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Day Shift – Chapter 20

               Mattias stared at the blank wall behind him, the cold stone a welcome distraction from the constant roaring hum of the industrial fan set up just on the other side of the cold county prison cell he found himself sitting in. They had been kind enough to set up a heater behind it for the other people in the cell, and it was set low enough that it was only a nuisance. It was incredibly uncomfortable, though, feeling the force cycled air pushed against the bare bones of his upper arm and jaw. It chipped away at him with a relentless constancy that would have irked him under normal circumstances, but under these, it made him anxious and it made him itch.  He assumed the latter was due to the dust in the gaping open wounds he had, but he wasn’t sure. It could have been that itching for the blood he had lost.

               It had not endeared him to the other prisoners, that was for sure. The constant wind was uncomfortable for everyone stuck here. Mostly, it was drunk folks who had been enjoying their Christmas Eve a little too much. Or succumb to the loneliness of the holiday season. Either way, this is where they ended up. Of course, to them, it was a bit more hellish, as they were sharing a tank with a broken and torn up undead.

               Luckily, Hal had been put in the tank with him too, at least after a couple of hours. He went to the hospital to get checked out first with a nice police escort before being brought out to the station to serve his time there until the district attorney or a judge was available to set up their possible crimes and come up with whether they were going to be charged. Even the police seemed to agree it would be a self-defense situation, and that they shouldn’t expect to hard of a fight from the DA or authorities. Still, they were going to be treated like criminals.

               So, here, on Christmas eve, he sat staring at the wall with a fan blowing his clothes and hair all about him in a torrent of discomfort designed specifically to keep him from turning to mist and floating away harmlessly. Though, he had no such plan to do so. That would just make the situation worse, though he had to admit, he wondered how they would even be able to book him, or anything given that they couldn’t take a picture of him.

               It was an odd way to spend Christmas Eve. He mostly sat against the walls, and eventually adjusted to glance out and around himself from time to time. The others here were as pathetic as he was, asleep on benches in a county jail cell waiting for a chance to get out and go back to whatever it was their lives held for them. He didn’t know, he didn’t talk to any of them except Hal, but they all looked as excited with the idea of going forward in life as he felt.

               He didn’t really look forward to anything. He didn’t regret his actions, of course, but he didn’t quite understand the way things unfolded. He was having to conclude that he cared about his team. They were his friends, or as close to friends as he had nowadays. Aside from Rory and Olivia. He even kind of cared about Ava, as weird as she was. He hoped he hadn’t drained too much, but she was able to call the cops, so he supposed he hadn’t.

               It was a long night. He couldn’t sleep for a variety of reasons, but most of them were vampiric in nature. He wasn’t in his comfortable environment, his lair. There were a lot of little aspects that made it uncomfortable here. The smell of others, the fact that he wasn’t near any of his supplies, and that he was already in poor shape.

               But it didn’t matter.

               He had done what he needed to do and now he was being punished for it, and the world kept spinning as it always did.

               That was the thing, he supposed. That’s what bothered him. Nothing would change, he felt. Not in a way that mattered to him in a lot of ways. Ashley might be a little better off, and that was good, but would she just go straight back to work? Straight back to the same old job she hated. He’d fall into the same trap most likely. He always did. Things would come along that were just similar enough that he could settle for them. He always settled.

               He drifted off for a few minutes. He honestly didn’t know how long. There wasn’t a dream or anything similar.

               “Vampire,” An officer called out, rapping his knuckles against the bars of the little local jail. “Good news and bad news.”

               Mattias didn’t feel like turning around but forced himself too. His eyes squinted in the wind as he tried to look out to the guard. Try as he might, though, the winds made him look away.

“Bad news is the DA won’t be back until next Tuesday, so your sentencing is going to be a bit.” The officer hadn’t even asked which he wanted if any of it. He just started in on his explanations when the opportunity arose for him. “Good news is your lawyer is here,”

“That would be good news if I had a lawyer,” Mattias spoke as he stretched.

“Mattias, I’ve always got you covered,” Rory’s voice came from behind the officer, as he stepped out into view, well dressed in a fine and expensive suit, complete with tie and cufflinks. He looked as if he had just walked in from a deposition or a courtroom, though it was well into the wee hours of Christmas morning. “Can you turn off this fan, Officer? If he was going to escape, you don’t really think this would help do you?”

“He can turn into mist.”

“It’s not mists, its an incorporeal form and the refraction of the light in the ectoplasmic residue makes it appear as mist to the uninitiated,” Rory corrected as he pulled a hand from his pant pocket, “I have a few courses I can suggest if you and your officers would like to get more acquainted with non-humans,”

“No thanks,” The officer said nothing else but did reach over to turn off the industrial fan.

The sudden lack of fan noise was almost disconcerting in a way, but that infernal itching stopped quickly after, and Mattias had to admit that it

“Halil too,” Rory pointed to the sleeping Hal, who was twisted awkwardly around one of the cell benches. “Matt, if you’d wake him up.”

“You’ll have to fill out his paperwork separately…”

“I understand how paperwork is done,” He waved his hands across his suit, “Note the lawyer suit,” He grinned, “Let them out and I’ll get all that done,” Rory spoke before walking back off towards the front office of the station.

Mattias shook Hal awake. “Hal,” He said a couple of times as the barred door was pulled open.

His old manager groggily sat up, quietly stuttering out a bit of a word or two, but none that were fully formed yet.

“Rory’s getting us out, come on,” Mattias said, tapping him lightly on the shoulder.

The men both stood and stretched and walked out of the cell on their own volition. The officer just waved them down the hall. Neither said anything, but both were as relieved as they could be to be out of that place. It would still be another quiet half-hour, or maybe a full hour. It was hard to say, really. Again, he couldn’t help but doze off a little bit from time to time, and Hal didn’t help. The man sat down in the lobby and fell right asleep. Again, he was sitting alone. But again, he felt like, at least for the first time in a long time, he wasn’t actually alone. And on Christmas, that was a nice feeling.

“Come on,” Rory spoke as he entered the room and wandered on past them. “Let’s get you guys fed. They haven’t fed you, right?”

“What?” Hal spoke as Mattias helped him walk up and get standing. “Hey, Rory,”

“Hey Hal,” Rory smirked and gave him a nod, “So, food?”

“Food sounds good,” Hal said with a groggy yawn and nod.

“Where’s open?”

“There’s one of those twenty-four-hour diners across the street,” Rory said with a clear hand motion in what Mattias assumed was that direction, “I go there a lot of nights like tonight when clients do something stupid. Usually, they’re buying me dinner, though.”

“I can pay,” Mattias spoke, “Least I could do.”

“I was kidding,” Rory shook his head, “Come on, my car’s just outside.” The man yawned and marched out of the jail’s lobby, a few folders tucked under his arm. He didn’t wait for them, but it didn’t take too long for Mattias and Hal to fall into step behind him.

Just as he said, his car was just outside. He wasn’t one to show off, so there was just an older mid-sized sedan waiting for them. Mattias looked up when he stepped outside but kept walking towards the car. He climbed in, and there wasn’t a conversation. There was just a short drive. There was the darkened sky, his natural habitat. The stars, while dimmed by the light of the city, were pretty visible. And it was quiet. Unnaturally quiet. The city was asleep. Families were resting and waiting for the big day tomorrow. No one was waking up early to rush to the gym, no one was having trouble falling back asleep before work. There was a peace to the air that couldn’t be denied. There always was this time of year.

All in all, humans had a habit of sucking the fun out of everything. Humans embodied the seven deadly sins more than any of the non-humans. He struggled to survive, trying his best to be a decent person, fighting against his personal challenges. Everyone did that. Every single person on the planet had their challenges, but then nights like tonight came along. Christmas Eve. There wasn’t that worry. People weren’t bogged down by their usual struggles, not as much. Yes, there were outliers. An abusive partner could ruin the thought of holidays. A bigoted family who didn’t want to see you because of your life choices. Those things happened. Those were part of the challenge.

There was still hope, though. Hope that humanity would prevail, that the holidays would bring out the best of people. He needed to be reminded of that sometimes, and Rory showing up in the middle of night to bail him out of jail was one of those reminders. Perhaps not as big of one as the crowd waiting at the dinner for them.

As the car pulled up to the diner, he saw that the parking lot was full. As Mattias stepped out of the car with Hal and Rory, the trio walked up and stepped up onto the sidewalk outside of the diner. It was one of those old places that were always open, where the cooks made the food for you on a slab just behind the counter and waitresses always said hello when you entered. The food was greasy and perhaps not the best food ever, but on late nights like this it was very welcome.

And there, waiting for them to arrive was a table full of familiar faces. Olivia caught his eye first, a habit he still couldn’t break. But she sat next to Ashley, who was trying her best to understand how Olivia’s purse could communicate with her. An older couple sat next to her, her parents perhaps. They shared a lot of features. He could see the back of Lindsay’s head too and even spotted Maddox jogging back to the table with wet hands.

“Well, what’s all this?” Mattias asked.

“You should’ve asked for your one phone call,” Rory said as they paused outside the door. He sighed and turned around to face Mattias. Hal paused as well. “Luckily for you, you have people that want to watch out for you.”

“So, Ashley called Ol..”

“It doesn’t matter who called who, or any of that,” Rory said with a smirk. “Maybe, just maybe, you should try leading by example more often.” He took a breath. “I’ll sew you back together tomorrow morning, alright. Anyone who is going to freak out with skeleton Matt showing?”

Mattias watched as Maddox paused, giving time for someone to move off the boot. Ava popped out of the booth with a little bit of a bounce, and her eyes just happened to catch a glimpse of him. He couldn’t hear her but he saw her mouth move. She gave an excited bounce on her toes and rushed towards the door. That got everyone moving towards the door. He even spotted Ed, letting others go before her.

“I’m not worried about it. I don’t think this crew sees the vampirism,” He spoke with a little smile. “At least, not tonight.”

“Not ever,” Hal spoke up with a smile before he pushed open the door.

 

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