A Comet Tale

by Jeri E. Friedman


Archived October 2002 
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Warning: This story is rated R. If you are under 
18 years then  please do not read any further
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Natalie walked over to Tracy's desk and handed her a folder.
"The results of the Larson tox screen, hot off the presses."

"Thanks, Nat."  Tracy began to flip through it.

"Where's Nick?"

"In the Captain's office, being chewed out.  What's with him
lately, anyway?"  Natalie's eyes widened and her mouth dropped
open in disbelief.  Tracy went on explaining, "He's extremely
distracted and ill-tempered - and keeps muttering under his
breath about the Hale-Bopp Comet.  He's driving me nuts!"

"He has been a bit irritable now that you mention it," Natalie
agreed.  "I just thought it was this case.  What did he do to
make Reese chew him out?"

Tracy put the folder down and looked up at her.  "He screwed
up some paperwork and mouthed off at a couple of Blues.  The
Captain is not happy."

Just then, Reese's door flew open.  Nick stomped over to his desk,
grabbed his jacket, told Tracy she was on her own and stalked out.
Natalie and Tracy stared after him, stunned.

Reese came out of his office shaking his head and spotted
Natalie sitting at Nick's desk.  He walked over.  "Tracy,
you're on your own for a week.  Nick is now on forced leave."

Tracy's eyes widened.  "Yes, Captain."

"Natalie, can I please see you in my office?"

"Sure, Captain."  Natalie exchanged glances with Tracy,
shrugged, then followed Reese's retreating form.

"Close the door and have a seat," he sighed wearily as he sank
into his chair.

Natalie waited for him to continue.

"Can you please tell me what the hell has gotten into Nick?"

"I don't know, Captain.  I'd noticed he's been a little
irritable around me but I just thought it was the case.  I know
it's been frustrating.  Tracy just told me what he did and said
he's been muttering about the comet.  I don't know what to make
of that.  It isn't like him."

Reese sighed again.  "He wouldn't tell me much, either.  He
just muttered about the comet, Heaven's Gate, the case, you ..."

Natalie's eyes widened at that.

"He wasn't making much sense.  I had no choice but to force him
to take a week's leave.  He's acting crazy, Natalie.  I
can't have him here like this.  He's a danger to himself and
his partner."

"I understand, Captain."

"You and Nick are close," Reese continued.  "He seems to confide
in you.  I don't want to have to put him on suspension, so I've
arranged for you to be on leave this week, too."

Natalie looked at the Captain in surprise.

"Don't worry about your workload.  It's all taken care of.  Dr.
Malone will fill in for you.  Please, Natalie, find out what's
going on with him and get him to work it out."

"Sure, Captain.  I'll do my best.  I'll go over to Nick's right
now."

"Thank you."

Natalie went back to Tracy's desk and explained what Reese had
arranged.

"Good luck, Nat," Tracy called after her as she left.
Natalie waved without looking back.

**********

The lights were on as Natalie pulled up to the loft.  She was glad
Nick was home.  That was a good sign.  She decided to go up
unannounced and not give him the chance to tell her he didn't want
company.  She was too worried to let this go on any longer without
knowing what was wrong.

Nick was sitting at the kitchen table sullenly drinking
straight out of the bottle.  His thoughts were racing.
He was angry.

But why should he be angry at Reese?  The Captain had done
what he had to do.  Nick had no one to blame but himself.
He knew he'd been behaving poorly.  He knew Reese could have
suspended him rather than putting him on forced leave.  He was
grateful for that but still angry.  And the worst part of it
was that he knew he was being irrational but couldn't control it.

He looked up from his seat facing the door when he heard the
lift engage.  Just what he needed ... company.  He couldn't
imagine who it could be.  Only a few people had his security
code.  As the lift came to a stop, he heard a familiar
heartbeat.  What was Natalie doing here?

The door slid open and Natalie surveyed the loft.  "Well, the
place is still in one piece.  No shattered bottles on the floor or
blood dripping down the walls.  Guess things aren't so bad after
all."

Nick couldn't help but smile.  Natalie smiled, too.

"What are you doing here, Nat?  Why aren't you at work?"
His expression turned to a look of deep concern.

Natalie walked in and sat down next to him.  "Reese is very
worried about you.  So am I.  He gave me a week off to be with
you.  To help you work out whatever is bothering you.  He
doesn't want to have to suspend you, Nick.  Will you please talk
to me?"  She reached across the corner of the table to take his
hand as he dropped his head down and slowly exhaled.

Without looking up at her, Nick began softly, "Nat, I'm sorry for
the way I've been behaving."  He paused, taking a deep breath.
"This is very hard for me to explain.  I'm ... I'm ashamed ... but
I can't help it."

Natalie moved her chair around to be closer and put her arm
around him.  It was only then that he looked at her.  She saw
the embarrassment, fear and sorrow in his eyes.  She could also
see the bloody tears forming there.  Her heart went out to him.
She knew he was in great turmoil.  "Please, Nick, tell me what's
going on.  Let me help you."

He gazed into her eyes and reached up to gently stroke her
cheek.  "I believe you're the only one who will understand and
not laugh at me.  It's the Hale-Bopp Comet."

Natalie looked at him, puzzled, wanting to understand.
"What about it?"

"I'm afraid of it, Nat.  I know that sounds crazy but that's how
I was raised.  And even though science has shown what it is, I
can't get rid of the feeling.  It wasn't so bad until Heaven's
Gate.  Then it all came back to me."

Natalie realized that this wasn't going to be resolved by a
simple conversation.  Suddenly, an idea struck her.  "Nick, you
trust me, don't you?"

"Of course I do!"

"Then pack some clothes and blood - enough for a week.  I'll
be back to get you this evening, about five.  I have to make
arrangements for Sydney.  Get some sleep and don't worry.
Everything's going to be fine."  She smiled and hugged him
tightly.

Nick looked at her quizzically and started to speak but Natalie
covered his lips with her fingertips.  "Not a word," she
whispered to him.  "Just be ready to go about five."

He kissed her fingers and smiled. "Okay."

**********

Nick was up and dressed.  His packed bag and case of blood-filled
wine bottles were waiting by the lift door.

At 4:45, he heard the lift motor engage.  He smiled.  She was
always on time.  The door slid open and Natalie walked in.
"Ready to go?" she asked, cheerfully.

"Yes.  Where are we going?  The sun is still up."

"It's a surprise.  Trust me.  You can ride in the trunk or bundle
up."

"I do trust you and I'd rather bundle up."  Nick walked over to
her and kissed her on the cheek.  He put on sunglasses, a long
coat, a big hat, scarf and gloves, then put his suitcase and case
of bottles into the lift as Natalie held the door open.  He
wondered what was in store for him.

**********

Natalie drove through the city and onto the 401.  Nick quietly
looked out his window at the passing city sights that looked so
different in the light of day.  He sighed and looked over at
Natalie who was concentrating on manuevering through the rush
hour traffic.  She glanced over, smiled at the bundle that was
Nick, but said nothing.

After a while, Natalie turned onto Highway 10 and headed north.
Nick wondered where she was taking him and why.  Obviously, they
were headed out of the city.

About three hours later, they pulled into Owen Sound.  Nick had
slowly shed his protective outer garments as the sun had sunk
below the horizon.  He now wore only his jacket over his clothes.

"We're up on Georgian Bay," Nick remarked when he saw the
town's sign.

"Very observant!  Give the man a prize," Natalie giggled,
cheerfully.

"Why are we here?"

"Patience, Nick.  We're not at our destination just yet.  Soon."

"Okay," he replied and fell silent again.  He pondered what
Natalie had planned and why she was bringing him all the way up
here.  A thousand thoughts flooded his mind.  And then the fear
returned.  He'd be alone with her.  Sure he had plenty of blood
with him to keep the hunger at bay, but the comet ...

Natalie turned left onto Highway 21, right onto 70 and then
right onto 6 and continued north.  She glanced over at Nick
who was silent and somewhat sullen.  Something was really eating
at him and she was determined to banish this ghost.  Why should
the comet have him in such an uproar?  Again, she glanced over
at him.  He was staring out the window into the darkness beyond
and she wondered what memories were haunting him this time.
She felt that by getting him away from the city and the stress
that being there created, he'd feel more comfortable and free
to open up.

They passed through a number of small villages and finally
turned off onto the road that led to Dyer's Bay.  Natalie drove
past a hamlet comprised of a few year-round houses and various
assorted cottages. She turned onto a dirt road.  "We're almost
there," she told Nick, who started at the sound of her voice.

"Okay," he replied quietly.

His reaction and mood did not escape Natalie's notice.

Finally, three and a half hours after they left Toronto, they
arrived at a medium-sized cabin right on the shore of Georgian
Bay at Cabot Head.

**********

Natalie and Nick carried their bags into the cabin.  It had
electricity, running water and a telephone but no radio or
television.  Going into each room, Natalie hung the heavy drapes
that she had brought to protect Nick from the sun.  He put the
blood, along with the food she had brought, into the refrigerator,
then proceeded to look around.

The cabin had two bedrooms, a bathroom with shower and one
large room divided into kitchen, dining area and living room.
There was a huge stone fireplace on one wall with an
overstuffed couch and coffee table in front of it.

By the time Natalie had finished hanging the drapes, Nick had
started a roaring fire and was sitting on the couch.  She sat
beside him and took his hand.  He smiled.  "I put your bag in the
bedroom on the left," she told him.

"Thank you.  Whose cabin is this?" he replied softly.

"Grace's family.  She let me borrow it for the week.  Come on.
Let's take a walk," she suggested.

"Sure."

It was only a little after nine and the night air was fresh, crisp
and chilly enough to warrant a heavy sweater or sweatshirt.  They
wandered down to the water's edge and sat together on a large
rock.  Nick put his arm around Natalie.  He looked up into the
northwest sky.  Hale-Bopp hung there, glowing brilliantly, like a
white flame in the blackness.  Natalie felt the shudder rip
through his body and he yanked his arm from her shoulder, then
inched away from her.

She looked at him with surprise and concern.  "I think it's time
you talked to me, Nick.  Please?"  She ran her fingers
soothingly through his silky, golden curls.  He didn't pull away.

There was silence in the darkness, broken only by the soft
lapping of the water on the rocks.  Silently, Nick raised his
hand and pointed.  Natalie followed his gesture with her eyes.
She gasped.

The black sky was glowing with the light of millions of
twinkling stars.  There among them blazed the comet like a
white-hot flame.  Natalie had forgotten how brilliant the
night sky was, unobscured by the lights of the city.

"Now, maybe you'll understand what I'm about to tell you," Nick
said softly as he turned to face her.  "When I was mortal, the
skies were very dark like this.  You could see even the faintest
of stars.  All sorts of astronomical events were believed to
foretell the future.  Comets were always dreaded.  They appeared
suddenly in the sky - harbingers of doom.  We all feared them."

Natalie listened to Nick in wonder as he spoke, never taking her
eyes from his.

"When I was on Crusade in the Holy Land, things weren't too bad.
We won our few battles with little bloodshed and our lives
were pretty good.  We had all we needed.  But then, in 1226, a
great comet appeared in the sky.  I know now that it was Halley's
Comet."  Nick paused and took a few deep breaths.

"From the night that comet first appeared in the sky, terrible
things began to happen.  Our ranks were decimated, our supplies
stolen.  Our lives became very hard over the next several months."
Nick's voice trembled.  "Then there was a terrible battle.  I was
wounded, severely, and nearly died.  For almost a year I was held
prisoner, kept in chains.  I was convinced I would never see my
home or family again.  But finally I was freed.  It was on my way
home that I stopped in Paris, where I met Janette ..."  His voice
trailed off as blood tears formed in his eyes.

Natalie moved closer and drew him into her arms.  She gently
stroked his hair.  "Oh, Nick," she murmured.  He wrapped his arms
around her and held on tight, seeking comfort.

After several minutes, he gently pulled away.  They looked
into each other's eyes.  Natalie was the first to speak.  "I
had no idea.  I'm so sorry," she whispered softly.  "But you've
lived nearly 800 years since then and seen many more comets.
Surely by now you understand they don't control destiny."

Nick looked down for a minute and then back at Natalie.  "Yes,
I've seen many comets since I was brought across and watched
science progress in its understanding of what they are.  I
watched as people slowly gave up those primitive beliefs.
Logically, I understood.  But deep inside, emotionally, I still
cowered whenever a comet appeared.

"I was actually doing quite well in recent decades.  Until
now.  Until Heaven's Gate.  How could they do that, Nat?  How
could they just kill themselves like that?"  His eyes reflected
his pain and fear.

Natalie understood the pain - people senselessly ending their
lives - but there was more.  And that, she knew, was the key to
Nick's recent behavior.

"So that's what this has all been about?"

He nodded.

"But that's not all, is it?"

Again, Nick nodded and looked down.  Natalie took his hands in
hers and squeezed them tightly.  "What is it, Nick?  You know
you can trust me.  Please tell me."

He squeezed her hands.  "I know this is going to sound crazy,
and totally irrational, but it's how I feel.  When I heard about
Heaven's Gate, I felt like it was happening all over again ...
all the bad things comets bring were starting again."  Nick paused
and swallowed hard.  "It brought back all the fear I used to feel
that something bad would happen to the people I care about ...
people I love ... that something bad might happen to you, Nat."
He let out a huge breath and trembled slightly.

Natalie's mouth dropped open and she sat there staring at Nick
in stunned silence.

"Uh, Nat?" Nick asked as he put his hands on her shoulders and
gently squeezed.  "Are you all right?" 

"Uh ... huh?  Uh, yeah.  I'm ... I'm fine.  Just in shock, I
guess.  Did I hear you right?"

He smiled at her with loving blue eyes and wrapped his arms
around her, whispering into her ear, "Yes, you heard right.  I
said I love you.  I've always loved you, Nat.  From the first
time I looked into your eyes that night in the morgue and saw that
you weren't afraid or repulsed by what I am, I knew you were
someone special.  And I've grown to love you more and more as the
years have passed."

Natalie gently pulled back and he saw tears running down her
cheeks.

"Nick, I love you, too."

Deeply touched by the depth of feeling he saw in Natalie's eyes,
he reached out and gently wiped the tears from her cheeks.  He
smiled softly, leaned forward and kissed her on the lips.
Natalie responded by kissing him back.  The kiss grew passionate
and Nick pulled away.  "I'm sorry, Nat."

"No need to apologize.  It's okay.  I understand."

He moved closer and put his arm around her.  She rested her head
on his shoulder.  They sat together silently watching the comet.
Nick began to point out different constellations.  Natalie was
spellbound, listening to him talk about his time with Galileo and
other astronomers over the centuries.  

Nick felt Natalie shiver.  "Let's go inside and warm up by the
fire, okay?  I don't want you getting sick."  He kissed her on the
cheek.

"Sounds good to me."

**********

Inside, sipping from a steaming mug of hot chocolate, Natalie
joined Nick on the couch.  He had one full of blood.  The fire was
still going strong and the cabin was warm and cozy.

"So, now what is this fear of yours that something bad is going
to happen to me?" she asked as she gathered her feet under
her and turned to face him.

He took a sip from his mug.  "Well, bad things happened to me and
people I cared about when Halley's Comet appeared and now with
Heaven's Gate ... well, I told you ... it's not rational."  He
smiled, a sheepish grin.

"Nick, Hale-Bopp is just a big, dirty snowball.  It doesn't cause
anything but a beautiful spectacle in the sky.  Nothing is going
to happen to me.  Look, I understand that you were raised to
believe comets were an omen of bad things, but Nick, we're not
in the Middle Ages anymore."  She looked at him hopefully.

"I know.  Actually, I'm feeling better now that I've finally been
able to talk about it.  What I'd rather talk about, now, is us."

"I'm listening," Natalie said with a smile.

"Nat, I know you trust me, but do you trust me enough to be with
me ... to let me make love to you?"  He reached out to gently
grasp her shoulders.  "Nat, I want to be with you.  I need to be
with you."  There was such entreaty in his voice and longing in
his eyes.

For the second time that night, Natalie looked at him with a
stunned expression.  Finally, she found her voice. "But how?"  she
asked softly.

"If I feed enough to keep the hunger away, I can maintain control.
I know that defeats what we're trying to do, but ... "  Nick's
voice trailed off.

Natalie knew, too, that this could set him back but she was in
love with him.  She wanted him desperately.  She wrapped her
arms around him and kissed him on the lips.  "Yes, Nick.  I do
want to be with you."

The grin that spread across his face could have lit up all of
Toronto.  He kissed her back, then reached for his mug, drained it
and stood.  "Well, I'd better drink up!"

By the time Nick had finished his second bottle, the fire had
died down to grey embers and the sky was beginning to glow
softly with the approach of dawn.

Natalie yawned.  "I'm really tired."

"I'll help you close the drapes."

**********

Natalie was the first to finish getting ready.  Wearing a
flowered, flannel nightgown, she got into the bed in Nick's room.
A minute later, he walked out of the bathroom wearing his black
silk pajamas.  He paused in the doorway of his bedroom and just
stared at her.

She looked back at him, unable to read his expression.  "Is
something wrong?"

"No," he replied softly, his voice full of wonder, "I'm just
amazed at what's happening.  I can't believe you're really
here."

She smiled.  "Well, why don't you come over here and see just how
real I am?"

He walked over and sat down on the edge of the bed but didn't get
in.  He was hesitant and Natalie sensed some nervousness.  She sat
up, moved next to him and put her arm around him.  He tensed.
"Nick, it's okay.  I know this is scary for you.  I'd be lying
if I said I wasn't scared, too."

He nodded.

"We've never done this before and, well, to be honest, I'm nervous
that you will decide you really don't want me."

"Nat!  How could you possibly think that?"  He put his arm around
her and stroked her hair gently.  "Of course, I want you!  I've
always wanted you.  I'm just scared that the vampire will want
you, too."

She reached up and lightly touched his cheek with her fingertips
and gazed deeply into his dark blue eyes.  "Are you hungry?"

He shook his head.

"Well, then, you should be fine."

"I'm fine right now but I don't know if I'll stay that way.  I
don't want to hurt you.  I have to be careful."

"Nick, we don't have to do anything but sleep, you know.  Let's
just take everything very slowly and you set the pace.  We can
always stop whatever we're doing when you say the word, okay?"

He smiled and kissed her on the lips.  It was a gentle, cherishing
kiss.  He withdrew and looked at her, waiting.  She smiled, then
leaned in and kissed him back just as he had kissed her.

Nick tentatively ran his tongue over her lips and Natalie parted
them in invitation, leaving the decision up to him.  He hesitated
only a few seconds before he slid his tongue into her mouth and
deepened the kiss.

Natalie's heart swelled with joy and love.

Nick was awash in feelings of love and happiness.  Natalie wanted
and loved him.  Gently, he laid her back onto the bed and moved on
top of her, never removing his lips from hers.  Passion rose in
both of them.

Finally, Nick slowly pulled away and smiled down at her.  Natalie
opened her eyes to see his glowing gold.  She felt no fear, only
love and reached up to tenderly stroke his cheek.

"I'm sorry, Nat.  I can't help it.  I'm not hungry, just aroused."

She gave him a quick kiss on the lips.  "It's okay.  I know.  I'm
not afraid.  I love you."

"I love you, too."  He kissed her again as she rubbed his back.
He felt his fangs begin to drop and pulled away abruptly.

Natalie looked up at him, questioningly.  He grinned at her so
she could see his fangs.  "I didn't want to accidently cut you.
They're very sharp."

"Thank you," she said as she continued to rub his back.  She
could now feel his erection pressing against her thigh.  He was as
aroused as she.

Nick gazed sadly at her.  "I think I've reached my limit for now.
I'm fine but I don't want to push it."

He moved off of her and Natalie's heart began to sink.  Sensing
her need, he turned on his side, cuddling up and putting his arm
around her.

"Goodnight, Love."

"Goodnight, Nick.  I love you."

They fell asleep in each other's arms.

Natalie awoke just before sunset and reached over to touch the bed
next to her.  It was empty.  She opened her eyes.  Nick was gone.
She sat up just as he walked through the door, still dressed
in his pajamas.

"Good evening, Beautiful."  He smiled.

"Good evening, yourself," she said, stretching.  "I woke up and
you weren't next to me."  A frown creased her brow.

"I'm sorry.  I woke up and was very hungry.  I thought it was best
if I fed.  But I'm here now."

He sat down next to her.  She wrapped her arms around him
and gently pushed him down onto the bed.  He smiled up at her.
She moved on top of him, kissed him tenderly on the lips, then
withdrew to see his reaction.  He smiled as he reached up to cup
her head in his hands and draw her lips back to his.

When Natalie came up for air, she saw that Nick's eyes were still
blue.  She smiled.  He smiled back.  Natalie sat up, straddling
his hips.

Slowly, watching for his reaction, she unbuttoned his pajama top
to reveal the extremely pale skin and light brown nipples
underneath.  Natalie ran her hand lightly over his chest and drew
circles around his nipples with a fingertip.

Nick shifted slightly beneath her and she could feel the slight
beginnings of an erection.  She was pleased that he was enjoying
this.

Smiling up at her, Nick realized that she could feel him
becoming hard.  He felt both excited and frightened being that he
was pinned beneath her but was still well within control.

He reached up and gently placed his hands on Natalie's breasts
and fondled them through her nightgown.  They stared at each
other, love radiating from their eyes.

As Nick continued, Natalie reached around his hands and undid the
buttons of her nightgown.  He pushed it back off her shoulders.
It slid down to reveal her breasts.  He stared at her and
tentatively touched her left breast.  "You're so beautiful," he
whispered.

Natalie gasped as his cool fingers touched her.  Involuntarily,
her eyes closed as his free hand cupped her other breast and he
began to gently knead them both.  She moaned softly at the
sensations his hands created.  She felt his penis become fully
erect, pressing against the inside of her thigh.  Very gently, she
moved against it, then stopped.  The movement elicited a shudder
and low moan from Nick and she felt him grasp and squeeze her
breasts involuntarily.

Nick was feeling extremely aroused and his breathing became
ragged.  He felt immensely happy at the intimacy he and Natalie
had been able to achieve.  He was so enjoying being close to her
and showing her how very much he loved her but the vampire was
beginning to demand its due.

Natalie opened her eyes to find gold ones looking back at her.
"Maybe we should stop," she offered.

"Not just yet," he replied as he pulled her closer.  He circled
her right nipple with his tongue, gently sucking it into his
mouth, then moved to the left.

Natalie moaned and moved against him again, unable to control
herself.

Nick gasped as he jumped slightly. His fangs descended and he
whispered, "I think now it's time to stop."

She looked at him.  His eyes were gold and twinkling with a smile
that revealed his fangs.  She leaned forward, kissed him chastely
on the lips and smiled.  "Okay."  She moved off of him.  He
cuddled up and put his arm around her.

"You are the most wonderful person I have ever met.  Thank you
for being so understanding.  I love you so much."  Nick kissed
her with his lips tightly closed so as not to accidently cut
her with his fangs.

"I love you, too, Nick.  We're in this together.  Whatever it
takes, that's what we'll do."  She hugged him tightly and he
hugged her back.

They stayed in each other's arms for several minutes before Nick
gently pulled away.  His eyes were blue again and his fangs had
retracted.  "What it's going to take now, is a shower.  I need
one," he said, his eyes twinkling with laughter.

"So do I.  You can go first," Natalie laughed.

Nick began to undress.  Taken by surprise, Natalie stammered, "Uh,
I'll just uh ... I'll just go."  She pointed to the door.

He went to her, gently took her by the shoulders and looked deep
into her eyes.  "Natalie, you don't have to go.  I want you to
stay.  Don't ever be embarrassed."

"I'm not.  I just thought it would bother you ... arouse you."

Nick smiled.  "It does, but it's okay.  I'm in control.  I'll let
you know when I can't handle something.  And besides ..."  His
voice trailed off and he looked down at the floor.

Natalie lifted his chin with her fingertips till he was looking
at her again.  "What?" she asked softly, realizing he was
embarrassed even though he couldn't blush.

Nick refused to meet her eyes.  "Aren't you ... umm, curious?"
he asked shyly.  "Because, well ... I am.  About you, I mean."

"Oh, Nick," Natalie cooed.  "Of course, I am.  But I don't
want to make you uncomfortable."

He looked up at her, the embarrassment turning to self-confidence.
"Trust me.  I'll let you know when I'm too uncomfortable.  And
right now, I'm comfortable enough to ask you to shower with me."

"I'd like that."

Natalie undid the rest of the buttons on her nightgown and it
slid to the floor in a heap at her feet.  She stepped out of it
to stand completely nude before Nick.

He had watched her every move, never taking his eyes off of her.
He stared now, wide-eyed.

With a sparkle in her eyes, she asked, "Are you just going to
stand there all night or are you going to shower?"

"Huh?  Oh ... yeah!  Umm ... I'm sorry," Nick stammered as he
removed his pajama bottoms, "I, uh, was just admiring how very
beautiful you are."

Natalie looked him up and down, noting his partial erection, his
foreskin still not fully retracted.  "I can see that," she said,
smiling.  "And you are the most handsome man I've ever seen."

Nick looked down at himself and smiled.  "Traitor!"

They both began to laugh as they headed for the shower.

Nick was careful not to rub up against Natalie or allow her to rub
against him.  He did wash her hair and the area of her back that
she had trouble reaching.  She did the same for him.  She watched
him wash himself and smiled to herself when he turned away, shyly,
to wash his genitals.  She did not turn from him and he watched
her intently.  Nick remained partially erect but the vampire
stayed under control.

**********

They ate dinner and decided to take a walk along the Georgian Bay.
The moon had risen.  Its pale light gave an otherworldly
appearance to the Flowerpot rock formations just offshore.
Slowly, they strolled along, hand in hand, talking about many
things - superstitions like wishing on stars and shooting stars, and 
the strange customs Nick had encountered throughout the ages.

They returned to the rock by the cabin and sat for a long while
watching the comet and stars.

Over the next day, Nick continued to gain more control but
remained cautious and wouldn't let Natalie touch his genitals.

On the fourth night, they were sitting on their favorite rock
when an extremely bright meteor flashed across the sky.  "Did
you make a wish?" Natalie teased, poking him gently in the
ribs with her elbow.

"As a matter of fact, I did," Nick said smugly.

"Well, good for you."

"No.  Good for us," he replied softly, leaning in to kiss her.
She responded by parting her lips and tracing his with her
tongue.  He began to nibble at her lips and then, passion
overtaking him, plunged his tongue into her mouth to explore
every inch of her.

When they came up for air, Nick smiled.  "Let's go inside,"
he whispered in her ear.

They went into the cabin, and after she closed the door, Nick
folded her into his arms and kissed her so thoroughly that her
knees became weak.  He smiled.  Natalie had a feeling tonight
would be special.

Suddenly, she had an idea.  There was a chance she could put her
plan into action.  The outcome could be dangerous but she loved
him enough to take the risk.   "You just hold that thought and
I'll be back in a few minutes."  Nick looked at her quizzically as
she went to the kitchen, grabbed a clean mug and went into the
bathroom, closing the door.  He shrugged and went to tend the fire
which was starting to die down.  Nick was feeling excited and was
looking forward to being with Natalie again.  Feeling the hunger
start to rise, he went to the refrigerator to feed.

Several minutes later, she emerged and carried the mug into
Nick's bedroom, set it on the night table and returned to sit on
the couch beside him.

Nick put his arm around her, snuggled close and nuzzled her
neck.  "What was that all about?"

"Oh, just something I wanted to take care of.  Now ... where were
we?" She nibbled his ear.

He turned and began kissing her.  "I love you," he told her
tenderly.

"I love you, too," she whispered back.

She ran her hands over his shirt and began to undo the buttons.
He lifted up slightly so she could pull his shirt tails from
his jeans.

Natalie kissed his lips, then his neck, which elicited a small
gasp, then moved to his chest.  The soft, blond hairs tickled
slightly as she placed a gentle kiss on each of Nick's nipples,
then returned to lightly lick and suck each one in turn.

Nick tangled his fingers in Natalie's hair, holding her head to
his chest as he moved slightly beneath her.  Gently, she pulled
away and immediately his hands went to her blouse buttons and
undid them.  He pushed the blouse off her shoulders and kissed her
deeply as he reached behind her to unclasp her bra.  It fell away
and joined her blouse on the floor.

He stared at her breasts, then looked deeply into her eyes as
his hands reached up and gently cupped them.  "Beautiful ...
just beautiful," he murmured breathlessly.

Natalie blushed slightly and murmured, "Mmmmm."

Nick pulled her closer and bent his head to nuzzle and suckle her
breasts.  She began moaning softly.

Natalie wanted him and even though she knew she had to let Nick
set the pace, she had to admit she was getting tired of waiting.
He had gained enough control to be able to bring her to orgasm
manually and orally and he was good at it, she noted with a smile,
but she wanted to be able to touch him, fondle him and love him
the way he had her.  She decided it was time to act.

Natalie reached between them to tenderly rub Nick's chest.
Slowly, she let her hand drift downward until it reached his
stomach.  She ran her finger around his belly button, not
eliciting any reaction.  He was too caught up in his ministrations
to her breasts.

Taking a deep breath, Natalie let her hand wander down further
where she discovered a very large bulge in Nick's jeans.  With
great tenderness, she cupped the bulge in her hand and gently
squeezed.

Nick gasped and immediately pulled back from Natalie's breasts.
His eyes were wide and he had a shocked look on his face.

"Nick, your eyes ... they're still blue!" Natalie cried.

"Nat ... let's go inside," he said, grinning.

They rose and she led him into the bedroom.  They kicked off
their shoes and socks and embraced in a passionate kiss.  Nick
pressed the entire length of his body tightly against Natalie.
She could easily feel his hardness through their clothes.

Nick's heart was singing.  His head was swimming, awash in
feelings of love, passion and arousal.  He was happier than he'd
been in 800 years.  God, how he loved this woman and it was
obvious that she loved him unconditionally, in spite of the
vampire.

He could feel his arousal growing.  More than anything, he wanted
to make love to Natalie.  Really make love to her.  The press of
her breasts against his chest as they mutually explored each
other's mouths with probing tongues, aroused him to full erection.
The tightness of his jeans was becoming uncomfortable and he
rubbed his clothed erection on her thigh, seeking relief.

Natalie withdrew from Nick and reached for his belt.  She undid
the buckle and looked at him, waiting.  He only smiled back 
with gleaming blue eyes.  Encouraged by his lack of protest,
she undid the button on his fly and pulled down the zipper.  Nick
let out a sigh as the pressure was relieved.  Natalie smiled, then
pushed his jeans down.  Nick stepped out of them, undid hers and
pushed them down.

For a long moment, they stared at each other.  Finally,
Natalie stepped forward and tentatively reached out to cup Nick's
erect penis.  It was straining hard against the material of his
jockey shorts.

He gasped as her hand engulfed him and his eyes closed.  She
gently began to rub the length of him through the cloth.  Nick's
knees buckled slightly and a small whimper escaped his lips,
followed by a deep moan.  He grabbed her arms to steady himself.

She released his penis and slipped his shorts down over it and
past his hips, letting them drop to the floor.  Natalie admired
his pale, sleek body with his full erection pointing straight
at her.  She ran her finger around his retracted foreskin and
firmly grasped his penis, stroking it slowly.

Nick's eyes flew open to reveal solid gold irises.  He grabbed
Natalie's hand to stop its movement and then gently removed it.
He raised her hand to his lips and kissed the palm.

Pulling her close, he attacked her mouth like a starving man.  At
the same time, he pulled her underwear down and ran a finger
between her legs.  Natalie jumped and let out a squeak.  Nick
smiled and rubbed his finger lightly on her clitoris.

Natalie moaned loudly and became weak in the knees.  "Let's lie
down," she said through ragged breaths.  Nick nodded.

She propped a pillow against the bed's headboard and had him lie
there.  She got into bed next to him, making sure she could easily
reach the mug she'd left on the night table.

She ran her hand over his chest, down his belly, then gently ran
her fingertips across his scrotum.  Nick shuddered.

Wrapping her hand around the base of his erect penis, she waited
for a protest which did not come.  Slowly, she stroked him twice
and he moaned loudly.  Still no protest.

Natalie looked at him and he smiled at her with golden eyes but
no fangs.  She smiled back, then lowered her mouth to the tip
of his penis and carefully, gently licked the exposed glans.  She
felt Nick shudder and tangle his fingers in her hair.  She could
hear his breathing grow ragged.

Feeling bold, she took the entire head of his penis into her
mouth, swirled her tongue all around it and began to suck on him.
She felt his penis twitch.

A loud, rumbling growl emanated from deep within Nick's chest.
He grasped her head firmly, yet gently, and pulled it away from
his penis.  Looking up at him, she the saw strong lust in his
eyes and saw him panting through his now descended fangs.  It was
time.

Moving up alongside him, she grabbed the mug with one hand and
brushed his hair off his forehead with her other.  "I want you
to drink this," she said as she handed him the mug.

"What is it?" His voice was rough with lust.

"Just drink."

Nick brought the mug to his lips and stopped in horror.  "Nat,
this is human blood!"

"I know.  Just drink it," she insisted.

Obeying, he took a sip.  The memories and emotions in the blood
exploded on his tongue and in his mind.  He looked at her in
shock.  "Natalie, this is your blood!"

"Yes.  This is my gift to you.  Now, drink up."

Nick was deeply moved.  He finished the half mug of blood, totally
overwhelmed by the incredible depth of love that he tasted there.
Tears formed in his eyes.  One broke free and rolled down his
right cheek.  Natalie reached over and wiped the blood tear away
with her finger then brought it to her mouth, tasting Nick's
blood.

He took her hand in his and kissed it.  "Natalie, I love you
with all my heart and I want nothing more than to make love
with you."

"I love you, too, and I want you now," she replied, taking the mug
from him and placing it on the night table.  She moved on top of
him, wrapped her arms around him and kissed him.  Nick kept his
lips shut tight to protect her from his fangs.  When she 
withdrew, he said, a little sadly, " I'm sorry I can't really kiss
you."

"Nick, I'm so thrilled with you and everything we're doing.  It's
okay."  She smiled and kissed him again.

His erection was trapped between them, pressing into her belly.
Feeling it against her skin was extremely arousing and she moved
gently, rubbing him, causing him to moan.  He involuntarily began
to move his hips in a gentle thrusting motion in response.

Natalie shifted position slightly, causing Nick's penis to rub
against her clitoris.  She trembled as the sensations jolted her
and she let out a whimper followed by a long moan.  The sound
drove Nick wild.  He growled deep in his throat and flipped her
over onto her back.  She looked at him with surprise.  He regained
control and smiled.  She returned the smile.

Nick knew he had to be very careful to avoid hurting her.  Calming
down, he gently kissed her on the lips, cheeks, nose and chin.
With great care and tenderness, he spread her legs apart with his
knee and positioned himself to enter her.  He kissed her neck,
ran his tongue the length of it and gently nipped her without
breaking the skin.  Natalie froze.  Nick pulled back, gazed into
her eyes, and saw the fear there.  A sadness passed over his
features.

"I'm sorry, Nick."  She reached up and stroked his cheek.

"I'm the one who should be sorry.  I shouldn't have scared you
like that.  I won't hurt you.  Your blood ... your love ... has
calmed the hunger.  Let me love you ... please."

Natalie responded by reaching down between them, grasping his
throbbing penis and guiding him between her lips.  "Love me,
Nick," she whispered with a longing look.

"Yes, my love."  And with that, he slowly pushed into her.

On penetration, Nick gasped and whimpered, wrapped his arms
around her and remained motionless.  He could scarcely believe
this was happening.  The feel of her moist warmth surrounding his
cold hardness made him feel complete in a way he hadn't in nearly
800 years.

When she felt Nick penetrate her, Natalie cried out and wrapped
her arms tightly around him.  It felt so good to finally be
filled by him.  She felt as if she would burst with joy.

Tenderly, she stroked Nick's hair and kissed his neck.  She
heard a slight, sharp intake of breath and felt his swollen penis
twitch inside her.  There was a gentle sucking at the base of her
neck, the feel of a tongue softly licking, a kiss, then he held
her tightly and began to thrust.

The movements were short and gentle at first, growing longer and
more urgent.  Natalie matched his rhythm.  They both became lost
in the sensations and the love.

Nick began to whimper softly between ragged breaths and Natalie
held him tighter as she moaned loudly, lost in the pleasure he
was bringing her.

Suddenly, he broke rhythm and thrust forward hard with a loud,
growling roar and cried out her name as he exploded inside of
her, burying his face into her shoulder.

Natalie felt his penis jerk as he began to come.  A huge jolt of
electricity surged through her and exploded from their point of
contact as she erupted in her own orgasm.  She thrust her hips
hard at him, impaling him as deeply into her as she could.  She
clasped him tightly to her and screamed his name as he collapsed
on top of her.

They lay together, breathing hard, drenched in sweat and
bloodsweat.  Nick, his head still buried in her shoulder, made
soft little noises of total contentment.  Tears rolled down
Natalie's cheeks as quiet, little sobs escaped from her.

Nick listened, concerned.  He lifted his head and looked at her,
seeing tears.  He kissed them away and asked, "What's wrong,
Love?  Did I not please you?"  He stroked her cheek lightly with
the tips of his fingers.

"Nothing's wrong, my sweet knight.  Nothing at all.  Did you
please me?  I can't believe you have to ask that!"

He looked away, somewhat embarrassed.  "Ummm, well, why are
crying?"

"Because you more than pleased me.  Because I'm so overjoyed
at what we just did.  Because I love you with my heart."  Natalie
smiled into his deep blue eyes.

Nick returned her smile.  "I love you, Natalie Lambert."  He
kissed her thoroughly.

Just then Nick's softened penis slipped out and he rolled off her.
She groaned softly in protest.  Immediately, he cuddled up to her,
wrapped his arms around her and held her close as they fell
asleep, entwined.

**********

They awoke a couple hours before sunset.  When Natalie opened her
eyes, she found Nick leaning over her with a huge grin.

She frowned playfully.  "What?" she asked, impatiently.

"The shooting star," he whispered, looking like the cat that ate
the canary.

"Huh?" she asked, thoroughly confused.

"My wish.  It came true!"

Natalie smiled in understanding.  "See?  What did I tell you?
Nothing bad happened."  She laughed softly.

He kissed her.  "I'll never feel the same way about comets again!"

They rose, replaced the soiled bed linens with clean ones, then
showered together.  This time Nick did not turn away.

Natalie made herself something to eat and poured a mug of blood
for him while he stoked the fire.

Later they walked, arm in arm, along the shoreline, returning
again to their favorite rock.  Nick sat quietly, holding Natalie's
hand, staring at the comet.  "Penny for your thoughts," she said
quietly, squeezing his hand.

He turned to look at her.  "I was just thinking about where we go
from here."

"First we go home and get Reese to put you back to work!"

Nick smiled at that.  "Yeah, that would be a good idea.  But what
I really meant ... was us.  Where do we go from here?"

"I think that has to be up to you, Nick."

"I think it's up to both of us, Nat.  You know I love you very
much ... more than anything.  What happened between us last night
was a miracle.  Giving me your blood was the most precious gift
I've ever received.  I know everything about you now, no secrets,
and I know exactly how you feel about me.  I only wish I could
give you the same thing but the only way I could do that is to
feed from you ... and I'm not willing to take that risk.  So ..."
Nick's voice trailed off as he slid down off the rock onto one
knee before her.  He took her hand in his, looked into her
eyes and continued, "will you do me the greatest honor of all by
consenting to be my wife?"

Natalie's mouth dropped open and she stared at him in stunned
silence.  He waited patiently, looking up at her with that little
boy smile that always melted her heart.  She closed her mouth
and swallowed.  A single tear rolled down her cheek.  She
swallowed again and whispered, "Yes."

Nick rose, sat next to her and wrapped her in his arms, kissing
her deeply.  "You have made me the happiest man in the world."

They sat a while longer, arms around each other, then went inside
to make love.

Natalie drew another half-full mug of blood for Nick, but this
time let him help.  When she finished, she let him lick the
puncture site.  They made love late into the night and fell asleep
in each other's arms.

They slept until late afternoon when they awoke to prepare for
their departure.  Once everything was packed and loaded into the
car, they took one last walk along the shore and sat on their rock
to watch the comet.

"I'll never forget Comet Hale-Bopp or this wonderful place," Nick
sighed, wistfully.

"Neither will I."

He grasped a small projection of rock, and using his vampire
strength, broke it off.  He handed it to Natalie.  "For you, to
remember all that happened here this week and to remember the
spot where we promised ourselves to each other forever."

She kissed him and rested her head on his shoulder.

"When we get home, I want you to pick out a ring.  Anything you
want."

Natalie kissed his cheek in response.  "I guess we better get
going."

**********

Nick drove back.  They passed the time mostly in silence, lost in
their own thoughts.

Arriving at the loft, they emptied the car.  Natalie prepared a
snack, then they changed into their night clothes and popped a
movie into the VCR.

Just before dawn, Nick found that Natalie had fallen asleep in his
arms.  He smiled, turned off the video equipment and carried her
upstairs to bed.

She awoke at sunset to find herself in Nick's bed with his arms
and legs entwined with hers.  He stirred and opened his eyes when
Natalie's movements woke him.

He smiled.  "Good evening, Love."

"Good evening, Handsome."  She kissed him on the nose.  They
cuddled and kissed for a few minutes before getting up.

After they'd eaten, Nick made a phone call.  Within half an hour,
Stefano Pelias, a local jeweler he'd dealt with before, showed up
with a selection of two dozen rings, all in Natalie's size.  He
assured her that if nothing suited her, a ring could be custom
made.

Natalie picked out a flawless one-carat diamond, set in antique
gold, that had a blue sapphire baguettes, the color of Nick's
eyes, on each side of it.  Nick placed it on her finger.  "It
looks beautiful on you."

"Thank you."

"It does look stunning on your hand, Dr. Lambert.  And it is one
of our finest rings," Pelias agreed.

She smiled as she admired the fire and sparkle in the diamond.

"Then we'll take it?"  Nick looked at her for affirmation.

"Yes," Natalie beamed.

"Excellent choice, Dr. Lambert!  I'll charge your account, Mr.
Knight.  Thank you so much for your business.  May the ring bring
you great happiness.  And congratulations."

After the jeweler left, Nick and Natalie sat on the couch admiring
the ring.  "Nick, it's beautiful but how are we going to explain
this on your salary?"

Nick grinned.  "Family heirloom.  They won't know the difference."

"Sounds good to me and it does look old."  Natalie threw her
arms around him and they kissed passionately.

"So, my beautiful wife-to-be, when would you like to get married?"

Natalie thought for a minute.  "April 25th, next year.  What do
you think?"

Nick smiled at the realization that was the day they first made
love.  "It's perfect!  And very romantic."  He gave her a peck
on the cheek.

She returned to her apartment the next morning and Nick arrived
just after sundown to drive her to work.

At the precinct, they discovered Tracy had the night off.  Natalie
waited while Nick apologized to the officers with whom he'd lost
his temper and then they headed for Captain Reese's office.

"Well, Nick, have you worked everything out?" Reese enquired.

"Yes, Captain.  I'm ready to return to work.  I apologize for my
disgraceful behavior."

"Natalie?" Reese asked, looking at her.

"Yes, Captain.  Nick's fine now.  We got everything worked out."
She held up her hand and grinned broadly.

"Well, I'll be damned!"  Reese shook his head and grinned.
"Congratulations you two.  You, Nick, are officially returned to
duty."

"Thank you, Captain," Nick and Natalie said as one.  They rose.
Reese hugged them both.

As Natalie left, Reese called to Nick.  "Uh, Nick, before you
go ..."  

He stopped in the doorway and turned back.  "Yeah, Cap?"

"It's about time you and Natalie made it official.  I was
beginning to wonder if you two would ever get together," he
said in a fatherly tone.

"I owe it all to the Hale-Bopp comet."

With a puzzled look, Reese shook his head as Nick left his
office grinning from ear to ear.

The End