After the Impact

by Melissa Treglia

There's so much life I've left to live
And this fire is burning still

Natalie felt a chill go deep into her bones as she looked up at the nighttime sky. It would only be a few more days until the asteroid collided with Earth. For the millionth time, she found herself wondering how this could happen. Thinking about the perverse logic of it all. She didn't want to die; nobody did. The world was in a state of flux as it finally occured to the masses that this was not all just a terrible dream, but a very frightening reality.

She really didn't want to die. There was so much she wanted to do, so much she needed to accomplish. And less than a week to finish everything. She really didn't want to go; she loved life too much to let it just slip through her fingers like tiny grains of sand.

And now, after having finally mulled over the conversation she had had with Nick in the morgue about six weeks ago, she realized that he was right; there was no guarantee that a centuries-old vampire would be able to survive the disaster, much less a newly brought over one. The only guarantee was that many people, possibly the entire population of the world, would die. Whether it would be from asphyxiation from the toxins floating in the air, being incinerated by the explosion, being destroyed by the acid rain, freezing to death during the nuclear winter, becoming a starving vampire's last meal, or *being* the starving vampire, only time would tell.

She may not have a choice as to how much more time she'd remain alive, but at least she could choose how she'd rather die. She wanted to become a vampire so that she could spend her last moments loving the man who had come to mean everything to her. The man who was afraid of hurting her, of condemning her to an eternity of darkness... even if now, eternity meant just a week.

When I watch you look at me
I think I could find the will

That's why she, in a rare moment of complete intoxication, had foolishly dallied with a younger male vampire in the hopes that she would be brought across... a vampire whose name she didn't even know, a vampire she had no reason to trust. When Nick had plunged into the fray (through her bedroom window), he wasn't just trying to protect her, he was also clearly jealous. She realized that now. He did indeed love her very much, even though he had a strange way of showing it.

She sighed. She had spent years trying to cure him of his vampirism so that they could be together, the way two people in love should be. But obviously, such a thing was not to be. Nick had despised what he was for at least as long as she had known him. In a strange way, she understood his reluctance to bring her across. Why bring someone you love into a way of life that you yourself despise?

He thought of his vampirism as a curse, a fall from grace. Well, if that's really what it was (which her 20th Century mind told her it couldn't possibly be), then she'd happily burn in hell if that was the cost for being with the love of her life. Whatever it would take, she'd pay any price.

To stand for every dream
And forsake the solid ground
And give up this fear within

That was, truthfully, her only ambition now. To spend her remaining days with him. To die in his arms. She smiled at a moment of incongruous humour; since she would die anyway, she might as well die smiling.

Another chill racked her fragile body. She pulled the coat tighter around her tiny frame as she continued her walk through the park. Out of anywhere else in the city, including her own apartment, this was the most peaceful place to be. There was still a rather high probability that she could get attacked by a hungry vampire, but at least she didn't have to worry about being mugged. Nowhere in the world was really "safe" anymore, and governments across the world had long since given up trying to maintain order. Anarchy now ran rampant, completely unchecked.

"Nat?" A familiar voice behind her, calling her name. She turned, and saw Nick walking briskly towards her. Despite her weariness and her now chattering teeth, she managed to smile shyly as he approached. She had always been shy; numerous people, from high school onward, had even called her "mousy".

"What's the matter?" Nick must have been searching for her frantically. The relief in his eyes at finding her in one piece was palpable. His eyes were also glowing gold. Since now everyone knew about the existence of vampires, there was no reason to warn him that someone might notice the odd colour of his eyes. Idly, she wondered what people would think now, in this social climate, about a mortal woman in love with a vampire.

Of what would happen if they ever knew
I'm in love with you

Of course, there were still religious fanatics needlessly killing vampires, declaring the coming of the asteroid as the actual occurances depicted in the book of Revelations, and blaming vampires for provoking God's wrath... or some such nonsense.

Nick blinked, and the vampiric gold faded. Sometimes his eyes were as light as the daytime sky, as dark as an ocean abyss at others. Eyes that perfectly suited his enigmatic nature. His eyes were a darker blue now, but still with flecks of gold.

Without saying another word, he took off his jacket and wrapped it around her, over her coat. It wasn't much of a sacrifice for him because vampires never feel temperature in the physical way that mortals always do. But it was an appreciated effort, none the less. The extra layer of clothing made her feel a little warmer; warm enough to make her teeth stop chattering.

"Mind if I walk with you?" he asked, obviously hoping she wouldn't turn him down. She was briefly tempted to say no, but realized that petty behaviour was meaningless at this point.

So she said, "all right" with a soft smile, as if he were a small child that she was indulging at the moment. Children. Her throat constricted. All the children on Earth would die, and she'd die with them, never having had the chance to have one of her own. Nick must have been thinking something along the same lines, because he seemed very solemn and... almost forbidding. Mournful.

'Cos I'd surrender everything
To feel the chance to live again
I reach to you
I know you can feel it too
We'd make it through
A thousand dreams I still believe
I'd make you give them all to me
I'd hold you in my arms and never let go
I surrender

"What's wrong?" she asked, wondering why he sought her out as well as what he was really thinking at that moment.

Nick gave a short humourless laugh. "Everything." A sigh. "It's all perfectly horrid. The entire human race will be destroyed in a few more days, and we vampires will all starve to death." A long pause. "Schanke is at home with Myra and Jenny. He wanted to spend the last few days with the ones he loves." Then he added quietly, "so do I."

She looked up at him as he put his arm around her tiny waist. There was a moment of comfortable silence between them, then he spoke again. "I was thinking about what you told me awhile back in the morgue..." She mentally braced herself for an unpleasant revelation, and was stunned when he said, "and I think that, you were half right."

Natalie blinked in surprise. "I was?"

Nick sighed; this wasn't easy for him to admit: "The only way we can be together is if I bring you across. I don't want to, but I don't want to spend what time I have left regretting a chance that I didn't take."

I know I can't survive
Another night away from you
You're the reason I go on
And now I need to live the truth

"Natalie, I love you so much it scares me." That revelation both stunned her and touched her deeply. She stopped walking, and he turned to face her. For a long moment they stood there, gazing into each other's eyes. Knowing that they wouldn't have much longer just to look at each other.

She reached up to lay a hand against his cheek. He tenderly grasped her little hand in his larger one. It had long ago ceased to trouble her that his skin was colder than hers. What once had seemed so alien about him was now wonderfully familiar to her. She leaned against him, savouring the feel of his strong body against hers, even though they were separated by several layers of clothing. He held her close, his arms wrapped gently but firmly around her.

She closed her eyes briefly, fighting an onslaught of tears, and when she was able to open them again, she found herself in the loft. Nick was still holding her close, but he disengaged from the embrace long enough to help her out of his jacket and her coat. He tossed them both absently on the couch, and took her into his arms again.

"Make love to me, Nick," she pleaded softly, looking into his eyes, those deep pools she was so willing to drown in.

Right now, there's no better time
From this fear I will break free
And I'll live again with love

Nick nodded slowly, then leaned down to kiss her, his lips softly pressed against hers. Her knees buckled underneath her, and, held more tightly in his strong arms, she leaned against him. They continued to kiss, each one deeper and more passionate than the last. As they kissed, he pressed her against him, fitting her feminine curves to his masculine angles.

Then they were lying in bed together, with him on top of her and soft silk sheets underneath her. Natalie at once found herself admiring his self-control. He started slowly undressing her, savouring the physical contact of skin against skin. Taking pleasure in every inch of her body with his hands and lips.

And no they can't take that away from me
And they will see...

That I'd surrender everything
To feel the chance to live again
I reach to you
I know you can feel it too
We'd make it through
A thousand dreams I still believe
I'd make you give them all to me
I'd hold you in my arms and never let go
I surrender

Natalie closed her eyes and relaxed, enjoying the intimacy of the moment. With each one of his caresses, she responded with her own. He drank in the sight of her bare body beneath him, and quickly discarded his own clothing.

She opened her eyes and saw him, for the first time, in all his naked glory. Her eyes delighted at seeing everything. He seemed more handsome than she had imagined. Mother Nature had been terribly unfair to other men when She had created him. He had the strong muscular build of a young god of the Greek Pantheon, and he was certainly as well endowed. But she wasn't content merely to see him. She wanted to touch him, to know that this was real.

So she reached out with her own tender touch. She felt the coolth of his skin beneath her fingers, as they curiously wandered over him. She worshipped every part of him, and she fitted him to her like a sculptress creating a statue.

And she was delighted to discover that he could purr. He was purring now, a deep rumbling bass tone that sounded remarkably like a great lion. So delighted was she that she almost laughed, but stopped herself because she didn't want to ruin the magic of the moment.

They continued to caress and kiss each other, finding a sense of liberation in sharing a bed, and their bodies, with one another. For now, all was right with the world.

Every night's getting longer
And this fire's getting stronger baby
I'll swallow my pride
And I'll be alive
Can't you hear my call
I surrender all

His eyes took on that golden glow and his fangs extended. But what she saw wasn't a monster, but the man she loved. She stared deeply into his eyes and then tenderly kissed his lips, completely unafraid. He hungrily returned her kiss, and then - very slowly - entered her.

The pain was mild compared to the joy and sense of release she felt. She tilted her head back, exposing her neck to him. Slowly, gently, never forgetting his own strength, even at the height of his passion, he slowly sank his fangs into her neck.

Instantly, a flood of imagery washed over him. Memories of her painful childhood surfaced. The years of abuse inflicted upon her by an overbearing father and a domineering grandmother. The sense of worthlessness she felt because they had kept telling her she was just a girl, and would never amount to anything. How at puberty, when all the other girls were obsessed with boys and the latest look, she had made serious decisions about her life - career first, and no sex until the right man came along. Her single-minded pursuit of her career of choice, despite, or maybe because of, the rejection and disgust expressed by her family. The desire to prove herself to her father, to finally make her daddy proud of her.

Then he saw in her blood images of himself, the way she saw him. The overwhelming and sincere sense of love and devotion, and a private declaration that he was "the one". Her first love, her only love. To her, he was no monster, but an angel in disguise. She thought of him as strong, intelligent, sweet, mysterious and wonderfully old-fashioned, something that seemed to be lost on the few men she had dated. She admired him and adored him, and she'd risk anything for him. Up to and including her life.

I'd surrender everything
To feel the chance to live again
I reach to you
I know you can feel it too
We'll make it through
A thousand dreams I still believe
I'll make you give them all to me
I'll hold you in my arms and never let go
I surrender

Right here, right now
I'd give my life to live again
I'll break free - take me!
My everything
I surrender all to you

With blood tears in his eyes, he pulled away. The magnitude of her love for him was frightening. What existed between them, he realized, was bigger than the both of them.

A wave of relief washed over him when he realized he hadn't killed her, or turned her into a vampire. She was still her fragile mortal self, smiling shyly up at him, almost as if they weren't lying together, had never shared that moment. He lay down beside her, cradling her in his arms. In a few more days they would be separated from each other by death, never to hold or love each other again, forever and ever, world without end. Amen.

But, for now, let no man put them asunder.

*Fin*


A/N: The song is Celine Dion's "I Surrender", from her 2002 album A New Day Has Come.