Author's Note: This story begins at the start of 3x08. It is an alternate telling of events.


1. Mask

Mitchell sits alone in his cell, wondering when Annie will come back. But Annie has overheard radio chatter and knows that Nina was wounded, so she rent-a-ghosted to the hospital. All Mitchell knows is that Annie said she'd be right back and she isn't.

A police captain peers at him through the slat in the door. He tells the other officers that they failed to report that the suspect was Irish. He claims Mitchell could be a member of the Real IRA with a device embedded somewhere in his skin to make technology like cameras fail.

The other officers don't believe him but they have no other explanation.

Men with guns arrive and Mitchell is handcuffed and shoved around. He keeps his head low and obeys their commands because, though he can't see much through his curtain of hair, he thinks Annie might be watching from somewhere.

He rides in the back of the van with guns surrounding him. He closes his eyes. They've been driving for some time. Too much time. They aren't just taking him to a prison with higher security.

His heart drops but the thought of Annie's smile helps him catch it before it hits the ground.

Mitchell doesn't resist as his hair is buzzed and he is given a prison uniform to don. The fabric is coarse and smells of foreign detergent but he puts it on and is left with nothing in his cell but gooseflesh and shivers. Backing into a corner, he hunkers down and peers about at the walls. There is only one camera and he knows it can't see him, but even so he wishes he had his hair to hide his eyes.

Where was Annie? How would she find him?

He couldn't blame her for abandoning him, and a part of him feels relief at the thought of never seeing her again. She deserved a better lover, a better life than him. This thought is followed by another that makes him feel selfish, for the idea of never seeing her again is too much to bear.

"Annie…" he whispers brokenly.

But Annie can't hear him. She is whispering life into Nina's ear. She is grinning as the doctors tell George that his girlfriend and baby are stable and seemingly on the mend. Once they are alone, Annie hugs him, and George weeps into her shoulder.

Even in her relief, there is a dark stain on the back wall of her mind, reminding her of Mitchell. But she turns on even more lights inside until she can't see the stain, because this moment is about joy.

Guards shout at Mitchell to stand and face the wall with his hands on his head. Though his limbs feel like lead, he obeys. His wrists are cuffed and he feels a prick in his arm. He tries to turn to see what just happened but is slammed against the wall. He winces as warmth and numbness spreads from his arm to his skull, dissolving his thoughts into mist.

His body sags and the guards guide his sluggish feet out the door and through a maze of lights and entryways. By the time he is aware that he is no longer walking, he is being strapped into a chair with leather restraints. The rough hands of the guards don't alarm his fuzzy senses, but the sight of his restrained limbs do. Yet even so, he can only do one thing to fight back.

He whispers "Annie."

"What was that?" A man in a lab coat asks as his assistant ties a band of rubber on Mitchell's bicep.

Mitchell raises his chin to look the doctor in the eye and sees that the man is holding a needle and tubing.

"Annie," he repeats, so quietly that he can't tell if it was any more than a thought.

"Who is Annie?" the doctor asks Mitchell, then the guards.

Getting no response, the doctor guides the needle into the crook of Mitchell's arm and collects blood. Lots of it. Scarlet flowing down the tube as easy as if it wasn't abandoning his body after the vampire had fought so hard for it.

As the cold from the blood loss begins to set in, Mitchell feels his heart growing unsteady, as if it might drop again.

By the time they are finished and tape him up with a little bandage, the drugs are wearing off and Mitchell knows that he's in a lab with no windows. He tries to focus on the notes the doctor is dictating to his assistant as he listens to Mitchell's heart and lungs, but all sound is drowned out by the bloodnoise of the artery in the man's neck, just inches from Mitchell's face.

Before he even realizes that he's staring, the doctor is backing away from him with fear.

"His eyes," the doctor whispers. "His eyes. They were black!"

Mitchell swallows past the dryness in his throat as he looks away from the doctor, cursing himself for his lapse in control. Where was his reminder that he was human? Annie… where was Annie?

Another prick in his arm, another flood of warmth and tingles. Yet no amount of drugs could distract him from the guards strapping something painful and pinching over his nose and mouth before snapping it tight behind his head. He squeezes his eyes shut as he waits for the tightness to be adjusted, but no relief comes.

His own hot breath mists back at him. Mask. It's a mask. He's been muzzled.

They know.

His heart teeters on the brink but doesn't fall until he is alone again in his cell.

The sedatives wear off, leaving his mouth dry and his skin cold. Sitting up, he drags himself into a corner and huddles, trying to maintain what little heat his half-dead body can produce. The mask bites into his cheekbones and he has no windows and doesn't know if it's night or day or how much time has passed since he last saw Annie.


He doesn't even try to catch his heart as it falls and he lets it sit there on the floor with a fresh bruise as tears trace trails down his cheeks.

Annie watches over George as he sleeps in the chair by Nina's bed. The stain on the back wall of her mind is growing darker as the lights dim, but she ignores it. She is needed here. Mitchell is her forever, and George is only for the now.

Forever can wait.

Until after Nina is home safe and sound. Then after Nina has the baby. Then after the new family is settled. Then after the two parents get just one more good night of sleep with Annie watching Eve. Just one more.

And children in time-out shouldn't be allowed to sit with their friends. And Mitchell needed to atone.

Then Annie feels something tugging at her heart and she sees his eyes, his smile. She hears his voice and she nearly drops Eve.

He was a monster. But she abandoned him.



How could she have been so distracted? When had her mind turned so ghostly?

"Mitchell…" she whispers.

When George awakens, Annie shoves Eve in his arms.

"I have to go. Mitchell."

George scowls. He has been content to let his friend be punished for what he brought upon his little family.

"We don't even know where he is," George says.

"I'll find him." Annie's eyes are large and her jaw is set. "I should've found him ages ago."

"It's only been two weeks." He studies his baby and remembers that she has been home for some time. "Four?"

"Oh God…"

"He's safe in prison, Annie. Herrick can't get him. More importantly, he can't hurt anyone else."

Annie gives him a look of disgust mingled with gratitude before disappearing.

George studies his daughter's face and tells himself that the gnawing in his stomach is hunger and not guilt.

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