Forever Knight – the Continuing Story.

The characters in Forever Knight were created by James Parriott and Barney Cohen and are the property of Sony/Columbia/Tri-Star. The stories here are fan fiction, in which Nick and Natalie survive "Last Knight", the series finale. Also, Vachon survived Divia in "Ashes to Ashes". This story may be archived wherever by whomever.

Wade Everett is a good-looking, capable, smart-ass, and gay homicide detective who's sometimes full of himself. He's temporarily assigned to the 96th and Nick while Nick's partner, Tracy (who also survived LK) recuperates. He's found out what Nick is.
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CONVERSATIONS III – Natalie, or,Out, Out, Damned LaCroix!

by Walt Doherty

Hit the road Jack and don't you come back
no more, no more, no more, no more.
-- Hit the Road Jack, Ray Charles
.

Natalie & LaCroix

"Uhh," Natalie inhaled when she looked into her living room and saw Lucien LaCroix standing there, obviously waiting for her to acknowledge him. (Just like the arrogant son-of-a-bitch, doesn't even knock,) she thought.

She said, "Isn't there something about having to ask permission to enter a home, or is that just another of those superstitious rumors?"

"Hello to you, too, my dear," LaCroix said with traces of irritation and sarcasm.

"Save it, Lucien," she said, and he raised his eye-brows at hearing her pronounce his first name, "I'm not interested and you are not welcome. But as I haven't the ability to throw you out, say what you came for, then leave."

"Very well – there seems to be an epidemic of forthrightness among you humans recently – Leave Nicholas alone, stop working on this useless 'cure', and stop interfering with him, me, and our Community. Is that brief enough?"

"Yes."

"Good, I am glad you agree—"

"Oh, but I don't, you old reprobate. You've said your piece; now, get out of my house, and I'll thank you to knock any time you think you need to come back," Natalie spoke with increasingly, narrowly controlled anger.

LaCroix's eyes flecked with red and gold.

"Don't bother to try intimidating me with the red eyes and fangs. I know all about them and I'm not concerned." She picked up a pencil from her desk and used it as a pointer to emphasize her comments.

"Rudeness does not become you, doctor," LaCroix said.

"Do I look like I care, Lucien? Do you honestly think I'm going to listen to a thing you say? You left me on the floor of Nick's loft to die, to bleed out, you – You didn't even call the paramedics." She (unconsciously) gripped the pencil hard in her fist and took a step towards him. He bared his fangs and began to hiss.

"Stop it! You aren't going to do anything; you've been warned by others, and I know I'm under several layers of protection, so: LEAVE MY HOUSE, NOW, DAMMIT! And don't ever come back here!" She was practically shouting now.

In an instant, LaCroix was behind her breathing heavily on her neck. She didn't bother to check if his fangs were out, she simply turned towards him, and jabbed the (sharpened) pencil into his chest. He gasped and stepped back, his face turning whiter than usual.

Natalie, still holding on to the pencil, pulled it out with a heavy jerk. She shook it in front of his face and continued angrily, "When Nick is around, I'll be civil to you – and I will expect you to be civil to me – God knows why he still loves you, but he does --and for his sake, I won't try to stake you."

LaCroix looked at her in disbelief. He just didn't believe that she would have the gumption, nerve, gall, to face up to him like this. He was quite taken aback. If he had had more time to think, he might have tried to say or do something.

"Let me put it this way: I've got matches, a sharp stake, and PMS, now what silly, little problem did you want me to deal with?"

"It was _I_, Doctor, who took you to the Emergency Room. Did you think you walked there on your own?" LaCroix said as dryly as he could manage. He then turned and left in a blur. (This refers to FK's last episode 'Last Knight'.)

Natalie gaped at what the vampire had just said. She did not know who had gotten her to the hospital, but she never expected it to be LaCroix.

Natalie slammed the pencil down on her table. Then she went to her cupboard, got the bottle of scotch and a glass she kept there for 'medical' emergencies, poured herself a shot, and downed it in one gulp. She poured herself another shot, sat down at the table and set the glass down. She couldn't hold the glass because she was shaking so hard. But the good thing about this was that it was from anger, not fear.

"Two inches lower and it would have gone through your heart, you (*)(&%^*#*&^, and you know it," she said aloud to herself. She was beginning to understand how furious Wade must have felt at the vampire, and how on earth did Nick put up with it?

(I wonder if dried garlic over the windows and window sills would work to keep him out? And, I'd better sharpen some more pencils. Who'd have thought that would work?) she thought.

"Sydney!" she shouted. The cat had jumped onto the table and was dutifully lapping up the scotch from her glass. She grabbed him and put him on the floor. "Bad cat," she said, but she started to chuckle too.
.

Wade & LaCroix

Wade was sitting at the far end of the bar in the Raven. He spied LaCroix coming in and sitting at the other end. He got up and walked over to the vampire and sat down next to him.

"I understand that you had a run-in with Dr. Lambert, Lucius."

LaCroix turned to face him and snarled.

"Sorry," Wade said and got up to leave.

"Wait, Detective," LaCroix said. "My apologies, I should not have growled at you, although I do suspect that half of what the good Doctor said and did was as a result of your interference."

Wade smiled, "Probably. Want to tell me about it?"

"Not particularly, my Youngman. Do not start analyzing me. I do not play those parlor games," he said and then appeared to become lost in thought. Wade Shrugged; he recognized this from Nick's doing it.

Coming back into focus, LaCroix looked at Wade suggestively and asked, "Would you care to engage in another game of chess, my boy?"

"No thank, you, Lucius. Not now, anyway. I'm not sure you would maintain my control if I were in your apartment. Bring a board and pieces out here and we can play in one of the booths at the back."

Then Wade offered, "We could try to grill each other as to what everyone is up to." He grinned as he saw LaCroix actually relax a bit.

"That might just work, detective," LaCroix gave him a small smile.
.

Nick & Natalie

"Are you serious!" Nick exclaimed.

"Very," Natalie said, "I'm not putting up with him anymore – at least in my own apartment. My own apartment! He's got his nerve. I won't have it!" she shouted.

"Nat, take it easy. I'll talk to him –"

"No! Don't. Not yet. I need to talk to him again. I was rather rude, and —

"But even so, Nat –"

"No, Nick, let me handle it. Just because *I* can't stand him doesn't mean you have to get involved. You have enough troubles with him on your own; you don't need to take up mine as well. Plus, if you haven't noticed, Mister-I'm-Responsible-for-You, you are not responsible for me. I'm a grown-up, and I can take care of myself. Been doing it for a couple of years now, Nick."

"Natalie, I have no doubt that you can take care of yourself – I've seen that – but LaCroix is something else. I don't suppose I could order you not to approach him," whereupon Natalie gave him one of her dirtiest looks, "and I can't whammy you, will you at least let someone else go with you. Vachon would do it for me."

"It's taken care of, Nick. I've asked Wade to go with me."

Nick lifted his eyebrows.

"He's dealt with LaCroix before, and strange as it may seem I think they like each other."

"Natalie, that may be true, but it wouldn't stop LaCroix from draining him if he felt like it."

"Maybe so, Nick. But remember he did actually shoot LaCroix. He's got to have something going for him."

Nick sighed. "Just be careful? I . . . I care . . . I love . . . I . . . ," Nick stuttered. He actually looked like he was blushing.

Natalie didn't say anything; she just leaned over to him and kissed him on his forehead. "I know," she said softly.
.

Wade & Natalie

"You want me to what!?"

"Take me to the Raven and wait there with me while I talk to LaCroix," Natalie repeated.

"You do realize that you've gone start-raving mad, don't you?"

She sighed. "Wade, I know he's dangerous, but I do need to talk to him. Really. And, he and I are not on particularly good terms at the moment."

"You and the rest of the world. Well," Wade hesitated, "but, o.k. It's your funeral. And, it just may be, you know."

"But he likes you, god only knows why."

"Gee, thanks, Nat. I suppose it's cause I look tasty!"

"Wade! Don't be dense. God only knows why LaCroix does anything, but he seems to have taken some sort of shine to you.–"

"I know, Natalie, but consider: he likes Nick too and broke his jaw the other day to prove it."

"Look, I not asking you to be my knight in shining armor – that position has been filled," she winked, "I just need a, a, witness, or someone to tell LaCroix to stop.

"Will you help me, Wade? All you have to do is stand there so he doesn't make me dinner."

"Yes, Natalie, of course."
.

Natalie & LaCroix. At the Raven

"Mikloš, would you let M. LaCroix know that there's someone here who would like to talk to him? Thank you."

Mikloš disappeared into the back and reappeared a few moments later, followed shortly by LaCroix.

"Detective Everett. To what do I owe the pleasure?"

"Sir, I'm quite sure it's not a pleasure," Wade said and he raised his hand a bit and signaled.

"Someone else wants to talk to you and has asked me to intercede on their behalf. Other than that, I have nothing to do with this." Natalie joined the two of them.

"I see," LaCroix said sternly.

"Monsieur LaCroix."

"Doctor Lambert."

The frost in the air was palpable.

"If you will excuse me," Wade said, and he moved somewhat further down the bar to give the two at least a semblance of privacy.

"Monsieur, I was very angry when you visited me and I was quite rude. I want to apologize."

"Thank you, my dear," he said precisely and coolly. "Your apology is accepted. Is there anything else?"

Natalie started to say several other things, but stopped, decided to keep her own counsel on this, and merely said, "Yes, thank you for taking me to hospital," and reached into a pocket and pulled out a small wrapped package and placed in on the bar within easy reach of LaCroix.

He picked it up an inspected it, then unwrapped it, took the top off the box, and looked inside.

"Well, this is unexpected, Doctor." He looked at her expectantly.

"You're welcome," she said, disregarding the fact that he hadn't said 'thank you', and, "Thank you for speaking with me." With that she turned and walked over to Wade and indicated she wanted to leave.

"That was it?" he asked, puzzled.

"Yes. I was rather rude to him the other day; frankly, I lost my temper. I decided that it wouldn't be good to leave that as the last impression. A little fence mending of a sort, or as much as you can do that sort of thing with him."

"Hmm, yes, I know what you mean. What did you give him?"

"A token. C'mon, let's go before he gets all emotional and weepy."

Wade rolled his eyes, "Hmmph. Nick once said you had a dark sense of humor."
.

They were walking toward to exit when Nick entered.

"Hello." Nick appeared at their sides.

"Oh, good, this is where I bow out, Natalie. Nick, I leave the floor to you." He smiled, bowed to Nick, and left the area.
.

CONVERSATIONS IV – Nick, or, Love Will Keep Us Together

Love will keep us together.
-- The Carpenters
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Natalie & Nick

"Take me home, Nick, please."

"Yes, this isn't the place to talk anyway," Nick said looking around at the interior and the people in the Raven.
.

In the car:

"You're kidding!" Nick said, "That was it?"

"Yes."

"But why did you have to ask Wade, you know I would have –"

"Yes, you would have. And that's why I asked Wade. You and LaCroix would have gotten into it again," she said dryly.

"Well, I'm glad you cleared the air a bit if you felt that was necessary, but it was a dangerous thing to do."

"Yes, but I felt it was my responsibility, after all I was the one who insulted him." (Even if it was justified.)

"O.k., Natalie, but, please, let me help next time!?"

"Maybe. Nick, you have to realize that I am a grown woman and can take care of myself. I love you dearly, but, first, I don't want you doing my battles for me – at least, without asking me first, and second, I am not a medieval porcelain doll, I'm a living, breathing twentieth-first century woman. I'll take your help, but you have to offer it and wait for my o.k."

In the car in front of Natalie's apartment:

She stopped talking and gave him an exasperated look. He had that semi-detached, other world look on his face.

"You 'love me dearly'?"

"Have you heard a word I said?"

"Yes," he beamed, 'You love me dearly'." He grabbed her, hugged her close to him. She looked at him and saw that he was close to tears.

"Nick, Nick, stop. 'I care for you.' That covers it. Anything further than that, you are going to have to earn. After what happened, I don't know that I can trust you completely and . . . ." She trailed off.

"Natalie. I heard you. You said, 'I love you dearly'. Yeah, there's a lot of other baggage to work through, at least for me; I know that, but you've given me back some hope. That's all I need." He was beginning to glow.

(Oh, god.) "Nick, get a grip. It's a figure of speech. --"

"I know that, Nat, but I've been grasping at straws already. I'll take what I can get, no matter how small."

"Lordy, are all you medieval vampire knights like this?"

"Only the ones in love with you."

"Well, Nicholas deBrabant Knight, do you realize that this is the first time you've actually voiced those feelings?"

"Really?

"Yes, really, and you know it. O.k., there's some hope for you. – Will you quit that puppy dog look? You know – oh, you are incorrigible. I'm beginning to understand LaCroix's difficulties with you. Oh, stop it," she said, hitting him on the shoulder with her fist. "The little lost puppy look doesn't work either. And, 'no,' you can't come up. Another time."

She opened the car door and got out before he could jump out, run around and open it for her. She walked to his side of the car, bent down, and gave him a peck on the cheek, then escaped into her apartment building before he could do anything else.

(Oh, 'loves me dearly'. I know it's only a figure of speech, but it's a start.) Nick, for a change, got home and wasn't a bit gloomy.
.

Nick & LaCroix.

In the Loft.

"Nicholas!"

Nick buzzed the door so LaCroix could get in. When he got into the loft, he said to Nicholas, "What is the meaning of this—

"Lucien," Nick cut him off, "I told you before to call first before you come over. You no longer have carte blanche to walk in here whenever you wish. But now that you're here: welcome, can I get you something to drink?" Nick spoke as nicely as he could.

LaCroix glared. "That doctor told you she loved you, and I understand that you have said as much to her. You know what that means, Nicholas," he said severely. "According to our agreement from –"

"Stop," Nick said quietly. "Lucien, that 'agreement' was fulfilled years ago and time and time again. Let me be perfectly clear," Nick's voice was as cold as he could get it, "if anything happens to her, I -- will -- kill -- you; sire, friend, master, or not. Even if in the trying, my own destruction is accomplished." He stared directly at LaCroix, almost as if he were daring the vampire to take up the challenge right there on the spot. " Clear? "

LaCroix looked intently at Nicholas and came to a conclusion. "Very well, Nicholas. But, mark my words, nothing good will come of this." And with that, he turned dramatically on his heel, and stalked out.

Nick looked after him, and started breathing again (not that he needed to in the first place, but some habits never die).

(Well,) he thought to himself, (Well.)
.

Nick & Wade

"Not really!" Wade said.

"Swear to god!" said Nick.

"Amazing Well, let's hope it lasts. Being firm and direct would seem to be working, but, as you have said a so often, he is a law unto himself."

"Yeah, but for now anyway . . . ." Nick smiled.
.

"But, wait a minute. Why would this work now? It never did in the past," Nick asked.

"You want simple version or complex detailed version with all the professional gobbledygook?"

Nick just glared at Wade.

"Yeah, right. I don't want you to bite me, so I'll give you the simple version: he's been co-opted." Wade stopped talking and waited for Nick.

"Aw, c'mon, Wade," Nick said after a significant pause, "A little less simple? Huh? Please?"

"O.k.," he laughed. " All of LaCroix's options have been blocked. He can't threaten Natalie 'cause you really will try to kill him. His safety valve there was that you wouldn't kill yourself. Now, you've removed that. Natalie herself has stood up to him and indicated that if he tried to go after her that she would retaliate even at the cost of her own life. It's a lose-lose situation. So right now, he is convincing himself that it's his idea to back off from you for a couple of decades since he's a 'decent, kind-hearted type of father'. Oh, don't choke, it's that he thinks he is, not that he really is. In other words, as soon as it's his idea, then it'll be all right.

"Now, my position is that I think we've put him into the position that that is his only option."

"You're sure?"

"Of course not. But it's a reasonable assumption."
.

"You know, one of your problems has been that for a very long time, he has been one of your very few friends. Well, think about the reverse. For a very long time, you have been one of his very few friends.

"No matter what else, he doesn't really want to lose you. So, if it's his idea to give you some slack, then it's o.k. He just wants to drive you to the edge not over it.

"In his way, he may be as lonely as you.

"This is where knowledge is power. You know what the situation is; this allows you to deal with it better. Don't show him any anger or frustration and that'll drive him nuts. But don't pity him. After all, he is a Roman general and has his pride. Ah, but you wouldn't do that anyway. You have real feelings for him. Hey how many other people have you known through thick and thin for 750 years, right?

"You did try to kill him at least once, but he had driven you to that, he won't want to do that again. And, you've shown him where the line has been drawn. He just has to believe that he drew it; you have to not care who drew it."
.

"Anyway, like I said, we should be o.k. It's just that with LC, ya never know, do ya!" Wade gave Nick a vapid smile. :-)
.

Wade & LaCroix

"What did Dr. Lambert give you, Lucius?"

Lucius raised his eyebrows at the detective. "It really is not any of your concern, you know."

"Yes, but then, curiosity has always been one of my faults," he smiled.

'Well, in fact as far as this is concerned, I would appreciate a comment or two from you concerning this, a professional opinion as it were." He handed Wade the small box and Wade saw that it contained a small Roman coin set inside a glass container shaped like a pendant or badge.

"This is quite nice, Lucius. Dr. Lambert gave this to you?"

"Yes, that should have been obvious, young man. Now, as a so-called expert in these matters, what am I to make of it?"

"Lucius, that's no mystery if you think about it. You pretend to disdain humanity, but you are still human whether you like it or not. She is trying to get on your good side, assuming of course that you have one."

"And, you, young man, seem to disdain venerable and distinguished vampires. Why?"

"Why do I – " he stopped what he was about to say after seeing the glare LaCroix was giving him, and continued in a very serious vein with, "—You know she and Nicholas are getting closer, in fact, I believe 'romantically involved' would be the proper term. She knows exactly what you are, what you've done before, and so forth. She is afraid of you, but she is facing her fears. She has a greater goal in mind, namely Nick.

"I believe, Lucius, that this indicates that she wants to make some sort of peace with you, but her demeanor would also indicate that she is not going to bow to you and she will fight you if she has to.

"You realize, I hope, that she is fighting for her love and lover. You can't stop her –" LaCroix started to interrupt.

"No! Could you have broken up Romeo and Juliet? They have both reached the point where they will work out whatever happened that night awhile ago. And, that, at least for the time being, they are the loves of each others lives, and anyone who comes between them . . . well, I wouldn't do it, Lucius. You'll only come off looking bad, at best, and possibly dead, at worst."

LaCroix looked intently at his young friend, "You are serious about this, are you not? Yes, of course, you are. You, of all people, would not hesitate to tell me bad news. You know my inclination is to break this up?"

"Yes, I do, Lucius, but, as I indicated, I wouldn't recommend it. They will stop at nothing to be together whether it means your death, or theirs, or all of yours. The best thing you can do is nothing. Leave it alone. This is one of those things that will work itself out. And, if you stay out of it, no blame will fall to you. Besides, you know you will outlast her; what's 20, 30 years to an immortal like you?"

"You make it sound reasonable, Youngman."

"I know, sir, I'm very good at that."

"But, Nicholas is mine!—"

"NO, he is not. And, I've told you before, if you continue in that vein, you'll lose him. You're smart enough to figure that out."

"This is frustrating, detective," he said sincerely and quietly.

"Yes, sir, it is. Would you like me to console you as I did a short time ago?" He winked.

"Detective, are you insatiable?"

"No, sir. Just horny!"

"Very well, Youngman. I'll leave the two 'lovebirds' " – the word came out almost as a curse – "to their destinies, at least for the time being. And you," he said reaching over to the detective, and pulling him to himself, "are about to learn what it is like to be impaled on a cross – "
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CONVERSATIONS V - Nick & Nat!, or, Matchmaker, Matchmaker

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make me a match
Find me a find, catch me a catch
-- Matchmaker, Matchmaker – "Fiddler on the Roof"
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Nick & Natalie – in the Loft

"Not in so many words, it's just that his manner has changed," Nick said.

"I know. He's been civil without my having to threaten him," she replied

"Actually, I think our threats helped. He's not used to people talking back to him without regard as to what might happen. You pulled it off," he said handing Natalie a cola.

"With a little help from your partner. It was a suggestion from him as to a way of dealing with LaCroix." Natalie watched as Nick poured himself one of her protein drinks, but with something a little extra added [a cup of blood]. She saw what he did but chose not to comment on it.

Nick smiled, "Yeah, Wade's been on my case as well. Do you think he's trying to play matchmaker?"

"On, no, Nick. Not at all, he's trying to smooth everything over so he can run away with Grace and have it go unnoticed," she said with some exasperation.

Nick laughed, "You may be closer to the truth than you think. But, not with Grace."

She looked at Nick, "Who?"

"Oh, Nat!"

She just looked at him. She really didn't know.

He looked back at her and said, "LaCroix!"

"Get out of town," she said and sat suddenly.
.

"No, think about it. He's young, likes 'men of power', and who's more powerful than, well, you know."

"I'll be damned," she said, nonplussed. "Ha! Detective Everett deserves to have a little something get under his skin, How about you ask him if he'd like to take part in a double wedding?"

Nick nearly spit out his 'drink'. "Oh, that'd be rich. That might get to him. Although, . . . let's be careful about what we ask for, we may get it."

Natalie said, "On, no, that wouldn't . . . . Uh, you don't mean? Well, you think?"

"Yeah, as a matter of fact, I do 'think'. I think Detective Everett is quite as capable of manipulating LaCroix as LaCroix is capable of manipulating the detective. He may look youthful and be very friendly, but he knows what he's doing and he does it deliberately. But, Nat, I don't care who's playing who as long as they leave us alone."

"Amen to that, Nick!"

Nick placed his glass on the coffee table and took her soda and placed it next to his glass.
.

Later

"Nick, let me be clear."

(Uh, oh,) thought Nick; sentences that start out like that are never good.

"I want a relationship with you, but I'm not going to wait forever. You seem to be incapable or unwilling to take the lead in this, so, I'll lead and all you have to do is follow. That should be easy, right?"

"Nat, everything I've done – do – is to –"

"—protect me. Yes, I know. It isn't working, Nick. Tracy is a good example of that. Nick, you don't have to do a thing but follow my lead. We've been pussy-footing around it for the last six months, so here's the first step: we let people know we're a couple – not engaged or anything [although that will disappoint Grace tremendously] – but they can treat us as a pair. Can you live with that?"

"What scares me about all this, Nat, is that it sounds altogether too reasonable," Nick said.

"I know. Me, too. But, can you live with that? Nick, it's that or nothing. I have to 'get a life' and I'd like you in it, but you're going to have to apply yourself, otherwise someday in the future, you'll be an honored guest at my wedding instead of one of the principals.

"Now, listen carefully: if friendship is all you want, I can live with that, but I need to know. I want to wake up with a more than friend, I want to have kids – even if they're adopted, I want more than a 'friendship' ring. But for right now, just being a teensy bit more than friends will be enough. So, we don't have to find a venue for the wedding, order the flowers, or write vows, today", she said and paused.

"Anytime within the next week or two will be enough," she added with a gleam in her eye. She was testing him.

He replied, "O.k., Mi Amore, we're officially 'dating'." And, with that he grabbed her and kissed her. Again.
.

Grace & Natalie

"We're dating, Grace; that's all. Don't read so much into it."

"In other words, Sweetie, don't order the dress, the flowers, the caterer."

"Right."

"Can I at least –"

"Grace! We're a couple and that's it. Inviting one of us is the same as inviting the two of us. If something more comes of it, that's o.k."

"Hmmmm, but what you are saying is that nothing might come of it, too, aren't you?"

"Well, I guess I am, but that's something for me and Nick to work out. Right?" Natalie added looking at Grace intently.

"R –i–i –i-ght! But I can still look at color combinations, find out what your favorite flowers are and all that?"

Natalie sighed. "Yes, Grace, you can. And thanks."

"For what, Honey?"

"For being you, Grace," and Natalie got up and hugged her.
.

Grace & Nick

"Detective Knight! I'm on to you, detective," said Grace when she saw the detective come in to the office.

"Grace?" Nick said, puzzled.

"Just see that you don't string her along, you hear? You play straight with her or you'll answer to me!" Grace said.

"Grace? What are you talking about?" Nick asked.

"I know you're 'just a couple' now, but if you're leading her on, so help me Detective, I'll stake you myself!"

"Ah," said Nick, finally comprehending what Grace was getting at, "you have my pledge, Grace, that if Natalie and I decide not to pursue this that you will be the first to know. Is that o.k.?"

"It'll do, but I'll be watching you, detective; so be good, you hear me?"

"Yes, M'am," said Nick meekly – What else could he do?
.

Party, Party!

"Surprise!" they all shouted as Nick and Natalie walked into the Morgue office.

"What is all this?" Natalie was beginning to get a little steamed.

"It's a "Not-an-Engagement" party," Grace said helpfully. "Since you're not getting engaged, we thought we'd throw you a party," she added with a look of innocence that would have done Mother Teresa proud.

Nick said, with a chuckle, "Grace, you're something else. Remind me never to cross you, o.k.?"

"See that you don't, detective," Grace replied smiling and with a false sternness.

"I won't, M'am. Now, may I have a piece of cake?"
.

Nat & Nick & Trace & Vach

Natalie is talking with Tracy, and simultaneously Nick is talking with Vachon. Their conversations are remarkably parallel.

Natalie:
. Tracy, hi! What are you doing here?
Nick:
. Vachon! What are you doing here?

Tracy
. Grace called and let me know what was going on.
. She's very determined when she wants something.
Vachon:
. Tracy called and asked me if I knew what was going on.
. She's very determined when she wants something.

Natalie:
. Tell me about it!
Nick:
. You can say that again!

Tracy:
. Anyway, I know it's not an engagement, but it's the
. next best thing. I'm just so happy for both of you.
. Maybe I'll be able to invite you to a
. non-engagement party for somebody else.
Vachon:
. But you and I know it's not an engagement, just the
. closest thing to it. She's so happy for the two of you.
. Maybe she'll set up her own
. non-engagement party for guess who else?

Natalie:
. Oh, Trace! That'd be wonderful!
Nick:
. You know, Javier, it could be wonderful.
.

"By the way, where's Detective Everett?"

"Ah, Wade has to work. I think he's at the Division filling out forms. I'll take him a piece of cake later. He deserves this, I think. Grace may have put this together, but I suspect the detective had a hand in the groundwork!"
.

Nick & Natalie

Natalie asked Nick later, "Did you actually eat the cake?"

"No, I faked it, or, well, I don't know. I swallowed it but later in the bathroom –"

"Alright!," Natalie laughed and held up her hand to say stop, "I get the picture. You're sweet to go to all that for Grace's sake."

"Oh, it was for you, too, Nat!" Nick finished and kissed her politely on the cheek. She kissed him back. Not on the check.
.

Nick & Grace

Grace came over and stood close to the detective. "Detective, I took the liberty of inviting your step-father although I didn't really expect him. I hope that was alright?"

Nick grimaced slightly, but quickly regained his composure

"That's fine, Grace, really. He – he doesn't go out much, but thank you for the invitation." But then he smiled, (I wonder how many 'non-engagement' parties LaCroix has ever been invited to?)
.

LaCroix alone

LaCroix looked at the invitation in his hand. He started to get angry, but calmed himself by realizing that this was a friendly out-going woman – the matronly type – like Lavinia, he thought, thinking back to those oh-so-long-ago Roman days – the type who sincerely means well. Plus, since she worked with and liked the good Doctor, she would be a good ally to have for pumping of information, if nothing else.

(Well, Nicholas,) he thought, (have fun with it while they last. They will all be dust in the blink of an eye anyway. If you want to hurt yourself by getting so close to these mortals who will eventually die and leave you, do not complain of it to me. But you will never learn, will you?) He sighed.
.

Nick & Grace -- Meanwhile back at the party

"Detective, --"

"Grace," Detective Knight interrupted, "I believe we know each other well enough that you can call me 'Nick'. Please?"

"Yes, of course, Nick," Grace said taking his hand and patting it, "Your step-father is single, isn't he? Why isn't a man as good-looking as he is not dating at least? How about you all come over to my place some night, I know my sister-in-law – she's a widow now, so it's o.k. – would love to meet –"

"Grace! Don't you ever stop matchmaking? Anyway, I think he has a 'friend'."

Nick paused, that said, "Wait a minute. Grace! You know what he is! He'd be as apt to kill your sister-in-law as not."

Grace looked at him, shrugged, gave Nick an enigmatic smile, and said, "Either way, Nick, my sister-in-law would be out of my hair.", and she sashayed out of the room.

Nick gaped. "Grace!" Nick said shocked. He shook his head, smiling at this revelation.
.

Later – Nick & LaCroix

"Lucien, she wants you to meet her sister-in-law. But, it's o.k. because 'she's a widow now'," Nick grinned and all but laughed out loud.

"I know the type, Nicholas. She means well, but it can get tiring after a few decades. Since, I suppose, you don't want her drained, I'll just have to bear it," LaCroix said somewhat ruefully.

"I would think about bringing her across, but she would probably be more angry about it than Wade was. One thing the community does not need is one angry Black woman on a crusade." One vampire grinned at the image of a wildly angry Grace rampaging through the countryside; the other winced. Guess who did which.

Nick smiled at the irony; LaCroix grimaced and thought only of how tasty she might be.

-- De gustibus! –