All I Need
By Mary Lou Manzie
circa September 1997

SPOILER: The actual Forever Knight series timeline has been changed so that
most events from the episodes paraphrased below happen in the first and second
seasons. For the purpose of this story, the third season does not exist!
WARNING!!! If you decide to read this story, *PLEASE* read it in sequence.
The timing is critical to the storyline.

Caveat/Disclaimer: The original Forever Knight characters were created by
James Parriott and Barney Cohen and are owned by Sony/TriStar/Paragon Films.
I have only borrowed them for my little tale, and hope I am returning them no
worse for wear. The characters of Jonathan, Ruth Ann and Theressa Lambert
were created by StormyNite in her stories, Power, A New Life, Everything is
Subject to Change and The Second Chance. They are embellished here only with
StormyNite’s gracious permission. The story also roughly follows the timeline
established in Everything is Subject to Change (See Part 6/16 however for a
deviation from that story line). The Holt family belongs to me. The Forever
Knight episodes Only The Lonely (written by Susan Martin), Be My Valentine
(written by Diane Cary) and Sons of Belial (written by Larry Lalonde and Phil
Bedard) have, in places, been paraphrased and embellished to allow this story
its conclusion. The author also acknowledges Dorothy Elggren’s kind

A Special Note of Gratitude: My most sincere thanks to those dedicated Forever
Knight fans who volunteered their time and expertise to beta-read my story.
You are the best! Thanks to: Jeanine Hornby, Jen, Tracy, Angela Brown and the
Beta Goddess herself, Barbara Erickson. There are none better!!

PART 01/16
All I Need
Mary Lou Manzie

She looked around the room anxiously. Her two best friends were there
helping with the last minute details--those that would complete her
transformation to wife and helpmate of the man she loved.

For a moment she hesitated. Was she doing the right thing? Was she ready?
Would they share a life or create a burden for each other that would grow and
fester until it drove them apart? No! They would share a life of love and
commitment--faith in each other and in the future. Of this she was quite

“Almost time,” interrupted her maid of honor. “The music has started. We’re
with you, and we love you both.”

The bride waited while the two women started the processional from the
anteroom to the vestibule. Then she began her slow and methodical walk to the
future that awaited her.

The room was filled with their dearest friends, all smiles and anticipation.
Most had found the early evening ceremony a little unusual, but perhaps not
so unusual for this unconventional couple after all. The bride and groom
explained that a candlelight wedding was exactly what they wanted, and no one
dared to disagree.

The bridesmaid entered first, tall and serene, and seemed to float down the
aisle, lovely in a pale peach gown with a small bouquet of roses. Her smile
was infectious, especially when she looked down to the makeshift altar and saw
the groom waiting nervously.

The maid of honor was next. First she spied her husband, the best man,
shifting his weight from foot to foot, whispering in the groom’s ear.
Although smiling, she shot him a quick, ‘Stand still and don’t embarrass us’
look, eliciting an immediate response from him. When he looked over at his
wife, he seemed to see her for the first time all over again. ‘Through the
years she has been a saint,’ he thought. What had he ever done to deserve
her? He resolved to remind her how much she meant to him this night, and all
the rest of the nights they would share.

All eyes turned to the bride. She hesitated a second or two before entering
the chapel, drinking in the candlelight and flowers, the fragrance and spirit
of the room. Her gown was simple but elegant, form-fitting satin with a
gently flowing skirt. Over this, she wore a full cape with a hood instead of
a veil. It gave her the look of a woman from another time, a time of chivalry
and passion.

As she started down the aisle, the candlelight granted a soft glow to her
attire, reminding the groom more of angel than of flesh. He looked at her
with pride and anticipation as his nerves finally began to settle down. How
could it have happened, this impossible love they had discovered together?
They met at work and began working on the same project. Gradually their
friendship blossomed, until one day he looked at her and saw something else:
love and desire. He had not wanted to become involved. His work was too
important, and he feared his obsession would never allow him to love as other
men could. His bride, however, had other ideas. Her faith in him was
constant, never wavering through all their ups and downs. Finally, he
declared his love and need for her. He remembered vividly the awful minutes
that passed as she considered his declaration of love. He would not have been
surprised if she had turned and left. Other men could offer her more, but
would other men ever love her as he did? No, he told her, no, they would not.
She had smiled knowingly and said simply, “I love you. I have loved you
since we first met. I will love you always. Now we two will be one.”

In that moment of joy a road had opened before them--the road that would lead
them to the rest of their lives, together in love and in faith. Today was the
formal profession of that faith before their friends and before God. As she
glided to his side, her eyes were again filled with love for him. He prayed a
silent prayer that he would always deserve her love and vowed to return it to
her tenfold.

As the minister began the ceremony, the bride and groom barely heard the
words, only the beating of their hearts. And then a moment of silence. “As
today is the first day of the New Year and the new decade of the 1960's, may
this couple, joined together at this auspicious time, have a future as bright
and full of hope as humanly possible. I now pronounce you husband and wife.
You may kiss the bride.” He delicately touched the hood of her cape and
slipped it down to her shoulders. Looking at her beautiful face, he kissed
her lips lightly, and then a second time, more deeply.

Turning to face their friends, they clasped hands and began to walk down the
aisle. He whispered softly so that only she could hear, “I love you, Ruth

“I love you, too, Jonathan Lambert,” she responded, “and I’ll love you

Part 02/16

As he turned the wheel of the motorcycle into the long, winding gravel drive,
keeping it upright with some difficulty, Nick thought about the first time he
had come to Maine.------------ It had been almost fifteen years ago, and he
was fulfilling a promise made to a soldier who had died in his arms.

It was just after the last war in Europe. He held the soldier in his arms as
his life’s spirit slipped away. The soldier made the medic promise to take a
message to his young bride. Nick was honoring the promise.

The soldier, Brian Holt, was an American who had somehow dragged himself to
French lines during some unnamed battle to reclaim France. Nick had left the
French Resistance after executing a member of his Resistance team he had
mistaken for a spy, and was now working as a medic easing the pain and saving
the lives of French soldiers and civilians alike. What he saw at first did
not look like a human being, no, more a wounded animal, frightened and alone.
Nick dodged German bullets overhead while he crawled to the soldier. “Tell
me, sir, will I live?” cried the soldier.

“You are badly injured, but I will do my best,” Nick responded. Attempting
to remove the dirt-encrusted clothing from the wound, Nick discovered that the
soldier had suffered a severe chest wound, apparently due to a grenade. He
looked down at Brian’s eyes with sympathy and considered his fate. Should he
offer? For a moment the bloodlust rose in his brain, and the vampire fought
to take advantage of the soldier’s plight. ‘No, no!’ screamed Nick to
himself, ‘this is not the way; no, this was not the way.’

“I’m not afraid of dying, Doc,” the soldier whispered, “but I’m just married
and I promised my bride I’d be back. I don’t know how she’ll ever be able to
handle this. We’ve only just begun to know each other, and she’s expecting
our baby soon. How I’d love to hold that child and tell him or her how proud
I am to be their pa.”

Nick considered this simple man’s wish. Hearing the soldier’s heartbeat
waning, Nick asked quickly, “What do you want me to do?”

“Would you go to her after the war and tell her how I passed? Hold our child
and say how much I love him. Give her the peace to know I didn’t die alone,
Doc. That’s what’ll help me on my way. And tell her we’ll be together again.
I promise.” Brian’s eyes closed as speaking quickened his slide toward

“Yes, I’ll do it. Where is she?” Nick asked.

With great effort, Brian opened his eyes and looked directly at Nick, “We
live in God’s country in Maine. I’m a logger. We have a home near Coplin
Plantation--that’s in the area of Stratton. It’s a far piece to go, Doc. Are
you sure?” he practically pleaded, gasping for air.

“I’m sure,” Nick said. “Now just rest.” Continuing to hold the American in
his arms, Nick felt the final breath pass the soldier’s lips; then he was
gone. A loneliness fell over the scene. Nick thought of this man and his
wife and child. A family now separated forever. How many times had he had to
leave mortals he had liked and loved? This was something he would do. It had
been some time since he had been to America, but this he would do.

The soldier died in 1944 and was buried in France. It was not until 1946
that Nick was able to make arrangements to visit Mrs. Holt. The area did not
have much in the way of traveler’s comforts, so Nick had to badger Aristotle
to help him find a place to stay for a few days.

Once arranged, Nick set out for Boston and then to Maine. He remembered his
first glimpse of the state--wild and beautiful, forest and sea, mountains and
valleys as far as anyone could imagine. He contacted Mrs. Holt through the
local sheriff’s office and made arrangements to visit her the next evening.
In the meanwhile he stayed at cabin owned by Aristotle’s friend. It was
nestled among the tall pines and a few paces from a small lake. There was no
electricity, but kerosene lamps lighted the place. With it’s location among
the dense trees, little daylight penetrated the cabin, so a few well-placed
blankets kept the sun at bay.

After sunset, Nick drove to Mrs. Holt’s home. A small fire and soft lighting
greeted him, along with the joyous sounds of a two year old using a kitchen
pot as a percussion instrument.

“Excuse him, please, Doctor,” she began. “We don’t get many visitors, and
he’s been excited that you’re here to see us.”

Nick was overwhelmed at her kindness and warmth. He sat down at the kitchen
table with her, graciously declining the tea and coffee she offered. Glancing
around the room, he noticed an ancient cookstove and ice box gracing one
corner, balanced by a well worn countertop sporting all the ingredients to
make an apple pie. The room was neat and filled with the spirit of hearth
and home Nick had not known in many centuries.

Returning to his task, Nick began to tell her about Brian and their few
moments together. She sat mesmerized at his gentle words and manner. When he
finally finished, he said, “It was Brian’s request that I tell you that he did
not die alone.” He paused and gathered his words carefully. “He also wanted
you to know that he promised you will be together with him again. He wanted
me to tell your child how proud he was to be his father.” Nick looked down at
Brian, Jr., still pounding away on the make-believe drum.

The child stopped as he felt Nick’s eyes on him. Laughing, he got up and
climbed into Nick’s lap. Nick smiled and started, “Little one, your father
was a brave soldier trying to help other people. He was proud and glad to be
your father, and he asked me to bring you these.” Nick pulled Brian Holt’s
dogtags from his pocket and placed them lovingly in the child’s hands. “Don’t
ever forget who your Dad was or what he was trying to do when he died. He
loved you and your Mom very much.”

Mrs. Holt saw Nick quickly look away; blood tears had begun to well up in his
eyes. Although she knew it was an emotional moment for them both, she
wondered out loud about her husband’s messenger. “Doctor, my husband and I
were happy together. I’ll always miss him, but I have Brian, Jr. to help me
remember our love for each other. Do you have anyone?”

Nick regained his composure. “My life is complicated, ma’am. I guess I’ve
been too busy to give love a thought.”

“I don’t think so, sir. I think maybe my Brian came to you not only for my
sake but for yours as well. You might think with so few people living here,
we’d get lonely. But Brian was always doing for other folks--you know, giving
them a helping hand with chores, taking a little extra wood to the widow down
the way. He always was thinking of other people.

“Maybe he was thinking of you, too,” she continued. “Look around this place.
There is peace here. Surely you’ve felt it. Why don’t you stay awhile and
take some time to consider where you’ve been and where you’re going? You’re
over at the Johnson’s old cabin, aren’t you? They sold it some time ago to an
out-of-stater, New York, I think. Anyway, nobody ever goes over there. I’d
be pleased to have you take supper with us. What do you say?”

Nick rushed to say no, but the words just wouldn’t come out. “I.....I guess
I’d like that, Mrs. Holt. I can stay for a few days, anyway. Thank you. I’d
like to spend some more time with Brian, Jr.”

“Then stay you will, and it’s Angela,” she replied.

Nick walked the quiet trails around the cabin every night. The lush foliage
permeated the entire area with it’s perfume of pine and wild flowers even at
the evening’s darkest hour. The stillness hung like a veil, moving ever so
slightly with the sound of wildlife going about life’s tasks. She was right.
There WAS peace here. A peace he needed and desired as he considered his last
lifetime and the next.


All I Need, Part 03/16

That had been fifteen years ago. He had managed to convince Aristotle to
pressure his friend to sell him the Johnson cabin. Although he did not visit
every year, just knowing it was there was comforting. The people of the area
were independent and never bothered to ask questions of the occasional
visitor. They gave him his privacy. Now it was 1960, and he desperately
needed to find peace in the north woods again. It was time to end an old life
and begin a new one. Nick told himself this should be getting easier, but he
knew it was not.

After taking a leisurely walk around the lake, Nick returned to the cabin
just before dawn, checked the sun-blocking blankets for the second time, then
went to bed. He slept fitfully at first and woke five or six times to
discover he was still at the cabin. When he finally drifted off, there was
blissful nothingness for the longest time.

Then came that voice, or was it the wind? It whispered something, but he
could not make out the words. A melody or a dirge? “Brother!” the voice said
again. “Brother, awaken and hear me.”

Nick shook his head and opened his eyes slowly. Before him stood a
figure--familiar but distant. Nick looked up to gaze at the face and could not
quite place it. Who was he? What was he? As his eyes again focused, Nick
thought he recognized the figure, but he was not of this time and place but
another long ago time and almost forgotten place.

“Brother,” the figure repeated.

“Who are you and what do you want?” Nick responded sternly.

“Look at me, brother, and tell me yourself. Or do you not remember?” the
figure laughed.

Considering the figure again, Nick’s eyes opened wide. He stood tall and
straight with an almost regal bearing. His clothes were those of the
crusaders: the crimson red and lily white cross adorning a hauberk shirt that
came to his knees, allowing only his leggings to show, the mail gloves
covering his strong hands. At his side was the sword of Brabant, long and
straight, reflecting some imaginary sunbeam and catching the light in the
blood-red garnet that was the jewel of the sword. “You are wearing my
crusader garb, but your face is so, well, so...I don’t know,” Nick sputtered.

“So alive, so filled with sunlight, brother?” the figure continued. “I am
you when you still had faith in your God and in yourself, dear Nicholas, and
before the darkness overtook your soul. I am what you lost when you allowed
the monster to dwell in your soul.”

“I have no soul and I have no God,” shouted Nick in anger. “I lost them both
many lifetimes ago. The Crusades were my quest for salvation and purity.
What I found instead was treachery. The spice of the East was infamy not
salvation. What God would call for the slaughter of innocents, women and
children, along with defeated soldiers? No, for me darkness was like an old

Nick paused, slightly surprised at his own vehemence. “But it is true that
for the past three hundred years I have hated what I am, because there is no
peace in the darkness either. I have been trying to find a way to atone,”
Nick said.

“Ah, but do I not know that better than you, brother dear? I am the light
that you lost. You have a soul, but it has been smothered in darkness since
that night so long ago. I am the part of your soul that was spared the
darkness, and it is only now that I have been allowed to come to you with
guidance. God has seen your struggle, and He makes you a promise,” the
apparition whispered.

“I told you, I lost my soul and I lost my God who cast me out,” cried Nick.
“I live these many lives not knowing what to do or how to begin to confront
the demon.” Nick closed his eyes.

“God’s promise to you is this: He has not lost faith in you even though you
have lost faith in Him,” continued the figure. “Your next life can begin a
new path to forgiveness. He has seen your futile attempt to embrace the demon
through the ages, and He knows that your soul can never rest as long as the
demon is your master. Begin again to atone for the lives you have taken,
either by your own hand or that of your neglect. Work to save humanity, one
person at a time. The work will seem insurmountable, and you will often
stumble and fall back into despair, but I will be allowed to join you once
again if you have faith. Together we will conquer the beast and walk again in
the light,” the figure finished.

“But how is it possible after so many years?” Nick pleaded, not daring to
think for even one moment that such a thing could happen.

“I will be out there in the mortal world, not entirely alone but with another
soul. You will not recognize me, but you must never stop looking or
continuing your quest to rejoin humanity. It is worth it, brother, for if you
have faith and love, all things are possible,” he concluded, his presence
starting to fade.

“But stay, brother, stay and comfort me,” Nick whimpered. A burst of light
fell at the foot of the bed and Nick jumped up quickly. He was covered in
blood from perspiration, and realized one of the blankets had fallen from the
bedroom window, allowing a shaft of light to penetrate the cabin. Moving with
vampire speed, Nick reattached the blanket and sat back down on the bed. It
was a dream, it had to be, for how could he dare to think it was a message?

He was exhausted and returned to the nothingness of sleep.

Several days later, he was ready to contact Aristotle. This time he would
take a more active role in his destiny. Telling Aristotle of his desire, he
set out for Chicago to begin his next life as a police officer.

PART 04/16 See Part 1 for Spoiler/Caveat/Disclaimer

The day began as the others before it, but Ruth Ann wondered out loud if this
would finally be the day her child was born. The pains she experienced the
night before had finally subsided, and she had actually gotten a little sleep.
She hurried to prepare breakfast for Jonathan, who would be on his way to the
lab soon. He did not want to go, but she assured him she would be fine, and
that she would call if anything happened. Besides, her mother was visiting to
help her with the new baby.

As she sat down to pour herself a glass of orange juice, her thoughts flew
back to their wedding day. How wonderful their life had been since that
January 1st at the interfaith chapel at McGill University. They continued
their work at the lab together, even after her visit to the doctor which
confirmed her suspicions that she was pregnant. They bought a little house in
Montreal on Dorchester Street, near the lab, but in a family-filled
neighborhood. Their lives were full of love and peace as well as excitement
now that the baby’s birth was imminent.

Ruth Ann wondered whether she would have a son or daughter. “As long as it
is healthy...,” she prayed. She knew this child was conceived in love and
that was the best start parents could ever give. As she rose to get the
toast, her water broke and she gasped. “Jonathan! It’s time,” she cried.

Jonathan jumped from the shower, draped himself with a towel and ran to her
side. “We’ll be off in two minutes, my love,” he shouted. Dressing quickly
but forgetting to button his shirt, he leaped down the hallway pulling on his
shoes and dangling the car keys in his mouth. He grabbed the overnight bag
they had packed weeks ago and gathered his wife into the car. Moments later
they arrived at the hospital.

The hospital staff quickly took over, and Jonathan was ushered into the
Waiting Room. Boy-oh-boy, did it ever look like a waiting room. Old
magazines were mingled with the smell of stale cigarettes and coffee--not the
kind of welcome he had in mind for his child! As the hours dragged on,
Jonathan thought over and over about Ruth Ann and how much he loved her.
Would motherhood change her? ‘No,’ he thought, ‘she has enough love for me
and our baby--that’s the kind of person she is. And she is my best friend.’
How many marriages had he seen where the partners quickly became enemies?
This would not happen to them.

Jonathan paced, read, dozed and generally waited for an eternity. He dared
not leave the room lest he miss the nurse’s call. Eighteen hours later, the
nurse stepped into the waiting room and eight pairs of bleary eyes looked at
her in solemn anticipation. “Mr. Lambert, you have a daughter,” she said.

“When can I see my wife? Is she all right, nurse?” he questioned.

“She’s doing just fine, Mr. Lambert. Come with me,” came the reply.

Jonathan stepped softly into the room and looked over at Ruth Ann. She was
holding a small bundle in a pink blanket. “Come here, Dad,” she commanded.
“Do you believe we made this little being?” she asked.

“She has your eyes and my nose, my dear,” Jonathan stated studiously. “And
she’s beautiful, just like you.” He glowed with pride in them both. “What
shall we call her?”

“I thought Natalie as a first name. What do you think?” she questioned.

“I think it’s lovely, my dear. What about a middle name?” he asked.

“Natalie Jean Lambert! Has a nice ring, eh? She is our gift from God,
Jonathan, born in love and bound to bring that love to the world!” beamed Ruth

“Natalie Jean it is, love. And I agree, this little bundle of love will make
a difference in many lives including ours. Mark my words, June 24th, 1962 is
an auspicious beginning,” Jonathan burst out loud with unbridled affection for
his daughter just entering the world.


Nick was ready to leave his apartment and check into the precinct for night
duty at the Chicago PD. He had joined the force six months earlier, but had
just returned from extra police academy training. He learned an important
lesson. Even when you have lived for almost eight hundred years, you do not
know everything. He had made a costly rookie mistake that had almost claimed
his veteran partner’s life. His vampire skills had settled the error, but he
declined more duty until he had undertaken formal training in “American”
police work. Tonight was his first shift after completing the training.

Something felt right about law enforcement. He knew his increased hearing
and night vision would serve him well, bringing wrongdoers to justice. Funny,
wasn’t it? Would he ever find justice for those HE had wronged?

Suddenly he felt his knees give out, and he started to fall but caught the
edge of the sofa just in time. Easing himself into a sitting position, he
embraced a feeling he did not remember ever having had before. He closed his
eyes and saw a sunrise, bright with orange and yellow, beaming back at him.
What was this? He’d had dreams before, but never of sunrises. He regained
his composure and reached for a bottle of bloodwine in the fridge. ‘Better
steel yourself, Nick, something truly strange is going on,’ he thought. As
the cow’s blood floated down his throat, the vision returned only to disappear
as quickly as it had appeared.

He managed to make it to the precinct on time. Looking up at the desk
sergeant, he began, “Ready for duty, Sergeant.”

“Okay, Officer Knight, it seems like June 24th, 1962 is the day you begin
again,” the sergeant smiled.

“I certainly hope so, Sergeant. I’ve waited a long time for this,” Nick


PART 05/16 See Part 1 for Spoiler/Caveat/Disclaimer

Natalie was eleven in 1973, the eldest of three children born to Jonathan and
Ruth Ann Lambert. Bright and active, some considered her a tomboy, but her
bright eyes, auburn hair and mischievous smile left no doubt she was all girl.
Despite her tender years, she was always protective of her younger siblings,
Richard and Theressa. She had known only love in her life.

Ruth Ann stayed at home after Richard was born, believing she needed to give
her children all of her attention. After having been assigned to a joint
Canadian/US team whose goal it was to develop telescopes for NASA to use in
conjunction with the long-planned space shuttle program, Jonathan continued
to work at the lab, but made every effort to be home for the family dinner to
hear his wife and children recount their daily adventures. How he loved them.
Glancing from face to face, he wondered how he could have been blessed with
such a family.

Before meeting Ruth Ann, he had been a loner, working long hours in the lab
on other space related projects which had already taken their toll on lesser
men. He thought he would be another in the long assembly line of scientists
giving their lives to the work, with little hope of ever seeing tangible
results, but fearful of giving up the quest and the security of its routine.
Then Jonathan met Ruth Ann, a scientist who shared his love for the work, but
a woman of passion and light who believed in him. Their marriage had proven
to be a balm to his soul. It allowed him to enjoy the work even more, but
also to save time to oversee and enjoy his family.

He decided to walk to work that day. It was a bright and beautiful July in
Montreal. After his usual eight hour shift, he packed up his briefcase and
started home. Children were playing and riding bicycles in the neighborhood
as he approached the intersection. He watched a youngster of six or seven
start out from the family’s driveway on a two-wheeler. She struggled to
control the handlebars and the tires wobbled, refusing to submit to her. As
she got to the end of the driveway, she did not stop, but continued into the
street, still trying to master control of the bike. Jonathan smiled as he
thought of his own Natalie’s and Richard’s struggles to learn how to ride.

Suddenly the rider looked past Jonathan in a panic. Jonathan barely had time
to glance behind him as he saw an automobile barreling down the street at high
speed, barely missing trees and children. ‘No time,’ he thought as he cast
the briefcase down and ran toward the girl. His hands barely grabbed the
child’s shoulder as he pulled her body off the bicycle and threw her towards
the lawn to safety. With this motion his own body swung directly into the
path of the car. As he saw her hit the grass with a thud, his last thoughts
were of his own sweet children.

Natalie never forgot that day: how a police officer’s words had taken her
Daddy away. There were tears, words of sympathy and kindness, but somehow she
realized part of her life was over, a very sweet and innocent part. She was
her mother’s strength and comfort during that time, attentive to her brother
and sister, reassuring them and promising them there would be better times.
But who would comfort her? Childhood was suddenly over. She knew it, but did
not know how to grieve.

As the men slowly and methodically lowered Jonathan’s casket into the ground,
Natalie looked at the flowers, the muted clothing of the mourners and the
tears in her mother’s eyes. A darkness seemed to settle over them all. As
she closed her eyes to seal in the scene, she heard her father’s voice.
“Natalie, always remember that you were born in love and bound to bring love
into the world. You are my special angel, and I know you will always make me
proud of you. With love and faith, all things are possible.”

“I will remember, Daddy, I will,” she whispered under her breath.


July 1973 found Nick in Helsinki, Finland. As Nick Parker, he had spent the
last two years working for the International Committee of the Red Cross as a
medic in Vietnam. The experience had heightened his sense of shame for all of
the beings of earth--mortal and vampire alike. The sense of shame for the
mortals because of their inhumanity to each other in a war where everyone was
a victim, and justice never won out. For the vampires, it was because war was
one more chance for opportunistic feeding without remorse. But then he was
the only vampire who ever felt remorse for killing, according to LaCroix.

He was still associated with the I.C.R.C. when his medical unit was asked to
send an observer to the United Nations Conference on Security and Co-Operation
in Europe. The conference of eastern and western European countries, along
with Turkey, the U.S.S.R. and the United States, was to open in Helsinki in
July, 1973.

It would be more of a vacation than work, and Nick needed a vacation. The
time he spent in Vietnam had tested both his ability to control the bloodlust
and his determination to rejoin humanity as a mortal. He remembered the
blood, the suffering, the destruction of the country and the culture--but
then, that was the definition of war. Throughout almost eight hundred years,
the definition had seldom changed. Humanity never seemed to move past it,
despite all the so-called advances in science and technology.

Here in Helsinki, there was a chance to rest a little, to consider his
situation before moving on to another life, and to see if mortals could
accomplish peace among themselves while testing a common will and

In his role as I.C.R.C. observer, Nick had only to attend a few meetings of
his choice and report the mood and tempo of the proceedings, especially those
during the opening ceremonies. Finlandia Hall, designed by architect Alvar
Aalto and just completed in 1971, was the site of many of the opening
meetings. As he approached the modern, gleaming white building with its
shining marble facade, he wondered at this soaring monument to man’s soul and
humanity when he had so recently returned from Vietnam, a monument to man’s
inhumanity. The main entrance faced Mannerheimin tie, one of the primary
streets in Helsinki, but he was immediately drawn to the other side of the
building which showcased an exquisite view of Toolonlahti Bay. Going inside
to pick up his credentials, he marveled at the simple and graceful interior, a
marriage of form and function.

The first few days heightened Nick’s senses, as an air of anticipation from
the delegates filled the building. The Congress Halls, committee rooms and
technical rooms all echoed with the sound of at least twenty different
languages, most of which were familiar to him. Nick smiled to himself when he
considered that he was able to understand not only most of the primary
speeches and reports, but also the little off-hand remarks and retorts of the
participants as he walked among the delegates and their aides.

After judiciously but graciously declining several daytime invitations from
various delegations, Nick returned to his room at the Hesperia Hotel as the
night began to wane. He adjusted the blinds of his north-facing windows and
attached the “Do Not Disturb” sign to the outside of the door. Then he
slipped into bed and, for the first time in months, an easy sleep. Dreams do
not always accompany the sleep of vampires, and today none haunted his.

He awoke with a start around 6 o’clock in the evening. Glancing over at the
clock beside his bed, he realized he still had three hours before the 9
o’clock delegate briefing he planned to attend. He decided to settle back to
sleep for just a little while longer.

As his mind began to drift, he became aware of a presence. Nick opened his
eyes to inventory the room and found he was still alone. Closing his eyes, he
discovered that the presence was inside him. It was a sense, no, an emotion,
that he felt. Rather than fighting it, he tried to embrace it. He could
almost taste it now as he gradually grew accustomed to the sensation.

Nick allowed his mind to reach out to the emotion. It was well known to him:
grief. However, this was not the same grief that had walked with him after
the kills of his past. No, this was different. He felt a longing for
security and an innocence lost as he continued to allow the emotion to
envelope his consciousness.

Slowly, oh so slowly, the grief gradually receded, just enough to allow
another sensation to take hold: strength. Nick felt it course through his
mind, chasing the grief, but never quite overtaking it.

As he opened his eyes, Nick saw that the clock read 8 o’clock. Two hours?
Where had the time gone? Trying to raise himself from the bed, Nick suddenly
experienced a wave of sadness which resulted in blood tears cascading down his
face. It was a long time before he could compose himself. Struggling to the
bath, he turned the shower controls on, barely remembering to remove his
pajamas before allowing the warm water to massage his skin. Long minutes
continued until Nick regained control, and no longer felt the pressure of
foreign emotions throughout his body and mind.

Exiting the shower and grabbing a robe, he headed immediately to the bottles
of bloodwine he carried with him. One bottle, two--as the third bottle was
raised to his lips, he stopped. He reasoned that the emotions he had felt
were not his own. The only links known to him were those he shared with
LaCroix and Janette. Grief was in neither’s vocabulary.

Nick finally dressed and left the hotel, heading back to Finlandia Hall for
the delegate briefing. As the cool night air assailed his face, Nick somehow
knew he would experience this kind of linked emotion in the future. But from
whom, he dared not guess.

SPECIAL NOTE: The events that follow are a deviation from the storyline
established by StormyNite in her story, Everything is Subject to Change.

PART 06/16 See Part 1 for Spoiler/Caveat/Disclaimer

Jonathan Lambert had been the sole financial support of his family. After
his death, Ruth Ann’s only choice was to return to work. Fortunately,
Jonathan’s team at the laboratory found a position for Ruth Ann. Although not
paying a salary equal to Jonathan’s, Ruth Ann’s job allowed for advancement
commensurate with her performance. Her mother had also agreed to move in and
watch the children so that Ruth Ann could put in a full day’s work. Never
quite the same without her husband, Ruth Ann still managed to provide and care
for her children, and be home for dinner every night to hear them recount
their daily adventures, just as Jonathan had done.

As the years moved on and the children grew, Ruth Ann could see that each
would make an indelible mark on the world. Richard was leaning toward the
study of law; he had his father’s sense of justice and compassion. Theressa,
although the youngest, already had the makings of an artist with her free
spirit and creative nature. Natalie’s interest seemed to be moving toward the
study of medicine. Nearly finished with high school, she had already begun to
seek out universities where her good grades would help her win an academic

Ruth Ann smiled as she thought about how proud Jonathan would be of his elder
daughter. Natalie was an adult in a teenager’s body. Since her father’s
death, she had provided the glue that had kept the family together. She was
always helping her brother and sister, and never failed to make certain her
mother got enough rest and was eating properly. How could such determination
and compassion be encased in one so young? Natalie was always so involved
taking care of others that Ruth Ann wondered whom Natalie would ever allow to
be close to her, to comfort her and to be her strength. It would take an
extraordinary and strong person. But who? Sometimes the thought frightened


In the late fall of 1979, tragedy again struck the Lamberts. Fire engulfed
the house on Dorchester Street just as morning approached. Theressa was
awakened by the smell of smoke and the sounds of her mother screaming to rouse
the children. Natalie sped out of her room, first to Theressa’s room and then
to Richard’s. She placed her sister in Richard’s waiting arms and ordered him
to get out with the child. In the hallway, she met her mother who seemed even
more panicked than she. “Mom, you have to get out! Follow Richard down the
stairs. He has Theressa. I’ll get Nana!” Natalie cried at the top of her

Natalie bolted through the door and found her grandmother clutching her
rosary and mumbling prayers. Natalie practically threw her towards the door,
as she tried to find slippers or shoes to protect the old woman’s feet.
Reaching frantically under the bed, her hands found some slippers, and she
joined Nana. Natalie covered her grandmother with a robe as she led her down
the hallway to the stairs and out the front door to safety.

As Natalie’s eyes met Richard’s, she assumed they all were safe. Then fear
gripped her, as she looked around for their mother and shouted at Richard,
“Where’s Mom?”

“I thought she was with you and Nana.” He looked down at her, not daring to
release Theressa from his embrace.

“No, no! I told her to follow you,” Natalie wailed, almost as if saying the
words aloud would make it happen.

“I’ve got to go back!” she cried. Not allowing her eyes to meet his, she
turned and ran back to the house.

“You can’t, you’ll never get out!” Richard yelled after her.

Natalie could no longer see the upstairs from the front door, and she
hesitated, closing her eyes and praying for courage. It came to her like a
jolt of adrenaline. It was a man’s voice she heard. //She’s in the living
room. She lost her way going down the stairs. Hurry, she’s unconscious.//
Then the voice stopped.

For some reason completely unknown to her, Natalie trusted the voice and
moved directly to the living room. She could almost make out her mother’s
blue bathrobe. Reaching down, she found her mother had collapsed alongside
the sofa. She tapped reserves of strength she did not know she had and lifted
her mother to a standing position. With great difficulty, she supported Ruth
Ann’s upper body with her own and guided her out the door.

It was not until she was outside that Natalie realized how her lungs and eyes
burned. She fought to stay conscious as she saw a firefighter rushing to her
side. She thought she heard him call for a paramedic as her mind drifted away
from the scene.

Two months after the fire, Natalie had recovered physically, but Ruth Ann
lost the fight for her life. She had sustained severe smoke inhalation and
burns, finally succumbing to pneumonia.


In 1980, Richard began to study law at McGill, and Natalie accepted a full
scholarship at Berkeley to study pre-med. She was determined to take Theressa
with her, not trusting the youngster’s care to anyone else. The three Lambert
children met at the site of their childhood home on Dorchester Street for one
last time before Natalie and Theressa drove to the States.

“Don’t worry, Richard, we’ll be fine,” assured Natalie. She kept her voice
strong and confident for him. “I’ve rented an apartment for us, and the
University has promised to help me find a job. We’ll use some of the
insurance money if things get tight, but we’ll be fine. I promise.”

Richard looked into her eyes. “You’ve always been the strong one, Nat. I
don’t doubt you. I’m just not sure how I’ll be without the two of you.” His
voice faltered.

“You will study the law and look after things here, just as Mom and Dad would
have wanted,” she whispered. “I have confidence in you, and I love you.
We’ll be back in Montreal for the holidays. The idea of a snowless Christmas
doesn’t set well with me!” she joked, trying to buoy his spirit.

Many times during the long car trip westward through Canada, then southward
through the United States, Natalie wondered if she was up to the task of
full-time student and surrogate mother. Something always touched her when she
had these doubts: something soothing and reassuring deep inside her that
seemed to say, ‘There is something over the next horizon that is worth your
effort. Do not look back. Only look forward.’


Nick looked up from his table at Mugar Library. At least twenty-six books
stacked high on the table protected him from any outside disturbance. He was
reviewing Boston University’s collection of reference books on the Middle Ages
before assigning the final term paper to his class on European Life in the
Thirteenth Century.

Teaching had always appealed to him. Nick had lived through what most
people would consider ancient history. That gave him a bond with the past
which he was able to share with his students. He made it come alive for them.
His classes at B. U. were always filled to capacity, and he felt he was
opening a link between past and present.

Nick stared across the Charles River to the lights of Cambridge. Autumn was
a magical time in Boston. Lengthening nights could not hide the vibrant color
produced by changing leaves. Nick closed his eyes before returning to the
work at hand.

Fire!! He saw it. He smelled it. Nick’s eyes snapped open, surveying the
room. Nothing. He closed his eyes for a second time and experienced it
again. Panic crept into his spine and radiated through his torso and legs.
It was so real. Then he realized the panic belonged not to him, but another.
He was experiencing it through someone else. He saw smoke enveloping a house,
a young man holding a child, the utter confusion of it all.

Nick felt the frightened heart as emotions raced through him. Then he tasted
the fear. Pushing himself into the scene, he saw a woman in a bathrobe lying
on the first floor of the house. She was not moving; she was injured, maybe
dead. Through sheer will, he concentrated on the link, opening his view of
the injured woman to the unknown recipient outside the burning house.

//Go to her,// he thought. //She’s in the living room. She lost her way
going down the stairs. Hurry, she’s unconscious!// Through force of will, he
sent courage to the other side.

Not wanting to lose the link, Nick held his eyes tightly closed for what
seemed like several minutes. Then the link severed abruptly, like the snap of
a rubber band being stretched too far. He opened his eyes. Mugar Library,
the Charles River, Cambridge, twenty-six books, his briefcase. Nothing was
out of place.

It was several minutes before Nick tried to get up from the table. When he
finally gathered his notes and returned the books for filing, Nick’s mind
drifted to the Hesperia Hotel in Helsinki in 1973: the last time he
experienced a link. This time the images were more clear. He was seeing
through someone else’s eyes and feeling through someone else’s heart. As
before, he dared not speculate about the source.


PART 07/16 See Part 1 for Spoiler/Caveat/Disclaimers

Nick gathered his mail from the postbox, discarding fliers and ads for carpet
cleaning, a miracle cure for wet basements and a dog grooming service. His
eyes settled on a letter with a ‘Coplin Plantation, ME’ return address.
Ripping the envelope open, he began to read the now familiar script:

October 17, 1988

Dear Uncle Nick:

Mama’s been very ill. We’ve been keeping her comfortable, but
you remember she’s had a heart condition for some time. The doc
doesn’t give her much more time. Today she told me to contact
you and ask if she could see you one more time.

I’ll understand if you can’t, but if you can see your way clear, I’ll
have everything ready.



Nick’s face clouded over with sadness as he remembered Angela and Brian, Jr.,
her kindness to him and the welcome feeling he had always received when he
returned to the cabin. Now she was dying, and he vowed to honor her request,
just as he had honored her husband’s almost forty-five years earlier.

Nick arrived two days later in the early evening hours and proceeded
immediately to Angela’s house. It was exactly as he remembered it: bathed in
warmth, cozy and comfortable. He approached the front door and raised his
hand to knock, but the door swung open wide to reveal Brian. “Uncle Nick!” he
exclaimed. “I knew you’d make it. Come in!”

Nick entered, somewhat cautiously surveying the room to see if there was
anyone there who might demand an explanation why a forty-four year old man
with a salt and pepper hair would be calling a man who appeared to be at least
ten years his junior, ‘uncle.’ Seeing no one, he responded, “How is she,
Brian? How are you?”

“She’s slipping, I’m afraid. The rest of the family’s been here visiting
today. I sent them all home about two hours ago. She’s been asking for you.
I think she’s holding on to tell you something,” he answered, his voice
faltering. “I’ll take you in to see her now.”

Nick unsuccessfully tried to steel himself from his emotions as he entered
Angela’s bedroom. She appeared to be asleep, her glasses pushed up in her
hair. A small lamp at her bedside cast a glow on her face. Nick considered
how the face had changed since he had first seen her in 1946. Oh, yes she was
older now, her hair gray and wrinkles abound. But the gentleness remained.
Angela’s eyes fluttered open as she tried to focus. “Nicholas? Oh, Nicholas,
you came!” she said, her voice barely a whisper. “Come here and sit next to

“Hello, Angela. I’m so glad to see you,” Nick practically stammered as he
put on as cheerful a face as he could muster. He moved over to her as Brian
pulled a chair near the bed for Nick to sit. Nick took her left hand
delicately in his, kissed it and continued to hold it.

“You are always a gentleman, Nicholas, and you always make me feel like a
lady,” she responded with a smile that lit up her entire countenance. Looking
up at Brian with affection, she said, “Will you leave us for a while, son?
I’ll be fine!”

“Sure,” Brian replied. As he turned to leave the room, he looked back at her
and said, “I love you, Mama.”

Nick followed Brian’s gaze to Angela whose eyes shone with love and affection
for her son. “He’s turned out to be such a good boy, don’t you think?” She
looked to Nick for affirmation.

“The best,” responded Nick quickly. “He has a great role model.” His eyes

“Nicholas, I know this is the last time I’ll see you in this life, and I
wanted to tell you something,” Angela began. Nick looked down at her, still
holding her hand, waiting for her to continue. “I want to thank you for the
hundredth time for all you have done for us over the years. No family could
have a better friend. I know you live with pain and doubt, but you’ve been
our guardian angel. That’s the way I’ll always picture you.”

She took several breaths before continuing, “Many years ago, I told you I
thought my Brian sought you out on that battlefield in France. I still think
so. I don’t know if there is anything we have ever done to make a difference
in your life, but you have made a great difference in ours.” Nick started to
say something, but Angela raised her hand and placed it over his lips. “The
money you have provided for Brian and me has allowed us to be independent.
Although he doesn’t see you often, Brian cares for you very much and always
tries to keep the cabin clean and in good repair, just as you asked us after
you bought it. Without your influence when he was a teenager, I don’t know if
he ever would have stayed in high school, much less gone on to Orono for a
degree. I owe you so much...,” her voice trailed off.

“No, Angela, it is I who owe you.” Nick looked at her with tenderness and
gratitude in his eyes. “You were right; you were always right. I came here
in despair, looking for something I didn’t even know existed. You showed me
peace was here. I return for sanctuary and to find myself. Just knowing the
cabin, woods and lake are here reassures me. And there is something else.”
His brows furrowed. “You have always accepted me without question. I have
seldom known anyone like you. And Brian has matured into a responsible and
caring man, just like his father. But then you know that better than I,” he

Angela looked into his eyes for several moments before starting to laugh. “I
think we have quite a mutual admiration society going on here!” A broad smile
appeared on Nick’s face, then she continued, “I believe what Brian told you.
We’ll be together again. But I worry about you, Nicholas. Whatever you are,
whatever you’ve done to bring such anguish into your life, someday someone
will see your true soul, accept you and love you. I have faith that it will
happen, and I want you to promise to have faith, too. Will you?”

Nick’s eyes lowered as he forced the words out. “I will, Angela. I promise.”

She took his hand in hers, raised it to her lips and kissed it. “Now, let an
old woman get some sleep!” she smiled. “I’m so tired. Would you sit here
until I drift off?”

Nick pulled the covers up to her neck, tucking her in securely. “Of course I
will.” He tried to sound cheerful. As he sat back down in the chair, he
listened intently for the sound of her heart. It was faint and growing more
so with each breath. Then it simply stopped, like a clock gradually winding
down. He looked at her face and saw a look of contentment. As he got up to
call Brian, Jr., he bent down and lovingly kissed her forehead. “You were
aptly named, Angela.” Then he hesitated for a moment wondering if the words
would come out of his mouth. “G--God bless you, and tell Brian thanks for

Nick exited the room slowly and found Angela’s son sitting alone at the
kitchen table. “She’s gone, isn’t she?” Brian, Jr. questioned.

“Yes, her heart just slowed down and stopped. There was no pain. I’m so
sorry. She was a wonderful woman.”

Brian looked up from the table into Nick’s eyes trying desperately to keep
his emotions under control. “She’s with my Dad, and I know they’re happy.
She loved him so. Thank you for all you’ve been to her and done for her.
I’ll...I’ll never forget.” With those words, Brian’s voice finally began to

Nick crossed the room and lightly placed his left hand on Brian’s shoulder,
squeezing him gently. “You’re right, Brian. I know they’re together.” After
a few moments, Nick looked outside. “I have to go now, the sun will be up in
a half hour,” Nick said sadly.

“The cabin is all ready for you, Uncle Nick. I even installed the electric
blinds you told me about. I’ve made some other changes as well. Hope you
like them,” Brian said, gathering his composure. “Things will be hectic
around here for a while, but call me if you need anything, please. Will you
be staying?” Brian asked.

“Yes. I was in the process of wrapping things up anyway before moving on,”
Nick began. “The cabin has always afforded me peace and tranquility. I could
use some right now. Call on me in a few days if you can, and remember that
I’m here if you need me.”


PART 08/16 See Part 1 for Spoiler/Caveat/Disclaimers

(Author’s note: the time is still 1988 in Maine, the night of Angela Holt’s

The key to the cabin was under the stoop as always, and Brian had left the
lights on. The stone fireplace had been prepared for a fire, and plenty of
wood was stacked just outside the back door. Nick struck a wooden match,
igniting the fire before removing his coat and laying it on the sofa.

As the fire cast an amber glow over the room, Nick returned to the fireplace
and placed both hands on the mantle, resting his forehead on them. He drank
in the peace of the cabin and began to close his eyes. NO!! Something was
terribly wrong. As his head snapped upright, his eyes caught a familiar
figure emerging from the shadow.

“Nicholas! How nice to see you again.” It was LaCroix. “Why haven’t you
invited me to your little vacation hideaway before?” he began, his voice
dripping with sarcasm as he ran an imaginary white glove over the sofa table.

“What do you want, LaCroix?” Nick growled.

“Nicholas, your hospitality leaves much to be desired. I thought I taught
you better manners,” LaCroix continued, ignoring Nick’s question.

“As I said, what do you want, LaCroix?” Nick questioned again.

“You always get right to the point, don’t you, Nicholas? All right, I admit
I’ve been curious about the little get aways you’ve taken this century. Of
course, I assumed you’d gone to France, or Tibet or at least New York. But
Maine? I thought you’d had your fill of peasants during the sixteenth
century. What could possibly appeal to your immortal senses here?” he asked,
genuinely intrigued.

Nick considered his master for a long while before responding. “You wouldn’t
understand, LaCroix. I come here to find myself, to find peace,” he began
truthfully. “No matter how you protest to the contrary, I am not you. I am
not like you. It has always pained me to have to leave one life for another,
and it’s again time to move on.”

“Yes. I’ve been talking to Aristotle myself!” LaCroix responded. “Nicholas,
this is *who* we are. This is *what* we are: creatures who feed on mortals
and keep moving. We do not become involved with them. They are fodder. WE ARE
SUPERIOR! DO NOT GET INVOLVED WITH THEM!” he concluded angrily, slamming his
clenched fist on the sofa table, splintering it.

Nick sped across the room and pinned LaCroix to the wall. “I have told you
before, LEAVE ME ALONE! I will not follow you. I will not do your bidding.
I follow my own path!”

LaCroix pushed Nick away with one arm, a movement that would have appeared
effortless to any bystander. “I remind you that I created you, and I know
very well WHAT you are. Stop fighting your nature. If this ‘peace’ you seek
exists, it is in accepting your killing nature,” he stated factually and
dropped his arm to his side. “Now come and join me once again,” he concluded.

Nick pushed LaCroix back against the wall, but this time his own strength
seemed to be augmented by an unseen force. LaCroix was momentarily caught off
guard and gave his ‘son’ an amused look. “What is this, Nicholas? Have you
learned to keep a reserve?” LaCroix smiled that menacing smile Nick had grown
to hate over the centuries. “How interesting!”

Loosening his grasp on his master, Nick commanded, “Get out, LaCroix!
Wherever I go, I know you will be there, but I will not seek you out. I will
sever the link between us one day, and it will be the happiest day of my

“Thankfully I have made alternate arrangements for the day, Nicholas, so we
will not continue this pointless discussion. Until next time.” He turned and
was out the door.

Nick stared at the place LaCroix had just occupied. Then he remembered that
feeling of strength that had surrounded him, just as his own strength had
begun to fail. The mysterious link again? Even now, he did not know.


Natalie neared a rest stop on the long car trip from California to Toronto.
She had completed her medical studies several months before and was returning
to Canada to become the youngest medical examiner in Canadian history.

Theressa had married. She and her husband, Paul, were living in France
after the incident that changed the sisters’ relationship forever. Paul had
attempted to assault Natalie who fought him off. But Theressa never believed
Nat and blamed her sister for causing trouble and being jealous of Theressa’s

Natalie was alone now, and, although returning to Canada, she was taking a
job in a city unfamiliar to her. The job would begin November 1, 1988,
leaving her only two weeks to find an apartment and get settled.

Pulling into a parking space near the restaurant, Natalie unbuckled her seat
belt and momentarily glanced at herself in the rear view mirror. For a
second, she thought she saw something--no, *felt* something. Seeing the panic
on her own face, she briefly closed her eyes, trying to will the feeling away.
As she opened the car door, she felt it again. Hesitating and fearful, she
nonetheless allowed her mind to open to the feeling this time. Her eyes were
closed. She saw, no *felt,* a tremendous tension between two powerful forces.
One force exuded evil; it definitely had the upper hand. The other seemed
somehow familiar; this one was struggling. Natalie gathered all the strength
she could find in her being, and willed it to the familiar force. It left her
with a jolt, and she gasped. Then the feeling was gone, leaving her a little
dizzy but unscathed.

Natalie took deep breaths and composed herself. ‘Curious,’ she thought.
‘Very curious.’


PART 09/16 See Part 1 for Spoiler/Caveat/Disclaimers

IMPORTANT NOTE: The following section contains scenes and some dialogue which
have been paraphrased and/or embellished from scenes found in the Forever
Knight episode, Only the Lonely, written by Susan Martin. This was done to
allow the current story its conclusion.

Nick drew near the scene carefully. He had picked up a conversation about a
robbery with his superior hearing, and vowed to stop it. Apparent gang
members were approaching a neighborhood store. As they entered, the shop
owner looked up at them with fear. One of the youths waved a handgun and
demanded money. Nick bolted to the door and ordered that the members put
their weapons down. As he moved closer to disarm them, one of the members
pulled a pipe bomb from under his coat and threw it towards the shop owner.
Instinctively Nick pushed the shopkeeper aside and threw himself on the bomb
as it exploded.

Nothingness. Sweet, sweet nothingness. Nick hovered between consciousness
and unconsciousness. How long had it been? Five minutes? Three hours? How
long since the bomb ripped his body to shreds? He did not know, but he did
know his body was healing, although somewhat more slowly than in the past. He
attributed that to his diet of cow’s blood which had replaced human blood over
one hundred years before.

Nick somehow knew he had been placed in a body bag and removed from the shop.
‘They must be taking me to the morgue.’ His mind was still groggy. Then he
felt motion. The body bag was being lifted onto a table. His eyes would not
open. He felt a warmth around him. Warmth in a morgue? Light blasted his
face as the body bag was unzipped. He was getting stronger. His eyes tried
to flutter open.

Then a touch, light and delicate. He felt his heart beat: once, twice, three
times! His eyes opened, and he surveyed the room. He saw a woman talking on
the telephone, standing with her back to him.


The hunger hit at the core of his being. He bolted upright, his fangs
quickly descending and his eyes turning vampire gold.

She was talking to him, at him. What was she saying?

He spied the container of blood and rushed to grab it, gulping the liquid
until the hunger slowly began to lessen. He looked at her more carefully.
She was beautiful, and there was something else about her: she radiated more
warmth, more goodness than he had ever felt before from a mortal.
She was talking at him again. “What are you?”

“Something very different from you,” he responded sarcastically as the
vampire tried to gain control.

He regarded her closely. What did she want? He tried to wash himself from
her memory. She would not submit. She was a resister.

He saw her nametag: Natalie Lambert, M.D. She continued talking. He
responded, but part of him stayed aloof from the conversation.

It was later that night when he heard himself ask her if she was afraid of
him. She answered in the negative and offered to help him become mortal. She
thought it was a physical, not a metaphysical condition which could be ‘cured’
by science. He asked her what her reward would be for her service. She said
that solving a puzzle was its own reward. He warned her not to get too close
to him, or he might hurt her. But she was not afraid.

Several months later, Nick joined Toronto Metro Homicide as Detective Nick
Knight. Natalie Lambert became his friend and doctor. He admired her. He
liked her. He was afraid of her.


PART 10/16 See Part 1 for Spoiler/Caveat/Disclaimer

IMPORTANT NOTE: The following section contains scenes and some dialogue which
has been paraphrased and/or embellished from scenes from the Forever Knight
episode Only the Lonely, written by Susan Martin. This was done to allow this
story its conclusion.

‘Some twenty-eighth birthday,’ she thought as she cleaned up after the last
autopsy. Natalie had quickly settled into her role as medical examiner, and
was even getting used to the graveyard shift she often earned as the newest
Toronto M.E. Grace had given her a card, signed by the other techs and
herself. It was one of those ‘party hardy and naked on your birthday’ cards.
She hated it, but knew it was given with affection.

She looked at the clock, willing it to speed up so she could go home. The
phone rang. The police department was anxious for the results of an autopsy.
She looked for the paperwork and could not find it. “What’s the name?” she
asked. The voice responded that the deceased had no identification. She hung
up the phone and waited for Eddie to deliver the body.

Eddie entered the morgue almost fearfully. He explained that the man had
broken up a gang robbery and was tossed a pipe bomb in return. There was not
much left of him. Then Eddie quickly backed out the door after helping
Natalie move the body from the gurney to the examining table.

Natalie had never been anxious about her work, even when she was alone on the
night shift, as now. But something sent a tingle to the base of her spine as
she began to unzip the bag carefully. She drew in her breath in surprise.
There was something wrong. This guy was gorgeous. Where were the ‘pieces?’
She gazed at the face for a long moment, and could not fight the urge to touch
it, even through gloved hands. Delicately she turned the outside of her hand
to face his cheek and slowly ran her index finger from his temple down to his
jaw line. “Not bad,” she whispered. “Not bad at all.’’

She turned to call the precinct again, convinced that a mistake had been
made. She explained the situation, lowered the handset to the base and
started to turn around to the examining table when she suddenly sped up her
movement. Her eyes opened wide and her jaw dropped. The ‘corpse’ was sitting
up, but it--*he* had fangs for canines, and his eyes glowed golden. Natalie
fought for breath. All of her scientific background disappeared as her brain
tried to make sense of what her eyes were seeing. She backed away from the
table as he moved to the blood container and bit down on one of them draining
the contents with lightning speed. She heard herself exclaim, “What the
hell?” and “What are you?”

“Something very different from you,” he responded icily. “I am a vampire.”

Vampire! Natalie felt drawn to him, not repulsed as she might have expected.
She tried to touch him again. He grabbed her hand and held it away from him,
before finally bringing it gently to his face, caressing it with his skin.
They were talking to each other, exchanging information, but Natalie’s
overriding focus was on her emotions. She was not afraid of him. Why?

Later that night, he tried to hypnotize her. She laughed. He spoke of his
quest to regain his mortality, his humanity. She heard herself offer to help
him. What was she saying? She should walk, no *run,* in the opposite
direction. But she could not. He drew her to him like a moth to a candle.
And his presence made hers burn all the more brightly.

Natalie resolved to take up the challenge. He was 800 years old. He had
seen everything. He had done everything. Although she knew she should fear
him, she did not. She would not. She saw strength and power in his radiant
blue eyes. And there was something else: a desperate need to believe and to
have someone believe in him. Natalie did not know how this came to her, but
she knew it was true. She was about to begin a very strange adventure. She
could not even guess where it would lead.

PART 11/16 See Part 1 for Spoiler/Caveat/Disclaimers

TIME: Two years later, Toronto:

Nick sat alone in the loft gazing at the fire...two years had passed since he
had first encountered Natalie in the morgue. In that time he had also
acquired a mortal partner in the homicide division, Don Schanke. Both of
these relationships put Nick in closer, more intimate contact with mortals
every day than he had experienced in many lifetimes. Schanke was the easier
relationship: what you saw was what you got. Souvlaki breath, bad jokes, loud
ties, never enough time or money. He was too loud, but he was a good cop with
street sense, an analytical mind and protective of his partner. Schanke was
also hopelessly in love with the woman he married, a saint named Myra. He
just needed to be reminded of it occasionally.

The relationship with Natalie was not so easy. Her first touch caused his
heart to beat, loud and strong. For two years they had been friends. She
zealously researched and experimented with his blood, skin cells and anything
else that could be analyzed. She was bound to find a cure. He tolerated the
protein shakes, raw meat, tests and awful green gook she made him drink. He
told himself it was because he wanted to be mortal again. He lied. It gave
him more opportunities to be near her, to inhale her fragrance, to be warmed
by her spirit, to laugh with her and protect her. Somewhere deep inside, he
loved her.

Nick reminded himself almost daily now of the awful bargain that had saved
his sister, Fleur. LaCroix agreed not to bring Fleur across, but in
repayment, he would destroy any mortal female Nick ever dared to love.
Although Nick had experienced mortal relationships over the years, he had
never loved a mortal woman with the depth of passion which would alert
LaCroix. His master was relentless and unforgiving. Nick had nothing to

At least once or twice a week, Natalie came to Nick’s loft with her medical
bag, take-out food and a video rental. By now he could hear her heartbeat
while she was still two blocks away. The sweet anticipation of her arrival
caused him both pleasure and pain. He longed to see her smile, to hear her
badger him about his vitamins, to listen to her recount her trials at work.
But most of all, he waited until he could softly slip his arm around her
shoulder. This usually happened when he relented and let her rent a romantic
tear-jerker, which inevitably concluded with her crying into his chest while
he comforted her.

The pain from these encounters was caused by his constant struggle to hold
back his feelings so she would not be hurt. She had had enough grief in her
life already. He would not compound it. That was his noble side. He feared
that he might injure or even destroy her, if his passion were ever fully
realized and the beast was released. He did not trust himself with her, but,
oh, how he longed to touch her, to be with her. Every time he allowed
himself to think of them together, he forced his brain to shut down for fear
of opening a fatal link to LaCroix. That was his rationalization.

There was something else. He loved her for her strength, her compassion, her
intelligence and her humanity. He could not cope with losing her to death,
either at LaCroix’s hand or at the end of a long, mortal life. No, it would
be better not to love her. Better for them both. And there was the quest to
regain his humanity to consider. That *must* be his focus: atonement for his
past evil in order to be able to walk again in the sunlight.

But it was too late. Nick only wanted to walk in the light if Natalie was by
his side.
But what of Natalie? She had never revealed her feelings toward him. He
knew she cared for him as a friend. She was always checking on his progress
toward the cure. Was there more? He thought of the way she sometimes glanced
at him when she thought he could not see her. But did she love him?
Nick seldom allowed her to look directly into his eyes, fearing she would see
into his soul and be repulsed. Rejection. THAT was what he really feared.
And he did not have the faith to overcome it.


Natalie caressed Sidney as he rubbed his furry head across her arm. “Good
Sidney,” she purred back at him. “I love you, too.”

‘Love. What a funny concept!’ she thought. She loved sunrises; she loved
chocolate; she loved Nick. ‘No, Lambert. Don’t go there,’ she warned

Natalie considered the last two years of her life. She was secure in her
job. She was a consummate professional, doing important work, assisted by a
competent staff. And she came home to a cat, ate microwave dinners and was in
love with an 800-year-old vampire. Love. That word again.

She remembered the night they met in the morgue. She remembered the thrill
that caught her by surprise--the same one she tried to stifle every time she
was in Nick’s presence. ‘I have my work, and my challenge is to find a cure
to allow him to be mortal again. Then it is his choice how he lives his
life.’ LIAR. She could feel his presence many minutes before he strolled
into the morgue to pick up some report or evidence. She knew whether or not
he was in the loft before she parked her car. Her heartbeat quickened when
she sensed he was in danger. There was a connection to him.

But Nick would never let her into the inner core of his life. He was always
mumbling about protecting her, keeping her from harm. She thought he did not
trust her; she thought he did not have faith in her. He did not have faith in

Natalie let out a sigh. “So, Sid, what do I do? I’ve never told him how I
feel about him, so how would he know? I can keep on hoping something will
happen, or I can give him a little nudge. I vote for the latter.”


PART 12/16 See Part 1 for Spoiler/Caveat/Disclaimers

IMPORTANT NOTE: The following sections contain scenes and some dialogue which
have been paraphrased and/or embellished from scenes from the Forever Knight
episodes Be My Valentine, written by Diane Cary and Sons of Belial, written by
Larry Lalonde and Phil Bedard. It was done to allow this story its

February 18 (Flashback sequence included):
Nick cradled an empty green bottle in his hands. Would Natalie remember?
Could she ever understand and forgive him? Maybe he should just go. It had
been best in the past when there were too many entanglements and unanswered

Only a few days before, she had given him the sterling pillbox. He had
professed his love for her. There had been no time for explanations or plans.
That would have come when they were finally alone on Valentine’s evening.

Then LaCroix had tried to exact his retribution. It was in those
interminable seconds, with fangs descended yet still desperately trying to
find a solution, that Nick prayed for the first time in centuries. He asked
God for a way to save Natalie from the darkness; to save himself from casting
a black veil over one more soul.

They say ‘God moves in mysterious ways.’ As Nick prepared to prove he did
not love Natalie by bringing her across, LaCroix somehow believed the lie.
Nick’s prayer had been answered. The horrible bargain made centuries ago
would not be satisfied that night.

Nick had won the battle, but he felt he had lost the war. To him, mortality
was further from his reach than ever. He knew, now, that Natalie truly loved
him. He had openly declared his love for her, only to endanger her once

One step forward...two steps back.

The loft echoed with the awful clink of an empty green bottle hitting the


February 18:

Natalie tossed and turned in her bed, causing Sidney to move to the sofa for
his rest. She finally got up and went into the kitchen to make some hot
chocolate. She closed her eyes as she savored the warm liquid in her mouth
before swallowing. At that moment she saw Nick sitting in his loft. Was she
asleep? As she concentrated on him, her mind was flooded with memories of
Valentine’s night: the restaurant...LaCroix...LaCroix demanding the
retribution owed him...Nick denying his love for her...Nick’s breath on her
neck, his lips pressing hers, the touch of his fangs on her skin... *No!* It
did not happen! *It was a dream.*

There was more. A young woman-Nick’s sister? LaCroix holding the woman,
professing his love for her, wanting to bring her across. Nick demanding
LaCroix not harm Fleur. The bargain. The horrible bargain. Natalie knew
Nick had never told her about this; she was experiencing these memories with
and *through* him. His pain and shame were unbearable. She felt him want to
run. Although she heard his words deny his love for her, she also felt his
heart. She heard his prayer.

Natalie focused on Nick again. She tried to send him her understanding and
love. Only sadness came back to her.

One Month Later:

Over the past few weeks, they had largely avoided one another. Nick believed
Natalie had no memory of the events of Valentine’s evening, and he was ashamed
that he had denied he loved her, even though it had saved her life and her
soul. At first Natalie tried to talk to him, but she could not resolve the
images that kept crowding her brain, revealing so much about Nick’s past.

As each struggled to overcome their doubts, another event happened which
pushed them further apart. While investigating an apparent suicide, Schanke
and Nick questioned Max Vanderwahl, a former Catholic priest who had been
excommunicated for performing exorcisms.

During such a ritual, a malevolent spirit possessed Nick. Assaulted by
voices and thoughts foreign even to his own personal demons, Nick sought out
LaCroix to take him to Vanderwahl. Convinced that Nick was being controlled
by something beyond even his control, LaCroix participated in the cleansing
event at Vanderwahl’s home. As the demon exercised its strongest hold over
Nick, Natalie arrived, causing the demon to fly to her and attempt to take her
life. In one of the great battles for mastery of his soul, Nick fought back
the demon.

In the aftermath, Natalie was convinced that Nick had passed a major test on
the road to his quest. Nick, however, felt the experience had set him, no
*them,* back a bit. It had revived the vampire’s taste for human blood, and,
once again, he did not trust himself near her.

Their sense of each other was ebbing, but Natalie’s dreams continued to be
haunted by events of the past.


“Nick, I remember Valentine’s Day. And Azure. We need to talk.” The phone
message stopped Nick cold. What would he say to her? As he thought for a
moment, he heard the lift start up and knew it was Natalie.

The door opened, Nick looked up and motioned her over to the sofa.
“Nat...I...I,” he tried to start.

“I’ve seen it, Nick. I’ve felt it.” Natalie interrupted. “I know about
Fleur, and why you’ve always tried to protect me. Sit down. This is going to
take some time.”

Nick took her hand in his as they sat on the sofa, facing each other.
Natalie continued, “I love you. I’ve loved you since the first moment I saw
you in the morgue. I should have been afraid, but I wasn’t. There was
something about you I trusted. Over the years I thought I was sharing your

“Ever since the exorcism, you’ve been distant and cold. You act as if I
don’t exist in your life. I feel like an outsider.” Natalie took a deep
breath. “I’ve also sensed that you’ve made the decision to leave. Am I
right?” she asked, hardly daring to look into his eyes for the answer.

“Yes,” he replied softly.

“I see.” She released his hand. “And why exactly are you going?”

“Nat, you know why.” Nick’s voice was sad. “We can’t have the relationship
we want. I’m afraid I’ll hurt you. I could have killed you at Vanderwahl’s!
Look at all the pain I’ve already caused you with my selfish struggle. If I
leave now, you’ll still have your life ahead of you filled with hope and maybe
a family of your own. I’ve brought you nothing but misery, and I won’t allow
it to continue,” he finished.

Natalie stood up and began to pace. “*YOU* won’t allow it to continue!” she
practically screamed. “What about *me*? What about *my* feelings? This is
*my* choice. It’s always been *my* choice. And I have chosen to be with you
in whatever way I can.

“You’re right. You *are* selfish, and I’ve come to believe that you’re also
too comfortable with your suffering. It’s much easier to hide in misery than
it is to live in the light.”

“Nat, you know I can’t do that!” Nick’s voice was stronger.

“Can’t or won’t, Nick?” Natalie’s eyes were on fire now. “I’ve always had
faith in you, believed in you. I’ve believed in the good in you. My God,
Nick, don’t you remember what Max Vanderwahl said to us? ‘For the devil to be
driven out, one must first believe that God has not abandoned the soul. Torn
as he is between good and evil, Nick does have faith.’ Are you calling him a
liar? I saw it, Nick. I saw the demon possess you, and I saw you fight its
desire to kill me. IT WAS YOU, Nick, not the holy water or the crucifix. It
was the good in you that saved my life. Even LaCroix saw it. Why won’t you?”
She stopped, suddenly feeling drained and alone.

Nick’s eyes were focused on the floor. As he looked up at her, he saw the
tears crowd her eyes. “And what about the next time, Natalie? How will I
know it won’t happen again? I can’t risk it; I can’t risk *you*.”

“Then there’s nothing left to say,” Natalie ended. She reached out her hand
to touch him, then dropped it to her side.

She turned in silence, and took the lift to the garage.

Nick stood and surveyed the loft. The symbols of his past and present seemed
to gather as he walked to the refrigerator, uncorked the bottle with his
teeth, spat the cork on the floor and raised the container to his lips. ‘*NO!*
Not this time!’ he thought as he heaved the bottle against the nearest wall.
Eight hundred years of shame and longing converged upon him, as he slowly lost
the feeling in his legs and his body collapsed on the floor.


PART 13/16 See Part 1 for Spoiler/Caveat/Disclaimers

Scene: Toronto, a few days later

As the days strung together, the hurt would not subside. Natalie transferred
to the day shift. It was easier this way. She missed him, but she had
already told him everything that was in her heart. She could not bear the
possibility of having to make small talk. Distance--perhaps that might help.
But first, there was one more thing to do.

Natalie picked up the telephone. “Schank? Hi, it’s Nat,” she began.

“Natalie! How are you?” Don Schanke sounded genuinely concerned.

“Oh, I’ve been well. You?” She hated this.

“Okay.” Schanke replied.

“Listen, I was wondering if Nick’s on tonight?” She tried to make her voice
sound calm.

“Yeah. We both are. We still have the Carter case outstanding.” Schanke
hesitated. “ Look, Nat, do you know if there’s something wrong with Nick?”

“, Schank. I don’t. I haven’t seen him much since I’m on days now.”
She was rationalizing. “Have you asked him?”

“Nooo. I’d rather pet a piranha than ask Nick *anything*, considering the
mood he’s been in. I thought maybe you two...,” Schanke didn’t know how to

“I’ve gotta run. They just wheeled in my next hour’s work.” She wanted to
finish this call. “Okay?”

“Sure, Nat. Should I give Nick a message?” Schank asked.

“No, thanks. I’ll see you,” Natalie concluded.


Natalie entered the security code to the loft and was relieved to discover
Nick had not changed it. She looked around. Was it even more gloomy than
usual or was it just her imagination? She placed a note next to the stereo
and left.


Nick booked off early after exploding at Schanke for losing the autopsy
report on the Carter murder. Schanke had found it in Nick’s center desk

Nick parked the Caddy. As he exited the car, he thought he caught a whiff of
familiar perfume. He flew to the door, opened it and yelled, “Nat, are you
here?” No reply. But he knew she had been there. Then he saw it. A small
white envelope written in her script. On the outside it read, ‘Play the tape.
Then read the note inside.’

Nick saw that there was a cassette in his tape player. He pushed the play
button, and a soft blues melody began to permeate the loft with its melancholy

“Turn down the lights
Turn down the bed
Turn down these voices inside my head
Lay down with me, tell me no lies
Just hold me close, don’t patronize
Don’t patronize me.

Cause I can’t make you love me if you don’t
You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t
Here in the dark, in these final hours
I will lay down my heart and I’ll feel the power
But you won’t, no you won’t
Cause I can’t make you love me, if you don’t

I’ll close my eyes, then I won’t see
The love you don’t feel when you’re holdin’ me
Mornin’ will come and I’ll do what’s right
Just give me till then to give up this fight
And I will give up this fight.

Cause I can’t make you love me if you don’t
You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t
Here in the dark, in these final hours
I will lay down my heart, and I’ll feel the power.
But you won’t, no you won’t
Cause I can’t make you love me if you don’t.”**

The walls of the loft reverberated with the echoes of Bonnie Raitt’s powerful
voice. Blood tears welled in Nick’s eyes as he thought about the words.

“I will lay down my heart, and I’ll feel the power,
but you won’t...
Cause I can’t make you love me if you don’t.”

Natalie’s beautiful face haunted him. He picked up the envelope and opened

Dear Nick:

This song says everything that’s in my heart. Don’t worry, I’m
leaving to take a position in Vancouver. Don’t feel guilty. It’s my
decision, and it’ll be okay. Stay here and continue your quest.
Just know that I love you.


Nick wanted to scream the words, ‘I *do* love you, Natalie. That’s the
reason I’m so afraid.’ But all he heard was silence.

Every life contains at least one defining moment, even lives which have
spanned hundreds of years. As Nick’s consciousness sank into those old
familiar feelings of self-doubt and guilt which had accompanied him on his
eight hundred year journey, he thought again of Natalie. Her belief in him
and her love for him--the man and the beast--pushed into his brain. ‘I must
have faith,’ he prayed. ‘Faith in myself, faith in her, faith in a future for
us both. I cannot face any more darkness.’

If faith is the antidote to doubt, the cure rested in his own hands.

Almost without thinking, he flew through the skylight and towards her
apartment. As he landed outside on the sidewalk, he listened for her
heartbeat. She was inside! He approached her apartment and knocked, but
there was no answer. He tried again, and was rewarded with the sound of her
footsteps. Then he saw her as she opened the door. Her face looked tired;
her entire body looked tired. “Nick, there’s nothing more--” she started to

Nick walked into the living room. He took her hand in his as she stiffened.
“Natalie, you must forgive me. You’re right about almost everything,” he
began slowly, but the words seemed to pick up speed as they tumbled out on
their own volition. “I’ve been hiding from the real quest, and I *have*
become comfortable and complacent in my misery. It’s like an old habit, and
it *is* easier than living in the light. I never allowed myself to think that
a mortal could genuinely share my struggle. I’ve been afraid. Afraid to let
anyone see inside my soul because they might be repulsed. Afraid that if I
found my humanity, my mortality, there would be no other quest in my life.”

He gazed into her eyes, which had begun to moisten. “When you touched me in
the morgue that night, my heart began to beat. I should have known then. The
song is wrong. I *do* love you. And whatever happens in the future, it will
happen to the *two* of us.” He brought her hand to his lips and kissed it
gently, still keeping his focus on her face.

Natalie allowed a sliver of hope to enter her heart.

“Natalie, I have finally found the courage to face my fears. I have enough
faith and love for us both,” he whispered. “There is no other for me, nor has
there ever been. Tell me it’s not too late.”

Natalie’s entire body leaned into his. They kissed deeply and passionately
as dreamy images slowly filled their minds, causing their shared emotions to
be revealed. As their eyes opened cautiously, it was Natalie who spoke first.
“It’s *you!*”

Nick’s face was puzzled for a second. “You sent me your strength!” he

“Nick, I don’t know what’s happening to us, but if we don’t make love soon,
no, NOW, I...I...” Before she could finish, Nick swept her into his arms and
carried her to the bedroom.

“As milady wishes.” He smiled.

Natalie looked up at him with all the love and courage in her soul. “I love
you,” she whispered. “Are you afraid?”

“Only that this dream will end. Someone once told me that all things are
possible in faith and love.” He began to kiss her lips, her eyes, her face.

Their passion built. As their love was finally consummated, they released
themselves to each other. Nick’s body shuddered as the bloodlust rose from
the core of his being, but he concentrated on his link to Natalie. As the
demon raged, he saw only Natalie’s face, loving him and accepting him. He
fought for control. He would *win* this fight.

Natalie gently touched Nick’s face, his lips. “No beast?” she managed to

He waited a moment. “No beast,” he answered. “Just a man totally in love
with a woman.” As he lay beside her, his eyes fixed on hers, she saw the
window into his soul. It was all there, the good and the evil, coexisting,
just as in all of us.

They spent the rest of the night in her bed, loving and laughing and touching
each other before drifting off to sleep in love’s embrace. At mid-day Nick
gently got up, trying not to wake Natalie. He pulled on his jeans and went
into the kitchen to prepare breakfast for her. He returned ten minutes later
with juice and tea.

Natalie had awakened a few minutes earlier and had heard him in the kitchen.
She smiled as he entered the room with the tray. “Tell me I’m not dreaming,

“If you are, I am, too!” he said. “I’m new at this breakfast in bed thing,
so bear with me.”

A look of concern crossed Natalie’s face. “You haven’t fed, Nick. How are
you feeling?” she questioned.

“In love. I don’t think I’m hungry. But that juice looks kind of good.
Mind if I try a little?” he asked.

Natalie could not believe her ears. Nick picked up the glass and raised it
slowly to his lips. He took one small sip and held it in his mouth for ten
seconds before swallowing it. Then he took another. Natalie’s eyes opened
wide. “Nick!!”

Nick looked relieved. “That’s probably it for now. But it wasn’t bad. What
kind of fruit is this again?”

“Orange. It’s orange juice. I just added it to your shopping list!” Nat

“We’d better get into work tonight. I booked off early and you’re...” Nick
began, remembering that Natalie was transferring to Vancouver.

“I’ve got some explaining to do,” Natalie responded quickly. “It’ll be okay.
I’ll come up with something.”

PART 14/16 See Part 1 for Spoiler/Caveat/Disclaimers

Nick showered and returned to the loft to change clothes before reporting for
work. As he walked into the precinct, Schanke swore he heard Nick humming.
“Partner, what’s with you? That couldn’t be a smile on your pathetic excuse
for a face, could it?”

“Hi, Schank!” Nick exclaimed. “How’s Myra? How’s Jenny?”

“Nick, I’m serious! What has happened to you?” Schanke began. “I thought
you’d be even more upset than you were earlier last night. Did you hear that
Natalie is transferring to Vancouver? Something about a sick relative.”
Schanke explored Nick’s face for an explanation.

“Oh, no, I didn’t hear that, Schank. Can’t a guy be in a good mood once in a
while?” He was almost singing now, and Shanke was seriously worried.

“Yeah, a guy can be in a good mood, but not you. Isn’t it against your
religion or something?” Schanke queried.

“That’s a good one!” Nick laughed. “Hey, what was the name of that jeweler
you were telling me about last month? You know, the one that you said did
such a good job repairing Myra’s mother’s ring?”

“You mean Hamilton’s on Deerfield Street?” Don was on a roll now. “Jeweler?
Nick, are you holding out on me? Is there a lady involved? No, scratch that.
Can’t be.” He was practically frenzied.

“It’s nothing, partner. Just repairing a family heirloom. I remember you
said Hamilton’s did a good job,” was Nick’s answer. “We’ve almost wrapped up
the Carter case, haven’t we? Do you mind if I meet you back here in a hour?”

“Sure, Nick, sure,” Shanke schmoozed. “Take all the time you need. The last
time something this weird happened, the world was coming to an end, and I’m
not going anywhere this time.”


Nick parked the Caddy on Deerfield Street in front of the small jewelry shop.
He opened the trunk and took out a long object camouflaged in cloth. The
shopkeeper looked up as Nick entered the door. “May I help you, sir?” he

“I hope so,” Nick replied. “I’d like you to create an engagement ring. It
has to be very special....”


Nick was waiting at the loft when he heard the lift engage. Natalie opened
the door carefully, remembering the way the apartment looked the last time she
was there. “Hi,” she said. “Looks better than before!”

Nick had her in his arms almost before she could finish speaking. “I missed
you,” he said as he kissed her.

Natalie had never felt such warmth from him. Not emotional warmth. Body
heat. “Nick, you’re burning up!”

“I know, Nat. Let’s go upstairs!” he began as he picked her up and started
walking towards the stairs.

At that moment, a cold breeze fell over them, making them both shiver. “Such
a touching scene, Nicholas.” That voice. “I see the good doctor has tried
another ‘cure,’” LaCroix’s voice was like velvet.

In one smooth motion, Nick set Natalie on her feet and positioned her behind
him. Facing his master, he said, “LaCroix, this is not what you think.”

“Our link may be weakened, but I still am your master, Nicholas. You cannot
hide from me,” he began. “Do you remember that evening? Of course you do!
Time to collect my retribution. How much interest do you suppose has accrued
on an 800 year old debt?”

“No, LaCroix,” Nick cried. “If you still demand payment, kill *me.* She is

“No!” Natalie gasped.

“She is hardly innocent, my son.” LaCroix’s anger was mounting. “She has
interfered for the last time. GIVE HER TO ME!” LaCroix raised his hand to
strike Nick, when a misty presence slowly emerged from the shadows.

Almost invisible at first, the mist divided into two figures, taking human
shape over a matter of moments. LaCroix was enraged as he stared at Nick for
an answer. “What trickery is this?”

The two figures were a man and a woman. The man held the woman’s arm
lovingly at his side.

“It is not trickery, Lucien,” the female figure replied.

LaCroix turned to face her. “Fleur, how can this be? You are dead!! You
were lost to me.”

The male figure spoke. It was Nicholas, resplendent in his crusader garb.
“She was lost to you, Lucien, because you wanted to take her into the darkness
with you. But her immortal soul lives on because you loved her enough to let
her stay in the light.”

“Yes, Lucien,” Fleur continued. “I loved you, too. Although I wanted to be
with you, Nicholas would not allow me to be lost to the darkness. He knew my
soul would cry out in pain over the centuries, as his soul has. He was right.
Now I come to beg you. *I beseech* you, Lucien, that if you ever loved me,
release Nicholas from your agreement. He does not want to live with his love
in darkness. He is moving into the light again. It is time for you to let
go,” she finished her plea.

“*NO!* I will not let Nicholas have the love that I could not! You are
nothing but vapors. You have no power here!” LaCroix’s voice was straining.

“What good is he to you, now?” the crusader Nicholas asked. “If you take
Natalie, he will hate you with a force that not even you can imagine. *This*
hate will destroy your bond as easily as his love for her has done. If you
kill him, he returns to his God, where you dare not tread. Either way, he is
lost to you.”

“If I take her, he has an eternity of pain, as I have had for over eight
hundred years and that is only the down payment,” LaCroix barked.

Fleur approached the powerful vampire. Although an apparition, her misty
presence enveloped him, and he heard her say, “This is my love for you,
Lucien. Natalie’s love for my brother is equally strong. I know you love
Nicholas in your own way. Please, let him go to the light.” Her voice was
soft and melodic, like the wind. “Promise me you will allow them to be
together. I always saw the good in you. Let Nicholas see it, too.” As if
the effort drained her entire being, Fleur’s apparition disappeared.

LaCroix, whose eyes had closed, opened them, and blood tears streamed down
his face. He stared at Nick, still standing in front of Natalie. Then his
gaze moved to the crusader knight. “I will give you this lifetime, Nicholas,
but no more. Make of it what you will.” He looked up at the skylight and was

Nick turned to face Natalie. They were alone. All others had vanished.
They looked into each other’s eyes as they shared an emotion foreign to them
both until that moment: hope. He whispered in her ear, “*This* lifetime is
all I need.”


PART 15/16 See Part 1 for Spoiler/Caveat/Disclaimer

The next day Nick awoke with Natalie in his arms. They were in his bed,
beginning their life together. He gently moved her sleeping body and slipped
on his black pajama bottoms.

It was mid-day. As Nick walked towards the landing, he saw that the loft was
bathed in light. Although he had remembered to lower the inside blinds, he
had forgotten to adjust the outer metallic ones. Last night there had been
other matters that had required his attention, he thought, unable to repress a
smile as he descended the stairs.

Natalie’s eyes opened slowly. She reached out her hand to reassure herself
that Nick was lying next to her, but she was alone. Rising quickly, she
hurried to the upper landing, suddenly stopping short and inhaling sharply.
The vision that greeted her changed the reality she had known for the past
three years.

Nick neared the light and slowly placed his hand in the outermost beam. A
little warmth. He then placed his entire body in its path.

Natalie saw the man she loved standing in a beautiful shower of sunlight.
After a moment or two, he moved away.

She ran down to him. “Nick?” she questioned.

“It was all right, Natalie. I can’t tolerate it for very long, but it’s
going to be all right.” His face took on a glow of its own, as he wrapped his
arms around her.


Two nights later, Nick met Natalie at the morgue. They were taking their
dinner break together. They had told no one of the change in their
relationship. Not Schanke. Not Grace. Not Captain Cohen. They had heard
some sly remarks as their co-workers noticed the furtive glances and smiles on
both their faces. But for now, only the two of them knew the truth.

As they walked towards the restaurant, Nick spied a park bench. “Natalie,
can we stop a minute?” he asked.

“Uh huh,” she responded. “Is there something wrong?”

“No,” he started. “Just sit here.” As she sat down, he held her hand and
got to his knee. “Natalie, you know I love you. The fires of eight hundred
years of hell could not keep us apart. Please honor me for the time we have
together in this life. Will you marry me?” With those words, Nick took out a
velvet box and handed it to Natalie. “Open it.”

Natalie stared at the box, then at Nick. “Of course I’ll marry you, Nicholas
Knight. I will love you forever.” She kissed him and opened the box. Inside
was a large garnet set in a ring, surrounded by fifteen perfect diamonds. It
shone blood red and white as it reflected the park lights. “It’s so
beautiful!” exclaimed Natalie. “How...Where?”

“It is the jewel of the sword of Brabant. I have won my battle. I want
*you* to have the prize, as you will always have my heart.”

Nick drew Natalie into his arms and caressed her cheek with his. For several
moments, they simply held each other, as they dreamed about their new life
together. “Nat, will you come home to the loft with me after your shift?”
Nick asked softly. “Let’s not ever be apart--not even one more day.”

Her answer was the smile that began in her heart but quickly enveloped her
entire being.


Schanke had just poured himself a cup of coffee and was returning to his desk
with a fresh donut when Nick and Natalie strolled into the precinct. Taking a
bite, he reached for the Carter file, flecks of powdered sugar falling
unnoticed to his tie. “Hey, Knight,” Schanke mumbled around the sweet
mouthful as the two drew near. “You’re late...again, and Cohen is going to
have our heads.”

Nick and Natalie exchanged amused glances. “Sorry, Schank,” Nick apologized.
“There were, er...extenuating circumstances.” Natalie tried to cover a smile
with one hand, her ring flashing in the artificial light.

She leaned against the edge of Nick’s desk as Schanke blindly pushed a sheaf
of papers in his partner’s general direction. “Well, now that you’re finally
here, you can finish--”

“Don, I need to ask you a favor first,” Nick interrupted, taking the
proffered papers and setting them down on the other man’s desk.

Startled by the use of his first name, Schanke shot the blond detective a
questioning stare. “Nick?”

Lowering his voice and unobtrusively pulling Natalie closer, Nick announced,
“We’d like to ask you to be our best man.”

Schanke dropped the donut into his coffee, spilling the hot liquid all over
his pants. “Nick!!! Natalie!!!” he cried, banging his hand into the phone
in his haste to speed dial Myra.

Nick removed the receiver from his partner’s grasp and replaced it on its
cradle. “Schank, keep it to yourself for now, would you?” he urged in hushed

Before the dark-haired man could reply, Natalie removed herself from Nick’s
light touch. “I don’t know about you guys, but *I’ve* got work to do.
Another day...another duodenum.”

She started walking toward the door, and Nick hurried to catch up with her.
As soon as they were out of earshot, Schanke turned back to the phone and
dialed. “Myra, you’re *not* gonna believe this...”

During the course of the night, Schanke accidentally told Grace, let it slip
during an interview with Captain Cohen and unwittingly mentioned it to the
second biggest gossip in the department. By the time the shift was over,
everyone in the precinct knew of Nick and Natalie’s impending nuptials.

As planned, Natalie headed to the precinct at the end of her shift to catch a
ride home to the loft with Nick. ‘Home’--the concept felt very good.

As she entered the room, forty-four pairs of eyes looked up, and twenty-two
voices stopped speaking. Natalie tried desperately to find Nick whose voice
was the only one still audible. She felt her face flush red with

Captain Amanda Cohen emerged from her office. She motioned for Nick and
Natalie to come to the center of the room. “Natalie, Nick,” she began. “I
understand congratulations are in order!” The room slowly filled with the
applause of their friends and co-workers.
Natalie slipped her hand into Nick’s as she tried to smile, acknowledging the
well-wishers. She turned a questioning glance to Nick. When their eyes met,
they simultaneously mouthed the same word, ‘Schanke!’

As their unexpected moment in the limelight ended, Nick turned his mortified
countenance towards Schanke. Irritated, he headed to his partner’s desk with
Natalie in tow.

Schanke looked up in alarm. “What?!! *I* didn’t tell anyone...well, except
for Nancy over in traffic. And then there was Sullivan in vice. Oh, and
Sanderson in records. But that was it, I *swear,* Nick. I didn’t breathe a
word to *anyone* else.” Nick slowly shook his head in feigned disgust.

“Natalie! Help me out here,” Schanke cried. “You know I was only trying to
help.” He looked to Natalie for understanding. “And, besides, I have a
cousin in the catering business, and you’re going to need a band, and...”

Nick’s forehead gently touched Natalie’s. “Want to elope?” he smiled.

“And spoil all his fun?” Natalie laughed.


PART 16/16 See Part 1 for Spoiler/Caveat/Disclaimer

Two Months Later:

Natalie looked around the room anxiously. Her two best friends were helping
with the last minute details--those that would complete her transformation to
wife and helpmate of the man she loved.

For a moment she hesitated. Was she doing the right thing? Was she ready?
Would they share a life, or create a burden for each other that would grow and
fester until it drove them apart? No! They would share a life of love and
commitment--faith in each other and in the future. Of this Natalie was quite

“Almost time,” interrupted Myra, her maid of honor. “The music has started.
We’re with you, and we love you both.”

Natalie waited while the two women started the processional from the anteroom
to the vestibule. She began her slow and methodical walk to the future which
awaited her.

The room was filled with their dearest friends and co-workers, all smiles
and anticipation. Most had found the early evening ceremony a little unusual,
but perhaps not so unusual for this unconventional couple after all. The
bride and groom explained that a candlelight wedding was exactly what they
wanted, and no one had dared to disagree.

Grace entered first, tall and serene, and seemed to float down the aisle,
lovely in a pale peach gown with a small bouquet of roses. Her smile was
infectious, especially when she looked down to the makeshift altar and saw
Nick waiting nervously.

Myra was next. First she spied her husband, shifting his weight from foot to
foot, whispering incessantly in Nick’s ear. Although smiling, she shot him a
quick, ‘Stand still and don’t embarrass us’ look, eliciting an immediate
response from him. When Don Schanke looked over at his wife, he seemed to see
her for the first time all over again. ‘Through the years she has been a
saint,’ he thought. ‘What have I ever done to deserve her?’ He resolved to
remind her how much she meant to him this night, and all the rest of the
nights they would share.

All eyes turned to Natalie. She waited a second or two before entering the
chapel, drinking in the candlelight and flowers, the fragrance and spirit of
the room. Her gown was simple but elegant, form-fitting satin with a gently
flowing skirt. Over this, she wore a full cape with a hood instead of a veil.
A dressmaker had copied it from a yellowed photograph of her mother’s wedding
ensemble. It gave Natalie the look of a woman from another time, a time of
chivalry and passion.

As she started down the aisle, the candlelight granted a soft glow to her
attire, reminding Nick more of angel than of flesh. He looked at her with
pride and anticipation as his nerves finally began to settle down. How could
it have happened, this impossible love they had discovered together? He knew
it had been a miracle. He had feared his obsession to regain his mortality
would never allow him to love as other men could. Natalie, however, had other
ideas. Her faith in him was constant, never wavering through all their ups
and downs. Finally, they declared their love and need for each other. Their
words entwined, “I love you. I have loved you since we first met. I will
love you always. Now we two will be one.”

In that moment of joy a road had opened before them--the road that would lead
them to the rest of their lives, together in love and in faith. Today was the
formal profession of that faith before their friends and before God. As
Natalie glided to Nick’s side, her eyes were again filled with love for him.
He prayed a silent prayer that he would always deserve her love, and vowed to
return it to her tenfold.

As the minister began the ceremony, the bride and groom barely heard the
words, only the beating of their hearts. And then a moment of silence. “May
this couple, joined together in love and faith, have a future as bright and
full of hope as humanly possible. I now pronounce you husband and wife. You
may kiss the bride.” Nick delicately touched the hood of Natalie’s cape and
slipped it down to her shoulders. Looking at her beautiful face, he kissed
her lips lightly, and then a second time, more deeply.

Turning to face their friends, they clasped hands and began to walk down the
aisle. Nick whispered softly so that only she could hear, “I love you,
Natalie Jean Lambert.”

“I love you, too, Nicholas de Brabant Knight,” Natalie responded, “and I’ll
love you forever.”


“You got everything covered, Schank?” Nick yelled at his partner from the
upstairs landing.

“Relax, Nick. Have I ever let you down?” Schanke answered, then realized
Nick might have a number of different answers for that rhetorical question.

“Don’t *even* go there!” Nick almost growled as he descended the stairs.

“Everything’s okay,” Schanke began. “Grace is taking care of Sidney. Myra
and I are checking the loft for you, and I don’t know how you got Cohen to
give you so much time off, but she’s been humming love songs over the phone
again! A four week honeymoon. You’re going to be begging to come back to
work, partner!”

“Talk to me in a month,” Nick responded, his mind momentarily wandering.
“Remember we’re coming back to Toronto next week before leaving for France.”

“Okay, Okay,” Schanke replied. “Where is it you’re going again?”

“It’s a secret.” Nick lowered his voice. “Now go. And, Schank?” Nick
hesitated. “Thanks for everything!”

Don Schanke’s face had a look filled with curiosity. “I want details when
you return, Knight. Details!” he said as he headed for the door.

Nick looked towards the upper landing and called, “Natalie, we need to get

Natalie appeared with a small suitcase in her hand. She had never looked
more lovely, Nick thought. “I’m ready. Where’s Schank?” she asked.

“Finally gone.” Nick was at her side in a moment. “Let me help you.” He
kissed her on the cheek as he hurried her to the garage.

“I still don’t understand the big mystery,” Natalie’s voice pleaded for
information. “But I trust you...I think!”


Nick guided the Caddy along Route 27 through the mountains and valleys that
were Maine. He looked down at his bride, who was asleep, resting her head on
his shoulder. The emerging dawn seemed to make her stir.

“Are we there, yet?” she mumbled. As her eyes slowly opened, she asked, “And
where *is* there?”

“Almost, love,” Nick smiled as he answered. “Here’s the driveway.” Nick
turned left onto a small, winding gravel drive that meandered through tall
trees before stopping in front of his cabin. Many things had changed since he
had made his last pilgrimage to find peace. Now the peace was inside him.

“Nick, it’s beautiful! And the lake’s right here! Is it yours?” Natalie was
immediately taken with the surroundings.

“It’s *ours.* I have never brought anyone here before. I found it in 1946,
and, since then, it has always symbolized the peace I was seeking. Now that
I’ve finally discovered peace--*we’ve*--finally discovered peace, I had to
share this place with you.

They got out of the car. Nick took Natalie’s hand as they walked to the
door. He stopped momentarily, then picked Natalie up into his arms and
carried her over the threshold. The stone fireplace, rustic furnishings, the
smell of pinewoods. All were just as Nick remembered. Natalie looked at Nick
for a moment. “I can feel the tranquility, Nick. I’m so glad you brought me

At that moment, a distinctive green truck with the insignia of the Maine
Warden Service pulled up next to the Caddy. A uniformed man with salt and
pepper hair jumped out and almost ran towards the front door. “Uncle Nick!”

“Brian!! I’m glad to see you! This is the lady I told you about.” Nick
could hardly get the words out as he gently put Natalie down.

Brian stared at Natalie and back at Nick. “I’m so very pleased to meet you,
Mrs...uh...,” he stammered.

“When Uncle Nick told me he was getting married, I could hardly believe it,”
Brian began. “Now I understand why it took him so long. I wish Brenda and I
could have been there for the wedding, but our first grandchild just arrived
last week, and we were needed here.” Brian looked at Nick. “Congratulations!
I’d better leave you two alone, now. I was just on my way up to Jim Pond.
Call me at home if you need anything!” He turned and left.

“Ah, ‘Uncle’ Nick?” Natalie turned her eyes to her husband.

“It’s a long story,” Nick sighed.

“I have a lifetime...,” Natalie answered.

During the day, they explored the cabin and its surroundings. They walked
hand-in-hand through the woods and on the trails Nick had haunted so many
years before. After a quick dinner of eggs, toast and plenty of orange juice
for Nick, they retired to the bedroom. As Nick joined his wife, he asked,
“Nat, now that I am beginning to tolerate the sun a little longer every day,
what do you think about storing the Caddy and getting a sports car. Maybe a
Lamborghini Testa Rosa--red?”

Natalie let out a long breath. “I can see the headlines now, ‘Metro Cop on
Take--Film at 11.’” She sighed, “Little boys and their toys.” Her face
suddenly took on a serious look. Nick noticed it immediately. “Actually,
Nick, maybe this is a good time to...” her voice faltered.

Nick sat straight up, willing her into his embrace. “What it is, Nat? Is
something wrong?”

Natalie considered her husband for a moment, then looked straight into his
eyes. “No, I’m fine, but...maybe we’d better make that a Volvo wagon. We’re
going to have a baby.” She hesitated. “With all the plans and activities, I
couldn’t find a way to tell you until now. We never talked about children,
but I guess this is one more proof that you are *indeed* becoming very mortal

Nick was caught completely off guard. He held her close in his arms, rocking
her gently. “I...I...can’t believe it, Nat. Are you sure? What am I saying,
of course, you’re sure, you’re a doctor....” He was rambling and happy and
surprised and overwhelmed.

“I went to see my doctor last week,” Natalie smiled. “And, yes, I’m sure.”
She gazed deeply into his eyes, looking for affirmation. “Nick, I need to
know that this is what *you* want, too.”

“Natalie, I never dreamed about having children before I met you. I admit
I started to hope it might happen, but...” his voice was breaking. “I love
you, and I love our child.”

They kissed passionately, enjoying the love they had for each other. Later,
as they dreamed, still nestled in each other’s embrace, a ghostly vapor
appeared in the room. The figure floated close to the bed. It was the
crusader knight whose smile cast a warm glow over the scene. As his misty
arms touched the couple, the vision disintegrated into a thousand specks of
light, cascading over the sleeping pair. A faint whisper stirred the air.
“Welcome home, brother. Welcome home.”


[**I Can’t Make You Love Me, If You Don’t, copyright 1991 by Almo Music
Corp./Brio Blues Music/Hayes Street Music, Inc. (ASCAP), words and music by M.
Reid and A. Shamblin. This song, performed by Bonnie Raitt, appears on her
Luck of the Draw and Road Tested albums.]

This is my first story. Be kind.