That was almost too easy, Josef thought to himself, smirking, as he drove away from Mick's building. His young friend's overblown sense of self-condemnation had literally played into Josef's hands.
Josef felt a small twinge of.....something; Could it be guilt? But he pushed it down, telling himself that it had been for the greater good. For Mick's own good.
Josef hadn't confronted Mick with that idea in mind. On the contrary, actually; Josef had worked himself up into a temper by the time he'd arrived at Mick's door, and Mick's initial reluctance to face him had only made Josef that much angrier. Mick was the only being in existence that could make Josef feel that way. That 'angry enough to kill, but not really wanting to hurt him' feeling. Well, maybe that blonde chatter-box of Mick's, too. She could be quite annoying, in Josef's opinion, but when she started her Nancy Drew stuff that usually made Josef want to kill himself, not her.
Josef hadn't downplayed his own feelings in any way. He'd truly been hurt and slightly betrayed, and....yes, okay, maybe just a little jealoous that Mick had confided in Beth and not him. When had things changed between them?
Josef hadn't lied in the least about how he'd felt. Still felt. It was later that the idea had come to him, after the argument. He'd been furiously trying to figure out just what would get it through his friend's thick skull how dangerous his actions could've been. Mick had the alarming habit of disregarding things that even Josef wouldn't, and Josef addmittedly wasn't in the habit of letting things intimidate him.
Josef's initial instinct had been to grab Mick and toss him across the room in his anger. Not many that oppose Josef Kostan would get off that lightly, to be sure, and the instincts of dominance hadn't helped him to curb the anger at all. And Mick had sensed it, he could tell. All the better. But then, Josef had fleetingly wondered how long that would keep Mick from doing something similar in the future. And that fleeting thought had quickly become more solid and taken hold.
You don't live over four-hundred years without learning a little something about how to read people, especially a best friend that you've known for a little over fifty years.
Mick was a tenacious vampire. And stubborn, too. A stubborness that matched Josefs, having many times made Josef wonder if he should begin to believe in Karma. Josef knew that if Mick couldn't fight back physically, he would do it in another way. Say....with rebellion, for instance, or with a mindset to do something stupid as a way to prove that he could hold his own. Like he had with those little pranks at the Gathering awhile back.
And Josef didn't want that. He didn't want this to turn into a battle of wills. He wanted Mick to understand that he had to begin respecting limits. That was something his friend, as a loner, had never understood, but things were different now. In the old days, when Josef was a fledgling and young vampire under the rule of his own sire, such a thing would have been unthinkable. Consequences for transgressions were quick to take place and were severe, and maybe some still did things that way. But Josef couldn't, not to Mick.
The small, and maybe occassional larger, displays of dominance or anger were one thing and to be expected. Mick had apparently decided to accept such moments in favor of keeping thier relationship, and it was totally natural among thier kind. But as harshly as Josef often dealt with those that opposed him, he had no desire to treat his friend in the same manner as he'd been treated by his own sire. And frankly, Josef was sure Mick wouldn't just sit back and take such abuse.
So Josef had asked himself. What would make Mick sit up and take notice? What would make Mick feel true remorse for his actions?
And that had been easy to answer.
The one thing that would cut into Mick the deepest would be the thought that he'd caused pain to someone else.
So Josef had decided to use that. He knew Mick was sorry. But it was the kind of sorry that you say to someone for some small thing, then shrug your shoulders and go on, because after all, your'e best friends, right?
But Josef didn't want Mick to take this that lightly this time. Yeah, sure, it had all ended up okay in the end, but what about next time? Mick's next foolish crusade might have much harsher and more permanent consequences for him or those he cared about. So, in the interest of Mick's future well-being, and maybe just a little revenge for feeling that he'd been played a fool, Josef had decided to take it up a notch. Not faking it; he really did feel the way he'd told Mick he felt. He'd just decided to exploit it, drama-queen it a little. Just a little.
And he'd had to block himself from Mick's probing. The boy was learning quick, and the first time, Josef had just barely managed to block it in time. Mick might very well have sensed Josef's intention, and that wouldn't do at all. It might have diminished the effect if Mick felt that it had been all exaggeration, which it hadn't been. In fact, Josef had been just a little put-off to realize how close to the surface the feelings of hurt and betrayal had been, once the anger had begun to fade. But it had helped his cause, so 'no harm, no foul', so to speak.
And it had taken everything in Josef's arsenal of will power to walk out the door when he'd felt Mick's emotions spike across the bond. If he'd been asked, Josef wouldn't have even been able to begin to describe it. And when he'd turned to look back- only for effect, Josef kept trying to tell himself- he almost handn't crossed the threshold, pulled as he was to the destroyed expression on Mick's face. But it had actually been that look that had helped propel Josef out into the hallway that much quicker, unable to withstand the look and Mick's voice trying to call him back.
So yes, Josef finally admitted to himself that maybe he felt a little guitly. Not a common thing for him. But he steadfastly maintained that what he'd done had been justified, necessary and right, and of course, still for Mick's own good. Josef told himself that it was much better than resorting to the brutality of centuries past, though he did regret not using just a little dominant force, in case it would take just a little more.
But when Josef pulled up his long drive and around to the protected garage he used for his beloved cars, he saw Mick in the circular driveway in front of the immense house. He was next to Beth's car, which she'd apparently left, and he was pretending to be occupied with something while he obviously waited for Josef to park his baby and approach. Mick had somehow made it to Josef's home before him, even without a vehicle. Josef thought of making him sweat by stalling, or maybe even entereing the house another way, thereby leaving Mick waiting out front. But Josef couldn't deny a burning curiosity, and anyway, one look at Mick's face was enough to tell him that it was working.
Mick's gut-eating sense of guilt was working overtime, and he obviously had an urge to talk to Josef and set it right. Good. Good to know, Josef thought to himself. He decided that this tactic would be stored in his mental arsenal in the box labeled 'how to deal with Mick St. John and all his bull without snapping his neck even though that would be much easier.'
Easier, maybe, but this was apparently much more effective.