Mornings Always Return

The CD player switched to the next CD. He was glad he'd purchased the 10 disc player, it let him listen to the music all day long without interuption. He set his glass down on the shelf next to him, and moved to finger the shades. He wanted to pull them back, and look out at the sun-lit world. He took a deep breath. Didn't Nat say he should do that very thing, a little at a time? He pulled the shade back an inch, and let the sun shine inside. He stayed carefully out of its path.

He pulled the shade a little more, until he could see out, into the street. Everything looked so... normal. He laughed. What he wouldn't give to be normal, as well! He suddenly sobered. What hadn't he already given?

Nick let the shade fall back into place. He had been on a strange roller-coaster of emotions, all month long. Nat and Schanke had both remarked on it; even Janette, when he surprised her with a social visit, said he seemed... different. Or at least unusual. He deflected all their questions, because really he didn't understand it himself. He felt happy, calm, content.. was it simply because he'd kept his promise to LaCroix? Had he somehow shown that he had a morality that LaCroix didn't possess, that he had kept his word when LaCroix had obviously broken it?

Was that moral superiority a sign of his growing mortality? He honestly didn't know. He could have discussed it with Nat, in fact he knew she would want him to. But something kept him from it. Sometimes, he thought it was because he didn't want to be proved morally superior.

He shook his head. That wasn't it. Grieving for a lost relationship, even one he'd hated, wasn't the answer to his mood. Because... and he suddenly realised what it was. Because he wasn't grieving for a lost relationship. It wasn't that he had proved himself a better person than LaCroix, and could therefore leave him and his trickery far behind.

When he had kept his promise, stood by his principles, his morals, he had broken the last illusion that LaCroix could ever control him. Ever own him, ever use him for his own purposes. Nick felt a wonder growing in him, as he realised- he didn't feel superior to Lacroix. He simply no longer felt inferior. He was no longer the creature owned by its master, dependent on it for everything from food to shelter to guidance. Even as he'd run away from LaCroix, to find the cure, he'd had that feeling deep inside him. As a vampire he had felt a failure, and as a human he'd known himself to be damned.

But suddenly, he felt as if... whatever it was, that he was, he was... worthy. He felt a yell coming on, when the door's intercom buzzed. He went over. "Yes?" he triggered the viewer.

"I have a delivery here, for Nicholas Knight." A young man stood there, holding a wrapped parsel. Nick let him in.

Nick accepted the oblong package, giving the delivery boy a healthy tip. After the elevator was safely down and away, Nick carried the box into the living area, and simply stared at it for awhile, enjoying the anticipation. Who was it from? What was it? Why had they sent it?

Finally he took opened the box. A bundle of Forget-Me-Nots. Nick's jaw dropped, and he stared. The bright blue blossoms seemed to shine at him, and the fragrance drifted into the air. With a silly grin on his face he picked the card out from between the stems. It read:

"To My dearest Niccolas: Thank you."

There was no signature, and the handwriting was obviously the florist's. But Nicholas knew. He turned the card over, as if expecting to see something, but of course it was blank. With a slightly puzzled look he took the flowers out of the box. There was nothing else in the box, except the tissue paper. He let the box fall on the couch and carried the flowers with him to the kitchen, to find a vase.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw it- a perfect container. He picked up the clay vessel from its place on the bookcase, and placed the flowers inside. A vessel he'd unearthed when first learning about the joys of what would later be called archeology, a clay vase which dated from the early Byzantine era. He remembered, LaCroix had dated it for him, explained how and where it had probably been made.

He remembered how much Janette had teased them, so early in their lives together, as LaCroix and Nicholas spent nights 'playing in the dirt'. LaCroix had been full of stories about the ancient empires, the Greeks, the Aryans, even the Hittites. Nickolas had no way of knowing how true or accurate LaCroix's stories had been, but it scarecly mattered at the time. Or now, he mused. He hadn't forgotten any of them, anyway.

He placed the vessel, and its blue contents, in the center of his table. It pleased him most to accept this gift, without feeling any of the strings that for the last few centuries he would have seen attached. He had been filled with such anger, hatred, and guilt that now it was a relief to put them down. Even if it was only for one day, or for the few days it would take for the flowers to whither. He was free to feel other, more precious things.

He reached over and ran his fingers through the flowers, spreading them out and scattering them in the vase. He was glad simply to not ask what it was LaCroix wanted from him, in return for this gift. When he was satisfied with the arrangment of the blossoms, he turned and went through the kitchen, grabbing a book on his way, and heading for the couch.

He flopped down on the cushions, stomach first, and set the book in front of him. He began flipping through the Yellow Pages, and wondering...

The place was deserted. Which was normal, considering the hour of night. But the lights were on, which was not normal. It was easily explained, however, by the presence of the man standing by the wall. He was leaning on the short wall which surrounded the room, looking out at the expanse. He took a deep breath, and wished he could see the condensation freeze.

He looked up when he heard the front doors open and close. He waited, trying not to seem impatient. Actually he was just a trifle unsure of himself, and his choice of locales. He could handle being laughed at, but he would rather his choice be a good one. He smiled as he saw his guest walk towards him, his long coat slung over his shoulder, and carrying- yes, he had them. Ice skates in his hand.

LaCroix smiled. "What a marvelous idea, Nicholas. I can't tell you the last time I did this. I dont believe they even had rinks that long ago."

Nick grinned. "I thought you'd like it. The night watchman is sleeping, quite soundly in the back, so we have nothing to worry about."

"Well then. Do you have your skates?"

Nick showed him, he was already wearing them. LaCroix sat down on one of the benches, and put his on. They were old fashioned skates, of a type not seen in use for decades. But the blades were strong and sharp, and LaCroix had no fear of breaking an ankle. He stood up, and took a couple steps before wobbling slightly. "Oh for pete's sake," he muttered.

Nick held out his hand, and helped LaCroix out onto the ice. It didn't take long for the skills to come back to Lacroix, and soon they were skating smoothly around the rink, hand in hand.

The night watchman's dreams were punctuated by their laughter.

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