I had thought about cleaning this up, but decided to leave it just as it was originally written and posted. I didn't know about beta readers as this was my first finished and posted Forever Knight story.

Blind Man's Bluff
by Judith Freudenthal
1995

A shadowy figure keeps watch over Homicide Detective Nick Knight's loft from across the street. Careful to remain hidden in the shadows. It was late, late at night.

Nick was cruising down the streets of Toronto in his '62 Caddy with his partner Don Schanke. The radio was playing. LaCroix's nightly radio show. Schanke can not believe what he's hearing. This from a man who considers polka music good.

"How can you listen to that?" Schanke asked.

"The same way you can listen to on air shrinks."

"How about stopping for a bite?" Asked Schanke.

Nick represses a grin. If Schanke only knew. "I'm not hungry."

"I could go for a souvlake and fries."

Schanke and Nick were at Schanke's favorite Souvlake stand waiting for Schanke's order. Schanke decides to engage in a little friendly partner teasing. "Say Nick, you know I've never seen you eat anything. Does this weird diet allow you to eat? What do you eat?"

"I eat mostly health food. Nothing you'd like. I eat before I come to work. Then again when I get home."

"I've seen your place. There's nothing but cow's blood there."

Nick quickly said, "each day I pick up what I want. I never know what I'll feel like til then. I had whipped bean curd for dinner." Nick hopes Schanke would not make the connection and realize the blood was his food.

Shivers go up Schanke's spine. "Yuck. Does it taste as bad as it sounds?"

"No. It's actually quite delicious. You should try it sometime."

"No thanks. Do you ever eat anything that's bad for you?"

"Once in a while. I try not to."

"Yeah, right. Prove it."

"How?"

"Eat some of my fries."

"If it will make you happy." Nick said not as completely repulsed by the thought as he would've been two years ago.

Schanke's order was finished. Schanke hands the fry container to Nick.

"Do you mind if I use ketchup?" Nick asked.

"Be my guest."

Nick took the ketchup container and heavily douses several fries. Nick took a fry and reluctantly eats it trying to look as normal/casual as possible. Nick took a second. It was harder to act normal with both the second and third fries. His body told him not to eat anymore or risk losing them.

"Satisfied?" Nick asked. Nick hopes Scanke can not tell that he's a little naseous.

"For now. I'm determined to see to it that you learn to appreciate the finer aspects of eating."

Out of sight, hiding in the shadows was the mysterious figure. Watching. Being careful to stay out of sight.

Nick entered the coroners office and saw Dr. Natalie Lambert hard at work. A partially disected body was on the table in front of her. She was poking around inside him looking for clues. Nick decides to sneak up on her.

Nick silently walks up beside her. He's looking over her shoulder. "Hello."

Natalie jumps. "I hate it when you do that."

Nick grins.

"You look good tonight." Natalie said pleasantly surprized. It quickly turns to a curious suspicion. "What's going on?"

"Schanke was getting suspicious because I never eat or have food at my place. He wants to introduce me to the finer aspects of eating. Starting with french fries." Nick said with a grin.

"You ate fries? That's terrific. How many?" Natalie said quite surprized and very pleased.

"Three. Heavily covered with ketchup. I felt sick after the third. I don't think Schanke noticed. The first one wasn't bad after I got over the thought of eating food."

"I'm very pleased. Did that satisfy him?"

"For now."

Schanke sticks his head in the door. "I thought I'd find you here."

"Any news on the Thompson case?" Nick asked both for the job and as a cover.

"I'm still looking for the cause. I'm pretty sure it wasn't natural or suicide. Who ever did it was very clever. I'll know more when I finish."

"Then it was most likely murder. That's some help. I'll see you later."

Nick and Schanke were at their desks at the precinct. Nick saw an envelope addressed to him with no other markings.

Nick opened the envelope and was concerned by the contents. The letter said - I know what you are. Nick tries to keep the concern off his face. He did not want to have to answer Schanke's questions.

"I'll be back shortly. I have to attend to an urgent errand."

"But...." Schanke hates it when Nick took off like that. At least he's getting better about telling me before he left, Schanke thinks.

Nick was talking with Janette at the Raven. She's once again trying to seduce him.

"What's wrong, Nichola? Can I get you something to drink?"

"Has anything odd been happening around here lately?"

"Why do you ask? Is something wrong?"

"I got a crank letter earlier. Just checking to make sure."

"I haven't noticed anything out of the ordinary lately. Should I be concerned?"

"No. Let me know if anything odd happens."

"You know I, will Nichola."

Nick left.

Nick was about to get into his car when he saw an envelope on the passenger seat. Just like the other one. Nick opened it and reads the message. Nick's concern grows. The message reads - I know what you are. Your kind must die. Nick's unsure if the sender knows or if he's just a nut out to kill cops. It rattles Nick a little.

The mysterious figure watches Nick from the shadows. Always careful to stay out of the light.

Nick was back at work. Schanke notices that Nick seems a tiny bit distracted.

"While you were out running around I had to listen to the Captain threaten to chain us to our desks until we finish the Martinson report."

They work on finishing the report.

"Is anything wrong?" Schanke asked. He knows Nick's distrcted concerned look by now.

"No. I'm fine."

Nick and Schanke's shift ends. They head for the door.

"I'd love to go shopping with you some time. See what kind of rabbit food you eat. I have to drive Jenny to school today."

Nick was grateful. He did not know how he'll pull it off when the time comes.

Nick walks by the desk officer who calls out to him.

"Knight. I've got a letter for you."

Nick walks over and collects the letter. "Thanks." Upon seeing that it was the same as the last two Nick asked "you didn't happen to see who dropped this off?"

"Sorry. I wasn't in yet."

"Nick, is something wrong?" Schanke asked.

"No. Just curious." Nick said as he opened the letter. Nick's quite a bit more concerned by the change in the letter. This one said - Demon of the Night you and your kind must die along with mortal Night Demon lovers. Nick quickly yet causually sticks the letter in his pocket.

Nick checks his watch and saw that he had just enough time to get to the Raven and back home before sunrise.

"Nick..." Schanke starts as Nick rushes out of the station.

Nick's back at the Raven. Janette's pleased to see him again so soon but worried.

"What's wrong, Nichola? Don't lie to me."

Nick pulls out the letter and shows it to her. "It's the third one. The others sounded like a crackpot out to get cops. They were very general."

Janette was upset and concerned by the letter. "You didn't think this was important enough to share it with me before now?" She said a bit angrily.

"The first one said - I know what you are. The second one added your kind must die. I was hoping it was refering to my being a cop. Be careful. I've got to run."

Nick left the Raven and gets into his car. Nick did not notice the mysterious figure watching from the shadows as Nick pulls away from the curb.

About halfway home Nick's mind begins to bug him. He gets the feeling that he's being watched. He did not like the idea.

The next night Nick and Schanke were responding to a call. A dead body had been reported. Nick and Schanke were examining the scene. Nick was still a little rattled from the note he received upon arriving at work. This one said - surprize! Nick was a little jumpy. Natalie arrives on the scene and heads for Nick.

"What's the story?" Asked Natalie. Nick responds, "there's a John Doe over there. We haven't disturbed the body." Natalie notices Nick's jumpyness and decides to question him later.

Natalie moves off to examine the corpse. She does a cursury examination and comes up with a preliminary cause of death.

Nick and Schanke were examining the area for any clues. Nick hears someone moving around. He tries to locate the person. Natalie was about to approach the detectives with her report when the mysterious figure throws a specially modified extremely bright flash grenade that lands perfectly on target, right in front of Nick. Lighting up the sky like daytime. Blinding Nick. Nick's deep dark secret was about to be revealed to the mystery figure. Nick panics, his eyes turn reddish-orange and his fangs drop.

Natalie saw the light and heads for Nick. Schanke's on the other side of the area with his back to Nick. Schanke saw the light change and turns around to investigate. He heads for Nick.

"I'm blind!" Nick screams in rage.

Natalie reaches Nick's side.

"I'm blind!"

"Nick. Let me see." Natalie said trying to examine Nick.

"Go away!" Nick growls in rage, "Leave me alone," Nick growls in anger.

"No! You need help." Natalie said partially for Nick and partially for Schanke's benefit. Natalie knows that she must get Nick under control before Schanke or anyone else comes over and discovers his deep dark secret. She's not ready to lose him. Nick's rage scares her a little but she refuses to give in to it or to let it show.

Schanke was surprized by his partner's rage. He's never heard Nick that angry before. It scares him.

Natalie saw Schanke closing in fast. She leans over as if examining Nick closely and whispers in his ear "Your fangs are showing. Schanke's almost here."

Nick musters his concentration and withdraws his fangs. His eyes were still reddish-orange.

"Nick, your eyes." Natalie said concerned.

"I can't do anything about that." Nick growls.

Natalie examines Nick being careful not to let Schanke close enough to see Nick's eyes. Natalie took a couple of gauze pads and some adhesive tape out of her bag and uses them to cover Nick's eyes. Nick grabs her hands.

"I don't need that." Nick said testily.

"Do you want to explain your eyes to Schanke?" Natalie whispers as a reminder.

Nick lets her finish, just as Schanke approaches Nick's back.. Schanke saw the remnants of the flash grenade scattered on the ground in front of Nick.

"What happened?"

Nick stands up and turns to face Schanke. Schanke's jaw drops when he saw his partner. Seeing Nick like that makes Schanke quite uncomfortable.

"Someone stepped out of the shadows and tossed an extremely bright flash grenade at me." Nick said forcing himself to sound calmer.

"Natalie, how is he?" Schanke asked concerned.

"Other than a case of flashburn he's fine."

"Is his sight going to be affected?"

"I don't think so. I've bandaged his eyes to prevent infection while the swelling goes down. He should be fine in a week."

"Schank, you'll take care of the paperwork?" Nick asked.

"Sure. Just get well." Schanke said trying to hide his uneasyness. Nick and Natalie notice and do not say anything.

Nick and Natalie leave before Schanke could ask anymore questions. Ones that they may not want to or be able to answer.

Natalie took Nick home. "How long do I have to leave these on? I don't need them."

"At least until your eyes change back to normal. Then only when Schanke or others are around for three or four days. Can't have you healing too fast."

Natalie helps Nick inside. Once inside she helps him to the couch. They stopped off at the drugstore on the way home. She removes the gauze pads and saw that his eyes were still reddish-orange.

"Are they supposed to be reddish-orange?" Natalie asked concerned. She's only seen his eyes change two or three time and they were yellow then.

"Yes."

"How long does it take for them to change back?" Natalie asked a little concerned.

Nick detects this. "It only happened once before. It was an hour or two. Remember, I was protecting the little girl."

Natalie thinks back and remembers. "Yes. You've changed a little since then. Can you see anything?"

"No. I hate it." Nick said growing frustrated and angry. "I should've been able to locate my assailant. I never should've been hurt."

Natalie rebandages Nick's eyes. The eye pads were held on by x's of adhesive tape. "Stay away from the blood unless you absolutely must."

"I will, I promise. Unless there is no change by morning."

"Will you be all right?" Natalie asked concerned.

"I'll be fine. Go back to work. Let me know what you find out." Nick said.

"Get some rest," Natalie told him.

"I will. Would you shut the blinds on the way out, please."

"Sure." Natalie picks up the remote control and shuts the blinds. Natalie left. "I'll check in on you later."

Nick lies on his couch for awhile thinking. It just serves to depress him. Nick had no idea what time it was. He heads for his piano. Nick was very frustrated when he walks into things. Nick works hard to resist the temptation to toss aside whatever was in his way. Nick knows that it would not look good if he trashes his apartment over a temporary problem. Nick uses his vampire powers to locate objects before he hits them.

Nick finds the piano and starts to play. He starts thinking how much he'd like a drink. He remembers his promise. He continues playing. The music was dark, full of the negative emotions. Nicks anger, frustration and depression was clearly heard in the music.

After a while Nick took a break. He tries to get around without his powers. He works his way over to the stairs. Nick bumps into several things on his way to the staircase. It frustrates him greatly. It also angers him. He decides that he might as well get some sleep because he can not do much else at the moment.

Several hours later after Schanke finishes his shift he stops by to check on Nick.

Nick was again playing the piano when Schanke buzzes. Nick uses his vampire powers to find his way to the door. "Who is it?"

"Schanke."

Nick pushes the button to let Schanke up and goes back to the piano. When the elevator door opened, Nick was playing another dark, angry, frustrated, and depressing piece. Schanke notices as he entered and heads for the piano.

"Who died?" Schanke cracks.

Nick ignores Schanke's wisecrack. "Did they catch him?"

"Without a description? You and Natalie took off before I could get one. You feel up to giving me one?"

"I didn't get a good look. He was a couple of inches taller than me. About my build, nothing distinguishing about his clothes. I only had a split second. He knew what he was doing. He stayed in the shadows." Nick knows that he can not give too many details or Schanke might get suspicious. Nick knows exactly what the figure looked like.

"Is someone hunting cops? Is someone after you?" Schanke quickly dismisses the latter. "Is someone after cops?"

"I don't know. No one is after me."

"I'll look into the possibility that some sicko out there doesn't like us." Schanke said less than pleased.

The phone rings. Nick's instincts were to use his vampire powers to locate the phone. Nick had to fight them and do it the mortal way. Nick heads for the phone hitting several object in his path. "Damn." Nick works to control his temper. The last thing Nick needs was to vamp out in front of Schanke.

Schanke was uncomfortable watching Nick stumble around the place. It shows. Schanke fidgits.

The answering machine picks up the call. "This is Nick Knight. I'm either out or asleep. Please leave your name, number and message at the beep and I'll get back to you." The machine beeps. There was a click on the other end.

Nick's annoyed. He feels his way to the sofa.

"I've got to get to home. Is there anything I can get for you?" Schanke said trying to hide his nervousness.

"No. I'll be fine. What time is it?"

Schanke looked at this watch. "About seven-thirty in the morning. I'll see you later." Nick notices Schanke's nervousness.

"I'll be here." Nick said lightly.

Schanke left. The phone rings. Nick manages to get it this time.

"Nick Knight."

"Night Demon. Next time I won't just blind you." There was a click as the person on the other end hangs up. Nick's nervous.

Natalie shows up. Nick jumps when the door opened.

"It's me. Why so jumpy?" Natalie said. Nick relaxes when he hears her voice.

"Someone knows what I am."

"Who?" Natalie asked concerned.

"I don't know. I will find out."

"Ready for your checkup?"

Natalie helps Nick to the couch. "Keep your eyes closed." She removes the bandages.

"I saw who did this."

"No going after them yet." Natalie said somewhat sternly. "Your eyes look better. Can you see anything?"

Nick opened his eyes and looked around. He could see again. He lets out a hugh sigh of relief.

"I'm fine. I nearly destroyed this place. I kept bumping into things. It was so frustrating. Especially when Schanke was here."

"Be glad you only had to use these for a few hours instead of for several days. I'll leave this one here for you. I'll leave some supplies so that you're not caught unprepared. Remember everyone has to believe it so you need to use the bandages whenever anyone's here for the next four or five days. You will need to have your vision be a little blurry for a day afterwards. You can return to work the day after that. I'll write you a note saying you're cleared to return to work."

"What do I do until then?" Nick asked a little antsy.

"Paint, sleep, watch tv, whatever you want that is NOT policework. You need to stay here. How will it look if you're out alone?"

"I see your point." Nick said reluctantly.

Natalie's beeper goes off. Natalie calls the office. Nick could tell that the report was rather gruesome by her expression. "I'll be right there." Natalie hangs up. "Sorry, Nick. I have to run. There's been a rather gruesome murder. I'll keep you informed."

Natalie arrives at the scene of the crime. She took one look at the body and almost loses her lunch. She's never seen anything this disgusting before. The person looked like they died fighting for life. Most of the body was literally burned to a crisp. There was an not quite so toasted spot. Natalie examines it and saw what could be fresh fang marks. She's not sure what to make of it. It disturbs her.

"Do you have any idea how long the victim's been dead?" asked Schanke. He's a little pale himself.

"Not more than two or three hours. I'll know for sure after the autopsy. What are you doing here?"

"I was called in. I've never seen you so pale before." Schanke said avoiding eye contact with the corpse.

"I've never seen anything this bad before. You look a little pale yourself."

"Did you get a look at who injured Nick?

"No."

"How's Nick doing?" Schanke asked concerned.

"He's a little frustrated. He'll be good as new in a few days." Natalie said lying.

"I'm glad."

A cop walks up to Natalie and hands her a sealed envelope with her name on it. "A guy asked me to give this to you."

Natalie took the envelope and opened it. She pulls out the paper inside. On it was a short note. It said - I know what your friend is. I know you're his lover." Natalie was concerned but tries to hide it from Schanke. "I've got to get back to the office. Work to do." She left before Schanke could question her.

It's night. Nick and Natalie were talking in the morgue. Nick's eyes were still bandaged. He hates it.

"I have something I want you to see. I'll stand guard while you examine the victim's throat."

Nick removes the bandages and took a look at the victim's throat. He saw the fang marks. He carefully examines the body. Nick had a very mild negative reaction to the body.

"What do you think?" Natalie asked. "I wanted you to see it before I started work."

"It looked like the work of one of us. None of us here would be that stupid. There wouldn't be anything left if it was one of us. Maybe someone was in the process of bringing the victim over. The poor soul didn't have a chance."

"I haven't had a chance to see if the body's been drained. It will be next to impossible to tell."

"I know. Do your best. I need to know if it was one of us." Nick said.

Nick hears someone coming and fixes the bandages with Natalie's help. Schanke entered. He's surprized to see Nick.

"Couldn't stay away could you. Have you remembered anything else?"

"I missed you Schank." Nick teases him. "I missed the smell of formaldehide."

"You're sick." Schanke replies with small grin which comes through in his voice.

Nick lets a hint of a grin out. Natalie stiffles a grin.

"I haven't had a chance to start on this one yet. I'll let you know what I find." Natalie said.

"I'll stop by later." Schanke said as he left. He was curious why Nick's there.

Natalie finishes typing up her preliminary workup. She turns to Nick.

"I can't tell if the victim was drained. Sorry. The damage was just too extreme. It looked like the person was caught in a very hot house fire." Natalie said a little disappointed that she could not learn more.

"Thanks for trying."

"Nick, if it was someone coming across would it look like this?"

"I've never seen it happen myself. I would think so. Can I take another look at the body?"

"Make it quick."

Natalie stands watch while Nick removes the bandages and reexamines the body. Nick did not find anything. Natalie helps hilm get the bandages back in place.

"I didn't see anything helpful."

Natalie and Nick deliver the report to Schanke. Nick had his hand linked through Natalie's arm.

Schanke was seated at his desk working on the paperwork for the other nights case. He saw Natalie and Nick approaching. Nick draws a few stares from his co-workers.

One of the cops approaches. "How's it going?" said the cop. "Pretty good. I should be back to work in a few days." "That's terrific." The cop left.

Natalie gives Schanke the folder with the preliminary report. "I'll give you the final report sometime tomorrow. Would you please take him home."

"Sure." Schanke said.

The Captain comes out of her office and saw Nick. Cohen was surprized and heads for Nick. Natalie guides Nick to his chair. Nick finds his chair and had a seat. Natalie left.

"What are you doing here, Knight? I thought you were on sick leave."

"I was in the area and had some new info for Schanke."

"What's the latest word?" Cohen asked.

"I'll be fine in a few days. There was no permanent damage."

"That's good. Go home and stay there until you're ready to report back to work."

"I will, Captain."

The Captain left.

"Well, what is it?" Schanke asked.

"When the flash came I remember seeing light hair. Either light brown or blonde. Then it all went dark. You wanted anything."

"I did say that, didn't I. Every bit helps." Schanke said. "Let me finish this report then I'll take you home."

"No problem."

Natalie was examining another corpse. She's looking for any clues she could find. Natalie turns around and saw an envelope addressed to her on her desk. She took off her gloves and reads the message. It said - Demon Lover, I am going to get both of you. All of their kind must die. All their "lovers" must die also. Natalie was a little shaken.

She shrugs it off and returns to her exam. Her mind keeps thinking of the letter.

Natalie stops by Nick's on her way home. Nick saw that something was bothering her.

"What's wrong?"

"Have you received anything unusual in the mail recently?" Natalie said trying to get information from Nick without telling him about her letters yet.

"Why?" Nick asked concerned.

Natalie took the letter out of her pocket. "This is the second one."

Nick took it and reads it. He was disturbed by it. "I won't let anything happen to you."

"I know."

"Mine warned that they would kill me, all of my kind and their lovers. At first I hoped it was a cop hater." "But."

"But I don't think a cop hater would call me a demon of the night or night demon. I have to warn Janette."

"You can't afford to be seen out running around like all is fine."

"What if I flew there and snuck in the back. I could hide in Janette's office or the back room."

"Too many people could see you in the back room. Does anyone ever go into Janette's office."

"Not without her permission if they want to see tomorrow."

"Take some supplies with you in case you are caught off guard. I'm not thrilled with the idea but she does need to be warned."

"If I get caught I'll just tell them that Janette thought I needed a night out. Besides, what better place for a blind man to be than a dark club."

"Just be careful." Natalie said knowing she can't change Nick's mind.

"I will. You be careful."

"I will. I have to get home before Sidney has my whole apartment shredded due to lack of attention and dinner. What if Schanke should call or drop by."

"He doesn't have a key. I'll tell him I was in the bathroom or asleep. How much longer do I have to keep this up?"

"Let's see this is the second day. At the very least two more, preferably three. Then-"

"I know a day where my vision is a little blurry."

Nick flies over the city, looking down on all the buildings. He saw all the traffic and people moving about unaware that they're being watched from above.

He lands behind the Raven. He slips in through the back door and heads straight for Janette's office at vampire speed. Her office was windowless and decorated in her own unique style.

Janette was having a drink at the bar while she's observing the night's crowd. Not a bad crowd for a thursday night. Janette senses Nick's presence. She scans the bar and finds no sign of him.

She heads for the back room. Again no sign of him. She heads for her office. Success.

"What's wrong Nichola? And don't tell me nothing."

"Remember what we were talking about the other night?"

"Yes. There's more to it, isn't there."

"Yes. Someone's hunting us and Natalie."

"By *us* do you mean you and me, Nichola? Or vampires?"

"All vampires and any mortals who know about us. He's serious too. He blinded me the other night with a very bright flash grenade."

"Does this mean you have to move on?" Janette said a mixture of teasing and seriousness.

"No. Nat told them that it was only temporary and I would be fine in a few days."

"My poor Nichola."

"I'm fine."

"Is that why you're hiding in here?"

Nick nods. "I'm supposed to be at home recovering."

Janette lets out an angry little growl. "Do you have any idea who is doing this?"

"I got a quick glimpse of the face before everything went dark. I will find him."

Both of them were nervous. They have not survived this long to be killed by some wacko.

"What am I supposed to do?" Janette growls. "Close the club and run? Hide? I won't do either."

"I'm not asking you to. Just be careful. Pass the word. I've got to run. I'll check back here in a day or two."

Nick gives Janette a quick kiss on the lips. She's a little surprized. And pleased.

Nick gets home and finds a note for him. He reads it. It said - TICK, TICK, TICK. Time's almost up for you and your friends, Night Demon.

Nick's angered that the psycho knows where he lives and works. Angry that he and his friends were being hunted. Nick goes in and calls Natalie.

Natalie's not home or at work. She's not out at any calls. Nick was beginning to panic. He can not call the station and ask if they've heard from her recently because he's supposed to be home recovering. The phone rings. Nick answers it.

"Hello."

"Did you get my note?"

"Yes."

"Time's just about up. So many to choose from. Where oh where do I start?"

Nick hears a click on the other end before he could respond. He looked at his watch and saw that he can not do anything because the sun should be rising.

Nick grabs a glass and a bottle from the fridge. He pours himself dinner. He puts the bottle back into the fridge and paces the room.

After a while Nick stops because it was only driving him crazy and it won't get him anywhere.

Several hours before sunset Nick was playing the piano when he hears the buzzer. On the piano was a glass of cow blood. Nick quickly gulps the glasses content and stashes the glass in a thick bushy potted plant near the piano. Nick did not notice the tiny bit of blood that had dripped down the corner of his mouth. Nick walks over to the intercom. "Who is it?"

"Schanke."

Nick lets him up. Nick quickly fixes the bandages and returns to the piano. The music is not so dark and negative. There was some anger, frustration, and a little fear in the music.

"I see we are in a little better mood today." Schanke teases as he entered.

Nick ignores it as he turns to face his partner. "Do you have any idea how much we take our sight for granted. What do you want?"

"Sociable aren't we." Schanke said. "You're bleeding."

Nick fights the impulse to panic. "Where?" Nick wonders how much blood he dribbled.

"The corner of your lip. It's not much."

Nick had to resist the impulse to lick it off. He uses his hand and wipes it off. "I must've bit my lip. Is it gone?"

"Yes. I just stopped by to see if you needed anything. I know you haven't been able to shop lately. I brought you some fries."

"Put them on the counter. I'll eat them later."

"They're best warm. They tend to get kinda gross when they're cold."

"Nat's been bringing me food when she stops by to check on me."

"How's it going?"

"Pretty good. The bandages come off in two or three days. I should be back to work two days later."

Schanke detects nervousness from Nick. "Are you sure everything's all right?"

"Yea, why?"

"I don't know. You seem a little nervous."

"You try living without your sight for a week and tell me if that doesn't make you a little jumpy. Especially when the the person responsible for it is still out there." Nick hopes Schanke buys the excuse.

"I guess you're right. I know how stressed and panicky Myra and Jenny get when the lights go out."

"And you don't?" It's Nick's turn to engage in a little partner teasing.

"It doesn't bother me most of the time. I've got to run. Cohen wants everyone in early. There was another brutal murder last night. A couple of joggers found it. It is the worst thing I've ever seen. Be glad you weren't there, pardner."

Schanke's on his way out. The phone rings. Nick uses his vampire powers to miss 97% of the stuff. He reasons that by now he should be able to do so out of sheer repetition.

"Schank, keep me informed on this wacko."

"I will." Schanke said as he entered the elevator.

Nick answers the phone. "Hello."

"Time's up. I've got to run. Busy night ahead." He hangs up before Nick could say anything.

Nick hangs up and rips the bandages off. Nick checks his watch. "Damn!" Nick saw that it was at least two hours before sunset. He dials Natalie's home number. No answer. "Damn." He tries her at work and finds that she's out on a call.

Nick took a bottle of blood out of the fridge and did not bother with the glass. He had to feed so that he had the strength for whatever happens tonight. He's determined not to let the wacko destroy his friends.

At the Raven there was a nervous tension under the calm surface. The vampires were all on the alert. The mortals were blissfully unaware of everything going on around them. Miklos was keeping a closer eye on Janette. Janette was indulging in a bit more "wine" than usual. She too wants to be well fed and ready for anything.

Janette had to keep things from boiling over. Trouble between vampires or trouble between vampires and mortal club patrons was the last thing she needs tonight.

The night was young. Janette watches the arrivals trying to sense if any of them were trouble.

Natalie was up to her elbows in the latest victim's chest. Schanke entered.

"Anything to report?"

"Not yet. So far it is the same as the others. Do you have any suspects yet?"

"No one saw anything. Even Nick can't ID his attacker. Is anything wrong? You seem nervous."

"No. The horrificness of the crime is enough to make anyone a little nervous. What's to prevent you from becoming the next victim." Natatlie said as a cover. Then it hits her - what if this was the work of the letter writer? She goes pale.

"Natalie, you okay?" Schanke asked concerned.

Natalie recovers. "Huh?"

"For a second there I thought you might pass out."

"I'm fine." She lies hoping Schanke buys it.

"How's Nick doing?" Schanke asked concerned.

"Fine. He should be back to work good as new by the end of the week."

"Good. Then he can help me with some of the paperwork."

"I miss him too."

"Let me know what you find."

"I will."

As soon as it was dark Nick took to the skies. His first stop was the Raven. He entered through the back like last time.

Janette senses his presence and heads for her office. Miklos was concerned.

"I'll be fine."

Miklos goes back to drying the glasses. He keeps an eye on her until she disappears around the corner. He keeps his ears open for any trouble.

Janette knows the look of bad news. It was written all over Nick's face.

"It's started, hasn't it." Janette said. A shiver runs down her spine.

Nick nods. "I just stopped by to see how you were and to let you know."

"Thanks, Nichola." Janette said. "I'll be careful."

"I've gotta run."

"Be careful, mon cherie."

They detect a voice that signals trouble. "What's he doing here? He can't see me like this." Nick said in a slight panic.

"I'll stall him and you slip out the back."

There was a knock on the door. "Janette, you in there?"

Janette makes her way to the door before Schanke could open it and see Nick. Janette positions herself so she blocks Schanke's view of Nick. Nick fixes the bandages over his eyes before he turns around.

Janette tries to slip out the door without Schanke seeing Nick. No such luck. Schanke saw Nick's back.

"For a guy who can't see you sure get around."

"I thought he could use a change of scenery." Janette said. She saw Schanke start to say something and cuts him off. "Different sounds. A change of atmosphere. What can I do for you detective Schanke?" Janette said politely.

"I was wondering if you've seen anyone strange or unusual around lately. Have any of your employees or regulars?"

"Why are you asking me? Are you saying that strange and unusual people hang around here?" Janette asked seriously with a hint of mockery thrown in. Nick catches it. Nick represses a grin. It goes right over Schanke's head.

"This place is ....unique. It attracts an *interesting* clientele." Schanke said as tactfully as he could.

"I haven't seen anything out of the ordinary. Why do you ask?"

Schanke did not want to get Janette mad at him. He remembers the little he saw of her temper from when he was hiding here. "I'm investigating a series of gruesome homicides. Something about them suggested that it could the type who.... help me, Nick." Schanke begs, knowing he's dug himself into a hole.

"Hang out here?" Nick finishes the sentence with a hint of a grin in his voice as well as on his face. "The body is found after sunrise burned to a crisp. There seem to be a pair of puncture wounds on the neck." Nick wishes he could see the look on Janette and Schanke's faces. Especially the nasty glare Schanke gave him after he completed the sentence.

Janette was surprized by the wounds. She was careful not to let Schanke detect her surprize. A shiver goes up her spine. Her body udders an involuntary shudder. Schanke notices.

"My feelings exactly." Schanke said. "How....." Schanke manages to mumble to Nick.

"Natalie told me. She wanted to see if I could add anything."

"I don't know of anyone that fits your description, detective." Janette said straining to be polite. "I haven't heard anything. I'll let you know if I see or hear anything."

"Do you mind if I ask around?" Schanke asked.

"Do you want people to know there is a serial killer out there?" Nick asked Schanke. Nick was trying to avoid panciking mortals or vampires.

"No. Nick, do you need a lift home?"

"No. I think I'll stay here a while. Janette will drop me off later. Thanks anyways."

"See what you can find out." Schanke said.

"I will."

Schanke left.

"He's gone. You can take those off now."

"In a moment."

"You don't think it was one of us do you? Killing then leaving the victim to die?" Janette growls. "It goes against every rule."

"I don't know what to think."

"No one in this community would be so stupid. It puts us all at risk. Is it connected to the hunter?"

"I don't know. Watch your back. I've got to run."

"Watch yours." Janette said.

Natalie's finishing up the autopsy on the latest victim. Natalie turns around to put down her clipboard and finds an envelope with her name on it. She opened it dreading the contents. The letter said - One Night Demon lover down, many, many Night Demons to go. Natalie puts the letter back into the envelope and hides it in her pocket. She picks up the phone and calls Nick. She's not a happy camper when the answering machine picks up. "Nick, I'm the first target. Call me asap!" Grace entered.

A doctor entered. "Dr. Lambert, I have something you might be interested in." The doctor gives Natalie a glimpse of the gun. "Grace, I'll be back soon, I hope. If he calls tell him I went out for a bite."

Grace nods.

Natalie and the doctor leave.

Once outside the hospital the doctor's demeanor changes. "Night Demon lover your time has come to an end. I have prepared a special place for you. Get in." He opened the passenger's side door and shoves her in. "Scoot over and drive. Try anything and you'll die. He won't be able to save you."

Natalie does as instructed. She's not about to get herself killed needlessly.

Nick's at home. The bandages were off. He calls Natalie at work.

Grace answers. "Coroner's Office, Grace."

"Grace, it's Nick. Where's Nat?" Nick said worried.

"She went out to eat with some doctor I've never seen before. Why? Is something wrong?"

Nick did not like the sound of the message. "I'll explain when I get there." Nick remembers that he had to stay in character. "Meet me inside the front door."

"Sure. When?"

"In about ten minutes."

Natalie and the Mysterious figure arrive at an old abandoned wharehouse. "Stop the car and get out. We are going into the building."

Natalie does as told.

They enter the building. Once inside Natalie was shocked by the religious-like decorations. It looked like something from the sacrificial decorations of several cultures all mixed together.

There was an altar with a giant stuffed demon sculpture hanging on a stand behind it. There were two stone tables with straps. Presumably where the victims were laid to be sacrificed. There was an ornately carved large higbacked heavy/thick wooden chair positioned so that the occupant could see the whole proceedings. Lit candles were everywhere providing the atmosphere. Over in one corner was a cage large enough to hold several people.

The figure pushes her towards the cage. He opened the door and shoves her inside. Shutting and locking the door behind her.

"If you'll excuse me I have some business to tend to. Don't worry, your demon friends will be joining you shortly." The mysterious figure left.

Natalie did not like the sound of it. Natalie was worried about Nick and to some extent Janette. Natalie was quite scared but refuses to let the nutball see it. "Gotta stay calm. Look for a way out." Natalie carefully examines the cage. She tries the door. No luck.

Once again Nick was soaring above the city. He lands out of sight and fixes the bandages in place. He walks out into the parking lot.

Mark, from the coroners office saw Nick and approaches. "Nick, do you need help? What are you doing here?"

"Can you help me to the front door? Grace was waiting for me there. My friend must be having trouble parking."

"Sure. Take my arm." Mark said.

Nick wraps his hand around Mark's arm, just above the elbow. "Thanks."

Nick gets to the door. Grace opened it and took over from there.

"What was so important that you had to come all the way down here?"

"I need to know exactly what Nat said. Also what did the doctor look like."

"What's wrong?"

"I'm not sure anything is yet. That's why I need your help."

"Nat said that that she would be back soon, she hoped. And that if he called to tell him that she went out for a bite."

"Did she say who the he was?" Nick asked suspecting the he was himself.

Grace shakes her head. "I think she meant you. Now that I think about it, it seems like she didn't want the doctor to know who she was talking about."

"What did he look like?"

"He was tall, blonde, had on a white doctor's smock. An average looking man. About your build. Now that I think back, I don't think she really wanted to go with him. Her voice and face had that expression. You know the one I mean."

"Thanks, Grace. You've been a lot of help. Don't tell anyone about this."

"If you say so. Need help back to the door?"

"Yes, please." Nick hates having to act so helpless.

Grace escorts him to the door. "I'll be fine. My friend should be by any minute."

"You sure?"

"I'm sure."

Grace left and goes back inside. Nick feels his way along the outside wall until he gets to the corner. He turns the corner and removes the bandages. He hears people coming and ducks behind a bush. He looked out from behind the bush and saw that all was clear.

Nick took off to the skies again. Nick's pissed that he did not have a clue as to where the nutball took Natalie. Nick recognizes the description as the same nutball that blinded him. Nick heads home. He finds two messages on his machine. He listens to them. Natalie's message was the first one. "Nick, I'm the first target. Call me asap!" Nick hears the fear in her voice. The second one was the psychotic hunting them. "If you want to say goodbye to your friends meet me at the abandoned warehouse by the marina at 1:30. Come alone. They will die along with you, after I've exposed you for the demon you are."

Nick's eyes turn blood red and his fangs drop. He lets out one hell of a growl. He heads for his fridge and chows down to prepare for the fight.

Meanwhile outside the Raven the mystery figure was waiting for Janette in the parking lot.

Inside the Raven Janette saw a note for her. She reads it and was suspicious. She knows that she had to go outside and face the person or she will always be looking over her shoulder.

Janette exits the Raven. As soon as the door closes she was shot in the left shoulder with a garlic dart by the mysterious stranger. She vamps out. It stings like a dozen scorpion bites. She was shot again. This time in the stomach area. Janette growls in pain and anger. She tries to lunge for the attacker but was shot with a third dart. It just misses the chest and gets Janette in the stomach again. She drops to the ground clutching her stomach in extreme agony. Janette was quite ill.

The mysterious figure securely gags her being careful not to underestimate her. He ties her hands behind her back. He scoops her up and dumps her in the trunk of his car.

The psychopath soon arrives at the warehouse. He took Janette out of the trunk and carries her inside like a sack of potatoes. He dumps her in the cage.

"Janette, what's wrong?" Natalie gets a whiff of the garlic and knows. She unties and ungags Janette. Natalie examines Janette and saw that the garlic was too deeply imbeded for her to to remove without tools.

"So we finally meet the hunter." Janette growls looking out from the bars. She was determined not to let him win despite the severe pain and naseau.

"I'm sorry I can't help. They're too deeply imbeded." Natalie said.

"I will get my hands around his neck and slowly drain the life out of him." Janette angrily growls.

"Make all the threats you want. As soon as the third member of the party arrives we can get started."

Janette tries to bend or break the bars. She's weakened by the garlic. Janette was greatly frustrated by this. She lets out a growl of frustration.

Natalie tries her best to make Janette comfortable. Natalie knows how to deal with a cranky vampire. She's learned when to back off. Natalie was a little scared being locked in a cage with a wounded, cranky, angry and frustrated vampire. Natalie refuses to let it show.

Nick was about to leave when his phone rings. He answers it. It was Miklos. "Nick, I'm worried. Janette's missing. She went into the back to check on something and never returned. I've checked the whole club. No sign of her."

"Stay there. Don't tell any of this to Detective Schanke. I'll take care of it."

Nick took off. He flies through the city looking for any clues. He uses his vampiric senses to their fullest to help his search. Nick looked at his watch and saw that he had some time before his appointment.

Nick makes a sweep over the city before it was time to meet the psycho. Nick lands in front of the abandoned warehouse by the marina.

"Punctual, that's good. Welcome to the party."

"Where are my friends?" Nick growls.

"In due time. They're safe for the moment. Although I will admit that one is feeling a little under the weather."

This works as designed. Nick was further angered by not knowing who he had and who was sick.

"If you'll follow me, the party can begin."

"I'm not going anywhere until you tell me where my friends are." Nick growls angrily. He's working hard to keep the vampire part under control and out of sight.

"This way. I warn you not to try anything. I don't want to have to kill the mortal one ahead of schedule. I have plans for her."

Nick reluctantly follows the nutcase into the warehouse. Nick now knows that Natalie was the mortal hostage. He's pretty sure Janette was the other.

"Can I at least have your name." Nick asked.

"Call me The Slayer. Or just Slayer if you prefer."

Nick saw that Natalie seems to be fine. He could tell that Janette was not well.

"What have you done to Janette?" Nick asked trying to keep his temper in check.

"Just a little garlic to keep her under control."

Meanwhile back at the precinct Schanke calls Nick. Schanke is not the only one concerned when Natalie ca not be located. Schanke was concerned when Nick did not answer.

"Come on, Nick, pick up the phone. Grace was worried because Natalie was hours overdue from lunch. Is she there with you?" Schanke hangs up. "Where would you be?" Schanke said out loud to himself. Schanke looked on Nick's desk for anything with the Raven's phone number on it. He opened the drawer did not find anything. Schanke dials directory assistance. "I'd like the number for The Raven." Schanke writes it down. He hangs up and dials the number.

Miklos answers the phone, "the Raven."

"This is Detective Schanke. I need to speak to Nick Knight."

"I'm sorry but he is not here. He doesn't come here that often."

"Yeah right." Schanke said knowing Miklos was lying. "Thanks for your help." Schanke attempts to be polite. He hangs up.

"Night Demon, I have prepared a special chair for you. You have a front row seat for the evening's festivities."

"Nat, how is she?"

"She's been shot with three garlic darts. They need to come out. She's stable for now."

"The sooner you take your seat the sooner the festivities can begin. And the less your friend will suffer."

Nick reluctantly took his seat. He realizes that he had no choice but to play along. Natalie was the one most at risk. Nick thinks, I could just rush over there and have him out of the way before he could hurt them. But what if I'm wrong?

"What would it take for you to bring someone over?"

"Never!" Nick growls, just barely able to keep the vampire part under control.

The Slayer goes to the cage and grabs Natalie. Nick was tempted to rip his throat out here and now. "Would you do it to save her life?" Natalie was terrified. Some of her fear shows, especially in her eyes. The Slayer picks up a scalpel and holds it up to Natalie's throat. "You mean you'd let her die. You could save her and you'd let her die."

"It wouldn't be saving her. I'd be condeming her to a life of eternal darkness. I'd rather see her die."

The Slayer angrily throws Natalie back into the cage. "I'll deal with you later." He grabs Janette. Janette angrily hisses at him. "What would you do to save her? I wonder how much garlic it took to kill a vampire. Maybe I'll use her to find out." Nick fights the impulse to react. Nick refuses to let The Slayer get to him. "Maybe I'll just have to get your partner. I wonder how he'll react to the news?"

"What news?" Nick said bluffing.

"That his partner is a blood sucking demon. That there are vampires all over Toronto. That the Raven is a haven for vampires."

"I don't think it would bother him much. I suspect he already knows." Nick said bluffing.

"How could he not." Natalie said joining Nick's game.

"Nice try. You see I know for a fact that he doesn't know. He might have a slight suspicion that he won't admit to." The Slayer taunts Nick. "Or better yet I could have you watch as Janette brings Natalie over. I know she could easily be convinced to do so."

"How do you know I am a vampire? Or Janette for that matter? How can you be sure that Natalie isn't?" Nick asked trying to rattle the Slayer.

"Do you have any proof?" Natalie asked.

"I saw Janette change when I shot her. She would've loved to rip out my throat. I saw you change when I blinded you. As for the doctor, maybe I should do an experiment and see. Should I slit her throat, shoot her, stab her, what do you suggest."

"The flash grenade was very bright. How do you know that it wasn't some trick of the light?"

"Simple. I was too close and I had on sunglasses to protect me. I could shoot you with garlic, shoot you etc. I don't think I will. I have other plans for the evening."

The Slayer grabs Natalie, drags Natalie to one of the stone slabs. The Slayer keeps the scalpel at Natalie's throat to prevent Nick from trying anything. The Slayer forces Natalie to lay on the slab. "I had hoped to dress them more appropriately but I guess this will have to do. The Slayer ties Natalie so that movement was impossible. "Sit tight." The Slayer said as he pats her cheek. The Slayer goes back to the cage and grabs Janette. The Slayer forces Janette to the other slab. This time the Slayer positions a wooden stake over Janette's heart until she's securely tied to the slab. Nick had no choice but to wait for his chance.

"You may choose who dies first and how they die. You have three minutes to decide. If you choose to bring the good doctor over I will release her."

"NEVER!" Nick growls. He can not contain his vampire side any longer. "Here's the proof you wanted." Nick said as his eyes turn reddish-orange and his fangs drop. Nick tries to hypnotize the Slayer. "You will release them. You will not harm them." The Slayer was momentarily taken in but quickly shrugs it off.

"Nice try. Try that again and the doc dies most painfully. Janette will be the next to die a most agonizing death. Time's almost up."

Nick can not chose. How does he choose one friend over the other. How could he choose the method.

"Don't do it Nick." Natalie said.

"No choice? I guess I'll have to choose. I think I'll take it slowly with the doctor. But first I need a safety net." The Slayer brings some rope over to Nick and ties his arms down. He also ties Nick's feet to the chair legs.

Nick notices that the rope burns his arms. His legs were protected by his socks. Nick struggles trying to break the rope. The garlic was interfering with his efforts.

"I soaked the ropes in garlic. Just a little something to keep you busy while I make the preparations."

"Nick, don't do anything you'll regret." Natalie said.

The Slayer checks to make sure that his Smith and Wesson .38 was filled. He also checks the sharpness of his hunting knife and his scalpel. The Slayer moves to the other side of the slab to insure Nick a good look at what he plans to do to Natalie.

Nick growls. "Hurt her and die."

The Slayer just smiles. He looked over his choices. He picks up the rather large hunting knife. The Slayer stabs Natalie in the left shoulder. Natalie screams in pain. Nick totally loses it. He breaks free of the rope like it was a spider web. The most horrifyingly fierce growl escapes Nick's mouth. Nothing could stop Nick now. The Slayer starts a gash on Natalie's forehead above her right eye.

In the blink of an eye Nick was knocking the Slayer away from Natalie. The Slayer stabs Nick in the shoulder, missing Nick's heart by a good two inches. This just further pisses Nick off. Nick grabs hold of the Slayer. Spins him around. Nick was a millimeter away from sinking his teeth into the man. Nick pulls back. Nick tosses the man across the room like a rag doll. The Slayer lands unconscious in a heap.

Nick rushes to help Natalie. "Nat, how are you?"

"I'll be fine." She said weakly and in great pain.

Nick hears a sound behind him and saw Janette sink her teeth into the Slayer Nick rips the straps off, freeing Natalie. Nick examines Natalie's shoulder. The wound was serious but not life threatening if he could stop the bleeding. He turns his attention to the gash over her eye. The blood had run down the side of her face making it look much worse than it was. He saw that it will require stitches. "Forgive me, Nat." Nick rips the sleeve off Nat's shirt and uses it to apply pressure to the shoulder wound. Natalie grimaces in pain. He hates to cause her pain.

Janette was happily snacking on the Slayer. She drops the body when finished. She's got a few drops on her lower lip. A satisfied with vengence smile crosses Janette's lips. "I told you I'd drain the life out of you." She said to the nearly bloodless remains of the Slayer.

"Janette are you okay?"

"I'm a little better."

Nick had a problem. How does he get Natalie help, the garlic out of Janette and himself home by dawn and without being seen.

"Janette, is there anyone at the Raven who can remove the garlic? If not I can try."

"I would rather you do it. I don't want anyone else to know."

"Nat, can you talk me through it?" Nick asked a little uncertain if this was the correct choice.

"Yes. Help me sit up." Natalie was hit by a wave of dizziness and naseau as soon as she sits up.

Nick notices. "You okay?"

Natalie nods. "First you need to make an incision over the garlic. If you can find some tweezers it will prevent you from coming in contact with the garlic yourself."

Nick had Natalie apply pressure to her shoulder. Nick looked for a pair of tweezers but did not find any. He had Janette sit down on the slab next to Natalie.

"You want to make an incision the length of the garlic. You want to gently pull back the skin til you can see the garlic. You may be able to use the scalpel to help remove it."

Nick was a little hesitant. He did not want to but knows he must. Nick locates the three entry points and picks the shoulder one to start on. He makes the incision. Once that was done he locates the garlic.

Janette pulls a piece of fabric off her dress. "Use this, Nichola."

Nick took it, reaches in and removes the garlic piece. He moves on to one of the stomach ones. Once the first stomach one was out he removes the second one. Natalie had Nick show her the wounds once the garlic was removed.

"Janette, they look much better. How do you feel?"

"Better. It still burns, but it is fading. Thank you, both." Janette said.

"You're looking better." Natalie said trying to ignore the pain.

"Now what?" Janette asked.

"Nat, you need a cover story. How about a car crash? The windshield broke and that's how you were injured. Or you tripped and went through a glass window."

"Nichola, neither is perfect. Both would require more injuries. How about a mugging, attempted rape or something like that. What about him?" Janette said pointing to her snack.

"Make him disappear. Nat, you chose the cover." Nick said.

"I like the mugging. It will work quite well. Nick you and Janette had better get home."

"Nichola, go home. I'll see she gets help."

"Thanks. I'll check on both of you later."

Nick scoops Natalie into his arms and carries her out to the Slayer's car. He gently sets her down in the passenger seat. Nick took off. Janette gets into the driver's side and starts the car. Natalie pulls down the mirror on the back of the visor and saw the gash and the blood that had run down the side of her face.

"Oh my God." Natalie was worried.

"Please don't use that word." Janette said repulsed and a little naseated.

"Sorry."

Janette helps Natalie into the hospital. The desk nurse took one look at Natalie and grabs the nearest wheelchair. "Take her into room five. Someone will be right in."

Once inside the room Natalie said to Janette, "you'd better leave. I'll be fine." Janette smiles and left. The doctor entered. "Doctor Lambert, what happened?" "I was mugged. I was stabbed with a hunting knife."

Schanke buzzes Nick. Nick answers. "Hello."

"Nick, its me. Where have you been all night?" Schanke said a little concerned.

"Just a minute." Nick lets Schanke up in the elevator. Nick had just finished changing clothes. There would be too many questions if Schanke saw Natalie's blood on Nick's shirt. Nick reluctantly puts the bandages back in place. He knows Natalie would want it this way.

The door opened and Schanke entered. "I tried calling all night."

"I was having trouble sleeping and took a sleeping pill. Natalie had given them to me after the accident."

"You sleep in your clothes?"

"I didn't feel like changing. I slept on the couch. Is something wrong? Nick detects the sound of concern in Schanke's voice.

"Natalie's in the hospital. She's been stabbed."

"How is she? Who did it?" Nick asked concerned.

"I'm going there now. I'd offer to take you but I know you can't take the sun. I'll keep you informed."

"Thanks, Schank."

Schanke arrives at the Nurses desk. He flashes his badge. "I'm here to question Doctor Lambert."

"She's in the O.R. You'll have to have a seat."

Schanke was worried. He likes Natalie. He did not think it was that serious.

An hour later the doctor comes out to talk to Schanke. "Are you the detective?" The doctor asked.

"Yes. How is she?" Schanke asked concerned.

"She'll be fine in two - three weeks. It was a clean entry. She's in recovery now. You'll be able to talk to her this afternoon."

"Any chance I can talk to her sooner?"

"I don't think so." The doctor said before he left.

Schanke entered Nick's place. Nick's eyes were still bandaged.

"Can you take me to see Nat?" Nick asked anxiously.

"I was on my way there and thought you might like to come along."

"Thanks, Schank."

"How do I do this?" Schanke asked uncertain how to help Nick. He was still uncomfortable seeing Nick like this. It shows in his body language. "How much longer you are you going to be out?"

"Another two or three days. I hold onto your arm just above your elbow. You walk normally, letting me know when there is something I might hit or trip over like a curb, stairs or a door." Nick said knowing that Natalie had to clear him or it will look suspicious.

Schanke took Nicks hand and puts it on his arm. Nick took hold and they leave. "Steps." Schanke said as they approach the steps.

They arrive outside Natalie's door. Nick knocks on her door.

"Come in." Natalie said sounding pretty good.

Nick and Schanke enter. Nick was holding a bouquet of flowers. Schanke had a box of chocolates. Schanke helps Nick over to the bed. Nick hands the flowers in Natalie's direction. She took the flowers from Nick and the chocolates Schanke hands her.

"They're beautiful. Thank you." Natalie said. She smells them. "Thanks for the chocolate, Schank. The first edible thing I've seen today."

"Natalie, I need to ask you a few questions. Do you feel up to it?" Schanke said.

"Sure. Nick, how are you doing?"

"Okay. How about you?"

"Better."

Schanke had the idea that he came into the middle of a conversation.

"Am I missing something?" Schanke asked confused.

"No." Nick said with a little amusement coming through in his voice.

"Natalie, did you see who attacked you?"

"No. He grabbed me from behind. He was about Nick's height and build. He held a hunting knife to my throat. I gave him my money. He stabbed me and ran. The edge of the blade caught my forehead on the way up. I'm sorry I can't be of more help."

"Can I talk to her alone for a few minutes."

"I'll try to find something to put the flowers in."

"Thanks, Schank." Natalie said.

Schanke left. Nick and Natalie keep their voices low so that they woild not accidentally be overheard.

"How much longer do I have to keep this up?"

Natalie knows how much it was bugging him. "How long has it been?"

"Four days."

"You can take the bandages off tomorrow.--" Nick cuts Natalie off knowing what she's about to say.

"I know." Nick took the bandages off to take a quick look at Natalie. "You look much better."

"Nick." Natalie scolds him. Nick puts the bandages back on.

"Sorry. I had to see that you were okay."

"They gave me some painkillers. I'll be out for two or three weeks. How's Janette?"

"Schanke came by before I could leave. She called earlier to tell me that she's fine. The burns have all healed."

"I'm glad. I'll clear you for work in two days. Did you mean what you said about me dying rather than bringing me over?"

"It would depend on the situation. I wish I could be sure either way. But I ca not."

Neither Nick or Natalie have forgotten the disaster with Richard.

"How bad is it?" Nick asked concerned.

"They had to repair the deltoid muscle. They expect me to make a complete recovery. The surgeon is a friend of mine. He had a reconstructive surgeon close the gash above my eye. There shouldn't be a scar."

"That's great. How long are they keeping you?"

"Two days. They want to make sure that there aren't any problems." Natalie lowers her voice, "thank you for saving my life."

"You're welcome." Nick said in the same low tones. "You took care of me. Now it is my turn. Is there anything I can bring you?"

"Yes, dinner. I wouldn't make you eat this food."

"That bad, huh." Nick said with a wicked grin on his face. Natalie smiles.

Schanke knocks on the door.

"Come in." Natalie said.

Nick kisses Natalie on the cheek. "Bye, Nat."

"Bye, Nick."

Schanke sets the glass of water on her night table. He puts the flowers into the glass. "Sorry, it was the best I could do." Schanke said. "Bye, Natalie. Let me know if you remember anything else."

"Bye, Schank."

In the corridor Nick and Schanke walk and talk. Nick's hand was around Schanke's arm.

"Could you drop me off at the Raven on your way back to the station?"

"Sure. Cabin fever."

"Yea." Nick lies.

"How is Natalie?" Schanke asked concerned.

"They expect her to make a complete recovery." Nick said pleased.

"I'm glad."

Schanke escorts Nick into the Raven. Janette was at the bar surveying the crowd and indulging in a little wine as usual.

"Hi, Janette." Nick said.

"Hi, Nick."

"Would you see to it that he gets home." Schanke requests.

"Sure." Janette said playing along.

Schanke left.

"How much longer do you have to go on with this charade?" Janette asked.

"Until tomorrow. I can't wait."

"How's Natalie?"

"She's fine. No permanent damage. She asked how you were."

"I'm glad she's okay. I like her. What brings you here?"

"I just wanted to make sure you're all right."

"You can't tell I was ever hit. Since you're off duty...."

Janette kisses Nick very passionately. Nick responds. She does have a point. He was off duty and all his friends were safe. Janette leads Nick to her office. She locks her door once they were inside. She removes the bandages from Nick's eyes. She drops them on the desk behind her.

"It's been a long time, Nichola."

"I know."

Janette kisses Nick very passionately. Nick hungrily/passionately gives in. They start nibbling on each other. Janette's fangs come out. She sinks her teeth into Nick's neck. Nick's fangs drop. He sinks his teeth into her neck. The two old friends were in vampire heaven.

Nick picks Natalie up at the hospital when she's discharged. She had a small bandage above her eye and a sling cradling her injured shoulder. Nick helps her into the car and gives her a lift home.

"I want to pick up a few files from work." Natalie said.

"No. You are to take it easy for the next week. NO work. Read, watch tv, sleep, anything BUT work." Nick said. He enjoys repeating her orders back to her.

"That sounds familiar. By the way here's your note clearing you for work starting tomorrow."

"Thanks. What do you say I stop by later and fix dinner."

"Sounds wonderful."

Nick escorts Natalie to her apartment. Once he saw that she's safely home he left.

Nick goes to the precinct. Schanke was pleased to see his partner recovered.

"You back?" Schanke asked.

"Not until tomorrow. It's still a little blurry when I get overtired. Natalie said that will go away in a day or two."

The Captain saw Nick and approaches. "You ready to come back to work? Before you do I need a medical clearance form."

Nick pulls it from his jacket pocket and hands it to Cohen. She looked it over.

"Natalie gave it to me the morning she was mugged. She wanted me to wait a day or two before returning."

"I need to know if there are any problems."

"None, Captain."

"Then I'll expect you to report to work on time tomorrow."

"Yes, Captain."

Nick fixes a gourmet meal for Natalie. He puts some on a plate for himself. He looked at it but did not touch it. Natalie tries it and was pleasantly surprized. Nick notices.

"I may not eat, but I've picked up a few recipes from master chefs here and there over the last 800 years."

"This is delicious. I should let you do the cooking more often." Natalie said with a smile.

Nick smiles. "You look good. I don't mind cooking. Once I get over the smell of food."

"I think you'll make it, maybe sooner than we think."

They watch a good movie after dinner. Natalie leans back against Nick. Two good friends watching a movie together.

Nick was on time for work the next night.

"It's good to have you back."

"It's good to be back, Schank."

"How's the sight?"

"Fine. The blurryness is gone. I'm good as new."

"How's, Natalie?"

"She's doing fine."

THE END

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