On The Brink
by Susan B.
July, 1997
based on characters from Forever Knight, etc.
This sappy little Nick&Nat story takes place during Last Knight and
contains significant references to Near Death, minor references to
other eps. Not for those in major LK denial <g>.

Natalie found herself lying in the sand, staring up into a blue
sky. She lay still and silent for a moment, deeply breathing in the
fresh sweet air. Slowly she rose to her feet, and as she glanced
around, she casually brushed the dust from her clothing. The ground
was covered in sand and loose stone. From somewhere off to her
right, an area hidden by a small hill of rock and dirt, she could
faintly hear the rippling of water. She started to walk towards the
sound and just as she rounded the hill, a dark haired woman in a
long white gown appeared.

As Natalie gasped and warily backed up a step, the young woman
smiled warmly at her. "You need not fear me," she said softly.
"Nothing here can harm you."

"Who are you?" Natalie asked.

"I am simply here to offer comfort," the woman replied. "This is
the point of transition, between life and death, between one life
and the next."

Natalie took a tenuous step forward. "Where is Nick?" she implored.

"He has not arrived yet," was the reply. "He has a most important
decision to make, and we must wait upon it."

Natalie felt impending tears in her eyes. "He took too much, didn't
he?" she asked solemnly; but she already knew the answer, and the
tears started to trickle down her cheeks.

The woman shrugged slightly. "Too much ...not enough..." She placed
her hand on Natalie's shoulder, but her feather touch could not ebb
the flow of Nat's tears. "That was a very brave thing you did,
Natalie, to offer your life for his soul."

"He is my life," Natalie sobbed, "and I wasn't brave. I only wanted
to be with him, even if it was in the darkness."

The woman gathered Natalie into her arms and hugged her as a mother
would hug a small child. "I know," she whispered, "and now we must
see if he will offer his life for your soul."

The woman suddenly smiled and then vanished, and Natalie found
herself alone at the water's edge. She absently removed her shoes
and stockings, and stripped down to her slip. She stepped into the
cool lake and let the soft sand below ooze up between her toes.
"Oh, Nick," she cried forlornly. "Where are you?"

* * * * *

Nick recognized the land between life and death the moment he
opened his eyes, for he had been there twice before. The first time
he had met a guide and been given the choice between stepping into
the light or returning to earth as a vampire. He had been warned
that returning would be to embrace a life of evil, but he could not
envision the depth to which the blackness would permeate his very
soul. He had heard Lacroix calling him back and he went. He was too
ignorant. Too ignorant, too arrogant, and too foolish to resist the
lure of earthly seduction.

More recently he had visited this place with the hope of being
given the opportunity to make the right choice, to step into the
light; but he had feared his soul was still too dark to pass
judgment. Natalie had saved his soul then as she did this night.
Tonight he had finally realized that he could do no more to atone
for his sins. It was not more atonement that was required of him;
it was what the priest had told him six years ago, what Joan of Arc
had told him centuries ago. It was the restoration of his lost
faith. And it was Natalie who found it hidden within his heart
tonight, and it was she who brought it to the surface.

"Natalie, where are you?" Nick moaned, as he finally dragged
himself up from the ground. The words had barely passed his lips
when he heard the sounds of gentle splashing in water. Nick trekked
around the hill and found the lake, and Natalie. "There you are!"
he exclaimed happily as he approached the shoreline.

Natalie, submerged to her knees in the water, heard his call and
spun around as quickly as she was able to. She waded haphazardly
towards him, arms outstretched. "What took you so long?!" she cried

Nick grinned as he took her hand and helped her to the shore.
"Lacroix," he answered. "I asked him to stake me, but I had to
endure a prolonged lecture before he would finally let me go."

"Ahh, I see," Natalie chuckled.

Nick pulled her close and wrapped his arms snugly around her.
Totally immersed in her warmth and her love, he felt no dampness
from her sodden apparel.

And Natalie was surprised to feel such warmth emanating from him,
a warmth she had not experienced since he had lost his memory some
months back and was mortal for a very brief period of time. She
stared into his blue eyes and saw the same tranquillity now that
she had seen then. "The vampire is gone," she whispered.

"The stake drove him out," Nick replied quietly, "and once again I
am here as a mortal." He stroked her hair and kissed her softly on
the lips. "It's not like it was before, when I was told the greater
part of me was still infested with Lacroix's evil. The evil is
gone. Lacroix is gone."

"And you are here with me," Natalie whispered as she lovingly
stroked his cheek.

"Whatever happened, Nat," Nick reminded her. He nuzzled her ear and
whispered into it, "Forever," before trailing wet kisses to her
lips. He kissed her passionately and she responded in kind. Their
pleasure was soon interrupted by Lacroix's chill voice in the
distance, calling to Nicholas.

Natalie froze. "What is that?" she asked.

"He must have removed the stake and given me blood. He wants me to
go back," Nick replied.

"But you don't have to, right?"

"No one has to go back once they arrive here," he answered, "but
there are many who unwittingly return. Some believe this place to
be a dream and not real, some are afraid of the light, and some do
not realize the true cost of becoming a vampire." Nick paused for
a moment. "I would never return without you," he declared, "and I
will never relinquish the freedom I have sought for so long."
Lacroix's beckoning ceased.

As much as neither of them wanted to separate, both Nick and Nat
felt compelled to walk. Nick knew it was the glowing door that
coaxed them, even though he was unable to see it from where they
stood. He took Natalie's hand in his own and they journeyed

From nowhere, a lone figure in a flowing pink gown appeared before

"Fleur?" Nick gasped as he eyed the image of his mortal sister.

"Nicholas!" Fleur exclaimed as she ran towards him. She threw her
arms around her brother and hugged him tightly, then quickly
stepped back to look at him.

Nick eagerly grasped one of her hands. "You are just as I

"And you, dear brother," Fleur replied, "but for your eyes. There
is something in them that surely was not there the last time we

Nick gently tugged Natalie to his side and introduced her to his
sister. "Natalie ...Fleur." Nat held out her hand and Fleur
graciously accepted it.

"Yes, I see," Fleur said. She sighed deeply and released Nat's hand
before glancing back at Nick, "She is the light in your eyes,

Nick merely grinned, while Natalie blushed.

"You know I must ask," Fleur said. "What of Lacroix?"

"He has been greatly pained without you, Fleur; but he has neither
the will nor inclination to change. I have seen some recent
evidence of that possibility in the future, but ..."

Fleur simply nodded her head and smiled sadly. "And so he chooses
to bind himself to the earth, and to eternal darkness."

"Wait a minute," Nat uttered in disbelief. "You ...and Lacroix?"

Fleur shrugged her shoulders. "Such was my fate," she replied.

Natalie shuddered at the thought.

"And what of mother?" Nick asked, unable to quash his curiosity.
"Is she here too?"

"Perhaps somewhere in the light, Nicholas," Fleur replied. "But you
will understand that it is quite different from the life that you
left. You will feel the essence of old friends and family from time
to time; but it is a very personal place, and the affairs of others
will not be of such concern to you as they are in the physical
realm. There is no evil in the light. No pain. And little sorrow."

"Sorrow?" Nat asked worriedly.

"Not for you and Nicholas," Fleur reassured her. "You have found
each other this lifetime and are bound in light and love for
eternity. And love that can survive a world of self?indulgence,
temptation and sin, is a love that endures." She paused and smiled
before continuing. "Sometimes it takes several mortal lifetimes to
find the missing half of our soul," she said. "It is sorrow when we
must leave here to go back and try again, but it strengthens us."

As Fleur spoke, a huge metallic like door appeared. It was
slightly ajar, and a wash of brilliant light surrounded it.

Without taking her eyes from Nick and Nat, Fleur gestured with her
arm towards the door. "And just as other souls who have returned to
the earth," she said, "you will not remember the pleasures of heaven
until you enter the light."

Nick and Natalie held hands and walked together towards the door.
"And what is heaven?" Natalie asked as they stepped into the light.

"It is the essence of the universe," Fleur replied with a grin.
"Where your reality is limited only by your imagination."

-- The End --

Susan B.