Those He Left Behind ( Josef's story) Challenge#177 PG Rated

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Those He Left Behind ( Josef's story) Challenge#177 PG Rated

Postby choccyterri » Tue May 07, 2019 4:18 pm

Hello lovely Moonlight friends! :ghug: So I have already posted the original version of this, but wanted everyone to see the vision that Alle added to it whilst she was being my ever capable beta!
( Thank you again lovely!! ) In her mind she began hearing Josef tell the story, and so I was more than happy for her to add a second edit in Josef's words! I thought it would be good for people to see how our process went. :heart: And of course, I wanted people to see the work that Alle had put in to giving us a different perspective. :hearts:

So here we have it! I hope that you like it!

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

Those He Left Behind. Josef's Story.



Beth steps into the pool of light, and closes her eyes. It’s cute. Unnecessary, but cute. I asked her once why she does it, and she said she didn’t know why, but it still seems to help her focus... even now, years later, when her senses have become so heightened. She knows she doesn’t need to do it... perhaps it’s a last little bit of what she used to be...

Her hair glows in the glaring white of the streetlamp. And as I watch her from the nearby rooftop, my mouth quirks at the corner. She’s always been a fighter. From the days when her biggest worry was getting her story, to the times she had to save her vamp. From the sun, from his crazy ex’s family. Man, she took it all on the chin. And that one time Mick did something really reckless. Went off after said crazy ex. That was the one time I had to step in and take care of her. And I failed. Mick told me I failed, as if I needed him to tell me. And then he left.

________________________________

It seems so long ago now. When Mick said he was going out of town and she would need to move into my place for a while, she shook her head and gave that little roll of her eyes. ‘Well, that’s just not going to happen,’ she declared.

Mick held her by the shoulders. ‘That’s the way it needs to be, Beth. I need to know you’re safe while I’m gone. And I need to make sure Coraline’s okay. And no… not because I love her, but because at one time, I did love her…. She gave up her freedom for me. This one last time, I need to make sure she’s okay.’

Beth gave a little sigh of resentment, and a trace of a pout crossed her lips. But she acquiesced… at least to Mick leaving town. She knew what this meant to him… he still saw what had happened to Coraline as his fault. How many times had he told her he could see the fear in Coraline’s eyes when Lance took her?? Well, whatever Mick felt… one thing Beth made perfectly clear was that she wasn’t interested in spending her days lazing around a pool with ‘Josef’s next snack’ while Mick was gone.

So every chance she got, she found a reason to head into the city, or into the office, but then of course she ended up back at her own apartment. I’d get a call from the very discreet fellow I had following her. An hour or so later I’d show up, and we’d have the same conversation.

This one was pretty much like all the others. ‘Beth… do you know how Mick would feel if something happened to you? This isn’t a game. The Duvalls are a powerful family… their reach is long. If something happens over there that doesn’t please them, there’s no doubt they’ll seek retaliation over here. I need to be able to protect you.’

Again with the eyeroll. ‘Well, surely if your little ‘friend’ is keeping watch, I’ll be fine, Josef... I mean, what’s the worst…?’ Her voice trailed off. She knew the worst thing that could happen. She also knew she was sounding a little like a spoiled five year old at that moment. And I knew she was wondering if this was the way it would always be if Mick wasn’t around… for whatever reason. I was wondering the same thing. And believe me, I sympathised with her.

She let out a sigh, and ran an exasperated hand through her hair. ‘Okay. Let me just grab a couple more things…’ and she headed towards the bedroom. She called back into the kitchen where I stood, watching her. ‘So have you heard from him today…? He still hasn’t called. It’s kind of been every morning since he left…’

For a moment, I had trouble controlling my expression. How had I missed that?? Not realised their morning call hadn’t happened?? I’d positioned Beth in a room on the other side of the house, simply so that our lives didn’t have to intertwine too much. After all, it was obvious that Beth didn’t exactly approve of my lifestyle, and I had tried to be considerate of that. But having Vampire hearing comes in handy when there’s a new person in your home. You pick up on things… tones of voice, the quickening of a breath. And I’d heard Beth’s voice every morning in their call. Worry, mixed with love, mixed with hope. She wanted Mick back in LA as much as I did. Maybe more. The sooner he was away from that family the better. How had I missed it that morning??

No matter how many feelers I’d put out before Mick’s trip to Europe, information about Coraline’s whereabouts had been sketchy. He was heading into the Duvalls’ territory almost blind. And alone. But he’d left over a week ago. It should not be taking Mick this long.

I shook off Beth’s mood invisibly that day. Tried to ease her uncertainty. ‘He said he was heading out last night, didn’t he? Meeting with a local historian. So that would have been before his usual time to call you. Maybe he just got tied up with his research. I hear they’ve got some great brandy in the area.’ Because, of course, a wisecrack would make it all okay.

‘Hmm… maybe… I still wish he’d call.’ Dropping the rest of her things into her overnighter, Beth joined me in the living room. ‘I’ll try him later, maybe….’ She paused at the couch, glancing around the apartment, but I could tell her thoughts were thousands of miles away, somewhere in France.

‘Let me… I’ll see if there are any rocks that need turning over at this end–and by rocks, I mean helpful idiots who helped Cora while she was here–although I was sure we took care of all of them.’ As I spoke, I gently rested a hand at Beth’s elbow and steered her from the apartment. Leaving the building, I gave an imperceptible nod to my guy, and helped Beth into the back of my limo.

I can still remember now… the length of the journey back into the hills. It was a hot one, and I closed my eyes against the glare and leaned back in my seat, breathing slowly, while Beth watched her daylight world pass by the tinted window of the car. I can still remember the way her pulse sounded as our journey took us from the noise of car horns and police sirens, to the quiet hum of wheels on asphalt as we moved up into the hills. The hiss of the Santa Ana winds in the dry grass at the side of the road.

I was pulled from my reverie by the sound of my driver’s voice. ‘My apologies, Mr. Kostan… it looks like there’s some road work up ahead… I’ll find another route.’

Immediately, I was on alert. ‘It’ll mean a U-turn up here, Mike. You’re telling me the city didn’t let us know? What do we pay that guy at City Hall for?’ I scanned the work site stretching across the road ahead of us, straining to hear the conversations of the workmen as my driver manoeuvred the car smoothly over the shoulder of the road to go back the way we came. No… this wasn’t right. I’d never seen a set of city workers with such clean hands… shaven… barely perspiring.

‘Beth!’ As the word left my lips I heard the sound of the first bullet leaving the chamber, and I leapt across the car to cover her. Yes, the car was bulletproof, but I wasn’t taking any chances while Mike got us out of there. The sound of a revving engine followed us down the hill at speed. Jesus, I thought, I could run faster than this on my own two feet. But for now, making my body into a shelter for Beth was my top priority. Bullets were still raining over the car, and Mike knew what he was doing. The guy had gotten me out of more than one jam before… he’d do it again. But all the while the following vehicle, now joined by another, was getting closer to our tail lights. The second SUV edged alongside us on the wrong side of the road and tapped the rear fender, and Mike had to fight for control of the car. Another tap, and another—each speeding nudge sending us closer to the edge. Another hit… I grabbed Beth’s seatbelt and pulled it tight, gripping her against the leather seat. And she looked up at me as I covered her. Man, I’d seen that look before. All questions and blue eyes. And courage. That time Mick took off her blindfold. He’d saved her from that asshole who wanted her blood. We had saved her. But this time Mick wasn’t here. He was lost in France… and it looked as if he’d done something that had gotten all of us into trouble.

The next powerful nudge… the screaming sound of the car engine as it revved over the edge, and that second of weightlessness…

‘I will not leave you.’ I watched Beth set her jaw… and, after staring at me hard, she closed those blue eyes tight, the little furrows appearing in her brow, and wrapped her arms around me… until the car hit the ground. Rolling, grinding, roaring its way down the mountainside. I can’t remember the exact moment I let go of the seatbelt. When the buckle burst. When Beth’s already unconscious bodyweight, and the shriek of shredding metal as the roof was torn open, threw us both out into the raging heat of the day… and crashing onto the rocks below.

________________________________

‘They’re here! He’s here!’

I awoke, disoriented, blinded by the afternoon sun, and dragged myself up. How long had we been out there? I listened for the nearest heartbeat, only to feel the searing pain of a bullet as it knocked me back down, and hear the laughter of two approaching men. One of them walked up and kicked me in the kidneys, but his friend had other ideas.

‘Hey… Mr. Duvall said to leave Kostan alive.’

The other one sounded disappointed. ‘I was just making sure he gets the point.’ He nudged my bleeding shoulder with his toe. I got the point.

His associate chuckled. ‘Heh. Maybe this’ll teach St. John a lesson. Keep his P.I. face out of other people’s business.’

The two voices gradually got quieter as they left the scene. I listened all the while, memorising every nuance of their voices, until I could no longer hear them. Jesus, so Mick had pissed off the Duvalls. Great. Another mess to clean up. But right now, and most importantly, I could hear a heartbeat… and it was female. Thank God. But it was weak…

I inched out of my jacket. Covering my head to give myself some protection from the sun, I stood up and picked my way through the debris of my former vehicle… moving towards that ever weakening sound. I passed Mike’s body. It was a mess. Then I caught sight of his cell, shattered on the rocks, and reached into my inside jacket pocket. Thank God for good tailoring. Speed dialled the Cleaner. This was not something they’d want a human to come across.

When I reached Beth, I remembered what it was like to feel sick. Sick to my stomach. She was lying face down, her blonde hair splayed out in the sunshine, and it was bad. A broken, pale body laid out over the pale stones. And the smell. All I could smell was Beth’s blood. There was so much of it…

_______________________________

As I waited for the Cleaners, I carefully turned Beth over… releasing all new scents of that delicious blood of hers. No wonder that guy had gone nuts over her before. It was all I could do to keep my self-control, just keep protecting her from the sun. Let her know I hadn’t left, that I was still there. And that’s how the two of us stayed until the Cleaners turned up.

It wasn’t easy, getting us off that hillside and into the converted ice truck they used for daylight removals, but they managed it with their trademark efficiency. They really did have a plan for everything. The Cleaner had arranged Beth on a gurney in the back of the truck. And it took her only a moment’s assessment to tell me what I already knew.

‘Look, Josef, we don’t run an ambulance service. We can either let her bleed out here, or get her to the hospital. That would need to be fast. And you know how many questions that will bring. It’s not our mode of operation.’

I kept my expression impassive, but it was obvious to both of us that the situation was grim. And my usually decisive mind had been reduced to a burning mass of what ifs. What if she died? What if Mick never came back? What if the hospital asked too many questions? But overriding them all…. There was no time.

The Cleaner had given me a glass of warmed B positive, and I watched the blood caress the sides of it as the truck moved through the Los Angeles streets. ‘Those aren’t our only options…’

I heard a catch in the Cleaner’s throat. ‘You’d do that…? Turn Mick’s girlfriend…? What will he…?’

‘He’s not here to say anything.’ I looked up at my companion, interrupting… before rising and moving with renewed strength to the side of the gurney. ‘But I know that we can’t let her die. He’d never forgive me.’

If only it had been that simple.

__________________________

Half an hour later, the ice truck was sitting outside my house in the Hollywood hills, its only inhabitants myself, Josef Kostan, and a newly turned Elizabeth Turner. Former Buzzwire reporter, and now the newest member of the Los Angeles Vampire community. The Cleaners had departed, leaving me to take the only form of action that would keep our community safe–without, to all outside appearances, the loss of Beth’s life.

I had never thought of Beth as beautiful. A looker, maybe, and she definitely had spunk. But now… as the two of us sat face to face under the harsh interior lights of the truck, her skin glowed. Otherworldly. Her hair almost radiated beneath the light… and her eyes. Well, there’s a lot to be said for silver blue. She really was born to be a Vampire.

I passed her another bag of pre-packaged blood with a tube attached for added ease, and watched as she gulped it down, replacing all she’d lost and healing her many injuries. All she wanted, all she needed. And we talked as she drank her fill. She had always had a curious mind, and it seemed to me that her need for answers, from the beginning, curbed her need to run mad. She wasn’t quite like any other new turn I’d seen. But then again, she didn’t have just any Sire.

___________________________

For days, Beth stayed solely in my care. I conducted business from the house. Video meetings with the team at Kostan Industries. Phone calls. And after a few days, people coming and going, each one a test of Beth’s will. No one was to be touched, by the express order of her Sire… and she was a model fledgling, smart and careful.

It had been almost a week, when Beth scented the air, recognising man she loved. She knew it was him before he even made it through the gates–I saw the panic in her eyes as the realisation dawned on her. Mick was back. Home. And he must know already what she was. Who she now was… who she would now always be. I wished at the time that Beth’s emotions didn’t all show on her face. I could see the next new-found thought enter her head–she’d be able to spend the rest of her existence with the man she loved. Her doubt and fear turned into a joyous light that glowed from her eyes. And she rushed to the door to welcome him in.

She realised immediately that it was the wrong move.

Mick had practically flown through the door, bursting past her, his forearm catching me across the throat… pinning me against the far wall of the hallway. Beth’s retaliation was that of a new fledgling defending her Sire. Swift, unthinking, and somewhat sloppy, but at least she tried. So strong, these new-borns… and she was able to delay Mick’s attack long enough for my security force to grab Mick and haul him off me. He stopped struggling and listened to my explanation of what had happened. And then he told us about his time in a French oubliette. A prisoner of Lance Duvall… contemplating the possibility of forever in a black hole… a Vampire’s living death. Not sure if he would ever see the world outside again. But a few days later, Duvall had let him out, cleaned him up, and put him on a plane, hissing a warning in his ear. To never come looking for Coraline again. If he did, what had happened in LA would seem like child’s play. Mick was dumbfounded. What had happened in LA?? Lance’s staff played dumb, so he was completely in the dark. All he knew was that he needed to get back to his city. To see his friend. To see his Beth. Through the endless hours of that flight back to LA, a feeling of dread was rising in his stomach… and on landing, his first instinct was to get to my place. As the cab climbed into the hills, he’d wondered if he was doing the right thing. And then, when he reached my house, his nose told him what I’d done.

_______________________

Mick did his best to calm down some. Take in the situation, deal with his anger and his guilt… and talk to Beth and me, both together and separately. I know he tried hard. But all the time Mick spent with Beth in those days after he returned… he seemed to look at her differently after her turning. He couldn’t look her in the eye, and he never touched her.

One early morning, after Beth had gone to rest, we stood at the window, looking out over the city and drinking Scotch. Mick’s first instinct had always been to protect Beth. ‘What am I to her, now that she doesn’t need me to do that, Josef…?’

I looked at the whiskey in my glass. ‘I don’t know, man. Haven’t you always protected each other? That doesn’t have to change.’ But Mick shook his head. He struggled with so many things, especially guilt over the fact that he was the reason Duvall’s people had caused the crash. But it was more than that. He had loved Beth for her humanity, and that was lost. And no matter how she tried to make Mick see that, inside, she was still the woman who loved him… he couldn’t see past what she had become. What I had made her into. His anger with me was all too evident.

‘So what should I have done, Mick?’ I asked him one night. ‘Let her die? Let your precious Beth end?’ Mick’s eyes flashed with an anger I hadn’t seen in a very long time. ‘She’s not my Beth anymore, Josef. I trusted my Beth to my best friend… I asked him to take care of her. And he failed. She’s his Beth now.’

_______________________

Mick left that night. He explained to Beth how he felt, and try as I might, I couldn’t help but listen to what they were saying. Beth was pissed, and rightly so… but her fledgling passions meant that she wasn’t good at curbing her tongue, and things quickly escalated into a game of guilt and barbs. That final argument ended with a sullen Mick shrugging into his black overcoat and walking out. After everything we’d been through together. Everything.


‘I’ll see you.’ Those were his last words to a friend of over sixty years, and then he disappeared out into the night. We let him go. We didn’t have a choice.

______________________

And now here we are… two years later. Beth is now a fully integrated member of Los Angeles Vampire society. Under my tutelage, she quickly found a place at Kostan Industries. Investigating potential clients–an outlet for her curiosity, which has proven very useful, and suits both of us. It also gives Beth time to search for Mick, whose ability to go off the grid has both frustrated, and amazed us. For a guy who spent sixty years hardly bothering to cover his tracks, he sure knew how to disappear. And while we don’t think he’s left Southern California, no one in LA is talking. I know that a lot of people questioned my choices that day. But whether or not they would admit it to me is another matter. But it doesn’t mean they have to be helpful with our enquiries. And so tonight is like so many others… the two of us out in the city. Searching for the slightest scent of the Vampire we both love. Just to find out if he can ever forgive us. Come back to us…

The light above Beth flickers… and she glances up, before turning around. Her Vampire eyes gaze steadily into the darkness. From my vantage point I can’t see into the corner of that alley, but it’s obvious that Beth is watching someone. She tilts her head and sniffs, a look of uncertain recognition on her face… and I move closer, trying to catch the scent. A stray breeze carries something familiar to me for just a moment… not quite Vampire, but not quite human. Damn the Duvalls and their so-called cure.

Beth glances up again… this time towards me, holding my gaze for a moment before looking back into the shadows at the end of the alley...

A dark figure moves into the pool of light under the streetlamp, and a voice I thought I’d never hear again floats through the night air. ‘Hi Beth.’

‘Hello Coraline….’
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“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”
― Marcus Aurelius.
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Re: Those He Left Behind ( Josef's story) Challenge#177 PG R

Postby allegrita » Wed May 08, 2019 3:00 pm

This was a fun exercise--to add a tweak here and there in order to put the story into one person's POV, without changing the story in any major way. It was a huge leap of faith on your part to let me play with "your baby"--and I thank you. :hug: :rose:
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Re: Those He Left Behind ( Josef's story) Challenge#177 PG R

Postby MickLifeCrisis » Wed May 08, 2019 5:23 pm

My tummy is all in knots... :Mickangel:

Nice tweaking, Alle! I love both versions of the story!

(Just as I know I'll love the continuation... :whistle: )
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Re: Those He Left Behind ( Josef's story) Challenge#177 PG R

Postby Luxe de Luxe » Thu May 09, 2019 8:38 am

WOW! I hadn’t seen this before, in this or another form, and I love it!! It’s so well written. I particularly enjoyed your description of the sounds as Beth travelled to Josef’s in his limo - I could actually hear them in my head.

It’s an odd experience to read a fic with a premise so very similar to that of something I’ve written and as I was reading I found myself fascinated and enthralled by the choices you made. I really like that this was from Josef’s perspective and I think you’ve hit Micks response on the head - it’s no secret that I’m of the belief that Mick values Beth’s humanity very very highly and like you I think he would value her less as a vampire.

You’ve left us on a cliffhanger - is it your intention to continue with this?
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Re: Those He Left Behind ( Josef's story) Challenge#177 PG R

Postby choccyterri » Mon May 13, 2019 11:13 pm

:flowers: Ahh, ladies thank you for reading!! I truly loved the Josef spin on the original story I'd written, and so wanted to post it as well as the story as it came to me. It's been such a while since I was inspired, and loved the fact that there were two perspectives on it. :heart:

Luxe, I would love to read your piece if you could pop a link in here to direct me to it?? It would only be natural for Mick to leave Beth in Josef's care, I think... what happens then is in the mind of the writer, I suppose. I'd so enjoy seeing a different perspective.

Thanks again ladies! :hug:
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