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In the Shadows

Tyra - 1998

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This is a short piece that came to me the other day in the shower. I don't know why I would be thinking of Nick there - hmmm... Anyway, I hope you enjoy. Let me know what you think!

Thanks to Lea and Heather-Anne for doing what they do best, betaing!

I don't own them, ya'll know who do. I don't mean to infringe and all that nice stuff.

Permission to archive at the ftp site and at Mel's Fan Fic site. All others please ask first.

She could feel his presence outside her window. It had become like a game between the two of them. After that night when she and her lover had touched--his memory gone of what he truly was--they had played this game.

He floated outside her bedroom window and watched her sleep. She didn't know if he knew she was really awake. Every night she wondered where this was leading, but her body and subconscious betrayed her.

Her nightgowns had become increasingly sensual, and her neck was now, a month later, fully open to view. She craned her neck in her 'sleep' to offer her midnight caller a better view.

She kept wondering if she was crazy, but life was filling with increasing darkness. How was she supposed to survive the pain without Nick's touch, without his love? Her heart broke every time they touched, which was with increasing frequency, because they could not be together in the way they both wanted. The touch of his skin on hers, the feel of his arms around her, was slowly driving her insane. How could she face another day, without feeling him laying beside her, holding her?

Damn! Her mind screamed in protest of what her heart had already decided. She turned violently away from the window. Her eyes were wide open as she peered into the mirror and saw her savior. He was looking right at her, his eyes piercing hers.

She turned to face him. They stared at one another, a silent request being offered and accepted. He entered her bedroom as she pulled the sheets back and gave him entrance to her body. His hands found her flesh and ran up her body toward her neck. Without a word he gently kissed her on the lips and then on her neck.

His fangs pierced her skin and she moaned in ecstasy of the anticipation of her new life and the pleasure it would finally make real.

She awoke with a start, his wrist at her lips. She drank the blood he freely offered her. When at last he pulled away from her, he placed bottle after bottle of bloodwine in her hand. He had known that she would accept his offer sooner or later and had come prepared night after night, waiting for her consent.

She placed the fourth bottle on her nightstand and turned to face him. Her hand caressed his face, and she placed a gentle kiss on his cheek.

"Thank you."

"You are most welcome, my daughter. Now, I believe it is my son you wish to be with. Go, love him, make him the happy Nicholas I once knew."

Natalie rose from the bed and walked to the window. Her father had opened himself in the bloodlink, and she knew how to use the skills and power he had bestowed upon her.

"Oh and Natalie, please tell Nicholas that his debt has been amply repaid."

Father and daughter locked eyes, each understanding the meaning of his words, then Natalie turned and took to the night sky on her way to her love, Nicholas.

 

Meanwhile, at the Loft:

Nick threw the sheets off his body. He stood and paced around the bedroom. It had been this way for days. Until the sun rose he would get no sleep. Until then he would wait, wanting and yearning to know how the night had transpired.

He went into the bathroom and washed his face for the third time that evening. He kept hoping it would sober him up from the self-induced stupor he was in night after night. Why was he such a coward, he thought, as he threw the towel onto the counter.

He went downstairs, longing for release from his prison. He grabbed a bottle of the Raven's finest from his refrigerator, and gulped the contents straight from the bottle.

He knew what was happening at Natalie's--he knew. His master waited outside her window night after night, waiting for her consent. Nick closed his eyes remembering her scent. "Ahhh," he thought, her scent. The scent of roses and cloves. It was so distinctively her and it drove him insane.

The memories of his hands, his skin, his lips touching her body before his memories came crashing back, still lingered vividly in his mind. He could not forget them, no matter how hard he tried.

Who was he kidding, he thought. He never tried to forget. He remembered the pleasure they shared again and again; his body would find release, but not his soul. She had captured that, or what was left of it, the day they first saw each other.

Nick drank the rest of the bloodwine and threw the bottle across the room. It crashed against the lift as Nick cried out, "Coward! I am a coward. I send my father to do what I can't bring myself to do. I should be there trying to stop him, begging for him to let her escape the damnation he sent me to. But instead, I'm here, hoping--no, praying--that he damns her soul too. So that we shall be together."

Nick dropped to his knees, the bloodtears running down his face. He rose and grabbed his coat. He had to stop this insane course of action, he thought How could he have ever trusted LaCroix with the woman he loved? How could he be so selfish as to damn her to his very existence, but not do the deed himself?

Nick raced to the lift, but saw Natalie's robe laying on the chair back before he got there. Her pink, fuzzy robe. It stopped him in his tracks. He looked at it and remembered the countless times he had seen her cuddled up in it. He touched the collar and lifted the robe to his nose. He breathed in the scent that was his love. He closed his eyes, feeling as if he could touch her.

He knew then, he was damned. His coat slipped from his hands as he dropped to his knees. He buried his tear-stained face into the softness of her robe and prayed his Natalie would survive another night.

 

Nick jumped when he heard the lift engage. He listened but there was no heartbeat for him to hear. Then right before the door opened he smelled it, roses and cloves. A smile drifted across his lips.

The lift door opened and the lovers stood face to face, each knowing that they had both betrayed the other. Nothing else suddenly mattered but their love. The all-encompassing, maddening love that took hold of their minds, leaving their hearts to find a way.

"I'm sorry. I was a coward. I sent my father to do what I should have done," Nick whispered as he touched Natalie's cheek.

"I'm sorry. I disappointed you. I know you didn't want it to be like this," Natalie whispered as she ran her hand through Nick's hair.

They stared at one another for a brief moment, then their lips met.

 

Epilogue, at the Raven:

 

My children, sometimes you have to send others in to fight your battles. You are too scared to look your victim in the eye, yet you know it is something that must be done. Chaos of the heart cannot be allowed to reign.

In the end, my children, do you look at what you have done and wonder--was the betrayal of the one you hold dearest worth capturing the elusive future you hold so dear?

Is the pact with your enemy or your most trusted friend? In the end, does it really matter?

Retribution was taken.

Salvation was given.

And tomorrow, yes, tomorrow, is a new and interesting night.

I am the Nightcrawler, saying goodnight to my children. May they learn to love this night and deal with the consequences again and again and again.

 

LaCroix turned off the microphone and picked up his glass, draining the contents. He closed his eyes and felt along the links with his children. Yes, they were happy, but not quite at peace. They each got what they thought they wanted; only time would tell if the consequences were worth their actions. LaCroix smiled at the thought of watching it unfold through the centuries.

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