Another Father, Another Son
by JuBee


Nick paced around his loft waiting for Nat. He had called her, asking for
some company and moral support. The hardest part of truly being immortal was
the agony of seeing loved ones die. Nick was quite aware on today, of all
days, that the pain still gnawed at him, even after one year still.

It was the anniversary of Schanke's death. The day Nick watched the plane
burn into flames in the air, taking his long time partner and captain
crashing down with it. Tracy was a good enough partner-a top-notch
detective, and he liked her...but no one could ever replace or recreate the
good-natured rapport Nick and Schanke had. Schanke made him feel-human.
He had no idea what Nick was (LaCroix had certainly made sure of that),
only that they were partners and friends.

He had long past accepted that Schank was gone, and the guilt of it all, with
Natalie's pleading, had subsided somewhat. But, how many other deaths, well
before their time, and just as tragic, had he witnessed? Had he caused?

"Hey, a penny for your thoughts?" Nat walked over to Nick, and placed a
reassuring hand on his shoulder. "Or..in your case, I'll make it a freebie.
Just this once, buster. Don't think I'm gonna make it a habit."

"Hmm...Just thinking." Nick gave Nat a smile. He sat down.

Natalie took a seat next to him on the couch. "I know this is hard for you.
It's hard for me too. I still expect him sometimes, to saunter into the
morgue and greet me with his usual "Hiya Nat. So whatcha been doin'?"

She suddenly eyed Nick suspiciously. "Uh oh, I hope you're not going to..."

"No," he cut in. "I'm past the guilt...kinda."

"Come on," she said softly. "The sun will be up in a few hours and I think we

should pick up some flowers.

They both rose from the couch and walked out, arm in arm.

*******************

"Hey Schank." Nick set down the flowers and kneeled in front of the
headstone. Nat kneeled down next to him.

"I'm sorry-I should have come more often, but..." Nick stopped. He'd had too
much of making excuses, lying to the ones he loved. Would it ever stop? If
Schanke knew, maybe Nick wouldn't be here right now. They would be at the
station, arguing over whose turn it was to do the paperwork, or face Captain
Cohen.

"Nick?" Nick gave Nat a small smile. "I'm okay," he said reassuringly.

"I'll be over there if you need me." Natalie pointed to an oak tree a little
way off from their location. She grasped his hand and gave it a tight squeeze.
Natalie walked away, to give the two former partners some buddy to buddy time
together. She had an idea of what Nick needed to get off his chest.

"Schank- there's something I should have told you, a long time ago. I'm sorry
that I didn't. You trusted me, treated me like a pal, a partner." Nick
sighed."You don't know how much that meant to me."

Nick took a deep breath. "Remember all my odd mannerisms? The allergic
condition to the sun? Why you never saw me eat? The blood in the fridge?
Well-the truth is...they were more than strange quirks. Schank-I am a
vampire."

Nick laughed. "I can imagine what you would be saying now. It would be 'get
outta here Knight. Go home and get some sleep!' But, I'm telling you the
truth- something I should have done a long time ago.

He exhaled deeply. Nick felt better.

"How quaint."

Nick spun around, as LaCroix emerged from the shadows. The master vampire
clapped his hands. "Marvelous performance Nicholas. I was most impressed.
Baring your soul, sharing the ultimate confession. A shame. It's a bit late
for that, isn't it?"

"Why must you always interfere? Can't you grant Nick a single moment's
peace-to remember a friend?" Nat had seen LaCroix approach Nick, and quickly
rushed towards Schanke's gravesite. She glared at the elder vampire, willing
her heart to slow down.

LaCroix stared straight into her eyes. "Dr. Lambert, as much as you would
like to believe, Nicholas is NOT mortal. To grieve is dangerous. Our kind must
live through an eternity of watching lives come and go, mortals born and
dying. Life is cruel, my dear doctor, and vampires must not allow death to infect
us."

"LaCroix, you are forgetting. We are death." Nick cut in.

"Ah-but you are wrong Nicholas. Have you forgotten your past already?
Somtimes-we are life."

With that, he was gone.

"You saw him? How'd he take it?"

LaCroix fixed his stare upon his fledgling. "Yes, I saw Nicholas. No. I did
not
tell him."

Schanke paced the room. "Boy, oh boy. I knew it was a bad idea to keep
this from him. "

Dressed in his favorite Hawaiian shirt, with a bright purple blazer on,
Schanke, the vampire, was very much like Schanke, metro homicide detective.
LaCroix had hoped to mold Schanke into a replacement for his Nicholas-the one
person, other than that bothersome Doctor Lambert, he could hold over his
son's head.

A prize. A reward. That he, the true vampire, could do what neither Nick
nor his mortal lover could not. Breathe life back into another. He had hoped
to use Schanke as a bait before Nicholas, a plea for him to give up his
incessant and rather irritating quest to regain his mortality.

"Was I wrong?" LaCroix muttered to himself, as he watched Schanke hum
"I Dream of Jeannie to himself, while doing a little dance.

"Whatcha say LC? I didn't catch it."

LaCroix sighed. "Nothing."

How did he manage to tolerate living with this man for a whole year? LaCroix
could think of no better place than The Raven for Schanke to hide out. After
all, Nicholas would never suspect, and mingled with the smell of the other
vampire inhabitants, it was impossible to recognize Schanke's scent.
Although,
with that dreadful aftershave, LaCroix figured that it was quite possible
that
the whole entire community knew when Schank the Skunk was headed in their
direction.

"LC? LC!" Schanke whined.

"What is it? Stop this childish behavior at once!" LaCroix demanded.

"I say we go out-have some fun on the town. You and me. Just us hombres."
Schank looked at him hopefully. "Well? Whattya say?"

"I have no patience to entertain such foolish thoughts." LaCroix informed
him.

"Have you given any thought to the idea that perhaps you should see
Nicholas now and tell him the truth?" LaCroix would do anything at this point

to rid himself of this pest at his backside.

"Nah-I'll tell him tomorrow. Hey, we got eternity, don't we?" Schanke
grinned, pulling out a deck of cards. "How about it LC? You and me? A little poker?
I bet you learned some pretty nifty tricks over the years."

"I..." the master vampire pushed the cards disdainfully away, "...do not play
poker."

Schanke stared at him, wide-eyed. "What? You're kidding me."

"If you must know...I've never learned. No one ever taught me."

Suddenly, LaCroix was yanked to the table. "Come on LC. I'll teach ya."

Schanke began shuffling the deck. "You have the privilege of learning from
Mr. Card Shark himself. I'll go easy on you this time, but only cause you're
a beginner."

LaCroix sighed to himself. He had to tell Nicholas. Now.

***************************

"What do you suppose he meant by..."

"Nick, LaCroix wants you to go to him, to fall back under his hand.
My advice is, for you to disappear for some little R & R. You definitely need
it!" Nat watched as Nick anxiously opened the fridge and downed a bottle of
cow's blood.

"And where would I go? In case you haven't noticed, I'm not
exactly beach bum material."

"Well...I have some time off, which I was planning to use to visit my friend
down in New York..." Natalie looked at him hopefully. "WE could...that is,
you and I...ahem... well, I think it would be great if.."

"I'd love to come with you," Nick finished for her. "WE could have some
time to ourselves." Nat grinned. "Exactly what I've been thinking. No
distractions, no work. No blame, no guilt, and best of all-no LaCroix! Just
you and me."

Nick embraced her. "Just you and me."

"Where is Nicholas? Damn him!" LaCroix looked around the loft. He
had barely managed to escape the clutches of Card Shark Don.

The loft was silent and still. No sign of Nicholas anywhere. LaCroix
went over to the refrigerator and opened it. One bottle. Either Nicholas was
trying to starve himself again, for that wretched mortality he seeked,
or...he
had drunk himself into a stupor the night before, and hadn't bothered to
replenish the supply. LaCroix smiled at this last thought.

He searched the loft for some sign, any sign that would tell him
where that troublesome son of his was. Frustration led him back to the fridge
and to Nick's last bottle; he downed the contents in one gulp.

LaCroix gagged, then spit out the contents on the kitchen floor. Wine!
Nicholas would certainly never leave the fridge empty of blood, even if
it was cow's blood-unless he didn't plan on returning for awhile. He was
stubborn yes, but not suicidal.

"Whoa LC. Little accident?" In a whirl of air, Schanke had appeared.
He held a bottle in his hand.

"I thought...I told you...to STAY PUT!!!!!" LaCroix spat out, through his
clenched teeth. He glared at Schanke.

"I wanted to come see Nick. It's about time I told him the truth."

"Like he told you? He neglected to mention his...special nature to you,
if you haven't forgotten. It was I who brought it to your attention in the
first place."

"He was just trying to protect me. I wouldn't have believed him anyway,"
Schanke said, defending Nick. "Would you lay off of him? Nick's a good
person. He certainly doesn't need the likes of you around him."

LaCroix stared furiously at the younger vampire. "I could...break you in a
thousand pieces with my bare hands." He told Schanke. "That is exactly
what is wrong with Nicholas. This mortality...this guilt, will be his
undoing.
I have a duty to protect him from his own self-destruction."

He sighed. "I don't expect you to understand."

Schanke looked at the elder vampire. "Look. I don't want to be a vampire
either, but if it's the only way I can survive, then so be it. I can't kill.
I can't be
the creature of the night you want me to be. Neither can Nick. I know that he

killed in the past. But he hasn't done so for a hundred years, didn't you
say?
I know that I'm...far from what you hoped, but you can't change who we are,
or bring us back to what we were."

The two looked at each other silently for awhile, pondering over their
conversation. This was the first time, in LaCroix's opinion, that Schanke had

ever said something worth listening to.

"I'm afraid...Don...that we will be here until the sun goes down, unless
we leave now." This was the first time the master vampire had ever used
his first name. "Fine L...LaCroix. But, shouldn't we clean up the puddle on
the kitchen floor?"

LaCroix looked at the wine on the floor and smiled.

"May I?" He asked, eyeing the bottle and avoiding the question. Schanke
offered the bottle. "Bottles up" He said.

LaCroix drank the rest of the contents of the bottle, letting it fill the
emptiness he felt without his Nicholas. The fledgling had a point, he hated
to
admit. He sensed Nick pulling even further and further away from him. Not
needing him.

"Shall we?" LaCroix asked. "But we didn't..." Schanke said, looking at
the
floor. LaCroix was already gone. With a sigh, Schanke eagerly took up after
him.

***********************

Urs had just finished her dance, to a cheering round of applause. She sat
down and asked the bartender for a "drink".

"Nice job out there," came a voice from behind. Javier Vachon sat down
next to her, and ordered a glass for himself too.

He noticed the glum look on Urs's face. "What's wrong Urs?" He asked,
concern written all over his face. Then a thought came to him. "It's LaCroix,

isn't it?"

"He just doesn't seem to have enough time for me anymore. He's either
too preoccupied with Nick, or too in too foul of a mood because of his new
fledgling." Urs complained. "Here I am, busting my butt for him, doing him a
favor by dancing here at this club. What do I get? 'Can't it wait Ursula?' he
says."

Vachon thought for a minute. "Hmm...LaCroix has been pretty busy lately."
He punched her shoulder lightly. "I wouldn't worry about it though. Besides,
we
got all the time in the world, right?" He laughed at his own joke. Urs rolled
her
eyes at him.

"Hey bartender, hit me." Schanke sat down and ordered the special of
the house. As soon as the glass was set before him, he swallowed in down,
savoring each taste. "mmm...man oh man, is this good stuff. LC doesn't lie
when he says he serves only the best."

Urs and Vachon looked at him. "That," Vachon whispered. "Is LaCroix's
new fledgling."

"Him?" Urs whispered back. "Why?"

Vachon shrugged. "I don't know, but I would guess it had something to
do with..."

"...Nick" Urs chimed in. "It always does."

Schanke looked at the female vampire with interest. He had seen her
before, but never approached her. Myra was the love of his life, but...she
discovered that she and his daughter had died in a horrible fire. If only
Schanke had known...

But that was his past. As he had just told LaCroix, you couldn't force
someone to be who they once were. Right now, he had a hell of a lot of
years ahead of him, and he certainly wouldn't mind getting to know the
blond haired female. No. Not at all.

"Ahem...could I buy you a drink?" Schanke asked, cutting in on Urs
and Vachon's conversation. "Thanks, I'm set." She said.

Schanke tried again. "Well...what's a pretty lady like you doing in a
place..."

"I've heard every line in the book." Urs replied, without humor. "I was just

talking about something very important with my frie..."

"Yeah, anyway, you know what? I keep on telling LC that we need to
get some fresh faces around here. You know, maximize on business.
Increase advertising."

"LC???" Vachon and Urs looked at each other.

"Yeah, my buddy over there. LaCroix." Schanke pointed in the direction
of the sound booth, and waved. LaCroix merely glared back. Urs cleared her
throat.

"So...doesn't he mind that you call him um..LC?" she asked.

"I don't know. It suits him though, don't ya think?"

Urs and Vachon exchanged looks again.

"Hey, look buddy, don't you have somewhere else to be? Somewhere else
to go? People to see?" Schanke asked Vachon.

Vachon looked at Urs for confirmation. She nodded.

"Yeah, actually I do. See you around...umm.."

"Schanke. Don Schanke." He put out his hand.

"Yeah, later."

Vachon bent down and whispered to Urs, "Call if you need me."

Urs smiled. "I think I could handle him."

Schanke eagerly began trying to charm his new companion, alone finally.
"Hmm...tell me Schanke..."

"Don. Call me Don."

"So tell me Don, how much time do you spend with...LC?"

"Oh, it depends. Sometimes, a lot. But he sure does have a temper." Schanke
remarked.

"Tell me about it," Urs muttered. She smiled brightly. "Say Don, how about
you
ask me for a dance?"

"A dance??? Sure!!!" Schanke leapt out of his chair, as Urs pulled his hand
to the dance floor. She looked over at LaCroix's booth to make sure he could
see them.

She began to dance provocatively around Schanke, while he stood still in
amazement. "Hold me," she whispered. He held out his arms, and she fell
into them, dancing slowly, as they swayed to the music.

The effect worked. She saw LaCroix glaring at them, ready to rise out
of his chair. Any second now, Urs anticipated.

But then, LaCroix simply smiled, and sat down. She felt disappointment
wash over her just as satisfaction quickly disappeared.

"I'm tired now. I don't want to dance anymore." She told him, leaving the
floor. Schanke followed after her like a lost puppy. "Okay, so what do you
want to do now? Talk? Let's talk. Tell me about yourself..."

"Look Don. You seem like a very nice person, but I'm just not interested.
I already...have someone...I think."

"That guy who was with you before?" Schanke asked. "

"No." Urs got up and left. "Thanks for the dance. See you around."

"Yeah...see you around." Schanke repeated her sentiment.

"Just what do you think you were doing tonight?" LaCroix asked.

"What?" Schanke replied innocently. "I have no clue what you're
talking about LC."

"You are supposed to remain as inconspicuous as possible. If you
haven't forgotten, it is unbeknownst to Nicholas that you are alive,
and more over- a vampire. It would be advisible for you not to consort
with the patrons of the club."

"All I did was talk to these two other vampires. Boy, LC, you sure know
how to pick 'em. Blondie...she's quite a find!"

"You will not...talk to Ursula again." LaCroix warned.

"Ursula? Was that her name? I don't think I bothered to ask her. LC- I think
I'm in love! Tell me, how well do you know her?"

LaCroix thought for a minute, trying to keep his anger in check.

"Listen to me, you fool, Ursula is not available for your affections. I would

suggest looking elsewhere for companionship."

Obviously, Schanke had hit a nerve. Again. This woman, Ursula, meant
something to the master vampire, even though it was unlikely LaCroix would
admit it.

"I danced with her tonight. It was just a dance. Geez, calm down." Schanke
saw a flash of jealously in LaCroix's eyes, to his amazement.

Schanke hit him on the shoulder playfully. "I say, go for it."

"I beg your pardon?"

"You know what I mean." Schanke had a twinkle in his eye.

"Would you care to explain yourself?"

"No. I'm turning in." With a huge yawn, Schanke turned his back on a
baffled LaCroix and headed towards his room.

*********************

Ursula entered the club the next night, rushing through the crowd of people
already lining up at the door. Once inside, she nodded at a few of the
regulars and smiled at some. The smile at her lips died when she passed
LaCroix.

"Is there a problem Ursula?" He asked pleasantly, standing in front of her
path.

"No. No problem." She said curtly, trying to brush past him.

He grabbed her arm.

"Let...me...GO!" Urs ordered, through clenched teeth. She flinched at his
tight
grasp.

"We should talk." LaCroix said. As he saw the fury in her eyes... and the
hurt, he added, "Please."

They went into the soundbooth.

Urs faced him, arms crossed. "What is it? Have you finally decided that you
have time to spare on me? Please forgive me if I don't feel honored."

His mouth was set in a straight grim line. "You feel...neglected."

"Yeah, you can say that."

LaCroix sighed. "I know lately, that I've been rather, shall we
say...preoccupied.
Though some may think so, it is not beneath me to admit when I have been
wrong, or to offer apologies to whom they are deemed necessary."

Urs stared at him curiously. She remained silent, waiting for him to
continue.

"I know you are angry. Furious. Outraged, and rightly so." LaCroix sighed.
"Unfortunately, my son's foolish insistence at playing out his mortal game
has been a rather increasingly painful thorn in my side."

"Why must it concern you, what Nick wants to do? You must control everything
around you, especially him. He's not your puppet LaCroix, and neither am I.
I can't come to you when you feel it appropiate to have me. I won't."

LaCroix stared at her. "I never tried to control you Ursula." He laughed. "I
don't
think I would succeed, even if I did try. After 800 years with Nicholas, I
know
that it is impossible to mold my son into what I want him to be, but...as a
father..."

"...you can't help it," Urs finished. "Actually, I can't blame Nick for
wanting
to be mortal again, or hating you for making him into what we are. For the
longest time, I felt nothing but bitterness and grief over my condition. I
could
have killed Javier if I had the strength to. Although I've accepted,
somewhat,
who I am and what I am, I can't stop hoping that maybe Nick will find that
cure...and share it with the rest of the community."

LaCroix shook his head, remembering Schanke's words as well as Nick's.
"There must be something in the blood. Contaminants perhaps-are there
no more vampires who relish in their nature, rather than regret it? I, for
one, if
given a chance again, would still choose immortality over an existence
ending
in the cold earth."

Urs had a smile on her face. It broke into a huge grin.

"Does something amuse you?????" He asked defensively.

"I think this is the longest conversation we've had for a long long time."
She
said.

"Urs, you have no idea what worries have befallen me lately. Janette's
state as a human, only to be taken from me a second time and made a
vampire again under my son... my son's incessant troubles, including that
meddlesome doctor of his, and now...my newest son, do you have any ide...."

Urs cut LaCroix off with a deep kiss.

He responded back, softly, while he enveloped Urs in his arms.

"LaCroix?" Urs murmered against his lips.

"Hmmm...?"

"You still haven't said the words I'm sorry yet..."


Schanke tiptoed away from where he had been standing-next to
the soundbooth, and looked through the window one last time. He smiled
as he saw LaCroix and Urs in an embrace. Myra would have been proud.


"Nat! This is fabulous!" Nick exclaimed, breathing in the cold crisp air
of the night.

"Don’t breathe too hard Nick, "Natalie warned. "I don’t know if vampires
are immune to smog or not, but I don’t want to take the chance!"

Nick squeezed her hand. "Nah, you worry too much."

"Now, I’m as wild as the next guy, but…Central Park at midnight?"

"What? Are you saying…that you don’t trust me!!?" he said with
mock indignation.

"Well…" Nat paused.

"I think…" he whispered in her ear, "That if there’s anything for
you to be afraid of, it should be me." Her eyes widened in surprise.

"I’ve been told, I have…the lethal touch!" Nick extended his hands,
wriggling them threateningly.

"Nick!" Nat exclaimed in a warning tone. "You better not!"

"Oh? And what will stop me?"

He began tickling her, as she ran away laughing. She began to
run faster and faster, letting the wind blow on her face, which was
beaming with excitement and happiness. Nick, with vampiric speed,
caught up to her as she neared one of the park’s many exits.

"What’s the rush. Ms. Lambert? Another date tonight?" Nick asked,
as he stood in front of her.

"Careful, Mr. Knight. I’ll have you know that my boyfriend is waiting
around the corner, and he’ll snap you like a twig in an instant."

"Is that so?" Nick asked, his eyes sparkling. "Let’s go meet him then!"

He grabbed her hand and led her out of the park. Natalie, quite
bewildered, protested. "Nick? Where are you taking me???? Nick??
I was just kidding, you know….you would think that after 800 years…"

As they rounded the corner, she gasped. Slowly, she allowed herself
to breathe again. "Nick?"

"Ms. Lambert, if this is your idea of my replacement, I’m quite insulted!"

All Natalie could do was stare. There, the most beautiful horse she had
ever seen, was waiting peacefully. Attached to the horse was a carriage.

"You didn’t think that I would let us leave New York without at least
one ride in a horse-drawn carriage, would you?"

Nat threw her arms around him, as he smiled. "Nick! I’ve always wanted to..."

"Well then, what are we waiting for?" He helped Natalie onto the seat,
as he whispered to the driver before climbing in.

"Shall we?" He asked her.

She answered back with a kiss, before settling her head on his shoulder.

He looked down at the woman who had captured his heart, and pushed
away the feeling of uneasiness that had come over him just a second ago.

********************

"So…LC….should I make myself absent for an undetermined period of
time?"

"Try eternity," LaCroix muttered.

"Hey! You should be thanking me."

"Is that so? And for what? Please do tell."

"For getting you and Urs back together."

"My affairs are of no concern of yours," LaCroix warned.

Schanke put up his hands in mock surrender. "Okay, okay, none of
my business, I know." But Schanke was still beaming.

"Detective, what are you smiling at?"

Schanke shrugged nonchalantly. "Oh, nothing." A serious expression
crossed the fledgling’s face. "Say, LaCroix, may I ask you a question?"

"You’re asking me if you could ask a question? I must have overfed."

"We’ve known each other for a pretty long time, right?" Schanke didn’t
wait for an answer. "I know that in vampire years, it counts as much as
a second, but…well, this is a question that’s…rather personal."

LaCroix sighed. "If you must, continue."

"Why did you decide bring Nick across? I know this sounds like it’s
coming out of the blue, but…I know you brought me across for him, or at
least it had something to do with him. I’m just curious."

"Curiosity has killed many a soul." The master vampire pointed out.

"Too late," Schank bit back.

LaCroix smiled in appreciation. "There was something in Nicholas—an
essence that captivated me. Enticed me. Thrilled me. Call it a soul, call it
a light in him…but I sensed that this knight," He paused, "That this
Nicholas deBrabant was quite different from anyone else I have known,
or will know for that matter. Quite simply, I wanted to make him mine."

He continued, much to Schanke’s surprise. "Nicholas is my child. I’m not
talking in terms of the mortal sense of the word, but I still consider him
mine. I made him. I created him. But, to explain this in simpler terms, he
and I, like a parent to his son, have progressed through many stages of
our relationship."

"Initially, Nicholas was the perfect son. He followed my example, far
surpassing my greatest expectations of what I had hoped for him to be.
We killed, without shame, without remorse. We delighted in the hunt,
we took comfort in each other. But his greatest flaw was that he never
quite knew how to let go of the mortal world. This, I am determined, will
be his downfall shall he continue to believe he can actually belong to the
impossible."

Schanke listened with rapt attentiveness. LaCroix had never been so
open with him before, and he couldn’t help but wonder what made him
so talkative about it now.

"After following me so wholeheartedly for many many years, Nicholas
entered, what, shall we say, is considered to be the present day
"teenage" years. Rebellious, stubborn, reluctant to accept my teachings
or my beliefs, my values, my rules, my way of life. Longing for the
unattainable, renouncing his nature, and in turn, my GIFT. And now…
this fascination with mortality has led him to replace me, his teacher
and father, with the concerns of another. His mortal lover."

"Natalie!" Schanke exclaimed, remembering the medical examiner
fondly. "I always suspected something was goin’ on between them two."

"More than you know," LaCroix said wryly. "Nick has decide that they are
ahem…true loves, so to speak."

"And what? You don’t believe in the concept of true love? Come on,
haven’t you had that one great passion, beyond all others? That one,
which was just meant to be?"

LaCroix’s face turned to stone. "Love makes us vulnerable Detective.
Love is fleeting. Love makes us fools. Love kills us. Remember that."

With that, LaCroix walked away, pushing memories of Fleur away from his
heart.

***********************

"Vetter! Price!" Reese bellowed from his office.

"Oh no," Tracy muttered. "What happened now?"

Harvey Price sauntered over to Tracy’s desk. "Tsk tsk…always getting
yourself into trouble. I’ve always said, women don’t belong on the police
force."

"I remember hearing Reese screaming for you too," she snapped.
How she loathed this pompous son of a b*****, and boy, did she miss Nick!

"Captain, you called…err..screamed?" asked Tracy.

"Would you mind telling me why the paperwork on the Smith case hasn’t
been handed in yet? I expected it to be on my desk at 6 PM SHARP."
Reese pointed at the clock. "IT"S NOT SIX PM ANYMORE!!!!!!!" He shouted.

"I’m sorry Captain," Price interrupted. "I had no idea." He smiled at
Tracy innocently. "I thought Tracy was going to take care of it, since she
seems to know the ropes better than I do."

"Me?!!!" Tracy yelped. "But you told me…"

"Enough!" Reese barked. "I run a station, not a pre-school. Vetter—Nick
always saved your butt; you got used to the comfort of having someone
to depend on. Now…" Tracy tried to interrupt. "NOW….it’s time for you
to do the same for your partner, even if it’s only for a week."

That bastard. "Don’t worry, lemme take care of it." He had said. "Don’t
you trust me?" He questioned imploringly, when she had objected. Finally,
after a very convincing performance, Tracy, against her better judgment,
decided to let him take care of the case. No use explaining that to the
Captain now. She didn’t want him to think she was being childish about it,
using her position as the PC’s daughter to get her own way.

Tracy bit back her anger, and through clenched teeth, she managed a "Sorry
Captain, it won’t happen again."

Price smiled at her smugly.

Tracy wanted to kill him.


********************


Meanwhile, in New York City….

Nick and Nat sat back, enjoying the passing sites of New York City.
They passed by the stately houses on Central Park West, and Natalie
wondered, with the fortune Nick must’ve acquired over the years, what
he planned to do with it if…No, she would not let herself hope for too
much. This moment was enough, as she settled into his arms and
enjoyed the ride. She put the image of herself in a wedding gown to
the back of her head.

"Nick," she murmered.

"Hmm…?" he said, against her hair.

"Millionaire, billionaire or not, horse drawn carriages don’t come cheap.
I’m surprised the driver agreed to let us stay on for so long!"

"Well, remember how I was whispering to the driver before? I told him
it would definitely be worth his while to keep on going until I gave him
the word to stop! Besides, I think this calls for a little splurging, don’t
you think?"

Nick beamed at her with happiness.

"Nick, we’ve been here for almost six hours!" she exclaimed, glancing
at her watch.

"Have we? I hadn’t noticed. There’s been only one thing I’ve been
paying attention to."

He looked at her with adoring eyes. His love for her was so strong, so
powerful, and Natalie could only hope that Nick knew she returned
every ounce of that feeling.

He kissed her softly. He understood.

They were so in sync with one another, and with their emotions, that
their communication was a silent one. A one expressed through gazes
and touches, minds and hearts. During the entire ride, Nick and Nat
had more or less remained quiet, saying few words to each other,
though Nat knew that this was different from the old days, where he
would shut her out. No words were needed.

"I don’t want to be the spoilsport, but it’s almost dawn," she pointed out.

He groaned. "Already????" With reluctance, and a final upturned look
towards the sky, hoping for a miracle—that the sun would be postponed,
he sighed, and signaled the driver to stop.

"Thank you Sir." He paid the driver handsomely.

"That’s two weeks of your paycheck Nick," Nat said wryly.

He picked her up, and carried her out of the carriage, as she laughed and
cried, "Put me down!!!!"

He kissed her and whispered devilishly, "Well, I could’ve hypnotized him,
but I thought you’d might object!"

She linked her arm with his. "Come on."

"Where are we going?" Nick asked. "Your friend’s apartment is that way."

"I know," she replied. "But your hotel is THAT way."

With her own devilish grin, she led him down the street.


*******************************************

Nick suddenly stopped dead in his tracks.

"Nick?" Nat grew concerned when he didn’t respond.

"Nick?" she repeated, touching his cheek.

"Someone’s watching us," he said gravely.

"LaCroix?" she asked, anger rising in her chest.

"No. Someone else."

"Vampire?"

"Yes."

He led her to an alleyway. "Natalie, don’t be afraid," he said, as he
gazed into her eyes. They radiated with trust, though Nick noted a
hint of fear. "I won’t let anything happen to you."

With one quick movement, he took to the air with Nat in his arms.

"Wait! If our follower is one of you, then wouldn’t he or she simply be
able to follow us?"

"He/she could," he said, "But then, I would know who it is. Nat,
someone’s playing a game with me. I sensed him [or her, he added]
before."

"Before????!!!!!" Nat cried. "Why didn’t you say something?"

"I…I wasn’t sure. I didn’t want to worry you."

He landed in another alleyway, right by her girlfriend’s apartment,
and put her down gently.

Nick kissed her. "Please don’t worry Nat. I need you to be safe.
Promise me you’ll go straight inside, and get a cross and a stake
right beside you."

Her entire body was shaking. "Nick, you keep on telling me ‘not to
worry, not to afraid’, but how can I not worry? I’m not going anywhere.
I have to be with you."

"Natalie," he said soothingly and gently, as he caressed her face. "I
promise you, you’ll have me back in one piece by tomorrow night. You
can’t get rid of me that easily!"

With that, he embraced the sky, flying off to God knows where—
someplace where Nat could only guess of his safety.

"Be careful Nick," she whispered, her eyes brimming with tears.
The dawn was just about breaking, beyond the Manhattan skyline.


*********************

She watched with piqued interest at the two lovers embracing, before
he left for the sky. Foolish boy! He was quite weak, for having not even
noticed she was there.

The girl was mortal. Mortal like she once was. "Ah Nicholas," she said
softly, as she decided to make her next move.


Nick landed. He knew someone was calling him.
Where was he? The sign said Battery Park City...
When he heard the faint footsteps and hearbeats of commuters,
he wandered away from the 4-5-6 Bowling Green Station, further
into the park.

He looked towards the sky; dawn would be here, and if Nick didn't
find him or her soon, he knew that he would be in serious trouble.

"It's been a long time, hasn't it?" She glared at him. "Why have you
been following me?"

"Me?!! Following you?!!! No, I think you're mistaken. I agreed to leave
things alone...to leave you alone. I promised that."

"Then please, do tell me, what are you doing in New York City?"

"Janette," Nick sighed. "The sun is coming up. As much as I've always
adored talking to you, couldn't we continue this conversation
somewhere else?"

She pointed towards the building not too far from the park.
The Whitehall Ferry terminal.

Janette started walking. Nick realized that she wasn't the one
whom he'd been searching for.

"Well, are you coming? Or shall I return later on to spread
your ashes to the wind? I'd hate to be the one to break the news
to your dear Natalie."

Nick followed.

*****************************

LaCroix and Schanke landed in the medical examiner's office.
The elder vampire looked around. Just as he figured.
No Nick. No Natalie.

"Excuse me gentlemen, but this is an authorized area. I'll have
to ask you to leav..." She gasped when she saw Schanke.
"You....you're DEAD!!!!!!"

"Hi to you too Grace." He said wryly.

"But...but how could this be???? Nat...Nick...they ID'd your body!!!!!"

"Um...people make mistakes? I have no clue Grace..." Schanke
struggled to find the words, as LaCroix, the silent spectator, watched,
quite amused.

She flew into his arms. "I don't know how the hell you managed this
but I don't care! Lemme look at you...you haven't changed one bit!"

They released each other, but Schanke held onto her hand.
"Grace, you you know where Nat is? I need to talk to her."

"Nat's in New York," she explained. Then, Grace added with a giggle,
"With Nick."

LaCroix stiffened. "And how long has this been?"

She looked at the stranger with suspicion. "I'm not at liberty to say."

"Grace, I need to know where they are. They don't know yet that
I'm alive!"

Grace kept her eyes on the elder vampire. "I dunno Schank...they'll be
back soon." She didn't like this stranger; he made her stomach churn
with nervousness.

Schanke noticed her apprehension. "Grace, this is LaCroix. He brought
me...um...I mean, he saved my life."

She hestitated. "Okay, okay," she said, relenting. She went into
Nat's drawer and pulled out a slip of paper. "Here."

Schanke looked helplessly at LaCroix. He knew what was coming next.
"We don't have to..."

"Yes, we do. Do you want to do it, or shall I?"

"I will," Schanke said firmly.

Grace looked from one vampire to another in complete bewilderment.

"Grace, listen to me," Schanke said slowly in the process of
whammying her.

He stared straight into her eyes, and listened to her heart beat slow down...

"You never saw me. Schanke is dead."

"Never saw you....Schanke...dead..." she repeated.

"Let's go!!!" LaCroix hissed.

Schanke looked at his old friend longingly, as LaCroix dragged him
out. This time, through the front door.

Grace shook her head and looked around confused.
"Why do I get this funny de ja vu feeling? Gee, I must be watching
way too much X-Files."

She emerged from the shadows.

Natalie stared at her. "Who...who are you?" She asked.

"Not who...what." She bared her fangs; although Nat was afraid,
the vampire saw that she was not surprised.

"Ah, so you know about Nicholas."

Nat crossed her arms. "Look, I don't know what you want
or what you're doing, but Nick will be back."

Alexandra smiled. "Good. That's just what I want. Poor boy...
what have you been doing to him? I thought he would have
sensed me earlier on, but perhaps he has become even
weaker. Or, maybe he was just...occupied with other
matters." She smiled coyly at Nat. "I watched the two of
you act out a scene from a romance novel; I have to admit,
I've always liked romances. But some romances Natalie,
have tragic endings."

Natalie shuddered, not knowing what this vampire wanted
with her. A former lover of Nick's? She was beautiful, Nat
had to admit. And, quite well endowed...

Alexandra continued. "It has been a long time since
Nicholas and I last met. He tried to kill me, you know?
Luckily, he won't have the privilege of trying again. It amused
me to no end watching him fly off like a maniac, searching
for me when I'm already here!" She looked at Natalie. "How
appropriate, isn't it, that now I will claim what is rightfully mine."

Nat stiffened. "What is that?"

"Revenge."

Alexandra paced before Nat. The doctor was too stunned to
move. Plus, she knew that there was absolutely no way
she'd outrun a vampire. Especially a vampire mad and
bent on revenge.

"And he won't be able to stop me this time. I'm much
stronger than him."

Nat noticed a trickle of blood on the side of the vampire's
mouth. Human blood, she guessed.

"You know, I was once mortal like you. That is, until he,
your boyfriend, murdered me. His father, LaCroix, made me
what I am, and I will forever loathe Nicholas for taking me,
without my permission."

"He's different now!" Nat argued, pleading for her life, and his.
"I've been with him...known him for six years, and never once
has he ever tried to...even when I asked him to."

The female vampire's eyes were distant. "Doesn't matter. Things
must continue. I've waited my whole existence for this moment.
He denied me once, never again."

With vampiric speed, she grabbed Natalie by the throat, as
Nat gasped.

"Enough chit-chat. I have found an extra delightful weapon in this
circumstance. I will take away his mortality, like he did mine. This I will
do through you. If you struggle, I will kill you now, but don't think I will
stop there. Now, let's go!"

She dragged Nat by the wrist. "Where are you taking me?" She cried.

"You’ll see…"

**********************

"Janette, someone's been following me. Do you know who it is?"

Janette crossed her arms. "No Nicola. The agreement was-- we
stay away from each other. No more interference in one another's lives.
Jen' aí pas oublié. I have not forgotten what happened that night. You
went against my wishes."

She stared longingly at the mortals seated in the terminal. Mortals
playing with their children. Mortals eating their bagels, drinking their
cups of coffee. Mortals sleeping, mortals holding hands. Mortals in love.

"I have not forgotten either Janette." He took her hand. "I'm sorry,
but I wasn't thinking...I couldn't lose you."

She smiled wistfully at him. "I know Nicola. Have you realized that there
seems to be a pattern of this "thoughtlessness" that never seems to
be broken, even after 800 years?" She released her hand from his.
"Perhaps your Natalie could share her cure with all of us."

"Janette, you believe that there is *another* cure besides the one you
found?"

"I don't know, but one thing that human existence had taught me,
was that mortality is worth hoping for."

He smiled at her. "I promised never to concern myself in your affairs again,
remember?"

"A sad consolation Nicola," she said, with a small smile.

"You do know something then, don't you?" Nick asked. "That there
has been someone asking about my wherabouts."

She sighed, then clasped his hand again. Before speaking, she looked
around the terminal. There was only a smattering of people here.
Janette led him aside, toward one wall of the building.

"There was a woman, a vampire, who has been asking questions
about you recently...but I didn't think it was something that you
could not handle."

"For me, no...but Nat..."

"Ah, let me guess...this little field trip of yours into the Big Apple
has to do with her then? Oh, let me guess!" Janette clapped her
hands in wonder. "A vacation!"

"Please, spare me the sarcasm."

"Another time then."

"What is this of a woman asking about me?"

"Nicola, you should be used to it by now..."

"Seriously, Janette."

"Do you have any enemies?"

"I...don't...know. Well, we're wasting time trying to figure this out.
Janette, I want you to tell me everything."

"I have Nicola. If I knew any more, I would share it with you,
even if you truly are the most bothersome little boy I know."

"Well, I'm older than you now, you know."

"Only in time. No one said anything about maturity."

She stroked his cheek. "I'm sure there's nothing to worry about.
If there had been any news, or if I had any suspicion that someone
was after you, I would have alerted you." She added, "Despite our
agreement."

Janette knew he was tense. Anxious. Worrying about another.

"Nicola, there's nothing you can do about it now. I'm sure Natalie
is fine. We must wait for the night."

Janette led him to two empty chairs, located in the far off corner
of the building. "So, Nicola, tell me what has been happening since
I've been gone. Tell me about LaCroix, Toronto, and...Natalie."


********************

Day had turned into night—as the sun was just setting, the female vampire
grinned at her captive. "He should be here soon. The sun has gone down."

**********************

Janette observed Nick as he recounted the happenings of Toronto
in her absence. "How is LaCroix?" She had asked. "LaCroix…is LaCroix…"
he had replied, in a monotonous tone. Janette knew, by the distant look
in his eyes, that his thoughts were occupied elsewhere. With that mortal
fascination of his. Natalie.

"So Nicola, how is your job?" She asked mockingly.

"What Janette?" He asked, suddenly aware that she was waiting for
a reply.

She sighed. "I asked you how your little game of cops and robbers
was coming along," she said again.

"Oh. A job…is a job," he replied again, as if he was being grilled by
a schoolteacher.

"Some company you are!" She snorted, glaring at Nick. "Certainly
not my idea of entertainment—being stuck here with you for hours
hearing you drone on and on…"

"Well, you were the one asking the questions."

"Do I bore you Nicola? You once found me quite intriguing, I may
remind you."

He kissed her hand. "I do. Janette. You are…quite an individual."

She stared at him curiously. "An individual? Hmm…I see…your
relationship with Doctor Lambert. I guess we’ll have to sneak
around now," She said, with a twinkle in her eye.

He shook his head and answered her seriously. "Natalie…she’s
all I need. I won’t even *Look* at another woman. She put her
faith in me, in us…and I intend to do the same."

"How boring."

"What about Robert?"

That quieted Janette. "Touche." She said softly.

Nick suddenly jumped up. "The sun is down. I have to check on Natalie!"

Janette quipped, "Oh, so now you get excited Nicola. My,
my..I must be losing my touch."

"Janette, Nat might be in danger…I can feel it…something’s not right."

"Ooh, very good. You can’t sense your own created fledgling,
but your mortal lover? Just what have you become Nicholas deBrabant?
A mortal vampire?"

"Come on! I might need your help!"

Janette shook her head. "Le choses que je fais pour tu…the things I
do for you," she muttered.

He was already gone.

With a sigh, she took up after him.

Anxiety and fear overwhelmed Natalie. Oh God, what
happened to Nick? What if he couldn’t find shelter from
the sun? She couldn’t bear thinking about losing him.

"I wouldn’t exactly worry, Natalie…is it? Your boyfriend
is very resourceful." Alexandra said mockingly. "As
much as I have heard, he has unfortunately always been
rather gullible where women are concerned."

The female vampire was strong, Nat saw. Definitely a tough
adversary. She shivered. The warehouse was damp and cold.
Plus, it was rat-infested, she had guessed, judging from old
broken mousetraps scattered on the floor. Luckily, she hadn’t
witnessed any to back up her claim. Rats were Screed’s
department, not hers, Nat couldn’t help but think.
"Oh God, I really *do* need to make some friends other
than vampires…" she said, almost aloud. Here she was,
girlfriend of a vampire, hostage to another vampire, not to mention
cracking jokes to herself about her vampire boyfriend's vampire friends.
Ahhh! She was going mad. Mad with fear, mad with worry.

"Why are you doing this?" Natalie asked her. The vampire knelt
beside her, smiling almost compassionately, or what appeared to
be so according to Nat.

"It’s simple really. Nicholas took something of mine. Now, it’s his
turn to pay back."

"He’s different now Alexandra! I swear to you, Nick is not the
same man you met while you were still a mortal. He’s…changed,"
Nat implored.

Alexandra glared at her. "You only *think* you know him. Tell me
Natalie, does he really tell you EVERYTHING? Do you really know
what he is capable of? What we are capable of? You can’t. I also
know that most people, most of all him—cannot change."

Boy, Nat thought. No wonder Nick was so cynical about himself,
and of a cure.

"All I know," she said softly. "Is that Nick treasures mortality more
than anyone else I know. That’s why he does this—being a cop.
Saving people. Saving humans. I know, Alexandra, that if he could
take back what happened, he would."

The vampire stared at her sadly. "You love him. That’s not a wise
decision Natalie. I do admire your courage and your faith…Nicholas
doesn’t deserve you. He would have hurt you. I’m afraid your fascination
with creatures of my kind has put you in a situation, I regret, that
will prove fatal."

She paced around the mortal woman, who was shivering. Shivering
of fear? Not so much for herself, Alexandra surmised, but that for her
lover. Imagine! A mortal believing that she could protect *him* from
*her*, or any of their kind for that matter. How foolish!
How ludicrous! How…touching.

********************

Erica Cummings opened the door to her apartment, hoping
to find Natalie.

"Nat! Where have you been? I’ve been so worried!!!!" She cried.
Then, she looked at the man standing in the doorway. It was Nick.
He was with another woman. A beautiful woman. Erica eyed
the two of them suspiciously.

"Where is Nat?" Erica asked.

"She’s not here?!" Nick said in surprise.

"No. She was supposed to be with you…did something
happen?" Erica asked, staring suspiciously at Janette.
Janette returned with a smile, making Erica quite uneasy.

"No Erica. I…well…I just wanted to introduce Nat to my
sister. I went to go pick her up at the airport." Nick shoved
Janette towards Erica. "Be nice," He whispered to Janette.

"How do you do?" Erica said, smiling genuinely at both Nick
and Janette, now that she knew her friend’s status was
still *safe*. Relatives! Who would’ve known?

"Janette, I want you to stay here with Erica while I get Nat…"
Nick said, in the calmest voice he could manage.

"What?!" Janette gasped.

"Don’t worry. I’ll be right back." He said to her.

He explained to Erica apologetically. "She’s just tired…you know,
jet lag and all. Her trip to Siberia was quite tiring."

"Siberia? Wow! Tell me all about it! I’m a photographer, you know.
I take pictures for travel brochures…but not many people go
there, if you know what I mean…" Erica began rambling as Janette
threw Nick a furious glare.

"Bye Erica…and er…Sis"

"I’ll get you back for that one Nicola, just you wait!" Janette
muttered, as Erica began talking to her about the wonders of Siberia.

Nat looked at her imploringly, once again trying to communicate
silently to the other woman- begging her to stop this before it was
too late. "So, you going to kill me?" She finally asked.

"I have no choice," Alexandra sighed. "I really don't want to...but,
nevermind...he should be here any mo..."

Nick crashed through a window, fangs bared. "Nat!!!!"
Landing, he immediately searched for the culprit.
He stared at Alexandra in bewilderment. "You! It was you following
me all along!"

Alexandra remained calm, knowing that she had Nick right where
she wanted him. There was no way he'd take a chance with his
beloved's life, and her location-- right beside Natalie, meant the
ball was in her court. Just as she liked it.

"I'm surprised it took you so long to figure that out Nicholas, or have
you forgotten about me already? Another conquest, another kill?
Not only once, but twice!"

Janette, ever the night angel, flew in gracefully through the hole Nick
had already created, and landed quietly. Her cloak surrounded her,
wrapped around protectively, seductively.

Nat was certainly surprised at her appearance. After all, the last she
had seen of Janette was when she was very much human. Nick had
mentioned that he had brought her across, though gave few details.
>From what she could see, the old Janette was back, and Nat couldn't
help but wonder if Nick and her had been together all those hours...
catching up in more ways that one...
No. Nick loved her, that she was sure. Her. Natalie. Still- what about
Marion Blackwing? What about Emily?

What about Robert, her conscience argued back? Nah- things were
different between her and Nick now. They had actually *confirmed* to
the public, ie. telling Tracy and letting her tell everyone else, that yes
indeed, Nicholas Knight and Natalie Lambert were a twosome. "You
guys are going steady!" Tracy had squealed, while the two of them
rolled their eyes.

What was wrong with her? Why was she even *thinking* about all of this,
when she and Nick were in a life or death situation? Even if he had done
something with Janette, Nat decided, she would forgive him, if they
managed to escape the warehouse alive.

Meanwhile, Alexandra and Janette appraised each other coldly.

"Janette, I told you to stay with Erica!" Nick said.

"She's been handled," Janette replied, with her eyes still locked
suspiciously on the other female vampire.

"So," Alexandra said, with special emphasis for Natalie, "It seems that
Nicholas has already found himself a new *plaything*."

"I..." Janette informed her, "...am owned by no one."

Nick tried to approach Natalie during the exchange. He had to see if she was
all right!

"Stay away from her!" Alexandra warned. She was still standing next to Nat,
threatening to....

Nick backed off.

"Ah, so here we are ladies," She addressed Janette and Natalie. "We have
all fallen under this noble knight's spell one time or another." She spit out
the words mockingly, bitterly.

"You are outnumbered Alexandra," He pointed out.

"But I still have the key Nicholas, you know that." She ran her fingers
up and down Nat's neck, while Nat looked at Nick with fearful eyes.
Nick, meanwhile, tried to transmit his faith and strength to the
woman he loved, that they will be together. Nick hoped his own fear
was in check.

"You'll see her die along with you only chance for mortality that lies
within her. I must admit, I do regret taking her life; I myself,
have become rather fond of Natalie," she said.

"Then don't." He replied plainly.

Anger flashed in her eyes. "Let me see you beg!"

"I would...I will, if you promise to let her go."

"It's not that easy Nicholas. I will have my revenge. Your blood will be
on my lips. It will be the sweetest-- bittersweet, and most fulfilling meal
I've ever had..."

"If you try to kill Nicola, don't think it won't go unavenged," Janette
warned.
"His maker is quite strong, and quite swift to take action. He will break you
in an instant."

"Yes, yes, I know," Alexandra said dryly. "You see, he and I are, in loose
terms,
brother and sister."

Janette drew back shocked. "LaCroix made you?" He had never mentioned
this to her before. "Then, you are mine too...my sister...or once was,"

It was time for the other vampire to be shocked. "Impossible! Why didn't I
sense you?"

"No, I'm not anymore. It's a very complicated story...Enough!" Janette cried
out in frustration. "Be done with her Nicola! You can take her!"

"I can't Janette," he said softly, as Alexandra smirked at him. She twisted
one
of Natalie's curls between her fingers, as Nat tried to stay composed. Nat
knew
she was doing a terrible job at pretending not to be terrified.

"I can't take that sort of chance with Nat's life."

"Then what? We stand here and do nothing? Outrageous!"

"We have no choice."

LaCroix and Schanke flew overhead, marveling at the lights down below.

"New York City," Schanke said breathlessly. There was obvious wonder
in his voice. "Myra always wanted to come down here again."

LaCroix looked at him strangely. "Don't the lights, the crowds, the traffic,
bother you?"

"A bit, but I'm sure it's a lot easier to find a meal here without being
noticed, eh LC?" Schank laughed at his own joke. "Wow, you never
struck me as the nature type, or even the suburbia type," He commented.

"I'm not."

LaCroix suddenly sensed strong energy emanating from down below. His...
children? How could it be? Besides for the one beside him, he only had
one...and Nicholas wouldn't have given off such a loud and clear signal
to the master vampire's senses.

"Schanke, something quite strange...we land now."

They searched for an empty alleyway, then began their descent downward.
A lone stranger stopped digging through the dumpster, and ran off screaming
as he saw them."Monsters!!! Aliens! AH!!! They've finally landed!" He cried.

LaCroix tugged Schanke's arm and pulled him into the dumpster. He waited,
fangs bared, ready to strike.

No one came.

"LaCroix, this is ridiculous!" Schanke scoffed. "See? Nothing to worry
about,"
he said, as they raised themselves out of the bin. "This is New York City.
Vampires walk the streets in daylight. At least in the Village, that is. Ever

been to the Village? I knew a great souvlaki stand there...well, nevermind,
but
I tell you, we'd fit right in," Schanke looked over his master. "Hmm...even
you
LC."

"Meaning?"

"Umm...No, nothing. I just think that, well...let's put it this way. When I
was
mortal, I thought you were..." Schanke paused.

"Well, say it!" LaCroix demanded.

"Well, I thought you were...freaky."

"Freaky?"

"Yeah, you know-- weird."

"Well..." LaCroix began defensively. "I haven't had as much
practice as Nicholas in playing human. I have, after all, been
a vampire for almost 2000 years."

Schanke whistled. "Man LC, you gotta share some stories with me
sometime."

"Perhaps. Only if you call me be my rightful name-- I am Lucien LaCroix,
and only you alone have managed to degrade it into something so..." He
struggled to find the words. "...slangish," he finished.

He slapped LaCroix playfully on the back. "Well hey, it's the nineties! We
all
gotta get with the times."

LaCroix gritted his teeth, to keep from ripping out Schanke's throat.

Suddenly, a scream came up from overhead.

"Quickly" LaCroix yelled, as he leapt to the night sky. He didn't bother to
see if anyone was watching.

Schanke himself, took a cursory look around the alleyway, before heading
after his master.

"I'm telling you the truth! They...they were right here!" The man demanded,
as a crowd of people from the nearby X-Files convention followed him.

The alleyway was once again empty. The man stared at the crowd
sheeplessly.

"I know what I saw...there were two of 'em. Green eyes, that glowed in the
dark,
and one of them was wearing a purple blazer AND a Hawaiian shirt. Fashion
style like that cannot be part of the home we call Earth."

Another man placed a hand gently on the hysterical young man's
shoulder. "Well, they might have been here before, but now...the truth is out
there."

He rallied up the rest of the men and women. "Come on folks! It's up to us!
Let's find 'em before the government tries to sweep this one under the
carpet too!"

They disappeared into the night.

Alexandra easily overpowered Janette.
"You're weak," she said, smiling. "The misfortune of
feeding from animal. Ack, you're just as bad as bloody
carouches! Both of you!" She grabbed Janette, ready to feed.

"NO!!!! Janette!!!!" LaCroix yelled, as he grabbed Alexandra and
flung her across the room.

Nick hurried to untie Nat, as he enveloped her in his embrace.
She gladly buried her head in his shoulder.

"No...one...touches...my daughter!" He growled.

Alexandra struggled to rise. "Have you forgotten that I
am your child too? You made me."

"A mistake, I know now. I should have been more...particular.
Certainly, I will think twice before playing practical jokes on my
son again," He said angrily.

Hurt flashed in her eyes. "Well, well then...I guess this means we
won't be having a family reunion."

"This is not *your* family," LaCroix said grimly.

Blood tears came to her eyes. "You brought me across, only to
be left alone? To be filled with this hate? This hatred of what I am?"

Nat stared at her with compassion written all over her face.

Alexandra looked at her. "Eternity is even lonelier as a vampire."
She held out her hand to Natalie. "Come with me Natalie." She
looked at LaCroix, Nick, and Janette. "I'll forget about my
vengeance, but please-- let Natalie come to me. Let her be
my companion, before she becomes my sister in pain. Don't drag
Natalie into this world."

Nick crossed his arms. "You took care of that already, didn't you?
You used her as a lure to get to me."

"I did," Alexandra said forthrightly. "And I would have killed you if
he," she motioned towards the elder vampire, "hadn't interrupted
so rudely. But I admit, seeing how your...your Natalie feels about you,"

She spoke to Natalie. "Well, you're a very strong woman, Doctor."

Alexandra's eyes were locked onto Natalie, who was protectively
surrounded by Janette, LaCroix, and Nick. Now, how many times
does this happen?, Nat asked herself. A trio of vampires acting as
her bodyguards.

"Natalie, I *do* mean it when I say that your involvement with him
will prove fatal. One day, mark my words, he will take you--
and your face will be among the many other beautiful women he's
conquered." She looked directly into Nat's eyes for emphasis.
"He won't bring you across, will he?"

"No," Nat said softly. Nick tightened his arms around her.

"I wouldn't hurt her," he said defensively.

LaCroix groaned. "This is getting tedious Nicholas."
"I tire of playing the game by your rules," He said to Alexandra.
His eyes flashed red. "We've wasted enough time here." He
approached her...

"Schanke!" Nat screamed, almost losing her balance.

LaCroix turned around.

Nick steadied her and stared at Don Schanke-- his former
partner and friend, as the young fledgling clumsily landed on his bottom.

"Whoa, haven't quite fine-tuned that part of my repetoire yet," he said
sheeplessly.

Nick was speechless, quite unsure of what to believe...
"LaCroix, you didn't..." he murmered, glaring at his father accusingly.

"I did," he replied plainly. "What took you so long?" LaCroix asked
Schanke.

"Well actually, ahem...I kept on missing the opening. It takes awhile
to get a hang of this-- flying through holes and such."

Alexandra stood there in bewilderment.

"It seems that you are getting the family reunion you wished for,"
LaCroix said dryly. "It's a shame you won't be able to enjoy it
for long." He approached her again.

"You were a mistake. I should never have made you. An error that
will be dutifully corrected."

In a flash, LaCroix had her in his grip, fangs bared and ready to drain.

Nat watched in horror, as Alexandra stopped resisting and went limp
in his arms.

*****************************


"LaCroix, no!!!!" Nat cried.

"She's right," Nick said plainly.

"Why not?" He hissed. "I take care of my own!"

"Yes, finish it!" She whispered softly. "Do it!!!!!!"

Nat grabbed Nick's arm. "Nick, we can't let LaCroix..."

He nodded reassuringly. "Yes, I know."
"Alexandra, it doesn't have to be this way. Let me help
you. Come back with us."

LaCroix looked at his son incredulously, as did Janette.

"Hey, I wouldn't mind," Schanke quipped, looking Alexandra over.

Janette crossed her arms and scowled. "Is everyone forgetting
that a mere second ago, she was all too willing to kill us? I see
something wrong with this picture.

"She does make a valid point," LaCroix agreed. "Why should
we trust her? Why shouldn't I destroy her?" He shot back.

"Because she's redeemable; because..." Nick began.

"Because she's your creation, as I am," Schanke cut in.
"Your daughter, like I am your son."

Nick and Schanke exchanged smiles. Once again, they were
a team, working together.

LaCroix paused, and allowed his fangs to recede. He didn't
want to lose his renewed relationship with his son Nicholas--
or as much as he hated to admit-- betray or sacrifice his new
son's developing trust.

"Very well. She's living on borrowed time," He said to Schanke
and Nick. "Don't expect me to be so merciful the next time."

Alexandra shook her head. "No, please...No next time. LaCroix,
do it now."

Nat interceded. "Alexandra, come back with us. There are
other vampires; you don't have to be alone. And I...well, Nick
and I," she added, as Nick gave her a smile. "...are working on
a cure. A cure from vampirism. I can't promise you anything,
except the fact that I'll try."

LaCroix hesistantly extended his hand outward, towards Alexandra.
"And that family reunion you asked for? We can't forget about
that, now can we?"

She looked at everyone, then finally placed her own hand in LaCroix's.

"Let's head home, shall we?" The master vampire suggested.

For once, everyone was in agreement.

Nat linked her arm with Nick's and wearily leaned her head on his
shoulder. He kissed the top of her head lovingly, grateful that she
was safe.

"Who would've thought," Nat mused, "That LaCroix was such a
family man. In a span of a year, not only did he gain a daughter,
but another son."

Nick nodded. "Which reminds me..."

Nat and Nick both reached for Schanke as he was sauntering
out of the building. They yanked him backwards.
"Wait a second buster! You got a lot of explaining to do!!!!!!!!"

The End