From: Nancy Taylor <>
To: "''" <>
Subject: FW: It's A Wonderful Unlife
Date: Fri, 6 Dec 1996 14:11:23 -0800

Hello to all! This is my very first attempt at fanfic writing. It may well
be my last. :) I could put in enough disclaimers and excuses here that
it would be longer than the story. So I'll just ask y'all to be kind.

I'd like to dedicate this story to two of my good friends, Robbi
Egersdorf and Vickie Sykes, who kept bugging me to write something.

This story can be placed in late second season or sometime between
second and third. Schanke's still with us, but we are close enough to
third season for Tracy to make a cameo appearance. Just wanted to
warn you. :)

Standard Disclaimers: These characters are not mine. They belong to
James Parriott and Company. No copyright infringement is intended. I
promise to return them unharmed.

"It's a Wonderful Unlife" (1/3)

by Nancy Taylor
c. 1996

It was the weekend before Christmas. The precinct was decorated
to the hilt. There were Christmas lights strung over the doorways and
on the cubicle dividers. There was a small tree, brightly decorated,
standing near the entrance, by the main desk. Under the tree were
brightly wrapped packages that had been donated by nearly everyone at
the precinct for the needy children at a local shelter.

With their shift just ending, Schanke sidled up to Nick. "You know,
Nick, Myra has been at me lately to invite you over for dinner. She
wanted me to ask if you'd be free tomorrow night." Tomorrow night
was Saturday, and Nick had the weekend off. He shifted uneasily
under Schanke's gaze.

"I can't, Schank." Nick looked around as if trying to find the fastest
way out. "I've got a date with Natalie tomorrow night."

"Got a date with *Natalie*? Hey, partner ... something you're not
telling me?" Schanke had that conspiratorial look about him that made
Nick feel like cringing.

"It's not a date, exactly," Nick hedged. "She's bringing some
videos and we're having dinner. That's it." Schanke gave him that
doubtful look. "Honest!" Nick exclaimed in exasperation.

Schanke nudged Nick in the side with his elbow and smiled. "Have
a great *date*, Knight. Man, I can't wait to tell Myra," he muttered
under his breath as Nick made his getaway.

At home that morning, Nick decided to straighten things up before
Natalie arrived. He was normally fairly tidy, but he felt the need, for
some reason, to make sure that everything was just right for this
particular visit of his favorite coroner. After tidying up to his
satisfaction, he decided to go to bed for the day so he would be fresh
that evening.

He had just gotten up and dressed when the door buzzer sounded.
Puzzled, he walked over to the doorway and activated the security
camera. It was way too early for Nat to be there yet.

Standing below, looking up into the camera, was Natalie. She was
grinning ear to ear and standing next to a nine-foot-tall Christmas
tree. "Well, are you just going to stand there, or are you going to let
me in before I freeze?" she asked with a merry voice.

Nick took the elevator down to help her up with the tree. As he
was lifting the heavy thing into the elevator, Natalie was hoisting a pile
of boxes from the trunk of her car. "There, that should do it." Natalie
stepped on the elevator and they rode up in silence.

"Nat, what do you think you're doing?" Nick asked as he hauled
the huge tree into the loft.

"Whatever do you mean?" she asked in all innocence.

"This tree! Why in the world did you bring me a Christmas tree?"

"Oh, you *never* decorate, and I thought this big empty room
could use a little cheer."

"What do you mean, 'big empty room'? It's *not* empty!" Nick
exclaimed in exasperation.

"Well, you need a little color. Put it over there," she pointed
toward a corner near the fireplace. She set down the boxes and
began opening them. Inside were lights for the tree and ornaments
galore, including an angel for the top of the tree.

Nick smiled and gave a little shrug. This seemed to be making
Natalie very happy, and who was he to argue? He walked over to
Nat and the boxes and picked up a shiny ball. As he was about to
hang it on the tree, he felt Nat's hand on his arm.

"No, no, silly. The lights go on first," she smiled. So they
untangled the lights and strung them on the tree. After a good solid
hour of hanging ornaments, Nat decided that it was enough and that it
was time to put the angel on the top.

"Now how are we ever going to reach that high? Have you got a
ladder?" Nat was puzzling over the top of the tree that looked a little
bare and was out of both of their reaches.

"I've got something better than a ladder." Nick smiled at her.
"Give me the angel."

Nat handed the angel to him in silence, wondering what he was up
to. 'Up to' turned out to be the operative words as Nick floated up
and hovered near the top of the tree. He placed the angel 'just so' on
the top, and smiled down at Nat.

"How's that?"

"Well, while you're up there, how about hanging a few more of
these on the top?" Nat held up the box of ornaments. Nick took
them good-naturedly and finished decorating the top two feet of the

When he was through, Nat switched on the lights. The tree was
truly a thing to behold.

"See? I told you it would brighten this place up. I'm hungry.
What's for dinner?"

"I ordered in Chinese for you. It should be here any minute now."

As they were picking up the empty ornament boxes, the door
buzzer sounded again. Sure enough, it was the delivery boy from
Wang's Chinese Take-out. Nick paid and tipped the young man
and turned to Natalie with the food.

"Got the movies?" He handed her the Chinese and went to the
refrigerator to grab a bottle and then went to the cupboards for a

"Got em right here, "Miracle on 34th Street" and "It's a Wonderful
Life". They're the originals. I don't care for the colorized versions.
Got lots of Kleenex?" Nat asked as she settled in on the couch.

"I always make sure to stock up on Kleenex whenever you bring
the movies," he replied with a mischievous grin. "I mean, anyone who
could cry over 'King Kong'...." He came close to having to duck a
box full of Moo Goo Gai Pan for that comment, but Nat decided she
was too hungry to waste it and settled back with a contented smile

By the time they had finished with the movies, the sun was
beginning to rise in the eastern sky. Nat yawned. Then she sniffed.
She was surrounded by a pile of used Kleenex; on the couch, the
coffee table and the floor. There were empty Chinese takeout boxes
as well as an empty green bottle and wine glass on the table as well.

Nat pushed herself up off the couch. "Well, I suppose it's time I
go home and let you get some sleep. Speaking of which, I could use
a little myself."

Nick got up and got Nat's coat. He helped her on with it and
walked her to the elevator.

"Have you ever considered what life would have been like for us
here if you had decided not to move to Toronto?" Nat turned to
Nick with a questioning look.

"Never occurred to me," Nick shrugged. "I don't imagine that
things would be much different." He gave Nat a gentle kiss on the
forehead. She smiled and stepped on the elevator.

After Nat had left, Nick realized just how tired he really was. He
decided to leave the mess until evening and went upstairs to bed.

End Part 1

Standard Disclaimers and Excuses apply. See Part 1. (Note that the
incident with Schanke is pure fabrication. It happened "between eps",
so don't knock yourselves out trying to figure out what ep it was from.

"It's a Wonderful Unlife" (2/3)

by Nancy Taylor
c. 1996

Nick began to slowly regain consciousness the following evening.
Something, however, didn't feel quite right. His bed was cold ... and
hard. He opened his eyes to a strange greenish-yellow light in the
room. Looking around, Nick snorted in amazement. He was in the
morgue! Natalie's morgue!

"Ah, Nicholas." A voice from behind him startled Nick out of his
reverie. "A little confused, are we?" LaCroix had that smug look
about him that usually infuriated Nick.

"What are we doing here?!" Nick demanded to know of LaCroix.

"We are examining life in Toronto without the benefit of Nicholas
B. Knight, Homicide Detective. Please, do get up. We have work to

Nick climbed off the autopsy table and found that he was still
dressed only in his black silk pajamas. Well, whatever was going on,
this was no time to be prudish, he decided. He followed LaCroix to
stand over in the corner.

Presently, a familiar face entered the room. Natalie was looking
tired and worn. She sat at her desk and stared at the paperwork piled
there. She didn't have to be there that night, she mused to herself. It
was Christmas Eve and the Coroner's Office was closed for the
holiday. All the better, there wouldn't be anyone here to stop her. She
picked up a scalpel, toying with it as she turned it over and over in her
hands. It was razor-sharp. There wouldn't be much pain.

"What's happening here, LaCroix? Tell me! Nat looks so tired of
life. How could that be?" Nick was worried about the serious manner
in which Natalie was contemplating the scalpel in her hands.

"Ah, Nicholas. Do you presume to think that you were the *only*
influence in that young woman's life? She lost her brother, and her
god-daughter; that would have been grief enough. But then, your
Natalie has never been very lucky in love either. She met the wrong
man one evening at the grocery while picking up food for her cat.
Remember a Roger Jamison? Natalie found him a charming companion
... for a short time.

"They had a date," LaCroix continued. "A lovely picnic in a
nursery, surrounded by lovely exotic plants and smells. Such a
romantic setting for a rape."

"He raped Natalie?!" Nick was furious, confused, and hurt all at
once. He lunged forward in an attempt to get at Natalie.

LaCroix grabbed him roughly by the arm. "Nicholas, stop this
foolishness! She can neither see nor hear us. We are not really here!
You can do nothing for her now. Remember, you weren't there that
night to come crashing through the skylight to her rescue."

"But I can save her now!" Nick was frantic. Natalie was drawing
the scalpel lightly across her wrist, watching the blood well up; trying
to make up her mind to go through with the suicide.

"No, Nicholas. There is nothing you can do for her. You do not
exist in her world. Her fate is her own. Leave her to decide. Besides,
that's not all, my dear Nicholas." LaCroix took Nick by the arm and
the room dissolved around them.

"No!" Nick shouted. "We can't leave her now! I *must* find a
way to help her!" When the world reformed around him Nick found
himself in the precinct. He looked around, feeling confused and
disoriented. Natalie was still very much on his mind. Seated at Nick's
desk was a pert young blonde.

"Who's that?" he asked, trying with all his might to shift his mental
gears and focus on the problem at hand.

"Her name is Tracy Vetter. Commissioner's daughter. She's
Detective Schanke's new partner. Came up through the ranks on her
father's coattails some say. A little too quickly for her own good, say
others. She's new, raw, without the training necessary for the position.
But she's a 'good cop' and there is potential there."

"Why does she look so sad?" Nick was beginning to think he really
didn't want to know.

"Well, that's a whole other story." And with that, the scene around
Nick changed again. Nick's head was swimming. What on earth was
happening to him? They now found themselves in the Schankes' home.
Nick recognized it from the few times he had had the opportunity to
visit there. Jenny came bounding down the stairs with a storybook in
her hands.

"Mommy! Is Daddy coming home soon? I want him to read me a

Myra Schanke turned toward her daughter and Nick could see by
the puffiness and swelling around her eyes that she had been crying.
"Not tonight, sweetheart. I told you, Daddy got hurt." How was she
going to tell her daughter that her daddy was never going to be reading
her a story again?

"What happened?" Nick turned to LaCroix. "What happened to

Again the room swirled around Nick and he found himself standing
at the graveside of Donald Schanke. "You were never his partner.
You weren't there to take the bullet for him. Detective Schanke got in
on the wrong end of a drug bust and took a bullet to the head. He died
instantly, leaving his loving wife and daughter to grieve."

Nick was near tears himself at this point. Wiping at one that
threatened to fall down his cheek with the back of his hand he asked,
no begged, LaCroix to take him home.

"No, my dear Nicholas. We have one more stop to make."

Nick felt the stirrings of fear mixing with his grief as the world
changed around him once again. This time he was standing in the
Raven. Janette and another LaCroix were standing near the bar having
a conversation. The club appeared closed, even though it was well into
the evening, and there was a large traveling case behind the bar.

"I have decided to move on, LaCroix. Back to Paris I think. I can't
stand staying in Toronto with the memories. Will you come with me?"
Janette inquired.

"Why is she leaving, LaCroix? What memories?" Nick was getting
desperate. This whole experience was becoming just a bit too much for

"Why Nicholas, don't you know? Can't you guess? In this world,
shortly after you came to Toronto, your years of guilt and anguish
became too much for you to bear. You had your first and last day in
the sun, I'm afraid. You didn't live long enough to take that pipe bomb
and end up in Dr. Lambert's morgue, or to become Donald Schanke's
partner. You were never a part of the Toronto Metro Police. This is
the world without you, Nicholas."

"I want to go back, LaCroix. Take me back!"

With that, Nick woke up, the blood sweat dripping from his brow.

End Part 2

Standard Disclaimers and Excuses apply. See Part 1.

"It's a Wonderful Unlife" (3/3)

by Nancy Taylor
c. 1996

Nick let out an involuntary scream. It took him a few moments to
orient himself and realize that he was in his own home, his own bed.

"Nick, are you all right?" Natalie's voice drifted up to him from the
living room downstairs. She had arrived a few minutes earlier and put
some Christmas music on the stereo.

Nick got up and went into the bathroom to wash the blood sweat
from his face.

"I'm fine, Nat. Just had a whopper of a nightmare, I guess." After
he had cleaned up, he put on a dressing gown and padded, barefoot,
down the stairs. He looked at Nat. She looked wonderful. In all her
glory, her eyes sparkling, her hair done up in a tasteful coif, Nat stood
in the middle of his living room. She looked up at him with a smile that
could light a thousand Christmas trees.

"Want to tell me about it?" Nat smiled, guilelessly.

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," he smiled back at her. His
relief at seeing her alive and well and looking so radiant was

"Try me."

"Remember how you asked last night if I'd ever considered what
life would have been like for you if I had never come to Toronto?
Well, it was about that and then some." Nick shuddered slightly at the

"I've got all the time in the world, Nick. Come, sit, and tell me all
about it." She patted at a spot on the couch next to her.

Nick came and sat beside her on the couch. With a bit of hesitation,
he began the story. Nat took his hand in hers and began stroking it
gently. When he had finished she smiled up at him with that look of
hers that could melt his heart every time.

"And you still think my life would have been better if you'd never
entered it?"

"I don't know, Nat. I can't give you what you deserve. You really
could do better than me."

"I don't believe that, and I don't think you do either." Nat's hand
gently caressed Nick's cheek. "This is where I want to be right now,
today, more than anything else on Earth."

Just then, a stray breeze wafted through the room. A tiny bell
decorating the Christmas tree in the corner jiggled brightly.

"See?" Nat smiled. "I guess that means an angel just got his

Up above on the skylight, LaCroix turned and flew off into the

"I've got my angel right here beside me." Nick took Natalie into his
arms and gave her a long and passionate kiss, filled with all his love and
longing for her.

The End

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