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Title: Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String
By: Cousin Mary
Fandom: Forever Knight
Characters: Natalie Lambert and Lucien Lacroix
Disclaimers: Standard and holdiay themed disclaimers go here.
Notes: This is a complete rewrite of a story I wrote 10+ years ago. Same plot, better jokes, pacing, grammar, etc. Enjoy! 
 

Nat stifled a yawn, exhausted. Since half the department was out with the flu, she'd had to work late every night for the past two weeks. Now that she was finally home, all she wanted was to crawl into bed and pass out. She couldn't though, not yet. Squaring her shoulders, she turned her attention to the pile of Christmas catalogs spread across her counter. Nat sighed, every year she promised her self that she'd start early, that she'd plan... yet every year it was the same thing: last minute rush orders.

Well, at least she was consistent.
 

Hours later, Nat looked over her checklist: fruit of the month for Uncle Rory, a crystal vase for Sarah, a pair of garnet earrings for Grace, she always got Nick a holiday themed sweater, so, red and green reindeer this year, and his partner Tracy was easy, a gift card to Buckstars. She rubbed her eyes, the only one left was her niece, Amy.

Ugh.

She reached for a toy catalog. What was she going to get her? Amy was at that weird age, where most toys were too childish and everything else was too mature. Nat bit her lip, determined to find something the tween would love. Flipping past the board games and coloring books, she froze.

Oh. My. God,” she mumbled, her sleep deprived brain grinding to a halt. She had to buy it.

"No, don't do it," she whispered to herself. Her resolve didn't last long, twenty, thirty seconds tops. It was just too good. Fighting a grin, she quickly dialed and made her order.

"Oh God,” she snickered as she hung up, wiping her eyes. “Well, that's the stupidest thing I've done in awhile."

She laughed and yawned at the same time, sending herself into another giggling fit. She'd been up way too long. Nevertheless, she forced herself to grab another catalog; she still had to find something for Amy.
 

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 

A few days later, Nat was still playing catch up. Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork, oh how she loved it. The end was in sight though; two more forms, sign off on a report and staple it all together and she'd be done! Grabbing her good pen, the one she kept locked in her drawer when she wasn't using it, Nat made quick work of forms 37A and AC9. She was just adding her signature to the report when she heard something. Or, at least she thought she did. Nat tried to remember if anyone else was working tonight. Parker had left at 2, she should be alone. Slowly turning in chair, Nat saw there was someone silhouetted in the morgue door. Well, that wasn't creepy or anything.

After taking a steadying breath, she called out, “Hey, you aren't supposed to be in here.”

"My dear doctor." The figure stepped into the lab. "I thought you'd be expecting me."

Nat gaped for a moment. What was Lacroix doing here? "What do you mean, 'expecting' you? I'm pretty sure there wasn't a 'chat with an ancient vampire' on my schedule today, sorry.”

Lacroix gave her an odd look. Then, after a long moment, he turned to bring something in from the hall. Nat had only a moment to wonder what the hell was going on, before he returned, carrying a large stuffed bullfrog wearing a Santa suit. Nat's eyes widened. She'd literally forgotten she'd sent that. Seriously, next year she was doing her shopping in June.

Ah,” she stammered. "You weren't supposed to open it until Christmas."

Lacroix ignored her. "What, pray tell, is the meaning of this- item?"

"It's-it's a gift,” she tried to explain even as her brain tried to shut down. The frog was even sillier than she'd imagined; it was almost three feet high and almost perfectly round. And the fact that Lucien Lacroix was holding it... There were no words.

"A token of your esteem, then?" His eyebrow arched.

"Don't you like it? It's just-" She took a step closer and caught one of the frog's flippers, pinching it. She couldn't hold back her giggle when the frog began a croaking rendition of 'Jingle Bells.' God, that was obnoxious. She glanced up at Lacroix, he didn't look amused.

"Do you think this is a game?" he hissed, throwing down the toy. "Do you actually believe that your 'relationship' with Nicholas gives you license to mock me?"

Nat took a step back. Lacroix was obviously angry. She was used to him playing the part of a dignified and elegant gentleman; it was a role he played so well it was easy to forget that he was a dangerous vampire. And here she was, alone with him, in a morgue.

"I- I didn't mean anything by it. I just…" She trailed off, unsure what to say.

"You 'just...'" He prompted, his lips twisted into a sneer.

Look,” Nat's heart was pounding a mile a minute, “I don't know why I ordered it. I saw it and it was so ridiculous and you're the exact opposite of that, you know?”

Lacroix didn't say anything, his face an expressionless mask.

She looked down. No joke was worth dying over. "No more frogs, I promise."

He took a step closer then. When his fingers brushed her chin, Nat's breath caught. Gently, he tilted her face up until she met his gaze. He looked at her for a long moment before smiling, almost politely, and releasing her.

"Very well, Natalie,” he drew her name out into something strangely intimate. Then, after nodding at her, he left.

Ten minutes passed before Nat let herself relax. She shuddered, sleep deprived or not, why on Earth had she sent him a frog?
 

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 

At work the next night, Nat had a staring contest with the frog. Someone, probably the janitor, had put it on her desk. She poked a flipper with the blunt end of her pencil and the frog broke into its cheery carol.

"Girl, what's with you tonight?" Grace asked.

"Nothing," Nat sighed. She pushed the frog over and watched as it rolled back up into its usual squat.

I haven't seen Detective Knight in awhile.”

Nat looked at her. “Grace, are you fishing for gossip?”

Me? Never.” Her assistant grinned.

Nick and I are just friends,” Nat sighed, smiling wryly, “as you well know.”

Well, yeah, but something must have happened. You're not usually one to mope.”

I'm not moping,” Nat made a face.

Of course not.”

I'm not!” Nat laughed, “It's probably just a case of the holiday blues. I'm fine.”

How can you be blue when you have a prince charming right here,” Grace asked, poking at the frog. “By the way, where did you get that thing?”

"A catalog,” Nat explained, pulling the online version up on her computer. “It didn't look so big in the picture though.”

"I don't know, the dimensions are right there," Grace pointed out. She leaned down and peered over Nat's shoulder. "Look, they promise Christmas delivery for anything order before the 23rd!"

"Really? Maybe I should order another one,” Nat cracked. She could just imagine Lacroix's face if she sent him another one. Would serve him right for trying to scare her.

Why, Ms. Lambert,” Grace grinned, “I do believe that's what my mama would call and 'evil grin.'”

No,” Nat laughed, “I was just thinking.”

And while you were thinking, your holidays blues faded away.” Grace gave her a knowing look. “Go ahead, order one.”

Why? You want one?”

Not really my taste,” Grace snorted.

Who am I ordering it for then?”

I don't know,” Grace gave her a pointed look, “but I'm thinking you already have someone in mind.”

No, I don't.” Nat shook her head.

Deny it all you want, Dr. Lambert,” Grace tutted. “You want to send it. And you should, you know, 'tis the season.”

'Tis the season,” Nat agreed, looking back at the screen. 
 

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 

"Deck the halls with bows of holly, Fa la la la la-la-la-la-la!" Nat sang under her breath as she made herself some tea. It was Christmas Eve and she was home, alone.

Sarah and Amy were at Sarah's parents in Vancouver. Nick had gone to Paris, probably to see Jeanette though he had denied it. And all of her other friends were with their families; she'd been invited, she hadn't felt like intruding. She sighed.

"Well, Sidney," she leaned down to pick up her cat. "Looks like its just you and me, fella."

He seemed content with that and cuddled in her lap as she settled onto the couch. Her tea was too hot to drink, so she put it down and reached for the remote.

"A Christmas Carol or Miracle on 34th Street?" Nat asked and, as Sidney didn't seemed to have an opinion, she turned it to channel eight and promptly fell asleep.

When she woke up, the TV screen was black; though she didn't remember turning it off. She looked out the window at the snow flurries tapping against the glass. It was pitch black out; how long had she been asleep?

She carefully moved Sidney from her lap and stood. Her back gave a series of pops as she stretched. Reaching up, she joined her hands above her head and leaned to her left, then right. She had a perfectly good bed, why did she always fall asleep on the couch? Her hands still over her head, she froze. There was something on her kitchen table, something that had not been there that afternoon.

Dropping her arms, she cautiously glanced around her apartment. Nothing else seemed to be out of place. Her front door was closed, the deadbolt locked. She walked towards the table, frowning as she realized exactly what it was she was looking at.

Lacroix?” She called out as she made her way over to the three foot tall stuffed cat. She pressed one paw and winced it began to meow 'The Twelve Days of Christmas.” She snickered, she couldn't help it. It was funny, dammit!

"Good evening, Doctor Lambert,” he whispered. He was right behind her, close enough that she could feel his breath on her neck.

"Ah, Merry Christmas?" She answered, stuck somewhere between amused and terrified. It was an odd sensation.

Lacroix pressed bodily against her. Nat gasped, with the table in front of her, she had no place to go.

"I thought we agreed you would not send me anything else?" He said, his voice carefully neutral. Nat wasn't sure if he was upset about the gift or not; either way, she found herself suddenly very aware that the only thing she was wearing was the oversized Rolling Stones T-shirt she sometimes slept in.

"Uh, well," she laughed nervously. "What I actually said was I wouldn't send you anymore frogs.”

And this is clearly a cat.” Lacroix chuckled. As he sounded amused, Nat stared to relax. At least she did until he added, "What I am unclear on, is why you continue to send me gifts.”

"Uh, I'm not sure," Nat mumbled, intensely aware of the man pressed against her back. She should move, or at least say something. Then, as if sensing her thoughts, Lacroix placed the palm of his hand flat on her stomach, pulling her closer.

"Why?" He insisted, his voice low.

"Maybe I have a death wish?" She offered.

"Hmm, perhaps. Although, I am beginning to suspect you may have,” his lips grazed her ear as he spoke , “another motivation.”

"Oh? What's you explanation?" Nat congratulated herself when her voice didn't squeak. She turned in his arms and looked up at him. She raised her hand to the side of his face. He was watching her closely, but didn't say anything. She touched his cheek lightly before letting her fingers glide across his jaw to curl behind his ear.

He kissed her. It was hot and cold, terrifying and funny.

Exhilarating, was a good word.

When they finally broke apart, Nat was breathless. Lacroix looked smug.

"I do not celebrate Christmas, you know."

Nat just grinned up at him cheekily. “Don't worry about it; you're doing fine.”

And then she kissed him again.

 

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Happy Holidays!

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
pj1228
Nov. 25th, 2010 09:54 pm (UTC)
Loved it! A treat for the Valentines. :)
cousinmary
Nov. 26th, 2010 02:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you :)
curiouser1228
Nov. 26th, 2010 06:04 am (UTC)
Awesome! Thank you for sharing. :)
cousinmary
Nov. 26th, 2010 02:20 pm (UTC)
Glad you liked it :)
waltd
Dec. 2nd, 2010 08:13 am (UTC)
Brown Paper . . .
OOooooo! Chilling and funny at the same time. Natalie and LC! OOooooo!

Walt D
cousinmary
Dec. 6th, 2010 11:49 pm (UTC)
Re: Brown Paper . . .
Thanks :)
brightknightie
Jan. 18th, 2011 10:20 pm (UTC)
"Maybe I have a death wish?"
It took me a while to get to this, but I'm here now, and I'm laughing. Death wish, indeed! That's an explanation I can accept. ;-)

Thank you for sharing.
cousinmary
Jan. 22nd, 2011 05:33 pm (UTC)
Re: "Maybe I have a death wish?"
I've always had a bit of a soft spot for Nat/Lacroix. Glad you liked it :)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )