Author's Notes: A few months ago, I wrote an original fan fiction called "Shadows," in which I introduced my own character, Blair, into the world of Josef. I had so much positive feedback on that piece of fiction that I have decided to continue with their story. I hope my faithful readers will find it as enjoyable and unexpected as the first installment, and that new fans will please read the original first, in order to comprehend the fullness of the serial.

I will also add that the subject matter contained herein in later chapters, regarding the twist I have planned, may be considered offensive to overly sensitive readers. Consider this a general disclaimer and warning, since it is my nature to introduce controversial moral questions into most of my work. But for the patient and lenient reader, this fan fiction will pay off.

Comments and suggestions for the ship are welcome, and encouraged. Thank you for reading along!

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For as long as he had known him, Josef had never sensed a beating heart in Mick St. John's chest. It had been hollow, empty, devoid of movement or anything apart from sheer emotion, for Mick had shared the same silent existence as he had, the common torment and triumph known as a vampire. But now it pulsed beneath his veins, flowed in his blood, thundering in Josef's ears as it weakened beneath his unrelenting fangs. Mick had cried out when he had bit into him, stiffening with the shock that had accompanied the violence of the gesture, memories passing through his mind of Coraline and another night much like this one, in which he had died for the first time. Tonight, he would die again. He had begged Josef to turn him, to reinstate his position as a vampire so he could save the woman he loved. He had worked and striven so long to be human again, resting so many hopes on a seemingly impossible dream, and now it was flowing away from him along with the life-giving force of his blood.

The taste was like nothing Josef had ever experienced, for he was undoing Coraline's initial work, taking her place as his friend's sire, now the official source of his torment. It was not pleasant. It was vicious and brutal and ruthless and painful. Mick was fighting his urge to resist, to struggle to survive, weakening in his friend's arms as Josef felt life retreat from him, his eyes glazing over as he was lowered carefully to the nearest flat surface. Josef had sired others before, but all he could remember was his failure, the one instance in which he could not bring someone back: the woman he loved. He had been much gentler with her, reassuring her with passionate kisses before lowering his lips to her throat, cradling her neck as he sank his teeth into her soft skin. That had been erotic, intoxicating, invigorating, overwhelming. This was entirely different, an act almost of hatred because he loathed that Mick had demanded it from him, and that he had obeyed.

Mick was the color of a ghost, standing on the edge of mortal death, so near that if he took another step he would fall over into the abyss and never return. Josef removed his coat in a swift motion and threw it away from him, rolling up his sleeve and baring his arm. He grimaced as he sank his teeth into his own skin, creating a gash so deep it would not immediately heal, allowing the blood to drip onto his friend's mouth. "Come on, Mick," he whispered through gritted teeth, "rise and shine." If he had been able to pray, he would have, but instead he waited and blood flowed, watching as the transformation came, seeping through in an immediate healing of the wounds he had left in Mick's throat. Weak fingers lifted to grip his arm, bringing it to Mick's mouth as slowly forming fangs sank into his flesh.

The pain was excruciating, the blood being pulled from his own form into that of another immortal, but the agony was welcomed, for it was reassurance that Mick would survive, that he had not left it too long or taken too much strength from him. The fingers fell away, Mick rising slowly from the table and allowing his head to drop forward, his friend watching in relieved expectation as his milky eyes opened and he snarled, flexing the sharp teeth that now appeared in his red mouth. Mick looked at him and something passed between them that was inexplicable, a kind of resentful agreement never to speak of it again. The human scents were gone from the room, replaced with a thunderous intensity of power and mutual anger, each of them resentful at what the situation had forced out of them.

What happened after that was a blur of combined exhilaration and abandonment, for their mutual emotions worked into a combined sense of ruthlessness that left bodies in their wake. Impaled, sliced open, thrown across rooms and staked, never before had they accompanied one another with such precision and poise, for Josef's recycled blood had made Mick stronger, had built on the foundation Coraline had created so many years ago. It was only in the late hours when he had parted from Mick, leaving him to his tragic romantic explanations to the journalist he was so passionately in love with, that Josef experienced the full emotions of his actions. The knowledge that he had forever crushed Mick's desire to be human, that he had brought to an end what his friend had striven so long to obtain, that he alone was responsible. The feeling left him feeling sick inside, the memory of draining his friend to death so horrific that he would have given anything to blot it from his mind.

He dropped the car keys onto the side table in the entrance of his home, staring down at them in the waning darkness, for dawn was impending, as their mission had taken most of the night. He could still hear Mick's heart pounding in his ears, weakening, giving out, his humanity blending into an otherworldly existence as his senses sharpened and came into focus. Josef had not had time to fear he could not do it, to question his own inabilities, but had acted in the brazen assumption that it could be done. Fortunately, he had not failed but it was the knowledge that he might have that made the recollection of the act all the more devastating.

Josef was quiet and stationary so long in his position that Blair came forward from the shadows. He had sensed her approach from the beginning, knowing that she had arisen with the sound of the garage door coming down. He had felt her pulse across the room, heard her soft breathing, and smelled the faint trace of violets that accompanied her wherever she went. Blair had come into his life without warning, frustrating him to no end, but he found her impossible to live without. She was so much like him in so many ways that he found her fascinating, different from every other woman he had ever known. There was something dangerous in Blair, locked beneath the surface. She came into the fading moonlight and he saw the transformation that came over her face, one of concern at his tormented appearance. Her slender form was clothed in a dressing gown that did not conceal the lightness of her skin, almost as pale as his. She knew something was wrong but did not have the heart to ask, approaching to lace her fingers through his, and kiss the back of his hand. There were no emotions in his eyes as he looked at her, so cold and distant that anyone else would have left him alone; but Blair was different from other people. She understood him in ways no one else ever could.

Leading him further into the house, she took him to her room, a place he never ventured unless invited. It was his house, but her space, and not since their initial conflict had she allowed him such intimacies. She was careful around him, not intimidated in the knowledge of what he was, but physically distant enough that he would make no assumptions that her presence was more than one of complacent companionship. But he needed more than a friend tonight—not a lover, but someone to reassure him that whatever ghosts of hell tormented him could be vanquished. Her hands remained steady as she removed his jacket and unbuttoned his vest, sliding it from his shoulders. But when he caught her hand, he felt her pulse increase as he lifted it to his lips, sliding them across her bare skin in a gesture of affectionate fascination. It was tempting to taste her, to partake of the invitation she had extended to him when she had learned the truth; but until now he had resisted and though it arose his bloodlust, he did no more than kiss the flawless satin of her skin.

She had held her breath and now released it as he drew her into his arms and buried his face in her hair, finding her human scent comforting in the midst of the grief that invaded his soul. Blair did not resist or attempt to pull away, though he felt her heart pounding with his nearness. There was no resistance in her as he rested her against the pillows, content to lay against his chest and allow him to experience the emotions he had been avoiding throughout the evening, the internal suffering that never made it onto his features. His nearness was making her cold, and he drew the blanket up around her, the most he could do other than to leave her presence, for vampires had no body heat. She thanked him silently, warmth spreading across her despite the chill of the arms that held her.

"Whatever you did, Josef," she whispered, "you are not to blame."

Her words were comforting, but erroneous. He was to blame. And Mick could never look at him the same way again.