In The Mood

I'd been thinking about Mick's backstory…before Beth, before Coraline. We know Mick's 85 years old so he was born in 1922 and would have been 19 when Pearl Harbor was attacked, ushering the US into WWII. In "Fever", Mick mentioned that he survived the Battle of the Bulge, which means he enlisted and served in Europe. The world he lived in would have included The Depression, FDR, Victory Gardens and…big band music. Since Mick was in a band ("The Ringer"), we can assume music was a big part of his life…

Beth leaned back against the edge of the couch, stretching her legs out in front of her and flipping through the hundreds of CDs in Mick's collection.

"Wow, you certainly have an eclectic tast in music," she called out. "Mozart, Mangione, Madonna…and lots of Glen Miller."

"Ah – in the 'M's I see," Mick grinned as he handed her a soda.

"Yeah," she said picking up another stack, "but I noticed a whole drawer just of big band music. A favorite?" she asked.

Mick shrugged, "It was my era. I remember listening to Miller, Dorsey….all the greats. They played the Congo Room or down at the Pier. And during the war, no matter where we were, all it took was one broadcast from home and we felt a little less forgotten."

Beth reached up and squeezed his hand. "I forget sometimes….about your age and what you must have seen." She laughed and threw back her head. "But I can definitely see you as a handsome young soldier."

Mick snorted. "You wouldn't have liked me very much. I was pretty full of myself – thought I knew it all, cocky, figured I was God's gift to women…"

"And you've changed…how?" Beth answered with a straight face.

"Very funny," Mick drawled causing both of them to dissolve into grins.

"So did you know how to do all the dances? The swing and mambo and all," queried Beth as she popped a Glen Miller CD into the stereo.

Mick snorted, "Still do! Just don't have much opportunity these days."

"Yeah?" asked Beth, standing up as the first notes of "Moonlight Serenade" floated from the speakers. "Show me."

Just when you think nothing can surprise you…

"Show you?"

"Yeah," said Beth, holding his gaze. "I learned some swing years ago so I'm sure I'm pretty rusty, but I'm willing to learn again."

Mick released his breath slowly, not sure this was a good idea. "Well, I suppose…"

"Come on, soldier boy," she cooed, stepping into him, "show me what you've got."

Mick was suddenly surrounded by the Beth-scent he knew so well. As she placed her hand on his chest, a surge of excitement and something darker rushed thru him. His hands moved of their own volition, coming to rest on her hips and pulling her flush with his body. Never losing eye contact, he breathed in her essence. Perhaps the comparison to the black crystal wasn't so far off…

His voice growled, "You don't know what you're asking for."

"Yeah," she smiled, dropping her gaze to his parted lips, "I do."

With one fluid movement, he led her into a slow two-step, swaying in rhythm as the horns in the band wailed around them. Slowly they moved about the living room, reveling in the very act of being in each others' arms. The music changed to an up-tempo swing and they laughed as Mick twirled her about. They spent the better part of the next hour simply enjoying their time together and trying to relearn the dances.

Amid their laughter and teasing, they heard the familiar music of Beth's phone. As she reached to answer it, Mick's cell also began to ring. Glancing at each other, Mick moved quickly to the other side of the room to take his call. After short conversations, both hung up and nearly the same time.

"There's a suspicious fire down in the old warehouse district," began Beth.

"Yeah," Mick nodded, "I know. That was CalFid…one of the insurance companies I work for asking me to take a look. Let's go," he said. Quickly they turned off the stereo, grabbed the jackets and headed out.

Beth lounged on her couch, leafing thru the Sunday paper. She browsed thru the entertainment and activities sections looking for….well, she wasn't sure what. She wanted to find something unique for Mick's birthday next week. Although he'd never mentioned it, she had found out that he was born on November 24th and was willing to bet he hadn't celebrated it in quite some time.

Her gaze landed on an ad among the club and theater displays. 'Come Swing with Tom Wilson's Big Band. Live 20-piece dance band every Saturday.' Quickly tearing the notice from the paper, she jumped up, a plan already forming in her head.

Mick turned off the shower and reached for a towel, drying himself as he headed towards his closet. Beth had called him a couple days ago, asking him to pick her up this evening saying that she needed him to go somewhere with her. She'd been somewhat vague as to exactly where, but it really didn't matter. If she wanted his company, he'd take her to Antarctica if she wanted. All she'd said was to dress nicely and eat before he left. He smiled at that.

At precisely 8PM, he knocked on her door. As the door swung open, Mick caught his breath at the vision before him. There stood Beth, her blonde hair swept up in a twist and wearing a red and black satin dress with a plunging neckline and a full skirt that came to just above her knees. The overall effect was stunning.

"Just being human is so lame…."

"I know, but you wear it so well!"

Smiling to herself, Beth pulled the door closed behind her and reached up, closing Mick's open mouth. "Let's go. I've got a surprise for you."

"Another one?" muttered Mick under his breath. Watching her walk in front of him as they headed down the hallway, he was suddenly glad he'd worn his long duster.

He followed Beth's directions, steering the Rolls to a valet in front of one of the older hotels in Hollywood. As they entered the elevator, Mick's curiosity was peaked.

"So, what's this case about?"

"No case," Beth smiled. "Be paitient. You'll find out soon enough."

The elevator doors opened onto a large lobby and in front of them, red-draped openings led them into a grand ballroom. As they walked in, the band swung into their next number. The Miller classic "In The Mood" started up, and the dance floor began to fill.

Mick turned quickly to see Beth smiling widely at him. "Happy Birthday, Mick," she said, hugging him tightly.

Speechless, Mick looked from her to the band and the dancers on the floor. This woman never failed to amaze and surprise him which was saying a lot, considering all the weird things he'd experienced in 85 years. It was November, and it was the 24th. He hadn't even thought about his birthday in years. Yet here she was, giving him back yet another piece of his humanity with this simple gesture.

She grinned at his surprise. "Wow. I've made Mick St. John speechless! Must be a record of some kind."

"Woman, you leave me speechless on a regular basis," he murmured.

Smiling, she took his hand and led him towards the dance floor. "I wasn't sure what to get you for your birthday," she chatted. "I mean, forget taking you to dinner or getting you a dog," she grinned. "I figured this was something you might like better."

Mick flashed her a sexy grin and pulled her into his arms as they joined the dancers. "It's perfect. Best gift I've ever gotten."

For the next few hours, they twirled and swayed, with Mick regaling Beth with stories of his antics during the '40s. He told her about visiting the USO in Hollywood and meeting Betty Grable. Of seeing Bob Hope's USO show outside of a little town in France. Or about the time he and his buddies stole a bottle of whisky from the Officer's Club and got so drunk they fell asleep in the middle of the base runway and nearly got run over by a squadron of P-51 Mustangs taking off the next morning.

They were still laughing as they reached Beth's door after midnight. Opening her door, she turned to Mick.

"Thanks for this evening. I had a lot of fun."

"Me too," he smiled, pulling her into a hug. "You really surprised me. I haven't had that much fun in….well…ever."

Beth laughed and looked up at him. "Me either. Not bad for a first da…", she caught herself.

"Date," confirmed Mick, acknowledging what they both felt. "Yeah. We could try doing this again…" he ventured.

Holding his intense gaze, she nodded. "Yeah, we could."

Drawn by emotions he thought he'd never again feel, he bent his head down to meet her upturned mouth. With a touch lighter than a whisper, their lips brushed for just a moment, then met again with a growing passion. As the kiss grew in intensity, Mick spun her around and pressed her against the wall in her hallway. Beth responded by arching up to meet him, reveling in the opportunity to run her hands thru his thick hair, to taste his unique flavor, to feel the thrill of his reaction to her.

Finally breaking apart for air, they rested their foreheads together, trying to catch their breath. Pulling back, Mick gazed down at the woman in front of him, joy shining in his eyes.

"Wow," she gasped.

"Yeah," he grinned. "Wow is right."

For a moment they simple stood and basked in their newly admitted feelings.

"So," he chuckled, "was that part of my birthday present, 'cause I think that may have even topped the dance."

Beth laughed and relaxed into his embrace. "Nope, that was an early part of your Christmas present."

"OK," grinned Mick, "It was worth it!"

With a gentle kiss, they separated and Mick turned to leave. Grasping his shirt, Beth drew him back to her for one more kiss before releasing him.

"See ya tomorrow," she whispered.

"See ya tomorrow," he replied, touching her cheek then turning away down the hall.

As he climbed in his car and headed home, Mick realized he hadn't stopped smiling yet. With a shout of joy, he said out loud, "Oh yeah….best birthday ever!"