Josef flew at Mick, noting with satisfaction the younger vampire's suprise and sudden fear. He pinned Mick hard against the wall and brought his face close to Mick's, growling deep in his throat.
"Get off me! Let go! Josef, let go!" Mick tried removing Josef's hand from their grip, wrapped tightly around the neckline of that noxious t-shirt. But Josef's grip was like a vise and Mick's efforts were in vain.
"Quiet," Josef growled fiercely, pulling him away from the wall just a couple inches then pushing him back, letting him hit the wall just hard enough to get his attention.
Mick obeyed, eyes wide. "Put your hands down," Josef ordered, referring to the grip Mick had around Josef's own fists on his shirt. They weren't really hurting anything, but Josef needed Mick to know exactly who was in charge.
Mick slowly lowered his hands to his sides, letting the palms rest against the wall behind him. Josef let go of some of the power he'd been holding inside for weeks, let some of it leak through his barrier slowly. Not all of it yet, just enough to let Mick know what this was about. What was going to happen.
At the first sense of what Josef was letting through, Mick stiffened and panic filled his eyes. Josef was suprised at the depth of emotion he saw there. Why was Mick so afraid? He had to know Josef wasn't going to really harm him. He'd been through this once before, after all, with Coraline.
"No," Mick gasped. "Not yet."
Ah. So that was it. He just wasn't ready to face the things he'd been trying so hard to deny. Well, Rake had given him some good advice. Far be it from Josef to ignore the experience of an Elder.
"Say it, Mick. You know what I want. I just want the word. All you have to do is say the word."
Josef met Mick's eyes, but Mick was unable to hold the stare, the fledgeling inside already unable to challenge the small bit of dominance Josef was letting through. Mick's eyes shut tightly and he turned his head away and down, so that the left side of his face was against the wall and his chin was tucked into his own shoulder. Oh, no, you don't, Josef thought. You're not getting out of this that easy.
Josef released one of his clenched fists from Mick's shirt and used that hand to grip the other vampire's chin instead. He forcefully pulled Mick's head around to face forward and adjusted his grip so his fingers were holding tight to Mick's jaw from underneath.
"Open your eyes, Mick. Do it!"
Mick opened his eyes at the command but was unable to meet Josef's own eyes. "Good boy," Josef praised. "Now say it. Just the one word, Mick. I have to know you acknowledge it. That you know you belong to me."
"Please, Josef," Mick begged in a hoarse voice. "Not yet. Please. Not yet."
Josef almost, almost gave in to Mick's pleadings. He hated the desperate sound of Mick's voice. He thought maybe he was rushing things....
"Later, okay? Please, Josef. I just need time....please...."
....but then he thought of the rest of Rake's advice.
"Time's up, Mick."
He let loose about half of the concealed power, holding the other half back, but Mick responded anyway, flinching back as much as Josef's grip and the wall behind would allow. Josef readjusted his hold on Mick's jaw.
"Say it," Josef growled softly.
Mick gave a small sob, tearing Josef's heart, but then he gave in to his instinct and the dominance flowing from Josef. "Sire," he said in another sob, voicing the word Josef had demanded.
"Good," Josef said softly, letting go of Mick's jaw and patting the side of his face gently. "Submit." Just as softly.
But Mick needed no more prompting. He let the back of his head fall to rest against the wall behind him and he tilted his head back to present his throat, much as he had when he'd first asked Josef to turn him back.
Josef let loose the rest of what he'd been holding back, feeling it flow from him, and he leaned forward and sank his fangs into Mick's neck.
They felt as if they were inside each other, Mick seeing himself with Josef's eyes, and Josef seeing himself with Mick's eyes. Their thoughts, their minds, their hearts wrapped around each other and they became one for that moment in time. Josef felt Mick's fears, needs, and desires, just as Mick felt Josef's. They experienced each other's loves and sorrows. Josef saw how deep Mick's feelings for Beth really ran and his heart quailed at Mick's fear of losing her, and Mick felt the depth of Josef's love for Sarah and he shed tears in Josef's sorrow over what had happened to her and the fear that she would remain that way forever. For that one moment that would soon fade and be forgotten, they relived each other's pasts, Josef's infinitely longer than Mick's, but both almost instantaneously. Josef was Mick, feeling the warmth of his family as a child and his later betrayal at what Coraline had done to him, and everything in between. Mick was Josef, knowing how four centuries can bring such loneliness, and how Mick himself had alleviated much of that with his friendship over the last half century. All this transpired in a matter of seconds, barely half a minute, and yet an eternity. For those seconds, they had no secrets. For that one quick moment, they were each other.
That was it. That's what they'd been waiting for, that underlying tension that had been lying in wait. The sense of relief was insurmountable. He'd been fighting it, true, but now that it was done he felt.... complete. There was a new feeling in him now, one he'd have to examine later to be able to explain it, even to himself, and his sense of Josef was different now, too. Josef seemed more confident, more commanding. Josef had never had a problem portraying that image to everyone around him, but this aura was a new one to Mick's eyes, and Mick had a feeling that it was just for him, that no one else would see the slight difference.
But he was exhausted. The emotional stress added to the depletion of blood was doing him in. As Josef pulled away and released him, Mick felt his knees buckle. Josef caught him before he ended up in an undignified heap on the floor, and leaned him against the wall, helping Mick brace himself with a steadying hand against his chest.
"You okay?" Josef asked soflty. He'd changed back to his human face.
Mick nodded, then said, "Weak."
Josef placed his hand against the back of Mick's head and brought Mick forward and down to his own neck. "Drink," he said, still cradleing the back of Mick's head with his palm.
Mick let his fangs drop and slid them into Josef's throat, savoring the unique flavor. He brought his hands up and gripped the fabric of Josef's suit jacket on each side of the waist in two tight fists in his intensity. He knew he'd been granted a special privelage. In most Sire/fledgeling relationships, it was customary for the Sire to drink from the fledgeling's jugular, but the fledgeling was usually relegated to partaking from his maker's wrist, just as when the fledgeling is first turned. Allowing anyone to drink from his own throat is usually too submissive a gesture for a Sire to tolerate. Mick felt honored at the gesture.
The intense awareness of each other they'd shared moments ago faded quickly, the largest parts of it already forgotten by both- it had happened too quickly for either of them to retain much of it. But one thing stayed with Mick. He hadn't realised what he'd done to Josef by asking him to turn him back.
Oh, he knew the long term responsibilities and that Josef was now stuck with him permanantly, and all the usual stuff that comes with being a Sire. Josef himself had explained some of that to him during one of their discussions. But until he'd seen it in Josef, Mick hadn't realized that Josef had been terrified the whole time that Mick would suffer some sort of bad effects as Sarah had, or maybe in some other form. Josef had wondered if maybe it was in him, that maybe he couldn't sire normally.
And then there was the resentment. And the guilt for that resentment. It wasn't overwhelmingly strong, but it was there, buried so deep Mick doubted that Josef himself even realised it was there. It wasn't resentment against Mick himself- after being a part of Josef, Mick could never again doubt how much his friend- Sire- cared for him. No, the resentment was against the circumstances. Why couldn't it have worked with Sarah? If Mick was okay, then what did he do wrong with her?
And even deeper down Mick found that even as Josef had agreed to turn Mick, he'd done it with the inner certainty that Mick wouldn't wake up. And he'd hated himself, and Mick for asking, until the very moment Mick had opened his eyes. Then continued hating himself for taking the chance.
As Mick replenished himself with Josef's blood, he felt a deep need to make it up to Josef for having put him through all that. He wasn't sure at first how he could. He really had nothing with which to offer the other man. What could Mick possibly give the one person he knew that needed nothing?
As Mick was pulled gently from Josef's neck, it suddenly came to him. There was only one way he could think of to repay Josef for having asked him to turn him back, for the emotional upheaval Josef had endured- was still enduring- because of it. He could become the perfect childe. Well, maybe 'perfect' was pushing it a bit. But he could do his best to change. At least a little. To show his gratitude and remorse at the same time. He could become what Josef would want in a childe, what he deserved.
Mick would be loyal. That one would be easy. Mick had always been loyal to his friend. But he could try harder at the aspects that wouldn't be so easy. He could be more obedient and respectful. Those would be harder, Mick had to admit to himself. It's not that he'd ever been disobedient or disrespectful toward Josef, but their interaction had always been more friendship than anything else. Only occasionally had the fact that Josef was Mick's elder and Community Leader intervened. And he could try to be more....submissive....when the situation called for it. That would be the hardest, he figured.
And of course, he had no idea how Josef was going to decide to handle this himself. Would he automatically begin acting differently, treating Mick differently now? Would he suddenly expect different behaviors from Mick? Mick had no way of knowing yet, but he hoped that if that was the case, Josef would give him time to acclimate. And that the change wouldn't be too drastic- at least not any more drastic than the changes Mick was going to try to make in himself.
"Better?" Josef asked as Mick straightened up and uncurled his fingers from thier tight grip on Josef's clothing. Josef held Mick steady by the shoulders, one hand on each.
"Yes," Mick answered. "Thank you."
"Good." Josef smiled. "That was just to alleviate most of the weakness. You'll have to feed. I'll have a freshie come up. No arguments. You'll feel better after."
Mick opened his mouth to voice his usual protest, but remembered his new vow just in time. "Okay, Josef," he said in resignation. He decided, as much as he didn't want to, that that would have to be one of his first changes. Josef had been harping on him for the longest time about Mick's moral avoidance of feeding on humans, willing or no. Nothing would force Mick to feed from an unwilling donor, but he figured he'd have to begin drinking from freshies now on a regular basis. Well, more regular than the 'twice a week' Josef had mandated these past few weeks. Mick had fostered a sneaking suspicion, anyway, that Josef had planned on upping the ante over time until he had Mick feasting fresh regularly. He would just beat him to the punch and do it on his own as part of his recompense. He didn't really like it, but Mick knew that when Josef made his mind up about something, nothing Mick could say or do would change it. Especially now and especially concerning Mick, now that Josef has a vested interest in Mick's well-being. At least this way, they could avoid that future battle over the issue in which Mick knew he would protest and fight it, but still lose to Josef's wishes. At least this way it looks like it's his own decision.
"Good," Josef said again, nodding in approval at Mick's resigned agreement. He walked over to the intercom and asked one of his staff to send up two girls.
"Candy's for you, Mick. You seemed to like her last time."
"Thank you," Mick said sincerely. He was suprised- and yet not- that Josef had noticed.
"So tell me, Mick," Josef asked with some of his previous anger returning as he leaned backward against his desk to wait for their dinner to arrive. He crossed his arms over his chest. "What could have possibly motivated you to come here tonight and do something so stupid as that little game you played?"
Mick shrugged sheepishly. "It seemed like a good idea at the time," he answered.
Josef did not look amused. "I hope you've redefined your definition of 'a good idea'."
Mick uncomfortably remembered Josef's anger as he'd painfully gripped the scruff of his neck. "Definately," Mick said with feeling. "I'm sorry, Josef."
"Do you realize you could have caused irrepairable damage out there?"
"I'm sorry." Mick felt the apology was inadequate, but he didn't know what else he could say. "Nothing like that will ever happen again."
"It damn well better not."
Mick swallowed nervously at the hard words. He had no doubt Josef meant what he said.
"And," Josef continued in a sterner voice than Mick had ever before heard from his friend's mouth- Mick actually had to resist the urge to cower a little in response, "I don't know what you said or did to offend the Elder's, but that's a dangerous game, my friend, and one you should have known better than to play."
Mick felt like nothing more than a teenager being scolded. It made it so much worse knowing that the older vampire was right. Any other time, he'd have had enough sense to know better. What he'd done- especially regarding the Elders- was unacceptable and inescusable, for several reasons. But it had also been dangerous.
There was a light tap