Special Note: I found this chapter at the end of one of the "Transitions" documents Judy sent me to beta read back in 2002 or 2003, just before I came down with breast cancer and couldn't beta for quite a while. I'd sent it back to her to rewrite. This was before she decided to break it into a longer story and call it "Rebirth." I know she wrote a longer, more involved version. But, I also know she had a hard drive crash and a transition to a new computer after this was done. I didn't know I had this. I was looking for the file called "Rebirth," but I guess this must be all that is left. It continues from the end of "Transitions." Nick has just brought Natalie across and has flown her, vampire-style, to their new home.

Becky Chessman
7-30-2006


Rebirth
by Judith Freudenthal

After a long flight they arrived at the furnished house Nick had bought for them. He gently laid Natalie on the bed and made sure she was covered before he laid down next to her. She looked pale but that was to be expected and her heartbeat was steady at 6 beats an hour.

Nightfall woke Nick and he prepared for Natalie's awakening. She would be one hungry vampire suffering from the need for that first feeding. He brought two wine bottles into the bedroom and waited for her to awaken.

She did about ten minutes later. As soon as her eyes opened she noticed that the world had a yellowish tint to it. She was starving. She accidentally punctured her lower lip with a fang and tasted her own flat blood. She looked around and did not recognize the place and was scared that the encephalitis had worsened as she died.

"Where are we?"

Nick sensed her panic and softly said, "We're in our new home." He uncorked the first bottle of human blood and saw her mouth watering, her licking her lips in anticipation. He handed her the bottle and watched as she quickly drained it before handing it back.

Nick was concerned because she was a little weaker and paler than a new vampire should be, but knew that her body had a lot of repair work to do. He remembered what her files had said, how just about every system in her body was damaged by AIDS. Not to mention how sick she was when he brought her across.

Nick uncorked the second bottle, handed it to her and watched as it too was rather quickly drained. The blood would help her heal. She set the empty bottle on the night stand.

"Welcome to the night shift," Nick said with a grin.

"Thanks. Um, what was I drinking? Human or cow?"

"Human. Your body has a lot to repair and requires that type to do that much work. How do you feel?"

"Good. I have to make a phone call. I have to let my support group know nothing's wrong. They'll be worried if they don't hear from me and I'm not home."

Nick could tell that she wasn't telling the whole truth but didn't push, knowing how she dealt with things.

"Don't tell anyone what happened or where we are. As far as anyone is concerned you're still sick."

Nick took the empty bottles with him as he left her to make her call.

Natalie dialed the number.

"Hello."

"Mel, this is Natalie."

"Natalie, we were worried. Are you all right?"

"I'm okay. Nick thought I needed a change of scenery. I'm not sure when I'll be back."

"Are you sure you're okay?"

"Yes. It's beautiful here. Nick's being very attentive and I like it. He was right. I did need a change of scenery. Will you tell the others?"

"I will. I'm glad you're enjoying yourself. Keep in touch, okay."

"Okay. Thanks."

Nick heard her hang up and reentered the bedroom. "It's a beautiful night. Come outside."

Natalie noticed that she did not feel so weak or tired as she did before the transformation. She was feeling much more like her old self again. She did notice the minor weakness but knew the same things that he did, she had a lot of internal repairs to accomplish.

She sat down next to him and noticed that she could see almost as well as she could during the daytime. It surprised her.

"When do the lessons start?"

"Tomorrow night. You're still a little weaker than you should be. I don't know how many converts have had the massive system damage you had. You should have told me earlier."

"Be honest. Would you have brought me across any sooner? I had to hit you over the head with what was going to happen before you agreed."

"You're right," Nick reluctantly admitted. "I don't know how you held out so long. How did you get through each day, each illness?"

"I focused on finding your cure. It gave me a reason to wake up each morning. I had no choice but to get through the day any way I could. The same for the illnesses. It wasn't until the encephalitis that I began to wonder if I was going to survive. That's when I realized how little time I had left."

"You always were a fighter. For right now I want you to eat whenever you're hungry. The fridge is very well stocked. Once you regain your strength then we'll work on controlling the hunger."

Natalie explored her new sense without leaving her seat. She could hear all the wildlife sounds around them as clearly as if they were right in front of her. She could hear the heartbeat of the animals around and found herself caught up in it.

Nick was very aware of what she was doing and left her to her discoveries.

A while later she asked him "When we get back to society will it bother you that I look about ten years older than you?"

"No. You're still beautiful in my eyes. Will it bother you?"

"Just a little when people stare. You're really the older one. Besides I'll look like one with the great catch." She said smiling.

"Aren't women supposed to outlive men by several years? I don't know if I could go on without you. I don't want to find out."

"Me either."

The next evening they both awoke and fed. Nick insisted that Natalie fed until she was full. He saw that she was a little stronger and was pleased. He figured she would be up to proper strength by tomorrow.

They sat outside and talked. After a few hours he flew away only to return a moment later.

"Did you feel the difference?" Nick asked.

"Yes. I could feel when your presence was there and when it was absent. So this is how you identify each other?"

"Yes. The older and stronger the vampire the more powerful they are..."

"The more you can feel them," she said finishing his thought. He nodded. "I like the house. Its cozy." She said.

He smiled. He carefully looked her over, judging her condition. She noticed but let him, knowing he was looking out for her best interests.

"I want to learn to fly. Or is it just something you know how to do instinctively?"

"It's a little of both. The instincts are there, you just have to learn how to use them."

"Did you have any trouble with the skills?"

"I was thrown into it much less gently. The only one that gave me trouble was learning how to use my new senses to track another creature. I'm sure there were important lessons he never taught me. I will not do the same to you. You will learn everything I have to teach you."

"Can we start now?"

Nick smiled at her enthusiasm and nodded "yes, we can start now." She did look a lot better than she did three days ago. "In order to fly you have to think about what you want to do, at first consciously, eventually it will become second nature. Try for the roof."

I will fly up to the roof, Natalie thought and was a little upset when nothing happened.

"Let go of the mortal concept of being unable to fly. Magicians can levitate themselves, so can you."

I can fly. I can defy gravity. I will levitate myself up off the ground and land on the roof.

Nick smiled at Natalie's surprised expression as she found herself rising off the ground. A large smile spread across her face causing him to realize how much he had missed her, how long it had been since she had given him one of her full smiles. He flew to the roof without much conscious thought in the matter.

Natalie landed on the roof and nearly lost her balance. Nick steadied her.

"Very good. Now I want you to meet me at the top of the tree over there, but do not land."

"How?"

"Just tell yourself that you're going to hang around in mid air."

Nick was the first one to the tree and hovered while he waited for Natalie. She had no trouble lifting off this time but did have trouble hovering with Nick.

"Remember, you are no longer mortal. You can do things that you could never do before. Remember how you once asked me to teach you how to hypnotize people? Now you can learn how."

I can hover just as easily as he can, she thought to herself and felt herself steady.

"I don't want to overdo it tonight because I have a big night planned for you tomorrow."

"I'm fine. I'm alive and in much better health."

"You're also a little weak. Don't push it. You have to give yourself time to recover."

Natalie was relieved about one thing, she would not have to kill.

"I will have to teach you how to hunt. I may not always be there. You will have to know how to survive in any situation. I won't allow you to kill a mortal for our hunt. You will make your first kill sometime, it is inevitable. It is a strong part of what we are." He saw her expression. "It is that part that we must control. You will be able to with practice and experience."

"When will I learn to hunt?"

"Not until you have mastered the basics."

Over the next few days Nick taught Natalie everything LaCroix had taught him. She knew how to hunt, how to locate the source of a sound, how and when to fly as well as how to hypnotize someone.

She handled her limited contact with mortals very well so Nick increased the amount of contact as well as the number of mortals around.

Nick could see she loved parts of her new lifestyle and for the first time did not feel as if he were completely evil. He also noticed that she wanted to get back to her research.

That night Natalie was feeling strong and felt a different kind of a feeling building in her. She walked up behind Nick and wrapped her arms around him. She gently nipped him on the ear.

He pulled her around in front of him and kissed her very passionately. She immediately gave into the feeling.

He swept her in his arms without disturbing the kiss and carried her to the bedroom, where he deposited her gently on the bed, lowering himself down next to her. They helped each other out of their clothing, exploring with their hands the territory they had uncovered. They covered each other's bodies with kisses and gentle nips, totally arousing and enticing the other. When they both were quite aroused Nick entered Natalie. She shuddered in delight. When they were at their peak of excitement he sank his fangs into her throat and drank in her essence. She felt the thrill and sank hers into his throat, feeling even more intoxicated with the sheer ecstasy. The two entwined bodies shuddered in delight as they read the emotions and memories of the other.

After their lusts had been satisfied they relaxed in each others arms. She laid there with her back to him enjoying his touch.

Both of them had never felt such intense pleasure before. The last time they had made love Nick had been forced to use extreme control. This time there was no need for that as they had fully indulged themselves, unable to inflict any lasting injury upon the other.

"Nat, what do you say we go back to your loft tomorrow and retrieve your research notes?"

"Okay. I would like to get back to my research."

"Would you like an assistant?"

"Sure. You'll need to read over my research."

The next evening Nick and Natalie returned to her loft. She was still pale and could pass for being AIDS infected, even though she did not look as sick as she had been. They hoped they did not run into any of her friends. She did miss them, but wasn't ready to face them just yet. She felt a little guilty for having a way to survive the disease.

They packed up the notes and headed back for the cabin.

Nick took a detour on the drive back, stopping in front of a small new building.

"Go on in," Nick said, trying hard to keep the smile off his face.

They entered, him right behind her. Once inside her jaw dropped. She was looking at a state of the art research facility.

"Thank you, Nick," She said overjoyed as she rewarded him with a very passionate kiss.

"You had to have somewhere to work," He said with a wicked grin.

They returned to the cabin to look over her notes in comfort.

Natalie showed Nick to her research on his condition and he read it over the course of three days and nights. Stopping only for a little recreation and a little sleep. While he was reading she was also reviewing her work.

Natalie would call her friends every few days, from Nick's cell phone and say that she was fine and enjoying Nick's pampering.

Nick did pamper her somewhat, but respected her strength. Natalie enjoyed the pampering. They discovered that she had a rather voracious appetite which he all too willingly gave into.

When she looked into his eyes she could tell that he was happier than he had been in centuries. Being the cause of it made her feel great. He saw the happiness in her eyes, making him feel that much better. And so the circle fed upon itself.

He was pleased with how well she was dealing with the bloodthirst and the related temptations. She had not killed anyone yet, and hoped she never would. Nick knew she would someday, it was inevitable.

Natalie was pleased to have two subjects to use in her vampirism cure research. Unknown to Nick she had remembered to take samples from the second day onward, a little annoyed that she had missed that first crucial day. She reminded herself that she was a little busy that day.

She did find differences in their blood, despite all the sharing they did and wondered what the differences might look like without all the sharing. The differences between her early samples and Nick's blood sample helped show some of the changes the body underwent. It gave her a deeper understanding of vampire physiology. She momentarily considered writing it up for the Community, but then realized that it wouldn't be a good idea.

Several months of work provided a substance she hoped was the cure for vampirism. A part of her was overjoyed that it had worked perfectly on the samples while a part of her was a bit sad that she had found it.

Nick noticed something was bothering her. That something had been bothering her for the last few days.

"Nat, what is it?"

"I can't come back across yet."

"Why not?"

"I just can't. Maybe in a year or two."

It wasn't as if she loved being a vampire that much. There were other reasons. Reasons she wasn't ready to go into.

"Nat," he said, concern flooding his face.

"After 800 years what's one or two more?" She asked trying to be lighthearted.

"Nat, talk to me," he said, his concern growing.

"I can't risk coming back across," she said sadness in her voice. When she saw no comprehension in his eyes she continued, this time a little anger crept into her voice, but it wasn't directed at him. "I won't go through that again. I won't risk you."

Suddenly Nick understood. "Okay. You're right. One or two more years is nothing after 800. I wouldn't want either of us to become infected, either. Not after what you went through."

"Thank you," she said, the love and gratitude flowing through her voice. Relief washing over her body, knowing this would not be a major sore spot between them.

"Where do we start?" Nick asked.

"I need to review my notes, then figure out how to get some infected blood samples."

"What if I offered your friends money through the de Brabbant Foundation for blood samples? You can stay behind the scenes if you wish."

"No. I need to be there. They could use the money. I will have to do a little makeup work though. Thanks to you I look a lot healthier, not to mention feeling great."

They spent the next few days looking over her research and discussing it. She kept being amazed at Nick's intelligence, but then again he'd had 800 years of learning. He was impressed with hers as well. They had some very interesting and lively discussions over various ideas to try. She enjoyed having someone to bounce ideas off of. Someone to help her out when she was stuck.

A few days later they knew that they could not avoid her facing her friends any longer. She applied the makeup to make her look like she had before the transformation. Nick made one or two suggestions before giving his approval. She could pass for being infected.

Natalie entered the room where her support group was and noticed that Mel looked a few pounds lighter and that Lisa was almost as skinny as she had been. She noticed a few new faces. Michelle still looked good.

"Hi guys."

"Welcome back," Everyone said.

"I guess Nick's pampering really agrees with you. You look great," Mel said.

"Thanks. How are you all doing?"

"About the same," Lisa said.

Natalie took a deep breath before she began. "I've been working on some research since shortly after I was infected and didn't mention it because it was very slow going. I need your help."

"How can we help?" Lisa asked.

"I need samples of your blood. The de Brabbant Foundation has renewed my grant allowing me to contribute $100 per sample."

"Sure. I'll help. Even if there was no money involved." Lisa said.

The rest of the group agreed to help without hesitation.

"What are you working on?" Mel asked.

"A cure for us. I have made some progress, but not nearly enough."

"Why do you need our blood?" Michelle asked.

"Due to circumstances I can't explain, mine is no longer suitable for that purpose."

Natalie gave them the location of her lab and the times at which to come.

The next evening most of her group showed up on the lab's doorstep, surprising her. She introduced everyone to Nick, and Nick to everyone. She had enough samples of the various stages to keep her busy for a while.

"Thanks everyone. I'll let you know when I need the next sample."

Nick handed them each an envelope containing the promised $100.

Natalie knew that it wasn't much but it would help a little with the bills.

Nick and Natalie worked for several years hitting brick wall after brick wall. Their friends from the support group cheering them on when they were depressed over the latest failure. Once or twice Natalie considered surrendering but knew that she couldn't. She realized that it was the frustration talking.

Finally, they discovered a vital link which quickly lead to the cure. It worked on the various samples. The tricky part was going to be the human trial work.

Natalie didn't want to try it on her friends in case it hurt them, yet she knew that they deserved the first chance at being cured. They had been there for her and now she was going to be there for them.

She had seen Lisa and Mel getting sicker over the years. Lisa was nearly as sick as she was when Nick returned. Mel had recovered from his first AIDS related pneumonia. Michelle was in the rapid weight loss phase. She knew that for some of them it was now or never.

Natalie went to the next group meeting to give them the choice. A part of her was hesitant, not wanting to hurt them.

Natalie took a deep breath and started. "I have a risky proposition for you. I think I have found the cure. I need a few guinea pigs for the first human trials."

Natalie was a bit surprised that every single person there volunteered without hesitation. Then she remembered that at one point she would've volunteered just as quickly, despite all the dangers involved. Despite her medical knowledge that knew better than to try first trials.

"Come by my lab tomorrow night and we'll start the first human trials. You do understand that you must not tell anyone of this treatment. That you must report any symptoms or side effects immediately."

"Yes." Was the group answer.

A few members of the group had wondered why she had them come at night, why for the last few years they had never seen her outside in the daylight, why the lab had no windows. But they had trusted her enough not to ask. Some of them that knew she had been a coroner on the night shift knew that she was probably still keeping those hours out of habit.

The next night Natalie's friends were again lined up outside the door waiting for her and Nick's arrival.

Natalie arrived and let them all inside. She made sure that no one was currently ill before she took a blood sample for comparison purposes. After that step had been completed she injected each one with the cure. She made them stay for a few hours while she watched for any side effects. They talked while the time passed. Natalie had a comfy conference room over to the side of the lab. She took a blood sample before they left.

"I want to see you back here nightly for a blood sample."

Nick handed them each the envelope with the $200 for the two samples Natalie had taken that night. A few tried to turn it down but both Nick and Natalie insisted.

"Take it. I know how high your bills are. Use if for something fun," Natalie said.

"Go on. Take it," Nick insisted.

Those that tried to turn it down took the envelope knowing the truth of Natalie's words.

Natalie spent a good portion of the day analyzing the blood samples. Nick double checking her work, making sure that no errors slipped through, as was good research practices. She had seen very little change in the two blood samples and had a momentary pang of doubt.

"Nat, it may take more time in a human test subject," Nick said as he gently massaged her shoulders.

She loved the feel of his hands on her shoulders and relaxed. "You're right. I just hope I haven't gotten their hopes up."

"Even if it doesn't work, the hope may be enough to keep some of them going. I'm sure it will work."

She knew he was right and rewarded him with a kiss. She had turned around to fast for a mortal to see and had him in her arms.

"I'm so lucky to have you here with me," She said happy and relaxed.

"I'm the lucky one," Nick responded likewise. He hated to bring up the subject of his cure. "If this does work....."

"Once I have cured my friends, submitted my findings to the AMA, and have cleared up any remaining dangers to us I will bring us both back across." A thought suddenly hit her. "What about LaCroix and the Community? I know they will NOT be happy with our discovery."

"I think that if we promise not to disclose how we did it and leave the Community we might be left alone. LaCroix will not take it well. That will require some fancy footwork, but he does care for me. He does care for you, now that you're one of us."

"But he also views me as a threat. That much has not changed."

Nick could not deny the truth in her statements.

The next evening all of Natalie's friends were back at the lab for their next checkup. The first thing Natalie did was draw a blood sample from them.

"Is anyone having any symptoms, or side effects? Does anyone notice any changes?"

"I feel better," Lisa said.

The rest of the group nodded in agreement.

Natalie quickly looked at the samples under the microscope and noticed some improvements.

"I think it is working. I have seen improvements from mild ones in Lisa's case to strong one's in Adrian's case.

Adrian smiled, being one of the newer members of the group as well as one of the healthier ones. He was HIV+ but asymptomatic.

Natalie considered a booster shot but decided to wait at least another 24 hours before deciding.

After Natalie's friends left she did a detailed workup on each blood sample, with Nick double checking her results by doing his own independent workup.

The next evening the members of her support group returned for their nightly checkup. Natalie started off the evening by taking blood samples.

They noticed that Natalie looked much healthier, yet still somewhat pale. Natalie had lessened the illness makeup over the last few days and had left it off tonight. She did have on her regular makeup, though.

"Any new developments?" Natalie asked.

"Those of us who are the sickest feel much better," Lisa said, being the sickest among them.

"Natalie, you look much better. How is it working for you?"

"Good. I seem to be responding about as well as Mel."

Lisa was confused. Natalie was sicker than her but was responding better.

After a quick check of the samples under the microscope Natalie looked up with a smile on her face.

"Adrian, I see no evidence of the virus in your blood. I will want to check you again tomorrow night to be sure."

Adrian couldn't believe it.

"Congratulations Adrian and Natalie." Mel said.

"Michelle, I see a marked improvement in your condition. The virus is slowly being destroyed. I'm hopeful for a complete destruction of the virus."

Michelle was thrilled. "Thank you."

"Mel, I see a good improvement in your condition as well. Lisa, your condition seems to have stabilized for now. I am considering a booster shot for the both of you. There are risks involved."

"I'm willing to undergo the booster," Lisa said without hesitation.

"Me too," Mel said.

"I do hope to totally eradicate the virus from your bodies. Unfortunately it can't undo all the damage, but it will hopefully prevent further damage from the virus."

Natalie had considered giving them one last treatment after the research had been fully complete and all the reports had been written. This last treatment would contain a tiny amount of vampire blood, to help their bodies to heal. Not enough to hurt them. She had yet to bring up the subject to Nick. She was not looking forward to that discussion.

Natalie prepared the booster shots for Mel and Lisa and injected them. She allowed the rest of the group to go if they wished or to stay and chat, while she held Mel and Lisa for observation.

A few members of the group, mostly the newer ones left. Michelle stayed. The five of them talked for hours before Natalie sent them all home. She was glad that Mel and Lisa had shown no side effects and ordered them to report any immediately.

The next evening the whole group was back. Adrian was told that he did not have to return for a week, unless he had any symptoms or side effects. If he was still free of the virus then he would be pronounced cured. He would still be studied monthly.

Michelle was nearly free of the virus. There were a few stray infected cells which should disappear within the next few days. She still had to return nightly until the virus was completely gone from her system.

Mel had much improved due to the booster shot. Most of the virus had been killed off. Natalie was optimistic that he would also be a success story. He too had to continue to return nightly until the virus was completely gone.

Lisa still had her concerned. The booster shot had removed a large quantity of the virus from her system, but enough still remained to trouble Natalie.

"Will it work on me?" Lisa asked.

"I don't know. We'll keep an eye on it and if necessary and if you're willing to accept the increased risk, a second booster shot may be needed. I want to see what happens over the next couple of days."

"Natalie, how about you and Nick joining us tomorrow around noon for a celebration?"

"I would love to, but can't. The treatments I took before I found the cure left me very sun sensitive."

"I've always been sun sensitive. Besides someone has to keep an eye on her."

"Okay. Then we'll do it some night."

"Sure, no problem. Just let us know which night and where," Natalie said, pleased that there weren't more questions about the sensitivity issue.

Within a week Adrian was told he only needed to check in monthly unless symptoms appeared. If he was still cleared after six months they would declare him cured. Michelle was free from the virus. Natalie had declared herself nearly free of the virus, so that curiosity and concern would not be raised. Mel was nearly free of the virus as well. Lisa's body had eliminated more of the virus, but still not enough to ensure a good chance at the cure.

Lisa and Natalie had discussed the risks of a third shot and had decided to go ahead with it. She suffered only mild side effects of nausea and slight dizziness for about an hour after the shot.

Mel promised to take her home and make sure she was properly looked after for the next 24 hours. And that any symptoms would be immediately reported.

Another week later Michelle was also told to check in monthly unless symptoms appeared. Mel and herself were no longer infected and had to check in weekly for the next couple of weeks. Lisa was nearly virus free. Natalie predicted that she would be by the next checkup.

The next evening Lisa was free of the virus as well. Lisa was greatly relieved.

That evening after all the current samples had been examined, double checked and noted Nick approached Natalie. She knew what he wanted.

"It's time for us to be cured as well. I don't know which of us to start with," She said a little hesitant, knowing that there were risks involved here as well.

"You know about as much about us as anyone does. I think I should be the first test subject."

Natalie prepared his arm and drew a comparison sample. Afterwards she injected him with the proper dosage and watched for any adverse reaction. She had him lay down on the couch as soon as she injected him, remembering how the litorvuterine had affected him.

He suddenly curled up in a ball, wicked pains in his stomach.

"Nick, talk to me."

"It's okay. I feel it working."

Natalie panicked when he went into convulsions. About two minutes later they stopped as suddenly as they started. She was startled by hearing his heart beat increase in frequency. She touched him and he felt warmer.

"Nick, how do you feel?"

"Better. I don't feel it anymore. When will you take it?"

"I want to wait a few hours to make sure there are no side effects."

"You don't have a few hours. LaCroix knows by now. You are not strong enough a vampire to face him."

"Okay. Then I'll have to take it now and hope for the best. If I have to die I want to be mortal."

Natalie drew a blood sample from herself before injecting herself with the cure. Nick moved aside so she could have the couch.

He knew what would happen but was caught off guard when she suddenly doubled over.

"It's okay," she said reassuringly.

Nick nearly panicked when the convulsions started, even though he knew they would happen.

He felt her pulse when the convulsions stopped. It was growing stronger and more mortal with the passing seconds. Her skin was warming up.

Suddenly there was a loud crash behind them.

"Dr. Lambert what have you done to my son!" An angry vampiric voice hissed. LaCroix knew exactly what had happened.

"She did nothing that you were not aware of. I know you've been watching. I know you knew she found the cure," Nick said not backing down, protecting Natalie by placing his body between her and LaCroix.

"I didn't think she'd use it," LaCroix hissed very annoyed.

"Why not? You know I've wanted to become mortal again. That we were working on it. That we found the cure," Nick said standing his ground, pointing out the obvious.

"I should've killed her years ago. Before you came back into the picture. She would've been such an easy target." LaCroix angrily taunted.

"Yes, but then you would've lost me forever. I might have even walked into the sun." Nick's eyes showed that he was not bluffing. "Besides she was useful to the community."

"Not once she left her job in Toronto."

 

Janette swooped in the window stopping between the mortals and LaCroix.

It took Janette a moment to realize that Natalie had indeed found the cure for vampirism. That Nick was mortal. She also noticed that Natalie looked quite different than she remembered.

"LaCroix, leave them be. Nick finally has what he has been searching for. If you kill Natalie you loose Nick forever. That is if he doesn't chose to join her in death, which I believe he would do." Janette said.

"Not if I brought him back across and didn't let him out of my sight. After I destroyed the cure and all notes about it," LaCroix hissed very angrily.

"If you do that he will walk into the sun the first chance he gets. Or stake you then walk into the sun. If you truly love him, like you say you do, let them go free," Janette said. "If you bring them across and destroy the cure they have all the time in the world to recreate it. Don't forget about the vampire memory. It probably would not take too long to recreate the cure."

LaCroix moved menacingly towards Janette. Janette stood tall and strong, determined to protect Nick and Natalie. LaCroix hated when he did not get his own way and fled without word.

"Thanks Janette," Nick said, knowing that LaCroix would return.

"You welcome. Natalie, I would like to ask you a favor."

"Sure."

"When LaCroix has given his word that he will not hurt either of you will you give me the cure? I also wish to be mortal again. I hope to find another love like Robert. I would like to have my own mortal family."

"Sure. It's the least I can do for saving our lives," Natalie said a little surprized.

"How did you find us?" Nick asked curious.

"I've heard you'd moved on. I asked a few people if they knew where Natalie was. I figured you two might reunite. Tracy was quite helpful. Apparently Natalie and her had kept in touch after Natalie left her job."

Daylight was creeping over the horizon. The three of them spent the day together talking. Natalie did not mind spending time with Janette because there was none of the jealousy she used to feel. Natalie enjoyed listening to their stories. Janette was a little surprized to hear all that Natalie had been through, and was a little jealous of the strength of their love. She was also surprized how long they stayed apart, but understood it perfectly.

Before nightfall Natalie gave Janette a syringe with the proper dosage of the cure as well as instructions. She warned Janette about what to expect during the change over.

LaCroix returned with two nasty looking Enforcers.

"You would kill me for obtaining what I wanted? Do you truly hate me that much?" Nick asked, trying to keep the anger out of his voice.

"You would kill Dr. Lambert, the woman who saved the Community from the retrovirus?" Janette asked, firmly, trying hard to keep the anger out of her voice.

"Dr. Lambert, is it true that you helped our people during our time of crisis?" One of the Enforcers asked.

"Yes," Natalie said, trying to keep all traces of fear from her face and voice.

"Why?" The other Enforcer asked.

"It was the right thing to do. I'm a doctor, sworn to help those in need."

"We owe you a debt for saving us. We are not used to being in debt to a mortal."

"All I would like is for Nick, myself and Janette to live out our lives in peace. We want to know that we will be safe from retaliation from others of your kind."

"You shall have that. We must ban all contact between the three of you and the Community. If you wish a new identity you may have that. You must not tell anyone, vampire or mortal, that you have found the cure."

Nick, Natalie and Janette exchange glances and subtle nods.

"We agree to all your terms. We would like a few days to consider if we want new identities," Natalie said.

"You may take up to three days to decide."

LaCroix was steamed that he would not be able to bring his wayward son back into the fold, nor could he have any revenge against Natalie for her crime. He fled before his anger made him do something stupid.

The Enforcers left right behind LaCroix. They kept an eye on him.

Unknown to the house's three occupants a guard had been stationed outside of sensing range and would remain there until the three days had passed, or until their charges had been relocated.

Janette had Natalie inject her with the cure. Natalie did and Janette went through the same "withdrawal" symptoms as the vampire virus died.

As soon as Janette was mortal again Natalie drew a blood sample from the three of them. She wanted to make sure it was a true cure. She examined each sample under her microsope smiling when all she saw was normal human blood cells.

"It worked. I will want to check us again tomorrow to make sure. And probably every day for the next week. I would take it easy in the sun. I want to know immediately if there are any problems, no matter how slight," Natalie said pleased and yet a little concerned.

Both Nick and Janette nodded.

"Nat, what do you want us to do?" Nick asked.

"Stick around for a while. I want to make sure there are no side effects. I need to get some work done. I have reports to write, data to gather and so on."

Nick and Janette went over to the couch to talk.

Natalie worked on her report for the AMA on her AIDS research and cure. She had kept very detailed notes which made the work easier.

At the end of the three days one of the Enforcers returned to see if they had made their decision.

"Do you want new identities?" He asked.

"Yes." Was the general concensus.

"I will return when they are ready. Do you have any strong dislikes?"

They all shook their heads and the Enforcer left.

Janette was staying at a nearby hotel because she didn't want to get in the way. Also it did hurt a little to see Nick so happy with Natalie because of her and Nick's 800 years together.

By the end of that week Natalie had determined that the cure was the real thing. All were pleased, they could now live out their lives as they wished to. No one would control them ever again.

Natalie had finished the first draft of her report and handed it over to Nick to read. Once he had read it they talked about it. Nick pointed out a few changes which Natalie made.

Once Natalie was sure it was as good as she could make it she wanted another opinion. She picked up the phone and dialed a number she had not called in a long time.

"Dr. Banks please."

"This is him. Natalie, is that you?"

"Yes. I have a medical paper that I wish your opinion on. You're the only other doctor I trust to read it."

"Bring it over. I'd be glad to give you my opinion. I was worried when I heard you'd left town. I'm glad you're still alive. You sound better."

"I am. That's why I want you to read the paper."

That afternoon she entered Dr. Banks office. The receptionist remembered her and was surprized but pleased to see Natalie looking much better.

"Natalie, go on in. He's in his office. You look great."

"Thanks. I feel great."

Natalie entered the back area and headed for Thomas's office. She was relieved that she was not a patient this time. She knocked on his open door and saw him look up. The look on his face was one of pure surprise.

"You weren't kidding. You look terrific."

She entered and closed his door.

"I did it. I found the cure," She said beaming.

"Are you sure?" He asked stunned.

"Yes. So far none of my test subjects have shown any symptoms."

"You used human test subjects?" He asked a bit concerned.

"Yes. I was hesitant to but knew that it had to be done. They had full disclosure. I held nothing back. They had helped me find the cure and deserved to be the first to benefit from it. It's all in the report. They were very carefully monitored. All my results were double checked by Nick. He did his own independent tests."

"I will read your report and contact you when I'm done. I'm sure I'll have lots of questions for you."

"Do you still have my cell phone number?"

"Yes."

Natalie got up and left, leaving him to his reading.

Nick was waiting for her in the car. They returned to her loft to rest and relax, after making a quick trip to the grocery store. They opened the windows to let the fresh air in and quickly put away the groceries. Sunlight splashed across the room making the dust particles sparkle in its glow.

Janette had gone off to do her own thing as soon as Natalie had decided that none of them would spontaneously combust.

Natalie was greatly relieved that Nick was no longer a cop. After having not been mortal for so long she was not sure if he would have survived the combination of mortality and policework. He had been too used to his vampirism.

"Nat, I know a way to kill some time," Nick said, eyes twinking as he wrapped his arms around her.

"I like how you think," she said turning around in his embrace so she could kiss him.

Nick eagerly responded to the sensation of her lips touching his. They moved over to the couch where he gently forced her backwards until she was laying on it.

They explored each other's bodies like it was the very first time, which in a way it was. Kisses and hands left very little untouched. They felt their sexual desires grow and noted the lack of the bloodlust. When they were both quite aroused he entered her. She moaned in pleasure as she felt him inside of her. Their kisses intensified bringing them both to the brink. Moans could be heard from both as they had every desire filled. Both bodies shuddered as they felt all the tension from their bodies suddenly flee. He withdrew himself from inside her and they just laid there in each others arms exhausted.

It was different this time. They both missed the extreme sharing of emotions, thoughts and memories, but could not find any faults with the very steamy encounter they had just finished. They knew they would find a way to make their mortal encounters just as passionate as the vampiric ones had been.

They fell asleep. Natalie cuddled against Nick's chest, his arms wrapped protectively around her.

A few hours later her cell phone rang. Natalie woke and reached out for it, seeing it lying on the coffee table.

"Hello," she said a little groggy from the sleep.

"Natalie, I'm sorry if I woke you," Dr. Banks said.

"That's okay."

"I've finished reading it and would like to talk to you about it."

"Would you like to come over for dinner?"

"I don't want you to go to too much trouble."

"No trouble. We can order something to be delivered."

"Okay. What time?"

"When ever you can get away. Call before you leave."

"Okay. It probably won't be before 6 tonight," Dr. Banks said.

Natalie heard the line go dead on the other end and hung up.

"Well?"

"We have some work to do. I want to do some tidying up before he arrives. He shouldn't be here for at least four hours. We both need showers. Do you have any clothing here?"

"Yes. I had bought a few things while I was out right after our reunion. You were sleeping."

They dusted and vacuumed the place, making sure to remove all traces of their abandonment. They had made periodic trips back to check on it during their research years.

"How about we shower together and save water?"

Natalie grinned and playfully shoved him towards the shower.

Dr. Banks arrived just over four hours later, having called first as promised. He had seen the love between them and did not want to interrupt anything.

Natalie heard the doorbell ring and upon seeing it was him released the elevator. About a minute later the elevator opened and Dr. Banks entered. He gave Natalie a critical once over and detected no evidence that she had been as sick as she was.

"Welcome to my loft," Natalie said.

"Thanks." Dr. Banks handed them a nice bottle of wine.

Nick looked it over and was pleased. "A very fine vintage."

"Natalie, I found your paper to be one of the most thorough I have ever read. I could find no mistakes," Dr. Banks said impressed with the paper.

Natalie motioned for him to have a seat on the couch. She sat down next to him and Nick had a seat in the chair next to the couch.

"How did you do all this being as sick as you were?"

"It wasn't easy. Thanks to Nick, I found an unconventional treatment that gave me enough relief for me to complete my research," Natalie said telling the truth without admitting that she had become a vampire. "And I had Nick's help."

The three of them talked about her paper until late that evening when Thomas had to excuse himself due to an early morning appointment.

The next morning they returned to their other home where she made the few minor changes, printed out a new copy and submitted it to the AMA Journal. Once that was finished they cleaned up her lab so that it looked nearly brand new. By the time they were finished it was dinner time so they headed out to a restaurant.

Late that evening Nick could see that something was bothering her.

"Nat, what's wrong?"

"I don't know. I feel like something's missing."

"Our new ID's should be ready soon. Have you thought about where you want to go?"

"No, I haven't. I've been too preoccupied with the paper."

That afternoon Natalie and Nick attended a very festively decorated party in their honor. Mel and the rest of the support group had promised them a party as thanks for curing them.

There were balloons everywhere around the garden. There were flowers of all shapes and colors. Everything about the decorations was a celebration of life.

Natalie saw the members of her support group there along with Don, Myra, Jenny, Grace, Tracy and Bonnie.

"Natalie, you look terrific," Grace said. "I was afraid you'd died. I hadn't heard anything for several months."

"Grace, I'm sorry. I was real sick. Nick came back and helped me find an alternative treatment that gave me enough strength to find the cure. I got so wrapped up in my research that I neglected everything."

"I was surprised to see a dead man at the party. I thought he was allergic to the sun."

"That's a long boring story. All that matters is that he's alive and well. He is cured of his sun allergy. How is another long boring story," Natalie said hoping she would not ask a lot of questions, at least not here.

"All that matters is that you're cured, that you're happy, and that Nick's alive. So have you two set a date?"

"Not yet. I've been too busy finishing up my paper for the AMA Journal to think about it."

Tracy and Bonnie wandered over to Natalie and Grace.

"I thought you were...." Bonnie said before Natalie cut her off.

"As you can see I'm alive and well. I have to give my assistant some credit."

Tracy had not been given the chance to say the same thing as Grace and Bonnie.

"You do look great," Tracy said. "So when's the big date?"

"Why is everyone so concerned about when Nick and I are remarrying?"

"We just want you two to be happy. You deserve it after all you've been through," Grace said.

"I hope you don't mind me asking this, but how sick were you?" Bonnie asked.

Natalie understood why Bonnie was asking and related her illnesses up to where Nick brought her across. She did mention the illness she had then.

"What was this miracle treatment?" Bonnie asked.

"It was a one-in-a-million shot that I was desperate enough to take. It went against all medical advice. I knew better but had to try." Natalie knew that she couldn't tell the whole truth about how much better she felt. "I felt better than I had in about a year. I didn't feel great but at least I felt like I could get some stuff accomplished before exhaustion took over. It lasted long enough for me to get the bulk of my research done. The effects began to wear off about two months before I discovered the cure." Natalie changed the topic. "Bonnie, how are you doing?"

"Okay. I can't wait for the cure to be approved. The symptoms started last year. I have yet to develop AIDS," Bonnie said.

Natalie saw the look in her eyes and could not deny her friend the cure.

"Bonnie, come by my lab later. You can keep me company while I whip up a dose. I don't want word to get around until it is approved."

"I understand. I won't tell anyone. Thanks."

"Excuse us. I need to talk to Natalie alone for a minute," Grace said and was relieved when she saw them nod. She gently guided Natalie to a more secluded spot.

Natalie was a bit concerned but felt that after what she had been through she could handle just about anything.

"Natalie, how long have you and Nick been back together?" Grace asked.

"About four years."

"Did he know?" Grace asked.

"He knew about everything until his death. Then I only told him some of it. I didn't want to worry him because he couldn't come back. I had him return a short time after the encephalitis. We've been together ever since."

"I want to know how he's alive and well. He was dead. I snuck a peek at the police report."

"It was winter and the snow must've prevented him from truly dying. He just seemed to be dead," Natalie lied hoping Grace wouldn't detect it.

"Then again you were the one who made that decision. What is there that you're not telling me?"

Natalie knew she could not tell her the truth. "It was a version of the witness protection program. I did not know anything about it until later on, after he had died. Nick was the only one who knew anything about it because it had to look authentic." Natalie was not lying, it was all true.

"Did you have much contact afterwards?"

"More than we were supposed to. There was supposed to be absolutely no contact but we couldn't do that. We were very careful. We only contacted each other a couple of times a year. It almost would have been easier if he had been dead. We did not know if we would ever see each other again."

Nick saw them talking and walked over to them.

"Hi, Nick," Grace said.

"Hi, Grace. How are you?"

"Good. I am pleased to see that both of you are alive and well. She went through hell grieving for you. She still missed you years later. I hope I find someone as loving and dedicated as you."

"I'm sorry she had to go through that but there was nothing I could've done about it."

"I know. She told me about your witness relocation program."

Nick had started to panic when Grace said "I know" but relaxed when he heard Natalie's version of what had happened.

"Nat, have you told her that we're going back into the program soon?"

"No. I didn't get a chance to."

"I'll miss the both of you. I hope to hear from you, even if it is just a christmas card with no return address."

"We will keep in contact. You've been too good a friend for too long," Natalie said reassuring Grace. After all they had no real reason to change identities. If any of the vampires wanted them dead it would not be too hard to find them no matter what name they used or where they went. Even the threat of the wrath of the Enforcers would not be enough for the more psychotic of the Community. "Besides life will get hectic once a paper I wrote hits the medical community and the reporters get a hold of it."

The group wandered back over to where the party was.

"What are you two going to do now?" Mel asked Nick and Natalie.

"Probably retire and travel. Nick has a few bucks stashed away. There's so much I want to do. So much I couldn't do while I was sick."

Tracy pulled Nick and Natalie off to the side.

"Tracy, are you still with Vachon?" Natalie asked curious. They had been together a few years ago.

"Yes. Natalie, you were right. There are rough spots but somehow we manage to work through them. I don't know what will happen, but we're both content with how things are going. We would like more, but neither of us are ready for that step yet."

The next evening an Enforcer arrived with the paperwork for Nick and Natalie's new identities. As soon as he handed them to Natalie he was gone.

Nick came out of the kitchen and saw the packet in Natalie's hand.

"You ready for this?" Nick asked, knowing hard hard it was to leave everyone and everything behind.

"I guess so," Natalie said, unsure if she could go through with it. Many thoughts and feelings churned within her, most were unexpected.

They sat down on the couch and emptied the contents onto the coffee table. She picked up her new driver's license and saw that even they couldn't get a decent picture on one.

"Natalie Saunders, what do you think?" She asked.

"Not bad. Mine's Nick Walker."

"Not too bad. They sure did a complete job."

The next morning Natalie was awoken by the phone.

"Hello?" She said still a little sleepy.

"Is this Dr. Natalie Lambert? Sorry if I woke you."

"Yes. That's okay."

"This is Dr. Devon, head editor for the AMA Journal. I called about your paper."

"What about it?" Natalie said a bit more awake. Was there some problem they had all overlooked?

"I found it to be one of the best papers I have read in my 30 years as a physician. Do you have a few minutes? I'd like to ask you a few questions."

"Sure."

"Do you have a recent picture we could publish along with your paper?"

"I would prefer not to have my picture published, if you don't mind," Natalie said knowing that it would be that much harder to slip into their new identities if everyone knew what she looked like.

"That's okay with us."

Nick looked on at the joy on her face as she enjoyed the glory that she rightly deserved for her contribution to the benefit of mankind. He wondered if they were doing the right thing by changing their names.

About an hour later Natalie hung up and turned to Nick. "They're going to publish my paper next month. Usually it takes several months before it appears in print," Natalie said beaming.

"Congratulations," Nick said with a smile before becoming more serious. "Are you sure you want to change your name? You worked too hard for this."

"I'm not sure. Can I change my mind?"

"It generally isn't done, but that is vampires having to move on. I don't think there would be a serious problem."

Over the next few days word leaked out about Natalie's paper and reporters began to call the house at all hours. Some camped outside waiting for them to leave. Natalie did not leave the house. She did not want to face the circus awaiting her. She had talked to a few of the more polite reporters over the telephone.

Nick came out of the bedroom and found her sitting on the couch staring at the package containing their new identities.

"Let's do it. I don't want to live in this zoo. We know what I did, as do my friends. I don't care what others think."

"Where would you like to go first?" Nick asked, having seen most of the world during his very long lifetime.

"Somewhere far away. How about Paris?"

"Very good choice. I will get us the first available flight."

"How are we going to get past the crowd?"

"We can just walk through them and not talk to them. They can only follow us so far."

"What if the plane has available seats? I don't want to be hounded all the way to Paris."

"No problem there. Leave it to me, okay?" Nick asked, formulating a plan.

"Okay," Natalie said, curious to see what he would come up with.

Nick disappeared to make the phone calls. He returned about half an hour later with a wicked grin on his face. She knew that meant she would definitely enjoy what was coming.

"It's all set. We leave tomorrow morning. You have the option of taking whatever clothes you want with you, having them sent later or I can buy you whatever you desire once we get to Paris."

"I like the third option. Though there are a few things I would like to take with me for sentimental reasons."

"No problem. I too am going to take a few sentimental things."

They packed their bags. Nick had gone back to his old residence and given notice at the college while Natalie had worked on the vampirism cure. He had also packed up his place and had most of the stuff shipped to Natalie's loft. It was stored downstairs.

They left the loft for what would likely be the very last time. Natalie had left instructions for Grace on what to do with their stuff.

As soon as they walked out the door of the loft Natalie had several microphones and tape recorders thrust into her face.

"Did you think you would find the cure before time ran out for you?"

"Yes. I had every hope that I would."

"How were you infected?"

"I was raped and nearly beaten to death," Natalie said, surprising herself by answering the questions.

Nick had a few tape recorders and microphones thrust at himself.

"Why did you work with her?"

"I wanted to help her and the rest of the world. I knew how important this was to her."

"Were you infected as well?"

"No."

"Dr. Lambert, didn't you question the ethicallity of using humans as test subjects?"

"Yes. I was extrememly hesitant to do so and made sure that they knew all the risks involved, no matter how minor. I left the decision up to them. As my friend, Calvin, once told me "a dying person will do just about anything to live a little longer" and he was right. I very carefully monitored my subjects. But all of this is in the paper. I owe much to them. I owe much to my friends for their emotional support over the years."

"Were there any problems that were not reported?"

"No."

"Dr. Lambert what was this alternate treatment you underwent? Do you think it affected your research or work in any way?"

"I do not think that my alternate treatment affected my work any other way than is listed in my paper. The alternate treatment I underwent was an experimental combination of faith and holistic medicine."

"What will you do now?"

"I've retired from research and will enjoy life."

"How do you feel about the immortality you've achieved?"

"It will be nice to be remembered, but I did it to help my friends, myself and everyone who had the disease."

"What if the Nobel Prize committee wishes to honor you?"

"That will be a great honor. But it wasn't the reason for what I did."

"What will you do with the money?"

"Donate it to charity. Maybe set up a foundation to ensure that everyone who needs the cure gets it regardless of whether they have insurance or if they can pay for it."

"Dr. Lambert, what if the cure is not approved as a new drug?"

"If that is the case then someone else will have to take over the research. I am confident that it will be approved without any problems."

"Mr. Young, what was it like to be working on such an important project?"

"It was very rewarding. Seeing all they years of work pay off was one of the most exicting and fulfilling things I have ever experienced. Dr. Lambert deserves most of the credit. I was only involved in the last few years of research."

"Dr. Lambert, are you and Mr. Young involved outside of work? If so how did it feel to work together?"

"I don't see where it makes a difference if we were involved with each other. Just to avoid a fuss, yes, we are in love. It felt great to be able to work together," Natalie said, knowing if she did not answer it would only fuel rumors. She hated rumors of any sort."

"Mr. Young, what is your side?"

"I agree with what Dr. Lambert said. I'm sorry, but we have to run," Nick said seeing that Natalie was tired of answering questions, as was he.

Nick and Natalie walked to their car, stuffing the luggage into the trunk and ignoring further questions. Once inside the car and moving away from the crowd Natalie relaxed.

"What a mess. What if they trace our destination?"

"Let them. We won't be there."

Shortly they arrived at the airport. Natalie noticed that Nick was going the wrong way for the terminals.

"Nick, parking is that way."

"Not necessarily," he said with a wicked grin.

Natalie soon figured out where they were headed when she saw an aircraft about 100 feet in front of them.

"Is that ours?" She asked a little surprised.

"Yes. I wanted to do this in style. Also it will prevent any interruptions.

They parked and the steward took their luggage from the trunk and loaded it aboard the plane. Nick escorted Natalie up the stairway and into the plane. She had never been a passenger on a private plane before. She had been on one once, but only to examine a corpse. Nick watched her expression as she took in the nice surroundings. There was a good sized movie screen and vcr, comfortable couches with seatbelts instead of standard airline seats, and there was a bedroom in the back. There was also a table on the other side of the cabin from the couches. Natalie didn't know what to say. As far as Nick was concerned her smile said it all.

The steward brought a few small bags on board which he stowed in a front compartment.

"I thought we might want our laptops and our overnight bags."

"I thought you couldn't use modems?"

"You can't but I found a few computer games that might be fun to try."

"Can I get you something to eat or drink before we take off?" The steward asked. "My name is Jeffrey."

"I'm fine," Natalie said, still trying to get used to the fact that they did not have to worry about money.

"I'm fine too," Nick said.

"We should be ready for take off shortly. If you need anything let me know," Jeffrey said before he left.

"Nat, is everything okay?"

"Yeah. It's going to take a few minutes for this all to sink in."

Nick grinned, "get used to it. Life is going to be first class from here on. I have more money than I could spend in 10 lifetimes."

"Nick, do you have any regrets?"

"No. For the first time in a very long time I am completely at peace with myself. The only other time I felt this at ease was after I brought you across. Although I think I'm a bit happier now, having no demons to fight. Do you have any regrets?"

"Only one. That I never had children. But I'm not sure that I really regret that. I was never sure if I wanted to have any. I'm still not sure. I do know one thing I am certain of."

"And what's that?" Nick asked.

"That I've never been happier in my life, outside of that short period after you brought me across. For once I don't feel like there is anything missing from my life. I have no workaholic tendencies. I'm looking forward to the future instead of dreading it."

"I too am for once looking forward to it instead of dreading it. When you get tired of Paris where would you like to go? The world is yours for the asking."

"I don't know. Maybe the Carribean, Tahiti, Hawaii. Anywhere will be fine as long as we are together."

They kissed just as Jeffrey reentered. Jeffrey was of average height, red headded, in his mid thirties and was rather attractive. He looked to be in good physical shape and well cultured. Jeffrey waited a moment before clearing his throat. Nick and Natalie separated.

"Sorry to interrupt but the pilot has informed me that we have clearance to take off. If you will please strap yourselves in we can be on our way."

Jeffrey waited until he saw that they had seated themselves on the couch and buckled their belts before proceeding to his seat at the front of the cabin and strapping himself in. He let the pilot know that all was secure in the back.

Natalie watched Nick during takeoff. She found his reactions amusing.

"So how does it feel to fly this way?" She whispered into his ear.

"A little strange. I do like it," Nick whispered into her ear. "I can see why Vachon likes it."

Once they had reached cruising altitude Jeffrey informed them that they were free to move about at will. And that he would inform them of any changes. Nick and Nat unbuckled themselves but stayed seated.

"Would you like anything to eat or drink?" Nick asked.

"No. You're what I want," she said with a wicked grin.

They moved to the bedroom and locked the door.

She began to unbutton his shirt leaving soft kisses on his chest. Her hands roamed across the surface as she pushed the shirt from his shoulders. She stopped momentarily to allow him to ease her suit jacket off.

Before long they had completely disrobed the other. He scooped her up in his arms and set her down on the bed, lowering himself onto her.

Their lips met in a long passionate kiss, the kind that feels like your heart and soul are melting.

She began to kiss her way down his neck while he nibbled on her ear.

He very tenderly caressed her shoulders while she kissed her way down his chest.

Suddenly the plane shook startling the lovers. Nick reluctantly tore his attention from the sweet kisses he was leaving as his mouth trailed down her stomach and picked up the phone which was by the bed.

"Jeffrey, what happened?"

"We seem to have hit a bit of unexpected turbulance. The pilot says things will be bumpy for a while yet, and could get worse."

Nick grew concerned and for the first time missed being able to fly. Natalie noticed his concern and became worried.

As soon as Nick hung up Natalie asked "what's wrong?"

"It's nothing. We've hit some unexpected turbulance and it will be like this for a while, it might get a little bumpier."

They both started dressing knowing that they would be safer buckled into their seats. Once dressed they stumbled to their seats and fastened their belts. The ride was rather bumpy.

"Nat, my stomach feels like it's on a roller coaster."

"Haven't you ever encounted turbulance before?"

"Only once, but it was quite different."

"Yeah. You don't look so good," Natalie said. "Jeffrey, I think an airsick bag would be good about now."

Jeffrey handed it to her along with several paper towels, one was damp. Nick grabbed the bag from her and promptly lost the contents of his stomach. Nick had a few dry heaves before he felt better.

"I've never done that before."

"Why don't you go rinse out your mouth, you should find a toothbrush and mouthwash in the bathroom," Jeffrey said as he took the used bag to dispose of it. He brought back a soda and some crackers to settle Nick's stomach.

A few minutes later Nick was once again buckled into his seat having removed the foul taste from his mouth. He took the soda and crackers from Natalie and slowly consumed a few crackers and about half the soda.

"Feeling better?" Natalie asked concerned.

"Much better."

The plane lurched again. Natalie found herself gripping Nick's hand. She usually did not mind flying but all this turbulance was scaring her. Nick seemed to be calmer, but she could tell he was scared as well.

The plane shook again. Jeffrey noticed that Natalie was looking a bit ill and brought her an airsick bag just in time. Nick held her hair out of the way as she proceeded to make full use of the bag. Once finished she wiped her mouth and headed for the bathroom.

Once she was settled back in her seat with her belt securely fastened she too sipped her soda and munched some crackers.

"I can't believe I did that. That's the first time I've ever been airsick," she said.

Suddenly the plane dropped in altitude scaring Nick and Natalie. Then the flight became much smoother. There was still some minor turbulance, nothing nearly as bad.

"Sorry for that, the pilot had to drop below the problem," Jeffrey said.

Once Nick and Natalie's stomach's had recovered dinner was served. It started out with a shrimp cocktail for the appetizer. The main course was a shelled lobster with a filet mignon cooked to perfection. Desert was a rich dark chocolate mousse.

Later in the trip a bottle of Crystal was opened and served with a dish of strawberries. Whipped cream and chocolate sauce were served on the side.

Nick dipped a berry in the chocolate and fed it to Natalie. Kissing away any dribbled chocolate.

Before they knew it they were arriving in Paris. Natalie looked out the window at the lights as they approached. It all looked so pretty. She could not believe she was arriving in Paris on a private jet.

The look on her face made it all worthwhile. Nick looked out at the city he had spend decades at a time in.

Nick checked them in at the hotel keeping the type of room quiet as he wanted it to be another surprize.

Nick opened the door to the hotel room and motioned for Natalie to enter first. She entered and was stunned to see the elegance and size of their suite. Nick smiled upon seeing her reaction. Nick tipped the bellboy who left. Natalie walked around looking in the two bedrooms, the living room and dining room.

"Wait till you see the view," Nick said as he opened the drapes and the french doors. They stepped out onto the balcony where they could see the entire Parisian skyline including the Eiffel Tower.

"It's magnificent. Thank you." She rewarded him for his thankfulness with a very passionate kiss.

"I told you everything was going to be first class."

Natalie yawned, "I can't wait to see all the sights, but first I need some sleep."

"That sounds good. Pick a bedroom."

Natalie picked the master bedroom because of the jaccuzzi. "Feel up to one before bed?"

"Sure," Nick said, not willing to admit he had no idea what he was getting himself into.

Before long they were soaking in the tub, the jets massaging their bodies. They felt their muscles relax.

The next morning they awoke snuggled together on the bed.

"Good morning. Would you like breakfast brought in or would you prefer to get something along the way?"

"Good morning. Along the way."

Nick showed Natalie the sights of Paris. He enjoyed watching her face light up with each new sight, it was almost like seeing it again for the very first time. She even managed to get some stories about his adventures here out of him. They both overindulged in the excellent cuisine and were greatful for the jacuzzi come nighttime as their feet hurt from all the walking. Natalie sent cards, letters and gifts back to Grace. She also sent cards to her friends from the support group with no return address. Nick set up an address for Grace to respond to or to be contacted in case of an emergency.

A month later they moved on to Switzerland. They enjoyed themselves as they explored the country. Natalie was in heaven once she discovered their chocolate. Natalie made sure Grace and the rest of her friends received some chocolate, knowing that a few of them shared her passion for the dark food of the gods.

The next month found them arriving in England. Once again Nick showed Natalie the sights and told her stories of his travels through the country over the centuries. He told her about spending lots of time in England. He told her stories about being there around and during World War II. And a few stories about life there after the war. She listened to his stories with great delight.

The only thing spoiling their traveling was that Natalie had woken up nauseaus for the last week and had thrown up only moments later. She could see Nick's concern for her well being in his eyes and could not blame him after all she had been through.

"Nick, I did make the doctors appointment yesterday as promised. He agreed to see me tomorrow morning," Nat said hiding the fear that something may once again be seriously wrong. She hoped not and thought she had been through enough already.

Nick hoped it was only the flu because she did not deserve to go through any more suffering.

They had their plane fly them back to Canada so that Natalie could be seen by her own doctor, Thomas Banks.

Natalie arrived at Dr. Banks office and was glad that there wasn't much paperwork to complete because they knew just about all there was to know about her.

Natalie smiled when the doctor entered.

"What brings you back to see me? Nothing serious I hope."

"I have been nauseaus and throwing up for the last week and can't seem to keep much down. Nick wanted me to be properly checked out."

Dr. Banks drew a blood sample and sent it down to the lab for tests.

"If you don't mind waiting a while I can have some of the test results for you."

"No problem."

Dr. Banks did a complete physical examination of Natalie while they awaited the test results. They talked as he worked. She was somewhat concerned when he spent extra time examining her abdominal region.

About hour later a nurse entered and handed the doctor a sheet of paper. She left and he scanned the paper, careful to keep his expression neutral.

"For once I have good news. You're pregnant. From the results I would say that you are around 7 weeks along. Congratulations. You do know that there may be some unknown dangers facing your baby."

"Yes. I wasn't planning on having children because of how sick I had been. I wasn't even sure if I could conceive. Are you sure the test is accurate?"

"Very sure."

"Thanks. So how did it feel to give me good news for a change?" She asked with a wicked grin both on her face and throughout her voice.

"It was very nice," He said returning the grin.

Nick arrived at their hotel room later to see Natalie glowing. He knew that something good had happened and couldn't wait for her to share the news. Walking up behind her he wrapped his arms around her waist, holding her close and kissing her neck.

"I saw Thomas today and everything is fine, or should I say will be fine in a few months," Natalie said as she moved one of Nick's hands to her lower abdomen, to the spot where the new life was growing inside her.

"Are you telling me what I think you are?" Nick asked thrilled yet a little stunned.

"Yes. We're going to be parents in about 7 months."

"What about our traveling? Is it okay to continue? Do you want to continue?" Nick asked a little confused.

"It's perfectly safe to continue. I do want to continue. By the time she's ready to make her entrance I'll have decided what kind of dual citizenship I want her to have."

"Actually it will be her third country. Remember, I'm originally French. That fact is supported by our paperwork," Nick said before he turned serious. "Does the past pose any danger to her? And what makes you so sure it will be a her?"

"She may have to face some unknown dangers from it. As long as you're here and you love me I can face anything."

"I'm not going anywhere without you, both of you. You didn't answer my other question."

"I just have a hunch that it will be a little girl."

 

They continued to travel as they had done. Spending a month in Italy, Spain, Germany and Greece. They enjoyed the sights and foods of each culture. Natalie learned some of each language during their stay. Nick was grateful for his extensive knowledge of many languages as it made things easier. They made sure not to overdo things. Natalie knew that rest was important. Nick had them travel throughout Europe via train. This way they could see more of the countryside as they went from country to country.

They had been in Greece for just under a month when they were heading out of the villa for lunch.

Natalie was heading for the door, where Nick was waiting when she felt a twinge of pain and something wet between her legs. Fear crossed her eyes as she uttered a silent prayer please don't let me lose the baby.

Nick noticed the pain and fear and grew concerned. Every thing had gone so well over the last four months.

"Nat, what's wrong?" Nick said as he rushed over to her.

Suddenly a severe pain hit her and she doubled over grabbing her stomach. Nick prevented her from falling to the ground. He called for the paramedics and held her in his arms trying to comfort her.

"Shhh, it will be okay. I'm here with you now and forever," Nick said soothingly as he gently stroked her hair. He kept any traces of fear out of his voice and off his face, it was the last thing she needed to detect.

Her face radiated pain and terror.

"I don't want to lose the baby," Natalie said, a tear running down her cheek. She felt as if something was trying to rip her apart from the inside.

Nick gently rocked her to soothe her.

About an hour later Nick was pacing back and forth waiting for word on Natalie. They had lost the baby and she was in surgery now. The doctor was doing a D&C to clean up the remnants of the pregnancy and to replace the blood she had lost.

Shortly the doctor approched.

"How is she?" Nick asked concerned.

"She'll be okay. She's in the Recovery room right now and asking for you. I'll tell you what I told her. Sometimes if there's something wrong with the fetus nature will choose a miscarriage as the way to handle it. It is not unusual for a first pregnancy. Neither of you did anything wrong."

"Thank you," Nick said.

Nick entered the Recovery room and saw Natalie's cheeks still damp from her tears. He walked over to her and wrapped his arms around her and held her tight. Tears ran down both their cheeks.

"How are you doing?" she asked him.

"That's my line," he said. "It hurts, but I'll survive. I knew that there were risks. How are you?"

"I'll be okay. Right now it hurts. It was a girl," Natalie said.

"Do you want me to get you something for the pain?" Nick asked concerned.

"It's not that kind of pain," she said sadly.

Later Natalie had been moved to a private room and was sleeping. She woke when she heard the door open.

"Hi," she said seeing Nick.

"Hi," he said. He had been warned that she would be emotionally touchy for a while. "Are you ready to leave?"

"Yes. I want to go somewhere warm and sunny where I can lie in the sun and not think about anything."

"Then that is what we will do."

"We do need to talk about what happened. If we want this relationship to last we can't be afraid to let the other know how we really feel. This won't go away overnight, by itself or by ignoring it."

"I know. A small part deep down almost expected this to happen. Look at what we've been through, what we've been," Nick said opening up to her.

"I know. Same here. After each month passed that part grew smaller and smaller. I actually began to wonder if I would carry the baby full term. I guess not. It's just not fair after all we went through."

"I know. I thought the same thing."

"Would you be upset if I did not want to try again?"

"No. I don't want to risk you," Nick said. A part of him did want kids but he did not want to do anything to risk losing her. Before this they had decided not to have children and had been okay with that decision, and still was.

As soon as Natalie was well enough to travel he took her to the Carribean, starting with St. Thomas. She spent a week alternating between sleeping in their cottage and relaxing on the white sandy beach. They both still felt the loss of their child and were grieving. They made sure they did not shut the other out. Once she felt up to it they toured the Virgin Islands, noticing the natural beauty.

During the next year they explored Japan, and all those islands there as well as Australia and Hawaii.

After that they were tired of traveling. Natalie liked Hawaii so they went house hunting. They found a beautiful three bedroom house overlooking the ocean.

They had fun decorating the place with the stuff they had picked up from their travels the last two years.

Nick started painting again. Natalie decided to try her hand at writing a novel.

Once they were all settled in they sent Grace a first class plane ticket. Natalie had missed her and wanted very much to see her again.

Grace arrived and was as thrilled to see them as they were to see her.

"Nick, Natalie, you look wonderful. I want to hear all about your travel."

"Later, how have you been doing? You look great," Natalie said.

"Thanks for all the cards, gifts, letters. Not to mention the ticket. Nice choice of location. Are you going to stay here for awhile?"

"Yes. This is everyting I need," Natalie said.

The three of them spent the week sightseeing and catching up. The next week was spent relaxing.

Around the middle of the year Natalie received good news, her cure had been approved and would begin wide spread distribution with a month. They both knew that there were people that would not be able to afford the cure. Nick set up a fund in Natalie's name so that every person who needed the cure would get it.

Nick donated most of his personal belongings he had gathered during his life as a vampire to various museums. He donated them under a variety of names including Nicholas Knight. He had let Janette and LaCroix have any of that stuff they wished before donating any to the museums.

Around the beginning of the next year they had another visitor. Janette had come to see them and had brought her family with her. She had been happily married for 3 years and had two little girls, with a little boy on the way. He would make his debut in about 4 months. Natalie did feel a little twinge of regret and sadness due to her own failed pregnancy. Natalie was touched that the oldest girl, who was two and a half was named Natasha after her. The youngest girl was almost 18 months old and was named Brittany. Both girls had their mother's jet black hair. The husband was mid thirties with dark brown hair, green eyes and was quite handsome. His name was Richard.

Janette and her family spent two weeks with Nick and Natalie. They caught up on what had happened since their last letters. Janette told them that she was naming her son Nicholas after her favorite knight. He was pleased. Natalie enjoyed helping Janette care for the little ones. Even Nick did not mind watching over them when the ladies went out to lunch or shopping.

They could not believe that they were getting along so well, almost like a big happy family. Which in a way they were.

No one had heard from LaCroix since he fled from them after Nick's return to mortality. For the most part they did not mind. It was his choice not to be in contact with them.

About two years later they received the most interesting communication from the Toronto vampire community.

"Nicholas deBrabant and Natalie Lambert, We have a slight problem we are hoping you can help us with. There is a member of our community who wishes to regain her mortality. We have tried to change her mind for the last century. Would you help her out? If so a meeting will be arranged at a location more suitable and for the protection of all involved. She has agreed to complete secrecy," Nick said as he read the letter out loud. "Please send your response to Dana Thomas at the Raven."

"Nick, what do you think? I think we should help." Natalie asked

"I agree. I'm glad you think so too."

Nick sent off the reply and waited for the location to meet in. They were to meet in Montreal in one week. Nick rented a lab for Natalie to work in as she mixed up the cure. Dana Thomas arrived a week later accompanied by an Enforcer. The Enforcer was there for everyone's protection.

"Dana, you do understand that you must never tell anyone how or by who you were cured," Nick said sternly.

"Yes. It was explained to me. I will keep the secret."

"Last chance," Natalie said as she filled the syringe from a small glass bottle.

"I want to go ahead with it."

Natalie cleaned the injection site with alcohol as she spoke, "You will feel stomach cramps and you will have a mild seizure. Do not become alarmed."

"Okay."

Natalie injected Dana and had her lie down on the couch so she would not hurt herself when the cramps and seizure started. The symptoms were exactly like Nick, Nat and Janette had experienced and soon passed. Natalie examined Dana and drew a blood sample to make sure the virus had been irradicated.

"Welcome back to mortality," Natalie said. "I would take it easy in the sun for a while because you'll be quite sensitive to it. It won't destroy you, just give you a very painful sunburn if you get overexposed."

"After 598 years it will feel great to be warmed by the suns rays again. Thank you."

"You're welcome."

On Nick and Natalie's 65th birthday LaCroix paid them a visit. He had tracked them over the years, keeping a discreet eye on them.

"LaCroix, what are you doing here?" Nick asked, surprized.

"I came to offer the two of you a gift."

"Thanks, but no thanks," Nick said.

"Same here," Natalie said.

LaCroix did not push it. He had expected as much, but had to make the offer.

"Then I wish you a happy birthday. I hope you have many more to come," Lacroix said with no malice in his voice and eyes. He had reluctantly come to accept that they would never chose his gift again.

Nick sold a few paintings for some serious money. One of which hung in a small art museum. He sent most of his finished works to a gallery, where they were displayed and sold.

Natalie had her first romance novel published. It sold well. It had been set in the present time. She decided that her next one would be a historical piece and enlisted Nick's help, which he very willingly gave. It also sold well, but not quite as well as the first one due to the historical aspect. She wanted to try something different for her third novel. This one was to be about her and Nick's life together. She used a visitor from another planet instead of a vampire, knowing how the Community felt about such things. Nick offered his feelings to help her book succeed. It was also a big seller, as popular as her first book.

LaCroix paid Nick and Natalie one final visit on their 85th birthday to make one final offer of immortality.

"LaCroix, if you have come to make the same offer, the answer is still the same. We have lived as we wanted to and are ready for death," Nick said.

"I know. I had to make the offer."

"I know."

"I will miss the both of you," LaCroix said genuinely. Unknown to them LaCroix had tracked their lives since their return to mortality. He was pleased to see that Nick, Natalie and Janette had found the happiness they searched for. He had also been busy creating a new family for himself as well.

Just over a year later Nick and Natalie died peacefully in their sleep of natural causes (old age).

They had achieved their immortality through the things they left behind.

End

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