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Holding a Package

Send My Love

July/August 2006
Last modified December 26, 2006

by Amy R.

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


          Natalie stepped out of Ottawa's December wind into the post office lobby.  Shaking her head to shed any snow before it melted down her back, she shifted the cardboard box in her arms and took her place at the end of the queue with great satisfaction.  Her package held four presents -- one each for her niece Amy, and Amy's mother, stepfather and little half-brother -- and even the tedium of a line-up dissolved under the goodwill-toward-all delight of getting her Christmas gifts on their way to Toronto.

          "Excuse me, ma'am," said a young man with a 'closed' sign in his hand.  "You'll be our last customer tonight.  I just need to put this notice on the post behind you there."

          She smiled visions of sugarplums at him, and edged out of his way.  "You go right ahead."  Looking up the line, past scattered individuals at the postal boxes on the wall, Natalie noticed that few of her fellow patrons appeared happy to be there on the last day Canada Post could promise delivery by Christmas.  Like everyone in the vicinity, she heard exactly the inconvenience it was causing the man complaining about it on his cell phone.  Natalie felt sorry for all of them, and suppressed her urge to sing along with the jazzy "Silver Bells" lilting from the sound system.  She unbuttoned her coat, pushed her gloves into her pockets, and settled down for her long winter's wait.

          Then she looked again at the people by the postal boxes.

          It couldn't be.

          Thick black hair spilled from beneath a plum pashmina scarf, down to a matching leather coat, above black jeans and sculptured boots clearly competent for both fashion runways and blizzards.  The woman's back was to Natalie, but the figure, the posture was so familiar.  Ridiculously, impossibly familiar.

          In the window, turned into a mirror by winter's early darkness, her eyes met Janette's.

          The vampire looked as startled as Natalie felt.  Startled, but beautiful, exactly as she had been in Toronto -- had it been so many years already?  Only the cosmetics and clothes had changed.  The woman beneath remained a living Di Vinci painting, frozen in time.

          In other circumstances, that thought might have set Natalie musing on her own gray hair and glasses, wrinkles and worries -- the spoils of surviving into middle age.  It might have made her grateful she was wearing her best meet-with-the-mucky-mucks suit, instead of her worst heading-home-from-the-gym sweats.  But in this moment, her mind flooded with the bleak early weeks of 1996, when she had three murdered Montreal arsonists in her morgue -- one by bullets, two by exsanguination, all by Janette -- and only a pile of paperwork in which, somehow, to hide that perilous fact, to protect herself and Tracy from the Enforcers, and keep Nick close.

          She had not thought of Nick in months.  He didn't even come up in therapy anymore.  Much.

          And now here was Janette, just across the room, and closer with each step the line moved.

          Janette had dropped her gaze from the mirroring window and locked the postal box while Natalie advanced with the line.  Now, Janette frowned at a slim stack of envelopes in her leather-gloved hand.  The vampire looked longingly at the door, then back at the envelopes.  Natalie rooted silently for the easy out.  Yes, leave!  As much as Natalie suddenly wanted to know whatever she could get Janette to tell her, she wanted even more to go back in time three minutes to a world where she had not seen a vampire in a decade, a pocketed stake was just an old habit, and all the associated emotions were safely sorted, stored and dusty with disuse.

          Where nothing made her see just how fast the time was passing.

          Well, she had no intention of leaving her place in line, not for vampire, murderer or apocalyptic space debris.  She had presents to send.

          Natalie saw Janette sigh before setting a deliberate pace straight for her at the end of the line.  The vampire held up a pink card, and smiled almost apologetically.  "Package notice.  You have to pick them up at the counter, you know."

          "Yes."  Natalie mentally kicked herself for having nothing more intelligent to say.  So, how's being undead again?  Were you really the one who killed those men?  What are you doing back in Canada still looking exactly like you did when there was a nationwide warrant for your arrest?

          Have you seen Nick, and how is he, and is he still trying to become human?

          Did it take him as long to get over me as it took me to get over him?

          Natalie mentally kicked herself again.  Great, brain bruising.  Exactly what she needed.

          "Is this going to be awkward, Doctor Lambert?" Janette asked softly.  "Or are we just two old acquaintances, passing casually -- and quite unmemorably?"

          "I'm all for casual, myself."


          "Eh, miss," said the young man who had posted the sign.  "I'm really sorry, but the line closed behind the lady in front of you."

          "She's just picking up a package," Natalie said.  Janette flourished the pink slip.  "That's all right, isn't it?"

          "Um."  He agonized over the question, until Janette smiled at him.  A dazed grin bloomed across his face.  "Sure.  Absolutely.  Just let me have that notice, eh, and I'll fetch it for you."  Slip in hand, he retreated through the door beside the counter.

          "Did that take special talent?" Natalie asked as the line inched forward.

          "No.  Just practice."  Janette shrugged.  "So.  What does one say in these situations?  You look well."

          "Thank you," Natalie laughed.  "That is indeed what people say at times like this.  Also, 'you haven't changed a bit,' 'what do you do these days,' and 'how is old so-and-so.'"

          Janette cocked her head.  "What do you do these days?"

          "I work at the national office of the Public Health Agency."  When the government created the new organization after the SARS outbreaks, it had seemed a perfect opportunity to move on, and a way to address the feeling that had haunted her since Linda Wyatt's failed vaccine and Cal's illness, that she was not making all the difference she should.

          "Mad cow disease and bird flu?" Janette asked.

          "Those are both still more active headaches for Agriculture, and, please God, they'll stay there.  But things like that, yes."  The line edged forward again.  "How about you?"

          "Oh, this and that."  Janette looked at the door through which her pink slip had vanished.  "And what do you do outside work?"

          "There's life outside work?" Natalie laughed again, and hoped Janette couldn't hear the anxiety that was making her giddy and garrulous.  "Outside, let's see.  I fundraise for the Luce Foundation, and I belong to a club that rents a theater every month to screen the oldest movies we can get our hands on.  We're just coming off a very successful marathon of silents all filmed at Niagara."

          "It would be rude to ask if you're single, wouldn't it?"

          "Unless you're planning to ask me out or fix me up, yes."

          This time, Janette laughed.  "Indeed.  I agree entirely."  She looked again at the door.

          Natalie concentrated on not asking after Nick.  It should not matter how he was.  She wished him well, of course; with all her heart, she wished him well.  But how she was should be in no way affected by how he was.


          She had thought she had kept herself prepared for the constant possibility that he might have to run if his secret were exposed.  But she and Nick had gotten so close, in so many ways.  Close to his humanity, close to each other.  So when it had all come tumbling down, and Nick had come to her apartment to tell her, Natalie had asked to go with him.

          He had turned her down.

          Again, he had turned her down, just as he had when they had thought the asteroid was coming, and for just the same reasons he had given then.  The first time, she had been mortified.  The second, she had wanted to die.

          "You can move up, if you like," Janette suggested.

          Natalie jumped slightly.  "Thanks."  She rearranged her grip on her box and stepped forward.

          "About ten years ago?"


          "Your memory.  How far it took you from the here and now."

          "Oh.  Yes, about that," Natalie acknowledged.  "How did you know?  I remember, Nick used to have a lot of consuming memories.  Is there something quantifiable about them, that you can estimate their origin?"

          "Nothing so scientific.  Sorry.  That's merely the time my memory is pulling me toward, too."

          Natalie bit her tongue to avoid asking.  If she asked, the answer might be that he had given up, gone back to Lacroix.  The answer might be that it had all been in vain.  And what would she do with an answer like that?

          What could she do with any answer at all, if she were not prepared to give up her whole life for him again?  It had taken so much to get it back the first time.

          "Here you go, miss," the young man returned, still wide-eyed but now self-important, bearing a stiff photo envelope with international airmail markings.

          Janette thanked him with another smile, this time so shorting out his brain that he forgot to request her identification.  He scurried back to his door, and she turned to go.  "Farewell, Doctor Lambert."

          "Goodbye."  Natalie watched her, thinking of the old wives' tale that if you watched someone depart, you would never see her return.

          Halfway to the door, Janette stopped.  Few customers remained in line, and the sound system wafted a muzak "Silent Night," so Natalie had no trouble hearing the quiet question.  "Should he regret that he told you goodbye?  All his self-serving justifications.  Would you have been happier if he had left . . . cleanly?"

          "No!"  Natalie stared at her old acquaintance, suddenly struck that Janette did not look quite the same, after all.  Something in her eyes?  Natalie set her package on the floor and left the line.  She reached out to clasp Janette's shoulder, but changed her gesture at the last, crossing her arms instead.  "A thousand times, 'no.'  He should never regret telling me the truth.  Respecting me enough to explain.  If he hadn't even cared enough to tell me -- I know he almost did once before; I found out from a Desk Sergeant that time -- but I don't know where he got the damn fool idea that leaving without a word is anything but selfish."

          "It's a family thing." Janette spoke so quietly that she almost hid the strain in her words.

          "Your 'family.'"  Natalie took a deep breath.  "I don't know that I'd be alive and sane today if he hadn't bothered to say goodbye then.  But he did, and I am, and it's Christmastime."  She found herself smiling again.  "Tell him that, if you think it will do him good."

          Janette looked at Natalie with an expression she did not recognize.  Then Janette looked past her, at the line.  "Your box is next."

          "So it is.  Merry Christmas, Janette."

          "I don't . . . Joyeux Noel, Natalie."

          Janette must have left while Natalie was handing the postal clerk her box, because Natalie did not see her go.

~ ~ ~

          Well after midnight, Janette pinned shut two layers of heavy hotel curtains.  She did so in silence, since she had mislaid her MP3 player, and all the radio stations seemed to be broadcasting Christmas music.  She had had enough of that for the year already.  And she had not had much silence in a long time, it occurred to her.  Few did, anymore.

          The curtains secured, she sat on the bed and propped her laptop on a pillow on her knees, ignoring the elaborate partners' desk in the next room, with its wires and outlets.  She typed and moused and periodically refilled the goblet on the nightstand from a bottle not provided by room service.

          When the bottle was empty, all too soon, Janette sighed.  She had procrastinated enough.  She began a new email:


I saw her tonight. She seems healthy
and happy.

This is not good for you. Or for her.
Never, ever ask me to do this again.

          She stared at the note until she could feel the dawn on the other side of the drapes.  At last, she added:

But the next time I see you, if you ask,
I will tell you why I left.


          She clicked "send."




  • Disclaimers

    • 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 pre-ordered your season-three DVDs?)

    • Characters and situations in this fantasy fanfiction are entirely fictional.  Any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental.  (Vampires don't exist.  The Canadian Public Health Agency does, though.)

  • Citations

    • First Season. Natalie's niece Amy, sister-in-law Sara, and deceased brother Richard are from "I Will Repay."  The Enforcers are from "Unreality TV."  Natalie's taste in movies comes from "False Witness."

    • Second Season.  Leonardo's portrait of Janette is from "Partners of the Month."  The asteroid references are to "A More Permanent Hell."  The Luce Foundation invokes "Undue Process."

    • Third Season.  The Montreal arsonists are from "The Human Factor."  Linda Wyatt and Cal are from "Fever."  The time Natalie found out from a Desk Sergeant is in "Black Buddha."  That Nick is driven from Toronto by having his secret exposed and comes to Natalie's home to tell her so is a divergence narrowly pre-empting "Last Knight."

    • Cross-season.  Janette choosing to leave Nick without an explanation happens once in the "Partners of the Month" flashbacks, once in "The Human Factor" flashbacks (learned by Nick in the "Black Buddha" present), and again in "The Human Factor" present.

    • Title.  This piece was inspired by the Journey song "Send Her My Love" (1983) by S. Perry and J. Cain, from the albums Frontiers and Greatest Hits.

  • Credits

    • My sincere thanks to Elisabeth, who spared precious time to beta-read for me.  With skill and tact, she advised deep pruning of digressions, and laser surgery on expressions.  The story is much improved by her efforts.  (Any remaining errors are solely mine.)

    • I first wrote this vignette on July 4, 2006, hunted long for a beta-reader, finally posted to fkfic-l on September 19, 2006, and archived it here on my own website on September 23, 2006.  Please do not archive, post or otherwise distribute this story.  You're welcome to link to it here, on my FK fansite.

    • Thank you for reading!  Your comments and constructive criticism are welcome.  (Feedback drives and guides fan authors, you know.)  Please email me or comment on my LiveJournal or Dreamwidth.  Again, truly, thanks for reading!

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