Disclaimers:  All canon Forever Knight characters don't belong to me. 
The Addicts belong to themselves, but were gracious enough to lend
themselves to me for my sick, twisted fun.  (Scared??)  Louis Cabon
belongs to Bonnie Rutledge.  Everybody else is mine, all mine!!
	Please ask if you wanna archive.  I'd appreciate it.
	Okay!  Enough blathering!  Let's get on to the story!!!    

Green-Eyed Monster (1/?)     by Jayne Leitch

	Lacroix waited patiently as the commercials wound to a close.  Thumbing
the mike, he leaned in close and, pitching his voice to the softest
sound possible to transmit over the airwaves, he began speaking.
	"'What are little girls made of?  Sugar, and spice, and all things
nice.  What are little boys made of?  Snips and snails, and puppydog
tails.'"  He paused, a smile flitting across his lips.  "The
Nightcrawler has something on his mind this evening, gentle listeners. 
The differences between 'little boys' and 'little girls'.  The nursery
rhyme seems to oversimplify matters, don't you think?  Girls are honey
and sweetness, not born but created, as it were, like a particularily
complex confection.  Boys, however, are more like a stew, made up of
odds and ends, ending up as a teeming mass of uncertain smells and hard,
lumpy bits you don't ask about.
	"However," he continued wryly, "In my experience, girls tend to be more
complex than sugar and spice give them credit for.  Able to endure
greater hardships, stronger pressures than men are.  So, where a sweetly
flavoured confection might crumble, the woman still stands.
	"What gives them such courage?"  A pause.  "Surely not their so-called
'oppression'.  Certain men have endured hardships much worse, and yet
these men still lose where women win.  Perhaps they simply think
differently from men.  Learn to fight to the top to win."  He leaned
back in his chair and slowly thumbed a lever, turning up the volume on
some soft strains of violin music.  "Does the fairer sex have some
secret to their successes?  Or do its members simply take hold of what
they want in life and not let go?  Discuss, gentle listeners.  The
Nightcrawler wants to know."

	The middle-aged woman turned down the volume on her radio and went back
to polishing her eyeglasses.  "'The Nightcrawler wants to know,'" she
mimicked, then sighed.  "What a bore.  I don't know what they see in
him."  She balanced the glasses on her nose, picked up a pair of
binoculars, and stared through them at the building across the street. 
"If it wasn't for him, they wouldn't be at the Peach every hour of the
day.  And poor Louis could get some rest..."
	The woman froze, then carefully set the binoculars down.  Her eyes,
already enormous behind the thick lenses, got bigger.  "That's it!" she
cried.  "If he wasn't around,  wouldn't be either!  And Louis..." 
She began to grin.  *Mister Nightcrawler,* she thought as she gathered
up her supplies and climbed down the fire escape, *I'm going to grab
hold of what I want and not let go!*  She sniffed as she remembered the
rest of the man's diatribe.  "Sugar and spice indeed," she muttered.

	The addicts (those that weren't too far gone into Nunklear Meltdown,
that is) sighed happily, and one of them reached over to flip the sound
system off.  The post-Nightcrawler music faded away, and slowly, the
women began to recover, or at least wander off in search of a V-8, some
tax forms, or another anti-Nunklear device to rouse their friends.
	Heather stretched, cat-like, on her lounger.  "Och," she said dreamily,
	"Did he seem kind of lighthearted tonight?"  Denese asked idly.  "He
was making a lot of jokes."
	"Lacroix?  Jokes?"  Sharon Lee raised an eyebrow.  "He never makes
jokes.  Now, satirical musings on the other hand--"
	"Does it really matter?"  Laura sighed happily.  "I just like hearing
him speak..."  Suddenly, she sat up.  "Was he talking about ?"
	"Us?"  Heather looked up sharply.  "Naw.  Sure, he said a lot about
strong-willed women, but he could've meant anyone!"
	"Absolutely."  Denese picked at a thread on her own lounger.  "Think
about all the women he's known:  Fleur, Janette, the Monster Child..."
	"Maybe you're right."  Laura shivered.  "I'm gonna go take a shower. 
All that talk about 'hard, lumpy bits' gave me goosebumps."  She headed
off to the Sacred Cold Shower room.
	Suddenly, the door to the Shrine burst open, and Monsieur Cabon flew
in.  "Ah!  Mademoiselles..."
	"What is it, Louis?"  Sharon Lee asked, irritated.  Louis somehow
always knew how to ruin a good near-meltdown.
	Cabon stood nervously in the centre of the room.  He didn't know what
the women were talking about at the best of times, and now was certainly
no exception.  "Ah, zere is a rather large order of..." he shuddered
slightly, as if the very thought of what he was going to say next
disgusted him, "...Of  being delivered to zee
restaurant.  Did...?"
	"That would be for us, Louis," Mids spoke up cheerfully.  "Susan and
I.  We're...um...honing our sewing skills."
	Susan's eyes twinkled as she held up a rather small pattern.  "We
figured thongs would be easy to practice with, because they're so small,
and the stitching has to be so neat.  Besides," she grinned widely,
"Togas are great and all, but...ya just gotta wear something 
	Denese frowned.  "Aren't thongs uncomfortable?"
	Heather nodded.  "Yes.  All the more reason for us to try to get
someone to get us  of one!"  She waggled her eyebrows expressively.
	"Get us out of what?  And hey, there's a really big box of purple
fabric outside the door..."  Jayne commented as she strode into the
room.  She carried a huge duffel bag over one shoulder and a wad of
paper in her hands.
	"Get us out of thongs.  Susan and Mids are making us all some," Denese
said matter-of-factly.
	Jayne blinked, then shrugged.  "Cool."  She dropped her duffel bag,
creating a loud *thwunk*.
	Heather jumped as it landed beside her lounger.  "What is  that
thing?  And why are you here?  I thought you were resisting the call of
Toronto and staying at your house for a while."
	Jayne sighed.  "I was," she began mournfully,  "But two weeks after I
got home, we had this giant windstorm and--" she paused, biting her
knuckles,  "--And one of my huge pines fell over onto my bedroom.  Went
right through the roof, attic..."  Gathering herself together, she
finished, "Anyway, I'm here until they fix it."  She sniffled once.
	The other addicts made sympathetic noises, and Marie asked, "Was
anything broken that they can't fix?"
	Jayne shook her head and sighed.  "Just the tree.  It was a darn good
one, too; tall, majestic...it reminded me of Nunkies..."
	"Okay, that's one question.  Now, what's in the duffel?"  Heather
peered at the large, army-green bag, slouching uncoordinatingly on the
Shrine floor.
	Jayne smiled.  "That's for me to know..."  Hefting the bag up to her
shoulder again, she turned away, beginning to whistle cheerfully.
	Foiled, Heather folded her arms and pouted.  "Rats!"
	Jayne yelped and turned around.  "How did you know?" she wailed.
	Sharon Lee's eyes bulged.  "You mean she was right?"
	Jayne nodded and set the bag on the floor.  Unzipping it, she revealed
a cache of critters: stuffed animals, wood carvings, Inuit stone
sculptures, bronze and metal decorations...
	"What on earth are you doing with all this?"  Denese reached down to
pick up a stuffed mouse wearing a purple leather miniskirt and a ring in
her ear, only to have her hand slapped away as Jayne rezipped the bag.
	"It's...kind of...a secret..." she tried lamely.  "Look, I've had a
long trip and I'm tired, and it's late and I wanna go to bed.  So can
the interrogation wait until morning?"
	Heather leaned over and said conspiratorily to Susan, "She's trying to
change the subject."
	Susan whispered back, "Wanna try saying the first thing that comes to
your mind again and find out why?"
	Jayne glared at her fellow addicts and turned away, lugging the bag
behind her.  "They think they're Detectives or something..."
	After she left, Susan stood up, dragging Mids behind her.  "We should
go get our delivery.  Louis?  Can you show us where they left those
boxes?"  Hauling the short man behind them, they headed off to collect
their leather.
	Heather was still staring after Jayne.  "I wonder what she was doing
with all the rats?" she asked, puzzled.
	"I don't know."  Denese shrugged noncomittally.  "Whatever her reasons,
I'm sure they're good ones.  Hey, you wanna go for a session in the
video room?  I'm feeling Pompeiish."
	Standing up, Heather nodded.  "Sure."  She looked at Sharon.  "You
	"Might as well.  I sure don't feel like going to bed yet."  The three
addicts headed off to the electronics room.

	Elsewhere in the Shrine (read: the Lab/Kitchen), Bonnie and Libby were
	"Bigger.  It 'as to be bigger."
	"Oh, so you've seen this before?  What am I saying, of course you
	"An' rounder 'round th'--NO!  Not tha' un'!"
	"I can't believe we're using the Shrine's Lab to do this."
	Caren breezed through the double doors, a towel wrapped around her
head, ready to hunt for some fruit.  She saw the duo huddled over
something on the counter and paused.  "What are you ?"
	The NA Scribe jumped back, a guilty expression on her face.  "Nothing. 
We're not doing anything.  Really.  Ha-ha.  What gave you that idea?" 
Grasping at straws, she pointed at Caren's makeshift turban and asked,
"Why do you have a towel around your head?"
	Caren gave her a funny look and explained, "I just got out of the
Pond."  Craning her neck around she noted that behind Bonnie, on the
counter, were-- "Are those the anatomically-correct chocolate Nunkies
	Before Bonnie could speak, Libby jumped in.  "Naw.  These 'ere is
an'tomi'clly-right Jell-o molds, they is.  Wanna looksie?"  As the
Ratpacker held up one of the molds, Bonnie hid her face in her hands.
	Caren peered closely at the Jell-o mold, then turned her head away
quickly, her nose wrinkled up in disgust.  "Eeww!!"  She said, risking
another glance then looking away.  "Those aren't Nunkies!!! 
	Libby grinned happily.  "I know.  Ain't they perfect lil'
	Bonnie spoke up.  "She made me, I swear.  We did do a Nunkies though,
look!"  She held up a different mold, desperately seeking Caren's face
for forgiveness.
	Caren's eyes roamed over the new mold much more happily, and she noted,
"Julie and Annie would give you grout duty for using the Shrine's
kitchen to make those things for Libby."
	Bonnie's shoulders drooped.  "I know," she said meekly.
	The almost-angst fest was interrupted then as the doors swung open a
second time, admitting Cabon and a small, middle-aged woman.  Seeing the
addicts, Louis froze in his tracks, pasting a "please, do not kill zee
'umble maitre-d'" smile on his face.  "Ah...mademoiselles..."
	Bonnie regained her composure (she had been a little put out at being
called angsty, but she recovered nicely) and furrowed her brow at the
intruders.  "Louis, who is this woman?  She's not a new addict, I
would've met her."
	Louis began stuttering.  "Ah--she is--I mean--"
	The woman smiled graciously and spoke up.  "I'm Louisa Creton," she
spoke with just enough of a Quebecois accent to make the name rhyme with
Cabon, "Louis' girlfriend."
	Caren smiled widely and nudged Cabon in the ribs.  "Way to go, Louis!" 
she whispered.
	Bonnie raised her eyebrows and looked the woman over.  "Oh," she said,
noting how Louisa glanced lovingly at Louis.  "Nice to meet you, Miss
Creton."  She looked the woman over: about mid-forties, light brown
hair, slightly pudgy, with thick, round eyeglasses magnifying her small
brown eyes.  *If it weren't for those glasses,* she thought, *She could
be Louis' feminine reincarnation.*  "You two make a...cute couple."
	"You think so?  How nice of you to say."  Louisa shook hands with the
Scribe, then asked, "And you three are...?"
	"I'm Bonnie, and this is Caren and Libby."  As she made the
introductions, Bonnie couldn't help but notice how Louisa's smile faded
slightly with each handshake.  "Are you here for dinner?  The Peach's
food is...exquisite."
	"Yes, I know.  Actually," Louisa's smile became bright again, "I came
to meet you ladies.  Louis speaks of you often, and finally, I told him
I  make your acquaintences."
	Libby, who had been uncharacteristically silent up to this point, said,
"Aw, Louee-Louee talks 'bout us in 'is real life?  'Oo'd of guessed 'e
'ad un!!"
	Louisa's smile froze, and she chuckled, the sound forced and brittle. 
"It's true: you're just as funny as Louis says you are."  She stopped
laughing and took hold of Cabon's arm.  "Come along, dear, I think we
should head home.  It's late, after all."
	"Of course, mon petite chou!"  Louis grinned over his shoulder at the
addicts as he was pulled out of the kitchen.
	Caren giggled.  "Who'd've guessed  had a girlfriend??"
	"I din't."  Libby grinned mischievously.  "I wonder if they's--"
	"I don't."  Bonnie's brow furrowed.  "She seems nice enough, doesn't
	"That depends."  Caren walked to the refrigerator and looked inside. 
"By our standards or by Louis'?  'Cause I think he sees her as some kind
of goddess."  Taking a pear from the shelf she struck an artistic pose. 
"Louisa Creton, Goddess of his Heart!"
	Bonnie thought this over for a minute and decided she was being far too
cynical about the whole thing.  "I think she's good for him," she
stated.  She blinked and shook her head slightly.  "I think those
chemicals we used to make the molds have mind-altering effects.  I'm
being far too serious."   
End of Part One.  Do you hate me yet???:)


Green-Eyed Monster (02/?)   by Jayne Leitch

	Lacroix noticed the little flashing button on the display beside his
microphone.  Another caller, so late after the show finished? 
How...odd.  Curious, he touched the button, activating the speaker
phone.  "This is the Nightcrawler."
	There was no answer, just the light breathing of the person on the
other end.  Lacroix repeated himself; "This is the Nightcrawler.  May I
inquire as to whom I am speaking?"
	Still nothing.  Lacroix focused his vampiric hearing...it was a woman. 
"Perhaps you don't understand the concept of the telephone, Miss...?"
	A sharp intake of breath, then various noises as the caller hung up. 
Lacroix  raised an eyebrow as the dialtone filled the room, then hung
up.  Interesting.
	Gathering up his coat, Lacroix left the soundbooth.


	Patt groaned as she staggered to her lounger and flopped down on it,
every part of her body complaining--nay, screaming--that she'd done it
this time.  "That is the  I get on that trampoline," she
muttered.  "I didn't even want to get on in the first place, but oh no,
you just  to have a fourth for that stupid game!"
	Cherri, Debbie, and Jesse, the other trampoline enthusiasts, along with
Michele, Melissa, Edna, and Mariah, who had been the spectators, stood
around the hurting Patt, arms crossed, looking totally unsympathetic. 
"'Didn't want to get on in the first place'," Debbie mimicked, then
snorted.  "Right.  I can hear your protests now: 'Sure, sounds like
fun!  How do you play?'  They were awfully  protests, wouldn't
you say?"
	Cherri nodded sarcastically.  "Don't blame us for  slip.  And
who's great idea was it to move the trampoline closer to the wall,
	Patt pushed herself up, then regretted it.  "Hey, that was Jesse. 
Blame her."
	As they stared at her, Jesse gave her compatriots a wide-eyed, (almost)
innocent look.  "Don't look at me like that!  I've  played
Trampoline Leapfrog using the wall!  You get longer jumps if you push
off from a vertical plane!  Everybody knows that."
	Melissa, who had lost three anatomically-correct chocolate Nunkies
betting on Patt jumping the farthest, raised an eyebrow.  "Define
'everybody'," she said menacingly.
	Seeing her expression, Jesse backed away slightly.  "Well...Libby, for
 	 Mariah snorted.  She'd bet on Cherri.  "Oh, that's just great. 
Libby?!?  She's run into the wall so many times trying to do what
'Screedie-poo' does, she's put holes in it!!  She  be a reliable,
 source of trampoline game information!"
	Edna, who had been wondering about those odd impressions in the
plaster, and who had lost some chocolate betting on Debbie, shook her
head.  "That thing should really be outside.  The room it's in is far
too small; if it was outside,  could run into walls.   use
them for illegally boosting your jumping distance."
	Michele, who was quite rich in chocolate, disagreed.  "Where do you
suppose we put the darn thing outside?  The parking lot's always full,
and the Peach doesn't really have a backyard."
	Edna bit her lip.  "How about...the roof?  Lots of space up there..."
	Melissa shook her head.  " a good idea.  Picture this:  Libby, or
anyone else, tries a stunt, misses the trampoline on their way down,
flies over the side of the building, becomes a greasespot on the
sidewalk.  Think of the possibilities."
	Patt muttered into the fabric of the lounger, "Think of the legal
suits."  Groaning again, she rolled herself off of the lounger, landing
in a heap on the floor.
	Concerned, Jesse offered, "Do you want someone to help you get to the
	Patt tried to shake her head, succeeding only in rolling it from side
to side on the carpet.  "No, thanks.  I'll lie here for a little while;
it's good for the back."
	The others, still arguing about legal and illegal jumps in the world of
Trampoline Leapfrog, left the mature addict alone on the floor.
	Once they had left, Patt sighed.  Closing her eyes for a moment, she
tried to ease her back into a more comfortable position, then gave up as
she realized this was as comfortable as it was going to get.  "We need
to add a massage room to the Shrine," she muttered.
	The door creaked open; Patt opened her eyes and tried to see above the
mass of lounger obscuring her vision.  "Hello?"
	There was the pattering of heeled shoes, then Cabon came into view. 
"Mademoiselle Elmore!"  he squeaked.  "What are you doing on zee
	"Resting my bruised and battered body."  Getting an idea, she smiled up
at the maitre d'.  "Would you mind helping me out, Louis?  I need
somebody to fix me."
	Louis' expression turned wary.  "What must be done?" he asked.
	Patt raised her eyebrows hopefully.  "Just help me to the saunas, and
bring the scented oil, would you?  I'm gonna try some hot aroma therapy
until I can get ahold of a chiropractor."
	Cabon breathed a heavy sigh; "fix me" had brought to mind lots of more
"hands on" approaches, things that he'd only heard about and, as of yet,
hadn't dared to suggest to Louisa.  "Give me zee arm," he said, reaching
down and hauling Patt to her feet.  Slinging the addict's arm around his
shoulders, Louis headed for the heavy wooden door leading to the saunas
and showers, plucking a bottle of scented oil from the basket on the
table beside the entry as they passed.
	*Click* *Click* *Click*  The camera shook in the photographer's hands. 
Aiming carefully through the tiny window at the top of the Shrine, the
photographer snapped image after image, until the subjects disappeared
from view.  At that point, the photographer packed up the camera and
hurried down off the roof of the building, cursing all the way.

	Louis rushed back out of the sauna room, replacing the bottle of body
oil he had mistakenly picked up with the mango-scented aromatherapy oil
Patt had originally requested.  He was glad he had caught the mistake;
what would someone think if they saw him and Mademoiselle Elmore
entering the sauna room together with scented rubbing oil?  He shivered
at the thought, then hurried back to give the mature addict her bottle.

	Nick woke up, and regretted it.  He felt awful.
	He reached for the clock on the bedside table, even though he didn't
need it, and glanced at the red numbers in dismay.  "Only three
o'clock," he sighed, and rolled over, trying to bunch the pillow around
his head.  Unfortunately, that only made the sick feeling in his
stomache stronger, so he rolled over carefully to lie on his back again.
	It had to be the new protein shakes Nat had made for him.  She'd handed
him various packets as soon as he'd entered the precinct the night
before, telling him to "use  and a half cups of water to mix these
up, not just  and a half.  Milk would work just as well.  Drink one
as soon as you get home, and one right before you go to bed.  And NO
BLOOD.  These things have everything you need in them; I don't want to
hear that you felt like you were becoming iron deficient, because I
won't buy it."  She'd had a certain compelling tone to her voice, and
so, like the good little atoning vampire he was, Nick had followed her
instructions to the letter.  And now he felt like a brick had taken up
residence just under his ribcage.
	Finally deciding that he wasn't going to get any more sleep, he slowly
got out of bed and made his way to the shower.
	Many minutes later (you all have imaginations; if you wanna see a
shower scene, see it by yourselves), Nick did up the last button on his
shirt and headed down the stairs.  Reaching the fridge, he pulled the
door open and confronted the rows of neatly lined-up bottles...and the
remnants of his before bed shake.  He didn't get a chance to choose
which beverage he'd drink this evening however, because at that moment
the door to the loft opened, and Natalie stepped out of the elevator. 
Nick pulled out the leftover shake and tried to smile.
	"Nick!"  Nat grinned when she saw the shake.  "How are those working
	Nick tried to look at her as he began, "They're...really..."
	Nat's smile faded as Nick struggled to put into words something that
wasn't too insulting.  "Okay, let's try an easier question, and I want
an honest answer.  How do you feel this evening?"
	Nick sighed.  "To tell you the truth Nat, I feel awful.  The shakes
actually don't taste that bad," he lied earnestly, "But after staying in
my stomache for the day, they've...congealed."
	Nat's shoulders drooped a little, but she managed a smile.  "Well,
you've hit the nail on the head with that one.  I rechecked my tests on
this batch, and found that they don't break down as easily as the others
internally.  I'm trying to come up with a new formula."
	Nick had found his ray of hope.  "So...until you fix it...?"
	Nat sighed, irritated.  "Until I fix it you're on a  diet
of the red stuff.  Your daily allowance is on this paper," she handed
him a folded sheet, "And you are  to take more than what I've
prescribed.  If I find out that you've been , I will force
feed you the defective shakes until you explode."  Grinning almost
wickedly, she looked at her watch.  "Oops, I've got to be going.  I'm
due in at the office for the new intern's exposure to the morgue life."
	"Let's hope nobody sits up on the table while he's alone, hmm?" Nick
	"The intern's a she.  But that is a good thing to hope, isn't it," Nat
tapped him lightly on the shoulder as she turned to leave.  "Remember
the restrictions.  I'll see you later."  With that, she headed out into
the sunshine.
	Breathing a sigh of relief, Nick dumped the shake into the sink and
pulled out a bottle.  Uncorking it with his teeth, he debated whether or
not chugging would be bad form.
	Eventually he used a glass.  

	Natalie breezed into the morgue at just past five o'clock, and found an
unfamiliar face at her desk.  "Hi," she said warmly as the intern looked
up from the report she was going over.  "I'm Doctor Lambert.  You must
be the new intern."
	The young lady stood up, extending her hand.  "That's right," she said
in a broad Irish accent, "Niamh McGrogan.  It's very nice to meet you,
Doctor Lambert."
	Surprised, Natalie shook the proffered hand.  "Are you from around
here?" she asked, half-jokingly.
	Niamh smiled and shook her head.  "No, I'm from Belfast.  But you
probably meant where I'm going to school, right?"  When Natalie nodded,
she continued, "I'm going to Queens University on exchange from Ireland,
but I'm taking a medical course through the U of T."  Frowing
concernedly, she asked, "Didn't you get my file?"
	Nat rummaged through the papers on her desk and found the folder buried
underneath a stack of lab reports.  "Yup," she said apologetically, "But
I haven't had a chance to read it yet."
	"I understand how that is," the younger woman sympathized, "Just get
around to it when you can.  I don't mind nosy questions about my life."
	Laughing a little, Natalie shrugged out of her coat and rolled up her
sleeves.  "How long do I have you for?"
	"My shift's from three to eleven.  I'm here for a month."
	"Barely enough time to get started."  Heading over to the sink to wash
up, Natalie began, "I'm sure Doctor Monroe showed you the Ewan case;
let's get started on it..."
End of Part Two


Green-Eyed Monster (3/?)     by Jayne Leitch

	Bonnie poured the last drops of Jell-o mixture into the
brand-spanking new molds.  She had spent a long, sleepless night
perfecting the plastic shapes, and was quite proud of the finished
product.  "Nunkies and sweet food," she said as she dropped the mixing
bowl into the sink.  "A perfect combination for the inducement of
	"What are you talking to yourself about now?"  Charlotte asked as she
pushed through the swinging doors.  "Bonnie, you have to be more
careful.  Talking to yourself is the first sign of insanity."
	Bonnie rolled her eyes.  "I think it's been known for a long time that
I'm a few bricks short of an Other Guy.  You wanna help me carry the
soon-to-be Jell-o Nunkies to the fridge?"
	Curious, Charlotte walked to the counter and peered down at the molds. 
"Oh my.  These are really good--are they more detailed than the
chocolate molds?"  A tiny drop of drool was beginning to form at the
corner of her mouth.
	Pleased, Bonnie smiled widely.  "You noticed!  I spent all night doing
that.  And if you look down there, you'll see where I--"
	"I see, I see..."  Charlotte's eyes had glazed over, and she looked
about ready to drink the Nunkies-shaped liquid right then and there. 
Luckily, (for the rest of the addicts' viewing and dining pleasure) the
moment was interrupted as Bonnie slid the molds out of Charlotte's line
of sight and took them to the fridge.  Charlotte came out of Meltdown
fairly quickly, and pouted.  "You didn't have to do that."
	"Think of it this way."  Taking two more molds and sticking them in the
crisper, Bonnie continued, "They'll be oh-so-much tastier when
they've...'firmed up' a bit."
	"Oooohhhh..."  Now eager to help, Charlotte took the remaining molds
and placed them beside Bonnie's in the fridge, closing the door firmly
when she finished.  "Now what?"
	"Now we wait...is Jell-o making a new thing for you, or what?" 
Bonnie grinned and led the other addict out into the Shrine, where Cabon
was idly dusting the Lucius busts.  "Hey, loverboy.  How's it going with
your dream woman?"  she teased.  Watching Louis turn red, she thought,
*This is  easy.*
	"Ah...'ello.  I was just--"
	"Oh, come now Louis,"  Charlotte said coyly, walking up to the
Frenchman and slowly running a finger along his shoulders.  "You don't
have to explain  to us.   know how things are."  She
smiled demurely.
	Bonnie joined in.  "You  how we feel about you, Louis," she
murmured huskily, standing close beside the maitre d' and placing her
hand on his chest, "Our only question is: how do  feel about ?"
	Charlotte dissolved into giggles and let the poor, tomato-red Louis
go.  "Oh, come on, you didn't think we were !" She giggled
helplessly at the stunned expression on the Frenchman's face.
	"You ?"  Bonnie gave the two a look of mock horror and 
stepped away, grabbing Louis' hand and holding it to her cheek (yes,
!).  "I adore you, Louis!  I cannot live without you!  You are
my life!  Get rid of that tramp Louisa!  You should be with me!!!"

	A hidden mini microphone silently relayed the voices in the Shrine to a
recorder in a room across the street, which copied everything to tape. 
As it had been programmed to do, the microphone cut off at the
twenty-five second mark, and the tape rewound to the beginning, then
spouted out all it had recorded as a long, thin finger hit the "play"
	"Ah...'ello.  I was just--"
	"Oh, come now Louis, you don't have to explain  to us.  
know how things are."
	"You  how we feel about you, Louis.  Our only question is:  how
do  feel about ?"
	"Oh, come on, you didn't think we were !"
	"You ?  I adore you, Louis!  I cannot live without you!  You
are my life!  Get rid of that--"
	The last voice was abruptly cut off as the long, thin finger jabbed at
the "stop" button.  "I don't know about ," the finger's owner
hissed, "But  know  how I feel about you!!"

	Bonnie looked innocently at Charlotte and Louis' stunned expressions. 
"How was that for a neck of the week impression?  Substitute Nicky-poo
for Louis, and...?"
	Silence.  Then, Charlotte began to laugh.  "That..." she gasped between
giggles, "That was !!"  She staggered over to a lounger and sat
down, laughing loudly.
	Bonnie looked to Cabon and winked.  "Well?"
	Cabon's face was gradually fading back to a normal colour.  "Zat
was...very eenteresting."  Thinking over what had been said, he puffed
out his chest (as much as he could) and frowned menacingly (as much as
he could).  "I do not sink you should zay such zings about my Louisa. 
She eez not a 'tramp'!"
	Raising an eyebrow, Bonnie held up her hands.  "Okay, sorry.  I won't
ever ever do it ever again.  I promise," she over-emphasized as Louis
furrowed his brow at her.
	"Zat eez good."  Checking his watch, the maitre d' jumped.  "Oohh,
mademoiselles, I must meet zee delivery men.  Zey have zee new napkins
for zee restaurant!"  Bowing awkwardly, the Frenchman hurried out of the
room, breathing a small sigh of relief.
	Bonnie laughed.  "That was  much fun!"  she told Charlotte, who was
still hyperventilating on the lounger.  "What say we go tell the other
addicts about that?"
	"I say let's go."  Charlotte stood up and the two addicts linked arms
and headed off to find their friends.

Much, Much Later...

	Nick walked into the Raven cautiously.  The blood he had consumed after
Nat had left the loft had helped ease the feeling in his stomach, but
the hardness was still there, and any movement was uncomfortable.
	Heading for the bar, Nick noticed that the stage off to the side of the
club was crowded with people--and vampires--setting up microphones, a
drum set, and a piano.  *New entertainment tonight?* he wondered as he
settled himself on a stool.  *This ought to be good.*
	"Ah, Nicholas."  Nick sighed as Lacroix spoke from behind him. "Come to
enjoy the company...or the drinks?"  The master vampire sat on the stool
next to Nick's, and immediately had a glass placed before him.
	"What about the entertainment?"  Nick asked without turning around. 
"What is it tonight?  Singing strippers?  The 'True Self' Band?"
	Lacroix smiled and sipped at his drink.  "Actually, it's a singer. 
Quite talented, I might add."
	Turning to face the floor, Nick allowed himself a grimace as his
stomach shifted solidly.  "Whoever it is had better be good enough to
play here," he commented, "The crowd's likely to eat them alive if
they're not."  He slid a sidelong glance at his master, adding wryly,
"No pun intended."
	"I didn't think for the slightest moment one was."  Lacroix set his
glass back on the bar and folded his hands.  "Your colour is off this
evening.  Something I should be...concerned about?"
	Nick smiled and faced the elder.  "Nothing you should worry about. 
It's just...something I ate."
	"Drank."  Taking a deep breath, Lacroix softened his tone.  "No
matter.  Tell me, Nicholas, have you ever received what is known as a...
'crank call'?"
	Nick furrowed his brow.  "What do you mean?"
	"Oh," Lacroix waved his hand at the phone on the bar.  "Someone
calling, not saying anything, and hanging up.  I received one this
morning at the radio station."
	"I'm sure it's nothing to worry about."  *It had better not be, because
anything Lacroix can't handle...*
	"I'm sure it was just a wrong number.  I'm not really sure why I
brought it up..."
	"Perhaps."  Lacroix let his gaze roam over the dance floor until-- "Ah,
here she is."
	Nick looked out to where Lacroix had indicated and saw a tall, slim
woman heading their way.  "Who's that?"
	"The entertainment."  As the woman drew up next to him, Lacroix smiled
and took her hand.  "Are you ready, my dear?"
	"As I'll ever be."  She had a pronounced accent, and as she smiled at
Nick, he thought he could detect the smell of...formaldehyde?  "Sorry
I'm late," she continued, "But I just got off work at eleven.  Had to
run back home and freshen up."
	"That's no problem.  I think the crowd is ready for you.  Would you
like to be introduced now, or...?"
	"I'll do it after the first couple o' songs."  With another smile and a
flick of her long, dark hair, she was gone, heading for the stage.
	"She seems nice," Nick said idly.
	"She is, quite.  Will you stay for her performance?"  Lacroix asked,
	Nick glanced at his watch.  "Well...maybe for one song."
	"Good."  With that, Lacroix headed off through the dance floor to the
edge of the stage.
	Frowning, Nick watched him go.  It concerned him to see his master so
interested in a mortal, especially a  mortal.  He'd have to keep
an eye on this "relationship".  Turning his eyes to the woman, who had
now clambered up to the stage and was taking her microphone off of its
stand, he resolved to try to speak with her when he had a chance.
	Up on the stage, the singer turned to the piano and drum players,
instructing them about something, then laughing.  She faced the audience
again and smiled as she received several wolf whistles from the crowd. 
"Thanks," she said into the mike, "But why don't ya hear me sing
 you judge me?"  The drummer chuckled, then beat his drumsticks
together, counting loudly.
	"One, two, one-two-three-four!"
	With a crashing of cymbals and a clamour of chords, the song began...

Ireland, 1827

	Nicholas pushed through the doors of the pub and was struck by the
smoky heat that emanated from within.  Taking a deep breath, he stepped
further into the gloom, his eyes adjusting from the blackness outside to
the dim light from the sparse lamps that were scattered around the
low-ceilinged room.
	As the cool wind blew in with him, Nicholas noticed the more
established patrons look up from their drinks, trying to make out the
identity of the intruder, then ignoring him when they realized it was no
one they knew.  Raising his eyebrows, Nicholas found a table in the
corner, away from the mass of huddled Irishmen in the centre of the
drinking hole.
	A moment later, a slovenly woman weaved her way around the room to his
table.  "What kin I git ya, m'lord?" she asked with mock respect.
	Nicholas weighed his options.  "A pint of your best ale," he answered
eventually, knowing full well he would end up with a mug of watered down
slop, just like the rest of the customers.  *What a wonderful turn of
luck that I don't actually plan to  it,* he thought as the woman
wandered back to the drink table.
	He sat in silence until the woman brought his "ale"; handing over some
coins he inquired, "How far 'til Belfast?"
	The woman's eyes became slits as she pondered the question.  "Not awful
far, m'lord.  It's a wee while up the road--"  She was interrupted by a
string of curses from the front of the room, and she hurried off without
another word.
	Nicholas sat a while longer, pretending to sip at his drink for a time,
then casually ignoring it when he realized no one was watching.  He was
due to meet up with Janette, and possibly Lacroix in Belfast within the
next two days; unfortunately, business in France had taken longer than
expected, and he was running late.  His stopover in the pub was merely
for travel information; he had fed up the road a little ways, and was
glad, for the horse he had attacked had been far more appealing than
anything in this squalid enclosure.
	Another commotion near the front of the room caught his attention. 
Nicholas peered through the smoke and saw that a young woman had emerged
from the store room behind the drink table, and was standing on a wooden
crate, looking out into the musky recesses of the room.  Eventually, the
men closest to her quieted down, and she smiled.  "Good evenin' to you
all," she said, then began to sing.
	It was a simple melody, one that Nicholas had heard often during his
travels in Ireland.  It was also apparently a favourite among the
drinkers.  They started to pound the tables in rhythm and accompany the
girl through some of the more lewd passages.  Despite their noise,
Nicholas listened intently to the song; the woman had a lovely voice,
well-developed in spite of her age, that fitted the weaving notes of the
song quite well.  When she finished, he joined the others in boisterous
clapping and cheering, to which the singer turned a bright shade of red
and curtseyed awkwardly.  As she turned to head back into the store
room, Nicholas caught her eye and smiled.  The woman's eyes danced, and
after a brief returning grin, she disappeared.


	Nick blinked as cheers and applause erupted around him.  On the stage,
Lacroix's singer was grinning at her audience, her first song
completed.  Without waiting for the crowd to quiet down, the drummer
began pounding out a new rhythm.
	Nick smiled as the next song began in earnest.  Lacroix had been
right--this girl, whomever she was, had an amazing voice.  *Too bad I
can't stick around and hear more of it,* he thought ruefully as he
glanced at his watch.  *The captain will  be happy if I'm late.* 
Remembering his concern over Lacroix's attention to the girl, he vowed
to try to find her later--allowing Lacroix to become attached to her was
the last thing anyone needed.  With one last glance at the stage, Nick
left the Raven.
End of Part Three


Green-Eyed Monster (4/?)     by Jayne Leitch

	Jayne was alone in the dorm.
	Quickly and quietly, she checked to make sure that every possible
entrance to the room was clear.  Then she picked up her duffel bag full
of rats and retreated to the corner of the room closest to the
Lab/Kitchen.  A section of pipe jutted out of the wall in that corner,
left naked by inconsiderate builders.  Rummaging around in the bag,
Jayne pulled out a small brass rat, and used the animal's tail to bang
out a complicated beat on the pipe.  After a few moments had gone by,
there came the sound of light scuffling from behind the wall, then an
answering rhythm, carried on the pipe.
	Jayne smiled, and pushed on the end of the pipe.  The tube slid back
into the wall, leaving a wide, gaping hole through which a hand stuck
out, fingers wiggling impatiently.  As quickly as she could, Jayne
hefted the duffel onto the waiting hand, then watched anxiously as the
package went through the hole.  There were more scufflings and scrapings
behind the plaster, then the hand reappeared.  "Thanks, matie," a
muffled voice whispered as Jayne shook the hand firmly.  "We's be seein'
yew later t'night, we will."  The hand disappeared into the hole, and
the pipe was pushed back to its original position.
	Jayne sat back on her haunches, sighing with relief.
	"What are you doing?"
	Jayne jumped and turned around, facing the intruder.  "Oh, Katharine,"
she breathed when she saw who it was.  "I thought you were...never
	Katharine narrowed her eyes.  "What are you doing in the corner?" she
asked again, looking from Jayne to the pipe then back again.  "Was that
you banging on the plumbing?  I was sent to find out what that was."
	Jayne's eyes went wide, then she turned away.  "Uhh...yep, that was
me.  I was...uhr...checking the vibrations, right?  That's what I was
doing.  You know, like a...tuning fork!"  Jayne relaxed, smiling.
	"A tuning fork."  Katharine raised her eyebrows.  "What, are you
singing in here?"
	"Mmm-hmm."  Jayne cleared her throat and demonstrated:  "Ahem.  You are
my Dancing Queen...um...hmm-hmm-hmm, on-ly seventeen!!"  She gave the
other addict a desperate grin.  *Hey,* she thought, *I could've done the
"Look!  A dinosaur!" thing, but that's Bonnie's shtick, and I have 
desire to be wanted for copyright infringement.*  She changed the
subject.  "So, have you met Louis' new girlfriend?"
	Deciding that Jayne was being a little too strange for her, and that
after hearing Jayne's singing voice, the subject was in desperate need
of a change anyway, Katharine let her many,  questions go.  "Yep. 
They sure make a good couple, don't they?  They even have the same
sounding ."
	"And they look almost like twins," Jayne said, carefully stepping away
from the pipe, thus successfully diverting Katharine's attention from
the object of (former) contention.  "Louis has a girlfriend.  Whoda
	"Ehr, mademoiselles..."  It was the unmistakable Call of Cabon.
	"In here, Louis!"  Jayne called.
	Louis rounded the corner and entered the dorm.  "Ehr, I have been told
zat zere is a new shipment of...body wash...in from zee
	"Great!"  Katharine grinned.  "I have been  for a peach bubble
bath, but  used up all the peach soap last time they were in
the Shrine."
	Jayne nudged her fellow addict in the ribs.  "Better not say that too
loudly.  Bonnie's just down the hall."
	"Ah, Mademoiselle Rutledge eez in zee video room," Cabon spoke up
	Grinning wickedly, Katharine said, "I didn't think she could be 
close by...otherwise she would've come running when you started to
butcher ABBA!!!"
	"Hey!" Jayne protested, "I wasn't that bad!  I just forgot the words!"
	"Yeah, whatever."  Snickering lightly, Katharine headed for the door. 
"Where's that shipment, Louis?"
	"Ah, just inside zee loading doors."
	Katharine was gone.  Jayne sighed, then noticed Cabon was still looking
at her expectantly.  "What is it, Louis?"
	The Frenchman smiled shyly and reached into his pocket.  "Mademoiselle
Leitch, zere was also anozzer delivery."
	Jayne's eyes lit up.  "Oooh!" she exclaimed.  "Did they bring my
special order?"
	Cabon nodded.  "Oui."  He pulled the bottle out of his pocket and gave
it to Jayne, who grabbed it eagerly.  "Yes!!  Finally, my--" she looked
at the label, then shrieked, throwing the bottle on the floor. 
"Moisturizing Body Oil in STRAWBERRY FLAVOUR???!!!  Louis, how 
	The maitre d's eyes widened, and he dropped to his hands and knees to
recover the bottle.  "Zat eez not--I did not mean--"
	"!" Jayne hissed the foul word, then started pacing
fitfully.  "Do you  the kind of evil inherent in
those... fruit?  DO YOU??"
	"No!  I mean..." abandoning the lost bottle, Louis plunged deep into
his pockets again, this time pulling out-- "Cranberry Chocolate!! 
Cranberry Chocolate!!"
	Jayne froze in the middle of her tirade.  "Cranberry Chocolate?" she
echoed cautiously, then reached out to take the bottle Louis waved at
her.  Once she saw the label, she breathed a sigh of relief.  "Cranberry
Chocolate-scented Moisturizing Body Oil."  Cradling the precious bottle
in her hands, Jayne scowled at Cabon.  "Don't you  do that to me
	Louis sighed and picked up the Strawberry bottle, then hurriedly shoved
it into his pocket when Jayne glared at him, then it.  When the
offending thing was safely out of sight, she dared a smile.  "So, wanna
go try this stuff out?" she teased, then giggled as the Frenchman's face
turned bright red (again).  "Come on, Louis-the-Man.  At least walk me
to the shower room."  Taking the blushing man by the arm, Jayne steered
him out of the dorm.

	The photographer wiggled back up onto the roof of the Peach.  "How
 she!"  The hand containing the camera shook, threatening to drop
its precious burden to the pavement below.  "She yells at him, then
takes him with her, no doubt planning to use that... he brought
her."  One long, thin finger pushed a button, and the spent film began
to roll up inside the little black box.
	The photographer pulled out a publicity still of the Nightcrawler, with
the words, "To my dearest Heather, may you always dream of men in kilts"
scrawled in one corner.  "Just you wait, Mister Radio Man.  First, I'll
take care of you...then I'll watch them suffer!"

	Nick knocked lightly on the door to the examination room, then pushed
his way inside.  "Nat?  You in here?"
	The coroner looked up from her microscope.  "Why do you even bother to
knock, anyway?"
	Grinning sheepishly, Nick leaned on the counter.  "Old habits die
	"Yes, but how old?"  Natalie shook her head and reached to the packets
that sat beside her microscope on the counter.  "Here.  I did some quick
reworking of one of the old protein formulas.  Take one of these every
morning when you get home; they'll do as a replacement until I get the
new batch fixed."
	Nick tried to keep smiling as he accepted the bags.  "Thanks, Nat." 
	Just then the door swung open, and a young woman barreled in carrying
two huge test tube racks.  "I got the new results, Doctor Lambert," she
said, then trailed off as she saw Nick.  "Well hello," she smiled.
	Natalie, not picking up on the undercurrents, stepped forward.  "Nick,
I'd like you to meet my new intern, Niamh McGrogan.  Niamh, this is
Detective Nick Knight."
	Nick was just a little flummoxed.  " the new intern?"
	Niamh's smile broadened. "What a bird'll try to make a buck, eh?"
	Nat's eyes narrowed.  "You've met.  Mind telling me where?"
	Before Nick could stop her, Niamh said, "Oh, I'm doin' a little singin'
at a nightclub.  Detective Knight here was in the audience last night. 
Maybe you've heard o' the place: it's called the Raven."
	"The Raven?"  Nat shot Nick a sharp look.  "You're singing in the
	"Yeah, after I get off here."  Niamh frowned.  "Is that a problem?  I
didn't think--"
	Nick interrupted her smoothly.  "It's no problem, Miss McGrogan.  It's
nice to finally have a name for you."
	Smiling again, Niamh set her test tubes on the counter.  "Likewise,
Detective."  Turning to Nat, she said, "Grace has the printouts from the
lab work.  I told her we'd be along shortly to take a look at them,
	"Go ahead.  Nick and I have some things to talk about, so tell Grace
I'll be along soon."  
Nat watched her intern leave the room, then pounced on Nick
(figuratively).  "She's singing at the ?  Nick, you  to
stop her."
	Nick crossed his arms.  "I agree, but doing it'll be harder than it
sounds.  She's , Nat.  I only heard one song, but she's ."
	"But...the , Nick!"  Nat's fingers began to play with the corner
of an evidence baggie.  "Does she have  idea what she's gotten
herself into?"
	Shaking his head, Nick replied absently.  "I don't know.  She's there
because of Lacroix, that's all I know."
	It was definitely the wrong thing to say.  "She's there because of
??"  Natalie started pacing.  "I don't like this, Nick.  I
really don't."
	"You think I do?"  Nick reached out and touched Nat's shoulder.  "I'll
do what I can.  That's all I can promise."  Smiling lightly, he turned
to leave.  "I'll see you later, hmm?"
	"Yeah, later."  Nat watched him go, then left to find Grace.
	Louisa Creton was back in the Shrine.
	"What is this, Dating Headquarters?"  Heather whispered to Marie as
they sat on their loungers, watching the happy couple walk past.
	"I don't know," Mids replied, "But as long as she doesn't...figure out
anything she shouldn't, I don't have a problem with it.  It's kinda
sweet, don't you think?"
	Heather raised her eyebrows.  "Mids, 'sweet' is an anatomically-correct
chocolate Nunkies.  Those two are just scary."  She pasted a smile on
her face as Cabon and Louisa came closer.  "You're back!  Louis, are you
taking her to lunch in the Peach?"
	Louis nodded.  "Oui.  But first, I thought we could visit zee ozzer
parts of zee restaurant again."
	Louisa, who had been staring at the purple thong that was gradually
taking shape in Marie's hands, blinked and smiled.  "You have such a
relaxed, welcoming atmosphere here," she complimented.  "I just had to
come back.  You don't mind, do you?"
	Mids shook her head.  "Us?  Mind?  Naw.  Just try not to say anything
that might upset anyone."
	Louisa nodded.  "I'll keep that in mind.  Come along, Louis, they must
have our table ready by now."  She led the maitre d' across the Shrine.
	Heather sighed, then leaned over to open the small drawer under her
lounger.  "I need a pick-me-up," she announced as her hand slid into the
enclosure.  She frowned as her fingers quested along the bottom, then
she leaned over further to try to see inside the drawer.  Finally, she
sat up and wailed, "Who took my personally autographed Nightcrawler
publicity still?"
	Across the room, Louisa Creton smiled.
Would you like to find out what the  words to "Dancing Queen" are,
and have a little fun while you're at it?  Why not visit the "Sing Along
With ABBA" page?  Provided as a helpful service to those just coming off
painkillers.  &&ducking the flying nonsensible shoes&&

End of Part Four


Green-Eyed Monster (05/?)     by Jayne Leitch

	The Raven was packed.  Niamh was on the stage, recreating some
pounding, popular song.  The people in the crowd were transported,
either through the music or whatever drug was currently the most sought
after, to a place where they felt no shame in moving their bodies in
whatever manner they pleased.  The bar was doing a brisk business in
mortal drinks, as well as vampire, and there had been no "incidents" to
spoil the recreational mood.
	It was a good night.
	Lacroix sat in a shadowy corner of the room, watching his discovery
perform.  She had a way of moving on the stage that arrested his
thoughts; she was never still, not even during the most sombre of
pieces.  Her energy never faded--she was always active, and seemed to
never tire.  Lacroix smiled.  "Dance with the devil, my dear, and you
will go far."
	"Feeling introspective this evening?"
	Lacroix's smile hardened slightly as Nicholas stood beside him. 
"Merely appreciating a work of art.  Won't you join me, Nicholas?  She
is quite...captivating."
	Nick frowned.  "Actually, I wanted to talk with you about her."
	"Really?"  *Is poor Nicholas feeling insecure?  I really 
reassure him...*  "What did you want to say?"
	Lacroix watched with amusement as the younger vampire studiously
avoided making eye contact.  "Are you sure it's a good idea for her to
be here?" he asked finally.  "She doesn't know what she's gotten herself
	"Neither do any of the other mortals who come here," Lacroix pointed
out.  "But really, Nicholas, you have no cause for concern.  Unlike
those other mortals,  will be watching out for Miss McGrogan.  The
others will not dare to touch her."
	This was it.  "It's not the others I'm worried about."  Nick finally
met his master's gaze.
	Lacroix straightened his shoulders.  "I see."
	Hurrying on, Nick said, "I'm just concerned that, well...she might get
carried away.  She might get something into her head, and she might not
be able to...control herself."
	*Ah, so that's it.*  "I assure you Nicholas, that should she
become...'carried away', I will act with the utmost decorum and
sensibility.  She is perfectly safe."  Lacroix angled his head as Nick
looked away.  "You don't believe me?"
	"You've lied before."  It was spoken quietly.
	"So I have.  But this time, do I truly have a  to mislead
you?"  Picking up his drink, Lacroix headed across the room to the door
of the office.  Glancing back over his shoulder as he entered, he
noticed Nicholas watching Niamh on stage, finishing her set.  *How
paranoid you are, Nicholas.  How...mistrustful.*  Lacroix shut the door
behind him.

Ireland, 1827

	Lacroix stood on the path outside the pub, looking distastefully at the
squalor surrounding it.  "Whatever it is you brought me here to see had
better be worth it, Nicholas," he warned his son.  "Janette can handle
my business in Belfast for now, but you  how she becomes bored
with those things easily."
	Nicholas pretended to ignore his master, instead walking to the door of
the pub.  "Are you coming in or not?" he asked as impatiently as he
dared.  "She should be performing shortly."
	Lacroix arched an eyebrow.  "She?  You did not tell me there would
be...entertainment."  Suppressing a smile, he strode past Nicholas into
the smoky pub.
	As his eyes adjusted to the light, Lacroix made out the regular
commoners, clustered around their tables; the disheveled matron Nicholas
had told him about; and a young woman, probably the "she" his son had
mentioned.  She was setting up a wooden crate, and as Lacroix watched,
she climbed up on it and cast her gaze over the crowd, waiting.  "This
is it?"  he asked Nicholas, who had come to stand beside him.  "Doesn't
look like much, does it."
	"Wait until she begins to sing."  Nicholas' eyes were firmly riveted to
the girl; Lacroix sighed.  *Another hopeless infatuation,* he
concluded.  *When will he ?*
	As the room became quiet, the girl started to sing, the same song
Nicholas had heard the first time.  As before, the pub regulars cheered
her through some verses, and sang along with others.  Lacroix listened
carefully, and when the song finished, commented, "Her voice is not
without merit, but I still fail to understand why you have fixated upon
her, Nicholas.  She is...average."
	Nicholas looked daggers at his master.  "She has a lovely voice," he
argued, "And with instruction, it could become better than it is."
	"That can be said of many voices, Nicholas."  Lacroix sighed.  "I
suppose you're going to do what you will with her, despite what I have
to say."  When his son merely looked at him, defiance flashing in his
eyes, the older vampire shook his head.  "Why do you bring me into these
matters, Nicholas?"  He expected no answer, and received none.  "Very
well.  You have a room in the inn down the road, do you not?  I shall
retire for the evening.  This excursion has been...tiresome."  Shaking
his head slightly, Lacroix left the pub.  *What will I do with you,
Nicholas?* he pondered.  *What, indeed...*


	Lacroix poured himself a glass of his private stock, then sat down on
the couch in the office.  He knew why Nicholas brought him into those
matters; it was the same reason that he, Lacroix was flaunting Niamh
around his son.  "Somewhere along the way," he mused, "Someone is
looking for someone else's approval."  He took a long drink from the
glass.  *And damned if it's me that's searching.*
	Heather collapsed on the floor beside the Sacred Cold Pond, almost
ready to cry.  "I can't find it !"  She wailed mournfully. 
"It's !!!"
	Laura and Cherri stood above her, looking down sympathetically.  "I'm
sure it's not ," Laura comforted the distraught addict.  "It must
be around here somewhere.  A picture just can't take off on its own."
	"Laura's right."  Cherri knelt down and placed a hand on Heather's
shoulder.  "Come on.  We haven't checked the video room yet, or the
roof.  We'll find it, just be patient."
	Pouting and sniffling, Heather pushed herself up onto her knees.  "You
might be right," she conceded, then continued sharply, "But still, 
didn't put it in either of those places!  Somebody must've gone into my
lounger drawer and  it!"
	The other two addicts were shocked.  "You don't think one of 
would've  something!"  Cherri gasped.  "We addicts just don't
	"Well," Laura amended, "Not unless we really,  have to.  Like,
in a War or something."
	"I .  So it must've been someone who  an addict."  Heather
pondered the possibilities.  "Who isn't an addict that's been in the
Shrine lately?"  Her eyes grew wide.  "Louisa.  Why that sneaky
	"Hold on!"  Laura protested.  "We don't have any !  We haven't
even found the picture yet.  Why don't we look for it a while longer,
then if we  find it, we'll deal with who might've taken it. 
	Heather pouted deeper.  "O-kay," she mumbled, then jumped to her feet. 
"I'm going to check the roof.  Who's coming with me?"
	Cherri volunteered, and Laura headed for the video room.  "And no
getting sidetracked by the videos!"  Heather called after her.  "We meet
you back here in !"
	"Don't you think half an hour's kind of a long time for just the video
room?"  Cherri asked as the two addicts climbed the stairs leading to
the roof.
	Heather glared at her.  "This is my 
Nightcrawler publicity still we're talking about!"  she said.  "If we're
searching only one room for it, I'm gonna make  sure it's a
	They went the rest of the way in silence.  When they reached the roof,
they opened the door carefully, and stepped outside.  It was dark, but a
single buzzing light illuminated the flat expanse well enough for the
	They'd been looking for only a few minutes when Heather exclaimed
happily, "Look!!  Over there!!"  Rushing to where a rectangle of Nunkies
fluttered in the breeze, she picked it up and clutched it to her chest. 
"Here it is!"  She looked down at the still, reading the personalized
autograph:  "To my dearest Heather, may you always dream of men in
	Cherri witnessed the happy reunion, smiling.  "You found it!  But what
was it doing up here?"
	"I don't care!  I have it back!"  Heather had a tiny drop of drool at
the corner of her mouth.  "I'm so happy I could...I could...kiss
	"Really?  Without spinning a bottle first?"  Cherri grinned wickedly.
	"Yes!  Absolutely!"  Being careful not to crinkle her precious picture,
Heather began waltzing around the rooftop, crowing to the skies, "I
could kiss Louis Cabon right now!!!!"
	Cherri grabbed Heather's arm as she twirled past.  "Good for you.  But
I'd try to curb your smooching right now; he  have a girlfriend." 
Looking warily at her fellow addict, Cherri pulled her back to the
stairs.  "Let's get you inside.  If it should happen to get around
Toronto that you'd like to press a wet one on Cabon, I don't want to be
	"For Toronto finding out, or for what I'd do to you for spreading the

	The microphone dutifully recorded the rooftop conversation, passing it
along the wire to the tape machine.  This time, however, there was no
finger to hit the "play" button; instead, the tape kept winding on, and
on, and on.
	The finger's owner was otherwise occupied.

	Despite his name, Renfield Harris was quite a nice man.  He was in that
awkward time of life when he was too old to be officially "cool" by his
teenage son's standards, but too young to be considered hopeless by his
ten year old daughter's, and he knew it.  Unfortunately, he also knew
there was nothing he could  about his current status.
	Renfield was the manager of CERK radio station, 490 on the AM dial:
Toronto's Underground.  He liked his job, despite having to communicate
with the station's owner, which it appeared he was going to have to do
very shortly.  There was something about that man that wasn't right, and
Renfield just couldn't put his finger on what, exactly, it was.
	However, others .  And .  The office had been flooded
lately with calls, letters, e-mails, every form of communication
possible, all complaining about one radio personality: the
Nightcrawler.  In fact, the volume of complaints was such that Renfield
knew he'd have to do something about it soon.
	In other words, Renfield knew without a doubt that within the next few
days, he would quite probably have to fire his boss.
	He'd been putting it off for some time now; the influx of criticism had
begun a few weeks ago, no more than a month at most.  He'd kept telling
himself that if  letter came, or if he got  phone
call,  he'd take it to the man himself.  As time went by, "one
more" turned into "two more", which turned into "it's not that bad,
maybe if I get more than three tomorrow".  Finally, Renfield knew that
he couldn't put it off any longer, so he went back to "one more, then
I'll do it".
	Renfield Harris was about to get .
	"Hello, could I please speak to Mister Harris?"  Louisa Creton spoke
into a little white box she'd attached to the telephone receiver.  She'd
bought the "SuperMatic Vocal Recognition Inhibitor" a month ago from
some spy supply magazine, and so far it had served her well; using the
box, she could make her voice sound like anyone from a small child to a
ninety-year-old.  She could sound like a man or a woman, she could
garble her words, she could secure the phone line--it seemed to Louisa
that there was nothing she couldn't do with her little white box.
	So far, she'd used it countless times to call one number: 555-CERK. 
She'd lodged numerous complaints at the radio station using many
different identities; her favourite, so far, was one Eileen Johnson, a
fifty-five year old mother of three, grandmother of two.  As Eileen, she
had been shocked and angered when she turned on the radio one night when
claimed by insomnia only to hear the psychotic, disturbing tales of the
Nightcrawler.  She couldn't sleep a wink after listening to that
, she just couldn't.  What if one of her grandchildren happened
to tune in at the wrong moment?  The Nightcrawler's kind of broadcast
was apt to incite civil disobedience, it was.  Putting that lunatic on
the air was just  for trouble.
	Louisa had been quite proud of herself for creating Eileen Johnson.
	Anyway, now she was at it again.  This time, the "SuperMatic Vocal
Recognition Inhibitor" was set to make her voice sound like a
thirty-five year old woman, who Louisa decided would be called Anne.  As
she waited to be taken off hold, she pictured "Anne": long, blonde hair,
thin, pretty, curvy, but with a tight-- "Hello?"
	"Oh, hi."  Louisa cleared her throat and hoped the little white box was
doing its job.  "My name is Anne Frontenac.  Are you Mister Harris?"
	"Yes, I'm Renfield Harris.  How can I help you, Ms. Frontenac?" 
Renfield--Louisa had spoken with the man so many times now that she felt
justified in thinking of him by his first name--sounded tired.  Good. 
That meant she was wearing him down.
	"I'm calling about one of your radio hosts--oh drat, I've forgotten
what he calls himself..."
	On the other end of the line, Renfield sighed.  "Let me guess," he said
sadly, "The Nightcrawler."
	"Yes, that's it."  Louisa smiled, catlike.  "The Nightcrawler."
End of Part Five.
Lacroix's rather intelligent past acquaintance is Elizabeth Bowen. 
Although, if you asked her if she had ever met him, she would
undoubtedly deny it.

Disclaimers and stuff in part One.

Green-Eyed Monster (06/?)     by Jayne Leitch

	Denese, Michele, and Edna lounged in the sauna room, sweating in sync. 
Every so often, one of them would reach out lazily to grab a bottle of
water, and take a long, cool drink.
	It was a slow evening.
	After a time, Edna sat up on her wooden bench and sighed.  "This is the
	"You're tellin' me."  Michele rolled her head to the side, trying to
find her water bottle through the mist.  "If life ever gets too busy, we
can just come to the Shrine for some R&R.  It's almost like a luxury
	"It's a good thing the Nunkmommy and High Priestess aren't here to hear
you say that," Denese said idly.  "Sure, they've set the whole place up
to  like that, but they've made it real clear that we do 
have the run of the place."
	"Yeah," Michele agreed, "They do.  And they have the grout duty
assignment ability to prove it."
	Their conversation was interrupted at that moment as there came several
scrabbling and bumping noises from behind the cedar panels that covered
the walls.  "'Ello?" a voice spoke.  "Oo's in th' steamy room out
	Edna giggled.  "Edna and Michele and Denese," she called.  "I didn't
know there were Ratpack tunnels through the saunas." She frowned. 
"Wouldn't that mess up some kind of moisture balance or something?"
	"I dunno what kinda balance yew've got out there," the voice
interjected, "But it's bleedin'  be'ind th' walls, it is!"
	Ever the voice of reason, Denese suggested, "Well, why don't you come
	"I'm tryin' tew, I am!  Somebody's jammy-jammed th' door t' me cubby!"
	Michele stood.  "Where is it?  Maybe we can help."
	The voice instructed, "I's jus' under th' seat facin' the door.  Me
hatch opens out tew th' floor, it does."
	The three addicts got up and went to the seat indicted.  "I see the
outline of the hatch." Michele pointed it out, then jammed her fingers
into the cracks.  "Okay, start pushing!"
	With the Ratpacker pushing from the inside and the addicts pulling from
the out, the hatch to the tunnels gradually became unstuck, and as it
swung open, Libby fell out of the tiny enclosure behind it.  "Thank yew
maties, yer all jems!" she complimented them, then went to unfold
herself.  "Ouchies!!!" she yelped.  "Me back!"
	"What's wrong, Libs?" Denese asked, concerned.  Libby was curled up on
the floor, her arms twisted around to her back.
	"I's bin so cubby'd up fer s'long me back's gived way!" the Ratpacker
whimpered.  "I needs some 'elp uncurlin' meself, I do.  Give an 'and,
	With the addicts' help, Libby was finally able to stand.  "Much nicer,
'tis.  Now, 'f only me Screedie-poo'd come ta work out me kinks..."
	Michele, Denese and Edna wrinkled their noses at the prospect.  "I
don't know about...Screed..." Edna said, "But we can probably find a
masseur who'd come to the Shrine."
	"Yeah," Michele added.  "And if that fails, there's always
	"Ooo," Libby sighed.  "A nice-like rubdown.  Tha'd be top o' the 'eap,
tha' would."  She leaned heavily on Michele and Edna as they helped her
out of the sauna room and into the dorm.
	Leaving the Ratpacker in the capable care of Michele and Edna, Denese
headed out to find a phonebook and the name of an extremely talented
(preferably drop dead gorgeous) masseur.
	As she passed through the Shrine, she noticed Cabon lurking around one
of the tapestries, trying to straighten it without pulling it off the
wall.  "Louis?" she called.
	Cabon whirled around, looking for all the world like a rabbit caught in
the headlights of a lawnmower.  "Oui, Mademoiselle Day?"
	Denese smiled her best "don't be scared, it's just lil' ol' me" smile. 
"Louis, Libby's hurt her back.  She needs someone to bring her some
muscle relaxant and..." looking around the Shrine, she noticed the
freshly refilled basket of oils and cremes, "And some scented oil. 
She's in the dorm."
	"I will bring 'er zee cremes," Louis said.  "What kinds?  Zere is a new
Raspberry-Lime scent..."
	Denese shook her head.  "Something , Louis.  She'd like the
Lavender, I think.  Who knows," she winked as Louis headed for the
basket, "Libby might even let you rub some on the sore parts.  If Louisa
wouldn't mind, that is," she added as Louis (say it with me now!) turned
bright red.  For one parting shot, Denese called over her shoulder as
she left the Shrine, "You  how she feels about you, don't you
	Cabon flushed purple, then grabbed the oils and liniments from the
basket and hurried to the dorms.

	The photographer pulled the earphones off, cursing wildly.  After
replacing the film in the camera, the photographer had donned a
direct-connection headset, which linked the transmissions from the
mini-microphone directly to the speakers in the set.  "They're all
trying to seduce him!  All of them!"  After angrily turning off the
sound in the earphones, the photographer muttered, "Unfortunately, I
can't deal with them all.  I'll have to pick a few, and use them as
examples to the rest."  Nodding, the photographer hissed, "Yes...just a
few.  They'll find out they can't take another woman's man!!"  Having
uttered this curse, the slim person scrambled up onto the roof, and away
into the night.
	Renfield Harris stood nervously in the hall outside the Nightcrawler's
broadcast booth, waiting.  It was just past sunset, and Mister Lacroix
had confirmed over the phone that he would show up shortly, so Renfield
wasn't worried that he'd been stood up.  "I wish I ," he muttered
as he glanced at his watch for the hundredth time.  "The anticipation is
killing me."
	This was it.  Renfield had gotten his "one more", and now he had to
follow through on the promise he'd made to himself to speak with his
boss about the complaints.  He only hoped the man was as reasonable as
he seemed on the phone.
	The manager jumped as his name was called from behind him.  Turning
around quickly, he saw his boss, the Nightcrawler, Lucien Lacroix,
coming out of the shadows towards him.  Renfield was struck again at how
scary the man looked in half light.
	Lacroix, seemingly amused by his subordinate's jumpiness, said the name
again: "Renfield."  His was a voice that fitted the out-of-place name
perfectly; Harris mentally kicked himself for having to fire a voice
like that.  *This is  after all...*
	"Er...hello, Mister Lacroix."  Renfield attempted a smile.  "I'm...glad
you could make it."
	"As am I.  You said you wanted to speak with me about something?" 
Lacroix looked almost patient, looking down on the manager calmly.
	 Renfield took a deep breath.  "About...the Nightcrawler."
	A pause.  Then, "What about him?"
	*Ooohh no, we're talking about him in the third person.  This is 
good.*  "Well sir, you see...there've been some...phone calls."
	Lacroix took this in, then nodded.  "Yes, well, it  a call-in show,
after all."
	Renfield couldn't figure out if the older man was playing dumb or just
trying to make it look that way.  "Of course, but, well, there have also
been some letters."  When Lacroix simply stared at him, Renfield
continued, "Complaints."
	Lacroix smiled.  "I see.  How many?"
	"Lots."  It was out before he could stop himself.  "Er, quite a few." 
It was now or never.  "Actually, enough to take the future of Nightwatch
into serious consideration.  Sir."
	Folding his arms, Lacroix narrowed his eyes slightly and asked, "And
after your 'serious consideration', what have you decided, Renfield?"
	Renfield Harris looked up at the man, straight into his eyes.  If he
was going to do this, he had to do it properly.  *To my son I leave the
car, provided he doesn't drive it until I've completely decomposed, so
that I don't start turning over when I see how badly he makes right
turns...*  "Mister Lacroix, due to enormous public demand, I must take
your show off the air, cancellation effective in three days' time."
	Lacroix was absolutely still.  Renfield found that he couldn't exhale;
couldn't move his eyes from his boss', couldn't faint, couldn't do
anything other than stand there, in the hallway, frozen.
	Finally, after what seemed like two thousand years, Lacroix blinked. 
"Three days?" he asked quietly.  Renfield nodded, slightly, even though
he didn't want to, and his boss sighed.  "Very well.  Thank you for
telling me in person, Renfield."  Reaching out and grasping the
manager's hand, he shook it firmly, then turned away to enter the
	Only after the door closed could Renfield move again.  And he moved
right out of the station.

	Bonnie and Susan sat in deck chairs beside the Sacred Cold Pond, Bonnie
gluing a daisy onto her new pair of non-sensible winter boots, Susan
putting the finishing touches on another purple leather thong.  "Do you
think this looks okay?"  Susan asked, holding up her project
critically.  "I don't think the stitching's tight enough."
	"Try it on and find out," Bonnie suggested evilly.  When Susan raised
her eyebrows, pondering the fashion statement, Bonnie shook her head
emphatically.  "You have to learn how to tell when people are ,
and when they're .  Bad, nasty, horrible things can happen when
folks can't make that distinction."
	Susan was about to make a clever retort when a god dressed in jeans and
a green t-shirt entered the room.  Immediately, drool glands were
activated and meltdowns began, this time of the non-Nunklear type.
	Oblivious to the sudden humidity of the room, the god smiled dazzlingly
at the two addicts and asked, "Where can I find Ms. Libby Singleton?"
	Bonnie's shoulders slumped, and Susan's eyes went back to their normal
size.  "She's in the dorms," Susan sighed, clearly disappointed.  "Take
a left through the door there, and go to the end of the hall."
	Bonnie glared at her fellow addict, then smiled sweetly at the god. 
"Why do you...want her?" she asked innocently.
	The god reached into the pocket of his shirt, pulling out a small
business card.  "Burke Melbourne, massage therapist.  Ms. Singleton hurt
her back...?"
	"Oh, of course."  Satisfied that the god had a reason for being in the
Shrine, and not-so-satisfied that he wouldn't have to be strip searched,
Bonnie waved him towards the dorms.  "I'll take the card, though," she
said, snapping the thin rectangle up before it could disappear into the
pocket again.
	"Oh!  Burke!"  Grinning a devilish grin, Susan catapulted the finished
thong his way.  "See if Libby'll let you model that for her.  You'll get
a bigger tip, I assure you."  Keeping her eyes glued on Burke's
retreating form, she said, "How much do you wanna bet that within five
minutes of that massage, every addict in the building will have him
signed up for a ... consultation?"
	Bonnie's eyes were in the same place.  "Absolutely nothing," she
sighed, "'Cause I'm first in line."

	"Tonight, gentle listeners, the Nightcrawler wishes to speak of
jealousy."  Lacroix's eyes were fixed on a point across the room, just
to the left of the red "ON AIR" sign.  "One of the strongest of human
emotions, it often rules men's hearts masquerading as something more
benign--love, perhaps, or the desire for someone to be happy.  The
desire for , gentle listeners, is where jealousy can
really... you.
	"There is the old adage of 'keeping up with the Jones''," he
continued.  "What motivates this obsession to be just as good as, if not
 than your peers?  Why, jealousy.  You see, my friends, jealousy
really is the most common driving force.  By hiding among the noble
sentiments, by calling itself 'friendly competition', it has wormed its
way into the very core of human existence, much like a worm boring into
an apple.  It is a , gnawing away at the heart, turning it
black and hateful in return.
	"A rather intelligent young lady I once knew said that 'Jealousy is no
more than feeling alone among smiling enemies.'  When is that more true,
gentle listeners, than when the 'smiling enemies' are all the very
product of your jealousy?"  Lacroix sipped from the glass he kept at his
side throughout his broadcasts.  "Where does your life end, and your
jealousy begin?"  Leaning in close to the microphone, he added softly,
"And when do you know which is which?"  

Much Later...	
	Jayne knocked on the door of the dorm.  "Libby?  Are you still in
	"Sure am!" came the reply.  "Come on in, matie!"
	Pushing the door open, Jayne walked into the room, and did a double
take.  "Libs!  Who's this?"
	Libby, who was lying facedown on a makeshift massage table, covered in
big, white, fluffy towels, grinned up at Jayne.  "This 'ere's me rubdown
man, Burke.  Say 'ello, Burke."
	The god giving Libby a therapeutic back massage looked up and smiled
that dazzling smile again.  "Hello."
	"'E's 'elpin' tew fix me back 'til Screedie-poo can finish up th' job,"
the Ratpacker explained.  "So, what can I do fer yew, Jaynie?" she
asked, changing the subject.
	Dragging her eyes away from Burke's massaging muscular form, Jayne
answered, "I was just wondering if the...package...made it."
	"Yep."  Libby nodded awkwardly.  "I's put it in 'is 'ands meself. 
After addin' a coupla prezzies o' me own, o' course."
	Jayne shuddered.  "I just wish it was somebody  who'd had that
idea.  I don't do things for that guy happily.  It's only because it's
	"Shh!" Libby held a finger up to her lips, shushing Jayne wildly.  "Yew
know jus' as well as lil' ol' me does tha' th' walls 'ave ears 'round
	"Yeah, I do."  Jayne grinned.  "Do you think he'll like it?"
	Libby grinned.  "I think 'e'll love it!"
End of Part Six.

"I am increasingly convinced that the 'Church Times' is now edited by
the Devil in person."  Thus spaketh Bishop Gore.  However, this quote
has nothing to do with the rest of the story. 

Disclaimers and stuff in part One.

Green-Eyed Monster (07/16)     by Jayne Leitch

	"This is  not fair."  Pat folded her arms and "hmphed" quietly to
	"What's  not fair?"  Sharon Lee asked, coming to stand beside the
mature addict.
	"?"  Gesturing at the Ratpacker, who had managed to stretch out
her therapeutic massage much longer than was necessary, Patt whined, "I
hurt my back just as much as Libby did, but for some reason, she gets a
studly god giving her massages, while  get a heating pad and a
runny-eyed chiropractor!"
	"You had a chiropractor?"  Sharon furrowed her brow.  "When was he
	"See what I mean?"  Glaring at Burke and the object of his careful
ministrations, Patt continued grumpily, " friendly male guest isn't
even important enough to warrant a mention when he shows up!  This is
	Sharon nodded firmly.  "Absolutely.  You tell 'em, Patt."  With those
words of encouragement, she pushed off through the crowd of addicts that
had gathered in the dorm, trying to get a better glimpse of Burke's
	Patt glared after her.  "Jayne  has some explaining to do,"
she muttered, pushing ahead in Sharon's wake.

	While the addicts were clustered around the godlike masseur, Louisa
Creton was snooping through the Shrine.  "These women are ," she
muttered as she came across some half-finished thongs inside Marie's
lounger drawer.  Shoving the leather underclothes back where she found
them, she stood up and surveyed her surroundings.  Noticing the video
room, she raised her eyebrows in thought.  "Might help me figure out how
I can torture my chosen few," she told herself, and headed for the door.
	Stepping inside, she pulled the door shut behind her, locking it
tightly.  "My my," she said, "Aren't we the neat ones."  Rows of black
video boxes lined the walls, each one carefully labeled in white
calligraphy.  The television was enormous, dwarfing the VCR that was
stowed under it.  The room was set up like a movie theater, with plush
chairs facing the screen, and huge speakers hidden behind tasteful
peach-coloured drapes.
	Louisa scanned the video boxes: "'Be My Valentine'; 'Ashes to Ashes';
'Close Call'..." Looking at the next box, she reached up and pulled it
off the shelf.  "This one looks promising."  Taking "Killer Instinct"
out of the box and pushing it into the VCR, Louisa smiled.  "Right up my
alley."  She settled back in a front row seat to watch.

	An hour later, Louisa stared at the screen, her mouth gaping open.  "I
don't believe it," she whispered.  "I do  believe it!!"  Standing
up and taking the video out of the slot, she shook her head slightly. 
"This puts a  new spin on things," she muttered.  "How am I going
to  a--" Louisa blinked, then straightened her shoulders.  "I can
do it.  I  to do it, for Louis' sake.  I  get him away from
here!"  Louisa shoved the case back into its' spot on the wall, then
hurried to the door.  "A...vampire," she whispered, awed.  Then, slowly,
she began to smile.  "A challenge."  She unlocked the door and left the
Shrine at a run, pausing only at one of the Lucius busts, where she
repeated, "Those women are ."

	Lacroix sat in the soundbooth, his fingers steepled under his chin,
staring at some far-off point on the wall opposite.  He didn't move as
the door opened except to sigh and say, "Nicholas."
	"I was just...in the area," Nick started lamely, then sighed, knowing
it was pointless.  "What's wrong, Lacroix?"
	The older vampire smiled lightly.  "Nothing's 'wrong', Nicholas.  I am
entitled to brood every now and again."
	Nick folded his arms.  "Yes, but you never brood unless something's
happened.  So out with it."
	Lacroix swiveled his chair around until he faced his son.  "You've been
more perceptive than normal lately.  Perhaps something's happened to
	Blowing air out through his teeth, Nick warned, "Lacroix..."
	"I was told earlier that Nightwatch is to be canceled.  The
Nightcrawler, apparently, has been irritating the more sensitive members
of Toronto's census base."
	Nick raised his eyebrows.  "Imagine that."
	"Indeed."  Lacroix stood in one fluid motion, glancing around at his
station.  "I am to sign off permanently in two days' time.  I cannot say
I am...happy to let this persona go."
	"Believe it or not, I understand."  Nick gave his master a quick
smile.  "It was bound to happen sooner or later."  A pause, then, "Tell
me one thing."
	Lacroix held out his hands.  "Anything."
	"You own this station.  Why don't you just override the cancellation? 
A few upstart mortals' opinions have never bothered you before."
	Angling his head to the side, Lacroix answered, "I thought about doing
that, actually.  Making a fuss, and ultimately forcing my way back in." 
He shook his head.  "I decided...to wait.  I have a...feeling...that
this is not what it seems, and, as always, my curiosity is getting the
best of me."
	Nick looked at his master carefully.  *Who are you and what have you
done with Lacroix?*  "This seems...unlike you."
	"Really?"  When Nick nodded hesitantly, Lacroix smiled.  "Everyone is
allowed to change, Nicholas.  Perhaps I'm...mellowing."
	Nick smiled back.  "That seems unlikely," he commented, then turned to
	"Nicholas?"  Lacroix spoke up as Nick got to the door.  "Tell Doctor
Lambert not to worry about her intern.  I'm taking good care of her."
	Lacroix chuckled as Nick fled the room.

	Nick climbed into the Caddy and grasped the steering wheel hard.  "What
is he ?" he asked the world in general.  "He doesn't force an
issue, he takes the passive approach, he seems to be
interested-- interested--in a mortal's ability instead of her
neck--" Nick sighed and turned the key in the ignition.  "I can't keep
	The radio sprang to life, the early,  morning host playing a
mixture of "classic rock" from the 1980's.  Nick listened for a few
moments, then flipped to an actual classical station.  As he pulled out
onto the road, Nick let the familiar strains of Haydn wash over him, the
simple melody lulling him, taking him back...

Ireland, 1827

	"No, Therese, you must !"  Nicholas sat at the piano,
letting his fingers pick out a quick tune while he looked at his singer.
	Therese, the young lady from the pub, sighed heavily.  "You dinna tell
me learnin' ta sing'd be so difficult, Mister Nicholas!" she protested. 
"You said I'd have !"
	*That was before I knew how little you cared about proper techniques,*
the vampire thought, frustrated.  "We're almost finished this lesson,
Therese," he told her as calmly as he could.  "I also said that you have
.  But you can't go anywhere with it unless you learn to
develop it, and use your voice properly!"  Adjusting his seat, Nicholas
instructed, "Now calm down, and straighten your back.  Remember what I
told you about breathing, and we'll start at the beginning."  Nodding
briskly, Nicholas flipped to the beginning of the music, and began to
	Therese heaved a great sigh and looked pointedly at her copy of the
score.  When the intro was complete, she took a deep breath, opened her
mouth, and--
	"Your , Therese, don't move your  when you
	The Irish woman closed her mouth and glared at her instructor.  "I was
doin' just fine with my singin' 'til you showed up!" she cried.  "You're
bein' too damn picky!"
	Nicholas stood up, trying not to let his anger--or anything
else--show.  "When I offered to bring you to Belfast for tutoring," he
reminded her in a slow, even voice, "You were excited about the idea. 
You  you would try your hardest.  What happened?"
	"I  try."  Therese folded her arms and sulked.  "For the first two
weeks I , as 'ard as I could.  But then you started reigning lord
an' master above me, an' it weren't amusin' no more."  Bowing her head,
the girl muttered, "You said I could stop whenever I wanted to.  I want
to stop now, an' go home."
	Nicholas stared at her, too surprised to say anything for a few
moments.  When he got his voice back he asked quietly, "Are you sure?"
	Therese nodded without hesitation.  "I am grateful, though," she
assured him sullenly.  "You're a real nice person for helpin' me this
	Nicholas nodded.  "All right.  I'll have you on a stage back home
tomorrow."  He watched as she gathered up her music and hurried out of
the room.
	"She has such an...Irish temper, doesn't she?"
	"Please, Lacroix..."  Nicholas sat down on the piano bench again, his
back to his master.
	Lacroix stepped out of the shadows and looked at his son.  "She 
have potential, Nicholas.  You saw that clearly.  What you did 
see," he sat down beside Nicholas on the bench, "Was her devotion to her
life as it was.  Some people, no matter what their gifts, are unable to
see what their lives  be like, if they gave themselves a chance."
	Nicholas hated to admit that Lacroix was right, but this time he knew
he was.  So he didn't say anything.
	Eventually, Lacroix stood.  "You would do well to learn that you cannot
change everyone.  Especially if they're happy where they are."  With
that, he left the same way Therese had, leaving Nicholas alone with the


	Nick swerved into the garage at the loft and turned off the radio.  *I
always hated it when he was right.*  But that time, he had been. 
Sighing, Nick got out of the Caddy and headed for the stairs.  *I wish
he was half as direct telling me about this cancellation as he was then,
telling me I'd screwed up.  He sounded like he knew something about the
	Suddenly, he remembered Lacroix mentioning "crank calls" at CERK.  Nick
thought for a minute, then smiled wryly.  "He's trying to catch his
caller," Nick said quietly.  "The sly little..."  Shaking his head
slightly, Nick continued up to the loft.
	Charlotte, Melissa, and Katharine lay in a heap on the trampoline. 
"Anybody want to tell me why we decided to move this thing closer to the
wall in the first place?" Charlotte asked breathlessly.
	"Because you get better jumps that way." Melissa answered.  She was
lying facedown on the elastic, so it actually sounded more like,
	Katharine pushed herself up, wincing.  "You also get bigger bruises. 
We're not all invincible, you know."
	"I know, I know..." Melissa whined, rolling off the side of the spongy
mattress.  She landed with a *thunk* on the floor.
	Charlotte followed suit, but managed to control her landing.  "Let's go
to the Kitchen--"
	"Lab." Melissa and Katharine corrected her at the same time.
	Glaring halfheartedly, Charlotte continued, "--And get some ice.  We'll
try to find Libby, too; she might still have Burke's business card."
	The other two nodded and mumbled agreements, and the trio staggered off
to the Lab/Kitchen.  When they reached their destination, Charlotte
began to hunt through the freezer, Melissa began to hunt through the
refrigerator (a little decadent food always helps heal sore bodies), and
Katharine turned on the radio.
	"Good afternoon, this is the hourly news for CERK 490.  Our top
	The girls half-listened to the reports of crimes, weather, and sports;
	"--The strike by all public transportation systems is not expected to
end soon.  In other news, controversial radio call-in host the
Nightcrawler, who broadcasts on this station at..."
	"Turn it up!" Charlotte cried, diving for the volume control.
	"...Has been cancelled due to public demand.  Nightwatch has been on
the air for four years, and will be missed by some, if not all of
Toronto's night listeners.  Now to Karen for traffic reports..."
	The addicts were frozen.  They stared at the radio in shock, not daring
to believe what they'd just heard.
	 Melissa got her voice back first and said faintly,
	"It  be," Katharine protested uncertainly.  "It ...is
	Charlotte looked at the radio, then at Katharine, then at Melissa. 
Then she opened her mouth and yelled loudly enough to shake the
foundation, "HELP!!!!!!!!!!" 

	Nat entered the morgue and smiled at Niamh, who was organizing some of
the more recent charts.  "How are you tonight?"
	Niamh smiled back.  "Just fine, thank you.  There's gonna be a big
crowd at the Raven tonight, and I get ten percent of the door.  I
couldn't be happier!"  Not noticing as Nat's expression soured, she
continued, "You should drop by tonight, if you're not too busy.  I could
introduce you to the owner; he's responsible for gettin' me up on stage
in the first place.  I think you'd like him."
	Nat took a deep breath.  "Actually, we've already met.  He's
a--friend--of Detective Knight's."
	"Right, they seemed to know each other."  Closing the filing cabinet,
Niamh pretended to inspect her fingernails as she asked, "So, what d'you
think of him?"
	"Lacroix?"  Narrowing her eyes, Nat watched Niamh's reaction carefully
as she answered, "Well...he's certainly a very... man..."
	"He is, isn't he?"  Finally noticing Nat's frown, the intern folded her
arms.  "What, you don't like him?"
	"He's really very nice."  Niamh got a little smile on her face as she
gazed at a spot just to the right of Nat's head.  "He's generous,
strong...kind of fatherly, but not really.  You don't see it when you
first meet him; it develops as you get to know him better."
	*Oh ...*  "Um, how did you meet him, anyway?"  Nat pretended to be
curious while mentally turning on the flashing WARNING sign.
	"I was doing a gig at a pub in Kingston, before I came to Toronto to
start the intern program.  Lucien was visiting, he heard me sing, and
the rest is history."
	Nat upgraded her WARNING to LEVEL ONE BIOHAZARD.  *Lucien?*  "And...how
well do you know him?"  Inwardly she cringed, expecting the answer.
	Niamh's smile hardened and became somewhat naughty.  "Not as well as
I'd like to!"
	Nat's eyes bulged, and she gave a strangled little laugh. 
	"You have to admit," Niamh picked up a file needing to be taken to the
lab and headed for the door.  "He does have one  of a sexy
voice!"  Laughing heartily, she left the morgue.
	Natalie staggered to her desk and sat down heavily.  *Mission Control,
we have a  problem...*  Swallowing hard, she picked up the phone
and began punching in Nick's number.
End of Part Seven.

"This is the Canadian Broadcorping Castration."  Yup.  A radio announcer
on the CBC actually said this when radio was direct to air and nothing
could be done about it.  Good thing Lacroix's so sure-mouthed...

Disclaimers in Part One.

Green-Eyed Monster  (08/?)     by Jayne Leitch

Louisa double-checked her inventory list, comparing the items on paper
to those scattered over the floor of her living room.  Every so often,
she would sing along with the recording of Wagner's 'Tristan and
Isolde', which was playing softly in the background.

"Hair-trigger crossbow...check.  Roughly sanded crossbow bolts...check.
Religious pendants...check.  Garlic; cloves...check.  Garlic;
chopped...check.  Garlic; powdered...check."  She breezed through the
rest of her garlic supplies, then started filling vials and squirt guns
with holy water she'd pilfered from the church down the street.  "This
is going to be easier than I thought," she murmured, testing the spray
distance of a small, red water gun.  "It might almost be laughable!"
She piled up her weapons, then asked herself, "Now... to
strike..."  She glanced at the small article she'd cut out of the paper
announcing the disappearance of the Nightcrawler from Toronto's
airwaves.  She smiled.  "After his final broadcast would be fitting, I
think.  Easier to catch him off-guard where he feels safe."  Satisfied
with this plan, she picked up her list again.  "Then Louis won't have to
wait on those hussies, and I can have him all to myself..."

As Louisa went through her provisions once more, the opera swelled in
the background.

"Two nights to go, gentle listeners.  Two nights, one broadcast after
this one.  Then, I will be gone."

Lacroix leaned back in his chair, steepling his fingers under his chin.
He was confident that he had plenty of listeners for this, his second
last broadcast, and he wanted to make the most of his audience.  "I put
this question out to you, my friends; my...enemies.  Those of you that
want the Nightcrawler to stay, and those that want me to go.  All may

"What is your biggest fear?"  He paused, smiling.  "What monster lies in
wait under your bed each evening, ready to pull you under if you let
it?  What creature hides in the shadows for you,  for you, and
only you?  The bills?  The mortgage on your house?  Modern society?  Or
is it something more sinister, something more...insidious.  I am
reminded of our topic last evening, gentle listeners.  Jealousy.  Is it
the reason for your fear?   it your fear?  I would understand if it
was.  It is often the root of  fears."  Lacroix leaned in again,
until his lips brushed the microphone as he spoke.  "Jealousy, gentle
listeners, is the worst kind of fear.  By far the most insidious.  It
can take hold anywhere, be it your head, your wallet...your heart."
Lacroix laughed then, a soft, dry laugh.

"Jealousy is the worst monster of all.  The Green-Eyed Monster...and
it's under  of your beds."

"Can somebody explain  is going on here?!?!"  Bonnie bellowed as
she entered the Lab/Kitchen and ran right into a mob of addicts.

Zebella turned around and looked at the Scribe with big,  eyes.
"Katharine and Melissa and Charlotte," she said disjointedly.
"Radio--news report--Nightwatch--gone!"

Bonnie furrowed her brow and appeared to be deep in thought.
"Hmm...Katharine, Melissa, and Charlotte turned on the radio, heard a
news report, then a clip of Nightwatch, and passed out in Nunklear
Meltdown?" she guessed, raising an eyebrow.  "That's hardly cause for a

"No!"  Zebella sighed, then pointed at Laura, who was near the front of
the group. Miraculously regaining her powers of forming coherent
sentences, she said,  "She knows more about this than I do; she heard
Katharine yell first.  Talk to her."

Bonnie shrugged and made a bee-line for Laura.  "What's up?" she asked
when she reached the other addict.

"Oh, Bonnie!  It's awful!"  Laura gasped.  "Katharine and--"

"Yes, yes, I know who heard the radio, just tell me  it was they
heard!" Bonnie demanded.

"Fine."  Looking slightly miffed, Laura continued, "There was a news
report on CERK that said that Nightwatch has been canceled.  Katharine
freaked, and now everybody's hearing God knows what through the

Bonnie had tuned out after "Nightwatch has been canceled."  She shook
her head and blinked.    "That couldn't have been a 
news report," she said hopefully.  "It must be someone's idea of a sick,
cruel, nasty joke!!"

Laura shook her head.  "That's kind of farfetched, don't you think?  Our
biggest problem is what we're going to  about it, right?  ?"
she added when Bonnie seemed about to spiral into denial again.

"I suppose."  Pushing her way to the front of the mob, the Scribe
clambered up onto a table and yelled, "HEY!!  EVERYBODY QUIET!!!"

The room became deathly silent.  (Not because of the demand to do so,
but because everyone was shocked that such a small person could make
such a big noise.)

"That's better,"  Bonnie said, then held out her hands.  "So, Nightwatch
has been...canceled." She waited for the various shriekers and fainters
to do their thing, then continued, "Now, what are we going to do about

Silence.  Again.  "Anybody?"

Laura bravely put up her hand.  "Um, we could write letters," she
volunteered.  When there was no response to this, she continued, "If we
show the station that Nightwatch is  popular, we might be able
to bring it back."

"A letter writing campaign?"  Jesse said, pondering the idea.  "That's
so crazy, it just might work..."

"Hang on!"  Bonnie interrupted from atop her table.  "Those take a
 time to have any effect!  I want my Nightcrawler back !"

"I can see her point," Debbie admitted.  " don't want to go for weeks
without hearing Nunkies' velvet tones over the airwaves!"

There was murmured consent among the other addicts.  "Hmph," Laura
snorted quietly, "Let's see you do any better."

Cherri tried, "An organized march!  We'd call it 'Take Back the

"Haven't you heard?"  Jayne poured cold water all over that plan.  "This
is the nineties.  Organized protests don't work any more.  Don't you pay
attention to the public transportation strike reports?"

"Yeah," Bonnie sulked.  "That darn thing's been going on for two weeks.
I wish they'd start running cabs again, at least."  She sighed

"Shucks."  Cherri snapped her fingers.  "If only this were the

There was extreme quiet and the light scent of burning rubber as the
addicts thought hard over their next possible move.  Then, Bonnie
brightened.  "I've got it!"

"What have you got?"  This was from Patt, who had just entered the
fray.  "I just heard.  What are we gonna do about this?"

"That's what I've got.  A Plan," Bonnie informed the mature addict.
"We'll go talk to Lacroix!"

Several of the gathered addicts began to drool at the thought of seeing
their esteemed Roman face to face, and many began to demand, "Who?  Who
goes to talk to Lacroix?"

"Well, I do."  Bonnie squinted at the others, as if daring them to say
anything different.

"Yeah, but there's  you're going by yourself," Jayne decided.
"Therefore, as author of this tale and ultimate decider of big, tough
decisions, I shall accompany you."  Jayne quickly reached for her laptop
and deleted any space wasting protests.  "We're agreed, then."

"Are you sure two's enough?"  Patt squinted at the laptop, as if worried
her words might disappear at any moment.  "Three would probably be

"I vol-un-teer, maties!"  Libby squealed happily.  "I'll go with yew tew
meet tha' La-Crow.  I's im-per-vee-us, I am."

The roomful of addicts glared at the Ratpacker.  (Especially Patt.  She
had felt sure someone would let her go.  "What is  this story?"
Again glaring suspiciously at the laptop, she muttered, "It's like I
don't get to do  fun this time.")

"Is everybody agreed?"  Bonnie asked.  When she was met with stony faces
and even more silence, she chuckled nervously.  "Okay then!  Libs?
Jayne?  Let's...uh...go."

The three left through the back way.

Nick walked into the Raven and could barely get past the front door.
The place was packed to capacity, vampires and mortals alike thrashing
across the dance floor or gathering in little groups at the bar.
Niamh's stage was set up, but it was empty; Nick glanced around and
finally found the singer, crouched in a booth near the door to the

Walking across the room towards her, Nick picked up snippets of
conversation from each group he passed.  The overwhelming theme seemed
to be the Nightcrawler.  *They've heard.  Great.*

When he reached Niamh's booth, he leaned on the table and asked, "Why
aren't you singing yet?"

She looked up at him and smiled.  "Nobody seemed interested in hearing
me tonight.  Did you hear about Nightwatch?"

"Yeah."  Sliding into the seat opposite her, Nick returned the smile,
intentionally creating the one that made Nat blush whenever he used it
around her.  "I wouldn't worry about it, though.  Lacroix seems okay
with it."

"I haven't seen him yet tonight."  Niamh glanced around the room,
furrowing her brow.  "I'm not sure he's even here yet.  Normally he
comes right over to talk when he comes in."

Nick's smile froze a little.  "Well, I'm sure nothing's wrong.  He can
take care of himself."  Niamh nodded distractedly, and Nick took a deep
breath.  "Listen, I wanted to talk with you about him..."

This got her attention.  "About Lucien?  Why?"

 "She called him !"  Nat had said when she phoned.  "Well...I've
known him a very long time," he started carefully, "And he's...uhm..."

Niamh peered at him curiously.  "Just what are you tryin' to say,

"Call me Nick."  It was the best he could do.

"Okay, , what are you tryin' to say?"  The singer's mouth was
beginning to quirk up at the ends.

Nick sighed.  "I don't want to tell you how to run your life--I don't
even know you that well--but, Lacroix is--"

"Kind?  Generous?  Sexy?"  Niamh laughed a little at Nick's expression.
"Y'know, I got this speech earlier.  From Doctor Lambert.  She was
tryin' to say the same things I think you are, that he's not really the
man for me.  Correct?"  She arched her eyebrows and angled her head

"I don't think you understand."  Leaning forward, Nick tried another
tactic.  "He's .  You don't know what you're getting into."

Niamh blinked, then answered a little sharply, "I know he's a bit of a
naughty man, but I don't see why I can't find that out for myself.  I
 an adult.  And you're right: you  know me well enough to try
to dictate my life."  She leaned back and gave Nick a cool look.
"Anything else?"

The vampire looked back dejectedly.  *It would be so easy to just look
into her eyes and...*  He knew that he wouldn't even try it.  *Lacroix
would never forgive me.*  "No.  There's nothing else."  *Other than the
fact that he's about two thousand years too old for you.*  He stood up
and nodded at the singer.  "Thanks for your time, Niamh.  See you
later."  When there was no response, he turned around and left the
club.  *Well Nat, I tried...*

Louisa Creton stood outside the CERK building, making rough sketches of
the exterior entrances and exits.  She was dressed entirely in black
save for her glasses, which had a nasty tendency to reflect any and all
light from streetlamps and headlights.  She made a mental note to buy
some disposable contact lenses as soon as she was done here.

She finished a picture of the main entrance and hurried around to the
back of the station, making sure to keep to the shadows.  "Best to be
prepared," she'd told herself before she left her apartment.  She hadn't
bothered to hide her stash of vampire-killing equipment; Louis was the
only other person that had a key to her place, and if tonight was like
any other night, he would be busy at the Peach.  Louisa was sure her
secret was safe.

Finding a good view of the back door, Louisa propped her clipboard up in
front of her and began to draw.  "Tomorrow night," she told herself
quietly.  "Tomorrow night you can fix everything, and you can have

Louisa jumped as she heard voices coming down the alley towards her.
Hurriedly packing up her sketching materials, she ducked down behind
some trash cans and stayed perfectly still.  The voices came closer, and
she dared a glance over the top of the cans.  *I know those voices...*

Jayne, Libby and Bonnie paused at the mouth of the alley that ran behind
the CERK building.  "Did you see something down there?"  Jayne asked,
peering into the dark.  "I thought I saw something flashing."

The other two addicts looked the same way, but nothing moved.  "Yew
must've seen a cat er sumpthin'," Libby said, making a face.  "Jus' a
mean-like lil' meowsin' beast.  They's 'ave eyes tha' glow in th'

"You're probably right."  Jayne acknowledged.

"Let's go!"  Bonnie urged the other two.  "Who cares about alley cats?
We need to catch Nunkies before he leaves for the Raven."

"Okay, fine.  Let's go."  Jayne gave the darkness at the end of the
alley another suspicious glance, then she hurried after the Scribe,
pulling the Ratpacker behind her.

When she was sure they'd gone, Louisa pushed herself up off the ground.
"What are they doing here?" she mused, absently tapping the end of her
pencil against her clipboard.  "No matter.  I should get home--I have a
 of preparing to do."  Sticking her drawings under her arm, Louisa
snuck out of the alley and across the street, then headed for home.  "A
 of preparing..."
End of Part Eight

Green-Eyed Monster (09/?)     by Jayne Leitch

The three addicts stood in the hall outside the Nightcrawler's sound
booth.  Every eye was fixed on the door; it was slightly ajar, and the
normally flashing red "On Air" light over it was eerily dark.

Bonnie finally plucked up enough courage to step forward and rap lightly
on the soundproof material.  "Excuse me?  Lacroix?"

The addicts almost swooned as the vampire's voice wafted out smoothly,
"Come in, my dears."

Glancing wide-eyed at each other, the addicts (including the
not-really-but-keeps-saying-that-she's-immune-to-Nunkies Libby) pushed
the door open and strode in, believing themselves to look quite
dignified.  They each gave Lacroix a blinding smile as they came into
his view, then arranged themselves around the small interior.

"What can I do for you ladies this evening?" the vampire inquired,
leaning back in his chair and arching his eyebrows.

Jayne cleared her throat.  *Many and varied things...*  "Um, we wanted
to...talk with you about something we heard on the radio."

"We heard that you...the Nightcrawler...has been canceled."  Bonnie
aimed for a tone of voice that wasn't too intrusive.  "Is it true?"

Lacroix smiled, causing the women to inwardly uncross their legs and
lick their lips.  "Yes.  It is true.  As of the end of tomorrow's
broadcast, the Nightcrawler will be...finished."

"But ?"  Libby blurted out before she could stop herself.  "Why
d'yew 'ave tew stop?"

The smile slowly vanished, and the vampire turned his chair, replying
coolly, "There has been great public unrest as to the topics discussed
on the show.  The station has been flooded, so I'm told, with
complaints, phone calls, emails, letters...the amount was becoming

"But why listen to them?"  Bonnie pressed.  "You haven't seemed to care
about what other people think before.  Sir," she added quickly.

"Why  I?"  Lacroix stood up and moved to the filing cabinet
in the corner of the booth, and started flipping through CD's.  "I
cannot, unfortunately, simply  everyone in Toronto to think as I
do.  There is the matter of public relations to be dealt with."

The addicts' shoulders slumped.  "So...you're not going to fight it at
all?"  Jayne asked flatly.

Lacroix turned and fixed her with that remarkable blue gaze.  "I will
not fight it."  He gave her the tiniest of smiles, then turned away,
clearly dismissing the women.

Jayne shivered, then followed Bonnie and Libby as they reluctantly left
the sound booth.  *Was that a whammy?  That was...lovely...*

"I can't believe he's not going to do anything!"  Bonnie exclaimed as
the threesome exited the building.  "It's not like him..."

"'Oo's tew say?" Libby looked just as downcast.  "I'd rather not be
ana-lyzin' La-Crow.  'E don't take nice-like tew it."

Bonnie sighed and scraped her feet along the sidewalk.  "We'd better go
tell the other addicts about this."

The three shuffled off into the early morning.

Louisa stuck her key in the lock and jiggled it.  The door never opened
unless you jiggled the key; it gave her no end of grief.  *Well, when
Louis is all mine, I can move into his place and never have to worry
about temperamental locks.*  Comforted by this thought, she gave the key
one last jerk, then pulled the door open.

Louis Cabon stood amid her assorted vampire-killing paraphernalia.  He
looked at her with a hunted expression as she entered the apartment.
"Louisa," he asked in a small voice, "What eez zis?"

"Louis!"  Ignoring his question, she closed the door and went closer to
him.  "What are you doing here?  I thought you had to work."

"Zee mademoiselles did not need me.  What  zis?"  He repeated, a
frightened look coming over his face.

"Louis,"  taking her beloved's hands in her own, Louisa smiled happily
at his wary expression.  "Louis, I'm going to save you from that place.
You won't ever have to work for those women again!  That's what this is


Cabon's eyes were dinner plates.  "What do you mean?"  he asked, his
voice trembling.  "What are you going to do?"

Louisa stepped away so she could better see the look of joy she
expected.  "I'm going to take Lucien Lacroix out of the way!"

Frowning perplexedly, Louis shook his head.  "But you cannot--zee
monsieur eez--"  he broke off and clapped his hands over his mouth.

Louisa looked at him.  "What are you saying, Louis?"  she asked
quietly.  "Did you  that he's a--"

"Yes!  I know!"  Louis burst out.  "But how did you find out?  Zee
monsieur will not be happy if he thinks I told you!"  He started pacing,
casting nervous glances at the supplies at his feet.  "You must promise
zat you will not try zis!"  he muttered worriedly.  "Monsieur Lacroix

Louisa was frozen to the spot.  "You didn't tell me?"  she asked.  "You
didn't tell me!"

Louis wasn't listening.  "I must tell zee mademoiselles.  Zey will know
what to do!  Yes, I must tell zem, and you must come, too..."  He
trailed off as he saw Louisa's face.  "We must hope zey do not fire me.
We must go now--"

"WHAT??"  She couldn't believe it.  "After I've done all this, you don't
want me to FINISH??"  Louis stepped away from the Goddess of his Heart.
She looked dangerous.  "I can't believe you didn't tell me!  You knew
everything, and you didn't tell me!  Do you  pandering to their
tastes?  To those calls for oil rubs and massages?  Did I do all this
for ???  Louis, how could you  this to me?  ME!"  With one
last scream of rage, Louisa picked up a crossbow and swung it with as
much force as her anger would allow.  It arced through the air, metal
gleaming in the light, wood polished to a shine, heading straight for
its target...

The heavy object struck Louis' temple, knocking the spectacles from his
nose.  Without a sound, the humble maitre d' crumpled to the ground, a
small puddle of blood appearing in the middle of the garish bruise that
was already developing above his right eye.

Louisa stared, quivering, at what she'd done.  "My Louis," she said.
"What have I done?"  Dropping the dented crossbow, she fell to her knees
and cradled Cabon's head.  "I'm sorry!  I didn't mean to!  Please
forgive me!"  She felt tears beginning to well up in her eyes, and
blinked them away.  "No," she told herself, "I must be strong.  I
!"  Laying her Louis down flat on the carpet, she stood up and
took a deep breath.  "Nothing can stop me now," she told herself.
"After this, those harlots  pay!"  After another few moments,
Louisa began gathering her things.  "I'll sleep for a while," she told
the carefully arranged Cabon.  "I'll have a nice long sleep, then I'll
take care of my revenge."  She glared at the crossbow.  "It's all
 fault.  All of it!  He's a ; wherever he goes,
disaster follows!"  Casting one last, mournful look at the very still
Louis, she turned and headed for her bedroom.

"I'll make him pay.  I will..."

Patt was sulking in the kitchen, a beer in her hand.  "I mean, can you
believe it?"  she said irritatedly.  "I had the idea.   said there
should be three people go.  Who ends up leaving?  Libby.  !!"

Heather sighed.  She'd been listening to the mournful laments of the
mature addict for quite some time now, and was starting to wish she
hadn't drunk so much coffee earlier.  "Mmm-hmm," she answered
non-committally.  "Isn't life the pits."

"Yeah."  Patt tried to take a long drink from her bottle, only to find
it empty.  "Writers today just don't have respect for their more
experienced peers."  Hauling herself over to the fridge, she sighed.  "I
need another beer."

Heather let her head drop into her arms.  "I just wish they'd get back
and tell us what Lacroix said."

"Your wish is about to come true,"  Jayne announced as she pushed open
the double doors and scuffed her way across the floor to the table.
"We're back."

"Where's everyone else?"  Bonnie asked as she followed suit.  "Everybody
should hear this at once, I think."

"It's a right how-d'ye-dew,"  Libby contributed as she entered.  "Only
without the cheery-like mood."

"Everyone else?"  Patt, who had replenished her beer supply, gestured
wildly at the door leading to the Sacred Cold Pond.  "Everybody else
O.D.'d on BMV and had to jump in the lake."

"Pond."  Heather sighed.  "I wish I'd joined them," she muttered.

"Well then, let's go talk at them."  Bonnie frowned.  "They can't 
be too far gone to hear us."

The addicts trouped out of the Lab/Kitchen, each one looking less than
thrilled with the task ahead of them.

The Sacred Cold Pond was stuffed with addicts.  Half of them were still
fully clothed, but that didn't stop them from dousing each other with
the frigid water.  At great risk to herself, Bonnie stood on the
tastefully decorated diving board and held up her hands for quiet.
Jayne, Libby, Patt, and Heather arranged themselves behind her.

"HEY!!!"  The Scribe yelled shrilly.  The frolicking women shut up.  "I
have bad news."

Hundreds of eyes looked up at her, wide and concerned.  "What is it?"
Someone called.  "It's about Nightwatch, isn't it?"

Nodding, Bonnie bit her lip.  *This is going to be  hard...*
"Ahem," she managed, then stopped.



Still biting her lip, the Scribe put her hands on her hips.  "Do you
want this the nice way or the mean way?"

"NICE, please."   The resounding chant echoed off the waterproof tile.

"Okay."  Clearing her throat again, Bonnie fixed her eyes on a point
across the room, took a deep breath, and began.

"Friends...fake Romans...addicted folks...lend me your ears, and eyes,
and other attention-paying body parts!  I come to put the station
manager down, not to praise him.  The noble CERK newscaster has said
that the Nightcrawler has been canceled; if it's so, it's a really bad
thing, and it's  bad that the station manager allowed it to
happen.  Here, at Lacroix's request--for Lacroix is our Nunkies, and
since he commanded, who am I to say no?--comes me, your NunkNanny, to
tell you what's up, and stuff."

It was at this point that Caren nudged Mids in the ribs.  "What's with
the speech?"  she whispered, just loud enough for the sound to carry.

Marie looked back innocently.  "It's 'Julius Caesar'," she said
lightly.  "Don't you recognize it?"

On her podium, Bonnie glared at the offending addicts, then continued.
"Okay, the mean way it is.  Here's what happened.  When we went to see
Lacroix, he told us that the station's been flooded with...complaints
about Nightwatch.  The news report was right; it's been--canceled."

The room was deathly quiet.  Every addict stared in disbelief at the
Scribe, unwilling to believe their ears.  "You mean...it's gone for
good?"  Mariah asked finally.  "And Lacroix didn't try to fight it?"

Jayne got a funny look on her face and answered, "No.  He won't fight
it."  She shook her head slightly.

The looks of disbelief slowly crumbled.  The assembled addicts were
crestfallen.  Eventually, they began to leave the Pond, heading for
other parts of the Shrine, hoping to forget everything they'd just
heard.  Finally, it was just Bonnie and Jayne left.  Jayne yawned.

"I'm gonna go get some sleep," she told the Scribe wearily.  "Today has
just been too up-and-down for my delicate constitution."

"Okay."  Bonnie watched as the other addict left, then looked down at
her feet.  *The Nightcrawler is gone,* she thought, watching the ripples
in the Pond smooth out.  *Well.  There's nothing else to do.*  Without
bothering to shed her coat, she dove into the freezing water, leaving
her non-sensible boots on the deck.
What is the fate of our beloved Nightcrawler?  What will become of the
tortured romance between Louis and Louisa?  Will the Addicts ever get
over their loss?  Or will Louisa be successful in her attempt to "cut
out the competition" by killing Lacroix?  You'll have to wait to find
out, 'cause I'm not posting any more story parts until after the War.
(Aren't I just Evil Incarnate?)  So until then, have a good battle and
stay tuned--Same Nunkies time, same Nunkies channel...

End of Part Nine


Green-Eyed Monster (10/?)     by Jayne Leitch

Vachon looked up from the magazine he was reading as the door opened and
Screed shambled through it.  "Hey."

"'Ey yerself, Mister 'I gots no money fer yew' Matie."  The carouche
seated himself uneasily on the arm of Vachon's sofa and crossed his
arms.  "Whut'd yew mean by tha' jammy-jam, eh?"

The long-haired vampire set his reading material on the floor and raised
his eyebrows.  "I don't know what you're talking about, Screed," he
answered innocently.

Screed made a loud raspberry sound.  "Yew jus' don' want tew admit
yew've swindled-like yer droog!"  Shaking a dirty finger at the Spaniard
he continued, "I asked yew nice-like if'n yew 'ad sum shiney-pretties
fer goin' tew tha' Swap Meet, I did, an' yew said no!"

Vachon shrugged.  "So?  I didn't.  I was flat broke."  *I'm  a

"Yew canna be as broke'd-up as meself,"  Screed stood up and started
prowling the shadows, more out of instinct than any real desire to eat
something.  "I was goin' tew take me Lil' Squeak fer a ride tew th'
coin-y shops fer sum fun, I was, an' yew dinna give me th' cash fer to
make it worth-while.  So I 'ad tew say we couldn't go 'til later, I
did!"  Huffing indignantly, the bald vampire snapped forward into the
shadows, retrieving a good-sized mouse.

"Okay, so you can still take her another time."  Thinking of the various
bags stuffed into the pulpit and what they contained, Vachon swallowed a
smile.  "Look, I'm sure she understands."

"Oh, yeah, Libs-matie's th' best a' understandin', she is," Screed
agreed.  He held the mouse up to the light and examined it critically.
"I jus' 'ad th' devil of a time explainin' why I 'ad no

Vachon picked up the magazine again.  "I'm sure she's fine with it," he
assured absently.

Screed snorted.  "Wha' ever, matie.  Look, kin I keep this 'un?  She's a
might nice..."

"Take it with my blessing."  Javier watched as his friend left, cradling
his find in the crook of his elbow.  *That...was close.*  Allowing the
smile to show itself, he went back to his reading.

Lacroix sat behind the broadcasting console for what very well could be
the last time.  His eyes roamed over the controls, then settled on the
microphone, and the digital display underneath it.  Twenty minutes.
Twenty minutes until the beginning of the end.

He was strangely sorry.

Not sorry because he would have to leave this entertaining pastime
before he was ready; no, he was sorry that so many people would feel so
strongly about his leaving.  He'd never felt that way before.  It
felt...odd.  Pleasant, but odd.

A new person entered the station.  Lacroix could detect the mortal
heartbeat, throbbing with...what?  Excitement?  Anticipation?  He
couldn't tell.  All he knew was that this was a mortal he would be glad
to see, a mortal who just might be able to listen.  He smiled as she
rounded the corner outside his booth, and rapped hesitantly on the door.

"Come in, Niamh."

The Irish girl entered the room, returning his smile.  "I thought you
could do with some company," she said warmly, coming to stand right in
front of his chair.

Lacroix looked at her, then reached out and took her hand, lifting it to
his lips for a brief kiss on the knuckles.  "Thank you.  Please...have a

Nat entered the loft and found Nick sitting in front of the radio,
flipping through the late-night shows.  "I thought you had CERK

"I do."  Nick hit the preset buttons in order: 490, 490, 490.  "I'm
waiting for it."

"I can see that."  Dropping her coat on the piano bench, Natalie shook
out her hair.  "It is snowing like crazy out there," she said casually,
putting her gloves on top of the coat.  "It almost looks like

"Well then, my present's come really early."  Nick hit the twelfth and
last preset button (490) and turned to face the coroner.  "Tonight
Lacroix goes off the air.  I can't say I'm sorry."

Nat sat down beside him on the couch.  "There's no reason you should
be.  He's tormented you for  with that show.  I'd be dancing La
Cucaracha if I thought it'd be in good taste."  She grinned.  "A-ha!  I
got a smile out of you.  Now tell me I'm wrong."

"You're not wrong,"  Nick replied dutifully, rising from the couch.
"You want some popcorn?"

"Depends."  Leaning forward, Nat gestured at the radio.  "Will you be
listening to Mister Doom, or can we watch a movie?"

Nick's smile froze a little--luckily for him, Nat's pager beeped.  "Hang
on," she said, reaching for the phone.  As she called the office, Nick
sat down again, trying not to listen in.  Eventually she hung up and
stood.  "Well, I guess you can do whatever you like.  Niamh's called in
sick, so I have to be the office bunny this evening."  Picking up her
coat and gloves she sighed.  "I was  to be off-duty

"Lost your faith in the predictability of the job?"  Nick teased.

Natalie paused.  "Naw."  As she headed for the door she called, "That's
the last time you're saved by the bell, Mister!"  With a good-natured
smile tossed over her shoulder, she was gone.

Nick shook his head and flopped back down on the couch.  *Fifteen
minutes.*  As an afterthought, he stood up and went to the fridge,
returning moments later with bottle, glass, and freshly-bitten cork.
"To the Nightcrawler," he saluted, then drank hearty.

"So how are you doing?"  Niamh asked casually, pretending to inspect her

Lacroix smiled.  "Very well."

"You sure?"

"Why shouldn't I be?"  The vampire bit back a chuckle and reached for
his glass.

"Well," Niamh started, folding her hands in her lap, "Your show's ending
tonight.  From what I've heard, you've been doing it for a while.  I
just thought you might be...unhappy."

"Really."  Angling his head a little, he watched her reaction as he
said, "And if I said I was fine?  If I told you losing the show meant
nothing to me?"

The Irish girl's fingers twisted together.  "I'd know you were lyin'."
Leaning forward, she stared intently into his eyes.  "I've been
listenin' the last few nights.  This show means an awful lot to you,
anybody who's ever tuned in can tell.  And  think you're sad to have
to leave it."

Lacroix's smile got bigger.  *She can read what she thinks of me so
well.  Remarkable.*  "I suppose in some way you're probably right," he
told her.

She raised her eyebrows.  "I know I am.  I  am."  Smiling
slightly, she leaned closer and slid her hand onto his knee.  "Is there
anything I can do to help you?"

Lacroix was impressed.  Very few mortals were  this forward with
him.  He lifted her hand and held it in his own as he answered, "Stay
for the broadcast.  We can accompany each other to the Raven

Pleased, Niamh nodded.  "I'd be happy to."  She squeezed his hand, then
leaned back in her chair, smiling.  "You wouldn't happen to have an
extra publicity still, would you?" she asked innocently.  "Those
things'll be collector's items soon."

Allowing a dry chuckle, Lacroix stood up and headed for the filing
cabinet where the stills were kept.  *Perhaps this will be an amusing
evening after all...*

 At precisely five minutes to midnight, the pre-programmed radio
recorder in the video/electronics room came to life.  The ending music
for the pre-Nightcrawler show had just begun; the news would follow
that, then the final broadcast.  All of it would be immortalized on

There were no addicts supervising this procedure, as every one of them
knew it would be far too depressing to hear the live show.  Instead,
they'd carefully set up the recorder and an extra-long tape, and gone to
do other things.  Many of them weren't even in the Shrine, having headed
off to clubs or restaurants or other diversions.  It had been the
general consensus that listening to the show without proper preparation
would be dangerous--some addicts maintained that it could even be
considered anti-Nunklear--so everyone agreed this was the best method,
and left it at that.

There were five addicts left in the Shrine.  They were in .

Louisa Creton lifted up her bag and glanced around her apartment one
last time.  She'd put Louis on the couch, folding his arms over his
chest.  "It's all  fault," she muttered, checking one last time
to make sure she had everything.  "They turned my Louis into their
slave.  They're perfidious little tarts who deserve to be punished!"
Smiling grimly she tucked one last cross into her bag.  "I'll make them
understand that they  steal another woman's man and get away with
it!!!  It  be done!!!"  Slinging the bag over her shoulder and
adjusting her glasses, Louisa blew a kiss to Louis.  "I've done it all
for you, my love.  Forgive me!"

She left her apartment, locking the door behind her.

Five addicts were sprawled on the loungers in the central Shrine,
staring at the ceiling.  Each one had a plate resting on their toga-ed
tummies with a jiggly, bright peach, anatomically-correct, sugarless
Jell-o Nunkies on it.  Every once in a while, there would be
movement, and an anatomically-correct Jell-o Nunkies would become a
little less anatomically-correct.

Jayne finished hers first, sighed, and rolled over onto her stomach.  "I
can't believe they actually  him."

Heather took a bite of leg.  "I didn't think they .  Who is
'they'?  Doesn't Lacroix own the station?"

Bonnie nodded, a puzzled expression on her face.  "He does.  Why did he
let some  fire him?"

Patt sucked up the last of her Jell-o--the buzz-cut--and lay still
for a moment, thinking.  Suddenly she sat up, knocking her plate to the
floor.  "You don't think he's--I mean--he wouldn't be...moving on, would

The other addicts sat up as well, unexpectedly hurled deeper into the
chasm of Nunkies deprived depression.  Bonnie shook her head.
"No...he'd tell us, wouldn't he?  He wouldn't just......"

There was silence for a moment as they contemplated the awfulness of
what Patt had suggested.  Finally Libby, the fifth addict, shook her
head.  "I dunno 'bout yew folksies, but I think there's sumthin' kinda
fishy 'bout this.  La-Crow likes it 'ere!  An 'sides, 'e wouldn't be
movin' on 'less Defec-ta-tive Nicky was.  They's joined at th' neck,
they is."

"So why doesn't he just whammy the... and get the Nightcrawler
back?" Heather asked.

The question went unanswered as the Shrine door swung open.  "Oh
,"  Louisa Creton said as she entered, "It's almost midnight and
the addicts aren't clustered around the radio.  Whatever could be

"Hi, Louisa," Jayne sighed, giving the woman a wan smile.  "Didn't you
hear?  Nightwatch has been--is--"

"Canceled?"  Louisa nodded and grinned smarmily.  "That's because your
precious 'Nightcrawler' is dead."

Patt snorted.  "Right!  Lacroix's much too old and powerful for that!"

"Oh, of course I didn't mean he's dead ," Louisa said airily,
reaching into her coat and pulling out a small, black gun.  "I meant
that after I finish with you tramps, he's next."
End of Part Ten
Note from Jayne:  From this point on, you all get to see just how
wierdly inventive my brain can be.  I have no control...I see things...I
hear voices...  Aw, heck.  It's a writer thing.  I mean, it must

Disclaimers in Part One.

Green-Eyed Monster (11/?)     by Jayne Leitch

The addicts looked at Cabon's gun-toting girlfriend in disbelief.  Libby
sat up indignantly and crossed her arms.  "'Ow dares yew ta call me a
tramp!  I's faithful ta me Screedie-poo, I is!  Tha' Monkies is only fer
playin', 'e is!"

Louisa stamped her feet, irritated.  "I didn't mean that you're
unfaithful to this...Screed.  I'm talking about what you do with my

Slowly, the addicts got to their feet, glancing nervously at each
other.  Heather stepped forward, keeping her eyes on the gun.
"Um...this is some kind of joke, right?  You don't actually mean..."

Louisa's eyes flashed and she waved the gun at the advancing addict.  "I
 joke about Louis!  How  you make light of this,
you...temptress!"  Stepping forward smoothly, Louisa raised the gun and
whacked Heather soundly on the head.  As the addict slumped to the
floor, Cabon's girlfriend smiled and aimed the weapon at the other
addicts, who had stepped forward to help their fallen friend.  "Don't
move," she commanded in no uncertain terms.  "We have some business to
take care of."

"Good evening, gentle listeners.  I am the Nightcrawler, here on CERK
490 AM, Toronto's Underground.  Tonight is my final broadcast, as many
of you know.  Tonight I sign off for good, because there will be no
tomorrow.  Tonight, I will die.  Will you mourn me?  Grieve for me?
 me?  No one has before, you know.  Will you be the first?  Tell
me, gentle listeners.  Tell me how you...."

Patt attempted a game smile and, using her best "I'm not threatening.
You can  me" voice, said, "Louisa, I really don't know what you

"Don't know?!"  Louisa's hand shook.  "Don't ?!!?  He's having an
affair with you and you DON'T KNOW WHAT I MEAN!?!?"

Bonnie scrunched up her nose and stepped away from the mature addict,
looking at her distastefully.  "Eeewwwhhh!" she said, achieving a
passable imitation of a certain blonde.  "Patt, how could you?  That's
just disgusting!"

Patt looked a little green.  "Bons!  I have never, --" she
couldn't continue.  "That's just--" she shuddered, then reached out and
whapped Bonnie's shoulder.  "How could you even  I'd--"

Louisa interrupted them, now gesturing with the gun at Libby and Jayne.
Jayne had been inching slightly closer to one of the Lucius busts,
intending to put the poor gunwoman out of commission with the heavy,
blunt object.  But her visions of glory and Inuit sculpture evaporated
as soon as Louisa spoke.

"And !"  The woman's voice could've frozen Vesuvius.  "Oil rubs
and body wash!  , even!"

Libby looked pale (even though she  been eating properly lately).
Jayne's eyes went really, really big, and the women gaped at each
other.  Libby managed to recover first, and she squeaked, "She thinks--I

Bonnie and Patt, having forgotten their troubles of a moment before,
looked on in horror.  "Not the Sacred Body Wash!" Patt gasped.  "Libby,
say it ain't so!"

"Well o'  it ain't!"  Libby wailed.  "Only me Screedie uses tha'
oil on me!  An' it's fer me back, I swear!"

Jayne was still shocked by the mental picture.  "Actually it's only
 oil, isn't it...?"  She shook herself and glared at Louisa.
"How  you bring the body oils into such slanderous accusations!
That stuff's !!"

"Right!"  Patt squared her shoulders.  "You don't just come running in
here accusing people left and right!  Especially of such...

Bonnie nodded smartly.  "You don't even have any !"

Now Louisa smiled, and it was a terrible, scary smile.  "I don't?"

Jayne gasped.  "She can't.  None of us would--" she made a face, then
soldiered bravely on, "So if we didn't do--the things--shesayswedid,"
she said hurriedly, "She can't  have proof!"

"You're right," the woman admitted, "I don't have anything .
But--"  she fished through her coat pockets, "I do have pictures!  Of
you three," she waved at Jayne, Libby, and Patt, "Taking my Louis into
the shower rooms, or the dorms!  With that body stuff!  And I have tapes
of what you two say to him!  And about him!"  This she aimed at the
wide-eyed Bonnie and unconscious Heather.  "And finally," by the crazed
look in Louisa's eyes, the addicts could tell her rant was almost over,
"I  that Louis comes home sometimes !!!"

"Oh, that."  Bonnie waved dismissively and explained airily, "Louis just
makes that so easy..."

"Not that we ever actually  at him or anything,"  Patt finished
hurriedly, giving the Scribe a look.  "We normally stuff him in a
cupboard or something..."

Louisa screeched, disgusted.  "Is  what you call it!"  She waved
the four conscious women through the Shrine, towards the Lab/Kitchen,
leaving Heather's body sprawled on the floor, staining the plush carpet
with a small puddle of drool (of the non-Nunklear type).

"Why'd you have to talk about the jockeys?"  Patt hissed at Bonnie as
Louisa herded them into the pantry.

Bonnie glared at the other addict.  "Why'd you choose  of all times
to be without a beer bottle?"

"Quiet!"  Louisa barked, waving the gun at her captives.  "You
--and I use the term loosely--are going to stay here while I
deal with the...object of your affections."

"You'll never get away with this!"  Jayne declared dramatically.
"Lacroix will hear you coming a kilometer away!"

"Oh right, the... thing," Louisa said nonchalantly.  The
addicts gasped.  "Yes, of  I know!" the gunwoman exclaimed.
"Some of the things you have in this Shrine don't really  that
fact, you know.  That man would've been awfully hard to kill," she
grinned evilly and produced a chain with a large cross on it, looping it
around her neck casually, "But now that I know what he is, it'll be a
piece of cake!"  Pulling out a coil of rope, she forced the dismayed
addicts into the middle of the room, then stood them back to back in a
circle, binding their wrists and ankles tightly.  When the hem of Patt's
toga got in the way, Louisa sniffed in disgust.  "Not sensible at all,"
she muttered, then smirked and continued, "It's really not a good
fashion statement.  Togas are just  fashionable.  In  time

Bonnie glared.  *She's slandering the togas.  She  be stopped!*

When Louisa was finished she stood back, admiring her work.  "Well
girls, I'd say it's been a pleasure, but the  fun's gonna happen
when the show's over.  So, I'm off.  I'd turn the radio on for you,
but..."  Cackling evilly, Louisa left the addicts alone, slamming the
door of the pantry closed behind her.

"I'll miss you, Nightcrawler."

Lacroix raised his eyebrows and aimed a wry glance at Niamh.  "And why
will you do that, gentle listener?  Am I important to you?  Do I fill
some void in your life?"

The caller was caught off-guard.  "I don't know what you m--"

"To miss something, you must acknowledge its' importance to your life."
The vampire kept his voice steady.  This particular caller had been a
bad choice on the part of his producer.  He was boring.  "How important
is Nightwatch to you?  What empty space does it occupy in your life?"
There was silence on the other end of the line.  "I suggest you think
about these things before you call.  I am not that easily impressed."
Lacroix terminated the call.  "I suppose that we've now reached the
heart of the matter this evening, listeners.  Loss.  Have you ever lost
something important to you?  Your favourite toy?  Your keys?  Your
wallet?  Perhaps the question I should be asking is, Did you ever find
them again?"

Louis Cabon's head hurt.  He opened his eyes--or tried to, anyway.  The
right one was swollen up, and when he reached up to touch it, his
fingers encountered the worst bruise he'd had since banging his head on
the throttle of his plane in the RCAF.  It had been called,
affectionately enough, the French Maid.  (That's the plane, not the

Turning his head a little, he saw that he was in Louisa's apartment, on
her couch.  He sat up slowly, and encountered a wave of dizziness.  He
shut his eyes tightly and concentrated.  *Why am I here?*  He remembered
opening the door...walking in...seeing the stuff littered on the
floor...  "Oh, no!" Louis' voice was raspy, and he cleared his throat.
He opened his eyes again--the floor was bare.  "She eez going to do it!"
he wailed, pushing himself up and staggering to the door.  "I must go to
zee Shrine.  I must stop her!"  Propelling himself drunkenly out the
door, he stumbled down the hall, muttering all the way, "Zee monsieur
will  forgeeve me if she kills 'im!  Never!"

Jayne struggled vainly against the ropes that bound her wrists as behind
and to the sides of her, Bonnie, Patt, and Libby did the same.  "I can't
 that woman!"  She growled.  "How did she  get a gun
licence?  Anyone with two brain cells to rub together can see she's
unstable.  I mean, she actually thought that stuff about us
and...."  The last word stung with loathing.

Suddenly the captive women heard a sound--the creaking of the door to
the kitchen.  They froze.  "You don't think she's come back, do you?"
Bonnie whispered.

"I don't think so," Patt replied.  "The footsteps are too heavy to be
hers.  It sounds more like--" she broke off as the door to the pantry
swung open.  Craning her neck around, she glimpsed their visitor and
groaned.  "Oh, nooooo..."

"What?  Who is it?"  The Scribe tried to twist her head around, as she
was facing the opposite wall and had no view of the door.  "Tell me who
it is!" she whined, her (limited) patience stretched as far as it would
go.  She cringed as their saviour spake:

"Aw come on, .  You can't tell me you weren't expecting me."

As a certain long-haired, slacker vampire swaggered into view, Bonnie
and Patt groaned simultaneously.  "Vachon.  Great to see you again,"
Patt said in a decidedly sarcastic tone.  "Now, be a good little
vampire," Bonnie, Libby, and Jayne all dissolved into snickers, "And
untie us."

Vachon waggled a lazy finger in front of Patt's nose, and the mature
addict had to fight back an impulse to bite it.  "Ah-ah, Third Cousin.
Why should I do that?"

"Be-cauze yer a good matie tew me Screedie-poo, an' yew know tha' e'd be
real 'appy-like tew know yew 'elped out 'is Libs-mate an' 'er droogs?"
Libby offered hopefully.

"And because this whole incident would get that miserable contract out
of the way," Bonnie muttered.

Vachon smiled.  "That's actually a good point.  Congratulations,
Bonnie."  Reaching behind the women's backs, he began to break the
ropes.  As Jayne was freed she jumped forward, then turned around and
stuck her hands on her hips, glaring at the slacker and warning, "Watch
where you put your hands, mister."

Vachon grinned and snapped Libby's bonds.  "Hey, I liked what I saw.
Take it as a compliment."

Jayne snorted and rubbed her wrists.  "Right.  A compliment.  Get real,
slacker."  Shaking her head she muttered, "We have  to strengthen
Shrine security."

As Bonnie was freed she shook out her arms.  "Okay!  Now to CERK!
Hopefully we can beat Louisa--"

"I don't think so," Vachon broke in smoothly.  "None of you ladies are
going anywhere."

Heather woke up suddenly.  "Whaa--ohhh..." she reached up and gingerly
touched the puffy area of skin around her hairline.  "This is  a
happy head," she muttered, somewhat incomprehensibly.  Glancing around
the empty Shrine, she put to words the question that had been scampering
around her brain: "What ??"  Struggling to her feet, she
headed for the Shower Rooms, intending to put something cold and wet on
her forehead.

As she passed the Lab/Kitchen, she had a flash of eating a Jell-o
Nunkies.  She narrowed her eyes.  "Naw..." Shaking her head slightly,
she continued on her way.
End of Part Eleven.

Green-Eyed Monster (12/?)     by Jayne Leitch

Lacroix thumbed the microphone as the music faded away.  "Loss.  The
anguish it brings.  The hour of our parting draws ever closer, gentle
listeners.  The moment when the Nightcrawler will be no longer is almost
upon us.  Very few of you have managed to leave a lasting impression
upon me as to how you will feel when you turn on the radio and I am not
there.  This is a challenge, listeners.  Can you describe what you
feel?"  A light started blinking on his console, and he took a breath.
"We have a caller."  He touched a button lightly.  "Welcome to the
Nightwatch, gentle listener.  How do  feel?"

Bonnie glared at her liberator.  "What do you mean?  We can go where we
want!  This is fanfic!"

"Yeah," Patt chimed in, "We could go to Atlantis, if we wanted to!"

"Ooohhh, Patt, I don't want to go to Atlantis."  Bonnie wrinkled up her
nose.  "It'd be awfully wet down there.  Our togas would be ruined!"

"That's beside the point," Jayne said forcefully.  " writing this
story, and  don't plan to take  to Atlantis.  Now ,"
she faced the slacker and, trying to recreate the looks her mother used
to give her when she took cookies without permission, said pointedly,
" can't we go to CERK?"

Vachon snorted.  "You people have terrible memories!"  he complained,
then hinted, "Remember last time?  To fulfill the terms of the
contract--" he reached into his pocket and whipped out a folded sheet of
paper, unfolded it and read down the list of demands granted him (see
'August Heat' by the inestimable Bons and Patt) "--I saved High
Priestess Red from the clutches of the Evil Frat Boys.  And since 
saved her..."

Suddenly, the women understood.  "Since you saved her, she couldn't help
save Lacroix."  Bonnie's shoulders slumped and she looked balefully at
the smugly smiling slacker.  "I wish I'd never agreed to that thing!"

"Well, yew din't 'ave lots o' choices, me droog," Libby tried to comfort
the distraught Scribe.  "Vachonetti 'ad yew an' Patt by th' ear-'oles,
e' did!"

At this point, Jayne glanced at her watch and jumped.  "I hate to break
up the angst-fest--"

Bonnie straightened up indignantly.  "Jayne!!  That's the  time
you've called me angsty in this story!  Stop it!   do  angst!!!"

Jayne waved her hands impatiently.  "Sorry.  But look at the time!  The
Nightcrawler broadcast's almost over, and we're still stuck here!  This
story needs plot development to get us to CERK, and since I'm the
author,  responsible for developing the development!  So Vachon,
let me see the contract."  When the vampire hesitated, Jayne held out
her hand and snapped her fingers.  "Hurry it up!  You might be immortal,
but some of us  die waiting, you know!"

Vachon frowned and handed the paper reluctantly to the addict.  "If
you're thinking about ripping it up--"

"The thought never crossed my mind,"  Jayne assured absently as she
scanned the contract.  Reaching the signatures at the bottom, she
grinned.  "A-ha!  I knew it!  Okay everybody, let's go to CERK!"

"Now hang on," Vachon objected.  "You wanna explain to us poor,
uninformed readers what you mean?"

Jayne blinked at him innocently.  "You mean you're not reading ahead?"

The Spaniard started, then scowled.  "You're a slick little--"

"Yes, yes, keep it PG, thank you."  Jayne grinned at the other addicts,
then expositioned as if her life depended on it.  "See, when Bonnie and
Patt signed Vachon's contract, they thought they were the only addicts
foolish enough to take on the writing of one of these things.  So, they
only signed for themselves.  Under section 12, subsection 6,  have to work under the terms of the contract.  Anyone
else can write Vachon as they please!"

"Really?"  Patt shook her head in wonder.  "I've really got to read the
fine print more often!"

"Yeah.  Who knew we signed under a 'get someone else to save our butts
by writing tricky, politically-charged passages' stipulation that we
didn't even think up ourselves!"  Bonnie looked very pleased with

"Urr, droogsies?"  Libby looked up from her very bright and shiny
wristwatch concernedly.  "If we's gonna be savin' Nunkies from th'
Nutsie, we's better be 'eadin' off!"

"Absolutely!  Let's go!"  The addicts raced out of the Lab/Kitchen, most
of them making it.  Libby, however, was somewhat forcibly detained by
the pouting slacker.

She glared half-heartedly at him.  "Wha' 'er yew wantin'?"

Vachon leaned close and said quietly, "Well, before I was so rudely
interrupted by this whole saving gig, I wanted to talk with you
about..." he waggled his eyebrows.  " know."

The Ratpacker's eyes widened, and she hurriedly shushed the vampire.
"Ooohhh!"  Sparing a glance at the door to make sure none of the other
addicts were listening, she whispered back, "I'll 'ave a chitty-chat wi'
yew about tha' later, mate.  But right now, I've got a Monkies tew
save!"  Pulling free of the Spaniard's grip, she scurried after the

Vachon looked after her, shaking his furry head and sighing.  "Women."

"This is it, gentle listeners.  The moment of...truth."

Lacroix barely noticed as Niamh stood up and walked over to him, her
footsteps silent on the carpeted floor.  When she put her hand on his
shoulder, however, the heat from it radiated through his entire being,
flaming almost white-hot through his black clothes.  "The evening is
spent, all conversation wasted.  Did any of it matter?  Perhaps.  Will
any of it be remembered?  Not among the living.  I must admit, I do not
sign off gladly.  My time with you has been...intriguing.  But everyone
must deal with loss, even the Nightcrawler...even myself.  I've heard
how you feel.  And I'll tell you how  feel..." Lacroix leaned in
close to the microphone and finished, "...Another time.  Farewell,
gentle listeners...what a 'screaming fine ride' indeed."

Lacroix touched a button, held it down, then released it.  He sighed.
"Well," he said softly, "I guess that's that."

Jennifer Lefler was the producer of Nightwatch.  Well, the 
producer, after this evening.  She was a shortish woman, with long,
reddish hair and a tendency to wear turtleneck shirts.  This trend was
due largely to her employer; just two days after beginning work with the
Nightcrawler, she'd begun to notice how he would sometimes let his gaze
fall to her throat when they were talking.  In some strange way, it had
unnerved her, and she began covering her neck whenever possible: her
hands would gravitate to her neckline every now and again, she would
wear chunky necklaces, she would wear scarves...but the easiest was the
turtleneck, so that's what she used.

Jennifer wasn't a very curious person--her job was to screen callers and
make sure the technical aspects of the show were taken care of.  So when
a young woman came into the station before the final broadcast, Jennifer
wasn't too concerned.  The visitor looked too young to be dangerous, and
besides, Lacroix seemed more than capable of taking care of himself, so
she thought no more about it.  However, when  woman walked past
her booth close to the end of the show, Jennifer decided to find out why
she was there.  She opened the door and called, "Can I help you, ma'am?"

The woman started and turned around.  She carried a large bag, and had
crooked spectacles on her nose.  "I'm just looking for the
Nightcrawler.  He said he'd be down the hall a ways?"

Jennifer nodded smartly.  "Yes, he is.  Would you mind telling me why
you want to see him?"

The woman smiled sheepishly.  "Well, I'm kind of a fan, you see..."

"Okay."  *I ...*  "Just head on down, then.  Don't go in until the
light over the door turns off though, got it?"

The woman nodded and went down the hall.  As Jennifer turned to go back
into her booth, she marveled at how quietly the woman walked.  "You'd
think she was hunting something," the producer said.  She shrugged, and
closed the door.

"Where's Heather?"  Patt asked as the formerly captive addicts dashed
through the Shrine.  "We left her on the floor, didn't we?"

"Maybe Louisa took her," Bonnie suggested, frowning at the idea.  "She
could be in trouble!"

"She was completely out when we left; she wouldn't be up and walking by
herself so soon, I'm sure of it," Jayne said.  "Louisa  have her
at CERK!  We have to go!"

"Tha's wha' I think."  Libby nodded.  "Louisa's not th' kinda folk 'oo'd
leave loose-like ends lyin' all over th' floor!"

"We're agreed that Heather's not here, then?"  When the other three
nodded, Bonnie clapped her hands together.  "Then on to CERK!"  They
raced out the front doors and onto the curb.  Bonnie inhaled deeply,
then bellowed, "TAXI!!!!!!"

Jayne waved her hands around.  "No!  That won't work!  The strike's on!
There  no taxis!!  Or busses!!"

"Okay, so who has a car?"  Patt asked frantically.  "My truck's in the
shop .  Bonnie's car isn't here.  Libby?"

The Ratpacker shook her head.  "Nope.  I take tew th' tunnels, I do."

All eyes fell on Jayne.  "Don't look at me!" she exclaimed, frustrated.
"I took the train!"

"Well then.  We have to run."  Bonnie looked mournfully at her brand-new
non-sensible winter boots.  "And there's all this snow and ice on the

"Can't complain," Jayne said, hitching her toga up above her knees.  "We
have a Love God to save!"  With that, she took off down the street at a
sprint, her Canadian boots giving her excellent traction on the slippery

The others sighed.  "Tally-ho," Libby said, and ran after her.

Patt's shoulders slumped.  "I'm beginning to not like this story."  She
started jogging after them.

Bonnie looked crestfallen.  Hiking up her own toga, she followed for a
few steps--then promptly lost both her boots.  "I can't wait for that
runner's high to kick in," she muttered as she put on the speed, her
stockinged feet sliding over the tightly packed snow.

Louisa crept to the end of the hallway, opposite the door to Lacroix's
sound booth.  Glancing behind her once to make sure that pesky producer
wasn't watching, she set down her bag and slowly unzipped it.  She
winced at the noise.  *At least he's absorbed with his visitor in
there.  Hopefully, he won't notice a little extra sound...*  Fishing
into the depths of her bag, Louisa pulled out a large cross, a length of
rope, and two sturdy hooks attached to small suction cups.  She set the
cross and rope on the floor, then picked up the hooks and stood on her
toes, reaching up as far as she could.  The suction cups met the bottom
of the "On Air" light casing, and Louisa pressed them firmly onto the
metal, holding them for a second, then slowly letting go.  They stuck,
and she smiled.  She then quickly threaded the rope through a ring
attached to the top of the cross, looping it through and tying one end
tightly.  She reached up again, this time with the rope in her hands.
After running the cord through the hooks and tying it off, Louisa tugged
the knots until the cross was raised above the ground, leaving it
dangling at head height in front of the door.

Smiling grimly, Louisa stood back to admire her handiwork.  *Not done
yet...*  She went back into the bag, this time emerging with a flask and
plant mister.  First, she opened the bottle and poured a generous amount
of holy water over the carpet, soaking it through.  Then she sprayed the
doorframe, rope, and cross with the same, until drops of the sanctified
liquid ran down the sides of each.  When she finished, she pulled a
handful of mustard seeds out of her pocket and scattered them liberally
over the floor.  She almost laughed out loud.  *I can't believe I'm
doing this...no matter.  If it will keep him inside until I'm finished
with him, I'll be satisfied.*

With the scattering of the seeds complete, Louisa replaced her bottles
in the bag and headed for the stairs, leaving the dripping cross gently
swaying in the shadows.
End of Part Twelve
"He, in a few minutes, ravished this fair creature, or at least would
have ravished her if she had not, by a timely compliance, prevented
him."  Thus spake Henry Fielding.  Addicts, let your imaginations run

Disclaimer in Part One. (I guess I should also mention that although
it's 30 degrees Celsius while I'm posting this, it was minus 10 when I
wrote it, so...pretend it's still winter, 'k? :)
Green-Eyed Monster (13/?)     by Jayne Leitch

"So?  How  you feel?"

Lacroix started slightly at the soft sound of Niamh's voice.  He hadn't
forgotten she was there, exactly.  He'd just been...thinking about other
things.  He looked up and saw her concerned eyes watching him from a few
steps away.  "How do I feel about what?"

The Irish girl looked away as his eyes bored into hers.  "About the

The vampire smiled lightly.  *The show.*  "Actually, I don't feel much
about the show," he told her smoothly.  "It was just a pastime.=20
Something to occupy my...endless hours, something to divert my attention
for a brief time.  I doubt I shall miss it at all by next evening."

"So you admit that you're missing it now."  Niamh slid a step closer to
him, returning his smile.  "You can be sad, you know.  I saw, tonight,
how much you care about this.  It was kind of...sweet."

Lacroix chuckled dryly.  "Sweet.  My dear, you have  to learn
about emotional attachments."

"So teach me."  It was a challenge.  Niamh had come to stand directly
beside his chair, and she reached up to touch his cheek lightly as she
spoke.  "Teach me all about  attachments, Lucien.  We have
the time."

*All the time in the world.*  Lacroix sat for a moment, watching her.=20
He remembered how wonderfully she had sung when he first saw her; he
remembered how radiant she had been on stage the first night at the
Raven; he remembered Nicholas' concerns about her safety, and his
subsequent assurances that no harm would come to her.  *No harm
whatsoever...*  Slowly he stood up, placing his hand over hers and
planting a light kiss on her fingertips.  She smiled at him and he
stepped closer, letting his arm slide around her waist, pulling her
close.  She wrapped both arms around him and stood on her toes, angling
her head as he cupped her face, allowing him to draw her in until...

A heartbeat.  The click of a weapon.  Lacroix moved to pull away and was
thrown back against the console with the force of the crossbow bolt
slamming into his ribcage, just below the heart.  Another followed, a
little lower, and he slid to the floor, his world a glowing red haze of
pain and anger.  *Damn all distractions.  I should've seen this

The addicts panted to a stop at a red light.  Jayne's arms clamped
around her middle and she bent over, moaning.  "Ooooo...got a cramp.=20
Got a .  Gotta cramp gotta cramp gotta cramp..."

Libby bounced up and down trying to stay warm.  "This is reely quite
in-vee-gratin', Jaynie!" she panted, waving her arms around.  "'Oo knew
lil' ol' me was such th' runnin' type?"

"Jayne hates me."  Patt glared at the bent over author, wheezing under
her breath, "And unless there's some unbelievably built, blond reward
for me at the end of this thing, I think I hate her too!"

Bonnie was hopping up and down, trying to make sure that neither of her
stockinged feet touched the snowy ground for too long.  "My (gasp)
boots!" she moaned.  "I just bought them (wheeze) last week!"

Jayne looked at the Scribe.  "Much as I (pant) admire the fashion
statement (gasp) Bons, you need to buy more (wheeze) secure footwear for
the Toronto stories (cough)!"

Bonnie took a deep breath, ready to make a smart retort.  The light
turned green before she could speak, however, and the four addicts ran
off, or at least jogged as fast as their aches would allow.

Heather left the dorm, having finished her freshening up routine.  "I
wonder where everybody is?" she asked one of the Lucius busts as she
wandered into the Shrine.  "It's  empty in here."

"'Ello?  Eez anybody there?"  Cabon's frantic voice preceded him into
the room, giving the addict enough time to jump away from the door
before it swung in with such force it bounced off the wall.

"Louis?  Where is--" Heather started, then she noticed his face.  "What
happened?" she cried.  "How did you get such a big bruise?  I have one
of those too!"

"Ah!  Mademoiselle Poinsett!"  Poor Louis trembled like a leaf in a wind
tunnel as he faced the addict.  "'Ave you seen Louisa?  Something
terrible will 'appen if we do not find her!"

"What?  Louisa?"  Heather shook her head.  "What are you talking about?=20

The maitre d' spoke almost too quickly for Heather to sort out the
essentials, but with a little probing, she pieced it together.  "So
Louisa came here.  She must've hit me with something, then taken Jayne
and the rest of them!  Louis," she turned to Cabon and grabbed his hand,
"We have to get to CERK.  Do you have a car?"

"Oui!  Come with me!"  Louis turned and pulled Heather toward the
parking lot.  "I 'ope we are not too late!" he worried, his voice

"So do I, Louis."  Heather adjusted her toga so she could run faster.=20
"So do I."

Gasping with pain, Lacroix let himself collapse on the floor, pushing
Niamh away as he fell.  Their kiss had lasted only a second, but when
the bolt struck home, he had bit down hard on her lip, drawing blood.=20
The taste of it filled his mouth and he swallowed hard, feeling his
teeth bud and his eyes burn.

Niamh touched her mouth distractedly, staring down at him in horror.=20
When she took her hand away it was covered in blood, and she looked at
it, then at him.  "Lucien," she gasped, "What--"

The question was cut off as a slim body dropped out of the ceiling,
landing on its feet beside her.  The intruder aimed her crossbow at the
fallen vampire, her finger on the trigger.  "I'm aiming for the heart
this time, .  And I'm a perfect shot," she added, glaring
at Niamh, "So don't try anything."

Lacroix growled, trying to get a firm grasp on the slippery wood jutting
out of his chest.  "I should rip your throat out," he threatened,
glaring at his attacker.

"I'd like to see you try."  The woman reached into the pocket of her
black coat and pulled out a cross.  Holding it firmly in front of
Lacroix's face, she grinned.  "I'm ready for you.  I know what you are
and how to stop you.  And that's just what I'm going to do!"

Niamh stared as the man on the floor writhed at the sight of the holy
object.  "Lucien?" she asked softly, not daring to believe her eyes.=20
"What  you?"

"I'll answer that."  The intruder spoke harshly, not moving her weapon
an inch.  "He's not human, but you can see that.  He's a demon.  The
walking undead sits before you; the being that's afraid of the cross,
can't go out into sunlight, can't eat, doesn't have a pulse.  See his
teeth?  See his ?  He's the  Green-Eyed Monster--he's a

Lacroix winced, unintentionally baring his fangs.  "You listen to the
show," he commented as calmly as he could.  "I'm flattered."

Niamh shook her head.  "Vampires don't exist--" she broke off abruptly
as Lacroix turned his eyes towards her again; they were a bright red.=20
She gasped.  "You're a--"

"He is."  The intruder let a vicious grin spread across her features,
and she added archly, "And  kissed him!"

By this time, Lacroix had regained enough strength to pull himself up
from his huddle on the floor, being sure to keep away from the cross.=20
"Come now, Miss Creton, there's no need to resort to childish taunting.=20
It was, in fact,  who kissed ."

Niamh was looking wildly from one of them to the next.  "You 
her?" she cried.  "How do you know her?"

"I was going to ask the same thing," Louisa added, narrowing her eyes.

Lacroix smiled through the blood-sweat that glistened on his face.  "I
am the Nightcrawler, gentle listeners.  I know...."

"One (gasp) more (pant) block (wheeze)!"

Bonnie stumbled around the corner and lost her footing.  The smooth
yellow fabric of her toga slid her across the icy ground, and she wailed
like a kiddie on a roller coaster who ate too much cotton candy.  The
sound came to an abrupt halt, however, when she did the same thing
against a brick wall.

"Bonnie!"  Patt skidded around the corner and dropped to her knees,
looking the fallen addict over anxiously.  "She's unconscious!"

Libby and Jayne puffed to a stop around the other two.  "Check her
pulse!" Jayne suggested wildly, pushing an errant frizz off her face.

"Why would I do that?"  Patt asked, glaring half-heartedly at the white
toga-ed writer.

"I don't know!  That's what they always do on TV!!!" Jayne took a deep
breath.  "It's all my fault!  If only I wasn't a first-time NA fanfic
author!  I probably could've written a convenient car into the plot
somewhere, and then we wouldn't be in this pickle!  Why, oh why, oh--"

Jayne's self-pitying rant was interrupted as Libby jabbed a finger at
Bonnie.  "Lookit!  She's wakenin'!"

"Bonnie!"  Patt leaned over her friend, helping her sit.  "Are you all

The Scribe looked around, dazed.  "I had the strangest dream!" she
murmured airily.  As she noticed the group of faces around her, she
began pointing at each one in wonder.  "You were there, and you were
there...and  were there!"

Patt sighed with relief and stood up, brushing ice crystals off her
knees.  "She's okay.  Anyone who can do a good Dorothy five seconds
after waking up  be fine."

As Bonnie struggled to her feet, Jayne shook her head slightly.  "Okay!=20
We've hurdled another crisis--on to the station!"

Once again, the addicts took off.

"Can't this thing go any ??!!"  Heather bounced up and down in
the passenger seat of Cabon's car impatiently.  "At this rate, we'll
 get to CERK!!"

"I am going as fast as eez possible," Louis assured the distraught
addict.  "Eef you continue to complain, I will 'ave you get out and
!"  It was the most daring thing he had ever said to an addict,
and he privately congratulated himself for it.

Heather turned to look out the window and muttered, "If you made me get
out and walk, I'd reach the station before you got around this corner!"

Cabon ignored the comment and carefully negotiated the vehicle around
the aforementioned corner.  "What eez this?!" he exclaimed.  "Zee large
auto eez blocking zee road!"

Heather's face lit up into a grim smile.  "That's no large auto--that's
the Caddy!"  Without waiting for Cabon to stop the car, as it was only
going at a brisk walking pace anyway, she opened her door and stepped
out of the car.  "Nick!  Nick!"

Nick was coming out of a convenience store, having just purchased a box
of paper towels.  (At the end of the final broadcast, he'd attempted the
traditional toast of throwing his wine glass into the fireplace.=20
Unfortunately, there was just enough not-wine still in the thing to make
a rather large mess, and, worse still, he was fresh out of towels.=20
Hence the trip.)  When he saw the young woman in a toga running towards
him, he sighed inwardly.  *What on earth do I have to do to get away
from these people?*  He narrowed his eyes suspiciously.  *Maybe this is
meant to be my penance...*  He looked closer at the addict, and the
smile he'd pasted on his face froze.  "Heather, isn't it?" he said
wryly.  His fingers unconsciously tightened around his wallet.  "
to see you.  Stolen any worthwhile credit cards lately?"

"Nick!"  the woman panted, skidding to a halt in the slush beside him.=20
"There's a problem!  You have to take me to CERK!"

"Why?"  Nick shook his head.  "No, scratch that.  I don't think I want
to know why."  Noticing the large purple bruise on Heather's temple, he
leaned closer to her.  "That looks nasty.  What happened?"

The addict stepped back, eager to put some space between her and the
detective.  "There's a really crazy woman who attacked me and some of my
friends at the Shrine, then headed to CERK!  She's going to try to kill

Nick blinked.  "Hold on.  This woman can't kill Lacroix unless she knows
about him, and even then it's unlikely.  Why are you so worried?"

"Because," Heather explained not-so-patiently, "I think she took my
friends with her!  And according to her boyfriend--" she waved absently
at Cabon, who was trying to idle the car without stalling it, "She
 know, and she's !!!"

Nick=92s smile faded.  "She knows?"  When Heather nodded, he took her by
the arm and led her to the Caddy.  "Tell your friend to come too," he
told her.  Heather nodded and called to the maitre d', who leapt out of
the car and scuttled over to them.  "You say they're at the station?" he

"Yes."  Sliding into the passenger seat of the much more reliable car,
Heather fastened her seatbelt and stared worriedly ahead.  "I hope we're
not too late," she said.  "I might have been unconscious for a long

"Unconscious?"  Nick shook his head as he pulled out onto the road.=20
"Maybe you'd better tell me more about this attack."
End of Part Thirteen

"Nuncle: n. An archaic or dialect word for uncle.  From division of
'mine uncle' as 'my nuncle'."  This from the Collins English
Dictionary.  I thought it might be time for some learning to happen.

Disclaimers in Part One.
Green-Eyed Monster (14/?)     by Jayne Leitch

"So, why don't you introduce me to your friend?"  Louisa asked nastily.
The crossbow had been divested of another two bolts, which had Lacroix
sitting on the floor, his eyes glowing brightly.  Niamh knelt next to
him, not sure what, if anything, she should be doing.

"Why should I?" the vampire asked harshly.  "She is of no consequence to
you.  I suggest you let her go."  He stared determinedly into his
captor's eyes, trying to find her heartbeat.

Louisa blinked under the mental onslaught, then laughed.  "That won't
work.  You're too weak, and besides, I can't be hypnotised."  Her hand
darted into her pocket and pulled out a squirt gun.  "This is filled
with a mixture of liquid garlic and holy water.   suggest you
introduce me."

Niamh scrambled to her feet and stood in front of Lacroix.  "My name's
Niamh," she said angrily.  "Now put that thing away!"

Louisa looked at her, then at the vampire, smiling faintly.  "I have a
better idea." Keeping the crossbow trained on Lacroix, she aimed the
squirt gun at the Irish woman.  "He needs to feed in order to heal," she
explained.  "And since I don't intend on letting him get anywhere 
my neck, his next best bet would be you.  Too bad--you're suddenly not
good for him!"  With another harsh laugh, Louisa sprayed the concoction
all over Niamh, drenching her skin and clothing with it.  "You can't get
near him now!" she cackled, still spraying.

Ignoring the fluid, Niamh lunged at Louisa, her arms outstretched.
"Stop it!" she wailed.  "Stop torturing him!  Why are you doing this?"

Louisa neatly sidestepped the attack and watched as the girl ran into
the wall then slid down it, sobbing.  "He's evil," she answered
matter-of-factly.  "He steals from honest women, and turns them into
evil mirror images of himself.  He's a murderer, a monster.  Why
shouldn't I do what I can to stop him?"

Lacroix pushed himself forward, ignoring the stabbing pain in his
chest.  "Louisa." He spoke quietly.  "Leave her alone."  It was apparent
that his captor had done her homework.  He was indeed too weak to make
the mesmerism work, but he hadn't survived almost two thousand years
without having some tricks.

"Why?"  The woman was glaring at him again, her spectacles sliding down
her nose a little.  "How important is she really?  Don't tell me I
wasted that water on someone you like too much to feed from anyway!"

"No, you're quite right to use it."  Lacroix forced his backbone to be a
little straighter, ignoring the grinding of broken bone.  "In fact, even
with her covered in such a revolting mixture, I may become too hungry to
care who I feed from.  I am not selective when I'm in pain."  He let his
eyes flare brightly.

"I didn't think so."  Louisa shook her head in disgust.  "You're really
a piece of work.  Totally self-absorbed.  You'd actually sacrifice her
if you got to the breaking point?"

"I would."  He ignored Niamh's gasp of shock from the corner, instead
angling his head slightly to face her.  "Come now, my dear.  Flirtation
is all well and good, but you  known I had a hidden motive for
getting close to you?  You've completely rejuvenated the club."
Carefully, he looked back at Louisa.  "Does the fact that I used her
anger you?"

"Oh, yes."  Louisa nodded slowly, narrowing her eyes.  "Look out for
Number One.  Do you have  feelings at all?"

"Emotions are a mortal weakness."  He forced himself to speak lightly,
arrogantly.  "They cloud judgment, and often are the cause of costly
mistakes.  They are not tolerated among my kind."

"I cannot believe that you actually have women swooning over you!"
Whispering harshly, Louisa's hands began to tremble on the crossbow
trigger.  "You!  How many people have you pretended to love only so you
could feed from them?  How many lives have you ruined, how many families
have you wrecked?  How many wives never came home?  How many husbands?
How many --"

"How many?"  Lacroix leaned forward, putting all of his energy into
looking as calm as possible despite the almost audible hum of Louisa's
anger.  "Countless thousands, I'm sure.   worth.
But none of them matter, not to you.  You just want to avenge your own
loss, don't you?"

"Don't talk to me about my own loss!"  Louisa's voice was strangled.
"Don't say !"

Lacroix pounced on the opportunity.  "Why not?  That's the reason you're
here, after all."  He raised his eyebrows slightly and, in his most
patronizing tone, said, "You really don't have any reason to be jealous
of the addicts.  Cabon doesn't love any of them, despite what he does
with them."

Louisa was furious.  "You don't know what you're talking about!  Louis
is , and he always has been!"

"Possession now, is it?"  Lacroix chuckled softly.  "I should've known.
Jealousy and possession always go hand in hand, after all.  My dear
lady, you don't know what the word ."  He turned his eyes to hers
and addressed Niamh.  "Miss McGrogan, come here."

The Irish girl shook her head, still stung from his words earlier.

Still gazing at Louisa, the vampire strengthened his tone.  "Come to me,
and sit down.  We will teach Miss Creton a lesson."

Niamh couldn't disobey.  She stood slowly and walked to Lacroix's side,
pausing when he flinched at the garlic stench that covered her.  As she
sat down, she asked tremulously, "Was it really all for the club?"

"What do you think?"  The second she was seated, Lacroix's hand snaked
up over her back and he grabbed her neck tightly, pulling her towards
him.  His hand smoked as it touched the holy water on her skin, and he
bared his fangs, reminding himself of the mouthful of her blood he had
tasted earlier.  "You see, Louisa," he growled, blocking out Niamh's
cries of fear, " is true possession.  She still trusted me,
 for me, even after I admitted that she meant nothing.  I
commanded; she responded.  And now she is serving her master with her
life.   is what true possession is, and I can assure you that you
 had it with Cabon."

Louisa quaked with rage.  "You will  kill her!" she screamed,
jabbing her finger at the squirming Niamh.  "I won't have that!  I will
!"  Her hand went back into her coat pocket.

Lacroix sensed what she was going to do moments before her hand
resurfaced.  *Damn her.  I've taken her too far...*  He pushed Niamh
away from him and struggled to his knees, hearing bones snap around the
bolts in his chest.

Louisa pulled out a flask and yanked out its cork.  "You're wrong about
Louis.  He  mine, and I will  have you doing anything else to
keep us apart!"  With one violent jerking action, she tossed the holy
water at the struggling vampire.

The four addicts bounded up the steps to the front door of the station,
Jayne in the lead.  "We're here!" she gasped, then fell backwards as the
door opened in her face.

"It's not really safe to be lurking on doorsteps late at night, you
know,"  Jennifer Lefler said as she stepped out of the station.  When
she saw the four toga-ed women, she paused and narrowed her eyes.  "Hang
on.  You want to tell me who you are and why you're here?"

"Are you station security?"  Patt asked, gasping for breath.

"No.  I'm a producer.  Now who are ?"

Bonnie pushed her way to the front of the cluster.  "Listen, you 
let us inside.  There's quite probably something horrible going on in

"Yeah, like sum sort o' evil-like tort-choor," Libby added, her
Ratpacker eyes wide.

The producer shook her head.  "Look, there's only three people left in
the building, and by the looks of them, the only torture that could be
going on is the consensual sort, if you know what I mean.  So if you
could just--?"

"Three?"  Jayne looked horrified.  "Then Louisa  have Heather!"

"Hey!"  The five women on the stoop turned at the bellow from behind
them.  Heather was leaning out the window of the Caddy while Nick
parked, waving her arms frantically.

"Heather!"  Bonnie cried.  "So you're not in the clutches of Nasty

"Neither are you!" came the relieved reply.  The second the car was
stopped, the addict jumped out and hurried to join her friends.  "I
found him on the way," she explained, gesturing at Nick.  "And Cabon
explained what's happening.  I thought Louisa'd kidnapped you!"

"Nopers," Libby shook her head, "But we's thinkin' she's got tha'

"And this ," Patt glared at Jennifer Lefler, "Won't let us in!"

Nick held up his hands.  "Are you sure you  go in?" he asked.
When he received stunned glares at this suggestion, he dropped his hands
to his side again.  "From what Heather's told me, this woman's
dangerous.  And you're all...perishable."

"So are you, if Louisa has the right equipment," Bonnie retorted.

"And she does, I am sure," Louis added.

Nick looked from the women to the maitre d' and back again.  "Fine," he
said eventually.  "But you have to be ."

"We also need to get ," Jayne pointed out, nodding at the woman
blocking their entry.  "Care to take care of her for us?" she suggested
not-too-subtly.  Nick nodded, and faced the producer.

"There's one thing I'm worried about," Heather said while the vampire
worked his whammy.

"Wha', uther then La-Crow bein' un-del'cately 'andled?" Libby asked.

"Yeah."  Heather furrowed her brow.  "If Miss Lefler said that there
were three people in the station..."

Bonnie nodded.  "And two of them are Nunkies and Louisa..."

Patt finished the thought, conclusively proving that over-estrogened
women really  read minds.  "Then who's the third?"

"I say we find out."  Nick looked nervously into the darkened doorway,
having just cleared it of its previous occupant.  "Something
unpleasant's going on, I can feel it."

"Then let's not waste any more time!"  Jayne urged her fellow addicts
past the detective and the maitre d'.  "We've got a Nunkies to save!"

The expanded group, addicts and non, rushed into the building.
End of Part Fourteen.

Because I love to make my characters suffer.....

Disclaimers in part one.
Green-Eyed Monster (15/?)     by Jayne Leitch

Lacroix fell forward onto the floor as the holy water drenched him,
burning his skin through his silk shirt.  A cloud of rancid-smelling
smoke wafted from his body, causing both Louisa and Niamh to gag.  "Are
you happy now!" he choked through the pain.  "You have me writhing at
your feet!  Are you happ--"  He broke off as he was wracked with spasms
of pain.  Through them, he detected a group of heartbeats, very near.
*Delusions, surely,* he told himself.  *Better to focus on the prey in
the room with me...*  The pain was too much, and he reached out for a
blurry form he could half-see moving in front of him.

Niamh shrieked as she was dragged back to the vampire's side.  The smell
of burning flesh grew stronger, and she could just see Lacroix's fiery
eyes and sharp fangs coming closer before she passed out.

The small army of rescuers barreled down the hall, the addicts in front,
then Nick, then Cabon dragging up the rear.  As they neared the
Nightcrawler's booth, Nick came to a sudden stop, causing Louis to run
into him.  "Wait!" he called to the women ahead.

They slowed and turned around.  "What!  We're running out of time!"
Bonnie called back huffily.

Nick pointed to the doorway, still hidden in shadow.  "I can't go up
there," he informed the addicts.  "She's set up a cross in front of the
door, and there's garlic and holy water surrounding the booth."

The addicts exchanged horrified glances.  "She knows what she's doing,"
Heather said, her eyes wide.

"She's obviously read up on the subject.  Let's !"  Jayne said,
jogging on the spot.  She didn't know where her second wind had come
from, but it was in full swing.  "Lacroix is in  trouble, isn't
he."  She directed the question at Nick, who nodded reluctantly.

"Come on!"  Bonnie waved her arms around.  "There's a  why most
of us are mortals!  Crosses and stuff don't really seem to faze us!"

"An' Miss Nutsie-Bar won't likely-like be xspectin' mortally folksies,
so's we kin prob'ly get th' drop on 'er!"  Libby exclaimed, twisting her
hands together.

"Yeah, Nick.  Stop angsting," Patt commanded.

"But..."  Nick's objections were drowned out by the thumping of the
women's feet as they raced down the hall towards the sanctified door.
He sighed.  "Mortals have all the luck," he muttered, then headed off to
find an alternate entry.

Cabon watched him, then turned to look at the addicts.  He pursed his
lips, then headed down a different hallway.

Patt reached the doorway first, and gasped.  "Look at that thing!"  She
pointed a trembling finger at the cross.  The others stared.

It was steaming.  The holy water was beading along the sides, then
fizzling into faint clouds of fog.  It was happening on the door frame
as well, and even on the carpet.

"We have to take it down!"  Bonnie exclaimed, reaching out for the
smooth wood.

"Don't touch it!"  Jayne grabbed the Scribe's hand before it could make
contact.  "It's burning up.  I do  want to see what that would do
to a hand."

"We have to get in somehow!"  Heather said, inspecting the entrance.  "I
have a  bad feeling about what's going on in there!"

"An' 'ow does we do tha', matie?"  Libby asked, throwing her hands in
the air.  "I's ain't a-touchin' tha' thingie!"

Patt looked around the sparse corridor wildly.  "If only we had
something to cover our hands with--"

Jayne's eyes widened.  "We .  Hang on..."

Lacroix's teeth were just beginning to force themselves through Niamh's
skin when he heard them again--heartbeats.  With every last ounce of
willpower he had, he pushed the Irish girl away and fell back against
the wall.  "You've lost, Miss Creton," he rasped, his throat burned by
the holy water.  "And I've won."

Louisa stared at the thing on the floor in horror.  Through the clouds
of smoke that teared up her eyes, she saw that his clothing was in rags,
half of it burned away along with his skin.  His eyes, though glassy,
were burning brightly, and his teeth protruded sharply from his mouth.
"No," she gasped, dropping to her knees.  She scrabbled for the crossbow
she'd dropped when her first fit of coughing had hit.  "You're wrong!
You're !!"  Her hand closed around the wood of the
bow, and she straightened up, glaring at her victim.  He didn't look
back; his gaze was fixed hollowly on the door.  Suddenly, Louisa
realized what he knew.  She turned just in time to see the door burst

The group of addicts stood there, but none of them were looking inside.
They all stared at Jayne, who held a large piece of rather crispy,
formerly toga fabric in her reddened hands.  Her toga had become
substantially shorter--the ragged hemline was now several inches above
her knees.  The cross was on the floor, casually burning its shape into
the carpet.  Jayne dropped the fabric and waved her hands, trying to
cool them.  "Ouchies," she stated good-naturedly.  "Good thing I didn't
actually  the thing."

At her fellow addict's statement of good health, Bonnie looked into the
soundbooth and gasped.  "Oh, no!" she wailed.  The others looked in, and
eyes everywhere widened.

"Fancy meeting you ladies here," Louisa said, her eyes gleaming.  "Now
you can !"  She spun around, swinging the crossbow around to
point at the vampire on the floor.

"NO!!!"  The women chorused, charging into the room.  "Please, Louisa!
Don't do this!"  Patt pleaded, stretching out her arms.

Heather ventured to take a step forward.  "Even when he's like this, you
can't kill him," she wavered bravely.

Louisa snorted.  "I can still try."  She sighted along the bow.

Now Libby opened her mouth.  "Yew don't want tew go an' make th' La-Crow
angry-like," she informed Louisa worriedly.  "Cause 'e'll go an' get
worked up--"

"Will all of you SHUT UP!!"  Louisa screeched, her hands trembling.
"I've weakened him sufficiently!  I've kept him from drinking 
that would strengthen him!  I have  so that he 
defend himself in any way!  I have thought of and done  to
make sure this will go off without a hitch!  AND YOU TRAMPS WON'T STOP

"Zey will not...but I will."  The voice came over the speakers, from the
producer's booth.

Louisa looked up at the window that let each booth's inhabitants view
the other.  She gasped.  "Louis!"

Cabon smiled worriedly through the glass and bit his lip.  "Louisa,
please--stop zis.  Monsieur Lacroix does not deserve eet."

"But...I thought..."  The woman couldn't tear her eyes away from her
love.  "I did it for , Louis..."  The crossbow wavered, then, ever
so slightly, began to dip.

"Zere was no need, Louisa."  The maitre d' waved his arm expansively,
inadvertently hitting a stack of CD's.  He didn't notice.  "From what I
'ave seen, you 'ave been jealous of a figment of your imagination.  I
'ave never loved zee addicts--"

"Some people won't be happy to hear that,"  Bonnie whispered to Patt.

"--And zey 'ave never tried to...ehrm...try...anything,"  Louis
finished, his face turning a bright red.  "Zee relationship between us
'as been purely business.  Louisa, please believe me!  Please 

Louisa nodded her head emphatically.  "I  trust you, Louis!  It's
 that I don't trust!"  She aimed this scathing remark at the
addicts, who were glancing nervously from hostage-taker to maitre d',
and back again.

Louis reached out and pressed his hand against the glass.  "But eef you
trust me, why do you  to trust them?"

Heather elbowed Jayne, who winced at the jostling of her tender hands.
"He's got a point, there," she agreed under her breath.  "Many a soap
opera would be a lot duller if more writers realized that bit of logic."

Louisa didn't quite know what to say.  She settled for lowering the
crossbow, which Patt reached over and took with a sigh of relief.
"Louis,"  the dazed hostage-taker said quietly, "I  sorry..."

Suddenly, Lacroix was on his feet, and had Louisa in a vise-like grip.
"Sorry," he growled, staring the suddenly frightened woman in the eyes,
"Is  good enough!"  He bared his fangs and wrenched her head to the

"NO!"  The other women screamed, as Cabon banged on the glass.
"Lacroix, please!"

The master vampire seemed not to hear their cries.  His pain all but
forgotten, he lowered his head to her neck, his mouth open, fangs at the
ready.  The points had just touched Louisa's skin when a soft moan came
from the floor:


The two thousand year old vampire froze.

Everyone looked in astonishment at the young woman who had spoken.  She
looked completely disheveled; a large bruise dominated her forehead,
dark red marks stood out on her forearms, and a thin trickle of blood
ran from her bottom lip to her chin.  Her dark hair was in direct
contrast to her pale white face, and her eyes were slightly unfocused as
she gazed stolidly up at the vampire and his captive.  "Please," she
continued, struggling to her feet, "Let the police deal with her."

To the assembled addicts' amazement, Lacroix seemed to consider the
idea.  Then nature took over, and he tightened his grip.  "After what
she has done to me?  To ?  My dear, I must say, I'm surprised.  I
thought you had more strength."  He flashed his fangs at her and turned
back to the feast before him.

Patt stepped forward.  "General, please--wait."  Lacroix looked up and
glared at her, but the mature addict stood her ground, trying not to
look away.  "I agree with...whoever that is," she said, gesturing
vaguely at Niamh.  "Louisa's done some pretty terrible things, but she
should be taken care of by the  justice system.  After all, it
was mostly mortals she's harmed."  As soon as it was out of her mouth,
Patt cringed.

Lacroix snarled.  "She tried to kill !"  he hissed, the strain of
standing beginning to show on his features.  "I  see how the
result of my justice is any different from that of mortal justice!  She
will die, and in her death, she will strengthen me.  It is a fitting
retribution, don't you think?"  Noticeably weaker, he leaned against the
wall of the booth and glared at everyone in the room.  "Despite the
protestations of Niamh, or Miss Elmore, or anyone else, my mind  be changed.  Miss Creton will die, and that is !"  Again, he
turned his attention back to Louisa's neck.

"Lacroix, stop."  The words came from the hallway, and the voice that
spoke them wasn't pleading--it was commanding.  Nick stepped as close to
the steaming door as he could, carefully avoiding the cross that had, by
this time, sunk halfway into the floor.  He held up a green bottle.
"Drink this instead."

No one moved.  Niamh leaned heavily against the console, swaying
slightly.  Patt was frozen with her arms stretched out, as if holding a
large, invisible bowl.  Bonnie and Libby stood side by side, the
Ratpacker hunched over slightly, the Scribe straight and tense.  Heather
bit her lip.  Jayne's hands trembled as a cool breeze was circulated
through the air conditioning.  Louis was pressed up against the glass,
his breath fogging it just a little.

Lacroix sighed heavily and let his head fall closer to Louisa's
jugular.  The woman gasped as he ducked at the last second, leaving his
forehead resting on her shoulder.  "Give me the bottle," he rasped

A collective "whoosh" blew through the room as everyone sighed in
cautious relief.  Nick stepped carefully into the booth, extending the
bottle towards his master.  Lacroix reached out and took it, pushing the
quaking Louisa away as he did.  He removed the vessel's stopper and
tossed it away as he began to down its contents.

Nick gave the addicts a semi-reassuring smile and ventured in further.
As he passed Niamh, he whispered, "I thought you called in sick."  To
his amusement, the Irish woman seemed somewhat abashed, despite her
obvious distress.  *For once, it's not my job to comfort her...*  He
continued into the booth, eventually drawing up next to Louisa.  Taking
her by the arm, he pulled her towards the door, reeling off, "You're
under arrest..."

 The addicts slowly relaxed, and started to smile.  "That was ,"
Heather whispered to Jayne, who nodded and resumed blowing on her palms.

Bonnie and Libby wandered over to Niamh, who gave them a wan grin.
"There's nothing like this in Belfast," she muttered, wobbling
unsteadily on her feet.  "That's why I came to Canada, you know--the
excitement here never ends."  With that, she gave a little sigh and
folded up, passing out thoroughly on the floor.
End of Part Fifteen
Yes yes yes, I  it's been a while since the last post, and I
humbly apologize.  Heck, this whole story's still supposed to be
happening in the dead of winter (:), and outside it's 32 degrees right
now.  Guess that says something about my powers of punctual
Green-Eyed Monster (16/?)     by Jayne Leitch

        Nick slid the Caddy into a parking space at the back corner of the
precinct's lot and turned to face Louisa Creton.  The woman had sat
quietly beside him for the duration of their trip from CERK--Nick
suspected she was in shock--but now she sighed noisily and crossed her

        "I suppose you think I'm going to keep quiet about everything, don't
you," she stated, staring straight ahead.

        Nick frowned.  "Actually, I--"

        "Well, you shouldn't," the woman continued.  "I have absolutely no
reason to keep  secret, especially one like yours."  Now she
turned her gaze on him, glaring furiously.  "You're in league with
, and I won't stand for it."

        The vampire raised an eyebrow.  *So much for shock...*  "Firstly, Miss
Creton, I am not 'in league' with anyone, especially not Lacroix.
Secondly, I don't think you're in the position to stand for ,
especially not your particular brand of moral beliefs."  Louisa opened
her mouth to protest, but Nick quickly continued, "Finally, I 
expect you to keep quiet, and I mean about .  And I don't
care how that gets accomplished."

        "How?"  Louisa made an unpleasant noise between her teeth.  "I don't
care about .  I don't even know  you're planning on keeping me
from talking.  All I know is the why--you, , are shutting me
up simply to cover your butt."  Having delivered this somewhat blunt
speech, Louisa leaned back in the seat.  "Do your worst, Detective.
I'll still tell."

        Nick closed his eyes briefly.  "I'm not doing this for myself," he
said.  "And I'm sure as hell not going to do my worst."  Opening his
eyes, he reached out and took her chin in his hand, turning her face to
his.  Looking deep into her eyes, he said, "And you're not going to
tell.  You're not even going to remember most of it.  At least, not the
way you want to..."

        Having polished off two bottles of straight blood, Lacroix seemed much
steadier.  Even so, he sank into his chair gracefully and eyed the
assembled addicts.  "I trust the harm Louisa inflicted is not

        Bonnie shook her head.  "We'll heal."  She was dying of curiosity as to
who the woman passed out on the floor was, but she knew enough to let
the General come to that on his own.

        "How badly are  hurt?"  Patt ventured, licking her lips
nervously.  The master vampire looked awful--but she could see that he
was beginning to regenerate, slowly.

        He waved a tired hand.  "Negligible wounds, all of them."  Now he
glanced at Niamh.  "Did I harm her?"

        Heather glanced around at the others, then knelt down to inspect the
inert body.  "Um--I don't think so.  I don't think she's lost much
blood--er," she stopped speaking, cringing slightly.

        Lacroix's icy blue eyes gazed at his aborted meal, and he swallowed
thickly.  "Her name is Niamh McGrogan," he said finally.  "She has been
singing at the Raven, and was visiting this evening to...lend support
during the final show."  He looked away, and commanded, "Take her with
you when you leave.  I shall be along to collect her when I'm ready."
The master vampire stood up abruptly and strode to the door, then

        Jayne blinked, then sighed deeply.  "Not even a thank you.  You'd
think, when he'd been brought up so well..."  She turned her gaze to
Niamh and smiled halfheartedly.  "I guess this means she's coming back
to the Shrine?"

        "Uh-huh."  Bonnie joined Heather next to the passed-out singer.  "You
take her arms, I'll take her feet.  We should be able to get her to
Louis' car..."

        "Speakin' o' Louie-Louie," Libby spoke up, absently scratching her
head, "Where did th' Frenchie get tew?"

        The other addicts frowned.  They weren't used to trying to  the
maitre d'; normally they were occupied with getting him to go .

        As Heather and Bonnie took Niamh to Cabon's car, Jayne, Libby, and Patt
searched the station for the missing man.  The search didn't last long;
the Ratpacker discovered him thoroughly unconscious under a heap of CD's
in the producer's booth.

        No one grumbled much about having to carry him to the car.  Cabon was
unusually light.

        After sorting things out with Louisa at the station, Nick dropped by
the coroner's office.  He hadn't decided whether or not he should tell
Natalie that Niamh really hadn't been sick that evening, and so felt as
if he were entering a minefield as he stepped through the heavy swinging
door.  (At least that's not literal--we  sign a treaty, after all.)

        Nat looked up from a file as he entered and smiled.  "I hear you had
some excitement tonight," she said casually.

        Nick blinked.  "How did you find out about that?" he asked, a puzzled
look coming over his face.

        Nat grinned secretively.  "Gossip travels faster than any vampire
 could," she informed him.  "Grace was dropping off a file for the
captain, and she saw you come in with a woman in shackles.  She rushed
back here as fast as she could and told me .  Which, come to
think of it, wasn't much."  She arched her eyebrows half-jokingly.
"Care to fill in the blanks?"

        Nick pursed his lips, trying to decide what, if anything, he could tell
the inquisitive coroner.  Finally, he made a decision.  "You know it was
Lacroix's 'final' broadcast tonight?"  When Nat nodded, Nick made
himself comfortable against the counter and continued, "Well, Niamh knew
it too, and, seeing as she and Lacroix have an...understanding, I guess
she decided to be there to support him..."

        Niamh woke up slowly and painfully.  She was disoriented, and her head
throbbed mercilessly.  As consciousness took hold, she became aware that
she wasn't alone; she opened her eyes carefully, and stared in wonder at
her surroundings.

        She was in a large, spacious chamber, windowless, hung with
ceiling-to-floor drapes in comforting, muted colours.  They swished
sedately against what sounded like a carpeted floor as a light breeze
circulated.  Niamh's eyes widened as she turned her head to the left and
came face to face with a smooth, incredibly detailed bust of-- "Lucien?"

        "She's awake!"  The voice came from Niamh's right, and she turned her
head to face it.  "Don't be afraid," the small redhead smiled, an aura
of tranquillity suffusing her features.  "You're among friends."

        Niamh blinked muzzily and smiled back.  The woman didn't look much
older than she was, and she seemed nice.  The Irish girl lowered her
eyes, opening her mouth to speak--then freezing.

        The redhead was wearing a toga.

        As Niamh tried to figure out whether her blurry eyes were deceiving her
or not, three more women joined the redhead, standing around the Irish
girl's prone form.  She quickly scanned their wardrobe--togas abounded,
and one of the women wore a kind of leather cap.  *Oh my lord.  Either
I've been beamed up or I've found my way to a cult.*

        "'Ow iz th' lil' bligh'er?" the one in the cap asked, peering down at
Niamh through large, warm eyes.  "Noggin oll scrambled-egg-like, I
wuddn't bet."

        "She's probably confused.  She was under for a while," the redhead
pointed out.  Smiling down at the confused Niamh, she introduced
herself.  "I'm Bonnie.  And this is Patt, Libby, and Heather.  You kind
of met us earlier.  Do you remember?"

        Niamh furrowed her brow, deep in thought.  They all had normal names,
so it was probably safe to assume that she was still earthbound.  If she
 met these strange people before though, she couldn't quite--

        As if seeing the problems Niamh was having, the one who'd been
identified as Heather reached down, and produced a plastic mug.  "Here,"
she pressed the mug into Niamh's hand, "Drink this.  Since your mind's
clouded already, it should have the opposite effect it normally does."

        Niamh sniffed suspiciously at the drink.  It smelled...alcoholic.
 alcoholic, which to Niamh equaled familiar.  She sat up slowly,
trying to ignore the spinning of her surroundings, and quaffed the brew
like a good pub-reared girl.

        The next moment she was on her feet.  "The radio station!  The
broadcast!  That...woman!"  The flood of memory hit a ditch and veered
off in another direction.  "Lucien!  He's a--Lucien!"

        Heather grinned.  "Granny's recipes do it every time."

        Patt laid a reassuring hand on Niamh's arm.  "Lacroix's fine," she told
the distraught girl.  "Nick brought him some blood, and he seemed to be

        Niamh looked at her.  "Nick?  You mean Detective Knight?  He ??
 know?????"  Her grip on reality was fast becoming tenuous again.

        Bonnie sat down.  "Whoa girl, calm down.  You just woke up.  You don't
know where you are,  you're freaked.  Am I right?"

        Niamh nodded, her eyes wide.

        "Okay."  Bonnie steepled her fingers and raised an eyebrow.  "I think
all of us have some explaining to do..."

        The addicts and the singer settled in for a good round of storytelling.

        "Good lord."  Niamh settled back against the lounger, shaking her head
in wonderment.  "All of it's actually true?"  When the addicts clustered
around her nodded, she blinked a few times, then smiled, slowly.

        "Yeah, we think so."  Patt grinned herself, thinking how strange it
must seem to come across all the stuff she took for granted for the
first time.  *Hey, the world's a strange place.   has to know
about it.*

        Niamh seemed to be relaxing, and her head lolled back against the
lounger.  "I'm dead tired," she informed the addicts, her eyelids
drooping ever so slightly.  "This is the most...stuff that's happened to
me since...since..."  She didn't get to finish the sentence, instead
snuggling deeper into the fabric of her chair and beginning to snore

        Heather reached down and grabbed Niamh's mug before it could fall.  She
looked approvingly at the empty vessel.  "She finished it all.  No
wonder she passed out again."

        The addicts smiled at each other, then slowly tiptoed out of the
Shrine.  Once safely out of hearing range, however, Libby turned an
inquiring gaze on the NunkNanny.  "So, jus' what is yew supposin' we do
wi' th' lady-bird, eh?"

        Bonnie raised her eyebrows.  "Well, Lacroix said he'd be by to
'collect' her when he was ready, didn't he?"  The other three nodded,
and the Scribe made a decision.  "Then we'll hold onto her until he

        Nick could feel his master's mood from across town.  It was all he
could do to drive at the speed limit all the way from Nat's office to
the Raven, but with patience and willpower born of centuries denying
himself, he managed.  (Managed, that is, to exceed the limit by only ten
kilometers.  No one said he denied himself anything .)

        *I really need to watch myself,* he thought as he pushed into the empty
club.  *I'm getting far too attentive to Lacroix's needs.  How can I be
free of him when I'm always running to pander to his moods?*  He
swallowed grimly and approached the office.  *I just hope he hasn't made
a mess this time...*

        "Ah, Nicholas."  Lacroix sounded angry and tired.  "Care to indulge
with me?  I seem to have opened more crates than I can handle..."  He
looked up from his partially full goblet and raised his eyebrows.
"Perhaps not."

        "You have a problem, Lacroix."  Nick folded his arms and tried to look
stern.  "This whole episode must be dealt with."

        "Nonsense!"  The older vampire gestured wildly with his glass, almost
spilling some of the vintage.  "All danger is past; those lovely women
that worship me so will have taken care of the soundbooth by now, and
you, no doubt, have  of Miss Creton.  Hence, problem

        "And what about Niamh?"  Nick persisted as Lacroix turned away from
him, taking another long sip.  "You cannot leave her, knowing what she
does.  You've told me the same, many times before."

        "And yet this is the first time you've seen fit to tell me."  Aiming a
pointed look at his son, Lacroix finished, "I would think that would
tell you something about our respective abilities to be discreet."

        Nick sighed.  Once again, Lacroix had managed to turn a self-centered
conversation into a lecture aimed at him.  Accepting defeat, Nick seated
himself beside his master, leaning into the soft leather.  "What are you
going to do about her?"

        Lacroix tilted his head and gazed into his drink.  "I'm not sure.  I've
become somewhat...fond of her.  Letting her go now would
be...unfortunate.  And yet," he continued when he saw Nick's face, "I'm
not sure how well she could adjust to a life among vampires.  She has
the potential to be...far too easily noticed."  He sighed deeply and set
the glass on an end table.  "If she were allowed to remain as a mortal,
she would gain the status of your Doctor Lambert--without the benefit of
being useful to the community.  She would undoubtedly attract unwanted
attention.  Enforcer attention, which would not go well for any of us."

        Nick waited as his master lapsed into silence.  He'd never heard
Lacroix reason  out before, especially something so minor as
the fate of a mortal.  He decided to help--carefully.  "Niamh obviously
cares for you," he said slowly, "But she cares for life much more.
You've seen her on stage; the way she sings, and moves, and basks in the
audience's approval.  Do you think she could give that up--even for

        Lacroix stayed still for a while, sitting in his chair, his arms folded
tightly across his midsection.  His eyes were focused on a point across
the room, ice-clear and sky blue, intent on the problem he was working
through.  Eventually, though, he nodded, slowly.  "She is
inconsequential, really.  Her wants are no different from any other
mortal's I've met over the centuries--disregarding them will
be...interesting."  With that he turned back to Nick and gave him a
ghost of a smile.  "You needn't worry, Nicholas.  I shall take care of
the problem."

        He was gone before Nick could say anything, and the younger vampire
left the club.  *I suppose I won,* an incredulous voice whispered in the
back of his mind.  *Now there's a first.*  Frowning, he climbed into the
Caddy and turned the key.  "Was that too easy?"
End of Part Sixteen

Yes, it's true--I've set the limit of segments!  Woo-hoo!  And since
I've promised the Ratpack list that this entire thing will be done by
the end of August, lets hope to high Heaven that I've averaged it out
correctly!  Also, I mentioned way back in part 1 that this was, in
essence, a payback story.  My dear friend Niamh McGrogan had told me
that Lacroix was (gasp!) not a handsome man.  Well, now you get to see
the way I've taken revenge...

Disclaimers in part one.

Green-Eyed Monster  (17/21)     by Jayne Leitch

        It had been a full day since the various events at CERK, and the
Addicts were restless.

        "So Lacroix actually  to what a mortal said?"  Zebella asked
Kate in a whisper.  The two were huddled across the room from where
Niamh sat reading through some fanfic and grinning.  The Irish girl
didn't know it, but she'd fast become almost-legend amongst the Addicts.

        "That's what I heard."  Kate whispered back.  Her eyes were wide as she
turned her face to her fellow addict.  "Apparently, he  when she
told him not to do something.  He actually !!"

        " heard that she managed to keep him from drinking Louisa's blood."
The Kissing Cousin added as she knelt down with the other two.

        "I thought that was Nick." Zebella stated, furrowing her brow.

        Susan snorted, giving the addict a Look.  "Would Nickypoo be able to
tell Lacroix not to do ?"

        Zebella nodded.  "Okay, I'll give you that."

        Shaking her head, Kate added, "I can't believe she could tell him what
to do!"

        "I heard she got him to admit that Nick's quest to regain his mortality
wasn't his business."

        The three whirled around as Patt spoke from behind them, their eyes
wide.  "?!?!" they gasped in shock.

        Her eyes twinkling merrily, the Mature Addict shook her head.  "Don't
believe everything you hear, ladies," she lectured briefly before
turning on her heel and heading for the Lab/Kitchen.

        The other addicts glared after her.  "Spoilsport," KC muttered.

        "So how long is Niamh going to be with us?"  Patt asked Bonnie as she
entered the (as it was being used right then) Lab.

        The NA Scribe looked up from perfecting the Nunkies Jell-o molds,
creasing her brow in worry.  "I'm not sure.  I figured we'd hold onto
her until Lacroix came to get her."

        "Which could be at any time."  Leaning against the counter and checking
out her friend's progress, Patt sighed.  "I just hope he doesn't decide
to make her a permanent thing here.  She told me she's working with
.  Can you imagine the disasters that might come from that?"

        Bonnie shuddered.  "Coroner's reports strewn all over the Shrine.
Crime scene photos--which are sometimes quite interesting, mind you, but
have an unfortunate tendency to be kind of disgusting--left resting on
tables beside full plates of tiramisu."  She paused, then began to smile
a little.  "Then again, she could do some covert note-stealing for us.
Delay whatever progress Nat's come up with in curing Nick..."

        Patt pondered the possibilities, then shook her head.  "I can see too
many problems with that bit of criminal activity."

        Bonnie chewed on her lip a moment, then nodded reluctantly.  "I guess
you're right."

        The two addicts paused in their discussion as the doors swung open and
the lady of the hour entered.  "Hey, gals," Niamh said cheerily, walking
over to them and waving some computer printouts in their faces.  "You
didn't tell me you kept smut on hand.  One of the other birds had to
point these lovely stories out to me."

        "Smut??"  Bonnie grabbed at the pages, leafing through them briefly,
then beginning to grin.  "We don't keep smut in the Shrine.  These are

        Patt shook her head, rolling her eyes as the Scribe's eyes lit up at a
particularly florid passage.  "Somebody get the V8," she muttered.

        Niamh turned to the fridge, having been briefed on Addict procedures
and folklore earlier--but didn't quite make it as she saw the tall,
imposing figure that stood in the door that led off the alley.

        The startled, happy shriek made Bonnie look up from the fantasy
sharply, while Patt unconsciously stood to attention.  The two watched
as Niamh flung herself at the vampire, only to be held at bay by his
strong hands as they caught her wrists before she could hug him.

        Patt looked nervously from Niamh's bewildered expression to Lacroix's
stony, impassive one.  *This...does not look good.*

        "Miss McGrogan."  The master vampire gazed down into Niamh's eyes, a
smile quirking at his lips.  "Perhaps we should speak...away from any
distractions.  Shall we walk?"

        The Irish girl blinked, twice, then pulled away and stood, aloof, at
his side.  "Whatever you want, Lacroix."

        They turned as one and headed out the door, leaving Patt and Bonnie
staring after them in shock.  "This might be painful," the mature addict
commented to her friend.

        "Yeah."  The somewhat-less-than-mature addict agreed, then grinned and
suggested, "Wanna go listen in?"


        Lacroix listened passively as Niamh chattered at him about the events
at the radio station, trying not to appear interested.  *She certainly
is a headstrong young lady,* he mused as they reached the end of the
alley behind the Jeweled Peach and turned onto the sidewalk.  *She
hardly recognizes the fact that I'm paying no attention to her

        "Lucien?"  The vampire stiffened a little as Niamh used his name, then
stopped walking and turned to face her.  "Are you...okay?"

        "I am as well as can be expected, my dear."  Raising an eyebrow
slightly, he answered, "Miss Creton's attack was...masterful, and quite
thorough.  She would not have caught me off-guard, however, except--"

        "Except I was there to distract you."  Niamh finished the thought
unhappily, and Lacroix allowed himself a smile.  "I didn't mean to..."

        "Of course you didn't."  The vampire crossed his arms, looking down at
the girl in his most patronizing manner.  "How were you to know that a
crazed woman was going to try to kill me?  You simply came after what
you wanted.  It is an attitude I can...readily agree with."  He leaned
down close to her, looking her directly in the eyes.  "You were a most
intriguing diversion.  Warm, comforting...delicious..."

        Niamh started back, and Lacroix allowed a predatory gleam to come to
his eyes.  She frowned, watching him carefully.  "You didn't tell
me...what you are."

        "Do I frighten you?"  *Ah, simple mind...*  "Are you afraid to be alone
with me?"  The questions were spoken softly, with the added edge of his
glowing eyes for effect.  "Now that you know that I am a vampire, do you
wish to sever your connections with me?"  The master vampire angled his
head slightly, half-wishing that she would answer yes.

        Niamh was confronted with the monstrous visage of the vampire, less
than a foot away from her own face, and she tried desperately to keep
her fear hidden.  "I...think it would be...interesting if I said no,"
she replied as truthfully as she could.  "And, after time, I could...get
used to the idea."

        Lacroix raised his eyebrows and straightened his back, consciously
toning down the amount of fear he was whammying into her.  "Be careful
what you decide, Miss McGrogan," he told her in a smooth, crisp
whisper.  "Very few mortals are ever allowed to know of the vampire
community, and many of them...do not survive long to enjoy the secret."

        "What about the Addicts?"  Niamh pointed out quickly.  The haze that
had floated over her mind was receding, and she shook her head slightly,
as if clearing it.  "They know all about the vampires, and they don't
seem to be in any danger.  Why can't I join them?"

        Allowing a smile to expose his fangs to full effect, Lacroix angled his
head to the side and explained, "The Addicts are a...special case, my
dear.  Their history goes back longer than my life as a vampire, and the
rest of the community--Enforcers included--knows to leave them be.  They
can be...formidably resilient."  *Not to mention strong-willed and
nearly impossible to hypnotize...and harder to kill.*

        "There's the solution, then."  The Irish girl's eyes held a glimmer of
hope, and the vampire almost regretted that he would have to snuff it
out.  "Let me join NA.  I'll be protected, and...we can be together."

        At this Lacroix let out a chortle of laughter, the merriment causing
his vampiric appearance to withdraw entirely.  "I think not, Niamh," he
told her airily, crossing his arms and firmly ignoring the shocked
expression that flashed across her face.  "You see, I've come to realize
that your 'feelings' for me are a complete sham.  You do not care for
me, no more than I care for you."

        Niamh's eyes had grown large and round, and her face slowly drained of
colour.  "What?  Lucien, I--"

        "Please, my dear, begging will get you somewhere--but not, I suspect,
where you want to be."

        "If it's with you, I--"

        Lacroix cut her off with one wave of his elegant hand.  "Consider, if
you will, the circumstances in which you found yourself--" he paused,
half-raising his eyebrows in sardonic mimicry, "--In love with me.  You
were singing at...The Ports, wasn't it?"

        Nodding slowly, Niamh began to play along.  "I saw you standing by the

        "You did.  Our eyes met across a crowded room, they locked..."  Shaking
his head, the vampire lowered his voice to declare, "The entire evening
was full of such melodrama, don't you think?  You sought me out after
your performance, I bought you a drink, you shared your plans to come to
York University..."

        "And you told me about the Raven.  You gave me a job."  Unwilling to
believe what he was saying, Niamh hurried on, "You wanted me to sing
there!  You wanted to see me again!  You  me!"

        "I  you that I was in need of a performer, and that I had
somewhat enjoyed your show," he clarified, watching her turn another
shade lighter.  "The rest, my dear, you inferred yourself."

        "No."  Niamh began backing away from him, shaking her head in
disbelief.  "No.  You're a vampire; you don't want to hurt me by saying
that you care for me--that's why you're doing this!  You want to keep me
safe, and this is the only way!"

        The pure desperation in her voice almost embarrassed the master
vampire, and again he ignored the memory of her blood in his mouth.
"That is not the way I deal with problems, Miss McGrogan.  I have no
qualms about putting mortal lives in danger; Louisa Creton said as much
while we were in the booth--didn't you hear her?  Perhaps if I was more
like Nicholas and his beloved Doctor Lambert, I might subscribe to such
emotional torture, but--"

        "How can you say this?"  The girl was almost in tears, and for an
instant Lacroix regretted having to rip her dignity to shreds in the
process of saving her life.  "How can you think that all of this is
just--just some kind of delusion?  Some kind of ?"

        "It is your mind, Niamh."  He spoke quietly, and at the sound of her
name she trembled slightly, gazing up at him in anger and disbelief.
"You are the one who knows your mind best; what do you think you feel?"

        She was silent for a long moment, and her eyes bored straight into his,
unflinching, unwavering, until she straightened her shoulders and
decided, "No.  You can't twist this around just so I can be some kind
of...weird dumpee in this whole thing.  I care for you, Lucien, and you
can't stop me.  You can't tell me what my feelings are, or what I'm
allowed to do about them.  It  my mind, and I  know how I feel!"

        Lacroix met her gaze evenly, surprised at how difficult his answer
was.  "That's right, Miss McGrogan.  You do know."  Taking a step closer
to her, he reached out and smoothed her hair away from her eyes,
reaching for her heartbeat.

        "Now let me tell you  you know."

End of Part Seventeen

I apologize for any errors in this section.  Ratsie-speak tends to
confound the spell-checker. :)  Speaking of which, thanks to the
following RatPackers who have graciously allowed me to use/abuse/confuse
them for the party: Brianna, Helene, Ursula, Michele, Miranda, and Maya.

Disclaimers in part one.

Green-Eyed Monster (18/21)     by Jayne Leitch

        Libby met Jayne in the pantry that Louisa had recently held them
captive in.  This time, however, there were no ropes involved.

        "Yew gots th' pinny-ata?" she asked her fellow Ratpacker in a
conspiratorial whisper.

        "'Course."  Jayne held up a large, purple and green, rodent-shaped mass
of paper-mache.  The strange thing about it wasn't the colours,
however--the rodent appeared to be sitting in a small boat, holding oars
between its paws.  "Me buddies a' Crafty Creations made 'im spe-see-ally
fer this 'ere party.  Yew gots th' snacksies?"

        The ListRatsie held up a covered plate.  "An' they's yummers, 'tis.  I
kin 'ardly keep meself frum takin' a nibble--'s sugar free, yew know."

        "Then we's ready?"  At Libby's affirmative nod, Jayne set the pinata
carefully on the floor and placed her hands against a faintly outlined
part of the wall, pushing lightly.  The panel slid aside, allowing the
two 'Packers to slip into the tunnels with nary a whisper.

        They crawled for what seemed like kilometers until they arrived at the
designated place--the hatch that led into Vachon's church.

        Before they entered, Jayne held up her hand, halting Libby's progress.
"I wish tew make uh form'll commie-plaint," she whispered, turning her
nose up and speaking in the hoity-toityist tones a Ratpaker can.  "I
of-fishully object tew th' Grease-Monkey Spaniard 'oldin' this 'ere
celler-brashun.  If'n Vachonetti 'adn't sugg-chested it, we
RatsiePackers woulda.  Sooner 'r later," she amended quickly at her
companion's skeptically raised eyebrow.

        "Yew finished?"  Libby made 'hurry up' motions with her hands.

        "Yep."  Jayne cleared her throat and picked up the pinata again, saving
it from becoming too soggy at the hands of a puddle of...well, whatever
liquid there can be found in Ratpacker tunnels.

        The editorial concluded, the two ladies slid aside the hatch and
emerged into the former chapel, which was lit only by a few candles.
Standing up and making half-hearted swipes at the grime on their 'party
clothes', they glanced around, trying to find a hint of the rest of the
party.  "'Yodel-lay-hee-hoo!'" Jayne called into the almost-darkness,
straining her ears for a response.

        "You don't have to shout, you know."  The voice from very close behind
them made the two Ratpackers jump, and they quickly turned around to
face Vachon.  "It'll be hard enough to keep Screed from finding out
about this gathering as it is," he admonished them, reaching over and
taking Libby's snack tray from her quivering hands.  "Making enough
noise to raise the dead will not help matters."

        "Yew should jammy-jam, matie," the ListRatsie replied gruffly.  "Oll o'
yer plannin' wuz 'posed tew in-klewd keepin' me Screedie-poo frum
disco-overin' us!  'Ow 'ard kin 't be fer one vampie tew keep anudder
vampie frum detectin' a few mortals?"

        "Oh, don't worry, I have it covered," the Spaniard replied lightly,
inwardly wrinkling his nose at the woman's speech.  "Just don't make any
extra noise."

        "If'n yew'd show me an' Libs where tew finish settin' up, we'll be
quiet as churchy-mices," Jayne retorted.  She looked distastefully at
the slacker's long, greasy hair and sloppy clothes.  *Torture!
Torture!  Call the Human Rights Commission!*

        The vampire gave her a look, then half-turned and indicated the stairs
that led down into the basement.  "Everyone's down here."

        The two ladies followed the vampire down to the chilly, somewhat damp
room, where they met up with a crowd of Ratpackers, all of them wearing
party hats, some of them playing with noisemakers.  Placed carefully
around the room, decorating the walls and floor and tables, were
hundreds of rats--fake, of course, everything from stuffed Beanie
Babies to the brass rat Jayne had donated.  Most of the 'Packers
were cooing over the little rodents--all except Brianna and Miranda, who
were cowering in a corner, their hands tightly clasped over their eyes,
whimpering, "They's not real.  They's just faksie-ratsies.  Breathe.

        As they joined the others, Libby and Jayne exchanged grins.  "Screed'll
be sew surprized!" Jayne exclaimed, clapping her hand over her mouth
when Vachon gave her a Look.  " sorry," she commented

        The vampire just sighed.  "I'll have Screed down here in no more than
fifteen mintues," he announced, drawing the group's attention.  "If you
want to give him a shock, do  talk.  I'll try to distract him from
hearing you on his way."

        "Roighty-o," Libby said once the Spaniard was safely upstairs.
"Ev'ry-buddy, 'member--this 'ere's Screedsie's big day, an' 'e dezerves
uh bit o' uh celler-brashun.  Sew be on yer best-like behaviour.  An'
don't m'nop'lize me sailor's time.  'E's gotta 'ave fun, not spend 'iz
party chattin' wiv th' same folksies."

        "Careful, Libs-mate."  Jayne looked up from tying the pinata to a
length of twine Michele had handed her, a bit of a glint in her eyes.
"Yew're beginnin' tew sound like certain Addicts on Connie-vershun Day!"

        Some of the other NA's in the 'Pack nodded their agreement, causing
Libby to blush.  "'Oo'd've cog-i-tated tha' lil' ol' me wuz such uh
vocabulatin' person!"

        Sensing that the speech was finished, the rest of the group went back
to doing whatever they were doing.  After a few moments, however, there
was a loud *clunk* from over their heads, and every one of them froze.

        "Whut wuz tha'?" Ursula whispered, glancing up at the ceiling.  "D'yew
s'pose Vachonetti's place iz fallin' uh-part?"

        "It's Screed!"  Heather answered, hissing loud enough for the whole
room to hear her.  "Vachon said tha' he'd get Screed tew use th' loudest
tunnel, so's we'd have warning!"

        At this, Libby rocketed to her feet from where she'd been sitting and
talking with Miranda, and, in true Ratpacker fashion, bellowed at the
top of her lungs, "Ev'ry-buddy quiet!"  Her eyes then widened comically,
and she slapped her hand over her mouth.  "Sorry," she whispered, then
reached over and flicked off the light.

        The room fell deathly silent, and the horde of 'Packers listened with
rapt attention as two sets of footsteps walked across the floor above
them, then began moving down the stairs.  Slowly, the steps moved
towards the door to the party room, which, after a moment, began to
slide open.  Two forms stood in silhouette, one straight-backed and with
a heap of long, greasy hair (the grease reflected the minimal lighting,
okay??), the other slightly stooped and completely bald.  Together, the
huddled masses drew in a deep, collective breath, and then...


        The lights snapped back on, and the Ratpackers saw Screed, standing
motionless in the doorway, his eyes wide and round as dinner plates.
Vachon stood beside him, a sneaky grin on his face.  "Happy Punt Day,

        The carouche turned to his friend, tears of joy welling up in his
eyes.  "Yew remember-ated," he replied, his voice thick with emotion.
"After oll this time 'ad flew bye-bye, yew remember-ated!"

        "Of course I did."  Placing a friendly hand on Screed's shoulder,
Vachon turned him so the overwrought vampire could see out into the
room.  "Look what your friends did for you."

        Screed surveyed the room, noting all the rats, decorations, and people
strewn about.  "Cor..."

        "Yew loike 't, Screedsie?"  The hopeful question came from Libby, who
was grinning widely at her dreamboat.

        Finally finding his voice, the carouche met her eyes and nodded.
"Aye.  Yew're oll th' best-like mates a vampie-campie could ever 'ave!"
With that, he stepped into the crowd, warmly pressing hands and speaking
with his followers.

        Maya and Helene, who were unfortunately positioned near the back of the
room, and thus had to wait for Screed to reach them, began to chat.

        "Sew whut 'xactly is this 'ere celler-brashun 'bout, anyhoos?"  Maya
asked, standing on tiptoe to try to see the vampire.  "Whut 'xactly is
uh 'Punt Day'?"

        "There's uh story 'bout that," Helene replied, mimicking her friend's
stance.  "As I unnerstand, Screedsie wuz a-sailin' th' ocean blue fer
'iz mortal life.  Once, when 'e wuz on shore leave, or whutever sailin'
guys call it, 'e found 'imself signin' up fer a trade run frum Liverpool
tew Cartagena."

        "Sew?"  Maya asked when Helene seemed to have finished.  "Where's

        "'S in Spain," Michele answered, somewhat condescendingly.  She had
wandered away from the crush of people to grab some food from the snack
table, and had overheard.  "Yew see?"

        Maya nodded, then paused and frowned.  "'Ang on.  Uh punt is a
smallish-er skiffy type o' boat, ain't it?"

        "Yup."  Ursula joined the conversation, adding, "See, th' tradin' ship
stopped fer uh port o' call someplace in th' Bay o' Biscay, an' on their
way back out, th' ship wuz caught in a monstr'us storm."

        The small group of 'Packers gasped to think of a mortal Screed in the
grip of a deadly storm.

        "Most o' the 'ands were lost."  The four looked up to see Miranda and
Brianna heading towards them, both stolidly looking ahead, their eyes
turned away from the multitude of rats.  Miranda tried to keep her mind
on the telling of the story.  "But Screed an' a few uthers managed tew
get tew uh punt they wuz usin' as lifeboat, an' got offa th' ship afore
't sunk."

        The rest breathed a heavy sigh of relief.  "'S a very 'arrowin'
telly-tale," Brianna agreed solemnly.  "Th' group wuz rescued by
annuther boat whut wuz 'eadin' fer Spain.  But this one, it wuzn't goin'
tew Cartagena."

        "Nope."  Jayne spoke up from behind Michele, having already met and
petted Screed.  (What?  'Petting' is a perfectly innocent term for
'handshake'.  Get your minds OUT of that gutter!)  "'Twas 'eaded fer
Cadiz; 's on one side o' th' Straight Gibraltar.  If'n Screedie'd gone
on tew Cartagena, 'e never woulda met Hairy-Boy over there."  She
gestured at Vachon across the room, who looked up as if he'd heard his
name.  Seeing Jayne and the cluster of 'Packers, his eyes narrowed.
"An' if'n 'e'd never met th' vampie..."

        "Ooooohhh."  The others chorused their comprehension.

        "...Sew, Screed thinks o' th' day 'iz boat went down as uh turnin'
point in 'iz life," Jayne finished.  "'E calls 't Punt Day, an' s'far as
I kin see, 'im an' Vachonetti 'ave celler-brated 't fer years an'

        "'T all makes sense now," Maya wondered, her roving eyes glimpsing the
carouche heading closer to the group.  "Whut a scent-ee-mental guy."

        The 'Packers stood in awed, humbled silence for a moment; then, Heather
bumped against Brianna on her way to the punch bowl filled with Granny's
Secret Recipe.  "'Ey," she exclaimed, glancing at the others, then
raising her eyebrows.  "Are ye just gonna stand there, or are ye gonna
do whut we came 'ere to do?"

        Shaking herself from her reverie, Jayne grinned at the crowd.  "Right!"
she stated in no uncertain terms.  Reaching for the punch herself, she
raised her voice and called, "Let's PARTY!!!"
End Of Part Eighteen

Happy Conversion Day!  On this day in 79 AD, Vesuvius erupted, burying
the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum beneath mounds of molten ash.
Also on this day in 79 AD, a certain Roman general was approached by a
certain demonic child with a very interesting question...

Disclaimers in part one.
Green-Eyed Monster  (19/21)     by Jayne Leitch

        Having decided that eavesdropping on Lacroix and Niamh's private
conversation might incur more wrath than they could conceivably avoid
(or deflect), Patt and Bonnie had slunk away from the door to the alley
right around Lacroix's softly spoken, "Warm, comforting...delicious."
The pair now rested semi-inconspicuously in the Shrine, lounging
comfortably and staring up at the tapestries.

        The pattering of soft-soled feet interrupted their quiet genuflection,
and Laura, Sharon, and Mariah rushed into the room, their eyes
glittering.  "Is Lacroix really here?" Laura asked breathlessly,
glancing from one reclining Addict to the other.

        "We heard you were in the kitchen when he came to get Niamh," Mariah
added, placing a hand over her chest as if trying to hold her heart in.
"Is it true?"

        Bonnie nodded.  "Yup.  And if I'm not mistaken, he's right in the
middle of dumping her flat, so I wouldn't try to track him down if I
were you."

        "What?"  Sharon looked away from a very elegantly attired
pre-Renaissance Nunkies picture sharply.  "He's breaking up with her?
And you're not listening in?!?"

        Patt smiled wisely.  "There are some things in life that are not meant
to be heard by outside parties," she replied.  Then, noticing the
puzzled expressions that came over the other women's faces, she sighed
and clarified, "Clinton's first meetings with new interns and old,
powerful vampires breaking a young woman's heart."

        "Oh," the others chorused knowingly.

        The conversation was quickly cut off when the door from the kitchen/lab
was pushed open, and the girl of the hour entered.  Niamh looked flushed
and slightly distracted; otherwise, it was as if everything was well in
her world.  She glanced around the room, and, spotting Bonnie, strode
quickly to her side.  "Just thought I'd let you know I'm leaving," she
stated calmly.  "I need to get back to Kingston, the sooner the better."

        The Scribe blinked, then exchanged looks with the other Addicts.
"Um...okay," she replied slowly.  She sat up on her lounger, looked
Niamh in the eyes and asked carefully, "You're--you're okay then?"

        Niamh nodded, furrowing her brow.  "Yeah, I'm fine.  Why wouldn't I

        "What Bonnie's asking," Patt jumped in, treading lightly, "Is...what
did you and Lacroix decide?"

        "Oh!"  The Irish girl actually seemed surprised at the question.  "Oh,
we talked about it, and most of the things he said make sense.  It's
best for everyone if I leave town.  There's nothing here for me,
really."  Suddenly her eyes got the far-off look that each woman knew
 well, and she repeated mechanically, "There's nothing for me

        Again, the Addicts glanced at each other.  "There's no hard feelings,
then?" Sharon queried tentatively.

        Niamh shrugged.  "Not really.  It's just a bit of a crush, after all,
and nothing could ever come of it.  Actually," and now she smiled fully,
"It's best if I don't take it any further than I already have.  I mean,
he's got someone else.  I can't steal him away from her."

        Bonnie jumped to her feet, her eyes widening.  "Her?" she repeated, her
voice taking on a tinge of panic.  "Her who?  Who's he got?"

        "You're kidding, right?"  Seeing the stunned expressions on each
woman's face, Niamh raised her eyebrows.  "Geez, I thought everybody
knew.  My boss.  The coroner.  You know, Natalie Lambert?"  When the
Addicts didn't respond, she continued, "Lacroix pointed out that working
conditions might not be that great if Natalie knew I was after her
boyfriend, and I--"

        "Her ?!?!"  The stereo screech from the five women made
Niamh jump.

        Bonnie looked as if she was about to have a heart attack (or a
dinosaur).  "You're telling us that Natalie's seeing ?!"

        Niamh blinked.  "No.  I'm talking about Nick."

        There was a pause as this was digested.

        "Nick?"  Patt regained her speech first.  "You have a crush on...Nick."

        "Yeah."  Again, Niamh's eyes became slightly unfocussed, and she
continued mechanically, "Nick.  He is such a handsome, manly detective.
He is the only man I have ever had feelings for in Toronto."  Shaking
her head a little, she came back to herself and finished, "But I like
Natalie too much to sneak around on her with her boyfriend, so--I'm
giving him up."

        "Oh."  Breathing a communal sigh of relief, the Addicts exchanged
knowing smiles.

        "So Niamh."  Catching a glimpse of some fun to be had, Bonnie sank back
down onto her lounger and glanced coyly up at the Irish girl.  "What was
it you found so...manly...about Nickyp--Nick?"

        The girl's eyes glazed over once more, and she sighed dreamily.  "There
are so many things..."  Then, suddenly, she shook her head, and grinned
ruefully.  "Maybe I'll tell you later," she amended.  "I have a ton of
things to do before I leave town, and if I don't get them done..."
Turning her eyes back to Bonnie, Niamh nodded respectfully.  "Thank you
for giving me a place to get over that thing at the station," she said
formally.  "Lacroix tells me that you're good friends of his, and even
though he's had a falling out with his brother, I'm glad you still
decided to take me in."

        "Pardon me."  Patt raised her eyebrows and forced back a grin.
"Lacroix's brother?"

        "Nick."  Shaking her head, the Irish girl chuckled.  "Why else would I
have talked to Lacroix about my crush?"

        Allowing a bit of a smile to break through, Patt looked at the other
Addicts mischievously.  "Why indeed."

        With that, Niamh McGrogan made her goodbyes, shaking hands with the
other women, then bowing out of the Shrine to go pack up.

        When she was gone, Laura glanced at her friends, then began giggling.
"He whammied her into thinking she fell in love with ?!"

        Mariah grinned.  "Lucky girl.  She got to look deep into those eyes..."

        At the mention of Lacroix's eyes, all five Addicts glazed over.
Luckily, however, Bonnie was able to pull herself out of it, and with a
sigh, she stood up to see if the vampire was still around.  She only got
halfway to the kitchen/lab, however, before her back stiffened, her head
snapped up--and she began laughing.

        "What?"  Sharon watched the Scribe convulse with laughter, puzzled.
"What's so funny?"

        With a herculean effort, Bonnie managed to get herself under control,
and she looked back at the others with a gleam of mirth in her eyes.
"All of this," she explained, trying hard not to dissolve into giggles
again.  "Natalie's intern program, Nick's latest source of angst, not to
mention Lacroix going out of his way to whammy a potential problem."

        The others looked at her.

        The Scribe simply grinned back.  "To think," she finished, holding her
hands out as if making a divine proclamation, "All of it, for your basic
Mary Sue!"

        Due to an inexplicable sudden lack of cases to be tried in the Ontario
court system, Louisa Creton's court date was only a few days after she
had been arrested.  Incredibly, the case went no further than the
preliminary hearing, as both lawyers seemed very eager to get the whole
matter done with.  Therefore, a very calm and somewhat mechanical judge
ruled that Louisa's punishment should amount to five hundred dollars to
be paid to CERK Radio, as well as immediate placement in the London
Psychiatric Hospital.

        There was no mention of Lucien Lacroix beyond that of his position at
the station, and that for some reason, he had been targeted above other
radio personalities for Creton's fixation.

        Louisa herself denied any wrongdoing, and even went so far as to claim
that the Nightcrawler got what was coming to him.

        Not even her lawyer contested Louisa's sentence.


        Louisa's room at the mental hospital was small, white, and padded.
Every time she opened her eyes in the morning, she had to conquer the
horrible feeling that somehow, during the night, she had been kidnapped
by aliens, shrunk, then trapped inside a marshmallow.

        She wasn't even sure why she was in the institution in the first
place.  It seemed crystal clear to her that she was perfectly sane.

        The bed was much like the room, but for the fact that the frame was
sturdy, gleaming metal.  Louisa would have found it comfortable--if it
had been in her apartment instead of the hospital.

        This particular night, only two days after she had been sent to the
LPH, she lay flat on her back on her institutional white bed, dressed in
her institutional white clothes, staring up at the institutional white
ceiling.  She was bored.  There was nothing to do in the hospital except
take endless amounts of medication and think drugged thoughts.  No one
even came to visit...

        The sharp click of footsteps echoed down the hall outside.  They took a
moment to register, but when they did, Louisa sat up abruptly.  No one
in the hospital wore hard-heeled shoes; all the doctors, interns, and
security officers wore silent shoes with whispering rubber soles.
Louisa narrowed her eyes.  *Who's here at this time, anyway?*

        The lock on her door snapped open, and she stood up quickly.  *Who's
visiting ?*  Despite herself, she began to get nervous.  Someone
coming to visit her this late at night, without a nurse, wearing
non-regulation shoes...

        The door swung open and a tall, pale man dressed entirely in black
stepped into the room.  He looked directly at her, a cool smile flitting
over his mouth.  His eyes were crisp blue, and they met hers, staring
into them intently.  Louisa could feel herself falling into them, her
mind gone blank, falling, falling...

        He broke eye contact and she shivered, then sat down heavily on the
bed.  The man folded his arms and looked down at her in amusement.
"Nicholas did rather a good job with you," he commented somewhat
cryptically.  "Either that, or whatever medications they have you on
here have much the same effect."

        "Who are you?"  Louisa asked, a thin tremor of fear dancing over her
spine.  Clouded though her mind was with medication, she could almost
remember something, something frightening and exhilarating, all at
once.  "Are you a new doctor?"

        "A doctor!"  The man chuckled, seemingly at the novel idea.  "I
sometimes deliver others to death, but no, I am not a doctor.  My name
is Lacroix."

        Again, Louisa felt the shiver of cloudy, almost-recognition.  "Do I
know you?"

        Lacroix smiled again, and this time it reached his eyes.  "Not
anymore.  And you won't again, after I finish with you."

        Louisa trembled.  "What's that supposed to mean?"

        "Quite simply," Lacroix answered, "It means that I am going to let you
remember .  Every torture, every attack you masterminded, I
will let you see them all.  You will witness all your victories, all
your defeats, one last time.  And then--" the sudden snap of his fingers
made her jump, "--I will give you nothing.  No past, no present--only
the future will be yours.  A new name, a new place...a life free of the
sins of your past.  And, for a second time, you'll have forgotten you
ever knew of my existence."

        Louisa stared at Lacroix in horror.  Throughout his speech, his voice
had stayed perfectly flat, perfectly plain.  It was a soft, pleasant
sound, nicely accompanied by the unwavering stare of those eyes.  She
didn't doubt for a second that he was telling the truth.

        Still, something inside her gave her the courage to ask softly, "What
if I don't want to forget?"

        Lacroix laughed again, a low, dry sound that chilled Louisa to the
bone.  "My dear Miss Creton," he said softly, stepping close to her and
pinning her to the bed with his gaze,  "You don't have a choice."

        And suddenly, she remembered everything...
End of Part Nineteen
"Live or die, General. What is your choice?" Happy Conversion Day!!!
Okay, I am not a doctor, I am not a coroner, heck, I'm not even
pre-med.  So basically, any and all medical terms I used were taken
verbatim from a twenty-year-old anatomy book I found in my basement.  If
they're wrong, there's nothing I can do about it, and if they're right,
well--kewl! :)  Also, there are two references to other TV shows in this
part, and if you can tell me what they are, I'll give you a cool million
dollars*! Be careful, though; one is  obscure.

Other disclaimers in part one.
Green-Eyed Monster (20/21)     by Jayne Leitch

        Natalie Lambert, regional coroner, was working on extracting a very
small bullet from Mr. Gene Bellamy's septum--also known as "Recovering
Evidence for Prosecution's Case #79.28".  She held the smallest forceps
she could find carefully with her right hand; her left was occupied in
gently keeping the rest of Mr. Bellamy's heart from getting in the way.

        Her left hand wasn't having much luck.

        "Damn!...Uh, note that the subject's pericardium seems to have been
punctured by two bullets, one to the right and one to the left of the
left atrium."  Pausing her work for a moment, Natalie swiped her forearm
across her forehead, wishing irritably that the new shipment of surgical
caps would arrive soon.  Sweat drove her crazy.  "Just what I need," she
muttered, hoping her tape recorder wouldn't pick up her sarcasm.
" one of those little buggers needing to be picked out."  She
sighed, then raised her voice and continued clearly, "The--" she dug
around quickly to find if it really was, "The first bullet is deeply
imbedded in subject's septum; the muscle is rigid, so there may be
tearing during extraction."  Gripping the forceps a little tighter, Nat
leaned back over the corpse.

        Just as she was about to pry back some softer tissue, Natalie heard the
door swing softly open--but not closed.  She ignored her visitor; Nick
had warned her about this, and she would speak to her when she was
ready.  Instead, she twisted her instrument slightly, grasped hold of an
artery, and--

        "Also note," Nat reached behind her for a sterilized towel, "Coroner
needs to review proper preparation and draining techniques with her
aids, especially in regards to the coronary arteries and bivalves."  She
wiped ineffectually at her scrubs, then peeled off her gloves and
reached over to turn off the tape recorder.

        "Sorry, Natalie."  The coroner looked up to see Niamh watching
sheepishly from the doorway.  Despite what Nick had told her about the
events at CERK, the Irish girl looked to Nat to be completely
healthy--if a little green at seeing the cadaver in its present state.

        "Why should you be sorry?"  Pretending to be nonchalant, Natalie strode
over to the file, then made a show of checking a name.  "Gregory did
this one."

        "Yeah, well..." Niamh's cheeks flushed a little as she admitted, "I
traded jobs for this one.  I did the chem workup on 36 for him, and he
got this guy ready for me."

        "Well, 'this guy' deserved better than he got."  Nat leveled a stern
look at her intern, inwardly beginning to enjoy the game.  "Gene here is
the star witness in Queen vs. Murphy."  She absently patted the body's
shoulder.  "I've heard horror stories about this guy, and after seeing
the well-muscled Mr. Bellamy, I believe them.  They call this Murphy
character--and his alleged partner in crime--the Cleaners.  They're
notorious assassins, according to police legend."

        "Really?"  Despite herself, the Irish girl looked intrigued.  "Will
they get him with this one?"

        "My guess?  Probably not."  At Niamh's startled look, Nat elaborated,
"It's mostly circumstantial evidence--has been, each time they've come
to court.  Between the two of them, they've been arrested twenty-six
times, and at each trial, some new defense is used, and works.  Despite
anything the prosecution comes up with--which is never much--they're
never sent to prison."  Arching her eyebrows, she added, "If I was one
to believe in conspiracy theories, I'd say they're part of some secret
government agency.  There's never anything to really tie them to the
scene, and the victims--well, they're not talking.  Are you, Gene?"

        The corpse made no reply.

        "Of course not."  Taking a deep breath, the M.E. finished, "However,
what Mr. Bellamy lacks in speech, he makes up for in bullets.  Which is
why I wanted a good go at extracting those things.  I want to present a
complete case."

        "Maybe Gregory's in on the conspiracy," Niamh suggested, attempting a

        Natalie considered for a moment.  Then-- "Naw."  Looking up from Gene
Bellamy, she pinned her intern with a steely gaze.  "Your shift doesn't
start for a few hours yet.  Why've you dropped in?"

        Niamh cleared her throat, then suddenly developed difficulty with her
gaze-meeting skills.  "I just wanted to let you know...I'm going back to
Kingston," she answered quietly.

        *So...Lacroix's taken the higher road?  I didn't see that one coming.*

        The intern nodded.  "Don't misunderstand," she hurried to explain,
"I've enjoyed working with you, and Toronto's great.  But some...things
have come up, and it's not right for me to stay any longer."  The words
came in a rush, and only when she'd finished did Niamh look up.  "I'm
sorry to run out, but..."

        "No problem."  Natalie gave the younger woman a brief smile.  "It's
been nice having some help around here--even if they do sometimes switch
assignments without asking--but if you have to go, I won't be angry."
She watched as Niamh noticeably relaxed, even returned her smile.

        "You understand?"

        "I do.  And so does Gene."  She waited as the Irish girl laughed a
little; then, she decided to play her top card.  "I have one question,

        Niamh's laughter died quickly on her lips, and Nat grinned inwardly.
"What question?"

        Crossing her arms and piercing her wayward intern with another
penetrating gaze, she asked pointedly, "Does your leaving have anything
to do with a certain  we both know?"

        Niamh turned bright red, then paled quickly to chalk white.  "Um..."

        Natalie leaned back against the counter, her cadaver forgotten as she
relished the performance.  *This...should be fun.*


        Nick Knight entered his loft with trepidation.  He could sense
Lacroix's presence from two blocks away, and had detected the older
vampire's mirth as soon as he'd identified the feeling.  *Tell me he
hasn't raided a nunnery,* he begged silently as the elevator rumbled
slowly up from the garage.

        "Ah, Nicholas."  His master hadn't even waited for the door to open
fully before addressing his son.  "Your answering machine has rather a
unique message on it."

        "Listening to my phone messages, Lacroix?"  Nick could hardly believe
his ears.  "Isn't that a little below you?"

        "Of course it is!"  The taller man rose gracefully from the leather
couch, his silk shirt whispering against it as he moved.  "I have no
need to listen in on your pathetic friends," he scoffed.  "Not when I
know firsthand what the message contains."

        "What?"  Giving his sire a mistrustful glance, Nick moved past him and
hit the replay button.  There was the whirring of tape, then the
Captain's voice.

        "Nick!  Your collar's somehow escaped from London Psyche.  Officially,
it's out of our jurisdiction--I don't need to tell you that--but you
should know that the London police are sniffing arond, trying to get
copies of your statement as arresting officer--"

        Nick jabbed his finger down on the pause button, then shot a look at
Lacroix.  "Escaped?!"

        For his part, the master vampire seemed to be laughing at him.  "A most
regrettable happenstance, Nicholas," he commented dryly.  "A dangerous
woman, clearly deranged, simply walking out of the
institution...whatever is your proud police force coming to?"

        "Budget cuts."  Nick looked Lacroix in the eyes for a moment,
carefully, measuring what he saw there.  His shoulders slumped.  "Why
did you do it?"

        "Oh, Nicholas."  Lacroix shook his head, making disapproving clucking
noises in the back of his throat.  "You should know by now not to
attempt to analyze my motives.  Has our time together been for naught?"

        "I am not in the mood for games!"  The reprimand carried little weight,
and even less anger.  *What should I expect?  An out-and-out

        "Very well."  Lacroix sighed, and Nick looked up in amazement.  "If you
must know, I'll tell you."  The older vampire stalked slowly around the
coffee table, coming to rest beside the fireplace.  Turning back to look
at his progeny, he stated simply, "I...admire Miss Creton."

        Nick blinked.  "Pardon me?"

        "I do believe you heard me the first time."  The briefest of smiles
lurked across Lacroix's lips, and he continued, "I admire her
dedication, her strategic manoeuvers, her--might I say--inspired

        "It sounds as if you're describing a military campaign," Nick hazarded
after a moment.  He tensed a little as his master gave him a sharp look,
then inwardly sighed, relieved, when he glanced away again.

        "In a way, I am," Lacroix conceded.  "Louisa is everything that a
general could--should--be, on the battlefield and beyond.  And to
attempt to destroy , when she knew what I am...this shows bravery
that is rarely found in these modern days of delegation and apathy.  I
wished to reward her for her tenacity."

        "So you helped her escape."  Heaving a monumental sigh, Nick flopped
down onto the couch.  "I'm sure you have other motives..."

        "Oh, most assuredly."  Again, the frank, open agreement shocked the
younger vampire.  "If Miss Creton is free, there is the chance of our
crossing paths again, this time in a somewhat fairer fight.  It was the
least I could do."

        Lacroix's phrasing triggered a switch in Nick's mind, and he looked up
sharply.  "You didn't bring her across?!?"

        "No, I did not."  The older vampire seemed offended by the idea, and
the younger one relaxed again--for a moment.  Just until Lacroix's mouth
twisted into an evil smile.  "Where would the fun be in that?"

        He was gone in a heartbeat, and Nick groaned softly, resting his head
in his hands.


        Louis Cabon sat in his tiny office in one of the back rooms of the
Jeweled Peach.  This room was his sanctum, had been officially declared
as such--and therefore was off-limits to even the most persistent
Addict.  *Whatever 'eez faults,* the Frenchman reflected, *Monsieur
Lacroix understands zee need for a quiet getaway.*

        The thought of Lacroix made Louis shudder, and he reached up to touch
the Band-Aid that covered the cut on his forehead.  *Oo knew my
Louisa was so strong?*

        The thought of  funneled the maitre d' further down into his
funk, and he leaned forward, resting his elbow on the desk and placing
his chin in his hand.  "I am 'opeless!"

        When he'd met Louisa Creton, it had been a dream come true.  Louis had
attended a seminar on The Merits of Factuality in Horror Writing (he'd
been secretly writing a horror movie based on his life at the restaurant
after the first month of interaction with the Addicts), and had been
paired with Louisa for a project involving the elements of a good

        The two of them had been so alike that it took them forever just to
work out their basic plot.  Each one deferred to the other, tossed out
their own ideas for those of their partner's, and just generally were so
accommodating that the instructor was forced to break them up and pair
them each with other members of the group.  A sense of the kindred had
been recognized, however, and when Louisa called the maitre d' that
evening with an invitation to dine, he had readily accepted.

        "Oo knew zat my one true love would turn out to be a crazy wacko?"
Louis sighed.

        There was a framed picture of the two of them from their visit to an
Aircraft Museum just beside his elbow.  At the front gate there had been
a wooden cutout, painted to resemble a plane soaring through the air,
dogged by an enemy fighter.  The bodies of the pilots were headless, and
in the picture the laughing face of Louisa poked over the enemy's scarf,
while Louis' serious countenance peered at the camera from under the
maple leaf.

        Louis looked at the photo for a moment, remembering that day--and all
the others--they'd spent together.  Then, he forced himself to look back
at her behaviour towards the Addicts and Lacroix--and him.  Again, his
hand stole up to his cut.

        The picture looked glossily up at him while he remembered.  Then,
slowly, he reached out, picked it up...and placed it lovingly in the
bottom of his filing cabinet.

        "Ah, Louisa."  Louis took a deep breath, then felt a tremulous smile
spread over his face.  "Perhaps it eez better zis way."

        There was a sudden crash from the direction of the Peach, and Louis'
head snapped up, his eyes widening in horror.  There was silence, and he
held his breath, waiting...

        The noise was repeated after a moment, louder, followed by a
'woing...woing...woing, woing, woingwoingwoingwoing sound.  The maitre
d' envisioned stacks of the restaurant's best china littering the
expensive carpets--again--and with a muted cry, he rushed out of his
office and towards the commotion.

        *And everysing eez as it was...*
*All money in Canadian dollars, which makes winning this kinda
self-defeating.  Money is also in virtual currency, which I suppose
makes it doubly pointless.  
End of Part Twenty

Well, this is it!  Thanks for reading, and I promise that if I ever
write something this long again, I won't take a year to post the dang
thing!!  Hope you enjoy.

Disclaimers in part one.
Green-Eyed Monster  (21/21)     by Jayne Leitch

	Patt enjoyed walking in Queen's Park when she was in Toronto, even in
winter.  Even though the sounds of traffic weren't muted in the
slightest, even though the few 'natural' trees weren't much to look at,
the Mature Addict found the open space relaxing.
	This particular afternoon, almost a week after the ordeal at CERK, Patt
strolled through the crunching snow, her thoughts millions of kilometres
away.  The headset pumping Nightcrawler monologues into her ears helped.
	Eventually, her footsteps slowed, and Patt sighed.  *Almost a week,*
she thought glumly.  *Almost a week, and Jayne still hasn't written
anything good for me in this bloody story.*  She sighed again, and
kicked at a pile of dirty snow.  *I wonder why she hates me?*  she
continued, somewhat melodramatically.  *What have I ever done to her?*
	As Patt strolled, head down, shoulders slumped, the Nightcrawler tape
clicked off, and her ears were hit with an altogether different noise. 
He head snapped up and her eyes widened as she saw what she'd
unwittingly wandered into.
	It was tree to tree people.  It looked like a group of thousands: tall,
short, red-clad, yellow-clad, heavily thermalized people.  They were
milling about, hoisting banners and placards and even little effigies
into the air, yelling and chanting loudly and angrily.
	Patt read a few words on some of the banners and winced.  *So this is
what the transportation officials are doing on strike...*  Her gaze
wandered over the expressions of the few people closest to her.  *Oops. 
I suppose maybe I should head in a different direction while things are
still peaceful...*
	Patt backed up a few steps, then turned around to head back the way
she'd come.  As soon as she took a step, however, her foot connected
solidly with a sheet of ice and she lost her balance.  As her heel
skidded backwards and her arms pinwheeled madly, she fell firmly on her
backside, the impact on the frozen ground knocking the breath out of
	As she lay on the cold, snowy ground, feeling the freezing wetness melt
through her coat and clothes, Patt sighed deeply.  "I'm getting her back
for this."
	"Excuse me, miss."
	Patt opened her eyes at the firm yet concerned voice, and immediately
forgot her aching tailbone.
	"Are you all right, miss?"  the Mountie queried, his strongly chiseled
face gazing down at her, his dark blue eyes offset nicely by the
official red serge he wore.  His breath steamed in the cold air, and
Patt watched it waft out of his perfectly formed lips.  "Miss?"
	"Hmmm?  Oh, yes--yes, I think I'm okay," Patt replied absently, then
mentally kicked herself.  She thought quickly and added, "But I think I
need some help getting up."
	The Mountie nodded smartly and leaned down, offering her his gloved
hand.  Patt reached up and took it, gasping at the man's strength as he
pulled her upright.  "That looked like a nasty fall, miss," he said
seriously, still clasping her hand tightly.  "Are you part of the
	It took the Addict some time to form a response, so mesmerized she was
by his deep, concerned voice.  "Uhm, no.  No, I'm not.  I was just, um,
	The Mountie nodded sagely.  "I see.  Well, perhaps you should stay away
from the rallies on your strolls.  They might get violent."
	Patt nodded.  "I will."  She tried hard not to stare at the man's
strong cheekbones and nicely tanned Stetson.
	At her assurance, the Mountie smiled.  (*Look at those !* Patt
thought feverishly.)  "Good.  Now, are you able to get home?"
	Patt's eyes widened and she tried desperately to find something that
would require assistance.  *Hands are fine, hip's fine, tailbone--heh, I
 he'd help me with my tailbone--knee's okay...*  "My ankle's a
little sore," she tried, batting her eyelashes for good measure.  *Sure,
it's the oldest trick in the book, but he's a ...*
	The policeman assumed his concerned expression once more.  "I'd better
help you back, then.  That's if you don't mind?"  When Patt shook her
head fervently, he stepped close to her side and linked her arm through
his.  She took the opportunity to run her hand over his Sam Browne.
	"My name's Patt," she said flirtatiously as they headed off.  "What's
	"Constable Marcus," he answered, looking down at her with baby blues
that rivaled Lacroix's.
	"Well, Constable Marcus."  Patt eyed his lanyard appreciatively.  "I'm
afraid we have a ways to go..."


	While Patt took Constable Marcus on a roundabout path back to the
Peach, the Addicts were back to their blissful enjoyment of the Shrine's
facilities.  Some bounced happily on the trampoline (with a minimum of
injuries for once), others drooled merrily in the video room and
anteroom, while still others relaxed by and frolicked in the Sacred Cold
	Marie and Susan made the rounds of the Shrine with big cardboard
boxes.  Susan circled the Pond, calling to all the Addicts in her best
ballpark voice, "We got yer thongs here!  Geeeeeehhhh-tcher purple
leather thongs here!  Fresh stock from Snixco!"  The KC paused beside
Heather and flicked a thong into her lap.  "Here.  As Mids and I
promised, so do we deliver."
	The MacCousin picked up the almost-garment in two fingers and looked at
it warily.  "Gee, thanks Susan.  So, everybody gets one of these?"
	KC nodded, an all-too-familiar glint in her eyes.  "Yep.  Later, we
seamstresses are holding a toga/thong party.  Hope we see you there!"
	Heather nodded, watching the Kissing Cousin start her sales pitch
again.  Then she stuck the thong behind a potted plant.  "Oh, I'll be
there.  Fully clothed and with a camera..."
	Across the Pond, Bonnie, who'd already slingshot her thong into the
shadowy maze of ceiling supports, stretched out lazily on a deck chair. 
"Shrine life," she sighed contentedly, "Is the .  The
Nightcrawler's starting broadcasts again tonight, all the Addicts are
uninjured and accounted for, and Louisa Creton is safely locked away in
the Highbury Hilton."  Another loud breath, then, "Life is ."
	"If you're not Louis."  Jayne swam to the edge of the Pond and smoothed
her dripping hair back from her face.  "Ever since Louisa was admitted
to the psyche ward, he's been kinda mopey.  I feel a little sorry for
him--even if it was me who put him through everything in the first
	The Scribe snorted.  "He's tough.  I bet ten bucks he has a fresh
trophy girl in two weeks."
	Jayne raised a speculative eyebrow.  "Make it three and you're on."
	There was a sudden, very girlie-shriek from the direction of the public
area of the restaurant, then a succession of slamming doors accompanied
by the thudding of someone light on their feet hitting a wall.  After a
few seconds, the door to the Pond room was flung open and Libby flew
through, her aviator's cap sitting crookedly on her mussed hair.  Once
the door closed behind her, the Ratpacker slowed to a walk, shaking her
head in obvious amusement.  "Oll them poshers," she said, chuckling a
little.  "Them can't take a lil' ol' ratsie-droog poppin' up in th'
muddle o' them's din-din!"
	Zebella padded over to the diving board, commenting, "So, the Ratpack's
opened new tunnels through the dining room, huh?"
	Libby nodded, moving to stand clear of the splash as the other Addict
executed a perfect dive.  "Yepers.  Them's more connie-veen-yentl than
them wot go oll th' way 'round."  Suddenly, she grinned mischievously
and held up a newspaper.  "Plus, lil' Libs 'as a better chance o'
pilferin' pretty peri-odd-cals wot folksies leave lyin' 'round!"
	Bonnie turned to face the Ratpacker, her eyes and mouth wide with
surprise.  "You mean you stole someone's ?" she asked,
	Libby nodded cheerily, brandishing the newsprint for all to behold. 
"Mm-hmm!  An' the poshers wot wuz readin' it weren't too 'appy tew see
it go bye!"
	Her face the picture of innocent surprise, Bonnie commented, "Gosh,
Libs.  You and a newspaper.  I've never noticed any attraction before."
	Jayne hauled herself out of the Pond and joined in.  "Yeah, Libs-mate. 
Us Ratpackery types ain't th' most openly lit-ral droogs 'round.  Why
th' sudden-like inn'rest in th' printed jammy-jam?"
	Libby scowled at the other two's innocent grins.  "Jayn-ee!  Bonn-ee! 
Lil' ol' me shoulda 'xpected tew be oppressed fer me lit-rat-choor!" 
She flipped the paper open and waved the article in the Addicts' faces. 
"If'n yew must know," she told them in hoity-toity (yet somehow still
Cockney) tones, "I ob-ser-vated in th' pretty peri-odd-cal sum perfect
paper port-rats o' th' covers o' me fav'rit storybooks.  Sew, nat-rally,
I took th' papers tew read up on me stories!"
	Sure enough, Jayne and Bonnie were treated to rather large, quite
flattering pictures of the covers of 'the pursemonger of fugu' and
'couchwarmer'.  "Ooooo," they commented, still grinning.  Libby hmphed
and flicked the papers closed again.  "Laugh if'n yew wanna.  Ev'ry
self-respectin' Ratpacker kin read those.  They's--they's--" she paused,
trying to find the right word.  Finally, she sniffed and declared,
"They's ."
	Bonnie had stopped listening.  In fact, the Scribe would have seemed to
have stopped seeing as well, if it weren't for the fact that her eyes
moved fixedly from left to right, her gaze glued solidly on Libby's
paper.  Left, right, stop.  Left, right, stop.  Then, "I don't believe
	Jayne and Libby exchanged worried looks.  "What is it?" Jayne asked.
	Bonnie reached over and pulled the paper from Libby's hands.  She
folded it over, cleared her throat, and began reading:
	" 'Patient's escape baffles police, doctors.' "  The Scribe looked up
at the others, then back at the newsprint.  " 'London police are baffled
at the disappearance of a recently admitted patient from the London
Psychiatric Hospital.  Louisa Creton had been in the institution for a
week before she mysteriously eluded the doctors and escaped from her
room two nights ago.' "
	"She's ?!?"  Jayne's cry caused the other Addicts around the Pond
to stop their merrymaking and listen to the conversation.  "How could
she have possibly gotten out??"
	Shaking her head a little, Bonnie read more of the article.  " 'The
door to Creton's room was found open early yesterday morning, with no
sign of forced entry or exit.  Doctors are puzzled as to how she could
have escaped, and the police have begun an extensive investigation.'"
	Libby shook her head, eyes wide.  "D'yew cog-i-tate th' Nutsie-Lady
might cum back tew finish us off?"
	Jayne blinked once, then gasped.  "And what about Lacroix?  We should
warn him or something--"
	"He knows."  Bonnie looked up from the paper, a tiny, relieved smile
playing over her lips.  "Listen: 'The only lead the police have admitted
to is a handwritten note found on Creton's bed, detailing a complete
confession of her crimes and the cryptic signature--Louisa Emeline
Creton, NA.' "
	The Addicts were silent for a moment as this sunk in.  Then, quietly,
Jayne began to laugh.  Then Bonnie.  Then Zebella, then Jesse, until
soon everyone was in hysterics, their peals of laughter echoing
throughout the Shrine.


	Lucien Lacroix, aka the Nightcrawler, seated himself carefully in his
new desk chair, then pulled himself up to a comfortable distance from
the controls.  Tonight, in five minutes, the Nightcrawler would reappear
on the airwaves of CERK 490, sending his messages of life and death
throughout Toronto once more.
	Lacroix had toyed with the idea of making his radio personality's
cancellation permanent, however, with Niamh McGrogan on a train back to
Kingston and Louisa Creton out of the province, there really seemed no
need for such a final move.  So, in the tradition of executives
everywhere, he had called a meeting with Renfield Harris to "discuss"
the Nightcrawler's reinstatement.
	Renfield had been most understanding.  Lacroix had almost laughed at
the man's pathetic agreement with everything he mentioned.
	Jennifer Lefler was in the producer's booth once again, and she tapped
on the glass to show the vampire that his cue was in two minutes.  He
nodded, and she turned back to her controls.
	Lacroix poured himself a glass of the Raven's best vintage; he would
have nothing less for this, his return.  He could practically feel his
listeners, tuning in their radios, making themselves comfortable,
practically salivating to hear his words.  *If only I controlled
 as easily,* he pondered.
	The news wound down, and suddenly a light on the board flashed on. 
Taking a deep breath, the Nightcrawler leaned in close to the microphone
and began.
	"Gentle listeners, welcome.  It is I, the Nightcrawler, returned from
the dead...or so it seems."  He paused to smile at his joke, then
continued.  "I was sacrificed, boys and girls, a very few days ago. 
Sacrificed to this station's need for an audience, sacrificed...for the
audience's love.  You see, it was believed that the Nightcrawler was in
the way, and was therefore causing loyal listeners to turn away. 
 listeners.  Is loyalty so fragile, so weak that a simple word or
action can make it disappear?  If you truly love something, are truly
loyal to something...can your fidelity be so easily broken by one
	"Or are loyalty and love stronger than that?"  The vampire's eyes
clouded for a moment.  "What sacrifice is made in the interests of love,
instead of because of it?  What would  do, gentle listeners, to
insure someone's loyalty?  What would you sacrifice in the name of
love?  Perhaps nothing.  Perhaps love is not a strong enough incentive.
	"What about jealousy?"  Lacroix smiled against the microphone.  "Ah,
our old friend.  The Green-Eyed Monster.  What would you sacrifice for
it, dear listeners?  What does it demand you give?  Because jealousy can
covet loyalty and love as well."
	Pausing for a moment, Lacroix pushed a lever, turning up the volume on
some haunting violin music.  "What will you sacrifice to them?  What
will you give?  Or better yet..."  He glanced at a bloodstain that
hadn't quite been cleaned from the carpet, and allowed a soft smile. 
"What won't you?"
End of Part Twenty-One
END.   (Woo-hoo!!!!)
            Jayne Leitch     

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