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How He Loves
May 18, 2006 (tenth anniversary of the first broadcast of "Last Knight")
last modified May 21, 2006
by Amy R.
PG-13. Set before the tag of "Stranger Than Fiction." Please see the endnote for disclaimers, credits, and all that good stuff. This fanfiction is a tribute to the television series Forever Knight.
"Lucky boy." Somehow, he has pushed this to a draw. Incredible. I had planned total victory -- the irritating novelist dead at his hands, his obedience restored to me. Instead, though Nicholas will lose her, Miss Weiss will survive. "Lucky girl!"
Nicholas folds the pale woman in his arms one last time, closing his eyes. I step up into the air before he can look again, leaving the rooftop far behind. I have no need to see his expression vacillate between grief for the love I have wrested from him, and relief for the life he has wrested from me. How dare he? How dare he believe he can deter me? This is a temporary set-back only, a single move. My trenchcoat flaps noisily, so I straighten into the wind. Let him think me routed for the moment, if he must. I know what he must relearn: this game never ends, and I never lose.
I am Lacroix.
Whatever Nicholas may have thought he accomplished by his flaming defiance two years ago, he failed. I am here to prove it.
I land near the lake, the seed of this city that has curiously anchored my Nicholas -- and my Janette as well -- where I would have passed on through. I don't see the attraction. Here in the shadow of the cranes, between the warehouses and the docks, only the occasional streetlamp spills illumination, drawing a few straggling humans like moths. I stroll past these shivering unwashed, my appetite hardly tempted. The taste of that lunatic lingers in my mouth and in my mind. I lick my lips. Mad, yes, quite delectably insane and, moreover, a tang of -- yes, ardor for that too-perceptive authoress. Just like Nicholas.
Is this how he perceives her? The madman's emotions eddy and pool in my blood. Does my Nicholas see that mousy mortal as this one saw her: beautiful, powerful, passionate, encompassing, freeing? Impossible.
I know my Nicholas. I know what he needs and what he wants, and the chasm between the two. I know what to reveal to him and what to conceal. I know when to give him his head and when to reel him in. She did not even know he was a vampire until the moment before she did not know him at all!
I glance at a skinny, sharp-eyed boy lurking in a doorway, clearly awaiting something, someone. He would cleanse my palate, wash away these unwelcome perceptions. While I consider, he scurries back against the wall, as if I could not see him just as well out of the light. I continue down the long street, smiling. His is the right reaction, after all.
Not like Nicholas's. He knew this woman less than a week, and already his heart aches for her loss. Not just for himself, but for her! I feel it in him, how much he wants her, how much he wants to lose himself in her. Yet he gives her up rather than posses her as a vampire. Perhaps my Nicholas is as mad as my meal.
I know my Nicholas, though. I know what he was and what he will be. I know when to soothe him, provoke him, crush him. His strings are mine to pull, his wounds mine to inflict and bind. I know him.
So why is Emily Weiss still alive? Why is Nicholas not at my side?
The industrial docks have slipped behind me. Now I stride past hotels, restaurants and clubs. Mortals here button their coats as they move in pairs and packs from soirées to sports cars, smelling no less of desperation than the human rats behind the shipping warehouses. But this environment boasts better light, better music, and more complex self-deception.
Across the city, Nicholas still grieves. Blast him. Has he not done this a thousand times before? Yet he refuses to stop suffering. Asinine. This woman's regard could offer no purification. Only I can quiet his demons. How can he believe that something new grew out of their association? How can he refuse my judgment that there is nothing new under the stars?
I should tune him out, suppress his nonsensical fixation and move on. I should.
But no. I hold him in my awareness as I enter a luxury hotel's bar. I leave my coat with a tuxedoed servitor and survey the menu: a mere handful of couples, most apparently business travelers. The selection is sparse. But as I secure a potable if bloodless beverage from the bartender -- and tip him neither memorably much nor memorably little -- the remains of a wedding party pour in for a final drink after whatever charivari sees off a bridal couple in this generation.
The embittered man putting on a brave front? He draws me. But despite dark hair and broad features, he reminds me too much of Nicholas, and that is not the sport I want to end this round. The honey-blond ingénue unconsciously touching her conversation partner to reinforce her points? She, too, evokes someone unsuited to this bout. But perhaps another time. No, for now I want . . . there. The woman in green. Voluble but reserved, lush but modest, brown hair twisted in a knot at the base of her skull. Nicholas would pick her.
So I do.
Soon, I have her to myself, side by side on a suede divan. A small jungle of potted palms separates us from her party. A piece of abstract art screens us from the bar. She chatters with passable charm, going to some lengths to draw me out, and shares the sentiment from her friend's wedding in unexceptionable anecdotes that reveal more, doubtless, than she intends. Nicholas would be maudlin by now, ready to drown himself in her frank, hazel gaze. In a few hours, he would doubtless believe himself falling in love with her.
Her gestures are graceful and confiding, her laugh forgiving and supportive. Nicholas would find the woman in green a veritable manifestation of his abandoned god, a physical incarnation of second chances, free will and new life. Out of nothing more than that, Nicholas would give her all he is and call that love.
All he is, he owes to me.
When she leans her head trustingly on my shoulder, I rip out her throat.
See, Nicholas? This is how it should be! Simple and primal. Heat and blood. Over and done. Do you hear me, Nicholas?
Do you feel me?
I bask a moment in the vibrant life I have ended. Then I retrieve my coat and resume my stroll, less frustrated but no more enlightened. I am many blocks away before sirens begin to converge behind me. From an alley, I return to the air.
I always prefer flying, the wind whipping away mortal considerations. It is a pity humans had to discover mechanisms of flight with which to contest my sky. This city unfolds below me, a predator's paradise, as most cities are, with only a few fools like Nicholas to defend the oppressed, anonymous, forgotten, weak and naïve. I do not like this city, however. It is too orderly, too honest, too likely to erupt in Enforcers over some simple amenity like dead bodies in luxury hotel bars. I would rather return to Paris, Los Angeles, Mexico City or New Delhi. I would.
I land on the balcony of my rented townhouse and rest my arms on the stone balustrade. The sun will soon rise. I consider buying the building. After all, I am not going anywhere. Not as long as Nicholas is here.
I know the game. I know the rules. I know I will win.
But I do not know how Nicholas does it, the hope and the love, giving himself like that, again and again. I have seen him do it, again and again. But it eludes me. I have done it, what, twice? Three times? Four? And each destroyed me. Those loves still burn and blister, centuries after crumbling to dust. A vampire's heart must be cold. But even now Nicholas's heart warms as it did the night I first drained it.
He could have loved her, the woman I slew tonight. Her blood -- passionate and righteous and hideously merciful -- gentles the madman's inside me. I know how Nicholas would have loved her. I know exactly how she would have loved him, with his hair like afternoon sunlight, his eyes like the ocean at dawn, and his determination to forgive everyone but himself. How honored she would have been to forgive him on behalf of humanity, and how awed he would have been to accept her clemency.
In what he sees as this pit of our darkness, Nicholas refuses to stop shining. He is the very way out for which he searches. I must have that radiance, in him.
That would have been the woman's thought. It cannot be my own, surely.
Everything I know is nothing without him at my side. So I will bring him back to me. In this world, I always win!
I release the rail and move indoors, one step ahead of the break of day.
Mr. Parriot and Mr. Cohen created Forever Knight. The Sony Corporation owns it. I intend no infringement. Please support all authorized Forever Knight endeavors! (Have you bought your DVDs?)
Characters and situations in this fantasy fan story are entirely fictional. Any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental. (Vampires don't exist. Luxury hotel bars do, though.)
Inspiration. While this is not a song-challenge story, it was very much inspired by the Air Supply hit "Making Love out of Nothing at All," which first appeared as an original track on their Greatest Hits album, later repeated on their The Definitive Collection album.
Canon. Emily Weiss, her murdered assistant Andrew, and associated events come from the episode "Stranger Than Fiction" by Phil Bedard and Larry Lalonde. Other slight canonical allusions lunge willy-nilly around the series, everywhere from "Dark Knight, The Second Chapter" to "Be My Valentine" to "Francesca."
My sincere thanks to Shelley and Elisabeth for helping me with this vignette as a draft. Shelley kindly gave me an instructive conversation on the subject during a visit. And Elisabeth generously shared an enlightening line-edit via email. I greatly appreciate their support, in the time spent as much as the opinions expressed. The piece is better for their efforts. Any errors, of course, are my own.
I posted this to fkfic-l on the tenth anniversary of the first time I saw "Last Knight" not because this piece has anything particular to do with "Last Knight," but rather because, a decade on, we're still here. Memorial and celebration.
Please do not archive, post or distribute this story. I posted it on my "Bright Knight" website on May 21, 2006, after posting it to fkfic-l on May 18, 2006, and you're welcome to link to it here.
Thank you for reading! Your comments and constructive criticism are very welcome. Please email me or comment on my Livejournal or Dreamwidth. Again, thanks for reading!
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