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Cats Do Have Their Uses

Jan Wiles

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This story is a direct sequel to "Surgeon General's Warning".

It's best to read that one first. It's available on the FTP

site, or I can e-mail it to anyone who'd like it.

 

Many thanks to Rebecca McKenna, who is a superb beta reader.

Standard disclaimers, et al.

Comments, chocolates, whoopee cushions to janwiles@juno.com

Nick wearily flew into the loft with Natalie in his arms, having failed

to catch their prey. Dispiritedly, she tossed the stake in the corner.

 

"Sorry about losing Lacroix like that, Nat," Nick apologized.

"Unfortunately, flight speed is another one of those things that

increases with age," he sighed.

 

Natalie reassured him, "It's OK, Nick, I know you really tried.

The sun's coming up soon, though, and it won't do poor Sidney any

good for *you* to wind up as a crispy critter! Lacroix, now..."

Her eyes gleamed with malice as she imagined the master vampire

incinerated by the sunrise. Then she thought of something else.

"I'd better get home, fast. I don't know how quickly Sidney will

get hungry again, and I don't want him to go hunting - even in

the building. He might not stick to mice!"

 

Nick shuddered at the thought of a vampire cat hunting. "Go

ahead - but only if you're sure he won't hurt you." He sounded

worried.

 

"I'm sure it'll be all right, Nick. He didn't try to earlier,"

Natalie hastened to reassure him. "All I have to do is feed him

on a regular schedule, and things should be all right. Um...if

you don't mind...would you come over later and advise me on a few

things?" she pleaded.

 

"Such as?"

 

"Just what sort of blood Lacroix put in the fridge; how to get a

regular supply of it; what to do to keep Sidney from breaking out

to stalk the neighborhood poodles..." Natalie listed her

questions.

 

Nick said, hesitantly, "Nat, don't you think it might be better

to give Sidney a merciful death? There's so much potential for

disaster there!"

 

"NO! How can you say that?!?" Natalie exploded. "He may have a

terrible problem, but he's still my cat and I still love him!

How would you like it if I suggested giving you a 'merciful

death'?"

 

Nick backed down, quickly. "All right, all right, I'm sorry!

It's just...Nat, I never told you this, but around the turn of

the century I owned a dog, myself. His name was Raleigh and he

was a Rottweiler. He was a wonderful companion, until Lacroix

did the same thing to him as he did to Sidney. Raleigh couldn't

control the bloodlust, poor thing. He started killing people -

and I had to stake him."

 

"Oh, Nick, I'm so sorry!" Natalie calmed down immediately. "I

just can't bring myself to kill Sidney without even *trying* to

see if I can make it work, though. If...if I see ANY signs that

he's becoming dangerous, I'll call you right away, and you can do

what you think is necessary. Will that do?"

 

"I guess it'll have to," responded Nick. "Go on home, I'll see

you this evening, OK?"

 

Natalie was already thinking about Sidney again. "See ya, Nick,"

she said in a distracted tone, as she boarded the elevator.

 

****

 

When Natalie entered her apartment, Sidney was waiting patiently

for her, despite the hunger shown by his glowing, yellow eyes.

Natalie immediately set about the task of feeding him. It was

easier than last time, as she knew more about the quantity of

blood he needed. When she finished serving Sidney's meal, she

sealed the curtains tightly, and headed off to sleep.

 

As soon as she was in bed, Sidney leaped up beside her and

cuddled close. Again, she was reminded of his changed state when

she felt the unnatural coolness of his body. Nonetheless, she

reached out to stroke the soft fur. "I still love you, little

guy. I know this is weirder than anything else in your life, but

we'll get along, I know we will."

 

Sidney rubbed the side of his head against her hand, and purred

as if in agreement. Natalie was finally able to relax enough to

sleep.

 

****

 

Nick wandered around the loft, too restless and angry to sleep.

'Dammit, Lacroix, how could you do this to her?' he thought. 'Do

you have any idea how dangerous this little game is? The

Enforcers would have a field day with this if they found out!'

 

He sat down at the piano and tried to play, but couldn't

concentrate. 'I've got to at least try to sleep or I'll be

worthless at work tonight,' he sighed to himself. He took a long

drink of the bovine blood in the fridge, then went upstairs.

 

Nick changed into the last pair of silk pajamas, as the others

were dirty and would be discarded. 'Have to order some more...or

actually see about cleaning these for a change,' he mused idly.

Then, he lay down and stared at the ceiling, disquieted for no

clear reason.

 

He found himself reminiscing about Raleigh. It had been so nice

to have someone who loved him without caring who or what he was;

who loved to make him happy; who never tried to manipulate him.

No, Raleigh was just *there* when needed, giving him a purity of

devotion that people weren't capable of...

 

Nick never knew just when he drifted into sleep, but he dreamed

of roaming the night forests with Raleigh, hunting the nocturnal

creatures for the meat the dog needed for his diet. Sometimes

they would run together, at other times they would walk, with

Nick's eyes on the stars and his hand on Raleigh's head. At

times, they would simply sit at the crest of a hill, with the

man's arm around the dog; just content to be together.

 

Even though it was a dream, he could practically feel the dog's

fur under his hand as he petted him. For some reason the fur

felt wrong; longer and softer than he remembered it. Nick turned

to look at Raleigh, and saw...Perry.

 

PERRY!

 

Nick sat bolt upright, realizing what his subconscious had been

trying to tell him. He'd never told Natalie about Perry and

Jodi, and that your own pet can bring you across!

 

Nick shoved the dream aside as he sprang from the bed. He

realized he'd slept longer than usual, as it was now after

sunset. He dressed in a frenzy of haste, desperate to get to

Natalie's before another disaster happened. To save time, he

took to the air at his maximum speed.

 

****

 

Natalie was also dreaming, contentedly. She and Nick were

camping in a forest clearing, snuggling together on a blanket and

gazing up at the stars. Nick soon turned his attention to his

own personal star, and began caressing her face with his lips and

tongue. 'Mmmmm...that feels delightful,' she thought, bemused.

He began to trail kisses down her neck, sending delicious shivers

through her. The sensations changed then, becoming far less

pleasant.

 

The pain at her throat awakened her abruptly. 'What the hell?'

she wondered blearily, then realized what was happening.

 

"SIDNEY!"

 

Natalie fought desperately to pry the cat loose from her neck.

It was a real struggle, until Sidney abruptly relaxed and allowed

himself to be shoved away. He leaped to the floor and moved away

a little distance, then sat and waited watchfully.

 

'What is he waiting for?' she wondered, fearfully. 'Does he

think I'm going to let my guard down, and then he can bite me

again? I don't *think* so!'

 

Sidney didn't move, and Natalie relaxed a little, then paused in

bewilderment. 'Weird. It seems to be actually getting lighter

instead of darker...' She glanced at the bedside clock. 7:00

pm, well after sunset this time of year.

 

A possible explanation for the altered light came to mind, and

she jumped up to look in the mirror. Her own set of yellow eyes

greeted her as her worst fears were confirmed. Natalie groaned

to herself. 'Enhanced nightsight, glowing eyes...yep, I'm a

vampire. I never thought it'd happen like this...'

 

Sidney strolled over to wind himself around her legs contentedly.

Natalie found she could actually *feel* his happiness, his

affection for her. Despite what he'd done, she could not help

but reciprocate; he hadn't acted maliciously. She bent to stroke

his silky back, which arched into her hand as he purred.

Remembering something she'd heard Nick do, she attempted to purr

back and succeeded. She laughed in delight.

 

All of a sudden, Natalie found herself clutching the edge of the

dresser, curling around a gnawing pain in her stomach. 'I guess

this is First Hunger - good thing I've got blood in the fridge!'

She staggered to the kitchen, grabbed the first 'wine' bottle in

the refrigerator, uncorked it, and took a sip. She ravenously

drained it, then found herself reaching for another. She was

almost finished with that one, when she heard a groan.

 

Natalie looked up to see Nick standing there, horror-stricken.

"Oh, God, I'm too late," he moaned. "Nat, I'm so sorry! I

forgot about the possibility of Sidney bringing you across until

just now!' He was literally crying, confronted with one of his

worst nightmares.

 

Natalie quickly emptied the bottle into Sidney's dish, put it

down, then reached to hug Nick. "Nick, it'll be OK, somehow,

we'll make it OK..." They embraced for a long time, as Natalie

strove to comfort him even amidst her own shock and confusion.

 

She tried to cheer him up by saying, "Look at the bright side;

now I'm really motivated to find a cure! And I'll be around long

enough to succeed! It'll be easier to get the samples I need,

too..." She faltered, then said honestly, "I just hope you can

stand to be around me, now that I'm not that 'icon of mortality'

anymore!"

 

Nick looked at her, shocked. "Nat, it's *you* I love, not your

mortality! And I'll be around as much as *you* can stand!"

 

Natalie's mouth hung open in astonishment. "I can't believe it;

you actually said it!"

 

"Said what?" Nick looked confused.

 

"That you love me!!!" Even as overwhelmed as she felt by being

brought across, Natalie could still exult at this.

 

"Yeah...I did...I...well, I guess it's not a danger to you

anymore..." That was as far as Nick got before Natalie pounced

on him, hungrily fastening her mouth to his.

 

When they finally broke from their soul-satisfying kiss, Natalie

saw that Nick's eyes were as yellow as she knew her own to be.

She could also tell by his expression that he was as delighted by

this particular silver lining as she was. "I'll just pour Sidney

a little more dinner, then we'll continue this somewhere more

relaxed..." she said, suggestively.

 

As soon as she finished pouring, Nick joyfully swept her up in

his arms and carried her towards her bedroom. Sidney looked

after them with as much smug satisfaction as a cat could express,

then bent to finish his dinner.

 

-------------------------------------------------------------

 

Jan Wiles

N&NPacker with Valentine tendencies

His train of thought is still boarding at the station. - Calvin & Hobbes

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