"Fancy meeting you here."
Josef Kostan's voice rang out from the living room as Beth Turner opened the front door to her apartment. As she shut it behind her and took off her jacket, she took a moment to reflect that she'd spent entirely too much time with the four hundred year old vampire in the past few months if she was becoming used to his odd habit of inviting himself into people's homes when they weren't around.
"Josef," she said, entering the living room. He'd already made himself comfortable, lounging on her couch with his feet propped up on her coffee table. She sighed and tucked a stray strand of blonde hair behind her ear. "Can I help you with something?"
He ignored her question. "Got an interesting visit from Mick this morning," he said casually—too casually. Beth felt her face heat up as Josef picked an imaginary piece of lint off his expensive designer suit; she avoided his eyes, but she didn't need to see his face to know that he was smirking at her, enjoying making her squirm. He continued. "He woke me up just around 7 AM. You kept him out past his bedtime."
"I can't believe he told you that." She choked out, horribly embarrassed. Part of her was angry with Mick. They'd taken a big step the night before, had slept together for the first time, and what was the first thing her—well, boyfriend, she supposed—did after she'd left for work that morning? He'd gone and told the very vampire who was now smiling at her roguishly.
"Yes, well. We are BFFs, and all. Don't remember where I put my half of the friendship necklace…" his voice trailed off, leaving them in an awkward silence. He obviously expected her to say something, but she didn't know what, so she kept quiet. After a moment, he prompted, "…and?"
She sighed and crossed her arms in front of her. "And what?"
"How was it?" Josef asked, as if it were the most obvious this in the world.
"Oh my—Josef, get out." She declared unceremoniously as she dropped onto the couch next to him. He was still grinning at her, and she sent him her best withering glare. "I don't have the patience for you right now. I worked all day on a case with Ben after getting practically no sleep—"
The second the words left her mouth, Beth wished she could grab them out of the air and swallow them. She stared at him wordlessly as he bit back laughter and reminded herself that hitting a vampire was never a good idea, even if he really, really deserved it.
He was still clearly amused as he spoke. "No sleep last night, huh? Well, isn't that interesting…"
She groaned. "Does this conversation have a point, Josef? Other than humiliating me, I mean."
"Actually, yes." He said as he stood. His mood was suddenly much more somber. Nervously, he straightened the cuffs of his shirt beneath the jacket. "You see, Mick also mentioned what happened before the, how shall we say, main event."
Beth felt another wave of shame wash over her, this one for a completely different reason. She'd been embarrassed that Josef knew the intimate details of her relationship with Mick, but she had not been embarrassed of what they'd done. What Josef was alluding to, however, was a humiliation of her own making.
When she'd realized how different their worlds were, that they only way she and Mick could ever have a true future was if he turned her, she'd panicked and attempted to break up with him. How could she know now what she'd want later? And furthermore, should a relationship ever make her choose between love and life? The answers to these questions still troubled Beth, if she was honest with herself, but Mick had told her that what mattered was how they felt in the here and now, and he'd been so very…convincing.
Taking a deep breath, Beth brought her knees to her chest and locked her arms around them. Josef was still waiting for her to answer him, and drawing on her courage, she looked up at him. "I have some…reservations. It's perfectly reasonable—"
"Do you love him, Beth?" he interrupted, staring at her intently.
She was too surprised to complete her original thought. "…what?"
"It's a pretty simple question." he shifted his gaze away from her and moved around the couch, pacing behind it. She turned her upper body to face him, watching him with a frown. He looked very nearly…discomposed. She hadn't seen him this undone since she and Mick had discovered his secret about Sarah. "Do you love Mick, or don't you?"
"I—" she started, then stopped, then started again, "Yes. I do." She ran her hands through her hair. "But that doesn't make my concerns any less valid. What about the future?" Her voice turned small, quiet. "What if I'm never ready to be…turned?"
"Oh, I see," Josef said, abruptly quitting his pacing. "You love him, just not enough."
Beth jumped to her feet, walked around the couch, and stood face to face with the vampire. He still had quite a few inches on her, but she did not back down.
He was glaring at her; she returned his with one of her own. "That's completely unfair," she said, "How can I know now, at the beginning of a new relationship, what I might or might not be willing to give up? I happen to like being human."
"That's funny," Josef's tone was acidic, "So did he." She flinched, but he did not stop, keeping his voice low and even. He sounded almost dangerous. "He gave up his humanity for you. How quickly you humans forget." He sneered at her and then backed away from their staring contest, as if he suddenly could not stand the sight of her.
He was right, of course. Beth had been taken hostage by vampires, and Mick had willingly given up his brief chance at humanity, had been re-turned, so that he could save her. She had never thought of that before, and for some reason she couldn't quite name, it bothered her. It bothered her that she was wrong, and Josef was right. It bothered her that maybe she wasn't being as reasonable as she thought she was being.
Before she could stop herself, the words had spilled from her mouth, tinged with her bitterness. "It wasn't a permanent cure. He would have turned back into a vampire eventually, anyway."
In a split second, Josef had her pinned up against the wall on the opposite side of the room. She hit her head soundly and knew without even needing to touch it that a good sized lump would form on the back of her skull. Beth was more worried, however, about the angry vampire an inch from her face, growling at her, fangs bared, ice blue eyes wide and livid.
"Don't you dare belittle what he did for you," Josef hissed between clenched teeth. "Ever since he was turned, he's wanted nothing more than to be human again, and when he finally got the chance, however brief, he gave up all of it, all of his time, for you. He will never get another chance like that."
Beth felt tears prick her eyes, but she refused to cry in front of Josef. She couldn't have broken away from his gaze if she tried. "I know," she said numbly, "what he did for me. I didn't mean what I said. I was frustrated with you because…I knew you were right, about me being unfair. It made me angry."
Josef stepped away from her and sucked in a deep breath as he rolled the tension out of his shoulders. She was him transform to his normal self before her eyes; his fangs retracted, and his eyes regained their normal color. Both of them kept their distance from each other.
He found his voice first. "Mick loves you," he ground out, resolutely facing away from her.
"I know." Her voice was quiet.
He looked at her sharply, stared for a long time. She got the distinct impression that he was measuring her up, testing her value. "If you hurt him," he said, "I'll kill you myself."
She should have been frightened, some distant part of her realized. She should have been terrified, but she wasn't. On some level, she already knew she never wanted to hurt Mick St. John.
"I understand." She told him.
He was gone before she could say another word.
Disclaimer: I don't own Moonlight, though it would be pretty sweet if I did.
A/N: Every TV show I love gets cancelled. Sigh.