As much as I wish it. Moonlight doesn't belong to me in any way shape or form. I like to come play in their sandbox.
Mick is driving down the Pacific Coast Highway with Beth. "Tell me about the night you got run off the road."
Beth shrugs. "No big deal. I was at work and decided to go home. I was driving down the PHC not far from here and I spotted this car in my rear-view mirror, and it was all over the road. I did my best to get out of the way because it was so erratic, but it still managed to make me drive off on to the shoulder."
Mick interrupts. "Do you always drive the same way back and forth to work?"
"Pretty much. It's so pretty along here that I like to drive this way."
"Was the car distinctive in anyway? Do you remember if it was an older car, or if there were a lot of young kids in it? Anything at all?"
Beth thinks about it and shakes her head. "Nothing much comes to mind. I was too busy trying to stay out of the way. All I remember is it was a red car, older, but how old I don't know. One driver, it didn't look as though anyone else was in the car." Beth looks at him. "This is about where I noticed it in the mirror."
Mick stops and turns the car around. He goes back a few miles and this time he watches the side of the road carefully. He's trying to see if he can see anywhere that there may have been room for a car to pull off and wait for Beth to pass by. He points to a wide spot, "Is that where you pulled off?"
"Yes. I was lucky it was there. There aren't many spots along here."
Mick pulls up and inspects the area. He gets back in the car. "You were right on this one. I think it was just random."
Beth sighs. "One good thing. Please tell Josef."
Mick smiles and nods. "I'm going to drop you off at Buzzwire and then I'm going to go check on a couple of other things, ok?"
"Yea, that's fine."
Mick is driving along and several times he glances at Beth. She gets tired of it. "What?"
Mick laughs. "I was trying to picture you throwing Josef's decanter at his head."
Beth shakes her head and looks at him sheepishly. "Yea, bad behavior seems to sneak up on me now and then. I know he's concerned, but it's irritating. We've found a compromise that I'll live with reluctantly."
Mick smiles at her, "That's good. You two looked so happy the other day. I hoped it was that way most of the time."
"Most all the time we are happy." Beth glances at Mick. "It's now and then when I realize what a disadvantage it is to be living with a guy who is four hundred years older than I am." Beth laughs." Now and then, Josef has control issues."
Mick joins in her laughter. "You think?"
Mick smiles sadly and she hears. "I'm glad he makes you happy. More than I ever could."
Beth shakes her head and hugs herself. "Mick don't. Please, don't. I can't go there. What's done is done. You know how much I love both of you. Let's not go back there. It hurts too much."
Mick shakes his head. It's like she said, what's done is done. No use going back. God, he wishes he could go back. He would accept what he is, he would drink direct forever and never bitch another day in his life. He would do anything if he could have those last few days before she left to do over. There is nothing worse than a life full of regrets.
Mick manages to find a place to pull over and sits staring straight ahead. "I have to say one thing. I know you don't want to hear it, and I know it hurts, but if I don't get it out it's going to eat me up."
They turn and look at each other; tears in her eyes, anguish in his. Beth nods for him to continue.
"I know how I messed up what was probably my only chance at any kind of happiness, and I don't expect anything to change. I know that you and Josef are happy and I'm happy for you but…. if for any reason… I'll always be waiting."
Beth takes a deep breath and nods at him. Mick starts the car and pulls back on to the road. She hopes that his confession has given him some small measure of peace because it's killing her. She's fine, if no one makes her face all her feelings again.
Mick stops in front of the building and watches her walk away. Her head is down, and her shoulders are slumped. He shakes his head. He never does anything but hurt her. He watches her until she enters the building, then he leaves to go talk to the foreman that worked on Josef's house.
Mick pulls up to the construction site and stops at the gate. One of the carpenter's glances at him, and Mick approaches him. "I'm looking for the foreman, a man named Demetri Andropov. The guy points across the yard to a man with a hard hat and a clipboard. Mick thanks him and walks over to have a chat with Mr. Andropov.
Demetri looks up as Mick approaches. "I'm Mick St. John, I came to talk to you about an incident that happened on a job you were foreman of a few months ago."
He shakes his head. "Please don't get me fired. It was an accident. I would never let anyone intentionally hurt someone on my job site."
Mick looks puzzled. "How do you know what I'm talking about?"
Demetri sighs. "Mr. Robins said it was about something that happened at Mr. Kostan's yes?"
Mick nods. "Well, the time at Mr. Kostan's was the only time we've had any kind of accidents when I've been foreman. I have a very good record." Mick notes the pride in the man's voice. "The pretty blond lady was so nice. She was in the wrong place when that stupid crane operator went too far and tapped the stack of bricks. Believe me, I fired the crane operator on the spot. I gave a raise to the guy who saw what was happening and pushed her out of the way."
Mick nods, "Is there any way I can talk to the guy who saved her?"
Demetri shrugs, "Sure." He takes a walkie talkie out of his pocket, turns the dial and speaks into it, then puts it back in his pocket. "He'll be down in a couple minutes. If that's all, I have a lot to do."
Mick nods. "Sure, no problem. I'll wait by the gate. How's that?"
"I'll send him over when he comes down."
Mick stands by the gate and sees this young kid walk over. "Mr. Andropov said that you wanted to talk to me?"
Mick smiles and notices the kid has a heavy accent. "Yes, I wanted to ask you about what happened with the stack of bricks at Mr. Kostan's house a few months ago. I was told you pushed Beth out of the way of the bricks."
The kid shrugs. "I was standing there waiting for the crane operator to finish so we could forklift the bricks into smaller stacks. They aren't supposed to be that high. The lady was standing next to me when I see the crane hit the corner of the stack. I grabbed her and rolled out of the way. Truthfully Mr. I was trying pretty hard to get myself out of the way and she was there, so I grabbed her on the way."
Mick looks at the kid. What's your name?"
The kid looks at him a little suspiciously. "Stan, Stan Adams."
"Well, Stan, the lady you saved is a good friend. I'd like to thank you. She means an awful lot to Mr. Kostan and me, so I want to thank you again." Mick holds out his hand and they shake.
Stan smiles and shrugs. "Like I said, I was getting out of the way and she was there, so I grabbed her on the way."
"Stan, here's my card. I'm a Private Investigator if you ever need help let me know."
He looks at the card. "Sure Mr. St. John, but I doubt you could help me with what I need."
Mick looks at him questioningly. "You never know."
Stan watches Mick for a minute trying to decide if he can trust him. "My name isn't Stan Adams."
Mick smiles. "No?"
"It's Aleksy Kluk. I'm from Poland. I'm in the country on a green card, but it's running out. Things are so slow in this country since the troubles, that processing takes forever. I'm going to be deported before they get my papers sent through. If they send me back, they will send my parents and sisters back as well."
Mick nods and thinks about it for a minute. "I might know someone who can help. I'm not promising anything, but I'll see what I can do."
Aleksy puts his hand out to Mick. "Thanks Mr. St. John, for trying. I need to get back to work. I need to make as much money as I can before I'm sent back."
Mick nods and watches as Aleksy runs back to the job site.
Mo watches Beth sitting at her desk and wonders what is going on with her. She came in looking like she was going to break into tears at any moment. She pulled herself together enough to give Mo a great story. Then goes over and sits at her desk and stares off with tears in her eyes. Mo shakes her head and spots someone in the corner of her eye; she turns to see who it is, and all is clear. The P.I. is back. Mo walks back to her office. This isn't anything she can help with.
Mick walks over to Beth's desk. She sensed him as soon as he came in. She looks up at him with tears in her eyes. Mick looks at her and kicks himself for telling her how he felt. "Come on, let's get out of here."
Beth picks up her stuff and they head for the car. Mick stops, as he thinks back to that gentle kiss, she gave him in this same parking lot a lifetime ago. She looks at him and knows what he is thinking. He shakes his head and starts moving again. They are sitting in the car not moving. Mick turns to Beth. "As soon as I figure this out, I'm leaving town again. I thought I could…I can't…."
Silently Beth starts to cry. "It won't matter. The universe is going to make you come back again and again. Mick please take me home." Softly he hears her "I need Josef." That cuts him like a knife. Beth sees the shadow cross his face. "You have to understand one thing. I love Josef, just like I love you, but Josef is also my sire and when I feel like this, he's the only answer. He says that over time that will get less so, but it's still like that. When I'm in this much pain I have to be with Josef."
Mick nods and thinks that he does understand it rationally, but nothing with Beth is rational for him. He drives them to Josef's. The silence is deafening.
They pull up to the house and Beth bolts to the house to find Josef. Mick sits in the car staring into the night.
Josef senses her turmoil and goes over to sit on the couch in his study. Beth runs directly into his arms. He hasn't heard her cry like this since Mick left last time. Josef shakes his head. He had hopes that this was going to work. He can feel her anguish and pain.
There is a solution, but Josef isn't sure that Beth and Mick will go for it. He's old enough that he shed society's conventions a long time ago. Mick is very much a product of his time and Beth, well, she's so young that... he doesn't want to make her feel like she needs to do something she's not comfortable to make them all happy.
Josef does a mental shrug and figures he can at least try. If it's not something that she wants, then there is no point in mentioning it to Mick. He hopes her reaction isn't so bad that she ends up thinking less of him for suggesting it.
Mick gets out of the car when he sees the off-road vehicle come up the driveway. It's a modified Jeep. He stands in the middle of the driveway with his arms crossed, blocking further access. A young man gets out of the driver's side, Mick guesses he's about twenty-four. The passenger's side opens and a man in his seventies gets out. They cross the driveway to him. The young man has a grim look on his face. "I was wondering if I could speak to Mr. Kostan?"
Mick watches him for a moment and then out of the corner of his eye he realizes the older man is disoriented. He starts to get upset. Mick frowns at him and the young man walks over and guides him over to where they are standing. "I'm sorry, he doesn't track very well anymore, and I can't leave him alone." He asks again if he can speak to Mr. Kostan.
Mick shakes his head. "Mr. Kostan is in the middle of helping a friend and can't be disturbed. I'm Mick St. John; I'm a close friend, maybe I can help you."
"My name is Troy Williams. This is my grandfather, Able." Mick and Troy shake hands. "Mr. St. John, I had no idea what he is still capable of or I wouldn't have left the keys to my jeep where he could get them, never mind my gun."
Mick realizes this is about the shot from across the lake. "Your grandfather is the one that shot across the lake?"
Troy nods. "I hope no one was hurt."
Mick shakes his head." No, everyone is fine."
"I'm his only family, everyone else is gone. I thought I could work and still look after him. He got away from me the other night while I was on shift and took my deer gun and my Jeep. He used to hunt these hills when he was a kid. That's the time he's in now. I didn't even realize what happened until I noticed my gun was moved. I smelled the barrel and realized he'd shot it. I did some investigating and found where he had parked on the other side of the lake. I thought I better come over and see what damage had been done. I'll pay for anything I can. I'm thankful no one was hurt."
Mick smiles. "Don't worry about it. I'll talk to Josef, it's fine. I'm glad you came over to clear it up. It will take a load off of his mind to know it was an accident and not something else. You take your granddad and go. It's fine. I'll square it with Josef."
Troy nods. "Thank you, Mr. St. John. I guess we'll be going then."
Mick watches as Troy gets the old man in the Jeep and they drive away.
Mick could almost laugh. Of all the random crap to bring him back to LA. He thinks Beth is right. The universe will keep bringing him back again and again. The three of them are doomed to go through eternity making each other miserable. God, he hopes not. Mick heads to the house to say good-bye.
Josef looks down at her. "Beth, what happened?" She shakes her head no. "Come on baby, you know you can tell me anything." He brushes a lock of hair out of her eyes. "You figured out how much Mick is hurting didn't you?"
Beth nods. "Oh, Josef… it's awful, he's hurting so much." She stops and looks at him.
Josef kisses her nose, "Yes, me too."
Beth shakes her head. "Are we going to be like this forever? I'm so tired of it."
Josef looks at her and takes a deep breath. "I have an idea to run by you that might make it better. You need to promise me that you will be completely honest with me and tell me what you think. If you have any reservations at all about this, you need to say so or else we all end up worse off than we are now. Can you do that?"
Beth nods at him.
"How about if you live with me for another six months, that would be a year all together. Then you move in and live with Mick for a year and then back here with me for a year?"
She sits up and he can tell she's considering it. "You mean alternate every other year with each of you?"
"But Josef what about when I feel like this and have to see you?"
"In another six months this overwhelming need you have to be near me when you're upset will be a lot less. Mick will understand if you need to see me because you're upset." He smiles. "Plus, if you're living with Mick, I suspect you won't feel like this so much."
She looks at him suspiciously. "You're not going to change your mind and not want me to come back, are you? You're not trying to get rid of me because I'm such a pain in the ass, are you?"
He smiles and shakes his head. "No, if I thought there was any other way for the three of us to get through this insanity and keep you with me I would. I don't see any other way. Truthfully now, what do you think?"
Beth smiles. "It would be nice, and it would fix a lot of problems, but you said I had to end one relationship before I started another. I'm afraid. This doesn't sound like that and I don't want you two hurting each other."
"That's why it's so important that we all are honest about the whole thing. If Mick can't do this without feeling like he's going to rip my head off when you come back here to live, then it won't work."
"Do you think Mick will go for it?" Beth wrinkles her nose at Josef and smiles. "Sometimes he's a bit stodgy."
Josef sighs. "What he is, is a product of his time and not old enough to have shed it yet. I don't know if he will or not, but I wasn't sure you would. All we can do is ask." Josef smiles at her. "Mick isn't as stodgy as you think, it's different because we love you, but we have err… shared women before."
Josef laughs at her expression. "Wow. You were drinking buddies."
Mick looks back and forth between them and he sits down heavily across from them. "You two need to give me a minute to catch up. This is out of left field."
Mick puts his head on the back of the couch and stares at the ceiling. Beth fears he's going to say no.
Mick thinks about continuing the way they have and how awful it's been. This sure as hell can't be any worse. It would give him something to look forward to. He'd have six months to see about enlarging the apartment. He'd need to get either a bigger freezer for the two of them or one of her own. He stops with a start, realizing he's already made his decision.
He looks up at them and smiles. "Yea, that works for me. It's got to be better than the mess we have now." He looks at Beth and he says, "It would be nice to have something to look forward to again."
Beth stands up and looks at them. "Ok, so we've all got this straight and there will be no fighting about this later? No territorial issues or jealousy bullshit. When it's time for me to move, no problems right? Mick?"
He nods and smiles at her. "Yes, I know, you both think I'm the biggest concern but believe me I can do this if it means not going back where we were. I promised myself if I got this chance again, I wouldn't mess it up."
Beth laughs as she sits down next to Josef. "What's so funny?"
Beth shakes her head and smiles. "You two have effectively made it so no female vamp in the state is ever going to speak to me again." She looks at them both. "How did I ever get so lucky fall in love with you two?"
Josef stares off into the distance. He smiles as he realizes life has fallen into place rather nicely for once. The phone rings. He looks down and sighs. "Vanessa?"
"It's time. I want the three of you in New York."
Josef knows this is going to take some footwork to get her to hold off. He loves her, but she likes to meddle and right now that's the last thing they need. "No." He continues before she can interrupt. "Vanessa we are still working things out."
"You turned her what, seven months ago? Surely she's on her feet by now."
"It's not that. Things haven't worked out the way I thought. She's been living with me the last six months."
Vanessa shakes her head. She knew this was going to end up a mess. "Meaning?"
"Meaning we are working our way though things. Until it's more settled, I can't drag them off to New York and I can't have you meddling."
She growls silently into the phone. "Your house is big enough. Why don't you all move in there?'
"Vanessa. Stop. These are my friends; my people and you will stay the hell out of it. When I'm ready, when they're ready I'll bring them to New York to meet you but not before."
She hears the resolution in his voice and knows he's not going to budge. She could go to L.A., but she wants her first meeting with Beth and Mick to be cordial and not tense because Josef is mad at her. "Fine but get it together."
Josef shakes his head in wonderment when he thinks of the ways that Mick and Beth have changed his life. He got off the phone with a contact at the State Department. The kid from Poland is in, along with his parents and sisters. They will reprioritize his file and get him papers to stay before he's deported. Josef always rewards people who help him, but he wishes there was more he could do for this kid. Josef will contact George about seeing if he can find out if the kid and his family need anything else. He saved Beth's life. Even she wouldn't have survived that stack falling on her and if she had… the pain… he hates to think about it.
Mick is checking on the Williams kid to see what his situation is and how they can make sure that Able won't be taking any more shots at them. The funny thing is, Josef doesn't mind helping this one either. What none of them know is that Josef used to hunt these woods with Able, back a long time ago. It's one of the reasons he put the house here. Of course, with all the development there aren't any deer left, but Able doesn't know that. He thinks about Able when he was a teenager and remembers him fondly. They had fun hunting out here.
Beth is about as happy as Josef has seen her in a long time. He knows she was happy with him while Mick was gone, but she's more at peace now. It's good to see her emotions settling down. Mick went down to see the girls this afternoon and Emily winked at Josef when Mick was done feeding from her. Josef knows that is Emily's way of saying he's much better.
Well that's it for this one. Comments are always welcome. The next installment is a bit longer so it may take about 10 days to post.