After several hours, it was beginning to get late and Barnabas was getting his coat and preparing to leave. Elizabeth and David walked him to the door.
"Please come back again tomorrow night, Barnabas", Elizabeth said.
"I most defintely will, Elizabeth", Barnabas said, as he reached over and kissed his cousin on the cheek.
"Tomorrow then", Elizabeth said. "And Barnabas, welcome home!"
With that, Elizabeth turned and walked from the great hallway towards her rooms to retire for the evening.
"And thank you, David, for your hospitality", Barnabas said.
"Not a problem", said David. "I'm glad you're back Barnabas. I know what you've become and why, but please know, you're family. You're a Collins. And you're always welcome at Collinwood."
"Thank you", said Barnabas.
David continued, "I hope the kids didn't wear you out. They were so excited to meet you after all the years and so many stories".
"And I had a great time meeting them as well", said Barnabas. "And your lovely wife, Lisa, as well."
"Yeah", sighed David. "She's an amazing woman. She used to be a professional wrestler, you know?"
Barnabas arched an eyebrow at this. "What?"
"My word!", David laughed. "I didn't realize it was impossible to shock you, Cousin Barnabas, but I believe I just did."
"Yes", smiled Barnabas. "I believe you did. A wrestler, you say?"
"Yes", said David. "She's not my first wife. My first wife, Angie, died a few years ago."
"I'm sorry", said Barnabas.
"Don't be", said David. "We had a great marriage and had three fantastic children. She was killed in the attack at the World Trade Center on 9/11."
"Nine eleven", questioned Barnabas? "I don't understand?"
"Oh man, I'm sorry", said David. "I keep forgetting that you haven't been able to keep up on world events.. my apologies."
"No need to apologize. I'm the one who has been.. indisposed, and I need to catch myself up on the way things are now. This world, this town... everything has changed so much"
"Not as much as you think, Cousin. You'll do fine."
"I hope so", said Barnabas. "Adjusting is never easy."
"Especially with your situation", said David.
"Indeed", agreed Barnabas.
"I hope you don't mind my asking, but just how do you plan to manage your situation?", inquired David.
"What do you mean?", replied Barnabas.
"I know the whole daylight thing is covered. You can stay at the old house and Willie can make sure you're safe. And I'll make sure that Lisa or the kids don't bother you either."
"That's much appreciated", said Barnabas.
"But what about the blood thing?" asked David.
"I appreciate your concern, but I'll manage" said Barnabas.
"You won't have to, I hope", said David. "I didn't mention this to Aunt Elizabeth, but when we learned you were coming back from Sarah, I had the old house renovated. And electricity installed in the bottom half of the house."
"Did you? I hadn't even realized....", said Barnabas.
"I made sure that the work was very efficent and discreetly done and there would be no damage done to the interior of the house. Except for electrical outlets every so often and the light switches, I doubt even you'll be able to see the changes. Modernization is great, but I made sure to preserve the magic and charm of the old house too."
"Thank you", said Barnabas. "But what does this have to do with my... need for blood?"
"Well, in the corner of the cellar is a small freezer. And you should find it stocked full with large quanities of blood from the local Red Cross office. Frozen and waiting for you. Just toss a bag in a microwave to warm it up and you should be good to go without having to stalk young maidens in the night."
"Microwave", Barnabas inquired?
"Willie will show you. He's already gone to the old house to move in and prepare things for you", said David.
"Then I suppose that I should hurry over and see what help I can give. Willie isn't a young man anymore", said Barnabas.
"Maybe not", agreed David. "But I know he's happy to have you back home with us. As are we all."
"Again, thank you David".
"Don't mention it. But for now, I guess it's time to call it a night. I have a flight to catch in the morning for a trip to Philadephia. Board meeting and all of that rubbish. So I'll have to get up early".
"I didn't realize how late it's gotten. I'd best be leaving...", said Barnabas.
"Good night then", said David. "And again Cousin Barnabas, welcome home!"
Barnabas walked outside in the cool night air. With a nod to David, who closed the door behind him, Barnabas began the short walk to the old house.
Suddenly he stopped.
"Blast", Brnabas thought to himself. "I forgot to find out about Vickie. We got so occupied with the children, Elizabeth was never able to tell me where she has gone and about her family". He turned back towards the house, but the house was now dark. "I guess it can wait until tomorrow night then." Barnabas resumed walking and headed towards the old house.
When he reached the old house, Barnabas found that Willie had indeed been a busy man and there was little left to do. So Barnabas retired to the library where he remembered the letter that Elizabeth had given him from Dr. Hoffman. As he sat in his chair fingering the letter, Willie brought him a large glass, filled with blood from the supplies that David had so thoughtfully provided for him.
"It's warm and ready for you Barnabas", Willie said. "I made sure to warm it up to the same tempature as it would be fresh."
"Thank you Willie", Barnabas said, as he took the glass from his faithful servant.
Barnabas sniffed the glass. It smelled OK, albeit a little spicy. With an almost amusing shrug, as if to say, 'here goes', Barnabas quickly drank down the thick red mixture.
And it worked. The gnawing thirst that had been eating at him most of the night, that he had been attempting to ignore, was gone.
"Was it OK, Barnabas? Did it work? Cause if it didn't, we got more...."
"It was fine, Willie. Thank you. It had a slightly odd taste though. Did you add something... spices perhaps?"
"Yeah Barnabas, I did. I've been watching these cooking shows and I thought some cinnamin might improve the flavor for you a bit."
"Very clever, Willie. And it did make it more enjoyable and bearable. Thank you."
"Anything else, Barnabas? Do you need anything?", Willie asked.
"No, Willie. I'm fine. That will be all for tonight. Go get some rest."
"OK Barnabas, I will", Willie said.
And he turned to leave, but stopped at the door.
"Barnabas?", Willie asked.
"Yes Willie?", said Barnabas.
"I'm glad your back", said Willie.
"Thank you Willie", said Barnabas. "And I'm glad to finally be... back."
"Good night Barnabas", said Willie as he walked from the room.
"Good night Willie", said Barnabas as he watched Loomis leave.
After Willie had left, Barnabas turned his attention back to the letter he held in his hands from Dr. Julia Hoffman.
Barnabas read the letter from Dr. Hoffman. It read...
If you're reading this letter, it means I didn't survive long enough to see you return. But I trust Elizabeth will make sure that you get this. Our relationship was one of ups and downs. I realize that I betrayed your trust on occasion and was unprofessional at times, but I swear to you, I only did what I did out of love and occasional jealousy.
But I realized finally, with the sacrfice that you made to save the world, to save all of us, what a fine and noble man you are. And since you gave up everything, the love of Victoria Winters, the freedom from the vampire curse, your very existence, to make things right, I realized, much as Angelique had before me, that I too, must accept things for how they are and be no less willing to make sacrifices as well.
I knew that eventually, someone would release you from the crypt where you've layed for so many years and you would once again be free to roam the earth. And one again, live under the stain of the curse of the dark shadow. So I devoted my life, my every waking moment, along with Professor Stokes, to finding a way to give you a normal life and allow to to be free.
Angelique explained to me how, if we remove the curse as we did before, the same problems will occur and it could possibly lead to the end of all existence. You are destined to forever be a vampire. But that doesn't mean that you can't still enjoy the benefits of life as a human.
I've developed a serum, that I tested repeatedly on both rats infected with a vampiric like virus, as well as on several other vampires that we were able to capture, and while you'll still need to feed on blood to stay alive, you should be able to walk and survive the light of the sun. I'll explain the technicalities and give you the formula for the serum in just a moment, but this should hopefully allow you to live and love as a normal human, or as close to it as possible. I hope that this, in some way, makes up for some of the hurt and pain I caused you during our brief time together.
Please remember me kindly, for I always loved you, Barnabas. From the day we met, as I write this, and until the day I die.
What followed was the chemical formula for Dr. Hoffman's serum as well as instructions as how to prepare the chemicals for maxium efficency. And also, instructions to go to a safety deposit box in Collins Port and claim both Dr. Hoffman's diary, as well as a sample of the serum that she had stored for Barnabas upon his return.
Barnabas finished reading the letter and felt a small smile on his face. Can it be true. Will he be able to walk in the daylight and live as a normal human being again? If Dr. Hoffman's calculations were correct, and she seemed positive that they were, it would be a dream come true. Between the blood provided by David Collins and the serum that Dr. Hoffman had produced, he would be human again. Or as close as possible.
He quickly made himself a note to have Willie go to Collins Port in the morning and claim the contents of Julia's safety deposit box with her diary and the serum.
"To be human again.. even just a little bit", Barnabas smiled. "To see the sunrise and walk in the daylight.. And to be with his family. And to see Victoria again too".
The smile left Barnabas's face. What about Victoria. Would she still care for him? She was older now and it had been close to forty years. He was immortal. She was not. What if she's married? And what of her family that she's discovered after so many years of searching.
With all of this weighing heavily on his mind, Barnabas walked across the old library and picked up a small music box that was sitting on a table. He opened the box and listened to the sounds of the music fill the room. And he stood there, lost in thought and memories until the sun was ready to rise and he was forced to retreat to the confines of his coffin for the day.
At dusk, Barnabas awoke and found Willie waiting for him in the library. Willie had borrowed the car from Collinwood and gone to retrieve the contents of Dr. Hoffman's safety-deposit box as Barnabas had instructed.
Willie had also already prepared his special "cocktail" for Barnabas to drink and quench his craving for blood.
Barnabas thought to himself how much Willie had changed. His loyalty had never been in doubt, but the years of working at the main house with the Collins family during Barnabas's absence had made Willie much more efficent and composed. He anticipated all of Barnabas's needs and had even laid out a proper suit for Barnabas to wear.
"More stylish and modern, Barnabas. Give it a try!", Willie had insisted. And Barnabas had to admit that it was comfortable and the fit was perfect. And it was definitely in the styles that he had witnessed during his visit to Collins Port a few nights earlier.
Together with Willie, Barnabas quickly went over the notes Julia had left him and prepared the serum. He was a bit hesitant at first, but had Willie inject the serum into his arm. There was a slight burning sensation at first, but that was quickly gone.
Barnabas didn't feel different, but he guessed that he'd have to wait to allow the serum to work it's magic and give it time. In the meantime, he was expected at Collinwood to continue getting reunited with his family. So after giving Willie some directions about storing the serum and a few other small tasks, Barnabas grabbed his cloak and cane and took the short walk over to the main house, Collinwood.