Grace reading

The Book Club Auxiliary

January 2011
Last modified April 2, 2011

by Amy R.

G  Please see the endnote for disclaimers, credits, and all that good stuff.  This fanfiction is a tribute to the television series Forever Knight.

"Ma'am," a nurse called out from the desk.  His voice was quiet, but firm and clear.  "I'm sorry, but I need you to sign in first.  Have you been here before?  Who are you visiting?"

"Dr. Natalie Lambert."  Grace smiled as she crossed the hall, setting down her purse and a multi-colored canvas book-bag to pick up the clipboard and record the start of her visit.  "My apologies.  I usually just fill in all of this on my way out.  Are you new here?"

"Yeah, actually.  I was hired as part of the de Brabant wing expansion.  How did you know?"  The young man took back the clipboard.  "Oh!  They told me about you, Ms. Balthazar."

"That's never a good sign," Grace laughed.  She held out her hand.  "It's nice to meet you... Chris?"  She read his nametag.

"It's nice to meet you, too."  Chris shook hands, eyes friendly but searching.  Grace wondered what being mentioned as part of his employee orientation made this new acquaintance see in her: a tall, Black woman, heavier than her own doctor strictly approved, visiting a sick friend on a Sunday afternoon.  Chris's smile seemed genuine, over and around the puzzled scrutiny.  He said, "Please let me know if you need anything."

"I will, thanks."  Grace squeezed gently, then released the handshake.  She took the opportunity to peel off her bulky winter coat before slinging her bags back over her shoulder.  Across the hall, she stepped into a shiny new ward with south-facing windows.

"My, it's warm!"  Grace exclaimed, switching off the television on her way to the chair by Natalie's bed.  "The windows make everything much nicer in here than where you stayed before, but they could practically turn off the heat while the sun is out.  Let's hear it for insulation."  Grace draped her coat over the back of the chair and set her bag beside the nightstand covered with old photos; new photos went in the drawer.  She looked down the large room at the empty bed and the open curtains that would divide the area when it was in use.  "I see that you're still the only headliner on the marquee.  I suppose it would be wrong to wish you company, so I'll congratulate you on the functionally private room instead."

Grace sat down and donned her reading glasses.  "Now, this one isn't on the list and won't do us any good keeping up with the discussion points at the meeting this week, but I thought you'd like it anyway."  She pulled a new hardback from her bag and lifted it like a trophy for Natalie's admiration.  "The Famished by Emily Weiss!  Am I right, or am I right?  The wendigo character is supposedly a metaphor for the financial crisis, but everyone is much more excited that it's her first supernatural novel since she ended the 'Vampire Sagas' after her assistant tried to kill her.  I'm sure you remember the case."  Grace opened the book to the title page and displayed it for Natalie.  "As you see, she remembers, too."  Inscribed in blue ink, the page said: 'For Dr. Natalie Lambert, who helped save my life.  Get well soon.  Emily Weiss.'  "Granted, it's trite, but that's how book signings are."

Grace turned to the first page.  "So do you want to plunge into this one and fall behind our group, or press on with the current selection?"  She paused long enough for an answer that did not come.  "Well, I've never been much for saving dessert until last, myself.  How about half and half?"

Grace read a chapter of the new Weiss novel aloud, and then another, and then put in a bookmark and excused herself for a trip to the washroom while Chris checked Natalie's vital signs and necessities.  Returning with a glass of water, Grace turned on the lights against the setting sun, and filled Natalie in briefly on interesting cases at work and on the never-ending kitchen remodel at home.

Then Grace pulled out her e-reader and caught them up on what their book club had agreed for the week.

"It's handy, economical and environmental," Grace admitted, tilting the new device to show both sides to Natalie, "but Emily Weiss couldn't have signed on this, now could she?"  Grace put the e-reader back in her bag.  The hardback, she placed on Natalie's nightstand.  "This is your copy.  I know you'd loan it to me, but if I take it home, I won't be able to put it down."

Grace burrowed into her coat and stood, slinging her bags over her shoulder again.  "I've got a dinner date, or I'd probably give us both another chapter right now, at that."  Grace squeezed Natalie's hand where it lay on her covers.  "I know you've got opinions on all this, girl.  I want to hear them so much.  Please come home."  Grace kissed Natalie's forehead.  On her way out, she turned the television back on and switched it to the science channel.

Grace smiled at Chris as she signed out on the clipboard, an amusingly low-tech custom at an otherwise high-tech facility.  "Good night."

"Good night," the nurse replied automatically.  As she turned, though, he put a hand on her arm.  "Ms. Balthazar, forgive me, but— Dr. Lambert's been comatose for almost fifteen years.  Do you really do this every week?"

"No."  Grace shook her head.  Cases and vacations, classes and accidents, growth and loss, flashed across her past decade and a half — time that had been so very empty for Natalie.  Grace could never decide whether to hope that Natalie knew — was aware of herself and her environment — or not.  It was out of their hands, in any case.  "No, not even close to every week!  But I always tell her when I'm going away, and when I'll be back."

Chris swallowed.

Grace understood that hospital personnel were supposed to know better than to ask why, a question packed with the shrapnel of personal belief and moral judgment.  She answered anyway, with a wink.  "Her doctors promised we could hold book club meetings right here on the ward as soon as she's ready to participate in them.  I wouldn't miss that for the world.  Would you?"




  • Mr. Parriot and Mr. Cohen created Forever Knight.  The Sony Corporation owns it.  I intend no infringement.  Please support all authorized Forever Knight endeavors!  (Buy what they sell so that they can make more.)
  • Naturally, all characters and situations depicted here are entirely fictional.  (Vampires don't exist. Heroic friendships do, though.)


  • Canon:This piece diverges from canon after Nick drains Natalie in "Last Knight." Grace, of course, appears in many first and second season episodes, and in "Stranger Than Fiction" we learn that she, like Natalie, enjoys books by Emily Weiss.
  • Context:Wikipedia currently says that in the US at present, there may be up to 40,000 people in persistent vegetative states; I don't know the equivalent Canadian figure.


  • Inspiration:I wrote this mini-story for Valerie in the 2010/2011 Fandom Stocking game on LiveJournal. (On her wish list, she wrote that she likes to read "women being awesome," "friendship," "supporting characters," and "irreverent humor... in the face of catastrophe.")
  • Beta-Reader:I'm afraid that I was unable to secure a beta-reader for this story. So it's more than ever true that any remaining errors are of course all my own.
  • Timestamps & No Archiving:This story was posted in Fandom Stocking in January 2011, and posted to fkfic-l on March 31, 2011. You're welcome to link to it on my fansite. Please don't lift it and put it elsewhere.
  • Thank you for reading! Constructive criticism is welcome. (Though sometimes it takes a while, I always answer each comment I receive about a story.) Again, thanks!