The following story was inspired my the Melissa Etheridge's song "Silent Legacy". The lyrics of which are included through various parts of the story.

No copyright infingement intended. All characters within are the property of Parriott and Co.

I would like to thank L.D. Steele and Judy Freudenthal for beta reading. Any comments, questions, queries, virtual chocolate can be directed at jlstapleton@celtic-dragon.ca


The Legacy
By Ceridwyn2

On the roadside along the 401, was a small motel, it's name was not important. However, what was important was the occupant of one of the rooms. In the darkness of that motel room sat Natalie Lambert, perched upon the end of the single bed. Her knees were bent and her arms, drawn around her legs, gathered them up against her chest. She wept silently and bent her head down to rest against her knees. She stayed that way for a long while before she stood, and went to open the curtains to reveal the night sky. There was a lighted candle which sat upon the dresser.

From a bottle on the night stand, she poured into a wine glass some blood mixed with red wine. Bringing it to her mouth, she took a small sip and then placed the glass back onto the night-stand. Natalie walked over to the small desk and turned on a lamp. From the desk drawer, she removed some paper and a pen and began to write.

Natalie had lost many people in her life. First her parents died and her grandmother, and then recently, she'd lost her brother to a horrible death. Even this past year, she'd lost two friends to their untimely demise. Two nights ago, she picked up the newspaper to discover that a girl she had gone through school with, had died in a domestic dispute. How many more people would she have to lose? But she would have to deal with that now, as it was inevitable, that she would outlive her mortal friends.

Dear Nick,
I can't stay here in Toronto. Too much has happened.
I can't stay and watch my friends die, and know that I won't.
It'll be too hard. I'm sorry I had to leave.

She stopped. The tears were falling again. Red splotches spotted the page. She pushed the papers back and turned the desk lamp off. She walked back to the bed and lay there on her stomach; her arms folded on the pillow and her head turned to the side, rested upon her arms. She couldn't sleep, but she was thoroughly exhausted. Suddenly she sat upright. Another was near by.

Within a moment, the bolt on the motel room door was broken and the door was pushed in. LaCroix.

"What are you doing here?" Natalie asked with barely masked contempt.

"There are some things you need to know."

"I know all I need to know," she responded again with a defiant stance.

"So Nicholas has informed you of our Code?"

"Yes. Now why are you here? You would have already known Nick had told me the rules."

"Perhaps." LaCroix turned towards the window and looked out. "But remember, wherever you go, our kind will always know where you are. And if anything goes wrong, the Enforcers will be sure to come."

"You can't threaten me anymore, LaCroix."

"Never forget that I am much older and much stronger than you."

Natalie walked over to the door and opened it. "Leave."

"As you wish." He had a sinister smile on his face as he turned and left. Natalie closed the door behind him and shook. Slowly she moved to the desk and put her hands on the top to brace herself from falling. She found the chair and sat down, taking in some calming breaths. Half an hour later, there was another knock on the door.

"Leave me alone, LaCroix."

"Natalie. It's me, Nick."

"Nick? How?" she asked as she opened the door.

"I followed him here."

"Why are you here?"

"Do you even have to ask? I love you."

"Nick. Please, don't."

"Nat, come back with me."

"I can't. It's too hard. How do you do it? To stay and watch your friends die, knowing that you never will?"

"It's hard. Especially when friends die unnecessarily."

"Like Schanke and Cohen."

"Yes."

"Now you see why I must go."

"Nat, we can work through this. Come back with me to Toronto. If you still feel that you truly can't stay, we'll go. Anywhere you want.

Natalie wasn't in the mood to argue, so she just agreed. For now. "Fine. Just wait a second, all right? Let me get my jacket and purse." She grabbed both off the back of the desk chair, took the note she had written, crumpled it up and put it in her purse. She removed some money and placed it on the desk to pay for the broken lock, then she picked up a match-book, and slipped it into her jacket pocket. She blew out the candle, walked past him and out the door. "Come on. Let's go."

Why did you steal the matches
From the one room motel
Once they gave you answers
Now they give you hell
They will never understand
They wonder where they did go wrong
How could you be so selfish
Why can't you get along

And as you pray in your darkness
For wings to set you free
You are bound to your silent legacy

In the quietness of his loft, Natalie sat cross-legged on the black leather couch, and placed her hands on her thighs. While Nick's blood intake remained bovine, he knew that Natalie was still young and needed the strength from the human blood. Without a sound, Nick moved to the couch from the kitchen, and placed a glass of blood into her hands.

"Nat, is there something bothering you?" He watched as she brought the blood up to her lips and took a sip.

"Sometimes it's hard. You want to confide in your friends, but you know you can't."

"How's work?" He tried to move the conversation in a different direction.

"Difficult. But I'm getting used to it again. Grace keeps complaining that I'm too pale," she said with a slight laugh. But her demeanor changed back when next she spoke. "I never really realized how much blood I came into contact each day. I mean I knew there was a lot of blood, but for our kind... I know how it must have been, and still is for you at crime scenes. The blood lust is so intense."

"Nat, do you regret becoming a vampire?"

"No. It was my choice. Remember what I told you that night. I have faith in you, in me, in us." She brought her hand up to his cheek. "Nick, I love you. That will never change."

"Do you still want to leave?"

"I don't know." She leaned into him as he put his arms around her. The two of them lay down on the couch and just held each other as they slept.

Three weeks later...

"81 Kilo, please respond. 81 Kilo."

Nick spoke as he picked up the dispatch speaker in his car. "This is 81 Kilo."

"We've got a homicide down off Dundas, between Bay and Young Streets. The M.E.'s already there."

"Okay, we're down on Queen Street West. We'll be there momentarily. 81 Kilo out."

"The M.E. - Natalie Lambert - you two are close, right?"

Nick paused before speaking. He'd recently been assigned a new partner. A fellow in his mid-thirties. Detective Second-Grade Mitch Lawrence. A transfer from the Halifax Metro Police Force. This was his third partner in six years. "Yes, we are." Nick shot him a glance that told him that particular discus- sion was over. He turned the radio on and tuned it into CERK. The NightCrawler was in the middle of a monologue.

"... And so you see, Ladies and Gentlemen, the intracies of family dynamics are unique. You see, I recently had a new addition to my family. A new person borne into this existance, open to a world of possibilities, never before imagined."

"Who is that guy? What is this philosophical crap?"

"He - LaCroix - is a good friend. Plain and simple." They continued in silence until they arrived at the crime scene. Knight and Lawrence got out and walked up to Captain Reese.

"Captain, what have we got?"

"Single homicide. Gunshots. Double entry. Chest and abdomen."

"Where's Natalie?"

"She's already left. She signed off on the preliminary report and called in another doctor to do the autopsy. She said she wasn't feeling too well."

"Lawrence, can you finish up on this. I have to take care of something."

"Knight, -" Reese started.

"Cap, I've gotta see if she's all right."

"Fine. For now. But I wan't to talk to you later."

"Later. Sure. Bye." Nick got into his car and drove straight to Natalie's apartment.

Her apartment was dark. There was only the sound of Sydney's meows. He curled himself up against Nick's legs and looked at him. Nick picked up the grey-haired cat and looked at him. "Hey, Sydney, do you know where Nat is?"

He got a lonely meow in response.

"Nat where are you?" Nick put Sydney down and left her apartment. Waiting until there was no one in sight, he took to the sky. He stopped on top of some apartment buildings, and tried to detect her presence. Finally, he arrived down in the Beaches, along Lake Ontario. He walked slowly across the sand to the park bench where Natalie sat. He paused as he got close. The recent smell of death. He approached cautiously. It had been an hour since she had left the crime scene.

"Nat. What's wrong?"

She looked up at him through a mass of curls. Her brilliant blue eyes were marred along the lids with red, and twin streaks of blood tears marked lines against her alabaster-toned skin.

"He's dead."

"Nat."

"I killed him. Drained him. I didn't intend to, but I couldn't stop."

"Can you tell me what happened?"

Natalie tucked her legs up under her and stared out across the lake. "I had to leave the crime scene. The blood was just too much. So I left. I drove for a while, and then got out and just walked. There were two men fighting as they came out of a bar. A knife was drawn and one of them was stabbed pretty bad. The other ran off. I went over to him to help. As I sat there next to him and pressed down on the ounds to slow the bleeding. There it was again. All that blood. I could feel the change within me. All I could hear was LaCroix's speeches on the hunt and the nature of our kind. I tried to stop the feelings that were burning its way inside me. Before I knew it, my teeth were in his neck and I was draining him." Natalie started hyperventilating, and she looked directly at Nick. "Oh God, Nick. What have I done?"

He gently pulled her against him. "Shhh, Natalie. It wasn't your fault."

"But it was. I could have saved him."

"Could you?"

"If he was brought to the hospital in time."

"Where's the body?"

"Before I came here, I called the Raven. One of the others took him and disposed of the body." Natalie looked down to the ground and then back at him. "Can we go home, Nick?"

"Okay, we'll go." He helped her up. Together they walked for a long while, then they took a taxi to Natalie's apartment. Once inside, her headed to her sofa and lay her head on the rest and talked to each other for hours.

You've seen it in the movies
And you've heard it on the street
Craving the affection
Your blood is full of heat
They don't listen to youre reasons
As original sin
Deny all that you feel
And they will bring you home again.

And as you pray in your darkness
For wings to set you free
You are bound to your silent legacy

In the late pre-dawn hours, Nick and Natalie moved to her bedroom. The heavy duty blinds throughout the apartment were drawn, and with only a light on low, there was minimal lighting - all they really needed.

She went to her dresser and pulled out an oversized t-shirt and slid onto the right side of the bed. Nick removed his clothes down to his silk boxers and slid into the other side, next to her. She took one of his arms and brought it around her, so he enveloped her. She curled up into him so that they formed like spoons in a drawer.

She fell asleep there in his arms; her thick, chestnut-coloured hair draped on the pillow behind her, except for a few straggly curly strands fell over her face.

Nick nuzzled his face at the nape of her neck for a few minutes, the slightly sweet scent of her hair brushed against his nose, intoxicating him. He relished in her closeness. Until recently, he never thought it possible. He loved her, but was terrified that he would kill her by draining her too much. And he very nearly did that night almost a month ago. It still terrified him.

In spite of what happened, he began to recall the events of April 14th. Natalie had just lost a good friend to suicide, and then Nick's partner - his second partner - died a senseless death. Tracy Vetter, a young detective, only assigned to the 96th Division Homicide Department the previous fall, was dead.

That night, Natalie had asked him to bring her across. He'd refused flatly. She couldn't possibly want this life of darkness. But she said this was also partly her decision, and she was not afraid to die. She asled him to make love to her, that she trusted him, she trusted their love. But when he first bit her, she still had some guilt, and as a result the visions Natalie received through the blood were violent. He felt her cringe slightly before she melted into him. When he pulled away from her, he thought he had taken too much, And then LaCroix was there. How long had he been there? It didn't really matter. He thought it was all over. If he could not be with Natalie in life, he'd be with her in death. He asked LaCroix to bring an end to his 800 year life. LaCroix rose the stake, and for a moment it seemed as if time had froze.

"Damn you, Nicholas!" LaCroix exclaimed. He threw the stake across the loft, where it became partially embedded in a wall. "Can't you feel her heart still beating? It's faint, but it still there."

"But I took too much. I can't condemn her to this life."

"Nicholas, do you love her?" he asked, though he already expected what the answer would be.

"Yes. Very much. She's unlike any other woman I've known. She's not afraid of what I am, what we are."

"She's either very brave or stubborn. Admirable qualities. She'd make a good addition to the family."

"But..."

"Nicholas, Nicholas, Nicholas. Did she not say that she would not mind if she were brought across? That it was her decision?" LaCroix saw Nicholas nod his head as he still held one of Natalie's hands. "Honour her wishes." With those words spoken, he left.

Nick gathered up into his arms, so that her head rested against her shoulders, and her limp, but still alive form, was pressed against his chest. He whispered into her ear.

"Forgive me, love." He raised his wrist to his mouth and bit into it. Quickly, before it healed, he moved it to her lips until she responded of her own accord. Hungrily, she grabbed a hold of his hand and arm, as she drew blood from him. Nick had to withdrawl his wrist for his own survival. He also knew that Natalie needed much more to replenish what was taken. Lifting her, he brought her over to the black couch, thenwent to his fridge. From the bottom drawer, he removed two bags of human blood and poured the contents into one of the empty bottles. He brought it to her and told her to drink. With haste, she devoured its contents, savouring the copper and iron rich blood.

When she placed the bottle onto the table, she looked up at him with eyes that had turned back to their natural brilliant blue, with only a hint of gold around the edge of the irises. Her face showed a mixture of sadness and wistfulness, compassion and love. She spoke only one word. "Nick."

"Are you all right? Do you need more?"

"Yes, I'm fine. No, I don't need anymore right now." She sighed, and paused. "Come here."

"Nick rose and walked over to her. When Natalie gestured for him to sit beside her, he did. He looked up into her face.

"I forgive you, Nick. You must never be sorry you brought me across. Understood?" Nick looked away from her for a moment, then faced her again. "Nick, this was my choice. However much my life will change, it was my choice."

********** End Flashback ************

And now barely two months later, he was in her apartment, comforting her after a kill. Though the possibility of the need for her to hunt and the blood lust was strong, he had pushed the thought back into the recesses of his conscience. As if wishing it away would make it better. But he knew it was not so simple. Now they lay there in the long daylight hours waiting for the sun to set again. The safety of the darkness.

Your body is alive
But no one told you what you'd feel
The empty aching hours
Trying to conceal
The natural progression
Is the coming of your age
But they cover it with shame
And turn it into rage

And as you pray in your darkness
For wings to set you free
You are bound to your silent legacy.

Darkness fell in the evening sky and Toronto's skyline was now lit with lights from various buildings. In the black night within Nat's apartment, she woke with such hunger, that threatened to overwhelm her. She slid out of the bed, pulled on her terrycloth robe and walked out to the kitchen.

Natalie opened the fridge door and removed on one of the bottles of blood. From a cupboard she pulled a glass, then placed it on the kitchen table. She walked over to the foyer and picked up her laptop computer and her purse. She unplugged her phone from it's jack, then ran the cord over to the table, hooked it up to the computer, and turned it on.

After a few clicks on the keypad, the modem, dialed into her office account. She wanted to find out the results of the preliminary report on the shooting victim the night before. Natalie had been working for about twenty minutes before Nick came out of the bedroom. He crossed to where Natalie was sitting, put a hand on her right shoulder, and leaned down to kiss the top of the head.

"How are you feeling?"

"Better."

"What have you got there?"

"Prelim report on Johnston, our shooting victim last night. The shot to the chest lodged in the right atrium of the heart, and the shot to the abdomen went clear through the stomach." Natalie scanned further down the the report. "Interesting."

"Nat?"

"Our victim there has evidence of gun powder residue on his hands." He got up from her chair, leaned over her computer, disconnecting the modem line, and shut off the computer. She swallowed the remainder of blood within the glass and placed the bottle back in the fridge. She went into her room, got her slip and went into the bathroom. She hung the slip on the hook on the back of the door, turned on the taps of her shower, removed her dressing gown and nightshirt, and hopped into the shower. After she showered, she dressed for work. When she was ready, she grabbed her purse and briefcase, kissed Nick goodbye then left.

Two nights later, just a few minutes past midnight, Natalie entered into the Raven, determined to get some answers to questions that had lingered in the mind. She walked self-assuredly to the bar and looked around.

"Looking for somebody?" the bartender asked her.

"Is LaCroix here?"

"No. He's left."

"For the night?"

"For good."

"What?" Ths information was a surprise to her. "Did he say where he was going?"

"No."

"Has he checked in at all?"

"He still does, for the time being. He went to see a lawyer the other day about transfering ownership to someone else. He left me in charge in the meantime."

"Thanks." Natalie sighed. She was really no further ahead than when she came in. Without asking, a glass of the House Special was placed in front of her atop the bar. She nodded her head in acknowledgement of the gesture. She thought for a moment. Natalie reached into her purse, and pulled out a business card. She got the attention of the bartender. "Do you mind if I use the phone on the back office?"

"Sure."

Natalie got up to leave, whe the bartender called her back. "Dr. Lambert, take care." Natalie was taken aback. She never expected to hear that. But then again, if he was telling her to take care, what was going to happen? She nodded her head in his direction, then turned towards the office.

Once inside the office, Natalie looked around. It really hadn't changed much in a year. It still held the strong presence of Janette. Even her portrait hung from the back wall. The dark richness of the fabric blended in with the deep mahogany of the furniture. Antiques adorned an ornamental shelf set back in the wall to her right. She walked over to the desk and ran her left hand along the smooth wood of the desk top. On the left end of the desk was the phone. She sat down in the office chair and picked up the handle. She dialed the number that was printed on the business card. The phone rang a couple of times before the line was answered.

"LaCroix, if this is you, your lawyers are looking for you," the caller spoke from the other end.

"It's not LaCroix."

A pause. The caller was quiet for antoher moment as he tried to place the voice. He couldn't. "May I ask who's calling?"

"Natalie Lambert. I need you to find out some answers for me."

"What kind of answers, Doctor?" he asked as now he had placed a voice with an identity. LaCroix had told him about her.

"Locations, Aristotle. Specifically that of LaCroix and Janette."

"You know I can't answer that. They've left Toronto for a reason. If they want to be found, they'll let you know."

Natalie heaved a loud sigh. She had the beginnings of a headache. Unusual for their kind, but a headache, nonetheless, "What about the name of LaCroix's lawyer?"

"Sorry, but you'll have to find that out for yurself."

"Thank you. Bye." Natalie hung the phone up, then she bent her head forward and rang her fingers through her hair. She located the Yellow Pages for Toronto and surrounding counties. She realized though that no law firm was going to divulge client information, even to a medical examiner for the city. She sank back into the chair, and spoke to no one but her self, "This is getting me nowhere."

"What is?" Nick asked.

"Looking for answers. How long have you been standing there?"

"Only about a minute."

"Why couldn't I sense you?"

"Could be that you were so caught up in what you were doing. What did you want LaCroix for?"

"Like I said - answers. I need to know...why was he so intent on leaving?"

"It was time to move on. Nat, it happens. Sometimes when you stay too long in one city, you take the risk of being discovered, of making mistakes that would expose you and the community."

"Is that why you were planning to leave back in the fall."

"Partly. It also hurt too much. Losing Schanke and Cohen."

"And now?"

"I don't know. Maybe. Tracy's gone. So are Vachon and Urs. LaCroix left town."

"Janette's gone, too."

"Yes."

"Come on. Let's get out of here. I just need to walk. I need to thing about some things." Natalie gathered up her things and headed back out through the crowded Raven, Nick followed behind her. Once they got out into the night air, she began to walk, destination unknown.

You are digging for the answers
Until your fngers bleed
To satisfy the hunger
To satiate the need
They feed you on the guilt
To keep you humble, keep you low
Some man and some myth they made up
A thousand years ago

And as you pray in your darkness
For wings to set you free
You are bound to your silent legacy

A few months later, Natalie received package in the mail, post-marked Vancouver. She hadn't ordered anything from there, nor had she any friends out west. She opened it, and inside she found some legal documents. She quickly scanned them trying to figure out what it was all about. Attached to the rear of the documents was a small letter.

Dear Natalie,
I have transferred ownership of the Raven to you.
Have you lawyer check it over, then contact Gregory Mansfield at 555-2429,
and the final papers will be processed.

I know you may be wondering why I would do such a thing.
However, it seemed the only true decision for me to make.
You are family, and while this business is not the type you are used to,
you will have many careers in your life.
Be assured that I had not made this decision lightly.

You have much responsibility ahead of you.
Take care.
Lucien LaCroix

Natalie found the nearest wall and leaned against it for support. "Oh, God." She wondered silently why would LaCroix give the Raven to her. What possible motive could he have to have done this to her. Granted it wasn't the worst thing in the world. But what did she know about running a Night Club? All she'd ever known was medicine. She hadn't even gone to nightclubs much in her university days. "Oh, great. What am I supposed to do now?"

She called the Raven.

"Hello, is Mikhail there?"

"Speaking. Who may I ask is calling?"

"This is Natalie Lambert. Have you heard anything from LaCroix lately?"

"Yes. He called last night. He said the new owner would be in tonight."

"Mikhail, I'm the new owner. Did he say anything else? Leave any papers, or anything?"

"He just said something about checking the computer in the office. That there were some files on there that you needed to see."

"Thanks. I'll be in shortly." She hung up the phone, then wrote a short message on a notepad for Nick.

Gone to the Raven.
Got some things to check
out. Come by later, if you can.
Love, Nat

Natalie arrived at the Raven a short time later, and proceeded directly to the back office. She lightly tossed her handbag over the back of a chair, and moved over to the desk. She sat in the large swivel chair, that seemed to almost dwarf her. She pulled out the keypad from the desk, and switched on the computer and monitor. A password prompt came up. She thought to herself, what would he have used as a password? After two guesses, she typed in the correct one: the date that she was brought across. She did a filename check for anything done with a recent date, and came up with 5 responses: Ownrship.txt, Ravenfil.txt, Orderfrm.txt, Employ.inf, Music.inf. The Ownrship.txt file she checked out first. After scanning the document, it appeared that LaCroix had trusted her to take ownership of the Raven. That despite being new to the family, he had seen the work she had done in protecting the Community when she had could have exposed it. On more than one occasion, she had proven herself within the Community and was protected by Nick. Had it not been for Nick and his family, Natalie might have long been killed by the Enforcers simply because of her knowledge of vampires. She knew that, and was grateful. LaCroix also noted of her protective qualities, and compared them as being akin to Janette's. He believed that Natalie would do well in her new position.

If only she felt so sure. She scanned the other files, which just provided her with some of the info she needed, to help get her started.

* * * *
Since that time, fifty-five years had passed, and much had changed in the life, or rather the unlife of Natalie Mercer, nee Lambert. As with many vampires, the need to change names often meant their survival, for the risk of being discovered would certainly be detrimental to their existance.

During fifty-two of those years, Natalie had moved to cities in North America, the U.K. and Europe, among them being, Vancouver, London, Paris, Montreal, and Manhattan. And now, after all that time, she had returned to Toronto and to the Raven.

Placing the strap of her bag over her shoulder, she then opened the doors of the Raven like she was coming home. Home. When had she stopped thinking of the Raven as a place to fear and begin to think of it as home? She sighed and smiled to herself. Probably around the same time she stopped fearing LaCroix. and had actually talked with him. Hearing about his feelings, motivations, protectiveness. He was so unlike what Nick had ascribed him to be, so many years ago. Perhaps there was a way to get this dysfunctional family under one roof to work things out. She laughed. "Not in this lifetime."

Twenty years ago, while she was living in London, Nick and LaCroix had joined her. The first time, the three of them had been together since the fateful night in Nick's loft. The two of them got into such an argument, that the two of them went their separate ways. Once again, Nick had accused LaCroix of bullying him, and had asked him to leave. It had seemed like they had yelled at each other for most of the night. The occasional object had been hurled across the room. As usual it had come down to Nick's freedom. No. Actually it had come down to his wanting LaCroix out of both his and her lives.

******

Unfortunately, Nick hadn't thought to ask her what she wanted. The truth was, Natalie didn't really know what she wanted, except that she wanted her own freedom for a while. And so she left to find that freedom. The last that she knew, was that he had gone back to teaching Archeology, this time at Laval University in Quebec, City.

Natalie walked to the back of the Raven and then into the hall leading to the office, when she sensed a familiar presence. Slowly she turned the knob on the door and opened it. It was as it had been when she left. Except for one addition. In the seat behind the desk, sat a vampire with a very old soul. Though once the figure may have said that vampires have not soul, Nat believed that she did.

"Janette."

"Natalie, so good to see you. It's been what?... Seventeen years since we saw each other? Paris, I believe.

"Montreal." Natalie responded.

"Ah, oui, ma chere."

"And, yes. It is good to see you." Natalie looked wary as she placed her bag at the foot of the desk, then moved to sit down.

Janette poured a glass of blood and passed it to Natalie. "Is something wrong?"

Natalie took a sip of the blood, placed it down on a nearby stand, then bent her head back and stared at the ceiling. "I don't know. Something's missing from my life."

"Nicholas," she asked, with a slightly raised eyebrow.

"No. Not Nick." She sighed, then brought her face down to look at the floor. When she looked up at her, Janette nodded.

"I know that look. A child. That is what you are missing. I have felt it as well. Robert's son. I was... I am still so fond of him."

"Do you still see him?"

"Only from a distance. We still write. By now, he must think me to be an old woman."

"How is he?"

"He has now got four grandchildren. His youngest, Robert just recently married in Montreal. He sent me a picture. The boy looks just like Robert. The resemblance is so uncanny. It broke my heart." Janette looked at Natalie thoughtfully, and then spoke again. "There are other ways, you know."

"How can I even consider bringing someone across, when I don't even know what I'm feeling?"

"Do you love the woman?

"Hmmm?" Natalie took another sip of blood.

"This woman you're thinking about."

"Yes, I suppose I do. But I don't know what I should do."

"I know I am not your mother, but I have been at this game a lot longer than you. So would you care for some sisterly advice? We are sisters, are we not? Both bourne of Nicholas' love."

"Yes, we would be that. Funny how I had never really thought of that before." She looked down at her hands then back at Janette. "If you have some advice, I'd be glad to hear it."

Fifty-five years ago, Natalie would not have even considered asking Janette for advice on anything. The only thing they had in common was him. She had been mortal, and Janette a vampire. However, seventeen years ago, they had met again in Montreal, and in the absence of Nick and a long amount of time had passed, a unique bond had been formed that neither had expected, but both had come to appreciate. Natalie had known that Janette would remember that bond.

Janette took a sip of blood before she sat down opposite Natalie. "What is it about her that you love?"

"Her laugh, her smile. She makes me laugh. She's intelligent."

"Has she moved here with you? She sounds like a good woman. Does she know about you, what you - what we - are?"

"She is still in New York. She's a contractor for a computer service business. She's supposed to start a new contract here in Toronto next month. She doesn't know that I'm a vampire. I couldn't tell her."

"Does she love you?"

"Yes, I believe so. We've only been seeing each other for six months."

"Have you -"

"No. She asked once. I simply told her for health reasons I couldn't."

"And she does not have a problem with that?" Natalie shook her head in response to Janette's question. "Very admirable. I have not known very many women or men who would take something like that in stride."

"I know." Natalie took some blood and sighed.

"If you know there would be no problems, would you consider bringing her across?"

"No." Natalie was adament, and her whole body stance was tense. "I can't."

"Why, ma cher? Is it because of Nicholas, or of LaCroix?"

"Partially."

"And what is the other reason?"

"I'm afraid she'll hate me for it. I don't want to take that chance. What if I go too far? If I can't stop myself from completely draining her?"

Janette stood, walked over to to Natalie and placed a compaasionate hand on her cheek. Then she walked into the bathroom off the office where she removed a hairbrush and returned to Natalie's side. "Ma chere, what did Nicholas teach you?"

"Not very much about bringing somebody across. I knew a little before he brought me across. I know the mechanics of it, but I've never done anything like that before. When I moved to Vancouver, LaCroix had taught me some of the things I needed to know to hunt. It frightened me, but I knew it had to be done."

"Then you should not bring her across," she said, as she continued to brush Natalie's hair.

"What?" Natalie was surprised. She had thought Janette would press her to bring her across. But she simply spoke one word. "Why?" "When Robert died, a part of me died. Not since Nick was brought across had I loved a mortal that much. Only for a second time in a millenia had somebody meant that much. So when Robert died, it broke my heart. I understand some of what you are feeling. If you love her, but are not sure, do not bring her across. You will regret it and you will surely hate yourself if it does not work out. No one deserves that kind of pain. It stops here, ma chere."

"Thank you. I think I just needed someone to talk to. Someone who could understand." And the truth was, Natalie knew that she could count on Janette. She stood and gave her a hug. "Thank you."

"Come with me. You can stay at my apartment. That is if you haven't already made other arrangements."

"I hadn't, yet. I was planning to stay at the Royal York, but it's getting close to sunrise and I can't afford any delay."

"Well, it is settled. You are going to stay with me. You must tell me, have you heard from Nicholas of late?"

As they continued to talk, Natalie and Janette gathered their things, then walked through the Raven, and out the front doors. The future usure. But whatever happened, at least they had formed a bond, from which they could share each other's feelings. A sistership.

Mothers tell your children
Be quick you must be strong
Life is full of wonder
Love is never wrong
Remember how they taught you
How much of it was fear
Refuse to hand it down
The legacy stops here

Oh my child.


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