AN: It's been a while! I went and got myself distracted by the fabulous Kili (and Fili!). You know who I'm talking about... ) I think I need to re-watch some Being Human. Mitchell keeps turning into the cheerful, adorably inexperienced Kili in my mind, which does NOT work for these next few chapters! (Although it works for me, heh heh... Sorry.)
Anyway, enjoy it, hate it, either way, review it!
Chapter 3 - If I Let You Go
The morning dawned bright and clear with no memory of the dense fog that had enveloped the coast the evening before. George and Annie sat together at the kitchen table huddled silently over cups of tea that had long ago given the last of their comforting warmth. Nina had already left to drop Seven off on her way to her morning shift over an hour ago. George had thought it best to put her absence to good use and had decided to hold their intervention with Mitchell while she would not be there to add fuel to the fire. As much as he truly loved her, George knew this conversation would likely be painful enough without Nina's stringent views and acid tongue. Annie had whole-heartedly agreed; She was uncomfortable enough with the idea of their confrontation as it was and wanted to keep it as peaceful as possible. Nina could be filled in later after things had settled down. If they settled down, George amended.
Deep down, something was telling George that the life that they had built together was about to be lost, or at the very least irrevocably altered. He felt as though he were already grieving a great loss. Annie, for her part, felt like part of a waiting lynch mob. Of course she had noticed Mitchell's recent reticence around them, and since she didn't sleep herself she was more aware of the barrage of nightmares that had been plaguing him than any of the others; But for all that, she seemed unable to grasp that whatever Mitchell had done this time was probably beyond anything that they had had to deal with before in their cozy makeshift family. George could see that she sat across from him ready to admonish and forgive Mitchell, but he himself could hold on to no such delusions.
A shuffling from the landing above announced that Mitchell was blearily stumbling down the stairs. He headed for the kitchen from habit more than any real desire to eat, and as he pushed through the door Annie took in how haggard and strained he looked. At first he took no notice of his roommates seated at the table other than to grunt an empty and insincere 'g'mornin' on his way to the breadbox. He busied himself with the toaster for a time before seeming to sense that something was amiss. Hesitating with his jam-covered knife poised above his toast, he lifted his eyes to unwillingly meet theirs, and Annie saw that there was remorse in their brown depths, but no surprise. She thought that he must have been expecting this, maybe even wanting them to free him of whatever terrible secret burdened him. She felt tears threatening and willed herself to keep her face set and not to start things off with an Annie-esque display of waterworks.
Mitchell swallowed tightly, his mouth gone suddenly dry. Slowly he laid the knife on the rim of his plate and waited, staring resignedly at his cooling toast. Annie looked nervously from him to George, willing one of them to speak first. Mitchell remained silent.
"Once I said that I couldn't be your confessor," He said, managing to keep his voice mostly steady. "It was wrong of me to say that. It was selfish, and I should have listened to what you had to say. It was my duty as your friend," His voice cracked slightly with barely restrained emotion. "And I'm asking you to give me a second chance now."
Mitchell was silent for a long time. When he looked up, his eyes were red-rimmed and glistening and he gave George a barely perceptible nod. It was too late now, he thought miserably. He had let things go for too long. He should have broken with them long ago, after getting Annie back. At least then they would never have had to learn of his latest horror and could have remembered him for what little good he had still possessed. They would never have had to find out what a worthless creature he truly was. With weakness and rage, he had slaughtered everything that they held dear, and once George and Annie were no longer a part of his life there would be nothing left to anchor himself to. Without them he would sink back into a life of violence and despair. It was only a matter of time now. He would see this to the end, though; He owed them that much. All he had left to offer them was the truth and his unflinching honesty. It would be his last act of friendship and love for them.
From his back pocket he pulled out a piece of folded, well-worn newsprint. With shaking hands he spread it out almost tenderly on the counter, pressing it flat for them to see. He noted with distaste that his palms were somehow both frigid and damp with sweat. He had never been so cold, he thought, as if his body was preparing him for his descent into numbness. He could find no words to explain the horrible thing that he had done, so without speaking he passed the crinkled paper to Annie and George and seated himself in an empty chair. He tucked his hands between his knees, uselessly trying to warm them, and bowed his head to let his hair fall forward and hide his face. He didn't think that he could bear to watch their warm, familiar faces grow cold and hard as they realized what he had done.
Annie moved closer to George as he smoothed out the page. It was a newspaper clipping, soft with repeated handling, as though Mitchell had folded it time and time again after many viewings. Staring back at them from the page were the faces of twenty people; men and women, young and old; A school teacher; A man leaving behind a wife and five children; A cancer survivor. George swallowed convulsively as he held the obituaries out to Mitchell. "Which one?" he whispered, tears in his eyes and the answer that he already knew showing on his face.
Mitchell shook his head wretchedly. "All of them," he whispered huskily in a tone so low that it was audible only to a werewolf. "I- It was all of them."
Annie gasped in understanding horror. She leaned against George, unconsciously distancing herself from Mitchell. George did not look away, although his mouth trembled and his eyes were swimming with unshed tears. Mitchell regarded him steadily. He and George had always been able to read one another so perfectly, even during the times when they hadn't really bothered to try because they were too busy being wrapped up in their own personal affairs. This was the end, their eyes told each other; Mitchell knew it, George knew it, and Annie, deep down, knew it too.
Annie was sobbing freely into George's shoulder. "Mitchell, my God, how could you do this? I don't understand! This isn't you! And all this time you've covered it up?" She turned her head from him in disgust. He could read it on both their faces, and it felt as though he were being slowly killed a second time. He couldn't face such an empty eternity without them. After having their acceptance and love it was unimaginable to exist without it. Annie, who was so trusting and giving. This was hurting her the most; Knowing that he would be the one who finally caused her to lose her innocence, a purity that even Owen had been unable to touch, was a splinter in his cold, dead heart. And George... George had known. George had known, and Mitchell had allowed him to become his accomplice. He had stained George's hands with blood that could never be washed clean.
"You'll never stop, will you? You can't." George spoke. It wasn't a question, really, just a conformation of a fact. Just George ticking off another box on an unsatisfactory evaluation. Mitchell shook his head again.
"I can't. I thought that I could, but it's always there, waiting. It always will be. I'm so sorry, George, Annie, I just-" His voice broke into a sob at last, but Annie only shook her head. He reined himself back in and nodded. "I'll go now. I'm sorry, I'm sorry..." It was all that he could say and yet it meant nothing. All of the things that he'd wanted to say to them, how good they had been for him and how much they had helped to keep the monster at bay for so long... He wanted them to know that it wasn't they who had failed him, but he found that he couldn't put it all into words. Almost choking on his tears, he stood and turned his back on them. Then he simply walked away.
He could still hear Annie crying softly behind him as the door fell shut and a blanketing numbness set in. He was leaving, he wouldn't even pack his things. He would just let go and give in...
Mitchell stopped with his hand on the knob of the front door. He couldn't do it. He had fought for so long! If he left now, he would kill and kill until there was nothing of himself left, not even guilt, which had been his dominant emotion for so long. He thought of Ivan and how he had grown cold and indifferent; Mitchell didn't want to become like that. He thought of Elise, and how she had walled herself off for so long that she had blocked out the entire world around her and understood why. There was nothing for him now except a never-ending life full of remorseless killing. It wasn't a life worth living.
So here it was, his last stand against his bitter, all-encompassing hunger; He would fight back one last time.
Mitchell whirled from the door and stalked briskly over to the bar, finding energy in resolution. Scooping up the nearest bar stool, he swung it by the legs against the counters edge. It shattered, leaving him holding two rough stakes. He studied them both and winced involuntarily. They were sharp enough for the job, but splintered and jagged at the ends. He selected the neatest one and tossed the reject to the floor. His death wouldn't be clean or painless, but surely he deserved it this way.
George burst into the room followed by Annie to see what the noise had been. George saw the makeshift stake that Mitchell was holding and his blood immediately ran cold. He glanced at Mitchell, who seemed to be at war with himself, his eyes flashing violently back and forth between soulless black and humane brown.
Suddenly sorrowful brown eyes took control and Mitchell shoved the stake roughly at George, who took it in surprise. "George, I can't leave. You know what will happen if I do. You have to end me now." Mitchell was actually panting as if he were struggling physically against some invisible assailant. George now understood that the vampire within was fighting him for its life.
"No." George said, shocked.
"George, you don't understand, it's the only way that I can stop being this- this- monster, please! You know what I'll become if I leave! There will be blood on your hands if you let me walk out that door."
"There will be blood on my hands if I don't," George hissed. Surely this wasn't happening.
Mitchell actually smiled in pity. "It's a shit position, I know. But at least my blood isn't innocent." No, it's anything but that, he thought bitterly. "Please, George, you can see that this is the right choice to make."
"No, Mitchell, this is absolutely insane! There's got to be some other way- "
"Another way to what?" Mitchell was yelling now, adrenaline fueling his growing desperation. "To have another go at staying clean? At playing human? You want me to go on pretending that I don't want to rip the throat out of every person I pass on the street until this hunger builds up and I slip and take out another busload? Christ George, it's won! There's not even any 'it', there's only me, and that's all there ever was. I'm the monster, and I WANT to kill!" Mitchell's tears were flowing now, angry and miserable. "So please, please, just help me stop. I'm not strong enough to do it, but you are. I don't want to see all of their faces anymore. They're always there, and I'm just so fucking tired."
He sank to his knees before a horrified George and Annie. George looked at the splintered stool leg that he held in his hand and shuddered. He looked from the stake to Mitchell, who knelt with his head down and shoulders heaving. George had seen so many things since he had become a werewolf, and dealt with more than he had ever thought himself capable of, but this? This was Mitchell begging him to end his life. He just couldn't handle this.
George leaned down until he was looking Mitchell squarely in his tear stained face. Mitchell heard a thump behind him and blinked in surprised disappointment, understanding that George had leaned down only to reach around him and set the stake down on the living room table. He closed his eyes, feeling the last of his adrenaline fueled strength drain away. There was nowhere left for him to go from here. "George," he pleaded quietly one last time.
George had opened his mouth to reply when he was interrupted by a soft knock at the door. Annie gasped and George jumped a foot in the air, his nerves stretched to their limit. Everyone froze, unsure of what to do next.
"George, don't," Mitchell begged as George went to see out the window.
"I'm not bloody well about to do it with the Guides at the door, am I? For God's sake, keep quiet," said George a little cruelly, pushing Mitchell out of his way with his foot.
Mitchell sank back against a chair with a dejected moan as George shook him off and went for the door. Annie crept to Mitchell's side and leaned against him, trying to give him what little comfort she could with her calming presence. She couldn't forgive him, but the sight of him in such turmoil was unbearably pathetic to her. His hands lay open and listless at his sides and Annie twined her gossamer fingers through his. He let his head fall back, fighting against hopeless tears.
"Mitchell," she whispered. "This isn't the way. I'm not denying that what you did wasn't beyond terrible, but please don't do this. I can't stand it if you do." She swallow hard and tried to force a comforting smile.
He bowed his head down to his raised knees. "What else is there? Annie, I've let this go on for too long, telling myself how good I am for even trying, but it's all just lies. If I were really able to stop I would have done by now. Can't you see that?"
There was no other solution that she could think of, but this was all still so wrong. The sound of unfamiliar footsteps caused Annie to look up curiously. Who could George have possibly allowed in at a time like this? Annie felt her face flush with anger as their visitor rounded the corner and became visible behind George. Of all the people that it could have been, and to show up now...
*I seem to recall George saying something about 'the witnesses at the door' at some point during some episode, so I get no credit for the 'Guides at the door' line. Honestly though, I can't quite remember. Must re-watch!
OK, sooooo... Here's the deal, I plan on stepping out of my comfort zone a little (a LOT actually) in a chapter or two, but I'd like your opinions. How do we feel about getting a bit... um... 'dirty'? Keep it clean(ish) or spice it up, give me your thoughts!