It Couldn't Happen To a Nicer Vampire

Nick walked into the Raven, glancing around at the crowd. He didn't see him, he didn't expect to. He did catch sight of Janette, and walked up to the bar. She glanced at him, and continued talking to Miklos. Nick waited patiently.

Finally she turned to him. "Should I ask if you are here for business or pleasure?"

Nick smiled at her, though the worry was plain on his face. "I was wondering if you had seen Lacroix."

Her expression didn't change, but for a moment her eyes showed their true depth, and how much it hurt to no longer be the source of his love. "Or even whether I am the reason you are here," she finished her question softly. When Nick would have spoken she said quickly, "I have not seen him. I don't know where he is."

"And you're not worried?"

She laughed. "Nichola, why would I worry? He is a big boy, he can take care of himself."

He smiled nervously. "Perhaps I'm just being paranoid. I can't help but think he's up to something."

"Yes, well... there is precedent." She took a glass which Miklos handed her, and took a sip. She knew how she looked, lips on the rim of the glass, the way she glanced down, and back up. Tonight it seemed lost of Nick.

"We wouldn't... he wouldn't have left, without saying something? To you, surely?"

She shrugged. "It is not necessary. But yes, you're right. He woldn't just leave... Are you worried about him?"

Nick flushed at her sharp stare. He hated to admit it but, "Yes, I am. I haven't seen or heard from him in weeks. He hasn't been broadcasting, he hasn't been by... not even when Nat nearly brought me back across, two weeks ago. I thought surely... Are you sure you haven't seen him?"

"No, Nichola. I have not seen him. If you are so worried, then why not go to his home? Even if he is not there, you should be able to find some 'clue' to his whereabouts. That's what policemen are so good at, no?"

He nodded, but looked down at the floor. Janette heard him mumble, "I don't know his address." He looked up. "I never wanted to know."

Janette nodded. She wouldn't have expected him to know. She rather expected him to try to ignore as much as possible the reminders that his quest would not be so easy. She wrote something out on a slip of paper, and handed it over without a word. He took it and kissed her cheek, saying thank you.

She just stared at him, as he left. So much concern... for a man he hated. And none at all, sometimes, for her. She lit a cigarette and decided to ignore him for the night.

The phone call made that impossible. Miklos waved her over, and when she took the receiver she heard Nichola's worried voice. "I think you'd better get over here, Janette."

"Why? What has happened?" Fear touched her lightly, then she calmed down. Nothing could really ever happen to that one... it was unthinkable that it ever could.

"I... I think you'd better come and see. I need your help, anyway... please, Janette. We can't just... leave him like this." His voice dropped, as if he hated hearing how concerned he was, but knowing that he could not just walk away. Janette heard, and for a moment she could not speak.

Softly she said, "I will be right there. You are at his place?"

"Yes. Please, hurry."

Instead of answering his plea she slammed down the phone and headed for the back doors. She didn't bother calling back to Miklos to watch the bar- he would, without her request.

She took to the air, not feeling the cold wind lift and surround her. Her thoughts were focused forward, ahead of her in the house where NIchola waited. Her imagination tried to frighten her, telling her all the horrible things she might find. But surely if it were too late, Nichola would not have asked her to hurry...

She landed in the yard and ran up to the door, calling out even as she saw Nichola standing there, waiting. He grabbed her by the arms and tried to prepare her. "I tried everythign I could... but I can't do it alone. He'll turn on me. I need you help."

"Nichola what is it?" Her fear stretched her words, strengthened her accent.

"Come." He took her into the back room, and stopped just inside the door. She stared, and took a step forward. The images danced in the corner, lights and sounds grabbing her and drawing her in.

She turned and gaped in wonder and confusion. "What?"

"I think that if you distract him, I can get it off. But then we may *both* have to fight him..."

"Oh Nichola... haven't you tried talking to him?"

"I tried, Janette. He can't hear me." In a tight voice he said, "I even told him I had changed my mind, and was returning to him. Nothing."

Janette stared at him, the realisation sinking in. Then she nodded. They would do what they had to do. "All right. Whenever you are ready..."

They walked forward together, around the zombie-like figure facing the corner, totally unaware of their presence. As they moved to their positions, ready to strike without warning (not that a warning would have been heard, or heeded) Janette looked at him.

"What is it, that has done this to him?"

Nick pointed down at the floor. "Donkey Kong Country."