.

Hal stared at her for a long moment before shaking his head again.

“I’m not sure. I suppose it would be prudent to…”

Alex cut him off. “No. Stop it. Right there.”

“You don’t know what I was going to say.”

“Let me guess,” said Alex, putting on her best Hal accent. “It would be prudent to stop this before it gets any farther because I’m a monster and I’ll always be a monster even now and what’s the point in trying?”

She raised her eyebrows at Hal, who scowled back, before using her own voice to ask, “Am I close?”

Suddenly, Hal found the distant skyline far more interesting than anything in his vicinity. As he gazed into the distance, he nodded slowly.

“That’s what I thought,” said Alex. “And that’s a load of bollocks.”

Hal rounded on her. “Is it?”

“Yes!” shouted Alex, standing up and getting in Hal’s face.

“How can you say that? Does tonight prove nothing to you?”

“Only that we’ve got baggage like every other couple on the planet!”

Hal laughed. “This is not normal baggage.”

“Maybe not,” admitted Alex, “but it’s what we’ve got, and we’re just going to have to deal with it.”

Hal sighed and slowly sat back down. “I’m not sure that I can,” he whispered.

“Yeah, well, me neither,” said Alex, just as softly.

“So what’s the point?”

“The point is I’m willing to try.”

Hal looked up, eyes a mixture of hope and doubt.

“Really? Still? After all this?”

Alex smiled. “Yeah.”

Hal smiled back, but then his grin faltered. “I can’t promise that this, or something like it, won’t happen again.”

“Neither can I, you prat. That’s how relationships are. No one knows what’s going to happen. I do know one thing, though.”

Hal looked up expectantly, and Alex continued.

“This’ll look a lot better after the cupboards have been dusted.”

Hal blinked, but took her meaning. “What about the movie?”

“We weren’t watching it anyway.”

“True.”

“So, home, then?”

“Well, I have been meaning to clean the oven.”

Alex laughed. Then she stood up and offered her hand to Hal. He hesitated a minute, but he took it, and Alex smiled.

They reached Honolulu Heights a short time later.

Hal immediately headed toward the kitchen and donned his trademark Marigolds while Alex read a trashy magazine on the couch. Occasionally, she’d glance into the kitchen and shake her head, wondering how exactly she’d ended up in a pseudo-relationship with someone like Hal. But then she’d chuckle, knowing that if she told anyone that tale, she’d likely be immediately dismissed as mad.

It was during one of these moments that Tom came home from work.

Alex looked up as he did and spoke her thoughts out loud. “Guess it’s a good thing I’ve got you, then.”

Tom stopped in the doorway and blinked. “What you on about?”

Alex motioned with her head toward Hal in the kitchen. Tom followed her gesture and nodded.

“He in one of his moods?”

Alex nodded.

Tom kicked off his shoes and sat down next to Alex on the couch.

“So, what you wanna do tonight, then?”

Alex shrugged.

“We could always play Flaming Orc,” suggested Tom.

Alex sighed. “Again?”

“What? Ian mighta been crazy, but the game ain’t half bad!”

Alex hated to admit it, but Tom was right. Ever since Hal’s half-baked protégé had introduced them to the game, she and Tom had actually gotten hooked on it. Hal, of course, was far too sensible for that.

And so Alex nodded. “Alright.”

Tom grinned, then scurried off to change out of his work clothes. When he returned, he and Alex set up for a new game.

“Right,” said Tom. “Now, I’m off tomorrow and you know Hal will be busy for hours, so we can play as long as we’d like.”

“Good,” said Alex, cracking her knuckles. “Let’s do this.”

Tom rubbed his hands together. “You know you’re going down, right?”

“We’ll see about that,” answered Alex.

And so it was that Honolulu Heights saw another round of Flaming Orc turn out with Alex on top while Hal organized, cleaned, dusted, and defrosted to his heart’s content.

Or, more importantly, so it was that the house witnessed another night of Alex and Tom using their friendship to distract one another from their problems while Hal dealt with his demons in the only way he knew.

In the morning, Tom would wake after dreaming of slaying dragons.

Hal would be embarrassed but willing to give life as a human another go.

And Alex would be willing to wait on him a while longer.

If it had the ability, the house would have laughed. After all, it had seen a lot of baggage in its days as a B&B, but none compared to the stuff these three carted around. Still, even Honolulu Heights understood that burdens shared are burdens halved (or in this case, split into thirds), and that that was the only way things could work for its current residents.

It probably seemed a strange way to live to anyone on the outside looking in, but for a former ghost, a former werewolf, and a former vampire, it was home, and that was all any of them could ask for.

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