(A/N: Aw, geez, I don't know what to say for this. Umm…it's the sequel to 'Retracted Oaths'. It sucketh, but I'll post it anyway, because those of you read my fics know I (or maybe it's you guys) have a pretty warped sense of my talent. Here ya go. R/R/E (Read, Review, Enjoy)! Oh yeah, and the freaky thing is, I wrote this before I saw "Night in Question". Freaky, eh?)
Disclaimer: Okay, let's see…Donbago belongs to me. Murph, Quinn, Phil, and Greg are real people (Murph's Mr. Leander/Marcel impression is great, but I can't put it in here, cuz it'd offend some people (Marcel's severely retarded…))- they're kids in my grade. Umm…I think the rest belong to whoever owns 'Forever Knight'. No money is being made off this, and if you sue, I'll have to pay you in Sour Skittles (which are actually normal Skittles covered with a sour sugar-like coating), so don't even try (cuz Phil will have to hurt you, cuz then I won't have any to give him during AlgebraII…).
It was the next day. Within the past week or so, Natalie had found Nick after he had disappeared for two years. Lacroix had tried to kill her to repay Nick, and she had convinced him not to. That was why Nick couldn't love her, but now he could. And he did, very much so.
He had explained to her that they couldn't make love, ands he had understood. While the issue had never been entirely about his control, that was still and issue, as they now knew. Natalie did not need her hotel room anymore; she could sleep on his couch (Nick did not trust himself next to her in his bed). Since the sun was coming up, Nick gave her the keys to his Caddy (a momentous occasion in itself) so she could go get her bags. Which she did, checking out of her room. The woman at the desk, who has seen her leave with Nick, gave her a knowing look, to which Natalie grinned.
Nick had already made up the couch for her when she got back. One last, lingering kiss, making up for all the times they had wanted to kiss each other and hadn't been able, and both went to their respective beds.
Now, the sun had set, a natural alarm for the vampire to awake. Nick crept through the large outer room, pausing to smile at the sleeping beauty on his couch. He went to his refrigerator and chugged down a bottle of bovine blood. Then, he sat in his La·Z·Boy chair, and watched Natalie sleep. She was so peaceful, so beautiful and innocent when she slept. Whatever she was dreaming of must have been happy, because a small smile graced her features.
`Nick realized that he had no mortal food in the loft Jr. There was a small grocery store a block down, well within walking distance. He speed-walked down there, and bought coffee, bagels, and bread. Out of habit, he already owned a toaster and a coffee maker, even though he wouldn't need them.
When he got back, Natalie was just beginning to stir. He plugged in the coffeepot and the toaster, and started a pot of coffee for her. Then he put the coffee under the sink where he always kept it for her.
"Mm, is that coffee I smell?" Natalie asked as he shut the cupboard under the sink. "Oh no no no no no," she said, shaking her head with a grin after he nodded. "You are not starting that habit again."
"What habit?" he asked, confused.
Natalie hopped off the couch, yawned, and stretched. Then she walked over to the sink and took out the coffee from under it.
"See this Nick? This is coffee. Are you following me so far?" Nick nodded with a slight grin on his face. "Okay. Now, mortals, we drink coffee. Got it? That means coffee doesn't go under the sink. Things like Drain-O and arsenic go under the sink. Understand?" Nick nodded again, his grin even wider. It was infectious, and Natalie had to smile in return. He hardly ever smiled, and seeing him so obviously happy while she jokingly berated him made her happy. "Now, where do you think coffee goes?"
Nick pretended to be puzzled, looking around for an answer. "The trash?" he deadpanned.
"Nick!" Natalie laughed.
"Well, that's where I would put it," he said, shrugging and trying not to grin.
"Maybe when I go home, but until then, it goes in the fridge. In your extremely empty fridge. Okay?" She opened the door and put it in there. "See? It's all happy now. It's doing a little happy coffee dance."
Nick couldn't help but laugh at that. "I don't see it moving.
Natalie sighed and feigned exasperation. "You're just not smart enough to see it."
Nick grinned. Damn was he lucky. He captured her waist and pulled her close for a kiss. After years of not being able to get anything more than a quick peck on the cheek, the two of them were hungry to explore the other's moth, Frenching like there was no tomorrow.
They broke apart reluctantly when the coffee was done. "I need coffee to function," Natalie said apologetically.
"I got you bread and bagels, too, but nothing to put on them. What do you want? I'll run down to the corner store and get it."
Natalie took a big sip of coffee, hoping it would wake her up. "Umm… Cream cheese. That sounds good. But you don't have to get it now. I won't be ready for any sort of food for a while."
They sat down on the couch together, Natalie cuddling into Nick's side with her mug of hot coffee. "So, are you a cop, here?"
"No," Nick said. "I'm a mumble mumble."
"Let's try the mortal hearing range, Nick," Natalie said with a grin. "What do you do?"
"I'm a mall security guard," he said quietly.
Natalie grinned even wider. A security guard to a cop was like the army to the marines. "Poor Nicky, demoted to a security guard. Tsk tsk tsk."
"Don't laugh Nat. Someone has to do it."
Natalie shook her head. "The Knightmare, a security guard. God, Reese would love that."
"Yeah, well, if I could, then I would definitely go back to Toronto. That was the stupidest think I ever did. I mean, I still had quite a few years left…"
"No comment," Natalie said, running her fingers through his hair. "Mm, you have the softest hair."
Nick smiled and bent his head to kiss her, a soft lingering one this time. "Is there any possible way I could convince you to move here, seeing as how I can't go back?"
Natalie shook her head sadly. "I like where I live, I like my apartment, I like my job, and I like my friends." In her head she was thinking, what friends, Lambert? The only one you really had is sitting next to you right now. I think I'll have to move down here if… "If I could get you back on the force, would you come back to Toronto?"
Nick actually paused to think. "I don't know, Nat. I haven't killed anyone here yet."
"Wait a minute, Nicholas B. Knight. You didn't kill any of those people in Toronto who you're alluding to. Uh-uh, no way." She twisted around so she was kneeling on the couch beside him. "I'm still alive, Reese is still alive, and Cohen and Schanke were both accidents. Hear that? It was an accident, mere chance that they were on that plane. A freak of fate."
"What about Tracy?" Nick asked. "How can you not say I killed Trace?"
"Um, right," Natalie said, sitting back on her pajama-clad heels. "That's a long story."
"What do you mean?" Nick asked warily.
"Do you think I could take a shower first and get dressed?" She looked at him with a puppy-dog face. She wasn't sure how he was going to react to what she had to tell him about Tracy.
After a nice warm shower, Natalie came back to the living room. Nick was watching the news, sort of. He was actually flipping between three different news shows, catching bits and pieces of the stories. As soon as he heard her footsteps, he turned around and leaned over the back of the couch.
"What did you mean?"
"One track mind. Well, you see Tracy… Okay, well, Vachon wasn't really dead."
"Yes he was. He staked himself."
"Nick, how many times have you staked Lacroix?"
"Point well-taken. So, Vachon's still undead."
"Yeah. And you know that him and Trace were… Anyway, he showed up at the hospital and brought her across. Then she and him whammied everyone who would be suspicious, and she's still a cop."
"Tracy's a vampire," Nick said, in shock.
Natalie began attempting to brush her blow-dried hair out. "Yeah, she is."
"The commissioner's daughter is a vampire?"
"Your old partner is a vampire."
"Very intelligent." Natalie sat down next to Nick, fighting with her curly hair. It was humid in Worcester, which only made her hair worse. There were some days that she cursed the curls she was born with.
"She's a vampire."
"Yes, Nick." Natalie jerked the brush out of her hair and glared at it. This was ridiculous. "She's actually pretty happy."
Nick took the brush from her hands and began gently untangling her hair. "What do you mean?"
Natalie sat still and let Nick brush her hair for her. He was surprisingly could at it. But, then again, Janette had really curly hair, and she knew what their relationship had been…
"What are you thinking about, Nat?" They did not look like happy thoughts to him.
"Nothing. Tracy and Vachon had been having some kind of relationship, but… He was wary. Tracy wasn't sure if they had anything going or not. But, now, they're both definitely in love. Vachon doesn't have to be careful anymore, which means that Tracy knows exactly what's going on."
"Wait, wait, wait. So Tracy and Vachon are together now, which makes her happy to be a vampire?"
"Yeah. Didn't you know that they were sort of involved before?"
"I did, but the way you told it was just the tiniest bit confusing."
"So, Tracy's happy. She's glad she's now a vampire, even though she had some doubts before.
Nick wasn't paying attention anymore. Natalie had the most beautiful chestnut brown hair he had ever seen, curly and soft. It was easy to brush out, if you knew the tricks of the trade. And Nick had a lot of practice with Janette's raven black curls.
He buried his face in her hair, inhaling deeply. "Mm, your hair smells good."
"Stop that, Nick," Natalie giggled. "That tickles." She turned around so she was facing him, capturing his lips with hers. "Not fair - you're not ticklish," she said between kisses.
"Never said life was fair," he returned.
There was a growing bulge in Nick's pants. Nat reached down to massage it with one hand, drawing a groan from Nick, as he moved his heated kisses lower. The smell of her need for him was intoxicating, and his pants were growing way to constricting. He could hear her blood pumping through her veins, her sweet, sweet blood that he could still taste, after two years, on his tongue. His eyes were slowly going amber.
"Nat, Nat, we have to stop." Nick jumped up and back away. "We can't…"
"You're right. I'm sorry, I wasn't thinking."
Be right back," Nick said with a boyish grin.
Natalie ran her hands through her re-tangled hair, trying to straighten it out. She heard the shower running in the bathroom. She should have known better, known that he couldn't control himself and that was a bad idea. There had to be a way around this, though. Less than a week, and they had already jumped each other. She didn't think either of them would have the patience to build up his control. Natalie got up and poured herself the rest of the coffee, debating whether to stat another pot or not. The not won, so she leaned back against the counter, waiting for Nick to make his appearance.
`He reappeared with a sheepish grin on his face.
"There's got to be a way around that," Natalie said immediately with a slight smile, not thinking about what she said.
The smile on Nick's face faded. Natalie knew that look, it was the 'She needs to know this, but if she does, she'll see me as even more of a monster' look. Now that she could do dating couple stuff, she was better able to handle that look. Putting down her coffee mug, she walked over to him, insinuating her body between his arm and his side.
"That's not a happy look," she said, looking up at his face. She hoped that whatever it was, she could talk him out of it. She felt a moment's panic that he had decided this was a bad idea, that would be like Nick, but shoved it away.
"If it was just the fact that I need…blood to…finish, then I could just bite my own wrist. But… There are other things." He looked down at Natalie for a moment, standing next to him with such perfect love and trust in her eyes. How could she trust him after what he had almost done to her? Would she still trust him, look at him like that, after what he was about to tell her? Could he risk that? So many questions with no answers.
Natalie almost started to prompt him. His eyes looked tortured with indecision. But before she could say anything, he resumed talking. "After… after tasting your blood… Human blood… I don't think I could control myself…" He was forcing the words out of himself. "When a vampire feeds off a mortal…and doesn't kill them, if there was something going on between the two before… How can I explain this?" His voice sounded anguished.
"If you're trying to gloss it over for me, then stop. See if that helps." Natalie slightly tightened her grip around his waist. As he had talked, his arm had been loosening around her, giving her room to pull away if she so desired. Natalie tried to decide if she started walking towards the couch, if he would come with her, and decided the answer was no. Nick was extremely dense at times.
Nick paused to gather his thoughts. This would probably drive her away from him, but she had to know. "The taste of you, of your blood, is so sweet, so delicious, so filled with love and trust and compassion…to the vampire, it's addicting. And in a sexual situation…my control would already be slipping…"
Natalie knew that should scare her. But Nick looked so miserable; she could feel him physically start to draw away from her. It was hard to be scared when he looked like a whipped puppy.
"Nat, I can't put you in this sort of danger." She had been right; it would come down to that. He was backing away from her, which was never good. "I can't…"
"Oh, no, Nicholas B. Knight. You are not pulling that." He had moved away from her, so they were no longer touching, and wouldn't look at her. He disgusted himself, and it was obvious. Right then, he hated himself, and that was just as obvious.
Natalie grabbed one of his arms and used the other hand to gently turn his head so he was looking at her. "Don't even start. You're stuck with me now, because you finally admitted that you love me. And don't say that's why you would send me away. I'm not leaving because you're being a pussy. I trust you, I know that you won't hurt me, and that's enough for me. You just need to be convinced of those things."
Nick looked at the chestnut-haired woman standing so fearlessly before him. "How does that not scare you? How do I not disgust you?" He did not deserve someone like her.
"Whatever you're thinking, stop it. I can guarantee you that it's not true. I love you, all of you, man and vampire. And I don't know how to prove t hat to you." Well, she did know, but Nick would not like it. And it just might be suicidal.
Natalie drew his head down for a kiss. She almost did it, almost bit her tongue and let him taste how she felt. But he probably really would have been extremely angry with her. Nick drew away, caressing the side of Natalie's face, looking at her tenderly. Then the moment was broken when Natalie's stomach growled.
Nick smiled a little. "What do you want for your bagels or toast or whatever?"
Natalie grinned. "Cream cheese."
"Be right back, then."
Nick was taking Natalie to all the touristy places in Worcester. A surprisingly large amount of the nighttime security guards knew and trusted him, which meant that he could get Natalie in after everything had closed.
They only had one more night before Natalie had to return to Toronto. When they weren't out, or making out, they were feverishly trying to come up with a way for Nick to come back. Natalie knew that if push came to shove, she would move to be with Nick. But she did not want to, if an alternative could be found.
Tonight, they were going to Higgins' Armory. Tomorrow night, she was taking the flight home. The nighttime security guard at the Armory let them in, greeting Nick like an old friend. Natalie grinned bemusedly at him. She knew that Nick had pretty much withdrawn from the vampire community, that being the only way to gain a temporary respite from the pursuit of Lacroix. And yet, he seemed to know everyone.
"I helped him out once," Nick said quietly. "His superior wouldn't give him the night off, and his daughter was real sick, so I pretended to be him."
"What about the other security guards?" Natalie knew there must be more than one in a place like this.
Nick shrugged. "Security guards are very friendly to others in the same profession. Especially if they're helping out a coworker. I didn't whammy them, if that's what you're thinking." It hurt to know Natalie would suspect him of that.
"I didn't. I was just curious." She hugged him and left her arm around his waist.
Walking around and seeing the exhibits with a Crusader Knight was insanely better than listening to audiotapes. He knew about everything, either from having lived through it or from memorizing the audiotapes. Natalie listened with rapt fascination as he guided her through the building.
The rooms dedicated to the Crusades were especially fascinating. Nick told her semi-glossed over tales of battles, vocalizing his flashbacks. Everything was going just fine until Nick noticed a new suit of armor in the room. It caused him to stop abruptly and stare in shock.
"What's wrong?" Natalie asked after a moment.
"That's my suit of armor," he said softly, stepping forward. "Oh my God. I thought that had been destroyed. Lacroix said…"
"Nick, please don't space out on me now." Natalie recognized the signs of an immanent flashback. "Talk to me, instead. Please?"
He blinked a couple of times. "Right. Sorry. It was… oh, about 1728 in Paris. I was beginning to question immortality… Lacroix decided that the best way to snap me out of this was to make me give up everything that reminded me of my mortal life… He took everything Janette couldn't help me hide. Everything." His eyes shone with red-tinted tears he was too proud to shed in front of Natalie, remembering everything he had lost to Lacroix's rage. Janette had helped him frantically hide everything that was now in the loft, but so much that he kept in storage couldn't be saved.
"Oh, Nick," Natalie said softly, sympathetically. She rested her head on his shoulder, stroking his soft hair with one hand.
He was silent for a long moment, staring at the mangled suit of armor. It brought back so many memories… And so few of them happy. Natalie respected his silence, patiently waiting for him to come back to her. And he did, with a little shake, turning to look at her with his smoky-blue eyes.
"The past is the past, and tonight it is not important," he said with a slight smile.
Natalie had to ask. "Bout some night, it will be?"
Nick took her in his arms for a soft kiss. "Most definitely. No more secrets." His attention was distracted as a guard walked by the door. "Hey, Donbago! Where'd you get this one?"
Donbago grinned and greeted Nick, coming in to look puzzled at the exhibit. "I honestly can't remember," he said after a moment, "but I can check the files if ya want?"
"No, thanks, that's okay."
Donbago shrugged. "Whatever ya say, man. Who's ya friend?"
"This is Natalie Lambert. Nat, this is Donnie Bagotte."
"Pleased ta meetcha." He shook Natalie's hand. "Call me Donbago. D'ya live around here?"
Natalie shook her head. "No, I'm just visiting."
"So, Nick's showin' ya the sights. He's not just taking you to places he likes, is he?" Donbago gave her an easy grin.
Natalie smiled back at him. He seemed to be an easy man to like. "No, he's been pretty good about hat. So far."
Donbago laughed. "Key words being 'so far'."
Nick laughed at this, one of the few times Natalie had ever heard him laugh. It was a sound that could almost be touched, an infectious chuckle. It reminded Natalie of the happier, more optimistic Nick, the one that had scared the shit out of her when he sat up on the cold metal table when he was supposed to be dead.
Donbago was about o say more, a mischievous twinkle in his eyes, but the walkie-talkie on his belt came to life with a hiss of static.
"Crshk. Yo, Donbago, where the hell are ya! We ain't waitin' much longer. If ya wanna hand in this poker game, get y'ass down here. Crshk"
Donbago pressed the talk button. "Be right there, guys. I'm talkin' ta Nick."
"Crshk. Hey Nick! 'Sup? Come jpin us for a hand 'a poker. Crshk"
Donbago handed Nick the walkie-talkie. "Can't today, Murph. Next time, though."
" Crshk. Why not?" another voice asked. "Ya got ya girlfriend up there? Crshk"
Nick's gaze slid to meet Natalie's briefly, and a small smile graced his boyish features. "Yeah, actually, she is."
A smile spread on Natalie's face, one of contentment. It wasn't until that very moment that it had sunk in. She, Natalie Lambert, was the girlfriend of one Nicholas Knight, whom every unattached woman at the precinct had a crush on. The one man who had been the object of he fantasies for years.
" Crshk. Can we meet her? Crshk" Natalie could hear whoops and hollers ("Go Nick!" "Yeah, buddy!") in the background, making her grin. She nodded her head to Nick's questioning glance.
"All right, guys. We'll come down with Donbago."
" Crshk. All righty then. You guys got five minutes before we start the game. Crshk"
Nick handed the walkie-talkie back to Donbago and grinned at Natalie. "Come meet the guys." Natalie raised an eyebrow, silently asking how he knew these people so well. From what she had known of Nick, he did not make friends easy. But, then again, even though they were not his friends, his entire precinct had been like that. The Knightmare was well liked amongst his colleagues.
"I'm here a lot," Nick said with a little smile and a shrug as they followed Donbago.
"Bull shit, that's not the answer!" Donbago turned to walk backwards as he talked. "Nick had covered for Quinnifer a couple times, so, ya know, we let him in whenever he wanted to look around. Last years, he walked in on an attempted robbery. Guy almost shot Hetu, but Nick knocked Hetu out of the way, and nabbed the guy. Managed to get a couple shots off, but they all missed Nick. Makes you friends quick when you save a guy's life. Nick shoulda been a cop."
Natalie grinned at Nick. "Yes, he should have."
Nick slipped an arm around Natalie's waist as Donbago opened a door marked 'Authorized Personnel Only'. Four men were sitting around a table, a deck of cards and poker chips in the middle. One wall was filled with monitors showing different parts of the building. Natalie studied the people in the room as they greeted Nick. A tall, lanky man with thick glasses was the first she noticed because of his naturally deep voice. He had a mop of sandy hair and eyes too big for his face because his glasses magnified them. The next guy was short with a spattering of freckles across his face and short dark hair that was already going gray. Next to him was an average-looking guy with short-short brown hair, and freckles. Natalie didn't like the look of him - there was something in his blue eyes that said he was cruel. The last guy was a little taller than the cruel guy. He had sandy hair with blonde tips that was jelled back. With his bronze-tanned skin, he was pretty damn cute.
"Hey guys," Nick said. "This si Natalie. Nat, this is," he went in the same order she had studied them, "Murph, Phil, Quinn, and Greg." Nick smiled. They were all in their early twenties, including Donbago. They made her feel like an old lady.
Greetings went around, then Murph said, "Whatever you're doing to him, Natalie, don't stop. He's smiled more in the past minute than he has in the past year. This is what he usually looks like."
Murph stood up and everyone looked on expectantly. Natalie gathered that Murph did impressions a lot. He straightened his tie and buttoned his security guard jacket all the way up. Then he stood there stiffly, looking around with a disapproving eye.
"Should you be playing poker now," he said, imitating Nick's voice, "when you're supposed to be working? What would happen if you r boss walked in the door right now?"
Natalie was laughing, as was everyone else in the room, because it fit Nick so well. Even Nick cracked a grin.
Murph bowed. "Thank you, thank you. I'll be back tomorrow, same time, same place."
Before he could sit back down, Phil said, "No, do Mr. Leander and Marcel, first!"
"Not tonight, guys. You know Mr. GQ over there thinks I'm making fun of Marcel." He sat back down.
The rest were visibly disappointed, and Natalie was slightly curious as to just what this impression would be like, but Greg spoke up. "Can we deal the two of you in for a hand of poker?"
Nick regretfully shook his head. "Sorry, guys. We have places to go and miles to tread before we sleep."
"Very poetic," Phil, the dealer, said. "Then we must kick you out. I've only got half and hour to win back all my money."
Nick grinned. "Good luck, then. Guys, don't beat him too badly."
Farewells now went around, and Nick and Natalie left.
"So, where are these miles we must tread?" Natalie asked in the Caddy.
Nick smiled and leaned over to tenderly kiss her. "It's from a poem. And there's this little park that I know of that I thought we could go to…" He drifted off, waiting for a response.
"Sounds good to me," she said with a satisfied smile.
Nick took her to a tiny, out-of-the-way park. She doubted that many people knew of it. He led her for a leisurely stroll on a moonlit path, holding her warm hand in his cool one. It was romantic to the umpteenth power, to the point where Natalie wondered if he was somehow controlling the moonlight. He led her to the very center, where there was a fountain running. She assumed it was built over an artesian well. The water bubbled and gurgled, splashing into a lower pool.
Nick took her in his arms, in front of the sparkling fountain. "You are so beautiful," he murmured, caressing her cheek, "so beautiful in the moonlight." He bent his head down. "I love you so much," he said. Before she could respond, he captured her lips in a gently, tender kiss. Nick knew that tomorrow night might very well be the last time he'd see Natalie, no matter what they said to each other.
Natalie reveled in the feeling of Nick's cool lips on hers, his tongue exploring her mouth. Their tongues danced and dueled with each other, searching out every nook and cranny of the other's mouth. Natalie broke away slightly to breathe, and Nick pulled back a little. He let all of the love he felt for her shine in his eyes. Natalie felt her eyes tearing up at the intensity of his emotion. Nick bent his head back down and kissed her once more, lightly, then cuddled her against him. Natalie wasn't sure what to say to a look like that, so she said nothing.
"I love you, Natalie Lambert," he said. "I love you with all my heart. If we can't figure out a way to get me back my job… please consider moving here. Please."
Natalie turned around in Nick's arms, looking up into his face. She was surprised to see tears, red tears, in his stormy blue eyes. She reached up with one hand and brushed a lock of blonde hair off his face.
"I think I would have to. After spending this week with you… I don't think I could go back to Toronto and plan t live there without you. I don't think that I could…just forget about you. And I would have to, because long-distance relationships just don't work."
Nick smiled, smiled in relief and happiness. She pulled his head down. "And there's no way I could give up this." She kissed him, ardently and passionately. Nick felt his fangs aching to slide down and his eyes turning golden. He struggled for control, to shove the beast back within. But it was a losing battle. He reluctantly broke away and took a step back, keeping his eyes shut tight. He opened them a second later, their color back to blue.
Natalie was looking at him with a purely delighted look on her face. He wondered why - there seemed to be no obvious cause…
"I know how we can pull it off!" she said excitedly. "I figured it out! I just said that I couldn't forget about you, but what if you forgot, forgot about everything? Amnesia!"
"But what would have precipitated this event?" Nick asked cautiously. But he couldn't keep the hope from shining in his eyes.
"Well, I haven't figured that out yet, bit it sure as hell is a start."
Natalie stood nervously with the phone in her hand, dialing the number for Captain Reese's office. She prayed this would work. Sydney twined between her legs, meowing for dinner. She shoved him away, waiting for the Captain to pick up.
She had (pretty much) just gotten home. After kidding her goodbye at the airport, Nick had made her promise to call as soon as she got home. That done, she had dialed Reese's office number.
"Hi Captain. This is Natalie Lambert."
"Dr. Lambert," he said warmly. "How was your vacation?"
"It was great, thank you. A much needed break." She paused for a moment. "Captain… I have no idea hot to lead into this, so… While I was vacationing, I found Detective Knight."
There was a shocked paused on the other end. "You found Knight?"
"I found Knight," Natalie confirmed. "But before you say anything, let me explain what happened to him, what he remembers.
"He says that he somehow heard my cried, and rushed down to the alleyway. By the time he got there, I was already unconscious. He was going to fight the guy, but the guy had a pipe, which he knocked Nick over the head with. The next thing he knew, he had woken up by a river with no ID and no memory of who he was. Classic, textbook case of total amnesia.
"He assumes that the Hispanic guy loaded him into a car and dumped him there, and was going to come back for me, but something happened. Or maybe he recognized the police cars or something. Nick not I really know."
"And how did he regain his memory?" Reese asked.
Natalie laughed a little. "The same way as on TV. I saw him in a coffee shop, and went in to talk to him, to see if it really was him. After having talked for a bit, and realizing he had no memory of Toronto, he stood up to pull out his wallet ad pay for his meal. Then he slipped, fell, and conked his head on the edge of the table."
Once more, Reese was silent, trying to assimilate this. "You're telling me that my best detective completely lost his memory, but now it's completely back?"
"Yes, Captain Reese. I've performed many tests, and, so far, he's passed with flying colors."
"And he did not call me himself because…?"
"Nick thought that if he called you, you would start off by screaming and not really listen to what he was saying. So, he asked me to call."
"Is Knight there with you right now, Natalie?"
"No, he's living in the States right now. But I could call him and have him call you."
"Do that." Reese hung up without saying goodbye, leaving Natalie listening to dead air.
She cut off the connection and dialed Nick's number. This was going to cost her a ton if Nick didn't move back to Toronto.
"Chevalier," he said, when he picked up the phone. He had changed his name when he left.
"Nat!" he said, pleased. He had talked to her less than twenty minutes ago.
"Reese wants you to call him. I think he meant now."
"You mean I don't get to talk to you for a while?"
Natalie could picture his face, puppy-dog eyes begging. He had perfected that to an art form. "You just did. The sooner you talk to Reese, the sooner you get your job back, the sooner you move back here, the sooner you see me again."
"All right," he said regretfully. "But, when you give a starving man a bite of food…"
Natalie laughed at this analogy. "Call me after you talk to Reese and tell me what's going on. I have to go feed Sydney before he flips out on me."
"Okay. I love you."
"Love you too."
Nick talked to Reese. The deal was that if a doctor gave him a clean bill of health - on his head - then he could come back for a trial period. Reese's voice, however, said that it wasn't really a trial period, that Nick would be back on duty for good. Nick was a bit surprised at how easy it was. People believed what they wanted to.
Reese was going to reopen the investigation on the attacker, but Nick convinced him not to. It was too late for there to be any useful evidence left. Reese would just be wasting resources. At least, that was what Nick told him. He felt guilty for having to lie, since he was the attacker.
Before Nick could call Natalie back, the phone rang. He let the answering machine pick up. However, he snatched up the receiver when he heard his master's voice.
"What do you want?" he asked hostilely.
"Nicholas, Nicholas, is that any way to speak to your master? But I am not calling to fight with you. I just thought you might like to know that your…home is still yours. It had been arranged that nobody bought it."
Nick did not want to know how that had been arranged. So, he said simply, "Thank you, Lacroix."
He heard the click of the phone hanging up, and gently replaced his in its cradle. That was decidedly odd. By now, Lacroix would usually be hinting to Nick that it was time to leave an area. What was he up to?
Nick dialed Natalie's number. "Hey Nat," he said when she picked up.
"So what's the story Nick?" Natalie curled up on the couch, cradling the phone on her shoulder as she petted Sydney.
Nick explained the deal to her, then told her about Lacroix's phone call.
"What do you think he's up to?" she asked when he was done.
"I don't know. I don't trust him, but I don't know. Actually… I think it's because he likes his job there. He enjoys working at CERK and running The Raven. And he wants me nears him where he can control me better. Or at least try." Nick laughed bitterly. "But if I don't go back to Toronto, he will chase me here. And the cycle will begin again."
"Nick, I've been listening to The Nightcrawler off and on fort he past two years. He's changed. Maybe it's just because you were gone, but… you'd have to come back and listen to him for yourself."
"Well, I'll be up within the week. It won't take me long to move everything."
"All right. Call me before you leave?"
"Sure Nat. Love you.'
He hung up before she could respond.
Nick flipped on the radio and tuned it to CERK as he drove the streets of Toronto. This would be the first time he would see Natalie in Toronto, and the first time h would see the loft in two years. He shuddered at the thought of cleaning two years of dust. The only thing he hated more than cleaning was doing the paperwork back at the station.
"Tonight, my children of the night, we will talk of those young ones dear to you who have been lost and returned. As a parent, you do everything you can for your children. You try to make them happy, teach them to live happily. You do things for their own good, hoping that they will learn from that. How do your children repay you? They leave as soon as they are able, running away time and time again. You follow them, try to bring them back, when all the time you are pushing them farther and farther away. If you are one of the lucky ones, it is not too late when you realize this.
"Your wayward child begins to come back to you, and you retire the bonds. Only to start trying to control their life again. And so the cycle continues, until one day, dear listeners, you have pushed them too far. Then you will never get your children back, and you are doomed to live out your life alone, as so many of us do. You have alienated them forever.
"How many of you have pushed your children that far? How many will not see them again? Think about that tonight, my listeners. Consider how you have treated your children tonight."
Nick switched off the radio as haunting violin music began to play. He pulled up in his driveway, parking next to Natalie's car. They both got out and met around the front of the two cars. He greeted her with a hug and a kiss. A real kiss, not just a peck on the cheek.
"Mm," Natalie said when they broke apart. "Is that how you're going to say hello every time you see me?"
"Maybe," Nicks aid with a lecherous grin.
"I could get used to that." She returned the grin in kind.
Nick suddenly realized that he could sense another vampire very close. But before he could react, he noticed Tracy standing beside Natalie's car.
"Hey Trace," he greeted her. He kept an arm around Natalie, needing to feel her reality. He remembered how hard it was for those two years, not to call Natalie, and t he pain of remembering that he had killed her. He would have walked into the sun, if he hadn't known that was not what she would have wanted. It had slowly (very slowly) gotten easier. Then, after she had come to stay with him for that week, he had been back to square one. It was exactly as he had told Natalie, like giving a starving man a morsel of food, then whisking the rest of the meal away from him.
"Hey, Nick. How's it going?"
"Pretty good, Trace. Pretty good."
"So I see," she said with a grin.
"Have either of you been up there yet?" he asked.
Natalie and Tracy looked at each other. Natalie spoke up first. "Let's just say you have a lot of cleaning to do."
The two women laughed at the look on Nick's face. "Someone left the skylight open," Tracy told him. "So… If it makes you feel better, we'll help clean up."
Nick shook his head. "Depending on just how bad it is, I'll probably just hire a cleaning service."
The women followed Nick as he activated his security code and went up in the lift. They waited expectantly as he surveyed the damage. He had left everything, not having time to ship anything to his new location before leaving. Somehow, Lacroix had managed to keep his stuff from being sent off to a museum. There was debris blown into the corners and piled against everything. The couch was covered in leaves and dirt and dust. There was some water damage, but not much. The rug had absorbed most of the rain and snow, and was completely destroyed. That was basically the extent of the damage. All other doors were closed, so there would be nothing damaged in there - except his bedroom door was cracked open.
Everything inside appeared to be okay, until he realized that there was shit - literal feces - on his bed. He shook his head - he didn't even want to think about this. Back out to the ladies.
"Well?" Tracy asked from where she and Natalie were standing in the kitchen. "Damage status?"
"I don't even want to think about it," he said morosely. "There's the obvious damage out here, and an animal defecated on my bed."
Tracy laughed. "Poor Nick. Whatever are you going to do?"
"DO you ant to stay with me for a couple days?" Natalie sympathetically asked, while inside she was laughing hysterically.
"If it doesn't inconvenience you…" he said slowly.
Natalie and Tracy rolled their eyes at each other. "If it did, I wouldn't have offered."
"Okay." Nick spaced out for a moment as he mentally ran over a list of things he still had to do. He had to talk to Reese in person, call a cleaning company, talk to Lacroix…
"Earth to mission control," Tracy's voice intruded on his thought, "Earth to mission control. How are things on Planet Nick, mission control?"
"Sorry guys." He had to have a psychiatric evaluation before he could get back on the force, ha and Tracy were going to have to have a talk…
"Nick! If you're going to space out, do it out loud!" This time, Natalie snapped him out of his daze.
"Sorry aging. I was going over a list of things I have to do, like start by talking with Reese…"
Nick had talked to Reese, and undergone a psychological evaluation. Almost 800 years of life, and one gets pretty damn good at fooling shrinks. He came through clear, passing with flying colors, labeled as a stereotypical amnesiac. He received his badge and his gun back. He didn't get to go back to work immediately, though.
Nick was sleeping on Natalie's couch for now, waiting for the cleaning crew he had hired to finish the loft. They were taking their relationship one small step at a time, working on his control. Natalie was very patient, very understanding.
He still hadn't had that talk with Tracy. He knew it would be needed before they could go back on the job together. The level of trust was diminished on both sides. But they would work their way back. Nick would work his way back into his old life.