This is a story based on characters created by J. Parriott and B. Cohen for the TV
series Forever Knight.

Just a Fool : A Valentine's Song Challenge
by Carrie Krumtum
c. 1997

Based on lyrics from "She's Like the Wind"
written by Patrick Swayze and Stacy Widolitz

"...and what exactly does THAT mean!?" she nearly shouted at him.
God, he could be so infuriating. Natalie clenched her teeth in frustration. She had
to be, her jaws hurt with the effort she was expending keeping her temper under
control. Her success was marginal.

He stood with his back to her and stared out the window at a starless
night sky. What did he mean?

"I meant exactly what I said," he turned to face her. "What more is there
to say?"

"Why? That's what. Why isn't it worth it?" She fought against the pain
that began to shred what remained of her resolve. He was quitting. Just like that.
Walking away....

This is what she had feared the most. This was the nightmare that she
couldn't get away from. After all the years and trials, after everything, what
remained between them just wasn't enough. Not for Nick. It didn't seem to matter
that it meant EVERYTHING to her.

When he didn't answer her, Natalie let go of the bonds she had used to
rein her temper. What was the use? "I'm the one who's not worth it. Isn't that
right? What the hell have I been doing in your life? Huh?"

He watched her anger rise and a lone tear form at the corner of her left
eye. The helplessness he felt only deepened. This was why, his heart whispered.
I can't hurt you anymore. I can't....

"I guess only one of us was doing this out of love," her voice quieted
as she continued. "I guess only one of us really believed in us ... and I guess just
one of us isn't enough. Is it?"


"No," she whispered, shaking her head and dropping her eyes. "I don't
want to hear anymore. I can't."

He took a step towards her and stopped when she looked up at him
again. The utter and complete loss that was expressed in her face hit him like a
physical blow. What had he done to her?

Slowly, like a statue trying to come to life, her lips began to quiver and
the tears fell onto her face. Her voice, when she spoke to him, seemed to contain
the sorrow of the heavens after the fall of man.

"I don't have any choice, I suppose," her quiet voice said as she looked
him in the eyes. "Letting go is all I have left...." Her breath came in long gasps
now as her sorrow swelled. "I love you that much ... so much ... that I don't have
any choice. Go."

They remained where they stood for long seconds before the sorrow in
her eyes drove him to look away. He turned to leave and paused to listen one last
time to the sound of her grief. Then, with all the speed his soullessness afforded
him, he left the home of the only real love mortality had offered since he stepped
into the darkness....

She's like the wind
Through my tree

The cabin sat in isolation long kilometers from the nearest town. It had
been empty for so long that no one thought to check for inhabitants. Who in
their right mind would move out there, anyway? The light that emanated from the
fire kindled in the main fireplace gave an eerie glow through the cracks of the
shuttered windows but went unnoticed by neighbors too far away to perceive
the light, much less its significance. The occupant of the cabin remained
undisturbed, just as he had been for the past seven months. Since....

The Saskatchewan plains were buffeted by winds that pulled at men's
spirits as well as the land. The harvest had been poor this year.

The sound of the night wind howled past the cabin and echoed in his
empty heart. There didn't seem to be anything in all of creation that didn't remind
him of her. He had thought that this place would be a place of escape. The
foolishness of the thought brought him only scorn for himself.

The winter had strangled what life there may have been in the land
when he had arrived. Snow and ice blanketed everything. The only signs of life
in the earth, it seemed to him, were the aching of his own heart and the sound of
the wind outside.

That sound, the sound the wind made, like the ache of his heart, only
reminded him of her. She had blown into his life and shook every aspect of his
world. Nothing seemed the same after meeting her.

She rides the night
Next to me

Colors seemed more vibrant, more alive in his darkness. The music
contained a joy that it had never possessed before. The night had never been so
full of life before.

Natalie had given that life to him. Her life.

She leads me to moonlight
Only to burn me with the sun

Her light. His night had never been so bright.

The darkness might have still ruled his world but her light had sparked a
blaze in the stead of his soul. He closed his eyes against the tears and swallowed
down the lump in his throat. It was always like this, now. The hollowness he had
driven himself to enveloped him again.

She's taken my heart
She doesn't know what she's done

The sound of her words haunted him....
'I guess only one of us was doing this out of love.'

"No...." he whispered to the fire. No, he told his heart as the tears fell to
sizzle and vaporize against the heated stones of the hearth. No, my love. Natalie.

That day, like every day since he had left her behind, he dreamed....

Feel her breath in my face
Her body close to me
Can't look in her eyes
She's out of my league

The chestnut curls of her tresses lay softly against his arm and he woke
to find her cradled in his embrace. He smiled. The scent of her hair tickled his
nostrils and ignited a warmth deep within him.

He tightened his hold on her as she stirred awake.

"Are you awake, my love?" he asked.

"Umm," she hummed as she nodded her head against his chest.

She turned her face up toward him with eyes still closed and heavy with
sleep. Her breath was sweet as perfume and he leaned forward to kiss her soft

The taste of her burned in him and he felt her respond to his passion.
Her arms moved to encircle his neck and the warm desire of her kiss rose to
heighten his own.

Their kiss deepened and grew in passion as she responded to him and
he to her. The touch of her bare skin against his electrified him. Her leg snaked
up and over his thigh and he rolled her onto her back with the force of his desire
to devour the fruit of her love for him.

Slowly, the kiss waned and he pulled away to look into the blue depths
of her eyes. He smiled in anticipation and his breath grew quick at his need for
her. Her lids opened.

He could feel the blood in his veins turn to ice and his heart stand still
in terror as she looked up at him. There was a look of confusion on her face as
she reacted to his horror.

Her eyes weren't blue but perfectly golden....

Just a fool to believe I have anything she needs
She's like the wind....

"It's about time, doncha think?" Renee asked her. "I mean, it's been a
long time, Nat. You can't just let your life slip by. Whoever this guy was, he's not
worth throwing away the rest of your life on. Any guy who would let someone
like you get away is just plain stupid ... or crazy ... or both."

Natalie looked at her friend and smiled. She had only known Renee
since just before Christmas but they had formed a deep friendship that included a
trust she had been missing. Although she hadn't realized it until recently, she
had just stopped talking to people. Nick had been the person she confided in,
shared her dreams with, placed her hopes on. Now, there was no more Nick and
there wasn't going to be. He was probably on the other side of the planet, in Paris
or Sydney or God knows where. Anywhere but in her life.

"I don't know," Natalie began. "It's been a long time since I went out
with anyone. I feel...."

"Out of practice," Renee finished. She picked up her drink and took a
sip. The bar they had gone to this evening wasn't far from the Coroner's Building
where they both worked. Natalie might be a doctor and a smart woman but she
didn't have a clue about how to get out and get on with her life. Renee had
wondered about the guy who had hurt her so deeply. Scars like Natalie's didn't
happen unless there was some real love involved, at least on the wounded's part.

Renee took a deep breath before continuing. "Look, Nat, just come with
me once. Okay? What have you got to lose? Michael says that this guy is real
nice." She watched the incredulity creep into Natalie's face. "It's only a hockey
game and we'll be right there. If you don't like him, you don't ever have to see him

Turning her attention away, Nat stirred her drink with the swizzle stick
and avoided looking back up into Renee's face.

"Come on, Natalie," Renee urged. "What do ya say? One evening out of
your life. If you don't like him, I'll kill him so you can do the post mortem. How's

Despite herself, Nat began to giggle. It didn't sound too bad. Renee was
right, what would it hurt? She looked up to meet Renee's expectant glance. "Oh,
all right already. One game."

Renee smiled from ear to ear.

"But I get to do a complete post mortem if he turns out to be a jerk,"
Natalie reiterated.

Their laughter echoed out into the alleyway where lonely ears drank in
the sound and a lonely heart broke with the knowledge that he had walked away
from that joy.

I look in the mirror
And all I see
Is a young old man
With only a dream

Why had he come back? Why now?

The loft furnishings were covered with the cloths that had been there
from the day he had left the city for his self-imposed exile. There would have
been no purpose in going after him. Nicholas was capable of such self-
denigration and loathing that chastisement had ceased to alter the course of
such periods of mourning. LaCroix had to admit, though, that this period had
been rather short for his son. These things usually lasted several years.

Nick had sensed the arrival of his creator. He didn't care.

"Why have you returned, Nicholas?"

LaCroix stood in the center of the main floor of the loft and watched as
his son turned to look at him. There was a need in Nicholas' eyes that almost
startled him ... almost. It was the depth of the hunger that struck him. The depth
of a hunger that wasn't accompanied by the customary tremor of their link. This
was a hunger that wasn't associated with that part of Nicholas that was the
product of his intervention. This hunger was a need that sprung from the soul of
the man. But, that was impossible. Nicholas no longer had a soul....

He did not answer. The truth be told, he didn't really have an answer to
give. Not really. He HAD to be here, that was all. Everything in the universe
seemed to draw him here. Everything that mattered in the universe; the wind, the
sky, the moon, the sun, the stars, the earth beneath his feet, his dreams ...

It was evident that his son wasn't going to reply. LaCroix looked away.
He was uncomfortable by the need he felt in his son. A need he not only knew he
could not fill but a need whose origins he was fully and keenly aware of. What
Nicholas needed was her.

The knowledge of this fact was distressing, even for LaCroix.

His recognition of his son's need reminded him. It was like looking into a
mirror that reflected his own heart, a heart he had felt shatter into a thousand
pieces centuries ago....

What he saw in the mirror of his son's eyes made him ache anew.
Funny, he thought. The anger that had accompanied these feelings before was
now absent. Now, the image he saw reflected in Nicholas was one he couldn't be
angry at. Not now. Now, LaCroix could only feel a sorrow for his son and the
dream he saw slipping away from him. This would be Nicholas' last chance to
find what he must have before giving up. His son was at the end of the struggle
and LaCroix knew it.

Nick watched his creator as LaCroix looked back up to meet his eyes.
There was an understanding in those eyes that brought tears to his own. This
was something he had never expected to ever be given. This was a kindness he
had never known he had needed so deeply.

"I will not interfere," he promised his son. The quiet timbre of his voice
seemed to hang in the air long after he spoke.

Nick continued to meet LaCroix's gaze. There was only one thing for him
to say. He whispered his reply.

"Thank you."

Am I just fooling myself
That she'll stop the pain

Well, that had been a complete disaster, Nat told herself. Not only had
Jerry been a complete jerk, but she had been a complete bitch as well. What was
wrong with her? Natalie couldn't remember the last time she had acted like that.

She sighed and took another sip of her coffee. She pulled her legs up
and hugged them to her chest as she snuggled down into the corner of her sofa.
She stared at the flames in her fireplace.

Jerry was a self-absorbed idiot. Still, Natalie had been short-tempered
with him right from the start. Renee had it pegged right away. Even before the
first quarter of the game was over, Renee had pulled Natalie up and dragged her
to the washroom to give her a talking to.

"You're sabotaging this, aren't you?" Renee had said, her arms folded
and a scowl on her face.

Natalie looked at her own reflection in the mirror instead of at the face of
her friend. "I don't know."

"What a crock!" was the reply. "So he's not Nick. NO ONE is Nick. No
one is ever going to BE Nick. Natalie, you've got to move on someday."

Do I? she asked herself.

Sitting in front of her fireplace, Natalie wondered if she could. It wasn't
that simple. Nick was gone, out of her life. He could be anywhere and she was
right where he had left her. In love and in pain. Damn him, anyway....

Living without her
I'd go insane

She felt the disturbance in the air before she saw him. Just a second ago
she had been cursing him and now, just like the dreams she had dreamt over and
over since he had gone, here he was.

Natalie released her knees and set her coffee cup down. He didn't move
from his spot standing next to the fireplace, facing her. She was afraid to look
into his eyes.

"Nat," his quiet voice sang to her.

She trembled as she steeled herself to look into those eyes of purest
blue, those eyes from her dreams. Looking up, her eyes met his and her heart
began to pound.

"I couldn't do it, Nat," his soft voice told her. "I couldn't."

Nick shook his head as he stared into the face of the one soul he longed
for more than life. He had left her because he had feared the pain and hurt he
caused her. It was selfish to come back, he knew. He just had no other choice. It
was either returning to the love that could heal him or letting go of any life he
might possess. There was no life without her, no life of sanity, anyway.

"What couldn't you do?" Natalie asked, her own voice a whisper.

He took a slow, deep breath before he answered. "I couldn't live without

Natalie stood slowly and Nick moved nearer to her. He could see the
fear in her eyes, the uncertainty. How would she know he was telling her the

The truth of it was all there, in the ocean of his eyes and the open
honesty of his face. He couldn't live without her, no more than she could live
without him. God, how many times had she wanted him to say that to her?

Natalie swallowed at the lump in her throat and looked down at her
hands. She was clasping her hands together for need of something to do with
them. What should she say?

Reaching out his hand, he hesitated just a second in uncertainty before
placing a gentle finger under her chin to raise her head up so he could look again
into her face. This was something he had to tell her. The truth was the only
weapon he could wield against the pain he had inflicted on her. Perhaps the truth
would not be enough. There simply was no other way.

She resisted his upward tug on her chin for a moment before relenting
and turning her face up to look at him once again. When he met her gaze he saw
the fear plainly written there.

"I thought if I left I wouldn't be able to hurt you anymore. I was afraid of
hurting you, of ... killing you or ... worse." Nick paused as he shook off the horror
of his own recurrent dreams.

"But I couldn't do it, Nat. I realized that I just couldn't do this by
myself." The softness of his voice didn't prevent it from breaking slightly with
the heaviness of his emotions.

"I need you too much. I ... love you, too much."

"Do you?"

Feel her breath in my face
Her body close to me
Can't look in her eyes
She's out of my league

There was a searching in her voice and in her eyes. Searching and

Dropping his hand, he couldn't prevent the pain of his sorrow from
filling his face. Of course she would doubt him. What had he ever done to
deserve her trust? That didn't change the reality of his confession. This was the
truth he couldn't escape.

He nodded in answer.

The evidence of her belief in the honesty of his answer was evident in
the sound of her voice as she called his name.


The tearful plea escaped her just before he pulled her into his arms. She
shut her eyes tight and clung to him with all of her strength. The feeling of his
arms around her, holding her to him, filled her with a happiness she had thought
never to experience again.

They stood in the glow of light before the fire. Holding each other in
mutual love and need, they wept.

Just a fool to believe I have anything she needs
She's like the wind....