A Knight Remembered
by Carrie Brennan

The police officer held the yellow crime scene tape so Natalie could
walk under without stooping too low in her high heels. She had to
admit she probably was the best dressed coroner on the beat tonight.

"I guess my plans will have to wait again," Natalie thought to
herself and then sighed heavily.
Carefully, she pulled the sheet away from the figure laying on the
" Not a bad looking kid," Natalie said to the officer. He looked 17
or 18 years old, chestnut brown hair with an unruly cowlick which
caused hair to part just above his right eye. There did not appear
to be a scratch on him anywhere. Natalie fished a Velcro wallet out
of the deceased's pocket and opened it to find a much more animated
looking photo of him on his Ontario drivers' license.

"Whose our friend here?" Nick's voice startled her.

Natalie turned to face Nick. She was mildly amused to see him in a
tuxedo. Natalie blushed as she wondered if anyone else made the
connection between they way she and Nick were dressed and how obvious
it must be that they supposed to be on a date tonight.

Natalie looked down at her clipboard, "His name is Ian Sinclair, age
17, lives... or I should say, lived at 3443 Bay Street, Apartment F.
He's been dead for about 20 to 30 minutes judging by his temperature,
no rigor yet. I don't even have a guess at the cause yet. No visible
sign of external abuse or trauma. However, most healthy 17 year old
boys don't usually take a header onto the pavement in Grand Park
without someone else being involved. I'll know more after I get the
toxicology report back."

Natalie looked back up at Nick, "By the way, you look nice tonight.

Nick half smiled, "Well, you look fantastic, Nat. Though I am sad to
say it looks like we'll have to put the Phantom tickets on hold for
tonight." Nick lightly touched her arm, " Maybe we can still salvage
dinner out it, if you're game?"

Before she could answer Joe Reese walked over to their party of three,
"Knight, I know Commissioner Vetter is clamping down on the dress
code lately, but I think you may have taken his memo a little too

"You mean there's a dress code?" Nick pointed towards Natalie, " I
was just trying to keep up with the Medical Examiner's office."

" Sorry Nick, you're not even in the same ballpark as Lambert here."
Reese turned to Natalie, "By the way, you look really nice, Natalie.
Although my hunch is you weren't planning on being here

"I won't hold it against Ian, here." Natalie motioned to the body, "I
am sure this is the last place he planned to be tonight too, Captain.
Natalie put the pen back into her clipboard. " Nick, I'll give you a
call when the toxicology report is in."

As Natalie walked away, Nick felt the jealousy rise as he noticed
all the male officers' heads focused on Nat's legs as she passed by.

Nick parked the Caddie in the fire lane outside of Sinclair s
apartment. He had never gotten used to Notifications. Sinclair was
only 17 years old which made it even harder on Nick. He rapped three
times on the door marked F , but his extraordinary senses already
told him no one was home. He d need to get a search warrant to get
in legally, but a teenager possibly murdered, Nick wanted to get an
informal look around the apartment. He popped the lock with his wrist
and pushed the door inward.

Nick was instantly slammed to his knees. His fangs dropped and his
eyes glowed bright gold. Nick let out a half growl, half yelp as he
backed out of the apartment. Fighting to gain control, he looked up
at a four foot high crucifix which dominated the room.

Good thing I didn t wait on that warrant, Nick thought to himself.
Slowly, Nick entered the room making sure to keep clear of the cross.
The entire living room had been converted into a religious shrine
dedicated to various Christian saints and martyrs. Stacked three
feet deep on the floor, were five or six piles of paper fliers. I
don t think Ian would mind if I took one, Nick s words echoed in the
almost empty room.

Join the Brotherhood of the Light. All Love, All the Time. Join the
Crusade for Jesus the flier announced.

Nick s mind began to cloud over as the memory began to form in front
of his eyes...

Flash back:
Brabant, France 1212 AD

Sweat poured down Nicholas face as he plunged his plow back into the
hard soil. It seemed hotter than normal for July in Brabant, and it
did not make the task at hand move any quicker. His uncle was quite
clear in their argument this morning that the field was to be plowed
by the day s end.

Nicholas heard faint voices from just over the hill and his heart
stopped. He knew his uncle recently argued with the Duke of Flanders
and he hoped it was not some of Flander s men here to take
retribution. Nicholas ran to the safety of the brush just as the
first line of children topped the hill.

Nicholas was amazed to see line after line of boys and girls round
the bend. There were hundreds, maybe thousands of them, and they all
seemed to be between the ages of six and sixteen. They were singing
Lord, give us back the Holy Cross as they marched in sync towards
his village.

Come with us on a crusade for Jesus, a tall, black headed boy said
as he walked towards the brush where Nicholas was hiding. My name
is Stephen and we are on our way to Jerusalem. Join us, friend.

Nicholas felt a little embarrassed to be hiding from this boy who
looked to be about ten years old. He stepped from the brush. My name
is Nicholas de Brabant and this is my uncle s land. Leave or I will
have you killed. Nicholas voice shook as he talked although he was
trying to sound fearless and bold.

Join us on our crusade of children to the Holy land. We are knights
in our own right and we seek not your anger but your love for God
and Christ. Stephen opened his arms to Nicholas, Come with me now
and find your true purpose in the name of the Lord.

A stillness came over Nicholas and he felt drawn to this young boy.
He felt an almost hypnotic power come over him. He must be the must
be the voice of God he thought as fell into Stephen s arms.
I will follow you anywhere.


A fire truck s siren brought reality back to the 20th century Nick.
It had been hundreds of years since he had even thought of Stephen
and the Children s Crusade. He took one last look around Sinclair s
apartment then pulled out his cell phone. He dialed the number
without thinking. When Nat s answering machine picked up he hung up.
Good, maybe, that meant she was still at work. It would be nice to
see her before he went home to bed.

Natalie absentmindedly twisted a piece of hair with her fingers
while she read the report. "You should be out on a date, Ian, not
laying here on my table." she said to the lifeless form in front of
her. " What can you tell me that s not in this report?"

Nick face brightened as he walked into the morgue and found Natalie
still there. " Ummm...Nat? If he answers you, let me know so I can
tell your boss you need to take a vacation."

"Fat good that will do, Nick," She smiled back, "Six years ago, you
sat up and started talking to me and I haven t had a day off since."

Natalie looked tired to Nick, and the vacation crack was half serious.
She needed some time off away from this place. If he had the
courage, he would suggest they go somewhere together, but he was
afraid she would say "No" then things could be awkward between them.

" I didn t realize I was such a high maintenance kind of guy," Nick
faked a hurt look, " I never drop by during the day unexpectedly, I
don t eat food from your refrigerator, and I never, ever cheat on you
with other women."

"Nick, you can t travel during the day, eat food, or have sex. I
hardly say you re making any major sacrifices," Natalie enjoyed the
playful banter between them lately, "On the other hand, how many
girls do you know get to buy plasma by the gallon, or dig bullets out
of rib cages because a certain detective didn t know how to duck?
Sounds pretty high maintenance to me, Nick." Nick closed the
distance between them as she was talking and reached down taking her
hand in his.

" I am sorry I am so much trouble, Nat." He leaned in and gently
brushed his lips across hers. "Maybe one day soon I ll be able to pay
you back for all you ve done for me." The kiss caught Natalie off
guard. She was not used to Nick being so demonstrative with his
feelings, not that she minded it at all.

"I think you better start paying your debt now." she whispered, "
When you become mortal, you ll only have 50 or 60 years to pay me
back." A shiver slowly ran from her head to her toes as she leaned
deeper into his kiss. Nick held the kiss for a few seconds longer
then tenderly pulled away.

"It s a deal." Nick kissed Natalie on the left check then stepped
back. The mask of business fell back into place. "Anything
interesting pop up in Mr. Sinclair s report?"

Natalie lamented the passing moment, but she consoled her self with
the fact that Nick was finally showing some of his feelings for her.
" Cause of death - affixation, but I can not find what triggered it.
There are no external or internal signs of trauma around the trachea
or chest area. His lung tissues are healthy, no sign of asthma or
emphysema. Toxicology did not show any sign of drug or alcohol abuse,
stomach tissue doesn t show any kind of allergic reaction to
anything he may have ingested. It is almost like this kid just
decided to stop breathing, then he held his breath until he passed
out. I found one small contusion where his parietal lobe hit the
sidewalk pavement, but the impact from the blow would not have caused
him to die." she looked away from Nick, " I m sorry Nick. I have been
all over his body looking for anything anomalous, but did not find a
thing. I have sent some tissue samples to the fourth street office
for a second opinion, maybe they ll find something."

"Don t feel too bad, Nat. The only thing I could find at his
apartment were five or six stacks of this flier." Nick handed the
folded sheet to her. " Have you ever heard of this group before?"

Natalie stared at the filer, " The Brotherhood of the Light.
Crusaders for Jesus? Sounds like this is more up your alley, Nick."
Natalie gave Nick a knowing glance. "I have heard of these type of
cults in the Toronto area. They mainly recruit teenage runaways.
Probably brainwash them and send them back onto the streets to beg
for money on street corners."

"It is our only clue in this case. Hopefully, someone with this
Brotherhood will know more about Ian Sinclair." Nick was ready to
call it a night. He picked up Nat s coat from the chair, "May I walk
the lady to her car?" Nick said in his best cockney accent. He got
the smile he needed as he slipped his arm around her waist and guided
her out the door.

Nick headed straight to the refrigerator and grabbed a green bottle.
He pulled the cork out of the bottle with his teeth and took two
long gulps. Natalie would have been appalled at his manners, "For
Christ sake, Nick use a glass." she had told him on more than one
occasion. Somehow, justifying his blood lust by drinking out of glass
only masked the obscenity of it all. Vampires have an animal drive
to kill humans for their blood. Pouring it into Waterford crystal did
not make the act anymore civilized. Nick flicked on his stereo and
the Nightcrawler s voice filled the loft.

"Good evening, gentle listeners. You are tuned to the Nightcrawler on
CERK 40hz. When does a boy realize he bears a man s weight? At what
point does the weight of responsibility begin to smother him? A boy
becomes a man when he realizes he no longer has free will or choice,
when others dictate his thoughts, his actions, his love. Beware of
Charlatans dressed as clergy. Religion is a great aphrodisiac. Take
it in moderation ... and then only on an empty stomach."

Nick clicked the stereo off, "Always have something cheerful to add
to my night, don t you Lacroix." He said to the now silent stereo.
Nick sat down on the couch and drifted off into a light sleep and the
dream started...


Nicholas placed the young girl down on the dock s step. None have
them had eaten the last few days since the crusade left the Alps.
Marseilles was not what he had expected. It was dirty. There were
homeless families everywhere, and the people were not friendly. Their
group at one point numbered in the thirty thousands, but crossing the
Alps had left many dead or dying from hunger, and exhaustion .
Through it all , Stephen guided them and preached the God s word
along with words of encouragement and love. It was left a bitter
taste to finally reach Marseilles and then not be able to find a
captain willing to take them across the Mediterranean. Nicholas let
out a cleansing sigh as he thought of the argument he'd had with his
Uncle months before. His Uncle had wanted him to learn about running
the estate from the "ground up" by having him hoe one of the fields.
Nicholas had dismissed the work as peasant work and left it undone
for several days. Now he would give anything to be back in his
Uncle's field as
a peasant, than to be here as a common beggar.

"Nicholas, we have found someone to help us." Stephen looked as
excited as he had seen in months. "This is Porcus. He agrees that our
quest to free the Holyland is a just cause. He has seven ships that
will take us to Constantinople in the morning."

Nicholas immediately did not like the look of the man. He wore a
scraggly beard, his hair in a greasy pony tail, but Nicholas
attention was fixated on the snakelike scar which ran from Porcus
left temple and wrapped around his chin. "Stephen, I think we may be
acting in haste. My Uncle has money. I can contact him and we can
purchase our passage."

" I am not relying on the Duke of Brabant s charity, Nicholas,"
Stephen had grown older than his ten years allowed in the past three
months," Besides, that would take months and we have nothing to eat
as it is... Porcus is a righteous man and he will be our guide."

Nick woke suddenly in a cold sweat. The blood droplets stood out on
his forehead as evidence that the dream was growing unpleasant. He
reached over and grabbed the bottle again chugging its contents dry.
Nick moved upstairs to his bed hoping he would be able to get back to
sleep, but he already knew it was almost impossible. He dialed the
phone and a sleepy Natalie answered.

"Sorry Nat..."

A more alert sounding Natalie responded, " Nick, what is it? Are you

"I m fine. I just wanted to talk, but I didn t realize what time it
was," Nick said apologetically, " Go back to sleep, Nat." He hung up
the phone as Nat he heard her protesting on the other end.

Nick began to think about how much he relied on Natalie. He was her
friend, her doctor, her psychologist...the only person he truly
trusted. The kiss in the morgue only hours earlier made Nick acutely
aware how much he wanted to add lover to the list of roles Natalie
played in his life. She had responded to his kiss instantly and he
was fairly certain she held as much attraction for him as he held for
her. However, they never could find the time to explore their
feelings for each other - last night s canceled opera tickets being
the perfect example. Nick decided he d try to arrange some time
together, away from Toronto, where there would be no distractions.
"Nothing ventured, nothing gained," Nick said to himself as he laid
back closing his eyes. He hoped his thoughts would carry over into a
dream with Natalie in it.

Natalie headed to Nick s desk. After he woke her up this morning,
she had been tempted to drop by his loft, but she did not go.
Something held her back and she wasn t quite sure what. By now she
was dying of curiosity as to what Nick wanted and she was ready to
beat it out of him if necessary.

Nick was wearing a navy shirt and stonewashed jeans. He looked tired
and it appeared he had not bothered to shave this evening . Hi, Nick,
she tried to sound upbeat, "Could we have a word in private?"

"Uhhh, sure Nat," Nick stood and waved her towards the interview room.
There was an uncomfortable silence as they entered the room. Nick
closed the door and faced Natalie. His face wore the same unemotional
mask she had seen too many times on him.

Natalie reached out and put her hand on his upper arm. " Are you okay,
Nick? You don t look well." she stammered trying to find the right
words, "When you called, your voice sounded strange...." Her words
trailed off.

"I am fine, Nat. I ve been having some problems sleeping lately is
all. Please don t worry." He tried to smile but it looked more like a

Always the doctor, Natalie asked, " When did the sleeplessness start?
Have you had any dizziness or headaches?"

Nick grabbed Natalie s hand that was still on his arm and drew her in
closer. " Nat, I will be okay. I think I need some time away."

"I think that s a great idea Nick. You could use some rest and
relaxation. It would do you a world of good." Natalie was surprised
Nick was actually considering a vacation.

Nick took a deep breathe. It s now or never, he thought to himself.
"Nat, would you like to join me? I thought maybe we could go to
Bermuda. We could walk on a moonlit beach, and take a midnight dip in
the Caribbean." He had been looking at his feet the whole time, but
now forced himself to look up. Nick was surprised to see tears
standing in the corners of Nat s eyes. "What s wrong? What did I say?

Natalie was at a lost for words so she leaned over and delicately
kissed his lips. The kiss grew passionate quickly as Nick s arms
wrapped around her waist. Natalie s head fell backward and her hands
moved up to caress his blonde hair while Nick s mouth slid down to
her neck. A moan escaped from Natalie as she moved deeper into his
arms. Nick pulled back for just a minute, " I take it that you want
to go with me, then?"

"Nick, if we keep this up, we ll both be on vacation permanently if
someone catches us." Natalie reluctantly stepped out of the embrace,
" And yes. I would love to go with you, but there s one condition."

"What s that?" Nick was not sure if she was serious or joking.

Natalie smiled, " You have to take up where you left off just now or
I m finding another traveling partner."

Nick was relieved, "I think I can manage that. When I get back from
the Brotherhood, I ll book off the next seven days and drop by the
airport to get the tickets." He planted a much more platonic kiss on
her forehead. "Don t forget to pack your bikini," Nick teased as he
left the room.

Nick walked up the gravel road towards the farmhouse. His hearing
picked up the sound of several young voices and the clatter of
activity. "All Love , All the Time, Welcome to the Brotherhood" the
sign read on the top of the oak door.

Before he reached the porch three teenage boys approached, each
holding an AK-47 rifle in their hands. "Some Brotherhood..." thought
Nick, "I m Detective Knight, Metro police. I d like to talk to
whoever is in charge here."

The older looking of the boy of the three walked closer. "You are
trespassing Detective. Please leave and go in peace."

Nick looked directly into the boy s eyes, "Put down the gun. You
have nothing to fear. I am sure you agree with me that I need to see
the person in charge." With Nick s whammy in place, the boy dropped
his rifle. "He is not here but will be back in an hour."

"Then you will let me in so I can wait for him." Nick said as the boy
nodded his head in agreement.

Nick walked into the house and saw 40 teenage boys all various ages
and in different stages of dress. After scanning for other weapons,
Nick walked further into the room. The center of activity seemed to
be a computer game where the boys were hooting and hollering as the
current player racked up points on a mock target range.

"How long have you been here?" Nick asked a red headed boy of about

"I have been here for 8 weeks, but I hope to move on soon."

"Move on to where?"

"I will join our crusade to bring joy and love to the world."

"Where are your parents?"

"My parents are dead. This is my family now." the boy shrugged and
walked away.

With a practiced motion, Nick flipped his cell phone open and called
for back up. Teenagers with assault rifles... next on Geraldo , Nick
smiled inwardly. He also focused on a gold cross hung prominently
across the room. It looked familiar somehow, but Nick could not stare
for too long before feeling weak in the knees.


Porcus had indeed provided food and shelter for the Crusade, but
Nicholas was still dubious of him. Seeing the man with a snake
shaped scar wrapped around his throat only meant one thing to
Nicholas. Someone ... at sometime thought Porcus should have his
throat cut.

Nicholas rounded the corner in time to hear Porcus speaking, "Tell
the Turk that I can bring 15,000 to him in three months and that they
are all well fed and of good stock. Not one of em is over the age of
15," he laughed "They should fetch a good price at the Sultan s
Winter Solstice Slave auction. Oh, and tell him that they are
Christians. You know how the Sultan loves to feed Christians to his
lion pride."

The force of Porcus words knocked Nicholas off balance. He was
planning to sell them into slavery when they reached Constantinople.
He had to warn Stephen and the rest of the Crusade. As he turned to
run, Nicholas felt a hand grab his shirt collar."Look what we have
here...the snibbling nephew of the Duke of Brabant." Porcus grabbed
Nicholas arm and spun him around." I have a special buyer that I am
saving you for, Nicholas. He s a friendly sort of guy who simply
loves aristocratic young boys when the weather grows cold."

Nicholas tried to struggle in his grasp but Porcus only held on
tighter. " Where s your rich Uncle now, Nicholas? He can t save you,
so I suggest you begin to appreciate me. I can make your voyage much
more pleasant, shall I say."

The scar on Porcus chin hissed down at Nicholas. Acting more on
instinct than anything, Nicholas threw his leg and hip behind Porcus
and quickly brought his arms up. This up ended the large man who fell
with a thud on the wood floor. Nicholas ran for the door only to come
face to face with two more large men who grabbed him then pinned his
arms behind his back.

"So the fearless Knight of Brabant wants to joust with me?" Porcus
began to get to his feet and brush himself off. "Well, sir Knight,
how familiar with pain are you?" Porcus swung his fist into Nicholas
stomach like a sledgehammer causing Nicholas to collapse to his knees.
The last thing he remembered was a well placed knee to his groin and
a fist to his jaw. As the comfort of unconsciousness began to envelop
him, a lone tear came to his eyes as he realized he had failed
Stephen and the Crusade.


The sound of a truck on the gravel driveway brought Nick out of his
daydream. He looked out the window in time to see two men jump out
from the bed of the truck and scurry into the adjacent barn. Nick
discretely walked out the back door and headed towards the barn. He
heard three heartbeats and stopped just outside the window.

"Larry, call our contact in Manhattan and tell him we have 20 more
coming over the border tonight. Tell him not to worry. These ones are
much younger and easier to control. They should fetch a good price
this close to the convention season."

Nick did not even sense the vampire behind him or hear the hammer
before it struck the back of his head. He was stunned by the blow and
felt himself being dragged through the barn door. When he re-focused
his eyes, he could not tear his eyes away from the snake-like scar
hissing down at him.

Natalie seemed to walk on air as she left the interview room. Finally,
we are going to catch a break, she thought to herself as she walked
back to her office. Would she have the courage to tell Nick all the
things she had been trying to tell him for the past six years? She
had tried to ignore the attraction to him from the very beginning.
She had dated plenty of men and, yes, slept with several in the hopes
she could drown out Nick in the passion with someone else. But it had
never worked out , so she had resigned herself to a celibate life
these past few years. She was in love with him and it consumed not
just her waking hours, but Nick had crept into her dreams invading
her nights as well. Nick was thick and outside of a card with a
bouquet of flowers and a "I care about you," every few months,
Natalie had never been sure about Nick's feelings for her. Until now,
that is. You don't just pick up and spend a week with someone in the
Caribbean without some affection for them, do you?

"Wow, Natalie, whatever you had for dinner, I want some too," Grace
said with a grin, "Or could it be you had a certain blonde haired,
blue eyed Detective for dinner?"

"Grace, you are incorrigible. But since you asked, I will be taking a
week off and spending some time away from here." Nat picked up her
next client's chart and pretended to study it. "Do you think you can
handle things here while I'm gone?"

"Sure, Natalie, no problem. I'll even take Sydney off your hands for
the week if you'd like. Tell me Nat, will you be traveling alone? Did
you pack a pajamas or a sexy nightie?"

"Okay, Grace. I am not traveling alone and what I wear or NOT wear to
bed is none of your business. Natalie could not contain it anymore
and she had to tell someone. " And, it just so happens that Nick is
going with me and the rest of the story will have to wait until we
get back."

Grace squealed with happiness for Natalie at the mention of Nick's
name. Her friend had turned down offers from every eligible doctor
and police officer in Toronto over the past year Grace had worked
with her. It bothered Grace that someone so young and beautiful as
Natalie would sacrifice herself for a man who barely shed a hint of
affection towards her. Granted Nick was a gorgeous man, and every
woman at the station threw themselves at him, but he was moody and
his angry temper was legend . Maybe Natalie was just the person to
calm the beast within.

"Natalie, I am so happy for you." Grace said with a quick hug.

"Thanks Grace. I really love Nick but I don't want to get my hopes up
too high. I can't handle any more bad things happening to me."
Natalie began to think about the past year. Schanke, Cohen, Lora,
Tracy... the names rattled off with the ones she had lost. She
didn't even remember way the night ended when Tracy died from a
madman's gun. She had been on her way over to Nick's loft to tell
him, but blacked out and woke up at home the next day with a crushing
headache. Nick left a note that he'd be gone for a few days so he
could gather his thoughts, but had gone without her. This had hurt
more than Nick would ever know. It had taken some time before she
began trusting him again. Finally, everything seemed to be back on

A uniformed officer stuck his head into the morgue, Webster was his
name, Natalie thought.
" Dr. Lambert, I just wanted to let you know there is a hostage
situation out at a place called the Brotherhood near Cantoba Farms.
Detective Knight appears to be the hostage. The guys thought you'd
want to know..."

Natalie turned to Grace who quietly said, " Nat, I'll drive..."

"Porcus." Nick stammered the name across his lips. "How..."

"Ah, de Brabant," Porcus' eyes danced as he spoke, "Still the
snibbling little crusader knight , I see. Over the centuries, I have
learned that no matter who you pretend to be, you can not run from
what you truly are. And you, de Brabant are still the aristocratic
boy who wants to run home to Uncle for protection."

"And you, Porcus, are still the same piece of merde who condemns
young lives to a living hell without the blink of an eye as to what
you've done. You sicken me and everyone else who comes in contact
with you, I imagine." Nick's anger was rising quickly but he knew he
had to stay calm or else he'd fail this crusade as he had the one 800
years ago.

Porcus laughed, " See, that is exactly what I am talking about. You
with your morals and holier than thou voice. This is business, this
is profit. You condemn the wrong man, de Brabant. You should be out
catching the ones who buy these human souls. I am just a supplier.
Can you claim you have not enjoyed your share of human life and
suffering over the centuries? So pious you are..."

Nick winced at the words for he indeed had enjoyed his vampire
existence for many, many years.

"Yes, I am correct, aren't I de Brabant? You enjoy the hunt, the kill,
the spoils of victory as it pours down your throat."

Nick opened his eyes and looked up to see that Porcus' fangs had
dropped, and his eyes glowed gold.
" Who is your master now, Porcus? Who claims the honor of bringing
you into our world?"

"Why Nicholas, I am surprised you don't recognize family. Our father
would be most disappointed in you, but I understand you are quite an
embarrassment to him as it is."

"Lacroix, brought you across." It was more of a statement than a
question. Damn him, Nick thought. He had tried for years trying to
find Porcus during the sixth crusade. When Lacroix offered to bring
him across, it had presented Nick with an even better chance to find
him. Now he knew why Porcus had evaded him. Lacroix probably had a
good chuckle over this at one time.

An amplified voice carried into the barn, " Mr. Porter, this is
Captain Reese with Metro police. Please throw your weapons from the
building and slowly exit the structure. There is no opportunity to

"Mortals." Porcus spit the word out, " They have no clue how meager
their existence truly is, do they?"
The other two vampires who had not said a word just simply grinned
like idiots.

Natalie tried to calm herself down during the ride to the Brotherhood.
Nick can take care of himself as long as he doesn't do anything
stupid. It was only two hours before sunrise and if Nick was going to
make a move it would have to be soon. She had hidden two pints of
blood in her bag while Grace wasn't watching and prayed it would not
be necessary.

As they turned onto the street it was quite obvious they had found
the right place. There were cars, buses, vans, and a lone helicopter
circling above the site. "Geez, they already called in the SWAT team,
" Grace said then regretted the comment. " Nat, I know Nick is going
to be just fine so don't worry." Grace flashed her coroner's badge at
the uniformed officer who stopped their car and they were let into
the area.

As Natalie stepped from the car, Captain Reese walked over. "Good to
see you Natalie and Grace. We need a doctor or two here. We have 43
teenage boys in custody who need a quick look to see if they require
medical attention. All of them are run aways or were abducted from
their parents. Seems Mr. Porter in there sells these kids into sex
slavery after he brainwashes them into thinking they are on some
kind of religious crusade to save the world. This guy is one sick

"Captain, where is Nick?"

"He's fine as far as we know. Porter has Nick locked up in the barn
with him. Nick was in the wrong place at the wrong time when we got
here. Nat, I'm not going to lie. These guys are heavily armed and we
don't think they are just going to hand over Nick and walk out."
Natalie's face paled a little at the news. "Look , Nat. I am not
going to lose another officer on my shift. We just need to find out
what they want and make the trade. Guys like this slip up and we'll
catch them some place else." He patted her back and walked off
leaving Natalie feeling not a whole lot better.

"Come on Natalie. Let's take a look at some of these kids, They need
our help now. " With that Natalie and Grace walked towards the first
van they saw.

"Porcus, I am not going to let you hurt anyone else. Please just take
your band of merry men here and your business someplace else." Nick
was weak. He had not eaten in hours and he knew he could not defeat
Porcus, along with the two much younger vampires, in his condition.

"YOU are not going to LET me hurt anyone? That is rich, de Brabant.
How exactly are you going to stop me?"

Again the amplified voice was directed into the barn. " Mr. Porter,
release Detective Knight as a token of good faith and we will take
that into account when charges are filed against you."

Nick spoke quietly, "Porcus, you want me, and not the people out
there. If you leave, I will go with you and we can continue this
someplace else. Besides, you risk exposing the Community if you play
any vampire games in front of this crowd." Nick hoped he could get
Porcus away before the cops grew too impatient.

" So its Knight now? My isn't that ironic," Porcus walked closer to
Nick, " You are still a weak helpless boy to me, Knight." Porcus
bared his fangs and lunged towards Nick.

Nick was still pinned by the younger vampires but managed to duck
the full force of the blow. Porcus' fangs ripped down the length of
Nick's throat causing Nick to scream from the pain. Nick's shirt
quickly became saturated with his own blood and he grew dizzy from
its loss. In a desperate attempt to free himself he threw his body
backwards and through the barn's walls taking the younger vampires
with him. Porcus dove again at Nick who managed to roll free of the
other vampires. Nick grabbed a piece of the barn's wall and held it
up just as Porcus was descending upon him. The stake did not miss its
mark and was driven into Porcus' chest.

"I am Nicholas de Brabant, Knight of the sixth crusade, and I, sir,
exact my revenge upon you in the name of Stephen and all the children
you have murdered over the past 800 years." Nick then drove the stake
deeper. Porcus screamed in agony and then fell limp in his arms.

Nick looked up in time to see Lacroix pulling the other two vampires
to their feet. "Get lost." He growled at them. The fledgling vampires
did not wait for a second command and made a hasty retreat into the
night sky. "Nicholas, I would love to stay and chat but my presence
here may be difficult to explain to your mortal friends. Come see me
soon, I am sure we'll have lots to talk about." Lacroix also took
flight leaving Nicholas with his words echoing in his ears.

Nick felt a familiar touch on his cheek and opened his eyes to see
Natalie. "You are so beautiful, Nat. Please don't leave me." Natalie
looked into his eyes "I would never leave you Nick. Look at all the
fun I would miss." She said with a smile and then turned to Reese,
"He's awake, Captain. He'll be fine. All the wounds are superficial
and look much worse than they are. In fact, I think I'll drive him to
the ER myself since it doesn't look like an emergency."

Natalie received the Sinclair report back from the 4th street office.
They had confirmed her autopsy results. Outside of some indication
of stress in left ventricle wall muscle and the total failure of
lung capacity, there was nothing definitive as to why Ian Sinclair
died. Nick had said maybe Ian had just given up on life and had
called in it quits. For lack of anything further to add, she closed
his file as "unknown cause of death." It was still on her mind as she
entered Nick's loft.

She stopped short when she realized it was completely dark in the
loft. "Nick?" she called out tentatively. "Are you okay?" As if her
words triggered a switch, the lights came on and in the center of the
room was Nick. He was wore sunglasses and was dressed in the loudest
Bermuda shirt she had ever seen. He held what looked like two pina
coladas in his hands.

"Would the Senorita like a drink before her flight?" Nick grinned.

Natalie was overcome with the giggles everytime she looked at Nick. "
Yes, I would love one. Where did you get that shirt?"

"Schanke gave this to me two years ago. He thought it would help my
image to lighten up on the colors at work. He said that women go
crazy over men in calypso colors." Nick crossed the room and place a
glass in Natalie's hand. Nick placed a hand around her head drawing
her in closer. He placed a kiss on her cheek and gently pulled away.
"So is it driving you crazy?"

"Uh, huh.." was all Natalie could get out before Nick leaned back in
and placed his lips gently on hers.
Natalie felt herself melt into the kiss. She let out a slight whimper
as Nick gently explored her mouth with his tongue. With a sigh
Natalie pushed him back this time, "We'll never make our flight..."
She warned as she walked over to the couch and sat down taking a sip
of her drink. Nick was amused to see the surprised look on her face
as she took the sip. "You have a future as a bartender, Nick...or did
you already have a past as one?"

"I've been known to make a drink or two." Nick said as he joined her
on the couch.

Knowing that Nick needed to talk, Natalie asked, "You know Nick, you
never did tell me about what happened after Porcus attacked you in
Marseilles during the Children's Crusade."

Nick's eyes darkened. He knew that Nat was trying to help him deal
with all this by getting him to talk, but it was painful to remember.
Nick looked into her eyes. God, he loved her, but he had never been
able tell her and it hurt him deeply.

Nat waited patiently as Nick struggled with his emotions. Finally
resigning to the fact he needed to talk about it he began, " Porcus
was infamous as a pirate and slave trader. He loved the suffering he
inflicted on children, he reveled in it now and back then."

Nick turned a way from Nat's eyes as he spoke, "Porcus, left me for
dead in a pile of waste along the water front. When I woke up, I
struggled to the street where a kind family took me in and nursed me
back to health. About a month later, my Uncle arrived and took me
back to Brabant. It was a few months later that I learned most of
Porcus' ships had sunk in the Mediterrian crossing killing everyone
on board. A few ships did make it to land though. All of the children
were sold to the Turks as slaves. It was then that I swore to my
Uncle I would become a Crusader Knight and avenge their deaths.... I
guess I finally did."

Natalie gently wrapped her arms around Nick as he continued, " Years
later, I came across some of the children. They were adults by then
and free of the Sultan. Many were too ashamed to return to their
homes in the West so they lived out the rest of their lives in
poverty and despair. Their families never to know what became of

"There is one thing I don't understand," Natalie chose her words
carefully," Why did the parents of all those children let them go
with Stephen?"

Nick faced her again and met her eyes, " It was a time of great
conviction and frustration for us. The three crusades prior to the
Children's Crusade ended in the failure to free the Holyland. As
children, we lost complete faith in our parents ... in all adults....
to return this important part of our religion to us."

He gently place a hand on Nat's cheek. "When you lose faith, you
lose hope. Without hope, life is meaningless. Our parents let us go
with Stephen so we would have hope. They felt that if we did not have
hope in our parents, we would find it in the deliverance and
salvation of the crusade."

"It was not your fault, Nick. You were a child yourself back then.
The adults were the ones who failed you, not your faith." Natalie
spoke in a pleading tone.

Nick looked deeply into her eyes, "That is one of the many things
you have taught me, Nat. In Love and Faith there is forever."

Natalie pulled him closer and gently kissed his neck and was rewarded
with a lusty groan from Nick. " I love you, Nick." she whispered into
his ear.

She felt Nick's arms tighten around her waist. He pulled her deeper
into his arms. " I love you too, Nat."

It was going to be a great vacation.