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                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. Tracy and Vachon also survive. This story may be archived wherever by whomever.  Wade Everett, a new detective is temporarily assigned to the 96th and Nick; he's found out what Nick is.

RECONSTRUCTION (follows Emancipation)

Meanwhile back at the ranch [at the Raven]

Oh, show me the way to the next whiskey bar,
Or surely I must die.
--Alabama Song, Bertoldt Brecht

            "Hi, Guy (Ghee), drained any good victims lately," Wade smiled at the young vampire.

            Guy looked at him and said, "You know, I've learned a lot of control in the past few weeks, months, whatever, but I suppose I could always slip and have to drain a smart-mouthed, and somewhat obnoxious, tall, thin, blond guy."

            "Oh. Uh, sorry Guy. Has it been hard?"

            " 'S not easy. Becoming a vampire, dying, so to speak, for some fresh blood, and not being able to do that, and then the 'lessons' from M. LaCroix. It's been intense, Wade, so lighten up a little. A year or so ago I was looking towards being an English professor. Geez."

            "I'm sorry, Guy; I just didn't think about how hard it might be for you."

            "Ah, don't worry about it. Hey! I got back into the U. I can pick up more courses and work towards my degree."

            "Well, that's good news. What're you studying?"

            Guy looked at Wade and said slyly, "Paranormal Psychology."

            Wade laughed and said, "Excellent. And you said it with a straight face. Hey, you'll do o.k., kiddo."

            Mikloš approached the two. Guy started to leave, but Mikloš stopped him with, "Wait, Guy. Talk to you both. Guy, can you handle being assistant night-manager?"

            "Uh," Guy said in surprise, "gee, I'd like to, that'd be great, but . . . ."

            Wade said, "He's just got accepted back in college, Mikloš."

            Mikloš said, "That works. Be after close." He turned to Guy and said, "You go early evening classes and after come here, clean place, schedule James and Bobby, and keep on track. Work for you?"

            "Yeah, yeah, that'd be great, Mikloš."

            "Good, done. Start tonight. Go now." Guy left them to themselves

            Wade looked at Mikloš, "How long are you going to keep that fake accent going?"

            Mikloš turned to Wade, "As long as it works, Wade. Look, this home you and Nick have going for wayward vampires is getting a little out of hand."

            "Ah, yes, but I promise there won't be any more and they've all been helping around here and earning their keep."

            "That's not the point. With the Bobbsie twins guarding Nick or Nick's place most of the time, I need more help here than I'm getting. I never realized how much M. LaCroix handled until I had to start doing it all myself. And, Nick is no help, can you do anything?"

            Wade replied, "You know you're really cute when you get all frustrated and eloquent –"

            "Monsieur Detectif!!!"

            "Sorry, sorry," he laughed. "And, yes, I'll get Fric and Frac detailed back to the Raven. With Lucius in Rome for the foreseeable future, we won’t need the advanced guard detail. And do keep up the fake accent with everybody else." Wade chuckled.

            "Ah, keedough, Ah poot on ze fonie ahksent to keeb eberyboody guessing. I've told you that before. The interesting thing is that most of these vampires should know I can speak any of a dozen languages as well as they can, but they hear that fake French or Slavic, and they just turn off their minds as far as the 'help' is concerned, and I pick up an awful lot of intelligence."

            "Yes, you do. And, thank you. Please keep it up."

            "But I need to have Nick stick his head in here more frequently. I need checks signed, invoices, ah, the whole business matter. Plus, Nick's the titular head of the community with LaCroix gone, and he needs to make at least an appearance."

            "Well," Wade said, "I could try guilting him into it –"

            "Oh, sure, that'll work, why didn't _I_ think of that –"

            "Now, now, be nice. I know, guilt won't work on him, so I'll just use my blazing, bright, ineffable personality on him."


            "I bug him till he shows up. Also, look, you're making Guy your assistant, how about your becoming the full-out manager of the place?

            "Would that mean I could sign the checks, hire and fire, and so on?


            "You can do that? Well, that's direct. Yes. It would help, how would you do this?"

            "I'll get Nick to sign his power-of-attorney over to you. He won’t ever use it, and you, it seems, need it. If and when the Monsieur returns, I suspect that he would like to find an operating, if not profitable establishment. Nick may solve crimes, but as a businessman his chief strength is finding good people to work in his place."

            "You think I'm good people, Wade?"

            Wade looked at Mikloš in surprise, "Well, yes, of course, Mikloš."

            "Oh, o.k.   Would you like to stay a while and have a . . . drink with me?"

            "Oooh, Mikloš, you say the sweetest things."

            "Do you have your 'cuffs, by the way?"


            "Yeah!" Mikloš smiled with his fangs dropped fully down.

            "You know that I've sort of seen a lot of the Monsieur," Wade added.

            "Um. He's not in the country, is he," Mikloš said as a statement, not a question.

            "Uh, no, he isn't. Hmmmmm," Wade said tossing his handcuffs up and down in his hand as he watched Mikloš go towards the room's back exit. He followed.

            Much later, Nick and Wade were sitting at a booth at the Raven.

            Nick asked Wade, "You think Mikloš can handle it?"

            Wade looked exasperated at Nick, "How long have you known the guy? Yes. He can. You also know you can't, or at the very least, you don’t want to."

            "Well, you got that right."

            "So, Mikloš handles the Raven, and the General is in Rome. You know what this means, don't you?"

            "Knowing you, I'm afraid to ask."

            "It's simple, at least for the time being, you don’t have to bear that cross and you won’t have to bear La Croix! ;-)

            "Hey, don't growl at me!"

            Nick put his hand to his forehead, "Arrrggghhh!"

* * * * * 

At Nick's Loft:

"Whom are you?" he asked, for he had been to college.
Well, who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
I really wanna know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
-- Who Are You, The Who

            “I don’t know,” Nick said to Natalie, “He’s definitely an interesting guy and has a lot on the ball, including medical skills, but you know that.”

            “It seems like he can speak almost any language that I can, which is a very large number. It makes me wonder if he’s telepathic.”

            “Are you serious?” Natalie replied. “I know he’s medically qualified, he's got all his EMT, CPR, certificates. Sometimes he seems like a bright little boy who does things just because he can.”

            “That sounds like it might be right," Nick said. “You’ve never ridden with him driving. He joked about learning at LeMans, but truthfully? I wouldn't be surprised if he had. I know from watching him drive that he’s had advanced training."

            "Didn't you tell me that he told you he took that course?" she asked.

            “You asked me once if he were part vampire. Well, sometimes I think he might be, but then he doesn’t register on the vampire radar. Seriously though, some of the things he pulls off would make you wonder if he’s completely human.”

            Natalie laughed lightly and said, “That’s what he said about you. I think that’s how he figured out what you are in the first place.”

            “Well, yes. So, what is he? Superhuman, a demon, an alien, a fairy – Don’t say it!”

            "Maybe he's just competent," Natalie said.

            "O.k. I suppose I shouldn't be so suspicious. He's not a demon, he's not a wizard, and I know he's not a vampire."

            "Alright, Nick, but what's your point?" Natalie asked.

            "What I'm getting at is that while I can believe he's really talented, he's also quite capable of being as manipulative as LaCroix. "It's like he's orchestrated our romance – "

            "— More like he just pushed you toward a commitment –"

            "— yeah, well, he's got me in counseling –"

            "— recognizing that you are prone to depression –"

            "— and growing apart from LaCroix –"

            "— growing up is more like it! –"

            "Nat! I'm trying to show how he's manipulating us!"

            "Maybe he is, Nick, but it looks like he's really just doing the job he was trained and hired for."

            "Nat, he's even got LaCroix mellowing out."

            "Like that's a bad thing? Nick, it just shows how capable he is. If he were evil, something would have shown by now, don't you think? And, if he were some sort of extra-terrestrial, wouldn't that Isidris have spotted that?

* * * * *

            “You know, you could just ask him,” Natalie said, "You know him well enough by now that he'd probably answer you. And with your vampire hearing and sensing his heartbeat, you're a living lie detector anyway."

            “Hmmph. Yes, but what do I do when someone tries to corner me? Right. Would you expect him to be any less cagey?”

            “Maybe not. But then, one, he's not you, and two, he might be more open to you. Anyway, thank goodness you're both one of the good guys.”

Speak of the Devil

One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can't be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil walking next to me
-- One Night in Bangkok, Murray Head

            The loft door buzzer went off.

            Nick walked over to the viewscreen, and turned to Natalie and said, “Speak of the Devil.”

            Into the intercom he said, “Hi, Wade. C’mon up.” And he pressed the door release buzzer.

            A few seconds later, Detective Wade Everett walked into the Loft. “Hi, Natalie,” he said, and nodded to Nick, “Nick.”

            “We were just talking about you,” Nick said.

            “Good things, I hope,” Wade added, with a grin as he walked over to the couch to sit.

            “Actually we were wondering if you were actually human.”

            “Nick!” Natalie said with distress.

            “Yeah, Nick. You might offer me a drink first.” He smiled and looked at Nick innocently, then he turned to Natalie and said, “Have you ever noticed that his parlor manners are sometimes lacking?”

            Nick apologized about the drink, offered one, which was accepted.

            “Aren’t you interested as to why I am here?” Wade asked.

            “Uh, yeah, I guess that would be a good thing to know. I assume that you weren’t just driving by and decided to drop in.”

            “Right, I was over at the 25th and got a call to come in to the 96th. Some big deal of some sort – maybe the Queen’s visiting – I figured I could just pick you up here. You're only a couple of blocks from the 25th.

            “Which reminds me: if you live so close to the 25th, why do you work at the 96th? Ah, listen to me, never mind, it’s not really any of my business, is it? Is it?”

            Nick laughed, “No, probably not. When do we have to be in? You don’t look like you’re terribly concerned.”

            “We’ve got an hour."

            “Good. So, are you human?”

            Wade tilted his head at Nick and raised one eye-brow.

            “If I weren’t, would I tell you?” Wade said, highly amused. “I could say the same thing about you, you know, but I’ve already said that I believe you are, if only a separate variety.”

            “Point to Wade,” Natalie threw in.

            Wade asked, “Does it matter to you? You sound a little more serious than usual about this.”

            Nick said, ”It’s a matter of trust. What I’ve learned from Tracy’s experience is that I have to be more open, especially if I expect it from others. Although, it’s difficult when the mere knowledge of our existence can be a death threat.”

            “Two points to Nick,” said Nat.

            They both glanced at Natalie and Wade said drolly, “Good thing someone’s keeping score. We may need to know later.”

            “You haven’t answered the question though,” Nick reiterated.

            “No, I haven’t.” Pause.

            More pause.

            “O.k., I suppose you want me to."

Are You Serious?

            "Hmmmmm. First, are you actually serious? We've worked together for, what, a year, year-and-a-half? And, you can check my pulse, blood pressure, and so on, what does that tell you?

            "You know, I'm beginning to get a little steamed that you would even ask such a question. You've tasted my blood, man! I've given you my blood! Think about that.

            "On the one hand, I can appreciate your asking me directly, but on the other hand . . . . Sheesh, Nick, c'mon. I'm hurt that you'd even think it.

            "Ah, no. No, I'm not hurt – disappointed." He sighed. “Look, I’m just your run-of-the-mill -- well, maybe not run-of-the-mill --, over-achieving, multi-talented genius with 100% eidetic memory and kinetic recall. At least I think that's it. I disremember. Oh, yeah, humble, too!”

            “That simple, huh?”

Don't Bring Me Down!
Don't bring me down, no no no no no,
I'll tell you once more before I get off the floor
Don't bring me down.
--Don't Bring Me Down, ELO

            "Yeah, that simple. Sheesh! Now, as to whether I'm human or not is actually beside the point. You don't really care about that. What you want to know is how do I do the things that I do and do them so well. Let me tell you, it's because I'm smart, talented, and I work my butt off.

            You want to know if you can really trust me, or do I have my own agenda. Yeah. You can, but I do have an agenda. You have one, too, but mine doesn't conflict with yours.

            But what is it really? And, does it matter to you? Well, learn to deal with some unknowns, it's none of your business frankly.

            Where am I coming from? I'm nosey, but being a counselor allows me to stick my nose into things, and to mess around a little if I think it's appropriate. You don't like it? Tell me. Otherwise: tough!

            I like you. I think you're a great guy. If you want to pursue the chimaera of being mortal and human, fine, but I'm not gonna let you off the hook that easy. It doesn't matter whether you're human or not, immortal or not. What matters is that you do the right thing. If you live 10,000 years – well, it's too bad if you aren’t happy for all that time, but, you damn well better practice at being the best human you can. And, to heck with your 'disability'.

            Your 'disability'. Come talk to me when you learn to drive a car with your feet because you were born without arms.

            Come talk to me when you work two jobs, take care of a house, do extra sewing and baby sit, take care of your aging parents, worry about your mortgage, -- pah! all so your two kids can join the band in school, have those sneakers all the other kids have, and get off to school in the morning with a hot meal!

            Come talk to me when you're starving and you're just too damn tired to eat!

            Come talk to me because your life is so bitchin' awful 'cause you got an overbearing master who tries to control you but lets you off the hook and leaves you alone for decades even though he knows you're headed straight into disaster.

            Come talk to me when the man you love is dying and there's not a damn thing you can do about it, you can't even make him comfortable – his skin is so sore and weak that you can't even touch him!

            S**t! Don't come to me at all. Count yer f**king blessings, ya selfish git!"

* * * * *

            Wade turned, stomped to the lift door, threw it open, threw it closed, throwing it off its track, and stomped down the stairs.

            Nick stood there with his mouth open.

            Natalie looked at Nick and said softly, "I think we hit a nerve."

            Nick said, "Yeah."

            "Nick," she added, "don't just stand there; go after him!"

            "Uh, yeah," and he rushed to the stairwell.

            Wade was sitting at the foot of the stairs in the garage.

            "I have my limits, Nick," Wade said.

Flashback - Limitations

Nick thought back to the night, three or four years ago now, when LaCroix killed the museum curator in his loft. Drained her right in front of Nick. As famished as Nick was, this was the last (burning) straw. Nick picked up a piece of flaming wooden beam and threw it directly into LaCroix's chest. It struck the elevator door behind LaCroix; you could still see the burn marks on it.

Nick realized, as he thought LaCroix also did, that he might just as easily have killed LaCroix as not; it wasn't at that point for lack of trying. Nick had reached his limit, and both he and the older vampire were going to have to live with that limitation, or perhaps not live at all.

Maybe this was why LaCroix was absent from the scene for the following year.

*End of Flashback*

What Else Are We?

I've looked at life from both sides now.
--Both Sides Now, Joanie Mitchell

            Wade continued, "Ultimately, we all have our limits. But, understand this, for the most part I am exactly what you see. Sure, there are a lot of parts you don't see. Some I don't show, some aren't pertinent, some are none of your business. You're the same way.

            "Also, know this: I'm not sharing everything. Except! If it affects your work and my safety, I damn well will say something about it. Plus, my job had been to study you and make recommendations. Now I'm full time homicide, so that's not my responsibility anymore, but you've become a friend and I care for you. If you're sitting there miserable trying to drink your troubles into oblivion, I can say something. I just can't order you into counseling anymore. Hah! Maybe I ought to go back to I.A."

            Quiet silence.

            "Uh, Nick, that's your cue to say, 'No, no, Wade, that's alright'."

            "Can we go back upstairs, Nick. It's cold in here."

            Nick hits the codes for the elevator and they ascend back to his living quarters.


Turn and face the strange
Just gonna have to be a different man
-- Changes, David Bowie

            "Look, none of us are entirely what we seem, or present to the world."

            We act out our different roles in different and appropriate areas.

            You. You're a homicide detective. You're also a vampire. I understand you're pretty good on horseback as well, and you obviously paint. What other talents, abilities, curses have you got hidden?

            And you're also a sympathetic ear to most of your fellow officers because, since you've lived as long as you have, you've 'been there and done that' and can understand what they're going through.

            It may also be why you are so good at questioning suspects. Sure, you could 'whammy' them, but we both know we're just as apt to hear whatever it is they think we want to hear as it is that they're giving us the truth.

            "Me? I'm a homicide detective as well. Plus, I'm a Shrink. And, well, beyond that I'm a leatherman. Even you didn’t recognize me at one point.

            "Natalie is more than just a coroner, pathologist, and unofficial doctor to the dead –"

            "Thank you, I was beginning to think I'd been forgotten."

            Wade said to her, "Forget you, Natalie! Never!"

            He turned back to Nick, "But be it noted, Nick, that she is, as I as sure you are painfully aware, a living, breathing woman who, for god only knows what reason, is in love with –

            "Wait a minute! That's getting a little personal, don't you think?" she complained.

            "—with her work," Wade concluded, then he looked at her, winked and smirked, "What? Were you expecting me to say something else? Ha! Yes, you were, don't deny it. Neither of you. And you know on top of everything else, she's a cat person!" He winked at her again.

            "It's not that we hide these things, Nick, but in many cases, there's no need to bring them up. The main thing is that we often get preconceived notions of what our friends are like and we get surprised when we find out something about them that doesn't fit that assessment, like the fact that your partner and friend is a blood-sucking nocturnal fiend who'll blow up if he gets caught in the sunrise. Or that his partner is actually an accredited family counselor, psychologist type who's been hired to help him sort out some of the crap he's been going through. O.k.?

            "With any luck we act out roles appropriately. Hey, if nothing else, we'd either be getting an Oscar or we'd be the world's best con men.'

            "So, Natalie, what's your secret?"

            "Oh, I thought you knew. I'm the personification of Venus and I'm kicking you out because I need a couple of hours to give my knight-errant here the scoop on what I want him to do."

            "Ah, tragically, my goddess, that will have to wait 'cause we, your knight-errant and I, have to get over to the 96 th."

Temper, Guilt, Penance

(I'm sorry) I'm sorry
(So sorry) So sorry
Please accept my apology
--I'm Sorry, Brenda Lee

            On their way out, Nick spoke to Wade:

            "You broke the track on the lift door, you know," Nick said.

            "Well, there's a non-sequitor. I'm sorry. Get it fixed, send me the bill; you know I'm good for it," he said.

            "Yeah, I do. That's not the point. Do you know how strong you have to be to do something like that?"

            "Yeah, so?"

            "Wade, take a deep breath. Now, DO it!"

            He did.

            Nick asked, "I'm sorry if I upset you; you usually take things a lot easier. What's wrong?"

            Wade sighed. "My apologies, Nick. There's nothing really wrong, just a bit depressed at the moment. Hey, it happens to me, too. Anyway, it's nothing to worry about, I’ll get over it. See, I'm just like you."

            "To play the shrink on you for a change, you know that's not really an answer."

            "You want honesty? Remember you asked. The guy I've been dating is moving to Vancouver."

            "I thought you were, um, involved with—"

            "Your step-father? Ah, no. Look, I get around, I'm not celibate, but I don't lead anybody on, and I'm careful – safer sex and all that – but, no, he's enormously attractive, but, sheesh! No, this is a guy I've only been seeing for a couple of weeks, but he's – well, you don’t _really_ want details, do you?"

            "Uh, no, and really, thank you for asking," Nick said with an incipient grin on his face.

            Wade replied, "If you start laughing, I'll start eating garlic in your car!"

            "No, no, Wade! Not that! Anything but that!"

            "Oh, can it, you refugee from daylight," Wade said, "but you're smart enough to know when not to push, right?"

            Nick laughed and said, "Right."

            Wade continued with, "You said you were sorry about pushing me too hard. What are you going to do about it?"

            "Uh, what do you mean?"

            "I'm going to guilt you into doing something. If you're really sorry, just saying so doesn't cut it. You've got to show how you atone for it."

            "How about I drink three of Natalie's protein shakes a week?"

            "Oh, lordy, the sacrifice!"

            "Yeah, well, that's what I thought you'd say, so YOU suggest something."

            "Um, yes, that'll work."

Flashback – Crossing Over

Forever Knight Theme, Fred Mollin

Most of Nick's life had been penance for the past 500 years. He saw clearly in his mind's eye the comely, dark-haired wench on the other side of the inn's common room, hiding just behind a pillar or walled partition. She gazed at him, throwing a glamour on him, enticing him, she wanted him. He felt so desired that it was all he could do from taking her there on the spot.

            He found out soon enough that she was not what she seemed. Oh, she was gorgeous, she wanted him, but she wanted, and wanted, and wanted him, possibly forever. She was not what she seemed and now, neither was he.

            And, in addition, he had acquired a new father, and one who turned out to be more of a task-master than his birth father had been. Nick had spotted him before, but thought he was a relatively harmless scholar traveling to a university. It never occurred to him that LaCroix was the spider and that Janette was only the lure. (Dark Night, FK1)

End Flashback

            It occurred to Nick now that he needed to re-evaluate some of his prior assumptions and try to refrain from being overly judgemental.

            "So, can we get going now?" Wade asked interrupting Nick's reverie. "Oh, and leave the Caddy. I've got my ex's Lamborghini so we can go in style!"

            Nick just rolled his eyes.

            When Nick came out to get into the car, he looked at it and said to Wade, "You know that 'no va' means 'it doesn't go' in Spanish?"

            "Yeah, I've heard that," he said testily, "but the Lamborghini's in the shop." And he did have the good grace to at least grin a little.


Volunteers of America!, Jefferson Airplane
(Well, Canada, anyway)

            Nick and Natalie were talking later at the Morgue:

            "You're volunteering to cook in the local soup kitchen? Are you nuts?"

            "No. I do have an exquisite sense of smell, you know. And, I won't actually be cooking; I'm going to monitor the vendors on the quality of their goods. It’s my penance," he said sheepishly.

            He also told her that this was at Wade's insistence. Nick's punishment for Wade's losing it.

            "That doesn't seem fair. He's the one who lost his temper; so why should YOU be doing the penance?" she said.

            "Well, it seemed logical at the time." He laughed a little, "Hey, you don't suppose he whammied me, do you?"

            Nick & Wade were talking later:

            "Wade, did you just manipulate me into doing something for my 'own good'?"

            "Well, maybe. You could certainly read it that way. Of course, your step-father did this to you all the time. On the other hand, that would call for a very cynical predetermination on my part. I'm not that cynical. Plus I don't think I'm actually that good, but thank you for thinking it possible. All I did was to lose my temper, it happens, but then I took a look at that big lemon and figured out a way to make some lemonade with it."

            "It sounds soooo reasonable when you tell it," Nick said a little doubtfully.

            "Should I give you my lost little boy look?" Asked Wade.

            "Ah, no. Let us leave well enough alone," but he did smile slightly at that.

Flashback to Task Force – Group's Therapy

'Cause I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood
-- Eric Burdon and the Animals, Don’t Let . . . .

            "Hello, I'm glad you could all come today," Wade said. "I'd like to make some introductions, lay out some ground rules, and, well . . . I guess that would be about it, really." He smiled at the others seated in various spots around Nick's loft.

            . . . .

            "I've invited you all here to address the question of forming a sort of 'task force' to help Nick in his quest . . . .

            . . . .

. . . Some of you know that I'm more than just a homicide detective. I'm on the payroll of the Internal Affairs Division as a resident psychologist. My job [was] to go around ostensibly as a 'fill-in' person, but actually to observe, report, predict, and assess different people and situations. . . . (Group's Therapy, WD)

End Flashback

Back to the Morgue with Nick and Nat:

            "Yes. He could be being manipulative and just playing us, but if we all come out of it for the better, is that bad? You should lighten up, Nick."

            "Yeah, that is my problem, isn’t it? I can see the dark side of anything," Nick complained.

            "Right, 'Queer as Folk' is just a TV show that was filmed here in Toronto. It was NOT an American plot to destroy Canadian society." Natalie shook her head at Nick's naïveté.

            "Thanks, Nat, I needed that. Not!", but he chuckled.

Apologies – continuing the conversation in the morgue

It's too late to apologize, it's too late
I said it's too late to apologize, it's too late
--Apologize, One Republic

(Ah, it's NOT too late here)

            The Morgue:

            And, again speak of the devil, into the morgue comes the detective.

            "Hi, folk. I wanted to apologize again for losing my temper. I guess that I must be just a plain human, after all." Wade looked at both of them with his best I'm-just-a-little-lost-puppy look.

            Nick just looked at him; Natalie tilted her head and looked at him.

            "Um, yeah, well, o.k. I do tend to come on strong – I've told you that before – I'm not really trying to manipulate you. It's more I'm trying to get you to start making better choices and decisions. . . . o.k.?"

            Natalie finally laughed and said, "O.k. You are forgiven, now what's your penance going to be?"

            Wade opened his mouth in surprise, "You know about – uh, yeah, you would."

            She grinned even more and Nick looked at her with open admiration.

            "Well? 'If you're really sorry, just saying so doesn't cut it. You've got to show how you atone for it'."

            Wade gave Natalie a deep bow. "I am at your mercy, mademoiselle. I bow to your abilities, discernment, and discretion. I'm sure you will think of something appropriate."

            Nick's cell phone rang, he looked at it, punched a button on it and listened for a moment, and then said, as he walked out of the room, "Gotta take this, be right back."

            Natalie's Desk:

            This allowed Wade and Natalie have a private conversation at her desk:

            "By the way, just how many languages do you speak?" Natalie asked him.

            "Surely that's not my 'penance'." She nodded 'no'. "Two. English and French. And I studied classical Latin in college, plus I could probably muster enough Spanish and Italian so I wouldn't starve there."

            "Nick thought it was dozens."

            "Ha! Oh, that! I know what that is. He really does speak over a dozen languages doesn't he? No, I read faces. I don't know what these people are actually saying, but I can feel their discomfort, and just holding their hands loosely and, oh, a dozen other things. They just feel I'm a sympathetic soul. It's really just the same thing I do in an interrogation: make the perp feel comfortable enough to confide in me. I'm real good at 'good cop'."

            She smiled a small smile, "You've been doing that to Nick, haven't you? We are all lucky you didn't decide to become a conman".

            "Uh, yeah," he replied sheepishly, "but it's nothing dramatic! And he knows I'm doing it, too."

            Nick re-entered the room:

            "Look," Wade said, "anytime I come on too strong, or 'pompous', or arrogant, just tell me. I'll turn eight shade of red, apologize, and go hide in the corner for awhile." Wade smiled his best winning smile.

            "See, Nick," Natalie said, "that's the s-e-g, little boy grin you have!"

            "Well, that's all I had to say; and to be sure to tell you I'm not an angel!"

            "No need for that, Wade. That we already knew," Nick said benignly.

            "I'd better get out of here while I've got a chance. I feel a really bad pun coming on . . . Oh, heaven's to Betsy –"

            "OUT!" Natalie shouted. "Out! I've got work to do, and I am sure you two do too, so move it, the both of you."

            "Well, without your guidance, I'll just have to wing it!" :-)

            They both gave Natalie their best little boy looks and then hurried out the door before she could react.

            "You haven't got a prayer and you still owe me a penance!" she shouted after them.

            In the Parking Lot, outside the Caddy:

            "So, that's what the 'little boy s-e-g' looks like," Nick said to Wade.

            "No idea, never seen it myself," Wade said, innocently.

            "Yeah, right."

            "Well, no. I'd have to be looking in the mirror – although when you do it; well, I see what Natalie's talking about."

            "Gee, thanks."

            "You're welcome, think nothing of it," Wade said.

            "I wasn't," Nick stated.

In the Caddy:

            Wade got in the driver's seat.

            "Look, I am sorry that I lost my temper. I guess it's sort of like when you go into one of your funks," Wade said to Nick.

            "Ouch," Nick answered. "Are they that bad?"

            "Well, close. The real problem is that when you do go into a funk, you shut down and shut everyone out."

            "Ummm. Yeah, you're right."

            "But now that you know that you do that, the therapist says brightly! you know what to do to fix it!" Wade said.

            "O.k., o.k., slave driver! I'll work on it. If you work on your temper. And maybe your puns? Please?"

            "Right. It's a deal. So, to kill the time while we drive, start counting your blessings. That won’t make you go up in flames will it? I'd hate to see the upholstery get damaged."

            "The upholstery. Oh, you are so kind and caring. Whatever will I do after you've been drained!"

            "Ulp!" said Wade in mock fear. "Oh, oh, yeah, I know. I'll send my clone brothers after you."

            "You don't have any clone brothers!"

            "I'll get them, I'll get them! Now just put your fangs away."

On a Clear Night

On a clear day, you can see forever.
--On a Clear Day, Lerner and Lane

Meanwhile on another continent, far, far away . . . .

Sitting in a little trattoria just off the Apian Way, a middle-aged gentleman was nursing a tall champagne flute of deep red wine

It seemed that everyone's lives had been changed considerably by his enforced exile. This reconstituting, this reconsideration, this reconstruction of all things might be worth something. After all, one must not be bitter. Additionally, there were so many new things to contemplate.

He was enjoying the quiet of the evening. He was surprised that he did not miss the hustle and bustle of the bar business. Mikloš could handle the day to day running of the establishment as well as the best of them, better than most when one stopped to think of it. With the Internet availability, he could actually still broadcast his radio talk show, although the time difference made it tricky to do 'live'.

The most telling difference was the peace of mind that had settled in on him. He was not getting _old_, was he? No, a forced mellowing. It occurred to him, now that he had both the time to think about it and did not have the other distractions that had always plagued him, that after all this time – which was considerable, after all – he was actually able to relax and enjoy having no chores, duties, or responsibilities. Oh, he would not want this to last for any particular length of time, but for now, he could just sit back and contemplate things.

He could sleep during the day without waves of angst throbbing against his unconsciousness. For that, one could be grateful. Perhaps he ought to thank that busybody detective partner of his son's for breaking those psychic connections. If nothing else it would serious disconcert the young man and cause him no end of grief trying to figure out what the old vampire was up to. He chuckled at that thought.

His connection to his daughter was vague. If she were still alive, the direct connection would now have been through Nick since he tried to bring her back. He never actually knew if he had succeeded. Janette had almost always had a comforting mind; it was only when she allowed herself to get caught up in her brother/lover/spouse/fellow vampire's causes that that had been irritating or disturbing.

He chuckled to himself again. He thought how amusing it would be to find a 'cure' for his son, and then bring him back to the fold. What would the odds be of finding a cure which could be used only once? Oh, that would be delicious. Cruel? Well, probably, but cruelty was a component of life, was it not? Beside his son should have learned to accept his position in this unlife and not --

            He could feel his bile rising. It was good to know that he could still stir his juices if he wanted. Yes, he would have to look into some of these so-called cures to see if any could be adapted to this specific use. He smiled at the thought. He might exercise some direct control over his child yet again sometime.

            He wondered if he knew of yet another copy of that Abarat thing. He could practice bringing Lukilla over and back. He thought: Oh, Nicholas, how delicious would it be for me to know 'the cure' and you must needs get it from me.

His companion joined him. A sweet, young thing, physically similar to his wife of so long ago, but quiet and subservient. He had deliberately *not* brought her across – may the gods save him from having to raise yet another young vampire! – he was content to whammy her when necessary, which wasn't often since her inclination was towards stronger, senior men like himself. He fed sparingly from her, and, to his surprise, was growing rather fond of her.

In the meantime, he glanced at Lukilla's neck and the slight, but noticeable throb there. Remarkably, she knew what was happening and seemed to enjoy it even without the hypnotism. Now there was another thought worth pursuing. That other busybody in his son's life, that coroner, did not seem to mind his son's being a vampire. What was it with her? She must have liked Nicholas for who he was and not what he was or could do. Is that a life-style worth pursuing?

Yes, his life had been reconstructed and not along lines that he approved. He was a Roman general and aristocrat; it was his destiny to rule. But, this quietude was tolerable for the nonce.

He would have to give these thoughts some consideration later; for now, he took Lukilla by the hand and led her to their apartment and their bedroom. Just because it was night time and they would be in the bedroom, they need not sleep. No, not sleep at all.

            On a clear day, 
            how it will astound you
            That the glow of your being outshines every star.
            --On a Clear Day, Lerner and Lane