Father of the Bride Disclaimers: This is a post-Last Knight story. I have altered some
events to fit my needs. Tradition FK characters are not mine.
Catherine, however, is. Permission to archive is granted to Mel Moser
and her FK Fanfic Archives page. Others who wish to do some
must ask me for permission in person. A

"Father of the Bride"
by Fleurette

Part I

"I'm pleased you could come on such short notice, Nick," Aristotle said
as he motioned for Nick to sit down.

"This is a nice apartment," Nick commented. "Thank you for inviting
me." He looked around the living room, eyes catching on the little
tidbits of "homey-ness" which adorned it. "Did you say that someone
else was staying here with you?"

"Yes, in fact, I did. My niece, Catherine."

"Niece?" Nick puzzled over the words. "You don't have a "niece,"
Aristotle. Unless, of course, you mean to tell me that she's some sort
of secret lover?"

"Nothing of the sort, Nick!" his friend exclaimed. "Catherine is..."
he paused, seeming to choose his words carefully, "... the daughter of
an old friend, one who died years ago. I raised her, honoring my
friend's dying wish."

"A mortal?"

"Yes, Catherine is mortal. Her mother was very special to me-- so is
Catherine," Aristotle said, his voice catching upon a silent sob of
emotion.

At that moment, the door opened and a woman entered. She looked to be
in her mid-twenties. Golden auburn hair, with sparkling blue eyes. The
smile she gave them radiated with warmth and joy.

"Uncle Ari!" she exclaimed. "I didn't except you home so soon. Is
this the friend you were trying to contact?" she asked, turning to study
Nick. Aristotle nodded. "I'm glad you found him." Catherine gave her
"uncle" a quick hug and turned towards the
doorway. "I think I'll take a shower, Uncle Ari," she said. "Can I get
you anything before I do?"

"A bottle or two, my dear," Aristotle told her. "Nick and I have much
to discuss before the night is through."

Catherine's eyes widened slight at the mention of Nick's name. She met
Aristotle's gaze and a look of silent communication passed between them.
Nick felt very much like an outsider--eavesdropping on something he had
no business seeing. "I'll... be right back," she told them.

"She... looks familiar somehow," commented Nick as the young woman
exited the room.

"She should. She looks very much mike her mother," Aristotle told him.

"Do I know her mother?" Nick asked. Aristotle nodded.

"Nick," he began, suddenly sounding more of a business man than a
friend, "it's on account of Catherine that I've been trying to find you
all these years. Had you not left Toronto so suddenly, you would have
known that she was your daughter."

"What!?" Aristotle's words hit Nick's ears like freezing cold water on
a hot day--shockingly sharp. Then his eyes fell upon a photograph of
her in a frame upon the mantle. He saw now the familiar resemblance
which before he could not place. "She... looks like Natalie."

"Acts like her, too, my friend," Aristotle told him. "Although, she
does have *some* of you in her."

"How?" Nick asked. "How is this possible? Nat was dead. I killed
her."

"You didn't kill her, despite what LaCroix says. Let me explain..."
Aristotle's explanation was put on hold when Catherine returned, bearing
a tray with two bottles of bloodwine and wine glasses. She set it upon
the coffee table beside the sofa. When she
did, her eyes met Nick's briefly. He turned away.

"I'll leave you both to talk now," she said, speaking to Aristotle.

"How?" Nick hissed when she was gone again.

"I said I would explain. It's time you knew the whole truth, anyway,"
Aristotle said as his explanation began. "It all started the night
after you left me. LaCroix came..."

Part II
(Aristotle's flashback explanation of what happened)

Aristotle looked up from his computer screen when Lucien LaCroix
entered his basement headquarters. "LaCroix, what a surpr--"

"Cut the pleasantries, Aristotle. Where is my son?"

"Nick?"

"Yes, Nick! Who else would I be mean? Where *is* he?"

"I don't know," Aristotle told him.

"What do you mean, you don't know? You must. He came to you for
placement elsewhere, didn't he?"

"He did, yes, but..." Aristotle explained that when turned his back on
Nick to begin the process of finding him a new location, he had left.
"The last thing he said to was that I should just forget it, because he
needed to leave immediately and he didn't have time to waste. Then he
was gone."

LaCroix's frown deepened until it looked like a horrible mask. "He
didn't give any clue as to where he would go?"

"No. Is Nick in some kind of trouble, LaCroix?"

The ancient vampire looked at his old friend and sighed deeply. "Not
really, I suppose, but all the same, he has done something terrible."

"Such as?"

"There is a woman, a mortal whom I believed he loved. Her name is
Natalie. Yesterday evening, I arrived at his loft only to find Nicholas
gone and Natalie lying on the floor-- unconscious. He'd fed from her,
but didn't kill her or bring her across. My son was nowhere to be
found."

Aristotle nodded, realizing that Nick must have fled immediately. "The
woman?" he asked.

"I took Natalie to the hospital. I told the doctors I had found her in
an alley and that I did not know what had occurred. They believed me,
naturally."

"Naturally," Aristotle echoed sarcastically. "Although, I must say I
am quite surprised that you did not finish her off. Charity is so
unlike you."

LaCroix glared at him. "And leaving a woman to a slow and painful
death is *so* unlike Nicholas, isn't it?" he snapped. "I was going to,
believe me, but something held me back... a feeling which I cannot
describe, telling me to save her instead."

"Does she live?"

"Just barely, Aristotle. She is still unconscious. I left
instructions to be notified if she awakens."

"I thought you were leaving Toronto, LaCroix?" Aristotle asked,
raising an eyebrow at the former Roman general.

"So did I, but I have decided to be here for her. She will, no doubt,
have many questions if she awakens at all."

**************

LaCroix and Aristotle were both seated beside the hospital bed when
Natalie awoke from her nap. She'd awakened from her comatose slumber a
week earlier, but the doctors had deemed her too weak to return to her
own home. The two vampires had come to her for the first time later at
evening. They'd told her little about anything, insisting that she must remember
it on her own. Tonight, they came because she had called for them.

Taking a deep breath, Natalie began a very rehearsed speech. "I asked
you both to come here tonight because I need to know what happened to me
that night." They began to protest. "Don't--just don't. Hear me out.
I've begun to remember things. I know that I went to the loft that
night to give Nick an ultimatum."

"What sort of ultimatum?" LaCroix asked.

"I was tired, LaCroix. I'd just lost two good friends and my life
looked about as black as theirs. I wanted..." she choked on a sob as
the memory of her words to Nick came rushing back to her. "I wanted us
to make love... to see if Nick could attain mortality the same way
Janette had with Robert. I thought... I thought that it was the only
way we would ever have a chance together."

"And instead of becoming mortal, Nicholas nearly killed you," LaCroix
added as she became silent.

She nodded. "There... there's more. Nick's gone, isn't he? You don't
talk about him, but I know that he's gone."

"Yes, he is," Aristotle said. "How did you know?"

"The same I way I know it when one of you comes into my room." Their
eyes widened with shock.

"Just what are you saying, Dr. Lambert?" LaCroix was the first to ask.

"I get... a tingling feeling whenever you both are around me. It's as
if I could sense you," she told them. "Do you know where Nick is?" she
asked the now completely silent vampires.

"No," LaCroix told her. "He did not tell us where he was going."

"Then... you don't know... what happened after he...?" her voice
faltered. "He took me in his arms and kissed me. We... began to make
love, right there on the floor. I-I don't remember what happened after
his kiss." She turned a questioning gaze to LaCroix. "Do you know?"

"I did not see it, my dear, but I believe I may be able to fill in some
of the details you crave," he told her. "Nicholas drank from you. This
"kiss" you remember was the bite of the vampire he has tried so
desperately to suppress." He sighed, remembering with sorrow his son's
struggle to deny his vampiric nature. "It is my belief that when he saw
that he had taken too much blood from you, Natalie, he panicked and fled
rather than face what he had done. Whereever he is, Nicholas probably
thinks that he has murdered you. No doubt he is wallowing in guilt as
we speak."

"No doubt," Nat replied wryly. Then she began to cry.

"We'll find him, Natalie," Aristotle told her. In the days since her
"accident," he had come to know and care about Natalie Lambert. "When
we do, you'll be the first to know," he promised.

*************

Weeks passed by, but not quickly, however. Natalie regained her
strength and returned to work. Night after night, she waited to see him
at his desk or talking to Captain Reese, but she never did. Day after
day, she awoke with fresh tears in her eyes and a sorrowful pain that
would not go away.

Gradually, Natalie began to notice a change in herself. She was more
tired now than before--sleeping longer and easily fatigued. When the
nausea began, she at first discounted it to a stomach flu. When it
continued, she suspected and knew it was time to seek the truth.

Alone one afternoon, she went to the drug store a purchased a home
pregnancy test. Later that week, she met with LaCroix and Aristotle.

"I have something to tell you both," she said.

"You're having his baby," LaCroix told her by way of reply.

"How did you know?!" Natalie exclaimed, looking from one to another.

"I can hear the child's heart beating inside you, my dear," LaCroix
replied. "At first, I wasn't sure, but lately, there has been no
mistaking the sound of life within your womb.

"And you know that it's Nick's?" She asked him.

"It could be no other's, Natalie. Unless, of course, you have been
unfaithful to him?" LaCroix's voice and faced showed clearly that he
did not believe this to be the case.

"Have you found him yet?"

Aristotle slowly shook his head. "He must still be on the move,
Natalie. We won't be able to find him until he finally settles with a
new Community."

"What if he doesn't?" she asked him.

"He must," replied LaCroix.

*********************

Part III
(Aristotle's flashback explanation continues...)

"Good-bye, Natalie," Captain Joe Reese said, bidding the coroner
farewell. "You take of yourself and that baby, you hear me?"

"I will," Natalie replied. With two months left before her baby was
scheduled to make an entrance into the world, Natalie was starting her
maternity leave. Her friends with the police department and the
coroner's office had thrown her a surprise baby shower that night. As a
result, she was leaving work with more packages and bags than she had on
her last birthday.

Nick had still not returned.

The thought of it made her smile fade, and she turned to leave before
Reese could see her tears.

"Oh, Nat, before you go..." he said, drawing her back. "I almost
forgot this, but Captain Stonetree called me tonight. Two investigators
for the Crown came by his precinct. They've been assigned to help us
find Knight. Stonetree thought you might
want to stop by there before you went home."

Nat's heart leapt. She'd thought that Nick's search had been called
off. "Thanks! I'll go right over." She drove straight to the other
precinct, nearly defying laws of physics to get there.

Stonetree was talking to two men when she arrived. They were tall,
thin, and very pale. The sight of them stopped Natalie in her tracks.
A coldness spread over her and for a moment, she couldn't feel her baby.

"Natalie? Are you okay? Maybe you should sit down?" Stonetree said,
coming up to her and helping her to the chair behind his desk.

"I-I'm fine," she said when she was seated. "I must have tired out
getting here. Reese said you might have news about Nick." She looked to
him with pleading eyes.

"These gentleman are here to find him, Natalie. We were actually
hoping you might know something that could help us," Stonetree admitted.

Natalie sighed, slumping wearily in to the chair. "No," she said
sadly.

Stonetree walked her to her car after she spoke to the investigators.
"When is the baby due, Natalie?" he asked.

"The end of January," she told him.

"I hope you don't mind my asking, but, is it Nick's baby?"

"Yes, it is his."

"Then, I hope we find him soon, Natalie, for this baby's sake," said
Stonetree.

************
"Something weird happened to me tonight," Natalie told Aristotle as he
sat beside her in her living room. Sydney circled around his feet,
rubbing his fur upon the vampire's pant legs.

"What was that?" he asked.

She told him about the investigators at the precinct. "They were so
pale and almost scary. When I saw them, it was as if I froze inside.
For a moment, I thought my baby had died inside of me."

Aristotle took her hand between his own. A worried look was on his
face. "You were right to tell me of this, Natalie. I think it wise for
you to come home with me tonight. We'll wait until dawn to call
LaCroix."

"What... what's going, Aristotle?" she asked him.

The vampire hesitated, biting his lip in indecision. "What did Nick
ever tell you about Enforcers?"

**************
(six years later)

Lucien LaCroix looked up from the book he was reading to find Aristotle
in the doorway to his library. They hadn't seen one another since they
both left Toronto, hoping to throw the Enforcers off Natalie's trail.

"Aristotle...?" LaCroix said, his voice making an unsaid query.

"Still no word on Nick," came the reply.

"Then *why* are you here? You should be looking for him," LaCroix
countered.

"They found her, LaCroix," was Aristotle's grim response. He held out
an envelope. "This was forwarded to me by an attorney in Denver.
Natalie's dead. I'm going to Denver to pick up the child."

LaCroix read the contents of the envelope. It was a copy of the Last
Will and Testament of "Natalie Bishop" of Denver Colorado, requesting
that her only child, Catherine Flora Bishop be place in the custody of
her "uncles."

"We failed her once by not finding Nick, LaCroix," Aristotle told him.
"I think we owe her this much."

"I'll go with you," LaCroix said at last.

****End Flashback****

*****************

Part IV


Nick poured his third glass of the bloodwine, gesturing a query to see
if Aristotle wanted more.

"No thank you. I've had enough," came the reply. Aristotle eyed him
closely. Thus far, Nick had shown little reaction to the story he was
being told.

"LaCroix told me I had killed her," Nick said at last. His voice was
bitter.

"He would blame you," Aristotle told him with a humorless chuckle.
"Your master blamed you for her death at the hands of the Enforcers. He
believes that you should been there to protect her. Instead... it's
taken nearly three decades just to find you and tell you that you have a
daughter."

The bitterness melted suddenly away from Nick's expression and was
replaced by a look of wonder. "I *do* have a daughter, don't I?"

"Yes, you do, and she's getting married on Saturday."

"Married? Is she old enough?" Nick asked incredulously.

"She's twenty-eight, Nick. She's more than old enough," Aristotle told
him. "You've missed a lot, my friend."

*****************

Saturday night, Nick watched his daughter walk down the aisle of the
church via video tape. Aristotle and LaCroix were with him. In another
part of the house, Catherine was packing to go on a honeymoon with her
new husband, David.

"She's beautiful," Nick whispered as he listened to the couple pledge
their vows to one another.

"Yes, she is," LaCroix replied. Nick turned. His master had tears in
his eyes. "My beautiful Catherine," he sighed.

"Katy's not ours anymore, LaCroix," Aristotle reminded him. "You must
honor our promise."

"What promise?" Nick asked them.

It was LaCroix who answered, his voice rife with sorrow. "We promised
Catherine not to interfere in her new life. Not to come popping in and
out without warning."

"Not at all, actually. Katy made us promise that the only way she will
ever see a vampire again--knowingly--was if she went in search of us,"
Aristotle clarified.

"Oh, she'll write, of course, and send pictures of the darling children
she's sure to have..." lamented LaCroix, "but it will never be the
same."

Suddenly, a voice came from the doorway, interrupting their
conversation.

"What's this I see?" Catherine said in a slightly teasing voice as she
spirited into the room. "Tears in the eyes of my tough, time-hardened
uncles?" She hugged both LaCroix and Aristotle tightly. "I'm not even
gone yet!"

"I have never been able to part well with my children," LaCroix told
her, kissing her cheek gently. She nodded, seeming to know. "Shouldn't
you be packing?" he said, countering his own emotion with fact.

"I... wanted to speak with..." she turned her eyes to Nick. "With my
father."

"Of course, ma petite," LaCroix told her, and the two "uncles" left the
room swiftly.

When they were gone, Nick fidgeted nervously. This was the first time
he had been alone with Catherine since he had met her. "You wanted to
speak with me?" he asked after an awkward silence.

"Yes, I did. I wanted to say that... I'm glad I finally got to meet
you."

"It must have been difficult--not having parents to love you," he said,
visions of his own parents coming to his mind.

"My uncles loved me, and made sure I knew that Mother loved me very
much."

"Natalie..." Nick whispered sadly.

"You miss her, don't you?" Catherine asked him.

"I thought she was dead. I mean, she *is* dead, but I thought *I* had
killed her the night I left. I never knew she had lived to give birth
to our child."

"I was six when she died. I don't remember it much. She was
frightened about something... some men coming to get her, I think. I
remember crying because she sent to stay with our neighbors. And I
remember the sad smile on her face when she promised to come back for me
later. She never did."

At that moment, Catherine seemed more like Natalie than Nick had ever
thought possible.

"Here," she said, thrusting a photograph into his hands.

Nick stared at it. Natalie was posing for the camera, her arm hugging
a little girl tightly. Both were smiling. The sun was behind them,
casting light into their hair. On the back of the picture, in Natalie's
handwriting, words proclaimed "Mommy and Katy,
May 2002." It must have been taken just before Nat died, he realized.
As tears began to fall form in his eyes, Nick handed the photograph back
to his daughter.

"You keep it," she said, thrusting it back into his hand.

"Are... are you sure?" he asked. A sob caught in his throat.

"I am. I have more than enough pictures of Mother. You have nothing.
You take it. Please... Father."

Nick clutched the photograph, holding it to his heart. Catherine was
wrong; he *did* have something... now.

**************
The End