Author's Note: Hello! This is an adaptation of the TV show Moonlight. This chapter is based on episode 1 of that series and does contain plot and dialogue from the show. I do not own anything. All plot, character and applicable dialogue are property of others.
The chapter below is a rewrite and repost. It is a longer version of this episode than I had originally posted on this web site. Please, please leave a review and tell me what you think. I love any and all feedback.
Thanks very much,
It never ceases to amaze me how life can surprise you. I am an 85 year old vampire, so you would think at my age I'd have outgrown that sort of thing. Unfortunately for me it appears I haven't.
I thought I had everything together, my proverbial act. Years ago I decided to live a life apart, alone, in an attempt to make some peace with my past. I wanted to try and atone for the mistakes I've made in my life as a vampire.
Did I mention the live my life alone part? Yes, so that plan was about to hit a snag. Enter the surprise, Beth.
I guess I should me explain a bit how this chapter in the story of my life began. It was late at night, or rather early in the morning, and I saw Beth on an internet news site. She had become a reporter of all things and was covering a gruesome murder. A girl had been found dead with two puncture wounds to the neck, her body dumped in a fountain in downtown Los Angeles.
Admittedly, the nature of the death and the resemblance to a vampire bite should have been my primary concern after watching that report. I was, however, having some trouble focusing on the case.
Why was that you ask?
As I said before, I believed that nothing could faze me. After all, vampires are supposed to be models of cool and controlled emotions, right? That was all true until I saw Beth's face on the screen. It's not the face of a stranger mind you. I have memorized her features from a distance over the course of years and I see them in my sleep. When I saw her on that web site, reason, logic and good intentions went right out the window.
I know what you're going to say, what good could it possibly do to seek out this human woman? I should have stayed out of it. But once I knew that I had the chance to see her in person, I couldn't pass it up. I was out the door and in my car.
The one saving grace was that she, in theory, should be completely unaware of me or my connection to her life. At least, I hoped that was the case.
Mick arrived at what he thought was the location he'd seen on the internet news report. He was standing near a large fountain in downtown Los Angeles and judging by the bee-hive of police and media activity surrounding it, he guessed he was in the right place. Somewhere beyond him he could make out the profile of the victim. He found a spot to quietly observe the proceedings under some nearby trees. As much as he wanted the chance to see Beth in person, he didn't want to risk attracting too much attention to himself.
Almost immediately he spotted her. She was hard to miss as she walked barefoot through the fountain attempting to get a closer look at the dead body contained at the center. Her shoes were in her hand. What an odd juxtaposition. Such a horrible scene, and yet as he stood watching her make her way through the water, it took his breath away. Her slight frame was silhouetted against the rising and falling liquid. Her eyes were fixed on her goal and the light from the fountain reflected in her blond hair. She was so beautiful.
He hadn't intended to speak to her. The temptation to see her in person had been too great to pass up, but now that it was done, he knew he should leave. He was still in the process of gathering his thoughts watching her, when without warning she turned and walked right to him. She looked up and her eyes met his. Freezing in mid step, her face lit up as a look of recognition crossed it. She knew him. Why did that make him feel so good? It shouldn't. He should be scared by it really. But somehow, her recognition made him smile. A slow sensation of warmth spread through his body.
Beth's eyes stayed on his face as she began again to approach. Her expression was of someone trying to place where she'd seen him before. She stopped in front of him and he didn't move, just looked back at her. He was endeavoring to keep his emotions hidden with a straight face, but he could feel the corner of his mouth wanting to tick up.
Her blue eyes were wide, regarding him with pleasant surprise. "Do I know you?" she asked.
"You tell me," he responded amused.
She paused to think for a second. "You're a cop right?"
He shook his head. "No."
"Reporter?" she tried again.
Another head shake, "nope." He was having trouble stopping himself from smiling at her. It felt good to hear the sound of her voice.
"We've met before, you look very familiar." Her voice was emphatic. Her countenance was determined but light at the same time.
"Well, maybe I've just got one of those faces." He replied without taking his eyes off of hers.
She smiled a little, her eyes narrowing. "Okay," she said. The inflection of her voice indicated that she didn't really believe his answer.
She looked back over her shoulder at the crime scene briefly, before turning back to him. He could see her stand up a little straighter and her demeanor changed, growing confident and assured, switching subjects back to the story she was reporting. "Question: what do you like better? 'Vampire slaying rocks L.A….'"
Vampires? Whoa that was fast. "There's no such thing as vampires." He cut her off gently.
She turned away from him again to stare at the fountain. "I don't think the girl in the fountain would agree. I mean…"
He didn't wait for her to finish her thought. He used the opportunity to dart away, leaving her there alone.
So there it was… the word that had escaped her. Out of her mouth not mine. Vampire.
She is a reporter, and was covering a murder story. Okay, yes, I am aware of that. But why in God's name did she have to be investigating a case with a vampire angle? Really, what are the odds of that? Maybe somewhere in the back of her mind the word had been lingering there for years, since childhood.
Unfortunately since Beth had to go and put a vampire twist on this murder case, I was now obligated to investigate it. I am a private investigator after all. In the name of security and secrecy, it would not due to have a vampire dropping drained human bodies in places like a public fountain for humans to find. I went to visit my best friend Josef and he wasted no time pointing this out to me. Josef tends to be paranoid, but then again, he's 400 years old, so he's seen a lot more threats to vampire society than I have. Sometimes it pays to be cautious.
I promised Josef I'd figure out who had killed the girl and stop them before any of the wrong people started nosing around about the existence of vampires.
It wasn't hard to figure out that a vampire didn't actually commit the murder. For starters, the girl wasn't drained of blood. Any vampire who had no inclination to let his victim live would have just drained her dry. It appeared that this crime was committed by a human, some idiot inadvertently drawing attention to our community.
I really was trying to concentrate on my investigation, but it felt like everywhere I turned I kept running into Beth. She was continuing to follow the case. She's one hell of a determined reporter. Of course I was also forced to explain more about myself than I'm used to. Truth be told, when it comes to my interactions with humans I try reveal as little as possible. In Beth's case though, I did tell her that I'm a P.I., letting her believe that the only reason we'd met at the fountain was my professional interest in the crime.
Not that she was the only one extracting information. I did manage to learn a few things about her life. Details like, she has a boyfriend.
And this is a problem why exactly you ask? Good damn question. Of course she has a boyfriend. I should have been happy that she had someone in her life shouldn't I? At least, I am aware that I should be happy about it. I'm going to keep repeating this to myself until it sinks in. I'll just keep ignoring the uncomfortable tight sensation that fills up my chest when she answers her phone and talks to him.
Between the two of us we established pretty quickly that the main suspect for the killings was a college professor. The victim had been a student in his class. Now I usually have a way of handling a situation like this, off of the books so to speak. Unfortunately it appeared that I underestimated exactly how far Beth would go to get her story. She had a few unorthodox ideas of her own about how to proceed.
I'm not entirely sure why she thought going undercover, alone, to investigate a murderer was a wise idea. I am guessing though, that it wouldn't have done me much good asking her not to go. If there's one thing I've learned through my recent contact, Beth knows her own mind and does what she wants. I doubt my fears for her safety would register.
So my concerns aside, Beth dressed herself up as a student, got herself invited to a private study session with the good professor, and strapped a microphone to her body. She went ahead into the lion's den.
Mick was in his car, racing across town. As he did so he was repeatedly dialing Beth's phone number.
Come on, please answer the phone. His thoughts hammered at him. She wasn't answering.
He'd gone to interview another student from the professor's class, Chloe. This student had, at one time, been close friends with the victim. Meanwhile Beth was currently undercover, interviewing the professor.
He'd reached the diner where Chloe worked as a waitress. It was only after he'd gone inside that everything had unraveled. Chloe lay on the floor of the diner, stabbed with two puncture wounds in the neck, a second dead girl.
Multiple victims, this was getting much worse, fast. His mind had started to swim with fear. Beth was in danger. He could feel it. He'd dropped an anonymous call to the police, leading them to Chloe's body, before jumping in his car.
When he reached the professor's building at the college he'd headed straight for the basement where Beth was supposed to be. He had found the professor alone, disheveled and uneasy. Beth's scent was hanging heavy in the room. There had been a struggle here. He could smell it.
Mick had grabbed the man, knocked him down, and let the vampire within come to the surface to take over. He had snarled, threatening the professor with bared fangs, demanding to know what had been done with Beth. When the professor had recovered enough from his shock to respond, he could only stammer that she was gone. She had left on her own, angry but uninjured.
Mick released the professor and took off toward the exit. The professor wasn't the killer. If he had been, Beth wouldn't have escaped so easily. He burst through the door to the outside and froze. He inhaled a deep breath through his nose, searching for Beth's scent. He found it. More than that though, he could smell fear, pain… some sort of drug…
The killer had been here, found her, pumped a sedative into her and taken her with him. A shock of panic ran through his body. His muscles tensed from his toes to his fingertips. The killer had Beth. This couldn't be happening again. He couldn't let something happen to her.
Mick took off running at top speed following Beth's scent.
He reached the parking lot where he could see a car driving away. He could make out Beth's form in the passenger seat. Her head was slumped to the side at an unnatural angle, resting against the window. In the driver's seat was the professor's assistant, Daniel.
Mick sped up, pumping his legs faster than any human could manage. When he had reached the car at last, he punched his fist through the driver's side window, breaking the glass and fastening his arm around the killer's neck in a choke hold. Daniel shrieked and tried to pull out of Mick's grasp, but he was no match for the strength of a vampire.
Daniel struggled but kept his foot on the gas, even if his hands had left the wheel. The car fishtailed back and forth through the lot, sideswiping other cars as it went, accelerating.
Stop the fucking car man!
Mick looked up just in time to see that they were going to collide with a truck. He released his hold on Daniel's neck and was thrown free, flying through the air to land on the pavement with a hard thwack.
His ears were ringing, but he could hear heard a loud crash as the car struck something. After a moment he groaned and was able to roll onto his back. A throbbing pain in his side told him that he'd broken a rib. He looked over at the car. It had hit a light pole head on.
It registered with alarm that the driver's side door was open and Daniel was staggering out. Mick could see some sort of sharp instrument in Daniel's hand. As Mick watched, Daniel crossed around the car, to the passenger side where Beth was seated.
No! Damn it, leave her alone. He struggled to his feet and walked with a swaying step toward the car, picking up speed as he went. Daniel grasped the passenger side door handle pulling it open and was reaching down toward Beth. Mick had almost closed the distance.
"I'm not going to let you hurt her!"
Daniel's head jerked toward the sound of Mick's voice. He straightened up and as Mick put his arms out to grab him, Daniel shoved the ice pick contained in his right hand directly into Mick's abdomen.
Mick gave a loud grunt as the weapon slid in. A shooting pain erupted in his mid-section and he dropped to his knees. Neither man moved for an instant. But the pain was already disappearing, and Mick raised his eyes to meet Daniel's. The young assistant's face colored with surprise. Mick rose laboriously to his feet. The pick was still piercing his body. He kept his eyes on Daniel's as he wrapped his hand around the handle of the weapon and withdrew it. He could hear Daniel's breathing speed up and the scent of fear poured out of him.
Mick's right hand darted out, his fingers grabbing onto the killer's throat, squeezing. "Shouldn't have done that," he told him. He stabbed the ice pick into Daniel's belly.
You're not going to hurt anyone every again buddy.
Mick thrust upward with his right hand, throwing Daniel's body hard into the light pole. Daniel slammed into it and landed back on the car windshield with a loud boom, motionless.
Mick stared at Daniel for a moment longer, his chest heaved with shallow breaths. At last he turned toward Beth. With bleary eyes she was watching him. He strained his hearing for her heartbeat and found it. It was a bit slow, because of the drugs he thought, but she'd live.
He leaned down over her and slid his right arm under her knees and his left arm around her back, lifting her out of the car. She wrapped one arm around his neck and laid her head onto his shoulder. Her eyes had slipped shut.
There was a pain around Mick's heart, and unlike the cracked rib and stab wound, it wasn't healing quickly.
You almost lost her. It was stuck in his brain on repeat.
Now rationally, I realize that my going to see her that night at the fountain didn't put her in harm's way. From what I can see, she is completely capable of doing that all on her own and would have found trouble even without my presence. But knowing how good she has become at putting herself in dangerous situations does make it difficult for me to walk away. I've had trouble doing that for the past twenty-two years.
I suppose you're wondering why it was I recognized her face on that news report. See, there is a reason I feel driven to protect Beth. It's because of me that she almost died as a child.
Mick St John had caught one hell of a case. He'd made it his practice over the years not to get any more involved in human affairs than was necessary. When he'd deviated from this course in the past, he'd usually ended up regretting it. Still though, because of his profession as a private investigator, a certain level of contact was a necessity. And as much as he tried to stay detached, his current client was turning that into a challenge.
There had been a knock on his office door. When he'd answered it, he found a petite brunette woman, probably in her mid-thirties. Tears were streaming down her cheeks. She grasped him by the arms and dropped her head onto his chest, dissolving into sobs. Through her tears she managed to convey that her daughter had been kidnapped, taken from her bed in the night. The woman was shaking and gasping for breath, beside herself with fear.
He didn't have the heart to turn her away, not with the little girl's life in jeopardy. He'd gone with his new client to her home to gather what clues he could. As he had stood in the child's bedroom, he'd sucked a deep breath in through his nose, picking up the scents still lingering in the air, traces that no human could be aware of. First there was the little girl, sweet and smelling of apple shampoo. Layered over that was the tainted whiff of pure terror, the adrenaline that was released when the child was grabbed. This second scent he could pick up strongest first by her bed, moving in a trail out the window. He inhaled again, attempting to identify the third emanation, the aura of the kidnapper.
His eyes popped wide and his stomach clenched in pain as he placed the last scent. Her perfume was unmistakable. He'd been swamped in her fragrance for the last thirty years. It was his ex-wife, Coraline.
He turned his shocked gaze back to the little girl's mother. Beth's mother he reminded himself. The small blond child was named Beth. Her mother's eyes held a frantic glint.
"What is it? Did you find something?" Her voice was panicked and hopeful at the same time.
"I think I know who took your daughter," he told her with a shaky voice.
The woman gasped. "Who? Do you know where they took her?"
Mick shook his head, staring at the empty bed. "No, but I'm going to find out." He couldn't answer the first question, the who, for her. He turned back to Beth's mother. "Stay here. It's too dangerous for you to come with me."
"But…" she began to plead.
"No," he told her in a firm voice. "I mean it. Stay here. I will call you as soon as I know something."
The woman bit her lower lip as fresh tears slid down her face. "Alright," she managed to say.
Mick fled out of the bedroom and the small house as fast as he could manage.
He knew of several hiding places that Coraline kept across the city. Of course it was possible that she'd taken the child to her mansion in the Hollywood Hills, but he thought it unlikely. That location was too exposed. Both friends and fawning admirers alike knew to call on her there, and did with frequency. He was stopping at one of her haunts, a crumbling abandoned home in a rundown neighborhood, with grimy dirt caked walls and windows covered by chain link fence.
Mick approached the house cautiously, creeping up the ancient boards that comprised the front steps. The wood creaked under each footstep. When he had reached the front door he closed his fingers around the knob and twisted. The door popped open revealing a damp, musty hallway. He took a breath. Their scents were here, both Beth and Coraline.
He grabbed an oil lamp off of a side table that was sitting on his left, just inside the entryway. Fumbling in his jacket pocket, he located a match, striking it and lighting the lamp's wick. The sickly yellow glow cast by the lantern did nothing to improve the appearance of the wreck of a building. He swallowed down a wave of nausea, thinking of how frightened Beth must be in this awful place.
He tracked the trail to a back bedroom. Pushing the door with one hand, it swung open in a slow arc revealing the room beyond. Standing on the far side, a small girl with bright blond hair and blue eyes turned her head toward him in alarm. Her face betrayed the vestiges of tears; wet streaks that shown in the light.
Mick kept his voice soft and soothing, holding out his hand, gesturing for her to stay where she was and not run. "It's alright. I'm here, it's alright."
Beth's eyes rose over her shoulder up to the top of the room. He followed her glance in time to see Coraline clinging to the ceiling, bracing her powerful legs against the walls in the corner. He watched her push off and float down from her perch with a swooping noise, the sheer fabric of her long white dress billowing out behind her, making her look like an angel. She landed lightly on her feet and glided over behind Beth before he could stop her, grasping the child by the shoulders.
"I knew you would come." Coraline's eyes sparkled and the corners of her mouth turned up in triumph. If he wasn't mistaken, she was joyful that he'd arrived. Beth's feature grew pinched. He could see tension contracting the muscles of her body at Coraline's touch.
"Here we are, Mick, finally, one happy family," Coraline continued. She took her hands and ran them along the sides of Beth's face.
Mick met the frightened child's gaze. "Beth, it's going to be alright." He reassured her.
He let his eyes rise to meet Coraline's. His blood was boiling in his veins, leaving a loud thrumming sensation in his ears. "You're not gonna do this." His voice was a menacing growl.
"It'll work Mick… you, me, and baby," Coraline cooed, her voice seductive. Her eyes were firmly fastened onto his.
"No!" His brow furrowed and he responded, his tone sharp and angry. "I'm not going to let you hurt that girl. I can't let you." He was dying to take another look at Beth, to try and console her, but he didn't dare take his eyes off of Coraline. At the edge of his vision he could see Coraline use her hand to push Beth behind her into the corner. He could hear Beth whimpering.
He knew what was coming next before it happened.
In a flash, Coraline's eyes shifted from their normal dark brown to a pale icy blue. She opened her mouth in a snarl and as he watched, her eye teeth lengthened into sharp, pointed fangs. The noise that escaped her throat was a guttural growl, more at home in a wild animal than in a woman. She lunged at him with both arms, striking him in the chest with her hands. He was caught off guard and he careened backward slamming into a wall. Recovering quickly, he dropped to his knees in a crouch and let himself transform. The vampire came to the surface, taking over. He could feel his own eyes and teeth change. A familiar rush of power flooded his limbs.
He roared back at her baring his own fangs. Mick sprang forward at Coraline and grabbed her, spinning her sideways so that she went crashing through a partition that divided the room. The sound of shattering glass surrounded them as shards flew everywhere. He had Coraline pinned on her back. She was thrashing back and forth, beating him with her hands, snapping with her teeth. She planted her hands in his chest and thrust upward, sending him flying backwards again. He rose to his feet and she was on him. He threw a punch, landing it on her jaw. She stumbled but responded in turn with blows of her own.
They grappled with each other, and she pushed him across the small space till his back was pressed into a beam. He was flailing his arms, trying to shove her away, when she crushed her lips to his in a violent kiss, her fangs digging into his skin and drawing blood. He jerked his head back, away from her. She moved her mouth to his neck, sinking her teeth into his flesh with great force. A sharp ripping pain tore through him.
He drove his head back against the beam behind him. There was a loud crack as the beam gave way, sending both of them crashing to the floor. Using his legs to flip himself over, he landed on top of Coraline before she could react. His right hand shot out, his fingers closing around a long piece of broken wood. Without pausing to think, he raised the hand containing the stake high over Coraline's chest and brought it down, letting the wood puncture her heart. Her body froze motionless beneath him at once.
He was still on top of her, staring down at her pale, yet beautiful face. A long shaky breath escaped him. How had they come to this? How could she ever consider…
The girl… Beth… My God, what was she thinking right now? How terrified must she be?
He got to his feet. Various aches from the fight could still be felt but were fading quickly as he healed. He forced the vampire down, to go dormant within him, and he could feel his body returning to a state that, on the surface, resembled human. He turned and rushed to the corner where the little girl's small form was hunched. Her breathing was rapid and could see her shoulders trembling. Her eyes locked on to his face, her features contorted with fear.
She wouldn't trust him, wouldn't go with him. How could she after what she'd just witnessed?
Nonetheless, he held out his hand to her. He tried to make his voice as comforting as possible. "Come on. I'm gonna take you home," he told her.
She hesitated for the barest of seconds, before stepping forward towards him, letting him lift her.
With her small, fragile body cradled in his arms a fresh wave of fury flashed up through him from deep in his gut. How could she consider turning this girl? How much of a monster had Coraline become, and what would make her think he would have ever consented to it?
As he reached the door to the room he shot a look back at Coraline, still paralyzed on the floor with the wooden stake through her heart. It was too much. She'd gone too far, and she wasn't coming back.
He grabbed the closest oil lantern and tossed it to the floor where the contents ignited in a bright orange burst. He didn't stay to watch as the curtains and the bedding went up in flames. He only hurried out of the house toward the street, clinging to the innocent charge whose thin arms were wrapped around his neck.
He'd almost gotten safely away, when he was struck by the impulse to turn and look back. His heart constricted in his chest. Jesus… he'd loved her so much…
He stared at the window, through which he could see the room they'd just left. Bright orange and red tongues of fire were ripping through it. Just then she appeared in the window, popping up to pound her fists on the glass, her hair outlined by the glow.
Enough… he was done. He turned away again, leaving Coraline there to die in the inferno. She didn't matter anymore. What mattered most was already in his arms. Protecting her and bringing her home where she would be safe.
Since that rescue all those years ago, I've felt responsible for protecting Beth. I have taken the liberty of checking on her over the years. You can question the wisdom of my doing this. I am not supposed to be sentimental. I am certainly not supposed to cultivate a connection to a human. Besides, I should leave her alone if only because it's my fault she was ever put in danger to begin with. Indirectly my fault, but that doesn't make me feel any better.
The last time I checked on her she was still a kid. At least that's what I saw. This is probably the chief reason I was so unprepared this time. She is, most definitely, no longer a child. Now today, I was there when she needed me to protect her, and for the first time since that night twenty-two years ago, I carried Beth in my arms again, the woman instead of the child.
I can't help but wonder what the cost has been though, or will be, to me. But I can't deny that holding her feels good. It touches the soul that I forgot I had.
They were sitting on the couch in Mick's apartment. He stood up to walk her to the door. He knew that he needed to take her home. She had begun to ask too many questions, dangerous questions. She wanted to know about her kidnapping as a child. Why did she feel like he had saved her all those years ago? But that couldn't be could it? She also wanted to know how it was possible that she'd seen him stabbed, and now he was healed. He knew that evading her questions wouldn't work forever.
He offered his hand to her and she took it, rising from the couch. But instead of turning away, she stood with her eyes fixed on his face. In her gaze he could see her confusion. He could see her humanity and her fragility. He understood that she was trying to come to terms with a connection to him that she didn't comprehend. In that moment though, he didn't care that he wasn't allowed to tell her why she thought she knew him. He didn't care that he should convince her to leave him and not look back. Her beautiful face and shaken gaze was turned on him, wanting something to hold on to. Looking for something he wished he could give her.
Without taking her eyes off his own, she stepped forward and wrapped her arms around him. She pressed her nose and mouth into his shoulder, and he was surrounded by her. His nose was filled with her scent, his ears could hear nothing but her pulse – still racing a bit, the softness of her hair brushed his cheek, and the warmth of her body poured into him through his shirt. For the second time in hours he was holding her, but this time she was awake, and she there by her own choice. He hesitated, but he gave in to the comfort she was willing to give him, gave in to the comfort he wanted to provide her. He wrapped his arms around her, and wanting to just exist in the sensations pouring into him, he closed his eyes and let time stand still. Just for a moment, he held her in his arms.
Before he had to release her back to the world, and her life.