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Title: Walk Away

Walk Away

By: Monte

 

Rating: PG ish?

Summary:  Forever Knight and A-Team crossover.  The guys go up to Toronto and get involved in an investigation of murdered prostitutes.  While they are up there, they run into a friend. 

Warnings: vampires, mention of death and war, character death, and lots of angst.

Disclaimer:  A-Team characters are the property of Steven J. Cannell and Frank Lupo.  Forever Knight characters are property of James Parriot and Barney Cohen.  Arius and Tierza and characters of my own imagination.  I make no money from this work of fanfiction.

Notes: This is my first attempt at FK and my first crossover.  Please be kind.

Thanks: To Babycakes for prodding me to post this and to Face for graciously being there to read it while I was writing it.

Comments: Always welcome

 

 

WALK AWAY

 

Part 1 A New Home

Toronto

 

Tierza looked around the cluttered room in utter exhaustion. She had spent most of the night unpacking boxes and arranging the room to suit her personal taste. Tierza turned to see her father standing behind her. She tried to smile but instead he was greeted with a yawn.

 

"It is nearly dawn, little one. You should go to bed. You need your rest. You can finish this later."

 

"Yes, Father," Tierza said, yawning again. As the door closed, Tierza obediently crawled under the blankets and quickly fell asleep.

 

............................................................

Tierza awakened slowly, not wanting to leave the dream she was having. She opened her eyes and recalled the friends she had to leave behind when she left LA for Toronto. Reaching up to switch on the bedside lamp, Tierza picked up her sketch pad and a pencil. Over the next hour, the faces of two men took shape under her skilled hand. She added color slowly, blond hair and blue eyes for the first one. The brown eyes of the other man held a hint of laughter. Tierza was pleased with the result.

 

Her stomach rumbled, forcing her to make her way to the kitchen. After satisfying her hunger, Tierza sought out her father. She found him in his room. Tierza paused at the threshold as she watched him leaf through the pages of a book of poetry.

 

Arius turned his head to acknowledge his daughter and motioned for her to join him on the end of the bed. When she was seated beside him, his strong, clear voice filled the silent room.

 

In sprint of youth it was my lot

To haunt of the wide world a spot

The which I could not love the less

So lovely was the loneliness

Of a wild lake, with black rock bound,

And the tall pines that towered around.

But when the night had thrown her pall

Upon that spot, as upon all

And the mystic wind went by

Murmuring in melody

Then ah then I would awake

To the terror of the lone lake.

Yet the terror was not fright,

But a tremulous delight

A feeling not the jewelled mine

Could teach or bribe me to define

Not love although the love were thine.

Death was in that poisonous wave,

And in its gulf a fitting grave

For him who thence could solace bring

To his lone imagining

Whose solitary soul could make

An Eden of that dim lake.

 

Arius fell silent as he lost himself in his memories. He loved the dark, depressing works of Poe. They reminded him of his childhood in Switzerland. Arius brought himself back to the present when he felt Tierza clasp his hand in hers.

 

"Our memories are all we are allowed to take with us, aren't they? We make friends, but when the time comes for us to move on, we leave them behind and take only our memories of them."

 

Arius nodded slowly. He stared into his daughter's pale green eyes and saw loneliness radiating in their depths. "You miss those two delinquents, don't you?"

 

"Yes, Father. But are they really all that bad? You're no angel yourself." Tierza teased.

 

Arius glared at Tierza a moment before his features softened. "Perhaps it would help if you met some people your own age here. I know just the place."

...............................................................................................................................................

Shortly thereafter, Arius and Tierza found themselves in front of the Raven. They were usher inside and seated at a table against the wall. They only had time to giver their orders to the waitress when Tierza caught sight of a distinguished looking man coming toward them. Arius rose to greet the older man.

"It's been a long time, Marsala." LaCroix simply stated as he clapped his hand on Arius's shoulder.

 

"That is has, Lucius. Much too long. May I present my daughter, Tierza."

 

Tierza could sense the dominance and authority emanating from LaCroix. She meekly held out her hand to him. His cold fingers encircled hers. She felt a cold shiver run up her spine as she stared into his stern face.

 

As the men visited, Tierza watched the crowd with interest. Some were dancing, others were sitting at the bar, and a few seemed to be on the prowl. Everyone had someone to be with them. Tierza sighed as the feeling of sheer loneliness washed over her. It seemed like every time she made a few close friends, Arius would decide it was time to move on. She didn't know how much longer she could stand the deep-rooted ache in her soul.

 

 

Part 2 The Sketch Artist

Los Angeles

 

Hannibal outlined the latest mission to BA, Face and Murdock. A dancer from one of the clubs in downtown LA wanted the team to find a friend of hers in Toronto. "Three girls have been killed already. Our client is afraid her friend is in danger. Our contact in Toronto is a woman named Jeannette. We'll find her at the Raven."

 

............................................................

 

Toronto

 

Tierza stared at the few occupants of the Raven in boredom. It wouldn't pick up for another couple of hours and she was supposed to remain here until her father returned. She sighed and turned her attention to Jeannette. Tierza was glad she had thought to bring her sketch pad with her. She took a sip of bloodwine and set to work.

 

As the evening progressed, Tierza lost herself in distant memory. Each face was captured by her mind and released through her pencil. She had just finished the third portrait when a man's voice beside her brought her back to reality.

 

"It's remarkable how you captured his likeness. How long have you know LaCroix?"

 

"Since last night. I'm Tierza," she said offering her hand to him.

 

"Nick. Detective Nick Knight. You've got talent. Do you always sketch from memory?"

 

"No, I like to draw from descriptions, actually. I find it more challenging and, in truth, more fun."

 

"How accurate are you?"

 

"Care to see for yourself? I've got the time if you do."

 

Nick smiled. He decided to see just how good Tierza actually was. He began to describe someone he knew well. Tierza listened and nodded occasionally as the face appeared under her skilled hand. Half an hour later, Tierza handed the sketch to Nick.

 

He was shocked to see the picture of Schanke was an excellent representation. He shook his head as he returned the sketch. "I don't know how you do it, but you definitely do it well. Have you ever thought of working for the police department as a sketch artist? I'd be happy to put in a good word for you."

 

Tierza blushed at his praise. She was younger than Nick by more than five hundred years but she felt comfortable around him. Perhaps life in Toronto wouldn't be as bad as she first thought.

 

............................................................

 

Face casually walked into the Raven. He glanced around the crowded bar in search of his contact. A gorgeous brunette dancing alone caught his attention. He paused to watch her for a minute.

 

She swayed and rocked to the rhythm of the music. Her movements were smooth and seductive. Her eyes were closed as she turned and swung her hips as the music flowed. Her dress twirled around her shapely calves in a distracting manner.

 

When the song ended, she boldly approached Face. She smile enticingly as she introduced herself. Face gazed in the eyes so deeply blue, they almost seemed purple. They flirted as they walked to the bar. After they finished their drinks, she said, "Come dance with me."

 

A slower song was being played as she led him onto the dance floor. She pulled him to her as they danced. The music was more intoxicating than the alcohol. They were wrapped in each others arms as they lost themselves in the melody.

 

She whispered to him, "There are rooms in the back where we can have some privacy." She could hear his heart beating, steady and strong. Her eyes sparkled with excitement but she was cautious. It wouldn't do to let him see them turn yellow and reveal her true nature to him. Slowly, they weaved through the crowd toward the back of the nightclub. They slipped down a dimly lit hallway, hand in hand. They paused in from of one door and she pulled Face close for a quick kiss. Her fingers encircled the doorknob. In moments, she was sure he would be hers.

 

"Rita!" Jeannette marched toward the pair, glaring at Rita. "Rita, you know the rules about bringing men back here. You broke the rules before and you know you must now have permission to be back here with a guest."

 

Rita hung her head and slipped past Jeannette back into the crowd. Face started to go after her but stopped when Jeannette placed a hand on his chest.

 

"Let her go. You'd do well to steer clear of her from now on," she warned.

 

"Now just one minute. Who are you to be telling me who I should be spending my time with?"

 

"If you are Templeton Peck, I am the person you are supposed to be speaking to about Cherise," she said in a low tone. Jeannette slid her hand under Face's elbow as they walked back to the bar. "I've seen her in here picking up men. She is just a child, a beautiful child. She shouldn't be working the streets."

 

"Trixie mentioned there had been some younger prostitutes murdered. She is scared Cherise may become a target."

 

Jeannette nodded. "Yes, you should talk to Nicolas. He is here tonight. He would be of great help to you."

 

............................................................

 

"So what else do you have in there?" Nick asked.

 

Tierza placed the pad on the bar between them. The picture of Schanke was the latest drawing. Tierza slowly began to turn the pages as Nick studied the portraits. LaCroix and Jeannette he recognized immediately. "Who is this man?"

 

"My master, Marsala Arius. He is with LaCroix tonight." Tierza revealed the final picture to Nick. "Face and Murdock. My friends in Los Angeles."

 

Nick watched Tierza fight to keep her emotions under control. "It's not easy leaving mortal friends behind. I'm afraid it doesn't get any easier as time goes by."

 

"Nick, I feel like I'm cursed to be forever dying. Never allowed to die or live. I don't know how much longer I can endure the loneliness and pain."

 

Nick gently laid his hand over top of Tierza's. He understood the feelings she was experiencing. Younger vampires always felt emotions deeply. "How old were you when you were brought across?"

 

"I had just turned twenty-three. Arius had been injured and I gave him shelter. I had no family, no friends. I let him stay the day in my room while I served as a maid for the local magistrate's mistress. I returned late that night because the woman had beaten me. She was vicious and cruel to all her servants but there was nothing we could do. Arius was furious. He told me there was a way to keep her from hurting me again. I was in so much pain, I agreed." Tierza paused as she remembered the events of the night.

 

"Arius brought me across. I remember feeling warm and cold at the same time. He held me close and flew over to her home. As we landed, I was overwhelmed by a feeling of hunger. Arius bared his throat to me and I fed from him. As I drank, I could feel his anger toward her and his protectiveness of me. His anger fed my own. He smashed in the door and led me to her bedchamber. She was my first kill."

 

Tierza gently brushed her fingers over Murdock's picture. "I wish we could be together. But I would never be able to live with myself if I agreed to let Arius bring him across. I suppose I'll always miss him." Tierza sighed as she grinned half-heartedly at Nick.

 

"There were four of them, and I loved the way they smelled. Murdock smelled of the wind and rain. The CO was Hannibal, he smelled like fine Cuban cigars and wine. BA smelled like gingersnaps. And Face..." Tierza closed her eyes, "Face smelled like honey and lilacs. I swear I can still smell him."

 

"Funny, I was just about to say the same thing. Either your friend has a doppelganger or he's here." Nick nodded toward the other end of the bar where Jeannette stood talking to a tall, blond haired man.

 

Tierza practically flew over to Face. After a cheerful greeting, she introduced Nick to Face.

 

............................................................

 

Tierza sat between Face and Murdock on one side of the table. Across from them sat BA, Hannibal and Nick. Nick was telling Hannibal about the common hangouts for the city's prostitutes. They were discussing where the search for Cherise should begin when Nick's cell phone rang.

 

"Knight here. Hi, Nat, what's up?" He frowned slightly as he listened. "Sure, I'll be right over." He glanced at the faces turned toward him. "It's happened again. A young prostitute was just brought into the morgue. I've got to get over there."

 

Hannibal rose, "Mind if we head over with you?"

 

Nick nodded. He looked at Tierza and asked, "You riding with them or me?"

 

She chose to ride in the Caddy with Nick. They rode without talking as they listened to the recorded voice of the Nightcrawler.

 

"We want the best for our children. But sometimes, what they want may not be what they need. We who are older and wiser must offer our wisdom for their decisions. Where do we draw the line? We have to take care to neither smother them nor push them away. Ultimately, we give them all we have then we step back and hope we did the right thing."

 

Tierza turned to Nick, "Do you think he's talking about you, me or both of us?"

 

"I'd say both of us," he speculated. "You'll like Nat. She's friendly, smart... and she knows about me."

 

Tierza was surprised at Nick's confession. It was the first time she had heard of a mortal knowing about the presence of vampires and being allowed to live.

 

Dr. Natalie Lambert greeted the group warmly when they arrived at the morgue. She showed them the body of the young woman who had been brought in. She had been killed in the same manner as the first three. A pillow had been held over her face, cutting off her oxygen until she perished. A knife had cut the letter A into her left breast, just over her heart.

 

Nat shook her head. "The psycho who's doing this must have read The Scarlett Letter one too many times," she said in disgust.

 

BA turned to Hannibal and asked, "Colonel, how we gonna find Cherise?"

 

"We'll just have to start looking, BA. We'll find her," he said reassuringly. He knew BA was worried about the girl. "We will probably have a better chance of finding her if we split up."

 

"Do you have a picture of her, Smith?" Nick asked.

 

Hannibal handed Nick the picture of Cherise. Nick studied her face for a moment before returning the photo. "I'd be glad to give you a hand if you like. I'm off duty tonight."

 

Before they left, Nick told Tierza, "I can take you home now or you can stay here if you prefer."

 

Tierza smiled, "Don't worry about me, Nick. Arius knows I'm a big girl. I can find my way home." She waved as the five men left to begin the search for Cherise.

 

............................................................

 

Nat pulled her bloody gloves off and dropped them into the garbage. It had been a fairly quiet night but time had passed quickly with Tierza being there. She had laughed as Tierza told her stories about BA and Murdock. She didn't really understand what it meant when Hannibal was "on the Jazz" but she shrugged it off.

 

She sat down with a sigh. Sipping her coffee, she tilted her head slightly to one side as she looked at Tierza. "You like him, don't you? Murdock is really special to you."

 

Tierza nodded. "Yeah, but I think he sees me more as a little sister."

 

"Sometimes, the man we care about can't see us because we are right under his nose."

 

"Like you and Nick?" Tierza chuckled softly. "I had a hunch you might like him." She leaned back and stared off at nothing in particular. "Why is it we want what we cannot have? Or are we just denied what we want? If our wishes were granted, somehow I doubt we would be happy. It's not what we want that really matters, it's just the fact that we want it."

 

Nat contemplated the girl's musing. "It's human nature, I suppose. You know, you just reminded me of LaCroix. He's always saying something along those lines."

 

Tierza smiled wryly. "I remind you of LaCroix? I'm not sure if I should take that as a compliment or an insult." They giggle together lightheartedly.

 

 

Part 3 The Search

 

Three nights later, Arius watched the crowd in the Raven from inside LaCroix's sound booth. Tierza was playing pool with Murdock. He knew she was happy with him but he could feel the apprehension tugging at her mind. She knew he would leave sooner or later. He turned from the window to face LaCroix.

 

LaCroix gazed into the troubled grey eyes of his friend. "What is distressing you, Marsala? It's not like you to be so pensive."

 

"I still wonder if it might have been easier for Tierza if she had been older. She's in love with a man who thinks he's more than a decade older than her. I'd do anything to make her happy, Lucius. But she is resigned to being forever miserable."

 

LaCroix studied the aged vampire. "She and Nicolas seem to have a lot in common. She has accepted her immortality but misses her mortality."

 

Arius sank wearily onto a chair. "Her love for him causes her such pain. If I destroyed him, she'd never forgive me. I've even considered bringing him across if it would make her happy. I thought it might be easier if we left Los Angeles but I was mistaken."

 

"Do you regret making Tierza what she is today?"

 

Arius looked out at Tierza again. After a moment, he answered dejectedly, "No, I do not regret bringing her across. She has enjoyed being immortal. She wanted to live. Lately, I wonder if she really wanted to live forever though."

 

LaCroix moved to stand before the window. He watched the girl mingle with mortals and vampires alike. He quietly asked, "Do you think she will try to regain her mortality?"

 

Arius rose and walked over to LaCroix. He shook his head at the question. "I don't fear her regaining mortality. I only fear she will choose to release her hold on immortality to escape the pain. If she can find no reason to continue living, I will lose her forever."

 

............................................................

 

"Hey, Knight. I think we may have a lead on the girl. One of the guys from dispatch remembered someone by the description you gave." Schanke held out a piece of paper to Nick.

 

Nick read the name and address. He knew the area well enough. Not a place a young woman should be if she was smart. "Thanks, Schanke. I'm gonna head over there and see if I can't turn up some trace of her."

 

"You're gonna leave me with all the paper work... again? You'd think as my partner, you'd at least do your fair share," he grumbled.

 

Nick grinned, "But you do is so well. I'll see you later, Schanke."

 

"Nick..." he objected. Schanke shook his head as he watched Nick disappear around the corner.

 

............................................................

 

"What is life? What meaning do we have here on earth? We never know how long we have to live. Some of you will live for many years. Others may be dead tomorrow. Life is like a mist in the early morning. One fleeting breath and it's gone. For we are all dust and unto dust we shall return. But suppose we could live forever? Would you sell your soul to live? At the end of time, what would you gain? You may have the world at your fingertips but you have lost your soul. The man who lives or the man who dies, who loses more? What is life? It's a blessing. It's a curse. It is everything. It is nothing."

 

The Nightcrawler's words echoed in Nick's mind. He didn't notice the breeze ruffling his hair or the chill in the air. He only had thoughts of the past. He had seen friends grow old and die too many times. He shook off the gloomy thought as he stopped in front of the run down apartment building. He hoped he could find someone who knew Cherise or better yet, Cherise herself.

 

The interior was squalid and shabby. The wallpaper was faded and the tiles on the floor were cracked. Nick grimaced in revulsion at the sight of two large rats in the corner. He picked his way through the garbage strewn over the stairs.

 

Apartment 306 was tucked in the corner of the ramshackle building. A tired looking young Mexican woman answered his knock. She looked him over suspiciously. "What are you looking for, amigo?"

 

"Does Cherise live here?" he asked.

 

"Depends on who's wanting to know."

 

"My name is Nick Knight. I'm a homicide detective. Cherise's friend Trixie is trying to find her."

 

Doubtful brown eyes narrowed as she listened. "Cherise ain't been seeing nobody. 'Specially no cops. Now get out of here, gringo. Go bother someone else." The door closed quickly before he could object.

Nick turned and walked back down to the Caddy. He had sensed the fear in the woman's voice. He had a feeling Cherise had some information on whoever was committing the murders. If only he could get into see her. He pondered his options for a few minutes then called the Raven.

 

............................................................

 

Hannibal strode over to where Face was sitting with Jeannette. "Nick just called. He said he thinks he's found Cherise. Tell BA to meet us in the van. I'll go get Murdock."

 

"Sure thing, Hannibal." He turned to Jeannette and said, "Sorry to have to rush out on you this way."

 

"Go find her, Face. Be careful, mon cher."

 

Face flashed his famous conman smile at her before going to find BA.

 

............................................................

 

"You cheated."

 

Murdock feigned innocence. "Who, me?" He looked at Tierza in shock. "How could you suggest such a thing? I'm the one who lost."

 

"On purpose," she pointed out.

 

"I hate to interrupt this lively banter but we've got to go. Tierza, Nick said you should come along as well."

 

Tierza looked from Hannibal to Murdock then back to Hannibal. "He knows where she is, I take it."

Hannibal nodded. "Let's go."

 

Murdock, Face and BA scouted the area around the apartment building. Nick told Tierza to wait in the Caddy before going into the building with Hannibal. Tierza watched Nick and Hannibal disappear inside. Her sharp eyes detected Face across the street in the shadows, Murdock was somewhere behind the building and BA's van was parked in the alley. She closed her eyes and focused on the sounds around her. After a moment, she opened her eyes and looked upward. She knew where to find Cherise.

 

She carefully slipped out of the car and into the shadows. She crept over to the corner of the building out of sight of Face and BA. She scanned the narrow drive to be sure she was alone. Silently, her feet left the pavement and she flew up toward the roof. She softly touched down on the roof seconds later. She strolled along quietly, waiting for Cherise to find her.

 

Cherise gasped in surprise when she saw Tierza. "Oh! I didn't know anyone else was up here."

 

Tierza smiled sweetly at the girl. "Sorry if I startled you. My name's Tierza."

 

Cherise shyly smiled back. "I'm Cherise. I don't think I've seen you in the building before, did you just move in?"

 

Tierza shook her head. "No, actually I'm here with some friends from Los Angeles. They are acquainted with a friend of yours. Trixie King."

 

Cherise's eyes brightened. "Trixie? How is she?"

 

"She's worried about you. She heard about the killings and she wants you to go down to LA. Cherise, what's wrong? Why are you frightened?"

 

Cherise seemed on the verge of panic as she whispered, "I saw him. I saw him kill her."

 

"Cherise, my friend Nick can help you. He's here, downstairs. Will you talk to him?" Tierza stepped close to Cherise urging, "BA, Hannibal, Murdock and Face will protect you if anything happens. Trixie asked them to find you. She trusts them. You can trust them, too."

 

Cherise chewed her lip nervously. She considered her choices, telling Nick what she had seen or keeping the information to herself. Finally she nodded ever so slightly. "All right. If they are good enough for Trixie, I guess I can trust them."

 

Tierza smiled and together they wend down to find Nick.

 

 

Part 4 From Predator to Prey

 

Tierza sat outside the interrogation room waiting for Nick. After Cherise had given her statement to the detectives, Nick opened the door and motioned for Tierza to join him. She was led to the table and instructed to sit down. One of the detectives handed her a tablet and pencil. She smiled reassuringly at Cherise and said, "All you have to do is tell me what he looks like."

 

The minutes flew past as Cherise described the killer. Tierza asked a few questions to clarify the details as she carefully mapped out the man's features.

 

Finally, Cherise shook her head. "I can't remember any more. Can I go now?"

 

Tierza turned the sketch toward Cherise. "Is this the man you saw?"

 

Cherise nodded, "Yeah, it's the spitting image of him."

 

Tierza passed the drawing to the detective nearest her. The detective told Schanke and Nick to run the face through the computer and see what they could turn up. Tierza and Cherise gathered up their belongings and left the precinct. They walked to the end of the block where BA, Hannibal, Face and Murdock were waiting in the van.

 

They dropped Cherise back at the apartment building. Hannibal promised her she would be safe. They would all be looking out for her. After saying goodbye, they drove to Arius and Tierza's home.

 

Tierza groaned as she stumbled inside the house. Exhaustion and hunger hit her with brutal force. Her eyes glowed golden when she sensed Arius's approach.

 

"You must not let yourself get so weak, little one," he scolded softly.

 

Tierza stared at him pleadingly. "Please, Father. May I?"

 

Arius stroked his daughter's hair before unbuttoning the collar of his shirt. He angled his head to give Tierza access to his throat. He flinched when her fangs pierced his skin. He closed his eyes and held her close to his chest. When he felt her licking the twin puncture wounds, he reopened his eyes to gaze down at her.

 

Tierza whispered, "Thank you, Master." She yawned then leaned against him.

 

Arius gently picked up his daughter and carried her to his bedroom. He removed her shoes and socks after laying her on the king sized bed. He shed his shirt and boots before lying down beside her. Tierza snuggled against him as she drifted off to sleep. Arius draped a protective arm over her as he closed his eyes and joined her in slumber.

 

............................................................

 

When Nick arrived at the precinct the next evening, he found Schanke poring over a file. "Hi, Schanke. What did you find?"

 

"Nick, this guy has a record as long as my arm. Nothing serious, though. Driving without a license, destroying mail boxes, blowing up toilets, kids stuff really."

 

Nick did a double take when Schanke was listing the prior arrests. "Did you just say blowing up toilets?"

 

"Sure did, partner. Two years ago, he was caught after running out of a public washroom in Ottawa. They might not have noticed if it hadn't been the ladies washroom. Anyway, it basically amounted to over sized cherry bombs but they did a fair bit of damage."

 

Nick shook his head. "Wonder what caused him to move up to murdering prostitutes?"

 

Schanke shrugged. "We have his name but no current address. Mr. Justin Warner, aka Jerry Samuels, age 34, is wanted for questioning. If we can find him, that is."

 

Nick clapped his hand on Schanke's shoulder. "We'll get him, partner. You can count on it."

 

............................................................

 

Justin Warner blew a stream of smoke skyward and flicked his cigarette into a nearby puddle. He'd been watching the young woman working the street for most of the evening. Business was slowing down for her now because of the late hour. He knew it was time to make his move. The last time was rushed. He was positive this was the person he had seen in the shadows. She was a simple loose end that needed to be tied up to complete the job.

 

Cherise glimpsed the man walking across the street. She was tired and wanted to head home but she decided one more trick couldn't hurt.

 

Justin leered at Cherise as he drew closer. Her curly black hair and olive complexion reminded him of his mother. His mother. She'd overdosed on alcohol and sleeping pills after years of watching her husband spending all his time and money on these street corners. He blamed prostitutes for ruining his family life. Now, he was getting his revenge.

 

............................................................

 

"I can't believe she's back on the streets, Hannibal. How are we going to find her?" Face wanted to know.

 

"If she's not in her normal spot, we'll have to split up. We'll find her, Face," Hannibal reassured him.

 

All of a sudden, Murdock bolted from his seat. "There she is!" he exclaimed pointing to Cherise.

 

BA drove over to the curb and slowed the van to a halt. The team members exited the van and surrounded Justin and Cherise. "Cherise, get in the van," Hannibal said. "Move it, young lady." He could see the terror in her eyes when she was staring at Justin.

 

Justin studied each of the four in turn. He knew he was outnumbered but he didn't plan on going down without a fight. "You ain't got nothin' on me. I was just talkin' to her. No law 'gainst that, is there?"

 

"We know who you is, sucka. We know what you done," BA growled. "We ain't gonna let you get 'way with it."

 

"Face, call Knight. Tell him to come pick up this sleezeball," Hannibal ordered.

 

Justin tensed. He tried to make a break for it but BA quickly tackled him. Hannibal pulled a set of handcuffs out of his jacket pocket and shook his head. "If you can't play nice, we'll just have to tie you up so you won't run away."

 

It took Nick less than half an hour to get to them. He spoke to Cherise, asking her to drop by the station to identify Justin. He turned to Hannibal and held out his hand. "Thanks for the anonymous tip. We might not have caught him before he hurt someone else if it wasn't for you."

 

Hannibal nodded and shook Nick's hand. "It's our pleasure. Slimeballs like him give us a bad name." He turned and stepped into the van. They decided to take Cherise to the police station then wait so they could see her safely home for the night.

 

 

Part 5 - The Ultimatum

 

Arius stood silently in the doorway of Tierza's room. She seemed so peaceful when she slept. A faint smile played on her features. He sighed as he thought about the choice he had to present to her. He hated seeing his daughter in such torment over Murdock. He knew he couldn't put it off any longer. He slowly slipped to her bedside and eased down onto the edge of the bed.

 

Tierza's eyes fluttered open. "Good evening, Father." She sat up and gazed into his grey eyes.

 

"Child, there is a matter we must discuss. You need to decide what is to be done about Murdock."

 

Tierza lowered her eyes. "What are my choices, Master?" her voice was quiet and submissive.

 

"If you truly love him, I will bring him across. I cannot bear to watch you pining away for him when you are separated. If you do not wish this to be so, you must send him away with no memory of you. If you do not, I will be forced to destroy him. I will leave the decision in your hands. Consider it carefully, there is no going back." He rose swiftly and left Tierza to make her decision.

 

Tierza weakly leaned back against the headboard. She had been dreading this day for quite a while. Now there was no avoiding it any longer. She sat in her darkened room without moving or uttering a sound as the evening hours slowly passed.

 

Finally, in the wee hours of the morning, she made her way into the dark living room. Tierza stared out into the darkness covering the city. She was faced with the most difficult decision of her life and she needed advice. "But who do I talk to?" she wondered aloud. LaCroix was out of the question, he was too much like her father. Nick would be sympathetic but she doubted if he would be of much help to her. Natalie would be better but she was a mortal. Tierza was left with one choice. She needed to talk to Jeannette.

 

............................................................

 

Jeannette sensed Tierza's presence even before the girl entered the Raven. She rose from her seat as Tierza approached her. Holding out her hand toward the girl, she invited, "Come with me." She let Tierza to a room where they could be alone. When they were seated, she asked, "What is it, mon cher? Why are you so troubled?"

 

Tierza's lip quivered as she spoke. "I don't know what to do, Jeannette. Father says I must decide what the future will hold for Murdock and myself." She stared down at her hands, "He said Murdock must either be brought across or sent away with no memory of me."

 

Jeannette's voice was soft as she spoke with understanding, "You truly love him, don't you?"

 

Tierza raised her eyes to meet Jeannette's gaze. "I love him more than life itself. The thought of spending the rest of my life without him is excruciating. But I fear if he was to become one of us, he would never forgive me."

 

Jeanette wrapped her arms around Tierza and held her close. "Perhaps you should consider what would be best for him," she whispered. "Then you will know if you must hold him or walk away." After Tierza had calmed down a little, Jeannette asked her, "How did you meet him?"

 

Tierza thought back to the first time she saw Murdock. Quietly, she spoke of the meeting. "It was during the war in Vietnam. Arius and I had been living in Asia for about 40 years. Wounded men were always easy targets. We came up on a battlefield one night, so many had been killed. Near the edge of the clearing was a chopper that had crashed. The only living inhabitant was the pilot, a certain Captain H. M. Murdock."

 

"He had been wounded but not seriously. I got close enough to peer inside the chopper at him. For a few moments, I simply watched him as he slept. His eyes opened ever so slowly. I could see pain in them but no fear as he stared out into the night. He was trapped in the cockpit and I took pity on him."

 

"He remembers the battle and crashing but he thinks he was thrown out of the chopper. I couldn't let him know he had help. Arius later asked me why I had been so foolish as to let him live."

 

"And why had you?"

 

"I knew he wasn't meant to die that day. But I never forgot him. I always wondered about him as the years went by. Then we moved into Los Angeles about 3 years ago. I had no idea he was there. I had gone for a walk one night to do some exploring of the city. I stopped in a park and sat down under a tree. I closed my eyes and just listened to the voices of the city."

 

Tierza smiled as she recalled the night's events. "One voice in particular caught my attention. I didn't know why but somehow I had to find out who it was. I found the two of them coming out of a small cafe. They went to the vet's hospital and that's when I 'accidentally' bumped into him. For a split second as Murdock was looking at me, I wondered if perhaps I hadn't totally blocked his memory of me. But he just smiled at me. I started volunteering to work nights at the VA and we became friends soon after."

 

Tierza covered her face with her hands. Her whisper was so quiet Jeannette could barely make out the words. "Eternity alone would never have been so painful if I'd never know what love was."

 

 

Part 6 - Saying Goodbye

 

The small group was gathered in one corner of the empty nightclub. There were less than a dozen of them in all. Arius and LaCroix sat silently watching the rest visiting and laughing before managing to slip away to the bar to talk.

 

"I know, Lucius, you think I'm an old fool. But I cannot deny the soft spot I have for Tierza. Perhaps I should have killed him all those years ago in Vietnam. But she reminds me of when I was a young man. She reminds me of when I was mortal. I couldn't deny her the chance to say goodbye."

 

"Yes, Marsala, you are a fool. Do you really think she can send him away on her own?"

 

Arius nodded. "She has the power. I gave her the choice. This is what she thought would be best."

 

"Best for whom, my friend? Surely not for herself. You said yourself she was miserable when you left LA. Why are you leaving his fate in the hands of a child?"

 

Arius stared over at Murdock and Tierza. He knew if she had been mortal, they might have had a chance. "We were all children at one time, Lucius. In time though, we all have to grow up. If Tierza is to grow, she must face this task. Her love for him will decide if she is strong enough to go on without him or if she will break. Either way, she must do this alone. All I can ask from you is that you do not harm any of those men."

 

"So be it. I hope your daughter exhibits some of the wisdom I've seen in you."

 

............................................................

 

The hours passed swiftly as the group chatted among themselves. Tierza knew her friends would soon be heading back to California. She couldn't help but sigh as she contemplated this final farewell. Over the past three centuries, Tierza had left many friends behind but no leaving had been so painful for her as this one. Slipping away from the table, she slowly climbed up the back stairwell toward the rooftop to do a little thinking.

 

The cool night wind played with Tierza's hair. She brushed a stray lock away from her face as she stared up at the moon. She had received a second chance, a few extra moments of eternity to spend with Murdock. How she wished it could go on. But the time to decide had come and she had reached her ultimate conclusion.

 

"Hey, thought I might find you up here. You gonna say goodbye?"

 

Tierza turned to face the lanky pilot. She was thankful for the darkness; she didn't want him to see her cry. "I suppose it is time. Take care of the rest of the team. They need you more than you realize."

 

"You gonna stay here in Toronto for a while? Sounds like you could have a pretty good job as a sketch artist for the police."

 

"No. It's time for me to go, too. Time to move on to the next place."

 

"Where you headed to now?"

 

Tierza shook her head. "I'll find out when I get there." She moved so the faint glow of the setting moon illuminated her features. "Do me a favor?"

 

Murdock was spellbound by the golden glowing of her eyes. All thought left him as she told him what she wanted him to do.

 

"You must walk away from me. Say goodbye and walk away. Don't turn around and don't look back. Return to Los Angeles. Forget you ever knew me. Now go back to your friends. Say goodbye and walk away."

 

In a somewhat dazed fashion, Murdock replied, "Goodbye, don't look back." He turned to the stairwell leading down to the club. When he paused at the threshold, he whispered, "Don't look back."

 

Tierza watched until he was out of sight. When he was gone, the blood tears began to stream down her pale cheeks. She knew she had to forget Murdock but the pain inside refused to be quenched. She wished somehow they could be together forever but she had made him leave without a backward glance. It was the way life had to be.

 

LaCroix stepped from the shadows and approached her. "The poet once said it is better to have loved an lost than to never have loved at all. But the question we all must face is this. Do we suffer the pain of being alone, never knowing the power of love? Or do we sacrifice our hearts so they may be bruised and beaten when love dies? Which is the lesser of two evils? Is it easier to walk away, cold and uncaring? Or do we subject ourselves to endless torture by watching the one we love leave us? Is life worth living without love or is love a commodity we can do without? The decision is yours. To love or not to love. Do we really have a choice in the matter? It's up to you to decide."

 

"LaCroix, I'd give up anything to be with him. But his mortality is not mine to take. It's better he forgets about me."

 

"As you wish, child. Marsala told me he would leave the decision to you. So be it." LaCroix shook his head as he walked away from the emotional female.

 

Tierza had reached an ultimatum. The choice between forever together and forever apart. She wasn't willing to have Murdock brought across. Arius offered to do it but she refused, knowing it wouldn't be right. It would be torture to watch him grow old and die. She was left with one option. Tierza knew she would never be happy spending eternity alone. Her mind was made up.

 

The faint glow in the east was a warning of dawn's imminent arrival. Tierza's words were spoken to the wind. "You made me laugh and cry. I don't regret a moment of it. I've loved you since the first time I saw you. I don't know where I found the strength to send you away. But I couldn't make you join me in this life of eternal death. You were my salvation, you will be my damnation."

 

The sun was nearly cresting the horizon. Tierza walked out of the shadows, whispering, "Don't look back." The first rays began to creep toward her. "Goodbye, Murdock. I'll always love you," were the last words she spoke before surrendering her body and soul to the power of the sun.

 

 

Finis

 


Walk Away by Monte

 

 


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