pairing: Willow/Nick QPC 132) W/Nick Knight (Forever Knight)
disclaimer: I do not own anyone from Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Forever Knight.
Distribution: please ask first,
Nick sat on the balcony of his house, admiring the view he had of the river, running with pale froth over the jagged stones and rock spires. It was the sort of view that would inspire poetry and paintings, or the deep contemplation of the past. He slowly twirled the glass in his hand, the bloodwine making crimson swirls over the sides. Tonight was turning out to be a time of contemplation, of remembering nights long past. After all, considering that he had been a vampire for well over nine hundred years, there was a lot of past to ponder.
He felt the approaching presence before his home security system spoke, feeling the pull of his Sire LaCroix as the ancient vampire drew near. Sighing, he wondered why his Sire sought him out now. He'd been on his own for well over a century now, ever since h'd lost Natalie in her final, fatal effort to 'cure him' of his vampiric condition. The night that had ended in Natalie's death and his own tormented flight from Toronto. He'd heard nothing from his Sire then, or in the century between that night and now.
The voice of his home security system, laboriously customized to sound like a now forgotten actress named Majel Barret, informed him of LaCroix' approach.
Nick nodded to himself, taking another lazy sip from his glass. "Stand down on defensive systems. Passive monitoring only."
LaCroix descended from the sky, dressed in close fitting dark clothing that had a vaguely militant feel. The short grey hair and ice pale eyes had not changed, nor had his Sire's features, even retaining the slightly detached expression. "Why Nicholas... I would have expected a bit more of a reaction. Perhaps one of those modern systems to try to blow me out of the sky. And yet, there you sit... is that bloodwine?" LaCroix even spoke with the same cool, probing tone of voice.
"LaCroix... Sire. I hadn't expected you to drop in. I did however, tell the security system to stand down. After all, I'm quite certain that it would be poor manners to shoot you when you finally deigned to drop by. There's more bloodwine if you'd like." Nick gestured at the bottle, curious as to the reasoning behind his Sire's unexpected arrival.
LaCroix picked up the bottle, almost hesitantly sniffing the contents, his cautious expression becoming one of delighted surprise. "Why Nicholas! I am surprised... bloodwine made with real human blood. Shall I assume that this means you've gotten past the idea of trying to become human again?" There was something in LaCroix' voice, something that might have been hope.
Nick gave a small shrug before replying. "Natalie was proof that that wasn't something to treat casually. Then, I met someone that changed my way of looking at things."
As if the mention of this someone had been a mystical incantation, Nick found himself remembering things as if it was only a matter of weeks ago instead of a century.
* * * *
He'd made a few rapid decisions once the blind red haze of blood lust and need and pain had faded. Natalie had been dead on the floor of his loft, and he'd had a table leg rammed into his chest, narrowly missing his heart. The taste of blood was thick in his mouth, and he wasn't certain if it was his... or Natalie's. He'd known that he couldn't stay in Toronto, for a whole list of reasons. He'd essentially just fled, seeking a city at random, ending up in Los Angeles, California. Someone had recommended that he stay at the Hotel Hyperion until he could get his own place, suggesting that it would 'compensate for his special needs'. As it happened, the guy who owned the hotel was a vampire himself, and was perfectly willing to rent him a room for an indefinite time, complete with sun proofing and a small refrigerator to keep blood in. It had sounded absolutely perfect.
All it had taken was one half hour interview with Lieutenant Kate Lockley of the LAPD to tell him that he'd best keep his pretense of humanity up. The woman had known about the supernatural, and loathed the whole category with a passion borne of fear. He'd been torn between despair and fury when he'd returned to the hotel, pacing the room, half growling to himself as he tried to figure out the woman's problem.
His miniature tirade was interrupted by a somewhat muffled voice from underneath the large desk, where he'd entirely missed the toolbox and sneakered feet. "Because you're a vampire, and even if she doesn't realize it yet, you're setting off warning signals in her head. She's awfully freaky, and sort of spastic. We ignore her."
Nick had felt stunned. Who was this person, and how did they... she know that he was a vampire? "Care to come out so I can see who I'm talking to?"
The sneakers proved to belong to a delightful redhead, whose eyes held as much sorrow and suffering as anyone he'd ever met. "I'm Willow. Angel mentioned that he'd taken in another vampire, so he asked me to set up the windows for you... sliding metal covers with curtains over them for aesthetic appeal, and a security system so nobody sneaks up on you while your asleep."
"You seem awfully calm about this." Nick wasn't certain what to think about Willow. She seemed so entirely calm about him being a vampire... it was almost as if someone had simply said 'I'm French'.
She gave him a smile, and leaned a bit closer. "Most of the people here are a bit off human normal. A few vampires, a werewolf... me... well, nobody here's exactly normal even if they are human. Angel wouldn't have let you have a room if Lorne hadn't gave you the all clear, so you aren't a bad guy, just sort of non-tanning."
Nick had been baffled by her after that, and his later encounters hadn't simplified the mystery that was Willow. She was utterly baffling, and he somehow wasn't surprised to learn that she was a witch. She'd certainly enchanted him.
She didn't think he was a monster. Even after accidentally waking him up, seeing the glowing eyes and sharp fangs, she didn't see him as a monster. She was also trying to argue him into seeing things her way.
Gradually, Willow was winning.
She was insistent that it wasn't sharp teeth or the strength to bend steel bars that made a monster, but the state of the heart or soul. Bad heart lead to viewing humans as objects to be used, broken and discarded at will or whim, which made a monster. Or Bad hearts led to a sadistic enjoyment of causing others to hurt and suffer, also creating a monster. She insisted that since he didn't delight in causing pain, didn't view humans as nothing more than blood sources to feed upon, a description that had made him wince, and felt broodingly guilty over the violence in his past, that he was not a monster. She'd looked at him with what he'd learned was called the Resolve Face, and he'd known defeat. The stubbornness and willpower that had allowed him to become an eight hundred year old vampire had failed against the resolve of a twenty something mortal witch.
The next step in her plan was to convince him that he didn't have to wallow in misery and self inflicted unhappiness. She would make substitutions with his blood, and he'd discover that instead of opening up a bottle of cow's blood, he'd just opened a bottle of A positive human blood, the scent alone making him nearly drool with anticipation. Her explanation was simple: "It's better for you than the cow blood, the Red Cross checks for diseases, which I' not sure if you can get but it would be miserable if you did, and you aren't hurting anyone by drinking them. Besides, Angel's a lot less cranky if he has human blood then if he's on cow blood, so it should make you feel a bit better as well."
He'd tried the 'I'm a bad bad vampire who's done many terrible things' only to have her shred his argument. It had turned out that Angel had once been Angelus the Scourge of Europe, and her annoying friend Billy had been William the Bloody, also known as Spike, both vampires with far more brutal and vicious reputations than he'd ever had.
Her persistence had worn his guilt down enough that he'd admitted that she was right. Human blood tasted better and was better for him, and if he didn't kill, didn't even hurt people to get it, why shouldn't he drink real blood? She'd also said that if he felt guilty, he could atone by helping people, instead of trying some arcanely complicated pursuit of mortality and death. Followed by the world spinning off hand comment that if he wanted to be human again, all he had to do was find a Mohra demon, make it bleed, end up bleeding himself, and get the Mohra blood into his bloodstream, and there you go, human. No super vampire powers, no strength, no healing, no fast reflexes... just human. He'd been stunned, and actually researched Mohra demons, seeking to learn more about them before deciding that she'd been right again when she'd claimed he could accomplish more as a vampire to atone than he could as a human.
She'd dragged him into her perceptions of things, and it had made his existence a lot less painful. He wasn't a monster, and he didn't have to starve himself. He could still do good as a vampire.
* * * *
Nick smiled faintly as he remembered Willow. Surely by now, she had passed away, leaving this world forever, no more than a cherished memory for all the surviving people who'd known her. "The persuasion and resolve of a very dear friend from years gone by. She also broke me of the idea that being a vampire was inherently the same as being a monster."
"Someone that managed to change your mind about something, Nicholas? I would have enjoyed meeting her very much." LaCroix looked as if he wasn't certain how to react to all of this. Nick's new acceptance of his vampireness had changed everything.
Nick gave a small smile. "You would have been just as baffled by her as I was. But she was wonderful... and it's because of her that I finally found a measure of peace with myself."
LaCroix smiled, an unexpected expression. "Welcome home then, my son. Welcome home."
end Memories Gone By