|A Prize to Win, A Prize to Protect
Author: foxy11814 PM
A homicide puts Lacroix on top of the suspect list. Is Nick willing to help? Is Lacroix willing to accept help from Nick?Rated: Fiction T - English - Family/Drama - Words: 8,593 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 1 - Published: 05-30-10 - Status: Complete - id: 6009598
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
This was written for the fkficfest community at Livejournal. I received the following prompt from user pj1228.
Prompt: A homicide puts Lacroix on top of the suspect list. Is Nick willing to help? Is Lacroix willing to accept help from Nick?
This fic is unrelated to my other Nick and Lacroix story here entitled "A Father's Truth." Don't worry, though, I am currently working on a sequel for that story, as well.
Slight Warning: This story does reference a blood sharing between two male, father/son characters, though they are not Nick and Lacroix. If you consider that sexual or offensive, it's only briefly mentioned, but please, don't read it. Thanks!
A Prize to Win, A Prize to Protect
He was running through the woods. The midnight sky was filled with sounds of birds, crickets, and frogs as the full moon overhead shined brightly. It had been many years since he last experienced such things: the cool breeze blasting against his face, his senses adjusting to suit his purposes in such a location, his heart beating just a little bit faster than usual. And, of course, he was letting his beast out.
Its confinement could no longer be obtained. His eyes were an ethereal green that almost appeared to be white. It would undoubtedly scare any creature, big or small, that happened upon him in this forest; it wouldn't help him at all against the person who was unfortunately a mere minute behind him.
More than anything he wanted to take to the air. It would feel so liberating. He knew his beast would rejoice as it always did, but he also knew *he* could and would easily end this little foray if he did. No, it was best to stay to the ground, try to do the unexpected. The only problem was he didn't know what that was.
This chase hadn't been planned. He hadn't expected any of it. They were getting along far better than they had in a while. That things would come to end with this was…strange, and yet, part of him accepted it as an inevitable outcome, though he would hardly admit it aloud.
He was broken out of his reverie at the slight tingling sensation at the back of his neck. His pursuer was close. The end was drawing near. He ran to a nearby log that rested on the edge of a small ravine that led down to a river. He pressed his back against it and ceased all movement. He knew he had to counterattack. It was the only way.
"Glad to see that you have finally stopped running," a voice in front of him stated calmly.
Nicholas snapped his head forward. He had been pressing his cheek against the log, listening intently to whatever would happen behind him.
Lacroix's eyes met his child's. "The chase is over," he continued.
Nicholas couldn't help it. He smiled a toothy grin, and Lacroix was pleased to see his son's fangs glistening in the moonlight. "But it isn't," the younger vampire whispered in a guttural voice that Lacroix hadn't heard in far too long.
Nicholas took off running and chuckled as Lacroix took off after him. Lacroix was only a hair's breath behind him. In fact, Lacroix's fingers were just grazing his elbow as they ran. He just couldn't believe it. After all these years, after everything that they had been through, he felt…
Suddenly, the chase was over. Lacroix was no longer chasing him. Nicholas turned around to see Lacroix standing ten feet away, staring into the trees at his left. He walked back, feeling surprised and a little nervous. What could have possibly stopped Lacroix? The old vampire never gave up chasing his son, no matter what. Something was wrong.
As Nicholas reached his father's side, he stared into the thick hedges that captured his father's attention and gasped with sudden recognition. A man—or was it a vampire—stood there aiming a crossbow at them. The man stepped forward, smiled sadistically, and said, "Now, it's over."
Nick sat up in bed quickly and growled into the empty room. He wasn't in a forest, he wasn't with Lacroix, and he certainly wasn't about to get staked. He took a calming breath and quickly rubbed his fire-red eyes, before wiping his forehead to find it covered with bloodsweat.
It was then that he noticed his phone was ringing and the answering machine had just caught it: "Hi, this is Nick Knight. I'm either in bed or incommunicado. Leave a message."
"Hey, Nick," Schanke's voice echoed through the loft. "I know you're supposed to be off for the next three nights, but you'll never believe who was just brought in for questioning. Three guesses..."
Nick got up and pulled the sheets off his bed as he glanced at the phone. He was contemplating whether he should pick it up or not. He recognized the timbre in Schanke's voice—it promised a big case to solve, but right now, he wanted to clean his sheets, take a shower, and get the blood off his skin. He bundled the sheets in his arms and carried them to the hamper in his bathroom before stripping and getting into the shower.
"Still no answer, huh," Schanke continued. "Okay, okay…you're probably sleeping. Just listen: this morning, dispatch notified units to go to none other than CERK. Turns out the morning deejay John Kidd was found in his sound booth, dead. And, who, oh, who was standing over him with a bloody knife in his hand? Why, your number one radio host, wonderful partner-of-mine! That's right. Mr. Nightcrawler, himself, is in our lockup as we speak. Figured you might want to come down tonight, maybe take your vacation a little later. I know you're interested. In any case, call me. I'm off for the next six hours. Chao, babe."
Nick had tried to rush from his shower as soon as he realized Schanke was talking about Lacroix. Unfortunately, in his hurry and grogginess, he had failed to pay attention to what he was doing and almost slid on his wet floor. He had to catch himself with the bathroom doorknob and by the time he had wrapped a towel around his waist and got to the phone beside his bed, Schanke had already hung up.
Nick sat down on the bed and stared at the phone in his hands, hardly comprehending what Schanke revealed. Lacroix allowed the police to take him into custody? What the hell was going on? Surely, Lacroix wouldn't be stupid enough to make a kill at his own place of employment, and even more puzzling, what was he doing with a knife? It just wasn't making any sense.
The feeling of dread he had when he woke up from his dream was back, and he knew it would not dissipate until he went to the precinct that night and spoke with Lacroix.
Nick walked into the precinct, and for the first time, he felt like he didn't belong. He looked around at the familiar faces and noticed nothing out of the ordinary. The usual people were there giving him their customary hellos or nods. Nothing was troubling them. He took a slow, relaxing breath and made his way over to his desk, where Schanke stood with a smug grin covering his face.
"I knew it," said Schanke, clearly pleased with himself.
Before either man could utter another word, they heard Amanda Cohen yell from her office, "Schanke, Knight, get in here."
The two detectives entered her office, and Schanke shut the door. Schanke smiled at his captain and said, "Yes, Captain. You sure do look…"
Cohen immediately cut him off. "Knight, what are you doing here? I thought you had the next three nights off."
Schanke quickly replied, "I called him this morning, Captain."
Nick gave Schanke a little nod and said, "Schanke called and said we brought in La…Lucien Lacroix for questioning." He shrugged and added, "I thought I'd come in and offer to take on the case."
Cohen sat back in her seat and took in her detective's appearance. He looked the same as he did every night except for his eyes. He seemed worried, and that wasn't an expression she liked to see him with. "Why," she asked, suspiciously.
Schanke chose that moment to chuckle and insert himself into the conversation again. "I'll tell ya why, Cap—Nick, here, is Nightcrawler's number one fan. He listens to him every night he's on. I tell you, he won't even let me change the channel for a second."
Cohen raised her hand to silence Schanke and fixed her stare on Knight. "Is this true," she asked. "I can't have someone who is emotionally compromised on a case, Nick. You know that."
"I'm not," said Nick, emphatically. "I listen to him on the radio. So, what? I want this case, Captain."
Cohen leaned forward and folded her arms on her desk. "I've already given the case to Lieberman and Reynolds. They're currently gathering evidence against Mr. Lacroix for the crime."
"Lieberman and Reynolds," cried Nick, "but Captain…"
Cohen stood up and said, "Obviously, something about this Nightcrawler or his show means something to you for you to give up your vacation." She then paused and added, "Or you simply want an excuse not to take one."
Nick opened his mouth to object, but Cohen continued, "I'll give you a shot, Nick, but if you step out of line once, you're off the case. Is that understood? That goes for the both of you."
"Yes, Captain," Nick and Schanke replied simultaneously.
Cohen walked to her door, opened it, and motioned for her detectives to leave. As they were stepping out, she smiled and said, "Try to solve this case quickly. You really do need to take some vacation days, Knight."
Nick nodded at her with a forced smile on his face. "We will, Captain," he answered before turning to Schanke.
Schanke smiled at Nick, slapped him on the back, and said, "Well, pard-ner, let's go see what the Nightcrawler has to say tonight." He grabbed Nick's arm and practically dragged him out of the squad room.
Nick and Schanke stared through the mirror at Lucien Lacroix as he was placed at the table in one of their interrogation rooms. Unsurprisingly to Nick, Lacroix did not seem worried at all, merely annoyed. Nick took a deep breath and noticed when Lacroix's eyes seemed to focus on him. Of course, Lacroix had felt his presence. He glanced at Schanke and was about to motion that they go inside when the door behind them opened.
"So, it's true," said a familiar voice.
Natalie rushed quickly to Nick's side. "Are you okay," she asked, clearly concerned.
Nick glanced at Schanke before looking at her, and she got the subtle message. She cleared her throat before saying, "I heard you weren't taking your mini-vacation. I knew something astronomical must be happening for Cohen to let you come back here."
Nick smiled at the quick cover and said, "I just wanted the case, but the captain assured me that I still need to take some days off. I will as soon as Schanke and I are through handling this."
"And, who knows," Schanke interjected, "maybe the captain will let me have a few days off, too."
Natalie smiled and replied, "Oh, right, like you don't take enough time off with all those vacations Myra wants to go on."
"Like we ever get to go," Schanke quipped.
As Natalie and Schanke started going back and forth with retorts, Nick zoned out.
Usually when the three of them bantered like this, Nick found it very enjoyable. Right now, it was close to an annoyance. Something huge was going on, and he knew he wouldn't like what it was. He stared through the mirror at Lacroix and headed to the interrogation room.
Schanke noticed his partner's departure and yelled out, "Hey! You think you can tell someone when you're ready." Natalie stayed in the room to watch the interview as Schanke quickly caught up with Nick.
Lacroix didn't move as Nicholas and his partner came into the room. He had been hoping Nicholas wouldn't be assigned to the case, and he was pretty sure the two detectives he had spoken to earlier were. Leave it to his son to pitch a fit until he got his way. He wanted to chuckle at his son's obvious reaction to him being in jail, but instead he stared straight ahead and waited as Schanke walked in front of him.
Schanke looked at Nick with a small smile and said, "Hey, would you look at that! The man who usually has so much to say is tight-lipped tonight." He pulled out a chair and sat down in front of the Nightcrawler.
Before Schanke could get another word out, Nick demanded, "Cut it out, Schank."
Nick opened up the case file he took from one of the officers outside. He looked at a picture of the victim. It was a man about forty years of age with short brown hair, medium build, dark skin, and a little immaturely dressed for his age—probably comes with being a deejay. The man didn't fit Lacroix's usual choice for prey.
"John Kidd," said Nick, meeting his master's gaze. "What can you tell me about him?"
Lacroix glanced at Nick briefly before looking back at Schanke and replied amusedly, "John Kidd is, I believe, a middle-aged man with short brown hair…"
Schanke noisily let out a puff of air as he pushed his chair back from the table and got up. Nick went quickly to his partner's side and caught his gaze and heartbeat: "You will remain silent during this interrogation, and you will remember nothing once you leave this room."
"Remember nothing," agreed Schanke.
Nick sighed and turned to Lacroix, grateful that only Natalie was watching through the two-way mirror.
"What's going on, Lacroix," demanded Nick, feeling slightly better now that they were finally able to speak freely.
Lacroix continued to stare straight ahead and answered unemotionally, "Nothing that cannot be handled in due time." He knew Nicholas wouldn't be appeased with this answer, but he had no intention in letting his son get involved in a situation where he could get himself killed.
As predicted, Nick's comfort was short-lived with this answer. As usual, Lacroix was going to make him work for his answers. The old vampire never gave up anything too easily. "He does love to anger me," Nick thought before asking, "What is that supposed to mean?"
"It means," replied Lacroix in an authoritative tone, "I want you to stay out of this."
Lacroix and Nick's eyes finally met, and Nick could see anger festering in his master's blue gaze before Lacroix blinked it away. Who his master was mad at, Nick didn't know. He only knew he still had the distinct feeling that something was horribly wrong. "It's kind of hard to do that, now," Nick stated. "I've been assigned to the case."
"Well, un-assign yourself," Lacroix demanded. Suddenly, he stood up, marched to over to Nicholas, and repeated, "I do not wish for you to be involved in this."
"Why," insisted Nick. In reply, he felt his master's aura wrapping around him, warning him of dangers to come if he disobeyed. He felt it often enough. He closed his eyes for a brief second to steady himself before defying his master yet again.
"Did you kill him, Lacroix," asked Nick, simply. "I need to know."
"And, if I say I did, would you stay out of it," asked Lacroix.
Nicholas, now quite angry, exploded, "I'm not bargaining for any answers, damn it! I want the truth, Lacroix! I need to know if I have to be searching for a killer. I need to know if you broke our agreement." Nick shook his head and said with a softer voice, "You promised me you would not disturb my life here with your mindless killing."
Lacroix turned, smiled at the two-way mirror, and sat back down in his seat at the table. "You're right," he stated magnanimously, "I did promise I would keep you out of my 'pastimes,' which is why I want you to leave this alone."
Nick opened his mouth to once again ask if he killed Kidd, but Lacroix interrupted him again. "Stay out of it."
Nick stared at Lacroix for several seconds before grabbing Schanke's arm and leading him out of the interrogation room. As soon as Schanke walked over the threshold, he awoke as if from a dream. "What do you think," he asked.
"He's innocent," Nick replied, looking back at the door.
Schanke opened his mouth to take his partner to task but quickly realized he didn't remember a thing that went on in that room. He shook his head slightly, as Nick walked towards the viewing room where Natalie was. "Hey, what just happened," Schanke asked aloud. "Nick?"
Natalie was not in the viewing room alone. Detectives Lieberman and Reynolds were also inside. When Nick walked inside, he immediately clenched his teeth as he silently chastised himself for not keeping himself aware of how many people were in this room while interrogating Lacroix. How much had they heard?
He soon got his answer. Lieberman watched Nick walk into the room and Lieberman gave no sign of pleasantry for the entering detective. In fact, he sneered at Nick and said, "When the captain called us into the office earlier and told us you had requested this case, I was honestly shocked. I kept asking myself why the precinct's golden boy, Nicholas Knight, would want a case that was practically already solved. Now, I have my answer: You have a relationship with Mr. Lacroix. Just what the hell are you into with this guy, Knight?"
During the latter part of this speech, Schanke had walked into the room and stood beside Nick. When Lieberman silenced, Schanke quickly replied, "I don't know what you think you know, David, but Nick just wants to solve this case. I'm the one who suggested taking it to Nick. He doesn't have a relationship with the Nightcrawler besides being a devoted listener."
Nick smiled at Schanke whose protectiveness was oddly reminding him of Lacroix at the moment.
Lieberman, on the other hand, merely scoffed at Schanke's words. "Doesn't have a relationship, huh? How many people do you know have an agreement with people they don't know?" Lieberman smiled and looked back at Nick. "Just what pastime is he keeping you out of?"
Nick briefly closed his eyes. They definitely heard more than he wanted them to, and there were too many people in the room to hypnotize. Reynolds and Schanke wouldn't stand idly by while he worked on Lieberman. It would be too risky.
"Well," Lieberman questioned at Nick's silence.
Nick looked around him and realized everyone's eyes in the room were on him. Only Natalie's were sympathetic. What could he do or say? He sighed and said, "So I know Lacroix. That doesn't mean I can't be objective."
"You had no right to take this case from us," Reynolds spoke up. "It was being handled objectively with people who have no connections to Mr. Lacroix. Sorry, Nick, but we're going to have to go to the captain about this. We can't let your relationship with Mr. Lacroix be something that his lawyers can use to get him off the hook when he goes to trial."
"But he's innocent," argued Nick.
"Innocent," Lieberman repeated and then laughed sarcastically. "How can you know that with one interview with him? Not to mention the fact that he seemed to not answer anything besides telling you to stay out of it. You don't sound objective at all, Detective."
"Look," Nick started, but Lieberman interrupted him—
"No, you look. We spoke with the CERK's station manager. It turns out there was bad blood between Lacroix and Kidd. They had frequent run-ins when they changed shifts in the early-morning hours. Kidd continuously reported that Lacroix kept antagonizing him, begging for a fight. Kidd said it was like Lacroix got off on it. There are at least six documented reports in their employee records. When we asked the manager who was in the building that night, the time cards said only Lacroix, Kidd, and Joe Maxwell, their security guard. Now, you tell me who committed this crime! How do you think we were able to hold him? Everyone at CERK and everyone here know it was Lucien Lacroix except you. He was standing over the body with a bloody knife in his hand when Maxwell discovered them. What more evidence do you want? It's pretty cut and dry."
"Except that he didn't do it," Nick insisted.
"What evidence do you have," challenged Lieberman.
He didn't have any evidence that anyone, except perhaps Natalie, would believe or accept. He couldn't share it, anyway. It would only make him look even guiltier of having a relationship with Lacroix, but the truth was he knew Lacroix was innocent because Lacroix never confessed to the crime to him. Lacroix had no qualms about killing anyone or admitting it when he had done so in the past. No, he wasn't guilty, and that bothered Nick. Why would Lacroix allow himself to be arrested for a crime he didn't do, and why would he not allow Nick to help him?
It didn't make any sense.
Nick shook himself out of his reverie to stare into Natalie's eyes. She was in front of him, and he quickly noticed she and Schanke were the only ones left in the room. "Lieberman and Reynolds went to Cohen to get you thrown off the case," she explained.
Nick sighed and shook his head. "He's innocent, Nat," he insisted.
"Well, you're going to have a hard time proving that," she said back.
"Yeah," Schanke interjected, "especially since we'll no longer be on the case. Why didn't you tell me you actually knew the Nightcrawler?"
Nick sighed. There was a time when Schanke did know, but Nick had decided that information was too risky for his partner. Schanke had put together the evidence that he, Lacroix, and Janette were vampires once before. He couldn't allow Schanke to do so, again. He caught Schanke's eyes and said, "I don't know the Nightcrawler. I've merely met him in passing."
"Don't know the Nightcrawler," Schanke repeated slowly.
Nick immediately looked down as he shook his head. "I can't do that to the whole precinct," he whispered, "and I hate doing it to Schanke."
Nat patted Nick on the back and hugged their sides together. "Come on," she said, leading Nick to the door. "You might as well face the music."
Nick laid on his carpet and stared up at the ceiling, brooding over the fact that he could no longer help Lacroix in an official capacity. As Schanke had suspected, they were no longer on the case, and Nick was forced to take his vacation. In fact, his vacation was now expanded into a whole week.
Nick sighed and turned onto his side to stare into the fire he made when he got home earlier that morning. He repeatedly replayed the interview with Lacroix over in his mind. He was now convinced Lacroix knew Lieberman and Reynolds were on the other side of the mirror, watching the latter end of the interview. He remembered his master briefly smiling at the mirror.
Lacroix had made sure Nick would not be on the case. And, that was the most frustrating thing of all. Why did Lacroix always exclude him from things that affected their lives so dramatically? He had no doubt Lacroix was in trouble. That's the only explanation as to why Lacroix would not let him get involved. It was the old vampire's way of protecting him…but Nick wasn't having it. He was going to get down to the bottom of this whether Lacroix liked it or not.
Nick shook his head and stood up. He walked over to his piano and started pressing the keys. He wasn't really playing anything in particular. It was merely a habit when he needed to think. "Clearly," thought Nick to himself, "I have to start somewhere. Lieberman said only three people were at CERK that night: Lacroix, Kidd, and Maxwell." Nick's fingers rested as he said, "Joe Maxwell." It was as good a place to start as any.
It was an hour after sunset, and already the parking lot at CERK was nearly deserted. Nick parked his Caddy, got out, and was almost to the door when he heard a honk behind him. He turned around to find Schanke parking his car beside his. Nick gave a ghost of a smile and waited as for his partner to catch up to him.
"I had a feeling you would show up here, tonight," said Schanke. "You know if the captain hears about this, we're toast."
"He's innocent, Schank," explained Nick. "Lieberman and Reynolds aren't even giving him the benefit of the doubt. If I don't do this, he won't have the option of getting out of jail peacefully."
Schanke paused as he considered Nick's words. "What does that mean?" It almost sounded like Nick was contemplating busting him out of jail.
Nick sighed as he realized the truth of the situation was on the tip of his tongue this afternoon. He knew Lacroix was in no real danger at the precinct. Lacroix could get out any time he wanted, and he would by any means necessary if this played out for much longer. Right now, his master was playing along with the mortal's worldly rules for whatever unknown reason. "It means things could get ugly," answered Nick. "The Nightcrawler is not exactly known for handling things calmly."
"You sound like you know him."
Nick flashed an angry glare at Schanke, who immediately lifted up his hands. "Hey, don't get all cranky with me! It's all over the precinct that you lied to the captain. Now, I know you two only met and talked in passing and Lieberman is using that against you, but with the comments you're making, you're only giving him more ammunition to use against you. You need to be aware of that."
Nick turned to the door and said, "I have no intention of speaking to Lieberman again before this case is solved. The evidence of who committed the crime will speak for itself." He opened the door and gestured for Schanke to go inside.
"You know we're going to be in deep water if the captain hears about this," he said.
"So you've already said," replied Nick with a smile.
"How do I let you talk me into these things," Schanke said with a shake of his head before walking inside.
Joe Maxwell sat at his desk as two men approached him. He recognized one as one of the few individuals who ever came to visit Mr. Lacroix while he was on the radio. He put on his customary smile and said, "Good evening, Mr. Knight. I'm afraid Mr. Lacroix will not be able to see you tonight. He isn't here."
Nick pulled out his police ID and showed the security guard. "I'm quite aware of that. Detective Schanke and I are here to ask you a few questions."
Maxwell immediately sat up rigidly in his chair and rubbed his fingers through his balding brown hair. He wasn't expecting any more visits from the police. He thought it was over. "I've already spoken to the police if this is about Mr. Kidd's murder."
Nick listened to Maxwell's heartbeat speed up rapidly, and he noticed with his enhanced vision that perspiration was quickly forming on the man's brow. "Odd," thought Nick to himself. Why was the security guard suddenly so nervous?
Schanke had also noticed Maxwell's response to finding out they were detectives. He noticed the man's fingers shake as he rubbed them through his hair. He also noticed his eyes had widened ever so slightly. "Like a deer caught in headlights," he thought to himself. He smiled, feigning friendliness at the guard and said, "We just have a few follow-up questions to ask you. It shouldn't take long."
Maxwell swallowed a knot he had building in his throat and shakily replied, "O-okay."
Nick stepped forward so he was almost towering over the seated man. Maxwell immediately stood up and nervously asked, "Can I get you something to drink? The break room is right over there." He pointed to the left, and Schanke and Nick shook their heads.
Schanke's and Nick's eyes met as they watched Maxwell shift his weight from one foot to the other. They instantly knew this man knew more than what he had relayed to Lieberman and Reynolds.
Schanke winked quickly at Nick and took the lead. "You reported to police that you discovered Lacroix holding a knife over Kidd's body on the night of the sixteenth. Would you care to elaborate on this statement?"
"How," asked Maxwell, whose hands were now becoming very sweaty and he was rubbing them against his pants.
Nick shrugged and said, "Did the situation give you any impressions? Did you think Lacroix was responsible for the murder when you saw him hovering over Kidd?"
Maxwell shook his head and said, "All I knew was he had a knife in his hands and Kidd was bleeding. Of course, I thought he stabbed him."
"Did Lacroix look angry," asked Nick. "What was his reaction when he saw you?"
Maxwell thought back and answered honestly, "He seemed more interested in the knife at the time than me. I don't know. He could have been in shock and staring at the blood on the knife."
"Hardly," said Nick, aloud to himself.
Both Schanke and Maxwell looked at him questioningly.
"Lacroix seems like the kind of person who doesn't spook easily. I doubt blood on a knife would render him into shock."
Schanke narrowed his eyes at Nick before turning back to Maxwell.
Maxwell, on the other hand, was on the defensive. "Maybe not the blood on the knife," he cried. "But certainly I would have been shocked to find a corpse lying on the ground outside my control booth."
Nick immediately harped on his words. "So, now, you're saying Lacroix discovered the body."
"That's not what I said."
"But you were inserting yourself into Lacroix's situation just now. You said you would be shocked if you had discovered a body outside your control booth."
Maxwell looked from detective to detective and let out a frightful wail. "Look, it was either say Lacroix did it or get fired. I have a wife and three kids to take care of."
"Why would you get fired," asked Schanke, looking at Nick with some relief. They were finally getting somewhere. Maybe if the captain did discover their whereabouts, she wouldn't be as angry.
"A man showed up—someone I've never seen before. It was about twenty seconds after Kidd walked in. He said he was looking for Lacroix," answered Maxwell. "Michael Karloff, our manager, when I was hired for this job years ago said at night only people on the deejay's visiting list could be allowed in the building. For some reason, I didn't follow protocol. I don't know why. I *never* let anyone inside who isn't on the list, but somehow I felt compelled to do so that night."
Tears were strolling down Maxwell's face as he told the rest of the story. "About a minute or so after I let this guy into the backrooms, I heard someone scream. I knew right then I was in trouble. It was one of those bloodcurdling screams that lets you know someone is in pain or dying. I ran into the room and saw Mr. Lacroix picking up a knife off the floor. He mumbled something about the knife belonging to someone he knew long ago.
Then, I heard a voice behind me say, 'Revenge at last. Now, it's over.' I turned around and there was the guy I let into the station. He was grinning at me and the next thing I remember is telling the police Lacroix was the one standing over the body. I tried, but I couldn't get the words about the other guy out of my mouth. I started to convince myself that it was for the best. I can't afford to lose this job. This is the first time I've been able to share this story." Maxwell took a deep breath and sat back in his chair at his desk. "I wonder why."
"Because I no longer have any need for you to keep the secret," a voice behind them said. They all looked to the front door and saw a man dressed in a black suit standing there.
"That's him," Maxwell squeaked out.
The man at the door stepped forward, and Nick immediately knew this man was a vampire and a very old one at that. His face looked familiar, but Nick could not place him. "Do I know you," he questioned.
The vampire chuckled sadistically and said, "No, but I know Lucius…for many years, in fact. We knew each other before the eruption, before Lucius became the person that he is today."
"Eruption," repeated Schanke. "What the hell are you talking about, and who is Lucius?"
The man did not pay Schanke any attention. He was solely focused on Nick. "I have come for revenge, Nicholas, for an act Lucius committed against me many years ago."
"What act is that," asked Nicholas, holding his ground. He knew his death was to be the revenge. "I think I have a right to know."
The vampire before him smiled horribly and said, "I see why Lucius cherishes you so much. So bright, so brave…Twenty years after the eruption, my son Acacius and I came across Lucius traveling alone in northern Rome. We were joyous to see each other, to realize we were not alone in our fates. We decided then to travel together. We thought the Gods had brought us together. We were companions. We were friends."
"But what happened," questioned Nick. "I've never met you or your son. I've never even heard of you."
The vampire shook his head and spat, "No, I suppose you wouldn't have heard about us. Why would Lucius tell you, after all? He's never been a man to let anyone pierce his cool exterior or heart." He paused and then continued, "A short time later—about a month or so—Lucius came to me complaining about Acacius. It turns out my son had taken a liking to Lucius. I knew Acacius had an attraction for older men. It was after all what had driven us to be together in the first place. I told Lucius there was only pleasure to be had and that I did not mind sharing Acacius with him."
Schanke's mouth dropped open and said, "You were having sex with your son and willing to allow your friend to do the same to him?"
The vampire stepped over to Schanke and waved a hand in front of his face and then Maxwell's. They immediately stood as if they were statues, unblinking, unmoving.
He then looked back at Nick. "Undoubtedly *you* understand our nature," he stated. "Lucius would not leave this out of your teachings. The sharing between father and son…"
Nick fidgeted uneasily and interrupted, "Yes, I know. Go on with your story."
The vampire chuckled and continued, "As you know, love between men in our society was honored and not demonized. I did not realize Lucius had an objection to Acacius. I thought he was merely concerned with my feelings on the matter.
For a month, Acacius reveled in what he called, 'a merry chase.' Lucius had not coupled with my son, but knowing Lucius as I did, I thought he was trying to savor the experience, to heighten the suspense. I found out much too late that I was wrong. It turns out Lucius emphatically denied my son and told him he did not desire him. Of course, my son was stubborn and did not want to take no for an answer. I will not deny I spoiled him, as he was in his human life, as well.
One day, Acacius gathered a group of vampires to help him subdue Lucius and to chain him. Needless to say, it didn't work and Lucius killed every vampire there that night, including Acacius. When I realized what Lucius had done, I swore vengeance on someone he would come to love. Imagine my surprise and eagerness when I heard a few hundred years ago that Lucius had a son, someone who he loved to the point of obsession. I knew then that you would be my revenge. I've waited years for this moment.
Of course, Lucius had tried to keep your existence a secret from me. That was why I didn't learn of you before. And, once I set this recent plan into motion, Lucius had been very careful to make sure there were a number of vampires in and around your precinct, so I couldn't easily identify you. Of course, I also discovered from one of your co-workers outside the station that Lucius assured that you were on vacation. I always knew Lucius was one conniving bastard. But, I knew with Lucius in jail, it wouldn't be hard to find you, because you wouldn't be able to stay away from this locale to question the one witness to your father's supposed crime. I'm honestly shocked Lucius didn't figure that out, as well."
The vampire finally started walking towards Nick, and Nick quickly headed for the door. The vampire was older and therefore faster. He was suddenly in front of the door and grabbing Nick by the neck. He held him up and said, "Now, it is time for you to die, Nicholas de Brabant, for your father's crimes."
Lacroix was in the jail cell with his eyes shut and his senses closely attuned to everything that was going on with his son. He knew everything could go wrong at any given time for any different reason. Just lying there was driving him crazy, but there wasn't much else he could do at this point. He had allowed himself to be taken into custody, because he knew he could no longer stay in Toronto if he didn't. He couldn't be listed as a fugitive, because he would have to leave, and he wasn't going anywhere without Nicholas—not now, not after they had come to a reasonable impasse. Nicholas was tolerating him, and that gave him room to operate, room to ever so slowly bring his son back into the fold.
He thought he could use his dilemma to his advantage, anyway. Nicholas would be concerned for his welfare which would bring them closer, especially because of his refusal of his son's help. Nicholas would realize Lacroix was protecting him. And, also eventually, Damianus might come looking for Nicholas, and he, along with a few well-placed reinforcements, would be waiting here at the precinct. It was possible to catch the troublemaker if he made that mistake. But now that so much time had passed, however, he knew it was likely Damianus had discovered his scheme and was searching for another way to find his son, which is why he made sure he was aware of his son's emotions at every moment. He was not going to allow Damianus to kill Nicholas.
After an hour of monitoring his son subsequent to nightfall, Lacroix felt what he had been dreading. His son was in trouble, and he could tell Nicholas was in pain. He quickly rushed to the prison cell door but suddenly stopped. He had the presence of mind to know that he couldn't simply rip it from its hinges. How could he explain that away? So, instead, he quickly yelled for the guard. After several loud repetitions of "Guard," the infuriating mortal showed up and Lacroix caught the man's gaze and demanded to set him free, which he did. He also made the guard slip into his bed and get under the sheets. He had no idea if that would hide his disappearance from the officers until he could handle the situation, but it would have to do.
Lacroix exited the precinct as quickly as he could while also trying to avoid detection. As soon as he was outside, he took to the air and followed his senses to his son.
Nick clutched at the hand that was around his throat. He could feel the older vampire applying pressure and knew his throat might be crushed at any moment. He knew he had to do something and do it now. So, he did the only thing he could: He reared back his leg and kicked the vampire anywhere he could reach.
Nick's foot came in contact with the man's lower abdomen, which caused both the old vampire and Nick to rush forward and fall quickly to the ground. Despite the pain in his throat, Nick knew he had to get up and get Schanke and Maxwell out of the room safely. Who knew what this vampire would do to them if he escaped without them?
He ran up to Schanke and slapped his face lightly a couple of times as he watched the vampire on the floor slowly get up. "Schanke, Schanke," he said repeatedly.
"Huh," Schanke finally said, coming out of a daze. "What's going on?"
"I need you and Maxwell to get out of here, now," answered Nick quickly, "Go!"
Schanke quickly looked around the room at the situation and saw a man getting up from the floor. He grabbed Maxwell's arm and looked back at Nick who was walking towards the one rising. "You've got this," he questioned.
Nick nodded and said, "I've got this."
With that and Nick's tone, Schanke quickly pulled Maxwell out of the building. As soon as he was outside, he came face to face with the last person he expected to see. "Lacroix! What are you doing here? How'd you get out of lockup," he cried.
Not having time to explain or the desire, he looked into Schanke's eyes in passing and said, "Stay out here with your friend."
When Lacroix entered the room, he saw Damianus slamming his son into the wall.
"It's over," Damianus yelled into Nicholas' face as he reached back to pull a piece of the leg off of the security guard's desk.
In this brief break, Nicholas noticed his father walking into the room. "Lacroix," he yelled, knowing it would slow his adversary down and give him a chance to escape from behind him.
Damianus followed Nicholas' gaze and looked quickly at a raging-mad Lucien Lacroix. He had never before seen his old friend look so angry. His eyes were red, his fangs were extended, and his posture was as rigid as ever. Damianus knew the moment had come—it was now or never. He turned back to Nicholas to see him working himself to the left around the security guard's desk. "It's over," he yelled again, this time giving a brief glance to Lacroix. He quickly threw the makeshift stake into the air to grab it as if it were a spear and then threw it.
His aim was almost perfect. Almost. The stake hit Nicholas in the back and the tip protruded out of his chest a mere inch above his heart.
Nicholas cried out in pain and immediately fell to the floor.
The sight of his son's injury and the sensation of pain that filtered through their link drove Lacroix into frenzy. He flew to Damianus and shoved him forcibly into the wall. Lacroix pressed all of his might against the vampire to cease the others' movements.
"I had to do it," wailed Damianus. "You took Acacius from me, so I took Nicholas from you."
The revilement Lacroix was about to display was clear. He hated the man before him and felt no sympathy. "Acacius attacked me," Lacroix hissed. "I informed you many times that your son's attentions were unwanted and you chose to ignore my wishes."
"He was just a boy," countered Damianus.
"A boy who had every intention of taking what he wanted whether it was freely given or not. He chose the consequences when he chose to attack me. You know better than anyone what happens when individuals—no matter who they are—try to force their will on me. I did not change in those regards when I was brought across. You know that."
Damianus raised his chin and stared into Lacroix's eyes, pleadingly. "I could not forgive you for taking him from me."
"And, I cannot forgive you now for hurting Nicholas." Lacroix quickly reached up and ripped Damianus' head from his shoulders.
Once this task was done, he dropped the head unceremoniously to the floor and he flew to Nicholas. He crouched down and pulled his son into his arms. "Nicholas," he whispered.
"Unh," Nick moaned.
Lacroix ran his fingers through his son's golden curly hair and whispered, "You'll be all right. I just have to get this stake out."
He pulled Nicholas away from his body and set him belly down on the floor. He grabbed a hold of the stake and ripped it from his son's body.
Nick gave a soul-piercing scream and then dropped into silence.
Lacroix threw the offending stake aside with a fuming look. He quickly picked up his son and walked outside to talk to his son's mortal partner.
When Schanke saw Lacroix approaching with Nick in his arms, he quickly ran over to them. "Oh, my God, what have you done to Nick," he yelled.
Lacroix calmly caught the man's eyes and said, "You will take Joe to the precinct to share his story. You will express your opinion to allow me out of jail."
"Out of jail," Schanke repeated.
Once Lacroix lowered his gaze, Schanke wordlessly took a frightened and shaky Maxwell to his car. Once the car disappeared around the block, Lacroix took to the air and headed for Nicholas' loft.
Inside the loft, Lacroix lowered his son to the couch and brushed his fingers against his cheek. "I have to go back to the precinct before your partner arrives," he whispered, "but first I need for you to feed."
He went into the kitchen and retrieved a knife. He walked back to the couch and settled down on the floor beside his son. "I will be back after I'm released," continued Lacroix as he slit both their arms and held their wounds together.
Lacroix closed his eyes and reveled in the feeling of his favorite's body taking the blood it needed from his. He always enjoyed nurturing this one regardless of how it was done…though of course, the blood kiss would always be preferred. Once he felt the small tugging sensation in his arm slowing, he pulled their lacerations apart. He leaned forward and whispered once more into his son's ear, "I will be back soon, mon fils."
He took to the air and arrived back in his jail cell just in time. He revived the guard and had the officer lock him inside. When Detectives Schanke, Lieberman, and Reynolds walked down with their captain, he stared at them with annoyance. They needed to hurry up so he could get back to Nicholas. They were speaking to him but he wasn't really paying attention to what they said. When they opened his cell, he sprung to action and left the station as quickly as he could.
He was once again running through the forest. His senses were intently attuned to everything that was going on around him. He was not going to allow anything or anyone to interrupt their fun like last time. Every so often he would look into the trees at his sides to make sure no one besides Lacroix was watching or following him.
"If you divide your attention among too many things at once, Nicholas, you're bound to miss something," Lacroix's voice suddenly sounded from in front of him.
Nick was already running into Lacroix before he could stop himself. Their chests collided, but Lacroix held his ground and held Nicholas close. "I've got you, mon fils," he whispered.
"It's not over, yet, old man," Nicholas replied with a sadistic grin. He bit his master's arm with his fangs and Lacroix was so shocked at his son's actions that he let him go.
Lacroix laughed merrily and before resuming the chase replied, "I'm so glad it isn't."
Nick opened his eyes to see Lacroix standing beside the couch looking down at him. "Lacroix," he whispered, pulling himself up into a sitting position in the corner of the couch. He felt his master's healing blood flowing through his body and looked down at his arm and saw the last remaining signs of a cut healing. Lacroix had fed him, several times in fact.
"Nicholas," Lacroix said, as a greeting and then sat beside him.
"You're out of lockup," Nick said, not knowing what to say besides the obvious. Lacroix had saved his life…again, and after he told him to stay out of the situation.
"Ah, yes," agreed Lacroix. "Joe Maxwell's eye witness account of Damianus' presence was very helpful. I was released as soon as he and your partner arrived at the station."
Nick smiled briefly at Lacroix and then frowned, suddenly. He finally remembered where he saw Damianus before! In his dream before all of this started!
"Lacroix," stated Nick angrily, forgetting his wrongdoings in recent events and that his father just took care of him, "You wouldn't be playing around in my head while I'm sleeping, would you?"
Lacroix raised an eyebrow at his son. Feigning innocence, he replied, "Would I really do that, Nicholas?"
At Nicholas' answering glare, Lacroix chuckled.