Author's Note: Yeah, I know-that was fast. I'm riding on this weird high, like the kind I haven't felt since I was a kid. Like, I actually feel good today-not just "fine" or "meh." I have been feeling the urge to actually do stuff-anything but my schoolwork, that is. Or cleaning my disaster of a college dorm room. The truth did not set me free-but awareness does give you a strange sort of power. (Plus Mike's writeup was already halfway finished. I was getting depressed writing about when Jack killed Sam J and stopped halfway.) But now it's done! So ignore my cryptic comments and enjoy!
Author's Note-Part II: You might remember Mike as Ashley's boyfriend who beat her. I promise he's not THAT much of a prick in this timeline. (I mean, I wouldn't be friends with him, but that's honestly more because of a personality clash than anything else. He probably wouldn't like me either.) He's definitely Bi-Polar and has serious anger issues, but after his history with his own dad, he learned a modicum of decency and self-restraint.
Stats: Chastity-53%, Gluttony-70%, Greed-56%, Diligence-73%, Wrath-76%, Kindness-53%, Humility-54%
Personality: Mike had anger issues, he knew that, and he didn't take shit from people. Working off his fury at the gym was the only thing keeping him sane some days. His favorite thing was chowing down on some red meat after a workout-pure bliss! His temper hadn't made him very popular though, and as a result Mike was a little behind in the romance department.
But despite his off-putting appearance and temper, Mike honestly wasn't a bad guy at heart. Too bad most people took one look at his hair and his muscles and his wife-beater and decided he was an asshole before he even opened his mouth. Stupid.
CJ's Life Lesson: "Only person you're ever gonna be able to trust is yourself."
Mike couldn't remember exactly how old he was when CJ told him that, but he did remember that the lesson, about doing things yourself and not relying on anyone, was what made it possible for him to survive the fallout of CJ's murder and his mom leaving them. Ever since he was 9 years old, Mike was basically forced to raise himself...because there was no-one else (technically his dad was there, but he mind as well have been gone for all the parenting he did).
Mike didn't really understand the lesson that day. Sure, he learned how to make pizza himself, but he still trusted CJ totally and completely...blindly. He couldn't imagine that the category of "people he couldn't trust" would ever include his brother. It was only after he got shot that Mike found out CJ was apparently in some kind of gang...and never told him. How could he never tell him? Why would he do it in the first place? How could he not realize how idiotically dangerous it was? How could he leave him?
Because CJ followed the lesson he taught...and he never trusted Mike with the truth. CJ just did what was he thought was best for CJ, and didn't want to hear any arguments against it.
Mike was almost pissed at himself for following what CJ taught after that, as if he was proving CJ right somehow. To this day, Mike didn't know whether to be grateful for the lesson or furious about it. Because CJ did help him survive basically on his own...but he was also the reason he needed to do so.
Mike's temper had led to that obscenely high score. And when a problem happened, it really WAS usually someone else’s fault. Just look at his childhood, for Christ’s sake! So Mike didn’t usually feel guilty about much. There was nothing HE had to feel guilty about.The only people he hurt were people who had it coming.
Q: I would be proud of getting away with any crimes.
Q: I was a bully in high school.
-True it is.
Q: I don't like to commit in relationships.
Q: My problems are mostly the fault of others.
Q: I always keep my word.
Q: I never give in to temptation.
Q: I lack direction in life.
-You've got a plan.
Q: I was often in trouble at school.
-Beat up kids for misunderstandings.
Q: I think sex should not be taken lightly.
Q: I have always taken care of myself.
Q: If people get offended, that's their problem.
Q: I think strong emotions are for the weak.
Q: If someone deserves it, I don't feel too bad.
Q: I feel bad when I trick people.
Q: I am basically an honest person.
Q: I need to take risks in order to feel alive.
Q: I am exceptional.
Q: I am neither shy nor self-conscious, I speak with authority.
Q: I committed many types of crimes.
-Beat up kid in kindergarten.
Q: I committed some crimes as a juvenile.
Q: My romantic relationships usually fall apart quickly.
Q: I try to evade responsibility.
-If that were the case, you wouldn't be going to college.
Q: I frequently perform sloppy work.
Q: I am impulsive.
Q: I have difficulty staying committed to long-term goals.
-Bound and determined.
Q: I was a problem child.
Q: I am promiscuous.
Q: I am impatient.
Q: I often get others to pay for things for me.
Q: I rarely connect emotionally with others.
Q: I am an emotional person.
Q: I rarely feel guilty.
Q: I cheat people out of things.
Q: I lie to make things go smoother.
Q: I am prone to boredom.
Q: In important ways, I am superior to most people.
Q: I never get tongue tied.
Favorite Music (Hard Rock): Growing up, Mike's father always blasted this inane country music around the house. Mike always hated it, and drowned it out by blasting hard rock. His father screamed at him to turn it off...so he turned it up until the sound could practically shatter glass. Then he locked the door to his room and pretended he couldn't hear his father's raging and threats of violence. Mike always had to come out eventually, and that's when he got beaten into the ground for his "disrespect." Why did he still do it? Because Mike LIKED hard rock; it helped him channel the aggression without hurting anybody like his dad did. Because ruining that bastard's afternoon was worth any beating. Because he'd die before he gave in.
The Infamous Ex-Girlfriend (Ashley): Mike first talked to Ashley when he saw her working out nearly every day at the gym he went to. Maybe he was just stereotyping, but he expected most girls to just casually go on the treadmill once a week, just to keep their figure, but Ashley was honestly dedicated to keeping fit. And God, she was beautiful...and popular, and had dates every weekend with both guys and girls. Mike thought he didn't stand a chance, and was too shy to do more than stare at her and drool...until one day Ashley actually walked right up to him, said she'd noticed him staring like a lost puppy, and asked HIM out. The confidence of it...it was incredible.
The pair got along famously, talking about fitness and their love of all things outdoors. Ashley wasn't exactly known for her love of commitment, but Mike eventually convinced her to make an exception and be his girlfriend. Their weekend camping trips, playing volleyball, working out together...they were some of the happiest times of Mike's life. And Ashley was an honestly nice girl, and he could talk to her about his problems at home without fear...though Mike often had to talk HER down when she got in these adorable fits of righteous anger at how he was treated. They dated for 2 years, and she was his haven from everything that was wrong in his life.
Which is why Mike was stunned, and completely devastated, when Ashley dumped his sorry ass, VIA TEXT, for someone she had just MET! How could she do that?! Didn't she care about him at all? Didn't what they had mean anything?!
April (52%; Will Put You In Your Place): April had to be THE most condescending, stuck-up brat Mike had ever met in his ENTIRE LIFE. Calling him a "mortal" as if she was something divine was bad enough, but when she insulted David for a joke that was actually pretty funny, Mike told the little punk exactly what he thought of her. When April was not only not sorry, but turned her brattiness up to the max in her reply, Mike completely lost it and told the kid to go screw herself. And he didn't regret it, either! Whether she was 11 or 111, the girl was an insufferable brat and totally deserved what she got.
As much as he wanted to talk to Sonya, Mike had to bow out of the particle theory conversation before he PUNCHED this pint-sized little witch.
Interview: When April said they'd be playing 2 Truths and a Lie, Mike's first question was...um, how exactly do you play? Mike had never been the popular type due to his threatening appearance and reputation for violence, so he had never actually played before. After asking, Mike realized the name was self-explanatory, but how would he have known? He didn't want to miss something or screw something up. So seriously, April could just get over herself and stop being so stuck-up about EVERYTHING.
April asked whether he would escape. Mike rarely ever bothered to lie, but he thought honesty (HELL YES) might NOT be the best policy right now. So he said he wouldn't, unable to hold in a little smirk as he said it. Ugh, he had no clue how to do this lying thing at all...April seemed to realize he was lying in a second. Damn.
When April said "play by the rules or else," Mike had to ask...or else what? It wasn't even what April said ("consequences"), but how she said it it that chilled Mike to the bone. That little brat's voice hadn't strayed from a monotone since he'd known her...until now, when it actually sounded excited. Like her only joy in life was inflicting pain...and she really, really wanted to hurt him. Friggin' little psychopath.
When asked who would betray the merry gang of murderers, Mike jumped at the chance to throw Jack under the bus. Bastard deserved it, and he sincerely hoped he would suffer for what he did to Sam, and to probably dozens of others. He couldn't bring Sam back to life, but at least he would bring her the justice she deserved. He would do that if he had to die trying.
For his final question, Mike asked how many people April had killed. He was a little afraid of the answer, but he had to know whether he had misinterpreted that (admittedly brief) grin and April was just a little girl and as much of a victim as he was (and if so, stuck-up brat or not, Mike would do whatever he could to save her from this hellhole), or if she really was a monster. Her answer...she personally had murdered 72 FREAKING PEOPLE without a shred of remorse, considering most of them "collateral damage." God...who WERE these people, that they could get away with this?
Then after THAT, she asked, after this huge buildup of how important this was...if he had sex with her sister. Mike actually wasn't sure if he had heard correctly...why would a psychopathic serial killer care about her sister's sex life? I mean, was she even capable of caring about people at all? Probably just wanted to control Sonya and keep her from finding any shred of happiness or freedom. Well, as it happened, Mike HADN'T had sex with her. But now he almost wanted to just to spite this little bitch.
Jack (61%; More Tolerable Than Most People): Jack began their first conversation by flipping him off...but Mike, having given the finger enough times out of casual annoyance (like he had to the entire college campus only moments ago), decided to let it go...and even complimented him on his sick tattoos, which really did look awesome. Jack seemed to appreciate it, even if he was in an antisocial mood.
Talking to him after lunch, Jack told him he had a migraine from drinking too much. Yeah, Mike had been there a few times. And then Jack mentioned that he was an MMA fighter. The thing was...even though most people would think it was insanely cool, beating people up for the sheer joy of it wasn't really Mike's thing (not that anyone would believe that). I mean, he didn't take crap from people, and he had been in more than his share of fistfights...but it's not like he enjoyed it. Not like his father, who Mike swore enjoyed the power it gave him to make him...a child, half his size...cower in fear of him.
Mike talked about his father a little, only meaning to say that he was strict and had impossibly high standards...but then Jack said that he never knew his father. Mike almost let out a bitter laugh as he said that Jack was probably luckier for it...Mike wished he didn't know his dad. And when Jack made that comment about who you end up with as family, Mike sort of accidentally admitted what happened back then.
At least Jack seemed to get that he didn't want to, and wasn't even sure he could, talk about it anymore, and changed the subject. He was a good guy, and he knew when to drop it (unlike some people in this van). Mike ended the conversation sure he had made a real friend.
At Camp: Mike was wrong about that. Mike was VERY wrong.
Jack murdered Sam right in front of him, made him watch helplessly as she choked in her own blood. And then, THEN he had the gall to suggest that Mike was thinking "Better her than me." That wasn't what he was thinking at all. If he could have, he would have died in her place...but the sick bastard never gave him that option!
And then when he implied that Sam somehow deserved this, that she wasn't a good person...Mike couldn't listen anymore to this psycho's self-justifying bullshit. He took a flying leap at him...unfortunately, Jack, being a professional MMA fighter and all, proved himself to be one of the few people Mike had met that could actually beat him in a fight! Mike had no choice but to bolt.
Interview: After spending the night being choked with a wet sock, Mike couldn't stop himself from thanking the person who removed it. And he was just too hungry to turn down food. But after eating and drinking and regaining his lost mental faculties, Mike's thoughts turned once again to what Jack had done to the girl he was falling in love with.
When Mike asked "Why did you kill Sam J? Why?!" he meant to scream it in Jack's face, but then his voice broke and he realized he was actually sobbing. Jack tried to give some lame apology, and then he tried to say he actually understood! Well, there were only two options, weren't there? Either Jack was lying, or he was even more of a twisted, sick bastard than Mike had thought. Because if Jack did actually know what this felt like...how could he still go and inflict that kind of pain on someone else?
Oh, and about listening to Jack's story...he may have been forced to watch as Sam J died...but nothing, NOTHING anyone could say or do could force Mike to listen to a sob story from the man who murdered her.
McCready (72%; Stern and Protective Father): Mr. McCready seemed like the stern, protective type, so Mike figured the best way to get on his good side was to be respectful and call him "sir" at all times. And of course show some appreciation about being invited on the trip and offer to chip in.
And it seemed to have paid off-Mr. McCready offered to pay for his lunch! Score!
At Camp: It was only after Mike was tied up that he realized what kind of man McCready really was. After Mike told Sean to go screw himself, McCready...he just started beating him, knocking the chair down and choking him until he literally COULD. NOT. BREATHE. And that impassive, expressionless face of his...Mike thought he was going to die until the bastard finally let him go.
He'd been choked by his dad before, way too many times to count...but this was different, not only because McCready was a lot better at it...but because when Mike left for college, he convinced himself he'd never let ANYONE hurt him again. And when McCready called himself Mike's "new father"...not many things scared Mike, but that terrified him to his core.
Interview: It took EVERY. OUNCE. of Mike's willpower to kowtow and call McCready "sir" when he had JUST slapped him across the face with a Bible. But if he wanted to survive, if he wanted to avenge Sam J and all the others whose names he'd never know and even that asshole David, he had to avoid getting himself killed.
When McCready asked him if he'd thought about joining the military, Mike answered honestly that he was thinking about joining after college. Psychology was just something he picked because he had to pick SOMETHING, and...and...Mike knew his dad was the way he was because he was bi-polar. Mike also knew that he was probably the same. He thought if he could learn about that, he could fight it. But it didn't help, and Mike knew that with his temperament he'd make a lousy therapist. And he just didn't have the crazy smarts to be a researcher or something. So Mike thought he should just finish college and then try to do something he was good at. EVERYONE thought he was prime military material already, and protecting his country didn't sound bad.
The next question...McCready must have thought he was an idiot, and an idiotic LUNATIC at that. Was he HUMAN? Uh, yeah, no kidding.
But when McCready started saying some BS about him being possessed by a demon and being sloth, Mike was fed up. He wanted some kind of explanation, even if it was a totally insane one, and he wanted it NOW! And Mike had dealt with his father for 18 years, so no intimidation tactic crap from McCready would deter him from demanding the answers he deserved.
Well, Mike had certainly guessed right about the insane part. McCready had twisted Christianity to justify his urge to kill. The demon made him do it? Come on man, at least come up with an ORIGINAL excuse! When that sicko actually wanted him to pray with him, Mike begged for God to spare him from THAT. Sure, Mike believed in God, and had and would pray for salvation on his own terms, but praying with this psycho? It would be like praying with a member of Al Qaeda!
Sean (32%; Unsettling): Mike barely noticed Sean's presence in the car ride, except when he asked for snacks. And the jerky was delicious...whoever made it was definitely his new best friend.
Right after he finished eating his sister Grace called and asked him to teach her to drive Dad's truck...but after he hung up it was strange. Everyone but David and Sam seemed to have stopped talking, and Sonya and April in particular were just silently staring at him. It was almost kind of creepy.
Their only noteworthy interaction was Sean giving him what he was SURE was a dirty look when he ordered the prime rib.
At Camp: Mike wasn't in the mood to listen to any of Sean's pretentious philosophical justifications. If they were going to kill him, he wasn't going down without at least a verbal fight! When Sean told him to calm down, he shouted him down. When asked what his religion was, Mike told Sean to go screw himself.
After just getting beaten by McCready for resisting Sean the first time, headbutting Sean may seem, to some, like an incredibly stupid decision. But after what McCready did when HE got close, blind instinct made Mike do everything he could to get Sean AWAY.
Interview: Mike had almost started to calm down a little...but then Sean had the gall to ask how he felt, as if he actually cared. It was incredibly satisfying to tell that prick EXACTLY how he felt...which is that he wanted Sean to go screw himself. None of Sean's philosophical BS would excuse what he'd done.
Sonya (52%; Sexy): Sonya was freaking gorgeous...too bad Mike had no idea how to even talk to a girl like that, let alone flirt! Like when she was teasing him about checking himself out, Mike actually told Sonya to knock it off! Christ...what was wrong with him?
After barely restraining himself from killing her sister, Mike joked with Sonya a little and dodged some playful punches from her. And finally, FINALLY...Mike made his move and put his arm around her.
But that conversation they had right before they got to camp, that started with Mike complaining about April and then got into Sonya's dream to change people and how everyone takes something for granted...if April didn't think her sister was smart, she was the idiot. Sonya was way more than just beautiful, she was also incredibly bright, in a down to earth rather than a stuck-up way. And that just made her more beautiful.
At Camp: After losing Jack by swimming across the lake, Mike almost ran into Sonya. He immediately took her hand and started pulling her along...he couldn't save Sam, but maybe he could at least save Sonya. Then she turned him over to be killed.
Interview: When Mike saw Sonya, he was all ready to call her out. But she seemed to have done that herself already, calling herself a bitch and saying how miserable she was. Rubbing it in would just make Mike feel like an asshole...so he actually tried to reassure Sonya that she had good points too...she was funny, she was obviously drop-dead gorgeous, she could be nice when she wanted to be. If she wanted to be, Sonya could be a good person. She was obviously capable of remorse. But when she actually pointed out herself that what made her so awful was that she did horrible things regardless, Mike was at a loss for words. What could he say to THAT? It was the truth.
Mike was still reeling when Sonya bluntly told him she had screwed Ashley. The shock and fury combined made him at a loss for words, and all he could do was scream "WHAT?!" Sonya answered his rhetorical question by describing, in explicit (and disgusting) detail what she did, and how she had been screwing Ashley at least twice a WEEK just to keep her from ever wanting to get back together with him.
And then Sonya actually had the NERVE to ask him to FORGIVE her...forgive her because they were FAMILY. Hah. She'd fit right in with his actual family-his abusive asshole of a father and narcissistic bitch mother. Family by blood or not, Mike owed them nothing. And Sonya didn't even share any blood with him! So yeah-he owed her NOTHING...nothing but an entirely deserved attempt at some measure of revenge. If there was any way, any way at all, Mike vowed he would make this bitch PAY. He couldn't even look at her too-perfect face a second longer. He screamed at her to leave.
Sam J: Mike couldn't be more thrilled that Sam J was coming, since he had been secretly crushing on her for the entire semester. She was tough, with that leather jacket and the motorcycle, but also just always happy and smiling...and her smile was beautiful.
Mike promised to try to fix her crotch rocket when they got back...and maybe he'd finally get the guts to ask her to go see the latest Transformers flick. (Sure, he'd heard the acting and storyline were terrible, but who cared when the explosions practically registered on the Richter scale!)
On the ride to camp, Mike found out Sam was into D&D...and while it wasn't his thing, he would never make fun of her for it. It made her happy, and who cared what anybody else thought? Sam returned the non-judgment when that busybody David just WOULD NOT let up about why he chose his major, even when Mike told him that it was personal (aka none of his freaking business). Mike was so pissed at this bastard's insensitivity that he was gripping the seat like a boa constrictor. By focusing on his burning desire to strangle this a-hole he could-almost-avoid the memories threatening to rush back and overwhelm him.
But Sam J...her kindness and understanding nature almost made him feel calm again. When he said he'd tell David the story sometime, Mike was lying...he'd never tell that bastard anything...but someday, maybe someday soon, he would tell Sam.
At camp, it was a no-brainer to bunk with Sam. He hoped they could get to know each other better and maybe take things out of the friend-zone...but he definitely didn't expect Sam to just ask if he wanted to have sex, right then and there! It was kind of fast...but she was beautiful, and he cared about her, and he wanted her, and he wanted this.
Mike hoped Sam didn't notice, but it was actually his first time. Yeah, embarrassing for a guy, and he would DIE if anybody actually found out...but it was. Even after 2 years of Ashley constantly pushing for it, it just didn't feel...right. And now, Mike was glad he had waited, glad that his first time was with Sam. Because though he still missed what he had with Ashley...this felt like the beginning of something a lot better.
Mike was imagining how he would tell Sam he was falling in love with her, and it looked like she might be feeling the same thing. Then Jack stabbed her in the neck. She looked at him once, right before she died...this shocked and terrified and helpless look...it would haunt Mike for the rest of his life.