Moonlight doesn't belong to me. It's just a place I go to play.
Katrina steps off the plane. She's landed in Vancouver British Columbia. She knows she can cross into Washington. From there she can fly from Bellingham to Riverside and sneak back into Los Angeles. She's sure that they are all on the lookout for her. If she stays low and out of the way of the local vamp and werewolf communities, she should be okay. She slips behind the hangers and shifts to wolf from and heads for the United States border.
Mick picks up the phone when he recognizes the number as Frank's. "Frank."
"She landed in Vancouver a couple hours ago. She probably crossed into Washington, as a wolf so there will be no trace of her. If she's going to fly down though she's going to have to show identification to get a ticket, even on a small plane. From the schedules of the airports in the immediate vicinity, she's another four or five hours out. Depending on how close she flies into the L.A. area. "
"Thanks Frank. We've circulated her picture, but you know how easy it is to stay hidden in a city this size. At least we have a frame of reference for when she may appear." Mick hangs up and looks across at Beth. "Well, best estimate is Katrina hits L.A. from four or five hours from now. All we can do now is wait for someone to spot one of them or have one of them make contact again."
Beth doesn't answer she stares back at him.
"Beth? What are you thinking?"
Beth sighs. "Nothing. I'm thinking back to the first night Katrina showed up. Josef said he was trying to decide whether to kill her or not because she always brings trouble. He was right about that."
Mick gets up and walks around the desk. "Beth it will be all right." He watches the grim look on her face.
"I wish I believed you. I've got a bad feeling about this whole thing. Mick, I can't lose either of you."
"You won't. It's the nightmares." He pulls her up out of the chair and tries to reassure her. "Come on, it's time to go on home. Until something breaks, there isn't much we can do."
Katrina lands in Riverside and rents a car. Since it's the middle of the night she thinks she can make Los Angeles in about two hours. She throws her bag in the back and takes off.
It doesn't take Nicky long to find out that there was a reward offered for him. To warn their people, they had to be too obvious about it. All they did was give him a heads up. He spends two days trying to figure out a way to get to Kostan. He wants to get even with him for what he said about his mom and figure out a way to force them to tell him the truth. All the research he did in the beginning leads him to believe there is only one good way to get even with Kostan. He needs to kill Beth. He needs a few things. He knows that more than likely Josef and Mick aren't letting Beth out of their sight. He needs to know which one of them she's with. He also needs his own bait. One thing at a time, he drives to Josef's office building. He hopes he can catch him before he goes into the building or at least spot him driving into the garage. Sure, enough to his delight Josef has the top down on a blue Porsche and Nicky can see he's alone. He smiles at the memory of running the key down the side of the Ferrari. Serves him right. Once he has what he needs from Mick, he will use Beth to make Kostan pay for what he said about his mother.
Two days pass as Katrina does everything she can to stay under the radar and still find Nicky. She finally realizes she can't do both. In order to use her face to find Nicky she needs to be out in the open. If she's out in the open Mick or Josef will find her and they will lock her up some place until they are done. She decides to let Mick find Nicky for her. Maybe she can find a way to get to Nicky before Mick does. At least she could be there when he finds Nicky to see if she can stop him from killing him. Katrina camps out across from Mick's office out of sight. She hopes to spot him when he comes in so she can be in position to tail him when he leaves.
Nicky asks around some of the seedier bars in town and finds what he's looking for, a woman who has a grudge against St. John. He watches the woman for a bit and sees that she's drinking whiskey. He motions for the bartender to buy her one. The bartender takes the drink to her and points Nicky out. She salutes him with the drink and walks over to where he's sitting. She sits down across from him. "Thanks. Now tell me the catch."
Nicky smiles. "You're my kind of person, straight to the point. Ok, I'll tell you. I hear you have a problem with Mick St. John and might not be to unhappy to see him get jammed up."
The woman nods. "You got that right. Son of a bitch got my Sammy sent off to jail for two years. Now I'm back peddling my ass on the street to make ends meet. I had a pretty good thing going until he stuck his nose into it. Sammy wasn't even doing anything bad. Selling a little meth is all. Nobody makes them come to him and buy." She looks at Nicky speculatively "Is it dangerous? I'm not doing anything dangerous."
"Nope. All you need to do is go with me to a pay phone over by the park and call St. John. Tell him you saw the man he's looking for in the clearing over by the zoo and take off. I'll do the rest."
"Yep that's it and believe me he'll get jammed up but good. I'll even give you a ride over. You'll need to take the bus back. You in?"
"Yea, I'm in. Anything to stick it to that nosy P.I."
Josef paces his office. He agreed to do what Beth asked and stick to a routine, but this is ridiculous and it's driving him crazy. He's not good at doing nothing and as much as he trusts Mick, Josef has the feeling that he needs to be with Beth. He can't shake the feeling that one of them protecting her may just not be enough. He decides to chuck it and go over to Mick's office. He'll think up an excuse on the way.
Mick is at his desk in his office doing paperwork. Beth has finally decided to stop sulking and help so she's doing some filing and helping however she can. The waiting has not been good for any of them. Beth spent yesterday at work with Josef and kept rearranging the furniture in his office. Josef told Mick he suspected she was trying to make everyone as crazy as she is. There is nothing worse than one jumpy vamp let alone three of them.
Mick grabs the ringing phone hoping it's a lead. "Hello?"
"Mr. St. John?" Mick hears the voice of a woman.
"Yes, this is St. John. What can I do for you?"
"I heard about the guy you're looking for. I saw him. He was in Griffith Park, east of the zoo, in the clearing."
"Thanks. I'll check it out. If you tell me your name and it pans out, I can get Josef's reward to you."
"That's okay. I just wanted to help out." Mick looks down at the dead phoneline. He has an itch between his shoulder blades but he's so excited to have a break in the case, so he ignores it. He looks up at Beth. "That was a tip. I'm going to go check something out. I'll drop you at Josef's office."
Beth scowls at him. "Like hell you will. I'm going with you."
"No, you're not. I'll drop you off and you can stay with Josef."
"Mick, how long do you want to stand here and argue with me?"
"Point taken. All right but it's got to be like the time we went in to Coraline's. You absolutely do whatever I say, and you run like hell if I tell you to. Promise?"
Beth reluctantly nods her head.
Mick senses her reluctance. "Beth? I swear if you don't give me your word, I won't take you."
She nods but again not daring to verbalize her fear. Beth knows that Coraline would never have killed Mick. She would have killed Beth in a heartbeat but not Mick. Running away to get help from Josef under those circumstances was one thing. Running under these is another. Nicky would hurt Mick. Hell, Nicky would kill Mick and Beth can't promise to leave Mick if he tells her too. She is too afraid to have him go by himself and he won't let her stay by herself anyway. "I'll do what I have to do. On the way we call Josef and he meets us there for backup."
Mick realizes it's as good as he is likely to get and Josef as backup is a damn good idea. "Let's go. I'll drive, you call Josef."
Beth nods and smiles. They leave the office and Beth is calling Josef even as they get into the elevator.
Josef looks down at his phone and sighs. Damn, I swear she has me on radar. "Beth?"
"Josef, I don't have time to explain. Mick and I are headed for Griffith Park. We're leaving his office now. Nicky was spotted there in the clearing east of the zoo. Can you be there, in case? Mick is a little jumpy about me being with him and I'm not staying with you while he goes alone."
"I'm glad you called. I'm on my way." Josef disconnects the call and screeches the Porsche around the next corner. He smiles. He'll be there way before they will.
Katrina sees Mick and Beth pull out of the garage. She starts the car and pulls out behind them, trying to stay far enough back so Mick doesn't see her. She almost wishes it were daytime. The traffic is so sparse this time of night it's hard to not be seen. One thing about that Benz it's easy to spot.
Mick looks across the car at Beth. "We have company. Someone is following us."
Beth resists the urge to look back. "Nicky?"
"No, my guess is Katrina."
"Shit. Now we've got two of them to worry about. I'm calling Josef."
Nicky looks down the scope at the clearing. Now if St. John or Beth will walk out into the open, he will put a bullet or two in them. Not enough to kill of course. He needs to incapacitate them until he can get down there. Then he can make one of them do what he wants while he holds the other hostage. He had to pick his spot very carefully. He had to be outside their sensory range but close enough to be able to get to whoever he managed to put a bullet in. It was times like this he wished he could tap into Toby or Edward's abilities.
Josef pulls into the parking lot and looks up at the full moon. Just great. Give Nicky all the help he can get. Josef flips his phone and answers it.
He hears Beth's rushed voice. "Josef, we're being followed. Mick is pretty sure it's Katrina."
"It just keeps getting better and better. Look, I'm already here. I'm going to go check it out. Follow me in when you get here."
Beth feels fear gripping her. "Josef, no. You wait for us."
"Beth, if Katrina is behind you it's just going to muddy the waters even more. I'll be fine. When was the last time you saw a human, even a psycho human, get the better of me?"
"Josef!" Beth looks down at the disconnected line. "Damn. He's already there and he's going in alone. I'm going to kick his ass when I see him."
Beth looks across at Mick's grim face. "I'll help you." Mick pushes on the accelerator to the floor and the Benz lurches forward.
Katrina watches the Benz. She thinks at first Mick spotted her and is trying to lose her but he's not doing anything evasive. He's just driving faster. Something is wrong, and if Beth and Mick are together that can only mean whatever it is, it has to do with Josef. Katrina pushes the rental to keep Mick in sight.
Josef takes off his jacket and tie and tosses them back in the car. At least he's wearing a dark shirt and pants. Damn they aren't going to be worth much after a trek through the park. He pulls both his guns and checks the clips and checks to make sure the safeties are off. He peers into the wooded area. He's glad it's thick enough that the brightness of the moon can't penetrate the canopy of the trees. Slowly with gun in hand he moves into the woods reaching out everywhere with his senses.
Nicky looks through the scope sweeping the clearing looking for any movement.
Mick and Beth pull up next to Josef's Porsche. Both fly out not bothering to see where Katrina is.
Katrina parks the rental and shifts to her wolf. She has a much better chance of finding everyone in the dark as a wolf. Her sense of smell, her ability to hear even how fast she can move through these woods are all as good as a vamp or better.
Nicky sees movement at the tree line and watches closely to see who it is. When he recognizes the face, he smiles. Paybacks are a bitch Kostan.
Josef picks his way silently through the trees. He's starting to think someone has given Mick bad information. He senses nothing in the area that he doesn't recognize. No wolves, vamps or humans. He lowers his gun and slowly moves out of the trees.
Mick and Beth are picking their way through the woods. They move slowly since they don't know where Nicky is. They sense Josef has been through ahead of them and Katrina is close by but nothing else. Mick turns to Beth. "Talk to him, see if you can reach him."
Beth starts to do as he says, and they hear two loud cracks. Beth looks at Mick who is already moving.
"What was that?"
"Rifle shots, a sniper."
Beth runs behind Mick. Josef?
Silence. Beth's head starts to spin as she feels like she's in one of her nightmares. Josef's hurt and she can't find him. She feels the panic start to hit her and everything seems to move in slow motion. Josef please baby answer me. Beth gets hit with a blast of pain that brings reality back.
"Mick, I'm getting pain feedback from him, like I did when he wiped out in the desert. He's hurt. Hurry. We've got to find him."
Mick hears the fear and panic in her voice. "Beth, try and block the pain. I need you to stay calm, so we can help Josef."
Beth swallows her tears and pain and continues to follow Mick. "I will."
Katrina hears the shots and tries to get a fix on Josef. She has been laying back following Mick and Beth, but she kicks into overdrive and begins to pass Mick. He can shoot her if he wants but somehow, she doesn't think he will. Beth sees her and lets out a low growl.
"Beth, she didn't have anything to do with this. Don't do anything rash."
"She gets one chance."
Josef gets past the pain and tries to move. He feels the gun barrel next to his head. He looks up at Nicky. "Not so smart mouthed, anymore are you? I bet even a vamp doesn't come back from a silver bullet to the head. Want to try and see?"
Josef closes his eyes and waits for it, but nothing happens. Beth?
Oh my god Josef. Are you hurt bad?
No but that little psychopath has a gun to my head. He's using silver bullets and I took two in the chest. It put me down long enough for him to get to me.
"Mick, did you hear that?"
"Yea, got it." Mick slows down and comes to a stop.
"Mick, what are you doing? Nicky has Josef."
"I know but if we go charging in there, we don't know what he may do. As long as he has a gun to Josef's head, I'm not in any mood to chance it."
Mick turns to Beth. "I want you to sit down here behind this tree and stay there. Too many people are going to spook him. You sit here and talk to Josef. Keep the lines open."
Beth starts to argue and stops. Mick knows what he's doing, and she trusts him to make this call. She nods and reaches up and kisses him lightly. "Be safe and please kill that son of a bitch so he can't hurt Josef."
Mick turns and disappears into the trees.
Katrina watches from her position in the trees as Mick comes out of the darkness of the trees. None of them notice her but she's sure Mick and Josef sense her presence. "Nicky, it's Mick. I want to talk to you."
"St. John, I've got a gun to his head. You know how much I'd love to kill this asshole. So, you make one wrong move and it's the end of him."
"Nicky, I'm not going to do anything rash. Just let Josef go and we can talk it over."
"No, no more talking. I want to see my mother. You go get her and I'll trade you a live Kostan for my mom. If not, you get a dead Kostan. Mick, you know I'll do it."
Mick does know he'll do it. "Nicky, your mom isn't in town. I have to go and get her." Mick doesn't know what to do besides stall for time.
"Well, then you better get moving because we can't stand here forever. Once dawn comes, I'll have to kill him because then people will start to show up. You better hustle."
Katrina knows she can't stand there, and watch Nicky kill Josef, she just can't. This is her fault and she can't let Josef pay the price. She walks out of the trees and moves towards the men. Nicky sees her, sees the wolf. "Mamma?"
Mick and Josef don't take their eyes off Nicky for a second. They watch him closely for any kind of opening.
Katrina shifts to human form as Nicky watches. "Yes, baby, it's me."
Nicky looks at Katrina in absolute awe. For a moment he's to dazed to speak. "Why… why did you leave me?"
"I'm sorry baby, I had too. I missed you though and I always loved you with all my heart. I'm so sorry."
Josef feels the gun move away from his head, as Nicky gets lost in the sight of his mother. In the blink of an eye Josef is rolling away and comes up firing. He hears a second gun and sees Mick doing the same.
Nicky falls to the ground as both men hit their target. Mick kicks the rifle away from Nicky. Josef watches him to see if he's going to shift so he can heal. There is no change.
Katrina runs across the clearing and kneels next to Nicky. She cradles his head in her lap. "Oh, baby. I'm so sorry, so sorry."
He looks up at her as he's dying. "I love you mama."
Katrina's tears are dripping down her cheeks. "I love you too baby."
Nicky smiles at her softly. "Don't cry. At least I finally got to see you." It's the last thing he ever says. Katrina runs her hand across his face and closes his eyes.
Josef moves to Katrina and picks her up. Her body is racked with sobs. He passes Beth coming into the clearing. "Beth, I love you, but I have to do this for her. I have to take care of her for now."
Beth nods. "Call us if you need something."
Beth moves to Mick and looks down at Nicky. "Why doesn't this feel as good as I thought I would?"
"Because your one of the good guys and death is never anything but a waste, even this one."
Mick flips his phone open. "Victoria, I have a cleanup of sorts. I need you to pick up a body, but I want it taken to a funeral home and readied for a burial and long-distance travel. Do we have anyone that can take care of something like that?"
"Yes, of course. Is this your serial killer?"
"Yes. I think his aunt is going to want to bury him in their homeland."
Mick tells Victoria were the body is and he and Beth wait to make sure no one comes upon it unexpectedly.
Josef carries Katrina into the house and lays her on the couch in his study once again. She cried herself to exhaustion on the way back. Robert enters the room. He sees the look on Josef's face and senses the sorrow coming from the sleeping Katrina. "It's done?"
As he straightens up Josef winces from the pain. "Yes, it's done. Shit grab a surgical kit, I've got two slugs in my back that need to come out, right now. Call Jenny and get the girls back home. Tell Al the security can stand down and call the rest of the humans and tell them it's safe to come back. I would like things back to normal as soon as possible."
Robert nods. "You and me both." He leaves the room to do as Josef requests.
Josef takes off his guns and puts them in the cabinet in the corner. As terrible as this is for Katrina all he can feel at this moment is relief. It's finally over and somehow, they kept Nicky from killing any of them. He flips open his phone. "Sergey?"
"Josef, is she...?"
"Yes, she's fine physically. She saved my ass, but Mick and I still had to take Nicky down. She's walking wounded at this point. I think it would be a good idea for you to get the first plane out. I know it will take you a day or so to get here but she needs you here. This is no one here that can help her like she needs."
Sergey nods. He knows what Josef is trying to say. "Thank you. It won't take as long as you think. I'm already in Chicago. My flight to L.A. leaves in an hour. I couldn't sit and wait for bad news. I had to come myself."
"It's good you did. I'll tell her you're on your way when she wakes up." Josef disconnects the call and sees Beth in the doorway.
"Beth, I have to stay here... stay with her. Sergey is in Chicago, he's on his way. I can't leave her until he gets here. Do you understand?"
"Yes, of course. Josef, Mick wanted me to tell you what he did. He thought that Katrina would like to bury her nephew, so he had Victoria take the body to a friendly funeral home. They will prepare the body for transport to Russia is that's what she wants."
Robert returns with a surgical kit and Josef peels off his shirt. He wishes Beth wasn't here to see this. She doesn't need the reminder he was hurt but the bullets are silver and need to come out. He sits down and Robert goes to work. He hopes he can distract Beth. He continues the conversation as though nothing out of the ordinary is going on. "Tell Mick I owe him one. I'm sure that is exactly what she is going to want." Beth turns in the door and starts to move away. "I love you." She smiles at the words echoing in her head, but she also knows that she and Josef need to have a word about what happened. She's not going to let it get in the way of what needs to be done, but she's pushing an awful lot of anger down. It won't stay buried for long.
Robert finishes and hands Josef a glass of blood and a clean shirt. "I have a hunch you'll be lucky if she doesn't shoot you, herself." He takes the empty glass and leaves the room.
Sergey starts to knock but Robert opens the door sensing him there. "She's in the study with Josef." He nods and follows Robert to the study. He sees Katrina asleep on the couch and Josef sitting on the floor next to the couch. She's in wolf form and Josef is softly petting her."
Josef looks at Sergey as he stands up. "There was no other way."
"I know Josef and I'm sure she does as well." Sergey moves to Katrina as Josef leaves the room.
Josef sits heavily on the couch in the den. Mick watches him. "You going to be ok?"
"Yea, I need his last bit to be over with. Once they are gone it will get better. Where's Beth?"
"Upstairs helping the girls unpack. I think she's happier they are home than you are or will be when you come out of this funk."
Josef smiles wanly at Mick. "Once this is over and I have a fresh meal I'm going to be so much better. I feel like someone sucked all the blood out of me."
Mick snorts at Josef's attempt at a joke. "How about a drink for the time being?"
Josef nods and Mick pours them both a half and half. Mick starts to warn Josef about how angry Beth is, but he hears Sergey and Katrina in the doorway.
They both look up as Sergey and Katrina enter the room. "We will be leaving now." Sergey tells them.
Katrina looks out from under red-rimmed eyes. "I'm so sorry Josef, for everything."
Josef waves his hand. "Katrina it's done, it's over with. Let's let it all go. I'm sorry there was no other way."
"I know, I wish I could have buried him at home."
Mick stands up and crosses the room to her. "I know it's small comfort, but I arranged for you to do that. Here are the papers you'll need to get the casket through customs. Here is the card for the funeral home that has prepared him for burial and transport. They are our people so there will be no awkward questions. Everything has been paid for. All you have to do is tell them when the flight home is."
Katrina gives Mick a grateful hug. "Thank you so much. This means so much."
Josef stands and hands her a piece of paper. "I never told you this, but I had Anya's body moved to consecrated ground. Here is the address of the cemetery where she is buried. They will have a plot next to her ready when you get there. You can bury him a long side Anya as it should have been long ago."
Katrina gives Josef a quick hug and Sergey steers her out of the house and out to the car.
Beth is waiting alongside the car. "Katrina. Thank you very much for what you did. If you hadn't, Josef would be dead. I'll owe you for that for the rest of my life."
Katrina nods. "Take care of them. They both love you very much."
Beth nods "I will." and walks towards the house.
Beth enters the den to find Josef and Mick sitting across from each other. "They're gone."
Josef gets up and crosses the room intent on kissing Beth and holding her to make up for taking care of Katrina. In his rush to make things up to her he doesn't stop to get a sense of her mood. He gets within striking distance and she finally tags him a good one right across the face. Josef looks at her in something akin to shock.
Mick winces when he hears Beth connect. Well she was bound to do it someday.
"You son of a bitch. If you ever go into a situation like that alone again, you won't have to worry about someone killing you because I'll do it myself. I can't believe you put yourself in that kind of danger when we could be there to help in just a few minutes. You think I like the idea of Nicky holding a gun to your head? What in the hell were you thinking?"
Josef's eyes go crystal and he snarl back at her. "I was trying to keep you from getting killed. If you weren't such a pain in the ass maybe people wouldn't all the time be trying to kill you."
"Bullshit. You were grandstanding. You're always thinking you're so damn indestructible because you're so much older than anyone else. Well, guess what the stupid psycho human got the better of you. Just remember the next time. For some stupid reason the idea of losing you scares the hell out of me."
Robert hears the commotion and enters the den. He crosses to Mick and smiles. "Things are back to normal, aren't they?"
Mick watches the fight in progress. "Yep. It should take them oh, about a half hour to burn through her fear and anger. We could try and break it up before that but what the hell. I think they both need to burn off some adrenaline. Besides, he has it coming. He scared us both badly. I told her I'd help kick his ass but staying out of it and letting her take care of it is punishment enough. If I know the way this is going to work out, he'll be asking her to forgive him not long from now."
Robert nods. "You're probably right. You want to go see the girls and have dinner?"
Mick smiles. "Sure. Let's go. They can join us when they finally wind down." The two leave the room to the sounds of home.Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Hopefully no one hated the ending. Comments are always welcome. I'll get the next one up as quick as I can.