Many thanks to Engbunny for all her help!
January 12, 1998
Almost time for the winter semester to begin which means that I survived my first semester in the freshman pool. I had no idea how big of a pool it was going to be before I got here. Talk about feeling insignificant, a semester here will do it for you. Forget the fact that you are literally lost for the first two weeks, that’s nothing. No, what got me the most is that I went from being a straight A student who was recognized and lauded for her achievements and class valedictorian to someone who doesn’t even hardly register on the platform of humanity.
I get it; we’re the low men on the totem pole, so to speak. You’re sort of on trial here, and everyone is waiting to see what you can offer, what you can do; or to see you fall flat on your ass. I’ve always thought I was smart, smarter than many but here I’m not even close to some of these people; some are simply brilliant and that is very intimidating for me. Even Robbi, who had a 4.0 as compared to my 3.8 GPA is even struggling and that is just scary. I think it is even harder for her; she has always been driven to perform, both by her parents and herself. Now instead of Friday and Saturday nights spent hanging out, she’s being tutored to maintain those grades. Lani, of course, is just simply Lani; college is one big goldfish bowl of fun and men and she is taking a dip in this pond, let me assure you!
I have met a few new friends and that has been fun. A guy named Carl Davis is in my Public Speaking class. He is so much fun and also very HOT! We hang out sometimes after class and have coffee and chat. He’s a year ahead of me but still remembers what it feels like to be the new kid on the block. There are other friends too, Chrissy, Jane, Randy and Sydney, all willing to commiserate over our lowly status. Haven’t really had the time to go out on dates though, studying comes first. I have a scholarship to maintain and it is just not as easy as I thought it would be; which makes me have to push harder to keep up. I have participated in some campus events though and it has been fun. The university is like its own small city, a microcosm of cultures, beliefs and ethnic backgrounds and there is so much to see and experience. Next year I hope to be able to work on the campus newspaper which will be a lot of fun!
I’m still not seeing or feeling my shadow man. I know it is ridiculous but I miss him; the security I felt because of his presence. It’s not that I’ve been threatened in anyway, it’s more like just knowing all those years that there was a ‘back up plan’ I guess, if anything did happen. I know I can count on Mom and Clark, but somehow it’s not the same. I guess in some ways I felt special, having the shadow man out there. I wonder sometimes if it were me that made him go away? Did I do something wrong or did he just get tired of the watch? I’m sure he has his own life to live and maybe that’s what happened, his life took him somewhere else.
But I miss him. Isn’t that strange since I never knew him? I felt a connection with him though and I think that a part of me will always be connected to him. I like to think that someday I’ll see him and my heart will just know.
Mick heard a knock on his front door; a rare occurrence. Usually anytime someone was knocking it was on his office door so he approached the door cautiously. A couple of feet from it he caught the scent of vamp, a familiar scent and then he spied the person waiting on the other side of the door and grinned, delighted to have this visitor.
“Uh, Mi - Michael? Is it okay that I’m here?” his guest asked, looking past his shoulder and into the empty house.
“It’s always okay for you to visit me Logan. But what are you doing here in Seattle?” Mick asked, giving Logan a quick ‘guy’ hug. He looked at the young vamp, taking the sight of him in and subtly nodding his head; all was well with Logan he could tell.
“I was up here to help launch the new Microsoft platform. I still do consulting work for them from time to time. Anyway, I just thought I’d stop by.”
“I’m so glad you did. Come in! Can I get you something to drink?”
“Yeah, that would be good. I’ve been at meetings all day and I’m starved!” Logan followed Mick into the kitchen, looking around at Mick’s new house. It was nothing at all like the loft in California, except that it was fairly dark. This apartment was all wood grains, rich walnuts and mahogany’s with granite counter tops and slate floors. It was still Mick, just different, Logan thought.
After he poured glasses of blood he handed one to Logan and said, “Here, let’s go out on the deck.” Mick slide the wide door open and they stepped outside onto a beautiful teak deck that overlooked Puget Sound. Logan knew that during daylight hours it would be a spectacular view. They settled into deck chairs and sipped their blood. It was 33 degrees out and both of them thought it felt great.
“Um, fresh,” Logan exclaimed, surprised. “You got yourself some freshies tucked away here, Mick?” As soon as the name was out of his mouth he winced; it seemed wrong to say Michael, it just didn’t feel right.
Mick smiled and shook his head. “No, but thanks to Josef I do have a fresh source. I have to admit it is better than the bagged morgue stuff. So, tell me what is going on with you Logan.”
While Logan launched into his latest escapades with Microsoft, Mick’s mind drifted back 18 years, to when Logan was in college and already was proving himself to be a genius in the up and coming computer technology field.
Mr. St. John, I need to hire you. My wife has been kidnapped!” Alexander Griffin told him, handing Mick a note written by the kidnapper.
“Why haven’t you gone to the police Mr. Griffin?” Mick asked, trying to focus on the note. He picked up a lot of hatred and anger off of the note but little else.
“It says not to; I’m playing this exactly by the book! Please, you’ve got to help me. Please?”
Mick studied the man’s distraught face that was etched with pain and fear. He was dabbing at his eyes and the smells rolling off of him were genuine; his wife really had been taken. “Tell me what happened.”
“I had just picked up our younger son, Logan, from LAX. He’s been going to college at Berkeley and will be home for the summer break. I’m a judge Mr. St. John; this is probably someone that I have sentenced that has taken her. Please!”
Mick nodded, listening. “So you weren’t at home? Was anyone else there? You said Logan was your younger son. What about the older one?”
Alexander shook his head no and said, “No, he doesn’t live at home any longer. Michelle was alone. Mr. St. John, I, uh, don’t know how to say this but you were recommended by a mutual, friend. I know that you have some rather special abilities. I can pay whatever you require, just please help me.”
The knowledge by Mr. Griffin of his ‘special abilities’ was enough to make Mick cautious. People did know, but not that many and certainly fewer outside the vamp world. “Mr. Griffin, or perhaps it should be Judge Griffin? Who is our mutual friend?”
“Mr. Griffin is fine; Alexander would be better even. And our mutual friend is Josef Kostan. I have aided Mr. Kostan occasionally in some of his endeavors. It’s a good situation for both of us. Please, check with him, I just urge you to do it quickly!”
As he finished speaking Mick’s phone rang. The answering machine picked up the call and he heard Josef’s voice. He picked up the phone and listened while Josef explained that he was sending a ‘friend of the family’ over for his help.
“Yes, he is here already.”
“Quick. Well anyway, he knows about us, help him if you can. I’ll explain more later.”
Mick murmured “You had better,” as the line went dead. He sat the phone down into the cradle and leaned back in his chair, his lips pursed as he thought about the situation. Being a ‘friend of the family’ could bring additional complications to the situation. He needed answers before he could help.
“So Alexander, could there possibly be any ‘family’ involvement in this?”
“I don’t think so; I don’t know who it would be. Other than Josef, I don’t really know any others.” His shoulders slumped forward and Mick distinctly heard a muffled sob. He looked up at Mick and said, “She’s my life, Mr. St. John and she doesn’t deserve anything bad to happen to her. Please…”
Mick nodded, making a quick decision. “Call me Mick Alright Alexander, I’ll help. Tell me as much as you can about the situation.”
Mick listened for a half hour to all that the judge knew, including a run down on likely cases where someone would try to take action for a pay back. They decided on two that were the most likely and the judge said that he would immediately have some police files concerning the cases sent over to Mick. Hopefully there would be enough time to check them out before anything else happened. All the note said was that they would be contacting the judge soon.
As soon as the judge left Mick’s office he packed up some equipment and made arrangements to do some surveillance on one of the suspects. He seemed the most likely, just out of prison and a younger brother was killed in the raid 11 years ago. It was a drug operation and the judge handed down the maximum sentence. But with time for good behavior, Jess Crum was already out. He had connections, motive and just the kind of retaliatory attitude to be involved in this. The case files wouldn’t be delivered until tomorrow, but Mick didn’t want to wait to get started. He called his friend Bobby at LAPD and got a current address on Jess and told Bobby he was going to do a little observation. Bobby knew there was more to it than that but let it go, knowing that Mick worked best when he followed his hunches.
After only a few hours of surveillance Mick knew that he had found Michelle Griffin, but the sun was getting ready to come up so he reported back to Alexander. It would be next to impossible to get her out of the building safely; they would need to wait until the demands came in and they moved her to a more open location. They luckily didn’t have long to wait.
What they wanted was to trade Michelle for Alexander. Mick adamantly refused to let that happen. Alexander just as adamantly intended to do just that.
“Mick, we have to make it seem like we’re cooperating. If I am there that will distract them and you can get in to get to Michelle.”
“First, we have to verify that they have Michelle with them Alexander; make sure it’s not a ploy. Do you understand what I’m saying?” Mick watched the emotion flow over his face, fear, pain and then sheer terror.
“You – you think they don’t intend an exchange?” he asked shakily.
“We have to be prepared for anything Alexander. ANYTHING. We aren’t handing you over if she isn’t there. That’s a sure way to lose you both.”
“Look Mick, I’m expendable in this picture, okay? You get her out, save her regardless of what happens to me, it’s all that’s important.” He met Mick’s gaze without wavering; he was sincere. “If it comes to a choice, there IS NO choice, okay?”
Mick nodded; there wasn’t anything else he could do at this point, other than to try and ensure that he got them both out safely.
At 8:00 PM that evening Mick, Alexander and Logan Griffin set off to follow the bread crumbs that would eventually lead them to the rendezvous spot. Alexander was against Logan going but he refused to stay at home and worry. Mick was concerned about having both of them there; it made it more dangerous to try to protect three instead of two.
As the three of them waited through the afternoon for more instructions Mick got an opportunity to talk to Logan; the kid was some kind of computer genius apparently. A guy named Bill Gates was doing amazing work with computers and Logan was planning on joining his company as soon as he graduated in May. At 22 he would graduate with a Masters in computer technology and information systems. He was a nice kid and Mick enjoyed talking to him.
“So uh, you’re like, you know, different?” Logan asked, not daring to say the words.
Mick raised an eyebrow, definitely not appreciating the fact that Logan knew about vampires. Damn it, why the hell did Alexander tell him?
“I guess that depends on what you mean by ‘different’ Logan,” Mick said, hoping that he was wrong about what Logan knew.
“You know,” Logan said and made like he was going to bite something. “YOU know.”
“Logan, that’s uh, not for people to know. You understand you can’t tell anyone don’t you? Ever?”
Alexander had been listening absent-mindedly to the conversation and finally caught the subject. “How the hell did you get that information, Logan?” he asked.
“I have ears, Dad! You talk to Mr. Kostan about ‘special’ things and I’m not an idiot, I can figure it out!”
“Well, like Mr. St. John says, you keep your mouth shut! Period. You do not tell anyone! EVER? Got that?”
“I GOT IT!” Logan shifted in his seat and looked around, hoping they would change the subject; he was sorry he brought it up to begin with.
A little after midnight they pulled up to the abandoned warehouse for the exchange. Mick got out of the car a half a block away and told Alexander to wait until he came back to approach the site. The meeting was set for 1:00 AM so they had a bit of time; time in which Alexander and Logan both worried themselves sick.
Mick was back in 20 minutes; he had seen that they did have Michelle in the back of a van but he couldn’t get to her because there were too many captors with her and she was chained to the inside of the van. They would have to wait until her captors removed the chains and then Mick could get to her.
Mick went over the plan with Alexander; he was to wait until 12:55 and then pull up to the rendezvous site. Mick would already be waiting in the shadows to grab Michelle and take care of her captors. He would disable the van if possible, but in reality he didn’t think there would be anyone left to drive it away, if all went as was planned.
At 12:55 exactly Alexander pulled the car up to the warehouse and killed the engine. He opened the door and stepped out, holding his hands up to show that he was unarmed.
“Who’s in the car, Judge?” Jess Crum asked, seeing Logan’s head. “I told ya to come alone? Didn’t understand that? Was all that education wasted on ya?”
“It’s my son, he wanted to be here to help his mom in case she was too shaken to drive. Where is she? I want to see her before I take another step.”
“I’m the one calling the shots. Get your kid outta the car, NOW!”
“Logan, step out please. Look, we’re both unarmed. Just bring Michelle out here and she and Logan will leave. It’s as simple as that!”
Jess pointed a gun at another guy who was standing there and said, “Search them both.” To Alexander he added, “Billy ain’t going to find no weapons is he? He don’t like finding surprises!”
“No weapons, no surprises, Crum.” They stood as Billy searched them both. As he leaned over Logan the smell of his fetid breath made Logan gag and his reaction was to try to step back. Billy immediately back-handed Logan, hard enough to knock him off of his feet. His head hit the pavement and blood started gushing from his nose which had gotten broken, whether from the fall or from the force of the blow, he wasn’t sure.
“Now I didn’t tell you it was okay to move. Get your ass up kid, NOW!” Jess all but screamed.
Logan stood up shakily and swiped as much blood as he could off of his face, but it continued to flow freely. He kept wiping it on his sleeve and soon that was soaked with more blood than it could absorb. He tried to focus on what was happening to try to keep his mind off of the pain in his nose.
Alexander and Logan both watched as Michelle was brought out of the van. She was a bit bloody and battered herself but she managed a weak smile for them, trying to calm them down.
“Are you alright, honey?” Alexander looked at her pale face that was streaked with blood and his heart immediately skipped a beat or two. He clenched both of his fists to his side in an effort to keep from grabbing Billy, who was standing near him. Billy had his gun pointing at Logan right now and Alexander was afraid he would shoot at any sudden movement.
Michelle looked at her husband and son and tried to keep herself together. All she wanted was to feel safe, to be held by them, but she had learned quickly when she was abducted that to show any weakness only brought her a swift blow. She squared her shoulders and nodded and started to say “I’m okay,” when all hell broke loose.
As soon as she opened her mouth Jess back-handed her across the face, knocking a couple of teeth out and sending her flying across the pavement. He followed her and began to kick her viciously yelling, “I told you not to talk, didn’t I?”
Logan immediately ran for his mother and so did Mick; he ran through the two guards on his way, snapping both of their necks and tossing them aside like the garbage they were.
Logan knocked Jess down to get to his mother and Jess dropped the gun and then scrambled for it. Alexander was moving by that time to try to get the gun away from Billy, but he misjudged their distance from one another and Billy fired off two shots at him. The first one missed but the second one hit him in the leg, taking him down.
Logan saw it all: played out in slow-motion and vivid color. He started to rise to get to his father just as Jess managed to grab the gun off the ground. Mick was heading for Jess but was too late; he emptied his barrel into Logan and Michelle just as Mick got to him. Mick picked him up and tossed him carelessly over the van and heard a satisfying whoosh of air as well as the snap of his neck as he hit the ground.
Billy’s eyes opened wide with fear as he realized he was the only one left. Mick was moving quickly to him with eyes that were glowing silver in the light of the street lamp. Billy screamed and started firing his gun, until there was nothing left in the chamber. He hit Mick and Logan again before clicking the trigger again and again, uselessly. Finally, he threw the gun on the ground and turned to run when he realized that Mick wasn’t stopping. Before he had gotten two steps, Mick had him and with a roar, grabbed him by the throat and screamed his rage at Billy.
Billy knew what was going to happen next; he saw it in the mad light in Micks eyes, in the fangs that were shining in the pale light. His bladder immediately released and he felt the hot rush down his legs as his bladder emptied itself. Mick let him sink to the ground, breathing in his fear, his defeat. The vampire within was shrieking for revenge; it was battle that the human had no desire to control. The last thing Billy felt before his heart stopped was razor-sharp fangs ripping into his throat.
The human took control again as the vampire growled with victory. Mick wiped his mouth with his shirt sleeve and gradually became aware of what was going on behind him. He turned to take in the scene and immediately ran to the three humans.
Only two heartbeats remained; one rapid with fear and the other weak and thready. Mick took in the scene, assessing the damage. Michelle was dead, half of her head gone from one of the shots. Logan lay next to her, pale, his blood leaking out of a wound that had all but severed his femoral artery. Mick knew that he had only a few minutes at most to live. He closed his eyes, feeling the pain that Alexander would endure at losing his wife and son.
Mick knelt down and placed a hand on Alexander’s arm and squeezed it lightly. Mick knew that there was no time for an ambulance to get there and yet he had to ask Alexander if he wanted him to find a phone and call.
Alexander stared at him, his eyes glazed over with shock and despair. He opened his mouth to speak and closed it again quickly, as if re-thinking his words. Then he said, “Help him, Mick!”
“I-I can’t Alexander. His artery is destroyed; he’s lost too much blood. I’m sorry…”
Mick hung his head and as he did he felt Logan’s hand reach out and touch his leg. Mick looked at his face, so young, in so much pain; fear was written starkly across it, fear of death, of the unknown. “Mick,” Logan said, his voice only a mere whisper. “Mick, don’t let me die.”
The plaintive words made Mick catch his breath as he realized what Logan was asking. He immediately shook his head, “No Logan, no, I can’t do that!”
Mick felt Alexander grab his arm roughly, his fingernails digging through the fabric of Mick’s jacket. “Yes you can, you know you can.”
“No I can’t. This isn’t the way it should be Alexander. This isn’t living…”
“It’s better than the alternative Mick.” Logan’s words were spoken quietly, trailing off into whispers. Mick looked him in the eyes and saw Logan’s eyes stare unblinkingly back at him, with the tiniest bit of hope still alive in them.
Mick drew in a sharp breath and swallowed hard. He had never done this. How could he do this to another human being, turn them into a monster, forced to live in the dark; spurned by society, exiled from everyone and everything you loved? How could he do it?
“Mick, please, save my son. You can, you can do it, please. I’m begging you. I’ll pay anything you ask, just save him.”
Hot tears were streaking his face and Mick caught the salty tang and scented the anguish that was in the air. A father’s anguish at not only losing his wife but now a son as well. What would his own father have wanted? Not this – NOT THIS, his mind screamed. This is a death sentence, worse, a nightmare that never ends; Hell on this earth. A tear drop fell on his hand and he realized it was from his own eyes. Could he live with himself if he did it? Could he live with himself if he didn’t?
He heard Logan and Alexander both say “Please,” together and Mick steeled himself; not against their pleas, but against his own need to run and not do this thing. Finally he nodded and said, “I’ll do it. Logan, this is going to change everything for you, do you understand that? You have to understand that or I can’t do it and I don’t have time to explain everything now.”
“Just do it,” Logan said, his voice barely audible. His heartbeat had slowed to almost non-existence. Mick had to do it now if there was any chance of helping Logan make it.
“I – I just need to take a little more of your blood Logan, and then I’ll slash my wrist and you’ll have to drink. My blood will speed through your system and take over. But you’ll have to drink, it will be up to you how this goes…”
Logan nodded almost imperceptibly and Mick leaned over, his fangs fully emerged and bent to make the fatal bite in Logan’s neck. He was as scared as Logan, his own memories of this were so hazy and filled with pain; he just tried to focus on Logan, not tearing his neck too badly.
Listen to the heartbeat Mick, listen…
When it had all but stopped Mick tore his wrist open so the blood could flow freely into Logan’s mouth. He held his arm over Logan’s head, letting the blood drip, counting off the seconds as he waiting for Logan to respond. A full minute went by and Alexander was starting to panic.
“Why isn’t he drinking?” he yelled. “WHY? What’s wrong?”
“I think it can take a minute or two. Give him a chance.” Mick was silent, ticking off the time in his head. At last, Logan opened his eyes and reached for Mick’s wrist, pulling it frantically against his mouth. He ruthlessly pulled the blood into his mouth, greedily swallowing down as much as he could get. Finally, Mick pulled his arm away and leaned back on his heels, watching Logan carefully.
“What about all the bullets in him? Do we need to get him to the hospital?” Alexander asked.
“No, no hospitals. I can remove them back at my house. Logan is going to have to stay with me for a while so he can learn, uh things. Alexander, I wasn’t kidding when I said his whole world will be different. It’s going to take some time for him to …adjust. We’ve got to get the police here for Michelle. I’m going to go and find a phone. Keep him down for a few minutes, until I get back.”
Alexander nodded and watched Mick head off at vamp speed to find a phone. He looked at his son, who was resting on the pavement. Whatever happened to him, he was still here, with us. That was all that mattered.
Mick and Logan chatted for a bit longer and made plans for the next evening and Mick later realized how much he was looking forward to it. He had missed Logan so much; their bond was tight and always had been. He went to bed with a smile on his face for the first time in a long time.
“Hey Mom,” Beth said as walked into the house. Life had been so hectic lately with that Beth felt as if she hadn’t really talked to her mom in a week. “What’s up?”
She listened as her mom caught her up on the latest news from the neighborhood. Beth smiled as she listened to it all until her mom’s last two pieces of news. “Honey, your grandma is not doing well at all. I’m so worried about her Beth.” Beth heard a small sob and sat there as her mom quietly blew her nose. “I’m just so worried about her.”
“I know Mom, me too. I hope we can spend some time together this weekend. I’d like to spend time with you both.”
“Yes Beth that would be good. But oh, on Saturday morning I have a funeral to go to. You can stay with your grandma while I’m gone.”
“Okay. Who died?”
“Judge Griffin. Clark is really broken up over it all. It’s so hard to lose a parent.”
“Oh man, that stinks. The judge was a nice guy. Clark has lost so many people in his life already.”
“Yes, he has. I love you Beth!”
“Love you too Mom. I’m looking forward to the time with you both. Unfortunately, right now I have to go study! See you later.”
To be continued…