Rogue Enforcer
by Susan B.
Nick&Natpacker <i.e. = some mush>
June 1996
based on characters from Forever Knight, etc.
Tharek stood in the dim light gazing down at the unconscious
Urs as she lay slumped in a heap in the corner of the sofa.
Extracting information from her simple mind couldn't have been
simpler. Tharek never would have guessed there were so many
here so worthy of his discipline.

The look of Urs' soft chalky skin against the black leather of
the sofa pleased Tharek, but it was the way her crimson silky
dress dripped over the skin that truly excited him. In this
light the image was so charmingly reminiscent of a brutal
mortal kill, bloody and messy, the way he liked it.

Urs began to moan and stir as the mild throbbing in her head
dissipated. Still groggy, she looked up at Tharek's handsome
face and smiled. He had such incredibly dark eyes, and his
skin was almost the colour of mortal flesh. Smiling, Tharek
sat down beside her. She reached out her hand to stroke his
throat, and gently traced the outline of recent puncture
marks, barely visible now.

Urs had never tasted a vampire as powerful as Tharek, had
never known such a rush of power and pleasure from another's
blood. And yet there was more, something mysterious and
compelling. Something seductive, yet so elusive that her
search for it swept her into a virtual feeding frenzy. She
passed out cold. Vachon was nothing, nothing at all, compared
to this one.

Still fondling Tharek's throat, Urs leaned forward to kiss
him. But Tharek had no desire to experience her again. Her
blood was dismal and tedious, laden with the dreariness of
depression and self?pity. She was so very full of the weakness
he despised that the only gratification he could ever get from
her would be to kill her. Tharek grabbed her by the shoulders
and stared into her eyes, "It's time for you to leave." Urs
merely blinked and mumbled, "I have to go now." Tharek
grinned, it was just all too easy.

* * * * * *

Urs arrived at the Raven just before 5 AM and took her usual
spot at the bar. The bartender immediately served her and she
started to sip, but the liquid seemed bland and tiresome. A
minute later she felt cool hands caressing the back of her
neck. Almost shivering with excitement, Urs imagined someone
there, but she couldn't remember who. The sound of Vachon's
voice interrupted her thoughts, "Urs, what's up?"

"Oh, nothing. Just passing...time," replied Urs, as Vachon sat
down on the stool next to her. He seemed to remind her of
someone, someone who looked a little like him, but taller,
bigger. Again she tried to remember who, but couldn't, and so
shrugged it off as a dream.

Vachon sensed nothing unusual. LaCroix, on the other hand,
felt an uneasiness the moment Urs walked into the place. He
strolled over to the bar and spoke to her, "I trust all is
well?" Urs grinned and nodded, "Fine". Even without a blood
connection LaCroix could usually read Urs clearly, but tonight
her thoughts were muddled, incomplete.

LaCroix returned to his booth a bit perplexed and lost in
thought. Suddenly Nick was standing before him, and LaCroix
came as close to being startled as he was capable of.

"You seem surprised to see me." Nick chuckled, "unusual".

"Don't be absurd," LaCroix declared, "I am never ...

"What is it? I know something's wrong."

LaCroix took a sip from his glass, then smiled, "Why don't you
go and give your regards to Urs." Nick gave him a quizzical
look. LaCroix motioned to the bar with his hand, "Go on," and
then watched as Nick walked over to the bar to chat with Urs
and Vachon.

Nick returned a few minutes later, "So?"

"You noticed nothing?"

"Should I have?" Nick glanced over towards Urs.

LaCroix toyed with the glass in his hands, "Well, my dear
Nicholas. Someone's been in her head, and they've covered
their tracks. Quite efficiently I might add."

"Enforcers?" Nick whispered.

LaCroix looked at Nick in disbelief, "Your lack of vision
never fails to astound me Nicholas. Enforcers do not attempt
to cover their tracks. They prefer their presence to be

"And what are we to do?" asked Nick.

LaCroix smiled, "All there is for us to do. Remain on our
toes, as it were. Of course you might want to take some
precautions for your mortal ...friend."

"That won't be a problem," said Nick."

LaCroix taunted, "I suspect it is a problem now." He nodded
towards the bar, "Our young friend is leaving. I suggest you
do the same, it is nearly dawn, after all."

"I have to talk to Vachon first. I'll see you tomorrow." Nick
left LaCroix and went over to talk to Vachon before heading
* * * * * *

Nick spent most of the morning pondering LaCroix's words. A
vampire adept enough to confuse LaCroix was a definite threat
to their community, certain death for any mortal impediment.
Eventually he fell into an uneasy sleep, then woke two hours
before sunset. Nick thought about phoning Nat, but told
himself there was nothing to fear during daylight. He
anxiously waited for nightfall, and when it finally came, he
was gone.

When Nick arrived at Nat's she was sitting on her sofa totally
engrossed in a television show. He snuck up behind her and
playfully grabbed her shoulders. Nat jumped and shouted,
"Geez, Nick, you scared the hell out of me!"

"Uh ...sorry," Nick laughed. "What are you watching?"

"What do you think?" Nat turned to him and smiled, "and I've
just had an incredible realization".

"What's that?"

"Oh, just an uncanny resemblance between the kid on the show
and your partner," Nat giggled.

"Huh? What are you talking about, besides the fact they've
both got the same number of syllables in their names?"

Nat glanced back at the screen and teased, "Well, they're both
young and obnoxious. Granted he has been getting more
obnoxious while Tracy is getting less so. But the annoying way
he keeps saving everyone, with all those older and more
experienced people around him, sort of reminds me of someone
who comes up with clues and info before a certain very much
older and more experienced detective does."

Nick laughed, "You're cruel. And you watch too much
television. Besides, she does get occasional help from
Vachon." Stepping around in front of Nat, Nick scooped up the
remote control and turned off the set. His smile faded and his
voice took on a sombre tone, "We have to talk."

"Sounds serious."

"It could be. LaCroix believes an outsider, an unusually
covert vampire, is up to something."

Nat looked puzzled, "What do you mean 'up to something'?"

"I don't know anything yet, except that someone has been using
Urs in a rather ...unconventional fashion." He took Nat's hand
as she got up from the couch, "I want you to stay at my place
for a few days."

"Why? Trouble in your neighbourhood is usually reason to keep
me at bay."

"It's different this time. Our friend knows everything Urs
knows, which means he knows about you." Nat's increasing heart
rate revealed her fear to Nick. He smiled and hugged her
reassuringly, "Don't worry. I'd just feel better if you were
nearby, even during the day."

"What about Tracy?"

"Urs didn't know that Vachon told Tracy what he was. He'll see
to it that she stays away from him for awhile. She'll be

* * * * * *

Tharek rose shortly after sundown, eager to appease his
hunger. He would take two tonight, one for food, and one for
pleasure. Tharek flew from his plush waterfront hotel room
into the night. It didn't take him long to find prey, the
immediate area was totally deserted. He eyed a couple
strolling arm in arm under the Rees Street bridge, and dived
in for a lightning quick kill of the man. The woman stood
there awestruck, too stunned to scream. Just as she was about
to open her mouth, Tharek whammied her into a submissive
state, heaved her over his shoulder, and flew back to his

Once in his room Tharek released the woman from his physical
grip. She stood there in a trance as he removed her jacket,
revealing a strapless blue dress. Tharek swept back her long
golden hair, exposing her neck. His fingers lightly traced the
line of her jugular, the throbbing of the blood beneath them
excited him. Tharek exposed his razor sharp fangs and grazed
her flesh just deeply enough to draw blood. The sight of the
scarlet fluid streaming down her ivory skin thrilled him. It
always thrilled him. Tharek began licking the blood slowly
from her skin. He revelled in the earthy scent and sweet
taste, until he could no longer restrain himself from the
ecstasy of the kill. Tharek viciously bit into her throat, and
when the blood was nearly gone, he snapped her neck.

Still toying with his prize, Tharek began plotting to clean up
at least one part of this little community. The two wayward
vampires, Nick and Vachon, wouldn't prove much of a challenge.
Putting Urs out of her misery was eagerly anticipated.
LaCroix, Tharek realized, would prove to be his biggest
challenge, LaCroix was almost as old as himself. The mortal
woman he would save for last ? reward for his labours.

Scooping the lifeless woman up into his arms Tharek flew back
to where he snatched her two hours earlier. Her partner's
corpse lay undisturbed. Tharek didn't care what the enforcers
thought, he hated them. His people had become too obliging and
complacent towards their mortal counterparts. The enforcers
only encouraged this abberation ? clean up after yourself,
don't let mortals know of you. What had they to fear? That
humanity would start carrying crosses and bathing in garlic
oil? Not likely.

Tharek callously dumped the body onto the ground. She fell
with a thump next to her cold companion. "My calling card,"
Tharek muttered as he soared into the night sky.

* * * * * *

LaCroix felt the presence of the enforcers long before they
actually entered the Raven. He sat at a table near the bar
waiting for them, amusing himself by watching his clientele
quickly slip away as realization came upon them. As two
enforcers walked through the front door Lacroix rose from his
chair. The enforcers were dressed alike, all in black with
high boots and long roomy trenchcoats. The shorter one also
wore a black cowboy hat, he looked like a gunfighter from the
Old West. Both pairs of eyes were black, cold and barren.
LaCroix recognized the taller, long haired one from a previous
fairly amicable encounter some three centuries past. He knew
he had nothing to fear from these two, it was quite clear to
him they were after other quarry. The unknown enforcer stood
by the door expressionless, while the other, Daniel,
approached LaCroix.

LaCroix had already placed a bottle of his very best on the
table. As they stood across from each other, LaCroix slowly
opened the bottle, calmly poured the sumptuous red liquid into
a glass, and offered it. The enforcer accepted, took a sip,
and said simply, "LaCroix".

"A pleasure to see you again, Daniel. How may I be of

The enforcer replied in a deep lingering voice, "We are
looking for an ...associate. We know he is here and in fact
have just cleaned up his latest mess, not three hours old."

"...And he is...?"

"His name is Tharek. He is not pleased with our ...evolution.
Tharek maintains his own agenda." Daniel hesitated for a
moment, "And be aware, LaCroix, that while Tharek abhors all
who stray from the old ways, he detests even more those who
allow them to stray."

"I understand," replied LaCroix. "And my people...might they be
protected from anything ...incriminating?"

"You overstep your bounds, LaCroix," Daniel snarled. "Our laws
must be upheld, and information, regardless of its source,
will be used to that end."

LaCroix pointed over to a table in the far corner where he had
told Urs to wait, "He was with her ...last night, I believe.
She remembers nothing."

"It's too late to get anything from her now. You have been
informed. We expect you, and your people, to co?operate."

"Of course we shall," smiled LaCroix.

Just before Daniel turned to leave he let slip an amused smile
and added, "One other thing. He likes to mark his kills."

The enforcer walked back to his partner and they both left. A
moment later LaCroix flew from the Raven as well.

* * * * * *

LaCroix arrived at Nick's loft to find Nick laying on the
couch reading a book and Nat sitting at the kitchen table with
a cup of tea and a magazine.

Nick quickly stood up as LaCroix spoke, "Hello Nicholas,
...Dr. Lambert."

Nat acknowledged his greeting with a cautious nod, and stayed
where she was. LaCroix walked over to Nick.

"You have more information?," Nick asked.

"Indeed," replied LaCroix. "Evidently our friend is being
sought by enforcers, two of whom were at the Raven not twenty
minutes ago." LaCroix's passive gaze quickly turned into a
glare, "It would appear he has a particular aversion to those
of our kind who prefer not to remain true to their calling."

The china cup Nat had been holding slipped from her hands and
crashed to the floor. Nick and LaCroix gawked at her
simultaneously. Nat merely shrugged her shoulders, averted her
eyes, and started to clean up the mess.

"No doubt that was for my benefit," snapped Nick.

LaCroix clasped his hands together and crooned, "While it
would no doubt please me to say yes, evidently in this
instance we are both at fault. You for rejecting your nature,
and I for allowing you to. ...We are merely targets of
convenience, Nicholas. He perceives his real enemies to be the
enforcers, but they are never alone, never vulnerable."

"What should I expect?" Nick asked quietly.

"You can expect him to be much more powerful than you are.
Alas, I was not made aware of his preferred method for killing
...our kind." LaCroix peered over at Nat, "But apparently he
likes to dabble in a little finger painting when he's finished
with a mortal woman."


"Blood and skin, paint and canvas. An artist." LaCroix turned
back to face Nick and grinned, "Of course, having never seen
his work, I cannot judge his talent."

"You've seen this before?"

"One particular individual comes to mind immediately. But he
preferred to work three dimensionally ? a sculptor of flesh
and bone, so to speak."

"He was most likely insane," Nick mumbled.

LaCroix chuckled, "Actually ...he was quite good."

* * * * *

Urs and Vachon were in Vachon's room at the abandoned church.
Vachon was sitting in his preferred location ? on the floor
with his legs stretched out in front of him. Urs was curled up
in a chair painting her fingernails hot pink.

A tall man in a grey overcoat whooshed into the room. Vachon
sprang to his feet, "Who the hell are you? I don't know you!"

"Ah, but I know you, Vachon ? you who befriend humanity and no
longer drink their blood. I do not tolerate such empathy for
mortals." Tharek looked at Urs who had stood up and was
nervously looking back at him, "She knows me."

Vachon gave Urs a questioning stare.

Urs stammered, "He seems somehow familiar to me ...but,
I don't recognize him."

Vachon turned his attention back to the stranger, "What do you

Tharek looked at Vachon menacingly, "Justice."

"Justice for what?"

"Justice for the shame you bring upon your race," Tharek

Vachon knew that justice meant death, his death. He asked
anxiously, "And Urs?"

"You created her. Weakness begets weakness. I do not tolerate
weakness either." Tharek paused and smiled wickedly, "Be happy
for her. I intend to put an end to her miserable existence."

Tharek turned towards Urs, drawing out his words, "How long
has it been since you have experienced intense pain? Does the
sound of crushing bone appeal to you?" Tharek grinned, "Shall
I take you a little slice at a time, or would you prefer a
slow, agonizing burn?"

Urs bared her fangs and backed up slowly, almost tripping over
the chair behind her. Tharek pulled a sharp wooden stake from
beneath his coat. Urs screamed. Tharek drove the stake through
her heart. Urs groaned as she collapsed to the floor. Tharek
turned to a stunned Vachon and laughed, "What surprises you?
Surely you must know by now that I am, after all, a

Vachon bared his fangs, growled, and stepped back. Urs lay
dead on the floor. In the blink of an eye Tharek had pulled
the stake from Urs and was about to plunge it into Vachon when
he suddenly flew up and out of the room. LaCroix appeared in
his place instantaneously.

LaCroix knelt down and examined Urs. A moment later he rose
and approached Vachon, "I am truly sorry, she is gone. The
stake went right through. There is nothing left of her life,
or her heart, to regenerate."

Vachon was totally despondent. He sluggishly walked over to
Urs, reached down to touch her face and whispered something.
LaCroix let him be for a few minutes, then crept up behind him
and spoke quietly, "It's nearly dawn. Come with me to the
Raven. You can look after her later."

* * * * * *

Just as the morning sunlight started streaming into the loft
Nick pushed his remote control to close the shutters. He
looked over at Nat who was curled up half?asleep on the couch,
"I think we should get some sleep."

She opened her eyes a little and yawned, "Good idea, uh, just
throw something over me please." Nick picked up an afghan from
the chair and draped it over her. Just as he was about to walk
away she said, "Get back here, you forgot my kiss goodnight."
Nick smiled and knelt down to kiss her cheek. She pulled him
forward in a hug and whimpered, "A real kiss."


"Just one, ...come on. Keep your eyes closed ? maybe they
won't change colour."

"Okay, one," Nick said.

"But a long one, right?"

"Okay, okay," Nick said, "seeing as how you've just managed to
turn a serious romantic moment into a joke." He only meant for
it to be a short, simple kiss, but she was so warm and
compelling, so eager. Nick kissed her long and deep, and
kissed her again. He ran his hands over her, caressing her
soft skin. Nat started to tremble and pulled him ever closer.
His lips were cold but hers melted under them. Her skin turned
to fire under his touch. She ached for his body, he ached for
her blood. Nick moaned fiercely and pulled away. It ended the
way it always did, glowing eyes, separation, frustration, and
tears. Nick stroked Nat's hair until she stopped crying and
fell asleep, and then he dragged himself up to his room.

Nat woke up around 2:00 that afternoon, had a shower and
changed. Not knowing how long she would be at Nick's, she
decided to go out to the grocery store and pick up a few
things. She also wanted to stop in at her lab.

Nat rifled through her purse for some paper and a pen and
scribbled a note for Nick. She went up to his room and left it
on his night table. Seeing him laying there in his bed, and
remembering his kisses from the night before, it was a
struggle for her to turn and leave without touching him.

* * * * *

The sun was just beginning to set when Nick awoke. After
reading Nat's note he scrambled from his bed and peeked out
the window. It was getting dark. Nick got dressed quickly and
ran downstairs. Just as he hit the bottom step Nat walked in.

"What the hell were you thinking, Nat?"

Nat set down a bag of groceries and took off her jacket, "I
left you a note."

"This isn't some kind of game. It's dark out. It's dangerous."

"I'm sorry, Nick. I didn't intend to be out so long, I got
stuck in traffic downtown."

"What were you doing downtown? There's a grocery store two
blocks away."

"I just stopped by my office to pick up some medical journals
to read." Nat immediately realized she didn't have anything in
her hands now except her purse.

"Well, where are they?"

Nat's face paled and her voice was a little shaky, "Uh, I
guess I forgot them. I started going over some reports and
forgot to bring them back with me."

Nick started walking over towards the couch and stopped
suddenly. His expression turned dour as he scanned the room,
"Nat. Come here. Now." She started walking nervously towards
him and was about fifteen feet away when Tharek materialized
right between them.

Nick's eyes glowed and he bared his fangs immediately, but
remained where he stood, facing Tharek.

Tharek maintained his human countenance. He stood calmly and
studied Nick, "So, you must be Nick, or is it Nicholas? No
matter. And this charming creature behind me must be your
beloved mortal, Natalie."

"What do you want?" Nick snapped.

"I've already had this tiring conversation once tonight,
Nicholas, with your friend Vachon. You know what I want ? your

"You won't find my life as easy to take as Vachon's."

"I haven't yet had that pleasure. I was, unfortunately, most
rudely interrupted in the middle of my work by your maker,

Tharek peered over at Nat before returning his gaze to Nick,
"I had planned to save her for last, but as my plans have
already been somewhat thwarted, perhaps not."

Visions of Natalie at the hands of Tharek flashed through
Nick's mind. He vamped out and flew at the intruder. Tharek
pushed his arm forward into Nick's chest, Nick collapsed to
the floor. Tharek laughed, "She is quite lovely. I shall try
to do her justice."

Nick growled and kicked out at Tharek as he pulled himself up
from the floor. The kick had no affect. Tharek spun Nick
around and grabbed his arms, pinning them behind his back.
Still gripping Nick he turned so they were both facing Nat.
Tharek hissed into Nick's ear, "Perhaps you would like to

Again Nick lashed out with his legs, this time briefly
knocking Tharek off balance. Nick freed his arms from Tharek's
grasp and lunged for his throat. Tharek grabbed Nick by the
throat instead, lifted him up, and tossed him again to the
floor. He pulled a bloody wooden stake from his coat and
shouted, "Now you die!". Tharek was about to thrust the stake
into Nick when a dazed look came upon his face. The stake
slipped out of his hand as he slowly turned around. Nat was
directly behind him. He swung his arm out wildly and clawed at
her neck as he slumped to the floor, now screaming in pain.
Nat stood there motionless, her open purse in one hand, an
empty syringe in the other. She dropped both to the ground.

Tharek lay twisting in agony, convulsing and gasping for air.
The floor vibrated underneath the frenzied thrashing of his
limbs. After a long minute the convulsions slowed, and finally
stopped. A stream of blood ran from his nose and mouth, blood
trickled from his ears. Tharek was, irrevocably, dead.

Nick, totally flustered, hauled himself up and stared at Nat,
"What the hell did you do to him?"

Nat, looking almost as stunned as Nick, just muttered, "It


Stepping gingerly around Tharek, Nat went to Nick. She reached
her arms out for him. He took her and held her, and whispered,
"What did you do?"

She spoke quietly, "I made it months ago. It's a concentrated
formula, based on the retro?virus that killed Screed." Nat
started to sob, and her voice began to break up, "I don't know
why I made it, Nick ...I should have told you's poison
to you. I was ...going to get rid of it ...but I didn't. I
don't know why ...I just didn't. And today, with what was
going on ...I went to the lab to get it."

"Don't cry, Nat. I'm glad for it, all of it. Both of us would
have been dead by now." Nick loosened his grasp, "Come on, he
got you pretty good with his nails, let's go clean you up."

Nick had just started leading Nat over to the sink when he
suddenly grabbed hold of her. At that moment the two enforcers
whooshed into the room. They materialized immediately next to
Tharek's spent corpse, the wooden stake and empty syringe
laying on the floor beside him. Daniel looked into Nat's eyes
and immediately discovered what had happened. He began walking
towards Nick and Nat.

Neither knew exactly what to expect from the enforcers, but
both believed it would entail Nat's death. Daniel just stood
there and stared at them for a moment. Nick's eyes took on
their glow, but he held his place. Daniel turned to the other
enforcer and nodded his head slightly. His partner lifted
Tharek from the floor and flew from the loft. Nat was visibly
shaking. Daniel reached out and touched her cheek with his icy
fingers. Nick growled and pulled her back from his reach.
Daniel smiled and spoke to Nat in an overtly seductive voice,
"You have nothing to fear from me. Provided, of course, that
you do not have another needle in your hand."

Daniel eyed Nick, "It is a rare thing for a mortal to save a
vampire. Yet this one previously saves an entire community,
and today saves you, at enormous risk to her own short life."

Nat choked out the words, "I thought your kind wanted me

The enforcer looked at her and grinned, "If we wanted you
dead, Dr. Lambert, you would have been dead long before this."
Without another word, Daniel flew from the loft.

Nick held Nat for awhile until her heart rate slowed and she
had composed herself. Then he sat her down on a kitchen chair
and went over to the sink to dampen a washcloth. Nick returned
to the table and knelt next to Nat. He gently wiped the blood from
her neck where Tharek had scratched her. Paying particular
attention to the cheek Daniel had touched, Nick slowly ran the
cloth over her face. He kissed her cheek and whispered, "Are
you okay, Nat?"

"Almost. I just need to sit for a bit, then forget about all
of this."

Nick reached out and massaged her shoulder reassuringly, "It
is over, Nat, everything's okay."

"I know. Come on, let's go watch television or something," Nat
got up and went and sat on the couch, Nick followed. She
cuddled up to him and he kissed her in earnest. Nat kissed him
back longingly. She let her familiar desire for him surge, let
everything else float away. Feeling quite normal again Nat
smiled, "I just remembered something." She went over and
picked up her purse from the floor.

"Do you have any other surprises in there that you've been
working on?" Nick asked.

"Well, as a matter of fact, Nick, I do. It will require some
human attributes you really *must* explore ? innovation and
...uh ...imagination; but I think we can make a go of it, and
now's as good a time as any." //Now that I've saved your life
and you can't say no// Nat grinned and yanked out a squishy
fleshtone pouch. "I honestly don't know why I didn't think of
this before. An ingenious device, protective but pliable metal
plate on one side, soft and yielding on the other."

"What *is* that?"

"It's a pint of my blood, Nick. Mmmm...still fresh too," Nat
teased as she dangled the pouch in the air.

"Yeah...and...uh...what are we supposed to do with it?"

Nat looked him in the eye. "You love me, right?"


"You trust me, right?"


"You wanna make me happy, right?"


"Well, then," Nat grinned, "Come on upstairs and I'll show you."

-- The End --



NOTES: I wrote this especially for those people who politely
informed me the first story ended before the best part ). I
backed myself into a pretty tight corner there, so please go
easy on me. There is some erotic innuendo, nothing graphic. A
LOT more Nick&Nat ROMANCE than the previous one <enough to
nauseate Cousins, hee-hee>

BG: 1) Daniel and his partner are enforcers who originally
came to TO to hunt a rogue enforcer named Tharek. 2) Daniel
has already met Nick & Nat. 3) I've incorporated the last
little bit from RE at the start of this one for cohesion.
Rogue Enforcer - Sequel
by Susan B.
June, 1996
based on characters from Forever Knight, etc.
Nick & Nat at the Loft, Nat takes something from her purse...

Nat grinned and yanked out a squishy fleshtone pouch. "I
honestly don't know why I didn't think of this before. An
ingenious device, protective but pliable metal plate on one
side, soft and yielding on the other."

"What *is* that?"

"It's a pint of my blood, Nick. Mmmm...still fresh too," Nat
teased as she dangled the pouch in the air.

"Yeah...and...uh...what are we supposed to do with it?"

Nat looked him in the eye. "You love me, right?"


"You trust me, right?"


"You wanna make me happy, right?"


"Well, then," Nat grinned, "Come on upstairs and I'll show

Nick got up off the couch and walked towards Nat, "Forget it.
It's still too dangerous."

"Yeah, right," said Nat, standing on the lower step still
twirling the blood bag in the air, "And I suppose that's why
your feet are marching you straight over here!"

Nat started climbing up the stairs and Nick followed her like
a puppy, "I don't know, Nat. It all seems pretty ..impulsive."
They stopped just outside his room, Nat turned around and
glared at him.

"Impulsive, Nick? I've been waiting for four years, don't give
me *impulsive*." She grabbed his arm and dragged him into the
bedroom. Nick mumbled to himself all the way over to the bed.
As they sat down on the edge of the bed Nat's expression
softened and she kissed him reassuringly, "Don't worry".

"Well, let me have a look at it," Nick said. She tapped her
fingers on the metal plated side as she handed it over to him,
"See. There's no way your teeth are gonna bite through that!"

Nick set the pouch on the bed, still uneasy. Nat spoke gently,
"Listen, Nick. I can't wait any more, I'm dying inside. I need
you to hold me, touch me. I need you make love to me."

"You want what I can't give you. And that thing isn't going to
help. You know it's a physical impossibility for me."

"Oh, Nick," Nat whimpered, "Will you please stop thinking
about what *doesn't* work, and start thinking about what
*does* work." She took his hands, "Like these". Nick smiled.

He kissed her then and they nervously fumbled with each
other's clothes. Nick had barely gotten her dress off of her
when Nat noticed his eyes starting to glow, "Hold on a
second!" Nat stuck the blood pack onto her neck. Nick's eyes
quickly changed back to blue and he broke out laughing
hysterically, "I'm sorry, Nat, it looks ridiculous!"

Nat cheered, "Alright, Nick! Just keep that ridiculous image
in your mind and make love to me!" Nick was desperately trying
to stifle his laughter, "You *can't* be serious!"

"I am serious. Just keep your cackling down to a dull roar,
I'll blank it out."

Nick tried to regain some of his composure and concentrate on
Nat. Humour was obviously an effective tool in keeping
bloodlust under control ? he wondered if that's what she
planned all along. Nick was still giggling inside, but his
kisses and caresses were obviously having a positive affect on
Nat. Realizing the pleasure he was giving her, he became
totally engrossed in the effort. Nick didn't even think about
himself (!), until she started moaning and calling his name.

He kissed her, "Nat". She slowly opened her eyes. Nick's eyes
had again turned to gold and he said softly, "I can still
stop, tell me now." Nat massaged the back of his neck, "Don't
stop. Just close your eyes and believe it's me. It's the only
way I can give my blood, my love, to you. Take it". Nick bit
into the pack on her neck and drained it. Her blood was
sweeter than he could have ever imagined. It was gone all too
soon, but it was enough; and in it he discovered the intensity
of her love for him, and realized the intensity of his own
love for her.

While Nick was returning back to normal, Nat was stuffing the
evidence down between the headboard and mattress. Nick turned
to his side, let her snuggle back up into him, and then put
his arm over her. Nick smiled lightly, remembering her
dangling that silly thing in the air, giggling, and teasing
him with it. It seemed so absurd at the time, but she *was*
right. Innovation and imagination Nat said ? what she really
meant was a compromise they could both live with, at least for
now. She needed a physical bond with him, an intimacy he
thought he could never give her, but he was wrong.

* * * * *

Daniel and his partner Mark sat across from each other in a
seedy motel room on Lakeshore Blvd. They raised and lowered
their voices as they spoke, corresponding to the clamour of
traffic from the highway just across the road.

Mark, the one who looked like a gunslinger from the Old West,
took off his black cowboy hat and tossed in onto the bed, "I
know what you're thinking, you can't do it."

Daniel snapped back, "I can do whatever I choose to do."

"She's not worth it. They'll send someone after you, just as
they sent us after Tharek."

"She is worth it. She's exactly what I've been looking for,
what I need." Daniel looked directly at Mark, "She is someone
worthy ...of me. I knew it last night, when I looked into her
eyes and discovered what she had done, when I discovered the
magnitude of her courage. Quite remarkable ...for a mortal."

Mark shouted, "I won't have a hand in it. She has been
protected by our superiors. Surely you will not cross them!"

"Surely you will not cross me!" Daniel yelled back.

* * * * *

"Nick!! My God, Nick!! Wake Up!!"

Nick's eyes opened, already glowing, but he couldn't move. A
hand was wrapped tightly around his throat, paralysing him. He
could barely breathe. It wasn't Nat's hand, but Nat was there,
shaking him, holding him, screaming, crying, and clawing at

"Don't just stand there, pull her off of him will you!" Daniel
shouted to his partner. Mark leaned over Nick's bed and tried
to pry Nat free. She wouldn't budge.

"It will be a lot easier on you if you co?operate," Mark
growled as he smacked the back of her head.

Daniel, one hand clenched around Nick's throat, raised his
free hand and slapped Mark's arm away from Nat, "Don't do that
again. Don't hurt her. Just get her off of him." Mark snarled
back at Daniel and continued trying to break Nat free. Nick
felt his flesh being ripped open by her fingernails as she
was pried away from him.

"Don't hurt him, oh please don't hurt him!," Nat wailed, as
she thrashed her arms out in front of her, desperately trying
to reach Nick.

Nick couldn't move. From the corner of his eye he could see
Nat beside him on the bed, tears streaming down her face,
struggling to cover herself with the sheets. Mark's hand was
firmly gripping the back of her neck. Even through all of his
vampiric rage Nick was struggling to hold back the tears. In
all of his 800 years, never had he felt so utterly, totally,

Daniel, still restraining Nick, sat on the edge of the bed and
spoke calmly to him, "Do you see what you have here, what you
have wasted? Even through all of this, her concern is only for
you. Such strength and courage, such beauty and passion, and
to think it is all wasted ...on you." Daniel reached across
Nick and stroked Nat's bare shoulder, she cringed at his icy
touch. Nick tried to howl, but he didn't have enough air. All
he could manage was a heart?wrenching moan.

Mark scanned the room and spotted Nat's clothes in a pile on
the floor near the foot of the bed. He spoke sharply to her,
"If you move ? he dies." Nat kept her eyes on Nick, struggling
to focus on him through her tears. She didn't flinch. Mark
picked up her things and tossed them at her, "Get dressed."
She complied.

When Nat was dressed Mark lifted her out of the bed, out of
Nick's line of vision. Nick heard Mark fly out of the loft,
with Nat. Daniel looked at Nick, "Worry not. Her strength and
beauty will no longer be squandered. Tonight she will be mine,
and think of you no more."

Daniel let go of Nick. Nick, starving for air, inhaled deeply
and lunged at Daniel. Daniel's arm crashed down on Nick's
head, knocking him unconscious, "I think the effects should
wear off in about ten minutes. That's about five minutes after
* * * * *

Daniel flew back to the motel room. Mark was already there
with Natalie. She was sitting on the corner of one of the
beds. Tears were pouring from her eyes, but she never made a
sound. Daniel went over to her and stroked her hair, "Soon you
will not remember what it is to cry". She recoiled from him
and he grabbed her by the chin, "Don't ever pull away from me
again." When he loosened his grip Nat looked up at him
defiantly and pulled back again. Daniel laughed, "You are
indeed all that I expected you would be."

Mark was standing by the window as the sun was beginning to
rise. He drew the heavy drapes shut, blocking out the light.
Daniel flicked on the lamp on the night table before turning
his attention back to Nat. He sniffed at her and said, "His
stench is all over you." Nat pulled her arms up around her
face and inhaled deeply, longing to breathe in Nick's scent,
but all she could smell was her own stale perfume. Her
thoughts were all on Nick, God, was he even still alive? Nat
pushed the idea that he could be dead from her mind.

Daniel pulled Nat up off the bed and shoved her towards the
bathroom, "You'll spend the day in there. And bathe too. I'll
not have you stinking of him." He yanked a sheet off the bed
and stuffed it into her arms, "Put this on when you're done,
and leave what you're wearing in there. Your clothes reek of
him too."

Nat collapsed on the cold bathroom floor, she could hear the
enforcers barricading the other side of the door. She wouldn't
bathe. As long as Nick's scent was all over her, Nick was all
over her, and she wouldn't wash that away. Nat curled up in a
ball on the floor and thought of Nick, and of being loved by
* * * * *

Nick, slowly regaining consciousness, was afraid to open his
eyes. In his mind he knew it had happened. In his heart he
hoped it was only a dream, a nightmare. But dreams don't cry
real tears, and his chest was soaking wet, a wetness that
still felt warm against his cold skin. His eyes still closed,
he ran his fingers over his chest and then touched them to his
lips, yearning to taste his own blood sweat, but tasting only
tears, salty human tears, Nat's tears. He started to cry.

Nick rolled over to where Nat had been laying. Real or
imagined, he could still feel her warmth on the sheets. He
cried into the pillow she had slept on, it was laden with the
spicy fragrance of her perfume. Nick hugged her pillow,
longing for the warmth of her skin. Just hours ago he was
holding her, touching her, loving her. Just minutes ago she
was beside him, sleeping, content, and warm. And now she was
gone, stolen from him, snatched from his own bed.

Nick knew that as soon as he opened his eyes he would have to
concede that she was truly gone. But he had to open his eyes,
or he would never get her back. And he had to find her before
sunset or she could be lost to him forever. Nick rolled over,
looked up at the ceiling, and wiped the tears from his eyes.
He screamed a curse at the sun, and at himself. Then he picked
up the phone and started dialing.

* * * * *

Nick was dressed and nervously pacing by the intercom waiting.
Finally it buzzed, "I'll be right down. Meet me in front of
the garage". He ran down the stairs into the garage and opened
the door. The sunlight came pouring in and Nick stayed back as
far as he could, "Come on in, back here".

A short dark haired man in grey coveralls walked into the
garage with a clipboard and a pen. He handed them over to
Nick, "Sign there, and there".

Nick signed the papers and handed the clipboard back to the
man, "Is it exactly what I asked for?"

The man shrugged his shoulders, "I just deliver them buddy, I
don't take the orders."

"Why don't you just describe it for me?"

"Why don't you just go out and have a look?"

Nick glared at him and the guy backed off, "Okay, buddy,
relax. 96 cargo van, tinted windows." He fished the keys out
of his pocket and handed them to Nick, "Here."

They both heard the sound of another vehicle pulling up to the
garage. "That's my ride. Call us when you want it picked up,"
the man scooted away.

As soon as the other vehicle had left, Nick bolted out to the
van and climbed in. It wasn't so bad. The windows were heavily
tinted, and there were no windows in the back. He pulled the
shades on the side windows down as far as he could without
blocking his vision of the mirrors. Sitting back as far as
practical in the drivers seat, the light that did manage to
reach him was not unbearable, certainly not as unbearable
as the thought of sitting in his apartment doing nothing.

* * * * *

The enforcers awoke from their sleep just after sunset. Daniel
immediately went over to the bathroom door and pushed the
dresser away from it. He opened it to find Nat still curled up
on the hard tile floor. "I told you to clean up and get rid of
those clothes." Nat just looked up at him blankly. He
continued, "You can do it yourself *now*, or I'll do it for
you." Nat dragged herself up from the floor and went over to
the tub. She turned on the faucets and stared back at Daniel.
He shut the door and left her alone.

Daniel turned to Mark, who was sitting on the far bed, "Go
find her something decent to wear, something long and black.
But soft, it must be soft, like silk."

"You *are* going to bring her across, aren't you?" said Mark.

Daniel just looked at him.

"You're making a mistake. She is protected. You're not
supposed to be interfering with her life. If you just take her
and be done with it, you might get out of this alive by
claiming ignorance of her demise. Bring her across, and you
are most certainly doomed."

"I *will* bring her across," growled Daniel. "And *nothing*
will come of it, because you will back up my claim that I
brought her across voluntarily. Any words you speak to the
contrary, will be the last words you ever speak."

Mark, looking thoroughly disgusted, picked up his hat and
stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him.

* * * * *

Nick had driven around the entire day trying to find leads. He
couldn't count the number of times he had to make mad dashes
from the van into sleazy bars and motels seeking out both
snitches and friends. Bank machines were another frequent stop
? information was rarely cheap, never free, and often useless.

There was only one low?end motel area left to check out, the
Lakeshore Blvd. strip. He was sure the enforcers would be
staying in a run?down area. They, of all people, stood out in
a crowd, definitely not the Westin Harbour Castle type. The
thought crept into Nick's mind that the Westin Harbour was the
hotel Tharek stayed at. But Tharek was a rogue enforcer, he
would have stayed at a hotel at the opposite end of the
refinement scale that typical enforcers subscribed to.

Nick started off for the Lakeshore strip just as the sun was
beginning to set. There were six motels down there to check,
and daylight was all but gone. Nick took off his sunglasses
and tossed them onto the dashboard. His heart grew heavier
with each passing minute of daylight.

* * * * *

Mark knew what he had to do as soon as he left the motel room.
He should have went to his superiors at the first glimmer of
trouble. It was too late for that now. Helping Daniel seize
Natalie was his mistake. Mark had no personal interest in
Natalie one way or the other, but he did have respect for the
laws of his people. His only chance against Daniel would be to
enlist aid, and he knew who would most want to assist him.

Mark arrived at Nick's loft and walked in cautiously, but the
need for caution was unfounded. No one was home.

He then flew to the Raven. Usually people averted their eyes
when he walked into a room, not so here. Undoubtedly this
whole community had been told what they had done, and they
weren't very pleased about it.

LaCroix, observing from his booth, motioned Mark to join him.
Mark walked over warily. His presence was clearly unwanted
here, and no one ever felt as vulnerable as a lone enforcer.

Mark and LaCroix stood near the radio booth. Mark was careful
to ensure that his back was to the wall, "I'm looking for

"I see," said LaCroix, "Having half of the distressed duo is
not enough for you?"

"I don't have time for chatter," snapped Mark. "She doesn't
have time either. Do you know where Knight is, or not?"

"I haven't a clue," LaCroix replied. "He's been out
galavanting around all day in a *very* heavily tinted van
looking for ...well, you and your partner as a matter of

Mark looked questioningly at LaCroix, "I don't suppose you
would have any interest in helping to rectify the situation.
Although there are rules against intentionally harming the
protected, you are under no obligation to help."

"I suppose it might be interesting to ...lend a hand. After
all, Nicholas does have a profound attachment to the girl."

"Daniel has been totally smitten by her," Mark offered. "I've
never seen him like this before."

LaCroix nodded knowingly, "Unfortunately, she seems to have
that annoying affect on many of us."

* * * * *

Daniel started pacing the room impatiently, "He should have
been back by now."

He looked over at Nat who was sitting on the bed wrapped up in
the sheet he gave her to wear. Daniel smiled wickedly at her,
"I won't wait much longer."

Nat shivered, but she had already stopped crying and was determined
not to start again. She closed her eyes hoping and praying that
Nick would find her, before it was too late. She refused to think
that Nick was anything but alive and well, and desperately
searching for her.

Daniel walked over to the bed and sat down next to Nat. He
started to fondle her hair, and ran his frigid hands across
her skin. He caressed her arms and her shoulders. Nat's
resolve not to cry vanished when Daniel began stroking her
neck. When he started kissing her neck, Nat's tears started to
* * * * *

Nick pulled into the lot of the first motel and hopped out of
the van. He went into the office, but as usual in these
places, there was no one there. A cool breeze floated in
through the window and Nick tensed up. He could smell the same
perfume Nat was wearing, an expensive perfume, not a perfume
people staying here would normally buy. Nick raced from the
office and followed the scent.

* * * * *

LaCroix and Mark materialized at the motel to discover that
Nick was already there looking around. Mark started to move
towards Nick, but LaCroix stopped him abruptly with his arm,
"He must be allowed an opportunity for his own revenge."
LaCroix then chuckled, "We shall be, as Nicholas would say,
his back?up".
* * * * *

Nick peered through the window of the last motel room and saw
Natalie lying inert in Daniel's arms. He flew into a vampiric
rage and burst into the room. Daniel, caught offguard, dropped
Nat to the floor and sprang to his feet, but he was too slow.
Nick lunged at Daniel and spun him around. He dug his nails
into the enforcer's neck and ripped out his throat. Blood
gushed everywhere. Daniel was halfway to the ground when Nick
pulled a wooden stake from his coat and thrust it straight
through Daniel's heart.

Nick turned to look at Natalie, motionless on the floor. He
couldn't hear her heartbeat. She looked cold and pale. Nick
dropped down beside her and gathered her up in his arms,
fearing the worst, but afraid to look. He held her to his
chest and rocked her, trying to muster the courage to look at
her neck. Suddenly Nat gasped for air and started to groan.

"Nat!" Nick loosened his grip and looked at her face, her
colour was coming back. There were no puncture wounds on her
neck, but there were bruises.

A very groggy Nat opened her eyes, "Nick?"

He smoothed her hair back away from her face and kissed her
cheek, and her mouth. Nat flung her arms around him, tears
welling up in her eyes. She held on tightly to him and sobbed,
"He was going to bring me across, make me his."

Nick caressed her face and spoke soothingly, "I thought he
already had the job half done, Nat. You weren't breathing, I
couldn't even hear your heartbeat. What happened?"

"I made him angry and he started choking me. He said he was
going to bring me across, but that he was going to make me
forget about you first. I spat in his face, Nick."

Nick lifted her gently up off the floor, "Hold on to me Nat,
I'll take you home now."

"Nick, I don't want to go home. Take me to your place."

Nick nuzzled her ear and whispered into it, "That is home."

-- The Real End --