Prompt: "After a particularly intense argument, Natalie decides to stay away from Nick. Nick fails to sway Natalie back like he did in "My Boyfriend is a Vampire" so Nick makes new friends...and they're not human."
Length: ~2,000 words
Characters: Nick, LaCroix, and Natalie
Anyone who thinks I'm making any claim to Forever Knight, its characters or anything else copyrighted by Sony needs to lay off the beer, green or otherwise. ~g~ I'm not.
"Shure and begorrah," said Nat as Nick stepped out of the bright green Caravan. "Are you celebrating St. Patrick's Day, or just borrowing a ride from Robin Hood?"
She knew perfectly well that the Caddy was hospitalized in a specialist garage for antique cars. It lacked Nick's instant healing ability after he clipped the sign outside the morgue when he parked without returning from a flashback.
The grin on her face didn't help matters. Nick was as fussy about his modern transportation as he had been about his horses before 1228.
"It was all they had on the lot. You try renting a car at 3 a.m. and see what happens." Nick nodded toward the lights and activity around the sheeted form in front of the Sons of Erin hall. "What's going on?"
"One Murtagh O'Connor lost a fight. Or maybe he won –- he clobbered himself with the backswing from his own shillelagh, then fell back against their replica Blarney Stone. It's going to be accidental death, no charges for the other guy." Natalie reached into her International Association of Forensic Pathologists tote bag. "Here, before you go through the motions, this is for you."
Nick held the jar in front of the headlights. "Natalie, this is green."
"Oh, come on, "said Nat."Yes, it's green." She glanced at her watch. "It's St. Patrick's Day. Wearing o' the green and all that other _mortal_ stuff. Lighten up."
"St. Patrick's Day? I thought you said vampirism was purely physical. Now you're invoking saints? I don't think I can drink something that's been consecrated to a holy man."
"Are you sure you're over that bang on the head from when you hit our sign? I never said anything about consecrations," Nat snapped. "It's green because I'm trying chlorophyll-13 this time."
"Oh." Nick set the jar on the Caravan floor with a marked lack of enthusiasm.
Nat's face froze. "You're not going to drink it at all, are you? How the hell do you expect--"
"But I'm always hungry without some kind of blood! I can't work when I'm starving," Nick protested. He produced the little-boy grin which had never before failed to soften Natalie's medical heart. "I might even bite Schank', and you know how much garlic all those souvlakis put in his system."
For once, the ploy failed. Nat grasped her clipboard like a shield. "You're not starving. You're just determined to get your own way about the taste. Well, surprise, surprise! Medicines usually taste bad. And when they don't, it's because there's an additive that isn't necessarily good for the patient. Sure, I could put blood in, or at least red cells. Only it'd be like giving an alcoholic Antabuse flavored with gin." She gestured toward the potion. "Either drink now, or don't come to me again. And if you decide to stay in the dark with your blood, don't bother to come back at all. I'm tired of wasting what little time I have off duty."
"Yes, Nicholas. Never waste a lady's time." LaCroix spoke from what seemed to be the driver's seat, invisibly. Nick and Nat looked wildly around before realizing that the voice came from the van's Bluetooth system. "That's not chivalrous in a knight." The elder vampire assumed the disappointed schoolmaster tone that always reminded Nick unpleasantly of his boyhood at the monastic school, just before Brother Tutor reached for the birch. "No doubt patching your cell phone through to that poisoned-apple eyesore you're driving is good police procedure, but you really should be more careful about sitting on the speed dial. Especially when it's set for my mobile. By the way, Dr. Lambert, Robin Hood and his men wore _Lincoln_ green. It made them harder for the sheriff to see in the forest. Marian had to give it up. The dye just made her look bilious."
Nick hit the 'off' button as Nat turned on her heel and stalked away to the death scene, beyond the possibility of argument.
With dawn making its first encroachment on the horizon after the Sons of Erin situation had been resolved, Nick never noticed the slice of turf caught in the green juggernaut's undercarriage. Nor did he see, much less pause to read, the shamrock-shaped marker of green Irish marble, which proudly proclaimed that the lawns of the hall had been landscaped with genuine sod from Tara itself. Nick therefore remained unaware of the hitchhikers who rode along.
LaCroix, conducting aerial surveillance because his son's row with that mortal doctor had amusing possibilities, nearly fell out of the sky laughing. He hadn't seen anything like that -- the three leprechauns in Kelly green jackets, knee britches, and top hats, who were passing around a huge green glass mug decorated with shamrocks, on top of the Caravan -- since his last sojourn in Ireland.
The elder vampire narrowly avoided a Nicholas-special flashback. Ireland had been fun, before the English came, even if the banshees had gone on strike because of the extra work caused by his depredations. Maybe the Emerald Isle would make a good recuperation place for his son, after that doctor's inevitable failure.
The sun shot its first beams into the sky at that point. LaCroix veered off home as Nick pulled into the garage at the loft.
"Ah, Fingal," said the leprechaun who was doodling green four leaf-clovers on Nick's darkest self-portrait, "you've gone and drunk up the last of the beer!" He considered the painting, then added a green nose and beard.
His compatriot looked up from picking out "When Irish Eyes are Smiling" on the grand piano. "'Twasn't me, Fergus -- must've been Fogarty there."
The third of the spirit trio sat cross-legged in midair, plainly fascinated with Nick's remote. "Not me, either," he protested, flicking the shutters and the drapes open and closed at racing speed. "Someone forgot to renew the ever-filled spell. Anyway, there's more in that fellow's carriage.
Fergus and Fingal made a complicated series of passes, whereupon Nat's scientific potion jar appeared on the latest table, one not yet destroyed by having a leg used by Nick or an opponent as an improvised stake.
The three leprechauns each took a taste. Fogarty gasped, "Why, 'tis fairy ale, except that it's unbrewed. We'll soon fix that!"
At the snap of his fingers, a small black pot materialized. Fingal spoke a rhyme in Old High Gaelic and Nat's jar poured its content into the miniature kettle. Fergus made a stirring motion. The kettle and Nat's jar both overflowed with green beer.
Even Irish spirits have their limits with, well, Irish spirits. Fergus and Fingal were barber-shopping "Danny-Boy" when Fogarty, having lost interest in the remote, discovered Nick's mobile phone.
He was about to press things at random when Fergus said, "The poor lad, we'll have to give him a good Irish blessing, even if he is a vampire."
Fingal objected. "But he's not Irish."
"Yes, but anyone who brews like that must have some Celtic somewhere." Fergus took a long draught from the jar. "Don't you know what was in this jar before we helped it along? 'twas pure fairy shamrock, the kind that makes you happy but never drunk, not that awful hops the English brought in. I say we elect him an honorary Irishman!"
Meanwhile Fogarty had found the dial function and was frowning at the picture beside Natalie's number.
"Boyos, wasn't it the lady who brought the jar? She'd be the brewer." He tapped one stubby finger at the image.
Unnoticed, the phone connected.
"Nick?" Nat managed to say on her second try. Certainly the number on her screen belonged to him, but all she could hear was high-pitched Hibernian voices singing a medley of sentimental favorites. Only, since when did that one have a variant, 'I'll Take You Home Again, Nat'lie'? All interspersed with a Donnybrook row about whether or not a vampire could be given a pot of gold when by definition he couldn't see a rainbow at night, let alone follow one.
She was about to hang up when a scream like a fight to the death between banshees and valkyries overrode the noise. Nick, or at least it sounded like Nick, followed, gibbering in a variety of languages, only some of which she recognized.
Did vampire wild parties, she wondered as she climbed out of bed and reached for the nearest clothes, include other species of mythological creatures? She threw on jeans and her Toronto Trek t-shirt, then headed for Gateway Lane.
On the stairs in the loft, Nick stared openmouthed at his favorite self-visualization, and cringed as the mannekin at his beloved piano began to play a syncopated version of 'Come On, Baby, Light My Fire.' Fingal had seen Fogarty discover how to start the fireplace.
One disadvantage to vampire hearing, LaCroix had often thought, was being unable to sleep through his son's screams for help. Why Nicholas couldn't emulate Janette's self-control, he'd never know. LaCroix threw on his long coat and jammed his slouch hat on his head before setting off for the loft in his black Jaguar with the red interior, which had been specially chosen so as not to show blood.
Nat stepped out of the elevator just as LaCroix emerged from the door to the roof. Nick, backed into a corner with his arms over his head, saw neither of them.
LaCroix roared, "They're blessing him!" and cannon-balled across the room. The three leprechauns fell over and shut up.
Nat ran to kneel at Nick's side. "He's burned," she said. "How--"
"Blessing," Nick whispered, thick-tongued.
"With Joan of Arc's Cross." The relic in question had landed squarely atop LaCroix's boot. He tried to cover his fear with disdain. "Dr. Lambert, if you please…"
The master vampire, Nat understood while fighting down hysteria, was as terrified as an ophidiophobe finding a rattler at his feet.
She turned on the three sullen leprechauns. "What did you think you were doing?" she demanded in her best medical-examiner-with-recalcitrant-cop voice. In the back of her mind, Natalie noted without surprise that she was now prepared to take real leprechauns on St. Patrick's Day as a matter of course. No doubt Nessie would come swimming into Toronto Harbour next.
Wait a minute! St. Patrick's Day? Nat snatched up Nick's cell and thrust it under the Irish sprites' noses. "It's March 18th now -- midnight's come and gone since St. Patrick's Day. What are you doing here?"
With horror-widened eyes, the leprechauns vanished.
LaCroix stood like a statue as Nick rose to his feet and staggered to the couch.
Nat collected the potion jar and carried it to Nick. "Drink!"
Too shaken to resist, he did so. Then he did a double-take. "What's this?" He asked before draining the rest.
"Your shake. The one you were so scornful about last night." Nat sank down beside him.
"I apologize. Maybe it's that chlorophyll-13 of yours, but this tastes just like beer. And I'm not hungry. Nat, I think you've found the secret."
"Great, I-- Nick, didn't you just drink all of it?"
Natalie peered into the jar.
"It's full again."
Several hours and experimental drainings of the potion later, Nick and Nat were doing jigs around the loft. The breathalyser from the coroner's trunk proved their sobriety, whatever LaCroix's increasingly sarcastic comments. He was unable to threaten because of the cross, but Nat was getting tired of the whole thing.
The cell phone still lay on the coffee table where Fogarty had dropped it. Natalie examined it, nodded, and pointed it toward LaCroix, panning down from his face to his feet, and back up again, twice.
She turned to Nick. "Remember that vampire Net site you were telling me about? The one Janette's advertising on?"
"Sure." Nick began to straighten up the place.
"Does it take videos?"
"Of course." He looked up with the little-boy grin on his face. This time, Nat smiled back, removed the cross and used it to suggest LaCroix's immediate departure.
"Nick and I have some more checks to make. Without a witness. If you go away now, I might even forget to post something."
LaCroix snarled and launched himself through the roof.
Nick and Nat ignored the falling glass from the skylight. They couldn't see it, anyway, with their eyes closed in the kiss, or hear anything outside themselves.