"So how'd it go? Did you find the girl?" I asked Mick as I settled on the couch next to him. He'd been out of town for a couple days on a job, and he'd just called me to let me know he was back. I'd headed straight over, a little suprised at my eagerness to see him. But I'd been out of town myself for a day or two before he'd had to leave, so we hadn't seen each other since that stressful night of our argument, though we had talked on the phone a couple times.
"Yeah," he sighed as he scooched over to give me more room as I settled next to him. "I found her. She was with her boyfriend, like I'd thought, and she was being used as his punching bag, just like I'd been afraid of. But he didn't take her by force, so there wasn't much I could do. She was there willingly. She wanted to be with him, even the way he was treating her."
I just shook my head. I could never tolerate letting someone treat me like that. "I just don't understand women like that. Why put up with it?"
"She's more girl than woman. Barely nineteen. Looks a lot younger. Not that you could tell under the bruising on her face."
"Did you let her father know what was going on?"
"Yeah. He beat me there. I informed him before I left of what I suspected and that I thought I knew where she was. He called me a little while before I even got into the city, asking me to meet him at a local fast food place."
"He really cares about her," I said softly. I don't really remember my own father, and that was a relationship I regret missing out on.
"Yeah, he does. I sure hope he can help her, because she had nothing to say to me. I gave the little creep she was with a warning about how to treat a lady, but I don't think he has the sense to listen."
"Well," I said, wanting to change the subject to something more pleasant, "at least you
know how to treat a lady." I settled against him comfortably, perilously close to snuggling.
He let his arm fall from the back of the couch to around me and held me close. He was sitting in the corner of the sofa and I was sitting next to him, but half sideways so that I was leaned back against his side and chest. I love sitting like this with him. It always makes me feel safe, the comfortable feeling of Mick at my back and his arm around me. Unfortunately, besides a kiss or two, this is about as intimate as we've ever gotten.
And just like all good things must be, our us time was interrupted. There was a knock on the door, and even as I hoped that Mick would ignore it, he was sqirming out from under me.
"I'd better open it," he explained apologetically. "It's Josef, and if I don't open it, he'll just let himself in."
I sighed in irritation. Josef. Big deal. That guy was way to cocky if you ask me. Vampire or not.
"Hey, Josef," Mick said as he opened the door. He was smiling, seemingly pleased to see the other vampire. I couldn't help being a little miffed that Mick didn't seem to have a problem at the two of us having been interrupted. Not that I had thought anything was going to happen, but we haven't had much of a chance lately to just relax and spend time together. Mick seems to always have a reason to run off, usually to see Josef.
But on the upside, my curiosity about what had been going on with Mick is still full force, despite my promise to him. And now here's Josef. Just the chance I've been waiting for to observe them together.
That's me, the Jane Goodall* of vampires.
As usual, Josef's timing left something to be desired, but other than that, Mick was glad to see him. And he'd actually been expecting him. Mick had known Josef would know he was back in town. He'd been suprised exactly how big Josef's presence was in his mind. He hadn't realised how strong it was until it was barely there, until he'd had to go out of town. The further away Mick got, the dimmer his awareness of the older vampire became. The link was still there, barely humming, but the awareness of him being nearby diminished the further away from him Mick got. And suprisingly, he'd missed it. It had felt like a void that penetrated Mick's mind, and he'd felt another emotion that was still hard to explain, but the best description he could come up with was 'homesick', only much more severe. In fact, he'd almost turned back around, but decided that if this is what it was going to be like every time they had any great distance between them, then he'd better get used to it now.
But he'd been glad to get back, and the closer he got the stronger Josef's aura in his mind got, and he'd known the very moment that Josef had felt his return. And now, here he was, just a few hours later, at Mick's door.
"Hey, Josef," Mick said, smiling, glad to see him.
"Mick," Josef greeted in his usual abrupt way, walking through the doorway. He noticed Beth's presence and leaned around Mick to see her on the couch behind him, the looked back at Mick. "I was expecting you to come to me as soon as you got back." The silent 'like we'd agreed' was present in his tone.
"I just got back, Josef," Mick explained. Josef raised an eyebrow and Mick hastily amended his last statement lest Josef think he was trying to excuse himself with an untruth. "A couple hours ago. I just got back a couple hours ago."
"You've been gone over forty-eight hours. How you holding up?"
Mick glanced over at Beth, curious as to what she might be thinking about this, then back at Josef. "I'm okay, for now, Josef. I was going to head over in a couple of hours."
"You're starting to get a little edgy. I can feel it."
"It's not too bad right now. Really. I'll be over soon."
Josef paused a second, and Mick thought he would insist, or at least decide to stay here for awhile, but then he reluctantly agreed, acknowledging Mick's hints that he'd like some time alone with Beth. Mick smile his thanks at him, knowing that Josef continually worried that Mick would fall back into his old habit of stalling or putting off the time he needed with Josef to calm the fledgeling seperation anxiety. Or begin fighting it again.
"But not too late, Mick, and bring a change of clothes so you can stay the night and tomorrow," Josef named his stipulation, almost daring Mick to protest.
"Okay," Mick promised, knowing better than to push Josef's good graces.
"I'll see you later then. Enjoy," he added with a smirk, and he wiggled his eyebrows up and down suggestively.
"Josef!" Mick hissed as they moved toward the door. Mick quickly glanced over to make sure Beth hadn't noticed.
Josef just laughed at his friend's indignant protest. "Have a good evening, Miss Turner," Josef called to Beth suavely, then gave Mick another sly smirk as he left.
Mick shook his head at the other vampire's antics as he returned to the couch. "Sorry about that," he apologised to Beth as he reclaimed his seat.
"That's okay," she said, but she sounded irritated. "Josef's bad timing isn't your fault."
Mick settleled back against the couch and put his arm around her as before. He tried to reclaim the position they'd been in before the interruption, but instead of leaning back against him as she had before, Beth turned to face him on the couch, folding one leg up on the cushions indian-style but keeping the other foot on the floor.
"So, what was that all about?" she asked.
"What? Josef? He was just...welcoming me back. He hasn't seen me in a couple days."
"Yeah, but....he seemed upset that you didn't come see him first thing. Isn't that a little wierd? He was never like that before, was he? I mean, not that I ever noticed."
"He was just checking up on me. He does that sometimes. He worries."
"Hmmm," she hummed doubtfully.
"Nothing, just....I don't know. You guys seem different, is all. Especially you, and especially when Josef's around. And what's up with him wanting you to stay over at his place for the night?"
"Nothing. Just....vampire stuff," he hedged truthfully. He knew she hated that phrase, but it was the best way to explain away things she had no need to know.