Title: Every Problem Has Its Gift (1/7)
Characters: Galvin, Luke, Ruby, Mina (with minor appearances from some other canon people)
Pairings: Galvin/Mina, Luke/Ruby
Summary: Galvin’s life is full of problems, not least of which are trying at last to build a proper relationship with his godson whilst dealing with Mina’s disappearance...
Beta read by fififolle (who I seriously owe by now for doing all the beta work!)
Rupert Galvin never had been the type to ignore his problems and hope they’d go away, but Mina’s continued absence was something he tried to apply blind optimism to. So what if she wasn’t answering her phone and he hadn’t seen her since she’d hurriedly left the warehouse without saying a word? She needed to get herself together again, that much was obvious, and he figured she just wanted to do it alone. That she probably found it easier to deal with in privacy and was staying away for her own good.
He was also never one to hang around and do nothing either. That was why he sat in the Stacks for two nights straight instead of sleeping, poring through the journals and notes that her husband had left on her condition. Just to find out how long it might be before she was herself again, of course. He flatly refused to be concerned by the fact that he couldn’t find any mention of her ever having taken blood before. It just meant it would take longer for her to get back to normal that was all.
It was only when Luke and Ruby arrived, three days after the confrontation with Thrip, that he finally faced up to it. Ruby only asked if he’d heard from Mina yet, and he damn near bit her head off for it, earning him a glare of reproach from the girl and an indignant ‘she only asked!’ from Luke.
Truth was, he at last admitted to himself, he was scared. He had been ever since the moment she’d drunk the vial, knowing instantly what she intended to do. A cold knot of fear had gripped his insides and it hadn’t let go since, only tightening as the hours passed and he still didn’t hear from her. He wasn’t afraid of her but for her, scared of what she might do. Of what he might be forced to do in response.
He couldn’t face losing Mina; that was never the way it was meant to go. She was supposed to be with him until his bitter end. It was one of the few certainties in his life that had kept him going all these years.
But as much as he didn’t want to admit it, something was clearly very wrong and there was no hiding from it any longer. He had to take action.
The three of them bundled into his car and headed to her house, the journey silent and edgy. He doubted that either Luke or Ruby knew exactly what he was so concerned about, but they probably had their suspicions and the tension radiating off him obviously did nothing to dispel those.
As he opened her door, he prayed to any deity listening that he’d find her there, that maybe she was just asleep and recovering from what had happened. He didn’t really expect those prayers to be answered and so was unsurprised to find the place empty. She had been back at least once though he reasoned after looking around; there was a needle discarded on the floor of the piano room and her phone was lying on the mantel, smashed to pieces. No wonder she hadn’t been answering his calls.
The bed sheets were messy too. Mina was a bit of a neat freak and never would have left them like that. Not if she was in her right mind at least.
“She’s not here,” Luke pointed out redundantly as they converged in the kitchen after a thorough search of all the rooms.
Almost automatically Rupert poured himself a shot of whiskey from the decanter on the side, trying to ignore the slight tremor of his hand. The liquid warmed his throat as it slipped smoothly down. Mina always did get the best stuff for him but it didn’t seem to steady him like it normally would.
“She’s not been home for days,” he said gravely, his head, eyes rooted to the work surface as he thought.
“How do you know?”
The two teenagers looked at him suspiciously and he supposed they had a right to. He’d kept secrets enough from them after all, especially Luke. They obviously didn’t like the idea that they were being kept out of the loop yet again. A big part of him didn’t really care, though. This wasn’t about them. Mina was his responsibility. His friend. If something was happening with her...
“Well, where is she then?” Luke pressed, making it quite clear that he wasn’t going to let Galvin keep this one to himself.
Galvin had no easy answer for that though and whilst he tried to decide what to confess, Ruby supplied one for him.
“Out on a psycho killing spree?” she suggested sarcastically, only seeming to be half joking.
Galvin tensed, not sure if he was suddenly angry at Ruby because he thought that was unfair or because he was scared it could happen.
“You’d know it if she was,” he replied in dark tones, fixing her with a steady glare.
It seemed that she was curious about that almost in spite of her herself, her face scrunching to a frown as she asked a question she probably didn’t want to know the answer to. “How?”
“From the big trail of bodies,” he said bluntly, before pouring himself another drink and swallowing it straight down.”And she probably would’ve come after you first. She doesn’t seem to like you very much...”
That was a bit vicious, he inwardly berated himself as he saw the slight blanching of the girl’s face. Still, if she was going to dish it out then she’d better be prepared to take it in return. He didn’t need her particular brand of humour right now.
“So, where is she?” Luke pressed again, sounding angrier this time, letting Galvin know he wasn’t going to be fobbed off.
Galvin looked at him for a long moment, taking stock. In truth, he would rather deal with this alone and leave them out of it, but the truce of sorts he’d struck with Luke was still fragile and this was no time to test it. They needed to be able to work together through anything. Even something as personal as this.
“Hiding,” he answered eventually, resisting the temptation to drink again. He was going to need to get back behind the wheel of his car. There was a lot to do.
“From us?” Luke questioned with a frown of concern, his mind no doubt running over the disturbing possibilities.
“From everyone I hope.”
Mina went straight home at first, to shut herself away and wait for the tempest in her veins to subside. She had purposely turned vampire a few times before and she had always got it under control given a little time and will power.
But deep down she knew this was different. She’d never taken blood before and the want to give in to her half-life nature was fierce in response, showing no sign of abating. The scientist in her tried to explain it, likening her own blood to a flame and reasoning that mixing it with Thrip’s had been like adding an accelerant. It would burn itself out eventually.
Only as the hours went on she found herself less and less certain of that, begin to suspect that it was only wishful thinking.
She tried to ignore it at first, lying curled up on her bed and closing her eyes, shutting out a world she didn’t wish to see. It was as if she was desperately ill, even her soft cotton sheets feeling harsh against any exposed skin as she tossed and turned feverishly, pain beginning to spike through her at all too regular intervals.
There was anger too, so much rage boiling inside. Over a century of repressed instinct threatening to consume her. It wanted to tear the world apart and it was all she could do to hold it at bay.
In the darkness, suffocating images flashed through her mind in the same way her visions normally would. Images of death mostly. Of strangers. Of those she knew and loved. All of them dying at her own hands.
She forced her eyes back open when she could take no more, wanting to scream and cry and deny everything she’d seen. But it could happen, she was not naive enough to dismiss it, and so she had to be strong and take action.
Forcing herself up from the bed, she stumbled to her piano room, limbs violently trembling as the effort of suppressing what she was feeling took its toll. She tried so hard to get the needle in her arm, knowing that if her blood was clean then this could all be over and she could collapse to rest once more. But her hands were shaking too much to get it in the right place and even if they weren’t, it was like there was an invisible force holding her back.
As though she was doing battle with a whole other person inside and it had the upper hand.
Admitting defeat, she finally threw the needle to the floor in despair, running her hands back through her hair as she tried desperately to calm her ever more rapid breathing. She had to keep control, she just had to. No matter how much she wanted to just break down and sob or fly into a devastating rage. She knew things would be so much easier if she just gave in and let it take her, that the pain in her limbs and the burning in her chest would stop. But she wouldn’t be this. It was not her. She wouldn’t let the half-life have her, not now, not after all these years...
Frantically she scrambled in her pocket for her mobile phone, intending to dial Rupert’s number. She desperately needed him here, her steady rock of support in all things. He could hold her and stay with her and help her through it, reminding her of who she wanted to be, not what the monster inside her demanded. She could bury her face in his shoulder and breathe in the scent of him, listen to the soothing beat of his heart and the rhythmic flow of blood in his...
Her breath caught in horror as the realisation struck her of where her thoughts were going. Was it even her who was trying to call him? Or was it dark side of her attempting to line up her first victim?
With a cry of rage at the thought she dropped the phone to the mantel and brought her fist down hard, crushing it with her new found strength. She didn’t trust herself enough to allow the possibility.
In fact, she reasoned, attempting to hold onto her mind with sense, she should try and lock herself in if at all possible. Stop herself getting out, just in case. But what, she thought miserably, would even her old, heavy front door do if she failed at regaining control and was determined to leave? This was a home, not a fortress.
She briefly considered heading to the Stacks, knowing that being locked inside one of the cages there was the safest place she could be right now, but she hurriedly dismissed the idea. There was far too high a risk of meeting innocent people on the way. She couldn’t safely make it there without Luke or Rupert as an escort and since she couldn’t guarantee she wouldn’t turn on them...
Instead, she paced the room like a caged animal, breathing hard, her concept of time becoming increasingly skewed. How long had she been here now? Hours? Days? Nothing seemed to make sense.
The pain spreading to her temples didn’t help, the worst headache she’d ever had. What would happen if this continued, she wondered? Could even she live through this?
And why did she feel so trapped inside the walls of her own home? Who was it who wanted to tear them down in a fit of rage, to destroy everything in sight? Was it her? Or was the half-life just angry at her resistance? Was it actually a part of her, or was she just host to something old and deadly that hated the way she’d kept it at bay all these years as was now determined to make her suffer for it?
She bore the oppression of the walls around her for as long as she could handle, until each brick seemed like it was a screaming voice inside her head, threatening to send her completely mad. It made no sense at all but, whatever it was, she knew couldn’t take any more and almost automatically she stumbled up the stairs, half staggering through the door at the top and onto her roof.
She collapsed to her hands and knees on the hard gravel, barely feeling the sting of it as the cool night air washed over her like a salve. She didn’t know why, but it was immediately better out here, the pain and shaking of her limbs instantly easing.
She took her time, closing her eyes and calming herself, feeling like she was reclaiming her sanity. Then she stood slowly, breathing long and deep as a disturbing kind of peace slid through her, breath hissing out of her mouth like some kind of feral animal. This felt better, although she wasn’t sure that was a good thing.
She knew it definitely wasn’t when, with the screaming in her body finally silenced, she realised that she could hear them. The heartbeats of her neighbours below; of the men and women watching TV and the children sleeping in their beds. She could hear them all, all those lives, and on pure instinct she closed her eyes for a moment, revelling in the sweetest music she’d ever heard.
Then an instant later she snapped them open again, suddenly terrified once more as the peace the open air had brought her shattered. Pain ripped through her once more as she pushed the vampire away, blocking out its desire to hunt down one of those heartbeats and stop it cold.
Stumbling to the edge, she jumped from the roof, landing in a heap in the street below but not feeling the pain as she scrambled to her feet.
She had no idea where she could go but she knew she had to get away from people before she lost control completely.