Natalie hefted the groceries in one arm, as she placed the key in the lock. The door creaked open before she could slide it home. The groceries fell from her grasp, a dull thud echoing on the floor. A tall dark figure stood leaning against her refrigerator in the dark kitchenette.

"Natalie." It was Nick, but his voice wasn't as placid and smooth as she was accustomed. He was speaking in the rough tone that, if he were human, she might have thought he'd smoked half a carton of cigarettes before he showed up at her apartment.

Her groceries lay forgotten on the floor as she approached him; slowly, as if gentling a wounded animal. "Nick, what's wrong?"

His voice was soft, raspy. "I tried, Nat. It's not enough anymore." He growled, clearly angry with himself. "Janette's tried to help me. But it's not enough. It's never enough." His eyes, his glowing fearsome vampire eyes, met hers. "I need you. I need..."

He stalked toward her, and she instinctively backed away until the back of her knees hit the arm of the couch. She knew the Raven had numerous drinks on tap, any of which could be altered to appeal to a vampire's palate, and she had seen what Nick could be like after a night of heavy drinking. "Nick, are you drunk?"

His laugh was humourless. "No, Natalie. I'm more sober than I've ever been in my life." As she dropped onto the couch, he followed her and sat beside her. "I figured it out. I know what it means now." His fingers traced along her jawline, before his hand pressed flat against her throat - not enough to hurt her, only to stay her. "Don't move."

He leaned in to the exposed side of her throat and inhaled her scent. The aroma of apple shampoo/Dove soap/Natalie's skin assaulted his senses. Trembling, he placed his lips against her pulsing jugular.

Almost against her will, Natalie relaxed in his grip. When had the world tilted so she'd lay on the couch, with her legs around him? Her heart pounded in her chest, but not from fear. She could never be afraid of him, no matter how foolish that made her.

Oh, how she had fantasized about him puncturing her soft flesh with those sharp, deadly teeth and taking her into himself, savouring every drop of her! A moan was torn from her lips. "Oh, Nick..."

He was panting heavily, his lips leaving the column of her neck with great difficulty. He groaned as he laid his head on her chest. "I can't..."

She made gentle hushing noises as she ran her hands through his hair. She didn't know what had brought this on, but she needed to make things clear in her mind... even if Nick's wasn't. "Nick, what happened tonight?"

"This case... it got to me."

Natalie murmured a wordless acknowledgment. The notion of a doctor taking on her patient's illness being a hazard of the job made Natalie more uncomfortable than she cared to admit. She didn't want to think about what that might mean for her, personally, though she knew she and Nick had passed the doctor/patient professional distance some time ago. "Go on."

"I.. went to see Janette after. She... let me feed from her, but... it wasn't enough." There was a pause, before he added, his voice barely audible to her human ears, "She's not you."

She wanted to yell at him, demand to know why he'd jeopardize the potential for a cure by going back to his old vampiric behaviours... but he was too vulnerable and on edge tonight. He needed sympathy rather than judgment, so she kept her council. "When you say that you need me," she asked, her tone gentle. "What do you mean?"

He growled softly. "I mean this." He kissed her forcefully, cutting off the gasp she uttered as he ground his erection against her. Then, just as suddenly, he released her and sat up. "I.. shouldn't have done that. I'm sorry. I'll go now."

He looked so thoroughly miserable that she couldn't help but pity him a little. But he was retreating from her now, putting distance between them and re-erecting the walls. She sat up quickly and grabbed him by the lapel of his coat before he could stand. "No. You don't have to leave." His gaze dropped to her hand on his coat, and he gently grasped her fingers as she added, "Stay with me."

The logical part of her brain screamed at her, what the hell are you doing?! But the logical part could just go to hell. He needed this, yes, but it wasn't just him. They both needed it.

She stood without releasing her hold on his lapel. "Come on. Take off your coat and stay awhile." She helped him shrug out of it, emptied the pockets, then tossed it onto the opposite arm of the sofa once she found her quarry.

His handcuffs.

Placing them on the coffee table, she helped him remove his gun holster, gently propping it against the sofa arm where his coat now lay. He was watching her closely, the unblinking gaze of an apex predator, as she reclaimed the handcuffs.

"Put your arms behind your back," she ordered. She didn't realize her voice could sound so... husky and seductive.

"What are you doing?" His voice was a deep, almost demonic growl.

"Shh. No questions, no worries. Just relax." He grunted and obediently placed his hands behind his back, as she continued, "I need you to sit on the vampire and not move. Just think of this as a physical reminder of the control I need to see from you." The handcuffs clicked into place around his wrists with satisfying twin snickt noises. "Just focus on those. But don't break 'em-you'll need 'em for work tomorrow."

He nodded.

"Good boy. Now don't move." She smiled and kissed him, tenderly at first. Then with increased pressure and varying placement. She rained kisses all over his face, then her lips began to travel to his neck.

"Nat..." His tone was one of warning.

"Don't move," she repeated, a little more severely this time. Her hands found their way to the buttons of his shirt, and began opening them. As skin was revealed, her lips followed, peppering kisses, licks and nibbles over the pale flesh. She kept a keen ear trained on his responses-a quiet moan let her know she was on the right track, as her fingers traced the firm musculature of his torso.

She backed away from him, and began to remove her own clothing. She was by no means skilled in the fine art of the striptease, but she figured that moving more deliberately than usual might draw his attention. She was correct in her deduction, as he eyed her hungrily, licking his lips as she pulled off her shirt and then her bra.

He growled as he stared at her breasts. She decided to gratify him with a taste, straddling his lap and pulling his head to her breast. She ran her hands through his soft blonde curls, luxuriating in the silky feel of his hair, as he kissed and licked the delicate flesh of her breast. A shiver went through her as his teeth briefly clamped onto a nipple and began to suck it, the resulting jolt of electricity arrowing straight to her groin.

Suddenly an animal hunger roared inside of her, and she grew frustrated at the pace she had chosen. Quickly, she pulled his head away from her breast-the growl this time was an annoyed hey, I wasn't done yet!-and immediately grasped his erection, before unbuttoning his fly. She gently pulled his cock out of his briefs, her hand running along the length as her lips connected again with his.

Too soon for his liking, her hand left the length of him-but only long enough to lift her skirt and push the crotch of her panties aside. She quickly guided the tip of his cock to her entrance and slowly lowered herself onto him, giving herself a moment to adjust while taking him into herself.

He snarled. "God, Nat! You're so tight!"

She groaned as she gently released him, then slapped her hips down on his. Holy shit, he felt so big inside of her!

Together they found the rhythm that was satisfying for the both of them, and she clung to him as he thrust up into her. "Kiss me," she demanded in the rush of an exhaled breath. When he complied, she thrust her tongue into his mouth, teasing the sharp fangs that were now extended, before impaling her tongue on one.

The taste of her blood in his mouth was enough to spark his orgasm. His hips slamming again against hers was enough to send her following him into that precipice. It wasn't the slow steady seduction that she might have once imagined their first time might be, but quickies could be satisfying too. After all, they'd been waiting for years-that was more than enough foreplay for anyone.

What mattered was how perfect it felt having him inside of her, how deliciously right it felt.

She looked into his eyes. "Feel better?"

He grinned, the roguish quality of the expression sharpened by glowing eyes and the tips of his fangs. "Much." There was a brief motion behind his back, and he dropped the handcuffs into her hand. Natalie's eyebrows quirked in amusement when she realized he'd Houdini'd his way out of them. "You mind if I spend the day?"

"Only if you promise to stay with me for the rest of my life."

He smiled and dropped an affectionate kiss on her lips. "Always."