Date:    97-04-12 04:11:50 EDT

This story was inspired by Ro’s and Marcia’s encouragement to our wonderful group. I have only borrowed the Forever Knight figures; they do not belong to me, but I shall play with them whenever I wish. So there.
Practice, by SpooferKD (copyright April 1997)

Jean added the finishing touches to the CAD design that was spinning on her computer screen. She took a last sip of coffee, then wiped her hands on her green sweatsuit as the printer began to print her design from different angles. She almost didn’t hear the barking of her terrier, Reggie, over the noise of the printer.

She sighed resignedly and strolled towards the living room area of her apartment. "Do you see another cat from the balcony, Reggie?", she called; then she stopped and stared at the dark silhouette of a man standing near the balcony’s open door. A moment later, Lucien LaCroix strode into the room, looking both fashionable and ominous. Reggie dropped back and barked louder at the stranger who had appeared so suddenly. LaCroix paused, then dropped his gaze to the frightened dog. Hastily, the terrier yelped, then scooted quickly under the living room sofa.

Jean had frozen in place, and LaCroix now turned his gaze towards her. "You are a Dark Knightie?", he inquired. "Yes, yes, I am", she stammered. LaCroix tilted his head and smiled approvingly. "Good, because I have a job that I think a dedicated Dark Knightie would fulfill quite nicely."

She found his attention very unnerving. "You do? What is it?", she asked. ‘I sound like an idiot’, she thought to herself, ‘Get a grip, girl’.

LaCroix leaned against the wall, somehow managing to look both threatening and tempting at the same time. "The Dark Knighties desire for Nicholas to regain and cherish his vampiric side, do they not?", LaCroix questioned.

"Of course they do", she responded quickly. "It’s unhealthy for him to ignore a large part of himself, and he’ll never be happy as long as he keeps judging himself and thinking of himself as unworthy". She fidgeted, suspicious of his presence in her home. "Excellent", LaCroix replied, genuinely smiling now. ‘Why does that smile make me nervous’, Jean asked herself.

"Then you would not be adverse to helping me get Nicholas to consume directly from the source of his best nourishment", LaCroix added. Jean stepped back, mulling over his words in her mind. "The source? You mean directly from a human, don’t you?". Her sense of wariness grew deeper.

"I certainly didn’t mean from a bovine, my dear", he drolled. He ambled casually around the room. "Let’s just say that Nicholas doesn’t fully trust in his ability to stop before he kills".

Jean took a step backwards, uneasy where this conversation seemed to be headed. "I don’t trust his ability to stop in time, either", she countered, "I’d like to think that he could, but I’m not willing to bet my life on it".

"What if there was no risk to you?", he questioned. "If there was no chance that he could harm you, would you consent to help our Nicholas embrace his total nature?" LaCroix advanced steadily towards her. "Or do you merely pay lip service to your so-called Dark Knightie ideals?"

Jean felt her face flush angrily. "I *do* want to see Nick get better, but I don’t see how that can be accomplished without risking my life. And I don’t want to be a vampire, either!"

LaCroix leaned closer. "I wasn’t offering you that gift right now." He paused slightly, then continued talking. "I have come to the conclusion that Nicholas just needs practice, under a watchful eye. I could stop him from overstepping the bounds of what you could offer safely. In turn, Nicholas could begin gaining some much-needed control and confidence in himself. He would accomplish much, and you would be perfectly safe."

Jean looked LaCroix directly in his eyes, and considered his proposal. ‘Nick *would* benefit from this’, she thought, ‘and I don’t want to back down in front of LaCroix, and be treated to one of his infamous sneers’. Her eyes narrowed. "I’ll do it", she responded, accepting his challenge.

"Wonderful", he replied. Then he looked over her, from head to foot, taking in her sweatpants, tennis shoes, and her hair pulled back in a sloppy ponytail. "Perhaps it would be better to dress for the occasion", he added, pointedly.

Realizing her disheveled appearance was the furthest thing she could get from a seductive demeanor, she felt mortified. "I’ll be back in just a minute", she said, then dashed to her bedroom". She threw open her closet doors and glanced frantically inside. ‘I’m going to meet Nick! I’m going to meet Nick! What can I wear? What can I wear?’, she asked herself, pulling outfit after outfit from the hangars, and tossing them on the bed in a large pile. She finally settled on a red silk blouse and black jeans, with boots to match. She brushed her hair quickly, then opened the door and marched through it.

LaCroix’s eyes gleamed appreciatively. "A much more appropriate outfit, my dear", he said appraisingly.

Suddenly, she didn’t feel quite so confident. ‘Will he really stop Nick in time’, she wondered, ‘or is this just a little game that he’s playing with Nick?’ The thought made her falter, and she bumped into a stand of china figurines that she had collected. Many of them toppled over from the collision, and she grabbed clumsily for a couple that were headed for the floor.

LaCroix quickly closed the gap between them. She gasped in reaction, and then found herself frozen again, caught in the intensity of his eyes as they captured hers. She could hear her heart hammering noisily in her chest, and realized that with his enhanced hearing, he must hear it, too, quite clearly.

"You *are* nervous, aren’t you", he rejoined. "I’m ready to help Nick", she countered, tensely. He leaned forward, his lips almost touching her left ear. "This will not do", he murmured. "I cannot take you to Nicholas in such a state." He began to circle her, slowly. Directly behind her, he leaned forward again, and whispered quietly in her right ear, "You must not be afraid when you come to him. It will not be as bad as you think. Let me show you." He slid his left arm around her waist, pulling her into his strength, while his right arm crossed her chest, and stroked the left side of her throat. Her head turned slightly to the left, in response, then she felt a sudden deep stabbing pain on the right side of her neck, succeeded by a deep pressure there. Her body arched in surprise, but his arms pinned her back against him, and the sharp pain was followed by an intense wave of pleasure that washed over her. She gasped in shock, then closed her eyes in delight.

Just as suddenly, the pressure was gone, leaving an empty feeling behind. Jean stared at LaCroix, startled and shaken, expecting to see a look of triumph or satisfaction in his eyes. Instead, they were somber, and searched hers for reaction. ‘This isn’t a game to him’, she realized. She could suddenly relate to the Cousin’s interest in him.

He gazed into her eyes a few moments longer, then said, "Good. It is time for us to go now". She realized that he had been holding her up, and she straightened. LaCroix walked to a nearby coat rack, and unfolded a cloak around her shoulders, and draped a scarf tenderly over her wounded neck. She was bemused over his tender care. Then he leaned closely to her ear and murmured in hushed tones, "I bit the right side of your neck. Nicholas generally prefers the left". She giggled in response, and knew that his bite had removed her fear of Nicholas biting her. She felt eager to repeat the experience.

LaCroix drew her to the balcony, then bent down and scooped her into his arms. She wrapped her arms around his neck and smiled up at him, expectantly. Then air rushed around her, and she was speeding past the buildings of Toronto. Minutes later, Jean found herself descending to the floor in Nick’s loft. Nick was staring, broodingly out the windows at the Toronto streets below, but quickly turned as soon as their feet touched the floor.

"What is this, LaCroix?", he demanded to know. "Is this another of your little games?" LaCroix had his hands on Jean’s shoulders, and he stiffened in response to Nick’s accusation. "No, Nicholas. I have brought you a gift. This lady is here to help you to learn control over your…..little drinking problem. She has volunteered to let you drink from her directly, and I will stay, to ensure that you do not take too much." LaCroix stepped back from her.

Nicholas stared at Jean, as if noticing her for the first time. "You volunteered to let me bite you? Of your own free will? Are you crazy?" His voice rose in anger. "Don’t you know how dangerous that is?" His hands closed over her shoulders as if he longed to shake her. He turned her, so his back was to LaCroix.

"It’s not so crazy", she argued. This was not the response she had been expecting, and she felt angry and defensive. "What are you going to do, Nick? Live your life in fear of really losing control sometime? LaCroix can help you to stay in charge of your ‘beast’. Isn’t that better than your constant state of fear?" His eyes widened, then he considered her more closely. "You’re really prepared to try this, of your own free will?" Jean lifted her chin higher. "I really believe that it’s the only way you can have any peace", she replied.

Nick held her face between his hands, and looked into her eyes. Satisfied with what he saw reflected there, he leaned forward and kissed her lips softly. She closed her eyes, and smiled as she felt him placing a series of light kisses on her cheeks, forehead and eyelids. He pushed her scarf and cloak off her shoulders, then kissed the left side of her neck, as they hit the floor. She slid her arms around to his back, and leaned her head to the right, allowing him more access to her vulnerable neck. He licked her neck slowly, and she felt her pulse quicken. She decided not to open her eyes, knowing that she would see Nick’s eyes turning golden, and perhaps his fangs would have extended, too. ‘That might be a little more than I can handle right now’, she thought. ‘Better to keep my eyes shut, stay calm and wait for the …’

Deep, stabbing pain blinded her thoughts. She inhaled sharply, and her body tried to pull backwards, away from the pain and pressure in her neck. Nick’s arms tightened, cutting off any retreat. He shook his head and new pain exploded in her neck. His grip made struggle impossible, and she panicked. Then a surge of pleasure struck her, followed closely by another, and another. She felt as if she was drowning in pleasure, and she lay limp in his arms. She felt that everything that she was and that she hoped for was flowing from her, into Nick’s embrace. She was dimly aware of LaCroix’s hand on Nick’s shoulder. "Enough, Nicholas", he said. Then, more sharply, his voice commanded, "I said enough!", and he shook Nicholas.

Nicholas pulled his face from her neck and snarled in answer to LaCroix’s demand. He was holding her up by her arms, and she couldn’t seem to get her body to do more than sag in his embrace.

"Nicholas, let her go now, or you *will* kill her", LaCroix reminded his son. Nicholas took a few deep breaths and then his vision cleared. LaCroix stepped forward and lifted Jean from Nick’s arms. Nick seemed to collect himself then, and glanced down at the woman that LaCroix held. He placed a kiss on her lips and brushed the hair from her face gently. "Thank you", he said. Jean saw that Nick’s brooding expression was gone and he seemed to be at peace with himself. She smiled and responded, "Your welcome". She felt content to be in LaCroix’s arms. He flew her home to her apartment, and placed her on her bed, ignoring the few ‘yips’ of protest from Reggie, still under the living room couch.

"How do you feel?", LaCroix inquired, bending over her. She breathed in the marvelous scent of the cologne he was wearing "Sleepy, but very satisfied". He lay the blanket on her bed over her.

"You did well", he confirmed. He straightened and started to leave. Near the door, he turned and asked, "By the way, there *are* over 50 Dark Knighties, aren’t there?" "Yes", she answered. "Why do you want to know?" LaCroix smiled secretively and responded, "Practice makes perfect".
The End

All complaints, comments and constructive criticism can be sent to me at I hope that you enjoyed this little Dark Knightie interlude.