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Alone
a _Forever Knight_ fanfiction
by Amanda Berendt
Copyright 2003


Note:
This story takes place immediately following "The Human Factor"
and assumes knowledge of that episode. It is also kind of an alternate
ending to the series, since the events in this story make any episode
after "The Human Factor" impossible (or close to).
Also, I want to say that I don't necessarily condone or agree with
what happens in this story. It certainly does not reflect my views.
It came about when I listened to the CD "Fallen" by Evanescence. Every
time I listened to the CD, I'd get several pictures in my mind. If
anyone is interested -- it is a very FK-ish CD in my mind. So I wrote
what I saw in my mind's eye, and it went from there.
Thank you to Nancy Kaminsky for the info on horses. Yes, it is a
very small part of the story, but it made it a bit easier for me to
write it when I was able to visualize it.
Also a special thanks to Amy Rambow for proofreading this for me.
-------------------------
Disclaimer:
Nick, Nat, Lacroix and the others do not belong to me, but since
Sony is not using them right now, I thought I'd borrow them for a bit.
Although, Tristan is mine. Yeah, he's not really a big character, but
I like him. <g>
-------------------------
Responses:
Please send all questions, comments, or maybe the wonderful
mantel, to: nicholas_debrabant1228@yahoo.com.
-------------------------



Medical examiner Natalie Lambert parked her car outside the
crime-scene tape. Getting out of the car, she grabbed her bag from the
passenger seat and headed toward the flashing lights of the squad cars.
After ducking under the tape and winding her way through the maze of
parked police vehicles, she found herself at the center of the commotion --
a car that had been wrapped around a large tree by the force of an
impact. The driver's door hung open where the EMTs had tried to help the
victim.
As Natalie approached the car, she looked around trying to see if
Nick was there. He and Tracy had wrapped up the Larouche case two
weeks ago and nothing else had come up, so this should be assigned to their
caseload. Natalie hadn't spoken to Nick since then -- he hadn't
answered her phone calls. She assumed it was because Janette had returned
and he had been dealing with that. Hopefully, he would be here tonight
and they could talk.
After about ten minutes, she spotted another of the night-shift
detective teams -- Jenkins and Quinn. She approached Jenkins. "So you
guys assigned to this case?"
Jenkins smiled. "Yeah, you got anything?"
"So far, you've got an easy one. Everything points to an
accident."
"Good. Looks like it might be an easy night," Detective Quinn
added.
"Do you guys know if Nick is on tonight?" she asked the two
detectives.
Jenkins answered, "Knight hasn't been around for a couple of
weeks. I guess he's finally taking that vacation time."
This worried Natalie. If he hadn't been at work since the last
case, where had he been? He certainly wasn't returning her calls.
Since her shift was just about over, she decided to stop in at the
precinct instead of going back to her lab.
As she entered the homicide offices of the 96th precinct, she saw
Captain Reese putting on his coat as he came out of his office. He
smiled as she approached.
"Dr. Lambert," he asked, "did something come up on that accident?"
"No, Captain," she replied in a voice that turned the conversation
serious. "I'm wondering . . . have you heard from Nick, lately?"
The captain reacted, startled, but quickly recovered. "What do
you mean? Of course not. He handed in his resignation two weeks ago."
Natalie gasped and her knees felt very weak. "What?"
Realizing this was a surprise to her, the captain softened.
"Natalie, why don't you come in and sit down," he said, putting his hand on
her shoulder and guiding her into his office.
Once inside, he sat in the chair next to her instead of in the
chair behind his desk. "I can't believe you didn't know." This was a
huge shock to him, considering everyone in the department, including
himself, had thought of the detective and the medical examiner as a couple,
even if the pair didn't realize it themselves. The idea that Knight
had quit without telling her was ridiculous.
Natalie took a deep breath and finally spoke. "You can't be
serious. What happened?"
Reese put his hand on her arm. "He said things had changed and he
couldn't do this anymore. It was right after that Montreal murder
case. I think I still have a copy of his letter." Reese got up and went
to the file cabinet that stood against the far wall.
Opening the top drawer, he sifted through the files until he came
to the one he wanted. He took the folder out, opened it and removed a
single sheet of paper. As he returned to the chair, he said, "I am so
very sorry, Natalie. I thought . . . well, everyone thought you would
have known. I'm sure some people even thought you might have been part
of the reason -- that maybe the two of you were finally getting
together or something." He handed her the paper.
Taking the single sheet from Reese, Natalie examined it. In
truth, there was nothing remarkable about it. It was a standard letter of
resignation -- no letterhead, just a computer printout. The only thing
that made it real for her was Nick's signature at the end.
Not saying anything, she looked up from the letter. She stood up
quickly. "I have to go." Handing the letter back to Reese, she turned
away from him, opened the office door and stepped through.
"Natalie," he called after her. "If you need anything, we're
here."
Natalie sat in her car in the parking lot of the police station.
The keys were in the ignition, but she hadn't yet started the vehicle.
*How could he do this?* She had to see for herself if he had indeed
left. Turning the keys, she put the car in gear and pulled out of the
lot.
Less than thirty minutes later, she turned into the gravel parking
area in front of Nick's loft. The sky was beginning to lighten with
the coming dawn. She parked her car and got out. When she reached the
door next to the garage, she held her breath, then punched in the alarm
code. Hearing the lock click open, she let the air out of her lungs.
There was still hope.
Natalie stepped into the freight elevator and pressed the up
button. As the elevator began its ascent, the knot that had been forming in
her stomach tightened. She prepared herself for what she might find.
What seemed like hours later, the elevator ground to a halt and she
pushed the door open.
Stepping into the loft, Natalie found it strange to see the
morning sunlight streaming into the room. The furniture was just as it
should be, but not all of Nick's personal effects were there. The piano
still stood in the corner, the art supplies were still under the balcony,
but she could tell things were missing. There was an emptiness.
She crossed to the sitting area. The small black box where he
kept the relic still sat on the table next to the couch. She hesitated
for a moment, then reached over and opened the box. It was empty.
Several hours later, she sat on the couch staring at the cold,
empty fireplace. It felt so lonely here. She had often joked to Nick
about it being a fortress of solitude, but now it truly was. She didn't
have the heart to search through his things to see exactly what he had
taken. It seemed like a violation of his privacy, although she was
pretty certain he would not be returning. She stood up, gathered her coat
and purse from the couch and walked slowly to the elevator.
Once outside, she put her coat on. Even though the sun was now
high in the sky, it seemed to be growing colder. Too much had happened.
If she didn't go home now and get some sleep, her mind would just shut
down. She got in the car, started the engine and set off toward her
apartment building.
Natalie woke up late that evening. As she opened her eyes, she at
first thought perhaps it had all been a horrible dream, but when the
cloudiness of sleep drained away she realized it wasn't. She glanced at
the digital alarm clock on her nightstand as she eased herself out of
bed. It was eight forty-five. She was supposed to start her shift at
nine-thirty. Knowing there was no way she'd be able to get through an
entire shift after what had happened last night, she picked up the
cordless phone from the nightstand and dialed.
"Hi . . . Grace? . . . It's Natalie. I think I might be coming
down with something . . . yes, thanks . . . . See you then."
Setting the phone back in the cradle, she stood up and went into
the bathroom. When she came out, she felt a little better. *A warm
shower can do wonders for the soul,* she thought. She changed into a pair
of jogging pants and an oversized Blue Jays sweatshirt and went into
the living room.
While she waited for the coffee maker to brew, she went to the
window and gazed out over the skyline -- or at least the part she could
see from her apartment. The coffee buzzed. She returned to the kitchen
and poured the coffee into a mug she had gotten out of the cabinet.
Picking up the mug, she went to sit on the couch. As she sat
down, her eyes fell upon a photo of Nick and herself at one of the precinct
picnics. He had his arm around her and they were both smiling broadly.
She couldn't help it. She put the mug on the coffee table and covered
her face with her hands as the tears began to fall.

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

It was after midnight. The Raven was in the throes of a busy
Friday night. Lucien Lacroix sat alone on the last stool at the end of the
bar. The music and lights from the dance floor did not appear to
intrude into his thoughts. He sat staring into the depths of the dark
liquid that sat untouched on the bar before him. He seemed to radiate some
kind of signal that told those around him not to come near.
Taking a deep breath, he turned his head to glance at the patrons
of the club. At the other end of the bar stood the Spaniard, Vachon.
He had come in earlier with Detective Tracy Vetter, but now he was
talking to the beautiful, melancholy Urs. As though sensing his gaze, the
two young vampires looked up, but he turned away before they could meet
his eyes. He didn't want company.
During the past few weeks, since Janette had briefly returned,
there had been an emptiness inside of him. There was a feeling of
something missing. It had been far too long since he had seen Nicholas. He
had last come in when he brought that horrible police drawing of the
murder suspect that resembled Janette.
Lacroix tried to reach out to his son through the link they
shared, but it was no use. Something was wrong; he should be able to feel
Nicholas through their bond. The ancient vampire stood up from where he
sat at the bar. He must go to Nicholas's loft to see what had
happened.
Usually enjoying taking to the night sky, he would soar leisurely
over the mortal world, reveling in his superiority, but tonight was
different. Tonight he wasted no time getting to Nicholas's apartment.
Lacroix stood on the roof, facing the strong March winds and gazed
through the skylight. Using his heightened senses, he determined the loft
was empty. Silently, he slipped through the skylight and landed on the
upper balcony, right outside the bedroom.
Everything was in its place; nothing seemed amiss. He did notice
that some things were missing, though. He slowly walked through the
loft, touching the furniture and remaining personal items, trying to get
a sense of what may have happened. Again, he tried to reach out to
Nicholas, but nothing was there. What was wrong? Nicholas had never been
able to block his thoughts or even his location from his master.
Lacroix had conveniently 'forgotten' that lesson. If something had happened
to his son, he would have felt it over their link. But there had been
nothing other than the recent trauma of Janette's death. Perhaps
Nicholas had left, unable to cope with the loss, but still there should be
something.
After going through the entire loft, searching everywhere for some
kind of sign of what happened, Lacroix found himself standing in front
of the ornate fireplace mantel. Nicholas had stood here many times
pondering one thing or another. Lacroix ran his fingers over the carving
of the dragon. It would soon be dawn. He sat down on the black
leather couch. Leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, he sat
pensively, his hands folded as if in silent prayer.
"Oh Nicholas," he said out loud to the empty room. "What have you
done?"
The ancient vampire leaned back into the soft leather. He closed
his eyes and let the darkness envelop him. Outside, the darkness began
to yield to the dawn.
The room was dark once more when Lacroix opened his eyes. For a
moment, he didn't realize where he was, but as he awakened, the events
of the previous night returned. Once again, he tried to reach out for
his son, and was not surprised when he discovered it was in vain.
Lacroix rose to his feet and crossed to the refrigerator. A sly
smile spread across his mouth when he looked at the painting hanging
over the appliance -- called "The Yawning Apprentice" or some such
nonsense, it could easily be misconstrued as a scream. Was this supposed to
mirror the torture Nicholas put himself through when he fed? Shaking
his head, Lacroix opened the fridge and took out one of the green
bottles. He selected a glass goblet from the shelf above the counter and
filled it with the dark liquid. He took a small sip from the glass and
grimaced. *This* would definitely have to be changed.
He retraced his steps from the previous evening, occasionally
sipping from the goblet. As he walked through the rooms, he made a mental
note when he noticed something was missing. Once more, he finished his
exploration in the main room in front of the fireplace. He was
surprised Nicholas had not taken the mantle. But it seemed as though only
small items were taken. A thought came to mind as he placed the glass on
the coffee table. He stepped over to the small end table and opened
the black lacquer box sitting alone on it. The box was empty.
Lacroix picked up the remote from the coffee table and lit a fire
in the fireplace. He then opened the metal shutters. Returning the
remote to the table, he stepped over to the window and gazed out over
lights of the city. He would stay here in this city for now. Here in
this place where so much had happened. He had come here to be with his
children and now they were gone. He drew in a deep breath and let it out
slowly. He turned away from the window. He was truly alone for the
first time in almost a thousand years.

-----------

The sun was barely breaking over the horizon, making the crests of
the waves sparkle as they crashed onto the rocky shore. Clouds still
remaining from the storm during the night seemed to glow from the
reflections of the sun's light.
A lone figure perched on one of the large rocks lining the coast.
The man sat crouched on the highest point. He had been in the same
place every morning for almost six months. Every morning, he would arrive
in the darkness upon his black steed, climb to the highest rock and
wait for the dawn to come. He would be there even when it was overcast or
raining. The sun would rise behind the clouds and he would be there to
greet it.
This morning, as the sky continued to lighten, the man closed his
eyes and let the warm morning light caress his fair skin and golden
hair. It seemed as though the sunlight became a part of him. He sat
there, upon the boulder, for another hour or so, watching the sun rise into
the sky. When it was fully above the horizon, he stood, brushed the
sand from his khaki slacks and white cotton shirt and climbed down onto
the beach below.
Instead of returning to the horse waiting by the rambling fence at
the edge of the beach, he decided to walk along the water. Today was
going to be a beautiful day, he thought. This was the kind of day he'd
been waiting so long to be a part of. As this thought crossed his
mind, a wave of sadness crossed his face.
This had happened so quickly. Janette had returned to Toronto . .
. mortal. She had come to his apartment that night and it had gone
further than either of them had expected. Although she was mortal, he had
been able to control the vampire inside of him when he was with her.
He wouldn't deny that she had truly loved Robert, but there had always
been a connection between Janette and himself -- something that went
beyond mortality and immortality.
The thought of Janette made him stop. He looked out over the
water and drew in a deep breath of the fresh sea air. His stomach
grumbled. Looking at his watch, he saw that it was almost noon. He turned
back the way he had come, and followed his footsteps in the sand. When he
reached the fence, he stopped to put on his boots, then stood and
stroked the silky black mane of the large black horse.
"Hello, Tristan," he said kindly, as the horse nuzzled his
shoulder. "Yes, we're going home now." Tristan shook his head as if nodding
in agreement. His long black mane trailed behind him in the off-shore
breeze.
The man mounted the horse and headed off away from the beach.
Surprisingly, the countryside had changed very little. Of course there
were the modern conveniences of telephone lines and the occasional plane
flying overhead, but otherwise it was very much the same. He felt at
peace riding Tristan. He could pretend that so much time hadn't passed
and so many things hadn't happened. It was just the two of them. Two
lonely souls riding through the midday sun.
Reaching the estate, or at least what was left of it, he
dismounted the horse and led him to the makeshift stable. He had hired some
local carpenters to build it when he first came back. The wooden shelter
would do until the permanent stables could be erected. When he
reemerged from the shelter, he looked at the main building. The first floor
was still standing, but the upper floors were in the midst of
reconstruction. It had been six months and the architects and stonemasons were
well on their way to rebuilding his family home. The local towns were
quite pleased, since he had agreed to let it be toured when it was
complete. He had explained he was a descendant of the original family and
had just recently discovered its existence. Officially, the project was
being funded by the Foundation. Upon entering the house, the contrast
was amazing. Yes, the outside was well on its way, but the interior
was a long way from completion. Now, it was just barely habitable. He
was living in only two rooms off the main hall. It would probably take
years to fully furnish the home.
Leaving Tristan in the care of the local boy he had hired as a
stable hand, he headed toward the manor house. The workers smiled and
waved as he crossed the grass from the stable to the main building. He
nodded a greeting, but his mind was far away.
The evening had come and the workers and stonemasons had all
returned to their homes in the nearby village. The architects and
historians had returned with them to the lodging houses where they were staying
during the project. He was alone.
After lighting the fire in the great stone fireplace, he sat
before it in a large leather armchair, letting his mind wander. The
beautiful flames dancing in the hearth before him, became, in his mind, the
deadly flames climbing the curtains and enveloping the suburban Toronto
home. She lay bleeding on the floor and gasping for air in the
smoke-filled room.
"I can bring you across, Janette," he said frantically, kneeling
over her prone form.
"No," came the breathless reply.
The flames were threatening to overcome them. He lifted her in
his arms, his heart wrenching as she cried out in pain, and took off into
the night. Moments later, he landed on the roof of his loft. He
lifted the skylight with his foot and dropped down onto the main floor.
He knelt in front of the ornate fireplace, cradling Janette in his
arms. Tears tinged with red began to roll down his cheeks.
"Oh, God, no," he cried. "Please, Janette, don't leave me."
As he held her, he felt her body relax. She took a final breath
and released it as she slumped against his chest. He pulled her even
closer; the pain inside of him was unbearable. It was as if eight
centuries of guilt, anger and pain were welling up inside of him at once. He
could no longer endure it. A roar erupted from his throat, releasing
all of the despair he had carried within himself for so long.
As the scream died into the night, his body fell next to Janette
and he lay there exhausted.
A log crashed in the fireplace, jarring him back to the present.
He blinked away the tears forming in response to the memory. A single
crystal tear escaped down his cheek. He wiped it away as he stood up
to attend to the fire.
After tending the fire, he returned to his chair near the hearth.
For some reason, his mind flashed to himself and Natalie sitting
together in front of the ornate fireplace in his loft. He shook his head,
trying to clear the image from his mind. He had truly thought that she
was the one to rid him of the monster he had carried inside of him for
so long. But it was Janette who had been the one to grant his wish. In
her attempt to reaffirm the vampire in herself, she had obtained
mortality and had, in turn, unwittingly granted it to him. The vampire had
left him along with the grief and rage when Janette had died in his
arms.
After believing for so long that Natalie would be the one to help
him, he couldn't bear to tell her what had happened. So in his grief,
he had resigned from the precinct and returned here to his first home.
He had not spoken to anyone -- not Tracy, not Natalie, not even
Lacroix.
Lacroix would know what had happened, of course. He would have
felt the break in their connection. Perhaps his master was searching for
him even now. But Natalie . . . what must she think? The last time he
had seen her was when he had brought Janette to the lab to be treated
for the gunshot wound. She had listened in disbelief as Janette
described how she had become mortal.
Turning away from the warmth of the fire, he went over to the
newly installed front windows. They were modern versions of the original
style -- diamond cuts of glass held together by leading -- but they were
now insulated to current standards. He gazed out into the night,
thinking again of Janette -- her beauty, her grace. When the tears came
again, he let them fall unchecked. He had not let himself grieve. He had
been hiding his feelings for far too long.
When he awoke the next morning, he had a crick in his neck from
sleeping in the armchair. The ashes still smoldered from the evening's
fire. Looking up at the mantle, his eyes fell upon the portrait of
Janette she had had commissioned by Leonardo. Leaning against the dark
wooden frame was Joan's cross. *Faith. Pure, simple faith,* her voice
came out of his memories.
Feeling his muscles protest as he got up, he went into the back
room that served as his bedroom. He took a shower and changed into
clean clothes.
Returning to the living room, he stood once more in front of the
fireplace. He placed his hand on the carved wooden box that sat on the
mantle below Janette's portrait. Taking a deep breath, then slowly
letting it out, he took the box off the mantle. Then he kissed his
fingers and touched them to the cross. *I DO have faith.* Tucking the box
under his arm, he left the room and went outside.
It was very early. The sky showed only the smallest hint of the
coming dawn. The workmen had not yet arrived. He went to the stable
and smiled as Tristan greeted him with a whinny and a shake of the head.
He took a carrot from the cabinet near the stall and gave the horse the
treat. After a few moments of petting, he saddled the horse and led
him outside.
Placing the box safely in the saddlebag, he mounted the horse and
headed off towards the coast. The morning would be clear and
beautiful. He tied Tristan to the usual post of the fast-degrading fence and
took the box out of the saddlebag. This morning, though, instead of
heading towards the large boulders, he walked out onto the flat expanse of
sand. When he got to the water's edge, he took off his shoes and socks
and sat down on the cool sand, carefully placing the box on the ground
next to him. He sat with his arms resting on his knees and waited.
The light of the sun grew brighter on the horizon and the tips of
the waves began to sparkle. As the sun rose higher in the sky, he
stood up, taking the box in his hands. The morning breeze blew through his
hair as he waded out into the water, not caring that his pants were
getting wet. When the water level reached his knees, he stopped. The
breeze was growing stronger. Perfect, he thought.
Holding the small wooden box in front of him, he slowly opened the
lid. The fine gray powder inside stirred slightly as the wind blew
across the open box. As he took a deep breath, a tear slid down his
cheek, followed by another. It was time.
Taking some of the ash into his palm, he raised his hand toward
the sky, letting the breeze carry it away. Once more, he took some of
the ashes into his hand and released them into the wind. Tears streamed
down his face, glistening in the morning sun.
When the box was empty, he closed the lid once more and fastened
the latch. He wiped his eyes and drew in a breath of the clean coastal
air.
Holding the empty box to his lips, he kissed it tenderly and
whispered, "Goodbye, Janette. I love you." Then he threw the box with all
of his strength toward the sun.
Returning to the shore, he sat again on the cool sand. Wiping the
remaining tears from his cheeks, he gazed out at the rising sun and
smiled. This sunrise was different. He was not sitting here remembering
the past; this morning, he was looking toward the future. This sunrise
was a new beginning.


-Finis-