This Nick&Nat story is my promised sequel to "What's For Dinner,

Two Halves Always Make A Whole
by Susan B.
November, 1997
based on characters from Forever Knight, etc.

Just as he did the previous day, Nick woke before Natalie. Even in
sleep she appeared more human than vampire to him, particularly
this afternoon. She lay in a near fetal position on her stomach
with her face stuffed partially into the pillow. As she shifted
position slightly, a waft of her delicious scent pervaded his
nostrils, and her hair rippled over her bare back. Her skin was
paler than before, but still more cream than chalk. Provocatively
concealed in a swath of black satin, her derriere rose
tantalizingly into the air.

As he sat and stared at her defiant pose, he was reminded of the
images her blood had revealed about her encounter with Lacroix. He
would definitely have to talk to her about that, he mused.
Nonetheless, he did suddenly find himself wondering how it was that
he had been so blind to the truth, that Lacroix's only proven
strength was in his exhaustive vocabulary. Nick chuckled aloud at
one of Natalie's stray thoughts on that issue, that Lacroix could
certainly talk anyone to death should the need ever arise. He knew
she wanted to see Janette eventually too. He had no doubt that his
planned tete?a?tete with Natalie was going to end up in an
argument. Still, what would it matter, he asked himself. She had
told Lacroix that she could crush him, and Nick knew she was right.
He had tasted it in her blood.

Nick concentrated on the serenity he felt simply by laying beside
her and contemplating their lovemaking. He marvelled at her ability
to keep the mind dulling urgency of the vampire at bay even as they
drank of each other. Her blood was as human, compassionate and
loving as it had been when she was mortal. And the ability to
savour that sweet blood, unencumbered by voracity, was the most
satisfying and erotic thing he had ever experienced.

"Why are you staring at my butt like that?" Natalie asked in a
hushed groggy voice.

"Sorry," Nick replied as he briskly diverted his gaze to her face.
"I was lost in thought," he said. "I didn't notice what I was
zooming in on."

Nat giggled. "That's not quite the answer I was hoping for." She
clumsily rolled on to her side. "But I guess it will have to do."

"It will have to do until after I've had breakfast," Nick
whispered. He leaned forward and kissed her lightly on the cheek
before rolling over to the edge of bed and sitting up. "Don't go
anywhere," he told her as he slipped into his pyjama bottoms.

"As if..." she replied.

* * * * *

Lacroix reclined on the sofa in his small apartment at the Raven.
The club had been closed for weeks and he had no intention of
reopening it. He wasn't entirely sure how long he would be staying.
He had planned on leaving Toronto and truly expected Nicholas to go
with him, but things had taken an unexpected turn. He would have
left without Nicholas, but the lure of analyzing Natalie's
transformation and the affect it would have on his son was simply
too enticing to resist.

He hadn't even tried to sleep. He was too angry to sleep. Confused
and angry. Confused because he was within ten feet of Natalie and
could not sense her vampirism. Confused because any attempt to
pierce her mind was futile. He was angry that she knew of his
weakness, his fear; and even angrier that she had no fear of him.
But what truly enraged him was that she was more powerful than he
was, and he didn't know why. Several times he had considered
relaying this information to the enforcers, only to realize each
time that they would most likely woo her into joining them. Lacroix
had no doubt that she would willingly deliver wayward vampires into
the arms of the Enforcers.

"There is no way out of this," he grumbled. "My son is lost to me."
He took a large swallow from the bottle he had been balancing on
his chest, and then dropped it to the floor. He stared at the
ceiling for a long moment, and allowed Natalie's words to echo
through his mind, 'I could crush you as surely as Divia did,
Lacroix; for as much as she was evil, I am good.' Slowly, his frown
twisted into a grin. "No. You wouldn't kill, would you, Doctor? I
know my son, my dear; and he could not endure your sweet, innocent
hands bloodied, your soul blackened. He could not suffer to share
his bed with you, nor even to look upon you. It matters not how
much of an angel you believe yourself to be, Natalie ? bloodlust
will bring you to your knees. All you need... is the right
* * * * *

"Knight!" Reese bellowed as Nick arrived in the squad room.

The captain was standing impatiently by his office door. "He must
sit in his office every night watching the CCTV waiting for me,"
Nick muttered under his breath. He approached Reese. "You wanted to
see me?"

"Anything on last night's John Doe?"

Nick shook his head. "Not a thing. No ID. No prints on file.
Nothing close in missing persons."

"Has the media been notified?" Reese inquired, knowing it had been
Tracy who always took care of those details.

"His photo's out," Nick advised, "but it was too late for the
morning papers. It made the six o'clock news without results. Maybe
after the eleven o'clock."

Reese nodded his head, "Yeah, maybe," he grumbled pessimistically.
"And I suppose no one has called in complaining about a puddle of
blood on their property either."

"I'm afraid not."

"We're going to have to do some digging on this, Nick. The man was
found in a churchyard for crying out loud. A back alley I can
understand. A dumpster I can understand. But hell, Nick, who would
slit a man's throat and then take him to Church?" Reese clenched
his fists as he lowered his gaze to the floor. "It just doesn't add
up," he complained, "it just doesn't make sense."

"Murder never makes sense," Nick offered. "And until we ID this
guy, there's not much we can do."

Reese returned his focus to Nick. "I know, I know," he grumbled. He
spun around and disappeared into his office.

Back in the morgue, Natalie was busy reading the toxicology report
on the John Doe. She suddenly lifted her head and smiled. "You just
couldn't leave, could you," she whispered, before turning her
attention back to her job. She patiently signed the paperwork,
closed the folder, and set it to the side of her desk. Just as she
opened the next folder, Grace rushed into the office.

Natalie smiled up at her. "Hey, Grace!"

"Natalie," Grace gasped as she hurried towards the desk. "There was
a man out front a few minutes ago. Odd looking. Whew. Gave me the
willies." She exaggerated a shudder as she pushed a small white
envelope into Nat's hand. "He asked me to give this to Dr. Lambert.
He said he would be waiting for you outside."

Natalie slit open the envelope and extracted the neatly handwritten
note. She perused it in silence. 'Dr. Lambert,' it read, 'there is
a message I would like to convey to Nicholas before my departure.
I am certain you would prefer that I entrust it to you, rather than
deliver it myself.'

"Damn right!" Natalie exclaimed.

"Natalie? What is it?" Grace was curious.

"A friend of my sister?in?law," Natalie replied. "We had a falling
out recently and he wants to apologize." She smiled lightly at
Grace; and from the sympathetic expression on Grace's face, she
knew her ruse had been successful.

"So... are you going?"

Natalie crumpled up the note and tossed it into the wastebasket
next to her desk. "I believe I must," she replied as she stood up.
She lifted her brown leather jacket from the back of the chair,
slipped into it, and walked out of the office.

When Nat stepped out the front door of the Coroner's building, she
noticed Lacroix waiting on the sidewalk. He didn't know she was
there until he turned and saw her.

"Dr. Lambert," Lacroix chanted, holding out his arm to beckon her

Natalie approached him confidently. "You have a message for Nick?"

"I must admit that was a ploy to get you out here, Doctor," Lacroix

Natalie smiled. "That comes as no surprise to me. It's a game you
excel at."

"Indeed. I've had centuries of practice." Lacroix allowed a vague
smile. He thought he sensed a flash of Natalie's anger and tried to
reach more deeply into her mind, but it was impossible. He simply
folded his hands together. "I'm really more interested in speaking
with you," he professed, "shall we walk?"

They strolled quietly down the street for several minutes until
they came to the edge of a park. "This is far enough," Natalie

Lacroix stopped and turned to face her. "About our...
disagreement," he said. "You have every right to be angry. I have
put Nicholas through hell. Incompetent? Perhaps. But an
incompetence bred from ignorance." Lacroix felt a glint of remorse
in her mind. 'This is going to be easier than I predicted,' he
thought. "I believed I was doing the right thing at the time," he
said. "I only wanted him to accept what he is."

"He has always accepted what he is," Natalie maintained. "He is a
vampire who wants to return to his natural state. It is you who
cannot accept what he is. You want him to find something that has
not existed for a very long time ? a cold heart."

"I understand that now," Lacroix said, "and I would appreciate the
opportunity to remedy the situation."

"It's too late for that," Natalie told him.

But even as she spoke, Lacroix felt the spark of interest in her
mind. "Perhaps you can help?"


"Help me to understand this strange heart of my son, and in return
I will help you to understand the heart of a vampire. There is much
I could teach you."

"Such as?"

Lacroix studied her momentarily. "Hunting, for example."

Natalie chuckled and mockingly put her finger to her chin. "Ahh.
Let me see," she said. "We have superior eyesight, a heightened
sense of smell, extraordinary hearing, tremendous strength, the
power of flight, and a food source that doesn't even know we exist.
It is a rather one sided affair, don't you think?" She paused for
a moment. "There is nothing to learn, Lacroix. You target your
prey, ensure no one's looking, and kill it. End of story."

Lacroix laughed. "Very perceptive, Doctor. But I was thinking more
along the lines of enjoying your prey, rather than simply feeding.
I don't suppose Nicholas has even allowed you the taste of human
blood? No, he would not. It is very... arousing."

"That's an interesting term, Lacroix," Natalie commented. "Is it
always like that for you?"

"Of course," Lacroix declared proudly.

"Was it that way in Vietnam?" Natalie asked. "With the children?"

Lacroix grinned. "If they give us pleasure, what does it matter?"

"You're even sicker than I thought," she spat in disgust.

Lacroix took a step closer to her. "And something about that
fascinates you, doesn't it?"

Her expression revealed nothing. She simply stared at him.

"Nicholas's blood is sweet, is it not?" Lacroix continued. "Imagine
blood ten times sweeter than that, warmer, richer, teeming with
life and emotion, intense, pounding. Imagine all of that rushing
furiously... through you." He touched Nat's shoulder, and when he
finally sensed a glimmer of her bloodlust, his mind throbbed with
excitement. He had awakened her sleeping vampire, and with any luck
she would make her first kill this very night. Nicholas would cast
her out, and he would be there to console his broken hearted son.
"I know you want it, Natalie," he whispered seductively into her
ear. "It's what you need."

Natalie abruptly stepped back from Lacroix. "I don't think so," she
said. "I have all I need now. The truth. You intend to use me to
shatter Nicholas. To break his heart yet again. To crush his

"No!" Lacroix raged. "I know what you want! I sensed it!"

"What did you sense, Lacroix?" Nat scoffed. "Only what I wanted
you to. Anger, remorse, interest, fascination, bloodlust." She
shook her head softly. "Now it is I who must confess a ploy," she
conceded. "Your centuries of experience at manipulation persist in
Nick's blood. I have, in effect, learned everything from *you*!"

Lacroix was furious. His eyes flashed red and his fangs descended.
With both arms he wildly reached out for Natalie's throat. And then
he felt it. A flash of light so blinding that he had to cover his
eyes against it. A pain so intense that it felt as though the sun
itself had lodged inside his skull. He screamed out in agony. Then
just as suddenly, the pain was gone. Afraid and confused, he slowly
opened his eyes and gawked in disbelief at Natalie.

"Get out of our lives and stay out!" she warned him. Nat grabbed
his arm and tightened her fingers around his wrist. "Or I promise
you, the pain you just experienced will be with you for all
* * * * *

Nick picked Natalie up at the morgue after his shift. Once they
were in the Caddy and on their way home, Natalie filled him in on
Lacroix's latest visit. She finished her tale just as they stepped
off the elevator and into the loft. "I just wanted you to be
prepared," she said. "You know I can't hide things from you when I

"Well, it is sometimes entertaining to get a condensed version of
your entire night in the morgue," Nick teased as he slipped into
the kitchen and retrieved a glass and two bottles of blood.

"It's a damn nuisance," Natalie remarked as she plunked herself
down on the couch.

Nick strolled over and settled himself next to her. "You could
teach me that blocking?out trick you use on me." He flashed an
innocent grin. "And I'll just blank out all the boring stuff."

"It's something you're made with, Nick. Not something you learn,"
she taunted. "Wait a minute... boring stuff?" She smacked his arm
playfully and it felt like heaven to Nick. She hadn't done that
since... since she was mortal. He still couldn't believe the
reaction vampirism had had on her compared to most. Only the
goodness in her had been amplified, while her evil... if it even
existed, had not changed an iota. She had an incredible power. It
was unlike anything he had ever encountered, and he encountered it
every time they made love. Her soul was radiant enough to frighten
any evil force into unequivocal submission.

They watched television together while Nick drank. Natalie watched
him as he casually sipped from his last glassful. His blood intake
had almost quadrupled since he had started feeding her. 'I guess it
beats having me nagging you about the amount of blood you're
drinking,' she surmised with a smile. She reached over and clasped
his hand snugly in her own.

"Is that a hint that you're hungry?" Nick asked.

Natalie cuddled closer to him. "It's only a hint that I love you,"
she whispered. "I can wait until you're ready."

* * * * *

Another day drew to a close and Natalie still hadn't spent any time
in the lab. She had wanted to compare her blood with Nick's and
look for clues to explain her 'differences', particularly the fact
that she couldn't fly. She didn't expect to find the responsible
factor in her blood though. She already knew in her heart that it
was the dark vampiric entity that granted the power of flight. The
same evil thing that established bloodlust in the human soul. The
thing that had eluded her when she was brought across.

She nudged Nick's ribs. "Nick, wake up!" She repeated the exercise
several times, at increasing volume levels. She was only two levels
away from screaming in his ear when he finally rolled over. "I'm
up. I'm up," he mumbled groggily.

"Well, get a move?on," Nat said. "I want to stop by and see
Janette on the way to work."

"Pardon?" Nick asked as he sat up.

"Janette," Natalie replied. "I only have one little thing to
discuss with her, and then we can get on with our lives."

"I know what you want to discuss with her," Nick proclaimed. "It's
Mark's mortality, isn't it? And you should know that her silence is
retribution for what I did to her."

"That's not retribution, Nick," Natalie decreed. "It's cruel, and
you don't deserve it."

"I don't want you to see Janette, Nat. Just forget about it. She
and I are even."

Natalie was adamant. "How can I forget it, Nick? How can you forget
it? All I want to do is talk to her."

"I said forget it!" Nick shouted angrily. He got out of bed and
headed for the bathroom. A few minutes later, Natalie heard the
shower running. She was more hurt and angry than hungry, and by the
time Nick emerged from the bathroom, she was gone.

Natalie arrived at Briana's apartment shortly after sunset. She
stood silently in front of the door for a few minutes gathering her
thoughts. She didn't want to go in like a battering ram, although
there was a time when she would have relished the ability to do
that. She knocked confidently on the door and moments later it
swung open. "Natalie!" Janette exclaimed much more enthusiastically
than Natalie had expected. "My newest sister!"

"You know?" Natalie asked.

"I wouldn't have known if Lacroix had not told me," Janette
replied. "He couldn't sense you either." She smiled. "He finds that
quite intolerable."

"I imagine he does," Natalie said. "What else did he tell you?"

"Only that he was leaving for Europe immediately; and that Nichola
had brought you across. I didn't believe him at first of course,
but a man can only take so much before surrendering himself to

"As can a woman," Natalie remarked.

Janette clasped her hands together. "Of course you are right," she
said quietly, letting the memory of Robert drift across her mind.

Nat noticed several pieces of luggage standing in the hallway and
decided it was time to redirect the conversation. "Are you going
somewhere?" she asked inquisitively.

"Briana and I are travelling to Paris," Janette confided. "Perhaps
we will even fall in love. That is what Paris is for, is it not?"

Natalie smiled and nodded her head. The gaiety and enthusiasm that
oozed from Janette was definitely contagious. "You're leaving

"Not for several hours," Janette replied. "Do come in. We can...

Natalie thought she heard a low growl emanating from the bedroom as
she entered the apartment, but her hearing was rather weak for a
vampire so she was uncertain. Nick's exact word about her hearing
ability was "lame".

"My apologies," Janette whispered. "Briana is rather... wild. I
have not had time to domesticate her yet." She grinned slyly. "And
I am not entirely sure that I want to."

"I see," was all Nat could think of to say.

Janette led Natalie across the parquet floor and into the sparsely
furnished living room. "Do excuse the furnishings," she suggested.
"Briana and I have quite different tastes in decorating, and I've
not had the opportunity to do a thing about it."

Natalie nodded sympathetically. She had a fair idea of Janette's
taste, and this definitely wasn't it. Briana was obviously very
attracted to bright yellow plastic dome lamps, judging by the three
that hung on chains from various points of the white plastered
ceiling. Two multi?coloured futons and a rectangular wood veneered
coffee table sat in the middle of the room.

Natalie settled on one of the futons and continued surveying the
room. A wall unit spanned the far wall; its shelves bursting with
paperback novels, knickknacks, and unidentifiable clutter. She
spotted a foot long ceramic leprechaun lying on his side, casually
propped up by an elbow. His pants were painted powder blue, his
shirt lime green, and his lengthy beard the same pale yellow as his
hair. He appeared engrossed in thought about the small black teddy
bear that sat across from him.

Janette noticed Natalie's interest. "That is Nichola, you see," she
said of the leprechaun. "And the bear is his mortality. Wishing it
will not make it so."

'And no rainbows to follow either,' Natalie thought sombrely.
"Which brings me to the reason I came here tonight," she announced.

Janette raised an eyebrow. "And that is?"

"Nick believes you know how Mark became mortal."

Janette remained silent.

"Please, Janette," Nat pleaded. "It's tearing him up inside."

Janette fleetingly parted her lips, as though she was about to
speak and suddenly thought better of it. "I suppose I do owe him,"
she finally relented. "He did, after all, free me of Lacroix. And
I've always detested having a master who takes the term so...

"You'll tell me?" Nat asked hopefully.

Janette sighed. "Mark was never a vampire, Natalie, although
Nichola thought him so. I told him that Mark was mortal when I
killed him. What I didn't tell him was that Mark had been mortal
since he was thrust from his mother's womb. Nichola jumped to a
false conclusion."

"Yes, he does do that sometimes," Natalie said. "And while that
isn't what I really wanted to hear, I know it will make him feel
better. I suppose..." Natalie's sentence was abruptly cut off and
she fell back into the futon. "I feel dizzy," she mumbled.

"When did you last feed?" Janette asked with concern.

"I'm... dizzy. I feel... sick."

"Briana! Come here!" Janette shouted towards the bedroom. Briana
appeared seconds later to find Janette hovering over Natalie.
"She's weak," Janette said. "She needs to feed. Get something!"

"Nick...," Natalie mumbled, "...need ...Nick."

Briana hastily arrived with a glass and handed it to Janette.
"Here, drink," Janette urged as she slowly poured the crimson fluid
into Natalie's mouth. Nat managed several large swallows, and then
she started to gag.

"Rest a moment," Janette said softly as she relegated the glass to
the coffee table.

Briana gasped. "I've never seen anyone drop so quickly from

"She'll be alright. Just give her a minute to..."

Nat's body suddenly tightened. She started to convulse. Her legs
shook violently, and her arms flung wildly through the air. And
then her eyes rolled back, and she lost consciousness. A river
of red foam started to gush from her mouth.

"What the hell's wrong with her?!" Briana screamed.

"I don't know!" Janette yelled. "Bring me the phone!"

* * * * *

"Damn," Nick cursed as he started another volley of pounding on the
door. This had been the second appointment he had set up with this
particular witness, and once again there was no answer at the
house. He was already irritated that Nat had disappeared without
giving him a chance to apologize. "Next time, you come to me!" Nick
shouted at the door. He spun around and marched down to the curb
where he had parked the Caddy. As he was about to open the door,
his cell phone rang. He whipped it out of his pocket and roughly
flipped it open. "Knight."

"It's Janette, Nichola. Natalie is here. She's sick. You must fly.
Come now!"

"What's...." Too late, Janette had hung up. Ensuring there were no
witnesses, Nick tore into the murky night sky. Seconds later, he
materialized inside Briana's apartment.

"My God, what happened to her!" he screamed at the sight of Natalie
sprawled on the futon, blood still oozing from her mouth. He raced
to her and cradled her limp form in his arms. "What did you do to
her?!" he yelled in shock. "You've killed her!"

"She's not dead, Nichola," Janette reassured him.

"Yet," Briana quipped. Nick's eyes flashed red with anger and his
fangs suddenly dropped. It was a struggle for him not to tear
himself away from Natalie to rip Briana's throat out. Janette
glared at Briana who immediately retreated to the bedroom.

"My God! My Natalie!" Nick cried. "What happened, Janette!"

"She was weak, Nichola. She said she was dizzy. I gave her blood.
I thought she needed to feed. Then she started to shake." Janette
motioned towards Natalie's still form. "And then this happened."

"Human blood?" Nick muttered, mortified. The one thing he had never
wanted to pass her lips.

Janette stood stoically watching him as he sliced into his wrist
with his fingernail. "I'm sorry, Nichola," she whispered. "I was
only trying to help her."

"I know," Nick said quietly as he tended to Natalie. He held his
bleeding wrist to her mouth, but she remained inert. He waited, and
waited, and waited. But nothing happened. He turned slowly to face
Janette, his eyes pleading. "Please," he begged, "take Briana and

Janette reached out her hand and gently touched Nick's shoulder.
"Nichola," she whispered. But he did not answer. He simply
continued rocking Natalie in his arms, his face buried in her hair,
his wrist buried in her lips. Janette slipped into the bedroom, and
a moment later Nick heard the whoosh as they departed. He only
wanted to be left alone with her. If this was to be her last day,
it would be his last day too.

And then he felt something. Her lips parted. Her tongue touched his
skin. She was taking his blood, slowly. "Take it, Nat," he
whispered. She lapped sluggishly at his wrist a few more times and
stopped. "Don't stop," he urged her. "God, please don't stop."
Again he felt her tongue move, slowly at first, and then faster,
and then she began to suck. "Yes, love," he muttered as he stroked her
hair. The moment he felt the prick of her fangs against his skin,
he repositioned her at his throat. He felt surges of pain as she
struggled several times to force her teeth deeply enough into his
throat, but the pain was nothing against the heartache he had just
endured. Finally piercing his jugular, she drank deeply from him;
and when she had enough, she fell into a healing sleep.

??????Natalie woke to find herself lying in bed, and she couldn't
remember getting there. The last coherent thing she could remember
was Janette telling her that Mark was never a vampire. Jumbled bits
and pieces started to float through her mind. She recalled Nick
holding her. She remembered being dizzy. And then tasting his
blood, blood so laden with despair that she could not bear it
anymore and stopped. And then she heard his voice telling her not
to stop. And so she drank.

Nick, dressed in faded jeans and a long sleeved black shirt,
stepped into the bedroom. "You're awake!" he exclaimed, a huge
smile on his face.

Natalie started to sit up. "Just now," she said. "What time is it?
How did I get here?" She looked down at the plaid flannel shirt she
was wearing. "And where on earth did this come from?"

"That shirt happens to be very special," Nick remarked as he
approached her. "It was a Christmas gift from Schanke."

"It is special then," Natalie murmured.

Nick stood next to the bed. "As to the time, it's only seven in the
morning. As to how you got here... I brought you. You were sick
last night. I left Janette a note to let her know you were okay..."


"Janette said you were weak, dizzy. She tried to feed you, but you
got worse."

Natalie stared at him. "Wait... wait a minute... one step at a
time. We're not supposed to get sick. Tell me what happened...

Nick sat down and put his arm around her shoulders. "Janette saw
you weakening and gave you some blood," he explained calmly. "Then
you convulsed. When I arrived there was blood trickling from your
mouth and you looked... dead."

"She gave me blood?" Nat asked. "Her blood?"

Nick glanced at her, his face awash in agony. "It was human," he
moaned. At the sound of his own words, a few blood tears spilled
unbidden from his eyes. The thought tormented him beyond reason.
Natalie. His Natalie. Drinking human blood. He closed his eyes. He
couldn't look at her. He couldn't.

Natalie swung around and held him in her arms. "I know that's your
worst nightmare Nick, but I don't remember it," she consoled him.
"It doesn't matter. As far as I'm concerned, it never happened."

But his heart was still heavy.

She slowly loosened her grip on him and gently took his chin in her
hand. She lifted his tear stained face and kissed his eyes, tasting
the sorrow in his blood. "I love you," she said softly. "I always
will, and nothing will ever change that. But I couldn't bear the
thought of you thinking less of me because of this, Nick. I
couldn't bear to be the source of your grief."

Realizing how he was hurting her, Nick seized control of his
unruly emotions. "I'm sorry, Nat," he apologized quietly. "You could
never be a source of grief for me. Don't ever think that."

She smiled warmly at him. "Settled then?"

"Settled." He reached out to the night table and plucked a handful
of tissues to wipe his face. "We should be thinking about what made
you sick, and how to stop it from ever happening again."

"Later," Natalie whispered as she yanked the tissue from his hand
and tossed it to the floor. "Here, let me do that for you," she
whispered. She kissed him softly on the lips; and interspersed with
loving words and tender kisses, slowly and meticulously cleaned the
sorrow laden blood from his face with her tongue.

* * * * *

Natalie woke again an hour and a half before sunset. She left Nick
sleeping and quickly got dressed. Her greatest fear was that she
would make him sick, and she went immediately to her makeshift lab
to do some tests on her blood. She fervently wished she hadn't made
love to him that morning. "God, what was I thinking?" she scolded
herself. She rolled up the sleeve of her sweater and proceeded to
draw blood from her arm.

Natalie prepared a slide and placed it underneath the microscope.
"What the hell," she muttered as she noticed that many of her blood
cells had fragmented. She quickly added a drop of Nick's blood and
gritted her teeth together. Peering intently into the eyepiece, she
watched as all of the cells returned to normal. "Thank God," she
sighed in relief. "At least I can't hurt you."

"You could if you really wanted to," Nick piped up from the
doorway, startling Nat.

"How long have you been there?" she asked.

"About four seconds. Find anything?"

"How does the line, 'I'm the disease and you're the cure,' sound?"

Puzzled, Nick strode over to her. "Huh?"

"There's something wrong with my blood, Nick," she explained. "It
breaks down. When I add your blood, my cells regenerate. In its
weakened condition last night, the human blood must have
accelerated the deterioration process. I'll know for sure after a
few more tests."

"A vampire that feeds on vampire blood?"

Natalie loosely shrugged her shoulders. "Well, on your blood
anyway," she muttered. "I could confirm your generalized statement
if you're willing to rustle up blood samples from some of your...

"Natalie," Nick said in a serious tone, "If this is true..."

"I believe it is," she interrupted.

He placed his hands firmly on her shoulders. "Then the less my
'acquaintances' know about it, the better."

Nat inhaled deeply, "I see your point."

A short time later, he left her to continue her work. She retrieved
several test tubes from the fridge that contained various human
blood samples. One by one, she added a tiny amount of each to her
own blood and studied the reaction under the microscope. The
results were always the same.

"You've been up here forever," Nick announced with a grin as once
again he entered the lab."

"Sorry," Nat said. "I got kind of involved."

"We have to leave for work in an hour."

"I just wanted to confirm what I thought," Nat said. "And I did.
Human blood is like poison to me." She eyed the glass of cow blood
Nick held in his hand. "Bring that over, Nick."

"What? This?" Nick asked, glancing at the glass in his hand.

"Yup. Let's see what happens."

He stepped over to her and held the glass while Nat used an
eyedropper to retrieve a tiny amount. She squeezed it onto a fresh
slide of her own blood and looked into the microscope. "Same
thing," she announced. "It accelerates the breakdown." As she spoke
she was suddenly overcome by a flash of the same dizziness she had
experienced the night before. She had to grab the table to steady


"I guess I missed my supper again, Nick."

He quickly moved forward to support her. Holding her firmly, he led
her out of the lab and into the bedroom. "Maybe you ought to strap
me down and siphon a couple of pints for emergencies," he

"That might not be such a bad idea," she replied, as she started to
unbutton his shirt. "But *only* for emergencies. This way is so much
more pleasant."
* * * * *

Natalie did not return to her makeshift lab until early the next
afternoon. She drew a fresh sample of her blood to work with and
then, out of curiosity, retrieved the one vial from the fridge
that contained her own mortal blood.

She prepared a slide of her vampiric blood and studied it under the
microscope. It wasn't deteriorating as rapidly, a condition she
assumed was due to her having fed more recently. Then she added a
tiny amount of her own mortal blood. She was expecting to see the
same increased deterioration of her vampiric cells, and was
surprised to discover that all of the cells were changing into...
something else. "What the hell is this," Natalie muttered, as she
watched both her vampiric and human blood cells merge together in
a mass, and then separate into uniform rectangular cells.

She darted to the fridge and returned with a vial of Nick's blood.
She placed a tiny amount of that on the slide and things started to
happen again. All of the cells underwent transformation. They were
regenerating into healthy, normal, *human* cells. Her hands started
to tremble as she removed the slide. She repeated the experiment,
and the same thing happened again.

"My God, Nick. It's your cure," she whispered. She spent the next
hour determining how much of the solution would be needed to revert
him back into human form. All of it. And then she sat down on a
stool, and prepared her speech for Nick.

* * * * *

They stood in the kitchen together. Nick couldn't wipe the smile
off his face. "Are you sure it will work?" he asked for the third
time. Natalie wished he would just stop talking and drink it. Every
moment she had to look at his face, knowing she would be dead before
morning and see it no more, was unmitigated torture.

"Not only will work," Natalie reassured him, "but it's perfectly
safe." She managed a small smile. "You do it first, then it's my

"Why don't we do it together, Nat? Go! Run upstairs and get the
rest." He was so excited, how could she tell him there was no more?
That it wouldn't work on her anyway? God, how could she even look
in those eyes for one more second, knowing this would be their
evening together. She hadn't even noticed that tears had started
to trickle down her cheeks.

"Why are you crying?" he asked innocently. And the concern in his
voice brought a new wash of tears. She had tried so desperately to
hold them back, but it was no use. "I'm just happy for you," she
said. And she was happy for him, even though it was killing her,
both figuratively and literally.

Nick kissed her lips so quickly that she hadn't a chance to stop
him. And when he tasted the blood tears that had fallen there, he
immediately knew why she cried. The glass in his hand started to
shake; and his transformation from euphoria to pain and confusion,
broke her heart. Natalie cried heartily, her body heaving in

Nick placed the glass on the countertop and then took her in his
arms. He remained quiet for a very long time before he spoke. "How
could you even think I would want to live a mortal lifetime if it
meant living without you?" he asked quietly. He tenderly stroked
her cheek. "If it meant not being able to touch you, to make love
to you."

"Please, Nick," Natalie begged. "You've waited for almost 800
years. Your humanity is right there in that glass, and I have no
idea how long that serum will last. I want you to walk in the sun.
To feel your heart pound. To feel life. I want to end your pain,
Nick. I want you to finally be happy."

"I am happy with you, Natalie," Nick professed.

She smoothed her fingers through his hair. "Drink it," she said.
"You may never have this opportunity again. I'll be waiting for you
on the other side, and when it's your time, we will be together

"We are together, Nat," Nick declared. "And it already is forever."
He stretched his arm across the counter and knocked the wretched
glass squarely into the sink. He heard it shatter, and envisioned
the repulsive liquid swirling into the depths of the drain. And as
they stood holding each other, Nick finally realized that the
warmth of her soul had already made him alive and whole again. That
her love had already taken away his pain and loneliness. That her
light had already subdued the bloodlust that had haunted him. He
was not mortal, but he knew his search was over. He had already
found his humanity, and it lived in the heart of the vampire that
he held in his arms. God had indeed forgiven him.

-- The End --

Susan B.