A Rose Is A Rose
by Eva Robinson
December, 1996
Forever Knight and all it's characters are property of Sony.
And all that jazz. Any similarity to persons living, dead or
undead is coincidental.

‘Christmas is creeping up!’, Natalie realised as she turned over her
day calendar. What to get Grace? What to get Nick? ‘Yeah,’ she thought,
‘what do you get the man who not only has everything, but was around
when to see it all invented!’ The list beneath Grace’s name grew longer
- chocolates, spiced coffees and teas, moree salt & pepper shakers (her
collection would never be complete!), sweater - while Nick’s list
remained blank.

Natalie chewed the end of her pen, thinking. Twice she had started to
write something, only to strike out her ideas. She was just about to try
once again when her beeper went off. She checked the number and called
the office.

A body had been discovered at Allan’s Gardens.

‘Well,’ she thought, ‘so much for the Christmas list!’

Nick and Tracy were questioning two of the local derelicts when Natalie
arrived. Even this late, the Garden’s greenhouse was lit. ‘Must be
something going on,' she thought getting out of the car.

“What’ve we got?” she asked Nick.

“Middle-aged white male. Derelict. He was found under some leaves by
one of the gardeners about an hour or so ago.” Nick said as he drew
Natalie towards the greenhouse. “The two locals say he was called Jem,
a new face on the block.”

He pulled up the yellow police line tape and motioned her through.

The body lay covered, on it’s back, by the wildflower garden. A young
police officer stood guard over the body, looking very ill at ease.

Natalie glanced a smile at Nick. “A new one?” He nodded back.

Natalie pulled on plastic gloves, crouched and uncovered the body. The
man’s eyes were open, with a look of surprise in them. There was no
obvious sign of trauma around the head or neck, so Natalie opened his
jacket and probed his ribs and chest. Still nothing. She then checked
his arms for needle marks. They were clean. Finally, she stood up and
called for the two coroners clerks to remove the body. As they lifted
the body onto the black coroner's bag, a crushed hibiscus bloom fell
from the folds of the jacket.

Natalie picked it up.

“Nick! Did anyone move the body, or was it here when you arrived?” she

“No. The gardener found it there and called us right away. What did you
find out?”

She held out the flower to him. “Rigor Mortis has set in, so I would
give the time of death between 6 -- 8 hours ago. The flower was inside
the folds of his jacket. It fell out when they picked him up. It must
have come from the greenhouse. Shall we go in for a look around?”

Nick called Tracy and filled her in. Then with the gardener and the new
Constable Kentworth, they entered the Greenhouse.

Tracy stopped by the gigantic Elephant Ear palms that soared thirty
feet above them, reaching for the glass dome fifty feet away. Across
from the palm was the 20- foot Pygmy Date whose fronds formed a lacy
green canopy over a small cast-iron loveseat. Nick, realising Tracy was
becoming lost in this beautiful urban jungle, nudged her back to the
real world.

“You, Kentworth and the gardener go through the rooms on the left.
Natalie and I will go right. He may well have been in every room here.”
With that they split up and began to search.

Nick held the door to the garden open for Natalie. When they entered,
the scent of hibiscus, purpleium, Monkey Plant and dozens of others
filled the air. Natalie took a deep breath, enjoying the smells of the
flowers and the damp earth.

Nick smiled at her.

“It brings back memories.”, he said, “Long nights in the jungles of
South America exploring Inca and Aztec ruins, discovering new plants and
animals. The flowers would still be blooming after dusk. All the
beautiful colours, the smells. I think it was one of the happiest times
of my life.” Natalie looked at him. “Before I met you, I mean!” he added

As they searched for sign that the dead man had been here, Natalie
couldn’t help noticing that Nick spent as much time touching the plants
and flowers as he did looking for clues. When they came to the Jamaican
Holly Bush, Nick smiled absently.

“Memories?” Natalie asked.

“It was the first plant I learned to identify. I was working for
Professor Munroe, from the University of St. George’s College. We were
cataloguing new species and preparing them for transport back to
Ireland. I took personal responsibility for the plants on board.
Professor Munroe was one of the few breathing humans who knew and
understood about me. He was delighted with my work, but because I wasn’t
an ‘official’ member of the team, my name was never mentioned.” Nick
crouched to gently stroke the stem of the Japanese Rainbow Tree. “It was
1796... it was a wonderful time.”

Natalie reached out and gently touched his shoulder.

“You’re going to have to tell me about it sometime. But right now we
have work to do.”

Sighing, Nick stood up.

“You’re right,” he said.

They spent the better part of the next two hours searching through
thick buses of purpleium, coleus and Cyprus grass. Looking behind trunks
of jade trees, date palms and Flowering Trumpet trees. Finally, Nick
spotted a foot print behind some Leopard plants. Near it was a crushed,
bright pink hibiscus bloom. The nearest plant was at the other end of
the room.

Tracy, Kentworth and the gardener joined them and concentrated the
search in one area. Twenty minutes later Tracy found signs of disruption
in the dirt and a wallet by the water lilies. The wallet carried the
name of Jemmet Seaforth. Nick had Kentworth and Tracy cordon off the
area and called in the Ident Unit.

Natalie pulled her coat closed.

“I’ve done as much as I can here,” she said, “I’ll start the autopsy
and let you know what I find.”

Just before shift change, Nick and Tracy walked through the doors of
Natalie’s office. She was just finishing up.

“Well, you can call off the dogs. Jemmet Seaforth suffered a heart
attack, combined with massive internal bleeding. Death was almost
instantaneous. No foul play involved in this one,” she said as she
sprayed disinfectant over the examination table and washed her hands.
“Did you find anything on him?”

Tracy pulled out her note book and began to read.

“Jemmet Seaforth -- 45 years old. Divorced and unemployed. He was a
regular at the Harbour Light for the last 3 months. He came here from
Elliot Lake. When the mines closed up he lost his house, wife and job.
He came to Toronto hoping to find some sort of work and get his life
back on track, but nothing happened. He fell lower and lower until he
ended up here.” She snapped the note book closed and turned away.

“Back in Elliot Lake he had a small greenhouse attached to his home. He
used to grow hibiscus and give them to the hospital and the senior's
centre. He must have come here to remember.” he said. “At least he had a
few moments of happiness before he died.”

Natalie turned out the lights.

November flew into December.

Around the office, decorations appeared almost overnight. Tinsel draped
the examining table, coloured lights blinked over the file cabinets,
mistletoe hung over the door, and a huge artificial evergreen took up
most of the lunch room. Beneath it were gaily wrapped packages. Ident
labels identified the owners: Grace, Tracy, Natalie. Nick turned the
packages over, looking for something with his name on it in Natalie’s
writing. There was a package from Grace, a stocking from Tracy, but
nothing from Natalie.

The office door opened and Tracy and Natalie came out from a coroner's

“Hi ya, partner!” Tracy said with a perky smile. “See you tomorrow!”
She called as she left, grabbing her coat and a large cotton shopping

Nick smiled at Natalie.

“She’s going to do some last minute shopping.”, she said. “I don’t know
how she can stand it. The crowds would drive me nuts.” Nick looked at

“You’re finished shopping? Nothing else to buy?” he asked.

“Nope!”, she said. “All done and wrapped. I plan to spend the next few
days enjoying myself and my Christmas tree. Thanks for helping me pick
it out and decorating it. Levitation makes putting on the star so much

“You want a ride home? A coffee?” Nick asked helping her with her coat.

“Thanks, but no. I’m going straight home, into the bath and then into
bed for some sleep! Tracy and I spent more time reviving students than
teaching tonight!” She gave him a kiss on the cheek. “I’ll see you

Nick steered the Caddie through the almost deserted streets, chewing on
his lip wondering where Natalie had put his present and what she had
gotten him. He took the long way home.

He was so absorbed in his quest, he didn’t realise something was
different until he entered the loft. His car keys slipped through his
fingers as he slowly turned and looked at urn after urn of Passion
Flower, Monkey’s Bush, Chrysanthemums, Begonias, Jamaican Holly,
Hibiscus and more. He dropped his coat to the floor and slowly visited
each plant in turn. He stroked the low fronds of the Rainbow plant,
sniffed the delicate fragrance of the Trumpet flowers.

Then, hearing a heart beat behind him, Nick turned around.

Natalie stood at his door.

“Merry Christmas.” she said.

The End