The Last Knight and Beyond 
Jeannie Ecklund 

This is a Forever Knight/with a touch of Touched By An Angel story
Disclaimers: No infringement of copyrights intended. I'm just borrowing
the characters for this fiction work. Thank you to Linda B my sister
who beta read this several times. Thanks so much to Kylie for all her
help and encouragement.

"Damn you, Nicholas," LaCroix yelled. He raised the staff. Nicholas
looked away. A faint heart beat touched LaCroix1s senses. He threw the
staff aside so violently that it shattered as it hit the stone

He grabbed Nicholas by the shirt, and pulled him away from Natalie.
"You would rather die than face a future without her?!" He spat the
words into Nick's face. His eyes were amber. 

Nick just stared into those piercing eyes and nodded, determined. 

LaCroix would never admit it to his son, but the thought of a day
without Nicholas somewhere on this planet scared the hell out of him.
He could not even fathom the thought. He stared back, searching his
son1s eyes. The reality of Nicholas' determination hit him between the
eyes. He gritted his teeth and said, "I told you I was leaving tonight,
with or without you. I will not come here again unless summoned. Are
you coming with me or not?" 

Nick only stared at him blankly, unable, it seemed, to hear him. 

He grabbed, Nicholas by the shoulders and shook him hard, trying to
bring him out of his shock. When it didn1t work. He back handed him
across the face. "Nicholas, look at me!" he demanded. Nick focused on
him, finally, his eyes brimming with unshed tears. "No, LaCroix. I will
not go with you, tonight. I must at least care for her body." 

Rejected, LaCroix allowed one blood red tear to slide down his cheek.
Fiercely he pulled Nicholas into his arms, hugging him hard against his
chest. Then he set the startled vampire, back onto his feet and rose
into the air toward the skylight. "Nicholas," he called down, "she is
not dead yet. Perhaps you should take her to a hospital." Then he was

Nick turned back to Natalie. "Not dead!" The words pierced his mind
like a red hot poker, clearing away the cobwebs that had clouded his
thoughts. He scooped her up and flew up through the skylight toward the
nearest hospital. 

Now that he was thinking more clearly, he could hear the faint,
surprisingly slow but steady heartbeat... almost too slow. He knew he
didn't have much time before it faltered. He chose a dark empty spot in
the parking lot to land, then ran with her into the ER, calling for
help. Flashing his badge got him immediate attention and soon blood
IV's were dripping into both of Natalie's arms. 

All Nick could do now was wait. He prayed to a God, he wasn't sure
would even listen to him, but he had to try. He sat at her bedside hour
after hour. Nurses came and went changing the blood bags and taking her
vitals. In the morning, Nick was grateful that they accepted his need
for a darkened room. He had tried to explain about his allergies. The
nurse had looked at him curiously, but had drawn the curtains so he
could sleep. He was determined not to leave Natalie's side until he had
talked to her. 

In the late afternoon, Captain Reese came into the room. He saw Nick
asleep with his head on the edge of the bed. The Large man reached out
a big beefy hand to touch the young man's golden hair, checked himself,
and shook him gently by the shoulder. 

Nick looked up at him through sleepy eyes. "Captain?" 

"Nick, how is she?" His boss asked, peering down at Natalie1s pale

"The doctors told me a couple hours ago that she would make it. They do
not know if there will be any permanent damage from the loss of blood.
It was really close." 

Reese could see the pain in Nick's eyes. "What happened, Nick?" 

Nick looked away, "I don't know, Captain. I found her outside my

Reese interrupted. "I don't want the fabrication, Nick. I want to know
what really happened... I don't just want to know," he whispered, his
voice hard, his eye piercing into Nick's, "I demand to know." 

Nick looked at him fearfully, curious, "I don1t understand." 

"Nick, I'm a good detective. That's why I'm Captain. One of my people
is down from loss of blood. We all know what you told the officers who
took your statement." He leaned down and looked into Nick1s eyes...
anger flashed. "Now, I want the truth!" 

Nick opened his mouth to protest again, but the look in Reese's eyes
stopped him. This man already knew the truth! How? Where? Why? Nick
could not understand. "How long have you known?" 

"I had my suspicions before the bomb, but afterwards, well no one could
have gotten there and then gotten out like you did, Nick. It didn't
take a rocket scientist to realize you have super human abilities. I
read through a lot of your older cases. To many perp's saw strange
things that can't be explained. That time you were arrested, the
officers found steer blood in your frig. You're allergic to the sun.
Most people use sunscreen and wear protective clothing. You have to
barricade yourself in your apartment. I guess what really convinced me,
though, is Natalie. She's always running tests on you." 

Nick squirmed in his chair, dread filling his heart. He did not wish to
hurt this man. Reese continued, "I've seen you at crime scenes, Nick. I
saw your eyes change once. It's beyond me how you maintain control or
even why you do the job you do." He leaned in closer, "You can trust
me, Nick." 

Nick allowed his voice to deepen and his eyes to change to amber.
"Knowledge can be a dangerous thing, "The threatened. "I could make you

Reese pulled a chair closer and sat, "Yeah, I realize that, but I want
to know what really happened. I know you and Natalie are under
pressure. The death of her friend and then almost losing Tracy so close
to Schanke's death. It's enough to take anyone over the edge." 

Nick had closed his eyes, but when he heard "almost", his eyes flew
open and he exclaimed, "What! She1s not dead?!" 

"Damnedest thing happened. They took her to the morgue, and an hour
later, when Grace went down, she saw her move. She's still hanging on
and the doctor said she might make it." 

Nick sat, stunned. Tracy was still alive. Had Vachon gotten to her on
time? He knew the Spaniard was still recovering from his staking and
illness. He1d been away, hiding from Tracy. Nick had helped him to
hide, hoping to prevent the heartache that he and Natalie suffered. He
had also hoped to keep Vachon from bringing Tracy across. Still, he had
called Vachon to tell him when he had found out that she was dying. He
knew the other vampire had been on his way to see his love when all
this with Natalie had begun. 

"That1s great news, Captain." He mentally shook himself. He realized
that Reese was still waiting for an answer. Well, he would tell him...
he could always make the man forget later on. 

Nick turned haunted eyes to look at Reese, "She came to me, and asked
me to make love to her... asked me to take only a little blood at a
time. A friend of mine regained her humanity that way." He looked back
at Natalie and his hold on her tightened. 

Reese's eyebrows rose at the cure Nick had mentioned, but he didn't say

Nick continued to speak, slowly and with great sorrow in his voice, "My
control was already lost. I was full of pain and regret. Tracy was shot
because she didn't know the bullets wouldn't hurt me. All the harsh
emotions that allow the Beast to take over, were right on the surface."
He said, almost to himself, "I hadn't had human blood in a very long

Reese watched, fascinated, as a blood red tear slipped out of Nick's
eye and slid down his cheek, leaving a crimson trail. 

"There was no physical love making at all. I could not stop there
before the fireplace. Her blood was like sweet ambrosia. It filled me
in a way I have never been filled. Her love overwhelmed me. It has been
over 800 years since I have felt that completeness. Only at my mother's
breast was I so loved and filled with such peace." 

"800 years!" Reese croaked. "I had no idea." Nick continued, "I don1t
know if she will ever be able to forgive me." He looked at her pale
face. Agony radiated from his voice, "I could not bring her across as
she asked me. I could not condemn her to the hell I live in. I was
going to let her die..." 

Nick's anguish overwhelmed Reese and he reached out to put an arm
around Nick's shoulders. 

"I asked a friend to help me join her, but he refused. When my friend
left, he told me she was not yet dead, so I brought her here as fast as
I could fly." 

Nick reached up and soothed her brow. He brought her pale hand to his

"A friend," Reese said, flatly. "LaCroix?" 

Nick turned quickly, placing Natalie's hand back at her side. He looked
at Reese, astonished by the revelation. "You know about LaCroix?" 

"Don't you mean 'Father'?" Reese asked, a bit smugly. 

Nick nodded and admitted, "He is my 'sire', the creator of this 800
year hell. I have called him 'father'. He left Toronto last night. He
as much as told me that he would not return while Natalie is alive." 

"You really think he will keep his word?" Reese asked, then added,
"Nick, this might come as a surprise to you, but I was an FBI agent
when I was very young. The agency knows of your kind." 

Nick rose quickly out of his chair, stepped around Reese and went to
the window. The sun was down and he opened the curtains to stare out
into the last rays of a glowing sunset. He watched until it was pitch
black and the stars came out. Finally, turning to Reese, he asked, "If
that1s true, why haven't they killed us? Why let us live?" Reese
sighed, "It's complicated. For one thing, the FBI doesn't know how many
of you there are. They don't want a Holy War on American soil or a
panic among humans. For another thing, they do not want to bring
attention to themselves. There are lots of things they keep secret from
the world. Occasionally, one of your kind does a job or mission for
them. Vampires make great spies. They can get into places that most
people can't." 

"Do they know about me?" Nick asked. 

"No, Nick. At least I don't think so. I've been asked to keep an eye on
the Raven, and LaCroix, but no one has even mentioned you. I'd rather
keep it that way. I won]t say anything. You've tried to blend into
society in a very benevolent way. I don't want to change that. Natalie
needs you and you need her. Government involvement would only
complicate things. Right now most of your people live on a donated food
supply. I don't like what the few who don't do, but that has been put
out of bounds of local jurisdictions. I have strict orders not to
meddle in those cases or call attention to them. I don't. I did,
however, notice that Natalie keeps covering them up. That also led me
to you. I never mentioned this to the FBI. They just assume I'm doing
my job. This is all something I wish I Didn't know about, but I've
learned to live with it." 

"Captain Reese, why are you confiding all this to me? You must be aware
that our society has pretty strict rules about not allowing our
existence to be know to mortals." 

"I know I'm taking an chance, Nick. But I can see you need friends. The
idea of what you are and have been is frightening, but I care about
you, Nick. Sometimes I see a frightened boy in your eyes. You and
Natalie belong together. I want to be here for you." 

"What's in it for you?" Nick asked, skeptically. "You're an officer
under my command. You have all become my 'children'." He added, "You're
a good cop and if I can help keep you here awhile longer, I want to.
Tracy will need you here when she's better, and I..." he hesitated, "I
have always wanted a son." 

"What!" Nick looked his Captain in the eyes. He saw something there he
had only glimpsed a few times in LaCroix eyes... Love. 

"I know you may think I'm losing it, but something draws me to you,
Nick. You're a fine young man. You strive to live a good life... help
people. I admire your strength and desire to change what you are." He
looked deeper into Nick's eyes and tears formed. "My wife's dying,
Nick. She has Alzheimers. We can't even communicate anymore. I want to
help you. I need to be there for someone. The girls are married and
live so far away now. Please, Nick, you can trust me. I would value you
as I would a boy of my Own." 

"I'm 800 years old," Nick reminded him. 

Reese smiled at him, "Well you wouldn't know it to look at you. Being
what you are, does have it's advantages." 

He came close to Nick and then did an amazing thing. He reached out and
drew Nick into a big bear hug. "What do you say, 'young' man? Do you
want a human father, for a season in your life?" he asked, then
released Nick and stepped back to look into the young man's eyes. 

Nick teared up again. "I would be honored," he said, touched beyond

A tiny voice filtered into their consciousness, "Hey, can I have one of
those hugs?" They both turned to see Natalie smiling weakly at them.
Nick literally flew to her side and took her hand in his. 

Reese shook his head, amazed. 

"Natalie," Nick breathed in a whisper. He pressed his lips to her

Natalie held out her other hand to Reese. "Captain," she said weakly
with a look that added, "It's good of you to come." 

Reese took her cold hand and rubbed it gently. 

Natalie looked around and realized she was in the hospital. "Nick, how
did I get here?" 

Reese answered for him. "Nick brought you here, Natalie. He loves you.
Don't judge him to harshly. Talk to him... let him explain, then
forgive him. You need him and so do I." He kissed her hand. "I'm going
to get some coffee," he said as he left quietly. 

Natalie looked into Nick1s frightened eyes. "Was he holding you?" she
asked, trying to lighten the moment. 

Nick nodded. "Nat, forgive me!" he burst out, unable to stand it
anymore. Would she forgive him or send him away? He had to know! 

"For what!" she cried, seeing the anguish in his eyes. 

"I took too much... You almost died!" A ruby tear escaped his eye. 
Natalie was quiet for a few minutes. Nick could see she was thinking
about what had happened. He walked to the window to give her time.
Finally she called to him. "Nick, come closer." She raised her arms
carefully, to avoid jerking the IV's. When he came to her, she slipped
her arms around his neck, and gently drew him down to her. "Nick, it's
okay... I'm still here... you're still here." 

Nick sobbed against her neck, "I couldn't stop, Nat! I couldn't!" He
drew back to look her in the eyes. "I couldn't leave... not that way,
Nat. I couldn't bring you across. I can't condemn you to this life of
hell. I just can't. Please don1t ever ask me again... please!" He
begged her. 

She looked at him stubbornly, "We'll talk about it." 

He looked at her with dread, "I still have to tell you the rest of it."

"Then tell me if the need is so great," she whispered, tracing the
lines of his face with her fingers. 

He pulled a chair close and lay his face against her hip. He still had
an arm around her waist. She buried her fingers in his hair, gently
stroking his head. 

With agony in his voice he told her, "LaCroix came as I was laying you
down on the floor. He wanted me to leave you there and go with him." He
felt her stiffen, and tried to pull away, ashamed. 

"Nick, tell me the rest," she pressed him, holding him to her. 

"He urged me to bring you across or just turn my back. I couldn't do
either. I asked him to end my life for me." 

"What!" she gasped. "No! Nick, I would never want that sacrifice from
you. I understand why you don't want to bring me across, knowing how
you feel about your life, but what good would it do to sacrifice
yourself because of me." 

"I promised that whatever happened we would be together," he explained.
"But not your death, Nick. I don't ever want that for you. Promise me,

"I can't, Nat. I can't! Life without you is not living. It would make
this hell of a life more pointless than ever." 

He blurted out, "The beast is still here, Nat! It didn't work..." 

"Nick, you can't say it didn't work. It took months for Janette's cure!
We've tried only once. You owe me to keep trying." 

"No! Nat, please don't ask me to endanger your life again...
Please...," he begged. 

Natalie prayed for the right words. "Nick, it's our only hope. We'll
try it differently. You'll go back on human blood. You won't be
starving. I should have realized what I was asking. No more protein
shakes. You'll feed before we make love, and you'll only take a little.
I have faith in you." 

"Faith... that's what you said this time. I nearly killed you! I don't
know..." He tried to move away. 

She clutched his arm, angry. "You nearly killed me, Nick," she accused
him. "I don't remember giving you that option. Now you owe me. We will
do it my way." Her voice quivered, "Don't you love me?" 

Nick looked startled and hurt. "How can you ask me that?!" he asked
with a tortured voice. Anger crossed his features. "You ARE life to me!
Without you, I might as well walk into the sun!" 

"Nick," she pleaded, "Promise me you will stay with me and see this
through." She added again, not caring whether it hurt him, "You DO owe
me, Nick. If you really love me, you will give us another chance." 

Nat, was right. He did owe her. Besides, what choice did he have. Life
without her would not be life at all. Nick sighed and leaned to kiss
her gently. He felt her fingers bury themselves in his hair as she
pulled him closer for a deeper kiss. He drew back after a moment. "All
right, Nat. We'll do it your way." 

"Promise?" she asked. 

"Promise," he smiled at her then leaned to kiss her again. 

She slumped back onto the bed, exhausted. "Nick, how long have you been

"I don't know... It's been over 24 hours." 

"Go home. I need sleep and you need to feed. Go to the Raven and get
some supplies." 

'Raven's closed now with LaCroix gone, but I do know where to get some

"LaCroix's gone! What do you mean gone?" She sat up, hope renewed in
her eyes. 

"Yes, he left town. He said he wouldn't come back unless we asked him."

"Fat chance of that. Why didn't he force you to leave with him?" 

"He looked into my eyes when I asked him to end it for me and knew that
if he didn't kill me I would take care of it myself. He told me you
weren't dead and left, knowing I would not follow as long as you live."

He leaned forward and laid his cheek against her shoulder. His body
shuddered, "I'm free, Nat. Free to love you." She clutched him to her
and laughed, then cried, elated at this turn of events... this
blessing. "Nick, no matter what happens, cure or no cure, all I ask is
that you stay with me. We'll move whenever we have to. Just stay with
me. Promise me, Nick. Even if the cure doesn't work, promise me you
will stay," she begged desperately, needing his promise. 

Nick stood again, took her hand, and pressed it against his lips, "I've
already promised, Nat. Remember... I promised" he kissed her again. 

She smiled warmly at him, "I just needed to hear it again. Now go home,
Nick. Get some rest... feed. I need to sleep." 

"All right. I love you, Nat." He held her close for a moment more and
pressed a kiss to her forehead, "Good night." He turned and left the
room glancing back once to wave at her. 

Outside, Nick suddenly felt almost unable to move. He had been on edge
for a very long time and now he realized how hungry he was. He began to
wonder how he was going to make it home. He staggered, falling against
the wall. 

A booming voice said, "Whoa!" A large arm slipped around his waist and
held him on his feet. "Come on, Nick. Let me take you home." 

Nick protested, "I should go see Tracy." 

Reese replied, "She's still unconscious. You can't do her any good.
I'll ask the nurse to call us if there is any change. Come on, Nick." 

Nick, to weak to protest, let the Captain lead him out of the hospital
and into his car. They drove in silence back to the loft. Nick realized
he was getting quite hungry. He marveled how satisfied his body had
been up until the last couple hours. He hadn't even thought of all the
blood that had been dripping around him. Now he could hear Reese's
blood pumping through his veins and his steady heartbeat. He could
smell Reese's blood. 

He looked at Reese with amber eyes and saw Reese turn to look at him.
He heard the Captain's heartbeat speed up. He smiled, let his fangs
show a bit, then let out a chuckle to ease his Captain1s fear. "Don't
worry, I can hang on. I've had lots of practice. It is just a bit
uncomfortable and I'm so tired." 

Reese let out a ragged sigh, "Sorry... you scared the hell out of me.
For a Moment, I thought I might be breakfast." 

Nick laughed, then said seriously, "There's always a danger to those
around me, but it's pretty minimal. That's why I have always kept
Natalie at arms length. I didn't want what's happened, to happen. Right
now you are safe. 

"I understand, Nick. It's worth the risk for me. I don't know what it
is that draws me to you. I always wanted a son. It never happened.
You're a fine young man," he said with a smile. His voice hardened,
"Then there is LaCroix. He's not exactly 'Father' material. Maybe I
just want you to see what a good father can be. At least I think I can
be a better father." 

Nick agreed, "I have no doubt of that, Sir. It touches me more than you
realize. You would think someone of my age needs no family ties. I've
lived so long trying to break the ones I have... perhaps I have
destroyed the only one I did want." 

Reese looked at him, "What?" 

Nick waved it away. "A long story... for another night." 

Reese smiled, "I'll hold you to it, son. I would be honored if you
would share your stories with me. I'm a huge history buff. Imagine
talking to someone who lived during the last 800 years. It's amazing." 

Nick said, "You have a deal." He sat back in silence, just basking in
the glow of feeling wanted, and marveled at this new gift in his life. 

* * *

Natalie lay crying. She couldn't stop the tears. Moments after Nick had
left she had been seized with fear and elation in such a way that it
had overwhelmed her. Nick had nearly killed her, and would have left
her to die if not for LaCroix, yet now he was willing to see if their
dreams might come true. This filled her with elation. 

She didn't fault him for what had happened. She knew it was her fault.
What had she been thinking? She knew that Nick was on a starvation
diet. She had thought to kill the beast by starving it to death,
breaking it's hold on Nick. 

She should have realized what fresh blood would do to him. She had seen
so many images in his blood... felt so many things. Joy, passion, lust,
guilt and mostly an overwhelming love for her... and a desire that
staggered her. It made her fear she could not live up to it. He saw her
as an Angel. Fear that he would contaminate her had led him to almost
let her die. 

She whispered to the room, "Why would LaCroix help him to save me?"
Suddenly a cold chill touched her and she looked wildly around trying
to see into the shadows of the darkened room. 

"LaCroix, I know you are in here. Come out where I can see you." 

The Vampire stepped onto the dim light that filtered through the door. 

"How?" she stammered. He could not have come through the doors or
windows. "One acquires some useful abilities with experience and time."

"Why didn't you show yourself to Nick?" she asked. 

"Nicholas was too tired and hungry to deal with me. I did promise I was
leaving," he said, moving closer to her. 

She stared at him. The icy coldness she remembered seeing in his eyes
was gone. A profound sadness radiated from him. 

"Why didn't you?" she queried looking him in the eyes. "Have you come
to kill me?" she asked, fear gripping her. 

"I wanted to make sure you were okay." He fingered a rose idly, "My
flight leaves in two hours." 

"When have you ever been concerned about me?" she accused him. She
didn't let her gaze waver, but continued to stared at him. 

"I realized something last night, Dr. Lambert. Without you, Nicholas
will walk into the sun. No matter what I do, eventually it will be so.
Since I do not believe that it is possible for you to find Nicholas a
cure, I can wait. This may be brutal, but in 50 -70 years you will be
gone, and Nicholas will need me again." 

"What if I do find a cure?" she asked, afraid of the answer. 

His eyes flashed fire, "No! There IS no cure!" He came close and his
cold breath chilled her. 

"You protest too much, LaCroix." She glared back at him, trying to look
into his soul. An idea formed in her mind, "How many centuries did you

He look astonished, then shook his head sadly and sighed, '156 years! I
tried every ancient cure there was. I vowed never to go through that
again. I had to accept what I was. I suffered so much.. when I finally
embraced this life, I found peace. When Nicholas entered my life, there
was so much love for a time. Then he changed and the pain and unrest
returned. I have tried to tell Nicholas this for century's, but he will
not accept it. His pain is often mine. It wears at me and I lash out."
His eyes turned red, "You will never tell Nicholas of my search." He
came closer... his breath was cold as ice and made her shiver. 

"As you wish." What good would the knowledge do him anyway, she

He back up a bit, "You will die eventually, or he will be forced to
bring you across before your age takes you." 

"Why did you tell him I was alive? You could have just let me die. Nick
didn't even realize my heart was still beating." 

"No, my dear. Nicholas would have believed he killed you though it was
your own folly that created the situation. You don't stand in front of
a loaded gun and ask someone to pull the trigger." 

"For once I agree," she said, with shame. 

LaCroix continued, "When you are gone, I will at least have a chance of
convincing him to come with me again. I may have a chance if I do not
ask of him what he asked of me concerning his sister, Fluer. No matter
what revenge I promised him, I know Nick could never live through the
pain I did. He's a much gentler man." He came close again, "You don't
realize the anguish you cause him by putting him on that starvation
diet. The blood controls us, it's a need that never goes away... the
raw craving and hunger... the blood is our only connection to life.
Through it, for a few minutes, we feel alive again." Natalie felt hot
tears on her cheeks. "I promise never to ask that of him again." 

"Good. There may be hope for you." 

Natalie asked, curiously, "If Nick brings me across, will you accept
me?" She met his eyes again without faltering. 

LaCroix reached out, took her hand, and pressed his cold lips to it.
She tried not to show her revulsion. He smiled, "You have my respect,
Natalie. You would be a welcomed addition to my family." He allowed his
eyes to go amber and the tips of his teeth to show, "If Nicholas will
not do it, contact me. I would be happy too." He smiled at her letting
his fangs show fully. 

She ignored him, trying to calm her trembling body. She said sincerely,
"Thank you for my life, LaCroix." 

He ran up the hospital steps and inquired about Tracy's whereabouts. He
found the room and entered. He was instantly aware that Vachon was
sitting in a darkened corner keeping a vigil over his partner. He
nodded to him and asked, "How is she?" He stared into Tracy's pale
white face, "Did, you...?" 

Vachon came closer, "No, she's still human. I had nothing to do with
this. She was already back in ICU when I got here. They moved her here
a few hours ago. It's pretty much a miracle.' 

Nick looked at him, "You believe in miracles?" 

"Well," he fidgeted, "No other word fits. She was pronounced dead and
now... she's not..." 

"Has she awakened?" he asked. Peering closely at her, he took her hand
in his. 

"No, she's in an induced coma. It will help her heal faster." 

Nick looked around. "Where's her parents? I thought they'd be hanging

"Out of country... Nurse said they are on a cruise and they haven't
been able to notify them yet. Suits me fine... they'd never let me stay

Nick smiled at the long haired, unkempt looking man. He was a man of
few words and for his 500 years of un-dead life, he seemed to be
uneducated, yet Nick knew him to be a brilliant Jack-of-all-Trades, a
thief and a master musician. After Tracy had thought she'd killed him
with the stake, Vachon had forced her to use on him when he was sick,
she had buried him. Nick had been flying over the beach one night when
he had felt Vachon calling for help. He'd unburied the half dead,
un-dead Vampire, and had hidden him. He had thought it was better to
let his partner think Vachon was still dead. Now he knew that he had
been wrong. Vachon loved Tracy. They also deserved a chance to make a
relationship work. 

Vachon spoke quietly, "Thanks for letting me come back, Nick." 

"So there's been no change?" Nick asked, peering closer. 

Vachon rose and came into the dim light from the corridor. "The doctor
said she was in a lighter coma and could come out of it anytime. She's
spoken a few words, but it's just been your name, Nick. She seems a bit
agitated." Vachon said, curiosity heavy in his voice. 

"She saw what I was just before she was hit. She's pretty ticked and
hurt." Nick, stroked the pale hand that he had picked up. 

"Ah," Vachon said, obviously relieved. "I thought maybe you had formed
some sort of relationship while I was gone." 

"She's my partner and I love Natalie. I won't ask you to step back from
Tracy ever again, Javier. If she loves you, then you both have to
figure out what kind of relationship you need or want. Please just make
sure it's what Tracy wants. Don't bring her across unless she asks..
no... begs" 

Vachon smiled, "Thanks, Nick. I will do as you ask." 

Nick reached down and kissed Tracy's forehead. "Thank you, Vanchon. I
won't try to run her life anymore. We all have to make our own

Nick leaned down and kissed Tracy's forehead. "Hang in there, Kiddo,"
he whispered, brushing at the fine blond hair on her forehead. "I'll be
in room 342 on the next floor, with Natalie." 

"Natalie's a patient?" Vachon asked. 

Nick nodded, "Don't ask... she'll be okay... I'll tell you about it

Vachon nodded, curious. He could see guilt and shame flashing across
Nick's face. "Okay, Knight. I'll let you know when Tracy wakes up."
Nick found Natalie standing by her bed, the IV's gone. She was holding
a bouquet of yellow roses. "Nick, they are so beautiful! Smell..." she
held them to his face. 

He breathed in the fragrant scent, then grabbed her and pulled her
close. "Oh, Nat, you look wonderful." 

She dropped the roses on the bed and he pulled her against him, kissing
her thoroughly until she sagged against him. 

"Wow!" she whispered, when he let her up for air. 

"Come on...back to bed," he urged. He moved the flowers, then picked
her up and laid her back on the bed. "I'm tired, but I'm fully
replenished and I want to go home. I can sleep in your bed with you,
just as well as I can here." 

"My! With me!" Nick stuttered. 

"Yes, Nick." She had expected that reaction. She smiled at him. His
look was priceless. "I don't ever plan to sleep alone again." 

"But, Nat, shouldn't we talk about this? I knew you were coming to stay
with me for awhile, but I was planning to sleep on the couch. It's
still dangerous," he begged. 

"I know you're afraid, Nick, but I will never be afraid of you or the
beast again. You need me now, and for some reason, I think it needs me
too. I don't think it will harm me again." 

"A fairy told you this?" he asked sarcastically. "Sorry," he added,
when he saw her annoyed look. 

Natalie smiled, "Maybe an Angel... I had a dream last night. I was told
that you won't endanger me again." 

"It's a dream you're basing this on?" He was amazed. 

" was more than a dream, Nick. Trust me. Haven't you felt more
calm in your spirit since you took my blood? You sat here nearly 24
hours with blood all around you, and you didn't notice did you?" 

"No, I didn't, but I was worried about you," he protested. "I wasn't
very hungry until after we got out of here, and then I guess I made
Reese pretty worried on the way home." 

Natalie saw a tiny smile touch his lips. "What did you do, Nick?" she
asked suspiciously.

"I guess my eyes changed to amber and... I let my fangs show a bit," he
said, sheepishly. 

"Oh, Nick, you didn't?" She saw the confirmation in his eyes and
laughed. "Try to remember not to give him a heart attack. You did make
him forget didn't you?" 

He told her about the conversation he'd had with Reese and she
listened, then said, "That's amazing, Nick! I'm so happy for you. You
need a friend like him." 

"What's amazing, Nat, is that he asked me if he could be my father now
that LaCroix is gone." 

"What!" she exclaimed. 

Later their conversation came back to the blood. "Haven't you felt more
contentment in your spirit, Nick? Do you feel ANY change from my
blood?" "I was hungry, but I was satisfied with less blood. Still, it
was human, Nat, not bovine. That in itself would make me calmer. I
drank less this morning, too. I forced some down because I knew I would
be sleeping all day, then coming here this evening." 

"Natalie, your blood made me feel so alive. It was like being in
heaven. I have never felt so in control of the vampire." 

She reached up and caressed his cheek. "See, it's already working.
We'll try again soon. Please trust our love, Nick." 

Nick sighed. He knew she would never let him rest until he agreed. "All
right, Natalie, we'll try again." He held up a finger to stop her
expression of victory, "But not until you are completely recovered and
at the point were you would be allowed to give blood transfusions. We
might try bottle donations so that I do not have to take it from you

Natalie sputtered, "But, Nick!" 

"No but Nick, me," he warned. "It takes time to recover and I will not
endanger your health by trying again too soon." 

"That will take months, Nick! I don't know if I can wait that long.' 

He leaned to kiss her and said quietly, "We've known each other for a
very long time, Nat. I promised you I would not leave you. If we have
to leave Toronto, we will do it together. We'll just wait a while
longer. I love you. I feel so amazingly good." He drew her close. "The
acceptance and love I saw in your blood, is so overwhelming. Did you
feel mine?" 

"Yes, I did. It was amazing and it's a bit scary isn't it." She
listened for his nearly still heart to beat. "Yes, the power we have
over each other is scary... and wonderful," he admitted. 

"Yes, it is wonderful." She flashed him one of her amazing smiles.
"Nick, please see if I can go home with you. I feel great and I don't
want to stay here anymore. I just want to sleep next to you and have
you hold me." 

"All right, I'll go see what the doctor says." 

Natalie sat back and relaxed. Things weren't exactly as she wished, but
it was a start for them. 

Nick returned later and said, "Okay, it's arranged. You will be
released within the hour." 

"Did you have to put a wammy on someone?" she asked with a grin. 

"I'd never do that when it comes to your health," he said seriously. 

A nurse came to help Natalie dress, so Nick went into the hall and
called Reese to tell him that he was taking her home. The Captain
showed up a short time later to help. 

Finally Natalie was put into the wheelchair and Nick persuaded the
Nurse to let Reese wheel her down one floor to see Tracy. Nick knew
that she had awakened from a phone call he had made while Natalie was

As they entered the dimly lit room, they found Vachon sitting by the
bed. He was holding Tracy's hand and whispering quietly to her. 

Nick came close, and Vachon got up and moved to the side so that Nick
could talk semi-privately to his partner. "Hey, Kiddo. It's good to see
you," he told her as he took her hand. 

"Nick," her eyes filled with pain. "Why didn1t you trust me?" her
voice, barely a whisper, quavered. Nick's eyes filled with blood tears,
and his heart beat painfully. Guilt filled him. The pain of Tracy's
injuries weighed heavily on his heart. 

"Forgive me, Tracy. I thought I was doing it for your own good... to
protect you from the community. I failed to realize how dangerous it
might be for you, to be my backup." A blood tear slipped down his face.

Tracy reached up with a weak hand up and caught it on her finger,
fascinated by it. She motioned for him to lean closer, then slipped her
hand behind his neck, pulled his head down and whispered in his ear, "I
forgive you about the bullets, Nick. I'm glad you weren't hurt." She
pressed her cheek against his cold one. "I was careless." 

She continued, "I am very angry about Vachon. You should have told me
he was still alive." She wrapped both arms around his neck, holding him
close... angry, but so very happy that they were all alive. 

"You owe me big time," she said. 

Nick could feel her body trembling with emotional turmoil. She cried
with him for a time. "Thanks for sending Vancho back to me." 

"You're welcome," he said, gently disengaged himself after a few
minutes. "You need to rest, and I need to get Natalie home." 

Tracy realized, then, that Natalie was there and she strained to sit up
higher so that she could see her. Nick took the bed controls and raised
the head of the bed for her. 

"What happened?" she asked, but when she saw Natalie's pale face and
the bandage at her throat, she realized that she already knew the
answer to her question. She saw Natalie reach out to take Nick's hand.
Whatever had happened, it was okay between them. 

Natalie said, "Hi, Tracy. It's good to see you." Reese pushed Natalie's
chair closer. "I'm so glad you're better." 

Tracy asked, "And you?" 

Natalie nodded, "I'm good Trace. I'll tell you about it sometime. Now
you1d better get some sleep... doctor's orders," she said with a smile.
"I'll send Nick back to see you tomorrow night." 

Reese leaned closer, "Good to see you're better, Vetter. Get some rest.
I'll be back tomorrow afternoon." 

"Thanks, Captain," she said, touched. She felt herself drifting off to

Nick turned to his fellow vampire, "Vachon, thanks for being here for
her. Come... walk with us to the car. I have some refreshment there for

Vachon glanced at Reese. 

"He knows what we are. Relax... he's a friend. Come on, you're probably

Vachon smiled, "Thanks, Knight. I did sneak into the blood supply last
night, but I'd appreciate not having to do it again. I am getting
pretty hungry." His eyes flashed amber. 

Reese pushed Natalie a little faster down the hall, and the two
vampires traded grins as they raced after him. 

Nick and Natalie stepped into the loft. Reese struggled behind,
carrying several flower arrangements, then went back for more. 

Natalie was greeted by a big fur ball that threw itself at her.
"Sidney!" she exclaimed, cuddling the cat close. "Thanks, Nick," she
said, her voice muffled against the cat's fur. 

"Hey, boy, how are you? sweet baby," she cooed, rubbing his
fur. She looked up at Nick, surprised. 

"I thought I might as well bring the rest of the family here. Grace was
only too happy to help," he shrugged. 

Natalie looked at him, "Family?" 

"Yes," he smiled, kissing her over the cat's furry back. "Wherever life
leads us now, we will go together. Be it as Vampire, human, cat or
Human, Human, cat... its together!" 

"Or Vampire, Vampire, cat," she added. 

Nick ignored her. "Twenty years down the road, someone might raise
their eyebrows at the matronly woman with the young stud husband, but
we can manage that, can't we?" 

"Husband?" she asked. 

"Of course... When you are better, we'll make it official." He turned
away to help Reese with a new load of flowers he came struggling in

Nat looked after him astonished. It was more than she had hoped for.
She laughed nervously. Men! How could he just make such a mind bending
statement so causally. She smiled and hugged herself. Nick wanted to
marry her! She watched them as they placed all the flowers on the
seldom used kitchen counters and watered them. She hugged Sidney again
before setting him on his feet. 

Reese said, "Well, I guess I'd better get on home." They could hear the
Reluctance in his voice. 

"Joe, remember you're welcome anytime," Nick reassured him. "I'm going
to take Natalie upstairs. She needs to rest. Oh, Joe, could you feed
Sidney before you leave. Cat food makes me nauseous." 

"Sure, Nick. See you, Natalie. Get some sleep." 

"Thanks, Joe," she called across the room. "Good Night." 

Nick took Natalie into his arms and flew with her up the stairs. They
heard Joe's strangled cough below. 

Natalie thumped Nick on the shoulder as he set her down. "Nick! You're
going to give that man a heart attack, not to mention me." She added,
"That was a very odd sensation." 

Nick just gave her a devilish grin. "I'll run a bath for you," he said
over his shoulder as he headed for the bathroom. 

Natalie called, "What's that smell?" 

"That's the new closet among other things," he said with a secretive

She followed him, curious. "Did you have a tub put in for me....?" she
asked... Her voice trailed off... Nick knew she loved a tub more than a
shower. Inside the remodeled bathroom was a beautiful sunken tub big
enough for four people. The wall behind it was mirrored. It had steps
that led up to it, and; it was a peach marble. A thick, off-white
carpet framed the tub. There were candles all around that Nick was
lighting. The water was already running, and it was filling with
millions of bubbles. 

"Oh, Nick!" she squealed in delight, "How...?" 

"You can get almost anything done in a day if you have enough money and
hire enough men." 

Natalie realized the smell was fresh paint. Fortunately she had always
liked the smell of acrylic paint. She moved to Nick and caressed his
cheek with her fingers, then reached up and kissed him gently. "It's
beautiful, Nick... it's perfect!" 

Nick lowered the lights and said, "Climb in. I'll be back in a bit to
check on you." 

She asked with a husky voice, "Will you wash my back?" She trailed a
finger along his jaw. 

Nick stepped back, though he grinned, blushed, and warned, "Nat, you1ll
have to make this easier on me." 

She sighed, "You're right... go on, I'll be okay." After he left, she
looked around the rest of the room, marveling at how much it had
changed. There were two matching sinks lined with mirrors. The commode
was the same peach marble as the tub and a shower was tucked into a far
corner. There was a new, bigger closet, too. The room was twice as big
as it had been. She knew the loft sat in the middle of the big
warehouse. There was room for expansion on both sides. She sighed,
peeled her clothes off and stepped down into the warm water. 

Nick flew downstairs freaking out Sidney, who scattered with a yowl and
hid under the couch. Nick ignored him, grabbed a bottle from the frig
and swallowed about half. He corked the rest, got a glass and took it
back up with him. He was very nervous, yet he looked forward to holding
Natalie close while they slept. It had been a dream that he had always
awakend from, to find an empty bed. He drew close to the door of the
bathroom. It was ajar a couple inches, and he could hear Natalie
humming. He stepped closer to the door and asked, "How do you like it?"

She purred, "It's wonderful! Please, Nick, I haven't had a good back
scrub in years." 

He wondered briefly who had given it to her, then thrust the thought
away, took a deep breath and stepped into the bathroom. Natalie's
shoulders were the only thing he could see above the bubbles. He sighed
with relief, grateful that he'd thought of them. This was not easy on
him. He pushed his desire to the back of his mind, knelt at the back
edge of the tub and took the large sponge she was holding out to him.
It was lathered with thick body wash. She had her eyes closed, and
leaned forward a bit as he gently started to rub the sponge over and
around her back. 

"Oh, Nick, that feels so good," she murmured. "A little lower, please.
Now go to the right... a little higher... ah, that's perfect." 

Nick spent much longer than he needed to get the job done, but he was
fascinated with the contours of her back, and his mind was forming the
image of a painting he might do. When he finally came back to reality,
he leaned forward and pressed his lips to her shoulder. She raised a
wet hand and caressed his cheek, leaving bubbles all over his face.
Some got up his nose, destroying the dangerous line of thought he was
allowing himself. 

"Nat!" he sputtered, pulling away and getting to his feet. She laughed
at him and he grinned back at her. 

She started to stand, giving him a devilish grin. "No. No! Nat!" he
cried out and dove for the huge fluffy white terry cloth robe so he
could hold out it out to her. Being chivalrous, he averted his eyes as
she stepped up out of the tub and into it. He wrapped it around her and
held her close to him, feeling the damp warmth that was radiating
through the cloth. 

Natalie giggled at his embarrassment and hugged his arms to her,
holding them at her waist. It was wonderful to feel his arms around

Nick felt her damp hair touch his chin, and breathed in the fresh clean
scent of her. She leaned back against him, and he felt his body respond
to her. It nearly took all his strength to set her back up on her feet.
He zipped away so fast he left Natalie teetering back and forth. 

She grinned and gave herself a hug. It wasn't fair to Nick to tease him
like that, but it was such fun to see him act like an adolescent boy
and his shyness with her was wonderful. It made him seem new and clean
in their relationship. Natalie looked into the closet and had pity on
him. She found a baggy sweat suit, and slipped into the warm, thick

When she stepped into the bedroom, the lights were out and there were a
few candles around the room in tall glass lanterns. She knew Nick
wasn't fond of electric light. He was wearing black silk pajamas, and
was sitting on the bed... a bit nervously, she noticed. A bottle of
bloodwine sat near him on the nightstand. He took in the sweat suit and
seemed to sigh with relief and thankfulness. He held out his arms to
her and she slid into the bed beside him. 

With a huge sigh they laid on their sides spooning themselves together.
It was a perfect fit. Nick laid his cheek against hers. He pressed his
lips to her cheek and realized she had already fallen into an exhausted
sleep. He smiled and let himself drift off to sleep. 

He woke about 11:00 the next morning and found himself alone. Had it
just been another dream? Then, he heard the shower and Natalie humming.
He smiled and let himself stretch like a long sleek cat. He realized he
hadn't felt this content in centuries. He took the bottle from the side
of the bed, poured a glass and sipped at it while he listened to
Natalie going about her morning regimen. 

Natalie came from the bathroom wrapped in the white robe. She smiled
warmly at him. "You're finally awake," she said. "You do sleep like the
dead," she commented, then leaned over the bed and kissed his lips very
briefly. Nick realized the bloodwine was probably stopping her from a
more affectionate kiss. He understood. Getting up, he hugged her
briefly and slipped past her into the shower. 

Natalie looked into the closet and discovered a good sampling of her
own clothes there. "Thanks Grace," she whispered aloud. 

Nick was so considerate to have thought of bringing her stuff here. She
was warmed that he hadn't put up much of an argument for her not to
come live with him. She slipped into some clothes hurriedly, before he
came back from his shower. 

"I see you found your things," he said. "You can decide if you want
this closet, the one in the bathroom, or part of both." 

She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him with abandonment. His
fresh, minty breath tasted good. 

He held her tightly for a moment, but when a noise from downstairs
distracted them, they looked curiously at each other and went to

As they came down the stairs, they spotted Capt. Reese in the kitchen.
He was busy emptying groceries into the frig and cabinets. 

He looked up at them, "Hey, I hope you guys don't mind. I went shopping
to get some supplies for you, Natalie." 

Natalie was touched. She went to him, gave him a big hug and a kiss on
the cheek. "Great, I'm starving," she said thankfully. 

Reese glanced at Nick, "Did you sleep well?" 

Nick nodded, "Yes, Pop, very well." 

Reese looked a bit startled, then touched. 

"I hope you don't mind," Nick explained. I always wanted to call
LaCroix, Pop, but, of course it didn't fit, and he would have drained
me if I had." 

His two guests stared at him a moment, then Natalie started to laugh
and pretty soon they were all laughing. 

Reese croaked out, "LaCroix... Pop! That's funny, Nick." 

Natalie said, "I'd love to have seen his face!" She giggled. 

Then Reese sobered, "I'd like it if you'd call me 'Pop'. My girls did."

Natalie attacked the grocery bag that still stood on the counter,
"Grapenuts! That's a favorite of mine. How1d you know?" 

Reese looked smug. 'I asked Grace. By the way, she's thrilled you're
going to stay here. She wants you to call her tonight.' 

"She's a good friend. You know, Joe, she's got a crush on you." Reese
was startled, but only smiled. 

Nick stood back watching the easy banter back and forth between his
love and his new father. The happiness he felt, overwhelmed him. He
turned away, feeling blood tears sting his eyes. He felt Natalie's arms
wrap around him, so he turned and buried his face in her hair. 

"Nick! What's wrong?" she asked anxiously. 

"A few nights ago I thought my life was over. Now I have a beautiful
woman that I love here with me, and a father I can respect and love. My
life is so full." 

Natalie and Reese both held him in a circle of love. They stood in
silence letting the emotion pass over Nick in waves. 
Days passed as the three built a life together. Nick had a room and
bath built on the first level of the loft for Reese to stay in when he
couldn't face going home. 

Some nights, the three friends would sit with Reese's dying wife and
read or talk to her in Reese's big house. Natalie had taken a three
month leave from her job to recover. She would go at night to sit with
Denise. After awhile, she started to read the Bible to the sick woman.
It seemed to bring her comfort. Natalie started to take in the words of
the Bible, and renewed her faith in the Lord, praying for hours for the
relationship that she and Nick were building. 

Sometimes, the three would sit at the loft and Nick would tell stories
about his many lives and the times he had lived in. Reese got a small
laptop and started to write the details down. Nick had given him
permission to write a book about characters living in those times. It
made him feel good that some of the lives he had touched would not be

There were times when Nick would take Natalie out for a late night walk
or a movie. Tracy had recovered and was back at work. On occasion they
would meet her and Vachon and see a movie together. One night the guys
took the girls flying. Tracy seemed to love it but Natalie clung to
Nick so hard she nearly strangled him. They set down on a hill over
looking the city. The lights twinkled forever. It was a warm summer

"Natalie, you nearly strangled me," Nick complained, though he was
grinning from ear to ear. She slapped his shoulder, "You love scaring
me half to death!" 

"Giving you a thrill is more the idea." he pouted. 

Tracy remarked, "I love it. It's so freeing and so amazing up there.
Someday I'll be able to do it on my own." 

Natalie and Nick both looked at her and said in unison, "No!" 

They looked at each other, then Natalie said, "Tracy, think about this
very carefully before you decide. There is so much that goes with the
perks of being able to fly." 

"Yes," Nick said, "Like never being able to stand in the sunlight?
constant hunger? being dangerous to the ones you love. The darkness is
the worst." 

Tracy sighed. They'd had this conversation a lot, but she'd pretty much
decided that she would have Vachon bring her across in about 5 years.
"I'm already living at night, exclusively. I can't imagine life without
Vachon," she said, taking his arm and pulling him close to her. "He has
no desire to live in the sun, so I will live in the darkness." 

"What about faith? Religion? It could be lost to you," Natalie pleaded.

Tracy shrugged. "It's never been a part of my life, Natalie. I don't
see that I will miss it." 

That night, conversation had faded off into the darkness. They finally
gave up and flew back to the Loft. After that, the four friends saw
less of each other. The gulf between those who wanted humanity and
those who wanted vampirism grew. 

Natalie, with her new faith, was worried about Tracy's soul. 

A week later, Denise Reese died. Joe was devastated. He planned the
service for the evening so that Nick and Vachon could come. They had
all stood in the light of garden torches looking down on the grave
sight, silent in their own thoughts. Nick finally spoke quietly, "Pop,
please come and stay with Natalie and I on a permanent basis. I know
you do not want to go back to your house alone." 

Reese had looked at him with tears streaking his face, "Thanks, Son. I
will come." 

A voice came from behind them, "Dad, what are you saying! You can't
leave Mom's house." 

Reese turned to his daughter, Laura. "Please, honey? we will talk about
this later." 

"No, Now!" Laura, his distraught daughter demanded. "First, you have
mom's funeral in the dark... She always loved the morning." 

"You know Nick's allergic to sunlight," Reese reminded her. 

"So who is he to us... to mom? Rachael is so upset about this she
refuses to even talk to you. Now you're just walking away from all of

Grace, having come to the funeral along with half the department, came
from the larger group of officers to see what the commotion was. She
touched Natalie's arm, her face full of questions. Everyone was taking
notice of the raised voices. 

Natalie shook her head, mouthing 'not now'. Natalie took her Grace's
and held her friend close for support. 

Reese begged, "Please don't do this here. I know you're hurt that mom
is gone, but these people have been at our side for months... you
haven't..." He said angrily and a bit too loudly. "Pop, please...let's
just go to the house for now and you can .....", Nick started. 

Laura, becoming hysterical now, struck out at Nick, "Pop? He's NOT your
father, and he never will be!" She turned again on her father, "Dad,
come with me now!" 

Reese said, "No, Nick and Natalie have offered me a place to stay and I
Can't go back to the house now... not tonight, at least. Please
understand, that house is too empty for me right now." 

Nick looked at Natalie desperately. "Laura?" she spoke to the woman.
"Please try to see your father's needs in this matter. You're welcome
to come to our place to talk with him." 

"I don't intend to. He belongs with us... at mother's house." 

Grace added quietly, "Your mother's gone. You need to think about what
your father needs." 

"Who are you? His girl friend?" Laura snapped. 

Everyone stared, open mouthed. 

Nick explained, "Grace is only a co-worker. Your father would never
cheat on your mother." He allowed the beast to surface a bit. His voice
was deep and dripped with anger. 

Natalie let go of Grace and dragged him away. Vachon, who was with
Tracy, followed. 

Many of the officers felt for their Captain and started to herd the on
lookers away. 

Rachael had left her husband's side and came to join in the argument.
Before Long, it became a shouting match and ended with the girl's
husbands dragging them away. Reese was devastated and fell to his knees
before the grave. Grace looked around and found she was alone with the
torn man. She knelt beside him and he blindly grabbed hold of her and
held on, sobbing for his loss... for the pain and embarrassment his
daughters had caused him. She soothed him by rubbing his back and
softly humming, 'Amazing Grace'. A few minutes later, Natalie returned
and changed places with her. 

"Natalie?" Grace heard him say as she walked away. She wondered, as she
left the cemetery, if Joe had even realized, that she had been there
with him. 

Reese came to stay with Natalie and Nick. 

About a week after the funeral, Joe told Nick, "Take Natalie out, Nick.
Make it a special evening. You've put your lives on hold for me for too
long. Sidney and I will be just fine." 

Nick smiled, "Thanks, Pop. I have been wanting to ask her a very
special question." 

"Well, well," Reese said. "It's long over due, son. Go on... make your

So that evening Nick found himself sitting before Natalie in a very
posh restaurant in a secluded side room. She was so gorgeous. She was
dressed in green velvet, and had small, emerald earrings on. Her
reddish brown hair was piled high on her head, with tiny curls slipping
down her neck, making it a very inviting place. Nick felt his fangs

She smiled a knowing smile. Sometimes she ached for his fangs to bury
Them selves in her neck, too. The sensations she had felt the night
Nick had taken her blood overwhelmed her. 

Nick seemed to shake himself. He reached out to take her hand. "You
know how much I love you, Natalie. Soon it will be time for us to try 

He stood, came closer, and then went down on one knee. He could already
hear her heart beating faster. "Marry me, Natalie. Make our first time
together, be really together. Make this a holy union between us. If
it's God's will that we be together, let's do it right." 

Natalie was so touched that tears ran down her face. She had been
waiting for months for Nick to ask her to marry him. They'd been
sleeping in the same bed together since she had come home. Some nights
had been easy and other nights had been hard. Sometimes Nick slept on
the couch... others she did. 

She thought back a few nights. Nick had been pulling away, almost
afraid of physical contact, and he'd snapped at her several times.
Finally she had grabbed him and turned him to face her. He'd seen the
hurt in her face and had been aghast. He took her in his arms and had
pulled her stiff and unyielding body close. She'd had to will herself
to relax against him. 

"What's wrong?" she'd pleaded with him, her voice loud, her fear
radiating from her. 

Finally he had admitted, "I'm afraid. It will be okay soon to be with
you, Nat. I nearly killed you the last time. I don't know if I can take
that chance again. I can't live without you." 

"Nick," she'd said, sternly, "Things are so different now. We're
sleeping together most of the time. I know it's been a struggle at
times, but you have learned a lot of restraint." 

Nick had admitted slowly, "That's true. It is easier now." 

"You're not hungry all the time, anymore" 

Nick nodded in agreement, his fear receding. He knew that no matter
what they talked about, he would never be totally sure he could pull
away. Natalie's blood was like a sweet nectar. It was very rare for a
Vampire to find a mortal to love one who could love them back with
equal strength. The taking of her blood had made him feel so alive. If
it hadn't been for the pain of nearly losing her, he would have been in
heaven. The well being he had felt from her blood touched his very
soul. He hadn't felt like that since he had knelt before the cross as a
crusader and pledged his life to the Lord's service. 

LaCroix had felt it in Nick's blood, and had pursed him over the
centuries to feel that life again each time he had taken Nick's blood;
sometimes by mutual agreement, sometimes by force. At first, Nick had
loved him fiercely, bestowing on him all the love that he hadn't gotten
from his father. When LaCroix had brought him across he had felt that
unconditional love from Nick. That's why he could never let Nick go,
knowing that only in those moments they were together would he feel
that life. Nick understood him a bit better now, having been filled
with Natalie's blood. 

As Natalie looked down into his eyes, she saw all his love and his
fear, yet now she knew he was ready to join with her again no matter
what the cost. In her heart she knew Nick would not hurt her again. All
these thoughts had flashed through in a second and Nick was still
awaiting her answer. 

"Yes!" she cried, throwing her arms around his neck. "Yes, Nick. I'll
marry you." 

Nick stood, drawing her to her feet. He kissed her with wild
abandonment. Then he pulled the small, red velvet box from his pocket.
She took the box with trembling hands and it crackled as she opened it.
Inside was a beautiful heart shaped diamond of about four carats. "Oh,
my! It's so beautiful, Nick." 

"You are my heart and soul, Natalie." His fingers trembled as they took
the ring from its velvet cushion and slipped it on her finger. It
seemed to catch the many lights from the beautiful chandelier above
them and the facets danced as the tiny lights reflected all over them.
It seemed as if bells rang and they both looked around. 

"What?" Nick asked the air. 

Natalie giggled, "Wow! Do you think there is some truth to the saying,
about a marriage made in heaven?" 

Nick answered, "What would heaven want with me?" Sadness flashed across
his face. 

Natalie leaned forward and kissed him. "Heaven knows of you. You just
have to find your way back, my love." Knowing it was not the time to
get into one of their conversations, Natalie asked him to dance with

They stepped from their private alcove and onto the main ballroom
floor. Natalie in her velvet gown and Nick in his black tux, garnered
attention. Soon all eyes in the room locked on the two lovers as they
glided around the room. Their feet didn't even seem to be touching the
ground. In fact, Natalie realized she was slightly elevated. 

"Nick, put me down. People are watching," she whispered. "It's a good
thing my dress is so long." She giggled against his neck as she felt
her feet touch the ground again. 

He drew his head back and grinned at her, "Guess we'd better get out of
here." He guided her back to their dining table and soon they sat
gazing at each other. Nick had a special bottle delivered to him by a
waiter who was a member of the community, and Natalie dined on a fine
steak as they planned what kind of wedding they would have. 

Three months later, the bride and groom stood in the light of the
bright full moon, accompanied by a few torches. They pledged their love
to each other among their friends. Joe was best man, and Grace was Maid
of Honor. Tracy and Vachon were there, though they stood off a bit, and
so were many precinct co-workers. 

Natalie had a beautiful 12th century, white gown on and Nick was
dressed like a knight; with sword and all. On lookers just thought it
was a play on his name. They did not know it was because that was who
Nick was in his heart. 

Fathe Rochefort married them. 

Reese walked Natalie down an isle between rows of chairs, then took his
place at Nick's side, pride radiating from him. He prayed that all
would be well and that Nick would have the control he needed to make
tonight a blessed event. He knew he would be holding his breath. 

He still had his house, and he had learned to go there on occasion to
give the 'kids1 some privacy. He dreaded having to stay there for days
on end. It was still too soon. He pushed his thoughts aside and
concentrated on the wedding. 

Gazing into each other's eyes, Nick and Natalie spoke words of love and
devotion and then were pronounced Man and Wife. The company of friends
held candles. Flowers surrounded them. A warm breeze caressed them. It
was late, about 9:00 pm, because of summer hours, but they had a band
and dancing. 

Amidst garden torches and candles, the Bride and Groom danced together
as one. They didn1't see or hear anything around them. It was only them
and their skin touching at the palms of their hands and Nick's hand at
her waist. She was touching the cool skin at his neck. The music had
finished long before they realized it, and the crowd of friends laughed
warmly at them. 

They cut the cake, and Nick forced a tiny bit of it down. The wine was
served by Vachon, discreetly, from two bottles of red wine. Nick took a
sip and his eyes widened. It was Natalie's blood. Her eyes were
laughing with pleasure as he received her gift. "Thank you," he
whispered against her lips. He fed from the glass, which Vachon kept
filling by slight of hand. 

The bouquet was finally thrown, and Grace caught it. Much to everyone's
surprise, Joe caught the garter. The look of surprise and fear that
crossed his face made everyone laugh. Grace was urged to dance with
him. She slipped into his arms. He was very stiff and uncomfortable. 

"Relax, Captain. It's just a dance. I understand that all this is too
soon for you. The crowd's only having some fun. Tomorrow we each go
back to our own lives," she reassured him. 

Joe relaxed, and they continued to dance and talk a bit. At the song's
conclusion, he released her. "Thank you, Grace," he said quietly,
feeling guilty for having enjoyed himself so much. They went their
separate ways. Both would have dreams to keep them company that night. 

Photos of everything were, taken. Finally, Nick tugged at Natalie.
"Lets go," he whispered. 

She turned to smile at him, "I thought you1d never ask." 

In no time at all they were heading for the Caddie, only to discover
that it was covered in tissue paper flowers and, to Nick's horror, tin
cans were tied to the back bumper. Natalie laughed at the look on his
face. Amidst falling bird seed and well wishes, they speed away through
the darkness toward home. 

Nick had wanted to give Natalie a wonderful honeymoon, but she told him
that she felt safer in the loft. It would give them all the privacy
they needed and they would have the supplies Nick needed to feed on. 

Nick pulled up into the Loft garage and helped Natalie out of the car.
He swung her up into his arms. She laughed with pleasure as he fought
to punch in the code for the lift. Finally inside, he captured her
lips. They nearly tumbled out into the room when the lift door opened.
Nick set her down on the floor and she squealed with happiness as she
found their apartment full of roses: Blood red ones intertwined with
pure white ones. 

"Oh, Nick, they're prefect!" She caressed his cheek with her fingers
and took one of each, smelling them. She kept them in her hand as she
took pity on his nervousness and went to the frig to get another of the
special bottles. 

She poured him a drink and watched the gratification flutter across his
face. Finally he took her hand and led her up the stairs toward their
bedroom. They took another special bottle with them. Natalie had been
able to store two units of blood, and Vachon had taken care of the
bottling process. 

With fingers that shook slightly, Nick slowly undid the row of pearl
buttons at the back of her dress. He leaned to kiss her bare shoulders
as he slid the dress from them. Candle light danced off them and her
dark reddish brown tresses. As her dress dropped to the floor, Natalie
stepped away from it and turned toward him. She wore a beautiful
white-lace teddy. 

"Natalie, you're so breathtakingly beautiful," he whispered. He kissed
her, gently tasting her lips and mouth, exploring with his tongue. He
drew her to him and she ran her hands up his sides and to the front of
his shirt. As she undid the buttons at the shoulders of his uniform,
the tunic fell away. She slipped her hands over his cool chest. He
moaned in pleasure against her lips. 

He moved away long enough to kick off his sandals and undo the
leggings. Nat followed to help him. 

Slowly... and with great care, they gently undressed each other.
Finally Nick picked his beautiful bride up and carried her to his bed.
He laid her down, poured himself another small glass of bloodwine and
drank it down. Natalie watched as bliss spread across his face. It was
her blood that nourished his body. She reached out, took the glass and
sat it on the nightstand, then she took his hands and drew him down to

Gently they explored each other. Touch, taste and smell, caress after
caress brought their bodies closer and closer until they became one.
Nick sent a prayer heavenward, "God, please don't let me hurt her."
Their movements became more rapid, their hands clutched at each other,
their lips bruised each other. Passion ignited into a torrent of
emotion that engulfed them. 

Natalie looked deep into Nick's eyes and saw them turn to amber.
Wanting to pacify him, she spoke in words of love, soothing the beast..
not allowing it to take over. She bared her neck to him, "Only take a
little, Nick," she instructed him through her breathless passion. 

Nick drew back his head, fangs bared. He struck firmly burying his
fangs into her neck. Passion swept over them. They became each other
and saw the other's love. Natalie was ready for the images this time.
She knew Nick and loved him for all he was and had fought to achieve.
She saw his bond with her. 

Nick saw himself in her mind, the shining Knight. She saw him at her
side holding babies that they would one day have. He was overwhelmed by
her love. He drank deeply for only a moment, and their bodies reached a
climax that brought cries of extreme pleasure. Nick threw his head back
and growled in such ecstasy that Natalie found herself laughing with
the joy of it. They clung to each other as their breathing returned to
normal. Natalie held Nick tightly, not letting him move away... He let
her hold him, and his unusually quiet heart beat quite rapidly for a
few moments. 

Nick and Natalie gasped for breath. He laid his cheek against her
breast and she felt blood tears run between her breasts... tears of
relief that they had made love and she was still alive and safe.
Eventually, Nick slipped to the side and rolled to his back pulling her
to him. She laid her cheek against his shoulder so she could reach up,
kiss his chin and nuzzle his ear. They drifted off to sleep. 

Nick whispered before slipping into sleep, "Thank you, Lord." 

They were awakened late the next afternoon by the phone. Nick reached
out fumbling for it, "Hello? Pop!" Nick smiled down at his sleepy
bride. She snuggled closer to him. "Yeah...Were fine." He held the
phone toward Natalie, "Hi, Pop," she called. 

Nick could hear Joe let out a deep breath. "It worked, Pop!" 

No one needed to explain what 'it' was. 

"Nick, I prayed that God would be with you and Natalie. I'll let you
go. I just needed to know you were okay. Check in with me tomorrow,

"Sure, Pop." Nick hung up the phone and hugged Natalie to him. "Good
morning, my beautiful Wife." Natalie caressed his chest with her
fingers. "Good morning, my wonderful Husband," she said, then added,
"I'm glad he called. He's probably been sweating the whole thing all

Nick chuckled, "You're probably right, Nat." 

"Nick, do you realize how blessed we have been?" she asked him. 

He turned so he could face her, propped his head up on his hand and
looked into her eyes. "Yes, Nat. In my heart I am beginning to believe
salvation is possible for me." 

"Really, Nick! Really?" she asked, tears of joy running down her face.
She hugged him to her. "Just ask God to forgive you. Let His son, Jesus
into your heart. I'm your wife and we shared more than any human pair
can share. It was a gift to us, to confirm our love and let you know
that if you ask for forgiveness we could possibly live as human husband
and wife." 

She cautioned him, "If you do become human again you will lose the
ability to feel and see our love through our bond. You won't be able to
fly or hypnotize anyone. Your extra strength may be gone." 

He stopped her with a kiss. "All those things are true, but to walk in
the sun, to make love to you without fear of killing you, to hold our
babies in my arms... I can learn to deal with the loss of strength,
Nat. If I have to, I can live like many handicapped people live.
Filling my life with you, I'll learn to adjust. Most of all, I'll grow
old with you and I won't live for centuries afterwards with only half a
soul left. You know coming across with me is no solution." 

She nodded, "Yes, Nick, I know. I will never ask that of you for as
long as we live. I promise. It's out of our hands. You will either be
human or Vampire. Janette's cure will work or it won't. We'll take it
one day at a time. You will know when it is time for you to reach out
to the Lord." 

Natalie kissed him, then swung out of bed and went into the bathroom. 

Nick smiled, watching her beautiful body move until the door closed
behind her. He hoped out of bed and went downstairs to check on Sidney.
He took the half bottle of Natalie's blood and stored it in the frig,
preferring to feed on another vintage, and save Nat's blood for special

He went to stand by the window and felt the warmth of the sun that
radiated through the closed blinds. Curious, he raised the blind an
inch or two and then slowly reached out a finger. The hot sun stung it
and he jerked it back, expecting it to see blisters, but there wasn't a
mark on it. He turned to shout up at Natalie, then stopped himself.
What if it didn't last? It would only hurt to giver her hope. He closed
the window and went to feed Sidney. 

Natalie came down the stairs wrapped in the white terry robe. Nick was
happy that she liked it. He'd bought it on an impulse. She had been
urging him to try something other than black and gray.... yet once out
of the box, the pure white had made him nervous. He'd never tried to
wear it... to pure for his taste. Now as he watched his wife come
toward him, he was glad that he had bought it. It was a definite
improvement over the pink nightmare she had worn when she had
occasionally spent the night sleeping on the couch. 

Natalie kissed him as she passed. He watched her munch on a breakfast
of cereal and fruit while he drank a glass of bloodwine. Nick thought
of the special bottle he had placed in the frig and his fangs itched.
He forced the thoughts out of his mind. Then he realized that Natalie
was staring at him. 

"What?" He asked, fidgeting. 

She smiled and looked away, "Sorry, I never tire of looking at you, and
dressed only in those black silk pajama bottoms... Well...." She let
her voice trail off. 

"I know what you mean, Nat, but we don't have too much bottled blood
left, and you can't afford to lose much more. Remember, I wasn't
supposed to take it directly from the source and risk losing control
again. We've talked about it." 

Natalie reached up to touch the two partially healed fang marks on her
neck. "Why should you have all the fun. The bond vision was amazing,
Nick. I needed to know how much you love me. I need to see it and feel
it. I will never doubt the depth of those feelings again, nor will I be
jealous of Janette if she should come back into our lives. Somehow I
knew The Lord would protect us from evil. Nick, did you feel as if you
were expelled from me, after only a moment?" 

Nick let the moment replay in his mind. "I don't know if expelled was
quite the word. I just felt so satisfied that I drew away expressing my
pleasure audibly." 

Nick went over to Natalie, who was sitting on a high bar stool. He got
close enough to hold her against him. She laid her face against his

"I guess I would described it as a force. Satisfaction for the vampire
was so swift that he seemed go to sleep and I was free to feel all the
physical satisfaction that we had together. I was free with you for
that final moment that we were one. I almost felt human." 
Natalie listened for his heartbeat. "It's already working Nick.... Hey!
I just heard your heart beat." 

He smiled down at her like one would a child, "It does that

"No," she smacked him playfully on the chest, "I mean it beat again. I
just heard it a couple minutes ago." 

"You always make my heart beat faster, Natalie," he teased. 

"Nick! I'm serious!" she pushed him away and bound across the room. She
grabbed up her medical bag and motioned for him to take her place on
the stool. 

He sat, but he had a guarded look on his face. "Nat, it's our
honeymoon. Can't we leave the tests for another time?" he protested. 

Natalie grinned at him, "Let's play doctor then." 

He smiled back, delighted with the thought, but knew she was already
slipping into her serious doctor mode. She suddenly stuck the
stethoscope to his chest. 

"Nat, that's cold!" he said, jumping back. 

She stared at him, "You can feel the temperature difference? You've
never complained before." 

"I haven't, have I?" he said, hope dancing through his brain. 

"Shhhh," she admonished him. So they sat in silence for 10 minutes as
she listened and wrote a few notes. She took his temperature and then a
blood sample. 

Finally, Nick couldn't wait another second, "Nat! What did you find?" 

"Nick," she said, her hand trembling, as she stepped back from the
microscope. "Your heart's beating every 2.6 minutes. That's a vast
improvement from once every 9.8 minutes. Your body temperature is up 5
degrees." She indicated the microscope, "Best of all, your blood is
changing. There are nearly half the abnormal cells there used to be." 

Nick jumped from the stool. "Nat!" he exalted picking her up and swung
her around, "It's working then?" 

Nat nodded, but was rather subdued and reserved. 

"Nat?" he asked, fear lacing his eyes. 

"Oh, Nick!" she exclaimed, "I'm so afraid. I don't want to get your
hopes up. Neither one of us knows if this is temporary or what we have
to do to keep it progressing the way we want it to." 

Nick laughed. "We will just make love a lot," he said with glee. He
took her by the arms. 

Natalie blushed, "Sounds wonderful, Nick, but can we both keep it up.
Last night was the most wonderful experience in my life..." she looked

"But..." he asked, speaking the answer she couldn't. "You're still
afraid of me," he said flatly, backing away. 

"No, Nick!" she protested, then whispered, "Yes..." 

She tried to explain, reaching out to touched his back. She felt the
muscles twitch and draw away from her touch, but she barreled on. "In
my heart I love you, more than I ever thought I could love anyone. I
just felt, for a fraction of a second when you were about to strike,
fear.. fear for self preservation. Nick, what would happen to the
vampire if, all of a sudden, my instinct took over and I fought back...
not of my own volition, but from a primal need to survive.
Instinctually, I have a raw fear of death brought on from the night you
nearly drained me." "Nick, listen to me... I only want us to be safe...
take it slow. Lets just love each other and not have to bring up my
fears..." She wrapped her arms around him, and begged, "Please let's go
slow.. my love.. my life." 

He held her tightly. He didn't doubt that she loved him, and her words
were wise. "Okay... we'll go slow." 

She sighed. It was a sigh that spoke of both relief and regret. 

Nick asked, "What now?" 

She looked at him, a little embarrassed, "Sometimes I wish I had more
courage. I often get what I ask for, and I know it's necessary, but
what I really want to do is to ravish you!" She smiled and, turning him
toward her, kissed him fiercely." 

This led to more kisses. Suddenly Nick pushed her away...his eyes were

"No, Nick." She drew him to the couch and comforted the vampire until
he slipped into a light sleep. She sat, stroking his hair gently, and
prayed..."Lord let this beautiful man be freed from the demon that
lives within him. He believed before, and in my heart I know he still
does. Let him find you again and believe in you. Help him to release
his pain and guilt, and set his spirit free. I know you can do this in
Jesus' name." 

She leaned down and kissed him on the forehead. Her love for the Lord
was so strong now. She prayed constantly. She felt that her life with
Nick was meant to be. It was scary, sometimes, knowing what was inside
the man she loved more than anything, but she felt that her blood,
cleansed by the Lord, was what was making the demon weak. The Lord
living in her heart, was combating this evil in silence, not invading
their lives too much, so far, but soon Nick would have to chose. What
if he didn't? Would she be forced to walk away? She knew that Jesus
must come first in her life...even over Nick. She prayed that choice
would never have to be made. Last night, when Nick had told her he
believed it might be possible for him to be forgiven, her heart had

Nick started to stir and she leaned down to kiss him again. Somehow,
Nick found the strength to go to the frig again before things became
mindless between them. He drank more of Natalie's blood from the bottle
of bloodwine, and when they made love before the fire, he only took a
small amount from her. Their passion spent, they laid in each others
arms on the thick white carpet. The sun had set, and Nick took the
remote and opened the blinds. It seemed as if a thousand stars shone
down on them, blessing their union. Nick was sitting against the couch
and Natalie leaned against his bare chest. He was basking in the light
touch of her shoulders and arms. 

She linked her fingers with his, and raised their hands to kiss his. 

"Oh, Nick. Did you ever think it would be this good for us?" she asked
as she assaulted his fingers with kisses and nibbles. 

"To be honest, Nat, I thought this was only possible if I were human."
Drawing her hand to his mouth to kiss her finger tips, he added "Your
love has changed my heart tonight. I barely felt the vampire. He's
weak, Nat. I feel he is losing his battle to hold on to me... You know
what else, my beautiful Wife?" 

She twisted around to look into his eyes. "No, Nick. What?" she asked,
her heart beating expectantly. 

There were tears in his eyes, "You have given me back my faith in God.
I see it in your mind, and feel it in your heart. I see His word living
in you, my love." 

Natalie heard his words with a joyous heart. "Nick, do you think you're
ready to ask the Lord into your heart. Can you ask Him to protect you
from the Vampire." 

"Do you think He would really answer my prayer?" he asked, hope in his

She rose to kneel before him. "Nick, just ask Him. Ask Him to cleanse
you, if that's what you want. I can't do it for you. It has to come
from your heart. Would you like me to leave you alone?" 

"I'm afraid, Nat. Maybe it would kill me?" he said, clinging to her 

"No, Nick. I do not believe that is possible. You have always had a
good heart. The demon... the vampire, will have to go. It might be
painful, but you're no stranger to pain, and the reward could be your
humanity. God did not put us together by mistake. I believe I am here
to start the process. My blood is already weakening the vampire. My
love, and the love of the Lord in me, weakens the vampire." 

She clarified, "You, Nick. You must ask for the blood of Jesus Christ
to cleanse your heart and save you from this monstrous presence that
steals your life from you. Ask Nick... if that is what you feel in your
heart." She leaned in and held him close for a moment, then kissed him,
stood, grabbed up the white robe and headed for the stairs. 

"Nat, don't go to far," he called after her. 

"I'll be on the landing, my love," she called to him. She went up the
stairs, slipping on the robe and wrapping it around her for comfort. A
knot of fear twisted in her stomach. She knew it was time for choices
and she had seen in Nick's eyes that the time was now. Whatever
happened tonight would determine the rest of their lives. No matter
what, she would never divorce Nick or love another. In her heart she
knew the Lord could take the vampire away, but Nick had to believe as
well. She sat near the top of the stairs, slipping into the shadows.
She drew her knees to her chin and wrapped her arms around them. She
waited, listened and prayed. 

Nick stood before the fire, dressed only in the black silk pajama

Fear was winding around his cold heart, and he felt a need to pray.
There was so much power in the Vampire. It was a supernatural being
beyond man's understanding. He believed that was why his kind could not
go into the light...the demon of the vampire could never face the
light. He went to the window and stared out into the stars. 

"Lord, where did I bury my faith? How could I have gotten so far away
from you, that I allowed such a monster to enter me. LaCroix has so
many demons in him. That's why he abuses me so much. He can't help it.
Maybe he sees I still have faith and can't stand it." 

"I see the pain in his eyes afterwards. It's like they let him, the man
he really is, see the pain he causes me. He is also trapped. Lord, I
don't want to bend to LaCroix's will or the demon within me anymore.
Free me from this entity and fill my heart and soul with Your Holy
Spirit. Let me walk in your light. Sear my insides clean and take this
evil from me." He voice was a cry now, "Be my personal Savior, Lord
Jesus." Tears ran freely down his face. 

Natalie also cried... she stuffed her fist in her mouth so that she
wouldn't make a sound to distract him. She wanted to run down the
stairs to him, but something was holding her back. It felt like an
invisible hand. The image of an angle came to mind and she felt warm
and safe. 

A scream of agony ripped from Nick. An unbearable heat surrounded him.
It seemed to be of white light that came from nowhere and engulfed him.
The light was around him, in him, searing through him... Nick's mouth
roared, yet inside, Nick felt disconnected and safe. He realized the
roar of rage came from the vampire. 

Natalie struggled against the hands that held her, "Please, I must go
to him!" The light was so bright she had to look away. 

She heard a voice, "No, baby... not yet." 

Nick felt his body being picked up by the light, and he seemed to float
for a moment. Then he felt his body heave. Black putrid blood came from
his stomach.. from every cell in his body. It poured out onto the
floor, wracking his body with unbelievable pain. 

There was an un-holy scream that ripped through the room sending
shivers through Natalie's body. She saw Nick lowered to the floor...the
light faded... and was gone. She struggled again, then looked back over
her shoulder and found that a large black woman was holding her close.
The love that radiated out of her eyes spoke of great wisdom and love. 

"Go now, baby, Nick needs you," the angel told her, releasing her. 

Nick came to and found himself on the floor, with Natalie cradling his
head. An unbelievable peace and calm surrounded him. He was warm...
warmer than he ever believed he could be. 

Natalie was gently rocking him, "Nick... oh, Nick," she cried into his

"Nat, did you see? Did you see Jesus? He came and wrapped His arms
around me. The peace was so amazing." "Yes, I saw, Nick," she said
laughing and crying at the same time. She was overwhelmed by what had

Natalie held Nick a long time. Finally she realized he had fallen
asleep. She drew his robe from the floor and covered him. She laid her
hand on his chest and felt his steady heartbeat. His face was pink and
his cheeks, flushed. 

She knew he was human again. Ignoring the tears that steamed down her
face, Natalie brushed a golden curl away from his eyes. She kissed him
and prayed a prayer of thanks to her Lord for this blessing. 

After a time, she went to the phone and called the precinct. 

"Reese, here," Joe answered. 

"Pop, can you come, please. I need your help," she asked. 

"Natalie, are you okay?" His voice was full of concern and fear. 

"Joe," she laughed and cried. "I'm wonderful," she said, sniffling, But
I need your help. Nick's on the floor, and I need to get him to bed." 

"What happened?" he shouted, rising from his seat. The people in the
bull pen looked toward his open door. 

"Pop, we're fine. I just need help." 

"Okay, Natalie. I'm on my way." He threw down the phone, grabbed his
coat off the back of his chair and shouted on his way out, "I'll be at
the Knight's." 

Everyone stared at his back, itching with curiosity. What on earth
could two newlyweds want their Captain for? Tracy reached for the phone
to call Vachon. 

Reese arrived about fifteen minutes later, busting into the loft, with
a loud, "What happened?" He stopped short, seeing Nick on the floor and
the dark blood all over. Nick was half covered by it. 

"Pop, please! I'll explain, but first help me get him cleaned up and
into bed," she urged the startled man. 

"Sure, Natalie...but is he hurt? Did LaCroix come back?" He was so
confused. Blood was everywhere and Natalie looked so happy. Had she
lost it. 

They got Nick up the stairs and laid him beside the bed. Natalie got
some warm wet cloths, and as they cleaned him, Reese realized that the
blood was not from injuries. 

"Tell me what's going on," he urged her. "What happened...?" 

"Nick accepted the Lord tonight. Oh, Pop! You should have seen it. The
light was so amazing! So pure! I couldn't even keep looking..." 

Reese looked at her closely. There was a small steak of white in her
hair. His mouth hung open. "Nat, some of your hair is white." 

"Really?" She raised a hand and fingered the spot, somehow knowing. She
told Joe about what had happened while they washed and redressed Nick
in clean pajamas. Natalie checked all of Nick's vital signs. All were
normal for a human male. Finally they picked him up and put him in the

Joe signaled Natalie to follow him downstairs. There he wrapped her in
his huge arms and held her against his big chest. She was shaking from
the emotional shock of the ordeal and with hope for their future. 

She cried for a long time, letting all the tension drain from her body.
Joe caressed her hair, comforting her. 

Natalie wondered if his daughters would someday realize how much they
were missing. She couldn't remember her father much. This big man, with
his beautiful smile and kind face was so precious to her. In a very
short time, Joe had become a father to both of them. She knew the
department's tongues wagged about it being strange, but those who
really knew and loved the three of them, knew how much they all needed
each other. 

Reese soothed her, "There now, what are all these tears? You should be

Natalie pulled her head away from his chest and looked into his eyes,
"Oh, Pop, I am happy! It's such an overwhelming relief. This means a
normal life for Nick and I. A life in the sun... maybe even babies.
We'll be able to go to church together. It's almost too much to take
in." She leaned heavily on him. He was going to guide her to the couch
when he remembered the mess. 

He took her to the kitchen instead, and made her drink a can of Boost,
then said, "Go up to bed and sleep with your human husband, Natalie.
I'll clean up the mess in the other room." He smiled, "Now I can think
of grandbabies!" 

Natalie stretched up on her toes and kissed his cheek. "Thanks for
coming, Pop." She turned to go, then turned back, "Oh, the stuff to get
blood out is under the kitchen sink. Maybe I won't have to use it ever

Natalie found that Nick was still sleeping. She took a quick shower and
crawled into bed. Nick instinctively moved closer, wrapping his arms
around him. She drifted off to sleep. 

After she was gone, Joe grabbed rags and the cleaning solution. First
he sprayed the rug really well and took it into his shower to rinse
most of the blood away, then he doused it good with wine to put a wine
stain on it. After that, he rolled up the rug and would take it to the
cleansers. Just as he finished cleaning up the floor where the rug had
been, he heard a pitiful meow. He looked around for Sidney. "Here
kitty..." he called. There was another pitiful meow. It came from
overhead. He looked up and saw Sidney peeking over a high ledge that
ran around the upper part of the room. 

"How'd you get up there, you rascal?" he said. "More to the point, how
am I going to get you down?" His eyes surveyed the room. Sidney must
have been frightened by what happened and had run up the furniture,
nearly flying to the ledge above. "Boy, I would have loved to have seen
you scatter," he laughed at the cat. 

"I bet you're pretty hungry." He set out bowls of milk and cat food.
Pretty soon, Sidney started along the ledge, jumped from the ledge to
the stereo speaker mounted near it, then to the TV, and on down to the

The cat started to chow down. Joe reached down to scratch his head. "I
envy you, Sid. I wish I could have been watching on that ledge." He
turned off the lights and went back to work, trying to figure out what
he was going to tell everyone. 

Natalie woke with a start. The windows were open, and for a moment, the
bright sunshine frightened her. Then she remembered, and turned to see
Nick holding his fingers up into the rays of light. He had a childish
grin on his face as he watched the light dance through them. The golden
rays of the sun flickered over his features and turned his hair into a
golden halo. Natalie realized Nick had graying hair on his temples, and
reached up to touch the white streak in her hair, remembering the
perfect light. 

Nick turned and noticed that she was watching him. "Nat, it's been so
long since I've seen the sun... felt its warmth on my fingers without
it burning them. I have such a feeling of peace inside. With the
Lidobuterin B, I felt crazy, anxious...not in control. Now I'm filled
with peace and a feeling of fulfillment. I can't even express it

He reached over and touched her auburn hair, watching the highlights of
gold and red shimmer as he ran his fingers through it. "Natalie, you
are so beautiful." He leaned to kiss her. "I always wondered what I
might do on my first morning as a mortal." 

She smiled, "Yeah!" accepting a more passionate kiss. 

Nick suddenly bounced out of the bed and said, "Let's go for a walk." 

"You are recently married. You have a gorgeous woman in your bed.
You're human, and you want to go for a walk?" she teased. 

For a moment Nick took her seriously. "Oh, Nat... I didn't
know I want you..." he let his voice trail off lamely, looking

She bounded out of the bed, laughing, "Nick, I'm teasing! I'd love
nothing more than to take a walk on this beautiful morning with you."
She kissed him. 

He laughed against her lips, "I love you," he held her close a moment. 

They then went into the bathroom, took fast showers, then dressed in
sweat suits. The mornings were always cool. They fed Sidney, who found
it curious that they were going out during the day. 

Nick drove the Caddie to a nearby park. They stepped onto the grass and
started toward the little manmade lake in the center. Natalie made sure
he had his sunglasses on. He wanted to jog like some of the other
people in the park. 

Nat smiled indulgently at him and off they went. Pretty soon Nick
stopped gasping for breath. She laughed at him, "Well, I guess we'll
have to take it easy on you, old man." 

Nick smiled, but didn't comment. It was the truth. He was old, but he
felt as new as when the world was new... a little out of breath, but
new. "Hey, why don't we use today as my would seem

Natalie threw her arms around his neck and kissed him sensuously,
"That's a wonderful idea, Nick! Happy Birthday! I have a present for
you when we get home," she teased. 

He nipped playfully at her lower lip. ''I'll be sure to collect it, my

They walked around the park, and Nick looked at, and touched,
everything. "The colors... Nat... I'd forgotten how beautiful nature
is. At night it's all darks and grays. Only at a crime scene could I
see any colors, and the lights were almost painful, but I still took
some pleasure in seeing color as it was. The grass... the
have no idea how colorless the world of the un-dead can be!" 

Natalie drew him close, pressing her cheek against his. "Why didn't you
tell me about this, Nick?" 

He held her close and said, "I didn't want to make you sad or put more
on you than you already had to bear at those scenes." Then he asked a
totally unexpected question. "Do you still love your work?" They
continued their walk. Natalie thought about it as they walked, and Nick
waited patiently for her answer. 

She finally said, "Honestly, Nick, I'm tired of looking at death...
smelling it... touching it...I stayed this long because I was able to
help you there. I was able to help the community. Would you mind if I
did something else?" 

'What do you think you'd like to do?" he asked, lacing his finger with
hers. He brought her hand up and kissed the back of it. 

"Maybe a free lance researcher... or a pediatrician. It depends on
where life leads us and how soon we start our family. I only know I
have no need to look on death anymore. I don't need to love death." 

Nick had real salt tears running down his face. He kissed her with a
smile, shining through the wetness. 

Natalie took one tear on her finger and showed it to him. 

He touched it, amazed. "It's pure and clean, Nat." He leaned to kiss
her, "It's so wonderful to be alive, Natalie!" He threw his arms up
into the air and turned in a circle taking in the trees and the sky in
a whirl. 

"Just this day, to stand here and see the sun on your face, is worth
all we've been through." They started to walk again. 

Nick made an observation, "Grace will miss you." 

"She deserves a promotion, and I will try to see she gets it. She's
very good, Nick, and she enjoys the challenge like I did when I came

"Mmmm...smell that?" they quickened their pace. Rounding a bend in the
path, they caught sight of a coffee stand. "Come on, Nick. Let's get
something for breakfast. You're probably hungry." They chose two cream
and sugar coffee's, and poppy seed muffins. The happy couple sat on the
grass cross legged, and Natalie watched as Nick took a sip of the
coffee. Rapture spread over his face. "Oh, Nat.. it's sooo good. I
understand how you feel about it now." He drank some more, letting it
warm him inside. He took a bite of the muffin, and found he couldn't
chew it. 

"Nat!" he said, "What's wrong with this thing? I can't chew it. He spat
out what he had in his mouth. 

Natalie, laughing at him, took the muffin. "You have to peel this paper
off." She showed him how, and then fed him a piece. Bliss spread across
his face. 

"I sure hope you don't like everything, Nick. I'll have to put you on a
diet before long. I remember Schanke said you ate your way across town
the last time you were in the sun." 

Nick's face took on the memory. He smiled sadly, "I sure miss Schank." 

Natalie nodded. "I do too, Nick. He was a good partner and a good
friend. I thought you were going to quit when you first found out you
were going to work with him though." She laughed, "He was so obnoxious
back then, but you brought out the best in each other." 

"Yes, we did." Nick said, warmed by the memory of his last partner and

Natalie asked, "How will we tell Tracy? Vachon will know the minute we
see him..." 

"We'll take it one step at a time." He looked around at the kids
playing with kites. "Hey, I've always wanted to get a big red kite and
fly it in the sun." 

Natalie jumped to her feet, "Come on! That sounds like fun! Let's go
get one from the shopping center across the street." She thought about
the last time she had been in the park, flying a kite. That horrible
Roger Jameson. "I could use a new kite flying memory." She dusted
crumbs off her hands and they tossed their trash in the can close by
and headed for the mall. 

They purchased the biggest, reddest kite they could find. It had a huge
yellow sun on it. It was perfect. They picked up some picnic supplies.
Natalie got the strongest sun screen and lavished it all over Nick's,
already too pink, skin. Nick mumbled and groaned. Never before having
the need for skin protection, it felt a lot like the paint he'd used
when he'd been an actor. He'd always hated it. 

Nick spent some time trying to put the kite together. He fumbled with
it so much that Natalie was in tears from laughing at him. Finally, an
eight year old boy had pity on them and had it fixed in no time. With
his parents permission, they treated him to ice cream. 

They ran back and fourth, finally getting it into the air. Natalie
watched Nick's face more than the kite, enjoying the childish wonder
emanating from it. She also loved watching the sunlight dance across
his face as they ran through the trees. 

Nick watched the kite play tag with the sun, bobbing here and there
through the sky like a tiny ship in a storm. They finally collapsed
under the shade of a tree where they had laid out the blanket. Natalie
sat and let Nick lay his head in her lap. They talked and fed each
other fruit and cheese, and drank Gatorade from the bottle. Nick tasted
everything, marveling at the differences in texture, color, and smell.
Some things such as the grapes and cheese brought back memories of his
childhood. In the late afternoon, Natalie spied an ice cream cart
across the way. She ran and bought two chocolate Sundae cups. She sat
on the blanket with Nick cross-legged before her, and scooped out a
glop of fudge and vanilla ice cream on the little wooden spoon. "Close
your eyes," she bid him. 

Nick closed his eyes and opened his mouth. This was something he had
longed to experience. 

Natalie spooned it in to his waiting mouth. 

The coldness felt heavenly on his warm, overheated tongue. The rich,
exquisite taste of chocolate and the smooth, creamy ice cream, melted
and ran down his throat. He moaned with pleasure. It was all Natalie
had told him it was. 

"Oh, that's wonderful, Nat!" He took a glob and fed it to her, leaving
some of it on her lips. He learned forward to reclaim it, tasting it
and her. "This it what I taste when I taste you, My Love!" he said, a
bit surprised. "Chocolate, cream and something else." He thought a
moment. "The scent of yellow roses," he added, pleased that he'd
figured out what it was. 

Natalie was touched. She wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged
him tightly, claiming his lips for a longer kiss. 
A shadow fell over them. "Hey, there!" a deep voice said, "No public
displays of affection allowed..." 

Nick and Natalie shaded their eyes from the glaring sun. There stood
Capt. Reese, with a big smile covering his face. 

"Pop!" they shouted with happiness, dragging him down to the blanket
with them. "What are you doing here?" 

He explained, "Burns came running into the Bullpen swearing he saw
Officer Knight and Dr. Lambert flying a kite in the park. Since this
was such an unusual occurrence," he said, with a twinkle in his eye. "I
had to come see for myself... Sorry I missed it," he added, nodding at
the great kite laying on the grass. 

Natalie was curious. "Joe, what did you tell them in the bullpen, about
last night?" 

Reese laughed, "I told them you had given Nick a potion to get rid of
the allergy he has for the sun, and it made him get sick so he passed
out. You just freaked out, being a newlywed and all. They had a good
laugh. Tracy seemed more subdued." 

Natalie looked embarrassed, "I guess that's as good a reason as any.
I'm sure I'll get teased about poisoning my husband on our honeymoon.
At least now they'll think it worked." 

Joe commented, "Well, I could have said Nick got drunk and passed out,
but I didn't want to have that rumor started. This was closer to the

Nick replied, "I'm glad you came to help. Natalie told me all about it.
Joe, you have no idea how wonderful this gift of life is." 

Joe said, "Son, it's wonderful to see you in the light." 

The newlyweds got up, and Nick said, "Come on, Nat, lets see if we can
get this kite up once more for Pop." 

With a bit of effort they got the kite into the air and laughed as
Reese struggled to keep it there. Natalie noticed that the people in
the park had stopped what they were doing and were all looking toward
the street pointing. She looked in that direction and discovered that
the whole street was lined with police cars, and the officers were
standing, laughing and pointing toward the three kite flyers. 

"Pop, Nick, look!" she called out. 

Reese came to a dead stop and stared at men from his precinct and some
other local precincts. All of a sudden, there was string looping and
cascading all around him, and he was nearly knocked over as the kite
crashed into him. There he stood with the giant red kite pinning his
arms to his sides, part of the red paper hanging over his eyes. 

Nick was stunned, and Natalie's body was shaking with silent laughter.
Reese shouted, "What are you men and women doing here! Get back to

There was a scramble for the cars as officers bumped into each other.
Within moments, the cars all sped away leaving two of the three in the
park screaming with laughter. Nick went to Joe and tried to lift the
kite up and over his head, but he was shaking with laughter so much he
couldn't free it so Natalie came to help him. 

Joe was practically blowing steam from his ears. Then his face crumbled
and he started to laugh. They all fell in a heap on the grass holding
their sides. The people in the park were still staring, but when the
kids started to laugh, the rest soon joined in. 

Joe gasped for breath, "I will never live this down. They probably
think We've all gone mad." Nick noticed that a familiar car was still
there and a young blond woman was heading their way...Tracy. 

He stood and headed for her. She was looking at him with wonder and
confusion. "Nick, what's going on? How is this possible?" 

Nick grabbed her up and swung her around. "What are you doing here?" he 

"Police scanner at home," she stated, staring at him. She reached out
to touch his sweating brow. 

"I'm cured, Trace! I'm human," he whispered into her ear. 

"What!" She said, fear touching her eyes. "But the community? Nick,
this is dangerous." 

Nick pulled her down to sit on the grass with him. He noted, with
relief, that the people in the park were going about their own business
now and Natalie was keeping Joe away so that he could talk to her

"I was cured through Natalie's love. Love that cleansed her blood...
love she has from the Lord our God." Emotion was thick in his voice. "I
can walk in the sun again." 

"Nick, you gave up what you were and all that power to walk in the
sun?" she asked, floored. 

Nick realized she was serious. "Trace?" He saw disappointment in her
eyes. "This is what I've always wanted, Trace... to be able to love
Natalie without endangering her... to have babies... to have a soul...
to serve the Lord." 

She had tears in her eyes now. "But you could fly! You could hypnotize!
You could bend people to your will! You would have lived forever, never
aging... bullets didn't hurt you. It was what made you a hero... a
great cop, Nick." She pulled away from him, got up and ran back toward
her waiting partner and the car. 

Nick stared after her and then felt Natalie grab his arm. "Let her go.
She needs time to think this through." 

"Yeah, Nick," Joe said, "She's going to have to accept it. I think
maybe your partner was a bit enamored by what you were. She probably
has romanticized it so much because of her love for Vachone. We will
have to pray for her." 

Nick suddenly realized that there were shadows lengthening all around
them. "Natalie, let's go home." He grabbed up their things and headed
toward the car. 

Natalie looked at Reese and shrugged. "I'll call you. It was fun, Pop,"
she called as she ran to catch up with Nick. The two headed back to his
car. They got into the loft just as the sun went down. 

Natalie could see that Nick had a fine sheen of sweat on his brow. She
put her hand against his chest and found that his heart was beating
rapidly. "What1s wrong, Nick?" she queried. 

He wiped the sweat off with his hand and peered at it to make sure it
was colorless. "I'm sorry," he said. "I just found myself getting
scared to death, wondering if we would meet any vampires I knew." 

Natalie reached out and wrapped her arms around him. She felt his body
tremble against her. "Nick, let's leave here. There should be some
mountain cabin we could buy that would give us distance from here, and
some peace. You could have a trainer come to teach you the art of
combat and self defense, and hone the abilities your human body is
capable of. I know you feel a loss of your powers. With survival and
other training you can be master of yourself again... get your
confidence back. You're a good cop, and if you want to come back later,
I would support you, but please, not yet." 

"You can afford it. We could call it an extended honeymoon." She held
herself, lovingly, against him. Nick had opened his mouth to reply to
her ideas when a coldness enveloped him and he turned to see a figure
sitting in the living room. 

Nick knew instantly who it was. His blood ran cold, and he moved
quickly, thrusting Natalie behind him. 

Natalie also recognized him. "Nick," she cried in fear. "LaCroix!" 

LaCroix stood, "Nicholas!" His eyes were amber, his fangs exposed. "I
see you have achieved your goal. I did not believe it was possible." 

Nick accused him, 'You never left did you?" 

LaCroix came closer. "On the contrary, Nicholas. I only arrived from
Rome an hour ago. I felt your pain last night... horrible pain. I
thought perhaps you were injured or even dead. I came to take revenge,
but now I see that I will have the pleasure of bring you back across"
He breathed into Nick's face, chilling the young man. 

"Back off, LaCroix," Nick warned. "I will never be yours again. Never!
I have another father now." 

"Your Captain Reese cannot save you now. He can not possibly parent you
the way I can... forever!" "I'm not talking, about Joe. I speak of my
Lord, Jesus Christ." 

A cry of anguish, turned anger, ripped from the vampire. "No!" he
backed away. "Nicholas... do not speak those words! You know how much I
love you. You are my life!" 

"Life?" Nick spat at him. "You doled out affection, in selfish tiny
drops. You beat me and abused me in every possible way for centuries.
You have been my hell for 800 years. I thought I loved you, but I have
only been like your pup. One that always came back to lick the hand of
the master who beat it. I know that you have been the only reason I
have survived in the community so long, but I do not need you anymore."

LaCroix lunged at him. Natalie was knocked away and collided with the
wall. She cried out, "Jesus, protect us from this evil!" 

LaCroix grabbed Nick by the arm and punched him in the face. Nick felt
LaCroix1s hand close around his throat. He was sure he was going to
die, and he prayed for Natalie1s safety. 

LaCroix suddenly roared in pain. He jerked his hand back. It was
blistered and nearly blazing. He stared at his injuries with confusion
and amazement. 

Natalie struggled to her feet. She blinked. There, in front of Nick,
stood the large black woman she knew to be her Angel. There was a
golden glow around her. 

"You must go lest you be consumed," the Angel warned LaCroix. 

Both Nick and LaCroix looked at her, stunned. Then Nick's face changed
to awe, while LaCroix's went from rage to fear. 

The Angel continued, "This one will never belong to you again. The
Father will not allow you to touch either of them or harm them
physically. You must go, or you will be consumed by fire." 

LaCroix looked at Nick. He snarled, "You have won." 

"You may never see me again, but perhaps your children will..." he
threatened, with an ugly sneer. 

The Angel warned, "If you want what Nick has, send an ambassador to
talk with Nick... otherwise DO NOT approach this family again. You will
not survive. The God of all, makes this promise." 

LaCroix turned his eyes to Nick again. "Nicholas!" he cried, in
anguish. These were not the amber or red eyes of the vampire, but the
eyes of LaCroix, pleading with him. 

The light around the angel brightened. The old vampire threw his hands
up over his eyes. His skin began to smoke. He rose, with a roar of
defeat, and flew toward the open skylight. 

Nick called after him, "Believe, LaCroix. You, too, can be saved!" 

Nick turned and gathered Natalie in his arms and they both cried. Their
bodies shook. Warm, gentle hands took them by the arms and lead them to
the couch. Nick and Natalie looked into wise, ageless eyes. "Who are
you?" Nick asked, already knowing what she was. 

"I am called Tess." she replied, simply. "That monster is gone for
good, if that is what you wish. Live your life...have your babies. Love
the Lord with all your heart. That's all He asks. Nick, He waited 800
years for you to come back." She touched his face tenderly. 

A peace flowed over Nick. 

Natalie stammered, "B...b...babies?" 

Tess took her by the chin. "Yes, babies, Baby. The Lord knows how much
you want children. Nick, He's well pleased with you. You've carried Him
in a corner of your heart all these years. He's always been with you,
child. You were just hiding your face from Him." 

Natalie noticed the blood running down his face from were LaCroix had
punched him. She pulled the scarf from her neck and dabbed at it. 

Tess reached out a finger, ran it over the injury and it vanished. Then
she rubbed Natalie's shoulder, and the pain disappeared. "That evil
being can never again harm your family physically. You are wise to
consider leaving here. Take Joe, and find a place, at least for a
season, to rest, regroup and allow yourselves to heal. Allow yourselves
to live, love and raise that family. Take the Lord with you, and
nothing un-human will ever harm you again." 

Nick and Natalie looked at each other, renewed hope and amazement
shining in their eyes. They turned, as one, to say, "Thank y..." and
realized she was gone. 

They continued to hold each other, still shaking from the adrenalin
rush. There was a knock at the skylight. They both turned fear filled
eyes toward the window above. There was Vachon looking down at them.
Nick looked at Nat, and she nodded to him. 

"Come on down, Vachon," Nick motioned to him. 

Vachon slipped through the skylight and floated to the floor. "I saw
LaCroix leave. I thought it better to wait until he was completely
gone. He might have torn me in half, just for something to do." 

Nick smiled, "He might have," he replied. "Can we help you?" 

"Knight, I need you to talk to Tracy. She's pretty upset over this. She
can't see why you would willingly chose to leave the life you had,
behind. She does not know, nor can I make her understand, how lonely
the centuries can be," Vachon said, quietly. 

Natalie invited, "Come. Sit." 

Vachon sat on the couch, while Nick pulled a chair for himself to sit
in front of the couch facing Vachon. 

"You, Vachon, what do you think of this?" Nick asked. 

"It's not for me to judge. I did not chose to be what I am. There are
times I wish I had never seen my master, but I am who I am and I have
accepted it. I enjoy seeing the centuries pass. The problem is Tracy.
She's begging me to bring her across now. She doesn't want to wait.
She's still a child, Knight. I love her, but I want an equal. With her
in my future I think I could drive away some of the loneliness, at
least for a century or two. I can wait for her to mature. Can you talk
to her, please?" 

Nick sighed, "Of course I will talk to her. She's my partner. I have
more to lay on her. I can't go back to the Force right now. I have
little strength and little control over this body as far as skills I
might need as a cop. I won't endanger my life with Natalie right now.
It's time to move on for a season or two." 

"Wow!" Vachon said, "I was just getting used to having you there in
case I needed help with her. I don't want her to go to another vampire
in anger. She could be lost to me forever." 

"I understand," Nick said. "I can't promise that Tracy will listen to
anything I have to say. She's very disappointed and angry, but I will
try," he assured the vampire. "I will let you know where we settle." 

Vachon rose from his seat. "Knight, call me if you ever need my special

"Thanks, Javier." Nick said, using the vampire's first name. 

"Be happy, Nick...Natalie. I wish you all the best." He turned to Nick.
I'll miss bumping into you every century or so, old man." 

Nick smiled, "Check in on my offspring now and again, from afar." 

"I understand and I will, Nick." 

Natalie had headed for the kitchen and was loading a box full of
bottles and a couple bags of frozen blood from the frig and freezer.
"Vachon, take these with you. No sense letting it go to waste." 

"Thanks!" he said, taking the box. His eyes became amber looking at all
the frozen blood. He nodded to them both and rose, disappearing through
the skylight. Nick sighed, "Do you mind if I call Tracy now and get
this over with, Nat?" 

"No, go ahead, Nick. It's best not to have to worry about it." She
hugged him. "Happy Birthday," she said, sadly. 

"There is always going to be sadness, Nat. It was a wonderful day,
filled with miracles. Nothing can spoil it." He kissed her and then
headed for the phone. 

He called Tracy, and with a little coaxing, she agreed to come. 

His partner arrived about 20 minutes later. She hardly looked at him,
but came into the living room and plopped down on the couch, like a
pouting child summoned by her father for a lecture. 

Natalie excused herself after greeting Tracy, and went upstairs. She
thought it was better if Nick talked partner to partner. 

"Tracy, Vachon came to see me," Nick told her. 

"He shouldn't have," She said defiantly. 

"He told me about your desire to come across very soon." 

"Yes! It's what I want, Nick." 

"Please wait another few years. I know you're twenty five, but you look
eighteen, Tracy. Simple logic...if you come across now, you will always
look 18 No one will ever take you seriously. It was hard for me, and I
was 32. Give yourself time to live. I'd urge you to marry and have a
child, too. Once you come across, there will never be those
possibilities again, unless you accept the Lord, as I do, fully and
completely. Forever sounds nice, Trace, but it can be terribly
frightening and lonely." 

"I will have Vachon! There is no place for children or marriage to a
human," she told him, angrily. 

"I thought I would have Janette forever, at one time. Forever gets
boring. We were married 100 years, Tracy, and we grew apart. Eventually
you will become a killer. It will be your nature. You strive to uphold
the law. How will you feel the first time you drain someone, and lay
him on the ground and know there is no life left." 

"But I won't, Nick. You had the world at your feet. You could do or go
anywhere you wanted and you chose this puny life as a cop. You were
like a God and you wasted it." 

"You're scaring me, Tracy. This world is not wild and un-abandoned like
it was. The vampire today has to follow rules, just like humans to some
extent. The enforcers will not allow you to survive if you misuse the
power you will gain." 

He made her look at him. "I have had to destroy two converts that I
created. They couldn't handle the power. They became unmanageable. They
would have called attention to me and the community. The enforcers
would have taken care of them if I hadn't. It's terribly painful to
destroy your own child, but all vampire are sworn to this. If you get
out of hand, Vachon will be forced to take you out. Do you want to do
that to a man who loves you?" 

That seemed to take the wind out of her sails. Her eyes filled with
tears, but she refused to let them fall. 

"Nick, I idolized you. These months since Natalie came to live with
you, have been the best. I knew who you were, and I saw you do so many
amazing things to make us the best in the precinct. I wanted to be like
you so I could right wrongs. I'm sorry...I am just disappointed. We
both know you won't come back to work least until you know how
your body reacts and what you can, or can not, do... You're not used to
dodging bullets. Reese would never let you return. I have to start all
over now. I'll have to work harder to keep myself safe." 

Nick slumped back, "You're right, Tracy. I have made it harder for you.
Maybe that's why I tried to keep my secrets. In the end it would have
been better for you." 

He sat forward again and took her hands. "I know what you said about
believing in God, Tracy, but what you will be doing, if you come
across, is allowing evil to enter you. Not just evil, but an evil
Being. It won't allow you to control it often. It will control you. It
took a long time for me to control the desires it had. Hundreds of
years, Tracy! There's a price for immortality, a very high price. Sure,
Vachon will be at your side, but he's very undisciplined. There will be
very little structure in your life. Please take a little longer before
you make a decision. Let me answer your questions. Let your life see
where it will lead you. Do not commit to this course yet. Please,

She lifted her hand and placed it on his cheek. "All right...I'll
reevaluate in a year." 

"Promise?" he said, breathing a little easier. 

"I promise, big brother." She leaned forward and brushed his lips with

Nick pulled back, surprised. "Big brother?" 

"Why not? We're partners... we're almost like family." She got up,
unwinding her tall, thin frame. 

"Tracy," he stood and hugged her, "Please be careful out there. I'll
miss you and the job." "Me too, Nick. Thanks," she said, heading for
the door. 

"Call me anytime. Natalie and I are going away for awhile, to regroup.
I'll let you know where we settle." 

Tracy nodded and hurried through the door so that Nick could not see
the tears that spilled down her cheeks. 

Later that night, as Nick and Natalie sat cross-legged on their bed and
eating They talked about what they should do. Sidney lay curled at the
head of the bed. 

Nick promised to call his agent, a non-vampire employee who ran the de
Brabant Corporation, and have him search out that mountain hideaway. As
soon as Joe retired, in a few months, they would go toward that new
life. Nick would take a sabbatical from his job, and Natalie decided
she would resign. Decisions made, they relaxed and enjoyed each other. 

After they fed each other bits of fruit and cheese and drank some
juice, they kissed, entwined their bodies and slept. 

Natalie woke as the first rays of sunlight came through the windows.
She woke Nick with a kiss, and they began to explore each other1s
bodies for the first time as human husband and wife. Abandoning all
restraint, they let touch and taste, guide their hands and mouth's.
Velvet soft skin touched velvet soft skin, giving to each other the way
God had meant them to be. Afterwards, when they had satisfied their
desires, they decided to bathe. They filled the tub and sat together.
Natalie brought Nick's fingers, laced with her1s, to her lips. "Nick?" 

"What, my love?" he said, marveling at his new wife and the life they
had ahead of them. 

"I think we just made a baby," she said, with conviction. 

Nick turned her toward him, looking into her face. She was glowing. He
gathered her close. "I think so, too, My Love," he agreed, kissing her.

The End