Silver Belles - "Silver" Challenge #161 (G)

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Silver Belles - "Silver" Challenge #161 (G)

Postby HotMicks » Sat Jan 03, 2015 9:15 pm

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

Rating: G

Author's Note: So this is one of those “when Hell freezes over” kind of things. Usually my brain has “the dumb” but occasionally it gets an idea.

It starts off a little dark, but never fear...

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Pour us another Scotch and pull up a chair. This could take awhile...

**********************************************************************

When I was a kid I loved Christmas, but after I became a vampire, I hated it. Now, thanks to Beth, I’ve come full circle.

It wasn’t easy. If I were breaking down a case, I’d have to trace it back to the night Lee Jay shot me full of silver buckshot. Everything in my life changed that night… for the better, though I couldn’t see that then.

Christmas Past

Maybe because it falls at the end of the year, Christmas had become a kind of “taking stock” holiday for me. I would focus on all that I had lost during the year. There was my mom, in 1982, and Coraline, in 1985. Then Ray just after 9/11 and Lilah six years ago.

Of course, I’d already cut all ties with them long before they passed. You’d think that would make it easier, but somehow it doesn’t. It just makes the sense of loss even worse.

So every year while everyone else was lighting their menorahs and building their Christmas fires, I’d sit in my dark loft flicking my Zippo and counting my losses.

Flick: Mom.
Flick: Ray.
Flick: Lilah.
Flick: Coraline.

Flick, flick, flick.

It was enough to make you want to drown yourself in a bathtub full of silver.

Save for a few years during the ‘80s when Josef and I partied so hard I couldn’t remember my own name let alone anyone I had ever loved, each Christmas the list got longer. And here’s the thing about that: When you’re human, you can get through these losses by focusing on the future. The hope that tomorrow will be better. You’ll fall in love and start a family. You’ll have children and grandchildren. You humans have generations to look forward to.

For a vamp like me, that is the biggest loss of all. Coraline knew that. That’s why she tried to give me a ‘vamp family’ with Beth. But a cubic zirconia is not a diamond, no matter how hard you try to convince yourself it is.

Everyone in the community recognized it. You could tell instantly which vamps had been turned after they’d had a family, and which were dead ends like me. It’s like they’re walking around wrapped in a security blanket. Somehow, it makes them seem softer. They care about humans, about humanity… about the future — and what happens to their humans in it.

See, vampires and humans aren’t really that different. Humans might look for it at the break of dawn while we seek it in the moonlight, but we both need hope. And like humans, often the difference between vampires is whether one has it or has lost it.

Sometime during my third decade among the undead, I lost mine.

Christmas Way Past

The first Christmas after the fire I was beside myself. On the one hand, I was relieved that my annual visit to watch my mother as she decorated the tree wouldn’t be filled with shame. Even though she never had a clue I was parked across the street, watching her through the front window, I wouldn’t have been able to sit there knowing what I’d done and what she’d think of me. Better that she’d passed.

On the other hand, I killed my wife. I mean, there was no other way, but yeah, that’ll take the jolly out of your Christmas. It didn’t help that I was hanging out at the blues clubs again. “Lost a good woman?” was practically stamped on the front door of those places.

Not that Coraline was ever what you would characterize as a ‘good woman’, but Christmas was the one time of year she could almost seem innocent. I like to think Christmas brought out the child in her, but the truth is she probably did it all for me. Coraline’s world was exotic and cosmopolitan, and Christmas is about as parochial as it gets with its traditions and customs dating back centuries. And although we vamps know better than anyone that the supposed religious element of vampirism is bogus, I couldn’t help but wonder why Coraline had latched onto this particular holiday given its Christian origins.

Nevertheless, come November, the house on Mulholland would be filled with laughter and the smell of cinnamon and pine. Coraline could not abide the trend toward those new plastic trees and always insisted on traipsing all over L.A. to find the freshest tree lot. She delighted in listening to the carolers — although I always had to make sure she was firmly snuggled in my arms so the baritone would make it to the next door step. And the parties? Everyone in the L.A. vamp community would be talking about them for months into the New Year.

But Christmas night was just for the two of us. She’d spend all year searching for the perfect little treasures to memorialize some special moment we had shared. One year she had a jeweler make a gold keychain that was an exact replica (dents and all) of the car I had when I picked her up for our first date — the car we first, well, you know….

While the rest of L.A. was sleeping off their turkey comas, we would tear into our presents like two five-year-olds unsure whether Finders Keepers applies to Christmas gifts. I loved watching the silvery reflection of her smile dancing across that candlelit wall of glass as she plucked the gifts one-by-one from under the Christmas tree in wide-eyed anticipation of my reaction. As much as I resented her wedding night ‘gift’ to me, I couldn’t help but be touched by her Herculean efforts every Christmas, as if it would somehow make up for all that she had taken from me. Christmas was her way of trying to show that she genuinely loved me.

I never fully appreciated her need to make amends until after the fire. Wracked with guilt, I had to leave L.A. that first Christmas. The Hollywood Christmas Parade… Las Posadas on Olvera Street… The Nutcracker… the holiday boat parades… everywhere I turned, there was a reminder of Coraline. Mixed in with images from the fire, it was too much. Beth’s innocent blue eyes, fringed by the collar of ruffles on her flannel nightgown, gave way to Coraline’s angular features lit by the silvery reflection of the moonlight on the water as the decorated boats floated past. Anger, horror, love, fear, laughter, courage, loss—I went through a whiplash of emotions as my mind raced from one memory to the next.

I drove up to Big Bear that first Christmas, leaving town at the last minute hoping to find a room once I arrived. Josef invited me over, of course, in one of his first overtures of friendship after Coraline no longer connected us. That, however, would have defeated my purpose. Given that Coraline is the one who introduced us, he would have been a constant reminder of the woman I was trying desperately to forget. Instead, I grabbed my guitar and a bottle of Scotch and headed for the coldest spot you could reach in one day’s drive. I hoped the ice and some music and the Scotch would put my emotions into a deep freeze.

It didn’t work. I could no more run away from Coraline than my own shadow.

Why couldn’t she just leave well enough alone? Why did she always have to push things? And how could I have snapped like that? Why didn’t I just grab Beth and go once I’d staked her? The questions hounded me no matter where I went, so eventually we settled in like long-lost friends and kept company for the next two decades or so… until one night when an old case came back to join the haunting party.

“What are you?”

Lee Jay Spalding was the last person I expected to be a catalyst in my life. When I first dealt with him, I thought he was just your run-of-the-mill sicko wife-beater. Turns out his aim was good for more than just a few more bullets in my mason jar collection. When Beth saw my blood-covered mouth and gasped, I mentally cursed that psycho for shattering the careful, cautious approach I’d taken since the night I ran into her at the fountain.

But I have to admit that I also felt relief. Her question, simple and direct, caught me off guard. Sitting there as I was, with blood dripping down my chin and a couple of leaking blood bags in my hand, I blurted out the truth. To this day, I’m not sure if it was the the surprise question or the connection I felt after years of watching out for her. Being able to trust Beth with my secret made our relationship different than any other I’d had with a human since I was turned, and once she'd remembered that horrible night in the hotel room, our fate was sealed.

Christmas Presents

“What do you get the vampire who has everything?” Beth asked as she handed me a gift wrapped in fancy gold paper. “A guy who saved you from a psycho serial killer and a psycho ex-wife and a psycho vampire cult leader and a psycho designer blood dealer and… well, you get the point.”

Was I missing something? Without being too obvious, I scanned the label to see if there was anything special about this bottle. Nope. It appeared to be the same vintage as the bottle she gave me after I rescued her from that T.A.

“You remember when I said family’s not only about D.N.A.? Well, in our case, it is. Open it.”

Pulling the top off the cardboard tube, I saw a snowglobe with a date in April printed on it. Still puzzled as I lifted it out to put it on the shelf, I noticed a black velvet box in the bottom of the canister.

“Now put it on my finger.”

Once again she’d caught me off guard.

“You are going to marry me before our first child is born.”

It couldn’t be! How could I have missed the heartbeat? But yep, there it was — like a tiny echo of Beth’s now quickening pulse.

Ever since she'd heard the news that some scientists had created human embryos with stem cells derived from a skin cell, we’d been working with a friend of Guillermo’s to turn my old army razor into a baby maker. A little DNA here, a little DNA there, what did I care? I figured the science was years away from being of any use to us, but Beth was so passionate about it and I couldn’t refuse her. Now I was going to have to step up to the better stuff — maybe even the A+ — to thank Guillermo for introducing us to Dr. Yablonski. ( ;) )

Stroking my cheek with the back of her hand, Beth pointed to the canister with the other.

“There’s one more item in there.”

I grabbed the tube and peered inside. A sonogram. There it was. Proof that I was no longer a dead end.

Christmas Future

“Was this some kind of joke?” Josef sneered as he slammed the paper down on my kitchen counter.

“It wasn’t my idea,” I replied feebly.

“Look everybody’s ‘coming out’ these days. You and Josef need to lighten up,” Beth charged.

“I don’t think I’ll be slathering on the Banana Boat anytime soon.” Josef pointed to the large photo in the center of the page. “In the old days this wouldn’t even have been an issue,” he said, transforming instantly into that exacerbated professor from Gilligan’s Island. “Without a photo, they just run your engagement announcement at the bottom of the page.”

“I know you don’t understand it, Josef, but I can do more good with the higher profile I gained from working for Tierney,” I explained. “And now that I have a child coming, I want to get these predators off the streets of L.A. A little profile in the paper is not going to draw too much attention. Especially in a town where the celebrity feed is 24/7.”

Just then Josef’s phone rang. He went into the office only to emerge a few minutes later with a smile on his face.

“That was my latest trio of recruits wanting to know when I’m coming home so we can start our holiday celebration,” he said. “I call them the Silver Belles. You know how I love irony.”

“That’s it!” Beth and I yelled in unison.

Josef was taken aback. “What?”

“We’ve been trying to think of a name for a girl and I think you just nailed it. ‘Silver Belle’ is perfect!” I said. “We wanted something related to Christmas, since that’s when Beth gave me the good news.”

“Silver Belle St. John — it has a very… Danielle Steel sort of ring to it. You really are a romantic, my friend.” Josef winked at Beth as he slid the newspaper back into his briefcase. “Alright… I’m willing to let this go, but promise me I won’t be seeing your ugly mug on a billboard as I’m driving down Melrose. It makes the others nervous, and then I have to leave the Belles to go deal with the fallout.

“Are we still on for CHILL this weekend? I know Beth probably won’t want to skate now, but we can still stroll through the ice sculptures. Simone has been talking about it all week. She loves those sculptures.”

“Josef, she loves spending time with you and she knows it’s 9 degrees in there—perfect for an outing with a vampire,” Beth pointed out helpfully. ”And besides, you complain endlessly about the line for skating every year.”

Seeing the Grey Ghost all decked out in her Christmas finest was a new holiday tradition Beth had started a few years ago. One more in her never-ending attempts to replace all my bad memories with better ones. I can hardly believe it, but next year we’ll be bringing our child to sit on Santa’s lap for a picture.

Life is good, and I’m finally willing to let it treat me well — at least for a spell.

Lee Jay didn’t know it, but that night he shot me full of silver buckshot was the most important night of my life — another reason why I know ‘Silver Belle’ is what we’re going to be naming our daughter. I don’t want to spoil the surprise for Beth, but there are some things a father — or at least a father like me — knows best.

***************************************************
In the spirit of Alex’s love for unique baby names. :teeth:
Last edited by HotMicks on Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Silver Belles - "Silver" Challenge #161 (G)

Postby allegrita » Sun Jan 04, 2015 1:06 am

Oh, honey.... I'm giggling and crying all at once! :laugh: :hankie: :cloud9: This is perfect. :heart: :hug: And you snuck Dr. Andy in, too! :hearts: I love to think of Mick and Beth being able to have a child together. What a wonderful Christmas story! (And I love the baby's wacky name.) :snicker:
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Re: Silver Belles - "Silver" Challenge #161 (G)

Postby MickLifeCrisis » Sun Jan 04, 2015 3:43 am

Really liked this, HM! Especially the happy ending. :cloud9:

Anger, horror, love, fear, laughter, courage, loss—I went through a whiplash of emotions as my mind raced from one memory to the next.

This is perfect Mick. :yes:

Great answer to the challenge!
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Re: Silver Belles - "Silver" Challenge #161 (G)

Postby Lucy » Mon Jan 05, 2015 6:37 am

:yahoo: I'd give you 4 thumbs up....but I only have 2 hands....that Dr Y., he's a versatile and hard thinking guy isn't he??? :cheering:
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Re: Silver Belles - "Silver" Challenge #161 (G)

Postby Lilly » Mon Jan 05, 2015 11:10 pm

HotMicks! This. Is. Fabulous! :yahoo:

You know, I've appreciated your sense of humor forever (or about 7 years in ML time :laugh: ). I've praised your snark and graphic arts skills, but who know you could write like this?? :teeth: This is just wonderful -- Mick's voice is so clear and true. This is honestly one of the best Mick POV pieces I've read. :notworthy:

While I love the sweetness and hopefulness of the present and future, the part that truly resonated with me was in the intro and "way past." This, for example, is perfect:
HotMicks wrote:Humans might look for it at the break of dawn while we seek it in the moonlight, but we both need hope. And like humans, often the difference between vampires is whether one has it or has lost it.

Sometime during my third decade among the undead, I lost mine.


You also captured the "noir" tone in passages like this one:
HotMicks wrote:On the other hand, I killed my wife. I mean, there was no other way, but yeah, that’ll take the jolly out of your Christmas. It didn’t help that I was hanging out at the blues clubs again. “Lost a good woman?” was practically stamped on the front door of those places.

and
HotMicks wrote:Instead, I grabbed my guitar and a bottle of Scotch and headed for the coldest spot you could reach in one day’s drive. I hoped the ice and some music and the Scotch would put my emotions into a deep freeze.

It didn’t work. I could no more run away from Coraline than my own shadow.


And I've never really thought much about Mick and Coraline's happy times -- of her being able to "give" the way you have shown us here -- but it somehow feels right. And I think I appreciate her a bit more through your words.

Thank you for this. It's like a new breath of Moonlight - a perfect holiday gift. :hug:
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Re: Silver Belles - "Silver" Challenge #161 (G)

Postby PNWgal » Tue Jan 06, 2015 8:27 pm

This is me right now. :thud:

WHY have you been hiding this talent from us??

This was too awesome for words. :cheer: :cheer: :cheer: :cheer: :cheer: :cheer: :cheer:
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Re: Silver Belles - "Silver" Challenge #161 (G)

Postby darkstarrising » Wed Jan 07, 2015 1:53 am

I'll echo what everyone else has said, HM - this is fabulous!! You are a mighty talented woman, my dear :hug:

You've captured the cadence of Mick's voice over perfectly. Add to that, you've woven threads from different points of his story into a lovely tapestry. The Christmas memories from when he was human to those after he was turned to the present all come together showing a man who treasured his humanity and who eventually came to terms with what he'd become. Still, there was something missing - a human family.

You could tell instantly which vamps had been turned after they’d had a family, and which were dead ends like me. It’s like they’re walking around wrapped in a security blanket. Somehow, it makes them seem softer. They care about humans, about humanity… about the future — and what happens to their humans in it.


One thing I really liked is how he had happy memories of Christmas with Coraline, showing how he'd moved on, making the best of the life he had with her.

As much as I resented her wedding night ‘gift’ to me, I couldn’t help but be touched by her Herculean efforts every Christmas, as if it would somehow make up for all that she had taken from me. Christmas was her way of trying to show that she genuinely loved me.


But you also have him ask a question about Coraline's 'death' I'd never really thought of before

And how could I have snapped like that? Why didn’t I just grab Beth and go once I’d staked her?


Maybe he feared Coraline would try again, and he just couldn't let that happen.

Loved the nod to Dr. Y and the means by which Mick would have a new generation to look forward to.

Lovely, lovely story,, HM :rose:
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Re: Silver Belles - "Silver" Challenge #161 (G)

Postby HotMicks » Wed Jan 07, 2015 8:16 pm

:blushing: Aw, thanks you guys. You’re too kind. :ghug:

This really was a fluke. (I saw the Challenge post and thought of my cousin Holly, who was born on Christmas Eve. :bulb: )

Now back to my moth ball collection…. :vac:
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Re: Silver Belles - "Silver" Challenge #161 (G)

Postby Moonlightsonata » Wed Jan 07, 2015 10:23 pm

I enjoyed the story a lot. Thank you for posting this.
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Re: Silver Belles - "Silver" Challenge #161 (G)

Postby MickLifeCrisis » Sun Dec 11, 2016 9:47 pm

Enjoyed the reread this snowy day! I liked how Mick and Beth knew at the very same moment that "Silver Belle" would be their daughter's name. :wreath:
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