Hey, guys, here's another look into that great Mick/Josef friendship. As normal, part of the cred for this little one-shot goes to my long time friend and muse, silvanelf.

Enjoy!!!

Grocery Shopping for Freshies

Josef riffled through the fridge. He sighed as he examined the label and turned to face Mick. "Is this the only crap you have?"

Mick shook his head in disgust and took the pouch of blood from Josef to pour himself a glass. "You are always welcome to go home if you don't like what I have to offer."

"Phiff, what I need is to bring my home here. You need something with some…life."

Mick rolled his eyes. "You just can't see past your lust for blood. You're so self indulging, you don't care if you hurt the women who feed you, you take what you want and leave the rest behind."

"And what you do is nobler? Stealing precious blood from the blood bank, blood that could be used to save human lives?"

Mick stopped to think about what Josef said, but shook it off. "I pay for my blood."

"And I pay for mine. The only difference is I pay the donors directly. You hide in the shadows and bribe some lab tech to rob from the needy."

Mick's anger rose. "I don't steal my blood. You're the one who bites people!"

"Willing donors, there's a difference. I pay my donors well, for both their blood and the right to take it straight from the vein," Josef said as he poured himself a glass. "With their full knowledge and consent I might add."

"Yeah, but you still harm the donor in the process." Mick retorted as he took a deep gulp.

"Excuse me? Have you ever seen one of my meals once I was finished with it? No harm done. In fact, they usually come back for a second donation."

"Exactly, you use them up, get them addicted to your bite and then toss them aside."

"Whoa now, you make it sound like I'm a drug dealer. I'm very upfront with my donors on what to expect and I give them every warning of what it will feel like. They know the risks and I never go too far with them. I know how to control myself, 400 years of practice does make perfect."

"Still you give them a moment of inexplicable pleasure and leave them wanting more, so that they will return to you to give a second time."

Josef took the opportunity to smile. "Well, repeat business is good for, well…business. The more freshies I have to break in the more risk I run of exposing the community."

"So you admit you entice them to come back for more." Mick pointed an accusatory finger at Josef.

Josef put his hands up in a mocking submission. "Hey now, it's not like a pull them back to me with Jedi mind powers, they come back on their own free will." Josef put his hands down and picked up his glass to take a swig of the dead blood. "And what do you have to say for your way? You bribe the greedy to rob from the needy or steal from the dead. How does that make you better than me?"

"You bite people, Josef!"

Josef could tell Mick wasn't going to get past that. "Think of it this way. If you were human where would you get your food from?"

"Restaurants, grocery stores..." Mick seemed puzzled at Josef's question.

"And how would you obtain the food? Would you take it while the grocery wasn't looking? Would you wait till the cow died a natural death and butcher it into steaks? No, you'd pay the butcher to slaughter the cow and cut it up for you."

"Are you comparing freshies to cows? You want me to slaughter freshies like cows for steak?" Mick asked enraged.

Josef shook his head. "You kind of missed the point, Mick. Forget the steaks. Well, actually you need to remember the stakes, you are a vampire after all." Josef waited for Mick to laugh and the tension to be gone, but Mick just kept glaring at him, so Josef cleared his throat and continued. "What I mean is that you are stealing the milk from the rancher after he's milked the cow, while I'm paying the cow royally to have the honor of milking her."

Mick's face was full of revulsion. "So you're comparing your freshies to cattle and the buying of their blood to what? Whoring?"

"Arrrggh!" Josef screamed in frustration. "Are you that dense?! Forget the cows…think of it…think of them like chickens. I'm sheltering, protecting feeding and nurturing the chickens and all I ask in return is a fresh egg in the morning. No harm to the chickens and they have a better life than if they were running free, able to be attacked by any predator that roamed the streets, not all evil is dead..."

Mick took a moment to think about what Josef said as he sipped his stolen blood. Josef started to smile, knowing that he had finally gotten somewhere.

"So what you're say…" Mick began. Josef held his breath with hope. "What you're saying is that you paying your freshies is like eating their young instead of them? What happened when they can't 'lay eggs' anymore, do you kill them and have a big chicken dinner?"

Josef glared and Mick. "We're on a strictly liquid diet."

"Okay, chicken soup then…"

"ARRRRRRRRGGGHHH!!!!!" Josef screamed as he threw his hands in the air and stormed out of Mick's apartment. "You have the thickest skull of anyone I've ever met!"

Mick chuckled as Josef slammed the door behind him. Josef, the master of controlling his emotions, was putty in Mick's hands, but that's only because Mick knew him so well. Josef was a skilled negotiator, but you can't negotiate with someone who does not recognize another point of view. Mick had learned long ago that the only way to get under Josef's skin was to ignore his point.

Mick set his empty glass in the sink. Josef had brought up a good point. He was taking his blood without the donor's knowledge or permission. He would have to think about it, but he seriously doubted he'd be going back to the morgue anytime soon, for blood anyways...

Maybe I can work something out with some of Josef's regulars for a bottling thing? Mick liked the idea of live blood. He just couldn't imagine biting anyone, but Beth for a very, very long time.