Title: Every Problem Has Its Gift (4/8)
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!)
Luke didn’t ask where Galvin had picked up such skills as breaking and entering, deciding it was one of those things he was probably better off not knowing. In his mind, it was one thing to smite demons but it was quite another to go around breaking the law. Which was odd thinking he supposed, but so far he’d managed to keep demon hunting completely detached from anything in the ‘real world’, almost as though that made it seem more reasonable. This was bringing the two worlds he’d been living in too close together for comfort though. If they were arrested now, he had no clue how he’d explain to his mum what they’d been doing. That made him honestly more nervous than the dangerous vampire did.
Inside, the place was surprisingly empty, all the furniture and fittings having been removed. Only a few broken items remained – a lamp here, a chair there – the things that London Underground or enterprising locals obviously hadn’t seen any point in taking.
Beyond the old ticket booth, the peeling blue paint was just about still legible enough to point them in the direction of the platforms below, the entrance to which was barred by folding gates, chained and padlocked shut. Apparently, not a problem as far as Galvin was concerned. He took the gun from Luke, aimed carefully at the lock and fired, making sure that his face was turned away from any flying metal.
The sound reverberated way too noisily around the echoing building and Luke couldn’t help but wonder if someone outside might have heard it and was already calling the police.
“You don’t do subtle, do you?” he pointed out dryly as Galvin handed the gun back to him.
“Like we have time for subtle,” Galvin huffed, pulling off the chain and yanking the doors apart.
“And if Mina heard that and she’s already legging it?”
“She can probably hear us breathing from here. There’s no point in trying to be quiet.”
Luke had had the forethought to bring a couple of small torches and he handed one to Galvin as they proceeded down the worn stairs to the platforms below.
“How long’s this been closed for?” he asked, noting the peeling, yellow posters on the walls, advertising films and products he’d never even heard of. Honestly, the place was kind of creepy.
“Went out of use just after the turn of the century,” Galvin muttered, most of his attention on sweeping the torch and pulse gun ahead of him in a search pattern. “They used them again during the war as air raid shelters but they’ve been closed since then.”
Yep, Luke decided, definitely creepy.
“Surprised there’s not a museum down here or something,” he commented, looking at the old-fashioned tile work and suspecting it had been there ever since the tunnels had been built. Surely there were people out there who were interested in this sort of thing.
“Health and safety,” Galvin explained. “They’re considered too dangerous to be open to the public.”
“Compensation culture,” Luke concluded. “Thanks to your lot for bringing that over.”
“I resent that.”
“So do we.”
They fell into silence as they reached the platform itself, the pair of them covering different directions as they cautiously stepped out. It was smaller than the tube stations Luke was used to on the modern underground and again sparsely furnished, only a couple of rusted old benches remaining.
“I thought pulse guns weren’t any good against vampires,” Luke pointed out, glancing over his shoulder to see Galvin completing a quick sweep of his end of the platform with the weapon in hand.
“They’re not. But who said it’s Mina scaring the rats?”
Luke rolled his eyes. “I’m gonna check out college for you. See if they do classes on how to motivate and not freak out your demon-smiting godson.”
“Yeah, and while you’re at it check if they do ones on not complaining all the damn time.”
Luke smiled. Okay, so the situation sucked but it was kind of nice to be able to banter with Galvin like this. To work together and, for almost the first time, not be on edge with one another.
“We’re at the terminus,” Galvin continued, back to business as they stepped up to the platform edge. He shone his torch down one end of the tunnel, illuminating the solid wall not far ahead to prove his point.
“Well, at least we know which way to go then,” Luke pointed out, trying to look on the bright side. That optimism quickly faded however when he jumped down off the platform and landed in something squidgy. Scowling, he decided not to look at what it was, instead turning back to Galvin who was climbing down after him.
“Sewers, derelict buildings, disgusting tube tunnels...You really do take me all the nice places, don’t you?”
Galvin ignored him, apparently not in the slightest bit bothered, and the two of them began to walk.
“What happened to the tracks?” Luke asked, able to bare the silence for no more than a few paces. It wasn’t like he was scared, not really. There was a healthy tension but no proper fear. He just somehow seemed to find it easier to concentrate when there was some noise rather than nothing. He’d said as much to his mum when she’d asked him why he had music blaring out when he was meant to be revising for his GCSEs.
“Probably took them for the metal during the war,” Galvin guessed but said nothing more, much to Luke’s annoyance. Of all the times for the guy to finally shut up lecturing him...
A few more moments of silence and Luke found himself turning to a topic he probably should have avoided given the circumstances. He couldn’t help himself though. He was kind of interested, he’d just never felt at ease enough around Galvin to ask before.
“So...” he began, trying to keep it sounding nonchalant, like he would if he was just chatting with a mate in the canteen or something, “you and Mina. Are you just friends or what?”
Yeah, it was blunt but Galvin was a blunt kind of guy. An evasive one too, Luke mentally added as the other man momentarily scowled at him.
“And why would that be any of your business?”
“I’m just wondering, that’s all,” Luke said with an unbothered shrug. “You are kind of coupley sometimes and she is really good looking...”
He couldn’t really understand why Galvin was so secretive about it, whatever the truth. In Luke’s mind, liking Mina would be nothing to be ashamed of. Okay, so she wasn’t exactly your normal girl but still...Maybe Galvin was just afraid of looking weak or something. Some guys were like that.
“So?” the American said, almost too dismissively. “There’s plenty of nice looking girls out there.”
Luke grinned, shaking his head in amusement. Yeah, but how many knew exactly what Galvin did with his days and nights? How many had known him for twenty years? Besides, he’d seen how they were together. You didn’t act like that with someone if you were really just friends.
“Don’t you see that little smile she gets when you touch her shoulder or something?” he pointed out, almost teasing. “I think she’s into you.”
He knew he’d hit a nerve when Galvin’s scowl deepened.
“Aren’t teenage boys supposed to be useless at picking up those kinds of things?”
“And you do get all protective over her...” Luke continued without relenting, taking what the older man had said as a confession of sorts. “Like when you thought Tibbs had hurt her.”
“Look,” Galvin said with a firm huff, “it’s complicated okay?”
“I bet it isn’t.”
Galvin looked skywards.
“I’m not taking relationship advice from someone half my age.”
“Oh, so it’s a relationship, is it?”
“Luke, shut up.”
That time there was no hint of jesting in his voice and Luke immediately backed off, sensing that he’d pushed it too far.
“Sorry...” he muttered, feeling bad. “I hope she’s all right.”
“Yeah, me too.”
There was silence again for a long moment. Luke knew that he really should keep his mouth shut this time, but there was something else he needed to know. And, since it could be important to their mission, he felt he had to ask, whether the question was welcome or not.
“Could you do it?” he asked, softly. “Kill her, I mean. If we needed to.”
Galvin hesitated before answering. It seemed like a reticence to reply at first, but Luke wondered if the other man simply hadn’t decided that for himself yet and needed a moment to think it through.
“I don’t know. Maybe twenty years ago it would have been easy, but now...,” he let out a heavy sigh of burden. “I think you might have to step up to the plate on this one.”
“And what makes you think I’m going to find it any easier?” Luke asked in all honesty, pragmatic rather than angry. “Mina’s my friend. And she’s known what? Four generations of my family? That almost makes her family too. I don’t want to kill her.”
“I know,” Galvin replied with some sympathy. “But you sometimes have to make hard choices. That’s just part of your destiny.”
“Did I mention lately that I hate my destiny?”
Galvin nodded sagely.
“Most people do.”
Luke thought for a moment about his dad, wondering if that was why he’d done it, why he’d turned on his friends and was going to hand his own son over to be raised by the half-life. Had he got tired of his destiny too? Had he thought that it was his only way out, no matter what he was sacrificing? Luke didn’t understand it, but he reasoned, he’d only been doing this a few months. His dad had gone on for years. Would he have the same doubts too somewhere down the line?
He wasn’t sure he wanted to know as so he turned his mind back to the business at hand.
“So, how am I supposed to...?” he questioned, finding it somehow distasteful to ask outright but knowing it needed to be said. “I mean, if it really comes to it. It’s not easy to take out a vampire...”
Galvin dug into one of his coat pockets before bringing out a small object.
“Here,” he said, handing Luke a pulse gun round. “There’s some of Mina’s hair in there. I’ve got one too.”
“How did you-?”
“She gave it to me,” Galvin interrupted, knowing what he was asking. “Years ago. As a last resort measure. And I’d appreciate it if you make sure it really is that.”
Luke nodded in determination. His dad had betrayed them but he was going to be the better man. He wouldn’t let them down.
“You can count on it.”
The most fleeting glimpse of movement in the tunnel ahead brought their conversation to an abrupt halt. Both of them instantly turned their torches in the right direction, senses on high alert.
There was nothing to be seen.
“Maybe it was just another rat,” Luke suggested in a whisper.
“I’d rather it was a demon, thanks,” Galvin joked dryly.
They took a few cautious paces forward, Galvin eventually holding out his arm to signal Luke to stop. He then crouched to the floor, running his fingers lightly over the ground. There was gravel here, which hadn’t been present back at the station, and indentations could be seen in it.
“Footprints?” Luke guessed.
Galvin nodded, his eyes following the trail. There were others too, Luke realised as Galvin shone his torch further ahead, and they were all the same size and shape.
“From the same person?”
Again Galvin nodded as he stood back up. “Looks like it.”
Someone certainly had been pacing around down here. Luke didn’t know why but he found the idea unsettling. It didn’t seem like something that a person completely in their right mind would do. He was about to ask whether Galvin thought they were Mina’s when a distinct sound reverberated down the tunnel, leaving no doubt as to whether it was real or imagined this time.
They ran together, hearing the unmistakable clank of metal getting more and more distant followed by a scraping noise. The sounds led them to the foot of a ladder that disappeared into a dark hole in the ceiling.
“Access shaft,” Galvin surmised, shining his torch up it. It was a long way up but Luke could just about see the clear, starry night sky through the distant opening at the top. Which was a bit weird – where were the street lights?
He reacted before Galvin did, mounting the ladder and climbing up it as quick as he could. He probably should have been a bit more careful, should have been cautious in case it was some kind of trap, but they couldn’t afford to lose her again. It’d taken long enough to find her in the first place and that had been mostly luck.
Clambering out of the hole, he scanned the area around him as he waited for Galvin to catch up. It appeared to be an old industrial estate, god knows how far from where they’d first entered the tunnels back near Sandy’s. He was in a narrow alleyway, high, imposing brick buildings rising up either side of him, blocking out most of the available light.
There was no sign of anyone.
Glancing back at the open grate, he saw that it used to be bolted shut from the other side, but that the hinge had been pulled off. It would have taken a lot of strength.
Galvin joined him shortly after, appearing up through the hole. He seemed to be a little out of breath.
“You’ve really got to lay off the coffee and pastries,” Luke said sarcastically, eyes still carefully scanning for any signs of movement.
Galvin may be a little out of shape, but it seemed that his skills of observation far outstripped the young Van Helsing’s.
“Over there,” he said after a short moment, ignoring Luke’s comment as he strode across to a door a little way along.
The handle and locking mechanism had been punched clean through, the door still shut but swinging open at the slightest push.
“Is it her?” Luke asked, peering inside the darkness of the building.
“I hope so,” Galvin replied. “I’d hate to think we’re wasting time chasing something else.”
“What’s she doing? Why’s she come in here?”
“Doesn’t want to stay in the open air I guess.”
Luke was puzzled as to whether that was a good sign. The cynical part of him couldn’t help but wonder if she was leading them into some kind of ambush. But, if that was the case, why up here? Why not down in the dark tunnels where she’d had an even greater advantage?
“Why’s she running?” he asked, more pondering allowed than expecting a definite answer. “Why doesn’t she just stay and face us if she’s so strong?”
“I think she’s trying to help us.”
Luke never thought he would have seen the day when Galvin turned optimist.
He was about to step forward and into the building, deciding that standing around talking wasn’t going to get things done any quicker, when the older man put an arm across the doorway to stop him. Instead of offering an explanation, he held a hand up for patience. It soon became clear what he was up to when he fished his phone out of his pocket and quickly dialled.
“Ruby?” he asked brusquely as a voice answered, “Are you done?...Good, we think we’ve got her. I want you to bring the car to meet us...Industrial estate in Stockwell, I think. Above some abandoned underground lines...”
Luke didn’t think those directions were very helpful and he suspected Ruby agreed with him as he heard tinny sounds of complaint.
Unsurprisingly, Galvin lacked any patience with her grievances.
“I don’t know!” he snapped. “Just find us! Use the internet or something, geez...”
He hung up, leaving what Luke imagined was a rather cross Ruby on the other end of the line.
That was the least of his worries though.
Inside, the building was dark and apparently deserted. Galvin seemed convinced that Mina was here though, even when Luke questioned whether or not she’d simply broken the lock to trick them and was already long gone.
The first floor was nearly all open-plan, twisted metal and rusting machinery filling the floor space and making it hard to see. The windows didn’t really help either, covered in filth with only the broken ones letting any decent shards of light in.
Luke didn’t like it, again his mind turning to the idea of a trap. It’d be way too easy for her to hide in the shadows here and ambush them. They didn’t know what state she was in really, whether she was still on their side or not. But what else could they do? They had to check it out. They couldn’t leave her out here and hope for the best. She was their responsibility.
At least he persuaded Galvin that they should stick to the perimeter, staying close against the walls so she couldn’t sneak up behind them. It gave him one less thing to concentrate on.
Tension still seemed to build tenfold with every passing moment though and Luke had to force himself to stop holding his breath, knowing it wouldn’t help him if he needed to react quickly. Despite causing his heart to leap into his throat, he was actually relieved when there was finally a sound. It was shoes on metal and he pointed his torch in the right direction just in time to see a figure fleeing up the stairs to the second floor.
He ran, expecting Galvin to follow him this time.
Quickly reaching the bottom of the stairway, he headed up there with more caution, gun pointing ahead, checking every corner systematically. He wasn’t sure if the technique was from natural born instinct due to his family heritage or just one he’d learnt on the Playstation. Either way, it seemed to be the right thing to do.
The second floor was separated into rooms either side of a long, single corridor. Some of them were small, old desks and chairs suggesting that they were once offices. Others were much larger and almost completely empty apart from a few stray crates. They’d probably been storage space or something.
Whatever they were, there wasn’t a person to be found in any of them.
“Okay,” he whispered as they re-emerged from the last one, voice tight with tension. “Where is she?”
Galvin shook his head, unable to offer an explanation, looking properly worried for once.
This was ridiculous, Luke told himself, nerves making him angry. He’d definitely seen her come up here, he was sure of it. So why couldn’t they find her? There was nowhere to hide. There was no other way out either and she couldn’t possibly have doubled back past them.
It seemed she could have though, he realised, as a hiss of warning came from behind, from where they’d already checked. Either that or she was really good at hiding.
They both turned on their heels, guns pointing back down the dark corridor.
But that hadn’t been imagined unless it was a shared hallucination. She was there somewhere.
“Mina?” Galvin asked loudly, keeping his voice remarkably steady given the situation. “We’ve come to help you.”
Nice try, but no answer.
Apparently deciding that they were at too much of a disadvantage, Galvin turned and jabbed the butt of his gun into the large window behind them, the old glass instantly breaking and flooding the corridor with moonlight.
All sound was drowned out for a moment by the painful cacophony of shattering glass falling away. When it finally stopped, the resulting silence didn’t last too long.
“And who says I need help?”
A vicious voice that was way too close by.
Luke turned but not quick enough, Mina’s lightening reflexes letting her grab his arm before he could point the gun at her.
He had just enough time to process that this definitely wasn’t the Mina he knew, that the malicious look in her eyes was nothing like he’d ever seen and that the hiss she let out seemed almost feral.
Then she grabbed him by a handful of shirt and, before he knew it, he was flying back into the room he’d just left. He was unfortunately aware of the crack of pain as his back collided with one of the concrete pillars, but blissfully unconscious by the time he hit the floor.
Ruby got out of the limo as soon as it stopped in the old industrial estate’s car park. She didn’t bother saying anything to Mina’s driver, having quickly learnt that the only thing he’d respond to was an instruction about where to drive.
Galvin had been right, he wasn’t very helpful at all. From now on, she’d just call him Lurch.
She started walking in the direction of the buildings, wondering what she should do next. Should she ring them and tell them that she was here? Should she just wait for them to come back? She didn’t want to interrupt them or get them into trouble if they were on the verge of capturing Mina. After all, she could just imagine the bollocking she’d get from Galvin if she called one of their phones and ruined an ambush they’d set up or something. On the other hand though, what if they were in trouble and they needed her help whilst she waited out here like a spare part?
She got her answer when she heard the sound of breaking glass, looking up to see it raining from a large second floor window in one of the buildings.
She immediately set off running, towards the nearest doors, having decided that that probably wasn’t a good sign.