A/N No real notes. Thanks to those who pointed out little fixes that needed to be fixed. Hopefully I can fix them properly and get the parts back up (first story here on ff net so I'm not sure about how to fix & repost).
And even when them odds are against us It doesn't even matter…
Whatever the outcome is Just keep your faith in me
Just believe in me And I will be there
McCallan smiled. "I had Sheldon drop me off here a bit ago. I've been waiting for you lads."
With one arm, Mitchell swept George behind him whilst taking a step toward McCallan. "Go George, get outta here."
McCallan charged, but not for George. Like a tackle, he rushed Mitchell, grabbing him round the waist and lifting him several feet off the ground before slamming him against the alley wall. With blurring speed, McCallan laid several punches to the wound in Mitchell's side causing him to cry out and his back to arch in reaction to the hits.
George had fallen back only a few yards when his friend pushed him. The speed and brutality of McCallan's attack on Mitchell froze George to the spot. He knew he didn't stand a chance against McCallan but at that moment, it didn't matter. He picked up a large rock and hurled it at the vampire's head.
The chunk of stone smacked its target and bounced off. The desired effect, however, was achieved. McCallan dropped Mitchell and set his eyes on his attacker. A part of George wanted to go to his friend, who was curled on the ground. But this was the time for the second part of the plan—he turned and ran.
He sprinted toward a dumpster at the end of the alley and ducked behind it out of McCallan's view. Crouched, with his back pressed against the wall, he scrambled to pull what he needed from the inside pocket of Mitchell's jacket.
The slap of McCallan's shoes against the ground stopped suddenly at the other end of the dumpster. Tiny crunching pops of gravel underfoot heralded a step-by-step approach. "Hiding behind a waste bin," McCallan said. "That was your plan?"
George's heart rate spiked when McCallan loomed into his vision. "No. This was." With all his strength, he launched himself up, thrusting the stake in his hands into McCallan's heart. The vampire fell back and George followed. He used the resistance of the ground under McCallan to drive the wood shaft deeper into the chest that he already felt crumbling.
Blood bubbled from McCallan's mouth and the scientific part of George's brain attributed it to the vampire's recent feed. He scrambled away from the disintegrating body and looked, instead, for life. Mitchell leaned heavily against the wall with one arm wrapped around his waist. To George it looked like nothing short of sheer determination was what held his friend upright.
"And to think," Mitchell said, "that I questioned the practicality of you keeping that stake."
George got to his feet and went to him. "What was it you said? 'I just don't see what you're gonna do with it, George'."
Mitchell's brow furrowed. "Since when do I have a French accent?"
"That wasn't French! That was totally Irish."
"I don't know what that was," Mitchell said, "but it was not Irish." He closed his eyes and rested his head against the wall.
The term 'walking dead' popped into George's mind. "You know we still have the walk back to the house?"
Mitchell's eyes stayed closed but he raised his brows. "Why didn't we ask James for a ride?"
"What," George said, pulling his friend into a proper standing position, "and miss me being able to say 'I told you so' about that stake?"
Annie had given up watching at the window, it was impossible to keep still. She had gone from fast pacing to slow pacing and on to wandering from room to room. She'd spent fifteen minutes trying to focus on both George and Mitchell in hopes that her mind would take her to wherever they were. And through all of it she refused to give her tears the escape they pushed for.
Crying would mean something bad had happened to her boys. That just wasn't an option. They were the ones who had helped her become visible to "normal" people. Not helped in a practical manner, more like an emotional one.
She believed their ability to see and hear her, the comfort and feeling of family they provided, their acceptance of her as a member of their household and not just as 'a ghost' had been instrumental in her manifesting a physical form.
Her fingertips crept along the wall of the stairwell as she descended. She had died in this house but Mitchell and George had brought her back to life. She couldn't face the idea that they could be—
The sound of the front door opening sent her racing down the rest of the steps, shrieking, and flinging herself at the first body that came in. She threw her arms around George's neck and knocked him back a few paces into Mitchell. George lifted her enough to walk them both into the house but Annie barely noticed. Her thoughts tumbled out in random succession.
"Oh my God you found him Where was he Where were you Oh George you're all right I didn't know what to do I've just been walking around and I tried to think about where you boys would be so I could find you but it didn't work and I couldn't cry because that would mean you were both dead so I said No Annie no crying and I couldn't look out the window any longer because the longer I watched the longer you both were gone and we're out of tea so all I could do was make cups of boiling water and add sugar to them 'cause we're out of milk too."
Her eyes fell on Mitchell who had closed the door and was leaning against it, watching his friends with a tired smile.
"I knew you would find him!" She uncoiled herself from George and wrapped her arms around Mitchell's torso in a tight hug, kissing his cheek.
Mitchell gasped as she squeezed him. "Oww, oh, Annie-luv, please don't."
Something about his shirt struck her as odd and she released her hold. "You're crunchy." His black t-shirt had a large stain where the fabric was stiff and crinkled. Spotting a hole in it she made a move to inspect her friend closer.
"I'm fine," he said.
Annie attempted to lift the shirt but Mitchell pushed her hand away, she pushed his in return. A volley of hand movements erupted, but she finished it with a final smack to his wrist.
She yanked the shirt up to expose a large black and yellow bruise and two scabbed wounds. "Oh my God, what is that!"
"It's nothing," Mitchell said, tugging his shirt down.
Annie looked at George. "What is that?"
"He got shot." He stated it as if she asked whether or not he'd like a sandwich.
Annie stared at Mitchell. "You what!"
"It's alright," he said. "Nothing a couple of days off won't cure and I happen to have the next two days off. You know, I'll bet George could really use a nice hot cup of tea. George?"
"Yeah, as long as I can crawl into it and fall asleep." He stepped toward the kitchen after Mitchell nudged him from behind.
Annie, however, was now being hit by every emotion she'd suppressed since George first went missing—worry, fear, anger, sadness, rage, more fear.
"We're out of tea," she said sharply. She smacked Mitchell on the arm. "You were supposed to call. You said you'd call! What is it with men? Why don't they ever call when they say they will? You think it's a cliché but it isn't. They don't call. Is it so bloody difficult? If you're not going to call, then don't tell us you're going to!"
She'd backed Mitchell up against the door and was about to turn on George when Mitchell gripped her shoulders.
"Annie, Annie, Annie. I'm sorry. Everything just happened so fast. I didn't want to call you if I hadn't found him yet and after I did find him there wasn't time and…when there was time my battery was dead. I'm sorry."
"Mine got broken," George added, pulling his phone from his jacket to reveal a crack across the screen.
Mitchell offered her a sincere, apologetic smile. "I'm sorry," he said. "We're sorry."
George nodded, looking more than a little like a scolded school boy. "We are."
Annie grabbed them both round the neck and pulled them in for a hug. Now she could let the tears out. "I thought I'd lost you. You're never, ever, ever to do this again." She felt each of them put a hand on her back to return the hug. After several seconds, she released them but laid her hands to their cheeks, one palm to each. "Because I can't be here without my boys."
It didn't take Annie long to herd them into the kitchen to get them fed. When she'd started to ask what had happened Mitchell silenced her with a look and by mouthing, "Later."
George leaned against the counter, still wearing Mitchell's leather jacket though Annie wasn't sure why, and waited for the microwave to warm his food. He stared at Mitchell who hadn't bothered with heating his plate.
"Cold pizza," George said. He feigned a shudder. "It's unnatural; it's like…eating a dead animal."
Annie pondered the statement. "Aren't all animals dead when you eat them? Present company excluded, of course."
Mitchell choked a bit and swallowed the bite in his mouth. "I don't eat live animals!"
George seemed to take that as an affront. "And I do?"
"I don't know," Mitchell answered, looking bewildered. "You were the one complaining about 'it' eating stuff that made you chuck-up."
George shook his head. "I-I, don't think that counts."
"Nooo," Annie said, with a tilt of her head. "I'm pretty sure it does."
"No, no. I am not it…it is not me. I don't know everything it's doing while I'm running around out there."
Mitchell paused in the middle of chewing. "You do know how mad that sounds, right?"
"I don't think that sounds-," George stopped himself and his escalating vocal pitch dropped. "All right, yes. Look, why are we even on this topic?"
Annie answered honestly. "You started it."
The microwave timer went off and George retrieved his plate. "Well, then I'm finishing it. I'm taking my pizza and I'm going to take a shower-"
Annie grinned at Mitchell. "Won't it get soggy?"
"And then," George said, ignoring her. "I'm going to bed, which is where I should have been…" He pushed up the sleeve of the borrowed jacket to check his watch but ended up staring at the blood-stained bandage before he remembered Mitchell still had the watch in his pocket. "Well…a while ago."
Annie sat up at the sight of the bandage. "What is that!"
"It's nothing," George said. He left the kitchen and Annie looked at Mitchell.
"What is that?"
Mitchell wore a haunted expression. "He was bitten."
Though the bathroom door was open Annie sat curled against the wall outside it, listening. Whilst George was showering, Mitchell had told her the events of the evening and suggested she give George a little space before she went "all Mother Hen" on him. Now the boys were both in the bathroom whilst Mitchell properly bandaged their friend's arm.
As the two men talked, Annie visualized them in her mind's eye. Mitchell perched on the edge of the tub, George on the seat of the toilet, each doing what they always seemed to be trying to perfect—Mitchell watching over a friend and George worrying.
"Once we're done here," Mitchell said, "I'll run over to the hospital and get your backpack. Should be able to score a round of antibiotics as well."
George didn't reply but Annie could visualize his anxious expression and Mitchell replied to the unasked question.
"I'll be honest, George, I really don't know." Mitchell breathed a laugh, "But better safe than sorry, right? Right, Annie?" he called.
He'd known she was there the entire time. She rolled onto her knees to peek around the corner. "Can I get anybody a cup of…hot water?"
Showered and with his arm freshly bandaged, George padded down the hall and into his room. He knew she was right behind him. He stopped beside his bed and turned to her but she breezed right past him and was peering around the window blinds to the street below.
"I'm going to sleep now," George said, feeling like he was addressing a child.
Annie turned from the window and smiled happily. "As you should. I'll be fine. I don't mind just sitting here." She dropped into a high-backed green chair at the foot of his bed and curled her legs underneath herself.
George stood there watching her for a few seconds. "Did Mitchell tell you to watch me?"
"No…maybe…yes, a little. He just said, 'Keep an eye on him'."
"Look," George said, exasperated, "I don't need a nanny, all right? I just need…some sleep."
He knew she meant well but he'd had a long night of being watched. She showed a little apologetic frown and nodded before unfolding one leg toward the floor. "But," George added. "I guess a little company for a bit would be all right."
Annie's beaming smile reminded him that some types of watching were comforting. Very comforting indeed.
Whispering voices pulled him to consciousness.
"He all right?" Mitchell asked.
"Yeah," Annie said. From the direction of her voice she was still seated in the green chair. "I think he fell asleep pretty quick. You get the antibiotics?"
"Yeah, but I hate to wake him."
"He's already awake," George said, rolling over and reaching for his glasses. Light spilled into his room from the hallway.
"Good," Mitchell said, " 'cause I brought you some drugs." He rattled the pill bottle in his hand. "And I picked up some milk and tea. Maybe I can sucker Annie into making some?"
She sprung up. "I'm always happy to be suckered by you!" Her smile faltered. "That sounded…not right, at all." She pointed toward the hall as she headed for the door. "I'm just going to go put the kettle on."
George dropped back onto his pillow. "Ow."
Mitchell winced in sympathy. "The head?"
"Yes. And the wrists…and the arm…and the pride." George instantly regretted the last part when he saw his friend's furrowed brow.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Mitchell lowered himself to sit on the edge of the bed.
"Nothing, forget it." George pulled off his glasses and draped his bandaged arm across his eyes.
It took him a moment to force the words out. "I could have gotten you killed tonight."
"Is that how you see it?" Mitchell was clearly surprised. " 'cause from where I was sitting I'd say you kept me from gettin' killed, several times over."
Silence enveloped the small room and they could hear Annie moving about the kitchen—the clink of spoons, the refrigerator door opening and closing. George lifted his arm from his eyes and watched Mitchell whilst he studied the unlabeled pill bottle in his hand. A slip of light from a streetlamp snuck around the edge of the window blinds and illuminated half of the vampire's face.
"I heard Ian tell Andy about the Cornwall Tavern," George said. "Now that's a way to make a threat, they didn't even look at me after that." He thought he saw the corners of Mitchell's mouth tighten. "But I couldn't help think if our positions had been switched… I wouldn't have had anything like that."
Mitchell looked stunned. "And I never want you to. Don't you get it, George? That sort of thing is exactly what I want to keep you away from. You and Annie both. I'm not proud of those things, but if I have to use that reputation to protect what's most important to me, then I'll use it."
With a heavy sigh he rested his forearms on his knees and stared at the floor. "I tell myself that I'm not that man anymore but…I feel like he's just a minute behind me. Hell, sometimes I feel like he's a minute in front just waiting for me to catch up. So I do my best to ignore those two minutes and focus on the middle one. The one I'm in."
He shifted his weight to fold his right leg onto the bed and the streetlamp now lit his full face. "It's been living and working with you that gives me the motivation and strength to live in this minute." A hint of a smile played on his lips. "Being human isn't about kicking arse and taking names. It's about being the best person you can be. And without you, without Annie, I couldn't do that. "
The floor took his focus again and he shook his head as if trying to brush away images of that 'what if'; however, a second later he sat up and smacked George on the leg. "So just put away the guilt…and take your pills."
The bottle hit George in the chest before he had time to react. "Ow." He rubbed the spot where the pills bounced off but he knew it was obvious the throw hadn't hurt.
"You know," Mitchell said, rising, "maybe that could be your secret weapon…Jewish Werewolf guilt—especially powerful during a full moon after someone hasn't called or come over in a long while."
George reached to the floor, scooped up a slipper and pitched it at his friend's head. Mitchell was gone before the slipper cleared the spot where he'd stood. Smiling, George laid his head back on his pillow and waited for Annie to appear with the tea.
Final A/N: (Because I visualize [and subsequently write] my stories like episodes I thought it would be tongue-in-cheeky to include as a Deleted Scene a teensy Mitchell bit that I wrote and liked but later took out.) To heighten suspense in a later scene, Mitchell's speech at the end of this one was edited out. James the driver has just seen his boss's car drive away and Mitchell tries to fill in the blanks.
"Hey, because he what?" repeated Mitchell. He lit his own cigarette and handed the lighter back to James who tucked it away. When he showed his hand again, it held a .40 caliber pistol.
"Because he needed me to fill in for him...who the hell are you?"
Mitchell stepped back. "Jesus, what is it with you Southampton vampires and guns?"
James grabbed the front of Mitchell's shirt and pressed the barrel to his heart. "Who are you!"
Emotionally wrung out, Mitchell offered back desert-dry sarcasm. "I'm the poor berk who's already been shot once tonight, or did you not notice the hole in the blood-stained shirt? Have ya ever been shot, James? It hurts. A lot. And I'd really rather not experience it again so soon. Oh, and in case you're curious, the guy that shot me is part of the crew who just redecorated the inside of that 300,000 quid car with your boss."
James's grip went slack and he studied Mitchell's ruined t-shirt. A lost expression filled his eyes as he tucked the gun away. "What the hell is going on?"
Mitchell slung an arm over his shoulder. "C'mon, I'll explain on the way."