Chapter Three

Nick fell on his knees on the floor of his loft, the sound of the slamming door echoing. He had barely made it home before the light.

Frustration, anger, jealousy... Emotions washed wave after wave over him. He knew much of his reaction was unreasonable, disproportionate, but he couldn't stop himself.

After all, Nicholas, she is a beautiful young woman. It would be foolish to expect that no-one else would show interest in her...

Hearing her tears through the wall and being unable to go to her hurt him more than he had ever dreamed possible. The humiliation of standing out in the cold wind, the remains of his desire on his hands, and listening to that MAN comfort her...HIS Natalie...cut deep, very deep.

He still couldn't make himself leave, though. He seemed beyond pride... or so he thought. Until he overheard Marcus comforting her.

"Shh... it's all right, it's all right." the sound of HIM kissing her. "You don't have to love me... you don't... I do understand, Natalie, I do."

"I'm sorry, Marcus, I'm so sorry. I shouldn't do this to you." She had whispered.

"No, no, don't." Another kiss, achingly loud. "You're my Maud Gonne, you know. You have given me more than you'll ever know. You don't have to love me, all you have to do is forgive me for loving you."

"Food for poems..." she whispered softly.

"And songs, and prose and art, and joy, and friendship. Dear, dear one."

It was like a slap in the face, more than his ego could stand. He tore himself away from the window, not caring if they heard him. He had flown incoherent with anger and wounded pride until the faint glow of dawn had driven him home.

He knelt on the rug. The shutters shut automatically with a hollow sound, leaving him in darkness. In his emptiness and impotent fury the dark didn't soothe.

His Maud Gonne! As if he could know! Comparing himself to Yeats! His love to theirs! As if he could know! I saw it!

Calling her his Muse, his well of inspiration. It was heady, romantic, entirely worthy of her... and completely unforgivable.

As if he could ever need her the way...

A cold realization swept over him.

The way I do...

He lowered his forehead to the floor.

He can never love her the way I do...

He rolled onto his side.

I love her...Jesu, I love her...

He covered his face with his hands.

Why wasn't it me?

The pain was ugly and ferocious.

Because of what I am...

He could still smell the remains of his spent lust on his hands.

Because of me...

He wept.

He didn't know how long he lay there. Finally, he dragged himself to his feet and went upstairs. Shedding his clothes, he got in the shower. Exhausted, he slumped in the corner and let the water run over him.

You've danced this dance before. Has it ever ended in anything but tragedy?

It hasn't been quite like this before...

You mean no other woman has risked so much for your sake before...

No, it's more than that...

And been given such short shrift for her pains...

Finally, he pushed himself up and began scrubbing furiously. As if he could scrub away the truth about himself. As if he could rip away the shame he felt.

Every time he closed his eyes he could see them again.

She had been so beautiful.

Had there been a time when he hadn't wanted her?


No matter who else had been; Alise, Janette, Anne, Emily, all the others... he had still wanted her, still returned to her side. Had still been jealous of whoever she went out with, whoever saw her in the daylight. Almost from the moment that they had first met.

What was it that Marcus had said, You don't have to love me...

She doesn't love him...

Does it matter?

Yes, if she loves me, yes...

Will it make you mortal?

We could be together then...

He closed his eyes and saw her again, astride Marcus, working toward climax. She had been magnificent, passionate...more than he could ever have longed for. What would she be like with him? Would she be as wild, as unbound? Or would she be shy, kind, guiding him gently into the light.

In the light...

Make love to her in the sunlight... On the rug downstairs, while light pours through all the windows. Her hair would glow in the light...he remembered the time he'd seen her in the sun, when the drug had gone wrong. Her skin had been warm with color and her sapphire eyes had danced. He would see her like that again. He had to...

He'd move slowly, savor every second. He'd undress her with care, slipping each garment off to pool on the floor beside her. Cover her skin with kisses, trace his tongue over her shoulders, her neck, her breasts as she stands naked and golden. She would be a Venus of Light, he a pale acolyte.

She could kiss him and he would taste of food, of wine, of arousal, without the hint of blood. He would be warm to her touch. He could stroke her hair and back and there would be no involuntary shiver from the chill of his hand. She would move into his caress, sighing with pleasure, reaching to remove his clothes. The warmth of her breath on his skin. The heat of her tongue as it lashes across his hard nipples.

Would she reach down and take him or tease him, tickling the hair on his belly?

You'd want her to tease you...tell the truth now...

Yes, Nick had to admit it. He'd want her to tease him... trace her fingertips lightly across his belly, tickle his flanks, rub his thighs, brush past his pubic hair, make him wait... give him time to grow harder... suck his nipples, nip at them, her breath would be hot and sweet...The sun would be warm on his back.

The feel of her skin under his hands, the soft weight of her breasts. It would be sweet, so sweet to him. He would lay her on the rug, slip a pillow under her hips. Suck and tease her nipples without fearing for her safety. To smell her, to taste her, without the need to feed, to destroy. Opening her legs and laying his mouth on her...tasting her tangy wildness, breathing in her musk until she thrashes with orgasm and is liquid with longing.

To have her touch him as he rises over her. Stroking his aching cock, moving his foreskin, making him ready... ready to bury himself in her. He would want to sink into her slowly, teasing her as she did him, take her an inch at time...her velvet soft vagina tight and welcome around him... pushing his self control to the edge...

Thrusting into her... gently at first, then wildly... her fingers digging into his back, her legs tight around his thighs...hearing her cry out his name as she comes...kissing her hard when he comes, tight on her mouth with bruising force... holding her afterwards...telling her...I love you, all for you, only you.

He opened his eyes, alone. The shower was cold now. Fresh come and blood spattered his thighs. He rinsed it off with hands that shook. He'd been so lost in the fantasy he couldn't remember touching himself.

Subdued, he went to bed.

It was night and he was hungry. He was back in the park, close to where he'd met Janette. He looked around...had she called him back? Changed her mind, perhaps? Yet, it was different... the sky darker, the wind stronger, the chill off the water sinking deep into his skin.

She wasn't there.

There was only him, and the dark.

Something was very wrong.

"Good evening, Nicholas."

"LaCroix." Nick swung around. For a moment, Nick felt relief at the sight of a familiar face. "Where's Janette?"

"At the Raven, I should think. She isn't here. I've been expecting you." LaCroix shimmered in the darkness. A malevolent shade.

"You called me here?" Nick was immediately apprehensive. "Why?"

"I want to show you something." LaCroix swung around and started walking. He didn't look back to see if Nick was following.

Nick stared after the elder vampire, distrust and curiosity wrestling within. Slowly, cautiously, he followed.

"A young girl came to the water's edge tonight. An interesting specimen. She's covered with self-inflicted cuts... some kind of middle class tragedy I should think... and sat reading poetry with a flashlight. She wept." LaCroix beautiful voice slid through the darkness. "One of us is watching her... very patiently."

"One of us? No! Why haven't you stopped it!" Nick seized Lucien by the arm.

"Stop what, Nicholas? There's nothing to stop...yet. That's why I was waiting for you." LaCroix extradited his arm with barely a movement. "I've brought you a gift, Nicholas. Something that you've wanted for a very long time."

LaCroix gracefully pointed to the water's edge.

The girl was young, a teenager, with dyed black hair and a pale, lost face. Dark smudges of eye makeup hid her eyes, shuttered windows for a lost soul. A torn CERK t-shirt clung to her thin frame, insufficient against the waters chill. Scars from a hundred self inflicted cuts shone pale on her arms. A book of Sylvia Plath's poems lay open in her lap, a resting place for the flashlight. The light caught a razor blade clutched in fingertips decorated with chipped black nail varnish. It hung, suspended, over one skinny wrist. One shallow cut was already weeping blood.

The smell of blood, death, and despair was thick in the air.

Nick took a step towards her, and LaCroix's hands held him back.

"Wait." The elder vampire whispered.

Then Nick remembered LaCroix's earlier words. 'One of us is watching her.'

There was barely the sound of moving air as the female vampire moved out of the shadows.

A strangled cry of recognition escaped Nick. "Natalie..."

Where as Nick had always seen her before radiating with warmth and light, she now seemed colored with a thousand shades of darkness. Her beauty had not been lost with her transformation, only become more tactile, more sensual...more hungry.

Natalie walked up to the girl slowly, as if the child were a wild animal she was afraid of frightening away. Tears ran from the girl's eyes and the blade slipped from her fingers as Natalie reached out and touched her face.

"You're so alive," Natalie whispered.

"'m not...the pain..." the girl whimpered.

"So alive..." Natalie reached down and kissed the girl on the mouth, claiming her lips with sensual grace.

The girl kissed Natalie back, fingers digging into the vampire's shoulders with fierce desperation. A drop of blood rolled down the girl's cut arm and fell between Natalie's breasts. Bright red flowed across ivory and Natalie's skin drank it in.

Natalie struck the girl with enough force to tear into her throat and pop her neck. The sad child died instantly. Natalie's lips closed over the wound and she drank deeply, feverently.

"She's so beautiful when she kills. It's a joy to watch her. She seems drawn to the lost and the suffering, bringing the death that ends their pain. The way they look at her with such fear, and such longing. It's as if she is an angel as well as a devil to them. It makes it all new again." LaCroix's voice drifted back across the divide. "Haven't you missed it, Nicholas? The swift rush of life and death? The pure simplicity of our existence? She can bring it back to you... She can make you feel at home with us."

Natalie lifted her face from the girl's neck, lips shining with red. She rocked the child tenderly in her arms, entranced, as if sending her to sleep.

LaCroix was right. It was beautiful and unholy. The hunger rose in Nick with a rush of desire more intense than he'd ever felt. He took a step forward and all his struggling toward humanity fled.

The girl slid gracefully through Natalie's arms like falling sand. Natalie gently folded the girl's arms over her chest and closed her eyes.

She turned to Nick. Glowing eyes met glowing eyes.

She was in his arms before he moved another step. Her mouth was on his; the girl's warm, fresh blood a fitting communion for this joining.

With one kiss all the barriers inside him tore apart. He tore her dress violently, the velvet heavy in his hands. He licked the blood from between her breasts, hungry. Her hands laid open his shirt and scratched his chest. Leaning up, she nipped his earlobe.

Entwined, they fell to the ground. He rolled on his back, pinning her to his chest. His kisses were bruising, tongue lashing in her mouth. Her fangs scratched his lips, she sucked greedily.

Penetrating, and being penetrated... his cock deep inside her...her fangs buried deep in his throat....this is were he belonged... this is what he was... what she was meant to be... why they were brought together...

LaCroix gathered up the dead girl's body and turned away.

Nick woke up.

He pulled himself to the edge of the bed and held his head in his hands. He was clammy with blood sweat. The nightmare was sharp, buried deep and refused to fade.

All for the love of you...

Darkness, light, would they give up both?

Would he?

All for the love of you...


Would I give it all up for you...

The thought made him cold.

At this moment, right here, right now...yes, yes I would...forever... forever... all for you...

More sleep was impossible. Nick toweled himself off and put on his robe. Walking downstairs, he poured a glass and went to the piano.

Aimlessly, he played the same series of notes over and over. After a moment, he recognized what he was playing. With a rueful smile, he let the rest of the notes follow out.

Could you turn me down gently would I
Be out of order
If I declared my true feelings or do I
Act out the part,
Of the father confessor of the shoulder to cry on.
We're always so close yet so far away.

He sung softly, irony not withstanding.

What would you do if I got down
On my knees to you
Would you hold it against me
Would you stand me in line
What would you do if I
Opened my heart to you
Would I just be another who's wasting his time
Darling, are we just good friends?

LaCroix was right about one thing, there is a song for all occasions. She might not love him, after all. She might have set that possibility aside long ago... It wasn't as if there was a future with him.

And if she does love you?

I should let her go...

How noble of you... unless...

Unless what?

Unless it's too late...


Can you face being alone once more?

He should leave, disappear, give her a chance to have a life. She could marry, have children, rise in her profession without the fear of someone finding out about altered files, secrets, all she had done for him.

Let her go...


Like Janette?

I've been here before haven't I...

Once or twice...

There's a song about that too...

There's a song for everything...

Could I...could I do it...

The keys under his fingers were a comfort. They sang randomly, until the melody was found...

So here I am once more
In the playground of the broken hearts
One more experience, one more entry
In a diary of pain...
Yet another emotional suicide
overdosed on sentiment and pride...
Too late to say I love you
Too late to restage the play
Abandoning the relics of my playground of yesterday...

Stay, say nothing... go on being friends... bury his jealousy...rejoice in her happiness... give her up... let this young man win her heart...

Let her live without him.

She would make a lovely bride...


He had thought of painting her that way, dressed in white, covered in lace. Natalie as a bride. Her wedding day... Her chestnut hair would escape from under the veil., pearls were unlucky for a bride. What was it? You'll shed a tear for every pearl you wear on your wedding day?

Perhaps, she would even wear a cross. Be married in a church.

Men in morning coats, flowers everywhere. Pennies tossed in a fountain, to wish the couple a happy life. A garter of satin and lace crocheted by a grandmother, to kept forever by a lucky groomsman pressed in a book. Bouquet tossed in the wind, caught and magic passed on.

To leave with her beloved, as he stands in the shadows.

Watch her go...

And I will hold my peace forever
As you wear your bridal gown
And the silence of my shame
The mute that sang the silent song
Has gone solo in the game
Has gone solo, solo in the game

Can you still say you love me?
This jesters tears...

With an angry bang, he slammed the lid down.

He couldn't do it.

He couldn't let her go.

Not without her knowing.

It was the most selfish choice of his life. He knew that.

He walked over to the couch and laid down. He'd didn't know what would happen. He didn't know if she would agree to even try. But...he couldn't lose it without it ever not having been said.

I love you, Nat...

At five in the morning, Marcus kissed a sleeping Natalie goodbye. He dressed happily, and without regrets.

If this was all there was to be, it was beautiful and it was enough.

He shut the door to her flat quietly behind him and danced gracefully over to the bus stop. Pulling a small notebook out of his pocket, Marcus wrote some random notes and checked to see what he had to do today. The first pink shadows of dawn were coming up. A fair-haired man in a dark coat and sunglasses bought a paper from the machine. The bus pulled up with a loud snort.

Marcus dropped two tokens in the slot and smiled at the man with the paper. "Have a seat, this one's on me."

"You're very kind," LaCroix said softly.

The two songs were written by D.W. Dick; who sings under the name Fish.

Just Good Friends- Fishy Music Ltd from the album Internal Exile Script for a Jester's Tear - by Marillion / Charisma Music Pub. Co. Album of same name

W.B. Yeats Adoration for Maud Gonne, that most Facinating Woman, was Romantick tho' not entirly Healthy. He Believed that because she first saw the Writer she could only Be Disappointed in the Mere Man, so he could not seek her favours for Himself, but that she would be the greatest Muse of Inspiration to Him.

The Poem the Girl was reading in the Nightmare Sequence is Sylvia Plath's "Medusa".

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