To Not Turn Away
I can do this. I can do this.
Mina took deep, stabilizing breaths while she stood alone staring into blank space, preparing herself for what was to come.
I can do this. I can do this.
She first lowered her chin down, eyes closed. Paused. Then raised her head up to the unseen heavens above the dark ceiling.
I can do this. I can do this.
She opened her blue eyes. Took one more deep breath and held it. Then she let it out slowly between her pursed lips. She gathered all her strength, all her courage, all her fortitude. She wrapped it around her and readied herself for battle.
"Miss Murray? Are you ready?"
She turned to face Renfield. His intelligent, strained face was unreadable but his eyes spoke louder, more clear than any words he could have uttered.
"No," she answered honestly.
He tilted his head, one eyebrow raised just a little, as she spoke once more.
"Now let us proceed," she stated simply.
He nodded slowly, watching her with care.
He had already tried to speak with her about the intensity of the situation in which she would soon find herself. She had listened, seemingly without hearing, patiently to everything he said. But he thought perhaps she refused to take his words entirely to heart for fear that she would lose the resilience she needed for the trial ahead.
She walked to him, laid a hand on his arm, and looked at him.
"Thank you, Renfield."
He nodded again, still unaccustomed to the familiarity of her touch.
"Yes, Miss. Of course."
She gazed deep into his dark eyes as if drawing strength from his stalwart soul. He let her, knowing she would need every ounce of it.
Then she let him go and walked resolutely into the open space beyond.
The large, circular, metal machine stood in the center of the room. It was monstrous and barbaric looking. And in a way it was. It channeled huge amounts of electricity through its thick metal coils and poured them directly into whatever the metal touched. As though it were a medieval torture instrument that belonged in the laboratory of Victor Frankenstein
As of now, the thing that touched that metal was a man.
She was planning on electrocuting him.
And he was going to let her.
Of course, there had been an inspection and testing of the machine for several days now. This ungodly machine that had been remarkably unscathed by the destruction of the Resonator.
Followed by a thorough examination of the patient himself by Miss Mina Murray back at Carfax Manor. To discover what, if anything, van Helsing had missed in his calculations.
"May I?" she had requested, almost shyly.
A mischievous gleam had touched his translucent eyes as he had responded.
"Only if you promise to be gentle."
The light hearted quip had made her laugh, much as she had when he had joked of her dislike of hospitals becoming a problem when she became a doctor. He had known she would find amusement on both occasions. Which had been his purposeful intention each time. He had smiled along with her, enjoying the moment of her levity while he could.
"A good doctor is always gentle with patients," she had answered primly. "Well, more or less. 'Tis a learned ability, I've heard."
He had spread his arms wide with a flourish.
"Well, then feel free to practice on me all you like."
They had chuckled together until Mina moved on to business.
"Remove your shirt please."
He had raised his eyebrows and smirked slyly.
Mina had proven to be every bit the professional she should. A bit more than necessary, in Alexander's opinion. With her examination completed, she had instructed him to redress, much to his disappointment. Though he had respected her all the more for it.
And now the time had come.
To turn Dracula, the Fell One, Nosferatu, Primo Master Vampire, human. If only for a short while.
Alexander lay bound upon the huge, metal contraption. His wrists and ankles held fast by metal clamps. He wore only a white cloth across himself. He was completely vulnerable.
If she so wished, Mina could destroy him right now and he would be powerless to stop her.
Or she could grant him the temporary gift of humanity and sunlight.
He was breathing deeply and slowly, much as she had been doing moments before as she stood alone.
Which scared her all the more.
I can't do this. I cannot do this.
She fought down her panic. And walked toward him.
He did not speak, only looked upon her. She let him, forcing a smile, knowing the sight of her was buoying him up for the suffering that lay ahead. It was why she wore blue today and why she wore her hair down. She knew the sight of her as he so loved to see would help make his suffering the merest bit more endurable.
"Are you ready to proceed?"
He nodded and kept his eyes locked on hers. His contained dread lay locked behind his determined eyes. She caught the briefest glimpse of it as it peeked and reached out to her beseechingly. She did not look away from it. She would endure this with him, as much as she could.
Renfield squeezed water over Grayson's shackled wrists without speaking. His heart pounded within him. All the agony of the previous procedures on this machine raced through his mind.
Much against his will, Renfield had participated with van Helsing in the disturbing efforts to immune Grayson to the burning rays of the sun. Grayson, then as now, lay stripped nearly bare and lashed to the massive, metal apparatus.
It had been horrendous.
He, Renfield, securing the bonds. Wetting the metal for the most efficient conduction. Pulling the huge lever to send massive doses of electricity surging through the body of the only man he most respected, perhaps even loved.
And now again.
Renfield positioned himself at the huge lever marked D after securing a secondary lever to ensure maximum electrical output. Mina continued to look into Alexander's eyes and he into hers.
Alexander Grayson, Vlad Tepis, lay on the cold metal mechanism and steeled himself. Looked into the eyes of her. Beautiful her. And thought of the sun. Her in the sun. With him.
Mina drew upon her last vestiges of willpower and hope. Denying her fear to crush her.
I will do this. I will give him the sun. And his humanity.
"Now," Mina said.
The white lightening hit him. More powerful than ever before. Surging through his entire body, slamming through his muscles, through his brain. And his thoughts were gone in a burst of searing fire.
Mina watched his body tremble, nay, vibrate with power of the electricity. Her entire body clenched in pure agony at the horrible display. But she never looked away. Not even as the tears stung at her eyes. And her heart and brain screamed in terror.
Renfield pushed the lever back, disconnecting the power. Alexander's body stopped its throes and lay still. He stared blankly at the ceiling then moved his eyes, only his eyes, down to hers once more.
Mina. Ilona. Mina. Ilona. They trembled side by side. Fused together. And he no longer knew who exactly he was looking upon. Only that he loved her. Mina. Ilona. Them.
Mina continued to hold his gaze, tears coursing down her cheeks. She moved forward and put the stethoscope around her neck to his chest. His heart was beating. She nodded for the benefit of the waiting Renfield and backed up to her former position, never taking her eyes from Alexander's.
She would not leave him during this his most needed time. She would not turn away.
I love you, she was saying without a word.
Renfield moved quickly over to the wheel that lifted Grayson toward the waiting circle of ten, long piercing needles. Needles which would administer the solar serum directly into his heart.
This as well was all too familiar.
The first time. Seeing the fear, the pain, the shock in Grayson's eyes as he turned his head and looked at Renfield. The dreaded silent command to continue the torture. He, Renfield, rotating the large wheel to raise Grayson's bare chest toward those ten long, piercing needles to puncture him deeply with burning serum. That serum that had been purposefully rendered ineffective by van Helsing himself.
This time, however, Alexander did not watch those brutal needles pierce his vulnerable flesh. He kept his eyes trained on her. Only her.
I love you, he was saying without a word.
She did not take her eyes off him as she reached over and felt for the two small dials she needed. She flicked them, sending the burning solar serum into her lover's heart and into his veins.
Renfield remembered this as well.
Almost equal to the monstrosity of the procedure itself was the dark delight in the eyes of van Helsing as he directed the steps of the barbaric process. The atrocity of the blood-thirsty creature Dracula paled in comparison to the monstrosity of the beast that had gleamed out of the rotting soul of Abraham van Helsing.
On the contrary, now, Mina Murray held no such darkness within her own soul. Her blue eyes wept silent tears and shone with sorrow, determination, and love. She never looked away from the suffering man trapped upon the machine.
Not even when his screams sang from his throat and resonated through the entire space with his unbearable pain. Not even when his body thrashed and his veins distended and pulsed with the pressure of the serum being forced through every last vessel.
Mina never looked away. Not even as his screams split her entire being in two, drove ripping spikes into her heart, her brain, the spots behind her eyes. She did not turn away.
And then all was still and quiet.
Like a silent blanket of death.
When he came back to himself, he was no longer strapped to the machine. His body lay still and bare, stretched out upon the cold floor. His head cradled in Mina's arms and on her breast. She was rocking him gently, slowly. And whispering.
"I'm sorry. I had to do it, Alexander. I love you."
Over and over. Whispering into his ears. Barely audible. Her tears dripped down upon his face.
His body. It felt . . . different.
He opened his eyes and looked upon her weeping face. Would he always cause her tears?
He gained his feet unsteadily. Renfield, eyes wide and questioning, helped him into his clothing. Mina stood nearby, wiping her tears away. Watchful and waiting.
When he was dressed, he stood still, looking at them. Mina and Renfield. His saviors. He smiled at them.