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Last modified February 9, 2008
by Amy R.
G. Parody/Satire. Please see the endnote for disclaimers, citations and credits for this fanfiction tribute to the television series Forever Knight, with just a tiny splash of Doctor Who.
Spoiler warning! I never thought I'd get to say that about Forever Knight again. Of course, though this spoof is not a crossover, the spoilers, such as they are, come from outside FK: the third season of the revived Doctor Who. Sort of. Be warned! :-)
Buttoning his shirt cuffs on his way down the stairs, Nick headed for his remote control. He raised the shutters and flipped on the radio as he did every evening. Then he opened the refrigerator for his nightly dither between the pitcher of Natalie's latest experimental glop and the unmarked green bottles ranked behind it.
The commercial on CERK gave way to a familiar voice. "This is the Nightcrawler, and I say, once again, gentle listeners, 'Vote Norman!' For the time has come--"
"No!" Moving at vampiric speed, Nick managed to turn the radio off fast enough to duck Lacroix's latest spoiler about the return of the Overseer. He smiled in satisfaction. "Not this time!"
The old dragon had begun baiting Nick with tidbits from the new season of Professor When even before it aired in the UK. When Lacroix first revealed that the Professor's arch-enemy, the Overseer, would appear this season -- though the tragic demise of all the other Temporal Aldermen had been central to the series revival just two years before -- Nick had credited simple gloating. After all, the Overseer was Lacroix's favorite character. But it had not stopped there. An election. A book. A relationship! If only Nick could stop himself from turning on the radio.
Nick returned to the refrigerator and poured himself a glass of Natalie's nutritive slime. As she was not around, he held his nose, but didn't bother to make faces.
Come to think of it, Nick did not want to know how Lacroix had gotten his Professor When spoilers any more than he wanted to know the spoilers themselves. It touched too closely on where old "Too Old and Powerful" had spent the past two years -- glorious years, with new Professor When and no Lacroix! No one had spoiled his show while Lacroix had stayed decently dead. But after tonight it would not matter so much. Tonight, the latest season of Professor When would come to Canadian broadcast television at last. Tonight, Nick would finally be able to see for himself.
Right time slot? He checked the program on his VCR and brushed his teeth. Right channel? He double-checked the program and grabbed his jacket. Right day? He triple-checked the program and considered calling in sick.
Blank tape in the machine? He came all the way back upstairs from the caddy to make sure.
Nick spent the next few hours on the phone, in meetings, under reports -- and installing a Professor When screensaver on the computer he shared with Schanke. He was almost late picking up his partner from the forensic reconstruction.
"About time you got here, Knight." Schanke buckled his seatbelt as they pulled into traffic. "I'd started to wonder whether this prairie schooner of yours had collapsed by some junkyard in a plea for automotive euthanasia." He reached for the silent radio.
"Leave that!" Nick ordered.
Schanke dropped his hand. "What's with you?"
"Sorry, Schank." Nick shrugged an apology. "Just turn down the volume and change the station first. The Nightcrawler has been spoiling this TV show I watch. The season premiere is tonight."
"Oh, the new Professor When? Man, I wish I'd known you were into that! The mother of one of the kids in Jenny's Girl Guide troop has a friend in London and another friend with a dual-standard VHS unit. Myra could have gotten you on the tape tree."
"You've already seen it?" Nick accidentally shifted the caddy into the wrong gear. It squealed. He patted the dashboard. "The new season?"
"Oh, yeah, Myra and I watch it with Jenny, and then mail it to some university kid in Saskatchewan, who makes copies for the next tier of people on the tree. We just sent on the tape with the season finale, 'The Last of the Temporal Aldermen.' Now, my favorite part of this season is when--"
"--Commodore Jake shows up again, you know?"
"I didn't before you told me!" Nick changed lanes very carefully. Killing Schanke just now might damage the caddy. He would do it later, off the upholstery. Possibly with cocktail umbrellas.
"Oops. Sorry, Nick. I assumed . . . I mean, you said that creepy DJ--"
"He blew the return of the Overseer. He hasn't mentioned Commodore Jake," Nick growled. But after a few blocks, he relented. "Just no more spoilers, okay?"
"Yeah, absolutely. So you've set us up with the vic's lawyer?"
"His company's chief counsel, right. She just got in from the UK, so we're meeting at her house. What does forensics have for us?"
"Not much." Schanke related the latest thin theories. "Unless that toxicology report comes back with a bolt out of the blue, how and what may keep on thumbing their noses at us until we snag a who or a why."
"At least when is home free," Nick grinned as he parked the caddy in front of an imposing house. His partner didn't get it; Nick sighed. Putting away killers to atone for his sordid past was all fine and good, but no one should have to work on premiere night.
"Metro Homicide, ma'am," Schanke said, naming them both and flashing his badge at the tall woman who answered the door. She wore jeans and an "I'm the Iron Cat" t-shirt, which pictured the Professor's robot pet Fe-LN. It was on the tip of Nick's tongue to ask where she had found it, but his partner continued, "Are you Niamh Farrell?"
"Yes. Please come in, gentleman." She gestured them into the foyer. "I was so sorry to hear about poor Jonathan, you can't imagine . . . Detective?"
Nick was staring up the hallway, lured by the familiar sound of the Professor's spacecraft pumping its way through Time And Relative Dimensions Out Yonder. The episode had begun. Some blessed souls were watching it just meters away, but not him, cursed for his sins to depend on his VCR. Nick swallowed. "Do you have somewhere quiet we can talk?"
"Of course. Boys!" she yelled down the hall. "Turn it down! This way, officers."
Both detectives chose to stand as Ms. Farrell settled herself behind a desk. Nick covered her position at the company and other preliminaries. Schanke turned to motive.
Ms. Farrell shook her head. "Making the tender offer public meant that anyone could subsequently purchase the call options perfectly legally."
"But wouldn't that have slashed the profits of anyone planning to buy before his announcement?"
"Yes, of course, but all those who understood that potential had a fiduciary duty to the company. Without the background, it could be right in your face and -- well, it's like the show my sons are watching. I saw most of the season in London, and it's strewn with pansies, in vases, gardens, buttonholes . . ."
When he got back in the caddy, Nick beat his forehead lightly on the steering wheel. The Overseer. Commodore Jake. Pansies for Pansy! Was there anything left he did not know about this season?
Schanke clapped him on the back. "Come on, partner. Break time. Let's go get some french fries and call them chips."
Laughing, Nick started the caddy. "You really do watch the show, don't you?"
"Naturally. Ever since I was a kid. Man, didn't you want a roadster like the third Professor's?"
"Oh, yeah." Nick had once owned one of those roadsters, though well before the third Professor had.
While Schanke got himself around the menu at the nearest fast-food joint, Nick choked down a few fries -- drowned in ketchup -- in a tribute to Pansy, the first Accomplice of this new Professor When era. She had been written out of the story at the end of last season, as all Accomplices eventually are. It was one of the things Nick most identified with: the Professor's powerlessness to stop losing those he cared about, and his choice to never stop caring.
Oddly cheered, Nick dropped Schanke back at the precinct, intending to swing by the Coroner's Building for the toxicology results.
Instead, he found himself at the Raven. If Janette were in a good mood, Miklos might serve him uncut bovine blood in a coffee mug. Nick's conscience tried to sting him -- both for the blood and for stretching his meal break -- but the lingering taste of underdone grease in tomato ketchup blunted its jab. Vampires were just not built to survive the diet Pansy and his partner shared.
"Nicolas!" Janette seemed delighted to see him, until he leaned to kiss her. She pushed him back and kept him there. "What on earth have you been putting in your mouth?"
"I shared Schanke's lunch."
"C'est dégoûtant. How did I not guess? Go on, go to my lounge, and I will bring you some of that swill you subsist on."
Nick smiled, kissed the air just above her hand, and threaded through dancers writhing to the torrential bass beat. He had no idea what had put him so far into Janette's good graces, but the night finally seemed to be turning his way. Surely he could avoid Professor When spoilers here. Janette's clientele was much too sophisticated for a hokey science-fiction show whose most fearsome villains looked suspiciously like kitchen utensils.
Janette arrived moments after Nick had settled himself in her sitting room, carrying two bottles and two goblets. She served herself and, to Nick's puzzled pleasure, curled up next to him on her sofa, slipping off her high heels under the metal-and-glass coffee table. He quickly opened his bottle and bolted his first glass; after that, he found Janette much more receptive to that hello kiss, and several more besides.
"I hate to jinx this," Nick said, "but am I being rewarded for something?"
"I must admit, you were right all along." Janette rested her head on his shoulder. "I've needlessly missed out on thirty years of amusement. So what did you think?"
"The season premiere, of course! Isn't that why you've come?" Janette leaned back. "'The Runaway Groom' aired hours ago."
Nick stood. "I have to go."
"Oh, sit down, Nicolas," Janette sighed. "I'm not going to spoil you. Whose shilling part-issues did you borrow, after all, when Lacroix decided it would divert him if you were the last person in England to learn Little Nell's fate in Dickens's The Old Curiosity Shop? I know how you feel about spoilers, cherie."
Nick sat. "Since when do you watch Professor When?"
"Alma had some videotapes." Janette refilled her goblet. "And then Larry Merlin -- did you know that it is possible to transmit television programs over the Internet?" She sipped.
"We can talk about the show tomorrow night," Nick captured her free hand. "And into the next day?"
Janette tossed her head. "Merlin is coming at dawn with the season finale. I may be all talked out by tomorrow night."
"You're a fan now; you'll never be talked out." Nick caught her suppressing a grin. He smiled broadly back, kissed her hand and left.
Nick pointed the caddy toward Natalie's lab and that key toxicology analysis, but he observed the speed limit a tad more conservatively than usual. It was not that he did not want to see Natalie, his best friend and his partner in the quest for a cure! But just because he didn't share her opinion that Pansy and the Professor should be together forever, and that the second-season finale had been a grotesque miscarriage of all that is right and just in the universe, she had turned a trifle frosty toward him.
"Oh, it's you." Natalie looked up from her desk. "Since when do you knock?"
"Since you asked me to stop sneaking up on you? I do try, Nat."
"I know." She handed him a manila folder. "Here's that tox screen. Schank called to say you'd be by."
"Thanks." Nick shifted awkwardly. "Did you, uh, watch the premiere?"
"What, on my meal break?" She almost smiled. "I've been working, same as you. Fingers crossed that Sidney didn't pick tonight to assault the VCR."
"So you are planning to watch it, then?"
"I don't know, Nick." She leaned back in her chair and plunged her hands into the pockets of her white lab coat. "It's all just so sad, isn't it? Pansy stranded in that alternate universe, and the Professor never even saying that he loves her?"
"He loves them all," Nick said before he thought.
Nick hesitated. But she never had let him say his piece while she progressed from tears to tirade after they watched last season's finale together at his loft. And if she were going to identify with Pansy, then it mattered. It mattered a lot. "The Professor loves all of his Accomplices, every one, from his grandson to the girl in the dirndl to the guy with the trinitro-ten fixation."
"But not like he loves Pansy!"
"Well, no, of course not. He loves each one differently: children, students, siblings, playmates -- friends. They're unique people, after all, in diverse times, places, cultures. And he's different, too. But he doesn't love any of them less because he has also loved the others, or because he will love again!" Nick needed Natalie to understand. "It's not his fault that they will all leave him someday. He doesn't choose that, Nat."
After a while, she nodded. Nick's heart lifted.
Natalie turned toward her computer. "So the P&Ppack list is rife with spoilers about this--"
"--Mary person. Oops! Did you not know the name of the new Accomplice? How did you manage to avoid that?"
"I didn't, apparently." Nick closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. The Overseer. Commodore Jake. Pansies for Pansy. Mary. "Hey, wait a minute. I thought the new Accomplice was going to be a guy! The premiere is titled 'The Runaway Groom,' right? And there's a tuxedoed man in the TARDOY in the preview!"
Natalie opened her mouth, then snapped it shut. She tried again. "Nick, go home."
"Go home and watch your show. Watch it twice. Call me before you go to sleep, and we can pick apart our first impressions, okay?"
It's difficult to hug a person seated in an office chair, but Nick gave it a yeoman's effort. Natalie giggled and rolled her eyes as she shooed him out of her lab. Nick wondered if "The Lock to Time" was available on VHS yet, and whether Natalie would accept it as a gift. He'd like her to see the Professor interact with other Temporal Aldermen, and see that he treated them, if anything, less politely than he did humans. The Professor really was dearly fond of humans.
Nick knew where he was coming from.
Outside, Nick briefly considered flying, the faster to see what everyone else already had. But he disciplined himself to drive to the precinct, read the toxicology report, check his messages, check in with Captain Cohen, clock out, and get back in his car.
This time, he was positively libertine with the speed limit.
At home, even the elevator seemed too slow. Nick bounded up the stairs and burst into his loft, with no room in his mind for anything but Professor When. Nick strode straight to his big-screen TV.
His VCR flashed "12:00." There had been a power outage. It was all over.
Nick buried his face in his hands.
"Problems, Nicholas?" Lacroix loomed from the balcony above Nick, a ghostly white face in black shadows.
"What are you doing here?"
"My, my," Lacroix chided. "Manners!"
"Yours or mine?"
Lacroix ignored him. "I see that your recording device has malfunctioned. Fortunately for you, I have my own copy." He displayed a tape, a silhouette between his pallid hands. "We will watch it together."
That was the last thing Nick wanted, next to not seeing the episode at all. Maybe he could go over to Natalie's, or Larry Merlin might make him a copy -- or even Schanke's daughter's friend's mother's friend? And there were always reruns, right? Nick shuddered. He had watched television with Lacroix before; the ancient vampire was incapable of holding his opinions until the commercials, and he argued with the characters as if they could hear him.
Lacroix descended the stairs.
Dawn was only minutes away. Nick would be trapped here, with Lacroix brutally dropping spoilers all day long, probably reciting the dialogue and doing the voices besides. Nick eyed his door, considering a run for the caddy's trunk. "You think you always get what you want?"
"Not quite always," Lacroix inclined his head as he reached Nick's refrigerator. "For example, you have no refreshments here worthy of the name. And while I can obtain the episodes well in advance, I cannot seem to get my hands on the slightest preview of Robin Forrest's sequel to her brilliant 'True Heart.' I apparently have to wait, like a mere mortal, for the chapters to start dropping on PWfic-L."
"You mean the one where Damien the Annalist interviews the Overseer?"
"Yeah, that's the one. She's calling it 'Mean Soul.' Damien spends a day stuck in the TARDOY with Pansy, and there are these flashbacks--"
Lacroix dropped the tape and was suddenly across the room, lifting Nick by the neck. His eyes burned gold as he snarled, "How do you know this?"
"I beta-read for her," Nick managed through his collapsing windpipe. Lacroix released him, aghast. "Don't you want to hear how Pansy breaks his nose? Damien's, I mean, not the Overseer's--"
"--or how Remana returns, or the origin of the sonic spanner--"
Lacroix fled through the skylight.
As soon as Nick used his remote to close the shutters and block out the rising sun -- and any attempted return by Lacroix -- he picked up the tape and confirmed that it contained not only "The Runaway Groom," but also "Smythe and James," and they seemed to be the pre-broadcast, commercial-free versions, to boot. Nick wouldn't be surprised if they were director's cuts. Only the best for Lacroix.
Nick poured himself a tall glass of Natalie's protein brew and let the story roll. He enjoyed the episodes so much that he hardly noticed his drink's revolting taste. So when he called Natalie after the second set of closing credits, he was able to report following her prescription, proudly, as soon as she said, "Hello." Her praise and laughter warmed him through.
Some things were even better than Professor When.
The Sony Corporation owns Forever Knight. The BBC owns Doctor Who. I intend no infringement. Please support all authorized Forever Knight and Doctor Who endeavors! (Buy their products. Raise their ratings.)
Characters and situations in this fantasy fan spoof are entirely fictional. Any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental. (Vampires don't exist. Spoilers do!)
Naturally, Professor When parodies Doctor Who. The Professor for the Doctor, the Overseer for the Master, Accomplices for Companions, Commodore Jake for Captain Jack, Pansy for Rose, Mary for Martha, Fe-LN for K-9, TARDOY for TARDIS, Temporal Aldermen for Time Lords, Remana for Romana, sonic spanner for sonic screwdriver, grandson for granddaughter, girl in dirndl for guy in kilt, and trinitro-ten guy for nitro-nine girl.
If you don't know the Forever Knight original of what Lacroix's following on PWfic-L in the spoof, go here and read to your heart's content. Then write to that brilliant author, yeah?
Setting this piece in second-season FK revisits the technology of 1994-1995, with VCRs and tape trees, when it would have taken nearly Larry Merlin's expertise (not to mention bandwidth!) to download a television show.
The Old Curiosity Shop (1841) by Charles Dickens was published first as a weekly serial, and had a notable grip on its public, judging from the oft-repeated anecdote of US readers waiting at the New York docks to ask arriving British ships about the health of the character Little Nell. (At this end of history, it's no spoiler to say she dies.)
I had not yet seen the third season of the revived Doctor Who when I wrote this story. I was awaiting the US DVDs, and most of my friends watch on UK time. So while I tried hard to avoid spoilers, I failed, and decided to share the pain with Nick. Is that not what our dear brick is for?
In 1996, Tippi invented an exceedingly clever and amusing story universe called "Eternal Champion," in which Nick's favorite television show suspiciously resembles his real life. She withdrew her work some time back, so the one example left us is Susan G.'s exquisite, joyful "Seduction of the Diligent." Those stories, which I have always admired, helped inspire this one, however distantly.
My thanks to Shelley, for listening to this idea jell from frustration to imagination. My thanks to Chelseagirl, for enthusiasm, for Doctor Who tweaks, and for laughing! My thanks to Elisabeth and Abby for insisting, each in her own way, that the draft be cut back to grow stronger; it's 20% shorter, honest, and you were right. The story is better for their generous help! Errors, of course, are all my own.
I drafted this story in June and July, 2007. I cajoled my friends to beta-read in July and August. I posted it to fkfic-l on August 30, 2007. Now it's here on my own FK fansite, where you're welcome to link to it. Please do not archive or otherwise re-post it.
Thank you for reading! Your comments and constructive criticism are valued. (This is pretty much only the second humor piece I've ever tried. See "Grievances.") Please email me or comment on my Livejournal or Dreamwidth to let me know what you think. Again, thanks!
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