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12 May 2008 @ 12:35 am
Better as a Memory (One-shot)  
Title: Better as a Memory
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 3879
Pairing: Mick/Beth
Spoilers: Episode 16 promo
Disclaimer: They're CBS's toys!
Author's note: Please don't kill me when you finished this. I needed to get it out of my system. But you may need some Kleenex. And a blankie. And a pillow. You've been warned.

Mick arrived at Josef’s at seven in the evening. He had no idea what his friend wanted. Josef had been deliberately evasive on the phone. This better not be another shopping trip, Mick thought as he entered the penthouse. Josef was sitting at his new desk perusing a file when he noticed his friend.

“Mick! Where have you been?”

“This better be good, Josef. I have a date with Beth in an hour.”

“So Blondie wasn’t turned off by the lack of children thing, huh? I’m impressed. She must really like you.”

“Is this what you called me here for? Can’t you do your mocking over the phone?”

“And miss the joy of seeing your face? Never.” Josef’s eyes twinkled mischievously. “Actually, I wanted to talk to you about Beth.”

Mick’s eyes narrowed. “What about her?”

“Judging from your defensiveness, I gather you two haven’t sealed the deal yet.”

“And that’s your business because…”

Josef thought back to the night Beth came to him about that scum paparazzo, Foster. Gutsy thing for her to do, really. Josef was impressed with the ruthlessness in the petite mortal. She and Mick could be a formidable couple if Mick ever got the stones to turn her. Until then, Josef took it upon himself to nudge his friend in that direction.

“Believe me, I’d much rather worry about the state of the yen than your sex life. But you’re becoming impossible to be around, my friend. What’s the hold up?”

“I already explained this to you, Josef.”

“Are you worried about draining the poor girl?”

Mick stared at the floor. “Yes,” he said softly.

Josef’s expression softened. “I won’t lie to you, Mick. You could. But I don’t think you would. You have more self control than any vampire I’ve ever known. I admire that.”

Mick looked at Josef in surprise. “But you’ve spent so much time lecturing me about reveling in my inner vamp. What gives?”

Josef looked thoughtful. “You’ve lived here all your life. You’ve never had to pick up your entire existence and pack off for parts unknown. You’ve never been hunted like an animal. I have. More times than I care to admit. Your self awareness and control allow you to do that.”

Mick stood there, stunned. Maybe Josef was right. Maybe he could be with Beth and not hurt her. Maybe he could finally be happy. “Thanks, man. It means a lot.”

“No problem. Now why don’t we work on your technique?”

“What? You’ve got to be kidding!”

“I’m quite serious.” Josef pushed a button on his desk phone. “Could you send in Victoria please?”

“Josef, what are you doing? I can’t –“

“Whoa, Mick, calm down. It’s not what you think. When was the last time you bit a human?”

Mick’s eyes darkened. “Tejada.”

“Oh, I forgot about that one. No, I meant when was the last time you fed from a freshie?”


“OK, then. You’re grossly out of practice.”

Mick looked slightly panicked as Victoria entered the room. Like all of Josef’s girls, she was beautiful. Lithe and blonde, like Beth. “Josef, you can’t possibly expect me to do this.”

“What’s the big deal? You’re feeding from her not screwing her. Do you want to be able to have sex with Beth or not?”

“Josef, it’s not that simple.”

“Sure it is. Vampires bite during sex. You know it. I know it. Beth’s probably figured it out too. Now you can either rip out her throat and kill her or you can make it a pleasurable experience for both of you. If I recall correctly, you used to be good at the latter.”

Mick hung his head. Josef was right. He was good at it. It turned his stomach but it was the truth. If he had any hope of making it with Beth, he’d have to be good at it again. Because the idea that either of them would be satisfied with the status quo was laughable. Sooner or later, they’d end up having sex; it was simply a matter of time.

Mick took a deep breath and looked up. “Fine. But this doesn’t leave this room.”

Josef nodded. He beckoned to Victoria. The blonde sidled up to Josef; her eyes remained on Mick. Mick grew self conscious under her gaze. He wasn’t used to the smoldering glances from women other than Beth. It made him feel dirty; there was no way he’d be able to do this face to face. So he walked around behind Victoria; her breathing hitched as Mick reached for her arm.

Mick closed his eyes and inhaled. He could smell the girl’s arousal. It would make her blood sweeter. Mick felt his fangs descend as he raised her arm up to his mouth. Mick laved his tongue over Victoria’s wrist; he could practically feel the blood pumping in her veins. Mick allowed the vampire to take over as he sunk his fangs into Victoria’s wrist. Victoria let out a sensuous moan and threw her head back. Mick only took a few swallows before he pulled away. He was carefully licking the wounds when he heard a bag fall to the floor. He looked up. Beth stood framed in the doorway, a hurt and stunned expression on her face.

Mick dropped Victoria’s wrist like a hot potato. He started to say something, but Beth turned and ran before he could explain. Mick cast an angry look at Josef as he tore after her. Mick caught up with Beth just before she climbed into her car.

“Beth! Wait. That wasn’t what it looked like.”

“I don’t want to talk to you right now.” She refused to look at him.

“Beth, please. Just let me explain and then you can be angry with me if you want.”

Beth looked up at him and crossed her arms across her chest. “Fine, explain.”

Mick exhaled slowly. “OK, do you remember me telling you that sex between humans and vampires never ends well?”


“Well, the reason is that vampires have to bite in order to…”

“Climax?” Beth finished.


“I already figured that out. What does that have to do with you feeding on some skank? My blood not good enough for you?” Beth spat.

“No! Your blood is fine. More than fine. Do you remember how it felt when I bit you in the desert?”


“Did it hurt?”

“It did at first. Then I started to get light headed. You pulled away right after that.”

“That was the first time I’d fed from a live person in 22 years. In other circumstances, it shouldn’t have hurt.” 

“What do you mean ‘shouldn’t’?”

Mick sighed. “Most vampires have the ability to make their bite pleasurable. It’s why the freshies stick around for as long as they can. They crave it.”

“They crave being bitten?”


“I still don’t understand.”

“Josef called me a little while ago. He said he needed me to come over. Turns out he wanted me to practice.” When Beth still looked confused, Mick continued, “Practice biting. I haven’t given a pleasurable bite since 1985.” The “after I saved you” went unspoken.

A look of realization crossed Beth’s face. “So you were practicing so that when we…”

“Yeah.” Mick paused. “Are we OK?”

Beth searched his eyes. The rational part of her brain knew that the freshie meant nothing to Mick. He was trying to look out for her the way he always had. But seeing him with another woman still hurt. “Just give me some time, OK?”

Mick looked disappointed, but resigned. “OK. I’ll call you later.” With that, they each drove home, alone.

A week passed. Mick left several messages on Beth’s phone. She still hadn’t called him back. Looks lie you’ve finally driven her away, St. John. Nice job. He sat at his desk and attempted to work. It was no use; he couldn’t concentrate. Mick abruptly stood up and grabbed his car keys. When he opened the door, he found Beth on the other side.

“Hi, Mick.”

“Hi.” Mick stepped away from the door to let her in. “I was just on my way over to your place.”

Beth sat on the couch. “I’m sorry I didn’t call. I just needed some time to think.”

Mick sat next to her. “It’s OK. I understand.” As he looked at her, a feeling of dread settled in the pit of his stomach. He ignored it.

“I’m not quite sure where to start.” Beth took a deep breath. “When I saw you the other day, I was devastated. The idea of you doing…that, with somebody else, hurt a lot.”

Mick covered one of her hands with his own. “I never meant for you to see that, Beth. But you have to believe that I did it for you. I don’t want to hurt you.”

“I know you don’t. And I believe you. Really. I guess I don’t share very well. I get jealous easily, in case you hadn’t noticed.”

Mick smiled. “Yeah, I noticed.”

Beth looked away from him. That feeling of dread got stronger. Something was wrong. “What is it, Beth?”

Beth looked at him with tears in her eyes. “I’m not sure I can do this.”

Mick looked panicked. “Not sure you can do what?”

Beth gestured between them. “This. A relationship. I love you, Mick. I do. But we’re kidding ourselves. I don’t want to watch you watch me get old and die. I can’t stand the thought of just being another notch on your belt as you go through the centuries.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Oh, come on, Mick. Lilah, Coraline, lord knows who else. You’ll never feel the same way about me. I saw the look on your face the other day. You were in heaven. I can’t give you that.”

“Who said I want that?”

“Do you love me, Mick?”

“Yes.” Mick looked her in the eye, willing her to believe him. “I love you, Beth.”

Beth reached out and cupped his cheek. She smiled sadly, her eyes filled with tears. “Good bye, Mick.” Beth got up and headed for the door. Mick remained motionless, stunned. Beth gave him one last glance before she turned and left the apartment.

Mick didn’t remember much from the next few days. He stared into space for hours on end. He didn’t eat. He ignored the phone. He felt gutted; like someone had hollowed him out and there was nothing left but an empty shell. At one point, Mick got out his machete and stared at it. One stroke would end his torment.

Josef eventually grew worried and came by. He was shocked by what he saw. Mick’s eyes were yellow and his skin was paler than normal. When Josef asked what happened, Mick continued to stare. Josef closed his eyes and inhaled. The heartbreak and despair hung heavy in the apartment. Anger bubbled in the elder vampire’s chest. How could she do this to him?

Josef took up temporary residence in Mick’s apartment. He sat with Mick for hours. Gradually, he got Mick to eat again. It took a while, but Mick’s eyes lost their yellow cast. They continued to look haunted, however. Josef had all the weapons removed; he didn’t want Mick to be tempted again. After nearly three weeks of watching over his friend, Josef despaired of Mick ever getting better. Josef had never seen Mick that way. It was like his friend was a ghost. Then, one day, the ghost spoke. “Thank you.”

Even with his supersonic hearing, Josef almost missed it. He got up from his chair and sat next to Mick on the couch. “Did you say something, Mick?” Josef had to be sure. He’d gotten nothing but unintelligible sounds for weeks.

There was Mick’s voice, stronger this time. “Thank you.”

“Hey, I’m just glad you’re back among the land of the undead.” Mick still had that far away look in his eyes. “You are back, aren’t you?”

“Yeah.” Mick didn’t sound all that convincing.

Josef laid a hand on Mick’s shoulder. “You wanna tell me what happened?”

“I think you already know.”

Yeah, the ungrateful mortal tore out your heart and stomped on it, Josef thought but didn’t say. As much as he wanted revenge for what Beth had done, Josef knew better than to go after her. Break up or not, Mick wouldn’t tolerate it. And his friendship with Mick was more important than that. All Josef wanted now was to get his friend back.

“What do you want to do?”

Mick thought for a long minute. “Get some sleep. Then I’m leaving town.” Mick looked at Josef with haunted eyes. “I can’t stay here, man. Not while she’s –“ Mick’s voice broke and for the first time since Beth left, he cried. Josef did the only thing he could. He held Mick until his tears subsided, got him into his freezer and called his relocation team.

By the end of the week, Mick was settling into his new office. It was smaller than his old one, but Chicago didn’t have as much space as LA. The décor was completely different, very old school. Mick didn’t want anything that reminded him of the flashy modernity of LA. It was too painful.

Mick had his first client a week later, a rape and murder with mob connections. Mick worked, made friendly with the local Guillermo and slept. He functioned. Josef flew in every few weeks to check on him. Life, such as it was, went on. As the weeks and months passed, the pain dulled but never completely went away. Beth’s rejection stung more deeply than he could have ever foreseen. There were days when Mick wanted to crawl into a ball and die. But he was too much of a coward to end his miserable existence.

Things got better when Josef moved to Chicago. The elder vampire never explained why he moved to the Windy City, but Mick had his suspicions. Mick was grateful to his friend. Josef’s presence mitigated the unending despair and loneliness Mick lived with every day. Gradually, Mick began to smile and laugh again; suicidal thoughts were fewer and father between. Josef became certain the worst was over. So he was shocked when Mick came barging into his office and threw a copy of the Tribune on his desk. Josef picked up the paper and zeroed in on what had Mick’s attention. It was a wedding announcement.

“He’s a real estate guy,” Mick said through clenched teeth.

Josef hoped that sarcasm would deflect the upcoming maelstrom. “Shame. I thought she had better taste than that.”

“Josef, this is no time to be flip. What am I supposed to do?”

“What do you mean? She left you, Mick. She left you. She’s getting on with her life. You’d be wise to do the same.”

But Mick couldn’t let it go. On the day of the wedding, Mick hid up in the rafters of the church and watched as his Beth walked down the aisle with someone else. He told himself that he just wanted to make sure she was happy. But that sounded lame even to him. Beth looked radiant in her flowing white gown. As she left the church with her new husband, Beth looked up at the rafters. Mick didn’t think that she’d seen him; he was hidden in a particularly dark corner. However, the wistful look in her blue eyes stayed with him for a long time.

A year later a birth announcement caught his attention. Beth and her husband had a little girl, Renee. While Mick was working on a case, he noticed a gorgeous doll house in a toy store window. He bought it on impulse and sent it anonymously to little Renee. When her brother Sam was born, Mick sent the boy a little toy fire truck. Mick got a lot of enjoyment watching the children play and grow. He watched silently over them, much like he had their mother all those years ago. Josef knew about Mick’s watchfulness of Beth’s children, but he never called his friend on it. Those children helped keep Mick on an even keel and for that Josef was grateful.

As the decades passed and Beth’s children started families of their own, Mick found himself adrift. As long as Renee and Sam lived at home, Mick had an excuse for seeing Beth, even if she couldn’t see him. He figured it was better that way. Once the children were gone, Mick stayed away. He didn’t want to be tempted to talk to her. Even after all those years, her rejection still stung; he’d just gotten better at hiding it. Still, he felt a perverse satisfaction when Beth’s husband died unexpectedly at the age of fifty. Beth sat at the funeral much like she had at Josh’s funeral decades before: quiet, uncrying and searching for Mick in the crowd. She never saw him.

Ironically, that was the one time Mick was tempted to see her, talk to her. As he watched her sit, alone in her house, Mick desperately wanted to reach out to her. Beth was still beautiful at age fifty. Time had only just begun to march across her face. But then the pain of rejection came rushing back and Mick fled. He couldn’t go through that again, he just couldn’t. Mick never saw what Beth was clutching so closely to her chest. The picture was old; the edges were frayed and crinkled. But Beth didn’t care. As she stared into the hazel yes that once loved her, Beth felt the world crash down around her. Renee held her mother close as she sobbed.

Grief, however, did not bring the world to a halt. Day by day; week by week; month by month; year by year. Mick went on much as he always had. He rarely saw anyone outside of his job. He avoided humans like the plague. Mick spent most of his free time with Josef. The two of them had become incredibly close over the decades. Still, try as he might, Josef could never get Mick off his bagged blood existence. It was the one lasting effect of Mick’s years watching over Beth. Years that Josef was convinced were wasted and brought his friend nothing but pain and sorrow. Still, when he saw the obituary he’d been dreading, Josef rushed over to Mick’s apartment.

Mick was packing when Josef got there. “Where are you going?”

Mick didn’t look at him. “The funeral is in LA.”

“Let me go with you.”

“No, man, I got it.” Mick threw a shirt in his bag; his hand was shaking. “OK,” Mick said quietly.

The two of them took the next flight to Los Angeles. For the first time in fifty years, Mick set foot in his native city. The city, of course, had changed drastically, but Mick barely noticed. He was too preoccupied. Josef tried to distract him but failed miserably. Two days after they arrived, Mick and Josef headed for the cemetery. Beth had requested to be buried in her native Los Angeles. Most of the mourners were from Chicago; only a handful of people Beth had known in LA were still alive. Renee and Sam sat in the front row with their spouses and children, looking sad and resigned. Mick and Josef stood under a tree as the preacher gave the eulogy. Mick watched stoically as his Beth was lowered into the ground. As the first shovelfuls of dirt were thrown into the hole, tears threatened, but Mick fought them off. She’d lived exactly as he’d wanted her to: healthy, happy and human. He could ask for no more than that.

Mick wasn’t sure how long he stood there. When all the other mourners had left and the sun had set, Mick walked over to the headstone and kneeled in front of it. Josef kept vigil from the trees. Mick heard footsteps in the grass. He looked up and saw Renee standing in front of him.

“You’re every bit as handsome as Mom said you were,” Renee said, smiling.

Mick stood. “Your mother…told you about me?”

Renee’s eyes, so much like Beth’s, twinkled. “Yes, she did. You were her guardian angel, watching over her like you watched over my brother and me.”

Mick shifted uncomfortably. “I’m sorry. I never meant –“

Renee held up her hand. “Don’t apologize. I came here to thank you. What you did was incredibly selfless. I can’t imagine how much it must have hurt to watch Mom from afar all those years.”

Mick remained rooted to the ground. He never intended for Beth or her children to know he was watching them. He couldn’t look Renee in the eye. The petite woman took a step toward him and held out a journal.

“Mom wanted you to have this. She made me promise to find you and make sure you got it.”

“What is it?”

“I’m not sure. She just wanted you to have it.”

Mick accepted the thin book and examined the cover. “To Mick” was all it said. He looked at Renee. “Thank you.”

Then, before he could stop her, Renee kissed him on the cheek. “You’re welcome. And thank you for the doll house. My daughter loves it as did I.”

Mick gave her a half smile. “You’re welcome.”

 Renee nodded and left, leaving Mick alone with his thoughts. After much deliberation, Mick opened the journal. It was full of letters, letters to him. They appeared to have begun right after Beth left him. Mick sat on a nearby headstone and began to read. Every milestone in her life was covered. Tears threatened on nearly every page. Josef continued to watch his friend quietly; he sensed that Mick needed to be alone for this.

The last letter was dated a week before. Mick finally gave way to his grief as he read Beth’s final words to him.

My dearest Mick,

This is the most difficult letter I’ve ever had to write. How do you say goodbye to your guardian angel? How do you apologize for years of pain and regret? I should never have left you. You don’t know how much I regret that. It’s haunted me in ways you could never understand. I wish that I could ask for your forgiveness. I know that I don’t deserve to be forgiven for the hell I’ve put you through. But please remember this. My love will be with you always. I was, and will always be, yours. I’m so sorry that I have to leave you.



Tears stained the bottom of the page, Beth’s tears. Mick looked at the headstone across from him. Beth Turner-Schaffer, 1981-2058, Beloved wife, mother and friend. Mick hugged the book to his chest. He thought of her smile, her laugh, the way her face lit up when she saw him. Those images would never fade; he’d make sure of it. His love for her would burn for eternity; it couldn’t be torn asunder by death and despair. For the first time in fifty years, Mick genuinely smiled. Josef appeared next to him, “Ready?”


The two friends walked quietly out of the cemetery, their footsteps swallowed by the darkness.


Current Location: hiding from fruit
Current Mood: depresseddepressed
Current Music: Saving Josh
michellemtsumichellemtsu on May 13th, 2008 08:58 pm (UTC)