Title: Every Problem Has Its Gift (5/8)
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!)
Instinct made Galvin stride into the room and point the gun straight at Mina as she darted over to Luke’s prone form, looking down at him with an impassive gaze. It was hard to tell whether she was pleased with what she’d done or if she regretted it - if she was looking at him like prey or with concern.
“Mina,” Galvin called firmly, wanting to draw her attention back to him, just in case.
She turned, eyes looking him up and down in a way that made his stomach churn. There’d been a few times when he’d wished Mina could properly look at him, thinking that it’d be nice for her eyes to meet his for once, but this wasn’t what he’d had in mind.
She coldly took him in, him and the threat he now pointed at her. He wondered if she knew that it was that round in the barrel, the one that could kill her. He suspected that she did.
He was damn well convinced of it when she snarled at him warningly, all vampire. All killer.
But she didn’t move, the moment stretching out almost impossibly long as he waited for the attack that he prayed wouldn’t come.
It didn’t and his hand remained steady whilst his mind raced.
There she was, standing before him, hissing in barely repressed rage, giving him a clear view of the deadly fangs of the vampire now prominent in her mouth. All but daring him to pull the trigger.
But she wasn’t moving. She could have disarmed him quicker than blinking by now if she’d wanted to, so why take the risk? If this had been a trap, it’d worked, so why not kill them both?
The standoff lasted a few tense moments more before he made a decision that he knew could cost him his life.
He lowered the gun, skilled hands rapidly ejecting the round and throwing it out the broken window behind him. Showing her his intentions. Or lack of them.
He’d better be right about this or they were all in big trouble.
She immediately looked even further enraged but his gaze remained defiant, instantly reassured as her reaction gave her away. He’d made the right decision. She’d wanted him to kill her, angry now because he’d backed down.
And that meant she could still be saved.
She crossed the distance between them in less than a heartbeat, and all the breath rushed from his body as he was slammed into the wall, Mina’s hand pressed at his neck. But she still gave him enough room to breathe when she could have easily crushed his throat. It only convinced him further that they still had a chance. That she was still there.
“That was a mistake,” she spat at him, eyes seeming to burn with barely contained fury and chest heaving like she was battling for control.
He never was one to be intimidated though, she should know that.
“I won’t do it,” he said steadily, giving her no doubt that he knew precisely what she’d been trying to goad him into.
To his surprise she kept up no pretence, perhaps resigned to the fact that it wouldn’t be so easy to trick him into finishing her. She could pretend to be a monster all she wanted but he’d always see right through her.
And he saw that he hadn’t lost her just yet.
“You promised me,” she snarled, her voice masking a hint of pain. It was somewhere between a demand and a plea, and he felt for her in that moment, wondering what she’d been through in the last few days for her to want this. But he hid that and remained outwardly strong, knowing that was what she needed, not pity.
“Then I’m breaking it,” he said stubbornly, with no hesitation.
“Coward,” she accused in disgust.
“I guess so.”
“You wanted me to kill my son, my own flesh and blood, but you can’t do this?” She choked out the words, enraged, hurt and betrayed in equal measure.
He could have reminded her then that she hadn’t been able to do it either, even when Quincey had threatened those she cared for most. He could have argued that she should understand better than anyone why he lowered the gun, why it didn’t matter what she did, she was still ‘Mina’ to him and he was never going to be able to pull that trigger. But he kept himself calm in the face of her tempest, knowing that him losing it wouldn’t help matters. Her control seemed finely balanced and one of them had to hold it together. For once, it would have to be him.
“Guess we all have our weaknesses,” he replied quietly.
Apparently annoyed by that, she gripped him tighter and threw him to the floor viciously, like she wanted to make him hurt. She succeeded, but he had little time to register the pain before she was leaning over him, the lapels of his jacket gripped tight by white fingers.
“I’ll kill you,” she warned angrily, but her voice shook, giving her away once more.
His heart was pounding fiercely and the smiter in him was demanding that he fought back, that he had to stop her now whilst she was vulnerable and to hell with sentimentality. But the man who had known her for half his lifetime, who’d taken her to the opera and watched her recitals enraptured, who’d laughed with her and cooked her dinner whilst she complained about the mess he made of her kitchen, that man shouted louder. It summoned up every ounce of his most fierce determination, telling him what he had to do.
He hadn’t saved Jay. He hadn’t saved Maggie. He wouldn’t see the end of Mina too.
No matter what she threatened.
“Go ahead,” he offered, knowing the risk he was taking but not for one moment doubting that it was worth it. “If it’s a choice between you and me, I choose you. You gave up your soul to save my life. I’m just returning the favour.”
With a screech of anger, she darted forward, lifting him towards her and into a cruel embrace. He felt the hard press of her teeth at his neck, her warm breath signalling imminent death.
“You shouldn’t test me,” she growled, close to his ear.
But again she didn’t move, her breath still coming in hard and uneven gasps. She held his life in her hands, but as the moments passed, it became clear that she didn’t have it in her to take it.
“You’re hesitating Mina,” he pressed softly, trying not to move too much in case he set something off in her. Her control was still hanging by a thread, he could feel it, and he didn’t want to give her any reason to snap. “You know why?” he continued. “Because whatever the monster inside says, you fight against it. Because you care. That’s why you’ve been hiding. I know you.”
“Not anymore,” she whispered, sounding almost despairing.
“No, I know you. Not that thing. You’ve fought it this long, don’t let it win now. You’re better than that.”
It was hard to tell if he’d got through to her, if she was too far gone to come back or if she’d be willing to agree to sedation if he offered it. The moment stretched out, her mouth still pressed close to his neck, ready to strike at the slightest provocation.
But she didn’t move.
Cautiously, his hand slid up to the one of hers which was resting on his chest, aware that it could be a fatal move. He should be reaching for the sedative. He should inject her with it whilst she was vulnerable and he had the chance. But he didn’t want to break her trust in him and so he lightly placed his hand over hers, feeling her fingers warm for once and how hard she shook.
Ever so slowly, her teeth withdrew, her lips pressing against his neck instead of her teeth. Her breathing seemed to calm and when he dared glance up her eyes were closed, almost as if she were steadying herself, her weight resting against his shoulder.
“Help me,” she pleaded quietly.
He let out a breath he didn’t even realise he’d been holding, his relief palpable.
“I will. It’ll be okay,” he promised.
The odd moment of peace was shattered by a gunshot that for once made even him jump.
Mina herself looked shocked too, her hand reaching for her shoulder and coming away covered in blood. She dropped Galvin in an instant and stood, turning slowly to face Luke who was still pointing the gun at her. He looked a little unsteady on his feet, still wobbly from having only just come round. Without hesitation he fired again though, aiming at her thigh this time. She barely flinched, apparently surprised more than hurt.
Galvin knew that Luke was only trying to help, that he’d probably regained consciousness to see that she had the American pinned to the floor and was seemingly attacking him. Still, it was a bad time for him to come to the ‘rescue’ and Galvin went to shout out a warning for him to stop, before he realised that it was too late.
With the direct attack on her, Mina instantly seemed to lose all sense of self, as though a kind of preservation instinct kicked in. She screamed at Luke in a wild manner, a warning of retaliation. Seeing the situation slipping, Galvin wasted no time in grabbing one of the auto-injectors from his pocket and jabbing it into the back of her thigh whilst she was distracted.
She whirled back to him, looking furious.
“What are you doing?” she hissed.
“Helping you,” he offered.
She seemed unimpressed with that, kicking him hard in the face. Not enough to knock him out, but it left him reeling, sprawled on the floor.
The sedative obviously hadn’t been enough. Or if it had, it was taking too long to take effect. Dangerously long, in fact.
Galvin tried to gather himself together quickly as Mina flew at Luke in a rage, knocking the gun away. He had to get this situation back under control again before one of them killed the other. He had to inject her with a second dose and hoped it knocked her down. She was strong, but she wasn’t that strong and with two gunshot wounds slowing her...
His head was still spinning violently though, only getting worse as he forced himself to sit up, fighting a massive wave of nausea that threatened to overwhelm him. How was he supposed to get the stuff into her when he couldn’t even focus properly? He didn’t dare go for her whilst his vision was still so woozy in case he accidentally got Luke. The drug would kill him in moments.
But Luke was going to lose, he realised, just about able to process the fight going on in front of him. Even with her injuries, Mina blocked his every blow and he barely managed to evade her in return. It was only a matter of time. She could break his neck without effort at any moment.
He had to do something.
But Ruby got there first.
She ran in at exactly the wrong instant for her own sake, although in hindsight she probably saved Luke’s life.
Skidding to a halt, she gaped in open mouthed shock at the sight ahead of her, Luke and Mina continuing to beat the hell out of each other.
“Luke!” she called out in automatic alarm, obviously realising the danger he was in.
A danger she’d just unwittingly drawn to herself.
Galvin staggered to his feet, gripping the wall for support as his balance failed to right itself. This was going from bad to worse.
Both Luke and Mina looked in Ruby’s direction, Luke suddenly appearing frightened as if he saw what was coming before the rest of them did.
“Run!” he instructed firmly.
But she didn’t.
Mina tossed Luke aside again, him landing hard and falling straight through a stack of crates, a shower of splinters flying up as they broke beneath him.
Galvin didn’t know if Ruby was too focused on Luke to see the danger she was in, or if she simply didn’t have time to process it, but she made no attempt to get herself out of harm’s way as Mina strode towards her. The vampire’s hand wrapped tightly around the other girl’s throat, no consideration in her grip this time, and she lifted Ruby clean off the floor, slamming her back into a column.
Galvin immediately stumbled forward in spite of his dizziness, nearly falling flat on his face. He had to do something.
“You always hated me, didn’t you Ruby?” Mina taunted cruelly as the girl struggled in her grasp, fighting to breathe. “It would seem fitting that I at last gave you a reason to do so.”
He knew then he wouldn’t make it in time.
With a snarl, Mina lunged forward, her fangs burying deep into Ruby’s throat, the other girl instantly screaming in fear and pain.
Without a second thought, Galvin staggered the last few steps and stabbed the auto-injector forward, aiming for Mina and hoping for the best.
He thanked all possible deities he knew of when his aim proved to be accurate.
His gratitude stalled slightly though as, for a horrible moment, nothing happened and he thought that the second dose hadn’t had any effect either. Then Mina seemed to jolt as if it had finally hit her, pulling back from Ruby in surprise. Her arm trembled, the strength leaving it, and she dropped the other girl unceremoniously to the floor.
She turned to look at Galvin for a moment, her mouth ripe with the Ruby’s blood, a sort of confusion passing across her features. Then her eyes rolled back and she collapsed at his feet. He was too shocked to catch her and she hit the ground with a hard thud, her head cracking off the concrete.
In the aftermath, he stood there in utter silence, drawing deep, calming breaths as he tried to steady his thudding heart. He knew he should check that Ruby was okay, the poor girl clutching her neck and sitting on the floor in a trembling heap, but he was still too stunned to move.
Jesus Christ, that had been close...
Fortunately, Luke recovered quicker, pushing past Galvin as he scrambled over to kneel at his friend’s side. He tried to check her over but she didn’t give him a chance, throwing her arms around his neck and burying her face in his shirt, sobbing in shock.
“She’s down now, yes?” Luke snapped, looking up at Galvin. He could understand the boy’s anger – it was one thing to risk your own life for something but to nearly get a friend killed...
He nodded, crouching down to prod Mina experimentally. She seemed deeply unconscious.
“She’s had enough to kill several elephants,” he confirmed, his voice still sounding distant as he tried to pull it together. “Should keep her out for several hours at the very least.”
“Good,” Luke replied sharply. “Then we’d better get her locked up before she hurts someone else.”
From the battered and slightly bloodied look of him, it wasn’t only Ruby he was talking about. Mina had given him quite a beating and Galvin knew that Luke wasn’t going to be having warm and fuzzy feelings towards her for a while yet. Frankly, he didn’t know what to think about her at the moment himself. He knew that it hadn’t been her, not the real her, but to see her like that... To see her face doing those things and hear her voice taunting Ruby with death...
As Luke untangled Ruby’s arms from around him, whispering comforting words and saying he needed to check her out, Galvin passed him a handkerchief, indicating that he should put it to her neck wound.
Luke nodded in tight thanks.
“You’ll be okay,” Galvin reassured her, reaching across to rest a hand on her arm for a moment as he tried to regain some charge over the situation. “You’re gonna feel a bit light headed for a while, but you’ll be fine, okay?”
She nodded, sniffing deeply before trying to pull herself together a bit.
He gave her a small smile.
“Good girl,” he encouraged, squeezing her arm a little before letting go.
Ruby was tough. She’d be all right once she got over the shock.
“Take her back to the car,” he ordered Luke, “I’ll be there in a minute.”
The boy did as he was told without hesitation, putting an arm around her waist and leading her protectively away, seeming more attentive of her than he’d ever been before. Galvin wondered briefly how this might change things between the pair of them. He knew from experience that seeing someone you cared about nearly killed tended to have consequences.
Once they were gone, Galvin stood for a moment, trying to come to terms with what had happened. With what Mina had done. With what had nearly been the outcome of his failure to act in a less emotional manner. Luke and Ruby both could be dead right now, he reasoned harshly, and it would have been his fault.
He should feel more ashamed than he did.
He knelt on the floor, rolling Mina onto her back. She flopped limply over, seeming very small and delicate again now, nothing like the fierce vampire they’d just fought. He reached out and pushed strands of dark hair from her face.
The face that was still tainted with Ruby’s blood.
That wasn’t really the frightening thing though. It was the fact that, in spite of it, he still saw Mina, not the freak. He could imagine her smiling when he teased her or that contented look she got when she sat at her piano playing. The face of the vampire was already becoming a hazy memory once more.
It was a weakness, he understood that all too well, and he was terrified by how close it had come to nearly costing someone their life.
Deep down, a part of him had always secretly considered himself better than Jay in some ways, arguing that his friend had cracked under the pressure but he hadn’t. Because Jay hadn’t been as strong as he was.
Maybe they weren’t so different after all.