This follows my earlier story, "Janette's Return," and is based on observations that part of LaCroix's monologue in Last Knight seems to occur after the raising of the stake. Since it covers much of the conversation between Nick and LaCroix at the loft it may seem a little long-winded at times, but I do feel this is integral to the story. I don't own any of these characters; permission is granted to archive at fkfanfic 2.

"Well, all that remains now is to turn out the lights and lock the door on the way out," LaCroix said coldly as he watched his son drain the good doctor in his loft. . "Unless of course you have decided to add her to our entourage. Oh, Nicholas, you have thought this through, haven't you?"

His hopes soon faded, as it became apparent Nick wanted to join her in death.
"After nearly eight hundred years, Nicholas, be done with her! Time heals all!" LaCroix's voice was breaking at this point. "We MUST move on! You cannot deny what you are."

Nick knelt down over Natalie saying "I can't condemn her to this darkness," kissed her once, and got up.

"A wise decision," LaCroix agreed. "We even have time for a burial, if you'd like."

Nick got up and walked over to where a pointed wood staff was laying, picked it up and held it in his hands.
"She had faith in me, in what's beyond, that we could have a life together," he said as he carried it back to his chair and sat down. "I have that faith, too."

"Don't be foolish, Nicholas. Life is a gift. As sweet as the freshest peach, as precious as a gilded jewel. I have never been able to understand the logic of willfully surrendering such a treasure. What is there to gain? How dark can your existence be when compared to an eternal void? Or do you have faith that there is something beyond? What do you see from where you stand? A bright light at the end of the tunnel? Is it a ray of hope, a glimmer of something better? Or will it burn you like the morning sun? Are the sounds you hear the trumpeting of St. Peter's angels or the screams of Memnoch's tortured souls? You cannot answer that, can you? Because you will never know the answer until after the deed is done. And is your faith really that strong? I understand the need to move on. It is something that happens to us all. And your time has truly come. I also understand that with the beauty of this life there comes pain and despair. No one is immune. But consider what you have in your hand before you give it up. Don't trade a treasure for an empty box.
Love. It warps our senses. Can take us past hope, past cure, past help. I know about love, its suffering, its anguish, its pain. Heaven makes means to kill our joy with love. And yet we must have it at any cost. But are you so enamored that you would overlook your love of life? And you do love it. I have seen you smell the sea, gaze at the stars at night. Are you willing to sacrifice one mistress for another? Look into your heart and tell me that you're willing to make the choice."

You've never understood why I'd surrender what you gave me, Nick thought.

"And so, in your eyes, I'm the devil."
Nick turned to his right, got up from his chair, and walked over to his master. His tears were clear. "No, not the devil, LaCroix."
"What then?"
"You are my closest friend." He handed LaCroix the stake and knelt down next to Natalie, taking her hand.

"Damn you, Nicholas!" LaCroix cursed as he hoisted the stake over his son's head and tossed it aside.
"Haven't you tired of this incessant guilt? Hasn't it swayed your back and stooped your shoulders to the point of throwing it off? You insist on taking responsibility for the actions and emotions of those around you when they alone are truly responsible. It is so foolish. It is so unnecessary. It's so mortal. And it must stop. This--" he said as he looked over his shoulders to where he'd dropped the stake, "and all else that has happened tonight should make that clear to you."

LaCroix continued after regaining his composure. "For all the things that we are there is a price to be paid. Love may be tasted but never savored. In our darkest moments we may envy mortality but we must never aspire to it. Guilt is a poison. And staying past our time is death. But it need not be. If we truly care for a mortal, truly love one, then we must go. Isn't that something that you taught me? LaCroix continued as they both remembered Nick's sister Fleur. "Leaving is the purest form of love."

Nick turned to his left to face LaCroix. As he did, LaCroix sensed the threads of their connection beginning to unravel. He'd been around long enough to have a pretty good idea of how Janette's "one in a billion" happenstance had come about, and if he was right, the doctor must not die, at least not now. Just then, the phone rang.

"This is Nick Knight. I'm either in bed or cannot take your call right now. Please leave your name and number and I'll get back to you."

It was Janette. "LaCroix, Urs has woken up…"