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Just A Man
by Amanda Berendt
Copyright November 2003

    Detective Nick Knight sat at his desk staring off into space. His partner, Detective Don Schanke was sitting across from him jabbering on about something or other, but Nick's mind was far away. It was strange how he was able to sit here, like a wolf among sheep and no one could see past his carefully constructed facade to see what he truly was.
    His focus shifted to the doorway as he watched Natalie Lambert come into the bullpen. She was the department pathologist and the only mortal privy to his secret. Despite the knowledge of the vampire he harbored, she treated him no differently than Schanke or any other detective. Well, perhaps with slightly more affection, he thought with a smile.

If you were wonderin'
Who I am
I am a man
Just like any other man
Unlike any other man

    His mind drifted back through the years, far away from Schanke's conversation and the noise and bustle of the police station. It had been so long ago that he had started down the road that would lead towhere he was today.
    He had been just over twenty when he had left his family home to join Lord Carrig as an attaché in Wales. His future had seemed so promising and bright. He had planned to move up through the ranks to someday serve the king in some more official capacity. He had been a young man so full of excitement as he started out on his first great adventure.

If you were wonderin'
Who I was
I was a boy
Just like any other boy
Starting out on some great mystery

    It was then that everything had begun to unravel. He had been falsely accused of killing the local maiden, Gwyneth. As punishment, he had been sent to Jerusalem to fight in the Crusade. There he had seen the slaughter of men on both sides in the name of god. He had lost faith in his country, his king, his god, and even in himself. When he returned to Paris, his soul had been easy prey for Lacroix.
    As the centuries passed, he slowly began to search for the light once more. He turned away from the evil he carried within him and found the goodness it had been smothering. For the past century, he had been actively searching for a cure to rid himself of the darkness that Lacroix had infected him with.

On the road
When I had no choice
I waited out a century
I took a load
Until I found my voice
There's nothin' wrong with bein' me

    Eventually, his thoughts came back to the present. Schanke was still droning on about Cohen being on his case. Nick gazed across the bullpen to where Natalie stood talking to another detective. She was so confidant, unlike many other women he had known. She had offered her help in his quest, with no request for any kind of reward. In the two years since they had met, they had become very close. He shared things about his past with her that he had not told anyone else.

If you were wonderin'
Who I love
I love you
'Cause that's all I have to do

    The light that she radiated had instantly captured his heart. He loved everything about her - her laugh, her smile, the way the lock of hair kept falling into her face even though she repeatedly tucked itbehind her ear, and the way she always kept on his case about the protein shakes and the vitamin therapy she prescribed.

Cause I'm a man
Just like any other man
Unlike any other man

    When he was with Natalie, the vampire ceased to exist. She allowed what remained of the mortal man to come to the surface. With Nat, he was just a man.