This is Forever Knight, 15 years later. Nick neither killed nor vamped Natalie, he left her near death.
Mr. Parriot and Mr. Cohen created Forever Knight. The Sony Corporation owns it. I intend no infringement.
She was searching the crowd for some one. He knew it wasn't for him. Fifteen years ago it might have been... Would have been. But he killed that possibility long ago. Who would have thought mortality would be their undoing? They made it through the end of the world, not to mention crazed elder vampires who really took the whole "dark prince" vampire mystique too far. But, in the end, he couldn't, wouldn't bring her across. And she hadn't been the same around him after that.
Nick may have had centuries of life experience, but he was still a guy. Natalie's avoidance made him lonely; her chilly attitude when he went to the morgue for a case made him insecure. His insecurities drove him away.
Now it was years later and they both had grown. Or, at least, he hoped so. Maybe this was a bad idea. He knew he was tempting all sorts of fates just showing up, but he wanted to share this day, even if just peripherally .
Jenny Schanke was graduating medical school today. It was only yesterday that her father dragged Nick to school recitals and she sold him boxes of really bad candy bars to pay for a school trip to see the UN building in New York.
Even for a man who had lived as long as he had; this seemed too sudden.
Unbeknownst to everyone else milling around the campus grounds, Nick had tried to be a mysterious benefactor for Jenny. He knew how little Schanke had saved, and his widow's pension would barely cover their living expenses. Nick couldn't stay in town to protect her, not with everything that happened between him and Natalie. Myra's yearly holiday letter had to suffice as updates. As soon as he had heard that Jenny was getting ready to choose a college he contacted Myra as part of the De Brabant Foundation to offer a scholarship. Apparently he was too late.
Myra had thanked him profusely for the offer, and admitted that everything was covered. A distant cousin of Don's named Jeanette had left a sizable inheritance for Jenny as long as she used much of it for college. Nick had choked at that. Before he could say the wrong thing, like "what the Hell?!" he excused himself and ended the call. Nick knew of all of Schanke's family tree. Five days of working a stake out with his partner had Nick knowing more about the noble line of Schankes than any one person needed to know. He knew there was no Jeanette. He just didn't know why "his" Janette would do something so altruistic.
Warm eyes finally noticed his from across the quad. They lost a bit of their laughter, but didn't turn icy. Nick decided he would take what he could get, even friendly acquaintanceship would be better than the self-imposed exile he had been living. She politely excused herself from the people she was with. Nick waited for her in the shadowy colonnade. The sun had set a while ago, but he didn't want to wander openly around people who might remember him and notice how little he'd aged. And, really, there were just so many Dick Clark jokes he could take before he hit someone.
"Nick, hi," Natalie started hesitantly. "W... I didn't expect to see you here." Her voice trailed off to a whisper.
"This is a big day for Jenny," he shrugged. "I missed her wedding because of the location; I couldn't miss this."
They stood there, silently, nodding at each other like marionettes. This was silly, Nick decided. Apparently she decided the same thing at the same time.
"I.... You..." they both started and then stopped, finally smiling at each other as old friends.
"Go ahead," he said with a slightly New England accent. It really wasn't one of his better attempts to sound local to his new home, but he didn't plan to stay there very long. He had the oddest urge to see the Netherlands for a few decades.
"I... You... Sorry, I just never expected to see you again... And to see you standing there, not a day older."
"You know what I am, Nat."
She flinched a bit, either at his casual familiarity or his blase attitude about his life choice. He didn't intend either. He had schooled himself relentlessly on what was and wasn't to be said. Apparently his brain didn't tell his mouth, however.
"What I meant to say..." he started.
Natalie waived him down before he could work up his full-strength guilt mode. "There is knowing, and then there is knowing, you know. Fifteen years is a long time," she tried to explain while nonchalantly smoothing her hair back.
"I know. I'm not going to be here very long," he explained.
"Oh, I didn't mean..."
"No, Nick," Natalie assured. "It was good of you to come."
"Jenny..." he said while his eyes surveyed the crowd, spotting cops and a few vampires. His hackles would have been raised had he had any. Whatever else he might have said froze in his mouth. "She's in danger!"
"What?!" Natalie exclaimed. "I don't see anyone."
Nick was already pushing through the crowds of graduates and their parents. It took Natalie half the quad to catch up to him. "Nick!" Natalie hissed. She reached out, but he swerved around a family posing for pictures. "Stop, Nick!" A few steps more and she grabbed him by his coat's collar. It wasn't very dignified, but it worked.
"What makes you think she's in danger?" Natalie pretended to adjust his collar.
He looked ready to take off again. "There are two vampires over there," he said while pointing left. "And three more over there."
Natalie followed his gaze to the right. "And?"
"And?!" Nick scoffed.
"You don't see anything wrong?"
Natalie crossed her arms and smiled softly at Nick. "You honestly don't know?"
Various emotions crossed his face. In just seconds he was bewildered, annoyed, angry, confused. "Janette," Natalie stated as both question and answer. Nick was still looking, well, like Nick, Natalie had to admit to herself.
"I know she left Jenny some money..."
"Some money?" Natalie's eyes went round.
"A lot of money?"
"You could say that," Natalie nodded. "But, then double it."
"But... OK, how does this explain the vampires?"
Natalie led Nick to a quieter area to talk. "Jenny knows all about vampires." She had to hold Nick from taking off again. "What do you think happened after Janette left a mortal all that money?"
She could tell she was losing Nick to his own pity party; and part of her was ok with that. She no longer felt guilty every time Nick felt guilty. Natalie smiled. She felt a thousand times lighter.
"I'm glad this makes you so happy," Nick sniped.
"Thanks!" Ok, now she was just rubbing salt in the wound. She sobered up a bit. "The money Janette left Jenny was rather large. Even for immortals. It brought her attention. On top of that, she interned in my department for a year." Natalie looked over at Jenny. "She asked me about Janette on her first night shift."
That had been an interesting night. Jenny had seemed a bit jumpy when she logged in. She kept watching the clock. Natalie finally asked her what was so distracting. Well, actually "got a hot date" was more like it.
Jenny smiled shyly and shook her head. Natalie didn't press it because a new body was delivered with accompanying cops and business. She did notice Jenny spent more time examining the upper torso than was necessary for a gunshot wound to the head, but couldn't exactly fault thoroughness. The cops left and the room went from feeling too cramped to being empty.
"Looking for anything in particular?" Natalie leaned across the body to get a closer look at what Jenny was focusing on.
Jenny tilted her head a bit. "I was just thinking... A gunshot wound to the head would be an easy way to cover up other forms of murder."
"It is," Natalie agreed, giving Jenny a different look. It made Jenny uncomfortable at first, but she soon realized Natalie was looking at her like an adult. She had always felt a bit childlike around her dad's friends.
She twisted her fingers together as she tried to figure out how to say what she needed to say. "Last night this man came to my apartment. He said he knew dad, and just was in town and wanted to make sure I was ok. I recognized him, but it has been so long since dad... We talked for a little while. He knew Janette too."
Natalie looked like someone deflated her. "Lucien."
"He said I should call him Luke."
Natalie snorted. "Luke?"
"Yeah, he was tall. Well, everyone is tall to me." Jenny smiled Don's prize grin. "Mostly bald with a close, platinum blonde fade in the back. Really pale. I mean, pale to the extent that I suggested he add some iron to his diet. I guess med school really is rubbing off on me."
"You suggested Luci... Luke, take iron supplements?" Natalie laughed, loudly.
Jenny looked confused. "Yeah?"
"Luke... Iron..." Natalie wiped the tears of laughter from her face. She waved Jenny on to continue.
Apparently they had talked for hours about her dad and the "old days" and Janette. How her dad and Janette had an affinity for each other. When she thought he was hinting her dad might have cheated on her mom she was ready to throw him out on his ass. Had it been anyone else, he might have let her... Get her blood pressure going and then take a sip or three.
But Myra wasn't the only one to get a letter in the last few years. Janette had made it quite clear the Schankes were not to be touched. Ever.
He sat her down and cleared up her worries. Told her how her dad and Janette were friends and friends only. Mentioned the duck lamp; how it brought a little smile to her face every time... How it was so, human.
"There was just something off about him. I don't know a better way to put it... If I didn't know better, I'd swear he was a vampire..."
Natalie dropped the knife she was using. "A vampire?" She froze. "Don't be silly."
"Natalie?" Jenny walked slowly up to the head coroner. "It's ok. I've known about them since college and that night class I took on theater games. Wow, this was easier to say than I expected."
Jenny talked to Natalie the rest of the night. About vampires. About why she requested an internship at her department. About Janette.
"Uncle Luke!" a voice called out over the noise of the celebrants. Nick's eyes went wide. He turned around and around.
A very familiar figure was walking towards Jenny. Natalie put one hand on Nick's arm. "Don't."
"I never thought I would say this," Natalie gave a half-hearted chuckle. "'Luke' is wonderful to her. The father figure she needed." Ok, she knew that last line was aimed to hurt Nick.
"It was safer for me to leave," Nick responded dully.
Nick's head fell.
"It's not too late," Natalie said quietly. Well, that was rather trite on reflection.
"What I mean is that you can still be a part of her life."
"She doesn't need me."
"She doesn't need to be protected from everything you see as dangerous." She looked over at Jenny. "Jenny needs friends. You were her father's partner. You loved Janette."
"Natalie," Nick started.
"It's ok. You loved her. You knew her for how many centuries?" She nodded. "I'm glad you did."
"Yes, in an odd, roundabout way, you are the reason Jenny went to med school." Nick looked confused; not an unusual look on his face. Natalie could tell she was going to need to spell things out for him. "You introduced Don to Janette. Janette decided to leave her fortune to Jenny. Jenny was able to go to college..."
Nick looked over at Jenny and her 'uncle' once more. "She's ok?"
"Ok? She's on cloud nine." Natalie smiled encouragingly at her old friend. She saw Luke walk away from Jenny and gave Nick a little push. "Go talk to her."
He looked like he was sleepwalking. Natalie stayed where she was. It was up to him. Either he would accept the fact that people saw the world differently than he did, or he'd be alone forever.
She felt a cool breath on the back of her neck. "He'll be fine," she said.
"I know," a familiar voice said.
"You still scare him." She said, not facing her companion.
"Good." Luke stepped forward to stand next to Natalie. "I'd hate to have people think I've been domesticated."
"Defanged?" Natalie smirked.
The elder vampire hissed. "Don't mistake my fondness for Jenny for a weakness."
Natalie wasn't really listening. Her mind was half a quad away where Nick was re-introducing himself to Jenny. Maybe he had changed. She wasn't sure why, but she was willing to see where this led.