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Setting The Record Straight by HippieVampChick

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Story Notes:
AU. First in the Companions Series.
Setting the Record Straight

The house looked like nothing special from the road. Just another good-sized ranch house in an average neighborhood, not unusual in any way.

But there were no neighbors. And no one knew what went on behind closed doors.

No one but Michael Emerson, anyway.

He parked his bike in the driveway and grabbed the mail from the curbside box. It was all junk mail; most of the advertising flyers and two-for-one pizza coupons still had Max’s name on them.

Thorn, in his usual place on the back porch, growled at the approaching intruder.

“Easy, boy, it’s me.” Michael held out a hand for the dog to sniff, then, as Thorn settled back on his haunches, patted him on the head and reached over him to unlock the back door.

 “Hey guys, I’m here.” He put the key in his pocket and closed the door behind him. “Anyone up yet?”

The setting sun painted the living room in strange shadows. Michael dropped the mail on the little table in the hall and headed for the kitchen. It was immaculate, as always. Most of the house was just window dressing, anyway. Sometimes the guys would pop popcorn in the kitchen or watch a movie on the big-screen TV, but the bedrooms were mostly untouched, except by the cleaner once a week.

The space where the boys actually lived was below ground level.

Michael crossed through the kitchen and put his hand on the knob to the cellar door. The door was covered with mystical signs and sigils not for protection--the boys could take care of themselves--but because Paul thought it looked cool.

“Guys?” Michael called down the stairs. “I’m coming down, okay?”

There was no answer. He started down anyway, figuring that if they weren’t up yet he could sit and read for a while.

He was three steps from the bottom when he felt hands on his shoulders.

“Aaaahhh!”

“You gotta stop him!”

Michael sighed. “Hi, Paul. Stop who? Why? Don’t tell me Marko got glitter on your boots again . . .”

“No, it’s . . . it’s David.”

“What?” Now that was unusual. “What’s wrong with David?”

“He’s locked himself in the sleeping chamber for three days! He won’t come out, and he won’t let us in! He hasn’t slept.  I don’t think he’s eaten anything. We did throw in some food last night, but--“

“I don’t understand.”

“He’s been like this since,” Paul’s voice dropped to a whisper, “you know what.”

“Oh,” Michael said. “That.”

“Listen.”

Michael’s ears weren’t as sharp as the others’, but in the silence he could hear a clack, clack coming from deep within. “Is he . . .?”

“Yup.” Paul nodded. “He won’t talk to us. I was hoping you’d have better luck.”

“Well, I’ll try.”

Dwayne was stretched out on the couch reading; Marko curled up in his favorite comfy chair with his Batman comics and his Yoo-Hoo. Michael nodded to both of them and cautiously approached the door of the sleeping chamber.

This door was simple and bare, except for a hand-lettered sign reading THE CAVE. Taking a deep breath--Here goes nothing--Michael tapped on the door.

“David? It’s me.”

No answer but the continuous clacking, which Michael now recognized as the sound of typewriter keys.

“Can I come in or what?”

“I’m busy.”

“Look, the guys are worried about you. I just wanted to make sure you’re all right. Open up, please?”

There was a heavy sigh from within, then the clacking stopped and the door creaked open.

David didn’t say a word, just inclined his head in invitation. Michael followed him in and shut the door.

The sleeping mats had been shoved against the wall. In the middle of the room, the milk crates the boys used to store their few possessions had been pushed together, a big sheet of plywood laid over the top. On this makeshift table were an antique manual typewriter, a pile of blank paper, a half-empty cup of cold coffee, and an overflowing ashtray.

The first thing that jumped out of Michael’s mouth was, “Where do you find ribbons for that thing?”

“I don’t,” David shrugged. He sat back down in the 1940’s-era office chair, but didn’t immediately get back to work. “I’ve got two backups, and that’s it. Once they give out, I guess I’ll have to get myself a computer. Hand me my smokes, will you?”

Michael looked around and found an unopened pack of Marlboros on the edge of the table.

“No, the whole carton.”

“What carton? This is it.”

David sighed. “I should know better than to send Marko on a cigarette run on new comic book day. I gave him twenty dollars for a carton of cigarettes, and he comes home with half a dozen comics, a bunch of snack foods . . . and one pack of cigarettes. I’ll have to have a talk with him.”

Michael looked at him strangely. “That was last night.”

“Last night?”

“Yeah, he got you a carton when he went out and got all the other stuff. This is all that’s left.”

David looked down at the pack in his hand and a strange look crossed his face. “Are you telling me I lost a day?”

Michael shrugged. “You were busy. It happens to me all the time. Want me to go out and buy you more smokes?”

 “Nah. I’ll be okay for a while. Maybe I’ll go myself later on.” David looked over the page currently sticking out of the typewriter. “Shit!” He yanked the page out, crumpled it into a ball, and threw it across the room. “This is harder than I thought it would be.”

“What are you trying to do?”

David looked back over his shoulder with what Michael called his “We are not amused” expression. “Did you see that pile of crap?”

“It wasn’t that bad.”

“Wasn’t that bad? That ‘death by stereo’ crap wasn’t that bad? Who the hell wrote that?”

“Um, I wrote that,” Michael said. “It was in the second draft, after they sent the first one back with that note that said the vampires have to die.”

David frowned. “Remind me again how this whole thing came about?”

“A friend of my dad’s knows a guy, who went to school with a guy, who works at Warner Brothers studios. I sent him two pages, and he liked it.”

“And then he sent it to his bosses, who fucked it up.” David grabbed the top sheet off the pile of blank paper and rolled it into the typewriter. “All I want to do is--“

“SHOT THROUGH THE HEART, AND YOU’RE TO BLAME! DARLIN, YOU GIVE LOOOOVE A BAD--“

The door banged open. “Turn the fucking stereo down before I pick it up and beat you with it!”

Paul affected a hurt look. “You never let me listen to my music!”

“Not while I’m trying to work!”

“I thought you were taking a break.”

“Break’s over. Music down. I won’t warn you again.” He slammed the door and looked at the typewriter. “Shit. Maybe I should go out. I could do with the exercise.”

“You were telling me what it was you were trying to do,” Michael prompted him. He wanted to sit down, but there was only the one chair.

“All I want to do,” David said, “is set the record straight. About us. Everything the movie got wrong, I want to put right. I just--I just don’t know how.”

“Well, what have you done so far?”

“Forget it, it’s shit.”

“Let me decide.” There were a lot of crumpled-up pages on the floor. Michael decided to start with the most recent. He smoothed it out and read: “Everything you think you know about vampires is wrong. We don’t sleep in coffins, crosses have no effect on us, holy water is useless against us, and we can see our reflections just fine. We do drink blood, but . . .” That was the end of the sentence. He looked up at David. “Your problem is, you’re not telling a story, you’re writing an essay. It’s too dry and it’ll turn people off.”

“Well, what do you suggest?”

“Start with . . . start with the night you came to see me. After . . . the bonfire on the beach.”

David nodded. “The night I came looking for Star, and we talked.”

“And everything changed.”

“Just start in the middle like that?”

“Yeah, and then flash back to the beginning, and work your way forward. Hook the readers in, and then pay them off with the story.”

“That actually sounded like you know what you’re talking about.”

“Well, I am a professional writer now. Got a writing credit on a hit movie and everything.”

“Let’s not bring that up again. So . . . where would you begin?”

Michael stacked the sleeping mats and sat down on the edge. “Okay, I’m coming back to my room after we called the Frog Brothers. I’m tired, it’s been a long night, I open the door . . . and there you are sitting on my bed.”

“That’s good, that’s good.” David started typing, the clacks coming faster and faster as he recalled the events of that night . . .

 

“What the hell are you doing here?” Michael demanded, closing the door behind him.

David got up from his perch on the bed. “How long ago did she leave?”

“How did you get in here?”

“Your mother let me in. Nice lady. Be a shame if anything happened to her.”

“Don’t you dare threaten my family!” Michael darted forward and grabbed David by the lapels of his jacket.

“Easy, easy. I’m not threatening anyone. I’m just saying, I wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to her. Which it will, if you don’t listen to me now.”

“I’m done listening to you.” Michael turned away. “I know what you are now. What you made me. You had no right!”

“Michael!” David grabbed him by the shoulders and spun him around so they were face to face. “Your mother is in terrible danger.”

“I told you not to threaten her!”

“This is not a threat. This is a true fact. Michael, I did what I did under orders.”

“From who?”

“You know who. Ask your brother, he knows.”

Michael sat down in the spot David had vacated. “Max? He really is . . .?”

“He really is.” David crouched in front of him, sighing heavily. “Michael, I . . . I need your help.”

 

“So far, so good,” Michael said, reading the pages over. “And now you flash back to the first night we saw each other, and take it from there.”

“Okay. Thanks, man. Oh, hey.” He handed Michael a twenty-dollar bill. “Go get me a carton, and maybe a pizza or something. I’m hungry.”

There was a sudden commotion in the outer room. The thump of footsteps on the stairs was followed by raised voices. Very familiar voices.

“Mike! You here? Tell them it’s okay!”

“What did you do, follow me?”

His little brother nodded guiltily. “We hid and watched where you put the key.”

“We?”

Sam nodded over his shoulder at the Frog Brothers, who were being restrained by Dwayne and Marko. David sighed sadly.

“Boys, I thought we had an agreement. We don’t invade your territory, and you stay out of ours.”

“This is important!” the older boy, Edgar, said. “There’s been a lot of new people in town the last couple of days, asking questions.”

David looked worried. “And what did you tell them?”

“Nothing!” said Alan. “We said we didn’t know anything. That it was just a movie.”

“So why are you here now?”

“These aren’t just tourists,” Edgar said. “They’re slayers. I saw some of their equipment.”

Dwayne was nodding. “It’s the Dracula Effect all over again.”

“Dracula Effect?” Sam asked.

“When the novel Dracula was published in 1897,” David explained, “it set off a wave of vampire hunting in Europe like never before. Nearly half the old families were wiped out; the ones who didn’t escape to the Americas were finished off by the Nazis. If what you say is true, gentlemen . . . we could be looking at a major war here.”

“What are you going to do now?” Michael asked. “Leave town?”

“That would be letting them win,” David said. “No, if it’s a war they want . . .”

His face changed to his “killing” form. Even for those who had seen it before, it was frightening.

“Then it’s a war they’ll get.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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