After-thoughts After-thoughts
by Fleurette

Part I

You are my closest friend... The voice of the ate Nicholas B. Knight echoed in the
mind of Lucien LaCroix.

If this is what friendship is about, he thought, looking distastefully at Nick's dead
body, I want nothing further to do with it.

He would have left the loft earlier, had it not been for the sun which had risen unbidden
while the night's tragic events had unfolded. The only thing for him to do now was bide his time until nightfall.

LaCroix shifted his eyes from Nick to Natalie Lambert, who also lay dead at his feet. At
one point, LaCroix had wished her dead. She has represented the ever-widening gulf between Nicholas and himself. Well, in the beginning she had. But that was before he had come to know her... before the change.

They had all changed during the passing of their years in Toronto. Well, no. Nicholas
didn't change. Not really.

But surely both Lucien LaCroix and Natalie Lambert had changed. Somewhere,
somehow in the past six years, Natalie had come to understand and respect... perhaps even desire... the vampirism she sought to cure in Nick. LaCroix did not think she would have been afraid to come across. Looking down at her pale, cold body stiffening with death, LaCroix silently admitted that if it had been up to him, she would not be dead now.

That, perhaps, was part of *his* change. Because he had come to respect the doctor and
see the potential she possessed. The greatest evidence of change, however, was the stake he had driven through his son's heart.

You are my closest friend... again the words of the dead man haunted him.

When did I become like him? When did I allow my heart to soften? To care? I should
have made him suffer with his guilt. I shouldn't have given in just because he called me
"friend."

His "closest friend"... Yes, they had been close. LaCroix's relationship with Nick had
severed the ties between the ancient vampire and most of his other "children." In the end, even Janette was no longer a part of his life. Ironic, wasn't it, that it had been Janette's wish to bring
him across? It should never have been that way. Never.
No, it is time I washed my hands of Nicholas de Brabant once and for all. He was never
anything but trouble to me.

Perhaps Janette had been right when she left Toronto to escape his guilt-ridden quest for
humanity? Maybe LaCroix should have taken the hint and left as well? It would have been
better that way. Then he would not have had to take Nick's life tonight.

But I thought I could bring him back into the fold. Nicholas would need me to help him
if he ever tried to come back...

... my closest friend...

Yes, Nicholas... I was your friend. LaCroix told the phantom voice. I always tried to
be a friend to you. But what did you ever give me besides grief? Heartache, pain... You could have given me your sister, but no! It had to be grief.

Now, what kind of friendship is that? But, I do suppose... in the name of his "friendship," I'll do what I can to fix this mess.

He figured that once night came, he could make a few "anonymous" phone calls... an
ambulance, the police... But not until he was far, far away.

Maybe I'll come back for the funeral, he thought. No, maybe not. He had a feeling
that once he left Toronto it would be forever.

He was hungry. Nicholas had drained Natalie... and LaCroix did not want Nick's blood.
Whatever guilt-infested disease that had tainted Nick's blood might also infect him. We couldn't have *that,* now could we?

LaCroix went to the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. One unopened bottle of cow's
blood. How disgusting! LaCroix uncorked the bottle and took a hesitant sip, wincing as he did so. A second later he spit the awful-tasting animal blood into the sink.

As he put the bottle back into the refrigerator, a thought came to him. These people...
these foolish mortals considered Nicholas a hero. His reputation would be severely tarnished if they thought he was a vampire... or if they assumed *he* thought he was a vampire.

The newspaper headlines flashed before his eyes, allowing LaCroix a momentary
chuckle.

HERO COP PLAYS VAMP, KILLS LOCAL ME

Film at 11, he thought. No good for Nicholas, and definitely not good for the rest of us, I suppose. I guess I could clean house before I go... make Nicholas *look* respectable.
He looked back at the two dead bodies on the floor. It wasn't going to be easy making
*this* look good.

"Damn you, Nicholas. Damn you. Even dead, you are a burden on me."

Finis!