A Final Future
by Judith Freudenthal

Nick saw the raised stake and suddenly had second thoughts. "Don't!" he shouted at LaCroix.

LaCroix smiled and lowered the stake.

"If I commit suicide I can never be with her. Having you stake me would be suicide."

LaCroix noticed that something wasn't right. That he could no longer feel his son. He would not let this happen.

Nick suddenly felt a sharp pain in the back of his head as everything went black. LaCroix stepped over the body and bent down to Natalie, still hearing the faintest of life signs. He bit into his wrist and held it to her mouth, concerned when she did not respond. After a moment or two she began to drink.

I will have Nicholas back one way or another, LaCroix thought determined to be the victor, unwilling to let Divia's promise come true.

Nick came around just in time to see LaCroix pull his wrist away from Natalie's lips.

"Damn you, LaCroix!" Nick shouted, as he tried to stand. His head spun forcing him to remain on the floor. Confusion spread across his face. What's happening? Could the cure have worked?

"Yes, Nicholas, the cure did work," LaCroix said allowing Nick to figure out the rest for himself.

Nick realized that the situation was now reversed, only more dangerous because Natalie did not have the contol he had.

Shortly Natalie came around and found herself able to detect a single human heartbeat in the room. She was drawn to it in a way she had never expected. She was at Nick's throat before LaCroix could do anything about it. She had her first large swallow of his blood before LaCroix pulled her away. He would not let her kill his Nicholas. An uncorked glass bottle was shoved into her hands.

"Drink," LaCroix ordered. "Don't force me to destroy you." He quickly downed a bottle of human blood himself, needing the strength.

Nick held his hand to the still bleeding wound on his throat, stunned that Natalie had attacked him. He knew it was the first hunger.

"Nicholas, you have a choice to make. You can leave now and never return, stay and bleed to death or join us in eternity." LaCroix handed Natalie another bottle of human blood. He could feel the beginnings of the bond between Natalie and Nick from their recent blood exchange. He had lost his other daughter to his son and would not lose him to his new daughter. He knew that this newly forming bond between Natalie and Nick would draw his son back into the fold more strongly than ever.

"You have my consent, LaCroix," Nick said not ready to die. He did not want to be without Natalie. He felt the tiny thread of his connection to her and knew it would dramatically increase were he to come across again.

LaCroix drained Nick to the brink and then bit his wrist open. "Drink." Nick drank from his wrist until LaCroix pulled it away.

Nick knew he needed more vampiric blood to complete the process and was surprised to see Natalie offer her bleeding wrist to him. He eagerly took one long swallow before LaCroix separated them. Nick knew that LaCroix had ensured an unbreakable bond between the two lovers and was both pleased and angered.

"Forever," Natalie said with a smile.

"Forever," Nick replied, smiling as well.

The end

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