Here's a one-shot I came up with in the airport waiting to go to the con. I finally got around to writing it.

Enjoy!!


Catherine's Secret

"Hey, buddy, what did you want to see me abo—whoa, what is all this stuff?" Josef asked as he entered Mick's apartment. Boxes covered the apartment and Mick was knee deep in old photographs.

Mick looked up and smiled. "Thanks for coming down, Josef. I could really use the help."

"No problem, but what kind of help are we talking about? Because if you're moving there are services that handle that kind of stuff, some are even vamp friendly."

"No, no," Mick said, shaking his head. "I'm not going anywhere."

"Pity," Josef commented. "You and Blondie should get a place…"

Mick scowled at him, but continued. "My sister, Beverly, just died."

"I'm sorry."

"It's okay. I mourned her death long ago, when she became dead to me as I was turned."

"Still, it's never easy."

"I guess not…But it's going to get easier from here on out. Bev was my last living relative. She died childless so all her stuff was going to auction for charity, but I managed to get a hold of the family picture albums before they were trashed."

Josef looked around the room. That certainly explained the boxes and the intense smell of feline that hung in the air. "So you're taking a stroll down memory lane? Just some advice, but that's not the best idea."

"Yeah, I know. You've said that before, but what about that family crest hanging in your bedroom?"

Josef pursed his lips to cut off his retort. Mick just smiled. "That's what I thought. I don't want to keep all of them, but I would like to have a few pictures to remind me of my family. Fortunately, Bev kept everything, but she never organized it." Mick's eyes glazed over and he got a far off look as if he was remembering something he had forgotten long ago.

Josef shifted, uncertainly. It was clear that Mick was not over his sister's death and worse, he wasn't admitting it."

"Well, what can I do to help?" Josef asked.

"What?...Oh, I need someone to help go through pictures with me and filter out some of the better ones. My mother loved her camera, but she never took good pictures."

Josef nodded and set on the couch near Mick. This wouldn't have been his ideal afternoon, but Mick was his best friend and he needed his support at this moment. Mick handed him a stack of pictures and he started flicking through them.

It was immediately clear what Mick meant about his mother and a camera. There was a series of shots that cloud be turned into a flip book if it hadn't been for the finger over the lenses that took most of the picture.

Josef chuckled as he flipped through what appeared to be a trip to San Francisco. Josef stopped at one of the photos. "Hey, there is a picture here of the bay without the Golden Gate Bridge. That had to be before 1937."

"Yeah, my parents went to San Francisco for their honeymoon…must have been 1920, right as my father got back from World War I. My mother went up to meet him and they were married the day he stepped off the boat."

"1920? They didn't waste time having you…"

Mick chuckled and Josef set the picture aside in a keep pile. He continued flicking through the years, the first house, the first car, an office building, and various friends at various barbeques. He set aside a few nice shots of what he guessed was Mick's father at the grill and Mick's mother chatting with some friends. Mick could go through them later and see if he wanted to keep them.

"Do you have another stack?" Josef asked. Mick pointed to the box, but he didn't look up from the stack he was working on. Josef stood up and made his way across the room to the open box. He grabbed another stack of pictures and was going to go back to the couch when a framed photograph caught his eye.

"Wow."

"What?" Mick asked looking up.

Josef fished the picture out of the bottom of the box and showed it to Mick. The picture was of his mother, in a beautiful sundress and matching hat. It had been blown up from a regular print. But the black and white far surpassed anything else in the box, but that wasn't the most impressive point to the picture. Mick's mom was obviously pregnant. At least six months by the look of her.

"She looks wonderful," Josef said.

"Yeah," Mick breathed. He reached out and took the picture from Josef, carefully wiping the dust of it. "I've never seen this before…"

"That's because it was unusual for women of that period to have their picture taken while pregnant. Those kinds of prints are very rare."

Mick flipped the picture over and stared at the back. "What?" Josef asked.

"The date…October 1921. This is…me." Mick flipped the picture back over and stared at it again. Josef swallowed thickly, he wouldn't admit it, but there was a nothing he wouldn't give to have a picture like that of his own mother, but since film hadn't been invented until centuries after his birth he would have to settle for a few family portraits he had managed to purchase from various museums.

Josef went back to the couch and started in on his second stack as Mick continued to admire the picture, with both a pained and joyful expression.

The silence was broken when Josef suddenly began to chuckle. Mick looked up at him and Josef burst out laughing, well, howling was more like it.

"What is it?" Mick demanded over the sound of Josef's laughter.

Josef turned one of the pictures so Mick could see, "Do you think the Clubhouse would like to have this on their wall?"

Mick went white. Josef was holding a picture of him, as a baby, having a bath. Josef broke down laughing at Mick's reaction as Mick grabbed the picture away from him.

"Oh that's alright, you can have that one. I have about a hundred more here just like it." Josef smiled as he waved a stack of pictures at Mick.

Mick lunged for him, tearing the photos away. Josef put up a small fight, for show, but he didn't really need to. He'd already slipped one into his pocket so he could hold it over Mick's head if the time ever came and to show it to Beth who was sure to get a kick out of it.

Mick handed Josef his stack as a trade. "Here, these are older…right up your alley."

Josef grinned and took the stack. He'd never forget that view into Mick's past, no matter how much he tried. Josef started flipping through the photos Mick had handed him. They were indeed, quite a bit older.

"Ah, the Saks Club," Josef commented.

Mick looked up. "The Saks Club?"

"Yes, Saks Fifth Avenue. It was and is more than a high end clothing store. They sell…other things."

"Other things?"

"It was one of the first freshie agencies. The models and store clerks were all for sale as well as the clothes they were wearing...very high end of course."

"And let me guess…you were a frequent customer?"

"For a time… Back then I had a private reserve that couldn't be beat, but there was this one exceptional woman…"

"Let me guess…Sarah?"

"No. Sarah was much later. No this had to be the early 1890's. She was an exquisite beauty with the best personality. I tried for months to get her to join my private stock, but she always refused. I even offered to turn her—she was a delight to talk to too. Sharp as a whip—But she said she wanted to get out of the business as fast as possible, raise a family, all that normal, human stuff."

"Oh. Why bring this up now?" Mick asked.

"Because you have a picture of the ladies here."

"What?"

"You have a picture of the Saks Club, probably another vacation photo, may I have this? I would really love a picture of Cathy, she changed my life."

"How?"

"She calmed me down, made me realize that things will go on and that I had to go with the flow rather than fight the progression of time and she introduced me to this city."

"Which one is she?" Mick asked, scooting over to the couch to get a better view. He wanted to see the woman who changed Josef's life.

"Her," Josef said pointing to the woman, smiling in the middle of the picture.

Mick made a gurgling noise and grabbed the photo away from Josef, staring at it. He was whiter than before as he flipped the photo over and over again.

"What is it, Mick?" Josef asked, worried by his response.

"Catherine Black?"

"Yes, that was her name. Married some yahoo from out west and moved out here with him. That's how I first came here, trying to find her and convince her to come back with me. Why?"

"St. John."

"What? What does your name have to do with this?"

"She married St. John! She became Catherine Black St. John! She was my grandmother!"

Josef went still.

"You feed off my grandmother!" Mick yelled.

"I did more than just feed," Josef said, before he thought about the effect that statement might have on Mick.

Mick jumped up and scurried away from Josef. He looked disgusted at his friend. "She was my grandmother!"

"Yeah, well I've feed on women a lot older than her. I'm 400 years old, Mick."

"Yeah, well, the true meaning never really sank in before," Mick replied, calming down a little.

"Yeah, most people don't want to think about that, but I have been sexual active since the early 17th century."

"Ewe, Josef. That's really not a thought I need to have. You and…and…my grandma. That's just wrong."

"Well, I guess we have one thing to be thankful for."

"What?"

"That your grandfather was doing yard work with a broken wooden hoe the day I showed up to take her back to New York. If he hadn't threatened to stab me through the heart with the broken end, I might have succeeded. But I didn't so I didn't turn her." Mick's face paled again. If Josef had turned his Grandma Catherine, he wouldn't exist.

"Yeah, I guess that is something to be thankful for…"