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10K Illustration, Nick and Natalie

Happiness Is

June 1996
last modified March 21, 1999

by Amy R.

G.  Set two realities to the left and straight on till morning, this is a piece of "Nobody Dies; Nobody Ever Dies" Forever Knight fanfiction fluff.  Further disclaimers, citations and credits are in the endnote.


          "Happiness is a handful of chocolate chips."

          "What?" Nick grinned confusedly, looking up at Natalie.

          "Happiness is a handful of chocolate chips," she said again, leaning over the back of the black, leather couch and offering him the little, yellow Tollhouse bag she'd just ripped open. "It's what Grace told me this morning, when I was about to pace a hole in her carpet."

          "You weren't actually nervous, were you?" Nick teased, taking a handful of the little brown morsels.

          "Of course I was nervous!" Natalie punched his shoulder lightly, and moved around the couch to sit next to him. "Weren't you?"

          "Yeah." His smile got wider, if that was possible. He popped a few of the chips into his mouth, and said, "It isn't every day a guy gets married, with Mass, tuxedo, reception and all. But at least I wasn't wearing holes in Schank's floor."

          "Oh no?" Natalie asked, leaning back on his shoulder. "When Myra got to Grace's, Jenny kept giggling over Uncle Nick and his breakfast cereal."

          "That wasn't nervousness," Nick protested. "That was . . . inexperience. I've only been eating the stuff for six months, Nat. Do you even realize how hard it is to open those plastic liners?"

          "Cereal everywhere, Jenny said. Raisin Bran all over the floor." She reached up to put a chocolate chip in his mouth. "Jenny said that Schanke was laughing so hard he started choking on his doughnut! Myra said that she was almost afraid that if she left the two of you alone, you'd never make it to the ceremony."

          "We got there, didn't we?" Nick kissed her lips gently. "Schank took good care of me." He reached for more chips. "Not that I exactly remember the ceremony. People. Sunshine. Flowers. You . . . . I do distinctly remember you." He kissed her again.

          "I should hope so," she said with mock ferocity. "That dress certainly wasn't for anyone else's benefit!"

          Nick's grin turned sly. "You know, there's probably something very ironic about your wearing a low-necked dress to marry a former vampire. I wonder if that is what Janette was thinking when she had it designed for you."

          "Ironic, shmironic," Natalie muttered. "August afternoons require certain measures, even in Toronto. The dresses she had designed for Sara, Myra, Tracy and Grace have almost the same cut, you know."

          "Actually, I didn't notice what anyone else was wearing." Nick's smile turned innocent again as he started playing with her hair.

          "Oh, good answer, Mr. Knight." Natalie tapped the end of his nose for emphasis.

          "I'm glad you approve, Mrs. Knight." Nick kissed her nose in response.

          Natalie sighed happily, and pulled his arm around her waist. "Nick," she began. "Janette has been wonderful this past year. But . . . she's different. Do you think it'll last? For Patrick, I mean."

          "For Patrick, I think it'll last." Nick's eyes grew distant. "If his aunt and uncle hadn't been killed by that drunk driver, if she hadn't believed Patrick's only alternatives were her and the government, I don't think she would ever have come back into our lives. Aristotle outdid himself in managing that one."

          "She seemed . . . happy, truly happy, at the reception tonight. It still seems odd, but from discussing schools with Myra to dancing with that vampire . . . . What is his name?"

          "The Inca?" Nick answered absently. "I'm still not sure. How did you know he's a vampire?"

          "He was dancing with Janette, Nick. Vampiric responses aren't exactly subtle. Besides which, you told me when he first arrived two years ago."

          "Oh." Nick blushed slightly.

          "You're still not her favorite person," Natalie said, making sure he was looking at her as she did. "But she told me that she'd found the best of both worlds now, and because of Robert -- and you -- she would always have them." Nick's face remained fallen, so Natalie tapped his nose again and said, "Did you see Patrick dancing with Rebecca Cohen? And Jenny? And Majel Reese?" She giggled. "Our friends and family are a bit short on boys in that generation, don't you think?"

          "Maybe we'll have to work on that," Nick said, kissing her more deeply.

          "Mmmmm. Maybe. Or maybe Grace will. Did you see her catch the bouquet?"

          "No. I thought Sara did."

          "Amy pushed her mom out, but Sara stepped back when I tossed it. Or so Tracy told me. I do believe I was facing a can-encumbered caddy at the time."

          "I can't believe Stonetree, Reese and Feliks did that to my car."

          "With Screed helping, I can't believe they didn't do worse to your car!"

          Nick wrinkled his nose at her and commandeered the chocolate chips. Natalie grinned up unrepentantly, and picked up the remote from the floor near his foot. Removing the shutters had only inspired Nick to new heights of remote control consolidation. She pointed it at the stereo, and turned on the CD Urs had dedicated to them. Love songs of the twentieth century. Nat congratulated herself on convincing the girl to take her talents more seriously. "Did you tell her to sing that?"

          "What?" Nick asked.

          "The first dance at the reception tonight. 'Save the Best for Last.' How did she know?"

          "I think there's more to Urs than meets the eye," Nick replied, smiling over the memory. "And I did save the best for last. Thank you so much for waiting." He pulled her back into his arms and kissed her more seriously than he had since the ceremony itself. That had been ever so slightly embarrassing -- suddenly remembering that the eyes of everyone you know are on you, just as your knees are about to buckle.

          Having dropped the remote to run her hands through his hair, Natalie only realized she'd begun unbuttoning Nick's shirt when she felt the cross he was wearing around his neck, its silver still cold against his warm skin. She pulled it out for a better look, having had other things on her mind when it was given to him.

          "Appropriate, don't you think?" Nick whispered.

          "It's lovely." She looked up into his eyes. "Nick . . . was that really . . . I mean, if that was her, then . . ."

          Nick pulled back, and took her hands between his. "I'm still not sure where she's been all these years, Nat, but it's my fault she didn't know to come looking for me. For us. She thought I was mortal, and until she ran into Lacroix in Delhi last month . . ." His voice trailed off as he called to mind the strangely familiar woman who'd come to the reception with LaCroix. He'd immediately gone on the defensive when his one-time master stepped through the door. In that, he and Janette were in perfect accord, as they were in shock when Lacroix reached behind him and escorted Fleur into the Raven.

          "Your sister is beautiful and gracious," Natalie told him. "If Lacroix meant some sort of irony in their gift, double and triple wrapped as it was, I am sure she didn't."

          "I don't think, for once, irony was on Lacroix's mind." Nick fingered the elegant cross. "I've never seen him like that before . . . . Never. At peace with himself and the world around him." He brought her hands up to his mouth and kissed them. "He looked the way you make me feel."

          Natalie thought her heart felt like the Grinch's, suddenly shooting up three sizes, and she reached out to stroke Nick's face. There was more that had to be said, though. "Nick . . . while you were listening to Captain Cohen debate police procedure with Commissioner Vetter, and before Miklos helped Brianna pull her back out for another dance, Alma seemed to take a great deal of pleasure in telling me that it was human blood in Fleur's glass. Does that bother you?"

          Nick was silent for a moment. "She's not a carouche, Nat, and I've done enough of making life decisions for her. At this end of history, my baby sister doesn't need my protection." He grinned wryly. "And with the changes Janette has made in the Raven's suppliers, I don't think there's a moral quandary there any longer, either. Do you?"

          Natalie grinned back, thinking of the paper trail she and Larry Merlin had created to hide Janette's now unimpeachable sources -- labs, hospitals, morgues, and slaughterhouses. The Raven might never again satisfy a connoisseur, but it now served carouches as well as vampires, and Janette was comfortable explaining the business to Patrick . . . all of the business.

          "So we've determined that everyone else is happy," Nick whispered, kissing Natalie's ear. "And I'm definitely happy. How about you, Natalie Lambert Knight, love of my eight hundred and four years? Are you happy?"

          "Mmm-mmmm. But I'm also practical. Don't we have a plane to Paris to catch tomorrow afternoon? And isn't there packing to be done yet?"

          "Tracy and Vachon took care of it," he replied, moving his attention to her neck. "They've become real pals since Tracy fell for Lionel."

          "Courtesy of Myra the Matchmaker." She giggled. "Tracy and Vachon? You let Vachon pack for us?"

          "He's taken a lot of trips," Nick shrugged, and then grinned, letting his fingers replace his lips on her throat. "Tracy told him what to do. Did you know that she alphabetizes her office supplies and separates her paper clips by size and color? I think we can trust her with our clothes." Nick's hands dropped lower. "And speaking of our clothes . . . ."

          The empty bag of chocolate chips was soon left on the couch alone.





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