What Real Love Is?
by StormyNite
circa February 1997

Natalie slid the loft door open slowly and walked in. The room was a
mess. The smell of smoke still permeated the room. It looked like a war zone.
Fear clutched her heart as she stepped further into the room.

"Nick? Nick?" A single tear ran down her cheek as she stopped in front
of the fireplace. Her eyes were drawn to the pool of blood on the floor and what
was left of Nick's burnt topcoat. It was his. She had seen him wear it a hundred
times. She dropped hopelessly to the floor and clutched the coat to her breast
letting the tears turn into sobs as she gave in to the reality. Nick was dead.
Divia had come for him and he had lost. All she had left was her broken heart
and a few momemtos of the time they spent together.

Nick heard her weeping as he entered the garage. Skipping the lift he flew at
vampire speed into the loft. He stopped short of the couch not to frightened her.
"Nat!" His voice was almost a whisper as he knelt down beside her touching her
check softly. Her tear flooded eyes took in his blue ones as she reached to touch
his blood smeared face in disbelief.

Needing to touch him, she laced her hands behind his head and rested hers on
his shoulder while the tears continued to flow. Nick pulled her close as they sat
on the floor and buried his face in her mass of auburn curls breathing in the
sweet smell of his beloved Natalie.

"I thought I had lost you!" She kept repeating as she cried. He kissed
her temples and each of her cheeks finally finishing with her lips. He
tasted the salt and the love in each kiss until she returned his kiss
completely, giving in to her desire. He wanted so much to feel and relieve her
grief, he deepened the kiss until passion flared the vampire

Natalie felt the vampire return as surely as she felt her own
heartbeat, yet she did not fear it. It was Nick. A part of him
that she had come to accept, and 'yes', love. She broke off the kiss and held
him close letting him bury his head in her hair. It was
dangerous she knew, but only another step they had to make if they were
to go forward. He needed to know she trusted him. All of him. "It's
okay, Nick," she whispered as he fought to control the beast within.
She ran her hands up the smooth muscles in his back ending in his
silky hair which at the present time was encrusted with dirt and blood
from the evening's events. As his breathing slowed to normal she
kissed his neck and pulled back to look into his now blue eyes. He
rested his exhausted forehead on hers as they sat quietly on the floor.

Bringing him back to the present, she touched his face gently and kissed
him softly before she spoke. "I saw the blood and your coat.......I
thought she had killed you. That I had lost you forever." Her eyes
pleaded with him for answers.

"She tried Nat." He said softly. "But I couldn't feel any hate for
her. She was just an angry child. I was her revenge against LaCroix.
It was the same feeling I've had for a long time. When she attacked me, I didn't
let the vampire fight back. I just felt pity for her." He
looked into her eyes and returned her touch. "All I could see was your
face. Your eyes and the sadness that was there when you left this
evening. I think it was you who kept the vampire from emerging
and it saved me." He gently kissed her lips and pulled them both to
their feet in front of the fireplace.

"She left me for dead and went after LaCroix. When I woke up, I went to the
Raven." He pulled her closer and held her tightly as they stood basking in the
glow from the fire. In broken breathes he finished. "I.....I killed her Nat before
she could kill LaCroix. I killed his daughter. I'm not sure that was what he
wanted at the time but in the end it was the only solution. I left him burning her
body. It's the first time I have ever seen him grieve."

He slowly broke their embrace and looked into Nat's blue eyes for
understanding. "He loved her. I'm not sure I should have left him, but I needed
to be with you....Stay with me tonight Natalie. Let me hold you and feel your
warmth this night and all through the day." His eyes pleaded with hers as he
ran his fingers gently down her cheek. "I promise I'll keep the vampire at bay. I

She touched her fingers to his lips to stop. "I'm yours, Nicholas
Knight! There is nothing short of an earthquake that would keep me from
staying with you. I need you this night just as much as you need me.. but we're
not ready for that final step. So if you want me in your arms then we spend the
night on the couch because I don't trust myself with you on satin sheets." She
smiled as she lightly caressed his shoulder.

He smiled and pulled her back into his arms. "Anything Milady wishes.
The couch it is! But I warn you if you snore, I WILL wake you up." He
reached down and swept her into his arms and headed for the couch.

2 days later:

Nat knelt quietly beside the still form of a former associate, making
copious notes. Nick and Tracy were interviewing several witnesses who
had found the body. Nick came to Nat's side as she slowly stood. Tearing her
eyes away from the body, she met his gaze.

"What did you find, Nat?"

"It's Thomas Fillmore! He's a noted psychiatrist here in Toronto. I
can't see any evidence that this was done here. His arms and legs were
bound and I'm guessing he was poisoned with something. See the blue
veins in his eyes and the purplish tint to his lips."

She returned her gaze back to the body. "Whatever it was, he was in a great
deal of pain before he died and I don't think he went quickly." Pausing to glance
back at Nick, Natalie continued. " I'll know more when I get the toxicology
report back in a couple of days." She smiled weakly and touched his shoulder.
"Stop by the lab after while and I'll let you know if there is anything else."

She glanced sadly back to what was left of Thomas Fillmore. "I can't
understand why anyone would want to torture him. He was such a pleasant and
helpful man." She shook her head and walked back to the car leaving Nick and
Tracy with yet another set of unanswered questions.

Fillmore was the second physician killed in 3 weeks. Did they have a
serial killer here or was it just a coincidence? Nick didn't believe in
coincidence when it came to murder. Especially when the first doctor
had been overdosed with some unknown drug they had yet to identify.


He stood calmly on the balcony watching the proceeding below. He was a
tall muscular man with brown hair and green eyes. Handsome, most
women would say, but then again he wasn't interested in any woman, just
one. He let his thoughts run wild as he stared. It was her. He would recognize
her anywhere. She hadn't changed...well, if anything age had made her even
more beautiful. He remembered those outrageous auburn curls and those
beautiful blue eyes as if it were yesterday. She had been his then, and only his,
but he had messed it up. Well, not this time. This time he would make her
understand just how much she meant to him. This time they would be together
forever and nothing would stand in his way. She was the reason he took the
teaching assignment at the University. He needed time to win her back and
make her his again.

The blonde cop beside her must be Knight. The detective he hired informed
him that they were close. How close, he wasn't sure since information about
Nick Knight was sketchy at best, aside from all the documented police profile
information. Kyle Stephens stood staring at the picture of Nick in his hand as
he continued to monitor the scene below his hotel room balcony.

Nick Knight: blonde, blue-eyed, 6'1 and 180lbs with a severe allergy to the sun.
He was permanent night shift, named Partner of Month, Partners of the Year,
Detective of the Year, Mayor's Recognition Award for Valor, the highest
conviction rate in all Toronto PD, as well as Metro Homicide. The guy was a
bonafide hero after the Toronto Bomber scare and mentioned in numerous
reports to have apprehended a variety of felons at great personal risk.

Rumors at the precinct placed Nick and Natalie much closer than friends, but
nothing was ever concrete with rumors. Kyle knew that. If Nick and Natalie
were lovers then he would just have to dispose of him in his own way. After all,
he was a licensed psychiatrist. There were a thousand ways to play mind games
with someone and he knew them all. Tonight was the night he would begin
his plan. Tonight Natalie Lambert would begin her journey back into his arms
where she belonged.

End Part (1/?)

What Real Love Is?
Part (2/?)

Kyle had followed Natalie home from a discreet distance. At least that
was where he thought she was going. First, she stopped at the all night
cleaners, then the bagel shop, the corner grocery, the video store and
finally turned west on 9th street for the warehouse district. She
pulled up outside a large warehouse, killed the lights and jumped out
of the car. Holding one bag of groceries in her arm she reached over to
hit the access panel outside. The door lock released and she
disappeared within. Several minutes later, the lights burned brightly
from the top floor and shadows could be seen through the windows.
Kyle sat confused. This was not the address the detective had given him
for Dr. Natalie Lambert, MD.

It was nearly dawn when a '62 Caddie pulled around the corner and the
garage door lifted quietly. Kyle stared in amazement as Nick, still
wearing his sunglasses, pulled into the garage. The sun was just about
to touch the horizon when Kyle noticed the shades on the second floor
automatically close. She had gone to Nick's place after work. She
didn't return to her place but directly to his. Obviously, their
relationship was far more than platonic and Kyle was prepared to know
just how much more.

Near 10am Natalie returned to her car. Kyle awoke slowly when he heard
the engine turnover across the street. Kyle watched her closely to
determine where she would go. Knight didn't follow her down to the car,
so the report must be accurate about his allergy to the sun. After all,
not many people wore sunglasses at 6am in the morning when the sun had
not even crested the horizon. Kyle turned on his ignition and followed
her at a discreet distance. She made one stop at the post office and
the chance he had been looking for had finally arrived.

Nat parked and locked the car in front of the post office and carried
two packages into the main lobby to be posted. She promised Nick she
would get them out this morning. She casually looked over the mailing
address of Nick's friend Jack, in Paris, as she stood in line. After
waiting a few minutes and posting the packages she headed back to the
car, only to have the front door of the post office opened for her by a handsome
man in his mid thirties. She glanced at him to say thank you when she stopped
dead in her tracks and stared into Kyle's green eyes.

"Kyle? Kyle Stephens? Is that really you?" Natalie dropped her keys
from her fingers in astonishment. Trying to get control of the emotions
that seemed to bombard her, she stood transfixed looking into his green
eyes. She was speechless. Kyle casually leaned down to pick up her
keys. When he stood, he gently took her hand and placed them in it, never once
releasing her eyes from his.

"You haven't changed, Natalie. You're as beautiful as ever." Kyle held
her hand gently for an extended time until Natalie noticed his hand on
hers. Embarrassed and a little shaken, she pulled her hand with the
keys from his.

Almost in a whisper she spoke. "What are you doing here, Kyle? Are you
visiting?" The question was not only in her words but in her whole face.

He should have known she would be skeptical of a chance meeting. Once
again he had underestimated her. She had not changed in that respect and he
would remember that from now on.

Kyle tried matching his emotions to what he thought hers were before he
responded. He wanted her to feel in his words what she had missed. He
had spent months rehearsing this scene. Now it was time to make all
that practice pay off. He cast his eyes to the ground temporarily and
then returned to hers. Just enough to make him appear a little
uncomfortable at their situation before he responded. "I'm living here,
Natalie. At...At least for the next 3 months. I'm teaching over at
the University." He brightened his face as if proud of his
accomplishments. "They asked me to teach a course on Drugs with
Psychiatric Care." He smiled a dazzling smile that took Nat back all
the way to their first years in Med School when she was mesmerized by

"That's...That's nice, Kyle." She almost stumbled through the sentence.

"Look, Natalie, I know we didn't part on pleasant terms and this is quite
uncomfortable for you, but that is all in the past. We are different people
now...At least I am. Those days of deceit and lies are all behind me. I have a
wonderful practice in California and when this
opportunity was offered to me, I knew that all my work was paying off. I have
made up for all those mistakes so long ago." He started staring at the concrete
floor below him trying to appear humble. Then he started
again before he returned her gaze.

"I knew I would see you again if I came here. I followed your career.
You were the youngest ME ever appointed in Canada, let alone a woman.
That's quite an accomplishment. It even made the California papers
since you went to Med School there. I thought just maybe after all this
time you had forgiven me." He looked into her eyes expectantly. "If
I'm wrong, then I'll back off. I just thought that if we ever met again
we could at least be friends." He sighed heavily as if he just
finished a well rehearsed speech.

Natalie stood speechless through his little narration analyzing his
facial expression and body movements. It was possible for anyone to
change. She knew that. After all she was trying to help a vampire
become mortal again. If Nick could change, maybe Kyle could as well,
but she would not make any rash decisions. As the memories started to
flood to her mind's eye, she forcefully pushed them back. It was another time,
another life. She did not want to go back, but could she see Kyle without them
resurfacing and clouding her feelings toward him? She did not know.

"I...I honestly don't know, Kyle. That was a lifetime ago. I don't know if we
can start all over again."

"That's fair enough, Natalie. At least you're being honest with me. All
I'm asking is to give it a chance. You're my one true regret in life
and I want a chance to make it up to you. Please?" He slowly lifted
her hand to his lips and kissed the back of it gently as he let his
bright green eyes flirt with hers.

Natalie was embarrassed and removed her hand gently but not to quickly.
"Well, we'll see Kyle. Everyone changes and I try to give everyone a
second chance, but that's all. Understand?" She was in control again.
Her eyes and body both said so. She would give him a chance out of
respect for her old feelings for him, but if he screwed it up again he
was history. She glanced at her watch.

"I've got to go, Kyle. I haven't been to bed yet and I'm do back at
work at 7 tonight." She smiled and pulled her hand completely free of
his. As she started to walk away he touched her elbow to stop her.

"Can I call you? Dinner maybe or just a drink?" His eyes pleaded with

"It's a place to start Kyle....a place to start." She said quietly
before she turned back to her car.

That evening:

Natalie finished her shower. She wished she could have said she slept,
but that would have been lying. She went to bed and tossed for several
hours until she finally gave up and padded to the kitchen. Sydney was
confused to see his mistress up at this time of day. After all, she was
a night creature just like himself. She finally gave into the memories
and let them flow as she scooped up Sydney and headed for the couch. It
had been so long. Near 4pm a dozen red roses were delivered to her
door. The card simply read: To Friendship. He hadn't signed his name
only those two simple words, but it was Kyle. The simplicity touched
her and she let herself drift back to happier times.


Nick sat quietly at his desk going over Natalie's latest toxicology
report on the first physician that had died 3 weeks ago. He was looking for a
connection. Something that would tie them together. Aside from the similarity
of both physicians being psychiatrists they had nothing in common. Different
schools, different patients, different methods of
treating their patients according to Nat. Deep in thought as he
continued to sift though the interviews, his phone rang repeatedly.
Tracy walked into the room still carrying her coat and noticed Nick's
concentration, so she picked up the phone.

"Metro Homicide-Nick Knight's desk!" She smiled as Nick finally noticed
her standing in front of his desk with his phone to her ear. "Yes, he's
here. Just a second!" She handed him the phone and returned to her
desk to hang up her coat.

"Knight! No, Grace, I don't. She was with me untill about 10am. She
didn't call?" Tracy watched Nick's face intently. Something was wrong.

"Nick, I tried her house, there is no answer and she's not returning her
page. I'm scared." Grace was becoming frantic.

"I'm gone, Grace. I'll call you when I know something." Nick put the
phone down and grabbed his coat in one motion.

"Nick, what's the problem?" Trace was by his side in seconds.

"Nat didn't call or show up for work. There's no answer at her house
and she's not returning her pages. I'm going to go to her place and see
what's up." There was genuine fear in his eyes. Tracy had never seen that
before. Nick was always in control. Spaced out at times, but always in control.
Fear was something that never crossed her partner's face. All her instincts were
right. Nick and Nat were more than just friends, no matter what the office
gossip told her.

"I'm going with you!" She grabbed her coat.

"No, Trace! You run the hospital admits for today and see if you find
anything." He turned to leave and then stopped. "And...then the morgue
admits all over Toronto." The words physically hurt when he spoke them.

"Nick, I'm sure we would have been called. All the coroners know
Natalie. She came to his side and touched his shoulder. "They would
have called!"

He smiled. "Thanks, Trace, I needed that. And you're right, they would
have called. I'll let you know as soon as I find out anything."

Once out of the building Nick took to the air. No time to drive. He
said a silent pray as he launched himself skyward.

End Part (2/?)
What Real Love Is?

What Real Love Is?
Part (3/?)

Nick rang the doorbell repeatedly, and when Nat didn't answer he used
his key. She would have been pissed if he broke the door or used
another means that might draw attention to his unusual abilities. He
could hear her heartbeat. He knew it as well as he knew his
own name. He called her name softly as he came through the door in
order not to startle her.

"Nat?" He could see her sitting calmly on the couch petting Sydney. She was
there...but not there. Cautiously he walked over and knelt
down in front of her. She was somewhere else. She wasn't even aware
that he was there. < Was this what I do when I space out? Is this
what I look like when I do it?>

Nick gently touched her hand as she petted Sydney in her lap, forcing her to stop
and Sydney to jump down. "Nat...you have to come back to me now." He
continued to rub her hand between his fingers and placed his other on
her cheek. "Nat....come on, you're scaring me here. Come back to me.
Nat?" He continued to stroke her face until her eyes finally locked
with his.

"Nick? What are you doing here?" She could see the fear in his face and she
reached out to touch him. "Are you all right?" The doctor just
kicked in.

He smiled and pulled her into his arms as they stood up. "I should be
asking you that question." He pushed her to arms length to stare into
her eyes and make sure she was still with him. The questions were in
her eyes and he sighed with relief. "If you're going to tell me that's
what I am like when I space out on you, then I think I should get some
counseling really quick." He smiled and pulled her back into his

Glancing at her wristwatch she realized it was late. She finally found her
tongue. "Why are you here, Nick?"

He stared into her blue eyes realizing she was unaware of what had
happened. "Nat, it's 9:30pm. You didn't call in sick, Grace was frantic
and I lost at least 100 years. We thought something had happened to
you. What did happen? You were somewhere else when I came in." His
blue eyes locked with hers.

She pulled away from him and sank back to the couch. Not quite sure how
to explain what happened, she looked hesitantly toward the dozen red
roses on the coffee table. Nick followed her gaze and pulled the card.
It only left more questions. For both Nick and herself. "They're
from Kyle! Kyle Stephens, my ex-fiancee" There, she had said it.

"Do you want to talk about it?" Nick knelt down in front of her and
took both her hands into his cool ones and awaited her answer.

"Book off work, Nick! I need a friend tonight!" Her eyes spoke of need
and pain as she gently pulled her hands from his and touched his face.
"I need to be with someone who can understand my fears and my heart."

Nick opened his jacket and pulled out his cell phone. 5 seconds later
Tracy came on line. "Trace! Nick."

"Is Natalie all right, Nick?" Tracy interjected when she heard his voice.

"She's fine, Trace. Can you do me a favor and call Grace. Tell her
Nat's fine and won't be coming in tonight. And then tell the
Captain I'm booking off the rest of the night."

"Is everything okay, Nick?" Tracy could feel the tension in his voice.

"It's fine Trace. Nat's not feeling to well and she needs some company,
so just tell the Captain I got ill and had to go home. He'll scream

"I'll take care of it, Nick. Just tell Nat to feel better." Tracy hung
up the phone and dialed Grace in the morgue.

Nick put his cell phone back in his pocket and smiled. "Now, let me
make you some tea and then we can talk." He pulled her to her feet and
guided her to the kitchen table, where he held out a chair for her to sit. Moving
into the kitchen, he pulled out the tea kettle and started the water boiling.

Nat studied Nick as he worked. She never noticed before, but he wasn't
totally unaccustomed to working in the kitchen. His cooking skill
weren't the greatest, but he always came through in a pinch.

She wasn't sure how he took the news. He was always so guarded when it came
to his feelings. After seeing Kyle again today, she knew it was time to talk
about it. It was time to put the past behind her and evaluate what she really
wanted in this mortal life. Nick sat the tea cup down on the table and watched
her intently while she spaced off on him again.

"Come on Nat, let's go back into the living room and you can tell me as
much or as little as you want." He offered her his hand and picked up
the tea cup with the other. Together they sat down on the couch both
feeling a little awkward and uncomfortable.

"Nick?" Nat's eyes spoke of painful memories and need.

Nick pulled Nat into his arms and just held her for what seemed like an
eternity without speaking. Slowly Nat turned to face the window, still
in Nick's arms. She needed to go back and face her fears and she needed
his support. Only Nick could understand how she felt. So the best
place to start was at the beginning.

"I loved him. Really hopelessly loved him." She waited for his
reaction. He simply pulled her closer into his arms and placed his head
next to hers.

"Go on, Nat! It's time." He whispered softly in her ear and planted a
gently kiss to her temple.

"I was in my second year of Med School in California. Kyle was a 1st
year resident. He had already decided on Psychiatry. I was working my
second rotation through the Pathology Department. We got all the
unusual specimens from throughout the State sent to the lab for analysis. It was
a wonderful teaching institution. Kyle brought me samples several days a week
from the Psychiatric Department from patients that had volunteered for several
drug studies."

Nat snuggled closer into Nick's arms for support and then continued. "We hit it
off immediately, but I was leery. After my Mother passed away, it was just my
sister, Theressa, and myself in an apartment. Theressa was still in high school
so she moved in with me because Richie was in law school. I just didn't have
time for men, but Kyle was a charmer. He was handsome, witty, concerned,
conscientious, hard working and most of all, a romantic. I tried to stop myself
but it was too late. I fell madly in love with him. We dated for 6 months and by
that time, Theressa had given us the bedroom permanently. We were
unseperatable when we had time off. Those were the happiest days of my life
then. I had discovered my calling in medicine, and Kyle. Nothing could have
marred it."

Natalie had drifted into the past as she talked. She was reliving it
again. She was happy. Nick could see it on her face as she continued.

"And then on June 12, 1987 he asked me to marry him. I was deliriously
happy. Nothing could have made me happier. It was a little fast, but
then our time together always seemed so measured. We talked only a
little about work and then only the unusual cases we worked on. We were
perfect together. Everyone said so. We were the match made in heaven
destined to last throughout eternity and then it happened..." She
stiffened in Nick's arms and leaned into him for support. He wrapped his arms
completely around her as she brought her hand up to caress his
forearms while he held hers.

"What happened, Nat?"

"I couldn't sleep one night. I was losing data on my computer
periodically. It wasn't continually, just occasionally. It was
bothering me that maybe I was not doing something right. Computers have
never been my strong point. Kyle was working the graveyard shift and I was on
evenings. Theressa was visiting friends so I was home alone. Kyle and I would
see each other only in the early morning. It was hard on our relationship but he
said he was obligated to work so many mid shifts." She was reliving the whole
scene in her mind as she spoke.

I opened the door to see Kyle sitting at my computer with his back to
me. Assuming he was just making notes to himself about a few cases in
order not to forget, I glanced over his shoulder and noticed that he was
deleting files and notes on patients of mine. I was stunned. Then it
hit me. All those graveyard shifts were requested by Kyle. Then, as
if he knew I was there he turned to face me.

"Nat, did I wake you?" Kyle was so calm it was almost scary. He turned
on his best 'considerate and please forgive me' look. "I knew I
shouldn't have taken the time to make these notes. I was too noisy
right?" He stood up and pulled Natalie into his embrace while she
stared at the computer screen. "Let me put you back to bed and then
I'll finish up here later." He slowly ran his thumb down her face in a
very tender motion and kissed her gently on the lips. "I'm sure we can
find better things to do since you're awake." He seductively trailed his fingertips
down to her breasts and squeezed gently.

As if finally coming out of a stupor, she pulled back out of his arms
and shoved him away. "Don't try that on me, Kyle! Who the Hell do you
think you're kidding. Those are my files you are into." The realization of what
he was doing finally hit her. "I haven't been losing files on patients slide results.
You've been deleting them!" Natalie staggered slightly and found the edge of
the couch to keep from falling down. She looked at the man she loved in
disbelief. His expression never changed. Was he really that good or was she just

"What have you done, Kyle?" She wanted to believe this was all a
mistake. She wanted to believe in him.

Kyle went to her and tried to pull her into his arms but she pushed him
away. "It was just this once, Natalie. The drugs weren't supposed to hurt
anyone. They said if I eliminated all traces of the files they would forget how
much I owed them." He actually looked like he was ready to cry, but she
couldn't trust that now.

"Owe them, Kyle? Who? What are you talking about?" She wanted to
believe him but she needed all the facts.

"These two drug companies paid for my schooling. It was supposed to be a loan
but they said if I didn't...."

"You took money from drug companies to pay for school? That's grounds
for expulsion. You know that!" She was almost screaming at him.

"I had no choice, Natalie!" He needed her to see his desperation; to
understand. "I couldn't live like a pauper and get everything I needed
without help. I didn't have any scholarships. I was on my own. I had
to live. It was the only way." He reached for her again. She slapped
his hands away as the anger began to rise. "It was only this one time!
I swear it!"

Natalie pushed away from him and walked to the door. "Get out Kyle."
It was a command not a request. "I need time to think."

Kyle gently kissed her cheek as he silently left.


End Part 3

What Real Love Is?
Part (4/?)

The tears rolled silently down her cheek. The pain from the memories
were more than emotional. Nick could physically feel her anguish and it
tore at his heart. "Finish it, Nat. You have to get it all out to deal
with it." She shook her head in agreement.

"I know, Nick. I know. I thought I was over it, but I guess you never
get over betrayal, do you?" She turned and looked hopefully into his

"Given enough time and love, Nat, you can accomplish anything. You
taught me that. Maybe you should practice some of your own medicine.
What happened after he left?"

"I sat down at the computer to see what files he had discarded. They
were the drug tissue samples from the Psych Ward. The patient had died
several days before and they just ordered standard tissue slides. No one had
paid much attention to them. So I started looking for others. I couldn't
find anything else missing, but I was skeptical so I called a computer
friend of mine and ask him to come over. By 10am he had recovered most
of the files that were missing over the past 8 months. Kyle had
been deleting them systematically. Each time the files would disappear,
he had worked the graveyard shift. Ever since the day we had moved in
together. He had used me!" The pain of betrayal was in her voice as she
finished. "He came to me twice that day trying to assure me it was only
once. When I confronted him with it, he called me a scheming bitch and
left. I was devastated. He had used me for his pipeline into the
tissue lab. I had to know why."

"What happened to the patients?" Nick tried to keep her on track and in
control of her emotions.

"I took 4 days off and went digging for answers. Finally I found the
connection. Each one of the patient's samples had traces of an unknown
drug in their tissue when they died. They came from various department
throughout the hospital. They were not tied to just the Psych Ward.
None of the patients were aware of any new drug therapy. They were all
terminal, except the last one. When they died, a complete autopsy was
not performed. I learned that the drug companies were using certain
patients that fit their profile as guinea pigs for this new drug.
Whether they died from the drug or their original condition, no one
knows. But the last patient was definitely poisoned by the drug because
his condition was not terminal. I checked Kyle's rotation schedule.
Each time a patient died, he had been on shift. There was no proof
that he was on their floor, but I was horrified. The man I loved and whom I
thought loved me not only had used me from the day we met, but he was also a

"What did you do?" Nick caressed her hair as he spoke and she leaned
into his hands before she continued.

"He begged me to cover for him in the name of 'our love'. That was a
joke! Our love was just one sided, and I couldn't bring myself to go
against my oath to save lives. I turned all the information over to the
hospital administrator. Kyle swore I planted the evidence on him. In
the end they couldn't prove he had actually given the patients the drug,
but his bank account was extremely large and all his tuition had been paid
up to date by some unknown benefactor. All very vague, nothing
concrete. He was asked to leave the program. There was no proof of my
involvement and the police exonerated me completely. The hospital
administrator and the police told me I was wasting my talents in just
pathology that I should be in forensics pathology. My information was
enough for them to arrest several members of the drug companies but
not enough to nail Kyle. He walked away from the hospital, the
consequences, and me. I hadn't spoken to him since ....until yesterday."
Natalie sagged into Nick's arms.

" He wants to make up for his past mistakes. He says I'm the one true
regret in his life. He wants us to be friends if I can give him a
second chance."

Nick turned Natalie to face him and ran his fingertips down her moist
cheeks as he softly spoke the question that scared him more than he
cared to admit. "What do YOU want Nat?"

She looked into eyes and saw how much he wanted to protect her, but
there was more. Was it her fear or his? Did she really have an
answer? Would he be there for her no matter what her answer might be.
Never letting her eyes leave his she whispered, "I don't know....I
honestly don't know."

The indecision in her voice tore at his heart more than a stake ever
could. He pulled her close and buried his head in her mass of curls, not
only comforting her but himself as well. "You have to do what makes you
happy, Nat! That's all that matters now." He broke the embrace and made
her look at him before he continued. "Some people change, some don't.
If you didn't believe that, you and I wouldn't be here tonight. You know
that." He smiled that boyish grin she loved. "Very few of us have no
regrets in our life. Why should you be any different?"

"A part of me will always love him and the time we had together,

Nick made her look him in the eyes before he spoke. "That was the past,
this is now. You're not the same person you were then. You have to
decide what THIS Natalie wants and go from here. Then and only then can
you go on with your life. Isn't that what you been preaching to me when
I go angsty on you? 'Recognize it, feel it and get over it, Nick.' I
quote from the Natalie Lambert psychological manual for guilt ridden
vampires." She finally smiled and then laughed.

"You're trying to say I should practice what I preach, Nick Knight!"

"Yup! Now come on. You are going to bed and I am going home because
it's almost dawn and you know how I feel about being french fried." He
pulled her up to a standing position and swept her into her arms.

"Nick, what are you doing?" She chuckled and clung to his neck never
letting her eyes leave his.

"Rescuing a young maiden from that treacherous walk to the bedroom!" he
replied in his best knightly voice as he jostled her which caused her to
laugh. He loved her laugh. His Natalie was back and she would get past
this. They both would. Nick ensconced Nat in her bed and covered her
to her chin planting a parting kiss on her forehead. She finally
relaxed as he turned out the lights. "See you tomorrow, Nat. Call me if
you need anything!"


With his extraordinary night vision he could see her smiling in the dark
when he turned.

"Thanks for being here. It means a lot to me."

"What are friends for?" He blew her a kiss and shut the door.

Kyle watched from his car as Nick pulled away from Natalie's apartment.
He slammed his hand on the dash in frustration. Knight had been there
all night. This was going to be harder than he thought.

End Part 4

Part 5
What Real Love Is!

Nick pulled away from Nat's apartment at 5:45am, flipped open his
cell phone and dialed Tracy. The sun was up in 15 minutes and that
meant he would have to hurry. Tracy answered on the second ring.

"Trace, it's Nick."

"Hi Nick! Is Nat doing better?" Tracy was concerned for both Natalie
and her partner. She was becoming even more aware of how close the two
of them had become.

"She's better now. I put her to bed and I am on my way home. Anything
happen tonight aside from the Captain screaming his head off about me?"
Nick smiled when he envisioned Reese's neck veins popping out when
Trace told him he was going home sick.

"There was another one tonight, Nick. They found another physician dead
in his home over in the LaFont Square area. Only this time he was not a
psychiatrist. It came over the wire and the Captain pitched it on my
desk. I called Jerry down at South to see if he had examined the body
for poisoning. He said purple lips, blue veins and extreme rigamortus
not approximate for the suggested time of death. We have a serial
here. I'm checking patients, and pleasure activities to see if we can
find a link here aside from them being physicians. Oh, Natalie
was right about the toxicology too. It came back tonight and Grace
brought it up. It was some chemical combination that no one had heard
of, but it was a neuro enhancer. According to Jerry that means
what ever happens in the body is magnified at least 1000 percent. These guys
died in agony. Any ideas where else to check?"

"Drop the toxicology report over to Jan and have her email it to me so I
can look at it before I turn in. Then check the drug companies here in Canada
and in the States that are doing research on experimental neuro transmitters.
Get me a list. Maybe that's how all these Docs are connected. Email me
when you get the lists and I'll check them out.... and Trace....thanks for
covering for Nat and I tonight. I appreciate it."

"You owe me one now, partner, and I will collect. See you tonight."
Nick smiled as the line went dead. They were turning out to be a pretty
good team.

Why did he suspect the pharmaceutical companies? Was it because of
Nat's story tonight about Kyle? Why was Kyle here now after all
these years and suddenly there are numerous dead bodies showing up. Nick
decided to put his thoughts into action and flipped open his laptop and
connected on-line with the police computer system. First he would check out
one Kyle Stephens, MD. and then he would check for other similar cases filed
in the US as well as Canada. If there was a connection, he would find
it. So much for getting any rest today. The toxicology report and Tracy's
pharmaceutical list dropped in his mailbox when he finished checking the
rest of his mail. Finally he turned to a database search when his buzzer
rang. Glancing at his watch he noted it was only 7:30am. Walking over to the
security scanner, Nick flipped on the viewer to check out his guest.

A tall dark man stood casually at the door not realizing he was on a
monitor. Nick watched him intently for a few moments trying to ascertain
him as friend or foe. He could not sense him as one of his kind and his
heartbeat was erratic, probably due to his nervousness. "Can I help
you?" Nick's voice came clearly through the top speaker above the
monitor. When he spoke the man looked up and noticed the monitor.

"Uh, well, uh....my name is Kyle Stephens and I wanted to talk with you
Detective Knight about Natalie." He stared directly into the monitor no
longer nervous but almost challenging. "Can we talk?"

"Take the lift inside to the top floor." Nick released the security
lock and Kyle stepped into the garage.

Kyle noticed Nick's collection of cars and motorcycles as he entered the
warehouse. He was amazed at what he saw. Nick was a collector of old things,
that much was obvious as Kyle found the lift and pressed up. He wasn't
quite sure how to approach Knight, but doubt in oneself is always so
easy to impart. This would be step one in his plan. The lift stopped
and Kyle slide open the lift door to enter the loft.

Nick stood by the fireplace sipping a glass of bloodwine while he waited
for his uninvited guest to arrive. This was not a good idea and Nick
knew it, but if Stephens had anything to do with these cases, he had to
know. Maybe talking here was better than down at headquarters where Nat
would find out. She had enough doubts about Kyle's motives. Adding another
would only make things harder for her.

Kyle entered the loft and stood motionless while his eyes adjusted to
the dim lighting. After a few minutes, he began to take in his
surroundings. This was not what he expected. He thought the old car
and motorcycle collection was impressive, but he was not prepared for
what he saw up here. Nick was a collector and apparently an artist as
well. Kyle walked over to the painting Nick had stopped working on a
week ago, waiting for it to dry. Knight was obviously more than just a police
detective. One did not own what was present in this place on a
detective's salary. Neither man spoke as Nick walked toward Kyle as he
stood admiring the painting. Nick positioned himself between Kyle and
his latest work causing Kyle to initiate eye contact. Kyle was
unprepared for the man that stood before him. Nick was almost animal-
like when he moved. He gave you the distinct feeling you were a
rabbit being sized up for the kill. There was something about him that
made you immediately uneasy. Was this intentional? Could he plant seeds
of doubt in this man? Maybe his plan needed a little fine tuning after
meeting his adversary face to face.

Nick could sense Kyle unease and it pleased him immensely. Was he just
being childish or was he jealous of this man because of his past
relationship with Nat. He had deliberately used his subtle vampire
skills to create indecision and uncertainty. Nick could play mind games
with the best, after all, he had been trained by LaCroix. Still not
speaking he locked eyes with Kyle and patiently waited.

"Uh...I feel a little awkward about this." Kyle continued staring at
Nick, awaiting a response and then finally cast his eyes to the floor in
an effort to appear submissive.

Nick recognize the tactic immediately having used it multiple times with
LaCroix. It was a way to evaluate, regroup and regain control of the
situation. It worked well with someone who had a great deal at stake,
but why would this man try to use it on him. What did he have to gain or
control. They were not rivals for Nat's affection or maybe....

"What is it you want, MR. STEPHENS?" Nick controlled his voice as well
as emotions. He needed answers not only about the dead physicians, but
why he was here.

"I want to talk about Natalie. She...She told you who I am?" Kyle let
his eyes move back to Nick's as he worked diligently to hide the smile
behind a sincere 'concerned for others look'. He spent hours at a mirror
perfecting it for patients. Why not use it to his own personal benefit as
well? Submissive demeanor creates compassion in almost all people and
once you have them feeling sorry for you, control is yours. But Knight
was not necessarily compassionate, just curious and that would do in this

"I'm going to be perfectly honest with you. I came by her place this
morning and saw you drive off. I have a friend in the DMV and they ran
your plates. Well, actually he didn't even do that once I told him it
was a '62 Caddie with fins. He told me it belonged to you and that you
were a detective out of Metro Homicide. When I came to Toronto a month
ago, I looked Natalie up through friends. She told you I'm sure of our
past relationship?" Kyle said the last remark more as a question than a

Natalie had never been very open about her past with him. He was sure that had
not changed. Mystery in a woman always added spice in Kyle's opinion.

"Well, when I ran into her again today she seemed upset so I thought I would
check on her. When I saw you leave I wasn't sure if she was okay. Since you
were a cop, I figured if something was wrong you would know. Is she all right?"
Kyle was the picture of concern.

Nick was baffled by the man before him. Did Kyle actually believe he'd think
they had been seeing each other behind his back? That Nat had not told him the
whole story. Just how far would this man go? Lies? Deceit? Murder? What
was in it for him? Maybe it was time for Detective Knight to enter this

Purposely not answering Kyle's question, Nick turned and walked back to
the fireplace before he spoke. "I think possibly, Kyle...." Nick turned
away from the fireplace and locked eyes with him again, "that you have
saved me a trip. What do you know about a drug company called Faraday
Pharmaceuticals and neuro enhancers?" Nick raised one eyebrow in a
quizzical look. Faraday was one of the pharmaceuticals houses on the
list emailed to him from Trace before she left for the night.

It was first denial and then avoidance of the question. Kyle was
thrilled. Nick was playing right into his hands. All he needed was
seeds of doubt in the young detective and nature would take it's course.
Of course, in this case it was his course as well. But what did this
pharmaceutical company have to do with unless......Kyle experienced a
twinge of doubt. There was no way Natalie would have admitted how bad
he used her in Med School. Her pride wouldn't let her. He knew her.
So he would play his next move.

"Look Detective, I can see this was a mistake. I thought you would want
what was best for her. That's why I came. I guess I was wrong. She
will have to decide which one of us she wants. I'll admit it. I hired
a detective to check you out and it scared me to read your file. You
are a target waiting for a bullet. They said she almost lost it when
you were shot last year. I just thought that if you had any feelings
for her at all you would not want her to suffer through that again. I
guess I was wrong." Kyle buttoned his coat as he turned to leave.
When he reached the lift door he turned to Nick one last time. "I
intend to marry her, Detective, and I will make her happy with no worry
that I'll walk out that door and never return. I'll give her that white
house with 2 kids she always wanted and make her happy until we are both
old and gray. Goodnight, Detective... it's been an enlightening but
short conversation." Kyle slide the lift door closed and hit down.

The gold flecks edged Nick's eyes as he fought to control the beast. He
wanted desperately to break this man's neck, yet there were too many
truths in Kyle's final farewell that landed right at his feet. It was
true he couldn't give Natalie what she truly deserved and wanted, at
least not now. How many times had he thought about leaving without
saying goodbye. True it was to protect her, but still he knew the
results. The pain it would cause her was what kept him there.
He had no regrets, but did she? If she could chose to do it all over
again, would she even chose to be his friend let alone anything else?
Was he fooling himself when he thought of them as an 'US'?

In his heart he knew Natalie had not been seeing Kyle, but could he ever
let her go? Could he set her free if it made her happy with any man. He
couldn't answer that. It hurt too much to think about the alternative.
Maybe sleep was more the answer now or at least an escape.


Kyle strolled to his car whistling a tune. His plan had been a success.
Personal doubt was so easy to create and he was the master. Now on to
phase two.

-End Part 5

Part (6/?)
What Real Love Is?

Natalie sighed heavily, stripped her gloves off and threw them in the
biohazard disposal. It was a long autopsy on a young man that shouldn't
have died. She had been meticulous in her examination, looking for
potential signs of violence or cause of death besides a heart attack.
None existed in this case. The young man apparently had been born with
a bad heart that no one knew about and the stress from physical exercise
on the racquetball court caused a massive MI. It seemed like such a
waste. She sat down at her desk to write up the report when a delivery
man knocked hesitantly at the door.

"Come in. I won't bite!" Nat chuckled at the young man's attitude about the
morgue. Most people hesitated before barging in.

"Uh...I have a delivery here for a Dr. Natalie Lambert. Would that be
you," he asked hopefully?

"That's me." Nat smiled as she saw him enter the room with a large
bouquet of flowers. A dozen long stem red roses with sprigs of baby's
breath clusters around them filled his arms. "Oh, my, those are lovely." She
grabbed the card with one hand, then signed for them with her other. She leaned
over into her desk and pulled out some money for a tip.

"Thanks!" He said quietly. The young man took a quick look around the
room and left hurriedly.

The card read:
Another chance to be friends. I promise not
to mess it up this time.


Nat smiled and leaned over to smell the roses. Kyle always had a flare
for the romantic. He knew exactly what melted a woman's heart.
She had to remember that, but she had made a decision early tonight that
she had to forgive him for his past mistakes and give him a chance to be
who he actually was. Nick had been right; she was not the same person she had
been 10 years ago and maybe Kyle wasn't either. She would give him a chance
to prove to her that things had changed. It was the only way she could ever put
the doubts about herself and her inability to deal with their relationship's end. It
was time to grow up and leave behind the young Med. student who was
manipulated and used. Maybe then
she could learn to trust a man completely again. The phone rang sharply
in the quiet morgue as Natalie leaned over to answer it.

"Coroners office, Lambert speaking." It was probably Tracy or Nick
looking for those toxicology reports on the last physician.

"Natalie, it's Kyle. Kyle Stephens." His voice sounded hopeful and

"Kyle. Thank you for the flowers. They're lovely." Natalie touched
she rose petals as she spoke.

"Red ones were always your favorite, I recall." You could actually feel
his smile over the phone. "I thought maybe I could talk you into
breakfast this morning when you got off work." Kyle patiently waited
for an affirmative answer.

"You planning on staying up till 4 am, Kyle?" Nat questioned, assuming his
answer would be no.

"If that's what time you get off, I will be there with bells on. See
you then." He hung up quickly before she could change her mind.

"But Kyle I..." The phone was already dead. She stared at the handpiece
in disbelief. She really wasn't prepared for this yet. She was more than irritated
at Kyle's tactics but then, that was his style, as were the roses. When she looked up, Nick stood before her with a puzzled look on his

"Nick..you have got to stop doing that!" she scolded as she placed the phone
back on the receiver.

"What's up, Nat? You looked really strange when I came in, like you were
lecturing yourself again." Nick sat down on the edge of her desk and touched
the roses gently. "Beautiful. Kyle again?" He already knew the answer. The
man had made his intentions clear this morning. The question was, was Natalie
aware of them and if so, what would be her

She touched one of the roses lovingly and became more distant as she
spoke. "He just asked me out for breakfast to talk. I'm not sure this
is the right thing to do but I'm going." She looked at Nick for

Nick placed his hands over hers as she touched the rose. "Just remember, Nat,
that though a rose is beautiful, the thorns are sharp. Things are not always what
they appear to be on the outside."

"And neither are people. I know, Nick, but I have to be able to put aside the old
demons and my past feelings." She smiled and touched his face gently. "I've
told you that enough times. I think I'm going to practice my own philosophy.
You do understand?" He was her closest friend. She needed his support most
of all.

He gently grasped her hand on his face and kissed the palm before
returning it to his lap. "I want you happy, Nat. No matter what happens now or
in the future. Know that! Just be aware that if he hurts you again, he will
answer to me." Nick released her hand and slowly walked to the door.

"Nick?" Nat wasn't sure what to make of his comments. Her blue eyes
turned to meet his. "Is there something I should know?" She sensed
something in him that wasn't there last night.

Nick toyed with the idea of telling her about his conversation with Kyle
this morning, but couldn't decide how to make it sound like he wasn't
afraid of losing her or being jealous. In all honesty, he couldn't say
that wasn't what caused his doubts about Kyle to begin with, but he
trusted Nat to make the right decision for herself and him as well. He
had to let her find the answers she needed even if he lost her in the
process. They had too many obstacles to overcome if either of them had
doubts and Nat had the most to lose. It had to be her decision.

"Just be careful. Okay? I'll be there if you need me." He smiled that
boyish smile she loved so much and closed the door.


Kyle stopped at the morgue at 4 am on the dot. He would not be late for
this date no matter what the time. He put on his 'you gotta love me'
face and pushed open the morgue door.

"Hi, Natalie." He said cheerfully as he noticed her finishing a report
behind her desk.

"Hi, Kyle." She smiled hesitantly. Doubt crossed her mind for at least
the 12th time tonight about her decision, but the compassion side of her
won out. She would give Kyle another chance to be a good person and
possibly a friend. Only then would she be able to aside the demons he
had created and learn to trust again. Whether he messed it up or not,
she would be able to get on with her life knowing she had at least tried
to understand instead of running away. Wasn't that what she had told
Nick on repeated occasions? Running away was not the answer, only a
temporary fix. You had to face it, deal with it, and live with your
actions. She hadn't done that in Med. School. She simply put her
emotions and pain on hold and ran. If she had to be honest, that was
probably why she could understand Nick so well. Running away from your
emotions was much easier than dealing with them.

"Let me just log off the police computer and we can go." She closed
out the file and shut the computer down. "Where are we going for
breakfast?" She tried to sound eager but wasn't sure she managed it.

"You pick. I haven't been in town long, especially to know what is open
at this hour. Just make sure it's some place we can talk. I want to
hear all about you and what has happened since we last met. I want to
explain a few things." His green eyes searched hers for understanding.

"Let's try Rosie's around the corner. It's not too busy this time of the night. We
can talk there."

Kyle noticed her coat on the tree by the door . Casually picking it up
he offered to help her on with it. "Let's go then. We have about 10
years to catch up on."


It was several hours before dawn, so Nick returned to his desk. There had to be
more information on the pharmaceutical companies on his list. As he scoured
the documents before him he thought he noticed a pattern. Playing a hunch he
pulled up the similar death profiles and cross referenced them to cities of
pharmaceutical companies. All his efforts were in vain. There was no

Then he pulled up the record on Kyle he requested yesterday. Was
he checking because of Natalie or because there was a potential
connection. He knew the answer already. The though of Nat with this
guy made his skin crawl. He cross referenced the physicians with Kyle,
the pharmaceutical companies and finally the victims...nothing. It was
inconceivable that the present case and Nat's story was a coincidence. Many of
the symptoms she described and later verified in his drug search matched...and
there it was. The victim list matched the cities Kyle had visited on lecture tour
or lived in. He was the connection. He broadened the search to find out if any
of the other victims had done testing for any of the listed drug companies as
they had here in Toronto.

In each case, both in the States and in Canada, the victims had been a
participant in a drug study with questionable results. In several of
the cases, indictments had already been issued, while others had been
dismissed for lack of evidence. In each case, however, when the victim
died, Kyle was in the city.

Now what did he do. If he brought him in for questioning, Nat would call it
personal, not professional. If he turned out to be the victim, Nat would go
ballistic and take Kyle's side, calling him jealous. Which he was...but this was
police business. If Kyle was the killer, it put Nat in danger and the emotional
trauma would hurt her even more. He was in a Catch 22 . Hurt the woman he
cared for more than life by suspecting her ex-fiancee as a murderer, or hurt her
by proving he was. In either case, Nat lost. There had to be another option. He
just wasn't seeing it. If he gave the information to Trace or the Captain, he
knew what their response would be. Was he putting Nat in danger by saying
nothing? What about others? It was all circumstantial. There was nothing
concrete. The only reason he was here was because he didn't trust the man with

It was almost dawn. He would swing by Nat's to see if she got home
after her breakfast....and if she didn't, what then? Nick grabbed his coat and
keys and headed for the Caddie. Dawn was in a half hour so there was plenty of
time. Swinging by Nat's parking place he noticed her car still in the lot. Maybe
Kyle would bring her home, but he doubted it. Rosie's was the closest place to
the precinct so he swung by on his way home.

As he pulled into the parking lot he could see them still deep in
conversation. Natalie was smiling and laughing at something Kyle said
as he gently touched her hands as he spoke. She didn't remove her hands
from his as he continued.

It was a physical pain that engulfed Nick as he watched. Nat's words
echoed in his mind until he could see her face as she spoke night before
last. "A part of me will always love him. I can't deny that."

She had needs that only a mortal man could give her. As much as he
wanted to give them to her, he couldn't. LaCroix had been right. It
could only end one way. If he truly loved her he would have to leave
and set her free....set them both free. She deserved more than death or
this immortal Hell in which he lived. He couldn't condemn her to
something he despised himself, in the name of love. She would only end
up hating him in the end. He couldn't bear that. Maybe this was for
the best, at least for Natalie. He had to accept that fact because he
truly loved her. He was finally willing to admit that now. He wanted
her happy and that was all that mattered, whether it be Kyle or another
mortal, it was inevitable. In his 800 years he had never felt such pain
as tonight. He had to let her go. He knew that now. He started the
engine and drove toward the loft.

End Part 6

What Real Love Is?
Part (7/?)

3 days later:

Nick sat at his desk going over the information in front of him for at
least the tenth time. He hadn't spoken more than 5 words to her since
she sat down at her desk across from him. Tracy was more than worried.
Usually Nick would get irritable, cranky, and out of control when he was
upset. She heard the other guys say his nickname was 'Knightmare' when
he got ticked off about something, but this was different.

He was hiding something and it had to do with Nat. She was sure of it.
She had seen Natalie with Dr. Stephens twice in two days. The rumors
were starting to fly. She'd heard Carlyle telling Budman that Knight
was losing ground with the Doc. She was sure Nick had heard them
talking, yet he continued to say nothing and he was avoiding the morgue
like the plague.

Tracy tossed a pencil across the desk at Nick to get his attention.
"Okay, Nick. I have had enough. What is going on with you? I haven't
gotten more than 10 words out of you in 3 days and I feel like I'm
working this serial killer case alone." Nick looked up at her as if noticing her
the first time. He ran his hands through his hair and rose from his chair. He
tired...very tired. He hadn't slept in 2 days and it showed in his face. The
evidence kept getting stronger with every avenue he checked. He needed
someone to talk to, but with Tracy having just lost Vachon he wasn't sure she
could handle anymore. She was a good cop, he had to remember that and maybe
her viewpoint would be different than his.

Rubbing his unshaved chin, his tired blue eyes met herswith resignation.
Lives were at stake and she was his partner. He picked up the large
file in one hand and grabbed her coat with the other. "Come on, Trace.
I think we need to take a drive." He tossed her coat into her lap and
grabbed his own, not waiting to see if she would follow.

Tracy caught him at the door. "Where are we going, Nick?"

Kyle had been wonderful for the last 3 days. He was courteous,
attentive, considerate, romantic and not too pushy. They chatted about
his practice , his patients, Nat's job, the stress of the everyday job
and all the little things people do to get to know one another. He took
her to breakfast, then dinner, the University to hear his lecture and
dancing. He wined her and dined her until she finally cried 'uncle'.

"Kyle, you have got to stop. We can't push 10 years of our lives into a
week and pretend that everything is as it was before." Natalie had kept
him at arms length most of the week. She was trying to decide if he
truly had changed, all the while enjoying the warmth and fun that they
used to share. Kyle had changed. He had grown up finally, but he was
still Kyle. Witty, fun to be with and a romantic at heart, yet there was
still something that bothered her. She couldn't put her finger on it.
She had learned 10 years ago he was a consummate actor and she would
never forget that. But the woman in her adored the attention. In fact
she felt sexy for the first time in a long time. God knows that her sex
life had been extremely lacking as of late. He made her smile and cry
just like he had 10 years ago, but she wasn't the same person she had
been then. It was nice to reminisce but her life was different know and
she liked who she was.

Kyle came around and opened her car door. "You don't really have to
work 'till 5 do you, Natalie?" He used those green eyes with his best
puppy dog look.

She laughed at his expression. It was so like the young Med student she
had loved long ago. She touched his cheek gently and smiled and then
she found his arms around her and his lips on hers. Shock and then
pleasure attacked her senses as he deepened the kiss. He was so warm
that she let herself go, exploring her feelings once again. She wrapped
her arms around his neck and kissed him back until ..... She finally realized it
wasn't Kyle she wanted kissing her so passionately but a blue eyed, blonde
detective with an affinity for dressing in black. Kyle's warmth was enticing but
there was no passion in his soul. All this time she had spent with
Kyle trying to put her past behind her had only strengthened her
feelings for Nick. She had learned to trust again...not Kyle but NICK.
She wasn't just looking for answers in her past but confirmation of what
she felt now...for Nick. She had to know that what she felt for him was
real. That it wasn't just her desire to help find a cure, but something
more...something deeper and longer lasting than life...something that
could survive anything or anyone. She had found her answer.


Nick held the door open and let Tracy precede him into the parking lot.
Tracy stopped dead in front of him causing him to run hard into her
back. Natalie stood kissing Kyle Stephens in the parking lot. It was
not a chaste kiss but one where both participants where caught up in the
moment. Tracy could feel Nick tense behind her as if he lowered a brick
wall between them.

Nick stood motionless watching Nat wrap her arms around Kyle's neck and
return his kiss with enthusiasm. She didn't push him away or run from
the emotions he was evoking from her. Immense pain racked Nick's heart
as he watched the woman he loved kiss another man with the passion he
only dreamed they could share. Was it fate that he and Trace should be
there at this particular moment or just bad luck? He didn't know nor
did he care. The pain was so intense he had forgotten to breathe until
Tracy brought him back to reality.

"Nick! I'm...I'm sure this isn't what it..." Tracy was at a loss for
words. For once in her short career with Nick she could actually read
his emotions.

The pain in his eyes turned to anger. Then his control returned before
he spoke. "Trust me, Trace it, gets worse." He handed her the file in his
hand and started for the Caddie. She piled into the car as he started
the engine and pulled out of the lot.


They drove in silence while Tracy read the workup Nick had been
compiling on the physician killings. An occasional "incredible;"
"unbelievable;" and "you've got to be kidding" escaped her lips as Nick
drove toward the Faraday Pharmaceutical Building. Faraday was the
pharmaceutical house that had funded Kyle's medical tuition during his final
years as a resident.

"Nick, Kyle Stephens is our killer. It's all here...motive and
opportunity. He has a previous history of unlicensed drug usage. He
has been in every city in which the murders have been committed over an eight-
year period, and not only was his medical tuition paid for in school but
he has numerous entries in his bank ledger for very large sums of cash
from unknown sources. Why haven't you brought him in?" She was
confused. Nick was always the first to drag a suspect in for
questioning. He was so good at wringing a confession out of them.

He stopped the car in the middle of the Faraday Pharmaceutical parking lot and
stared at the building for a moment. He had driven here without thinking. This
was where it all started.

"You haven't told Natalie any of this have you." Tracy was kicking
herself for not having seen it earlier. "Of course! You didn't want to
come across as the jealous boyfriend. The cop on a one man mission to
destroy the competition any way he can." She touched his shoulder
gently. "You have no choice in this, Nick. You know that."

Nick laid his head on the steering wheel in exasperation. "I just had
to make sure. I didn't want to hurt her again and it looks like that's
exactly what is going to happen." Nick slammed his hand on the dash in
anger. "Damn! Why couldn't he have changed or at least not shown up again.
Did he have to hurt her all over again? If I hadn't taken an oath to this badge, I
would kill him myself." Resigning himself to his fate with a heavy sigh, Nick
control of his emotion and started the car again.

"The answer to that is simple, Nick." Nick brought his eyes level with
Tracy before putting the car in gear.

"You're a good cop. The best I've ever seen. That's why you found all this
evidence. You made sure that you were right, not for yourself but for
Nat. You love her and that's why you waited, isn't it?" Tracy locked
eyes with Nick trying to get him to admit what he felt.

Pain was visible in his eyes as well as the answer but he was not ready to put it
into words...not yet. "We had better get back to the precinct and talk with the

End Part 7

What Real Love Is?
Part 8


Natalie pulled back from Kyle abruptly ending the kiss. He held on tightly
refusing to release her. She felt so warm, so exciting. She had returned his kiss
with such passion it took his breathe away. If anything, age had made her more
beautiful and more desirable with an intensity for life that he could do nothing
but crave. She was his. He could feel it until she stiffened in his arms and
retreated. He refused to release her and she began to struggle to break the

"Kyle, you have to let go of me." Natalie pushed away forcefully not making
much headway.

"What is it Natalie? You loved it! You know you did!" Kyle tried to pull her
lips back to his.

"No! Kyle, let me go!" Natalie pushed harder finally breaking the hold he had
on her and stood back. "That was a mistake. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have let
that go that far....it was my fault." She looked at him apologetically.

Kyle grabbed her again and forced his lips to hers as she struggled. When he
released her lips he stared into angry blue eyes. "You love me Natalie. You
always have. Admit it! We were meant to be together just like we were back in
school....the perfect couple. The last few days have been perfect. We are going
to get married and I'm going to buy you that white house you always talked
We are going to have 2 maybe 3 kids. It will be just like you always wanted it.
You can quite that morbid job and spend all your time with me and the kids. We
can be together all the time. I have made enough money to retire already. We
will spend every waking minute of our lives together and you will never have to
worry about money, jobs, or co-workers again. It will be perfect." Kyle's eyes
glowed with happiness as he laid out their lives.

Natalie stood speechless watching his face as he continued. He held her firmly
in place while he talked. The Kyle she knew in Med school was resurfacing
again; only this time all pretense of what she wanted was gone. He had made all
his dreams into hers. He honestly believed that she wanted all those things.
There were things that had been important to her 10 years ago, but not now. He
hadn't listen to her all week. He wanted the old Natalie, not the woman she was
now. As he rambled on, she realized he was talking about his happiness not
hers. It was just as it had been 10 years ago only she hadn't seen it.

She pushed his arms off hers forcefully. "Kyle, stop it?" He released her and
she stood back. "You have no idea of what I really want. Your living in the
past. I'm not that person anymore. I love my job and my friends. I'm happy
with who I am NOW. I want more than just a husband and kids to love. I have
a lot to give ." Kyle reached for her again but she pulled quickly out of his reach
and glared at him.

"Don't deny your feeling Natalie. This is real love. You and I together doing
what we want no worries, no commitment, no problems. That's the only
thing that will make you happy. You know it!" He lunged for her with
desperation in his eyes.

As he lunged she slapped him hard across the face as the anger built within her.
"Damn you Kyle. You don't know what real love is. Real love is worrying
about the other person more than yourself. It's wanting the other person to be
happy no matter what the cost to yourself. Real love is feeling pain when you
can't give the other person everything they need, but you never stop trying."
Nat stood back and caught her breath.

"I don't love you Kyle. I did once, but not now. That woman you loved 10
years ago is gone and I don't plan on going back. I'm sorry if you got the wrong
impression this week, but I needed to put my anger and my distrust of men
behind me. I needed to understand just exactly what I wanted and how I feel
about .."

"Knight! You're in love with Knight?" It was a statement not a question as
reality finally hit him. "He will hurt you Natalie and then leave you. He will
walk out that door one night and never come back and then what? He will never
be there for you like I can." Kyle turned and started pacing back and forth in
front of her like a caged tiger.

"Where's he been all week? If he loves you he should have been beating your
door down to keep me away, but he hasn't done that has he?" Kyle
smirked as he returned her gaze. His words hit home. He could see it in her
eyes. She had doubts about Knight's commitment to her. There was hope yet.

"This discussion is over Kyle. I'm sorry if I hurt you in anyway or gave you the
wrong impression, but you want something I'm not willing to give you." She
touched his arm with sadness in her eyes.

"I've got to go to work." She turned and started to walk toward the coroner's
building. Making a final decision ,she stopped and turned one last time.

"Don't call me Kyle." It was a simple command, not a request. She looked at
his eyes for understanding and finally turned to walk into the building.


Several hours later:

Tracy and Nick were in Reese's office while he went over the file. Nick stood
staring out the window as he read. Tracy sat in the chair opposite the Captain's
desk. Neither spoke while they waited for the explosion. When he finished, he
closed it calmly before he spoke.

"I'm not even going to ask why you haven't had this guy in here Nick, because I
think I already know the answer. So I'm going to make it easy for you. This is
a direct command. Bring him in here and get me the answers to the holes in
this case. What you have is circumstantial as you well know. If he's guilty
we have to prove it." Reese looked at Nick as he stared out the window
without responding. "Did you hear me Nick?" Reese yelled to bring Nick back
from where ever he was.

Nick turned and calmly responded , "I heard you Cap." and started for the door.

"Nick, if he is the killer, Natalie is in danger. You have to know that?" Reese
calmed his voice down as he spoke. He knew Nick and Nat were close but this
had to be tough. He couldn't imagine how Natalie would take having her ex-
fiancee arrested by Nick. Even if Nick and Natalie where just friends, it would
put a strain on the relationship, and Reese had the distinct feeling they were a
great deal closer than friends.

Controlled rage sparked from Nick's eyes as he turned in anger to the Captain.
"Don't you think I know that? But what if he isn't?" He growled as he pulled
the door hard enough to let it slam against the glass before he left.

Staring in astonishment at Nick's angry outburst, Reese turned to Tracy
shouting, "Well, go after him! I'll try to head Natalie off before she finds out.
Go on!"

End Part 8

Part 9
What Real Love Is?


Natalie opened the observation room door and stepped in. Nick and Tracy had
been interrogating Kyle for almost 30 minutes before she found out. Nick was
using he usual caustic yet probing style to break Kyle down. He was in control
of the situation. Kyle was becoming agitated with Tracy and Nick's back and
forth cross examination. Reese turned to face her and held up both hands before
she spoke.

"Now don't blame him Natalie! The evidence is there. If anything he should
have had him in here 2 days ago." Reese waited for the explosion, he was sure
to come but Nat simply turned to the window to listen.


"Let me get this straight Dr. Stephens, you claim to have no knowledge of any of
these deaths over the past 10 years. You expect us to believe that its a
coincidence that you are in every city where all these physicians are murdered.
You expect us to believe that the drug companies are using human subjects as
guinea pigs for untested drugs and each of these doctors were participants just
as you were 10 years ago and ..........you know nothing about it?"

"What would you know about 10 years ago detective?" Anger was building
behind Kyle's eyes as he challenged Nick.

Nick placed his face right before Kyle before he spoke. "Enough to know that
you played with the big boys for money and patients died. Enough to know that
you used people to cover your involvement and you got away with it." Nick
turned and walked back to the corner. The anger was building and the vampire
was close at hand. He was dirty and a user, but was he a killer as well? The
thought of his hands on Natalie almost brought the beast forward. He pushed it
back before he spoke.

"Not this time Kyle. You won't get away with it. I will make SURE of that!"

Kyle lunged out of the chair to attack Nick. Nick simply sidestepped and let
him run into the wall. Hatred poured through Kyle's eyes as he sat on the floor.
"This isn't about the murders, this is about Natalie. You can't stand the fact
that she still loves me. This is personal...isn't it Knight?" He picked himself
up off the floor and straightened his jacket till he was in complete control again.
Calmly returning to his chair, Kyle sat down and smugly stated, "I think I'll
call my lawyer now."

"Why don't you do that DR. STEPHENS?" Nick glanced at the two way mirror
listening to Nat's familiar heartbeat. He was not looking forward to this.

"Trace why don't you see that the good Doctor here gets his phone call."

Tracy glared at Kyle with contempt in her eyes. "Sure, no problem Nick."


Nick stepped into the observation both as Reese nodded and left. Natalie turned
to face him with tears in her eyes. He wasn't sure what to say.

"Why didn't you tell me Nick?" She spoke so softly that only his sensitive
hearing could have heard it. She searched his eyes for answers. Trust had to be
a two way street. "You used the information I gave you about Kyle! You used
me just like he did. You're no different than he is. All along I thought you were
different. I've been a fool!" A single tear slipped down her cheek as she met
his eyes.

"Nat! It's not like that." Nick reached for her as she jerked her arm away and
her anger rose.

"Then tell me Nick! Tell me why my best friend used something I told him to
throw suspicion on a perfectly reputable doctor. Tell me Nick, why that best
friend didn't even bother to tell me that he thought something was up with this
doctor. TELL ME NICK, why this best friend didn't bother to see me in a week
while this so called serial murder suspect was spending so much time with me.
If you though he was a murderer Nick why weren't you more concerned about
what would happen to me. By all means TELL ME!" She was enraged by the
time she had gotten it all out.

Nick expected the anger but not the pain. She actually believed he hadn't
checked on her all week. He thought he was giving her time to put the anger
and distrust behind her by dealing with it herself. He thought she wanted to be
with Kyle instead of him. Her lack of trust in him hurt more than her anger.

"Trust is a two way street Natalie!" There was pain in his eyes as he spoke.
"You think I didn't tell you about this because I didn't trust you ? " His pain
turned to anger just as hers had. "I didn't tell you because you already had
enough doubts about Kyle and yourself. You wanted to put your past behind you
and decide what YOU wanted. I thought it would only hurt you more to have to
deal with this. What I had was circumstantial and still is!" Nick paced the floor
as his anger built.

He stopped sharply and met her angry eyes with his own. "Don't think I like
that slim ball touching you or that I haven't kept an eye on you, but I have no
proof of anything that I can arrest him far.....or I would have! I trust you with
everything that I am. I know I can't give you what you need but that doesn't
mean it hurts any less to watch you with him or.... any other man for that
matter. I want you happy Nat......." He slowly walked to the door trying to
control the pain and anger. "If he is what you really want then I happy for you,
but DON'T EVER tell me I don't trust you! Or that I don't care! I thought you
knew that!" Gold flecks touched his eyes as he met her confused ones.
Reigning in his anger and the hurt, he turned and walked out the door.

Tracy hesitated outside the door as she heard them yelling. The room was
well insulated and the voices muffled but the anger was almost physical. The
entire precinct sat waiting until Nick walked out. Most had witnessed Nick's
temper before and wanted to make sure they were sufficiently removed when he
came out. Natalie was known to be the only one able to hold her own with him
in a fit of temper, but no one had any intentions of coming between them when
they were both riled. Nick glared at Trace as he slammed the observation door
and then stormed down the hall. He was in no mood for conversation and Trace
was not going to push him. As she watched his retreating form, she decided to
check on Nat.

Natalie sat on the back table staring at Kyle through the glass with tears running
freely down her face. Tracy opened the door quietly still carrying the case file.

"Nat?" Tracy questioned softly as she walked over and stood beside her.
"Are you okay?"

Natalie saw the file in Trace's hand and reached for it. Tracy slipped it into her
hand as she spoke. "He should have brought him in 2 days ago Nat!" She
looked into Nat's sad eyes. "He was trying to keep you from being hurt in case
he was wrong and then when he saw you in the parking lot........."

The look on Nat's face was one of regret and pain as she returned her gaze back
to the file noting the dates, times and evidence. Finally she glanced back
through the window at Kyle as he sat waiting for his lawyer. The tears began to
fall unchecked down her cheeks while she spoke. "Nick was trying to protect
me from myself and let me find my own way. I accused him of the one thing
that I feared the most.....his lack of trust in me.....when all along I forgot to trust
him to do what's right. He always tries to do what's right whether it hurts him
or not."

Nat looked directly into Tracy's eyes as she spoke. "I'm such a fool!
"I just wanted to know what I feel for him is real. No... that's not quite right."
She sighed before she continued. "I HAD to know what I feel for Nick is real
and that my old feeling for Kyle where in the past. I should've known that Kyle
hadn't really changed and Nick would trust me enough to see it on my own.
Kyle is a user and will always be one. I hurt Nick as well as myself and worse
yet I hurt US. I don't know....."

Tracy squatted down in front of her and gently touched Natalie's hands as she
spoke. "He loves you Nat...... It's in his eyes. It's in everything he does for
you." She smiled and squeezed her hands in comfort. " When two people are in
love, they sometimes hurt each other...that's part of it." Tracy wiped the tears
from Natalie's cheek.

"When I kissed Kyle, I realized it wasn't him that I wanted in my arms but Nick.
I love him Trace. I really love him." She sighed and looked casually at the file
as she picked it up. "And this is what Kyle is....half-truths and a lot of
unanswered questions."

Tracy pulled Natalie to her feet and took the file from her hands. "I think you
should be telling this to Nick not me......Don't you?" She smiled and put her
arm around her for support as they walked into the squad room.

End Part 9

What Real Love Is?
Part 10

She dried her tears before opening the observation door. Nat walked bravely
into the squad room to look for Nick with Tracy close behind.

"Do you know where he went Trace?" Nat questioned softly so the rest of the
room would not hear.

Kind hearted Carlyle quietly came up behind them as they spoke. "Uh...Dr.

Nat turned to face him. "It's Natalie, Carlyle." She tried to smile for his sake.

"If you're looking for Nick, he left about 10 minutes ago. He called in from his
car and booked off for the night. Jones said he peeled rubber with that Caddie
of his out the parking lot. He'd never seen him do that before.....I don't think he
is coming back." Carlyle looked apologetic as he delivered the message.

Nat gently touched his arm and made him look at her before she spoke.
"Thanks, Carlyle. It's okay.... none of this is your fault. This is no ones fault
but my own." The sadness in her eyes spoke more than her words.

"Just thought you would want to know." Carlyle turned to go back to work.

Nat picked up her coat and purse off Tracy's desk and headed for the door.

"Nat?" Tracy spoke before she reached the door. "We won't be able to hold
Kyle long. All we have is circumstantial. His lawyers will have him out in an
hour or so."

"Thanks Trace. Hopefully I can find Nick and straighten this mess out before
Kyle finds him and makes it worse." She stepped outside and headed for her


Natalie called Nick's cell phone as she drove toward the loft. She tried his pager
and the loft number; but to no avail. She checked with dispatch and he wasn't
answering his police ban either. Did she try the loft or the Raven. Would he go
to LaCroix? She turned the car north and headed for the loft.

Ten minutes later she turned the car off and pressed the security combination to
the loft. As she road the elevator up, a sense of dread and anxiety overwhelmed
her. When she opened the door, cold fingers encased her throat and slammed
her against the wall. Cold blue eyes met hers in the darkness and the familiar
voice of the Nightcrawler seeped into her soul.

"What have you done to him now Doctor?" Gold flecks edged his blue eyes
visible even in the darkness at the distant he held. her.

Natalie ceased to struggle when she recognized the voice. Fear would only
please him more. Anger defiance flashed in her eyes as she refused to
answer until he released the hold on her throat.

Watching the emotions play across her face and listening to her heartbeat,
LaCroix marveled at her woman's control. She had willfully controlled the fear
and emotion and turned it into something he could easily understand...anger. It
was no wonder Nicholas admired her so much. She was a worthy adversary as
well as a threat to be dealt with. Something he would do just as soon as he had
answers. He released the hold on her throat and stepped back completely in
control again.

Natalie gently rubbed her throat and walked past him into the room switching
on the light as she walked past. She would not face LaCroix in the darkness.
Never take on the devil on his terms. She turned to meet him defiantly now
putting on a braver front than she felt. "I don't know where he is LaCroix. I
thought maybe he was with you but I see that is not the case. Apparently you
have saved me a trip." She crossed her arms across her chest as protection.

LaCroix calmly seated himself in Nick's black leather chair by the fireplace
before he spoke. "I take it Doctor that you and Nicholas have had a
disagreement of sorts and that is why you seek him?" He lifted one eyebrow and
smiled slightly.

"What is between Nick and myself is just that LaCroix, between us." She
walked to stand in front of him almost daring him to attack. Was she out of her
mind to push him? Maybe somewhere in the back of her mind she had a death
wish? She wasn't sure why she felt she could press him, but he was connected to
Nick. She had witnessed it personally and he WAS here. He could feel Nick's
emotions and maybe find him as well. "Do you know where he is?"

LaCroix stood almost in one fluid motion and leered down into her eyes and
smiled. "Your lack of logic astounds me Doctor or are we just jousting for
positions here. I could easily break your neck and be done with this
tedious little quest of yours. I believe we would all be much better off."

Fear encompassed her whole body as he swiftly encased her in his arms and let
his eyes turn golden until she fought back. "Go ahead." She spoke softly into
his ear as his fangs descended toward her neck causing him to stop. "Kill me
and he will kill you for it. Bring me across and he will kill you for it or hate you
for all eternity but you will lose him either way...and I win." He released her so
quickly she almost collapsed to the floor.

She picked herself up and met him blue eyes to gold. "You owe him LaCroix
for saving you from Divia and you owe me for saving the community from the
fever epidemic. I intend to collect and so shall Nick, but THIS has nothing to do
with you. It's between Nick and myself. Find him and I shall call my debt with
you even." She awaited his answer.

He smiled and let his eyes return to normal. "You settle to quickly Doctor, but it
will be as you wish. I will find him for you and our debt will be canceled." He
walked toward the center of the room under the skylight and looked skyward
and then returned her gaze. "You haven't thought this completely through
Doctor. Just because I find him does not mean he will want to see you......." He
smiled a knowing smile. "Just a thought." Only a slight breeze was felt as he
disappeared through the skylight.


It was nearing midnight when Natalie finally decided to return to the precinct.
She would try pager and his cell phone again before she left. If necessary she
would wait at the morgue until dawn. If he didn't show up by then she would
return to the loft. There weren't many places he could go after sunrise.

As she got out of her car at the precinct. Kyle approached from the side of the
building. He had been waiting for over an hour. His lawyer managed his
release without much effort due to lack of concrete evidence, but he was told not
to leave town.

"Natalie!" Kyle called across the parking lot. "Please! I need to talk with you."

A stronger Natalie stood to face him. She had no time for his deceit and lies.
"What is it you want to talk about Kyle. The fact that you helped kill someone
10 years ago or that you have been helping kill more ever since. How about the
way you used me in Med school to help hide your involvement or how you
planned to manipulate everything in my life into something that was convenient
for you. What is it you want to use me for this time? Did you think if you got
close to me again that you could hide the forensic evidence linking those
untested drugs to Faraday Pharmaceutical again. How much are they paying
you this time?" Her anger grew with each breath.

"Natalie, I haven't done any of those things. You have to believe
me.......Well....not exactly those things. I did use you in Med school to cover up
the drug usage but I never delivered those drugs. I owed Faraday for my tuition.
It was wrong and I knew it. After I started my private practice, they came to me
talking about a new drug they wanted me to try. I turned them down flat. I
started doing all this work on drugs with Psychiatric care. I found some of them
worked and some didn't, but I never used untested drugs in my practice..... you
have to believe that. I came to Toronto to see you. I wanted you in my life
again. I realized after everything blew over that you were right to turn me in. I
should have been punished for my participation and I know that. I have been
trying to make up for that for 10 years. I've been trying to make up for that
woman dying because I didn't have the guts to stand up for what's right."

Kyle stopped long enough to catch his breath when a man appeared behind
Natalie and jerked her body hard into his solid mass. He covered her mouth in
one swift motion and placed a gun along side her head as he spoke.

"Don't believe him Doc. He's a liar in the first degree and now he is going to
pay for what he's done. I finally have found the way to make him suffer like my
brother did." The gunman twisted Nat almost off her feet so Kyle could see the
placement of the gun.

"Don't even think about it DR. STEPHENS. I can pull this trigger faster than
you can spit. Not that you have any backbone anyway." The gunman looked
Natalie over as he held her tightly. "She's the answer I have been looking for all
these years. She's special to you. Isn't she Doc? " He laughed maniacally. She
is what is going to make you feel the pain that Jerry felt because of what you did.
Get in the car and drive." He motioned for Kyle to get behind the wheel of the
car next to Natalie's in the lot. He shoved Natalie in the back seat and followed
close behind.

Tracy had stepped out of the side door and froze when she saw the gun. She
didn't want to startle the man into hurting Nat, so she edged her way around the
parked cars until she had a clear shot..... and then he moved. Kyle climbed
behind the wheel while the gunman shoved Nat into the back seat at gun point.
The brown sedan screamed out of the parking lot as she ran to catch the plate

End Part 10

What Real Love Is
Part 11


As Tracy ran into the precinct, she almost knocked Reese down as he came out
his office. Breathless she explained what she'd seen as she paced the floor.

"Captain, I just put out an APB on a brown sedan with license plate number
R 771L5. A tall man just forced Natalie and Dr. Stephens into his car at
gunpoint. I tried to......."

"Slow down Vetter. What are you saying? Natalie has been kidnapped?"

Catching her breath but still pacing the floor she tried to explain what she saw.
When she finished her thoughts turned to Nick.

"We have to find Nick, Captain." Tracy stopped pacing long enough to face the
Captain for an answer.

"Well, do it Trace! Put out an APB on him if necessary."

"Already done Cap. The license plate is being run now." Tracy calmed herself
to become more rational. "While dispatch keeps calling Nick, I'll go over to his
place to see if he is just not answering." She grabbed her coat and headed for
the door. "Call me as soon as you know anything about this guy."


Nick sat atop a very large boulder overlooking the south view of Toronto. He let
his mind drift to various things as he sat. His anger faded away hours ago and
he sat trying to analyze why Natalie's lack of trust hurt him so badly. Many
times in the past 800 years he had become involved with mortals and each time
there was pain when he was forced to move on. This was different. It was easy
to let yourself love a person but to truly love their soul was something different.
Some how, some way after all these centuries he had finally learned to love body
and soul. He truly loved all that she was and it scared him beyond his
imagination. Their trust in one another had always been the anchor in their
relationship and with that gone self doubt and pain took control.

Natalie had always been the strong one. She had such fire and conviction.
She'd made him truly believe anything was possible but she had needs as well.
He recognized that now. Maybe it was time for him to be the strong one. He
couldn't give her everything she needed and he had to accept that, but she was
his best friend and best friends are there for each other no matter what. If she
wanted Kyle then he must have some good in him. Nat was a good judge of
character and he should trust that, because he DID trust her no matter what she

The breeze only slightly moved the branches as Nick felt LaCroix approach.
He wasn't in the mood for a verbal or physical battle. He had waged enough
war within himself tonight but he should have known his father would sense his
turmoil and come to gloat.

LaCroix landed gently beside his son as he sat staring at the Toronto skyline.
"This is not your usual spot Nicholas." His spoke calmly as if discussing the
weather. "Considering your present state of mind. I'm surprised that you
haven't found something a little more distracting. That's your usual way of
handling things." He let the sarcasm creep into his voice intentionally.

Nick slowly rose from the rock to face his master. A determined set of blue eyes
met LaCroix's cold ones before he spoke. "I'm tired of running
LaCroix.....from myself and from life." Nick brushed past his master en route
to the car.

"Nicholas......I have a message for you from your pet. Do you wish to hear it
or shall I just return and tell her your not interested any longer." Nick could feel
the concealed amusement in LaCroix's voice as he sat down and closed the
Caddie's door.

"Why would you care to deliver a message from Natalie, LaCroix unless....."
Using vampiric speed, Nick exited the car and threw LaCroix to the ground
in one fluid motion. "If you've hurt her, I will kill you!" His eyes were golden
and his teeth extended as he spoke.

LaCroix laughed at his son's lack of control as he lay flat on his back with Nick
astride him. He had no doubts Nicholas would kill him if his little pet was
harmed. Once angered Nicholas was a fighting machine with only one goal in
mind. Why his son continued to fight this nature was beyond his imagination
but it was always to be considered in an altercation with him.

"Such emotion Nicholas.....and lack of control. I would have thought in 800
years you would have learned to control that temper of yours. Although I must
admit I enjoy our little battles especially when they end in bloodshed. It's so
challenging." LaCroix tried catching his son off guard to reverse the position
but Nick was ready for him.

Nick had feed well earlier that evening so his strength was not impaired. He
threw his master viciously to the ground as his eyes turned feral red. "What is
the message LaCroix and why are you bringing it to me?" Nick picked them
both off the ground still holding LaCroix's lapels as he spoke.

LaCroix let his eyes turn golden and forced his son's arms off his coat before he
spoke. "I was sent to find you Nicholas and tell you that the good Doctor wishes
to speak with you ALONE! That is all. As to why I would lower myself to
being a messenger for your pet, let us just say I am repaying a debt."

Nick let his eyes return to normal as he stood quietly before LaCroix assuming
the worse. She HAD come to a decision.

"I take it you understand the message and I am relieved of my obligation?" He
raised one eyebrow and smiled at his son's interpretation of the message.

"Interesting.......very interesting." He laughed as he disappeared into the sky.

Nick watched LaCroix disappear into the sky and let his thoughts drift back to
Natalie and their argument. Flipping on the police dispatch for the first time
since leaving the precinct, he heard the APB for him and a brown sedan with
two hostages...one of which was Natalie. Quickly picking up the microphone
he responded to the dispatcher.

"Dispatch this is 81 Kilo. I am en route to Metro. Fill me in on the details and
then patch me through to Tracy." He pointed the Caddie toward Metro as he
listened to the details.


Natalie sat bound tightly to a chair in the corner of the room as the man piled
kindling and logs in a semicircle around her. Kyle was bound and gagged in a
chair on the other side of the room where an explosive device sat ticking away.
His eyes were like saucers as he watched the man in horror.

Trying to gain time and calm the man down, Natalie tried her best professional
voice to get him into a conversation.

"What's your name?" She asked calmly as he continued to add gasoline to the
wood pile.

He brought his eyes level with her. Insanity and war raged behind the hazel
eyes that returned her gaze. "You don't understand what he is do you? You
don't even know why your going to die?"

Trying to control the fear Natalie pushed forward. "Why don't you tell me why?
If I'm going to die, don't I have the right to know ?"

"He killed my brother...my baby brother. He gave him those drugs. Those
drugs that weren't tested. Drugs that caused him such pain that he begged me
to kill him. So I did, and for what? Money! Yes, Money! It took me years to
find out who was responsible, but I did. When I found out who was involved I
killed them all. I made them suffer just like they made Jerry suffer except for
him. He was the one who delivered the drugs and covered it up just like all
those other." He let his eyes drift to Kyle in the corner who struggled to speak
through the gag.

" I followed him from place to place till I could get them all. All those so called
healers of the mind and everyone of them were like him. All they cared about
was money. So I watched and waited till the time was right...till I could find
something that would hurt him more than just physical pain," he turned back to
Natalie. "and that is you. He is going to watch you die screaming and then I'm
going to kill him slowly with the same drug he gave my brother. Did I mention
that the scientist at Faraday who created the drug explained all the side effects of
the drug to me before he died. He told me how to make it stronger. How to
cause so much pain that you would go insane before you died. That you would
do anything to make it stop." Hatred flared in his eyes as he spoke. "Yes, they
knew what it would do, but they used it anyway....modified form and such tripe.
They knew it could kill and they used it anyway!" He laughed as he turned his
attention back to Kyle and calmly stepped over to remove the gag.

"Not to worry Doc, I won't give her the drug......just YOU as you watch her
burn. I want you to hear her screams while the drug runs through your veins
and I'm going to watch it all." He sighed and looked toward the stars through
the window. "Then Jerry can rest in peace." He started for the lighter on the

"Carl? Isn't that you name. You're making a mistake! Natalie isn't involved
in this. She's the one who turned them in. She stood up for Jerry. She was the
one that found the evidence on Faraday and help send them to prison. Punish
me but not her. Do you want to be just like me? I was stupid and young, but I
learned from my mistakes. I didn't know the drugs were harmful.....I didn't
know. You have to believe me. I've spent ten years trying to promote safe drug
usage because of what happened to your brother. I didn't know those other
doctors. I didn't....." Carl's anger built with each word Kyle spoke until he
replaced the gag over his mouth.

"Shut up Doc. Ignorance is no excuse. You didn't check. All you wanted was
the money. It was just easier not to ask. You were a doctor! You were suppose
to care about your patients, but all you cared about was the money. Just like all
the others." He turned back to Natalie with the lighter in his hand.

"I'm sorry if what he says about you is true. Really sorry, but he has to pay for
what he did and this is the only way." He flicked the lighter and watched the
flame burn as Natalie screamed.

End Part 11

What Real Love Is?
Part 12

Tracy's voice came over the radio as Nick drove toward Metro.

"Nick! Where the Hell have you been? Some weirdo has Nat and Dr. Stephens.
I saw him force them into this car......."

Nick was stressed to the max. Gold flecks edged his eyes as he drove.
"Trace....just tell me you have an address." His patience was non-existent.

"The car is registered to a Carl Bowen at 1315 Sparrow Court." Nick pulled the
Caddie over as he listened.

"Thanks Trace. Send me back-up and an ambulance."

"They were dispatched a few minutes ago. Nick, this guy is the brother of the
of Kyle's first mess in California. Nick.....Nick? Did you hear me?" There
was no answer only a dead line.


Nick took to the air as he finished the sentence. Fear gripped his heart as he
flew. Nearing the subdivision he heard Nat's scream.

"NICK!!!! Nick!!!!!" Natalie screamed as Carl lit the fire and watched the
flames dance.

Carl stood watching the flames come closer to her chair as she
struggled to free herself. A loud crash from the front window brought his
attention around as Nick sailed through the plate glass window, smashing him
into the far wall. Blackness enveloped him swiftly as he bounced to the floor.

Nick saw Natalie through the flames. Without thinking, he plunged through the
inferno to the center. The heat was intense and caught his coat sleeve on fire.
Throwing it off into the flames he untied her hands and pulled her into his arms.
Relief swept through him as she wrapped her arms around his neck.

She was afraid but not paralyzed by it. Nick marveled at her courage.
"Vampires do burn you know Nick! Any ideas on a way out of this one?" She
looked hopefully into his eyes.

Nick looked at the fire as it quickly trapped them into the corner. Looking up
he tried to judge the consequences of taking there only way out. He looked deep
into her eyes before he spoke. "Trust me Nat! Trust me again....just this once !"
He needed her acceptance.

As the fire leapt to the cushion on the chair where she had sat, she held him
close. "I never stopped trusting you Nick and I NEVER will. Do it! It's our
only chance."

Forcing her face into his chest for protection, Nick shot upwards trying to cover
her body with his as they tore through the rafters into the night air. He brought
them down softly behind the house as the fire trucks roared into the driveway
followed by police and ambulance crews.

Nick pulled Nat away from him to check her over. "Nat? Are you okay? " He
brushed debris from her hair looking for wounds and broken bones.

"I'm okay Nick." She brushed debris from his shoulder and met his blue eyes.
"But Kyle....Nick....Kyle is still in there!" Fear was written on her face as she

He pulled away from her and headed for the house again without reservation.
She grabbed his sleeve as he pulled away.

"Nick there's a bomb....."

"It's okay Nat, I'll get him out." He touched her cheek and then disappeared
into the house.

The flames had engulfed the whole room as the influx of air through the roof
and window fed the flames. Nick spotted Kyle unconscious only moments
before he saw the bomb. He had only seconds before it exploded. Using vampire
speed he lunged for the chair and Kyle, driving them both through the wall in
the next room as the bomb exploded. It seemed like the house was collapsing
around them as Nick covered Kyle with his body. Pain ripped through his
shoulder and his heart as he pulled himself off Kyle. Kyle awoke to Nick's
scream as he watched him try to pull a wooden shaft from his shoulder with no

Panting from the exertion and the pain Nick finally resorted to cursing as he
tried once more to remove the offending stake. "Damn...Damn me to Hell! Of
course it had to be wood." Nick met Kyle's eyes as he finished the last epitaph
and finally broke the stake off at the exit point close to his heart.

"How....how did you do that?" Kyle managed weakly.

Using a simple hypnotic suggestion he responded. "Adrenaline! Now let's get
you out of here." Nick reached to help him up.

Kyle screamed in pain as he tried to rise and his legs buckled underneath. The
world went dark as Kyle felt strong arms throw him over a shoulder and move
quickly outside.

Tracy grabbed Nat as the explosion went off and she lunged for the house.
"No!! Tracy, let me go! Let me go!" She struggled to free herself as she
saw them come around the side of the house.

Nick carried Kyle away from the flames and dropped him as his own strength
began to fade from loss of blood and the stake. Kyle was unconscious as the
paramedics started first aid. Tracy and Nat ran across the yard to Nick as he
started back to the burning house.

"Nick!" Nat screamed as she watched him turn back toward the flames. "You

Nick turned to her voice. "No one deserves to die like that Nat.... not even a
murder." He lunged back through the hole he came through only moments

Tears poured down her face as she checked on Kyle and watched the house for
Nick. A second explosion rocked the building as the gas furnace obviously
exploded. Natalie jerked forward again screaming Nick's name as the
paramedic restrained her.

Trace came to her side as she collapsed to her knees in the grass. She couldn't
tear her eyes from the burning building as the pain racked her soul. Then she
saw a weary figure pull himself up off the ground on the far side of the house.
She pushed Tracy away and ran to him.

Nick pulled himself up slowly with the help of the nearby tree as his strength
began to wane. He couldn't reach Carl in time. The flames had already
engulfed him before the second explosion. Nick had hurled himself through the
bedroom window only seconds before the furnace exploded. Within seconds
Natalie was in his arms.

The tears ran down her cheeks freely as she ran her fingers across his smut
filled face and into his dirty encrusted hair. He held on tightly breathing in her
smell and warmth to give him strength.

She pulled away slightly to let her eyes meet his. "Don't EVER do that to me
again. Do YOU hear me Nick? I don't......."

He pulled her back into his embrace placing her head on his right shoulder and
burying his face in the mass of auburn curls he adored so much.

"Dr. Lambert....?" The paramedic interrupted nervously. "Ah.....Dr. Stephens
is awake and asking for you....."

Nat looked at the young man and then back to Nick. "Tell him I'll be right
there." She never let her eyes leave Nick's as she spoke looking for
understanding in his eyes.

"Go on Nat! He needs you. I'm fine."

She looked at him skeptically.


She turned to walk back to Kyle with the paramedic at her side.

Nick watched her kneel down at Kyle's side and gently brush his forehead with
her fingertips. Finally the pain from the stake and his obvious loss forced him
to leave.

End Part 12

What Real Love Is?
Part 13

Kyle watched them from a distance as the paramedic worked on his leg. It was
Nick's name she screamed when the house exploded. It was Knight that she
wept for in the middle of the lawn when she thought he was dead....Not him but
Nick. He had lost the battle before it began. Knight hadn't responded the way
he should. He had tried mental games, jealousy and finally force. If he could
have only made Nick lose it, Natalie would see that only HE could make her
happy. Why didn't Nick respond in anger? It was Knight's 'almighty good
guy' act that had her. Her was sure. Maybe a more compassionate,
concerned approach on his part would convince her. He closed his eyes as she

Natalie knelt down beside Kyle's still form and brushed the dirt gently from his
face. Slowly he opened his eyes wincing from the pain radiating from his leg.
He watched her face closely as she began checking his leg. The bleeding was
minimal and the break clean. Once again Kyle would escape relatively
unharmed. He watched her auburn hair fly in the wind as she continued her
examination. She was methodical and gentle, and when she return to his face
genuine concern was obvious......but not love. Her heart was elsewhere but he
was determined to win it back.

"Nat?" He asked softly.

"I'm right here Kyle. You are going to be all right. You have broken you leg
and your collarbone, but they're clean breaks. You'll be fine." She smiled as
she pulled the blanket over him to keep him for going into shock.

Kyle slowly shook his head no, before he spoke in broken sentences. "No!....
Nat? Nick?.... He was hurt......Is Nick okay?" Forcing the words out
breathlessly for effect.

Natalie tried to make sense of his broken sentences. Nick was all right. She
had held him safe in her arms only moments ago. He was okay. "Kyle, you're
not making sense. Nick's fine." She tried to calm him down.

Kyle tried again only slower this time. "When the bomb went off Nick covered
my body with his. When I woke up, he was cursing about the stake being made
of wood." Kyle grabbed her arm and forced her to look at him. "Natalie, he
broke the stake off and carried me out of the house. He has to be hurt!" He
touched the stain on her white blouse and brought back blood on his fingertips.
"Unless you want to tell me that you're bleeding that bad?"

Nat stared at the blood on Kyle's fingers and drew her hand to the wet spot on
her blouse....Nick's blood. She let her mind drift back earlier to Nick
holding her against his shoulder. She realized now that he had deliberately
pulled her away from his left shoulder. A cold fear enveloped her as she spoke.

"It was a wood stake? You're sure Kyle?" She looked at his eyes as he nodded
an affirmative answer.

This wasn't the response he had expected. He was still hazy about what
happened prior to the explosion, but he remembered the stake protruding out of
Nick's shoulder. Maybe he would die and solve all the problems. Adrenaline,
Nick said...as if that simple word could really explain what happened. Knight
did save his life...he would give him that. Natalie's face had turned ashen as
she jumped up.

"Nat! Wait...." She could no longer hear his call as she sprinted past the

Simple fear was now replaced with terror as she ran towards the nearest police
car. She jumped behind the wheel and threw the car in gear. Looking at the
horizon as she sped out of the driveway, she realized it was almost dawn. The
sun was cresting the horizon as she flipped on the siren and lights and pushed
the car to 80.


Nick stood in the corner of his loft, facing the window with his back to the wall.
He had stood there thousands of times watching the sun crest the horizon and
slowly filter into the room until he was forced to close the shade. He wanted to
watch it as long as possible today and remember.....

She saw the one shade still up as she jumped out of the squad car. There was no
time for the lift so she took the stairs two at a time. When she opened the door,
she could see him leaning against the wall. He was staring quietly at the sun
light as if slowly inched across the floor toward him. Desperately she looked for
the remote, then notices it on the couch out of his reach. He looked okay, but
Nick didn't move as she walked into the sunlight and stood facing him. Blue
eyes met hers as she finally spoke.

"Did you plan on just letting me find a pile of ashes when I showed up or did
you have something cleaner in mind." She didn't mean for it to come out so
harsh, but Damn him...suicide was not the answer for their problems. They just
needed time.

He chuckled softly. "Not to worry Nat. The sun won't hit this corner for at least
another half hour.....trust me.......I know.....and by then it won't matter." He
slowly slid to the floor as the blood trailed down the wall behind him.

"Nick!" Natalie screamed, trying to catch him before he hit the floor and fell
into the sun. She leaned him carefully against the corner wall and started to hit
the remote.

"No, Nat! I want to see you in the sun. You look so beautiful in the sun! You
belong in the sun Nat.....always stay in the sun!" He reached to touch her hair
letting the sun burn his finger for his efforts.

She leaned forward pulling his hand in her hair out of the sun. Pain was etched
across his face as his normal pale color took on a gray cast. "Nick, let me see
your shoulder......let me get it out!" She pulled his shirt back, exposing the
wood shard protruding about a half inch from his chest. It angled through his
shoulder and exited just above his heart. It was wood and it had to be touching
his heart. The blood had soaked the front of his shirt and continued to flow as
she searched her mind for a way to remove it quickly.

"Nick you have to help me....."

He stopped her probing fingers and brought them to his lips. He kissed them
gently and then held them flat against his chest. "It's over Nat. It will set us
both free." He never let his eye release hers. "I want you happy and I can't
make you happy. I know that now." He whispered in labored breathes pulling
her to him one last time. Her warmth radiated through him as he buried his face
into her hair and breathed deeply the scent that would be with him forever.

"Be happy Natalie and know that I have always loved you."

"No!!!!!!!Nick!!! I won't let you go!" She screamed as the tears streamed down
her face. She pulled away from slightly and reached for the stake. Pushing hard
with her thumb, she forced the stake back through his body. Nick screamed in
agony as the stake moved, then screamed again as she grabbed the stake from
the back and pulled it out. As she tore it free from his body he collapsed in her

The blood and tears flowed freely as she scrambled across the room to her
medical bag. She grabbed two bottles of blood from the refrigerator and a towel
as she passed the kitchen. Kneeling down beside him as the tears continued to
flow, she applied pressure to the wound. She had to give his body time to heal.
He needed blood. Releasing the pressure long enough to pour some blood down
his throat, she waited as his color continued to turn completely gray and his
breathing raspy.

"Damn you Nick! Fight this! Fight it! For Us! You're the only thing that will
make me happy. Please, Nick." She pressed her warm wet cheek to his cool
one. "I love you Nick. Only you can make me happy......know that...only

Reaching for the scalple in her bag she sliced her wrist in one fluid motion
watching the blood start to flow freely. Her blood....human blood was the only
answer. She started to place it on his lips when a cold blistered had clamped the
blood flow off and jerked her to her feet.

End Part 13

What Real Love Is?
Part 14/14
The Finale

Natalie found herself staring into the cold blue eyes of LaCroix. The sun had
blistered his face as well as his hands. Slowly he turned her wrist over to stare
at the blood seeping between his fingers and unconsciously licked his dried lips
before he spoke.

"Interesting idea DOCTOR! Not effective in this case...but non-the less
enticing to say the least." He let his eyes meet hers again as Natalie jerked her
wrist free and stepped back. She stared at the blood flowing down her fingertips
and immediately knelt back down to Nick without responding.

LaCroix pulled her wrist away from Nick a second time, preventing her from
giving him the blood he so desperately needed to survive..."Let me go LaCroix!"
she growled between her efforts in trying to break his hold. "He needs human
blood! He will die without it."

LaCroix maintained his hold on her bleeding wrist and pulled her hard into his
body locking her into his arms as he spoke. "You blood will not cure a wound to
the heart Doctor. Only vampire blood can save him now." He let his soothing
voice radiate over her chaotic mind as he spoke the words calmly into her ear.

Natalie stopped struggling in his embrace and willed herself back into control.
Was is LaCroix's calm or self control? She didn't know or care at this point.
She was losing Nick and if vampire blood would cure him then she would deal
with the devil himself to get it. "Then help him before it is to late!" She relaxed
in his arms and brought her eyes back to his. "Name your price!"

He smiled as he released her slowly, letting his gaze take in his dying son. "It
would appear Doctor that Nicholas has out done himself this time...or should I
say he chose not to continue with the current situation as it stands. Your doing
I presume?"

"Don't be smug! He was hurt in an explosion trying to save several people." She
glared back at him.

"Of which you were one I presume!" A knowing smile crossed his lips as he
knelt down by his son. ".....which makes it your fault." Guilt was an incredible
weapon that he had perfected over the centuries. Natalie was not immune and
he knew it. He finally let his eyes return to hers as his fangs descended and his
steel blue eyes became golden. "The price will be named later Doctor; just
remember that I always collect my debts."

LaCroix ripped the flesh on his now healed wrist. Placing his wrist over Nicks
pale lips, he let the blood flow. As the blood ran into his throat, Nick groaned
and pulled away.

LaCroix picked his son up from the floor and carried him to the couch, where he
tried to feed Nick again. "Drink Nicholas!" He forced his bleeding wrist into
Nick's mouth yet he refused to drink. "Damn you Nicholas! Drink it or you will

Nick pulled them to the floor as he struggled weakly against LaCroix's
insistence to feed. "Your price is too...High, LaCroix!" he managed weakly. I
do not accept...." Nick coughed blood as he spoke through the pain ravaging his
body. "Too high...." his body could not fight the inevitable any longer as he
succumbed to the darkness.

LaCroix's eyes turned red with anger as he tried forcing his blood into his son's
mouth against his will. Screaming in anger, LaCroix realized that Nick was
beyond drinking as he slowly slid into unconsciousness.

Natalie watched as the man she had grown to love lay dying in his Father's
arms, knowing somehow this battle had to do with her. She would not lose
Nick...not now...not after all they had been through to get here...not because of
some long lost battle between master and child. She knelt down by LaCroix as
he held Nick to his breast, and watched his emotions rage between grief for his
son and hatred for her.

"Give me your arm!" She commanded as she forced LaCroix to focus on her
instead of Nicholas. When his eyes met hers, the rage he felt exploded as he
laid Nicholas down and grabbed her viciously by the shoulders.

"I should kill you now as he dies!" he growled exposing his fangs as he spoke.

"Is that what you want...to let him die? Is that why you came here and risk being
burned alive by the sun? I don't think so! GIVE ME YOUR ARM! Only
together can we save him!" Anger and tears flooded her eyes as she forced
LaCroix into a decision.

The cold blue steel of his eyes returned as he offered her his arm. Rapidly she
placed a shunt into his arm and set up a stringer to a large needle which she
implanted directly into Nick's stomach. She released the tourniquet and let
LaCroix's blood flow directly into Nick. She brushed the blonde hair from
Nick's face lovingly as she checked the wound over his heart. LaCroix's blood
caused an immediate reaction to the wound. Nick was healing and his
breathing became less shallow.

LaCroix sat watching her as she tended his son. The love his son felt for this
woman was beyond anything LaCroix had experienced in his lifetime. His son
was regaining his humanity through this woman. Their trust and faith in each
other would not be shaken even by pain or doubt. They were soulmates bound
only to each other through time, yet unaware of what they possessed. Only time
would determine the outcome of their quest. Envy and sadness overwhelmed
him at his loss. Nicholas would never again be his.

Natalie turned to watch LaCroix as his blood continued to flow into Nick.
During this process she
had learned something. Vampires can truly love not matter what LaCroix
would say. The pain and anger she witnessed from him moments ago were
based on love...nothing else. LaCroix truly loved Nick...and that was a weapon
she could understand as well as use.

She watched LaCroix start to fade away. She pulled the shunt from his arm and
Nick's stomach in one quick motion. As he fell forward, Natalie caught
LaCroix's head in her arms and lower it to her lap as she sat beside Nick.
Overwhelmed with relief she baited him, "I think you need a little pick me up
Monsieur LaCroix. Did you bring your own stock or are you going to have to
imbibe some of Nicholas' 'swill' as I believe you call it." She ran her warm
hand down his cheek slowly in a tender caress that caught him unaware. He
was unprepared for such tenderness and it confused him . He responded in the
usual way.

"You could offer me some of your special vintage Doctor or is that solely for
Nicholas and medicinal purposes?" His eyes were clear again as he lay in her
lap trying to mentally push her, but she only smiled.

"That vintage is for medicinal purpose only...for BOTH you and Nick... but I
will bring you some of that delicious 'swill' that will put the color back into
those cheeks...oh...I'm sorry you don't like color do you? Sorry, forgot myself
again. Black and pale that's the vampire motto. One must always look the
part." She helped him up smiling at his discomfort. He truly could not deal
with her humor and that intrigued her even more. There was more to Lucien
LaCroix than just pure evil, and she would find out what in time.

Natalie poured a glass of bloodwine from the frig and brought the bottle with
her. She handed the glass to him and waited to refill the glass. He gulped the
blood in one swift motion grimacing as he swallowed. Natalie refilled the glass
and laughed.

"I'm glad you find this amusing Doctor, but frankly I find Nicholas taste in
beverages appalling." He drank the second glass as swiftly as the first with the
same facial expression.

"Here I thought the older you got the more taste buds you lost." She smiled and
handed him the bottle which he grudgingly took. She went to Nick's side and
checked his wound again. It was almost healed and his color was returning; that
was if you could call pale a color. She then returned her attention back to

"Thank you!" It was simple statement that she said not only with her words but
her eyes.

"You're an interesting creature Doctor! I believe I can finally see Nicholas's
fascination with you...indeed...I think you require closer attention than Nicholas
has given you in the past." He let the meaning of his word sink in and smirked
at her startled reaction.

"I think I shall rest now. I will leave you and Nicholas the floor since I don't
believe he is going anywhere soon, and he obviously does not prefer the couch. I
shall try the bed upstairs." Seemingly unruffled by the entire experience, he
gracefully stood and removed some unseen dirt from his jacket before he met
her gaze.

"Goodnight Doctor...pleasant dreams." Then he was gone.

Nat rummaged through the closet in the bathroom and found a blanket and
pillow. Settling down on the floor beside Nick, she covered them both with the
blanket and slept.


Nick awoke to find Nat nestled in his arms on the floor. Relief flooded his body
as he felt her heart beat regularly as she slept. It was some time after dusk. His
vampire senses told him LaCroix was gone but his blood ran in his veins.
Nick's entire body was stiff and his shoulder ached when he tried moving. He
didn't understand any of this. What he felt from his master's blood was mingled
with rage, anger, pain and confusion all directed at Natalie. Why had he not
killed her? Wasn't that his promise on Valentine's Day? The price of his life
Natalie's death...it was in his blood.

"Nat?" Nick pulled her closer as he whispered into her hair. "Nat..."

Her sleepy eyes met his and joy flooded her entire face. Slowly she ran her
fingers down his face as if to memorize it for all time and then she kissed him;
first gently on each cheek and finally on the lips.

Nick let himself bask in the warmth of her smile and her love with each kiss
until her lips found his and he was lost. The pain, distrust and doubts were all
swept away as he let himself truly feel her love for him. When he released her a
single tear slid down her cheek before she spoke.

"Say it Nick!" Her eyes begged him.

He brought one hand to her face and brushed her auburn locks out of her face
and smiled. "I love you Nat...and I think I always have."

She smiled as the tears began to flow. "Say it again! I need to hear it again,"
she whispered.

He kissed her slowly and passionately until she had lost all sense to breathe and
he finally responded. "We WILL be together...I promise. I love you
Natalie....now....and forever."

The End