It was nearing six in the morning when Deirdra awoke, sore and still feeling drained. One glance outside the window told her that the storm had left a great deal of snow behind, and the dark clouds hovering low in the sky warned that it was not finished yet.
The young woman blinked and groaned slightly; the tedious drive before her was looking less and less inviting.
Taking a deep breath, she rubbed her back and glanced down at the sleeping Shields, curled up on the couch next to her like a child, face hidden beneath the pillow as he slept soundly on. His heavy boots had been carelessly tossed on the ground and despite the warmth of the room and he was wrapped up tightly in his long, thick trench coat and the blankets she had given him.
He had fallen asleep almost immediately without a word, only a grateful look, haunted still by his grief. She had resolved to sit next to his sleeping form for a small while to make sure he truly was asleep, but instead she had fallen asleep herself, too tired from staying up so late and exhausted and sore from her two hour venture the night before. It had been almost midnight when sleep over took them; she just hoped she would not fall asleep driving. Being in a hospital for Christmas Day was not very tempting.
For a few moments, Deirdra sat and stared blankly out the window, listening to Shields' deep breathing and the beating of her heart. How had she gotten herself into this mess? She was taking home a complete stranger, who, as far as she knew, was a complete outcast to the world, obviously insane, and driven by his passion for a lost love who shared her name and possibly her looks. What was she going to tell her parents? That he had stalked her to her apartment and had broken in because he thought she was his missing beloved, was possibly insane, had no family, no friends, no anything except for the clothes on his back and a few belongings…?
Deirdra blinked. His backpack; he said that that was all he owned. She turned her tired gaze onto the black shadow in the corner, thinking. Perhaps there was something in it that would tell her who he truly was, something that would help her explain to her family who the mysterious stranger was.
She sat up at the thought; maybe she could shed some light on this dark situation. But then she glanced down at Shields, sleeping innocently, completely trusting, if a bit deranged. What would he do if he caught her going through his things? She reminded herself she had to keep his trust in her; she had to help him, if only just a little and if only for the holidays.
But how could she help him when she hardly knew anything about him? She sighed and shook her head, which had started to throb slightly, as she glanced down at Shields. If she was going to do something, she would have to do it now or else Shields would wake up and then she would probably never get another chance.
Deirdra sighed, then, with another glance at the sleeping Shields, she slowly got to her feet and crept to the corner. Several times she glanced back at him, scared he would waken and catch her in the act, but he slept silently on.
It seemed to take forever for her to reach the backpack, and she could hear her heart pounding loudly in her ears. What would he do if he saw her? She shook the question from her head as she reached a shaky hand out to the shabby, black bag. Her fingers brushed the coarse material, then slowly closed on one of the straps. She waited a moment, glancing anxiously over at him, then sighed in relief and slowly pulled the pack to her.
Shields suddenly groaned and whimpered in his sleep, the noise muffled by the pillow, but loud enough to make Deirdra immediately stop moving, paralyzed with fear of getting caught. She was prepared to stuff the backpack back to where it had been and make up a quick excuse for her being there, but the man merely tightened his grip on the pillow and remained asleep.
Breathing a sigh of relief, she hastily pulled the bag to her before she had a chance to change her mind and sat down on the floor, her back leaning against the wall. Again she glanced at Shields, praying he would not awake, before gently unzipping the pack.
The contents were surprisingly few, and obviously very dear to him from the worn, used look and feel of them, and everything was surprisingly organized. The first thing she found was a roll of money in the bottom compartment made up mostly of fives and twenties, which she put back guiltily. She had no intention on stealing probably the only thing that would help keep him alive; she wasn't that kind of person.
Continuing to glance often at Shields, she dug through the rest of the bag carefully, making sure to put everything back the way she had found it so he would not get suspicious. She found an all-purpose knife in a concealed side pocket, a beaten CD player and a small CD holding case in the front, a pocket flashlight, some batteries, a couple of candy bars, and…a diary.
Curious, she took the small black book out of the bottom of the bag and held it in front of her. The cover felt leather and extremely worn, its surface was made of scratches and fading spots, but otherwise, it was completely intact and clean. With a cautious glance at Shields, she gingerly opened up the small book to the first page.
The date of the entry read April 19, 1862.
Deirdra stared, then glanced up at the sleeping Shields. 1862? That would make him almost a century old…
Her gaze turned back to the entry, sweeping back and forth as she skimmed the neatly written words.
If only my love, Deirdra, could see me now.
Two weeks have passed since the last I saw of her face, since I saw my last sunrise. My Master, though cruel at times, has taught me a lot. There is much to learn about being a vampire, and he has tried to teach me everything he can without overloading my senses and my mind…
Deirdra blinked in surprise; a vampire? Perhaps this Shields was more insane than she thought…
For the next hour she read diligently on, reading about his experiences, his fears and hopes, everything that could be written about who he was. There seemed to be more entries than pages, but that was the least of the thoughts on Deirdra's mind. Several times she skipped far ahead or turned the page quickly, embarrassed by what was written or realizing that some of his thoughts were best left alone. But with each word, she began to grow more and more certain that Shields was more than he appeared.
His full name was Shields Thomas Anderson, and he had been born in a small country town in England in the year 1842. He had been the third son of a wealthy banker and a noble's daughter, well educated and well known. He had loved to go horseback riding and hunting on his family's estate with his second oldest brother, and loved taking risks. His life was as perfect as any life could get in the 1800s. He had inheritance to a small, but favorable manor, kindly promised by his father, which was unusual back in those days, since the oldest usually got everything. He was the best at almost everything he did; and he was in love with the most beautiful girl in the country who in turn loved him back. But it would be his love for her that became his downfall.
She was kidnapped by well-feared terrorists the night before he had intended to propose marriage to her. The ransom was a considerable amount, one that the girl's father, a noble's son, could hardly afford to pay. No one knew what to do; if they paid the ransom, then her family would go bankrupt, but if they refused then she would die, or end up in some other, more horrible situation.
That was also the night that Shields met David.
David was a vampire, very old, and very powerful. Shields had no idea how or why David had come to him, and he still did not know. But come the vampire did, with an offer that Shields could not pass up. He offered to rescue Shields' love, in return for a price: Shields' life.
Blinded by fear and his overwhelming passion and heartache, Shields agreed. The vampire rescued the girl without a scratch to either of them, and as he requested for an exchange, made Shields a vampire.
Things might have worked out then, or they might not have, he never knew. The newly made vampire, Shields, planned to take his love with him when he and his new vampire Master left England for the Americas. He knew, or at least he thought he knew, that she would agree to come with him, to become a creature of the night like he had become. But he never had a chance to see for sure. Before he could talk to her again, a servant somehow discovered what he and David were. He did not say it straight out, but Shields suspected that David had something to do with it. The elder vampire had not agreed with Shields' plan, in fact, he had been the complete opposite. He had warned Shields that it would not work, that he would not stand to have two fledgling vampires under his care. But Shields had refused to listen, and that, he believed, had cost him his love.
They fled the same night Shields woke up from his three-day hibernation as his body adjusted to the vampire's blood. Shields had almost ran away from his Master, too lovesick for his sweetheart to listen to reason, so David was forced to drag him away, unconscious and unaware of where he was being taken. They went on the first boat to the Americas that they could find, and Shields left England for the first, and the last time. He never returned in all the years he lived as a vampire; his Master had not permitted him.
Heartbroken, Shields began his life as David's apprentice and assistant. The entries went on to describe Shields' life as a vampire, constantly changing identity and location, always running and hiding from those that hunted creatures like them. At times, Shields had almost taken his own life, but David had been there to stop him. David had always been there to help him and keep n eye on him, never letting Shields out of his sight, lest the younger vampire tried to run away as he often did try. Shields grew to hate and love David at the same time, but it was more a love between a father and a son, and that was as far as it went. He depended greatly on his Master, as he found out the night David got caught by vampire hunters.
Shields did not know how it happened or when or where. All he knew was that the hunters had finally caught up to them. Shields never saw David again. After that, all he did was drift around the United States, taking odd jobs, always hiding, always running. His mind slowly slipped into a hovering insanity; he was alone, with no where to go and no one to care. He thought often of going back to England in search of the fate of his lost love or even going in search of David, but his insanity and loneliness did not let him. He survived on instinct and will alone, because that was all he had left.
Deirdra turned another page and a stray piece of paper fluttered out, landing at her feet. Frowning, she reached down and picked it up. It was an old black and white photograph, bent and torn in several places, and slightly faded. But its condition did not stop her from identifying the two people pictured in it.
One she immediately recognized as Shields. He looked much the same as he did now, but wore clothing that belonged in a history book. His hair was shorter and more neatly kept, and his face lacked the worry lines and wrinkles he had now. But most importantly, he looked happy. The sorrow that haunted his eyes now was not there, instead replaced by a happiness and satisfaction that seemed to change his entire appearance. There was no smile on his face, but she could tell he was happy.
But it was not Shields that caught her attention, what drew her the most, what made her heart stop beating, was the girl in the picture next to him. Her hair seemed darker and her face considerably thinner and longer and the clothing she wore seemed to come from whatever age Shields' had come from, but the resemblance was unmistakable. The girl in the picture was she.
Deirdra stared at it blankly, hardly ever to comprehend what she was seeing. The girl looked almost exactly like she had when she was fifteen, and from her reading in the diary, she had the same first name too. Deirdra shuddered; what was going on?
Shields began to stir then, squirming slightly against the warmth and softness of his makeshift bed. "Deirdra?" he called shakily.
Trying not to panic, she slapped the paper back into place and slammed the book shut, slipping it back into Shields' pack where she hoped she had found it. Zipping it up quickly, she shoved it back into place and stood up, hurrying over to Shields' side guiltily.
Forcing a smile, she stopped at the back of the couch, looking down at him as he blinked up at her. "I'm right here Shields," she said softly. "Did you sleep well?"
Squinting, he stared at her, then closed his eyes and looked away. "Yes."
She touched his arm gently. "You better get up. It's a long drive to my parents' house and we need to get a head start in this kind of weather."
Nodding slowly, he took a deep breath and wearily crawled out from the blankets, following Deirdra cautiously into the kitchen. She fixed them both a quick breakfast of eggs and toast, setting Shields down at the small kitchen table, all the while thinking of what she had read. Everything in the diary seemed so vague now, and she had no idea what to think about Shields. Was he insane, or was what she read really true? When she was little, she had always wanted to meet a creature from fantasy and her dream world, but now that she had…
As she watched Shields eat hungrily, she tried to rack her brain for anything she knew about vampires. She did not come up with much except for the same myths and legends from old movies, mostly about stakes through the heart, garlic, and how vampires drank blood and only came out at night. Her eyes swept over his face quickly before she turned to her own food, trying to imagine him as a bloodthirsty monster, but the broken man in front of her seemed everything but a monster.
Deirdra resisted shaking her head with a sigh; it was too much at the moment to think about. For now, she would think of him merely as a lonely, homeless young man she had met at work and had asked to come with her to Christmas dinner. She smiled grimly; that sounded good enough to fool her parents. She just hoped Shields would not say anything against it.
They were ready to go twenty minutes later. Deirdra had packed the day before, and since Shields already had everything in his bag, all that was left to do was lock up and leave.
On the way out, Deirdra had them stop at the Truman residence to assure Jack that she was all right. The small family of five had just finished opening presents and they invited both of them in for a snack, but Deirdra politely refused, explaining that in this weather they would need all the time they could get. They stopped next at the Creamer's apartment on the ground floor to drop off a late Christmas present.
The old couple were patiently waiting for the arrival of their family with one of their three children and her husband and baby. Again Deirdra and Shields were invited in, and again she refused and explained about their long drive, thanking them kindly before she quickly herded Shields out and to the parking garage in the basement. She did not like the way the vampire was eyeing the young family, and, knowing what she was, she had a good idea why.
Almost half an hour later they were on the main highway, driving slowly through the blizzard that had started up again shortly after leaving the small city. Shields sat slumped in the passenger seat, head resting against the window and eyes closed. He was hugging his bag to his body tightly, despite Deirdra's suggestion of putting it in the backseat with her things.
Several times, Deirdra's mind brought up the topic of his being a vampire, and each time she determinedly dismissed it to the back of her mind. Shields seemed that he could hardly hurt a fly, let alone try and take advantage of her or her family. He was weak and suffering from a shattered reality; if she could get him to trust her enough, then perhaps she would be able to trust him.
The only time during the entire four and a half-hour drive that he awoke was when she pulled into a gas station to fill up the near-empty tank on gas. When she returned from the pump and register, he was sitting up, watching her steadily with half-lidded eyes as she got in the driver's seat and buckled up. He seemed drained, but not as much as she remembered seeing him that morning. She figured that his sleeping all the time had something to do with it.
As she slipped the key into the ignition, he felt his eyes on her, almost searching. She glanced at him as she turned the key and the engine roared to life, taking in his hollow, dismal expression and the way his gaze kept looking at her own eyes.
"Deirdra?" he said, so softly that she almost thought he had not spoken at all.
She paused to look at him. "What?"
He looked hard at her, as if debating on whether or not what he had to say would be a good thing. Patiently, she waited, wondering if he was going to mistaken her as his love or if he was going to tell her of what he really was.
Finally, he turned away and rested his head against the window again, eyes closing. "Thank you."
She blinked, then smiled slightly and urged the small car out of the station and back on the main highway. She wasn't sure what he meant to thank her for, but whatever it was, she did not feel like digging any deeper; yet. "You're welcome Shields."
She glanced at his face, just in time to see a faint smile play at his lips before his breathing deepened, and he fell asleep.