Spoilers : Moonlight, season 1
Summary : Josef-POV to part 1 of “Time is all I have” - twenty years later. For those who didn't understand the first part : this is not an AU, but takes place after the series. First part can be found here.
First posted : right here, today.
Warning : This is another one...I'm sorry. Next one will be more cheerful, I promise!
Disclaimer : The characters are not mine, no money is being made and no infringement is intended.
"I want to see him." Her voice was determined, and it wasn't hard to see through the marks of time on her face. Her bright blue eyes were still as startling, still blazing with Buzzwire fire.
"What makes you think he's still here? He could have relocated," I tried, "tired of babysitting a mortal-"
"You would have joined him," she stated matter-of-factly, and I knew she had a point.
"Beth, please," I implored her, hoping she'd understand why I couldn't give her what she wanted.
"I need to see him."
"Look, you're upset. Why don't you sit down, I'll ask someone to get you some tea and a blanket-"
"Save your patronising, Josef. I may be an elderly citizen, but you're much older than I am. I should be getting you a blanket."
"I prefer freshies to keep me warm." I couldn't resist testing to see if she still flinched at the word. She didn't.
"You haven't changed at all," she said, and smiled, but there was a hint of bitterness. I shrugged.
"I'm a vampire, it's sort of our trademark."
"Like I could have been." It was out. She had said it outloud. But she wasn't done. "Was it you? Did you tell him he shouldn't do it?" I heard her heartbeat picking up, burning with decades of sorrow, anger and disappointment.
"I-- he--" I am hardly ever speechless. But when she asked me this, I knew she demanded more than an answer from me. She wanted an adversary, someone to blame. She needed her anger to shield herself from the heartbreak- she needed it so she could stop asking herself if she could have changed anything.
"He never stopped loving you," I confessed. "Though that wasn't for lack of my trying to convince him otherwise."
She snorted, and didn't seem surprised. Her judgement angered me, but it didn't change what I was trying to do.
"I told him he shouldn't do it, that you weren't cut out for eternal life," I continued, and saw I had her attention. "I told him I would be a better companion to him than you could ever be. And I was. I never judged him for what he was. I never demanded anything of him that would go against his nature. He never had to play a role for me."
"I never-" she started indignantly, but I could tell doubt had started to form.
"I wanted what was best for him," I added defensively, "and I am the best."
I paused. I had given you all you could ever need, that part was true. What I hadn't mentioned was that you rejected it all, every simple pleasure, anything that could have given you comfort. You preferred torturing yourself, watching her, punishing yourself for a crime you didn't commit.
"You told him to leave me so you could have him for yourself?" she finally asked, looking at me. I knew she would believe me, wanted to believe it so her image of you could shine.
"I always get what I want, Beth."
The look of hatred on her face was almost unbearable, but I accepted it- it meant she wouldn't look at you that way.
"He was hurting," I said in my defence.
"So was I."
"Yeah, but you got married and had kids and-"
"Because he wasn't there! He left me! He had no right to make that decision for the both of us. If he had given me a choice-"
"Are you saying you regret having a son?" It wasn't fair, and I knew it. But she wasn't leaving me a choice.
Beth looked taken aback. "Josh is- my life."
"A life that Mick saved."
She opened her mouth and closed it again. I could see tears well up in her eyes, and reached for my pocket, handing her a folded pad of fine linen. She took it and broke into something between a sob and a laugh.
"Why- why can't you use paper hankies like everyone else?"
"It's a pocket square, there's a difference. You don't tie Kleenex around your neck either." I tried not to wince as she blew her nose in it.
"So are you gonna tell me where he is?" she asked, her voice raspy.
"Are you going to leave my office if I do?"
"Ok. He's right behind you. Now, shall I show you to the door?"
Beth ignored me and turned around, fast for her age. You stepped into the light. The secret romantic in me imagined I heard her heart skip a beat or two.
"You were here all this time?" she whispered.
"I was always here, Beth," you replied, my stoic friend, heartbreakingly honest as always.
"I hate you for doing this to me," she said softly, gesturing at her aged body. The crestfallen look on your face made me want to kill her where she stood.
"Beth, I wanted you to have-" you finally started.
"What you couldn't, I know. But I wanted you. You gave me a life- but you took one away as well."
You said nothing.
"Josef said he persuaded you to leave me. Is that true?"
She looked at you. I met your eyes, daring you to deny it. I could see you were fighting with yourself, wanting to take responsibility for your actions. I hoped that for once, you would allow yourself to take the easy way out.
"Mick?" she brought out, pleading.
"Beth, I-" There was defeat in your voice, and I hated myself for putting you through this. This was why I never replied to any of Beth's messages in the past, asking me to contact you.
"I never stopped keeping you safe."
I know you didn't say it to get her recognition, or even her absolution.
"Let me take you home," you offered, sounding helpless.
"I'm old enough to manage that alone." Her voice was small, and I could hear how tightly she was holding on to her tears. Nonetheless, she gave me a cold look that chilled me to the bone. I would need to plunge my fangs into several warm-blooded bodies before I would be able to forget it. "You've won," she announced, and turned back to you.
"I release you of your guard-duty, Mick. There's nothing that could happen to me now that you could protect me from."
I wanted to kill her again, slowly, to prove her wrong, that ungrateful-
"But-" she added, "when I am gone, will you please watch over my son?"
I tried hard to give you and her this moment of reconciliation, I tried to see it from her perspective. But after all those evenings I sat listening to you, hearing the heartbreak in your voice night after night, I knew I had won nothing. If anything, I was the consolation prize. We would both go on, carrying the memories of our women with us, feeling them stand between us with everything we did; the one I killed, and the one you kept alive.
But this was as close to an apology as Beth was going to come, so I left it at that. Maybe she had finally understood that you were broken beyond repair by what Coraline had done to you, that you would have never turned her, no matter what she'd have said or done. That not even I could have swayed your mind. Or maybe she just assumed I had seduced you, had driven her out of your mind with whatever she imagined I was capable of. Another time I would be flattered. Right now, I had no use for such vanity. I wanted her to go and finally leave you alone. It had taken more than 25 years for you to love someone again after Coraline. I knew it would take at least as long after Beth, but I would be here. It was my duty as your friend, my very own fight against the windmills. Perhaps we are not so different after all, you and I.