Alex glanced up at the sign of the shop they meant to rob. From Dust Till Dawn it read in dull golden letters. Roman Torchwick pushed the door open and strode confidently inside, while Alex and the rest of Junior's men followed behind him.
"Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a dust shop open this late?" Torchwick drawled as he took his cigar out of his mouth and tapped it lightly with his finger, scattering ashes on the floor. And then, suddenly, one of Junior's men pulled out a gun to emphasize the purpose of their little "visit."
"P-please!" the elderly shopkeeper said from behind his counter, putting both hands into the air. "Just take my lien and leave."
"Shhh, calm down," Torchwick said in a way that was almost kind. Almost. "We're not here for your money." He turned to one of the grunts and all pretense of kindness fell from his face and tone. "Grab the dust."
The grunt put a large black box on the counter and opened it. Inside were canisters used to store powdered dust, which were sold in glass pipes along the walls. Alex received one from that grunt and sighed as he went to do his part in robbing the shopkeeper of his livelihood. Behind him, he could hear another of the mobsters demanding the dust crystals that were on display underneath the glass counters.
What am I even doing? Alex wondered, shaking his head. He had to consciously work at keeping his hand relaxed, lest he accidentally crush the canister in his grip out of frustration. It's for Dana, he had to remind himself. I need to do this to keep Dana alive.
But did he really? There was a niggling feeling in the back of his head, and he couldn't help but wonder if perhaps he had overlooked something. Wasn't there something else he could have done to acquire the funds necessary to continue to pay for Dana's hospital bills? Had he truly thought over all his options before latching on to what he at the time thought had been his only real choice?
Before Alex could answer that question, a sudden crash interrupted his thoughts. He turned around and saw one of the mobsters lying amidst a pile of plastic bottles and bagged chips, groaning painfully. One of the other grunts went to check what happened and disappeared behind one of the shelves. There was a girlish shout, a pained cry, and then an all too familiar streak of crimson as both the mobster and his would-be victim went flying through the window, scattering glass everywhere outside.
Alex's eyes widened. Torchwick and the rest of the mobsters went out to face their new foe, but Alex had seen her fight before. Torchwick aside, as Alex knew nothing about him, he knew that the mobsters had absolutely no chance against her. Indeed, within a matter of seconds, Ruby Rose defeated them all without breaking a sweat. Fortunately for them, she avoided using the blade of her scythe, so they would all live to see another day.
She shouldn't have been nearly so merciful.
"Hey, how about a little help out here?" Torchwick called out once he realized he was alone.
Alex grit his teeth together and balled his hands into tight fists. He could feel his nails dig into his palms. Slowly, he emerged through the doorway to stand in front of Torchwick and face Ruby, whose silver eyes widened in shock as he revealed himself.
"You know her?" Torchwick said, arching an eyebrow at him.
"Ruby," he growled, ignoring the thief. "Leave."
"Alex, what are you doing?" Ruby said. "Are you... are you working for him?" She gestured with her scythe at Torchwick.
"Not by choice," Alex spat.
"Oh, that hurts," Torchwick drawled sarcastically. "And here I thought we were close friends."
Alex glanced over his shoulder and glowered at the thief. "Shut up. I will kill you."
Torchwick smirked and leaned casually against his cane.
"Is this about your sister?" Ruby asked. "Is that why you're working for him? For the money?" When he didn't reply, she pressed forward. "This is wrong, Alex. Just because you need the lien doesn't mean you can rob innocent people. Please don't do this. Don't make me fight you."
Alex let out a long breath, as he stared back into Ruby's pleading eyes. Such nice words, he thought. So pure. So innocent. So heroic. He glanced back over his shoulder and said to Torchwick, "Go."
That man didn't need another warning. He immediately turned and ran away.
"Stop!" Ruby cried out, making to intercept him, but Alex cut her off and stood in her way. "Alex..." Ruby stared at him with a crestfallen expression. Nevertheless, she raised her scythe into a combat ready stance. "Please step aside. I don't want to have to fight you."
"Yeah," Alex sighed, transforming his hands into claws. "Me neither."
And then, to his surprise, Alex realized that he meant what he said. He did not want to do this. He did not want to have to fight Ruby. Without her, Dana would have been torn apart right before his very eyes, and for all his great power he would have been helpless to stop it. He did not want to fight against the person who had saved his sister's life. He wasn't sure that he could.
That was a strange thing to think, some distant part of Alex's mind whispered to him. It was only natural for the hero to face off against the monster. That was how every story went.
Anger suddenly rushed into Alex, filling every part of his mind with an all consuming fire. This didn't sit well with him. Nothing about anything he was doing right now sat well with him. The extortions, the robberies, Junior and Torchwick – none of this was what he wanted to do. But then the fire seared away every other thought in his head, and it left Alex with a single moment of perfect clarity.
None of this was what he needed to do either.
Alex lowered his hands, his claws melting back into fingers, and he stood aside. Ruby blinked at him, before lowering her own weapon and dashing forward, whispering a quiet "Thank you" as she passed him by.
Alex could only shake his head and chuckle humorlessly at that. Why the hell was she thanking him? If it wasn't for the fact that Torchwick was obviously the ringleader of their group, she ought to have been trying to arrest him too for his part in their crimes. He watched her back for a few minutes, as she chased Torchwick to a nearby rooftop. A part of him wanted to go help the little girl, if only because he wanted to be there to kill the thief himself. But when a second huntress arrived as an ally, Alex decided to leave. If she found out that he had been working with Torchwick, his betrayal notwithstanding, it was more than likely he would end up getting wrapped in a fight with Ruby after all.
But that was just as well. He had other matters to attend to.
It was time for him to renegotiate his terms of employment.
Someone – undoubtedly Torchwick, assuming he got away – must have contacted Junior and told him of what had happened, because by the time Alex arrived at the club, he was met with thinly veiled hostility. Every mobster there kept a wary eye on him, their fingers playing dangerously close to their guns, swords, and axes. Alex ignored them all as he went up the stairs to Junior's office.
"You!" Junior seethed as soon as Alex opened the door. "What the hell were you thinking? I told you to go serve as Torchwick's backup and now I hear that you turned on him? What kind of game do you think you're playing?"
"A game," Alex bristled. "That's a good way to put it. I've been trying to play at a fucking game that I shouldn't have and didn't need to. I should have done this from the start." Without warning, both of Alex's arms unraveled into a mass of black tendrils. They launched forward, with one slamming against Junior's chest and pinning him to the wall behind him, a foot off the ground. The other did the same to Miltia who stood next to him, and a third similar appendage grew from his side to immobilize Melanie. "I should have thought of this first," Alex repeated. "I never needed to work for you. I don't know why I thought I did. It was you, Junior. You showed me that I have another option."
"What the hell are you talking about?" Junior gasped out from underneath the crushing pressure of the wriggling tendrils.
"Protection money, Junior. You should know how it works." Alex smiled thinly. "Ten thousand lien per week; forty per month. That's how much you're going to be paying me from now on to keep you safe."
"That's insane," Junior spat. "You know I can't pay that much."
"You must not value your life very much, then."
Junior went white.
"Here's the deal," Alex said. "You keep paying me the money I ask for, and I'll leave you alone. But you don't get to extort or harm anyone else ever again. That's done. You run your business clean or not at all."
"Don't you think it's hypocritical to tell someone to stop doing something when you're doing the exact same thing as them?"
Alex bared his teeth. "Do you think I care? Do I look like some kind of a hero to you?"
"You look like a monster," Junior snarled.
"We're both monsters," Alex said. "The only difference is that you chose to become one."
Junior glared at him balefully. "Fine," he growled. "You win. Forty thousand a month. Just let us go."
"Good." Alex withdrew his tendrils and let all three of them fall back to the floor. "Then you can consider this my formal resignation."
I think that's the best way to start of this set of author's notes, because I am about to address something that is incredibly stupid and yet crops up all too often in the reviews for pretty much any Prototype fic.
That something is the subject of Alex's humanity, or lack thereof.
One of the common ideas of Alex's characterization is that he is a complete monster, who cares nothing for no one and will kill and consume pretty much anyone he wants. This is shallow, and even toes the line of what would be considered fanon. The only reason why I wouldn't consider this complete fanon is because it at least has some grounding in canon. (Or in the case of Prototype 2 Alex, it is completely canon. But since this is not P2!Alex, and I will most likely never write a P2!Alex fic, we can disregard this completely.) Early game Alex was pretty much a complete monster, save for his relationship with his sister.
But that's the thing.
Whenever people say "Zomg, Alex wouldn't care about anyone except himself and Dana," I just facepalm. I can only assume that either A) those people never actually played the game past the first hunter battle because it was too hard, and decided to just read a bunch of fics and spread more fanon instead; or B) they paid little to no attention to the actual story of the game.
Here's the thing: Is Alex a nice guy? No. Is he a hero? Oh, hell no. But that claim that Alex only cares about himself and Dana is something so easily refuted that it beggars belief how anyone could even come to that conclusion.
If Alex really was so selfish, he wouldn't have claimed that the original Mercer's act of unleashing the virus on Manhattan was unforgivable. He wouldn't have nearly sacrificed himself to save Manhattan from the nuke. And while some people might claim that these, or at least the latter, was done to protect Dana, you'll note that at no point does he ever talk about Dana and the nuke in the same conversation.
And even if you were to disregard those examples, the Anchor storyline from the comics lends further credence to my position. For those of you who haven't read the Anchor – and you honestly aren't missing all that much, because it's pretty bad – it shows how Alex went from being this anti-hero/anti-villain type character from P1 to a complete monster in P2.
What's relevant from that comic is not what he becomes, because that goes into P2, but what kind of person he started off as. In the beginning of the comic, which takes place shortly after the end of P1, Alex is traveling around the world in what can basically be summed up as a soul searching journey. In the process, he ends up helping a lot of people. He kills a warlord in Africa who has been terrorizing other people; he liberates a town from a drug cartel that enslaved the citizens; he even starts to fall in love with a woman (which, spoiler, is what causes him to turn evil when she betrays him). This is the Alex that has arrived in Remnant, with the caveat that he also has Dana to take care of.
Now you can argue that he wasn't actually trying to help the people who were suffering, but rather that he was out to punish the guilty instead, and that would be a valid thing to say. Except it doesn't matter. If he was as selfish as some people claim, then he wouldn't have cared either which way.
Honestly, it's comments like these that made me quit writing Prototype fics for a while some time ago. It's just so stupid, and it makes me want to pull my hair out. And while I would completely agree that my representation of Alex in this fic may not be 100% canonically accurate, as honestly this fic is just something I'm doing when I feel the need to free write so I'm not too concerned about the finer details, I can guarantee you it is a lot closer to his actual characterization than this complete monster fanon!Alex some people keep thinking that he is.
Or to put it another way, just because you spent hours randomly killing civilians for fun and stress relief doesn't mean that's what Alex actually did in the story. That's just you.