Okay here it is, second to last one-shot on the list. This is a much more serious piece than my others, but I hope you will still enjoy it anyways. I know not everyone will agree with me on this, but please remember that everyone is entitled to their opinions.

Not set after any episode in particular. Rated PG. Oh, and I don't own any rights or make any profits. Thanks Greenleaf9 for the beta!


One More Time

Josef stood at his office window, looking out over the sleeping city. It's good to be immortal, he thought, watching a few people hurry by on the sidewalk below. They can't even hear the ticking of their looming demise.

Josef smirked. He'd seen centuries pass and there seemed to be no limit to his existence. He looked over at his calendar, to confirm the year. After so many, they start to blend together…

Shit! Josef did a double take at his calendar. Was it really that time again? How quickly the year went by… Josef sighed, grabbed his coat and glasses and headed out. He made a quick stop at his liquor cabinet and personal blood bank to get the needed supplies. A twelve-year-old bottle of scotch, some AB negative and some Vodka should do… Assessing his stock, he grabbed another bottle of blood—A positive this time. Mick's fav.

Josef headed for his car, pondering on the night. How could I forget? He knew he was in for an unpleasant evening. Just like every year. But that's what friends do. They are there for you when you need them. He had just wished Mick would have gotten past this by now. One more time…

Josef clicked the remote entry key before he reached the door. The door popped open and he strode into the apartment, taking a slight whiff to assess the situation. He saw Mick sitting on his couch, a half empty bottle of single malt sat on the table in front of him. By the smell it was a very good bottle, and Mick currently was using it to drown his sorrows.

Nope, haven't missed anything. I just wish I could make this the last year… Josef made his way to the kitchen, setting down his bag of supplies.

"I didn't think you'd show up," Mick said, not moving from the couch.

"I've never missed a year. Well, except the first, but I doubt you would have invited me on your honeymoon even if you had known me. Pity, could have been fun…" Josef replied, flashing Mick his trademark grin.

Mick turned his head and gave his best attempt at a glare, but his heart wasn't in it. Josef thought it looked more pathetic than intimidating. "Happy Anniversary, Mick," Josef said, handing Mick a glass of A positive blood.

Mick groaned. "Even if you were there, nothing would have changed. I'd still be this monster." Mick ignored Josef's offer and took a large swig of whiskey.

Josef grimaced at the word 'Monster.' He had spent his life trying to live down that reputation—not that any of his business partners would agree. Mick still hasn't gotten over the shock. Fifty year later and he still hasn't accepted his existence.

Josef was sure there had been a few times Mick was happy with his life, but they seemed to slip away as quickly as they came and no amount of Josef's insistence that Mick was both a good man and a good vampire seemed to helped.

"Mick, had I been there, things would have been very different." Josef tried to hand Mick the glass of blood again. Mick jerked his head away from Josef's offer. "Come on, Mick. Your liver needs to heal."

"I don't care."

"Starving yourself won't help anyone. You'll make yourself feral and attack some innocent, just adding to your overwhelming guilt."

Mick took the glass, but didn't drink, leaving it to sit on the table. "What do you mean 'It would have been different?' Are you saying you would have stopped Coraline?"

Josef smiled. "I'm Coraline's elder. It doesn't matter who her family is, she has to listen to me and had I been there, I would have never allowed her to do it."

Mick snorted in disbelief. "You love being a vampire."

"Yes I do, but you don't. I knew from the moment I met you. She should never have turned you. Your survival as one of us directly correlates with your desire to be one of us."

"Coraline wouldn't have listened to you."

"Well, then I would have made sure you knew what was happening, so that you could make the decision," Josef said. "I am in support of full disclosure to prospective turns. Rape turnings are ugly, just look how you turned out." Mick had finished the bottle of whisky and was eyeing Josef's bottle of scotch, but was unable to decide which of the three he should grab.

Mick nodded. "No one would be appreciative if forced into this existence."

"That's not true. I wasn't given a choice."

Mick stared, openmouthed, at Josef. "But you love being a vampire…"

"I didn't always. And some days I still don't. Every time I think of Sarah, lying in that bed, unable to live her life…" Josef trailed off, trying to regain control over his emotions. "But I learned to like it. I don't like the predator, but the predator isn't me. I've learned to control the devil within. You have too, but you fail to see the difference between it and you."

Mick stared at Josef. Maybe the alcohol was getting to his brain, but it sounded like Josef was not as content as he appeared.

"Mick? Do you hear what I'm saying?"

Mick nodded.

"Had Coraline given you the choice, had she told you what she was and what that meant, then asked you if you wanted to join her, would your response have been different?" Josef voiced the question he had wondered for years. Mick opened his mouth to deny, point blank, but Josef continued, "Don't answer as the present Mick. Answer me as the Mick from back then, the one who was in love."

Mick closed his mouth. He blinked a few times, trying to clear his vision. He reached for the glass of blood and downed it in one gulp. He felt the blood flow through him and his vision cleared immediately. He looked out the window and pondered Josef's question.

I'm a monster. I'm a cannibal. I'm… But Mick knew. He knew what Josef was probing at.

"I would have agreed," he said in a small voice.

Josef nodded. "Given the choice any rational being would choose immortality."

"I would have willing entered this life. I loved Coraline—or at least thought I did—and I would have wanted to be with her, no matter what," Mick whispered.

"Would your decision have changed if Coraline had agreed to be with you either way, mortal or immortal?"

Mick paused. "I…I still would have agreed. I would have wanted 'Forever' with her."

Josef smiled. "And if you had chosen that, would you have come to hate yourself like you do now?"

Mick took a long pause. First he thought it would have been worse because he would have chosen it, making him an even bigger monster, for wanting to become one, but on second thought…

"No. We would probably still be together, celebrating our anniversary. Together. I'd be happy."

Josef stood up and removed the empty bottles from the table. Mick stayed on the couch, entranced by this new revelation. After Josef had finished tidying up, he came back to the living room and sat across from Mick. He could see the confusion in Mick's eyes. "So what's keeping you from being happy now?"

"She didn't give me the choice. She took away my rights and my trust."

"Yep, but now you're here. She's nowhere around and you're alone. Don't you think it's time to forgive her and move on? Maybe try starting over with Beth…"

Mick didn't look at Josef. He wasn't sure if he should thank him or punch him in the jaw. Josef patted Mick on the shoulder. "Until next year, Buddy." I just hope there isn't a next year…