The Code of Friendship

Summary: After the events of "The Code," Natalie and Schanke decide to spend a little time at Nick's loft to discuss what happened.

Title: The Code of Friendship
Recipient: abby82 (at genficathon at Livejournal)

Author: foxy11814/superfoxygirl

Fandom: Forever Knight
Character(s): Nick Knight, Natalie Lambert, and Don Schanke
Prompt: Season 1 had instances in which our favorite civil servants hung out together at work and yes, even after work. What did these three do together? What did they talk about? Any season is up for grabs, heck even season 3 if you can pull it off.
Rating: G
Word Count: 2141
Author's Notes: This story takes place after the season two's episode "The Code."
Summary: After the events of "The Code," Natalie and Schanke decide to spend a little time at Nick's loft to discuss what happened.

The Code of Friendship

"I wonder why I ever installed that thing," Nick groaned as he rolled out of bed, grabbed his red housecoat, and rushed downstairs to see who was buzzing at his door so early in the morning. News this early during daylight hours was never good…well, at least for him since he's a vampire.

Nick looked into the security camera and sighed as he saw Natalie downstairs with her hands full of bags. "What does she expect me to do," he grumbled irritably, still trying to clear the cobwebs from his mind, as he got on the elevator and rode down to the ground floor. He walked over to the door and very forcibly threw it open for her as he tried to avoid the light.

Natalie stepped inside quickly and said, "Whew, I wasn't sure I'd wake you."

Nick was looking down at his hand which briefly made contact with the sunlight. "You could have made more than one trip," quipped Nick as he fanned his hand and then took a few bags from Natalie's grasp.

"Are you kidding?" asked Natalie as she smiled up at him. "How many times have you told me not to come here while you're sleeping? 'Sleeping vampires that wake up to a mortal heartbeat is very dangerous,' you said. Well, you didn't wake up to a heartbeat and you're not sleeping now, are you?"

Nick shook his head as he led her to the elevator. "Grumpy vampires who are sleep deprived are dangerous, too," he mumbled.

Natalie shook her head as the elevator rose to the top floor. "Well, I suppose I could always go home," she said softly, her big green eyes now focusing on him with her most remorseful look.

Nick couldn't help but smile at her. She was so good at manipulation and one friend of his that definitely didn't need hypnotism. "Of course I wouldn't let you go home now," he replied, forcing his sleepiness away. "You've gotten me up, so maybe now you can tell me what this is all about."

"What all of what is about?" she asked as she quickly turned her attention to the bags now covering the kitchen and started unpacking them.

Nick walked beside her, leaned his hip against his counter, and stared intently at her face. "This," he replied with a smile as he fanned his hand over the bags in front of her. He could already tell he was going to have to pry this information out of her.

"Maybe I wanted to come over and try out a new protein shake," she answered calmly, a little too calmly for Nick's liking.

"Okay, it could be, but it's not." He grabbed Natalie's shoulders and turned her to face him. "What's going on, Nat?"

Natalie looked down at the head of lettuce she had in her hands. She bobbled it back and forth slowly and looked up. "It was a spare of the moment idea," she admitted. "I just thought maybe you would appreciate a little company. If this is a bad idea and you'd rather get back to sleep, I'll go. I just…"

She trailed off and then quickly turned around and started packing the things back up.

"Natalie," Nick said, softly. He grabbed her hand to stop her from getting any more back into the bag. "Of course, you can stay. I just didn't expect you to come over this morning. I thought maybe something was wrong."

"Nothing's wrong," she whispered. She knew he could hear her. She looked up into his blue eyes and continued, "Like I said, I just thought you'd like a little company after everything that happened."

"'Everything that happened?'" repeated Nick.

"With Delehanty."

"Nat, I think Schanke would be the one who needs a friend today. It was his old partner that betrayed him and died in his arms." Nick shook his head as he thought about all the acquaintances that had died in his arms over the years.

"Well, Schanke has Myra and Jenny," Natalie replied. "Besides, I wasn't referring to Delehanty's death. I was referring to what happened between you and Schanke."

Nick gave her a questioning look.

"Oh, come on, Nick," she said exasperatedly as she quickly threw her hand and head back before looking back at him. "You can't tell me you didn't feel left out when Schanke and Delehanty were hanging out, and you definitely can't tell me you were fine when Schanke quit so he could be business partners with him. I saw your face on those occasions, Nick. You looked like you lost your best friend. In fact, you probably felt like you had."

Nick paused as he thought about the recent nights. Natalie was right. He didn't just feel left out; he had been downright jealous! Schanke had been his partner for almost two years now and when Delehanty showed up, it seemed like he was back to being the outsider.

He shook his head and looked at Natalie. "Okay, maybe I was a little upset," he admitted.

Natalie nodded and gave his arm a soft squeeze.

"It's just that you and Schanke are the only ones who ever made me feel…" he trailed off.

"Human," Natalie finished.

Nick nodded. "But the truth is, Nat, I have no right to begrudge Schanke any of his friends. After all, unless you find me a cure within the next couple of years, I'm going to be the one breaking ties. How will he feel when I suddenly disappear into the night with no forwarding address, no phone calls, no letters…?"

Natalie wrapped her arms around Nick and said, "When it comes to our feelings, it doesn't matter what might happen in the future sometimes. Anyone would have felt left out in your situation."

"I'm not just anyone," he replied, pulling slightly away from Nat. "I have no right to feel that way after all the people I've left behind over the years and all the people I will leave behind for years to come. Maybe Lacroix was right. Maybe it is better to not befriend humans. It would certainly be easier for everyone involved."

Natalie sighed and said, "I will find a cure for you, but even if I don't, you shouldn't withhold your friendship because you might have to leave one day. Nick, all friends one day leave, whether by choice, death, or something else. That's life. Those risks are what being human is all about."

Nick opened his mouth to reply, but was interrupted by the buzzer going off again. "I really need to get rid of that thing," he said, as he walked over to see Schanke staring at the security camera.

"All right," said Schanke, "I know you're up, Nick, because our favorite medical examiner is here…unless I'm interrupting something." He wiggled his eyebrows at the camera.

Nick quickly hit the speaker button and said, "Come on up, Schank." He buzzed him in and turned to Natalie. "You didn't have anything to do with this, did you?"

"No," she said.

She seemed just as surprised to have Schanke show up in the middle of the day and unannounced as he was, so he turned his attention to the rising elevator and waited until the elevator door slid open.

Schanke stepped into the apartment sporting a huge grin as he looked from Nick to Nat.

Before Schanke could get a word in, Nick stopped him by rolling his eyes and saying, "Cut it out, Schank."

Schanke stepped back slightly and brushed his hand against his chest. In an over-exaggerated voice, he replied, "What ever do you mean, Detective Knight. Here I am, paying a friendly visit to my partner and he's already biting my head off before I can even say hello."

Nick narrowed his eyebrows and the only thing that gave his amusement away was the slight upturn of his lips. After a few seconds passed, Nick finally allowed himself to smile at his partner. He walked over to him, slipped his arm around his shoulders, and said, "What are you doing here, Schanke? You should be home with Myra and Jenny and taking a break after everything that's happened."

"I was," he said, morosely, as he walked over to the couch to sit down. He rested his elbows on his knees and held his face in his hands.

Nick glanced at Natalie and she gestured with her hand to go to him. She returned to the kitchen and continued emptying the bags.

Nick sat beside Schanke and asked, "What's wrong, Schank?"

Schanke finally lifted his head up. He leaned back on the couch, sighed, and blurted out, "I was sitting at home thinking about the last couple of days and I realized what an ass I was."

Nick smiled and said, "So, what else is new? You're upset, why?"

"Ha, ha, very funny," was the reply. "Nick, I just can't get over how Delehanty used me while I was down. You tried to stop me, tried to make me stay despite how I treated you. God, when I think about how I treated you…"

"Schanke, Schanke," Nick interrupted. "It's okay. I knew you were feeling under the weather. Don't worry about it. And, as for Delehanty, he was your old partner. Why wouldn't you trust him?"

Schanke shook his head and stood up abruptly. "That's just what makes it worse," he ranted. "Delehanty was my old partner, but you are my partner. I shouldn't have spoken to you the way I did."

Nick opened his mouth to reply, but Schanke kept going, "And, I don't want you to tell me to stop worrying about it, Nick. If that was all that I had to apologize for, I would let it end there, but it isn't."

Nick furrowed his eyebrows in puzzlement. "What else do you need to apologize for," he asked. "You shouldn't have to apologize for anything Delehanty did. It was his decision to fall in with the wrong crowd. When you realized what they were doing, you knew you wanted no part of it."

"I know," answered Schanke, "but I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about what I said to you after Delehanty's death."

"And, what was that?"

"Don't tell me you don't remember. I know you do. It's been eating me up ever since I said it."

Nick stood up and squeezed his partner's shoulder. "You'll have to remind me, Schank, because I don't know what you're referring to."

Schanke turned his grief-filled eyes toward him and whispered, "I asked you, 'Who needs friends?'" He shook his head and his voice became louder. "I didn't mean it, Nick. I was just so upset."

"I know that," Nick reassured.

"The truth is, Nick, that you are my friend, my best friend." Schanke then groaned, showing his discontentment with himself. "I just can't believe I trusted him and turned my back on you and the precinct."

Nick, who still had his hand on his partner's shoulder, squeezed it tighter and said softly, "We forgive you, Schanke. We're just glad you're back and not any worse for wear."

"Do you mean that," Schanke asked, hopefully.

"Absolutely," Nick said with a smile. "Can you imagine it? It would take me another two years to train my next partner if you left!"

Schanke laughed and said, "Oh, train another partner? Like you've trained me! Yeah, right!"

As Nick and Schanke started bickering between each other, Natalie came in and sat down on the couch. She cleared her throat and said loudly, "Dinner is cooking on the stove, so let's just sit back and watch this movie!"

Nick took the movie from Natalie and looked from her to Schanke a couple of times and said to both of them, "You planned this, didn't you?"

Schanke shook his head, but Natalie said, "You two had to talk about it, so it could be put in the past where it belongs. Now that you two are friends again, put the movie in, so we can watch it."

Nick looked down at The Three Amigos in his hand and said, "A comedy?"

"You'll love it," Schanke and Nat replied simultaneously.

Nick smiled and put it on.

As the commercials on the tape started playing, Schanke said, "By the way, you're going to love what I've done to your heating system in your car."

"Schanke," Nick whined. "I told you that you didn't have to do that."

"I wanted to. Besides, now I won't freeze to death when I ride with you. It isn't like I did it just for you!"

Natalie laughed as she listened to them bicker again, and she couldn't help but smile. Nick was so amusing to watch when he was with Schanke. She knew Schanke certainly did make Nick feel human again