All Hallows Knight
by Tammy J Morrison
circa October 1997
Disclaimer: Sony, Paragon and J.P. own these characters. Not me. I wish I did. They'd get a heck of a better deal from me.
The only character I do own is LaValle and he was expendable.
This story may be archived anywhere you like. Just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me where it's going.
As Natalie exited her car, which was parked not far from the firedoor that led to the stairs into Nick's loft, she noticed Nick outside the apartment, bundled up in his typical 'outside before I should' outfit. Nick seemed far away as she approached, setting down two large full bowls. One contained pre-made, sealed sandwiches and the other contained a myraid of flavoured juice boxes.
"Worried the kiddies are going to get too much sugar tonight, Nick?" Natalie quipped waiting to see if Nick made any comments about the sunglasses she was wearing, "Not that I expect you get too many kids in this neighbourhood."
Nick looked up at her and a slight smile graced his handsome face. She never gave up. Something Nick felt he should be grateful for. Since they had first met Natalie had tried to get Nick to come out on Halloween, but she had never succeeded for reasons that he'd never explained to her. "Where's your costume, Nat?" Nick asked as he led her to the lift doors. Natalie watched as the last dying rays of the sun touched Nick making him smoke and she fought back the urge to smother the tiny fires with her hand.
"Maybe, I've finally given up..." Natalie grumbled as they stood together in the lift. Nick's heart sank, those words caused more pain than a stake but then her words continued, "trying to get you to come out with me on Halloween. Why the hell vampires should be afraid of their night escapes me..." Nick pulled open the doors and entered the loft. He turned his back on Natalie as she pulled off her jacket and Nick moved toward the antique mantlepiece.
"It's not -our- night, Nat." Nick's voice was soft as he lit his fireplace. He took a final look at the hand calligraphed invitation.
"You are cordially invited to
The Raven's All Hallows Eve Ball.
Arrive before sunset.
Doors will be shut and locked
promptly at sundown.
No exit will be permitted until
sunrise on the 1st.
- L. Lacroix "
He shook his head, even LaCroix followed this law of the community. While Nick Knight, who was perhaps the only one who could now break that law, never would again. The gathering at the Raven was a tradition now, started by Janette and continued by LaCroix in her absence. Nick had always been invited, but had never attended. He had in the past prefered to trick Natalie into spending the evening with him alone, perhaps tonight it was time to share the truth with her. He turned to face her, certain that she would forgive him once he had shared this aspect of his past, and his heart stopped... Or would have if it beat anymore quickly than it did.
"Who did this to you Nat... I'll kill them!" Nick's voice snarled.
Natalie started laughing, her eyes glittering gold from her contacts. She doubled over and nearly bit her own lip with the specially made fang caps as the gleeful spasms shook her body. "No one, Nick. They're fake..." Natalie popped one out of her mouth, "See!"
"That wasn't bloody funny, Nat." His body was trembling with anger and the struggle to subdue his beast.
Natalie who hadn't yet looked up at Nick to see how seriously he was taking this, sniped, "You didn't see your face when you saw me." By the time she did look up, Nick had moved into the kitchen and was drowning his anger in a newly uncorked bottle of cow's blood. Natalie's amusement faded as she realized by his body language that he didn't find her little joke funny in the least. One part of her mind screamed out, 'Why the hell should you care? He's hurt you enough times. Let him taste his own medicine.' Her pride didn't want to admit she'd made a mistake, that she'd misjudged how Nick would take this. Natalie steeled herself, she'd come to realize that it was most often their pride and fear that kept them from communicating. Eight hundred years of being closed kept Nick from building a bridge, what the hell was stopping her. Pig headed pride was the only answer and she was determined to make an end of it now.
"I'm sorry, Nick. I didn't think." Natalie reached out a tentative hand to him.
Nick wanted to scream out, 'No you didn't!', but he stopped himself. He was more angry at himself than he was at her. As much as he wanted to deny it, for a moment when he thought she had been turned, a part of him, that wasn't necessarily the vampire, had felt elation at seeing Natalie standing there, condemned to the same darkness as him. Finally an attainable goal. He wasn't sure if the anger which was directed at her was caused by her playing such a juvenile prank or if it was caused by the disappointment he felt when she revealed it as a hoax. Either way the amount of anger was uncalled for, and he turned his once again blue eyes on her concerned face and took her hand, "It's okay, Nat. I overreacted."
Natalie loved the way the rest of the world seemed to fade out of existance when he turned those soulful pools of endless azure on her. All that existed was her, Nick and her pounding heart. They stood there lost in each other, until it became apparent that if they stayed they would never leave. Then the uncomfortable phaze started, the part that Natalie hated while they both searched for anything that would put them back on earth and away from the peace that tormented and tantalyzed them.
Nick was the first to break the silence, "Can I get you a drink, Nat?"
"Sure," Natalie agreed and waited to see what Nick had to offer.
"Go, sit down in front of the fireplace, relax," Nick instructed. Natalie obeyed somewhat reluctantly then noticed the jack o' lantern sitting in Nick's window.
"Oh, he's great, Nick. Did you use LaCroix for a model?" Natalie laughed as she looked at the scowling fanged face that glared out at Gateway Lane.
Nick shook his head at Natalie as she grinned mischeviously, "No comment." He held out a mug filled with something steaming. Natalie sniffed it, and even the scent warmed her body. She took a sip and sighed in pleasure.
"What's in the drink, Nick?" Natalie relaxed, sitting down on the floor in front of the flickering fire, and beamed at Nick as he set down a plate filled with meat filled pastries, and delicate looking dumplings.
"It's mulled apple wine." Nick smiled as he watched Natalie begin to taste the various sausage rolls, dry meat pies, and vegatables wrapped in boiled dough. "I got the food from a small specialty store. It's traditional for this time of year. If you're good, I might even let you have desert."
Natalie looked at Nick innocently, "When am I ever not good?" Nick's baleful gaze told the mortal woman she wasn't fooling anyone. Natalie quickly decided to change the subject, "So did you put the pumpkin out to scare any specific 'evil spirits', Nick?"
"Actually Nat, they don't -scare- evil spirits. That's a misconception about both jack 'o lanterns and gargoyles. What they're actually supposed to do is say, "We're already here gang... Move on... find your own place to haunt." Nick sat down on the floor opposite Natalie.
"Kind of a territorial thing, eh? Well I guess the end result is the same, and you'd be the one to know." Natalie sipped her mulled wine and realized that had been said badly.
As she tried to apologize for her slip, Nick shook his head, "I know what you meant, Nat. No harm done." He gazed into her eyes and shivered, "If you want to make me feel better though, take out the contacts."
Natalie laughed, "Sure Nick. I forgot they were there." She carefully pulled the contacts out and slipped them into a small case from her purse. Her blue eyes twinkled as she smiled at Nick, "Better?"
"Much," Nick replied. Natalie's grin was infectious and soon spread to him as well.
"So, what other things do I not know about Halloween and Jack 'O Lanterns?" Natalie took another sip of the mulled wine and looked at Nick meaningfully.
Nick knew what she -was- asking, but wasn't quite ready for that kind of honesty yet. Instead his grin grew larger as he said, "Actually if I wanted to be historically acurate I would have carved a turnip."
"A -turnip-? Nick, you've got to be kidding me..." Natalie looked incredulous.
"No, I'm not. Pumpkins are a new world food, we didn't have them. Turnips were what the Jack 'O Lantern started out as. And you think pumpkin innerds taste bad." Nick grinned mischeveously as memories of the time Natalie had to eat both his slice and her slice of the pumpkin pie Captain Cohen had made slid into his mind.
Natalie scowled, "I don't like pumpkin and Amanda may have been a great chief, but she was no Myra when it came to pastry."
"Myra still sending you goodies is she," Nick asked conversationally. He could see it a bit in her figure, but he'd never tell Nat. Besides he -liked- it.
Natalie's eyebrow arched, "Sometimes. I suggested that she donate some of them to the charity auction the precinct supports. I guess now we know why Don..." Natalie looked self-consciously at her own waist.
"Nah, that was all the souvlaki..." Nick's eyes glittered and his nose wrinkled as he spoke, grinning all the while. Then he took a sip from his glass. Natalie's expression softened and she sipped from hers.
"So what was with the real food outside the door?" Natalie asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
"Feeding the dead," Nick answered, his voice quieter still.
Their eyes met and neither looked away. Silence filled the room and seemed to echo off the huge grey walls. This time Natalie broke it, "Nick, why don't you go out on Halloween?"
Nick didn't have to ask whether she seriously wanted to know or not, he could read it in her face. "All Hallows Eve is the night when all the dead of the year move on to whatever lies beyond for them. No murderer would be caught dead..." Nick shook his head at the bad pun, "Or maybe I should say 'will be caught alive' if they are out on All Hallows Eve."
Natalie looked fascinated, "Why?"
"All of a murderer's victims from the year, walk tonight as well... But they seek revenge. They will kill him if they find him." Nick's gaze grew far away.
"Okay Nick, even if I -do- believe what your telling me, which being a scientist I have a hard time doing. It doesn't apply to you." Natalie paused a moment and gave Nick a hard look, "Unless, of course, there's something you want to tell me."
Nick looked at her uncomprehending, "You're right. It doesn't apply to me anymore. But knowing that will never take away a lesson I learned the hard way. Even if I become mortal, I don't know if I'll ever be able to go out after sunset on All Hallows Eve."
"Want to tell me about it, Nick?" Natalie asked, not expecting an answer really, but she knew she had to make the offer.
"Actually, yes," Nick grinned at the look of shock that crossed Nat's face, "If you're sure you want to hear."
"I'm sure." Natalie answered quickly. Nick looked at her a little dubiously and she retorted, "What.. This story is not for the faint of heart," Natalie did a bad Vincent Price from 'Hilarious House Of Frightenstein', "Don't sell me short, Nick!"
Nick knew she wouldn't speak to him again, if he didn't tell her. So he nodded, "I'll get us both another drink before we start." Nick retrieved her glass and brought both glasses back full. As well he brought a round ball of clay.
"What's that?" Natalie asked momentarily distracted.
"Clay baked honey apple with raisins," Nick smiled, "Your desert... All you have to do is put it in the fireplace." Natalie smiled sweetly and retrieved the treat from Nick. With some care and a pair of tongs she placed it in the heart of the flickering fire, when she turned Nick was standing behind her with a large down comforter. "Might as well be comfortable, it's a long story."
"And with you, what isn't," Natalie quipped as she snuggled beneath the comforter, facing Nick, who smiled gamely and took a sip of his drink before beginning.
"Back when I was brought across, one of the rules LaCroix practically pounded into me was to never go out on All Hallow's Eve. However typical of LaCroix, he was long on rules, short on explanation of why. Janette was no help either. All she would say is to obey my master, and then shiver as though it was a subject she'd rather not go into. As I grew in my powers, I became arrogant. I didn't care to listen to LaCroix, I -knew- what the best was for me. And so when a vampire, I had chosen as a confidant seemed to think it stupid for a vampire to be afraid of the night of the dead, I immediately echoed his opinion....."
*@* *@* *@* *@* *@*
"Nicholas", LaCroix hissed, "I do not care -what- you think... Or what the upstart LaValle thinks. Tonight we stay indoors, and if your belly rumbles, then you should have fed better last night."
"I do not care for your rules, -master-. I do not care for this dance. This is -our- night, LaCroix. The night of the dead. What have we to fear from the ghosts and goblins which the mortals do? Nothing. You have said it before, shall I remind you of your own words. We are immortal... Perfect. We need not fear as mortals do." Nicholas' words dripped from his tongue like poisoned honey. LaCroix growled menacingly and suddenly Nicholas was slammed against the wall of their house as LaCroix held him by the throat.
"Mark well what I say if you survive this night, Nicholas. Never use my words against me again. And know this night is -not- ours." LaCroix then carried Nicholas to the door and flung him far into the clutches of the encroaching darkness. The door was quickly slammed and Nick could hear the bolts clicking shut and Janette's scream of terror which was suddenly cut short.
Suddenly, a smiling face greeted his, "Your family makes me glad I am an orphan." LaValle grinned mischeveously, his dark eyes twinkling as he offered Nicholas a hand up.
"If he's hurt her," Nicholas growled menacingly and moved as though to attack the door.
LaValle held Nicholas back and directed him towards the hitching post where two fine steeds were tied. "Don't be a fool. Your woman has been convinced of the old myths and fairy tales about this night. She was probably wailing to have the elder let you back in. LaCroix can be accused of many things, but Janette has always been treated with kid gloves. You needant fear for her." Nicholas stood silent and angry facing his master's house not responding to his friend. LaValle retrieved both of the horses from the post, "There is an inn of ill repute I wish to visit tonight, Nicholas. Either mount up, or hide in the barn. Either way I am gone." LaValle swung onto the dapple grey stallion who's nostrals flared as he blew in excitement. Then with a thunder of hooves, LaValle was gone down the road. In a moment, Nicholas had shrugged off his mood, intending to take his anger out on the first mortal lout that darkened his table and in the blink of an eye mounted the black charger, leaving only a cloud of dust to mark the place where he had been.
The horse's hooves thundered down the dirt road, as the vampires jockeyed for position. Nicholas forced laughter from his throat to answer LaValle's. To Nicholas the race down the road was no longer a game, but a desperate attempt to escape into a place of mortals, a place of safety and superiority. This night gave Nicholas chills up his spine, something he had not felt since his days as a mortal. The silence was oppressive, more so to his keen senses. There were no insects, no birds, no frogs, toads or lizards to make the music that the night air normally thrummed with. The air was uncommonly cold, chill even to the chill skin of his own body. More over it was thick, thick with the miasma of a grave opened to soon after a body was intered. Nicholas ooked to his friend to see if any of oddities of the enviroment were having an effect, but if it was then LaValle showed no outward sign. Nicholas turned his attention back to the thundering rythym of his horse's gait, and tryed to block the discomfiture he felt by transforming in his mind the rythmic hoof beats to the heart beat of a wench before he took her. However no matter what the son of LaCroix tried, the eerie sensations continued to assualt him.
The trees, which had long since shed their leaves, seemed to grasp at him with skeletal hands and tightened the path which he travelled down. In the darkness, he could feel eyes watching him but not mortal eyes, animal or human, or even the eyes of his own kind, staring out in rivalry. Instead he felt as though there were thousands of eyes, all burning at him with hatred, screaming for revenge. Then the silence was broken with whispering, thousands of angry voices whispering, laughing, taunting him. Taunting -him-. He who was a master of the night. Nicholas pulled his mount to a hault violently, causing the beast to rear in pain and panic. It's eyes rolling and froth pushing from its mouth past the bit. "BEGONE," Nicholas screamed, "I abjure thee... I am the master of the night. Cease your moaning. I will not tolerate this!"
LaValle trotted back, an amused grin on his face. "Did LaCroix's 'lesson' addle your wits? Who are you screaming at Nicholas?"
"Can you not hear the incesant whispering?" Nicholas turned incredulous eyes on LaValle.
"The wind in the trees... Come now, Nicholas, I think LaCroix's fairy tales have made more of an impression on you than you believe. Either that or it is some madness you brought with you from mortality. Your horse suffers for it." LaValle rode closer to his friend and steadied the horse with a hand on it's flank. "They barely suffer us to ride. You cannot excite them so. The inn is only a mile more, then we'll find you a lusty wench to disperse this mania that seems to have possessed you, Nicholas."
The whispering ceased, or perhaps Nicholas only willed it to become the wind whispering in the trees, but his general feeling of ill boding did not fall away from him. Then suddenly they were upon the inn, nearer than Nicholas remembered, but there were signs of mortal life within. Sounds, smells, and movement which Nicholas welcomed heartily and not only for the opportunity it brought him to feed.
The two figures entered the tavern, and they claimed a table near to the fireplace. A buxom serving wench came to the table, "What will you two fine gentlemen be needing this night?"
"Wine," LaValle invited, "and you..."
"The wine, gladly..." The girl smiled, "And we'll see if you need me still when the night's done."
Nicholas shivered as he looked at the girl, there was something about her that was all to familiar, and there was something in her eyes that brought to mind the feelings he had outside, when the thousands of eyes pierced the night to find him. Nicholas looked around the tavern, the cloak of unease settling over him like a blanket of cold, wet snow. Every face inside the place seemed familiar, as familiar as his own family but he couldn't place why or how. Every furrowed brow, every dull farmer's gaze resonated within him and pulled at his memory. "LaValle, do these -people- seem to be familiar to you?"
LaValle was encompassed in whispering something obscene into the serving girl's ear as his friend asked but the girl swatted the vampire playfully and pulled away. "That one likes me, I think." LaValle made as though to swig the wine from his cup, then turned to Nicholas, "No more than any other room full of dun brown peasants do, my worrisome friend. Find yourself a wench, and set yourself at ease. I am to pursue that one -- there, I think." LaValle roused himself and set after the serving wench who was standing by the bar.
Nicholas sat staring into the flames, full of foreboding and angry at himself for not living up to his grand boasts to LaCroix. Never willing to allow his master the last laugh, Nicholas pulled himself to his feet and moved to a pretty girl who stood near to the fireplace. "Such a beautiful flower amoungst the brambles is too tempting a prize," his silken voice purred into the girl's ear.
"Think you, sir?" The girl's voice seemed familiar somehow but Nicholas cast such thoughts from his mind.
"I do indeed," Nicholas answered as the girl turned doe-like brown eyes on him. He ran his hand along her cheek and down her throat, gently caressing the silken skin. Again he was troubled, her skin was much too warm. To him it felt as hot as the fires of hell itself, more so than the sickest victim of any plague he had taken. He once again forced back his unease, and focused on the girl. 'At least this one has not much time left in the world', Nicholas thought, 'Not that it would have stopped me from taking her if she had.' His victim arched her neck and purred at Nicholas' touch. He nuzzled her close, then ran his tongue sensually along her cheek, down her jaw and towards her neck. A thin silken choker impeded his progress down her throat, and his hand flicked up to release it. It fluttered to the floor, like an autumn leaf from the tree as his tongue continued it's caress and touched upon two small punctures in the girl's throat.
Nicholas stopped, and pulled back to inspect the wound. Two small holes, as though she had already been bitten. He looked from the wound, to her face and back to the wound again. Then it struck him that although the wound looked fresh, that he tasted and smelt no blood from her. He stepped back, fear marring his handsome countenance. She turned to stare at him, her doe brown eyes flickering with the flames of hell. "Is there something amiss, Master Nicholas?" A malevolent grin crossed her face as Nicholas recoiled. This was the same girl he had killed no less than a fortnight ago.
Her eyes were fixated on Nicholas as he retreated from her, towards the bar where LaValle stood. "We must leave LaValle..." Nicholas' voice was hoarse with desperation. As LaCroix's son looked around him he began to recognize other faces and flickers of long forgotten memories rose to the surface, like things long dead in a lake.
"Nicholas, go back to your wench..." LaValle laughed heartily and continued to molest the serving girl.
All the eyes in the bar were focused on Nicholas, boring into him like a carpenter's drill. Then the whispering started again, and the girl at the fireplace started to laugh mockingly. "We must go, don't you recognize them?" Nicholas gestured madly at the patrons of the tavern. Seeing LaValle was not going to leave of his own accord, Nicholas tried to pull him along behind but the other vampire seemed rooted to his place. When his friend would not budge, Nicholas ran from the building on his own.
LaValle watched his friend's fleeting back in astonishment. He sat for a moment debating whether to follow, or to stay and finish what he had started. He looked into the girl's glittering blue eyes, then sighed. If Nicholas did something stupid, then Enforcers would come, and they would both be forfeit for going out on this night. Better eternity than a warm body and a full belly. "Insanity runs in his family," LaValle said conversationally in way of an explanation and followed Nick out at a leasurely pace, not noticing the way all eyes in the tavern followed. Nicholas was outside readying his horse. The speed at which he moved was incredible but still mortal. "If you are so afraid, Nicholas, then fly back to your master and your wench."
Nicholas looked at LaValle his blue eyes wild with terror. "I have tried LaValle," Nicholas answered as he swung into the saddle, his horse prancing nervously as he did. "We should have listened to the elders."
"What are you talking about, Nicholas?" LaValle focused his mind and tried to fly, but his feet remained rooted to the ground. "What sorcery..." He looked to Nicholas whose eyes were fixated on the tavern. LaValle followed his friend's gaze only to find that the inn which they had been inside was no more, and only an old run down barn stood in it's place. He grabbed at his horse, and mounted quickly. The animal's eyes were rolling wildly and their coats were lathered. "Who?"
Nicholas didn't answer, instead he turned his steed hard and spurred it away down the path towards his master's house. LaValle followed suit. As they rode, the sounds of whispering and laughter echoed all around them and a thick fog, too thick even for their vampire senses to pierce, rolled in and covered landmarks and misguided their horse's wild route. Pin pricks of red light burned through the mist, and in turn burned their hateful stare into the two fleeing vampires. Again it seemed as though the trees were grabbing at them, trying to pull them down from their horses as they crashed through the wood but when they looked, it was hands -- pale, human hands that grabbed and tore. Clawing at the retreating creatures of the night.
LaValle pulled his horse along side Nicholas'. "Who... I demand to know who?"
"Our victims, you fool," Nicholas sneered at that moment looking far to much like his master, "We are being hunted by those -we- hunted." Nicholas' eyes were wild and they seemed to look everywhere at once, ever searching for an escape.
LaValle seemed shocked at this revelation at first, and continued to spur his horse onward. Then as they rode into a clearing of the fog, LaValle whirled his horse around and brought it to a stop in the center of the path. "Ghosts, ghosts of weaklings I have already killed are what we are running from... I will run no farther, Nicholas. We have nothing to fear."
Nicholas pulled his horse to a stop and looked on in disbelief as the fog began to roll towards LaValle, as he stood laughing, mocking Nicholas for his fear. The son of LaCroix could -see- the hands of the victims reaching for LaValle. "Run, you fool... RUN", Nicholas cried in terror. The fog also began to encroach around Nicholas and his horse. Nicholas continued to back his horse away, still calling for his friend to run, moving deeper into the clear area in the midst of the fog. He could only look on in horror as the fog surrounded LaValle becoming clawing, tearing human hands. Figures formed of the swirling mists became recognizable as they ringed LaValle, pulling him from his horse. LaValle's boastful cries, turned to angry growls and then changed again to pleading desperate moans for help from the other vampire. LaValle attacked the creatures surrounding him, but where ever his fangs or hands touched became mist again. Though mist when attacked, the vengeful ghosts of LaValle's victims were more solid when attacking. Soon LaValle's clothes were shreds and his body had more cuts, bites, and wrents in it than the vampire could heal quickly.
So entranced was Nicholas by the horror before him that he barely noticed in time the fog that moved to envelope him. Hands pulled him from his horse, and he fell to the ground with a bone wrenching thud. The son of LaCroix had withstood tortures in the pit of the heathen Saracen and had survived, so was not about to give up easily or quickly to those he had taken. His eyes became golden as he growled and backed further into the clear area behind him. The mist seemed to hesitate to come further, and with a great bounding leap Nicholas threw himself into the midst of the clear area and began to scream in pain. His vision was blurred, but now he knew why the vengeful spirits would come no farther. Holy ground, he could see the church and one of it's walls further behind him. He writhed in agony, knowing that while he was on the ground he may not enjoy his stay, but that he would also not be killed. Bloody tears rolled down his face and over his chin as he roared to LaValle, "Break free, run towards my voice. Hurry LaValle."
Nicholas watched as his friend broke free of the white tendrils, that seemed to form and reform as different humans before his very eyes, and ran towards his voice. LaValle's body was wrent and torn, a hand was missing and an eye had been plucked from it's socket. His hair was saturated with gobs of blood and sections of scalp were gone. Huge pieces of flesh were missing from his arms, thighs and buttocks. Nicholas gagged on bile that was not there as his stomach lurched from the sight. LaValle ran towards his friend's voice, but was stopped as though he ran into a brick wall. "Why do you stop? It is only holy ground... It did not stop me! Come to me, LaValle!"
"I can not pass", LaValle reached out pleadingly towards Nicholas. As the son of LaCroix reached out towards his friend, his body was shaken with seizures, and he began to vomit blood. He could only lay helpless and watch as his friend was torn limb for limb, by the fog created creatures with the burning hateful eyes. Finally LaValle's head was torn from the body, and thrown into the church yard where it landed in front of Nicholas' face. It's once laughing eyes and merry mouth, now only a death mask.
*@* *@* *@* *@* *@*
"I fell unconcious then. When I woke it was nearly dawn. The fog still blocked my way and I needed to find shelter. The holy ground was killing me but I had no other choice. There was a caved in section near one of the walls, so I crammed my body in and waited for the dawn. When it came, the spirits too were gone." Nick took a drink from his glass, which emptied it and the bottle was already empty. He got up and moved to the kitchen to retrieve another bottle.
Natalie sat entranced and frozen in terror by the story. Nick had seen her trembling, and had heard her heart race but he had never once moved to comfort her. He wanted her to know the truth and see how she would deal with it. She had been badly frightened. 'Frightened enough to never want to be one of us', Nick's brain supplied. A part of him rejoiced at that, but another part grieved and over-all Nick felt guilty. He pulled another bottle, one that LaCroix had given him from the fridge. He needed it now, and what better way to drown his guilt and sorrow, but in something that he would pay for later. He heard Natalie moving in the living room and turned to her.
"You did it again, didn't you?" Natalie glared at him, "It was just a story.. Wasn't it?" Nick looked at Natalie incredulously.
"You mean you -don't- believe me?" Nick said. He started to protest that he wasn't lying but something inside him stopped himself, and he was almost glad she didn't believe. He rationalized that if she couldn't handle that the story was the truth, then perhaps it was better if she thought he had tricked her once again. Better for her, better for him, better for them, better for the future -- whatever that held.
"I'm not an idiot, Nick... You said it yourself. The holy ground was killing you. You would never have survived the day on consecrated ground. I mean -now- you can barely do it, never mind then." Natalie was fuming with her hands on her hips. "Besides I find it hard to believe that mist could rip the head off of a vampire." She shook her head, "You really got me, Knight." Nick winced, when Natalie used his last name it meant she was -really- mad at him. She walked up to him, "Almost dawn." She picked up the remote and handed it to him. They both looked out the window and saw the sun beginning to peak out over the horizon. Then she kissed him on the cheek and walked to the elevator, "I hope you know... I -am- going to get you for this." She pulled the door shut and the rumbling motor of the elevator signalled her exit for the day.
Nick shook his head, and walked over to the fireplace. What had possessed him to leave out the fact that he had braved the dawn's light long enough to take shelter in one of the church's out buildings, off the holy ground. Again his mind rationalized that it wouldn't have made as good an ending, but inside he knew differently. He pulled one of the gothic heads, and a secret door swung open. He reached in and pulled out a small piece of finishing stone. His hand smoked slightly as he touched it.
"And we will dwell in the house of our lord
- In the year of our lord, 1348"
-- was carved into it's surface. Proof, buut not any that Natalie would accept. He smiled a bit and slipped the stone back into the compartment. Then he turned to watch the sun rise, and fill his loft with it's golden rays. He -needed- to know that the sun had risen. He filled his glass from the bottle he had retrieved and looked out into the day. "To you, LaValle," Nick intoned, and raised his glass in salute, then draining it. And he pressed the button to bring down the shutters and block out the sun.