by Eric McCann
circa July 1997

"You know, if you think about it, this is crazy."

Nick looked at Natalie. "What is?"

She wriggled herself to a more upright position on the couch. "Us. I
mean, think about it..."

"Nat, we've had this discussion before. OK, you're dating something
that as far as the rest of the world is concerned, doesn't exist. People
would look at you like you need to get back to reality. Or they'd try to
set you up with someone you can have nearby, someone real.."

She put her head on his shoulder. "Someone I can actually lean on?
Feels like you're pretty good for that to me." Nick held her tighter,
nuzzled her hair, and kissed her. "I'm just glad you're not upset with
me any more."

She nodded. "OK, I admit it. Last night I was ready to stake you
myself - remembering what you said to LaCroix, about not loving me,
about USING me, and then - MAKING me forget, and lying to me the next
night..." She sighed. "But then, after I wouldn't let you explain, I
got a chance to think about it... and I realized what you had really

"Well, it wasn't easy for me, either, Nat." He started rubbing her
shoulders. "I had to deny how I felt.. deny you - but if I had lost you
that night - "

"Nick, I don't think you could have told me you loved me any better

Nick looked at her, smiled, and sighed. "No, but I could have told you
earlier. And I promise you," he said, kissing her hand, "you'll never
have to wait to hear it from me again. Natalie, you're the light in my
darkness, the sum of my hopes and dreams, and I love you."

They jumped at the sound of clapping behind them. "Bravo, Nicholas,

"Lacroix. How long..."

"Long enough, Nicholas. Did you really think you would cheat me of my
due recompense?" Natalie prepared for him to rush, to either fight
Nick, or try to kill her, but instead he only walked slowly around to
them. "I will take her from you, Nicholas. You will feel as I have,
the centuries of ache, the hole in your soul..."

"Even if you kill her, you will not take her from me." Lacroix raised
an eyebrow at this. "I was wrong before to deny her. And I'm telling
you, as I have her - I love this woman, as none before." Nick looked
down at Natalie. "Even if you do kill her, a part of her will live on
in me, as long as I exist. To take her, you must take us both." He
looked back at the elder vampire. "And if you take us both, we will be
together, forever. You will have lost, either way."

"There is another option, Nicholas."

Nick waved his hand. "Yes, you could make her one of us. You can take
her mortality, but you cannot take her light from her. And again, we
will be together." He smiled slightly. "Besides, that would just give us
more time to find a way back."

"There IS no way back, Nicholas." LaCroix was getting livid at this
point. "You dare to deny me my right to her life, that which you gave me
even as you denied me my Fleur? I could have brought her across, saved
her - instead, she lays, dust in her grave, centuries gone."

"Is she?" Both vampires turned to look at Natalie. She steeled
herself, and continued. "You have kept thinking of her for how long,
now? As long as Nick's been a vampire, as I understand. So why are you
insisting she is gone?"

"Please, doctor - stop making foolish statements. I saw her grave seven
centuries ago. She is gone, long since."

"No." She bit her lip, and looked at Nick, who looked back at her with
interest, and not a little fear, and nodded for her to continue. She
walked over to LaCroix. "Nick told me about her... she was a beautiful,
young woman, intellegent, curious, full of life - is that what you

A flicker of pain, barely glimpsed, crossed LaCroix's face. "Yes. I
could have preserved that forever."

"Would you, though?" Noting LaCroix's glare, she continued. "Nick told
me about the doctor in London - and I'm sure you know of many, many more
who had changed after being turned into vampires." LaCroix's glare
didnt soften. "Would she still have been the same woman you fell in
love with? Or would she have changed, turned cold, unfeeling - the ideal
hunter, but not your Fleur any longer?" She stopped right in front of a
now thoughtful LaCroix, and took his cold hands into hers. "You did
preserve her, don't you understand? Or haven't you been listening to

A tense moment passed, and Natalie continued, softer. "You've obviously
been thinking of her. When you do, how do you think of her? Just as you
met her? Do you think of your talks, of staring up at the stars?"

Lacroix closed his eyes. thinking, remembering her warmth, her scent,
the way he was consumed when he looked at her... and nodded. "And

"Then she is still with you, just like she was - the woman you loved."
LaCroix opened his eyes, and looked at Natalie, then at Nicholas. "Yes,
her body is gone.. but she still is here, in your heart, in your
memories, and wil be as long as you exist."

LaCroix pulled his hands from Natalies, and stalked a few feet away, his
back to them. A moment later, he looked slightly over his shoulder.

Nick looked at Natalie, then joined his master. "Yes?"

"It would seem, in my rage, and my grief, that I made an error, long
ago. I extracted from you a vow, that when you loved a mortal, I would
take her from you as you did Fleur from me." Looking over at Natalie,
then back at Nicholas, he continued. "It would seem that, as I have
lost nothing - I have nothing to take." He gave a short smirk. "Odd
that it would take a mortal to make me realize that. Cherish her,
Nicholas. One with such insight is rare." With that, he disappeared into
the night.

"Did what I think just happened, happen?"

Nick looked at Natalie, with love and no small measure of pride in his
eyes. He took her in his arms. "Yes. And you made it happen." Looking
down at her, he added,"And nothing can stand between us now."


They walked into the station, hand in hand. As they held each other,
they didn't notice that every eye in the station was on them. As they
kissed, deeply, lingering, a cheer went up - and not a little money
changed hands.

"See you tonight?"

"You'd better believe it. My turn to pick the movie." Nick smiled, and
Schanke walked up as Natalie walked away. "Well, it's about time. What
finally woke you up?"

Nick just looked at his partner and grinned. "It's amazing what can
happen when you're finally free." And despite Schanke's nagging - and
threats of souvlaki with extra garlic - he wouldn't elaborate.

Epilogue, part deux.

LaCroix walked across the ruins of Chateau de Brabant, to a quiet area
within a crumbling wall. Looking, he walked near the wall, then knelt
down, depositing a single rose. He bowed his head, briefly, then

"My love, the heavens shine tonight as they have not for a long, long
time..." A breeze carressed his shoulder, and he smiled.

The End