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by shalott

This story is inspired by an Indigo Girls song called "Ghost", from the Rites of Passage album. It takes place sometime during the first season, while Nick still believed Lacroix to be dead. I take the liberty of assuming that the battlefield in "Unreality TV" is Antioch.

Spoilers for: "Unreality TV", "Love You To Death", "Killer Instinct"

there's a letter on the desktop that i dug out of a drawer
the last truce we ever came to from our adolescent war
and I start to feel a fever from the warm air through the screen
you come regular like seasons shadowing my dreams

He had been cleaning out the accumulated debris from the many drawers, sorting through papers and consigning most of them to the fireplace. Now he stares at the last remaining envelope on the desk as if it might leap up and bite him. Nicholas de Brabant, in a strong, flowing hand, marks the front. He picks it up, looks at the fire, then drops the little packet back into a drawer and slams it shut with unwarranted violence.

He flings himself on the bed, tossing an arm over his eyes to shut out what little light percolates from the fire. As the silent pressure of sunlight outside his window nudges him towards sleep, his mind wanders easily back to the memory... the warm New Orleans air lapping through the mosquito-netting screen of his hotel room as he read the note, the contrast to the cool fingers that had touched his cheek as he'd laid down the sheet of paper...

"Lacroix," he said uncertainly. Soft rustling as a cape was swung off, deposited on a chair. Pale skin gleamed in the candlelight as the other tossed gloves aside, took a seat. Silver-blue eyes, clear as water. "It's been a while." The words sounded so mundane, so graceless. He wanted to take them back.


He repressed an involuntary shudder at the memory of the ominously singular presence of the Enforcers, the flames that had pursued him like an accusing finger pointed at the heavens as he'd fled the battlefield. "Yes. Antioch," he managed. "Are you well?"

"As can be expected."

Was the liquid silk of that voice sounding worn thin? He looked across the room. His master was gazing at the small fire. Shadows collected around the aquiline features more freely than usual, pooled beneath eyes and cheekbones. "What... happened?"

Lacroix shrugged slightly, never looking away from the flames. "The Enforcers dealt with the situation." Shadings of weariness and pain across the bond told the rest of the story. He asked no more. Silence, heavy as a blanket, stole into the air until the whole room was warm with it, the first semblance of peace between them for so long. A log cracked, spilled sparks onto the carpet. Rising, he crossed to the fire and stirred the remaining embers through the fire screen. He felt heat stealing across his face as he laid down the poker, remained there half-crouched, waiting, wanting.

Out of the silence, a hand clasped his, led him across the room to a canopied bed...

"Lucien," he breathes, letting his head sink back onto the pillows, eyes half-shut as the buttons slide loose under his fingers. In memory, Lacroix laughed, kissed him hard and tore at his clothes with eager savagery. He moans aloud and licks his thumb, rubs one nipple to painful tautness aching for the cool succulence of that skillful mouth. He runs his hand down his chest, panting as he unsnaps the jeans, hips writhing to ease them open. Lacroix was whispering in his ear, words too indistinct to make out over the consuming pleasure of drowning in his voice. Eyes closing completely, he slides his hand under the waistband of the briefs. His back arches involuntarily as a hand closes over his hardness, stroking, tightening on him in rhythymic pulses. Soft cries escape him as he thrusts upwards through the tight fist, control deserting him oh so quickly.

He licks his own lips for the sensation of Lacroix's tongue sliding on him, teasing down the fangs. A growl builds in his throat, desire given voice. He raises his hips off the silken sheets, remembering the soft weight of a pillow under the small of his back. A sigh that was almost a sob burst from him as he strains forward, missing... missing... "Please!" he cries, coming convulsively through clenched fingers, clinging desperately to the memory of being taken, tearing at his wrist to let the pounding heat out.

The last of the vision slips through the fingers of his mind, leaves him alone in bed, cold stickiness reddening his fingers, cold blood tears trailing down his face.

and the mississippi's mighty
but it starts in minnesota
at a place that you could walk across with five steps down
and i guess that's how you started
like a pinprick to my heart
but at this point you rush right through me
and i start to drown

He looks out at the lights of Paris, absently rubbing his chest. When he notices, he stops, forcing the arm to hang freely by his side, pushes away the pain that still hovers relentless beneath the unmarred skin. When had matters gotten so out of his control, he wonders. Mirthlessly, he laughs at himself. "Losing my head over a child too careless to live without a keeper." He drinks deeply, bloodwine reflecting lamplight.

Such an amusing toy, he'd thought. A delicious new companion to please his sweet Janette, a challenge of seduction for his own conqueror's spirit, the more gentle pleasure of a son to teach and master. He hadn't planned on being caught in lost blue eyes, in the surprising capacity for pain. He pours another glass, drinks in a futile attempt to erase the memory of those blue eyes full of hatred, teeth bared over a flaming stake.

Snarling, he nearly flings the empty glass against the wall, but forces himself to set it down. He bitterly knows himself too weak to risk drawing attention to himself. His mouth curves cruelly with foreknowledge. The weakness will end, soon. His powers return to him with greater speed every day, each drop of human blood a harbinger of strength. And when he is restored, he will have his revenge. Scenarios of torment seethe in his mind. Not only will he make his protege suffer, he promises himself, he will lure Nicholas into self-betrayal, a surrender of body and soul to him.

His lips curve into a sensuous smile as he luxuriates in an envisioned scene... Nicholas, blindfolded and spread out on silk sheets, wrists bound securely to a bedpost. He settles into a leather recliner and rolls a sip of luscious bloodwine on his tongue, savoring the prospects. Silk first, perhaps -- the thinnest of scarves, slowly trailed over the instep and up the inner calves, allowed to drift over the thighs. One corner used to trace nipples to hardness, brushed over the hollow at the base of the throat. Perhaps a few hours of that particular pleasure, until every nerve in Nicholas's body was on edge, teased and stimulated to the highest pitch. Then... the first touch of his mouth on skin -- better yet, only his tongue, first just touching, tasting the marble-smooth surface salty with desire. A random pattern, never indicating where the next descent of cool lips would come to tantalize, only to lift away before any real satisfaction was given.

Eyes lidding in speculative amusement, he can easily imagine he hears soft pleading tones, sees the body writhe and arch against the bindings, trying to find solace for the knife-edge sharpness of its arousal. Oh yes, he'll make his recalcitrant child beg -- a fine outcry might win a few minutes of a deep kiss, a sobbing request the first longed-for sliding of his tongue-tip over the veins in the throat, a scream the barest stroking touch of his finger on the stiffened hardness of his protege's erection.

He licks his lips, slides his tongue over the sharpening surface of his fangs in anticipation. He will keep Nicholas on the edge of climax for hours -- perhaps even days -- enjoying the finely-pitched agony. Then... ah, then... when the peak of tension has been reached and even the faintest caress would bring release, he'll take off the blindfold and make Nicholas ask to be taken -- make those dazed blue eyes watch as he lifts the hips off the bed and slowly slowly enters, taking possession of that sweet body and the sweeter spirit inside it. Then he'll begin moving, varying the degree of his penetration, rocking back and forth, increasing the pace as Nicholas cries aloud with pleasure...

He jerks out of the seat, erection hard against the seam of his trousers, and flings himself towards the bottle in a rage, drinking ferociously without bothering with a glass. The treacherous whelp deserves *nothing* but agony at his hands, he angrily swears to himself, agony that would at its worst moments be a weak echo of the pain inflicted on his own body. And here he is, still weak from that murderous attack, fantasizing about giving the boy pleasure, for the gods' sake. It sickens him. Degrading, to act like such a fool, like a... *lovesick* fool. He succumbs to the faintest groan and leans against the wall, resting his head on one bent arm.

and there's not enough room in this world for my pain
signals cross and love gets lost and time passed makes it plain
of all my demon spirits i need you the most
i'm in love with your ghost

"Nick? What's the matter, partner? You've been spacing out on me more than usual."

"Nothing. Nothing."

"Come on, it's not nothing. Hey, it's me, y'know, the guy you trust with your life? Talk, Knight."

"I said it's *NOTHING*!"

"Whoa, whoa, ok. Forget I mentioned it. But you think that maybe you could direct a little of your attention to this case? Nick? Nick... hey, where are you going?"

dark and dangerous like a secret that gets whispered in a hush
(don't tell a soul)

He stands uncertainly in the darkness of the broadcast booth, shadows whispering at him cruelly. What do you want here? There's nothing left, nothing but ashes and dust. What did you hope to find? You burned everything else away. He brushes aside a curtain, trails fingers over equipment switches. A microphone hovers expectantly atop a stand, and he stares at it, thinking of curved, full lips shaping the air millimeters from the surface. He turns aside abruptly, half-crouching with his hands wrapped around his waist against the pain clawing at his gut. He flees the shadows, flees the silence.

when i wake the things i dreamt about you last night make me blush (don't tell a soul)

"Hi there."

"You shouldn't be here."

"Schanke told me about your disappearing act."

"Not now, Nat. Please."

"Nick. Look at me. What's wrong? You can tell me. Have you fallen off the wagon again? We can get past it, we've done it before... that's not it, is it?"


"Tell me."

For a single black moment, he flirts with the idea of telling her how he's lain awake and trembling under the lash of desire for long days now. For a moment.



"Go. Just... go."

She leaves, eventually.

when you kiss me like a lover

"I am your slave, given to you for eternity..." A cool finger, tracing his lips. Then a blood-warmed kiss, heat on his tongue, liquid fire sharper than the lost taste of spirits, thick with ancient visions of worlds long gone. Tasting himself, tasting his master, tasting the fragrant fragile wine of their prey's blood vanishing like mist in the burning of their mutual joyful heat.

then you sting me like a viper

"Hate is a step in the right direction." Beautiful golden head, lying so limp in his arms, blue eyes like milky glass broken...

i go follow to the river
play your memory like the piper

His fingers unerringly find the notes. The first melody he'd ever composed and liked well enough to play for someone else. Every note is a memory complete... here a faint lack of recognition on Lacroix's face, here a growing stir of puzzlement... the final collision of notes bringing the remembrance...

"Well played." Pause. When he didn't speak, "I don't recognize the piece." Annoyance.

"Did you like it?"

"Yes." Stiffly, "What is it?"

"I haven't picked a name yet."

Silence. "You composed that?"

Glowing, "Yes."

"My, my." Annoyance suddenly turned to pleasure. "How very clever of you, mon cher. You've surprised me." A hand, stroking his hair. "Play it for me again."

"You really like it?"

"Yes. You've written other pieces."

"How did you know?"

"Not even Mozart's first piece was anything but dreadful."

He laughed, bent his head over the keys once again...

In the loft, he moves restlessly away from the piano.

and i feel it like a sickness how this love is killing me
but i'd walk into the fingers of your fire willingly
and dance the edge of sanity
i've never been this close
in love with your ghost

He knows how dangerous this is, to court the memories that come too easily of their own accord, how easy to be completely lost for days in reliving dreams drawn from a neverending past. Lacroix had warned him against this, warned him... then punished him when he disobeyed. Starved him and whipped him and hounded him through some nighttime forest with its tearing branches until all he could think of was the present, the taste of unsatisfying animal blood on his lips and the pain of splinters digging into his skin, the terror of dark power chasing him until the chase ended in his master's arms, soothing cool fingers on his brow, tender lips sucking gently at each little wound to clean it, strong arms cuddling him, turning him around and pulling at his clothes.

"Open your senses," the voice behind him urged softly, intently. "Taste the night air caressing your skin, the wind moaning with your own voice." He surrendered, savoring the sweet roughness of bark beneath his cheek as he clung to the young oak, leaning forward as Lacroix entered him without preamble, the elemental pain tying him to the moment. Followed by the equally elemental pleasure as Lacroix began to move inside him, cupped blood-slick fingers between his thighs, stroking, stroking. He moaned with delight as Lacroix worked him methodically, penetrating to the hilt, then almost withdrawing.

Losing track of himself, falling into the only death either of them would ever know... the only death...

A flaming stake in a dark room, golden eyes so wide with surprise, shock...

"No!" He jerks up on the couch, panting. The loft is dark and cold, blood congealing in the bottle dangling from his hand.

Silently, he weeps.

unknowing captor you'll never know how much you pierce my spirit but i can't touch you can you hear it a cry to be free or i'm forever under lock and key as you pass through me

He drinks and closes his eyes. An image swims in his mind's eye, Nicholas asleep in his bed, golden hair curling on the pillow just asking to be tugged. He shakes himself free, eyes golden with anger, and swears aloud, "I will not play the fool for him. I will leave him to his own devices. Let him play at mortality, then. When he finally gives up and accepts that there is no cure, he'll..." Unbidden vision: Nicholas, standing in the sunlight, tears staining cheeks with red, praying to an unheeding god as the burning rays leech flesh from bone, reduce that golden body to ash... He shatters the glass in his hand, deliberately tightening his grip on the shards until they cut his flesh, mingling his blood into the hollows of the crystal. He watches the blood drip, focusing tightly on the drops, counting them until the insistent pressure of the image gives up, fades away.

now i see your face before me i would launch a thousand ships to bring your heart back to my island as the sand beneath me slips as i burn up in your presence and i know now how it feels to be weakened like achilles with you always at my heels

"My Nicholas," he murmurs painfully in surrender, watching the water rinse away the glass splinters from his already-healing flesh. The campaign slowly lays itself out in his mind. He will break his child free of the mortal shell around him, pull him somewhere new before he is ready to move on. Nicholas will hate him again, of course. Suddenly he feels so tired of being hated. Perhaps he can try a different method. Maybe... maybe Nicholas has felt a bit of regret. The child probably thinks he is dead, after all.

His lips curve with self-mocking amusement. Foolish, foolish hope. No, he will not indulge such utter folly. Disaster for himself and his child lies that way. Better to uproot Nicholas, unbalance the temporary stability of his son's existence, use that interval of disruption to reawaken vampiric instincts and tighten the bonds between them.

He returns to the window, pulling the shades closed. Dawn is starting to tint the sky. Tomorrow he will begin the arrangements. "Nicholas..." he whispers, longing touching his voice.

and my bitter pill to swallow is the silence that i keep that poisons me i can't swim free the river is too deep though i'm baptized by your touch i am no worse at most in love with your ghost

"Damn you, Lacroix! Damn you! Damn you!" Shattering bottle, splashed blood a growing stain against the wall. He heaves helplessly, sobs wracking his body. "Damn you for letting me kill you," he whispers. "Damn you for leaving me."

you are shadowing my dreams

"Come back to me."