This story is not part of the "A Father's Truth" and "A Son's Denial" series though I am currently working on the third installment. I decided I wanted to try my wings out on another idea that has been floating around in my head for quite a while. Anyway, this story isn't as focused on Lacroix and Nick's relationship, though it will play a factor. This story is more about Nick and Natalie's relationship.

Anyway, if you want to see it continued, let me know. I'll post and finish this story up throughout the holiday, so please check periodically!

The Newcomer

Nick Knight stood on the edge of the Police Basin Slip looking at Toronto Island as the last glimpses of the sun were going down in the western sky. For years, the various police precincts throughout the city decided to get together on the waterfront for their annual Christmas party. Never mind the fact that the weather was usually very cold; supposedly Commissioner Vetter couldn't resist showing off the view to the few attendees who were not police officers but elected officials. Nick usually didn't attend, but Natalie had insisted this year, saying he needed to get into the Christmas spirit.

"There you are."

Nick heard the voice behind him. He recognized it, so he didn't bother turning around; instead, he continued to peer at the island.

Natalie came to stand beside him, bouncing slightly to get warm, and said, "Everyone is inside. Why are you out here in the cold?"

Nick looked at Natalie as he put an arm around her, even though he knew he wouldn't provide much warmth aside from the extra pressure and his clothes would give. "I was about to ask you the same thing."

Natalie sighed and said, "I didn't bring you so you could slip out unnoticed and stand alone in the dark."

"It's hardly dark out here…" he started to answer, but Natalie cut him off.

"You know what I mean! Why are you out here?"

Nick stared back at the island and said, "I don't know. I just have a feeling, like something is going to happen tonight, and I'm not entirely sure if it's good or bad."

Natalie slipped her arm around Nick's waist and said, "It'll be good. Everyone is making merry, and I want you to be a part of that." She started tugging on his waist, and Nick reluctantly let her pull him back towards the building.

"I just don't feel comfortable in there, Nat," he finally whispered.

Their descent into the throngs of partygoers quickly came to a halt just outside the backdoor. "Uncomfortable as in not being in a partying mood, or uncomfortable for vampire reasons," she asked, softly.

He shrugged. "I don't know. All of the above?"

"Are you asking me?"

"It's just that I haven't participated in anything dealing with Christmas since before the Crusades," he explained, getting a faraway look.

Nicolas peered down the hall to make sure everyone was sleeping. The last of their guests, along with his mother, were finally going to settle down for the night. He smiled as he heard several doors close.

He slowly and quietly crept through the corridors that led to the kitchen. He stuck his head inside and smiled at Cedany, one of his mother's personal servants, as she helped the others clean up the Christmas dinner they just had. "She's outside in the barn," the elderly woman stated with a knowing smile.

Nicolas felt a rush of heat center in his cheeks and he was sure it was evident to the others in the room. Despite his slight embarrassment, determination entered his eyes as he sped through the kitchen, out the backdoor, and into the nearby barn. "Alianor?" he called into the darkness.

"Up here," a voice answered from the haystack high above his head. Using a nearby ladder, Nicolas climbed to the top and sat beside the blonde beauty waiting for him.

"Cedany told me you'd be here," he whispered, giving her one of his dazzling toothy grins before he kissed her on the cheek.

"The ol' woman is too smart and nosy for her own good," answered Alianor. "Or at least, that's what I overheard your mother saying just this morning."

Nicolas chuckled and replied, "I've heard my mother say that, as well, but I don't know. She seems to, at least, give us her blessings."

Alianor turned sad eyes onto Nicolas. "I do not believe everyone will give such sentiments."

"I do not care."

"You have to," she insisted, looking away. "You are Nicolas de Brabant. So many have their hopes placed on your shoulders. You cannot let them down, especially your mama."

Nicolas sighed and said, "I do have many obligations, but I feel it is my right as a man to decide who I shall wed. Father died many years ago, so I am the head of this household. No one can contradict me."

Alianor smiled, softly. "Then, why do we hide in the barn?"

Nicolas returned the smile and said, "Timing is everything. I want to court you a while longer before we face the burden of disapproval."

Alianor leaned against Nicolas' shoulder, and with more confidence than she felt, she grabbed his hand. Nicolas responded by intertwining their fingers together and placing a soft kiss on the top of her head. "Must you go with Lord DeLabarre in the spring?" she asked. She had wanted to ask for weeks now, ever since Nicolas had told her of his imminent departure.

"Yes," he answered. "It is my duty as a man and knight. But I'll be back."


"I promise. But that brings me to what I really came out here for."

Alianor sat up and turned to face him. "What's that?"

"I have a present for you. Call it a Christmas present, something to remember me by while I'm gone."

Nicolas handed her something small wrapped in a white cloth tied with a small piece of rope.

Alianor smiled as a small wooden object was revealed. As soon as she inspected it further, she realized it was of two birds, flying through the clouds with their wings slightly touching. One bird had an "A" on its back while the other had an "N." Tears came to eyes as she said, "It's beautiful. Thank you so much."

"I made it myself," stated Nicolas, proudly. "Do you really like it?"

"Yes," she answered quickly, as she threw her arms around him and kissed him deeply. It was the first time she had initiated a kiss. "Merry Christmas," she whispered as she pulled back and glanced at the present.

Nick shook his head to banish the memory away.

"Nick, I asked if there is a specific reason for that!"

He shrugged. "Lacroix isn't big on mortal holidays, and besides, with my…being what I am, it is kind of hypocritical to celebrate something I turned my back on." He closed his eyes briefly to avoid Natalie's gaze and expression at his words.

"You haven't turned your back on anything, Nick," she whispered. "That much is obvious."

Nick took a deep and calming breath, not really believing it was as obvious as she claimed, but said, "Okay, I'll go inside. I'll try to 'make merry,' but no promises."

"That's all I can ask for."

=) =) =)

Nick followed Natalie around as she worked her way to the refreshment table. She poured herself a cup of red punch and handed it to Nick before pouring another. At Nick's grimace, she slipped her arm through his and insisted, "It won't kill you. At least try it and look like you enjoy it. It'll be the only Christmas present I'll ask from you this year."

For what seemed like the millionth time that night, Nick sighed. He brought the cup to his mouth, and his nostrils flared as he smelled the fruity concoction. He almost pulled the cup away from his lips until he saw Natalie's insistent look. He poured a little into his mouth and closed his eyes as he forced himself to swallow without spitting the drink back up.

"Now, that wasn't so bad, was it?" asked Natalie as she pulled him across the room to Tracy who was standing next to her father and Captain Reese.

"And, speaking of the devil," Reese said, slapping Nick's back as they reached them.

Commissioner Vetter placed the cup he was holding in his right hand in his left, wiped his right hand on his pants leg, and extended it. "Yes, Captain Reese's Golden Boy."

Nick shook it as his eyebrows rose in surprise.

Tracy laughed and said, "He's only kidding. You're his Golden Boy, too."

Commissioner Vetter smiled as he nodded and said, "I really do appreciate you taking my daughter under your wing and taking care of her. I know there have been some unfortunate mishaps in that job, but trust me, I know she is entirely to blame."

"Dad," whined Tracy.

Nick glanced at Tracy and said, "It's no problem. Tracy is a good partner, and I don't have to look after her anymore than I did Schanke." To himself, he thought, "Okay, that might be a little fib." But, he knew his statement had been appreciated as Tracy beamed a smile at him and punched him lightly in the arm as she exclaimed, "Thanks, partner!"

"You're welcome," he answered as he felt a little tingle run down his spine. He glanced quickly at Nat, handed her his cup, and said, "If you could excuse me." He headed to the back of the room and went back outside.

Nat shook her head and sighed.

=) =) =)

Nick glanced at the sky as soon as he walked outside. A moment before, a vampire had been in the vicinity. He no longer felt whoever it was, but his or her aura was still in the area. He walked farther to the water and looked in both directions—he didn't see anything. "Maybe he or she was just passing by," he whispered to himself. He was about to turn around and go back inside when he heard a whimper and someone yell "No!"

Quickly, Nick ran to the side of the building before taking to the air. At the nearby West Pier, he saw a black figure hunched over another. He quickly flew down and grabbed the vampire off the mortal.

"This is none of your concern, de Brabant," the vampire spat, as they saw each other's faces.

Nick looked at the vampire before him and was sure he had never seen him before. "I don't know who you are," he answered, "but you're hunting on my grounds."

"Your grounds?" the vampire laughed.

Nick stood there firmly and stared at the vampire.

"You have no claim here," he spat, walking back toward the woman.

"Regardless of what you believe," answered Nick, cutting him off, "there is no dispute that you were making a kill in the vicinity of multiple humans to witness." He flung his arm, indicating the city behind them. "The Council would not think so highly of it."

The other sneered and replied, "You're a fine one to threaten me with the Council." He rushed forward to grab Nick, but Nick was older and, therefore, faster. He threw the younger one behind him into a tree.

The vampire was dazed but stated, "You win, de Brabant. It doesn't matter. I got what I wanted from her." He glanced back at the heap closer to the water and smiled before zipping away.

Nick watched as the vampire took the air before walking over to the girl. One glance at her pale face told him he had been too late. He shook his head angrily as he thought about the life that had been cut too short. She looked to be in her late-twenties or early-thirties, barely enough time to have really begun living.

Nick bent down beside her, trying to decide what he should do. Should he call it in and let the authorities help her, or should he simply take care of the body himself? Her heart was still beating, but it was slowing significantly. It would be a matter of seconds before it stopped, so there was no means of saving her life. "I'm sorry," he whispered to her, deciding that he at least owed her a proper burial with her family and friends present.

He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out his cell phone. Before he could even dial, he felt the presence of the earlier vampire approaching at a high rate of speed. Nick turned his head and bared his fangs at the intruder before trying to get to his feet. He wasn't quick enough since the vampire had built up his speed from a distance. The vampire slammed into Nick with a sharp tree branch in his hand.

The vampire had been aiming for Nick's heart, but Nick had moved in time to grab the offending wood with his hand. His hand scraped against the unforgiving bark which caused many lacerations as he tried to stop its motion. When he finally succeeded, he ripped the blood-covered stake from the vampire and used it to pierce the attacker's heart. "I warned you," hissed Nick as he drove it deep.

He let the vampire fall, and he looked back at the woman at his feet behind him. "Oh, no," he gasped as he noticed her face had several splotches of blood running down it…and her throat was moving.

=) =) =)

Nick stared at the woman who was lying on several blankets and pillows he had placed before the fire in his loft. "It's done," he mind stated, "There's nothing you can do about it, now. It wasn't your fault."

He had been repeating the same lines to himself since he brought the woman home an hour earlier. There was no way he could call the authorities now, and he couldn't kill her because she hadn't done anything to deserve it, yet. After all, she *was* the victim.

Nick walked back to his couch, sat down, and buried his face in his hands. "What am I going to do with her?" he questioned himself. Whether he liked it or not, he realized she was his responsibility. He had killed the vampire responsible for all of this, so the vampire couldn't look after her (Like Nick would have let that happen, anyway), and the slight tingle at the back of his neck told him it wasn't the younger vampire's blood she had swallowed on the pier, anyway…it was his.

"A fledgling," he murmured as he got to his feet and started pacing. He had tried to make a few others in his past, but for the most part, he either took too much blood or if he was successful, he would end up killing them because they were too evil. He didn't have a good track record with fledglings. "Maybe I should kill her now to spare us both the pain," he thought, but as he looked at her, he knew he couldn't. It would be murder, murder without cause, and he was loathed to do it.

He walked back to the woman, feeling through the tenuous bond that they shared that she was about to wake and that she was very hungry. He picked up a bottle of blood off the table, pulled the woman into a sitting position, rested her back against his knee, and poured the blood into her mouth. She came alive, grabbed the bottle, and held it for herself. After draining the bottle, she dropped it to the ground and looked at the only other person in the room.

"Where am I?" she questioned.

"You're in my home," answered Nick. "What is the last thing you remember before waking here?"

The woman brought a hand to her forehead as she pulled away from Nick and tried to remember. "I was taking a stroll on the pier. I wanted to go when there were no crowds, and my friend Lisa told me to go at night even though I wouldn't be able to see anything, so I went a little before sundown." She shrugged and then pulled her legs up to her chest to wrap her arms around them. "I remember staring at the high-boats when a man—but he wasn't a man—grabbed me. I ran…but he caught up with me." She reached for her throat and felt the two little holes that had not healed, yet.

She turned fearful eyes to Nick as he stood and walked a short distance away from her.

"I don't remember seeing much after that, but I remember your voice. You told him he was hunting on your grounds, and I knew you started fighting shortly after that. I could hear the struggle." She put her forehead on her knees and cried, "I feel so strange. What is happening to me? Why aren't I in the hospital?"

Nick knelt beside the woman and touched her shoulder softly. "It's hard to explain. You probably won't believe me at first, but the truth will become apparent soon enough."

She lifted her head and stared at him desperately. "And, what truth is that?"

With a deep breath, Nick answered, "You were bitten by a vampire…and that is what you now are."

=) =) =)

Nick didn't expect the laughter that erupted from the woman, but he knew she was hardly joyous or finding the situation amusing.

When the laughter was finally tempered, she wiped her eyes, taking no note of the blood now on her hands, and said, "You've got to be kidding me."

Nick stood back up and answered, "I'm afraid it's true. You're a vampire…and so am I."

The woman continued to stare at Nick as he opened his mouth and showed her his fangs. She immediately gasped and closed her eyes. "A Halloween toy," she shouted to herself. When she reopened her eyes, she gasped again as she looked into Nick's eerily glowing green eyes.

"These aren't toys, and neither are yours," he replied as he watched her bring her fingers to her mouth and touch the fangs now present.

"Oh, my God," she whispered. As she continued to touch her fangs, she suddenly doubled over in pain and laid on the ground clutching her stomach. "What's happening?" she yelled.

Nick ran to the refrigerator and grabbed another bottle of blood. "Here," he answered, carrying it to her. "You need more blood. The vampire who attacked you drained your body."

Nick watched vigilantly as she once again sat up and emptied the bottle. She handed it to him and then rubbed her stomach. "It helped, but something's not right. That's not quite…what I wanted," she whispered.

"It's cow's blood," he answered. He knew the conversation was inevitable, so he decided to have it now. "I think you currently desire human blood, but I don't drink it. I was hoping you…" He was cut off from his asking her to join him in this diet.

"Will I always feel this horrible if I drink cow's blood?" she cried. "I feel so empty."

"Empty?" he questioned. Cow may not soothe his cravings, but it did stop the immediate hunger. "What do you mean?"

The woman cried and replied, "I feel dead inside. I feel…" She waved her arms, not knowing how to explain it.

And, suddenly, Nick knew. Even though she could live without it, he knew what she wanted—she only received a small amount of his blood when she was brought across. His blood was not coursing through her body in this early stage. Even though she could feel him as her master (though she probably couldn't give it a name), he had not bitten her and his blood was not there to comfort her, to allow her to feel something, anything. Cow did not provide many feelings to help her cope with this problem.

He sat beside her on the floor and tried to decide what he should do. She could live without it, but it would be a torturous and miserable way to begin her new life as a vampire, especially since things definitely didn't get any better. His decision made, he offered her his wrist.

She looked at him confusedly. "What?" she questioned.

"Bite me in the wrist," he explained. "Drink from me. See if that helps."

The woman looked at the wrist before her, took it, and brought it to her lips, but quickly shook her head before she bit. "I can't do this," she stated.

"It is our way," replied Nick, shocked at hearing himself say something Lacroix had said to him constantly in their beginning years together.

She looked back at his wrist and once again brought it to her mouth. She breathed deeply through her nose to prepare herself and marveled at the smell that suddenly overwhelmed her. She knew what it was—it was his blood, and it was what she was craving. She looked into the man's eyes as she bit into his wrist.

Both vampires immediately closed their eyes at the intimacy of the feeding. She instantly felt unbelievably warm and protected, and she recognized it was because of this man that she felt that way. She could read some of his inner thoughts, but most were rushing by too quickly for her to comprehend: She knew he was worried about teaching her properly and being able to have a "fledgling"—whatever that was—in this life. Just as she was about to release his wrist, she caught a glimpse of a feeling that warmed her even more. He was enjoying the bite, even though he felt like he shouldn't. She pulled her teeth out of his wrist and licked the wounds until they stopped oozing. She was surprised to see when he pulled his wrist away from her that the wounds were already healed.

"My name is Nick," he said suddenly. "What's yours?"

She smiled shyly and replied, "Ashley."

Hope you enjoyed it thus far!