title: of friends, foam fingers, and frankfurters
fandom: forever knight
category: pre-Dark Knight, Nick/Nat friendship
date started: may 2007
date finished: june 2007
disclaimer: they don't belong to me, i'm only borrowing them; no money is being made
summary: tonight was going to be a great night for baseball
Twilight was fast approaching. Nick could feel it. The approaching night’s mystical pull told him that the streets of Toronto would soon be safe enough to welcome him. His evening was all planned out. The tickets were in his wallet and the desk sergeant was under strict instructions to only page him if it was an emergency. All he needed now was for the sun to continue its daily journey past the horizon.
By the time Nick left the confines of his loft the sun was nearly non-existent. With Nick’s arrival at Natalie’s apartment the sun’s crimsons and oranges were the only remnants of its presence.
Natalie greeted him at her front door dressed in a gray Blue Jays jersey and knee length denim cutoff shorts. Excitement radiated off of her in waves.
“What no ball cap?” he asked innocently as she stepped out into the hallway.
“God no, I get enough cases of hat head at work,” She responded with a laugh. “And I sure as hell don’t need them during my off time.”
“If they get on your nerves so badly then wouldn’t it be easier not to wear them?”
“Well yes but somebody got a little enthusiastic when ordering supplies and we ended up with a huge shipment. The only way to make them go away is to use them. Besides we’ve only got a few boxes left and then it’s so long.”
At Natalie’s announcement Nick couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. The white coroner’s caps Natalie spoke of were a little unusual but he found them oddly endearing. He’ll be sorry to see them go.
By the time the two of them emerge out of her building for their first real outing together there was only a slight hint of light in the horizon. He never would have guessed that Natalie was a baseball fan but then again there were a lot of things about her that were slightly unconventional. Who was he to complain that his doctor/colleague/friend knew how to read the box scores just as well as he did?
“Wait a minute, that thing is yours?” She asked stunned as they approached the Caddy, parked a few blocks from her apartment.
“Yeah,” he responded nonchalantly as he opened the passenger side door for her.
“It’s an antique,” he corrected as he made his way to the driver side and slide into his own seat.
“Nick, it belongs in a museum.”
“You could argue the same thing about me.”
Nick could practically hear the gears in her head turning as he pulled away from the curb and steered the car towards the expressway.
“So I don’t get it. I thought the keyword in this whole thing was ‘low-key’. How, may I ask, is driving around in this thing ‘low-key’?”
“In some ways I’m just a creature of habit, Nat. I’ve had it since it was brand new and the trunk isn’t as tight a fit as others I’ve been in.”
That revelation earned him a raised eyebrow. “Are you trying to tell me that you and the trunk of this car have spent some quality time together?”
“More times than I care to admit.”
“I’ll bet,” she murmured softy to herself and lost in thought.
They traveled for the next few minutes in companionable silence. Nick eased the Caddy into the flow of traffic on the expressway; the acceleration caused the curled cable of his police radio to swing back and forth. The warm evening breeze picked up and ruffled both his and Natalie’s hair in the open cab, which he could tell she enjoyed. It was going to be a good night. He’d been surprised by how much he was looking forward to this. It had been awhile since he’d been able to just relax around someone. He’s had close mortal friends before and some had even known about his true nature but he’d always been wary when it came to allowing himself their companionship. In the past couple of years he had kept himself isolated from the people he wanted to join, not even allowing himself to exist in some official capacity. His chance encounter with the young coroner sitting next to him, her resistor status, and her “I won’t take no for an answer” attitude had changed things for him. His association with her had also put him back in close proximity to police work, something he’d taken a liking to in the last few decades. He decided that starting a new official life in Toronto, after having lived in its shadows for several years, was the right decision. He wanted to be more proactive again in resuming his personal pact to repay humanity for the suffering he’d caused.
It also helped that he’d made more of an effort to stay away from others of his kind. Nick hadn’t regularly traveled in vampire circles since the turn of the century. He liked his independence from them and preferred the tenuous connection that he’d since formed with humanity. However no matter how much he distanced himself from the world of darkness it always surrounded him. It’s in every bottle of cow’s blood he consumed, in his so called “skin condition” that left him limited to the night shift, in the way he’s always aware of the aroma of blood from his human associates, and finally in the subtle vibrations that he felt with his kindred. They told him that she was in the city. He could feel her and while he’d briefly debated dropping in on her Nick had decided against it. Their role as lovers might have ended a long time ago but Nick did miss Janette’s friendship.
The memory of Nick’s centuries’ long friendship drew his attention back to Natalie, who had this look of extreme concentration on her face.
“Well,” she said taking a critical look around. “Why don’t you just have it painted a color that isn’t likely to blind people with its brilliance? You could go black,” she suggested enthusiastically “Or maybe…black...” Natalie bit her lower lip. “Tan maybe?” she added weakly.
“Natalie, are you insinuating that the Caddy isn’t perfect the way she is?”
“Oh!” her eyes went as wide as he’d ever seen them. “Oh I’m not saying that at all. I wouldn’t dream of it.” She choked out and to put emphasis on her words Natalie reached over and patted the dashboard in what he assumed was supposed to be affection but unfortunately for her came out rather halfhearted and unconvincing.
Nick let out a too infrequent laugh, amused by his companion’s actions. Yet when she was no longer content to stroke his ego Natalie let out an exasperated groan. “Geez, Nick you’re such a guy!”
“You should have seen how I cared for my horse.”
“You want to run that by me again?”
Taking note of her confusion Nick started to elaborate. “It’s just interesting that you should comment on my male status Dr. Lambert because I’ve got a theory about all this.” He began, enjoying himself. “I think it’s wired into the male genetic code or something. Clearly all the work on the Y chromosome is no where near completion.”
“Clearly,” Natalie echoed, probably wondering where this new side of Nick’s would take her.
“For centuries we were bound to our horses for transportation. If you took good care of your horse, your horse would take good care of you. The rise of the automobile eliminated the need for horses, except recreationally of course, so men have transferred their possessiveness towards their cars.”
“Yeah as opposed to more worthwhile recipients, like say someone that lives and breathes, or who doesn’t leak oil and release harmful exhaust into the atmosphere.”
“My Caddy doesn’t leak oil. She runs perfectly.”
“But it does release major exhaust fumes crammed with noxious gases.”
“She’s been upgraded and passed all her emissions tests,” Nick responded like a proud father.
Natalie just looked at him with a mixture of bewilderment and incredulity before she shook her head and began to absently play with the folded edges of her shorts. Her fingers tapped out a rhythm only she knew.
“Damn! I forgot my foam finger. Nick please we gotta go back,” Natalie suddenly pleaded earnestly turning to him.
The look Nick gave her was devoid of any emotion but there was a slight quirk in one of his eyebrows and he knew that was enough to tell Natalie all she needed to know. She had caught him off guard. She was getting into the habit of doing so. The first time was the moment in her office after his unexpected awakening. The sight of him gorging on her stored blood supply was greeted with curiosity and compassion. The second time came on the street when he’d threatened her with fear. He discovered then that she was a resistor and despite his warnings she offered him her help. The other moments have added up slowly in the few months they’ve known each other. This time she used humor to try and knock him on his ass and so help him it was working.
Natalie wasn’t able to maintain a straight face for very long before a cheeky grin graced her face.
“You do realize that you and that stand up act of yours are going to be sitting alone right?”
Natalie held her grin triumphantly and turned her head towards the rapidly approaching stadium.
“You’d have a lot less fun without me,” she said with a sidelong glance, her voice still carrying the hint of her smile.
Nick didn’t get a chance to respond as his attention was captured by an available parking garage. It wasn’t too far from the stadium but they’d still have to do a bit of walking. They circumnavigated the building several times each time moving up a floor before an adequate space finally presented itself.
“Is the Caddy going to be ok out here with its top down and all?” Natalie said hesitatingly once she’d exited the vehicle and looked around at the rapidly filling floor.
“Are you worried?” asked Nick after looking around unperturbed. He couldn’t help but mess with her a bit. “I was getting the impression that you didn’t quite care.”
“It’s not that I don’t care, Nick. I think a car of this size and color is a bit impractical but I thoroughly grasp its vintage car appeal. Besides, it’s not like I really want something to happen to it.” Natalie shrugged, not really knowing what else to say.
“She’ll be fine, Nat. Don’t worry.” Nick replied as they made their way to the garage’s elevator. Several people had already gathered to wait as well and when the elevator car arrived it was a tight fit for them all. Nick and Natalie stood in one of the far corners with Nick’s back to the wall and Natalie snuggly in front of him. She was shorter in her tennis shoes and the broach she used to hold her hair back grazed his upper chest when she moved her head.
Nick’s hand fell on one of her shoulders. He’s been touching her more lately—a strange new quirk that had manifested itself in a reciprocated platonic act. Originally he had assumed it was an involuntary reaction to her nascent clinical familiarity with his body. It did, after all, take him a while before he finally felt comfortable enough to let her perform a complete physical. Before that only his lovers had been that close to him. But Natalie had not been the only recipient of his more physical self. She’d just been the more frequent recipient. He found himself placing a kind hand on rattled witnesses during his cases or distraught family members in an attempt to make them feel at ease. And even though in the short time he’d been with the 27th he’d already developed a reputation for being a loner there had been instances where there was some genuine camaraderie between him and the other officers at the precinct. It finally occurred to Nick that his self-imposed disengagement from humanity had stifled the very humanity in him that he was trying to reach and his efforts with Natalie had been the key to unlocking it. And Natalie didn’t seem to mind this encroachment into her personal space either. She could be rather physical herself from what he’d experienced, whether it was a warm hand on his arm or a teasing jab towards his solar plexus.
The elevator car grinded to a halt on the ground level and the baseball enthusiasts that inhabited it began to file out into the warm summer evening. Everyone was ready for a game of baseball. Sports memorabilia vendors stood on corners hawking their wares while ticket scalpers also peddled their goods. Nearby a child ran passed them to a waiting mother with a large foam finger in tow. Beside him Natalie stifled a laugh.
“You don’t really own a foam finger right?”
“Well…,” she replied sustaining the word out.
“It was a gag gift from my brother,” Natalie admitted with a chuckle.
“And he shares this delightful sense of humor of yours?” Nick teased as he draped his arm over Natalie’s shoulder and pulled her closer to him. Her arm obligingly went around his waist.
“Nah, he just learned to ignore it.”
Natalie shot him an annoyed look to show her disapproval.
“All right, all right, I’m sorry,” He apologized, laughing lightly and dropped a kiss on the top of her head to show that he was only kidding. “Hey, I’ll buy you a hot dog,” Nick whispered into her ear and he felt a light shiver run through Natalie’s body.
“Are you trying to bribe me, Nick?” She asked after clearing her throat.
“I’d never dream of it. Think of it as a peace offering.”
“Will you buy yourself one too?”
Her request warmed a part of him somewhere deep inside. Even when she’s supposed to be relaxing her commitment to helping him find his mortality was never far from her mind. He knew it was selfish but he’s grateful for her presence in his life. Even now it seemed like such a long time ago that he tried to extricate the knowledge of his existence from her. There’s a reason they’d crossed paths and it wasn’t just his longing to be human. Natalie was the friend that had been sorely lacking from his life.
He looked down on her expectant face. Her brow was slightly furrowed and her expressive eyes watched him looking for any sign of evasion.
“Maybe,” he responded knowing fully well that he would order himself one. Human food was a part of the program, after all.
“I’ll think about it,” he continued good-naturedly. Natalie then caught on to his demeanor and decided to let the issue drop.
With the stadium in front of them they both looked up to see it’s massive retractable dome slowly making it’s way open. The two of them had fallen into step as they followed the group of people making their way into the stadium under the shadow of the city’s skyline dominating spire. Tonight’s going to be a great night for baseball.
Author's Notes: Special thanks to the beta of this story Desiree from the NNFic Yahoo!Group for taking the time to read and point out the rough patches. I truly appreciate it.
There are a few inconsistencies with real life and some creative licenses in this story that I feel I should address. According to my research night games at the Dome tend to start before sundown which would have made it impossible for Nick and Natalie to be there in time for the opening pitch. I've therefore pushed the start time back. Also, most of the time the dome is opened way before the start of the game and in my story Nick and Natalie see it opening. I've got no first hand experience with retractable roofs.
Also, I tend to get slightly obsessed with rarely used props on the show and Natalie's white coroner’s cap from the beginning of the series is one of them. I wanted to offer an explanation for their disappearance after 'For I Have Sinned.' And lastly, surely by the time Nick became a cop Natalie would have known that he drove a 62 Caddy but since this story originally sprung from that little exchange and I'm rather attached to it. Therefore it stays. :-)