Preface | Story
I've had this one for a while, but for various reasons haven't posted it until now. Usual disclaimers apply; this can be archived at fkfanfic2, the ftp site, and anywhere else if you'll notify me first. As usual, many thanks to my sisters for encouragement, and to April for beta-reading. Note: In French, they have two ways to express the concepts we cover with the word "always." "Toujours," literally "all day," refers to a habitual action, as in something done every day or many times during the day. "Jamais" means "forever."
Nick awoke suddenly, violently, as he often did, bloodsweat dotting his forehead. He sat for several minutes, gasping for air, the sound thunderously loud in the still bedroom, as his mind swirled with the dark dreams that plagued him. And it was there, always there, prowling his mind and his memories. "Go away." The words came out a whisper, almost a plea.
It didn't. It never did.
He forced his thoughts away, focusing instead on the night to come. There was work to be done. Cases to solve, bad guys to catch. Plenty to think about. Natalie had said she might come over...
Nick caught the thought before it was even completed and pushed it away. No. Think about that later. It's too early to think about Natalie. Focus on work. Three unsolved cases waited on his desk. They needed to find DeReuter's son and talk to him about his father's private life....
It lingered, waiting.
Nick pulled himself out of bed with a sigh and padded into the bathroom, showered and brushed his teeth, trying to bury himself in the normalcy of the routine, the simple rhythm of living. Without thinking, he paused to look in the mirror and saw the amber flash across his eyes, far too fast for a mortal to catch.
"Leave me alone!" he growled, losing his temper for a moment. He raised his fist to strike at the reflection, then slowly lowered it again. Breaking the mirror wouldn't change anything. He should know -- he'd done it often enough. He splashed some cold water on his face and leaned heavily on the sink. I've been up for thirty minutes, and I'm already tired. He was always tired. So many nights he woke up feeling every one of his eight-hundred years, and the nights just kept coming. He closed his eyes, feeling the weight of eternity pressing down on him, washing over him, like an ocean trying to pull him under. He was just so tired.
The moment of inattention cost him, as the beast clawed its way forward. With a snarl, Nick shoved it back, burying it with willpower alone.
It almost wasn't enough.
Nick drew a deep, steadying breath and let it out slowly, focused only on regaining his tenuous control. He turned away from the mirror without looking at it again. It was not going to be a good night. It rarely was.
In the kitchen, he yanked open the refrigerator door and stared at the contents for a few seconds before plucking out an anonymous green bottle. It was a compromise at best. He drank straight from the bottle and tried not to think about what Natalie would say about the untouched protein drink.
For tonight, compromise was good enough.
He drove with the top up, forgoing the pleasure of the moonlit night and the wind in his face. It made it easier to lock himself away in his own world, to ignore the multitude of sights and sounds and smells -- the sheer abundance of life -- all around him. He had to ignore them. If only for the sake of his own sanity, he had to pretend.
Pretend he was not what he was.
When he looked up, he found himself in the parking lot of the morgue. Why am I here? I shouldn't be here. He knew he shouldn't. He also knew why he was. Almost against his will, he cut the engine and climbed out of the Caddy. Just for a minute, he swore to himself. Just to see if she has any lab reports for us.
The beast laughed, ever so softly.
At the door to the morgue proper, he paused. A single, frighteningly familiar heartbeat sounded within. He gently pushed the door, and it swung open without a sound. Natalie's back was to him as she worked, brisk and efficient as ever, calmly working her way through yet another autopsy.
She had no idea how brilliantly she shone, like a single match flaring in an unending darkness. The smell that was uniquely Her permeated this room, obscured though it was with the scents of death and preserving agents. As he inhaled deeply, the beast trembled with desire, straining towards her warmth, her beauty... her life.
He let it. For just a moment, he let it.
With a sharp snap, Natalie clicked off the tape recorder and turned around. She wasn't particularly surprised to find Nick standing silently in the doorway -- it had become a habit of his. Oh, well. Better than having him sneaking up on her. "Hey, Nick," she greeted him brightly. "What's new?"
It was a moment before he answered. When he did, his smile somehow did not even touch the haunted look she so often saw in his eyes. "Nothing, Nat. Nothing at all."
"Eternal nights too short,
How quickly melt away,
With all the love we shared once,
Forever in a day."
Back to Top | Email the Author | More by this Author