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Janette and the Large Steamer Trunk

Steamer Trunk Space

February 2008
Last modified February 7, 2008

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.


1925 Paris

        Janette packed her smallest trunk.  Her hands moved swiftly, expertly, but a small frown tugged at her lips.  Other passengers would be wearing the kind of heavy winter wraps she simply could not fit in the little container along with the ensembles needed to illustrate how people should treat her.  She would have to wear her fur in situations to which it was not entirely appropriate.

        Lacroix had said that the speed needed to overtake Nicolas was what limited her luggage, but she knew better.  On the surface, because she had surrendered what he wanted so quickly -- Nicolas's destination -- Lacroix's punishment appeared to be what he considered mild and amusing.  She had given Nicolas her largest trunk, so Lacroix compelled her to make do with her smallest, giving no consideration to the volume of a lady's hats alone, not to mention shoes.  But she was no fool, mistaking the surface for the depths.  Much more importantly, Lacroix's directive ruthlessly restricted the bottled blood she could bring.  He made her dependent on him for the duration of the voyage.

        Lacroix meant to humble her.  He meant to remind her of her place.  As if she had ever forgotten.  She had known better than to dare to hint that Lacroix might be subject to the same constraints she was, when it came to Nicolas, but . . . prudence often dimmed and drifted, when it came to Nicolas, when he strode up urgent and determined and as vibrant as if his heart still beat the tempo of that first night.  Contagious, that's what her Crusader was.

        "He's gone," Janette had told Lacroix when he loomed behind her last night.  It was a fact. Indisputable, uncontextualized, raw.  Nicolas was gone, a week since.  Lacroix wouldn't rebuke her for a fact, she had thought.

        Janette sat on her trunk, but her weight wasn't enough to shut it.  She used vampiric strength to close the last gap and buckle the straps.  The pressure would keep the clothes from wrinkling and the too-few stainless-steel canteens in the hidden compartment from shifting.

        With a sigh, she looked up and around her suite.  She did not expect to see this home again.  With more time, she could have commanded a pretty price for the tasteful Egyptian-style decorations that had been all the vogue since Howard Carter had unearthed the boy-pharaoh's tomb three years before.  Nicolas had been so excited.  Janette had been afraid that Lacroix's wager in Khartoum would finally spoil Nicolas's enthusiasm for this new science, a pursuit that had made him happier than anything since he learned to play the piano.  But he recovered remarkably quickly, for Nicolas, and embraced the Tutankhamen craze like the rest of Paris.  Something about the rush of discovery after the lingering devastation of the Great War filled him with hope.

        A hopeful Nicolas was irresistible.

        "Just forget him," she had dared to advise Lacroix, even so.  She knew no mere fact of distance could buy Nicolas's freedom.  She had watched him tender that coin many times.  So she had swallowed her fear, and had risked suggesting to Lacroix the solution she had proposed for herself.

        Janette stood.  She put on her coordinated coat, hat and muff, leaned her umbrella against the doorjamb, and checked the contents of her beaded handbag.  Passport, cosmetics, cigarettes, matches, hairbrush, handkerchiefs, money -- jewels, always better than paper tenders, she wore on her person -- and a silver flask of merlot-cut blood, full and almost fresh.  She licked her lips, but put it back.  Let the rationing begin.  Her gluttonous vampiric appetite was hard enough for her to control in her chosen refuge, quarters free of mortal temptations nestled inside a metropolis of available, anonymous millions.  Shipboard, she must depend on Lacroix's bounty or protection.  She knew he didn't care which.

        "We can get a new one," she had said.  And had it been such a mad idea?  There had been many before Nicolas, and not a few since, and surely Nicolas himself had displaced her, as she supposed -- but never asked -- that she had filled an empty place herself.  Lacroix's detestation of solitude was as close to a vulnerability as Janette had ever observed in him.  In saying such a thing aloud, she had approached the frontier of her own safety on Nicolas's behalf.  Those words went further than she ever had before.

        They had been as far as she could go.

        Janette circled each room, briskly double and triple-checking every cupboard and shelf for any trace of vampiric occupation.  Enforcer attention would never be on her head.  She returned to her trunk and glanced at the tall-case clock near the door.  Lacroix had said to arrive by sunset; their ship would leave with the tide.  If the sun singed her on the way, still that was better than making him late.

        "I don't want a new one." Lacroix had snarled. "I like that one!"

        And of course she had known how he felt.  She did not want a new one, either, just now.  She liked that one, too, always.  But she had let Nicolas go again and again over the years.  For herself, him or Lacroix; by choice, accident or compulsion; Janette had learned how to live without Nicolas.

        Lacroix never had.

        And surprising him in that knowledge last night was the real sin for which she was paying now.  Not sending Nicolas to Constantine, nor even trying to keep the secret.  Janette shivered away the ghost of Lacroix's grip on her neck.

        The knock came at last.  Janette opened her door.

        "Good afternoon, mademoiselle."  The driver doffed his cap.  "May I take your trunk?"

        "Certainly," Janette gestured him in and picked up her umbrella.  "Have you parked directly outside the building?"

        "Under the awning, as requested."  He nodded and reached for her little trunk one-handed.  "It's not raining anymore, though, so you don't need to worry."  Her luggage didn't budge.  He tried again with both hands, heaved the trunk into the hall and looked back at her, wide-eyed.  "Excuse me, mademoiselle, but what do you have in here?"

        "Oh, you know," Janette smiled as she locked the door behind them, "whatever fit."




  • 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!  (We have three DVD sets, three novels, and two soundtracks to buy.  Anything else official and authorized out there?)

    • Characters and situations in this fantasy fanfiction are entirely fictional.  Any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental.  (Vampires don't exist.  Hidden compartments do, though.)

  • Citations

    • This piece is set between the flashbacks of the second-season episode "Father's Day," and quotes two lines of dialogue from that episode.
      Janette: He's gone.  Just forget him.  We can get a new one.
      Lacroix: I don't want a new one. I like that one! What did he tell you, Janette?  That he doesn't belong with us?  Nonsense.  He will always be part of us.  You know that.  He needs us to survive.
      Janette: Constantine. I sent him to Constantine.

    • "Lacroix's wager in Khartoum" is from the second-season episode "Faithful Followers." That's when Lacroix's friend Thomas murders Nick's friend, scholar Helen Ruskin-Slater. Nick's passion for archaeology is found throughout the series, with "Dark Knight," "Spin Doctor" and "Faithful Followers" the best examples.

    • The title ("Steamer Trunk Space") smushes the "steamer trunk" from "Father's Day" (a prop also seen in Nick's loft in "Black Buddha" and in the Raven in "Last Knight") together with Nick's famous "most trunk space" remark from "Dark Knight."

    • The spelling "Nicolas" is meant to represent Janette's French pronunciation of Nick's name, differing from Lacroix's English "Nicholas" pronunciation.

  • Credits

    • Many thanks to Valerie, who both beta-read the piece and inspired it in the first place with an off-hand remark while discussing Lifetime's BloodTies!  Thanks also to Shelley, who challenged me to produce a "ficlet" on a deadline.  (This is longer than she wanted, and also late, I'm afraid.)  Errors, of course, are all my own!

    • I wrote "Steamer Trunk Space" in December 2007.  Valerie beta-read it in January 2008.  I posted it to fkfic-l on the morning of February 7, 2008, and archived it here that night.  Please do not archive, post or distribute this story.  You're welcome to link to it here, on my FK fansite.

    • Thank you for reading!  Your comments and constructive criticism would be valued, if you chose to share them.  Please email me or comment on my Livejournal or Dreamwidth.  Again, truly, thanks for reading!

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