The Lady in Red

The Good Doctor

There was a dog barking outside the window. That was what had woken Selina up this morning. And that was strange because she'd never noticed the dog before. She opened her eyes and right away, she could tell something was wrong. She was definitely not at the boarding house. "Toto, I don't think I'm in Kansas anymore," she whispered to herself. She pushed the covers away slowly and eased herself out of the bed. The question was where was she?" Leaning against the bed with one hand on the bedknob, she looked around. The room she was in had rose wallpaper on the walls and a large, antique wooden dresser with a hinged mirror. She stepped forward to look into the mirror and saw that the glass was old and wavy. She gazed at her warped image for a second. It seemed to shift and turn, until the image she was looking at wasn't herself, but a little girl.

She gasped and stepped away, backing to sit at the cedar chest by the foot of the bed. Taking a deep breath, she thought to herself, there has to be some rational reason why I was at the boarding house last night and now, in the morning, I'm somewhere completely new. The knock on the bedroom door seemed to answer all her questions. That's probably Damon now, coming to tell me where we are and why we left in the middle of the night. She stood up from the cedar chest and strode to the door, opening it. "Damon, tell me why we're…" she trailed off when she saw it was Mitch "…here." She finished.

"Hi Selina," he grinned easily at her. "How did you sleep last night?" He was holding a tray of orange juice, toast and eggs in one hand. He was apparently one of those vampires who still liked to eat despite the fact that it didn't to him any good. She didn't mind that.

"Fine," Selina answered. "But where are we? And why am I here?"

The smile quickly left his face and his expression became somber. "This is for you if you want it," he told her, putting the tray down on the cedar chest. "Are you mad at me?"

Selina sat down and drank some of the juice. "I'm not mad, I'm just really confused. Last I remember, Damon and I were talking about stuff and then we went to sleep. And this morning, I'm in a completely new place and neither Damon nor Stefan is anywhere to be seen. They probably don't even know where I am. Why did you kidnap me? You're my father and fathers aren't supposed to do stuff like that!"

She put the juice down and looked up at him pointedly. He looked taken aback. "So you know. How did you figure it out?"

"I didn't figure it out, actually. Damon did. He put together all the stuff you said about your old girlfriend, and your being mad about what Mr. Pierce did to me, and how Mama kept you from me for eight years. And how you knew about the birthmark. That was a giveaway too."

He was grinning again. "I'm about as subtle as a Mack truck, aren't I?"

Selina nodded. "Yeah. I should have been able to figure it out on my own."

Mitch sighed. "It's not really your fault. How could you have known all of that to put it together? Anyway, this place," he gestured around the room," was your old bedroom. It's changed a little, obviously. And this house was the one you, your mother and I lived in before I left. I brought you here because we have things to talk about and I don't want any interruptions before everything is brought out into the open. And I left Damon and Stefan a note. They should be here eventually."

"Why did you leave?" Selina asked. "Wasn't I a good enough reason for you to stay home?"

"You really were," he said. "But my father had fought in the war of 1812, and your uncle Andrew and I grew up listening to his tales about how wonderful being in battle was and how good fighting was for a man's character. So naturally when I got the chance, I signed up."

"But I thought you said I was a good enough reason to stay home!" Selina said. "Did you have any idea that you might get killed when you left?"

"I didn't at first," Mitch replied. "I had all these glorious notions of coming back a hero covered in medals. I told them to your mother and she got as swept up in it as I did. But then when I actually got into the fighting, things changed."

"You realized that war wasn't all it was cracked up to be, huh?" Selina asked.

"Yeah, and I wanted to go home before I was killed. I wrote my father, who was with the war department, to get me an honorable discharge, but he told me that Warren men didn't quit wars and that he certainly wouldn't see any son of his disgrace the family in that fashion. So I resigned myself to it."

"Family pride," Selina said, sighing. "It figures, doesn't it?"

"He was also a proponent of Manifest Destiny," Mitch said. "And of course that's what the Mexican American war was about; expanding the country by taking land from Mexico. Eventually, we began to win fights and just as I was warming to fighting, that was when the typhoid epidemic hit. I got it of course and was taken off the field and sent straight to the hospital. Soldiers were usually just seen as numbers in places like that, but the head doctor and I became fast friends. When I was lucid, he would talk to me, encourage me and give me news."

"He sounds nice," Selina commented. "What was his name?"

Mitch paused a moment, then said quietly "Dr. Roger Stensrund."

Selina's eyes widened. "My God, that damned son-of-a-bitch turned you too!" she yelled.

Mitch frowned "Selina Amelia Elizabeth, watch your language. I won't have you talking about him that way. He was a good man."

Selina scoffed. "No he wasn't. That bastard ruined my life and I reserve the right to call him whatever the hell I want!"

Mitch sat down next to her and put a hand on her arm. "Honey please," he said quietly. "He saved my life."

Selina sighed. "All right, I'll keep my opinions to myself."

"Thank you." He stood up. "And Dr. Stensrund didn't turn me. It was his nurse, Lucy."

Meanwhile, back at the boarding house, Damon had just found the note. "Mitch took Selina last night," he told Stefan, setting the note down in front of him.

"He did?" Stefan asked. "I didn't see her this morning, but I just assumed she'd gotten up before you and gone off somewhere."

Damon shook his head. "Selina never gets up before I do."

Stefan was reading the note.

"Damon and Stefan, I realize that this probably isn't the best plan in the world, but I've taken Selina to the old house. She and I have several things to discuss and I feel that it would best be done without interruption or interference from anyone, even the two of you. However, it might be good if you came by sometime in the early afternoon tomorrow. It might help her deal with what she's going to hear more easily having the two of you there with her.

Matthew Warren

"He's using his real name again," Stefan observed. "That's interesting." He looked at the note again. "I don't get this at all. First he says that he doesn't want to have anyone with her when they talk, and then he says he wants us there later today. Which one is it?"

"He probably didn't want us there in the beginning because they're having one of those tender father daughter reunions and having anyone else there would spoil the moment. But after he tells her everything, she's going to feel hurt and shocked, and a little moral support wouldn't be such a bad idea," Damon said.

"I would hardly call a middle-of-the-night abduction a tender father-daughter reunion," Stefan remarked dryly. "So, where's the old house, and are we going to go?"

"Of course we're going to go!" Damon said. "And the old house is that abandoned one that's down the street from the Lockwood mansion, remember?"

"Oh, yeah," Stefan said. He folded up the note and put it in his pocket. "It's eleven o'clock now. When do you want to go?"

Damon thought a moment. "Let's leave at one. Call Elena and see if she wants to come too. She's already so involved that she'd probably be mad at you if she found out she missed such a big part of the story."

Selina looked at Mitch in surprise. "His nurse turned you?"

Mitch nodded. "Yeah. When Dr. Stensrund told me that there was nothing else they could do for me except make me comfortable while I waited for Death. He also wanted to know if there was anyone he could contact and let them know that I was dying. I told him about you, and your mother. Then later that day he left and went to let your mother know personally. It really meant a lot to me that he cared that much."

"And when did Lucy turn you?"

"That evening. She came to bring me a cloth for my forehead. At first I didn't realize she was there. Then, she told me she could save me."

Selina smirked. "Let me guess: She thought you were cute and turned you so that you and she could be together forever."

"No," Mitch said, then corrected himself. "She did think I was cute. But she felt sorry that I was going die without having a chance to say goodbye to the two of you. That's why she turned me. So that I could go home and be with you."

"No romantic motivation?"

"No," Mitch shook his head. "I think Dr. Stensrund had turned her sometime before. So the two of them were a couple. Anyway, we had our first exchange of blood that night and Dr. Stensrund came by a couple of days later and was amazed at how much better I seemed. It was the same the second time. But the third was when I was actually turned. We exchanged blood and then she gave me water full of cyanide."

Déjà vu again, Selina thought.

"Dr. Stensrund was the first to find me after my death. Lucy wasn't with him when he ordered me buried and by the time she'd returned, I was already in the ground. When she told him what she'd done, he was furious. They took one of the other attendants along and went to the cemetery where they got me out just in time.

"Dr. Stensrund took me in after that. Taught me the ropes. By the time I was in my right mind, I asked him if I could go home. He looked at me sadly and said 'I don't think that's a good idea my boy. The army's probably already informed your wife of your death, so I don't think it would be good if you just showed up on your front doorstep.'

"I told him about you, and how I didn't want to just leave you alone. He told me that he'd noticed the doctor in Mystic Falls had recently retired. He left the next day to see about getting the position here. That way, he could watch out for you and report to me. And if I came to his house every so often, I could see you. That helped alleviate my guilt."

"Dr. Stensrund became the doctor in Mystic Falls to watch over me?" Selina was stunned. Every thought she'd ever had about Roger Stensrund was shifting.

"Yes," Mitch said. "And he would report to me. How do you think I knew about what Mr. Pierce did to you?"

"Did you really kill him?" Selina asked.

"Yeah," Mitch said. "What Dr. Stensrund was telling me was pretty awful and I just couldn't bear the thought of you hurting anymore."

"Thank you, I guess." Selina said after a moment.

"My visits were yearly," Mitch continued. "Sometimes your mother would leave you with Dr. Stensrund and Lucy when she had to go on trips. Like when an aunt of hers in Charleston passed away. That was a good week for me."

"Wait," Selina said. "If you came by every year, and we spent time together, how come I don't remember any of it? There have been times in my life where that would have done me a lot of good!"

"I know, I know." Mitch told her. "Don't be mad, but after every visit, especially after you started talking, we erased your memory. We thought that if we didn't, you might inadvertently say something about me to your mother."

"What if she just assumed that you were an imaginary friend or something?" Selina asked.

"We didn't think about that," Mitch admitted. "And again, I'm sorry."

"When did you stop visiting?" Selina asked.

"After you moved in with the Salvatores," Mitch said. "Dr. Stensrund told me that things were going well, so I stopped worrying. Then, in 1864, he sent me a note saying that I should come and see him because he had a surprise for me. But I wasn't able to get away until early 1865. And when I got to his house, he wasn't there. And I looked everywhere. It's the strangest thing."

Selina took a deep breath. "He wasn't there in 1865 because I'd killed him by then."

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