Trouble in Toronto

by David J Duncan

Originally Written April 1999. Revised November 2000

Copyright Notice: Certain characters in this story are borrowed from others.
Nick, Natalie, LaCroix, Joe Reese, Janette, Tracy (and all other scenes and people
from "Forever Knight") are the property of Sony-Tristar. Xena and Gabrielle are
from the show "Xena Warrior Princess" which is a product of Renaissance Studios and Studios USA. They were created by Rob Tapert and John Schulian.

The other characters are of my own creation. Any use of a real name is only coincidental.

My thanks to Portia and Jarvinia for their careful beta-reading of this text. Their insights have greatly improved the story that you are about to read.

Summary:  In this crossover story between Xena and Forever Knight, Dave and Angie Dubois embark on a conference trip to Toronto after their battle with Ares.  However, Angie gets caught in the middle of a bank robbery, giving Xena her first taste of twentieth-century fighting, and drawing the police's attention in the process.  Detective Nick Knight and the "Forever Knight" crew...most notably Lucien LaCroix, invite Dave, Angie, and Xena to the Raven for a drink none of them would soon forget.....Please send comments to .  Thanks for your interest!!

Chapter 1

Always busy with the task of chasing criminals, it had been a long week for everyone in the department for all concerned. For example, five murders had occurred in the city over that period, forcing every homicide detective to scramble for clues. Nick and his partner, Tracy Vetter, were involved heavily in this activity. With persistence and instinct, they had deciphered the clues and hunted down their suspects. 

But, in one case, the perpetrator was a thirteen-year old gang member. While attempting to rob an elderly Jewish gentleman about 10 PM one evening, the kid decided that his victim struggled too much and shot him dead. He took off with the two partners in pursuit. Eventually, after a running chase that covered several blocks, they cornered him in a dark alleyway. The kid fired and winged Tracy with a lucky shot. She aimed for his leg and returned fire. However, as he
attempted to duck the shot, their quarry put his chest right in line with her bullet. Eventually, Rogers and Wilkerson from Internal Affairs cleared her of any wrongdoing. But, Tracy's forced desk duty increased Nick's load a great deal. As he discovered, even vampires could get tired from too much stress. 

One night late in the week, he entered the precinct building after checking out a crime scene.  Heartened by the lack of paperwork on his desk, Nick set himself down behind his desk and reviewed his notes. 

Just then, across the room, the door to Captain Joe Reese's office opened and he walked out into the bullpen with a cup in hand, heading for the water dispenser.

Nick shook his head. "Some people never learn," he mused while continuing to study his notes.

Reese put the cup under the spout and pushed the button. Nothing came out but then,
nothing ever did where he and this particular fountain were concerned. The captain silently fumed over this continuing development. "Okay," he sighed. "This just fits right in with the rest of this week. What's going to happen next?" Then, he noticed Nick and walked over to where the detective sat.

"Are those the notes to the Horowitz homicide?" Reese inquired.

Nick looked up from his reading. "Hmm?...They are the notes from that case. Just putting together some observations for profiling," he explained.

The captain nodded. "Great! Get these sleezebags off of my streets and I'll give you that vacation that you wanted."

That remark brightened Nick's mood considerably. Despite the best cajoling of the Human Resources office, he rarely took any time off. Usually, he enjoyed his job and his friends.  However, as Nat had noted lately, Nick was suffering from burnout. He needed a break...desperately. 

"Hey Nick. Are you okay?" Reese probed. Nick had been wandering deeper
and deeper into that Twilight Zone lately. Too deep for his captain's liking....

"I'm fine. Really." Nick grinned cheerfully.

Reese nodded and sat down on the corner of the desk. "I'm glad to hear that Nick. I know that these past two weeks with Tracy's situation and the workload have been tough. I gotta commend you for getting through it. But, even you have your limits,," he told his detective.  "Give yourself a break". Then, he remembered something. "By the way, Natalie wanted you to check in with her. She said that there was something about the case."

Nick jumped up and grabbed his coat. "Thanks, Cap. I'll see you later." He hurried towards the door.

Reese watched him leave and shook his head. "I do hope that he takes my advice," he muttered and walked back into the bullpen.

Dr. Natalie Lambert stood over the latest victim of the mysterious murder spree. Dr.
Ephraim Horowitz, one of Toronto's finest and most respected physicians, had recently accepted an award from Harvard University for his research on white blood cell counts and combating rare diseases. Natalie had found some promising leads for Nick's situation in his notes and had set up an appointment to discreetly talk with her medical colleague about various possibilities. That is...until he had been found stabbed to death and bereft of his wallet and golden pocket watch in the warehouse district.

"Boy, you never know, do you?" she pondered. "We were supposed to meet tomorrow in your office and here, probably because of your watch and money, you are in mine What is this world coming to anyway?" She moved the lamp over his corpse and picked up the tiny handheld cassette recorder.

"Subject's name is Dr. Ephraim Horowitz. Male Caucasian, about 5 feet, 7 inches tall, weight at about 170 pounds. Subject is 54 years of age and seemed in good physical condition. Cause of death seems to be multiple stab wounds: 2 in the chest, 1 in the back," she established and hit the red stop button on her recorder. 

She was about to probe a bit more when a knock sounded at the door. She was glad to see that Nick was there.

"Hi Nat," he greeted with a warm smile. "The captain mentioned that you wanted to see me about the Horowitz case."

"Right,," she agreed and motioned for him to join her at the table. Using a set of tweezers from the nearby medical tray, she revealed the broken golden chain in his waistcoat.

"Another robbery," he surmised.

"You got it. Looks like our group has struck again," she indicated. "By the way, there's a red handkerchief here just like with the other murders.

"Another red handkerchief?" he wondered. Now that wasn't in the report..... He opened the file and reviewed his notes. Sure enough, this piece of evidence had eluded him at the crime scene.

"Just like the other five. The killer keeps signing his work with them," she continued her analysis. Then, she noticed the far-off look in his eyes. "Uh, Nick, are you there?" she asked.

He snapped out of his reverie. "Huh? Oh...what did you say?" he asked startled.

She sighed with concern. Like Reese, Natalie had been really concerned about Nick for the past few weeks. These mounting homicides had come fresh on the heels of Tracy's situation. Worse still, it had not yet been a full month since Divia had terrorized the vampire community, killing many and damaging still other psyches. Nick and LaCroix had survived their sister/mother/daughter's attack but not without cost. In Nick's case, the busy caseload in addition to Tracy's injury had given him no respite. He definitely needed some time off.

"I said that it was just like the other five incidents. Are you all right?" she repeated herself.

"I'm fine. Just a bit distracted. I'll get over it," he assured her.

"Uh huh," she nodded, although not convinced. "You have been through an emotional roller coaster. Nick, you do need some time off."

"Reese said that after this case, I could take my vacation," he noted defensively.

"And where have I heard that before?" she thought derisively. She looked her friend in the eye. "The department owes you a ton of sick time. Don't you think that it's time you took some of it?" she commented candidly.

Before Nick could answer, the wall phone rang shrilly. "Hold that thought," she directed and answered the call. "Lambert."

"Doctor, it's Captain Reese. Is Nick there yet?" Reese asked.

"He just got here. What's up?" she inquired.

"I need to talk to him. Can you put him on?" he asked.

"Sure thing. Hang on," she agreed and handed the phone to Nick. "The Captain wants to talk to you."

He nodded and put the receiver against his ear. "Knight here. What can I do for you

"I wanted to tell you that there's going to be a holdup on that report from Downtown. I'd rather that you take off and go home for the rest of the evening. You obviously could use the rest. So book off, and I'll see you tomorrow evening. Gotta go." There was a click and a dial tone.

Nick hung the receiver in its cradle and turned back to Natalie. "Report's been held up downtown," he explained.

Sensing that there was more than that, Natalie pushed further. "And?"

"And....he wants me to book off and go home," he shrugged. "Apparently, he agrees with you."

Anyone who has watched you over the past two weeks would agree with us," she noted.  "Look, I'll stop by the loft later if I find anything. Okay?"

He nodded. Leave it to Nat to wrangle a compromise from this situation. "Sounds good.  Okay." He picked his overcoat off of a nearby stool. "See you later."

"Just make sure that you go home and rest," she told him directly. "Doctor's orders."

He smiled and walked from the examination room.

For a long while, Natalie stared at the doorway through which he had exited the room.  Finally, she sighed deeply and went back to work on the Horowitz body, determined to find something positive towards this case.
Chapter 2

Nick walked out of the Forensics building under a mental cloud. True, he was exhausted but the loft did not appeal to him. At least not at this point. He looked at his watch...2:30 AM. There was another place to drive to. Gunning the Caddy's ignition, Nick sped away into the night.


The Raven served the warehouse district's nighttime denizens with dance and drinking.  Despite the recent efforts of politicians to close its doors after an Egyptian grave robber's head was found in one of its coolers, the Gothic nightclub had stood firm in its mission.  Once inside, the patron experienced the rapid strobe lights, possibly the best collection of aged wines behind its bar and a unique group of regulars. However, there was more to this place than met the eye at first glance. In addition to the mortal visitors, this establishment also protected the vampire community. Although no longer its proprietor, Janette DuCharme had stopped in occasionally to readjust to life as a vampire and to insure that others would have a place. The new proprietor, Lucien LaCroix, despite not sharing the same exact priority as his former protˇgˇ, did what he could to insure the community's

Nick entered the club in a daze. He looked around, absent-mindedly running his hand along the chain link rail. Between Divia's attack and the Fever, many of the elder vampires had fallen by the wayside. Now, the younger crowd danced without care in their place. Nick didn't recognize anyone, so he wandered down the stairs and headed for the bar. Janette's absence certainly left a void in this place, he mused. 

The bartender recognized Nick as he approached. Just after the latter sat down, a glass of cow blood was placed in front of him. "Thank you," the vampire detective accepted tiredly.

The vampire behind the bar nodded, "My pleasure. Let me know if you would like
anything else." He spotted another customer and walked off.

Nick sat for a while nursing the glass's contents. Something certainly did feel different .. or was it just him? All beings changed in response to life's challenges. This rule applied to immortals as well as humans. His human friends had been wondering about the effects of the previous two weeks on him. But was it just the past two weeks? Or were those confrontations just the collective spark setting off the proverbial powder keg? He had led a double life for the past six years, always concealing his true identity and powers from all save a chosen few individuals. Such effort would tire anyone. 

In addition, his fight with Divia had left him drained. While his victory had forced several members of the Community to realize that his quest held some merit, the direct struggle between his vampire nature and his conscience taxed him. Given his blood fasting, brokering the cooperation between the two sides almost killed him. What was it that Jeanne had said so many years ago? That his faith would be there waiting for him to reclaim ? Why was it so hard? Then, he remembered a conversation with another exile while at Oxford in the early 1300s. Dante--yes, that's who it was. The Tuscan author was in the midst of revelations, some of which he had shared with Nick. In particular, the vision of the heavenly wall of fire
(later forming a crucial transition in the Purgatorio) grabbed Nick's attention. No
redemption would be had without purging the soul. And wasn't that the angel of light's message during his near death experience of a year ago? 

"So many questions, so few answers, " he sighed and took a healthy gulp of blood.

Suddenly, a familiar presence broke his reverie. He turned back towards the door and saw Janette enter the club. This was a surprise. She had not made an appearance here in a few weeks. He watched her pick a table and settle into an oak chair. After a moment's hesitation, he bit the bullet and walked over to join her.

"Excuse me Janette.... Is it all right?" he asked nervously. After all, she had been upset with him for bringing her back across.

Janette looked up at her friend/former lover/new absentee master. Certainly, these weren't the old days when she would have greeted him enthusiastically and provided a shoulder for him to lean on. Now, there was a mixture of sorrow and anger in her gaze. She motioned for him to sit down across from her.

"I might as well ask Serena for some conversation," he thought glumly.

"You might, Nicolas," Janette replied matter-of-factly and sipped her bloodwine. "But she won't talk to you. No, I might have some issues with you for my renewed condition but I do not wish you dead, mon Cher." She let her eyes sparkle briefly at him. "I know that you need a balance in your life between the doctor and myself. And I have realized that your intention was to preserve my very being ."

"You met Serena?" Nick asked.

Janette allowed herself a brief ironic smile. "Oui. It was right after the War. In the midst of the celebration, I briefly ran into her outside of a Paris nightclub. She asked me about my thoughts on being a vampire. She also asked me about how I felt about you. When she explained her feelings, I did not understand at that point ."

"But now you do," he guessed.

"Yes I do. Oh, Nicolas, I realize that you mean well," she sighed.

He shook his head sadly. How many people had he hurt over the centuries? 

Janette placed her hand on his. " But what is that saying--about the road to Hell and good intentions? You should consider others' feelings and be more careful in your decision making," she advised. "Just think about what others truly want."

"Did you think that I wanted this?" he flushed. "I wanted you. I wanted pleasure, not for LaCroix to bring me across."

She nodded knowingly. "I know. If you had brought me across for spite, I would hate you for eternity. But, during my recent travels, I have come to the realization that you did not, nor would you do so." She smiled.

"Then, we can be friends?" he asked pensively.

"Of course! Don't be silly! I just need more time Nicola to readjust," she agreed. "On another matter, I am worried about both you and LaCroix ..," she noted.

Nick stared at her for a moment. "I know that the Divia situation bothered him. But is she still on his mind?"

She shrugged. "Since I am no longer his `daughter', I am not privy to such things. Go to him and talk a while. It might help you both."

He nodded and rose from the table. "I'll do that. Thanks. And thank you for talking," he smiled warmly.

"My pleasure. Do feel better," she responded and tipped her glass to his health while he walked away.


LaCroix turned the switch off on his radio console. It had been another successful night for the Nightcrawler. The topic had been about dreams--were they reminders of the past, harbingers of the future, both, or just rubbish? As usual, the faithful followers had rung the phone off the hook. However, the discussion had been more animated than the norm as opinions diverged widely. One woman had claimed that she had foreseen meeting her current boyfriend in a dream vision. Another listener denied the veracity of such things.  For four hours, the vampire DJ had listened to the mortals with great curiosity and delight.  They were so easy to arouse, after all.... But finally, it was 3 AM: bedtime for good little mortals. So as the good father to all, he bade them good night.

The discussion provided a welcome respite from his own thoughts. For the past month, LaCroix had been haunted by memories and visions long buried. Memories of his mortal life as a Roman general and citizen...past triumphs and failures. Divia's appearance had wrought more damage than even he could have imagined. What was worse? Watching his daughter kill those vampires around him? Watching her and Nicholas reenact the ancient story of Cain and Abel? Or watching as Nicholas staked her? True, it was a necessary evil...but did his failure to help Divia indict him of the same crime that he himself had accused her?

Then there was Nicholas.... His golden child...his favorite...Always causing such pain and grief with his quixotic search for a cure. But lately, he had surpassed himself. Besides killing Divia, he had faced Francesca, another of his blood children in a recent act of his police drama. This drama had ended with her...or rather the man she had possessed...impaled through the heart. Death had used his son as his agent. Despite the fact that he had returned his Janette to the fold, Nicholas was proving to be a neglectful father.  "Yes, I will have to speak with him about these things...," he decided. After all, a father's work was never done..... 

The familiar vibration strummed itself across his senses. He smiled with satisfaction.  "Nicholas....How good of you to stop by. What is this now? Four times this week? You had best be careful. One might think that this newly rediscovered attraction for your kind might be addictive..," he baited to the darkness without turning.

Nick stood in the doorway sensing his former master's presence even before the latter's verbal barb had stung him. "Why do I put myself through this?" he sighed and started to turn away.

LaCroix gained a sense of his protˇgˇ's depression. These mortals were dragging Nicholas down....especially the Doctor with her constant futile attempts to cure him. 
" stay," he requested.

Nick turned to face the elder vampire. "I listened to your show tonight....," he started.

LaCroix smiled. "How flattering. Quite a discussion tonight, was it not?"

"Indeed it was," Nick agreed. "Quite a range of views in the audience."

"As on most nights," LaCroix shrugged and took another sip of wine. "Get to the point."

"I was wondering....I have been getting strange feelings from you lately," Nick noted

LaCroix's brow arched. This was definitely noteworthy. "Continue...What have you been feeling?" he inquired.

"You have been having the dreams again. I remember then from our first days together.  About Greece... Corinth... Pompey...Rome and Gaul. I also see a woman fighting you sword to sword," Nick explained.

This observation definitely encouraged LaCroix. Was this a sign that Nicholas was
drawing closer to him once again? No...leave the question for now. The boy was definitely on a roll. He had been tuned into his thoughts. For that very dream had caused him to bring the topic up on the Nightcrawler program that evening.

"Yes....I did fight in those places, first as a Roman centurion and then as a general. The woman you saw...her name was Xena. She definitely had potential..," 

Nick observed disappointment on his counterpart's face. "But..?" he interrupted the other's thoughts.

"But...she overcame her dark purpose, no thanks to her companion, an overly talkative bard named Gabrielle," he continued as scorn crept across his face. "Xena and I faced each other at Corinth. She wanted revenge for what my army had done to the Gauls." He smiled.  "What a battle. She thought me dead."

"But obviously, you were not..," Nick prodded.

"No, my vampire nature saved me. I was incapacitated for a while but not permanently injured," LaCroix explained. "It was my last battle time to move on." He let those words drag in the air.

Nick shook his head. He could see a lecture coming and it would be something else....

"Is it time, Nicholas?" LaCroix posed the question thoughtfully. "Is it time for you to move on? So much pain...agony."

"I have my life," Nick countered.

"Your so-called life is but a play thing. How many times must I tell you that?" LaCroix patiently advised. "No, over stay your welcome and you will get hurt."

"That's not it," Nick denied vehemently. "I have been wondering about good and evil. Where is the line?"

"'Line'?" LaCroix looked at him slightly confused.

"The boundary between them," Nick clarified his meaning.

Now, LaCroix grasped his son's intent. "Yes. I see," he started and took another gulp of wine. It was so amusing when Nicholas tried his hand at philosophy. "Good and evil are mortal concepts, Nicholas. We are above them. Who can say whether our intentions are one or the other? It is only from our point of view....Now, I see where your depression is coming from. Still trying to separate the guilty from the innocent, are we?" Another sip and more words.... "Get over it. We have bigger and I," he continued.

Nick looked at the clock and saw that it was getting on towards 5 AM. "Well, sunrise is coming, so I'll be leaving," he sought to extricate himself from this conversation .

"Yes....I suppose," LaCroix suggested. "Thank you for stopping by, Nicholas. Do take care."

Nick nodded and left the room and the restaurant. While driving home, he certainly had a great deal to think about. A great deal indeed.....
Chapter 3

David Dubois sat at his desk anxiously pouring over a manuscript on his desk. In his three years as the Humanities librarian and history liaison at the University of Arizona, he had seen many sources and had scanned many of them into the growing Electronic Resource Center two floors beneath him. Now, he analyzed a diaries of an old of his professors, actually. Before he died, Tony Samuelsohn had passed along the memoirs for Dave's analysis. There were many secrets in the world. These items were beyond the mortal pale...well, for most people at least. 

Dave was, to say the least, not a normal human being. He had experienced many things from a young age. Visions...unexplained knowledge of the future...a oneness with nature.  Only recently, he had learned about these abilities...and that he was different. A recent confrontation with terrorists at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts had provoked him with two results. First, his powers had surfaced for the first time. The second unfortunate consequence was the reemergence of his own inner darkness. Abused as a child by his parents for his differences, Dave's psyche had split into two parts. Most of the time, his outer persona helped people and performed good works. However, in the face of danger or intimidation, the Dark Child asserted control. If one could imagine the ferocity of a wounded
animal, then that person would know of the seething rage within this entity. Worse still, while the dominant persona looked to be good, the Child fed off of the darkness. Needless to say, it could be interesting to be around him.

The alarm clock on his desk buzzed loudly. "Hmm...5 PM,"Dave noted. "Time to head off to meditation." Having made this decision, the memoirs went back into a locked box under his desk, and he took his coat off of the hook. He flipped the lights off in his office and was about to leave when he heard a rapping at the door.

"Yes?", he asked.

"David? It's Caitlin. Have a minute? This won't take that long," Caitlin Sommers, the
Library's dean, requested.

He turned the lights back on and sat down in his chair. "Please..," he offered her the blue cushioned guest chair in front of his desk.

"Thank you," she accepted, and settled into her chair. "I was wondering how everything has been going."

"Fine," he shrugged half-truthfully. Things had been going well for the past few weeks.  However, if she ever did find out about his problem...well, things could get hairy.

"You seem to be doing great. David, don't be so uptight about yourself," she assured him, and held up a thick spiral bound report. "This collection development project was wonderful!"

"I'm sure that it could have been better. I missed some data," he commented insecurely.

Caitlin flipped through the pages and kept 'uh-huhing' to herself finally stated, "We need to work on that".

"Oh great," he worried to himself. "Work on what, pray tell?" he asked her.

She peered at him over the top of the report. "That inferiority complex of yours. You are better than you give yourself credit for. Even when you were a student
here, it was always that you were never good enough. I have heard about these things.  Now, let's start getting some confidence. Okay?"

"Yes. I understand," he sighed. "At least she believes in me."

"In fact, I have a job for you...and if you like, you can take Angie and the girls," Caitlin continued. "I need a representative for the library at the MSC meeting next week in Toronto. There will be some presentations that I want you to look at. Besides..." A smile crossed her face. "I figured that it would be a busman's holiday for you. Interested?"

"You bet! Of course, I'll need to talk to Angie first. But, I don't think that there will be any  problems," he agreed enthusiastically.

"Good. Well, I need to run to another meeting. Take care," she beamed, and started to leave the room. As she stepped through the doorway. "Remember...think confidence," she reminded him over her shoulder.

"Yes'm," he replied humbly.

"Great. Have a good night and I'll see you tomorrow," she concluded, and left.

"Well, that's a relief," he thought, and followed her out of the office. He walked downstairs and out of the library foyer. Once outside, a five minute walk down the hill found him in the parking garage where his lemon-colored 1982 Subaru GL sat waiting for him. Cranking the motor, he sped off into the Sonoran sunset.


About 15 miles west of Tucson on the old Ajo Road, Dr. Angela Dubois fretted over her husband's tardiness. He was never late for their Wednesday night workout and meditation session. "Where is he?" she worried. "Hopefully, Caitlin didn't detain him in a late meeting or something."

She composed herself. As one of the leading oncologists in the country, Dr. Dubois, or Angie as she was known to her friends, worked hard for 10 hours a day, 6 days a week on her patients' behalf. She tirelessly performed her rounds and worked on new research techniques for curing rare cancers. However, of late, she had other concerns. As with her husband, Angie had run into trouble. She had discovered her own superhuman nature and how that power augmented her ability to cure people and animals. However, other things had happened as well. She reached over her right shoulder and pulled a fine, well-crafted Thracian sword from the hilt strapped to her back. She let out a deep breath as she recalled how, in the museum attack, she had shattered a glass display case to get at this weapon...and got more than she had bargained for. While she had the weapon, she also bonded with the spirit of Xena of Amphipolis, the legendary Warrior Princess of ancient Greece. It was an adjustment...sharing one's body with another person.

"I wouldn't worry, Angela," Xena's voice advised. "David knows how important this is."

Angie smiled and turned to see her friend's shimmering form off to her left. "Nice to see you, Xena. Here to keep me company?"

"Always," the Warrior Princess grinned. "You're a pleasure to be around",

"Well thanks. Sorry that I have been a little skittish with you but...," Angie started to

"No apology necessary," Xena accepted. "You have enough on your mind these days.  Dealing with David's darkness is hard."

"Now I know how Gabrielle must have felt when you two first got together," Angie
realized. "Oh...I'm sorry Xena. I didn't mean..," 

Her friend shrugged. "It's true. But Gabrielle guided me down the right path and you will do the same for David. Trust me and in yourself," she urged.

Angie smiled, "When you say it, I believe it."

"You bet," Xena smiled encouragingly. Then, a horn sounded in the distance. Turning her spectral head, she saw the little yellow car in the distance. "That looks like him now...Of course, since I haven't figured out these cars yet," She smiled. "I leave you two alone....well, as much as possible. See you soon." With that, she faded from view.

Dave climbed out of the Subaru and walked over to Angie. "Hi, Princess. Sorry I'm
late...Caitlin had something to discuss," he explained.

"Was it the report? Did she like it?" she wondered. She knew how hard he had worked on that project.

"She liked the project. And she told me to feel more confident about myself," he continued.  "And there's more...There's a medieval meeting in Toronto that she wants me to go to. And she offered to pay for you and the girls! This could be the vacation that we have been waiting for!"

She beamed at her husband. "You think that I'm going to deny you a trip like that? 
Especially if its all expenses paid and the whole family goes with you. Count us in, Buster!  I'm sure that Dr. Fishburne will give me the time off."

"Now," he smiled, "Shall we?"

"Yes, by all means..," she agreed. Not sensing any poisonous snakes in the vicinity and, settling into lotus positions, they stretched out with their abilities. In this state, they could sense the vibrations of every rock, cactus, insect, animal and reptile around them. Dave felt a wind ripple the sand about 1000 yards away. A lizard slithered from its burrow. A snake slithered up...and decided to move on. This activity helped to cleanse him and somehow calmed the Child. No one knew why or how, but they were not about to question the effect.  Angie felt the birds flying high and fast above her as well as the lizard and snake. She loved this experience and was glad that they undertook this ritual once a week. She felt so light as if she were flying high above the desert floor.

They stayed in this state for an hour. Then, they slowly pulled themselves back into their conscious states.

"Back to regular life," she surmised matter-of-factly.

"How are the girls?" Dave asked.

"They're fine. Francesca has them. By the way, she's making her lasagna tonight," Angie smiled as she found her car keys.

Dave beamed and his mouth watered. Dr. Francesca Alvaro was one of the leading
Dante scholars in the world and, to boot, she could also make killer Italian cuisine. "Someday, if we get over to Lucca, I have to get Aunt Louisa to teach me," he decided while starting the Subaru and following close behind Angie's Mazda sedan.

Chapter 4

A week later, American Airlines Flight 5742 touched down in Toronto, carrying the Dubois family with it. While in the taxi to the hotel, Dave looked about the city. Toronto seemed like many American cities. Their hotel, the Camille, stood on the banks of the Lake Ontario. While the rooms were modern, the building's exterior reflected its 1930's ambiance.

Angie had just put their daughters to bed before joining Dave on the terrace. From there, they saw the city's lights and the tall skyscrapers through the gathering twilight. 

"Kind of nice, isn't it?" she whispered in his ear.

He smiled and hugged her shoulders. "Sure is," he agreed.

"I thought that I would take the girls out touring," she informed him.

He nodded. "Sure, just be careful. Okay?"

"I will be," she promised. "But let's just enjoy the view. Okay?" She produced a pair of wine glasses. On the table chilled a bottle of white zinfandel in an ice bucket.

"You are something else," he laughed.

"I try," she grinned, enjoying the moment and handed him a full glass. Then she made a toast. "To us...and our time in this beautiful city. May we make many new friends....and reestablish old ties."

"Hear...hear," he agreed, and took a healthy swig of the champagne. 

Although neither of them knew at that point, Angie's toast would indeed prove prophetic. 


Dave had left very early on the following morning, but he had been careful not to wake his wife. Angie slept a little while longer. "Mmmmm....Dave?" she murmured sleepily. Then she rolled over on her side with a grunt and squinted at the bedside clock. "9 o' clock...gee...He's at the meeting already."

Just then, a knock sounded at the door. She wrapped herself in her terrycloth robe and ambled towards the door. "Yes?" she asked.

"Dr. Dubois? Room service," a voice answered.

Angie peered through the peephole and saw a waiter dressed in a silver tuxedo standing in the hallway.

"Okay, just a minute," she acknowledged and opened the door. "Thank you," she smiled as he brought the tray and coffee urn into the room. "How much do I owe you?"

"Nothing, Madam. Your husband took care of it and the gratuity. Have a very nice day." the waiter informed her and left.

Angie lifted the cover off of the tray and discovered the gourmet apple and cherry danishes underneath. The urn, as she discovered, had chocolate-raspberry coffee in it. "Oh, he is something else!" she giggled pleasantly. Before succumbing to these temptations, Angie went to check on the twins and found them still sound asleep. "Dream on, ladies," she purred and returned to the front room to indulge herself.


Two hours later, Angie wheeled the oversized baby carriage around the downtown section of the city. She smelled the clean air and admired the historic buildings.

"This is something," she sang. "Toronto's a great city. Don't you think so, girls?"

Karen and Lauren smiled at her. Deirdre cooed contentedly.

"Well, I'm glad that you agree," Angie concurred. "Well, before we meet Daddy for lunch, let's see what money we have." She went through her purse. "Whoops! No money! We will have to go to the bank and get some more. Can't keep your father waiting."

Two blocks away stood the First Bank of Ontario, and destiny....

Chapter 5

The First National Bank of Ontario's main headquarters had stood at the corner of 59th and Main in Toronto's financial district for over 50 years. Other businesses had come and gone, but this financial establishment remained a stabilizing force for the region. On this day, patrons lined up inside to make their transactions. Angie, like everyone else, patiently waited for her turn. Within 45 minutes, the teller had converted her traveler's check and handed her the money with a pleasant smile. Thanking her, Angie wheeled the carriage away from the window.

"All set ladies," she explained to her little cadre. "Let's go into the bathroom and check our diapers." Spying the bathroom in the far corner of the lobby, she wheeled the carriage into it and locked the door behind them.

Meanwhile, a dark navy 1993 Ford Voyager van pulled up outside of the bank. Inside, five men dressed in black outfits and ski masks waited for their leader's word. This man was watching the lobby through a set of binoculars and waiting for the proper moment.

Finally, after 5 minutes, he turned his masked face back towards the squad. "Ready?" he asked.

Everyone nodded.

"Good...let's go...and make it quick!" he ordered while brandishing his revolver.

As one, the gang charged into the building. The leader fired several shots into the air
causing everyone to cower for their own safety.

"All right ladies and gentlemen...This here is a real robbery, so everyone get on the floor now!" he ordered. 

Everyone complied with his command. However, Josh McTavish, the elderly bank guard, drew his weapon. 

The leader smiled and shot him dead with a single round.

"Any other heroes?" he growled. "I didn't think so. Start filling these bags with cash and valuables now!" His goons started towards the customers with greedy intentions....


In the bathroom, Angie heard the commotion. "Oh gosh! I'm stuck!" she panicked. "What would Dave do?" Then she winced. "No...losing one's cool isn't an option." She took a deep breath and looked around. She noticed an empty latrine stall and three doors leading directly to the lobby, to a hallway and then the lobby and the alley behind the building. "If I try to go out the back door, they will have someone there. So what do I do?" she muttered.

"Try letting me fight back," Xena suggested. "I'm due for a workout."

Angie deliberated for a long minute. Then, she looked at her friend's image. "Okay, let's do it," she agreed. She took the girls and locked them in the stall. "Be good, girls.  Stay quiet. Momma will be right back," she assured them.

It was ominously quiet in the lobby. Angie called up every bit of bravery that she
possessed. "Okay, let's rip!" she asserted and pulled the invisible Thracian sword from its scabbard. With a hefty dose of concentration, a bright flash enveloped Angie. When the light faded, Xena stood in her place.

"Okay, boys," she grimly stated. "It's time to see what I can do." After wedging the
doors to the direct lobby and alley entrances shut, Xena peered cautiously into the
endangered area from the secluded hallway. "Five men. Decent odds," she observed.  "Still, I have to remember what Angela told me about these gun things." 

She took a deep breath and, with a running start, executed a double back flip and her
screeching battle cry to enter the room. "Oh boys..," she slurred malevolently.

The smallest man of the bunch laughed, "Hey boss, take a look at this!"

The leader shook his head and clicked the safety back off on his weapon. "Another one?  What is this...Halloween?" Then, he surveyed the Warrior Princess. "Nice Xena outfit. I'll bury you in it!" he growled and fired off two shots.

Xena dodged his shots with fluid grace. "You and what army?" she baited with an evil smile.

"Me and my boys!" the leader boasted and went to reload his weapon. "Take her, guys!"

Xena relished this type of challenge and launched herself into the fray. A right cross
knocked one goon senseless. A swinging karate kick disabled two others. A chakram toss took out the fourth criminal as it caromed off of his head and disappeared into the corner.

The leader could not believe this. Somehow, this woman was as good as the real Xena! But he was going to get out of there...with the loot that he held and before the cops arrived. He grabbed an elderly man and pointed his gun at the hostage's head. "I don't believe it. But you aren't getting' me. Now, Pops and I are going for a ride and you aren't moving. Got it?" he dictated.

Xena's eyes narrowed into slits and her eye brow arched as she watched the criminal leader back towards the door...and right into the chakram's return flight. The weapon caromed off of the man's helmet and knocked him out. The old man fell away safely. Her weapon completed its boomerang arch as it reached her hand. "Got it," she smiled at his unconscious face.

"Everyone all right?" she asked the customers.

They nodded. The old man staggered to his feet and waved gratefully to her. Xena looked down at the dead guard. "Too bad," she sighed mournfully.

The sound of sirens filled the air. "What the...?" she asked with a confused stare around the room.

From within her head, Angie stated, "It's the police, Xena! Let's go!"

"Right!" Xena nodded and sprinted towards the hallway door. Once inside, she ripped the door off of the stall, took the girls, and wheeled them out into the alley. Then, sure that she was safe from prying eyes, she changed back. Where as the police would notice Xena, Angie slipped into the crowd and away from the crime scene untouched.

Chapter 6

Dave enjoyed the conference activities. He had breakfast with some former classmates that morning. Then, the two early panels on "Trade and Commerce" in the Medieval Mediterranean really grabbed his attention. After all, Economic History was one of his academic passions. These sessions gave him further networking opportunities and the welcome chance to engage in "shop talk". Finally, it was quarter to noon. He remembered that Angie and their daughters would be meeting him in the hotel restaurant for lunch.  Promising his associates that they would meet again on the next day, Dave walked out of the convention area and headed straight for the Eagle Grill, the Camille's five star establishment.

As he walked into the restaurant, the maitre-de, an elderly gentleman dressed in a jet-black tuxedo, came over to him. "May I help you, Monsieur?" he asked.

"Please," Dave accepted. "I have a reservation for Dubois. It will be a party of five,"

The restaurant employee looked at his reservations list. "Ah yes! Would you like to wait here or at the table?" he inquired.

"The table would be fine, thank you," Dave indicated pleasantly.

"But, of course," the other nodded and guided him over to the corner dining table. After Dave sat down, the maitre-de handed him the menu. "Something from the bar?" he asked.

"A Diet Coke please," Dave ordered. "Thanks,"

"Certainly, Monsieur. When Madame arrives, I will guide her here as well,"

"Thank you," he smiled and leaned over his notes.


After a while (and three sodas), Dave looked up from his work with concern. He checked his watch...12:45, and Angie had not arrived yet.

"I hope that everything's okay," he worried. Then, he made up his mind to check in with her at the hotel. He signaled a nearby waiter.

"Yes sir?" the waiter asked.

"I'm David Dubois. Has my wife checked in yet?" he asked.

"Not that I'm aware of, Sir. You might wish to check with the maitre-de. Also, as you have been waiting for a long while, the bartender will let you use the phone at the bar," the waiter explained and hurried off.

"Okay," he grumbled and felt for his cell phone in his blazer's pocket. "Let's see what we can find out,"

Dave walked over to the bar and waited for the bartender. As he lingered, the television showed a special report of the attempted bank robbery. Even more startling was the heroine. 

"Xena?" he puzzled. "Then what about Angie?" He slipped away quickly from the
crowded area. As luck would have it, his cell phone went off just as he reached a secluded spot behind a giant fern.

"It has to be her," he hoped. "Hello?"

"'s me," Angie sighed.

"Hey, are you okay?" he inquired curiously.

"Yes, the girls and I are fine. Really," she assured him. "Look, let's talk when you get back here,"

He nodded. One never knew just how secure cell phone connections really were. "Right," he concurred. "We'll talk in a few minutes. I'll be right there,"

Angie fretted, "Dave, I don't want to make you miss anything important,"

"Don't worry. There's nothing earth-shattering going on here at the conference for the rest of the day. Just let me grab a coffee at the Starbucks stand here, and I'll see you in 10 minutes," he reassured her and closed the connection.

"Don't worry, he says...," Angie repeated his words wistfully and hung up the phone. She walked out onto the terrace and stared at the city below. "What have I gotten us into?" she wondered, and stared down at the busy streets far below. 

Somehow, her intuition knew that something would come of this misadventure. Something that nobody could have foreseen....

Chapter 7

Nick rolled around restlessly in bed. For much of the past week, he had been unable to sleep. He groaned and stared at the clock beside him.

"4:30 PM," he noted sleepily, and pulled himself from under the covers. He trudged across the oak floor to the refrigerator and another bottle of cow blood. Opening the bottle, he filled a glass with his nourishment for the evening. Then, with the vampire inside him demanding sustenance, he downed the liquid meal in three swallows.

"Ugh..," he winced in his daily ritual. The cow blood sickened the vampire but at least, it assuaged the conscience...and some of the guilt.

The blinking light on his answering machine beckoned to him from across the room. "I wonder..," he mused, and pressed the button to hear its messages.

"You have one message...," the machine stated coldly and played its contents. "Hi, Nick, it's Nat. Are you doing better? You know that you have everyone down here at the precinct worried about you. I have something about the Horowitz case here at the morgue if you would like to stop by. See you later," Natalie reported with concern.

A warm feeling washed over him. Natalie could always make him feel wanted...even if LaCroix and his nightmares were making his life miserable. He decided to get dressed and see what she had discovered.....


Natalie sat behind her desk comparing blood samples from the suspects with the report from the Horowitz homicide. The types definitely matched, the ballistics on the guns were identical and then, the piece of Dr. Horowitz's chain matched the rest of the links with his pocket watch. They had been lucky to catch the whole gang at once....and in the act of robbing a bank no less. But, the heroine bothered her. Who was this person? It seemed that Nick might know something...he seemed to know details on a lot of historical people.

She paced the floor a bit. "Nick mentioned that LaCroix was having dreams about a warrior woman. Could this be her?" she thought out loud. More consideration on the topic..."Was it that she looked like Xena because she actually was Xena?" she theorized. The moves, the fighting style, everything was the same....It certainly did fit the myth concerning the Warrior Princess from the Classics class at the U of T. 

"Another factor", she noted. "LaCroix was Roman. Could they have met?"

A rapping came from the door. "Nat?" Nick inquired.

"Nick. Glad to see you," she greeted him. A long look told her that he was still having problems. "I hope that you followed my advice and stayed away from the Raven last night.  Seeing LaCroix seems to be depressing you."

"Funny, he thinks the same thing about my talking to you about a cure," he replied

"He would say that," she grinned sarcastically. She looked at him with a relieved smile. "I am glad to hear that your sense of humor is returning."

"Slowly but surely," he stated. "Thanks for pushing me to take those sick days."

She nodded. "Hey, sick days are for everyone...mortals and immortals alike." She walked back over to the desk and, with the tweezers, picked up the broken gold links. "I have something for you and Tracy," she announced.

Nick studied the piece hanging in the tweezers. "Are those the links from the pocket
watch?" he asked amazed. "Where did you get them?"

"From the chief suspect. He and his gang are over at the precinct...," she started. She decided not to mention Xena, at least for now....No reason to give Nick anything else to worry about.

"And....?" he asked expectantly.

Just then, the phone interrupted their conversation with its shrill call to attention.

"Saved by the bell," she thought and answered it. "Lambert."

"Natalie, it's Captain Reese. Do you have any idea where Detective Knight is?" Reese inquired anxiously. "He's not in his apartment, and I have no idea of where he is."

"He's right here, actually," she explained. "I was just showing him the links from the
Horowitz watch. Do you want to talk to him?"

"No, that's okay. Just tell him to get over here, ASAP. His partner's waiting on him, and so am I. We have suspects to question. Thanks," Reese explained and hung up.

She placed the phone back on the receiver and faced Nick.

"Let me guess," he surmised. "He wants me there now."

She nodded. "Uh-huh. You better get going before he puts an APB out on you."

"Okay. Let's get this case wrapped up and things will get a lot simpler around here. Thanks, Nat," he sighed, and left the examination room hurriedly.

"'Simpler', he thinks?" She shook her head worriedly. "Just wait until he finds out about the bank."


Reese hung up the phone dejectedly. "This has been one of those days," he groused. He had seen many weird things in his time on the force. But just when he thought that he had seen it all, life drove another puck under his stick and into the goal.

"Where do these guys get their stories?" he groused to himself. "A warrior woman? Yeah, right . Still, I had better humor these guys." He composed himself and sat back down at the interrogation table facing two of the suspects. "So, let me get this straight ," he supposed while looking at the police report. "A woman about 6 feet tall with dark leather armor, a sword and a discus stopped you. Too bad this isn't TV."

"But...but...Look man! I know what I saw! It was Xena!" the leader protested vehemently.

"Xena's a mythical character. Even if she did exist, she's long dead," Reese chuckled.

The suspect was sticking to his story. "Ask the others! They'll back me up!" he argued.

"They do. Hell, even your potential victims agree with you. Don't ask me why. But they collaborated your story," the captain shrugged. 

Then, he turned to the uniformed officer beside him. "Get him down to holding. I'm done with him here," he directed.

The officer nodded and conveyed the criminal out of the room.

Nick and Tracy watched their captain exit the interrogation area, scratching his head in confusion. Then, he made a beeline for his office and closed the door.

Nick stood up and looked at Tracy. "I guess that's our cue to go in," he supposed.

"Either that or we sit out here waiting all night," she agreed.

They walked over to the office and knocked on the door. 

"Come in," Reese bade them.

They walked into his office and stood in front of the desk. "What's going on?" Nick asked.  "Nat told me that we caught the suspects from the Horowitz case. Why is everyone dazed, like they don't know what's going on? "

Tracy and Reese exchanged glances. She inhaled deeply and glanced at him sheepishly.  "You haven't seen the news or heard the reports have you?" she inquired.

"No, I missed them. Why?" Nick probed.

Reese opened his desk drawer and produced a VCR tape. "This is from the bank's
surveillance camera. Brace yourself," he advised.

He popped the tape into the VCR and pressed play. The TV played back Xena's fight with the gang.

"She is something else!" Tracy admired. "Isn't she, Nick?"

Nick watched in fascination. Could it be an Amazon? Not likely. But the resemblance made his mind flash back.


Orleans 1429

The combined English and Burgundian forces had surrounded the Dauphinist
army within sight of Orleans' walls. Nicholas de Brabant wanted to call a last defensive stand, but his superiors advised him to hold his position. They stated that the Maid was coming. He wondered if this woman was indeed the same peasant woman from the Dauphin's court. She was full of bluster, but untested on the battlefield. An hour passed and then another.  The battle worsened for the besieged army. Finally, with a triumphant thunder of hooves, their reinforcements stormed the enemy positions. Amazingly enough, the woman, Jeanne, dressed in male armor and a white surcoat led the charge. The enemy fell before her like wheat in the
path of a scythe. The tide had turned and miraculously, the English retreated .


"Hey Nick," Tracy nudged him back to the present. "You okay?"

Reese looked at him expectantly. "I don't suppose that you have any ideas, Detective?"

Nick shook his head. "Sorry, Captain. I can't say that I do."

Reese frowned, "As much as I appreciate the help, I can't have armed vigilantes running around on my watch. See if you can run her down and bring her in for questioning." He produced a picture of Angie. "Also, there was a woman at the scene, Dr. Angela Dubois.  She's staying at the Camille with her husband. Go check her out."

"Sure thing," Tracy agreed grimly. "Is there a particular reason?"

"Well, according to witnesses, Dr. Dubois was seen in the building prior to the holdup.  However, she disappeared from the scene, and nobody saw her walk out the front door!" the captain noted. "Now, unless they gave certain people the ability to disappear in a flash, she left that room under her own power. I need you to ascertain her whereabouts. If you do find her, I need to get a statement from her. Okay?"

They nodded and left the office hurriedly.

"Should we go there now?" she asked.

"Can't hurt," he nodded. He had a strange feeling about the Dubois woman. She would definitely bear further examination. Such work, despite the captain's opinions to the contrary, would be best conducted by himself, at least for the present. And also, the question persisted: was there a connection between Xena and Angela Dubois? Although he had no evidence, his instincts advised that he remain open to this possibility for some reason. For now, however, he grabbed his coat and without waiting for his partner, headed for the garage where the Caddy waited.

Chapter 8

Dave rushed upstairs to his hotel room. Once there, he nervously looked both ways and rapped on the door.

"Angie?" he inquired.

A minute passed and then the door creaked open. She stood in the doorway with a flushed face and she was shaking. "C...Come in," she whispered.

He walked in and secured the door. Fortunately, their daughters seemed all right.

"So, how was your day?" she asked hesitantly.

"I saw some great panels. Ran into some old friends. Bought some books I shouldn't have. More importantly, how are you?" he replied.

"I'm fine but...," she sniffled and slumped her shoulders.

Dave hugged his wife tightly. "It's okay," he reassured her.

"I...I have never been so scared. I didn't know what to do. I hid in the bathroom with the girls....but the building was surrounded....I figured that...well...Xena could handle things," Angie explained.

"So you changed," he guessed.

"Did I have a choice?" she sighed.

"No, I guess not," he agreed. "But Xena's coming out party was all over the news this afternoon."

Angie flushed and shook her head. "Oh gosh!....No!" she protested. "Dave, I'm sorry. You wanted a quiet vacation, and look what I've done."

"No, you did what you had to do. You saved those people and stopped the crooks. Let's hope that this mess stays up here," he tried to reassure her, even if he didn't believe it himself.

As if on cue, the phone rang expectantly.

"Shouldn't we just let it ring?" she questioned.

He shook his head and picked up the receiver. "Hello?" he answered.

"Hi, Bro. It's Cybelle. What's going on up there? Is everyone okay?" Cybelle Rogers, his younger sister, inquired.

"Everyone's fine here. And you?" he probed.

"Worried sick actually. Mom and Gram are petrified after watching the news. I'm concerned as well. Can you put Angie on?" she surmised.

"Hang on," he agreed and handed the receiver to Angie. "It's Cybelle."

His wife's eyes brightened, and she picked up the receiver. "Hi, Cybelle. Nice of you to call."

"After what I just saw on the national news, I almost popped up there myself. Xena's a big hit here in the States. The networks are calling her a vigilante," Cybelle reported.

Angie thought about her sister-in-law's words carefully. Would she be allowed back into the US? Until that point, only Cybelle, Dave, and Karen Montoya knew that she "shared" her body with Xena. Then, she composed herself. As a modern day British priestess, Cybelle could transport herself to their room in a matter of seconds. The scene, however, would be even more tense should the police appear. "I suppose that can't be helped...," Angie responded. "But, please stay with Momma Dubois. If we need you, we know how to reach you."

"If you say so," Cybelle agreed. "By the way, you two are about to receive official company.. Of a very weird nature, if you get my drift." I'll let you go, but remember, I'm close by if you need me...." 

"Thank you," Angie smiled. "We'll let you know one way or the other." Then, she hung up.

Dave focused his attention on the street below. There was something strange happening close by. Within one particular car, a 1962 Cadillac, parked by the front entrance, there was a pocket of emptiness, a void of life. "Strange..," he pondered this event and walked over to the table where an antique pistol and a bullwhip rested.

"Cybelle just mentioned something about weird official company," Angie informed him.

"Yes, I know," he informed her while loading the pistol. "I don't plan on using it, but one never knows...." He stole a glance at the door. "Get ready," he told her.

She sensed it too. The `visitor' was about to knock. She walked towards the door just as the knocking started. "Yes?" she asked.

"Police," Nick announced. "Please open the door."

Angie did so. Dave meticulously studied the detective who walked into the room. His clothes were modern...but the face...he had seen it before in Indy's notes. In addition, his senses told him that Nick somehow carried the emptiness which he had sensed earlier. Something was very odd about this man...Very odd indeed.


Nick walked into the room. "Quite a different clientele for the Camille," he noted to himself.  The psychic vibrations were very strong here. His senses took in many things. He discerned the heartbeats of the children in the next room. But the auras of the couple in front of him almost sent him into a frenzy. He composed himself and produced his badge. "Detective Nick Knight, Homicide. I was wondering if Dr. Dubois could answer a few questions," he introduced himself.

"I'll try," Angie nodded nervously.

"Can you tell me why you were at the bank?" he started.

She shrugged, "I needed to cash a traveler's check."

"Then what did you do?" Nick followed up with another question.

"My daughters needed changing. So, I went to the restroom and started to change their diapers..," she started.

"And?" he asked expectantly.

"And then, I heard shots from the lobby. I...I was so scared...I locked the door. I had to protect my children. Then, I heard this screeching, banging and...sirens," she continued.

"Anything else?" Nick asked.

"As far as I can remember, a woman in black leather flashed by us. She forced the door open and disappeared into the alley. I had to get I took the kids and left," she explained.

"Didn't it scare you, knowing that she could be out there?" Nick probed further.

"She seemed to be gone. I came here and called my husband. Detective, that's all I know," Angie responded nervously.

"Is that so?" Nick asked Dave.

"That's right," he affirmed. "She called me about 2PM."

"And according to the desk clerk, she had returned here by 1:45," Nick agreed. "Tell me, Mr. Dubois, what is your business in Toronto?"

"A conference at the university," he replied and walked about the room. "Please continue, Detective Knight, I'm listening."

"Certainly," Nick nodded and stated. "Of course, trouble does seem to follow you around."

"Follow me, Detective? I'm afraid that I don't understand," he chuckled coyly.

Nick leaned back in his chair. "I did a quick scan of the headlines before I came here. You are a fascinating case, Sir. For instance, that pistol and the need a special permit to carry them, don't you?" he supposed.

"Which I do have," Dave replied. "I can show you if you would like."

"Not necessary," Nick shook his head. "If I may continue, though....I saw the pieces concerning incidents involving you and your wife in Cairo, Istanbul, and Italy. These stories have...shall we say...too many loose ends."

"You could rack that up to shoddy journalism," Dave shrugged. He focused on Nick again. At this close range, he felt the vampire's presence and shuddered.

"Something the matter?" Nick asked him suspiciously.

"Actually yes..," Dave agreed and opened the bedside drawer. "Don't worry...I'm not going to pull a weapon on you." He produced a Bible. "Detective, I know that this is going to sound silly, but...."

Angie stared at her husband fearfully. "What is he doing?" she wondered to herself. 

Nick studied the man in front of him. "Is that what I think it is?" he inquired.

"Yes, it's a Bible. Can you humor me and hold it?" Dave requested as he walked back towards the table.

Nick pondered this request. He knew that if he refused, his own secret might be exposed. Somehow Dubois sensed who he was and had arranged a test. "And if I refuse?" he asked.

"We all have secrets, Detective," Dave stated. "What is yours?"

Nick grasped the holy book. For a long second, nothing happened. Then, his hand started to smolder. He gritted his teeth painfully. Subsequently, an invisible force ripped the Bible from his burning hand. "What? How did you...?" he gasped dumbfoundedly. 

The Bible floated through the air right to Dave. "As I said before, we all have our secrets, Detective. Now, we know each other's. Your secret is safe with me. Can I trust you in the same fashion?" he concluded.

Nick threw a disconcerted look at Dave, and then, at Angie. He did not know what to think, but he knew that these people would bear still more study. He grabbed his coat and rose from the chair.

"Can we get you something for the hand?" Angie asked him.

Fearing what might happen next, Nick shook his head. "No thanks....I appreciate it though." He looked at both of them. "Until I figure out what's going on, your secret is safe with me as well. Don't leave town. I'll be in touch." He left his business card on the table. "If you want to talk again, my number's on the card."

Having said that, he departed from the room and headed towards his car.

"So now what?" Angie asked Dave.

"Nothing yet," he directed. Then a wicked omen flashed across his senses. "There is going to be a dark test soon....."

This abrupt statement scared her. "How soon?" she asked.

"I can't say exactly. But it will be very soon indeed...," he sighed and walked over to the terrace. He needed to meditate on this turn of events. Angie joined him out there. Things were happening quickly. Too quickly....

Chapter 9

Across town at CERK radio, LaCroix prepared himself for another of the Nightcrawler's forays. In his long life, he had experienced few pleasures as exquisite as the ones in front of him at the moment. On the one hand, an adoring fan base hung on his every word. Then, there was the reappearance of his ancient adversary. "Well now . . . this should be interesting," he supposed. "We shall meet again at last, Xena." He saluted the network footage with his goblet. "We shall meet again." Having said that, he noticed the blinking light on the console. Such pleasures would have to wait. For now, his fans needed him....


The drive back to Police Headquarters proved too short for Nick. He mulled the case over and over in his mind. Were beings such as these a threat? "Too many questions, and not enough answers," he concluded.

Then, the radio hummed to life and a familiar voice made itself known. "Good evening, Gentle Listeners. This is the Nightcrawler. Tonight, we will speak about duality--Innocence and evil....light and darkness....They are, but two sides of the same coin. Even if one is in control, the other lurks just beneath the surface. No matter how long the traveler progresses down his road, he will meet others like himself. How will he react? What will he say? What do you say? The lines...are open," LaCroix expounded in a particularly provocative fashion.

"Easy questions for him," Nick groused as he made a right turn. "He hasn't thought about these things in 500 years...."

His former master continued, "Before I do take a call, however, I wanted to welcome an old friend to town. Quite a paradox really, and she does suit our discussion really well. We met outside of Corinth so long ago. If she's listening, I would like to invite her to the Raven for a drink, and ...a chance to air our...differences. I hope that she considers this offer. If so, the number's in the book. Now, let's take a call."

Nick switched off the radio in disgust. On the one hand, LaCroix was still recovering from Divia's incursion into his affairs. So, why provoke Xena? Granted, the message was cryptic, but after spending so much time around the old Roman, Nick had learned to read between the lines.  LaCroix did not stomach defeat well, and if the Warrior Princess did defeat his army at Corinth, there would be Hell to pay. And that conclusion brought him to the other possibility. If  LaCroix did want a confrontation, where else better than the Raven? Unless things really got
out of hand, the police would not be involved. Furthermore, Divia's attack had threatened to expose the Community. If the conflict between Xena and LaCroix became public, there would be major ramifications. Nobody wanted the Enforcers called in to deal with the issue, so best to keep this matter as private as possible. 

On the matter of David Dubois, he decided to check into this man's background a bit more. A quick check of the news clippings had revealed some things, but nothing that would have led him to believe that Dubois had telekinetic powers. Some more research on both Dubois and his wife might be in order in case a confrontation came to pass.

He parked the Caddy in the precinct lot, entered the building , and made his way to the records section to perform his investigative inquiry. 


Three hours later, Natalie stood over a gurney in Examination Room 3B. She was finishing the work up on the bank guard from the scene. It seemed to be a clean shooting. But, there were a lot of questions remaining. Why would Nick take off after the Dubois woman and leave Tracy at the station? What was really going on? Again, the question of a possible link between Angela Dubois and Xena crossed her mind. "She was the only person unaccounted for at the scene," she pondered. "Could it be?"

"Could it be what?" Nick interjected.

Nat nearly jumped out of her shoes. "Nick! Don't do that!" she exclaimed.

"Sorry. I didn't want to interrupt your train of thought," he explained.

"Well, you did that all right," she informed him. "Anyway, are you okay?"

"I'm fine," he lied, while putting his hand back in his coat pocket.

She studied her friend. Obviously, he was concerned about something...and did not want her to look at his hand. She smiled. "Okay, Nick, let's see it...."

"See what?" he asked.

"Your hand. I want to see it," she insisted.

Nick shook his head, but saw that the ME was not going to quit until he revealed the hand.  Slowly, he pulled his hand out of the coat pocket, and showed it to her palm up.

Nat recoiled at the sight. Fortunately, the burn was healing, but still, to see Nick injured like that. "What?...How?" she stammered.

"They know about me, Nat. To test me, David Dubois made me hold a Bible," he reported.

" did they know?" she continued.

"Somehow, he can sense the vampire," he supposed. "Also, the Bible levitated back to him.  Somehow, he made it fly."

She studied his facial expression once again. Nick had seen a great deal...and experienced many things. If he was unnerved over this spectacle.... "So, did you find 'Xena'?" she inquired.

He shook his head. "No, but there was more to Angela Dubois's story then she was letting on," he explained, while his mind flashed back.....


[Orleans 1429]

He was in Jeanne d'Arc's tent, and watched her preside over a scribe's efforts to
draft a letter for her English opponents.

"Nicholas," she called.

"Yes?" he answered, while stepping out of the shadows.

"My thanks for holding the English at bay until my force's arrival," she expressed
graciously. "Now, do you believe in my visions?"

Nick studied the teenage girl in front of him. There was something about her, "I believe that you have been lucky. Why would God choose to reveal His plans through you?"

Jeanne stiffened, "Nicholas...mon ami. Faith is a powerful force. The Lord will deliver France."

He shrugged, "You have your faith. I have my immortality. I will live long after this
conflict is over. Will you?"

"But what will you live for?" she asked. "What good is that immortality if you live in darkness? Please, for your own sake, embrace the light."

"And what if you die?" he persisted. "What then?"

She shot him a stern look, "If my death brings France life, then so be it. I will live forever.  My faith will sustain me." She turned to leave him, but over her shoulder, she had a parting comment, "Think upon what I have said, Nicholas. Listen to me for your soul's sake."

Nat shook him awake, "Nick, are you there?" 

"I was just thinking about those people," he replied absently.

"So, besides an angry Tracy and Reese, who else are we up against?" she inquired.

"I don't know, Nat," he sighed. "I don't know....There is something about those two. I'm sure there's a connection between Angela Dubois, and Xena. LaCroix could probably know for certain."

"So, let me get this straight. We have two tourists in Toronto. One person, David Dubois can do weird things with telekinesis. The other shares her body with a 2500-5000 year old Amazon, and they know about you. Right?" she guessed at the source of his quandary.

"That's the long and short of it," he agreed. "He knows more then he was saying as well. When I looked into Dubois' background, I discovered that he has a Ph D. in Medieval History...and that he was one of the last students of Dr. Anthony Samuelsohn."

"Tony Samuelsohn, the eminate eastern European historian?" she guessed. "But, he's dead and buried."

"Yes, he is....But, he knew about me as well. And Dubois received his memoirs. So, what Samuelsohn knew..," he continued.

"Dubois knows," she shivered. "Now, I can see why you left Tracy behind. So, what
happens now?"

"We will meet again, but not at the Camille, nor at the precinct. It will have to be at the Raven," he determined. "That way, the Community can keep the battle under wraps, and hopefully, out of the police log. After Divia's escapade, discretion is the better part of valor." 

She scratched her auburn hair nervously, "Ummm...Nick? Have you considered the
fireworks, if you put those two in the same room as LaCroix? That's not a healthy

"We'll have to risk it," he shrugged. "Meantime, I am going to have to tell Reese and Tracy some story to cover what I found. Wish me luck." He smiled and left the room.

Nat shook her head, "How do you get yourself into these things Nick? How do you do it?"

Chapter 10

Dave awoke before sunrise the next morning. He should have been reviewing his paper for the upcoming panel later that day. However, he sat at the desk sipping his cherry tea, and pouring over the notes from Tony's journal. After the encounter with Detective Knight, he was certain that Nick's face was familiar. Sure enough, amidst the notes on northeastern France and Flanders, was a picture of Nick's a medieval knight. 

"I thought so," he nodded to himself, and took another sip of tea, "Tony, what did you get yourself into?" More study revealed still further details about Nick's family and their heritage. Finally, at the bottom of the file, a warning stood out in bold type: "BEWARE THE ENFORCERS AND LACROIX".

He remembered one of Tony's last classes at NYU. The elderly scholar had alluded to many things about the Crusades. However, while he was glib with details about many knights, Tony had deliberately avoided those individuals from Flanders. Even more peculiar, he would not answer any questions, but stated that it was best that they did not know anything. Even after ten years, this inexplicable lapse still gnawed at the young librarian's gut. Dave did not like to be intimidated...not by anyone.

Suddenly, Dave shivered and staggered from his chair. The anger fits had started again. "Got to...Got to get to my bag," he thought. Shaking all the way, Dave made his way to the bathroom where he took two St. John's Wart pills. Within minutes, he was calm again.  "Whew," he exhaled. "No need to get that stressed over the situation. Now get a grip on yourself."

He walked over to the mirror, and studied his reflection. The anger fits...Ever since his childhood, Dave's memory had gaps in it. He remembered times of stress...then sometimes days, weeks, even months, were gone before his mind could recall anything else. He considered Angie's sleeping form. He remembered how wonderful their wedding day had been as well as the breakfast the following morning. After that, things got fuzzy until they got on the plane for their honeymoon/conference trip to the Middle East. Later, he learned from Angie and Cybelle that his father had provoked him...and the other side of his personality. According to the reports, his father had threatened Angie. Dave had entered the house. His father took a swing at him but missed. In response, Tony's whip cut a deep gash in the elder man's right wrist, just missing the veins underneath. If Cybelle had not stepped in, who knows what might have happened.

"Sanctimonious asshole," Dave cursed. Then he forced himself to calm down. "I'll have to watch myself if...when we end up in LaCroix's presence," he reminded himself.

"I hope that you do," Angie agreed from the bedroom.

"Morning, Princess," he greeted her. "I didn't mean to wake you."

"You didn't. It's after 7:30. Shouldn't you be getting ready for your talk this afternoon?" she asked.

"I would be....except that I can't forget about last night," he explained.

Angie sighed deeply, "I know...If only I hadn't involved Xena..."

He poured her a cup of tea from his pot. "For you," he offered.

"Mmmm...thanks," she accepted, and took a drink from the fine porcelain teacup. "That does hit the spot. It doesn't wash away the guilt, but it helps me feel better."

He rubbed her arm. "You did what you had to a mother and a concerned citizen...," he reminded her.

She sniffled, "A man was killed."

"Before you changed," he continued. "It's like you always say, 'we're different and who cares what everyone else thinks?' Well, you did save the majority of people in that bank, and they are grateful this morning. Remember that."

She managed a small smile. "I guess....You are something else!" Then, she noticed the journal.  "Why are you looking at Tony's journal?" she wondered.

"Oh, I was looking at his notes," he explained cryptically. 

She raised her eyebrow and looked at him in disbelief, "I know when you're trying to hide something from me, so just spill it."

He studied his wife's expression, and realized that he could not conceal this information from her. "I was trying to find some information....," he began.

"And what did you find?" she quizzed.

He pointed to the page which he had just read. "See the picture?" he inquired.

She gaped at the sight, "That man! He's the detective from last night!"

"Bingo," he affirmed. "Keep going."

The oncologist scanned through the text. Her pre-med background in Classical Studies helped her to make sense of what she found there. Then, she saw the warning. "Who is 'LaCroix'?" she asked.

"It took some hunting, but flip back ten pages," Dave advised.

She followed his instructions, and in the indicated section, she saw a depiction of a Roman general leading his troops to victory. The caption read:


From deep inside of her head, Angie felt a surge of anger from Xena. Somehow, her friend knew this general, had fought him, and likely still had bad feelings for this event. Before long, Angie had decided that she and her "roommate" would have to talk about this chain of events.

"By the way, I'm sorry if I kept you up last night," he told her.

"Don't worry about it," she waved it off. Then, her mood turned serious. "I was concerned, however, that you seemed obsessed by that radio show last night. It's not like you to listen to that stuff," she pointed out.

"The Nightcrawler," he remembered. "It was the same psycho babble that you might expect from a talk show...."

She crossed her arms across her chest, and shook her head at him, "Oh really? You seemed to think that it merited your time last night. When you have a presentation going, usually everything else gets second-rate attention. So, what was so important?"

He sighed, "There was something of interest...for Xena." He handed her a piece of paper with the notes taken from the broadcast. "This announcer stated that 'an old friend was back in town', and that 'he wanted to have a drink at the Raven, and settle their longtime differences...from Corinth'. He also talked about this person being a longtime paradox between light and dark.  Angie, it sounds to me like a challenge," he continued.

She read the paper, and looked up at him "It is a challenge, all right," she agreed as she felt her inner companion's indignation start to rise. "And, she's going to take it."

Her husband protested, "I don't want you going in there."

"I don't think that Xena's going to give either of us a choice," she concluded knowingly.

"Well then, I'm going with you," he stated firmly.

She rubbed her left temple. While she realized that Xena could take care of herself, even the Warrior Princess needed allies. From what she could tell, Lucius of Pompey had been a formidable adversary, both as a mortal and an immortal. If Dave could keep his temper in check, and that would be a very big 'if', he would be a great help at the Raven.

"Okay, if you can keep your head on straight," she relented. 

"I will," he promised as he hurried for the bathroom. "Don't worry."

"'Don't worry' he says. Sure, with a vengeful Warrior Princess, an explosive husband, and a revived, not to mention bloodthirsty, Roman legionnaire ready to duke it out? What's there to worry about?" she muttered to herself sarcastically. For her, it would be a long day indeed.


Dave made it over to the convention center about 9AM. There he met his cohorts for the morning sessions pertaining to Byzantine economics, Frankish monasteries and English military troops. But, despite his efforts, his mind still focused itself on Nick. This funk did not escape his friends' attention. In one case, Dr. Marie Haddad, the noted oncologist and expert on Islamic medical history from the American University of Istanbul, observed his facial expressions. As a longtime friend, she knew the signs, and intercepted him coming out of a session.

"Excuse me, David," she called.

"Huh?" he jumped tensely. "Oh Marie...what's going on?"

"Nothing much," she replied pleasantly. "I would ask you the same thing. You seem really tense."

"The paper. Well, it's always a big deal to present on Shajara....and especially in front of the St. Louis fans," he reported half-truthfully.

She analyzed his face. Shajarat al-Durr was not a popular historical figure here in the West, and he had taken his share of heat for studying her. But, there was something else.  Accordingly, she decided to humor least for now. "The presentation shouldn't have you this tense. Remember the session in Cairo? You made it through that test all right, and you'll do fine here as well," she stated.

"I don't know," Dave doubted himself. 

"Give it a chance," she reassured him.

"Okay...But after this is over, you are going to dinner with Angie and me," he directed.

"It's a date. Now onward, Sir Worrywart!" she cheered.

He smiled as he entered the panel area for the session on Crusades figures. "What would I do without my friends?" he pondered.


The presentation went well....even better than Dave had expected. The audience generally received the comments favorably. Moreover, he had made new contacts, reaffirmed others, and added a new credential to his vita. Despite this triumph, the other matter still concerned him. As his session was his last meeting of the conference, Dave bid his associates a quick adieu, and hailed a cab back to the Camille. While the conference was over, the trip's business was only beginning....

Chapter 11

Angie inspected Xena's Thracian armor meticulously. Her eye ran along the sword's
razor-sharp edge with the precision of an expert blacksmith. "Sharp as ever," she noted.  "As is the chakram." A quick glance at Xena's signature weapon verified this last observation.

Her task completed, she paced over to the balcony, and stared over it. Far below, Toronto reflected the sunset's orange glow, and its lights began to snap on. The night life was just rousing itself from slumber.

"Night will be coming soon. Dave's probably finished his presentation, and will be heading back here to talk," she supposed.

"Probably so," Xena's voice agreed.

Angie turned to see Xena's shimmering form standing in the doorway. "Oh, Xena, I'm sorry.  I didn't know that you were there," she apologized.

"That's okay," the Warrior Princess smiled warmly. "I was watching you. By the way, thanks for the equipment check."

"You're welcome," Angie smiled, but trembled slightly.

The quiver did not escape Xena's practiced eye. "Angela, what's bothering you? Is it the bank matter?" she inquired.

"Partially. I suppose that you saw our conversation with the police afterwards?" Angie supposed.

Xena nodded. "Go on," she urged. 

"Well, the man is more than what he seems. Worse yet, he may have deeper ties..," Angie continued fretfully. 

"I did feel a familiar presence about that man. A familiar evil from Caesar's time..," Xena affirmed.

"Not that detective," Angie denied.

"No, not him. David was right. Detective Knight is a vampire. Based on my run-ins with the Bacchae, his presence is unmistakable. But, there were two others...," Xena explained.  "One was a young girl named Divia. Sweet thing until you got on the wrong side of her fangs. Then, there was her father, Lucius...." She tensed, and hissed savagely.

Angie approached her friend cautiously. "Are you okay?" she asked.

Xena nodded, "Yes, I was just remembering what Lucius' army did to the Gauls. The
Romans defeated them....and then, brutalized them. Crucified the men, raped the women and slaughtered the children right in front of their parents' helpless eyes. I rode into the village as soon as I heard, but...I was too late." The spectral warrior quivered with unsatiated rage  

"Knowing you, you tracked him down...," Angie shuddered, imagining Xena's wraith at this spectacle.

"Oh...Gabrielle and I tracked down Lucius' army in Corinth all right. By that time, the wretch had killed Divia, and was operating on his own. Anyhow, we faced off. I delivered a killing blow...well, it should have been a killing blow. That's when I found out that he was a vampire," Xena continued.

"I think that I have been sharing your nightmares," Angie shuddered. "About bloody
crosses and red banners with Roman letters on them."

Xena shook her head remorsefully. Both women were still exploring the depth of their symbiotic relationship.... Well, this would be a matter for future consideration. "Right," she affirmed. "Angela, I'm sorry for shaking you up like that."

"No, that's okay. I want to share your concerns as well as your life energies. We are friends, y'know," Angie assured.

Xena smiled warmly at her young friend, "I know that. You are a lot like Gabrielle. I appreciate that."

"Thank you, Xena," Angie replied appreciatively.

"One piece of advice, though," Xena emphasized. "Do not let David go to the Raven by himself. In his current state, he could not stand up to both LaCroix, and his anger alone." A slight smile popped up on her face. "Of course, the thought of him hitting Lucius with those blasts does have possibilities..."

"That's not funny, Xena," Angie drew the line firmly. "Thank you for the reminder though.  When I married him, and took him for better or worse, I knew what I was getting myself into."

Xena sighed. How many times had the anger craze consumed her? Consumed others?  Callisto, and even her daughter Eve (in her Livia persona) had been entirely different people in these states. During the museum battle, she observed this change in David. Worse yet, with his psychic powers, Angela's husband was on par with Callisto for mayhem, and damage should his Dark Child ever completely take control. She admired Angie's fortitude in these matters.  Given her own experiences, she knew that few people could handle--much less deal with--this darkness. Abuse begets darkness, and violent behavior. Some things never change.

"I'm sorry," Xena apologized to her companion.

"That's okay," Angie waved it off. "When this is over, we are definitely planning to look into his condition." She studied her companion. "You have vowed to kill Lucius. Was your attempt at Corinth satisfactory?"

The Warrior Princess frowned savagely, "Not even close. When we're at the Raven,
leave Lucius to me." 

Angie nodded nervously, "Right. Well, Marie will be coming over to stay with the girls."

"What about Cybelle?" Xena interjected.

"She knows what's going on. Trust me, she will be watching through her meditative state in Massachusetts. If anything happens, she will be here in seconds," Angie explained. "And I would hate to be in the shoes of anyone who would mess with our daughters when she arrives."

Xena agreed with this summation. She had seen Cybelle's abilities as a priestess first-hand, and knew that she was not one to be trifled with. Nor would she brook any harm to her nieces, especially not from an ex-Roman general. If Lucius did try something, Cybelle would prove an awesome adversary, even if Lucius had recently fed before the prospective battle.

"David will arrive soon," Xena surmised. "I'll let you finish your preparations. Remember what I told you." With that, she faded into the gathering twilight.

Angie took another look into the deepening night. Somehow when this mess had ended, she had a sense that their lives would be changed forever. Whether for good or bad, she could not tell.

"Only way to know is to go through with it," she surmised. Then, she went back inside to brew another pot of tea, and check on the girls before dinner.

Chapter 12

Reese fumed as he hung up the phone. He knew that he had been badgering Detective Knight to take some time off. But, in the midst of this crazy Xena situation, did he have to do so right there and then? He stared out of his office window, and across the bullpen, towards where Nick's partner sat at her desk fuming. Not that he blamed her. First, Knight took off to question the Dubois woman without waiting for her. Now, he drops out of sight without a peep either to him...Tracy...or even to Natalie. Something was definitely wrong in the clubhouse. He did make up his mind that when his prodigal detective did show up, a stern lecture would be forthcoming. Hotshot or not....There were rules about staying in touch...and Nick was breaking
all of them at once. Oh well, at least he had called in for that evening. Grabbing his cup, he decided to try his luck with the water cooler yet again....


Tracy could not believe it. Sometimes she ducked Nick when Vachon had a hot tip for her.  But, at least, she tried not to make a regular habit out of it. Nick, however, always disappeared when some weird stuff popped up. You could count on it. She deliberated on going out solo, but knew that Reese would frown on it. "Got to at least look like I'm buying into the partnership," she advised herself, and started in on the paperwork related to the Horowitz report.

About halfway through her reading, she spied Nat walking into the station with a package in her hand. "That's got to be the tox report," she guessed. "Hey, Nat!"

Natalie stared at Tracy. "Oh great," she dreaded. "I was hoping to drop this off without playing twenty questions with Tracy or Reese. Best to smile and bear it." She handed the package to the desk Sergeant, and turned towards the approaching detective, "Hi, Trace..."

"So, anything more on that case?" Tracy probed eagerly.

Nat smiled, "Nothing yet. Still appears to be a clean shooting. Nick's working on another angle."

"Did he find anything on Angela Dubois?" Tracy pushed.

Nat moved quickly on her mental feet. "Not that I'm aware of," she covered. "He's still working on it..." That much was true at least.....

"I just wish that he would let me in on this one. He's off playing Lone Wolf and I'm here manning the post by myself. I am his partner, you know!" Tracy lashed out in frustration.  Then she caught herself, "Nat, I'm sorry...but with Nick's disappearing act...."

"Don't I know it," Natalie agreed mentally. "Believe me", she explained to Tracy,
"Everyone has been noticing this. Nick has been...well...under the weather lately. In fact, as  soon as I make this delivery, I'm heading to his place to check in on him. I'll give him your best."

Tracy nodded and smiled. "Please do. Thanks, Nat. Well, I have to finish both Nick's and my work with him out like this. Talk to you later."

"Sure. See you later," Nat agreed and put her coat back on. As she left, she caught Reese's stern expression from the water cooler. Somehow, she knew that it was not just from his struggle with the appliance on this particular evening.....


Nick hung the phone up in his loft. Anxiously peering up at the ceiling, he awaited sunset and the coming confrontation. Giving up on the prospect of further sleep, he got off of the couch, and walked over to the refrigerator. Once there, he nervously guzzled a bottle of cow blood, and considered his options. LaCroix had mentioned that the awaited confrontation would occur tonight. While he had called in sick at work, what if Tracy, or Nat found out?  Although the elder vampire had firmly told Vachon not to involve Tracy under any circumstances, Nick knew that the Spaniard was reckless enough to do so in any event. In Nat's case, he worried that she might show up just to make sure that nothing at least happened to him.

And what about the Dubois couple? Nick found himself actually liking them during their conversation. Despite the test, he sensed that they could have done worse to him if they had wished. But they had not. Stranger still, David Dubois trusted him with the secret of his psychic abilities. He hoped that all parties could resolve this conflict before any blood was spilled, for everyone's sake....

The elevator hummed to life, and rose towards the apartment. Only Nat had the passcode, and she was pressing the advantage. At least, she had come here to find out about the battle, instead of the Raven. Given the damage done recently by Divia and Francesca, he wanted to keep his police associates, especially Nat, as far away from the imminent conflict as possible.

The door opened, and Nat walked quickly over to him. "Whew...I'm glad that I caught you," she told him.

"Why? What's going on?" he inquired confusedly.

"Reese and Tracy are even more upset with you," she noted. "They think you're hiding do I."

"It's for their own good," he informed her.

"Nick, there is something called police protocol, you know," she lectured. "You owe them some sort of story, and it's not my job to keep covering for you. But, since I have been doing  so, I think that you should tell me what's going on..."

He sighed deeply, and looked at Nat. There was no fooling her, "There's going to be
something going down tonight."

"Where?" she probed.

"At the Raven. It will be between Xena and LaCroix, probably. We're hoping to leave the precinct out of this," he added.

"I can see why," Nat agreed. "But, I hope that you're going to stay away."

"With David Dubois there...and his temper? No can do, Nat. According to his file. 
LaCroix could set him off, and he could get hurt or worse....," he disagreed.

"Well, promise me that you won't do anything that we might regret later. Okay?" she

"Unless I have to defend myself, I won't get involved ... That's a promise. This blood feud is between Xena and LaCroix. Let them fight it out....I hope that it doesn't come to that" he vowed.

"I hope not, either. I hope not," she nodded, and sat down next to him.

He hugged her close to him. Her presence was reassuring at this difficult time. With three hours left until LaCroix required his attendance at the Raven, Nick sat with Nat, and counted the time down until the battle....
Chapter 13 

Three hours later, night had descended fully across the city. A yellow taxi cab
stopped in front of the Raven. The Duboises got out, and paid the driver. Perhaps sensing what was to come, the cabbie put his foot on the accelerator and sped away.

"This must be the place," Dave started. 

"Uh huh. I can almost smell it," Angie agreed.

"Probably," he guessed. 

Then, he cautioned her, "By the way, Princess, keep your eyes open." 

"Don't worry," she nodded. "I wouldn't do anything else." 

With that, they entered the nightclub. The dance floor dominated the scene. Yet, from the mass of jostling bodies, trouble could come from anywhere. Dave's scan of the partygoers found a mixture of living and dead people: mortals and vampires together. "Are you finding what I'm finding?" he whispered.

She leaned close to his ear, "Looks like LaCroix's isn't going to be alone. So now what?"

Before Dave could answer her question, he received a tap on the shoulder. He turned to face Nick. 

"Detective," he acknowledged cautiously. 

"Mr. Dubois. Dr. Dubois," Nick replied. "I trust that everything is okay thus far." 

"So far, so good," she returned his greeting. "We are going to hang out and watch the party."

"I'm with her on that thought," Dave concurred.

"That's what it's there for. If you will excuse me," Nick excused himself, and melted into the crowd. 

Angie gave her husband a pained expression. "Sorry, Dave...I want to dance...but the music..," she complained while rubbing her forehead.

He listened carefully. The beat was almost hypnotic...and best to be avoided. "Let's find a table," he advised her. They sat in the far corner of the serving area at an old pine table. A young woman dressed in the nuevo-punk style walked over with a saccharin sweet smile. "Good evening, Folks. May I take your order please?" she asked.

"Yes," Angie started. "I'll get an iced tea."

"Better make that two, if you would. Best to stay away from the booze tonight," Dave noted cautiously. 

The waitress decided to go along with his weird statement. "It takes all types..," she thought, and wrote down the order. "Be right back."

Angie shuddered right after the waitress left. "Dave, did you feel that?" 

He studied their surroundings once again. Nothing out of the ordinary...just kids, and their disguised vampire associates dancing. Still, a sudden arctic blast across the senses stood out even amidst the other sensations in the room. "Yes, an icy blast. Right?" he questioned. 

"That's right. So, now what?" she queried anxiously. 

He smiled ferally. "We wait...It's LaCroix's move." He turned to admire the mirror behind their table. 


Meanwhile, on the dark side of the glass, LaCroix observed the anxious couple as well. His pasty white skin dimpled, and a slight smile crossed his lips. "Yes," he concurred. "It is my move indeed." He took a drought from the goblet of burgundy bloodwine. "Confrontation is such a sweet dish...wouldn't you agree, Nicholas?" he proposed to the shadows. 

"You can't be thinking...," Nick began to protest. 

The elder vampire raised his index finger to cut his son's argument short. "Oh Nicholas, Nicholas, Nicholas...Have I not taught you anything over the past eight centuries? One must always entertain special guests. Especially when one of an old friend," he lectured.

"You mean that she is Xena?" Nick supposed. 

LaCroix savored the confusion on Nick's face. He did enjoy getting a rise out of the boy. "Ah, that would be telling. No, you will find out soon enough," he baited. He strolled the diameter of his office/broadcast booth with a relaxed gait. Then, after three laps, he buzzed the intercom. The bartender answered, "Yes?" "Yes....I need to see the conservative couple sitting at the far end of the bar. Can you show them to my office in ...oh...let's say ten minutes?" LaCroix requested. 

"Sure. Thank you," the bartender signed off.

"What are you going to do now?" Nick inquired nervously. He sensed trouble coming quickly.  While his former master needed to blow off steam after Divia's attack, challenging Xena was perhaps a bit more than even LaCroix could handle. 

The elder vampire smiled sardonically, "First, I am going to find Janette. Then, I need to dig up a few relics from my past. If you would excuse me, Nicholas...." He turned towards the old wooden crates in the room's far corner. Still sensing Nick's presence, he threw another verbal jab. "Besides, where is that faith of yours now?" he snickered ironically. 

Nick left the room in disgust.


"So when do you think that he'll make his move?" Angie asked pensively. 

"When he wants to," Dave shrugged, and felt the reassuring weight of his weaponry. Then, he noted the bartender approaching the table. "Get ready, it's show time," he advised her. 

The bartender, a mortal male in his late twenties with pale skin, and mahogany-colored hair greeted them. "Good evening, folks. The owner would like you to join him for a drink," he invited them. 

She winked at Dave. "Whatever my husband thinks works for me...I do have to go to the powder room first though," she informed the bartender. 

"Nice thinking," Dave mentally noted with a smile. She was being prudent indeed. "Sounds good. Let's say in about six minutes or so? See the oak door over there? Just knock on it when you're ready, and the owner will let you in," the young man indicated, and returned to his post. 

When he had left, Angie leaned close to Dave. "Give me two minutes to do my thing...And then, watch for the lady in my overcoat. Got it?" she relayed her plan. 

"Check," he agreed and gave her arm a squeeze. "Be careful in there. You don't know what he has up his sleeve." 

She nodded and headed for the ladies room. Dave watched her walk away, and a sudden nervousness gripped him. "Why do I get the feeling that the stuff's about to hit the fan?" he murmured intuitively, while sliding his bow to where he could reach it quickly.


Angie reached the ladies room. She locked herself in a vacant stall. After stripping off her trench coat, she drew her sword, and a bright flash later, Xena look around anxiously. 

"There's the overcoat. Good going, Angela," she complemented, and put the coat on. She exited the stall hoping in all of the ruckus, and partying out on the floor, she wouldn't be recognized. 

"Nice try...but too late for that, my dear," a feminine hiss indicated from the shadows. Xena spun to face her opponent who stepped slowly into view.....


Two...then three minutes passed, and still no sign of Angie or Xena. 

"I had better check this out," Dave muttered worriedly, and started for the powder room. He had only made it halfway across the room when the sounds of fighting reached his ears. His psychic reflexes warned him to shield himself. "Shit!" he cursed, and put up the energy barrier just in time. Only seconds later, the bathroom door exploded outward and carried an ebony-clad woman in its wake. 

"David! Be careful of her!" Xena yelled, and executed a flip to land at his side. By now, the crowd was gathering around the combatants.

"Go on! Get lost!" Dave yelled at them, while waving his hands frantically. 

The vampiress rose to her feet looking none the worse for wear. "Very good...So, LaCroix spoke truthfully about your power," the woman complemented. 

"Why don't we find out just how good we both are?" Xena challenged with the crazed battle look, and a wave of her chakram. 

"Yesss...," the other agreed. They circled each other. 

Dave looked around. Despite his earlier directive, the partygoers were still there. It was time for direct measures. "I told you to scram!" he snarled, and threw a specially-treated smoke grenade in the air. The ensuing red cloud dispersed everyone...vampire and mortal alike. For now, at least, the coast was clear. 

"Nice," Xena admired. 

He did a slight bow. 

"A momentary triumph," their nocturnal adversary snarled in response. 

Xena shook her head in disgust. "All of this monkeying around...When is the big man coming out?" 

Dave studied the vampiress closely. As with Nick, he had seen her face Tony's notes. "You're Janette duCharme, aren't you?" he realized. 

"Very good. Nicolas had mentioned that you knew of us. That knowledge could be a dangerous thing for you," Janette smiled coldly. 

"I suppose that he also mentioned my promise to keep that knowledge a secret," he advised her.

"Oui...he did. Which is why you are still alive, Monsieur Dubois," Janette informed him. 

Xena's face flushed with impatience. "This is all very nice, but I still want to see the owner!" she cut in. 

"Such manners," Janette baited. "Really..."

Xena raised her sword. "I'll show you manners!" she fumed.

Janette readied herself as well. Both sides were about to jump in when the bartender set up five goblets, and two bottles of wine on the table. 

"For you folks....courtesy of the owner," he nervously announced. 

"Finally!" Xena huffed. 

"Yes. After two millennia, we do meet again, Xena," a male voice announced in Classical Latin from behind the ajar office door. 

Xena's eyebrow arched. She knew that voice. A cold smile spread on her face as she readied her weapons. "Show yourself, Lucius!" she challenged. "Enough games." 

LaCroix stepped forth in a dark black suit. He wore a shield on his left arm, and a Roman broadsword by his left hip. "I was so enjoying the entertainment," he added mischievously. 

Dave looked at their host. There was something about him....Yes, he was a vampire, but something else...Then, he realized it. The dread surrounding Detective Knight. Somehow he could sense that it was linked to this being. He tensed. "So, you're LaCroix."

"You may call me that," their host informed him. 

"Despite the current trappings, you're still Lucius of Pompey," Xena disagreed. "Our fight is still on, Butcher."

"Well, I see that the millennia have not changed your sunny disposition," LaCroix admired.  "Will you have that drink?"

"At your funeral, Lucius, after I've sent you to Tartarus," Xena spat furiously. "For all of your killing...and the victims." She stole quick glances at Janette and Nick. 

LaCroix snarled. His eyes turned green, and his fangs descended. "You can't kill me....You couldn't kill me at Corinth, and you won't do so now," he challenged. 

Another cold smile from Xena, in addition to the crazed look. "Funny, Callisto said the same thing. Then, I killed her. Take care, Lucius. I will kill you," she warned. 

LaCroix shook his head. "Don't you listen, Xena? Really, we should be beyond such games." He sipped a glass of bloodwine. "You should try some." 

Xena watched her adversary emotionlessly. "You're right, Lucius....You haven't changed..," she started. 

"For once, we are in agreement," he purred.

"Sure," Xena smiled ironically. "Once a braggart...always a braggart," she baited. 

LaCroix stiffened for a second. The woman had not lost her tongue after all....He did enjoy a challenge, even if it taxed him to his limits. He looked at Dave, and sniffled. "I see that your taste in sidekicks has remained the same. Whatever happened to the Blonde, and the Clown anyway?" he taunted. 

Dave snarled, "Why you arrogant..." 

Xena held her hand towards him, and Dave managed to get a tentative leash on his feelings.  "Pity...Gabrielle, and Joxer died honorable deaths. Far from your clutches, Leach," she informed him. 

"Besides," Dave added. "They make wonderful allies and friends." 

Xena smiled. Perhaps if he could control himself, they might survive this night. "Well said," she agreed. 

"I'm sure," LaCroix drank in these sour words, and studied him again. "Now, I know where I have seen you. You were one of Samuelsohn's students. You were in the class where I reminded him of his obligation to keep certain things...private." 

Dave shot him a furious glance. A dark fury rose within him like a tidal wave, and a crimson sheen obscured his vision. . "I do remember. You intimidated him. Do you really think he would have said anything? Really, LaCroix...come down off of that infamous pedestal of yours for just a second. He knew about the Enforcers. When he told me about it just before he died, Dr. Samuelsohn warned me to keep the knowledge secret. I have promised Nick and Janette that I will do so. But don't you even dare to lecture anyone on civility....and don't talk to me..."

"As I would a child?" LaCroix taunted. "That is quite a temper tantrum." 

Dave snickered. "Really?" he rasped with a menacingly low voice, and an intense stare. "I would have thought that it sounded like one of your pseudo-philosophical spewings on the radio. You are the Nightcrawler, aren't you? I listened in last night. Finally finding your level, aren't you?"

Xena, and Nick both accessed the librarian's mood. Dave teetered right on the edge, and provoking LaCroix was a good way of asking for the rapid transit to suicide. 

LaCroix curled his lip in disgust. Such effrontery was intolerable...especially in front of Nicholas. Bad enough that Natalie Lambert was spurring his child on in search of an imagined cure.... This one would inspire real rebellion in him. Such a potential threat must be eliminated...but yet, he could not risk bringing him across. No, Dubois would be too big a threat...even worse than the Barber. Some other way would have to be found.... 
Dave, for his part, regained some of his composure. "What's the matter? Cat got your tongue?" he baited knowing that he stood right on the edge. This asshole was just like his own father...Overbearing, thinking that fatherhood entitled him to ownership of the brood and their lives. "O' paterfamilias potentias..," he cackled. "What a quaint idea. Wake up. In this day and age, it's called child abuse. Too bad your Enforcers don't persecute for that offense, Mighty General." 

LaCroix cursed silently. "No mortal talks to me like that!" he stormed, and advanced
on Dave. 

Within a second, Dave held his bow in firing position with a sharpened oak shaft aimed at his host's heart. "Just try it," he hissed.

"You insolent..," LaCroix smoldered, and took another step...only to find Xena's sword barring his path. 

"As much as I would like to watch David take you," she smiled sweetly. "We still have a date, Butcher." She turned to her friend. "Back off. You've made your point," she advised in a tone not to be ignored. 

"As you wish," Dave agreed, and sat back down at the bar. He kept his bow in hand just in case.  "Too bad, LaCroix, you blew your chance." He mock-saluted with the empty goblet in front of him. 

"There will be another opportunity for us both," LaCroix vowed. "If you survive,"

Xena cut in with her sword raised. "Draw your sword, Lucius."

"I suppose that this is inevitable," LaCroix intoned, and drained his goblet dry. "But if this is how it has to be." He drew his broad sword, and swung it only to be parried by Xena's weapon. 

Dave rose from his stool, but Janette barred his path. "This is between them," she laughed. "With all of your big talk, you should know how to show a girl a good time, no?" 

A smile spread across his face. "I'm a type O, and you seem like a B negative. Then, there's always Daddy Dearest out there. Whatever would he say to you cavorting with an insolent mortal like me? Sorry Janette, I'm just not your type." Then, he waved his left hand, showing her the wedding band. "Besides, I'm married." 

A momentary flash of pain shot through her, and she thought of Robert. How she missed him still.... This mortal Dubois...despite his insolence...had a point. " are not my type, but you still need discipline!" She backhanded him across the room.

Somehow, Dave managed to recover just before he hit the wall, and land on his feet.
"Sloppy," he cursed himself. "Remember, her aura is different from a normal person's." Still, he knew that if Janette had not held back for some reason, he would have been seriously hurting right now. 

Janette advanced on him, fangs descended and ready for conflict. "LaCroix is right. 
You talk too much," she hissed, and connected with a glancing slap across the face. She leaned over him ready to bite his neck. 

Dave smiled cruelly at her. "Now, you've gone, and done it!" he snarled. "You just invoked the Tom-Boy Rule." His hands glowed, and fired a mental pulse sending her back against the wall on the room's far side. She fell to the floor momentarily senseless. "Now stay down!" he advised as he watched the battle across the room. "That was too damn close for comfort," he thought while rubbing his neck. 

While watching the battle on the floor, Nick's eyes glinted golden at the librarian. While Janette may have been wrong to strike him, Dave's retort outraged him. "Dubois!" he snarled.

Dave spun to see Nick starting to rise from the floor. "Do yourself a favor, Detective. Stay clear of me right now," he huffed and shook from the effort of containing his anger.

Despite his indignation, Nick sensed that Janette was already recovering. His senses also told him that something was very different about the man in front of him. As the other's anger grew, Nick could tell that his presence was becoming more pronounced. Something was waiting inside to break loose. 

"Don't hurt her any further!" the vampire detective ordered.

"Relax, Knight," Dave leered at him with a wicked throaty snicker, "If she stays there and leaves me alone, I'll leave her alone. But, attack me..." He spasmed and looked up again, his expression even darker. " deal with...problems. Please....I don't want"

"Dubois, are you...?" Nick inquired.

"Just...check on...Janette....," Dave growled. 

Nick nodded disconcertedly, and hurried to Janette's side. A quick scan of her body told him that she would be all right. Somehow, Dubois was controlling his own darkness. He could have hurt the fledgling vampiress much worse. But, his first priority was Janette. He helped her to a chair. As he sat her down, her eyes snapped open.

"Nicolas?" she murmured pained.

"Oui? Are you?" he inquired with concern for her safety.

"I will be fine," she coughed. "The mortal...He packs quite a punch, eh?"

"Somehow, I sense that he's holding back," Nick informed her. 

"Yes, LaCroix triggered something in him," she winced, rubbing her temples. "Merde."

Nick stared back at Dave. The other man leaned up against the wall. His eyes were squeezed shut and he was muttering incoherently.

"Help me," the other implored to the sky. "Help me to contain the darkness." 

This prayer forced Nick's mind to flash back to his conversation with Jeanne prior to the Battle of Compiegne.


[Orleans 1429] 

He had watched her prepare her strategy that evening. 

"Nicholas," she acknowledged as he entered the tent. 

"You realize that the English are massing a gigantic army out there?" he asked her.

She gave him a concerned look. Had he not listened to anything she
had told him earlier? "So?" she shrugged nonchalantly. "It is God's will that they be driven away.  What must be...must be. Que sera...sera."

"But what would losing an army mean to Charles?" he inquired. 

She thought on this for a moment. She had to trust her king. There was no other choice.  "It is God's will, Nicholas, and if I must lose this battle, my army, even my life...then so be it," she insisted ardently. She noted the dark manner in her friend. "Yes, Nicholas, my faith will be my immortality. One day, I hope that you will find such faith. It is always there for you, mon ami. Now, I must go. A revoir." She left the tent, and stared into the increasing daylight....


Back in the present, Nick watched Dave closely. The latter's expression was relaxing somewhat as he regained his control.

"Thank you," Dave whispered to the two vampires. "For leaving me alone, and letting me ride this out.... "

Nick wanted to intervene further. However, he remembered his promise to Nat earlier. Now, that Janette was safe, he could step back from the battle. Besides, sunrise would come soon and he needed to find cover lest he be stuck with LaCroix for the entire day.


LaCroix, and Xena pressed each other's limits as they circled and parried.
For hours, they had clashed swords, but for little gain.

"This is just as I remembered it," LaCroix snickered. 

"Except that I would have killed you," Xena challenged. 

"Would have, except for my nature," LaCroix baited, and backhanded her across the face. 

Xena took a step back. "Not bad, Lucius," she smiled. "But try this!" She yelled a shrill battle cry, executed a back flip, and then a flying kick which caught her adversary off guard. 

Despite his enhanced constitution, the maneuver staggered him. "Touchˇ," he admitted, and advanced anew. 

Two sword parries later, Xena looked at the front doors. During the battle, they had been left ajar. Yes, there was a pale light...Dawn had finally come to Toronto! "Let's end this!" she told LaCroix, and flung her chakram. "Remember your nature, Lucius?" she taunted. 

He watched the circular weapon's flight as it cracked two roof beams and returned to her hand. 

"Nice try, Xena," LaCroix snickered. "You must be tiring." 

Their swords clashed again. From his position behind the bar, Dave heard the beams creak. There was a weak spot in the ceiling and, using his own abilities, he found it just to the right of the battle. "Now, for some mayhem," he snickered, and gave a quick "tug". The section of roof weakened by Xena's toss fell to the floor, letting the sunlight pour into the area. "I could always bring the house down," he cracked, and looked around. The vampires howled in pain as their skin
burned. Moving quickly, Dave helped Janette find cover behind the bar, and stretched a canvas over her. "For you, Cherie," he explained. "Stay put." 

"Merci, Monsieur Dubois. I will not forget this kindness," Janette moaned from behind the bar.

"It's nothing," he told her. 

Xena looked at Dave. "Are you ready to go?" she inquired. 

"Let's split...before we find any other trouble," he observed. "By the way, where's LaCroix?" 

She looked around, and shot her companion a satisfied smile. "He's hiding in the darkness somewhere. Have you seen Nicholas?" she asked. 

They walked out the front doors of the Raven to find Nick's car still parked where it had been last night. 

Xena drew her sword cautiously. "What now...?" she anticipated another surprise. 

Dave looked in the front and back seats of the Caddy. Nothing. Then he observed the trunk. The familiar pocket of emptiness was there. "I wonder..," he thought aloud, and rapped on the door.  "Detective Knight, are you in there?" 

"Yes, I'm here," Nick replied sheepishly. 

Dave smiled. "How about a lift back to your home, if that's okay....?" he proposed. 

"That would be great," Nick agreed. "Just don't play any polka music, please," Nick requested.

Xena nudged Dave. "I'm going to take care of something. Don't leave without our friend," she whispered. 

"Gotcha," he noted carefully. "And that goes for your request, too, Detective. Would some Classical music work for you?" 

"Sounds great. Keys are behind the drivers' side sun visor," Nick agreed satisfied. At least he would not have to deal with the Schanke Selections on this particular morning.... 

Dave observed Angie walking towards them. She waved at him happily. He returned her greeting, and motioned towards the Caddy. "Our ride," he explained. 

"But what about Nick?" she worried. "We can't leave him stranded here with 'You-Know- Who'."

"Don't worry about him. He's coming with us," Dave cracked jokingly.

She looked back towards the other seat. Nothing... "Whatever are you getting at?" she wondered.

"Nick's in the trunk," Dave shrugged. "His emergency hiding place of choice. You know that the '62 Caddy has more trunk space than just about any other car?" he asked her.


Meantime, LaCroix had cloistered himself inside of his office. While he could not leave its darkness until sunset, the solitude gave him a chance to reflect on his mistakes during the battle, and to let its scars heal. Janette, he sensed, was protected. Dubois had seen to that. Despite his words, and insolence, the mortal did have a responsible side after all. The librarian would have to answer for his remarks...perhaps not fatally, but one day, he would have to account for them.
As for Xena, there would be another battle. "Some day, Xena," he promised knowingly. "Some day." 
Chapter 14

The taxi ride between the loft and the Camille passed quickly. Although Dave and Angie insisted that they did not need anything else from Nick, he insisted on paying for their cab fare. Eventually, they relented, and allowed him to do so. Angie and Dave were exhausted from their respective ordeals. In his case, holding back the inner tide sapped his strength, but at least, he had restrained it. That was a first for him.

Marie excused herself as soon as they arrived. She had wondered about their night-long absence, but needed to make her 10AM closing session.

Dave sat in the corner of the plush sofa, and poured a cup of raspberry tea for each of them.  "That was some night. Wasn't it?" he asked his wife.

"You can say that again," she shook her head while sitting down. "I don't want to go
through too many of those nights."

"Oh come on...," he snickered, and sipped his tea. 

"Watching you playing with fire like that? I saw you through Xena's eyes as you baited LaCroix.  He's not going to forget that," she lectured, and took a sip from her cup.

"I know. I'm sorry, but there's something about him...," he admitted, biting into a nearby corn muffin.

"The fact that he's like your father," she affirmed. "I saw the connection. It's uncanny...and it did set you off."

For a moment, he tensed. The loss of memories from these episodes was disconcerting to say the least. "It would have...It should have..," he guessed. "Well, I guess that it kind of did. As usual, everything's hazy."

"But at least, you remember it, and you controlled it. Dave, I'm so proud of you. You
took a major step last night. Now, let's keep heading down that road," she congratulated him, hugging his shoulders.

"Thanks, Angel," he beamed at her. "You have no idea how good it is to hear you say that."  He let out a great big yawn. "Oh wow!"

She stretched her arms toward the sky. "We're both tired. Come on...let's get some sleep," she urged.

He nodded wordlessly, and followed her lead into the bedroom.


Sunset allowed Nick to drive over to the morgue. After her advice last night, he wanted to bring Nat up to date.

"Hi, Nat," he greeted.

"Well, look who's here," she teased. "I was pretty worried about you."

"I'm sure. I was stuck in my loft all day," he explained. "But, it was a pretty intense scene for the entire night. It lasted until dawn."

"Any damage?" she inquired.

"Nothing permanent...except some roof beams, and LaCroix's pride. Seriously, Nat, our friends stood their ground against Janette and LaCroix."

That statement got her attention. "Really? Wow. That is really amazing," she
admired amazed. "Speaking of our friends....."

"Officially speaking...?" he asked.

She looked around to make sure nobody was in earshot. "Of course," she agreed.

"Xena disappeared right after the battle. Dave and Angie were at the Raven, and the
roof...well," he reported.

"It fell in on its own..," she teased humorously. "So, if you were there for the entire battle, how did you get home?"

"They drove me there, and I paid for their cab fare back to the Camille," he continued. "David even agreed to play Classical music for my listening pleasure."

Nat chuckled knowingly. She remembered Schanke's horrified account of how he had tortured Nick with the Polka music three years ago during an early morning joyride.  Normally, she would have attributed this instance to dumb luck, but with these people....was anything a coincidence?

"I got to check in on the Dubois family now. See you later at the precinct," he promised, and left the room.

Nat shrugged. "Just another day in Paradise," she cracked, and headed towards the cooler.  "...And who's our next lucky contestant?"


Dave and Angie also stirred from their slumber at dusk. They had dinner with their
daughters, and then, put them to bed. Subsequently, they retired to the terrace, and enjoyed their last evening with the view.

"We do have some adventures, don't we?" Angie observed.

Dave laughed, "Life's never boring, that's for sure."

"So, where do we go from here?" she posed the next query.

"Back to Arizona," he shrugged. "And wait to see what life gives us next. Isn't that the way it has always been?"

"Definitely," she agreed. Then, she looked around nervously. "Dave, did you?"

He nodded. There was a definite void in the vicinity...a vampire. "LaCroix?" he guessed tensely.

"No, it's only me," Nick assured them as he landed on the balcony. "Relax, this is only a social call."

Angie and Dave looked at each other, and breathed a collective sigh of relief.

"That sounds good," Dave sighed. "How's Janette?"

Nick smiled warmly, "She's fine...thanks to you. She sends her gratitude for helping her."

"It was no trouble," Dave explained.

"And LaCroix?" Angie fretted.

"Burned...angry...swearing revenge at Xena...not to mention you made a powerful enemy tonight. I'm sure that you can mention that to Xena when you see her next...if you get my drift," Nick explained knowingly.

She concurred, "Absolutely. But, what about the bank incident, and the Raven fight?"

"What about them? I told the precinct that Xena disappeared from Toronto this morning," Nick reported. "I think that we can keep each other's secrets. Right?"

"You bet," Dave affirmed, and shook hands with their friend. "Besides, trust will make matters simpler since Angie and I are resisters."

"How would you know that?" Nick queried.

"We can't be hypnotized. Besides, the last person who tried on him...Well, let's say the consequences weren't the greatest....," Angie stated.

"I see..," Nick agreed. This revelation would bear some further looking into. Meanwhile, it was getting late, and he needed to get back to the precinct. "Well, it was good to meet both of you. If you will excuse me, I must be going," he excused himself.

"Nice meeting you as well, Detective," Angie agreed.

"It's Nick...And you folks have a great trip back to Arizona," he concluded, and left his card on the table. "In the meantime, if you need any help, please call," he informed them.

"Thanks, Nick," they chorused.

They shook hands. Then, Nick smiled, and took off into the night sky.

"Wow," she sighed. "I'm glad that he's on our side."

"I'll say. He's a great friend to have," he agreed.

She snickered, "Well, I guess that we should look in on the girls..."

"Okay," he acquiesced.

They walked back into the hotel room to check on their daughters, and to prepare for their return journey to Tucson. 


Two hours later, Nick parked the Caddy in the precinct parking lot. He imagined that Reese would be furious about his disappearing act, but that could not be helped. Right now, he was more concerned with relaying his accounting of the bank, and Raven incidents to both the Captain and Tracy. Steeling himself, he walked across the pavement, up the stairs, and into the precinct.

As he walked toward his desk, Nick noticed that everyone was avoiding him. "Reese must be really unhappy," he noted uneasily. Sitting down at his desk, he started to shuffle through his papers. Then, he saw the office door start to open....

"Knight! My office!" the Captain indicated firmly. 

Nick took in all of the sympathetic glances from his co-workers as he walked across the bullpen and into the office. He looked around, seeing Nat, and Tracy sitting there already. Reese sat behind his desk, hands under his chin, and his eyes staring at him.

"Just what the heck did you think you were doing, Detective?" Reese started. "Taking off on your own like that?"

"I had a lead, and..," Nick started.

"I know...I know...You had a lead. Both you, and Detective Vetter always have leads, but you never let each other know about them. Well, I should have said this a long time ago. You two are partners! You work together. Got it?" he continued.

Nick nodded anxiously.

Tracy did likewise.

"Good!" Reese affirmed. "Now, let's see some teamwork starting on the Robinson case!  Detective Vetter, you can go now. I need to talk some more with your partner, if you don't mind."

"No Cap. Go right ahead. I'll be waiting at my desk," Tracy indicated half-smarting, and half-triumphant from his lecture. She left the room quietly.

He waited for the door to close. "You know, Nick. You are really close to a write up. You're one of my best detectives, but I can't have you playing the Lone Wolf. Please take me seriously on this one. You should be grateful that Natalie's already explained to me what happened with you. Just keep us all in the loop next time. Okay?" he explained.

"Right," Nick agreed, and walked out with Nat.

"Glad that's over," Reese muttered with relief. I sure do hate those lectures." 


Just after sunrise, Nick lowered the shades in his loft, and reclined on his couch. It had been a hectic week. Now, he needed to reflect on the encounters in the Camille, and the Raven.  Fortunately, Tracy was willing, albeit uneasily, to accept his explanation. But still, where did he stand with everyone? And did he still belong in Toronto? The same questions remained from before. However, they competed with new ones concerning fathers, and sons. Did LaCroix really have the right to treat him as he did? Some of the things that David Dubois had stated to LaCroix made him think about this issue. Just as the elder vampire had feared, Dubois had
indeed found a fertile field in Nick's doubtful mind in which to plant the seed. And, what about Xena? Would she and LaCroix really meet again? Time would only tell....

He heard the lift operate, and watched the doors open. Nat strolled over to the couch, and sat down next to him. "You handled Reese very well," she complemented.

"Thanks for helping me with him," he told her.

"Well, I could have let him barbeque you. He and Tracy were about ready to do so. 
Fortunately, you let me in on your cover story, and I was able to relay it onto them. End of case.  So, now what?" she explained.

"Now, we hope that things settle down a bit," he hoped.

"Not likely, Nick," she doubted. "It would be nice, but this is reality. So, did you have your talk with them?"

"With Dave and Angie? Yes, I did. They thanked me for being a friend, and for keeping their secrets," he commented.

"You mean about Angela and Xena? I knew it!" Nat realized. "Of course, that goes no further than here."

"I know that," he assured her. "I was also thinking about Dave. His situation reminds me so much of the Ellen/Monica/Jacqueline case. Remember?"

Nat flashed back about six months to that case. The woman to whom Nick referred had multiple personalities, each progressively more violent. "You mean he's multiple?"

"I did sense two distinct personalities inside of him," he agreed.

"What happened at the Raven? With him, and LaCroix?" she asked anxiously.

He tensed. "Umm...well....He teetered on the edge between personalities. But, he let LaCroix have it with both barrels. We both saw it in his files. Remember? He was abused by his parents.  His father would not let him run his own life....even to the point of his relationships, and friendships. Eventually, he broke off contact with his father.... As for last night, he challenged LaCroix's concepts of fatherhood and the paterfamilias. He also discounted LaCroix's hold over  Janette and me. Finally, he cursed him out for being an abusive father if there ever was one."

She hugged his shoulders, "Now, I know why this is hitting you so hard. He's a mortal mirror of yourself. You're not completely multiple, but you do have the vampire in there. Well, at least, he has his own doctor....and you have me. Still, I'm glad that someone stood up to that creep where you are concerned."

"I know, Nat," he agreed. "But what happens if he is ever alone with LaCroix, and releases that darkness? He still has his powers when he changes. If those two ever go at it...."

She shook fearfully. "I...I...see what you mean. Well, we will have to make sure that never happens. Besides, I think that Xena's also watching the situation. Somehow, I don't think that this will be the last that we see of the Dubois family, or her, for that matter."

He nodded wordlessly, and they hugged closely for much of the day. Too many things had happened for words to describe. For now, they needed to be close...and let proximity fill the gaps which solitude could not.


(** Thanks for your interest! :) **) 

Back To Main Page