Diversions & Digressions | fanfiction by mara

There is Mercy

There is Mercy

by Mara

After Mike’s betrayal, what will Vicki and Henry do? (Sequel to “An Immodest Proposal”

Author’s Chapter Notes:

I’m not entirely sure why, but I feel like I should blame this on Cereta. ::coughs:: And I *definitely* blame the story that comes after this one on her…

Continuity: Set after “Heart of Ice” and “Heart of Fire,” which take place some weeks after my fic “An Immodest Proposal.” (I recommend you read that fic first, or the ending won’t make sense.) This story does not take into account any episodes after “Heart of Fire.”

Leaving the church felt like being reborn. The air seemed a thousand times fresher, even with Toronto’s pollution, and Mike found himself gasping in air like he’d been deprived.

He stumbled toward his car, clutching Henry’s shoulder to stay upright and trying not to laugh at the irony. Vicki caught up with them as they reached the car and she shoved Mike into the backseat and dug his first aid kit out from under the seat.

Mike clumsily tossed Henry the car keys and gritted his teeth when the motion jarred his neck. Leaning his head against the headrest, he gritted his teeth harder as Vicki cleaned the punctures on his neck and slapped a bandage on them.

Henry’s driving bordered on the manic, and Mike guessed they were getting pretty close to dawn at this point.

The car slipped into a spot a block away from the penthouse and Henry turned around. “Come upstairs and let me check your injury. I’m not sure you’re safe to drive.”

Before Mike could answer, Vicki pulled him out of the car. He couldn’t work up the energy to protest, just took off his coat and handed it to the half-naked Henry, who helped drag him inside.

They made their way up past the doorman…who’d lately become inured to the sight of his penthouse tenant looking like he’d been in a bar fight. Within moments, they were inside and Vicki and Henry sat Mike down in a chair.

He sat there with his eyes closed while Henry pulled up the bandage and they both inspected his injury. When it was back on his neck, Mike said, “I’m fine. I’m going.” With a stifled groan, he stood up and turned.

“Wait,” Henry said.

Mike froze, staring at a chip in the fancy paint job on the door.

“You’re just going to leave like that? Say something,” Vicki said.

Clenching his fists, Mike turned. “What? What am I supposed to say? ‘Gee, sorry I nearly got you both killed.’ How about ‘Sorry I accused you of killing all those women when it turned out the guy I trusted had killed them.'”

Henry’s face was impassive and that made Mike angrier. “I screwed up and I don’t think there’s anything I can say that will help. So…” He looked at Vicki standing next to Henry and wondered if they could hear his splintering heart. “I’ll just go.”

He turned again.

“I forgive you,” Henry said quietly.

“I didn’t ask you to.”

“I know.”

Mike heard a familiar snort of disbelief from behind him. “You *forgive* him?” Vicki asked. “I can’t believe you. Is this some stupid male honor thing?”

“No.”

Mike couldn’t help it, and he turned around to find Vicki staring at Henry and Henry staring at him.

“Why, then?” Vicki asked. “I trusted him and he turned you over to a killer!”

Henry shook his head. “No. I knew Javier Mendoza. Detective Celluci turned me over to a man who promised that doing so would protect *you*, Vicki.”

“That’s a load of–”

“Vicki.” Henry’s head snapped around to stare at her and she closed her mouth. “I forgive him because in the same circumstances, I might have done the same thing.”

Mike closed his eyes and listened to his own ragged breathing. “I’m leaving. I…I *am* sorry.”

Without giving either of them a chance to respond, he grabbed his coat off a chair, yanked open the door, and left.

As he strode out the front door of the posh apartment building, the first rays of sunlight were just peeking over the Toronto skyline. Pausing, Mike looked up at the penthouse and its closed shutters.

* * * * *

By the time he’d reached his apartment, Mike was totally numb. He headed straight for the liquor cabinet, rummaging around to see what would get him drunk quickest. Hell, he thought, grabbing the phone and dialing the precinct, he had to call in sick anyway, since he didn’t really want to explain vampire bites on his neck. One hand crept up to touch them, still a little disbelieving.

The feeding had been…Mike closed his eyes, trying to blot out the memory. Yes, there had been pain, but nobody told him…well, it explained why vampires were able to drain people dry.

Rubbing his forehead, Mike admitted to himself that if Henry hadn’t stopped, he wouldn’t have been able to stop him. Might not have wanted to stop him.

Pouring himself a large glass of whiskey, he sat in the old beat-up recliner that had survived three moves and five girlfriends. Hell, Vicki was the only one who’d appreciated the thing and they’d–

Best not to think about that.

Mike took a long drink, letting the burn wash away the taste of the air in that church, the smell of blood and fear, the shame of knowing he’d nearly gotten all of them killed.

Hell of a time for him to start being taken in by a smooth talker, huh? Mike snorted and took another drink. He’d fallen for Mendoza hook, line, and sinker, just because Mendoza had told him what he wanted to hear.

Shit, if he couldn’t tell a liar from an honest man or vampire, maybe he should just turn in his badge.

Another belt of whiskey and the warmth grew in his stomach, chasing away the cold he’d felt ever since that moment in the sewer when he realized he’d made a big mistake. When he realized Mendoza wasn’t at all worried about Vicki and he sure as hell looked like he was ready to kill Henry.

Henry hadn’t looked all that healthy, even in his apartment, Mike thought through the haze. Would he need more blood when he woke up? How did the whole thing work anyway? It’s not as if he’d ever bothered to ask. He’d just assumed, all because he was jealous of Henry.

Vicki would take care of Henry, though, Mike decided. Like she used to take care of him when he got hurt. If only he hadn’t…he’d had the chance to get her back. He could have…

The room spun and Mike leaned his head back against the battered leather, closing his eyes. For just a min…

* * * * *

The first knock on the door woke Mike out of a sound sleep and when he lifted his head he groaned. Damn, he was getting too old to sleep in a chair.

The second knock made him glare at the door, wishing a speedy death for whoever was there.

The third knock was closely followed by the fourth, fifth, and sixth, so Mike levered himself out of the chair and staggered to the door, fighting lightheadedness.

When he wrenched open the door, Henry frowned, looking him up and down. “You look terrible.”

Mike wanted to say something sarcastic in response, but couldn’t find the energy. “What’re you doing here?”

Stepping in, Henry gave him a scornful glance. “Checking to make sure you’re alive.”

“You’re checking up on *me*?” Mike decided it was too early– “Wait, what time is it?”

“It’s 7:30 pm.” Henry’s glance took in the whiskey bottle and the glass by the chair. “You were drinking? You must be less intelligent than I thought.”

“What?” Mike’s head pounded like a jackhammer and he couldn’t think. “But it was just…it’s the next night?”

Henry shook his head. “You lost a great deal of blood. And then you drank whiskey. You’re lucky you woke up at all.” Henry took his wrist to check his pulse.

Mike pulled away and leaned against the wall, dizzy with the sudden sense memory of the feeding and the rush of blood to places other than his head. Damn it. “I’m alive. Go away.”

“Oh, I don’t think so.” He looked Mike up and down again. “You need to eat something. And take a shower. Not necessarily in that order.”

“Don’t tell me you’re going to cook for me.”

“Not unless you like Bloody Marys.” Henry’s lips twitched at the look on Mike’s face. “That was a joke. Get clean and eat something and then I’ll leave.”

Mike started to argue, but decided there was a lot to be said for a shower and food. For a moment he had the oddest feeling that Henry was going to follow him into the bedroom, but when he turned, Henry was lounging on the couch, face unreadable.

Shaking his head, Mike went to get clean, hoping things would make more sense soon.

* * * * *

It took an effort to not shove the sandwich in his mouth, but something about the way Henry was watching him made him eat the roast beef as neatly as possible.

Mike hated to admit it, but he felt about a thousand times better when he was done. Without a word, Henry refilled his glass of water and handed it to him.

“So, why are you doing this?” Mike took a sip of water. “Don’t tell me it’s for Vicki.”

“I lied to Vicki.”

“What?”

Jaw tight, Henry stared into his eyes. “In the same circumstances, thinking what you did of me, I would have done *exactly* the same thing. I would do *anything* to protect Vicki, just as you would.”

Mike rubbed his face. “You should hate me,” he said.

“I understand you too well to hate you. I don’t think you understand me at all, however.”

Mike scowled and put down the glass. “What don’t I understand? You’re a vampire. Even if you’re not a stone cold killer, you still drink blood and cloud minds.” He knew it was stupid even as he said it, but something about Henry always made him act like a macho idiot.

Henry raised an eyebrow that said, clear as day, that he *also* thought it was a stupid thing to say. “You know *nothing* about my life since becoming a vampire. Reading up on my father does not make you an expert on 500 years of survival.”

“I didn’t say–”

Henry smacked his palm on the table and Mike felt the table shudder. “Mendoza tortured Delphine,” Henry said softly, each word clear and precise, bitten off as it were Mendoza’s neck. “At the end, even as he forced her to ‘confess,’ she asked for my forgiveness. Vicki says you saw her die. He killed in order to get to me. I will have to live with that for the rest of what I hope is a very very long life.”

There wasn’t anything to say to that.

Henry leaned forward. “Monsignor Mendoza killed his own lover, a beautiful young woman, full of mercy, when she became a vampire. I saw him put a stake through her heart.”

Mike closed his eyes.

“I’m no innocent, it’s true. And I have killed when it was necessary. But I’ve fought my baser urges, learned to control myself.”

Mike opened his eyes. “You killed Mendoza.”

“What choice was there?” Henry’s eyes darkened. “I needed the blood and it seemed fitting since he’d taken mine. Besides, were you going to arrest him?”

“I–” Mike stopped as he heard an echo of the argument he’d had with Mendoza.

“If you found a murderer in the process of killing his victim, would you stand aside?”

“Of course not. I’d catch him and put him on trial.”

“And if that was not an option? Would you kill him or let him go?”

“I’d…” Mike trailed off, seeing no way to win this.

“You see my point.”

“But it’s not the same thing! I’m a cop.”

“That path wasn’t open to me. Eventually, someone would want me to work days.” Henry shrugged.

“I don’t know how to deal with this,” Mike said.

Henry caught his gaze, his voice lowering again, his tone almost seductive. “Do you know what Mendoza did while he had me chained to that cross? He cut me over and over. Stuck a blowtorch to my skin. Drained my blood. And he whipped me.”

Mike sucked in a breath.

“Have you ever been whipped?” Henry didn’t wait for an answer. “The first blow falls and you think ‘This isn’t so bad.’ Then the second blow hits and it’s as if liquid fire is pouring across your body. No matter how tough you are, you always scream eventually. Scream until you’re hoarse.”

Mike couldn’t move, pinned in place by Henry’s eyes.

“And he starved me until the hunger had a life of its own, gnawing and snarling.” Henry’s fists clenched on the table edge so hard there was an ominous cracking sound. “I tried to resist the smell of blood when he brought Vicki, but I couldn’t.”

Henry paused, and what he was thinking, Mike couldn’t begin to guess.

“He turned me into an animal, Detective Celluci. And *that* was the worst thing of all.”

And with that, Henry turned away, and Mike took a deep breath, feeling as if he’d just survived a staredown with a lion.

“Vicki is afraid of me now,” Henry said. “She pretends everything is okay, but it’s a lie.”

Mike thought that that 48 hours ago he would have said something like ‘She should be afraid of you.’ “She’ll get over it,” he said instead. “She was worried about you.”

Henry glanced over his shoulder with a faint smile. “I was rather worried myself.”

“I never wanted him to kill you.” Mike thought how idiotic that sounded, but he couldn’t stop trying to explain. “He said he could help you.”

“And you believed him?” Henry’s eyebrows shot up as he turned.

“That’s what Vicki said. I can’t explain it. Except that I was jealous and stupid.” Which was possibly the worst apology and explanation *ever* in the history of the universe.

Henry leaned against the kitchen counter, arms crossed. “I’ve already forgiven you.”

“I don’t think I’ve forgiven myself yet.”

Inclining his head, Henry didn’t say anything.

Mike did his best to not squirm under Henry’s considering gaze. “What?”

“I think you no longer look quite so close to death.” Henry pushed away from the counter. “And I have other things to do this evening. Take care of yourself, Detective, so that you can take care of Vicki.”

“Henry?” Mike surprised himself by calling him as he started to leave.

Henry turned, impassive.

“Call me Mike?”

A long moment of silence, then: “Good night, Mike.”

* * * * *

The next afternoon, Mike stood outside Vicki’s office building, pacing back and forth and staring at the door in the fading light. Every step he took jarred sore and aching muscles, but he couldn’t bring himself to head up the stairs and talk to her.

Just as he was about to give up and head home, the door opened and Coreen’s dark head stuck out, scowling at him. “Vicki says if you’re coming in, just do it already.”

Mike winced. “Uh–”

“Don’t say it,” Coreen said, putting up a hand. “I’m still mad at you.” And she turned, letting the door slam behind her.

“Right,” Mike said to the closed door. “That bodes well.” And with a deep breath, he went inside to beard the lioness in her den.

Peering around the corner, through the open office door, he saw Coreen sitting at her desk, surrounded by her usual pile of books. She glared at him, but waved at Vicki’s office.

Mike tried to look confident as he strode in, but he figured Vicki knew him too well to believe it for a minute. “Hey, Vic,” he said as she looked up from a pile of papers.

“Mike.” She waved at a chair and stared at him as he sat down.

“So…”

“So, how do we move on from here?” Vicki asked. “You said it, Mike. You screwed up big time. Really big. Life-threatening big.”

“Pointing out that I did it for your sake isn’t going to get me anywhere, is it?”

“Other than flat on your ass when I kick you out of my office? No, not really.” Her voice was flat, more sad than angry.

Mike would have argued if he hadn’t known that she had a better-than-even chance of making good on her threat. “Okay, so what *can* I do or say?”

“I don’t know.”

“Vic–”

“No, I really don’t.” She leaned back in her chair, twirling a pen in her fingers absently as she peered at him through her glasses. “I don’t know what could make this better.”

Mike took a breath. “Do you want me to go away? Leave you alone?”

She considered it for longer than was good for his heart. “No.” Shaking her head, she tossed the pen on the desk. “You’re still my friend, Mike, even if you’re not my partner any longer. I’m pissed as hell, I won’t say I’m not…but I don’t want you to go.”

They sat in silence for a while. “We worked well together, didn’t we?”

She smiled slightly. “Yeah, we did.”

“Want some Chinese?” he asked after another silence.

Vicki paused, then shook her head. “Not tonight.”

“Oh. Right.” Mike stood. “I’ll just head home then. Back to work tomorrow.”

“Mike.”

He stopped babbling. “Yeah?”

“Soon, okay? We’ll have dinner soon.”

“Great.” He nodded. “That’d be great.”

“G’night, then.”

“Night.” Sticking his hands in his pockets, he headed out, wincing again at the almost visible chill from Coreen’s desk.

It was full dark when he stepped outside the office and he glanced up at the sky.

“What did she say?” a voice said from behind him.

Mike jumped, muttering a curse. “Don’t *do* that,” he said as Henry shifted in the shadows enough to be visible.

Henry didn’t apologize, just waited.

“I don’t know. I guess she’ll forgive me eventually. She doesn’t hate me. That’s something, right?”

“Of course Vicki doesn’t hate you.” Henry frowned. “In that church, when both of us were injured and weak from blood loss, it was you she went to, you she cried out for, and you whose head she held.”

“I didn’t think of that.”

“I’ve had a few centuries to practice noticing these things.”

Mike looked up at Vicki’s office, where he could see her shadow on the wall as she moved around.

“I confessed,” Henry said.

“What?” Mike had visions of arrest warrants and handcuffs.

“When Mendoza trapped Vicki. I confessed to whatever he wanted in order to save her life. I love her.”

“So do I.” Mike had no idea why he was admitting this to Henry, when he’d never said the words to Vicki herself. “I’ve loved her since the first year she was my partner on the force.”

“I’m not leaving,” Henry said.

“Neither am I.”

“Then either Vicki will have to choose, or…”

“Or what?” Mike said when Henry didn’t finish the sentence.

“Or you’ll agree to my previous proposal.” Henry’s grin was a flash of white in the dark and then he was gone.

Mike sagged back against the wall of the building and wondered if he was insane or if the vampire was.

He decided that simply asking a question like that probably meant the answer was that *he* was insane. Then he decided the smartest thing to do was to go home and get some sleep.

“Maybe it’ll all make more sense in the morning,” he said. “Although I’m not betting on it.”

But his heart felt oddly lighter as he walked down the street to his car.

–end–

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