A/N: I am reloading all of my old Impervious side stories, slowly but surely. This story was originally 3 chapters, but I've decided to combine them into one long fic.
Mitchell Ohara sat quietly in the rafters of the church, lightly biting the neck of his dirty shirt as he watched the monsters sweep through the building below. While he considered himself lucky that the rotting corpses beneath him weren't any of the thinking undead, he knew better than to be sloppy. One could be just around the corner or about to come in...and it would know to look up. After all, that the zombies were still searching for him meant only one thing. They knew he was in here.
He was young looking for seventeen and after almost two weeks of having barely anything to eat, his body had begun to waste away and his reflexes, which had never been great to start with, were now sluggish at best. He'd always been rather slender, but now his hands were skeletal...well, not as much so as the unholy monsters below, but he'd lived a comfortable life and had never wanted for anything. To have to go on like this now...it was hellish.
He'd come home from his alchemical studies to find his kitchen a mess and his parents dead on the floor. He'd tried to feel for a pulse—something he'd never figured out how to do properly—and then desperately tried to think of something he should do...getting help seemed like a good idea, but then, they were already dead, weren't they? Who could really help with that?
However, as he'd gone into the street, shouting that something was wrong, he'd seen his neighbor across the way, slumped over on his doorstep. Fearing some sort of epidemic was on the rampage, Mitchell hadn't gone to see if the man needed help, but had rather run down the street looking for anyone as well off as he was to come to his aid.
When he finally did see someone, he'd wished desperately that he hadn't. It was a man, with dark, intimidating looking armor. At first, Mitchell had brushed off the skulls etched into his plated shoulders and had continued toward him. It wasn't until the man had turned to face him and he'd seen those cold, unnatural glowing blue eyes and a small puff of ice escape the man's throat that he realized something was really wrong.
Mitchell hadn't given the man time to register that he'd seen him before he'd taken off running.
Mitchell was, to say it bluntly, a bit of a wuss. While his magic studies were coming along well enough, he was always held back by a rather irrational fear of dying. His alchemical studies had been hindered for a while, as well, but somehow, he'd managed to get over that fear.
As a result of his nature, whenever he saw anything that looked like it might be dangerous, he avoided it.
His fear of the darkly clad knight had been amplified a dozen times over when he'd managed to run into another person who seemed just as confused as he was. Even as he tried to ask the other man—a butcher from the looks of it—what was going on, thin purple lines of energy had pulsed through the air, wrapped around the other man, and jerked him away. Mitchell had looked back just long enough to see that the knight from earlier had been following him and that he had his sword raised over the terrified man. Without waiting to watch the butcher die, Mitchell went back to running.
Mitchell tried not to shiver as he heard a voice from outside. It was that knight. He'd been in town slowly hunting down every last one of the living since that first night. While he had been so brutal to the butcher, the rest that Mitchell had seen caught were always led off, deeper into the city. So far as Mitchell knew, he was the last breather left. The knight was incredibly efficient.
The boy looked around as he tried to keep his breathing steady. Even the stupidest of creatures would hear him if he broke out into hiccupped sobs. He'd barely managed to get up into the rafters before the undead had followed him in and he'd been too scared to try to make it into a nice, hard to reach corner. Thus, if that knight came in and looked up, he'd see Mitchell in a second, sitting like a moron on the center beam of the ceiling, just above a half broken chandelier.
He decided to head back toward the door, and try waiting out the knight's presence just above the entrance. Any other part of the rafters would leave him partially visible from the door and he dreaded the thought of those purple lines of energy dragging him to his hunter's feet.
Carefully shifting onto his hands and knees, Mitchell began to creep along the wooden beam, assessing and testing the wood before putting his hand down each time. He didn't want to get a splinter; the things below seemed to be able to smell blood and they went into a sort of frenzy when they sensed injured prey nearby.
After almost three days of finding nothing but corpses through the town, Mitchell had gone home, thinking he would pack up some of his belongings and try to make it out of the plagued area...though he wasn't particularly great with a map. He'd tried to ignore the fact that, more likely than not, he would just get lost and be eaten by a wild animal or something before he ever reached the nearest settlement.
He had made a point when he reentered his home after jerking on the door once or twice to get it open—he hadn't remembered closing the door, but didn't waste much time on such thoughts—not to look into the kitchen to where his parents had died, wishing to remember them as they had been, instead of the rotting, festering flesh they had surely become.
He'd been upstairs, throwing all of his earthly belongings into a grain sack when he'd heard his mother's voice. It had sounded raspier than he remembered, but he'd been so thrilled just to hear her...hell just to hear another living person.
Mitchell had run into the hall, yelling for her to pack everything she could and that she had to come with him, only to stop when he'd seen her at the top of the stairs. Blood from where she must have hit her head when she collapsed from the epidemic ran down her face, already half clotted and congealed, and it gave her cheek a glossy sheen.
When she saw him, she'd smiled, and Mitchell had frozen. One of her lips was torn and the tear widened as her smile stretched further than it should have, though she didn't seem to even register it. His mother had started toward him, her steps seeming uncoordinated and she stumbled twice before Mitchell realized that one of her legs looked like a rat or something had chewed on it.
However, all of that was nothing compared to the eerie light that seeped out of her eyes and illuminated the area around her, bathing it in a sickly yellow hue.
With her blocking the stairs, Mitchell had run back into his room and had been rather surprised to see that, despite her injuries, his mother had been pretty damn fast and had made it to the door just seconds after he closed it and blocked it with the chair from his desk. He heard her nails claw against the other side of the wood for a moment before she seemed to regain control of herself.
"Mitch, sweetie, open the door."
Mitchell had had to stop and wonder if she really thought he was that stupid. She was his damn mother, shouldn't she have known him better than this?
The monster on the other side of the door seemed to read his thoughts. "Honey, I...I'm not doing too well, but when I saw you...I love you, you know that, right? I think...we should be together. As a family. I can't keep you safe, keep you well, if you hide from me."
Mitchell had eyed the door, as though it were the thing talking to him, instead of his mother. He paused and half reached for the door knob when he remembered the way she'd looked and the anger in her eerily glowing eyes as she'd come after him. Was that thing really his mother?
There was a long silence and for a moment, he thought she must have left. However, at length, he heard something thunk against the door, as though resting against it. "He didn't get up."
Mitchell tried to understand what she was saying, but she continued, her voice slowly rising and hissing as it caught in her throat.
"That man promised me forever and I...this is so much closer to that than having a heartbeat. I was doing what was in our best interest. But he had to be stubborn, like always. He had to stay dead." As she spat the word, Mitchell let out a hiccupped cry and she'd quieted for a moment before sighing. "Maybe he was just weaker than I'd realized. It doesn't matter, though. We still have each other. Mitchy, you're so scared of everything. Let me take care of you and you won't have to be afraid anymore."
Mitchell had gone out his window while his mother continued to plead through the door. While he'd never been the type to sneak out late at night, he learned quickly how to walk across the tiles of the roof and how to jump over small alleys.
In fact, he'd thought he would just stay up there forever, maybe slip in through windows to get some food from time to time—until he could get out of town—when the gargoyles had come after him.
From there, he'd stayed holed up in the house he'd fled to, trying to make as little noise as possible. After losing the gargoyles—though whenever he looked out a window he could see them perched on different buildings or flying through the air, searching for prey—he'd done his best to reevaluate his situation. Yes, he was afraid of everything. But he wasn't going to get far that way.
He'd studied the streets as they'd slowly been filled back with people...husks of people. So far as he could tell, there were three types of them. The ones that had simply risen and were nothing more than animated corpses, the ones like his mother, who seemed well aware of their surroundings, and then that knight. He saw the eerie man from time to time, always striding through the streets with the thinking undead coming up to him and talking briefly. He never let them stay long before dismissing them. How they scurried at his command.
Mitchell'd had to learn how to time his own loping run to make it from one building to the next so that the creatures wouldn't see him. Twice, he'd been spotted by a few of the thinkers and twice it had taken all of his energy and wits to lose them in alleys and broken homes. Luckily, the gargoyles were easier to avoid. They made such a swooshing noise when they were coming after someone...the undead were so quiet...
Mitchell hesitated on the beam as he heard heavy footfalls and the light clink of metal. A few of the ghouls were rushing toward the door as though they were dogs, hoping for a treat. Mitchell didn't move—by the nether, he tried not to breathe. The air was colder and he knew who was almost directly below him. Maybe if he was still enough...
He could have sworn that he heard the ticking of a clock and a whisper of an apology just before the rafter gave out and sent him plummeting to the ground. Mitchell let out a sharp hiss as his arm snapped beneath him and he tried not to cry as he pulled his broken limb to his chest. He'd always heard that true terror could numb pain, and somewhere in the back of his mind, he was sorely disappointed to find this false.
As pangs of pain screamed through his arm, he looked up at the darkly clad knight, fighting back tears as one of the ghouls started in on him.
However, the knight met the monster's attack with one of his own, sending the creature flying with a swing of his sword. As the rest of the ghouls cowered back, flickers of confusion and betrayal on their rotting faces, the knight squatted down in front of Mitchell and with a quick motion, reached out and snapped the boy's arm back into place.
Even as Mitchell screamed, the knight drew a few dark bandages from a small pack resting on his hip and wrapped them around Mitchell's arm. "I'm afraid I can't do much for the pain, but you should heal correctly."
The man's voice had strange undertones to it, like something else was talking in time with him. Something evil. The knight's frigid gaze swept over Mitchell's terrified and confused expression and he gave him an apologetic smile. "I believe we got off to a poor start." He held one of his hands out. "Shawn Darrow."
Mitchell opened his mouth to respond, but nothing came out. He fish-mouthed for another moment before the knight sighed.
"I can see the past weeks haven't been so good to you. So, I'll talk and you just nod or shake your head. Can you manage that? For now at least?" Mitchell gave him a dumb nod, still trying to overcome the pain in his arm. "Good. You're Mitchell Ohara?" A nod. Shawn smiled and it sent shivers down Mitchell's spine. No matter how nice the man tried to look, Mitchell couldn't forget how he had dragged that butcher to him and killed him. "Your mother says you're quite the alchemist."
"N-not really," Mitchell whispered, despite himself.
"Oh?" Shawn quirked an eyebrow. Several scars interrupted the thin line of hair and made his skin pinch in odd ways at the action. "Well, she says that you pick things up pretty quickly. ...Do you disagree?"
Mitchell cradled his arm for a long moment before shaking his head. When he wasn't sure if he'd just confirmed or denied what the knight was saying—it was hard to keep up with him through his pain—he took in a few ragged breaths and found his voice. "I...I mean, I do learn quickly...but..."
"Don't undermine your abilities," Shawn patted Mitchell's shoulder. "Look, everything that's going on here...it's pretty crazy, right? But things will get better...we just need some help. Our apothecaries...well, they're a bunch of old bastards who couldn't see a fresh idea if it was right in front of them. We need new eyes...younger eyes."
Mitchell stared at the man for a long, still moment, his breathing the only sound in the room. At length, he swallowed. "You...what are your apothecaries trying to do?"
"Fix what's happened here, of course." Shawn rose to his feet and offered Mitchell a hand."Come with me; I know a few healers who can fix that arm up and then we can talk about whether you'd be interested in righting this debauchery or not."
Mitchell had to say that his first impressions of Shawn had been wrong. While his mind, every so often, flickered back to that first time he'd seen him, he couldn't help but think that perhaps the knight hadn't killed that man. After all, he hadn't actually watched to see him bring his blade down. Maybe he'd been...doing something else.
It was a stretch, but weirder things had happened, right? Like the whole town randomly dying. Well, not randomly. Shawn had explained to him that it had been a small cult who had gotten it in their heads that death was the ultimate reward.
Mitchell thought they had to be pretty retarded to think dying was fun or fulfilling. He told Shawn this and the knight had merely laughed.
While he still didn't like the way Shawn sounded...or looked...or the icy chill that seemed to come with him wherever he went, Mitchell had come to terms with his presence and he found that Shawn could be rather amicable. And there was no reason Mitchell should hold being dead against him. That wasn't his fault, right? Besides, they had things in common. They both thought that while respect should be given to the older generations, it was the youth of the world who mattered, as they were the ones who would fix the problems created by their seniors. They both thought alchemy was interesting, though Shawn was barely able to mix a healing potion together. The knight had even expressed that he didn't like seeing so many corpses, just like Mitchell.
And he kept Mitchell's mom at bay. While Mitchell realized that maybe his mom was just coming to terms with being a walking corpse, it still made him really uneasy to see those glowing eyes of hers.
The young alchemist had asked Shawn if he had succumbed to the plague, too, but Shawn had just grown quiet and then said he didn't want to talk about it. Mitchell figured he shouldn't push the subject. After all, dying was probably traumatic. It was really good of Shawn to take on such an adamant position in trying to help fix things, too, when he himself couldn't be saved.
Plus, working with Shawn, Mitchell was getting food. Real, light blessed food. It wasn't the sort of stuff he would have normally dined on, but what was that thing about beggars and choosers? Mitchell would settle for what he could get.
However, he did prefer to work without Shawn present. The knight tried, he really did, but he just always got herbs and their properties mixed up. Like he thought liferoot was poisonous and didn't want Mitchell even considering using it in his concoctions. Hello, it had life in its name. How was he supposed to find a cure for the plague with things like Stratholme lilies—Arthas' tears as Shawn called them—and bruiseweed?
Shawn seemed to have figured out that Mitchell was sort of still using the liferoot behind his back, because as of that morning Mitchell couldn't find any in his lab.
It wasn't really a lab. Once upon a time, it had been the local noble's winter home. It was set off a ways from the rest of town and the gargoyles rarely flew by, which helped Mitchell focus on his work.
After Shawn had gotten a spindly looking woman to heal Mitchell's arm, he'd spent a few hours talking to him about the different sort of experiments the boy had tried and Mitchell had decided that he might as well help save the world.
Then Shawn had asked him where he thought the best base of operations for his lab would be. Mitchell had always wanted to go to the noble's mansion, because it looked like it would be totally amazing to explore. He'd been mostly joking when he'd pointed to the manor, just barely visible between the rooftops around the square they'd been chatting in. However, Shawn had merely grinned and told him that it would be ready by morning.
When Mitchell had first shown up, he'd been in awe of the fine tapestries and expensive vases and decorations which filled the old house. However, he'd been careless and had knocked a picture from one of the walls, partially breaking the frame as it hit the marble floor. Even as Mitchell sucked in a breath and tried unsuccessfully to fix it, Shawn had merely laughed and knocked another one from the wall, offering that there was no one left to be upset about it. Mitchell tipped a vase and grinned as it shattered and for the next hour the two had gone through the house tearing it up. Mitchell had found it a good stress relief, while Shawn had merely seemed amused by the fun his little alchemist was having.
Mitchell sighed as he rummaged through the different herbs and compared them to the books he'd confiscated from his former teacher's study. He didn't like the thought of stealing, but his former master was dead, so it wasn't like he was going to miss them.
He checked a few more places, hoping to find some hidden stash of liferoot—it worked pretty damn well when mixed with steelbloom and a few other herbs to at least repair the damaged parts of a body, like a healing potion only better—before finally giving up.
He felt the air chill, signaling the arrival of his sponsor and he glanced over to the door, nodding as Shawn entered the room and took a seat. The knight watched him work in silence for a time while Mitchell tried something completely new, tossing in some fadeleaf with peacebloom and something called grom's blood. As he set the potion on a burner, he looked back over at Shawn.
"You know, I keep thinking that I should see a sample of this plague, you know, to see how it works." He shuddered and sighed, "I know it'd probably kill me, but I think that if I could just get my hands on that, then I could figure out what went into it and as a result, figure out how to fix it."
Shawn's gaze stayed on his current experiment—or so Mitchell thought; he could never tell what direction the knight was looking in, because of the way his eyes glowed. At length, Shawn rubbed his chin slowly. "Honestly, Mitch? I'd say you're immune to the plague." As the young alchemist's eyes widened, the knight shook his head. "I didn't think it was possible, but then there's you. This entire area was plagued, yet you breathe this tainted air without a problem."
Mitchell considered this for a long time before cursing as he heard his experiment bubbling over. As he switched off the burner and cursed again at his ruined reagents, Shawn rose to his feet and sauntered over, pausing to give him a rag to wipe down his station.
When Mitchell was finished cleaning up, he found the knight still standing beside him, watching. "What?"
"A few of the older apothecaries have a sample or two of the plague, if you would like to look at it."
It was amazing how simple, yet intricate, the plague was.
Mitchell had spent almost a week pouring over the research of the apothecaries. While he read, he couldn't help but wonder why he'd never been introduced to them. However, he didn't really care. In truth, he'd always been somewhat of a loner, so it wasn't like he really needed the company or anything...
Shawn tapped on the door to the alchemy lab, frowning as he saw that Mitchell had spent yet another day without so much as touching his equipment. The knight hung back, leaning against the door frame. "Slow going?"
With a shrug, Mitchell marked his place and sighed. "Well, it depends on what you're looking for. A cure to this outbreak is going to take forever." He drummed his fingers against the book and gave his friend an apologetic shrug.
The knight tapped on the hilt of his sword. He always carried it around, generally unsheathed. When Mitchell had asked him once, Shawn had merely said that he never knew when enemies might appear. Mitchell supposed it was true enough. After all, those cultists had sort of showed up out of nowhere.
Shawn however, was thinking along different lines. "You said that it depends. Is there any progress you have made?"
Mitchell was indignant. What, did Shawn think him a moron? "Well, yeah. I mean, this thing was supposed to raise most everything it killed, right? So far as I can tell, from reading these notes, they were using this..." he paused to flip the book back open and trotted over to Shawn to show him, "...to make the corpses rise. But they assumed too much. I think it was actually a combination of this," he tapped another part of the page and then flipped back two, "and this that made them become undead. That other part is just frills."
Shawn lightly took the book from him and flipped back and forth between the two pages. "You say these two parts combined to make the plague as efficient as it has been?"
"I think so," Mitchell shrugged and launched into a heady explanation of different alchemical particulates and temperatures and mixes. When he was done, he merely crossed his arms. "I can see why you'd need fresh eyes to look at this. We're gonna have to remove one of those parts and then re-engineer the plague itself to act as a cure, but it's gonna take forever to figure out which part and how to compensate for the whole accidental combination of ingredients before the whole of it could boil down. And then it still won't be able to bring back those mindless ones...I don't think."
Shawn clasped a hand on Mitchell's shoulder and gave him a grin. "I can't tell you how invaluable your help is, Mitch."
Mitchell shrugged and sighed. "Say that when I've figured out something useful..."
While the knight looked ready to say something, he merely stopped himself and asked if he could borrow that book to show the apothecaries what Mitchell had found. With a half-hearted nod, Mitchell watched the knight practically waltz off.
While the boy wasn't sure what there was to be so giddy over, he shrugged it off and turned to his own studies of how one might go about re-engineering the plague, starting with removing a few of the ingredients in the original plague and replacing them with liferoot...
When the knock came at the door, Mitchell frowned. The room wasn't any colder, so he knew it wasn't Shawn. He looked up and froze as he saw one of the undead thinkers standing in the doorway. Well, he assumed it to be one of the thinkers. Most of the mindless ones' clothes were torn and falling off, but this man...his clothes were almost new and he wore a strangely birdlike mask over his face.
The man strolled into the room and stopped in front of Mitchell, bowing deeply. When he spoke, his voice rasped harshly against his dead vocal cords. "Master Darrow tells me I have you to thank for our progress."
Mitchell shifted his weight uneasily, not liking the way his guest spoke of Shawn. "I just pointed out the error in that cult's formula."
"And that error is what had left us lost," the man lightly placed a hand on Mitchell's shoulder and motioned for him to come with him. Though the boy was reluctant, he figured that if Shawn had been a decent enough man, perhaps this messenger was as well. The man continued to speak as they walked through the halls of the old mansion, occasionally stepping over some of the broken furniture and pottery that Mitchell had had such fun destroying earlier. "We hadn't thought to look at that part of the plague as one piece and as a result, we've spent the last few weeks mulling over the...frills I think you called them?"
Mitchell shrugged. "Well, you know...glad I could help."
The man nodded. "We are indeed indebted to you."
Pausing as he realized the man was leading him into the foyer and toward the door where several other undead waited, all dressed in fine black robes, Mitchell eyed the man. In turn, his guide tilted his head. "You do not wish to see the fruits of your labor?"
Mitchell blinked. "You already have a cure working?"
A few of the undead at the door gave him curious looks as the man beside him cackled softly. "We do."
Mitchell perked up. Perhaps, if they really had a cure working, he could go find his mother...hopefully she wouldn't be too pissed off about the whole fleeing through the window thing. And even if she was, could she stay mad if he had a cure for her?
As soon as he was out in the open air, he stopped in his tracks. Several horribly rotten corpses lay side by side in front of the door. He frowned and took a few steps back toward the house, though two of the undead men grabbed him by the arms to keep him from fleeing back to the safety of his lab.
The man who had escorted him out stood to one side and nodded to a decaying woman who was missing her lower jaw. She in turn took a few ominous looking vials and sprinkled their toxic green contents onto the corpses. Silence washed over the scene for almost thirty seconds before the corpses began to shiver and twitch.
Mitchell jerked back against his captors. "This isn't what I wanted to do!"
With a cruel cackle, the man who had escorted him out stepped up behind him and in a quick motion, stabbed something into the side of Mitchell's neck. A syringe. As what felt like fire or ice or both coursed through his veins, the others released him and he managed to stagger around to face the man, a confused and betrayed look on his face.
The man, however, merely addressed the others. "Keep watch over this one. I hope he keeps enough of his mind to be as useful in undeath as he was in life."
One of the others arched an eyebrow over an empty eye socket. "I thought he was immune to the plague."
"Immune to the original one's airborne aspect, maybe..." the man in charge's voice dripped with amusement. "But I doubt even he'll be able to live through so pure a strain."
As the fire hit his chest, Mitchell's gasp caught in his throat. His heart beat spastically for almost ten seconds and then, unable to keep up with the toxic taint in his system, stopped.
The rotting corpse of a woman who looked to have succumbed to undeath in her early thirties sat perched next to the body of a young man, no older than seventeen. While most of his body was fairly intact, there was a dull, discolored bruise on one side of his neck, with black veins extending out and down to his chest. They disappeared beneath the loose collar of his shirt.
Aside from that injury, he had only sustained two others, though they had been self inflicted. There were deep, jagged gouges around his eye sockets. Both eyes were gone, leaving gaping black cavities where they had once been and the bone behind where they should have been was cracked. He'd used such force when he'd taken them out, thinking to destroy himself. If he'd been just a little stronger, he might have succeeded.
The woman ran her fingers over the boy's cheek and tilted her head to the side, her stringy hair brushing along her collarbone as she inspected what was left of his boyish face. He probably would have been handsome if he'd been allowed to grow up.
A chill in the air drew her from her thoughts and she straightened up and turned to see the death knight in charge of the destruction of her town had arrived. She curtseyed, catching the rotting folds of her skirt and pulling them out as she dipped down.
The knight barely gave her a nod, his cold blue eyes on the boy. "Did you fix him?"
"Master," the woman began tentatively, barely able to keep her voice as the death knight turned a cruel gaze toward her. "I've never seen someone with such a strong will...to have kept enough of himself and to try to kill himself after undeath..."
"Were you able to reign in that free will or not?"
The woman was puzzled. Was it not a death knight's duty to keep such rebellious undead in their place? How had this task fallen to her? It wasn't like she'd known the boy in life. Perhaps they were suspicious of her and this was a test...
"I erased his memories," she finally offered. "Short of carving obedience runes into him, that seemed like the only way to make him compliant. If he can't remember that you betrayed—" she cut herself off and corrected herself, "If he doesn't remember that he thought you betrayed him, then he shouldn't have a reason to fight against you so."
With a nod, the death knight turned his back on them. "If he wakes up and still has problems, try again. He has far too useful a mind to let him rot."
The woman waited with the boy's husk for another two hours before he finally began to stir. As he came to, he took in a sharp, unnatural gasp and his hands flew up to his face. One of his fingers fell into an empty eye socket and he let out a frightened squeak, jerking to a sitting position. Even as he tried to come to terms with the fact that even without eyes he was still somehow able to see the world as a series of shadows—who knew there were so many different shades of gray?—he felt thin, cold arms wrap around his shoulders.
His body went rigid, but the woman ignored it and patted his head. "Please listen to me. You...you have to pretend, alright? You're not the only one who kept themselves. But we're not strong enough to fight back. Not yet. We have to pretend to be with them until we can reclaim our freedom. Can you do that?"
The boy didn't respond at first and she pulled away from him to see that his lifeless stare was on her, a frown tugging down at his lips. As their gazes met, he jerked his away and covered where his eyes had been with his hands. "I think so."
"It will be hard, especially when Master Darrow is around, but I think you're strong enough to pull it off." Smiling gently, the woman rose to her feet and offered him a skeletal hand. As he took it and she pulled him up, she patted one of his shoulders. "Come, if your eyes bother you, we can probably find something around here to cover them with." He paused at the idea of walking around blind, his chest still rising and falling awkwardly as he tried to breathe, despite the effort being unnecessary. She laughed. "You'll be able to see, even with them covered. One of the benefits of being dead."
As she led him out of the dingy room she'd cared for him in, he felt strangely at peace. For the first time, walking beside her, he felt safe, though he couldn't explain why. He stole a quick look at her profile. Even seeing in shadows, he could clearly make her out from the world beyond. She was still pretty, unlike most of the other undead had been. While her eyes glowed, they had a kinder look to them, somehow, and her face was still smooth and perfect. Even with a steady slouch in her back keeping her from walking proud and straight, he thought she had to be the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen.
"Are you some sort of angel?"
The woman looked at him again, wide eyed as she laughed in disbelief. "Perhaps you did damage that brain of yours...whatever. I'll just have to keep an eye on you."
Mitchell smiled for the first time in what felt like an eternity as he clasped her hand firmly and laced his bony fingers with hers. "What's your name?"