Disclaimer: As far as the author of the following work is concerned writing fanfiction includes inherent admission that all the rights to the intellectual property of the work the fanfiction is based on belong to parties other then the fanfiction creator. The author therefore has no claim as to the ownership of any recognisable characters, locations or situations that might have been mentioned in the story.
Summary: Usually when your assistant is having heart problems, you worry about people being at each other's throat and you suspect your partner's ex would like to kill you, you don't mean that literally. Unless, of course, your name is Vicki Nelson. Sequel to That Thin Line.
Special thank you goes to my beta Marlana. For all her help and not giving up after facing a story this size.
Henry entered the office to see Vicki sitting at her desk leaning over some files. She hadn't seen him yet. He watched her work for a moment until she took off her glasses to massage the bridge of her nose. Using that moment he moved next to her quietly and leaned down to whisper into her ear.
"A lot of work?"
Her heartbeat sped up, giving him a clear indication that he managed to startle her, outwardly however she managed to stay completely calm. One more impressive and very Vicki-like feature.
She put her glasses back on and smiled tiredly at him.
"Is it that visible?" She surveyed her desk which was currently under a siege from various paperwork. "I told Coreen to go home. She didn't seem well for the last few days, must be this weather and that bug that's been going around, and I was left with all the paperwork. Hi, by the way." She added as an afterthought.
"Need a hand with that?" Her eyes lit up with something that could be interpreted as a very quickly herded hopeful look.
"Nah, I'll manage, I think." She said a bit too quickly.
"I never doubted that. But you'd be done much sooner if you let me help."
"Well, I suppose, if you insist..." She trailed off. "Could you sort that stack by dates and label it properly?" She gestured to one side of her desk and a second later was forced to press the files she was working on against the desk as a slight gust of wind suddenly appeared in the room and the stack disappeared in a sudden dark blur.
Vicki blinked a few times trying to establish if Henry really became a blur or if her vision took a sudden plunge and was now playing tricks with her. She got her answer about two minutes later when the stack of papers again appeared in their original location, this time properly ordered.
"All done. Anything else you need?"
It took two tries before she managed to speak.
"Vampire clerk. Secret weapon for the overflowing paperwork. How come I never thought of using you like that before?"
He straightened himself and carefully took on a look of an offended prince.
"We have our servants to see to that kind of matters, Milady. It is our regret that you think so little of us to consider burdening us with such menial tasks." The inflection on the words made Vicki almost automatically think back to her Middle English classes.
She simply rolled her eyes.
"Well, then, Your Grace, if it's not helping me that brought you to my humble office then could you impart what have I done to deserve such honour?"
"We have to confess, Milady, that we have found ourself drawn to you in some inexplicable way. Your presence lights our life with the power on par only with that of the sun, the mighty ruler of the skies."
"So as far as you're concerned I'm bright, hot and deadly? I think I can live with that." Vicki came back to her normal tone earning a chuckle from Henry.
Suddenly their conversation was interrupted by the sound of the office door opening, soon followed by the voice of Vicki's assistant.
"Sorry to interrupt. I know you told me to get some rest but I just needed to find this notebook and the office was the last place it could be." Coreen's monologue was joined by the sound of desk drawers opening as the girl looked for something. "At first I was worried that you might not be in the office but then I thought that you would have told me if you had any major cases and you don't normally leave that early..."
Vicki looked at Henry who suddenly had a worried look on his face. Before she could ask what was wrong she saw his eyes go dark.
"Coreen, calm down and come in here."
Vicki's confusion deepened at such a simple command delivered in his vampiric voice. Sure enough the Goth stepped into the inner office and stood before them.
"Now go to the sofa and sit down." As Coreen obliged, Vicki approached Henry.
"Do you want to tell me what this is about? Or did you just feel like ordering someone around and I'm not very good material for that?"
"Vicki, could you find something to remove her lipstick?" Henry kneeled next to Coreen concern still etched on his face. The fact that he didn't respond to Vicki's bait only served to worry the PI more.
Wetting a tissue with mineral water from her desk she returned to them. She handed it to Henry and looked at him questioningly.
"Thank you. Could you check if she has a fever? It's a bit hard for me to tell accurately."
Resigned to not having an explanation any time soon she placed her hand on her assistant's forehead while Henry removed the girl's burgundy lipstick. It didn't take long for Vicki to realise that the vampire was right for being concerned.
"She's burning up. How did you..." She broke off as she took in the Goth's now unpainted lips being very close to blue.
"Coreen, lie down now and sleep." Another vampire command sounded before Henry switched to his normal tone. "Lord knows you're going to need rest now."
It took less than a minute for the girl to comply. The vampire stroked her hair gently before turning to Vicki.
"Now can you tell me what's wrong? Besides her having fever and belonging in bed?"
"Her heart." Henry answered quietly stealing another worried glance at the girl. "I didn't like the way her heartbeat sounded so I called her in here. It seems that the fever might have aggravated her heart condition. Her deoxygenated blood must be mixing with oxygenated blood." He indicated the girl's lips.
"But didn't you say yourself that it was nothing to worry about?" Vicki desperately grabbed the memory.
"In normal conditions that would be correct. In more dire ones however... Like extreme exhaustion, or blood loss, or high fever it could serve to heighten the risk factor." He gently scooped the sleeping girl in his arms. "For now we need to get her to hospital. If my suspicions are correct, we can't help her here."
Henry parked next to the hospital and turned to the girl sleeping in the backseat of the jag. He wished he could leave the girl in the bliss of sleep longer but unfortunately if he wanted her medial results to be accurate, and this case really called for accuracy, he couldn't involve any element the doctors would not have been able to classify. Even if such element was just vampire-induced sleep.
"Wake up, Coreen." He whispered to the girl and a second later he saw her shift.
The Goth yawned and rubbed her eyes.
"What...? Where are we? What's going on?"
"To answer your first question we are outside the hospital. In my car to be exact." He answered with a smile he carefully schooled on his face.
"Oh. Ok. Why?"
"Because you should probably see a doctor and a hospital is a perfect place to find one."
The girl moved into a sitting position.
"You know, Henry, I don't want to accuse you of overreacting or anything, but it's just a cold. A bad one, alright, but still they will probably get a bit angry if I come into the emergency room for that in the middle of the night."
"Still, I believe we should go in. You are not well. Humour me on this one, alright?"
The girl looked around spotting Vicki on the seat next to him.
"Alright. Henry isn't talking but can you tell me what's going on? Because I'm starting to think it's something fishy."
"Nothing fishy is going on, Coreen. But let's put it this way. If Henry suspects something might be wrong and wants you to see a doctor then my guess is, you probably should, if only to be on the safe side."
"Whatever. But if they get mad about it, I'm using you two as respectively human and vampire shields."
"Shields? I believe you'd do better thinking offensive weapons."
"Yeah, right. But seriously, what's wrong?" The girl was clearly frightened now but she would have to be informed one way or another and the least they could do was to ease her into the knowledge. Henry sighed.
"I didn't like the sound of your heart and in view of the fact that you already had a heart murmur I thought it would be better to see if that illness of yours didn't make things worse."
Her heart rate increased and he did his best not to wince at the additional sounds it was making.
"Do you think it did?"
"Coreen, I may be a vampire but I'm not a cardiologist. Just because I have the ability to hear certain things doesn't mean I'm qualified to make a diagnosis. If I was, I wouldn't have brought you here."
The girl let out a resigned sigh.
"You know what, Vicki? You should have said something about how the health benefits were going to look like when I was taking the job. I might have reconsidered."
"All the better that I did not. Where would I find another assistant like you? Besides. I did tell you, there were no benefits then. Didn't you read the memo about the changes in the contract?"
"Memo. Right. I think I didn't get enough sleep for that."
"Tell you what. The sooner we go inside and let a doctor have a look at you the better the chance that you'll still be able to go back to sleep tonight."
"Since you put it like that."
"I knew you'd see the light. Shall we?"
"Careful. Don't overdo the enthusiasm."
In Henry's opinion the only thing that kept the girl from noticing just how worried they both were was the darkness of the night which veiled everything including the details of their expressions.
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