Sorry this is late, I've been out sick for a few days but I'm back now. I haven't done an episode summary on this chapter because we cover everything in this chapter. This was a wonderful episode because we got so much information AND, something fantastic happens to Mick! I hope you will enjoy this one. Next week will be another 'in-between' episodes chapter to help fill in some blanks and move the story in the direction I want it to go. Thank you all so much for reading, I appreciate each and everyone of you.
Chapter 27 The Mortal Cure
January 13, 2008
It’s been 4 days since Josh died and I still feel as if I am swimming underwater, trying to find somewhere, anywhere to surface for air. Whether I’m awake or asleep, my thoughts are constantly on Josh and how I feel I let him down. He deserved so much better than he got in the end and I was a part of all of that. If I had been honest with him before all this, about my feelings for him (and Mick) maybe he wouldn’t have gone into the Tejada case quite the same way.
That last night that we had sex – I feel so much regret about it. I should not have done it and yet, in the end I think it helped when he died because he felt loved. He was loved, just not in the way he wanted. Those two loves are a mile apart in one way and yet only a breath away from one another when all is said and done. He died not knowing my true feelings, which helped him but now I will forever carry that guilt with me, knowing that I deceived him.
Still, when one of his co-workers brought a box of his personal items from his office to me it was really hard to look at and when I found a date in his planner with ‘Celeste’ anger over-rode every other emotion that I felt. How could I feel anger, jealousy over a date in a book? Even when I met her at the restaurant and found out that she was a jeweler Josh had hired to reset his grandmother’s stone I felt this irrational urge to be angry. He was going to propose to me which at once thrilled me and broke my heart. What would I have answered? That’s a question I can’t answer, at least not now.
Josh’s parents came down from Vancouver to help go through his apartment and make the funeral arrangements. My mother and Clark met them for the first time and I could tell that my mom was really uncomfortable with it all since she knows how conflicted my feelings were. Thank goodness Lani was here; she just has this ability to put everyone at ease and seemed to make everyone relax, as much as possible. She is a charmer and her magic came in very handy the past few days.
I think I am going to give the ring back to his parents; no, I know that I HAVE to because it’s a family stone and it doesn’t belong to me. Right now I’m more afraid of how that will affect them so I will wait until after the funeral. Whether I would have married him or not isn’t the point; I didn’t love him in the right way and I can’t keep it. Hopefully they will give it to his younger brother, who lives in England right now, attending school. He won’t be here until tomorrow which is why we haven’t had the funeral yet; it will be the day after tomorrow and I am ashamed to say I am ready for it to be over with.
I haven’t talked to Mick since that night in my bedroom. I love him but right now I feel betrayed by him and I don’t want to see him. God, I never thought I would ever say that but I need some space and time to sort through everything and get my head straight. I hope that he will be there in time, when I’m ready to talk.
Still, I wonder. Did he mean it when he said he would have done the same thing if it were me? It that’s true, maybe we don’t have a future. All I know for sure is that that hurt as much as Josh dying did.
4 Days Earlier…
Beth watched as Mick silently slipped out of the balcony door of her bedroom; he didn’t realize he was carrying what was left of her heart with him. His words had stunned her; they were a final slap to the face in a day that had been one slap after another.
“What if it had been me lying there? Would you have saved me?”
“I would have done the same thing.”
Those words had almost destroyed her and she stood up and slammed the balcony door shut, shattering several panes of glass in the process. She watched as the broken shards of glass fell to the carpet, almost like tears, glittering in the dim light. Beth sank to the floor and hugged her knees tightly to her chest, laying her tear-stained cheek against her knees. Wrenching sobs shook her body as she gulped air in; trying to control the anguish she was immersed in.
The apartment was quiet around her and Beth was aware of her heart beating frantically as she cried; and yet who was she crying for her head screamed. Was it Josh, or Mick or for herself? The silence provided no answers as she spiraled downward, only seeking a refuge from the pain.
Lani came into the room when she heard the balcony door slam closed. She stood for a moment and watched her best friend sitting on the floor and she felt so helpless; she didn’t know what to do to help. So she did the only thing she could; she went to Beth and sat down next to and hugged her close and then they cried together, each girl seemingly sharing one breath, one thought, one heartache. Lani rocked Beth in her arms like one does a small child and when Dorothy and Clark arrived a few minutes later that was what they found; Lani and Beth wrapped in each other’s arms, clinging tightly, lost in their excruciating anguish.
Mick jumped down from the balcony and watched through the shadowy curtain as Beth slammed the door shut, breaking several of the window panes. His immediate reaction was to just back up there but he forced himself to stay on the ground. He sat down between two small bushes and hung his head as he listened to her cry. It wrenched his heart to be an uninvited party to her sorrow; he wanted to pull her into his arms and make her feel safe and happy. He heard her take deep gulps of air as she sobbed and the knife twisted a bit more in his undead heart.
Mick was stunned; why hadn’t he told Beth the truth? Why had he said that he would have done the same thing? He didn’t know that – he didn’t. He didn’t ever want to have to think about turning her; he was afraid that if it ever came to that he wouldn’t be able to do it. Or maybe he was afraid he would.
Wouldn’t you want that? To have her with you always?
He closed his eyes for a moment and tried to push it all away; the pain, the love. He heard her heart beating frantically and then someone was with her; Lani, her friend. He leaned back against the building, blending into the shadows a bit more and leaned his head against the siding and let his own tears flow. Had he lost her for good? He didn’t know.
A few minutes later he heard a car pull up out front and recognized Dorothy’s anxious voice as they headed up the walk. Mick debated whether or not to try and talk to them and decided not to; it was for the best. Let Beth be comforted by her family he thought as he made his way to the Benz, parked farther down the road. He sat in the car for a moment trying to decide what to do before he realized that there was only one thing he could do. He started the car and headed to Josef’s house.
Between Dorothy and Lani they finally got Beth into bed. She lay there, pale and curled up like a small child as Dorothy tucked in the covers around her and leaned down to kiss her forehead. Dorothy ran gentle fingers through a few strands of Beth’s silken hair that was damp from all the tears and smoothed it away from her face. When she saw Beth’s haunted blue eyes staring at her she whispered, “I love you Beth.”
Beth swallowed hard and bit her lower lip, trying to stifle more tears. She was worn out, weary in a way she had never experienced before. “I love you too Mama. Thank you for being here,” she mumbled.
“Sleep Bethy; I can’t lie and tell you it will all be better tomorrow, but it will be a little easier, I promise.”
Beth sighed and closed her eyes, wanting to shut the world out. Dorothy stared for a moment and then silently moved away. But the time she got to the door she realized that Beth was already asleep. She pulled the door closed and went out to the living room where Lani and Clark were talking quietly.
Dorothy poured herself a cup of coffee and sat down on the couch next to Clark. He put his arm around her and she leaned against him, grateful for his support. For a moment she closed her eyes and let out a huge sigh as the events of this evening washed over her.
“I’m going to stay here with her tonight,” she said and both Lani and Clark nodded.
“I’m staying to,” Lani said. “I’ll sleep on the couch if you want to sleep with Beth. It might be better if she wasn’t in there alone,” Lani said, looking at the bedroom door.
“I’m sure you’re right. Tomorrow I think we should try to convince her to come and stay with us, or your place. She doesn’t need to be here where all these memories were staring her in the face.”
Lani and Clark nodded and all three of them were startled by a soft knock on the door. “Who could that be?” Dorothy asked.
Clark got up to answer it and wasn’t really surprised to see Carl standing there, looking very upset.
“Carl, come in,” he said, reaching out his hand to shake the other mans.
“Hi, everyone. Am I intruding?” he asked, glancing around the room.
“No, not at all. But Beth is in bed if you wanted to talk to her.” Dorothy said. She stood up and hugged Carl for a moment, noting the surprised look on the handsome young man’s face. “Please Carl, have a seat. Would you like some coffee?”
He nodded wearily and sat down in the chair next to Lani. He seemed to melt into the chair and exhaustion rolled off of him. “How is she?” he asked.
“Worn out, over-whelmed, as you might expect. When we finally got her into bed a little bit ago she was asleep almost immediately.” Dorothy sat back down on the couch and smiled at Carl; he looked good. A little older perhaps and definitely stressed, but it was good to see him.
“What can you tell us Carl?” Clark asked, deciding to ask the question that they all wanted answers to.
Carl told them the tale of what had happened the past couple of days; he told of Beth and Mick chasing Bustos and Huerta, of the fight for Josh’s life at the park. “It was amazing how Mick tried to save him; really extraordinary the paramedics said. Apparently Mick had some combat medic training in the war or something. Hell, I didn’t even know that Mick had been in the Military.”
“Um, I think he doesn’t like to talk about it much,” Clark said, watching Carl carefully.
“Yeah, well then he came to the station and asked to talk to Bustos, alone and I let him. He got a name out of Bustos, a place where Tejada hangs out supposedly. When Mick left Bustos was a trembling, freaked out mess. He kept mumbling something about ‘El Diablo’.”
Clark’s attention immediately picked up and he focused on Carl. He wasn’t surprised to see Carl’s eyes question his own. “The strange thing was, when we got to the bar Mick told us about, they never heard of Tejada, at least that they were admitting anyway. Then we get this call about another bar that had been torn apart and then torched. Not sure what to make of that. Any ideas?”
“Us? No, this is the first I’ve heard about that Carl. Why would you ask?” Clark said, trying to figure out what, if anything Carl knew.
Carl finished his coffee and sat the empty cup on the coffee table in front of him. “Well, I will check on Beth tomorrow.” He stood up and headed for the door. “Oh, have any of you seen Mick tonight?” He watched each face carefully, looking for any flicker of emotion. Instead all he got were blank looks of surprise.
So, they haven’t seen him. Good…
For a couple of days Mick worried about Beth; as Josef put it he ‘was jumpier than a one-eyed rabbit in a cage full of lions’. He fought the urge a dozen times a day of going to see Beth but each time he managed to talk himself out of it. One evening as he came home he realized he had company and while he didn’t recognize the scent he could tell that they were vamps, very old vamps judging by the scent of them to boot.
He approached the apartment cautiously and headed up to the roof, where he could tell they were waiting. When he found them he realized his preliminary guess was right; they were very old vamps; two of them, one tall and self-assured and the other short and quiet. The tall one was memorable though; he had one pure black eye, like the eye itself had been plucked out and replaced by onyx. It was eerie and unnerving he decided. Worse, they were looking for Coraline and even had a copy of the original marriage certificate from their wedding in 1952.
He didn’t know what they wanted with her but he damn sure wasn’t going to tell them anything, even if he had something to tell which he didn’t. The last he had seen of her she had been in the hospital and then she had disappeared without a trace.
They leapt over the balustrade and Mick watched as they made their way down the building, finally disappearing in the inky shadows of the street below. But it got him thinking about Coraline and he decided to do some investigating.
First stop was Josef and he asked about the two medieval vamps that had paid him a visit. Josef’s reaction was startling to see at the mention of the black-eyed vamp.
“Lance,” he said, a disconcerted look on his face. “You stay away from him Mick,” he had warned. “He’s old and makes me look like a pauper. He never leaves Europe and whatever he wants with Coraline, you stay out of it.”
Words which only made Mick more curious. He was convinced that Josef knew more than he was saying, but he let it go and decided he needed to figure out where Coraline went when she left the hospital, which meant starting with the hospital.
After a little green was exchanged with the security at the hospital Mick saw the tapes of the hallway where Coraline’s room had been. What he discovered shocked the guard but Mick almost laughed because it should have been predictable. Cynthia Davis, one of Coraline’s oldest friends had smuggled her out of the hospital.
Mick and Cynthia didn’t like each other; she had been at their wedding, casting hateful eyes at him but he was so in love and excited he failed to pay her much attention. After Mick was turned Cynthia took every opportunity to point out how rotten a vamp Mick was. In some ways he didn’t care because it was true; as much as she loathed Mick he was surprised that she hadn’t gotten rid of him before the wedding. Whether she was in love with Coraline or not, Mick didn’t really know. There had been rumors, but by the time Mick understood everything it was too late; he had been turned and life would never be the same again.
1952 Josef’s mansion…
Mick stared at himself in the mirror; the two weeks he had been at Josef’s had made a huge difference in his outlook and appearance. He was feeding and while he hated that he had learned that he didn’t have to kill to survive. Josef had taught him about his enhanced senses and abilities and Mick finally begin to feel more at home in his new body. Not that he would ever have chosen this; not for anything but this was what life was and if he were to survive he had to play the cards that he held.
He walked downstairs to find Josef in the study, getting ready for dinner. Her name was Heidi and she was a beautiful blonde; a student at UCLA who would be a doctor in a few years. She and Josef both smiled as Mick walked into the room and settled down in a leather chair. He sank into the pliant leather and sighed before crossing his legs and smiling at the pair.
“Just in time for dinner I see,” Josef mocked. Since Mick had been there he had come to appreciate having someone else around for company and to share meals with. He wouldn’t admit it but he was lonely and Mick was easy to be with. “Who would you like?” he asked, his eyes sparkling in the flickering shadows cast by the fireplace. There was no need for the fireplace in LA but to Josef it reminded him of other times and he was reluctant to let them all go so every now and again he lit the fire and enjoyed the glow it cast in the large room.
“I think I would enjoy Marilyn this evening, if she is available and agreeable,” he answered. Franklin, Josef’s butler handed him a glass of scotch and then went to summon the young lady in question without speaking a word.
A few minutes later Marilyn appeared, fresh-faced and beautiful. She liked Mick and was always happy to feed him. He was gentle and caring of her and when he looked at her with those beautiful long-lashed hazel eyes she knew that she would do anything he wanted – anything at all.
When they were done feeding Mick and Josef left the girls to recuperate and headed to the billiards room for a game or two. Mick never managed to beat Josef, but he enjoyed their games and the conversation that they shared while they played. Tonight was going to be different though and he wasn’t sure how Josef was going to take it.
After Josef racked the balls Mick took the first shot, a beautiful break that scattered the balls and sent two into corner pockets. As he took aim for his next shot he said, “Josef, I’ve decided to go back to Coraline.”
Josef’s eyebrows raised a fraction of an inch and then he was suddenly busy chalking the end of his cue. His mind digested the information for a moment as he thought of a response. He had really enjoyed Mick being here and hated to see him go back to Coraline but he knew all along that this day would come. “When are you going?”
“I, uh, thought tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow,” Mick said with a nod of his head. “I have to find out if there is really anything between us or if it was all some sort of fantasy.”
“Um hm, um hmm,” Josef muttered, taking his first shot. He drew back the cue and hit the cue ball much harder then he intended and watched as it flew off the table and hit a lamp on the other side of the room. “Dammit,” he exclaimed, heading over to see if he had damaged anything else.
Mick had never seen Josef lose control like this. He was really upset and that bothered him. He was more than grateful to Josef for everything he had learned; Josef had shared his girls and his knowledge freely and Mick knew that he would never have a better friend. It had been two weeks since he had been here and he knew that he had to go back and face his marriage and the woman that he had fallen in love with. He blocked out the rest of that sentence, ‘and then hated when she turned him’. Did he love her or hate her? He needed to find out.
He and Josef never said another word about it that night; they had finished their game and played two more. The next day Coraline showed up to pick him up, obviously due to Josef calling her.
Back at Coraline’s house things were very tense between them; both of them had things to say and both were reluctant to say them. Only Cynthia, ever present, made comments and conversation. Most of it ridiculing Mick; he only drank his fill of blood and refused to finish off the victim, she or Coraline had to do it. He was so civilized now, so Josef. It disgusted her.
Mick took it all, for now he decided until he figured out if he was going to stay. She hung all over Coraline when she could, whispering in her ear, casting mysterious smiles her way. It was disgusting to Mick and finally one day he’d had enough.
“Coraline, either she goes or I do. I mean it. I’ve had enough of her taunting and interference in our lives. Make your decision,” he demanded, staring Cynthia down.
Her eyes flashed with a hatred that was brighter than a star going nova. The corners of her mouth turned up as she tilted her head to the side just a bit but she was full of confidence because she knew that Coraline would never send her away.
Until it happened.
Mick knew he had made an enemy for sure.
Coraline was back and she was a vampire again Mick realized as he watched her in a laboratory below him. Logan had tracked Cynthia down and while she didn’t provide any information Logan did get the address of a warehouse where Cynthia was shipping a large amount of French herbs. Mick knew it had something to do with a cure
Mick watched the scene below and blinked in surprise when Lance showed up and killed the lab tech and tried to take Coraline away. Mick swung into action, taking on Lance and watched in surprise when Lances’ arm caught on fire and then instantly healed itself. Vampires can’t do that!
Coraline grabbed a small silver-colored box and disappeared with Lance quickly following her. Mick stared at the dead vamp on the floor and decided to call the cleaners. He was more than pissed when Kelly and her crew showed up.
Josef had spoken with Katrina, the head cleaner about Kelly and had been promised that Kelly would behave. She was very polite to Mick at the warehouse, amazingly so. It was sort of spooky he decided and when he left she called out to him. “You know Mick, there doesn’t have to be a cleanup for you to call me.”
He only looked at her in surprise and left quickly. She disgusted him.
When he got back to his loft there was another visitor waiting to see him and this time he did recognize the scent. It struck fear into his heart but also lifted his spirits. Beth stepped out of the shadows as he walked towards his door. He had never been so happy to see someone in his whole life.
They caught up for a few minutes, sitting on the couch as Beth talked a bit about Josh. He was just starting to feel comfortable with her, understanding that there might be hope for them in the future when there was a knock on the door. Another scent he recognized and he would much rather not have this happen now but he needed answers. He sent an apologetic look at Beth and reluctantly answered the door to admit Coraline.
She hugged him tightly and Mick stood there, letting her but not really hugging her in return. Beth could only stare at them and made her way to the door. Coraline watched her, clearly not disappointed that she was going. When she had gone Mick went into the living room where Coraline was seated. The things she told him astounded him.
A cure; there was a cure but it was only a mortal cure, lasting only for awhile. It was developed during the French revolution, which was in part a vampire purge. People learned of the existence of vampires and also learned that you couldn’t hang them because they didn’t die. They would take a possible vampires hand and put it into a flame; if it blistered it was a human, if it turned to ash the person was staked and then beheaded.
The aristocracy developed the cure from French botanicals to save themselves. You placed a bit of the substance it in a small cut and it spread through your system, making you temporarily human. Coraline explained all of this to Mick and then agreed to give him a bit. She wanted him to go away with her because Lance was looking for her but Mick refused. She told him Lance was a part of a very powerful royal family, seven brothers who had been turned by a cousin of Louis the XVI.
As Coraline put the substance into the cut on his arm he felt warmth spread through his body, radiating from the cut. It was like a miracle to him; he was sad it wouldn’t last forever but it was something. Coraline watched him, seeming satisfied somehow.
Mick walked her out and suddenly Lance and the other vampire were on them, attacking. Mick immediately accused Coraline of giving the cure to get him killed but Lance only laughed at that and told him that he could have killed him when he was a vampire.
The fight was brutal and when Lance had Mick pinned to the ground, ready to stake him Coraline called out that she would go with him and give him the rest of the cure if he would spare Mick. Lance went to her and held the stake against her heart.
“You know what he’ll do to me if you take me to him,” she said, her eyes focused on Mick.
“You made your choice sister when you chose to bring this ungrateful mortal into the family without our consent and stole the cure.”
Sister? She’s his sister? Seven siblings, six brothers and one sister.
The thought reverberated through Mick’s stunned mind. It made so much sense. He watched as Lance stabbed the stake through her heart and she went limp. In a matter of moments all three were gone, leaving Mick alone on the pavement, battered and bruised. He slowly made his way back to the loft and while the pain was horrible, for the first time in over fifty years he was hurt and hungry, and not for blood. It felt incredibly good.
Lani, Clark and Dorothy stood to the side and waited for the service for Josh to begin. Beth was better today they each thought as she chatted with members of Josh’s family and other friends and co-workers of Josh’s. Suddenly all three of them noticed Mick limping across the cemetery to stand in front of Beth.
Lani watched in fascination; he was bruised, with cuts and abrasions all over his face. AND, he was out in the sunlight and not hiding his face.
“What the hell? He’s not a vampire anymore?” She heard a ragged intake of breath as Dorothy and Carl stared at her. She had spoken the words out loud. She inwardly groaned and wondered what she had done and how to make it go away.
To be continued…