Unlucky in Love By Naia Zifu

They say the path to hell is paved with good intentions, a statement to which Javier Vachon felt himself a walking testimony.
Oh, he meant well enough. He always meant well. So why did things so often seem to blow up in his face?

Take tonight, for instance; February 14th, St. Valentine's Day.
He woke up early, showered, put on slacks and a shirt with actual buttons. He even shaved for the occasion-- his first time this week!
Looking nearly as good as he felt, Vachon picked up the box of imported chocolates he'd bought the evening before, and took off into the night.

Tracy let out a small cry as she turned from the kitchen cabinet she'd been rummaging through to find herself faced with a dark-
clad form.

"Will you stop doing that!" she yelped, shoving the Spaniard hard enough that he stumbled back a step.

Vachon laughed. "I'll make you a deal-- I'll stop sneaking up like that when you stop giving such funny reactions."

Tracy scowled, her mood already soured by the prank.

"Vachon, what are you doing here?"

Sensing her mood, he quickly handed over the box of chocolate.

"February 14th," he reminded her, "St. Val's."

Tracy raised an eyebrow. "And?"

"And. . . I thought we might go out for a nice dinner, maybe take in a show."

"I have to work."

"So call in."

"I'm not as irresponsible as you, Vachon. I don't just call in to work on a whim to run off on some sort of pseudo-date with some-
body-- I'm not even sure what our relationship is!"

Vachon just blinked. All this hostility couldn't possibly have come from just one harmless prank. . . could it?

"Well, if that's how it is. . ." he said finally. "Have fun at work, then. You can keep the chocolates."

Tracy's eyes softened a bit as she seemed to see how hurt he was. Had his offer been genuine, after all? Unfortunately, by then it was too late-- he'd vanished just as suddenly as he'd appeared.

There was some sort of cheesy Valentine's party going on at the Raven when Vachon wandered in; red rose petals were strewn about like confetti at New Year's, and the usual driving rock music had been replaced by classic Sinatra tunes, to which a number of happy couples were dancing cheek to cheek. He was starting to feel he'd passed into the Twilight Zone, and was almost ready to step out and back in to see whether things would be different, when he felt a hand on his shoulder.

"An' wha's a 'an'some bloke loike you's doin' lookin' so down an' dejeck-i-ted on dis mos' roman'ified day o' th'year?"

"Dejected and rejected," Vachon said with a sigh. "Seems Tracy would rather work Valentine's than go out with me. Looks like it's just you and me this year, Screed."

"Er, no can-do, mate. Oi gots me an After Eight 'posed ta be meetin' me 'ere enny minute," Screed replied rather sheepishly.

"You've got a date?" Vachon blinked in disbelief. "With a girl?"

"Well, 'ardy-bloody-'ar-'ar! Jes'-so-'appens oi gots 'er pick-a-tour roight 'ere-- feast yer baby browns on dis!"

Screed took the wrinkled picture of a cute, young, freckle-
faced redhead (posing with a large white rat on her shoulder) from his jacket pocket and presented it to Vachon.

"Screed, this is a computer printout."

And probably Photoshopped, he suspected, but left unsaid.

"We met on th'innernet-- Lil' Squealers chat list," Screed explained. "Oi gets on whenever oi's at th'lie-berry. Who'da thunk dere's summany droogs inna world whot loikes th'wee ratsies much as oi do?"

"But do they know what you do with the rats once you've got 'em?" Vachon asked, raising an eyebrow.

Screed shrugged. "Oi jes' tells 'em oi keeps th'Squealers 'angin' 'round me flat's all. . . not 'zactly cherry pie, eh, mate?"

"Well, here's hoping this girl you like is being just as honest with you," Vachon said, patting his friend on the back.

He then left Screed, who was grinning like a silly schoolboy,
to order a good, stiff drink at the bar.

Couples twirled as Ol' Blue Eyes sang about strangers in the night, on this night that, it seemed to Vachon, couldn't possibly get any stranger.

"You're spoiling the romantic mood of the evening," LaCroix's deep, distinctive voice said from behind him. "One might expect a lively, carefree youth like yourself to be off on a date. . ."

Vachon shrugged. "Date had to work," he muttered, eyes never leaving the contents of his glass.

"So you thought you'd stop in to make sure no-one else's dates went well, is that it?"

More shrugging and muttering. "Didn't know there'd be this party."

LaCroix leaned in and whispered a bit more harshly, "Well, if you intend to stay here, at least pretend to be having a good time.
If you can't at least do that, I'm afraid I will have to ask you to leave."

Yes, of course! Vachon had forgotten the cardinal rule of the bad day; never think things can't get worse. The universe will go out of its way to prove you wrong every time.

Heaving a sigh, he downed the rest of his drink before getting up and quietly leaving the Raven. It wasn't the first time in his life he'd been kicked out of a bar or club, just the first time he'd been kicked out for not being happy enough.

Though he could easily, and much more quickly, have flown back to his place, he instead trudged home on foot through the bitter cold Canadian winter. Wisely, he refrained along that trek from asking himself if the day could get any worse, or stranger.

Yet it did.

Entering the old, abandoned church he now called home, the scent of fresh roses invaded his nose. There were a number of candles burning in the room, in the middle of which a small table and two chairs had been arranged. A delicate, vintage lace tablecloth hid the shabbiness of the old table, on which sat a wine bottle, a pair of fine crystal goblets, and a matching crystal vase which held a bouquet of blood-red roses. The opening notes of "Clair de Lune" filled the room suddenly, as Vachon's eyes scanned the area for whoever may have set this whole scene up.

"Tracy?" he guessed first, but when that drew no answer,
"Screed? Don't tell me you brought your little Internet date over here. . ."

Still, no-one stepped forward to claim responsibility.

"Don't tell me some teen-ager's come in and turned my place into his personal love den. . ."

"If that is the term you prefer. . ."

Vachon stiffened, face growing deathly pale even for a vampire's. He knew that voice.

"I must admit, setting up this evening was quite the challenge,
even for me," LaCroix said. "Convincing your little policewoman she really would rather work than share a romantic dinner with you, in particular. She is a resistor, you know. . . but when you've lived as long as I have, you learn ways around that kind of thing."

"That's a lot of trouble to go to just to see me miserable."

LaCroix chuckled softly.

"Au contraire, mon jeune conqu?ant," the elder vampire purred.
"This was a lot of trouble to go to just to see you. . . au naturel. . ."

And when Vachon looked down, he found himself suddenly,
completely, and much to his own discomfiture. . . naked as the day he was born.

Of course, it was at that point he shot bolt-upright with a scream on his lips, his hair and clothing soaked and sticking to him.
It took a few minutes to calm himself down and convince himself it had all just been a dream.

So why did he still smell roses?

?006 Naia Zifu, all rights reserved.
Vachon, Tracy, Screed, and LaCroix are FK characters I don't own rights to. (And after this, they're glad I don't!) As always, I'm not trying to make money off others' ideas.
Watch as I continue my trend of uber-lateness by finishing this Vaqdreams Valentine's fic on March 2nd --;;; ! Bleh, I really need to get a better work ethic. . . and learn not to write everything so late at night, as it leads to weirdness like this Oo;;; . flops into bed now