Into the Future
by Judith Freudenthal
1996

Nick suddenly realized that Natalie might still be saved by mortal medicine and ducked out of the way as the staff came crashing down.

He scooped Natalie up in his arms and ran from the room, greatly disturbed to discover that he could no longer fly, wishing the elevator could move faster. He slammed the door opened and dashed for his car. Lacroix was already there waiting.

"If you insist on trying to save her mortality allow me to do it. I can do it faster."

Nick reluctantly nodded and allowed him to take Natalie into his arms and fly off.

Shortly Nick arrived at the hospital and rushed up to the nurse's station. Out of breath he asked "how is Natalie Lambert?" Concern radiating from every pore of his now mortal body. "I'm her fiance."

"They're working on her. She lost an enormous amount of blood. Have a seat and someone will come out to see you."

Nick could not sit still and found himself pacing the floor of the waiting area, praying that she would survive. That they could have their dream come true. His mortality had not truly sunk in and began to as he paced the room. All sorts of ideas, fears and feelings bomabarded both his mind and his body. His knees felt weak and rubbery and his stomach had a hugh knot in it. He hoped his mortality would not come at the expense of her life, it was too high a price.

About an hour later Nick saw a doctor in her late thirties approach. Nick tried to read the woman's expression but could not.

"Anyone here for Natalie Lambert?"

"I am. How is she?"

"She's in extremely critical condition due to the severe blood loss. We are working to replace what she lost. It is too early to tell if she will survive and what her condition will be if she regains consciousness."

"Can I see her?" Nick asked, a clear tear running down his cheek. He quickly brushed the tear away, used to having them be blood tears. He looked down at his hand and saw it was wet with water, not blood.

"Yes, but only for a few minutes. Follow me. Do you have any idea what happened to her?"

"No," he said unable to tell her anything. Besides what would he say? He couldn't say he was a vampire and drank her blood which turned him mortal or he would be locked up as being insane.

Nick entered the room stunned at how pale Natalie looked. A large bandage covered the neck wound. He pulled the chair over next to the bed and sat down, ignoring the beeping of the cardiac monitor and the oxygen mask. The half empty bag of blood no longer aroused the hunger. He took her hand in his so she would know she was not alone, hoping that she would somehow know he was here.

"Nat, please stay with me. I can't bear to live out the rest of my mortal existence alone. Yes, the cure worked. I love you so much." He fought back the tears as he gently caressed the side of her face. "Don't leave me, please. Fight for your life, for *our* life."

 

He stayed by her side as much as he was allowed to. Natalie's condition improved slightly during each of his visits. The nurses were surprised, especially at first. They knew they had done all they could for their patient.

Nick was by her side holding her hand and gently caressing her face as he spoke to her "I guess they believe I'm good for you because they're letting me stay longer each time. You're doing great. Keep fighting and we'll have that dream yet." He was rewarded when he saw her eyes flicker open and felt the gentlest pressure on his hand. His eyes lit up and a large smile crossed his face.

"Hi," he said grately relieved, but knew that she was not out of the woods yet.

She was too weak to do more than give him a weak smile before drifting off again.

 

It was another 24 hours before she was strong enough to stay awake for a few hours at a time. Her condition was upgraded to stable and she was moved to a private room. She was asleep when Nick entered and took his seat by her side. She awoke and started to panic when she saw him sitting in the brightly sunlit room.

"It's okay. The sun can no longer hurt me," he said soothingly. Her huge smile and the joy in her eyes filled him with a happiness he had never known.

 

The next week was spent with her regaining her strength and enduring what seemed like and endless array of tests to make sure that there was no serious damage from the blood loss. She passed all the tests. By the end of the week the doctor deemed she was strong enough to be released, but cautioned her to take it easy for a few days.

They knew that their first stop had to be the Raven. They entered and saw LaCroix making final preparations to leave this life before him for good. They the pain in his eyes and felt nothing but compassion for him. He had lost everything over the last week or two, while they had gained so much.

"Thank you for everything," Nick said with nothing but love and compassion in his voice.

"Yes, thank you," Natalie said.

"I would still like you to be a part of my life," Nick said.

LaCroix was touched. He saw Natalie nod her agreement and was surprised. He may have lost his link to his son, but in saving Natalie's mortal life he had kept that newly forming relationship with his son and may have earned Natalie's respect as well.

"I hope you find the happiness and peace you have been searching for," LaCroix said.

"I hope you do as well," Nick replied.

The end

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