Every time I watch Close Call, I keep thinking that Schanke should've realized that Natalie knew a lot more than she was telling. I figured maybe the scene where Schanke asks her about it was cut. See how many of the episodes you can name.

Close Call's missing scene.
Judy Freudenthal
1998

Schanke pushed aside the stack of vampire books, reread his notes on John Doe 199 then scribbled Natalie's name under the 'known associates' heading.

As soon as Schanke did that a few things began to click. He knew Natalie was Nick's doctor, but why would anyone choose a forensic pathologist as their doctor? Unless... they didn't need to see someone who treated the living.... He didn't know what kind of treatment Natalie was helping Nick with.

************

"Nick!" Natalie called out as she entered his loft, Schanke right behind her.

"So you think he's addicted already?" Schanke asked concerned.

"It's not impossible Schank. Some people become slaves to crack cocaine after just one taste."

"Man oh man, I hope this junk doesn't hit the streets."

"Well, I don't think you have to worry about that. It would probably kill any normal person who tried it." Natalie said too concerned to pay attention to what she was saying.

"Well, it didn't kill Nick."

"No... but then he's got a very special constitution," Natalie said, trying to cover up her earlier goof.

************

< Yeah, special all right,> Schanke thought, remembering how he'd found the syringe wrapper at Nick's. How Nick had stolen the Lytoveuterine B from Nat's lab. Something he said to Nat came back to him 'Unless I miss my guess he's about to do something really dumb.' < Yeah, suppressing your true nature when going after a killer cop is really dumb, Nick.>

Schanke's thoughts wandered towards how much Natalie knew, knowing it was a lot more than he did, even with the latest revelation. He now understood, he hoped, why Natalie was treating Nick medically. < I didn't know the undead needed doctors. I thought they lived forever, and in perfect health.> Then he began to wonder what their work on curing Nick's allergy was all about.

************

Schanke was right outside the door to Natalie's office and heard Nick and her talking.

"She needed to chase me, to anticipate me, to be better than me. That's why a hunter hunts. Believe me, I know," Nick said, seated on Natalie's steel autopsy table.

Natalie was standing in front of him.

Schanke entered the room. "Am I interrupting anything?" He saw how close they were standing, and their body language was anything but professional.

"No. Just seeing my doc. How are you doing?" Nick asked cheerfully.

Oh fine. I spent the morning sitting on a tactical nuclear weapon. And when I get back to the station, Myra's on the blower saying 'Donny you could've called a little bit earlier.' I said 'Myra, you wouldn't believe what just happened.' Before I can get another word in edgewise she says, 'but what about the Gulf of St. Lawrence? The whales can't wait. It'll be another year before mating time.'"

"Another year before mating time?" Natalie laughed.

Nick also laughed.

"It's a long story." Schanke sighed. " At least when I was sitting on that bomb I had a few minutes to think."

"Ah well, you know it's very peaceful around here. You could just find a nice place here to lie down. I'm sure the others wouldn't mind," Natalie teased, trying to sound a bit serious.

"Why thank you, Natalie. I think I'll pull up a cold slab," Schanke said sarcastically before his tone returned mostly to normal. "You know, she's got a real twisted sense of humor."

Nick knew that last comment had been aimed at him. "It's a little dark, yeah. But then, I like dark," Nick said cheerfully, as he kissed Nat's cheek. "Goodbye."

Schanke and Nick left. "You like dark, huh?" Schanke asked.

************

Schanke also knew that Natalie had covered up some of the stranger things he'd seen because her reports always read very normal. She always had an answer for anything strange, especially when it came to Nick. He also knew that Nick and Natalie hung around when they weren't working, but had yet to figure out their relationship.

************

Natalie and Schanke were in the precinct talking when Nick entered.

"Hey, hey, wait a minute.... you look great," Natalie happily said, a little surprised. "Your cheeks, they actually look rosy."

"It must be the French Fries," Nick happily said with a large grin.

"You actually ate French Fries?" Nat was nearly stunned.

"With lots of catsup," Nick said, his voice nearly a whisper.

"That's incredible," Natalie exclaimed.

"Am, I missing something here?" Schanke asked.

*************

Schanke thought < yeah, I'm missing the fact that my partner may be a blood-drinking creature of the night.> Other thoughts ran through his mind. < Was there more than friendship? Could there be? If Nick was a vampire, did he have something planned for Natalie?> Don also realized that Natalie knew Janette, and wondered how well.

**************

Schanke and Natalie had just arrived at the Raven, having been called there by Janette. Schanke lead Natalie to the curtain by the back room, where they encountered Janette.

"He needs to be alone. Both of you go, please." She paused before her next words came out stronger, more emotion behind them. "Look, he's dangerous, he's had too much to drink."

"No, I'm going in there," Natalie said determined to help Nick.

"Fine. It's your neck." Janette ran her finger across Natalie's neck. Nat's hand subconsciously went to her neck for a moment.

"What the hell's going on with Nick?" Schanke asked, nearly demanding.

Natalie looked into the back room as she tried to keep Schanke outside. One look at Nick made Natalie turn around and block the entrance, while trying to quickly come up with an explanation, and hide her anxiety.

"Let me talk to him alone, Schank," Natalie requested, nervously.

Schanke hesitated a moment before resignation set in, "Okay. Okay. Sure. Nick, whatever you're going through I'm with you buddy. Hang in there." He hoped his words would help.

"Thank you," Natalie said before she disappeared into the back room.

**************

Schanke nervously entered the morgue, pleased when Natalie was still there. He remembered one of his conversations with Natalie, right in this very room, when Nick had gone undercover in the Luminology cult.

**************

Schanke was in the morgue, quite worried about his partner. He and Natalie were talking. He hoped she could reassure him that Nick was fine.

"I don't know. He was stirring the soup. It was indescribable. It was just so weird. I mean, you should've seen the way he looked at me," Schanke rambled worriedly.

"How?"

"The, the thousand yard stare. 'Nick Knight of the living dead'. I got the distinct feeling he was not happy to see me." He was surprised that Natalie kept working, not seeming as concerned as she was earlier.

"He was probably afraid you'd blow his cover." Natalie walked over to the scale, weighed something.

"Come on, Natalie. I'm smarter than that. He wasn't making any sense. He was talking like he had a head full of marbles."

"Maybe you were being watched," Natalie said.

"I'm pretty sure we were alone."

Natalie pushed him aside so she could put the specimen away in the freezer.

"Natalie..." Schanke whined, causing Natalie to turn and face him. "I'm scared they've got him. He was like a zombie or something."

Natalie let out a loud exhalation, a mild annoyance visible on her face and in her voice, "close."

**************

"Hi, Schank. What brings you by?" Natalie asked, hoping he'd forgotten about digging into Nick's past.

"Natalie, I think you should stay away from Nick. He's dangerous, but then you already know that, don't you."

"I don't know what you're talking about," Natalie said hoping her uneasiness didn't show.

"Drop the act, Natalie. We both know Nick's different. He's a vampire, isn't he?" Schanke was glad he'd seen Natalie in the sun and had seen her eating, or he'd have to wonder if she was one as well.

Natalie wasn't sure what to do, she knew that Schanke had figured it out and wouldn't be bluffed this time. She also knew she had to say something. "Does it matter?"

"Natalie, has he done anything to you?"

"Schanke," Natalie said surprised and a little annoyed. "No, he's never done anything to me."

"I read that vampires recruit from among their mortal acquaintances. Has he...."

Natalie cut him off. "No, he hasn't. Would I? I honestly don't know."

****************

Natalie approached Schanke's desk.

"Did you tell Nick?" Natalie asked, once she'd reached Don's desk.

"Yeah. He's on his way to see one of Dr. Carter's associates. The guy won't quit," Schanke said.

"He's the eternal optimist," Natalie said. "Hey Schank, what are you going to do until....."

"Until the end?"

"Yeah."

"I don't know. Buy a doughnut franchise, learn Esperanto, paper my rec room with thousand dollar bills. What about you?" Schanke asked, concerned by how disturbed Natalie seemed.

"Don't know. With all the suicides coming in, I can't help but feel that Dr. Carter had the right idea."

Schanke was stunned, and mumbled, "you're not thinking about....."

"Sure I was. But you know, it hit me. I don't have to die," Natalie cheerfully said right before she kissed Schanke, full on the lips. "See ya later, Schank."

Natalie walked away a lot happier than when she entered, leaving behind a very confused Schanke.

****************

"Does he..."

"He doesn't kill anymore. He hasn't for a very long time." Natalie saw Schanke relax slightly.

****************

Schanke and Nick were by the car at a murder scene. Another member of a twelve step program had been murdered.

Nick hesitantly spoke, "Schanke, ummm, what would you say, what would you say if I told you I was an addict?"

Schanke laughed. "Yeah right, and I'm the Maharishi."

"Hey. Wait, wait, I'm talking to you here, okay? Seriously," Nick said, his voice completely serious.

"An addict? Wait, wait, we're not talking the red wine in the refrigerator are we? 'Cause...." Schanke paused a moment, not sure what was going on. "No... no... no... absolutely not. You're perfectly alright, Nick. You're perfectly fine. Absolutely not. Trust me." Schanke laughed as he walked away.

****************

< I can't believe it. He told me the truth, but how was I supposed to believe him?> Schanke thought, before Natalie's voice snapped him out of his thoughts.

"Schanke, you know you cannot tell anyone."

Schanke was surprised by her deadly serious tone. "I know. Besides, who would believe me?"

"How did you two meet?"

Natalie told her friend the story of her first meeting with Nick.

"Why did you two keep it from me? Did you both think I couldn't handle it?"

"Schanke, it wasn't my place to tell you. You have to keep Nick's secret. It's extremely important that you tell no one."

Schanke heard that tone again. "I promise I will not tell anyone." He couldn't understand the need for secrecy, but if that's what Natalie wanted, he'd do it. < Then again....> he suddenly began to understand that they might not want their existence known out of fear for their lives. "I have one last question. What are you and Nick working on?"

Natalie debated answering, knowing that if Schanke knew, then maybe he'd understand why she and Nick seemed so unhappy at times. Why Nick had such strong reactions to things they saw in their work. Maybe he could help bolster Nick's confidence. She hoped she was doing the right thing. "

Nick wants to become mortal again. He's been searching for a 'cure' for a very long time. I've been helping him since shortly after we met."

"That makes a sort of sense. I think I hope you succeed. You two belong together, one way or another."

"Thanks, Schank."

(now continue on with the ep < G > )

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