Chapter the Last

Happy endings are in the mind of the beholder.

Certainly there is no happy ending for Jerry Tate, late host of "The Jerry Show". Being electrocuted in one's bathtub is not a particularly dignified way to go, but it also lacks the spicy notoriety that Jerry aspired to. So wherever he is in the afterlife, it is likely that he still has lingering regrets on how he left this plane of existence.

And this story does not have a truly happy ending for Captain Reese, either. Not only did his people upset an important financier and fail to prevent Jerry Tate's death, but it is now apparent that there *is* a double for Nick Knight running around; and after the night that Natalie, Alexander Lucard, Nick, Tracy and Vachon convinced him of this, he was never quite able to relax around his star detective again. All Nick had to do was whistle, or hum, and Captain Reese would start to shiver, and then leave the room in search of a drink of water.

Charly, it can be said, is quite happy. She is still drugged to the gills in the Toronto Asylum for the Criminally Insane; she is getting quite skilled at finger-painting; and the nurses let her listen to the Nightcrawler on CERK as much as she wants.

Gustav von Helsing is actually quite cheerful these days. Having made the acquaintance of a lovely girl in Toronto who seems able to keep his son in line, and who is also interested in curing him, Gustav finds that he is able to relax more often, and enjoy his golden years more fully, than when he was obsessed with vampire hunting. Of course, he still takes the random opportunity to irritate Lucard; but an old man should be allowed his pleasures without censure from others.

Klaus? Well, Klaus's style of mood management makes it impossible to say with any assurance when he is happy and when he is merely hyper; but Natalie *does* make it a point to date him at least once a week. His infatuation with the coroner does not seem to have been abated by her transformation into a vampire. In fact, it is quite possible that it has intensified his obsession-- since he now has adopted the pastime of tormenting Nick Knight as often as he torments Alexander Lucard. That Natalie occasionally scolds him for this does not seem to deter him from his fun.

Nick is miserable. At least, as of this writing, he still says he is miserable; guilty, angry, unhappy that Natalie asked Dracula to bring her across, feeling both responsible for the occurrence and betrayed by Dr. Lambert. That she is still pursuing a cure for vampirism, and that she persuaded Lucard to give him a box of Sunscreen 2000 for his birthday, has in no way abated his claim to wretchedness. However, it has been noted that on the Friday nights on which Natalie deigns to join him after work at his apartment, he displays a recognizable lift in his spirits prior to the evening's start, a (how do we put this delicately?) palpable sense of anticipation. Whether or not he ever comes to terms with his personal demons, it is clear that the prospect of having Natalie around, under whatever terms she dictates, is not all bad.

Alexander Lucard is quite pleased with his newest daughter. He is also quite happy to have obtained KIL Communications for a song; the scandal around Tate's death and his own false arrest gave him a certain amount of leverage at the bargaining table, which he was able to exploit quite profitably. Natalie has consented to do contractual biochemistry work for Lucard Industries, and when he is in the city, he always remembers to call on her and take her somewhere exotic and romantic for dinner. Nick and Klaus are no longer allowed in several fine nightclubs in Toronto due to their predictable reactions to this semi-regular event. Whether Dracula has any deeper interest in Dr. Lambert, deeper than that of filial devotion or biochemistry, is probably not a safe topic for speculation.

Tracy and Vachon are by turns happy, sad, mad, exhilarated, and depressed; but such is the case for many couples in the first stages of their relationship. Their story is not over, but is merely beginning, so speaking of happy endings in connection with the pair is a bit premature on our part. It can be said that Tracy now gets along much better with her partner than she did previously - and that Knight's continued writing of Vetter's reports has left her more free time for other pursuits.

And Natalie?

It is a Saturday night in Toronto, and our favorite M.E. is simultaneously checking her Daytimer (the better to juggle her social obligations to Klaus, Nick, and Alexander), petting Sidney, talking to Tracy, and ordering pizza. She insists on keeping her Saturdays to herself, as time to recuperate from the dizzy social whirl her life has acquired since that night at the CN Tower. Usually she paints her nails, talks with friends on the phone, catches up on her e-mail, and listens to music; and when the spirit moves her, she extracts her own version of Klaus-inspired revenge on those who have made her life difficult.

"That's right. 15 deep-dish pizzas, extra sauce, extra cheese, pepperoni, olives, sardines, and extra extra garlic, to be delivered to the Raven. No, I'm charging it to my Visa. 30 minutes? Wonderful. Thank you so much." Natalie grins at Tracy as she hangs up the phone, and the blonde homicide detective sips her margarita and shakes her head mock- disapprovingly at her vampiric friend's antics. "Hey, I'm sure someone there will appreciate them." The M.E. crosses the room to turn up the volume on the radio. CERK comes in loud and clear.

"And sometimes, Gentle Listeners, you may ask yourself-- what did I do to deserve this? Really? How can there be a God, if I am tortured so unceasingly by mine enemies? Is there no justice?" The voice on the radio is agonized, enraged, humbled; music to Natalie's ears. "All you have ever done, you say, is behave according to your nature. But does anyone take that into account? Is there any mercy?"

A dramatic pause, that has both Tracy and Natalie saying "C'mon, c'mon, spit it out, you big windbag!"

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! There is no pity! No remorse! No quarter!"

And at that anguished howl in the night, Natalie smiles and turns off the radio, the better to dish about men with Detective Vetter.

We trust that LaCroix's mental state can be deduced from the above paragraphs. Any other commentary would verge on the cruel.

So it is with a sense of adequate dramatic closure that we leave our friends in Toronto, and bid a fond adieu to the creatures of the night. It is not impossible that we shall meet again; but this is as good a stopping point as any, and if this tale raises as many questions as it answers, than we have done our duty in the interests of scholarly research.

Sincerely,
Christina Kamnikar,
Gustav von Helsing,
Aristotle,
and Urs
The Editors of the von Helsing Vampire Hunter Files
North American District
August '96

AUTHOR'S NOTES:

The Editors wish to thank the following contributors:

Dianne "la Mercenaire" DeSha, for editing and beta-reading assistance, as well as commentary on the giggling of the insane;

Deb Menikoff, Cousin, beta-reader, Klaus-aficionado and offerer of unceasing encouragement to the Editors;

Catherine Boone, Knightie/Natpacker and Klaus fan, for beta-reading and editing assistance, as well as being a skilled diviner of plot holes;

Susan Garrett, author of several Forever Knight fan fiction novels, Birthday Girl, and kind soul, without whom the Editors would not have had the motivation to complete this epistle in a timely fashion.

Scholarly treatises, commentary, requests for Lucard's fax number, and virtual Godiva should be sent to: KikiMariposa@prodigy.net

Updated afterword (2002):
This story was written as Susan Garrett's 1996 birthday present, since I wasn't working on anything else that was even close to being finished, and I figured it was bizarre enough to qualify as "weird" (she wanted weird stories for her birthday, and the FKFIC List obliged). Thanks to Marg Baskin, it was first published in 1997 in Amantes de La Noche #2, and was nominated for a 1997 Fan Q from MediaWest (it didn't win; but what the heck, it's an honor just to be nominated). I was on some strange, un-reproducible combination of caffeine and chocolate when I wrote this, and... well, it shows.

Posted now in 2002 thanks to someone asking in the reviews of the WB When Coroners Attack! (Film at 11) - Did you ever want to do something like this for Forever Knight?

Funny thing. I already did.

Forever Knight was a great, great fandom--- but I'm very glad I don't have to deal with the unreconcilable retroactive continuity, silly neck- of-the-week moments, and terribly cheezy F/X any more. But I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Natalie, Vachon, Tracy, and the denizens of the Raven--- and all past and future members of FORKNI-L, who saw it and laughed at it first.

CLK
12/02