A/N: It's been quite a while, but it seems the world Lord Toby created is still swirling, and it's residents still striving to find their way. With a grateful (beating) heart, I treasure that those residents continue to speak. A very special thank you to the Guest who wrote a review/question in April of this year - your inquiry was quite serendipitous, and made me smile. To all who continue to read this and enjoy the being human world, kudos to you and a sincere thank you. We are indeed lucky that such amazing characters were created by Toby so many years ago.
'Bid me run, and I will strive with things impossible'
"He's lying. Or completely, fucking mad." Mitchell stopped pacing and raked his fingers through his hair. "Right?"
Padraig, sat on the edge of the bed, slowly shook his head. They were locked in the room where Páidí had been held the past few days. He rubbed his hands together, fingers twisting round and round.
"I don't know," Padraig said thoughtfully. "He actually said he'd drain you, to get rid of Wyndam's blood?"
"Yeah. You ever heard of it?"
Padraig shook his head. "Not like that."
"What the hell does that mean?" When there was no answer, Mitchell grabbed him by the shoulder.
"It was…made up." Padraig looked up at Mitchell. "A joke."
"Being a protégé was rare. Those of us that existed enjoyed our status. We'd use stories of re-making to scare the new recruits, keep them in line. Get them to be our slaves. We'd embellish the story with each go round, make it more absurd, then have a proper laugh when the newbie'd rush to do whatever we ordered." Padraig grimaced. "It was all made up."
Mitchell blew out a breath he didn't realize he was holding, and sank into the chair. "How is...how do you know it wasn't real?"
"If it were, you think the Old Ones would have let us talk about it?"
Mitchell didn't answer, considering the point. How the hell would he know what an Old One would or wouldn't do?
"Don't let him get into your head," Padraig leaned forward. "He's trying to pull you away from what you know is true. Wyndam is your family now, not Carl. Hold onto that."
Mitchell nodded slowly, then turned to look at his friend. "Tell me how you first heard of it. Who told you?"
"Don't," Páidí shook his head, "don't do this." Mitchell clenched his jaw, and waited.
"Lawrence," Páidí sighed. "I'd pissed him off one time too many, so he threatened to remake me as part of Wyndam's line. To control me. Said he'd 'Gareth' me, whatever the hell that meant. And that he'd starve me for centuries, and all sort of nasty things that would come my way. When I was sufficiently scared and cowering, he laughed and reminded me that such a gullible new recruit needed to be properly schooled. So he reported to Thomas. The next few decades were...not pleasant for me." Padraig smiled ruefully. "When things settled, and Thomas bound me to him, I asked him about it. He said to forget it, it was just a bad joke and to ignore it."
"And?" Mitchell prompted.
Padraig stood up and paced the length of the room. "Let it go, Mitchell."
"Damn it, just tell me!"
"Next I saw Lawrence, he apologized to me."
"What? No way. That bastard wouldn't apologize if his life depended on it."
"I think it did. Even though it was decades later, he apologized and assured me it was all just a tale to keep new recruits in line. Thomas and I were in Bristol for a Council meeting. It was obvious Wyndam was making him apologize, but it served its purpose. Wyndam made a point of letting me know it was all just a bad joke."
"Did you believe him?"
Padraig shrugged. "Didn't quite ring true, but it wasn't my place to question. And you never know with Wyndam. By then, it doesn't matter."
Mitchell frowned. He could see Wyndam using the situation for more control. A power play? Or just a total mind fuck of those around him? "What do you think? Is it true?"
"It doesn't matter!" Padriag held his hands out. "Listen to me. Do not go down this road. It'll only lead to problems and pain."
"But what if…"
"NO! Do NOT go there!" Padraig leaned over and grabbed Mitchell by the shoulders. "True or not, it doesn't matter. We are vampires. We'll always be vampires. Wyndam owns you, and Thomas owns me. That's all there is. Now let's do our fucking job and go home!"
Mitchell pushed him away, swiveling the chair toward the window. Is he right? Maybe it doesn't matter. Every time I've tried, I failed. I can't resist it - them. Mitchell closed his eyes. Or was it just Herrick he couldn't resist? No, not that. Wyndam's blood. That...feeling. His mouth began to water. He may not NEED the blood, but he sure as hell enjoyed it. He rubbed his temples. Fuck. An image of Siobhan flooded his mind, filling him with bittersweet pain. The image of her smiling face morphed into that of his present day granddaughter, laughing. At something Samuel said. He turned back to his friend.
"Last question. Truth. Swear it."
Padraig sighed. "I swear."
"If you could be free of Thomas, would you?"
Padraig shook his head and looked away. "Don't do this to yourself."
Padraig sighed again. Long moments passed before he met Mitchell's gaze.
"Huh. Thanks, mate." Mitchell stood up.
"But only," Padraig grabbed Mitchell's arm, "because I hate being controlled! I am a vampire. It's all I know now."
"But if there was something else, someONE else, where you could have a different life?" Mitchell's stare was intense, demanding. "Would you try?" Padraig held Mitchell's gaze for several moments, then blinked and looked away. "I thought so." Mitchell turned to the door.
"What are you going to do?"
"No matter what happens, you make sure you're safe. Any way you have to."
Padraig grabbed Mitchell's shoulders and spun him around. "What are you going to do?"
"I mean it, Páidí. Survive." Mitchell turned and knocked on the closed door.
Mitchell heard the lock click and stepped back.
George stood in the doorway, flanked by two werewolves brandishing wooden stakes. Mitchell smirked.
"Oh, George. Do you really think you could stop me?"
"What is your answer?" George's tone was flat, his eyes unblinking with challenge. After long moments, Mitchell laughed, but looked away.
"Take us to Carl."
"So predictable." Mitchell stepped forward. "Get out of the way."
George blocked the doorway and shook his head. "No. He," George inclined his head toward Padraig, "doesn't leave this room."
"You're such a fucking dog. Get out of the way! Now!" Mitchell started to push past him.
"George!" Carl stood at the top of the stairs.
"No," George shook his head. "That one is not leaving this room. Not until this is settled." George didn't step aside, but Mitchell saw his right hand move. Glancing down, he saw George slowly twirl a wooden stake.
"Who the hell do you think you are?" he hissed, moving forward until he was eye to eye with George.
"The one that will stop you, any way I have to."
"Enough," Carl put a hand on George's chest and pushed him back, stepping between the former friends. He motioned to Mitchell. "Come downstairs, we'll talk. Padriag can stay here, until we're finished." Mitchell didn't answer, still staring at George.
"It's all right, Mitchell. I can handle the puppy," Padraig laughed.
"Anything happens to him," Mitchell kept his eyes on George as he backed toward the stairs. "I'll drive that stake into your brain."
"How long will it take?" Mitchell paced around the kitchen.
"I don't know," Carl shook his head. "Could be days, could be weeks. I've no idea."
"What will it do to you?"
"What if you can't finish it?"
Carl shook his head again.
Mitchell grabbed the back of a chair. "What if it doesn't work?"
Carl held up his hands. "I don't know."
"What the hell DO you know?"
"I told you, not much. But it's the only thing that I've ever heard of that might work."
Mitchell yanked the chair our and sat across from him. "Shit." He raked his hands through his hair.
"There's no guarantee. But it's a chance," Carl leaned forward. "There wouldn't be so many whispers if there wasn't truth in it. For the Old Ones to try to keep it quiet, or turn it into a farce, they must be afraid of it."
Mitchell raised his eyebrows and tilted his head in doubt.
"If it doesn't work, you're no worse off. You'll return to Wyndam with all of us in tow, baby included."
"But if it does work…" Carl leaned in. "Freedom. From him, from the Old Ones, and a chance to defeat them once and for all. A chance, Mitchell! Think of it!" Carl put his hand on Mitchell's arm. "Remember New Year's? All you went through just for the chance to be rid of the hunger. This is a chance to be rid of them - the control, the demands, the surveillance. You thought Herrick was bad," Carl grunted, "wait til Wyndam's eyes are with you everywhere. It's already started – those flecks of blue you now carry will eventually take over. You'll wish for ending long before he allows it."
"He wouldn't do that to me!" Mitchell jumped up and paced several lengths of the small kitchen.
"Yes, he would, and you know it. Otherwise you'd have killed me days ago. Please, Mitchell! Let me try!"
Mitchell, hands on hips, turned and faced Carl. A chance. Could he risk all for a chance? What would Wyndam do to him if this failed? He sat down and buried his face in his hands. Wisely, Carl remained silent. Finally, Mitchell took a deep breath and looked at him.
"Done," Carl agreed.
"You don't know what they are!"
"Doesn't matter. I agree, no matter what."
"Damn it! This is important!"
"Yes, I know. That's why I agree. Tell me."
Mitchell held up a finger. "One. My great granddaughter - or whoever the hell she is – stays safe. From all of them. Vampires, werewolves, everyone. You get her somewhere safe, and keep her that way."
"Done. Everything I have will go to protecting her. Two?"
"Padraig goes free. No matter what happens, he will not be harmed by you, George, or anyone."
"Done," Carl nodded. "Third?"
"If this goes badly…" Mitchell swallowed. "If it doesn't work…you end me."
Carl recoiled, gasping. "Mitchell, no! I couldn't – "
"This is non-negotiable. If it doesn't work, you will end me." Mitchell's gaze was unwavering, and Carl finally nodded.
"All right. Agreed."
Mitchell took a deep breath and leaned back in the chair. "How do we start?"
"Tell me," Wyndam said into the mobile and leaned back in his chair.
"He's disappeared. No sign of either of them, or the wolves."
"What?" Wyndam bolted from the chair, papers sliding off his desk. "How the hell did that happen?" he asked through clenched teeth. He heard Lawrence clear his throat.
"I don't know. I'm heading to the warehouse now."
Wyndam swore under his breath. "Tell Ryan to utilize every resource he has. Spare nothing." Wyndam turned to the window. "Find them, Lawrence."
"Yes, sir." There was a pause. "And when I do?"
Wyndam looked down at the floor, and didn't answer for long moments. Finally, he raised his head. "Bring them back." He turned back to his desk. "Samuel is there now, working on another assignment. He'll meet you and can take over tracking down the female dog."
"Of course. If I find that Mitchell's been compromised, I may have to use some of the Dublin house."
"Yes, yes, whatever you need. Just bring him back."
"Both of them, or just him?"
"Both." Wyndam paused. "If you can. If not, just him."
"As unharmed as you can."
Wyndam ended the call and tossed the mobile onto the desk. Sitting down, he leaned back in his chair, unconsciously picking up a pen. Grabbing the phone again, he punched in a number.
"Yes, sir?" Samuel answered on the first ring.
"Change of plan. Meet up with Lawrence at the warehouse."
"But, sir, I was getting ready to bring her to you tomorrow."
"No. She can wait. Meet up with Lawrence, he'll fill you in."
"And Samuel – remember our little chat before you left."
There was silence on the other end for a moment, then Wyndam felt the tentative brush. He opened his mind.
"Whatever you need of me, my lord."
Wyndam felt Samuel's sincerity, and smiled. "Good. Head to the warehouse now."
Ending the call, Wyndam gently placed the phone on the desk and sat back. Suddenly bolting from the chair, he viciously threw the pen across the room. "DAMN YOU, JOHN!"
Straightening, he calmly smoothed back his hair. "No matter. You are still mine."