jesterladyfic: (jesterlady)
[personal profile] jesterladyfic


Chapter Four

George tried to concentrate on the paper he was grading, but the words kept blurring back and forth in front of his eyes. He took off his glasses and rubbed at them in a futile attempt to fix the matter. His eyes were just fine and the paper wasn’t too boring either. Suzie was one of his best students and always managed to bring something fascinating to her papers, but today he just wasn’t able to concentrate.

He put his glasses back on and focused on Mitchell sitting on the other side of the room, tapping a pen loudly against his chair while he concentrated on his cross word puzzle. Many things had changed over the years, but not Mitchell’s ability to be completely annoying when he was anxious about something.

George had mostly learned to tune him out though. Today it was a lot more difficult since George himself felt like ripping the chair he was sitting on to shreds.

He put Suzie’s paper on the top of the stack and stretched back, closing his eyes for a moment and letting his thoughts wander.

They were in his office at the school and George had way too many papers to grade to be slacking off. Even though it was the summer holidays, George was in charge of practically every special program run during the summer and he was just as busy as during the school year. He and Nina had been discussing him demanding a little more leniency from the school, especially with Eve getting older and everyone else in the house working such odd hours.

“If you’re falling asleep, we should go home,” said Mitchell, startling George out of his thoughts and he flinched with fright.

“Would you mind not doing that!” he shrieked a little too loudly.

“What?” asked Mitchell. “Just wanted your attention. If you’re not working, let’s go home, I’m getting bored.”

“No one asked you to come,” George muttered, grabbing Suzie’s paper again and preparing to give it another go.

That wasn’t strictly true, they’d all decided that nobody should go anywhere alone and so Mitchell was accompanying George to school. Nina had decided she was taking an immediate leave of absence, but any semblance of keeping their lives intact after this was over demanded George keep up appearances.

He was a bit annoyed at that, really. Sometimes it felt like all he did was keep up appearances and act like he wasn’t completely on edge.

“Cheer up, George,” said Mitchell, grinning at him with too much worry behind his eyes. “We don’t spend much one on one time together anymore, this is good for us.”

“Mitchell, we live together,” said George, once more finding himself rubbing his eyes. “I see you every day, sometimes multiple times, often time by ourselves. If anything we’re getting sick of each other.”

“I’m wounded, mate,” said Mitchell, settling back down and returning to his crossword puzzle.

George focused back on his work and was able to get through two papers before he threw his pencil down and groaned.

“It’s no use,” he said. “What are they bloody playing at? Why make us wait? It’s been two days and no sign of them. I’m stretched to the limit here and pretty soon I’m going to start falling apart and I need to not do that right now.”

“It’s old tactics,” said Mitchell, as if he’d been expecting this to happen, which, blast him, he probably had. “Don’t let them get to you. We’re very patient, vampires, as a general rule.”

“So you’re different in that respect, too?” said George, automatically taking the gift given to him.

“In only the best sense,” said Mitchell, unflappable.

George shook his head and opened his mouth to continue when there was a knock at the door. George shot a look at Mitchell before clearing his throat and asking whoever it was to come in.

The door opened and in walked a girl. George relaxed and was about to ask her if she was lost when he noticed Mitchell’s reaction of complete and immediate stiffening.

“Can I help you?” asked George cautiously, a stink he recognized all too well suddenly filling his nostrils.

The little girl cocked her head and studied him for a minute.

“Hope so, George,” she finally said, hopping on a seat next to Mitchell and slinging her arm along the back window behind her casually. “Mitchell give you our message?”

“Who are you?” asked George.

“You’ll have to forgive Hetty,” said another voice entering the room. It was a man, dressed in a dark expensive coat and hat, he was considerably paler than he had any right to be and there was something incredibly unsettling about him. “She sometimes is overly endowed with the irreverence of her youth.”

“Whatever, old man,” said Hetty.

The man came to a halt in front of George and George stood up, less out of respect and more out of defiance.

“Who are you?” asked George.

Mitchell stood up as well and moved around to stand beside George.

“George, this is-”

“John, please,” said the man. “Allow me.” He extended his hand to George. “My name is Mr. Snow and this is my associate Hetty. I believe you were expecting us.”

George stared at the hand for a moment before deciding not to shake it. Mr. Snow brought it back elegantly and swept the moment away without any awkwardness.

“What do you want?” George asked tightly, trying to keep from trembling.

Every sense he had was tingling. His wolf and he managed to keep quite a close relationship these days and while he would never be able to actually do anything wolf-like unless there was a moon, he found himself far more sensitive than he’d ever been before.

“I’ll come straight to the point, Mr. Sands,” said Mr. Snow. “I want your daughter.”

“Go to hell,” said George, the words a knee jerk reaction and he had to ponder whether pissing off the vampires was a good idea.

Mr. Snow smiled and glanced, just glanced, at Mitchell before taking a seat in front of the desk.

“Let’s be friendly about this, gentlemen,” he said, his tone a gentle warning. “I do so dislike uncivilized conversation.”

“What do you want with her?” asked Mitchell, arms folded across his chest. “How can you expect us to give her up without knowing that?”

“I think you know why we want her,” said Mr. Snow, “but in the interest of fairness, let’s dig a little deeper.” He stuck his hand in his coat pocket and George flinched. Hetty snorted in the corner. Mr. Snow brought out a carefully wrapped piece of paper and laid it on George’s desk, right over Billy Cadshowe’s practically illegible paper on the history of the French Revolution. “This is the War Prophecy, gentlemen, written on the historic Skin Parchments.”

Mitchell sucked in a breath and his fingers tightened on his arm. George didn’t know if that was good or bad and he decided to play dumb. It shouldn’t be that hard as he didn’t really know what that meant and anything else would just make him act more belligerently than he should right now.

“What’s that?” he asked.

“I believe you were told of the progeny of two werewolves, made to destroy the vampires?”

“So?” said Mitchell, shrugging.

Mr. Snow shot a disapproving glance at Mitchell and George could see the other man tremble just slightly.

“So, this is the fullest surviving text. It is not complete, but it is what we know.” Mr. Snow carefully unwrapped the paper and then there was a preserved bit of human skin on George’s desk. He might never be able to work again. Mr. Snow leaned over it and almost lovingly read what even George, with his vast lingual understanding and education, could not. “There is a house, in which lives a supernatural Trinity of a Vampire, a Werewolf, and a Ghost. Within that house, a child is born of two werewolves, the mother impregnated under the moon. The child born on the eve of war between the Trinity and the Vampires - this child will be the Godhead, the War Child. This same child will be the Saviour, imbued with the wolf’s natural strength and ferocity, heralding a new species, without limits, without mercy, the scourge of the scourge.”

George swallowed; he’d never heard that bit about the Trinity of vampire, werewolf, and ghost before. One look at Mitchell told George he hadn’t either. That did seem to clinch any doubt about the prophecy being about Eve though.

“My daughter is normal,” said George, annoyed at his voice for being so high. “She’s not a wolf; she’s never done anything remotely like what you just read.”

“Time will tell,” said Mr. Snow.

“Is that what you want her for,” said Mitchell. “To tell? You said this wasn’t complete. Why haven’t you tried to take her before?”

“We were not always aware of her existence,” Mr. Snow said with a self-deprecating smile. “We are not gods, John.”

“Then how?” Mitchell asked like he already knew the answer.

“You should watch what you tell your friends,” said Hetty. “I mean, haven’t you heard of encryption? We monitor it all, you know.”

“Carl,” Mitchell muttered.

“Would send his regards but he can’t,” said Mr. Snow enigmatically and Mitchell stiffened again as if he was trying to keep calm this time.

“Let’s focus on the matter at hand,” he said. “Why do you want her now? Why not just kill her?”

“Who said we won’t?” said Mr. Snow.

“You wouldn’t do it this way if you didn’t want her alive,” said Mitchell.

“John, you’re so conniving,” said Mr. Snow as if speaking to an errant student. Mitchell flinched like he was being assaulted and George had to wonder what old wound had just been torn open. “We are graciously offering a very generous sum to stem the loss that will flow from these…people. It has taken us long debate to decide to do so. We would have loved to have saved you years of attachment otherwise.”

“You did it to heighten the pain,” said Mitchell through clenched teeth. “Give it up, Snow, and go home. You’re not getting her and you don’t even know what to do with her if you did.” He turned to George. “Give me your phone.”

“What, why?” asked George, completely nonplussed and a little annoyed.

“I need to make a call,” said Mitchell, rolling his eyes.

Mr. Snow looked taken aback but he didn’t say anything as George dug out his phone and handed it to Mitchell, who took it and had to fiddle with it a bit before placing a call. George could have sworn Mitchell was actually in the camera before he hit the call button. George looked up and Hetty winked at him and he felt extremely uncomfortable.

“We’re on our way, yeah,” said Mitchell. “No, no problems, see you then.” He clicked the phone and handed it to George. “Any questions?” he asked Mr. Snow.

Mr. Snow shook his head and carefully wrapped the Skin Parchments up and put them back in his pocket.

“I am disappointed in you, John. All you could have been, all you will be. What a terrible shame, my son. Perhaps the end shall bring hope for you, we shall see.”

Mitchell shuddered again, but didn’t say anything.

“Been fun, lads,” said Hetty and she walked out.

Mr. Snow looked at George.

“Last chance, Mr. Sands. I shall not offer again. War shall be declared and your daughter made even more the War Child.”

George felt an overwhelming urge to run but he squared his shoulders and looked the vampire in the eye.

“Then you’d best prepare for my daughter to kick your arse.”

Mr. Snow made a tsking sound and almost seemed to glide out the door.

George waited a moment before slumping down to his desk and putting his head in his hands.

“We’re in it now,” said Mitchell above him and George couldn’t have agreed more.

***

Nina looked up at the slamming of the door and watched Eve run to George. He picked her up in his arms and gave her a hug, but Nina felt alarmed when she saw his eyes close over his tears as he did so.

“What’s my girl been doing?” George asked, walking Eve into the lounge and listening to her ecstatic babble.

Nina looked to Mitchell, walking in behind George.

“They talked to you, didn’t they?”

“Got it in one,” said Mitchell. “Aren’t you the brightest wolf of your age?”

“What happened?” Nina asked, ignoring his insult. Mitchell was always slightly more insulting when he was scared. “What did they say?”

“Hadn’t we better get this all out in the open?” he asked, sounding incredibly tired. “Annie, where are you?” he called.

Annie rent-a-ghosted into the room.

“Sorry, I was just sorting some things,” she said. “What’s happening then?”

“Having a house meeting,” said Mitchell and he went into the lounge without another word.

“Did something happen to the boys?” Annie looked at Nina in confusion.

“The vampires are here,” said Nina.

Annie’s face fell and she took Nina’s hand.

“Don’t worry, Nina, we’re all here.”

“I’ll still worry, but thanks,” said Nina.

They went into the lounge together where Mitchell was skulking in the corner and George and Eve were playing on the floor.

Tom was in the basement, having insisted on being locked in there until they figured out exactly what was happening to him. Nina could see him on the monitor feeding from the camera they’d installed outside the basement. He was lying on the bed they’d dragged in, a cloth on his forehead as he appeared to be stuck in a constant state of fever. Nina had been monitoring him but he didn’t appear to be ill enough to go to hospital and since they were all fairly sure it had to do with Eve’s bite, they were reluctant to do so in any case.

George settled on the couch with Eve in his arms and Nina could see her eyes drooping. She’d been extremely high energy lately without having as much room to run around as she normally did. She didn’t understand why she couldn’t go outside and had been very grumpy as a result. She’d thrown a tantrum right before George and Mitchell had gotten home and tired herself out. Nina was glad, maybe she’d finally sleep for a whole night.

“Then the papa bear tucked the baby bear into bed and she fell fast asleep,” said George. Eve stubbornly kept blinking in an effort to stay awake but she was fighting a losing battle. Nobody said anything, a weird hush falling over the room until Eve’s head finally dropped and she slept against George’s shoulder. Nina’s chest felt tight looking at the tableau in front of her. She’d always said there was nothing better than watching the two members of her family at peace. George looked up at her and he didn’t look at peace. “Was she okay today?” he asked in a hoarse voice.

“No,” said Nina. “She can tell we’re upset and she hates being cooped up.”

“Don’t blame her,” said Mitchell, snorting. “Nothing worse than being caged, cooped up, leashed.”

Nina didn’t much like the sound of that.

“Tell us what happened, you two,” said Annie, sitting next to George and softly running her hand through Eve’s hair. “The suspense is killing me.”

George swallowed and related the vampiric visit they’d had and what they’d said.

“It’s not good,” said Mitchell, still standing and fidgeting.

“Anything you can tell us?” asked Annie. “About the prophecy and what they think about Eve?”

“They don’t know what they want,” said Mitchell. “They’re taking her for their own gain but they don’t know what to do, whether to kill her or experiment on her or imprison her. That’s why it’s been so easy.”

“You call this easy?” said George.

“Yeah, George, I do,” scoffed Mitchell. “We vampires aren’t known for compassion. There’d have been a bloodbath if they knew what they wanted. Snow’s too powerful, he knows how to manipulate the others, but he doesn’t know everything and that’s making him cautious. Otherwise there’d be teeth and fangs and veins and long nights of-” he checked himself, but they’d all heard the bloodlust in his voice.

“Anything you want to tell us, Mitchell?” asked Nina in a casual tone.

“Not really,” he snapped.

“Mitchell,” said Annie in a soothing yet somehow demanding voice.

He sighed and turned away from them, running his fingers through his hair.

“Sorry, just…being around them is difficult. It’s too much like old times.”

“Will you be okay?” George asked.

“Do I look sodding okay?” asked Mitchell, but without the bite he’d had earlier.

“Sorry, sorry,” said George. “But, Mitchell, I have no time for your issues right now. My daughter’s at stake and I need you to man up and get over it.”

“I know!” Mitchell growled.

There was a dead silence in the room and Nina added Mitchell reverting to his old ways to her list of current concerns. Just perfect.

“When will they come?” she asked.

“Soon,” said Mitchell.

“Then what do we do?” asked Annie.

“Know more than they do,” said Mitchell.

Nina couldn’t agree more, though how they were going to know more than centuries old vampires with infinite resources, she wasn’t quite sure.

****

George tossed on the bed trying to get comfortable. He couldn’t sleep for all their discussion about trying to stay as rested as possible. Annie had pointed out somewhat reasonably that she could better stay up and watch all night since she didn’t need to sleep anyway. When George had tried to point out it wasn’t fair to make her do it all the time she’d psh-ed at him. It made sense, but George just didn’t feel good unless he was attempting to do something. It felt like all they did was wait for other people to make the first move. What first move he himself could make, he didn’t know, but he wanted to try.

Nina sighed from beside him.

“If you’re not going to sleep, could you at least be still?” she said.

“You’re one to talk,” George said. “You’re the one getting up every five minutes to check on Tom.”

“It’s not every five minutes,” Nina said. “Besides, it’s important and I have a responsibility to him, both as a medical practitioner and Eve’s mother.”

“I know,” said George. “I’m just saying it’s far more likely you’re keeping me up than the other way around.”

“What rot,” said Nina. “By the way, Tom’s fever broke,” she added into the darkness.

“Is that good?” George asked, twisting to look at her.

“I think so?” Nina said and he could feel her shrugging. “I don’t really have a precedent for this, but I’m inclined to be happy with any time that happens, unless it’s a precursor of something worse.”

“I’m sure it will be,” said George, being in a rather pessimistic mood.

“I’ll see how he feels in the morning,” said Nina. “Annie’s watching him, too.”

George nodded, his attention drawn to the baby monitor they had by their bedside. It had been a while since they’d had to use it, but after what had happened, they were going to be as careful as possible. Just because vampires couldn’t enter the house and take Eve didn’t mean other people couldn’t.

“What do you think will happen to Tom?” he asked. “I mean, we just don’t know what Eve can do.”

“I believe,” Nina said, pausing, “very much now what I told Tom before. Eve is meant to be a gift for werewolves and something wonderful will be the result.”

“That’s so not you,” George said, almost laughing.

Nina curled into his embrace and poked his shoulder.

“What do you think then?”

“No idea,” said George, “but dangerous things were done in that original ritual from what I can make out. People are sometimes willing to do bad things if it means worse things happen to their enemies.”

“That’s true,” said Nina, “but not my girl.”

“She can’t help who she is,” said George sadly. “No more than we can or Mitchell.”

“Not my girl,” Nina repeated somewhat fiercely.

George decided not to argue with her. There were too many old wounds for both of them in that direction. Whatever happened, they’d find out soon enough.

“Okay,” he replied instead.

“Mitchell’s going to help us figure her out,” said Nina. “We just didn’t try hard enough before.”

That triggered something else worrying George.

“Do you think Mitchell is okay?” he asked.

“You’re so worried about him all the time,” muttered Nina. “He’s fine, just being a wanker like normal.”

“You didn’t see him with Snow,” said George. “He was petrified, Nina.”

“I know,” said Nina. “Something’s affecting him, but I can’t let that be my top concern right now. We all promised each other that we’d stick by Mitchell and be a group and help each other. He’s having a bad day and we’ll get him through it just like always.”

“If he turns on us?” George asked, voicing one of his greatest fears.

“Then we honor his other request and stake him,” said Nina. “But, don’t, George, just don’t.”

“If…” George said, clearing his throat, “if something does happen…you need to take Eve and go.”

“I should lambast you for being a noble, self-sacrificing idiot,” Nina said, her tone only half angry, “but in the end my job would be harder so I’m pretty sure you’re just being a selfish bastard instead.”

George had to chuckle and he snaked his arm around her middle.

“I love you, my wife.”

“I love you as well,” said Nina. “Now stop fretting and get some sleep. We’re going to have enough to worry about soon enough.”

“Soon enough,” George echoed.

He felt slightly better as he did whenever he was able to talk frankly with Nina, but it didn’t stop his more anxious nature from continuing its inner panic. He didn’t know what to do and that was the most terrifying thought he could have.
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