Final Challenge-- a Forever Knight Story Final Challenge
by Fleurette

He looked around him, frantically trying see beyond the clouds which surrounded him on all sides. Or was it fog? Or smoke? Well, no matter... whatever it was left only a vast whiteness as far as the eye could see. Where am I? he thought. And how did I get here? The last thing he remembered clearly was throwing himself upon the wooden stake in Tracy's hands... Tracy easing him gently to the floor... telling her to wish him luck. When things started going fuzzy, she had been speaking to him. He vaguely remembered her saying something about love. What was it? He couldn't seem to remember that part. I'm dead, he thought, looking about him once more. But if I'm dead... where in Hell am I? It finally hit him that this didn't look like any kind of Hell he had ever imagined.

"Where the Hell am I?" He screamed at the top of his lungs.

"You are in limbo, Javier Vachon. You are waiting for your final judgement," said a warm, sweetly melodic voice from somewhere in the whiteness.

He couldn't tell where exactly, for it seemed to be coming from everywhere.

"Final judgement?" he muttered. "What's to judge?" One would think that 500 years as a vampire would have condemned him for all eternity. What was all this nonsense about judgement?

"Yes... your final judgement. But first, you must complete a very special task." The voice stated.

"Task?" Vachon questioned aloud, but there was no answer.Instead, the clouds (fog? he still couldn't tell which) seemed to be dispersing slowly.

As the whiteness vanished, Vachon found himself standing in the doorway of a hospital room. Tracy Vetter was lying on the bed before him. Her head was bandaged, and she was hooked up to life support machines and monitors. The shaky beep, beep of the monitors told him that she was fading away.

Stepping into the room and approaching the bed, Vachon reached out to touch her. He stroked her hair gently, then traced her delicate cheek bone with his finger tips.

"Tracy..." he whispered softly, unable to believe that she was dying. As if one cue, Tracy's eyes fluttered open and she sat up, yawning.

"Vachon! Hi!" She yawned again. Then she looked around her,quietly taking in the hospital room.

It was then that Vachon realized that not only could she see him, but he *had* been able to touch her. What in Hell is going on here? he thought. Then he remembered what the voice had told him. He had a special task to complete. It must have to do with Tracy.

"How ya doin', Trace?" He asked.

"I'm fine... a bit stiff, though. You wanna go for a walk or something?" She started to get up. The monitor next to the bed started to flatline. Vachon pushed her gently back on to the bed and sat down next to her.

"No, Trace... I don't think that's such a good idea. Why don't we stay here and talk for a while?" The beep, beep of the monitor had picked up since she'd returned to the bed. A thought came to him, in the form of the voice he'd heard before. It said, Tracy must not die...

Tracy sighed... "But I don't want to talk, Vachon. I wanna go for a walk." She whined, started to rise from the bed again. Vachon caught her in his arms, holding her gently.Normally, Tracy would have struggled against him, telling him she couldn't let them get close to one another. This time, however, she snuggled deeply into his arms. As he looked down into her eyes, Tracy surprised him with a soft kiss. It felt good... like all the times he'd dreamed about kissing her. Then the voice came to him again... That's not what you're here to do,Vachon... it warned him.

Breaking off the kiss, he asked, "aren't you the least bit tired, Trace?"

"Tired!?" She exclaimed. "Vachon, I've been in this bed for God knows how long! I wanna get up and stretch."

"You can't!!!" Vachon's voice edged with alarm. Tracy's eyes widened, and he added more softly, "at least, not yet anyway."

Tracy was now eyeing him closely, an odd expression on her face. "Am I dead, Vachon? That's why you're here, isn't it? You've come to take me with you." She said, surprising him. He hadn't figured she'd guess so close to the truth.

"No, Trace, you're not dead yet."

"But I will be soon, right? You've come to take me with you, haven't you? I want to go with you." She insisted.

Vachon sighed. "I haven't come to take you with me, Trace. Not that you ever would go to the same place I'm going." He quieted, growing thoughtful. "You're going to be the most beautiful angel in Heaven someday, Tracy, but just not yet."

A shadow fell over Tracy's face. "But I want to go with you, Vachon. I love you."

He sighed once more. She was being far more difficult than ever before. "I know... " his voice sounded pained. "and there's nothing I'd like more than to have you by my side, Tracy.But you can't die yet."

"Why not? My life has been rewarding enough, not to mention long. Why can't I have a rest from this life?"

"Because..." As he spoke, the a vision of Natalie Lambert came to him. She held a razor in her right hand, and seemed to be trying to decided whether to commit suicide or not. Then the vision switched to one of Natalie in Nick's arms. Vachon could tell that Nick was drinking from her and actually felt the life slipping away from her. Looking back at Tracy, he knew the reason she had to live. "Because your needed here, Tracy, alive and well. There are still so many things you have left to do."

"Name one..."

"You have to save Nat's life. She's in a bad state of mind, Trace. She's already lost her best friend, and thinks she's losing you. She may commit suicide if you don't live to stop her."

"Can't Nick save her?" Tracy asked.

Vachon knew just by looking at her that she knew Nick was a vampire. Intuition was growing stronger in him, as he no longer seemed to need the voice to tell him these things. He shook his head. "Nick's leaving Toronto, Tracy. All the vampires are leaving. In a couple of days, you won't even know we were here."

"So... Nick can't help her?" She asked again. How could Vachon tell her that if Natalie Lambert didn't commit suicide, she would die at Nick's hands... uh, fangs?

"No, he can't help her this time. You're the only one who can." He looked deeply into her eyes, seeing her torn between helping Natalie and being with him for eternity. "Tracy, please..." he begged. "Do me this one favor. Just lie back down and go to sleep. "How will that help Nat?" "When you wake up, ask for her. Have them call her apartment. You'll see... it'll work out fine, if you'd just do as I ask." His eyes pleaded with her. The longer she stayed awake, the worse the chances were for both her *and* Natalie.

Reluctantly Tracy snuggled back into the bed. She shivered and Vachon tucked the blanket tightly around her, cursing the hospital for giving her a thin blanket. He crossed the room to the closet and took out another. "To keep you warm, dearest, until you feel better," he said as he covered her with the second blanket.

"Will I see you again, Vachon?" Tracy asked sleepily. All ready she was drifting back into the real world.

"I hope so, Tracy..." She was asleep now, and Vachon bent to kiss her forehead. Hovering above her face, however, he changed his mind and brushed her lips lightly with his own. "I should have told you this before, Tracy... but... I love you, too."

Vachon found himself once again surrounded by the whiteness I did it.. he thought glumly.

"Then why aren't you happy?" The voice asked him.

"Because I love her," he replied.

"Then, be happy... for she lives now, thanks to you." the voice told him. "And you, gentle Spaniard, have completed your task... as well as passed an important challenge."

"What challenge? This was all part of the judgement, wasn't it?"

"Yes..." From the clouds stepped a tiny figure robed in white. "We had to see what you would do. I have watched you from afar, Javier, and believed you to be on the verge of a great change for the better. I just had to convince others that there was such goodness in you."

The figure, seemingly a child of ten years with golden curls, smiled up at him. "Now I have been sent to inform you of your fate." A scroll appeared in her hand and she unrolled it carefully. "It is my great honor to inform you that you have been judged and found worthy to be in my master's realm." Rolling the scroll up again, she reached for Vachon's hand.

"Where are we going?" He asked, confused. He'd been sure he'd be going to Hell, but now it looked as if he was wrong. I can't be going to Heaven, he thought. The tiny figure beamed at him, warmth radiating from her smiling face.

Having read his thoughts, she replied, "Yes, vachon... you can go to Heaven. You are worthy." Then, taking his hand, she led him out of the whiteness which surrounded them.

With Love,