Forever Knight – the Continuing Story.

The characters in Forever Knight were created by James Parriott and Barney Cohen and are the property of Sony/Columbia/Tri-Star. The stories here are fan fiction, in which Nick and Natalie survive "Last Knight", the series finale. Also, Vachon survived Divia in "Ashes to Ashes". This story may be archived wherever by whomever.

Wade Everett is a good-looking, capable, smart-ass, and gay homicide detective who's sometimes full of himself. He's temporarily assigned to the 96th and Nick while Nick's partner, Tracy (who also survived LK) recuperates. He's found out what Nick is.

HURT (This story follows "Pshrink") Walt Doherty

You Always Hurt the One You Love

You always hurt the one you love,
The one you shouldn't hurt at all.
-- Doris Fisher, Allan Roberts

Later that week at Nick's loft:

"Oh, Nick, I'm sorry, I didn't know you had company," I'll come back later," Wade said, surprised at finding someone else in Nick's loft.

"Hi, Wade. I don't have any – Oh, yeah," Nick said as he turned toward the stairs. "Um . . . Wade, this is Lucien LaCroix, a . . . friend of mine." Nick spoke those words without any cheer or gallantry. Wade thought Well, here's a strained relationship if ever there was one.

Lucien LaCroix was taller than either of the detectives, decidedly paler – if possible – than Nick, and dressed severely and somberly all in black, which just emphasized his paleness. Altogether it made one feel a certain "Gravitas" coming from him. (Gravitas – Latin for "seriousness", "dignity", a somber sobriety, weightiness.)

Smiling as graciously as he could as if to make up for Nick's coolness, Wade spoke, "Bonjour, Monsieur LaCroix, Comment allez-vous? Je m'appelle Wade Everett, Je suis –"

"That's alright, Detective. Nicholas has told me who you are."

"Well, it's a pleasure to meet you, sir. I've seen you at the Raven, of course, but we've never had the opportunity to speak," Wade said.

Nick cut in, "Wade, you've really been to the Raven?"

"Well, yeah, Nick," Wade said with some surprise since he had mentioned this to Nick before; "It's a popular bar and dance club. I've seen you there talking with M. LaCroix." With that turned again to LaCroix, and extending his hand, "I believe you are the owner, sir. As I said, a pleasure, sir."

LaCroix took and shook the proffered hand, "The pleasure is all mine, Detective." They both held each other's hand firmly. Hmmm. Testing?

"Well, Nick, later?"

"Sure, Wade. Come back in an hour."

Wade nodded to Nick and turned to LaCroix, said, "Sir," and went to the lift.

"Oh, Nicholas. A whole hour? How generous you are of your time."

"Can you say anything, LaCroix, without the snide innuendo in your voice?" said Nick brusquely, and, "What do you want?"

"Surely, Nicholas, you can guess? You've let yet another human discover our 'secret' life." And with that, LaCroix backhanded Nick savagely across his face.

Nick wasn't expecting quite so physical a response from LaCroix; it knocked him over towards his side so hard that he almost lost his balance. He thought his nose might be broken.

LaCroix advanced on Nick and Nick raised his arms in front of himself and braced for another onslaught. He assumed a fighter's stance, as if preparing for a round of fisticuffs. LaCroix had no such illusions; he was not there to duel with Nick, but to punish him. As he approached Nick, Nick ducked down, reached behind LaCroix's knees pulling them forward and toppling the man onto his back on the floor. But LaCroix jumped back up, swung his leg up, and kicked Nick in the jaw. Nick fell back obviously seriously injured. This "discussion" was quickly getting out of hand.

Stop, Stop, Stop

Stop, stop, stop all the dancing
Give me time to breathe
-- The Hollies

"FREEZE! Metro Police! Step away from Detective Knight, sir. If you persist, I will fire." Wade stood just inside the stairwell door of the loft in a serious, armed stance, arms straight out holding his gun which was pointed directly at LaCroix.

"Detective. This is no concern of yours. This is a family –".

"Step back, sir. I don't want to have to tell you twice. Family business or not, you've just assaulted a police officer. So, step back, or I will arrest you and take you to the police station." Wade had a stony and determined look in his eye.

LaCroix's eyes turned golden, his fangs started to drop, "You really do not want to do that, Detective," he said as he turned toward Wade and took a step forward.

"NO,SIR! Stand down. If you make another move toward me, I will shoot. You should seriously consider what sort of bullets I have in my gun, sir. I guarantee that they will hurt you if not stop you. Nick, will you please get up and move out of the way?" he said without taking his eyes off LaCroix.

LaCroix chuckled at the audacity of the detective. He couldn't believe that the mortal might actually try to move against his vampire abilities.

Nick struggled up, moved to the left, and felt his jaw. It may be healing rapidly, but in the meantime it was turning black and blue.

LaCroix: "Nicholas! Stay where you are."

Wade: "Sir, step back. I don't want to tell you again." Wade watched as the senior vampire's muscles began to twitch; Wade knew the vampire was about to move. There was a blur as LaCroix rushed at Wade at vampiric speed, but Wade, having anticipated LaCroix and almost as quickly, dropped to his right and a bit to his back in preparation for a gymnastic roll, while bringing his weapon closer to his body and pointing it upward. Much to LaCroix's surprise as LaCroix passed over the point where the detective had been, the detective fired. Twice.

"I don't take kindly to people assaulting police officers, sir," said Wade, tumbling over, then returning to a full upright position, and returning to his firing stance.

LaCroix looked at Wade with a very surprised and stunned expression on his face. The detective had actually fired his gun at him and had actually hit him! Also, a bullet not only didn't miss him; it had not gone completely through him, but lodged in his shoulder. LaCroix would have been bleeding badly if he could bleed at all. As it was, it still hurt like hell to his amazement. It stopped him in his tracks.

"Detective, you do not know what you are dealing with –"

"Sir, I know exactly what I am dealing with. I will not permit you to assault a police officer or further abuse your son. Yes, I do know who you are. I will arrest you, will take you down to the station, and will book you if you do not stand down. Please, sir! Stand down. Take a look at your shoulder, sir. It is seeping blood some; and despite your peculiar nature, that is not good. I'll be happy to clean it and bandage it for you –"

"I don't need your amateur ministrations, Detect—"

"I'm a professional, sir. I did training in ER and have experience. I can more than adequately clean and bandage a wound, even for your kind. Now, will you PLEASE relax and sit down. I'm a crack shot, sir, and I guarantee I can hit your heart no matter how fast you move."

"I doubt," said LaCroix with a disdainful smile on his face, "that it's humanly possible to do that, young man."

"Who says I'm human, sir?" Wade deadpanned – quietly.

"I can hear your heart –"

"Maybe that's my heart and maybe . . . it's not. Will you sit, so I can put this gun down. Please, sir," Wade said, pleading.

"Yes, Detective, I will sit," LaCroix sighed begrudgingly. "My shoulder is beginning to really hurt. What are those bullets?" He sat and put his hand to his shoulder. He looked at the blood with great surprise and arched eyebrows,

Wade said calmly, "Lightly coated in silver, washed in Holy Water and rubbed with garlic." He put his arms down and holstered his gun. "Nick, bandages, please."

Nick watched this whole display with amazement. He had never seen anyone, human or vampire, stand up to LaCroix this way. And, be prepared for it, too. Who would have thought: holy, silver, garlic bullets! It would seem that there is even more to Wade than he thought as he went to a cupboard in the kitchen and reached down some gauze, bandages, tape, etc.

"Nick, do you have a sharp, thin knife?" he asked.

LaCroix said, with a very grudging respect in his voice not only because the detective had stood up to him so thoroughly, but that the man was working to bandage him with no fear whatsoever, "There's no need, Detective. It will work its way out by itself."

"I'm afraid it won't, sir," said Wade, "The way it's been treated, it could seriously prevent healing. It may just lodge where it is and not move. Am I correct I assuming that I can dig the bullet out without anesthetic?"

"Yes. I shall grit my teeth, but I will not pass out. I am too old and rugged for that."

And, too proud, too, I'll bet, thought Wade as he applied the bandages.

"There. Sir, leave the bandage on till you get home, it'll draw the remaining garlic essence out by that time and you can then discard it. I'm sorry if I hurt you, sir, but you can understand my concerns, I think."

"Possibly," said LaCroix, "Nicholas, we will discuss this later." He glanced at Nick with no kindness in his eyes.

"Please, sir," said Wade, "don't repeat your actions here. I don't want to have to take any further action."

"Detective, I respect your audacity if not your actions; however, I promise I will not 'hurt' your partner – at least for the time being," LaCroix said while giving Nick a hard and dirty look.

LaCroix stood and prepared to leave.

Wade let out a breath; "Thank you, sir," he said.

"Take a lesson, Nicholas. Despite his actions, Detective Everett knows the proper forms of address to his superiors." And, with that, he flew up and out the loft windows.

You're So Vein

You're so vain,
I bet you think this song is about you.
-- Carly Simon

" 'His superiors'," Wade said, "Oh, I like that. But he didn't need to flaunt that he's a vampire, too, flying out your window like that."

Nick looked at Wade with wide-eyed amazement. "Do you know what you just did? You took on the senior vampire of Toronto! And you shot him! I'm amazed that he didn't kill you on the spot."

"You have no idea how much these bullets can hurt, my friend," Wade commented.

"Actually, Wade, I think I do, but that's never stopped LaCroix before. I am astounded. I think you've earned his respect – that's even more amazing."

"Why, 'cause I had the balls to actually shoot him?"

"Well, yeah," said Nick. "That and that you really are a hell of a shot. Did you really mean to hit him in the shoulder or was that just luck?"

"Well, I figured I'd hit him about there, and with two shots . . . . And, hitting his heart would have been overkill, so to speak." grinned Wade. "By the way, the second shot is in your ceiling," he added pointing upwards.

"All the 'sirs' didn't hurt either. There's nothing the 'General' appreciates more than a little flattery"

"Nick, it may have been flattering, but it was sincere. You know M. LaCroix could detect false sincerity without even trying. I respect him, and I am afraid of him. I have no illusions that if it suited his purpose, he'd kill me in an instant. He'd probably kill you in an instant, too, if he thought you were too 'uppity'.

"You should try giving him more respect; it's not the same thing as kowtowing to him, you know. You don't even have to like him. Are you healed yet?" Wade said trying to get off the topic of LaCroix.

"How did you know about him, Wade?"

"Like I've said, I've seen him at the Raven, I've seen you with him at the Raven, it adds up."

"Well, be careful of him. He's dangerous."

"I know, Nick. But then, so am I. Has anyone else ever come here prepared to confront a vampire with silvered, garlicked bullets washed in Holy Water? The point is that I did my homework. Besides, I have some other tricks up my sleeve that I'm working on."

"You don't have to warn me, I'm not going to bite you," said Nick ginning. "And where do you come from that you know all this and are prepared to deal with it? And what did you mean by 'Who says I'm human'?"

"Ah, Nick. I've had occasion to do some extensive research, and I'm not giving away all my secrets."

"But you are human I can hear your heartbeat and sense your temperature."

"I not going to tell you," said Wade impishly, "What, and spoil the surprise?" Jeez, Knight, haven't you ever bluffed someone?

_Flashback_

You ask me if there'll come a time
When I grow tired of you
Never my love
Never my love
-- Never My Love, the Association

"I do not love this woman," Nick said with his fangs hovering over Natalie's neck. "She is a means to an end,a useful dupe." His golden eyes did not look at LaCroix but down at Natalie. You could almost feel his fear, but none of it showed to LaCroix,which was the point.

"Bah!" said LaCroix as he turned and left in disgust.

Nick 'unvamped' and held Natalie close, tight, his eyes shut tight.

Back to the present

More seriously, Wade said, "Nick, you need to be prepared to file charges against him for assault – No, no, now listen to me. Nothing will come of it because he will want to be in court even less than you do. It'll give you some leverage though, in dealing with him. But like I said earlier, he can detect how sincere or not you are, so you have to be ready to follow through. I am."

"Well, you certainly seem to have the guts to deal with him, and apparently the brains. I think we all may have under-estimated you."

The Roller-Coaster Ride We Took

The roller-coaster ride we took is nearly at an end
-- Cyrkle

"Hi, Nick. I wanted to talk to you here at your loft so I can be more open. And, not have to worry about saying 'vampire', he said smilingly. But then he put a serious look on his face.

"Nick. This is fairly serious. I think you have a love-hate relationship with M. LaCroix. I was correct in assuming he is your father?" The way Wade said "father", you could hear the italics.

"Yes. Father, master, brother, and … other things."

"Yeah, I figured."

"Nick, are you aware of the 'battered person syndrome'?" (.org/wiki/Battered_person_syndrome)

"The 'Battered spouse syndrome', 'domestic violence', 'child abuse', 'post traumatic stress syndrome', they're all related, and in this particular instance particularly 'domestic abuse'.

"Your step-father is an abuser and a bully. He has physically abused you – that's what I walked in on – as well as emotionally and mentally. He tries to run your life, doesn't he? I suspect he's threatened to hurt your friends or even threatened them himself.

"He tries to keep you isolated, approving or disapproving any of your friendships. He taunts you telling you how much you owe him, etc. He parcels out just enough love to keep you on a string. This is classic bullying behavior, Nick.

"Eleanor Roosevelt said, 'No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. (.com/quotes/1918). You've played right into his hands, and he keeps playing you. He releases the emotional leash, and as soon as you begin to show some growth, he yanks it back. He has stunted your emotional growth; he's ruined every emotional relationship you've had, or arranged to have them ruined. I suspect that every woman you've loved has ended up dead – that's why you are reluctant to commit to Natalie. He has also stunted your physical and psychic growth: you have control issues in taking blood, don't you? He never taught you how to control. Nor can you block out his psychic calls, he never taught you that either. Jeez, Nick, I can help you with that one even though I'm not particularly psychic myself.

"Ha. That sounds good, Wade, but what am I supposed to do? Take out an order of protection?"

"In an ordinary situation, yes. Then if he does show up within 100 feet of you, enforce it. And, yeah, I know it'd be embarrassing as hell, and that he'd never spend a minute in jail, but he might end up having to 'move-on' without you. You know, if he were to be convicted of a felony, he could lose the right to operate the Raven; then he'd really have to move on. But basically, your only recourse is to fight him with what tools are available to you: your own strength and stamina, which is truly formidable, your support groups; i.e., friends and family – and we'll work on building up those groups – and the full strength and force of the legal system. Don't let him get away with anything.

We're not gonna take it
No, we ain't gonna take it.
We're not gonna take it anymore.
--Twisted Sister

"But, if you've been dealing with him like this for centuries, you probably aren't going to change much, but I believe that knowledge is power. And, if you know what's going on, then you can do something about it.

"So, my friend, I've got a 'treatment' program for you. Attend group therapy sessions – and, 'NO', you do not have a choice in this, you'll either go or be pulled from active duty, I can do that. Or, you can turn and run again. I can't really stop you."

"Yeah, great: talk along with Dr Phil!"

"Hey, if you don't want to talk or open up at the sessions, you don't have to, all you have to do is show up and listen. If you want to volunteer some info about yourself, you can, but you won't be forced or required.

"Yeah? And, what's next? Join the bowling team?"

"Yes, as a matter of fact. You will go bowling with me on the department team. This is another function that you must participate in. Hey, lighten up, these are good people, They'll be thrilled to have you on their team, we'll have a good time. You need to treat the people who like you as your friends. Think about it, kiddo: there are already a number of humans who know you're a vampire. Every one of us would donate blood to you without hesitation if you needed it; we'd line up to help."

"You think so?" Nick said with a little less sarcasm in his voice.

"Yeah, if you gave them half a chance. The ones who don't know, well, if they found out you had a rare blood disease and needed a complete transfusion once a month, they'd line up, too.

"Don't give me that look, you know it's true – you've already had some of mine. That's what 'friendship' is.

"Next, and this may be the most painful, you need to stay away from LaCroix. Look, if you need info about 'The Community', you can get it from Vachon or one of the others. You do not need his help and it will be detrimental to see him for any – he always extracts a price, doesn't he? Yeah, I thought so.

"And, by the way, this isn't the only vampire hangout in Toronto, is it? Well, if it is, you've got the money, open up another one – oh, not a bar, you don't have to throw it in LC's face, but say, something like Starbuck's – heck, it could even be a Starbuck's, one located in a quiet, out-of-the-way location. Anyway, someplace someone could go that's not as oppressive as LC's presence at the Raven is. Think about it; it'd be a good project for you, especially figuring out how to go about it without your name being involved, and it would be a service to the 'community'. I'm sure you could carry it off

"The long and the short of it is that you need to stay away from him, take measures to prevent his getting to you, and if he does come to you, you need to be cool and distant. That's an order, officer. Trust me, I can be as harsh as LC if I have to be, and I'll make I my personal mission to boost your morale.

"But, I'll make a concession: you can go to the Raven if you take me along.

"Plus, to brag a little, LC doesn't really want me as an enemy, I can be as formidable as he can, if not more so. Really."

"You believe that, don't you?"

"Well, sure. It's a challenge, but it's more work for you than for me. Anyway, counseling sessions, bowling league, and stay out of the Raven."

"Finally, Nick. You must know that there are other vampires who have no love of LaCroix. You have allies out there. AND, to get up in your face: I'm not going to let him hit you like he did earlier. I'm not a hunter, but for him, I'd be sorely tempted. You need to give him respect, but you also have to demand it for yourself.

"Anyway, you need to have your alarm system redone. Include all the windows – ALL the windows. You never know what sort of trash is going to fly in."

I'll Be There

Ill reach out my hand to you, Ill have faith in all you do
Just call my name and Ill be there
-- I'll Be There, Jackson 5

"I don't know, Nat. He scares me a little. He's very talented, efficient, capable. I'd suspect he was an enforcer if he were a vampire."

"Surely, he's not though? A vampire, I mean," said Natalie.

"No, every thing I see, hear, smell, you know. . . . Oh, but you should have seen him. He actually shot LaCroix! I saw it and I find it hard to believe."

"I imagine – no, strike that – I'm certain LaCroix wasn't happy about it."

"No," said Nick, chuckling, "He wasn't."

"Made me think some, though. Wade's human, but despite being talented, capable, and so on, he's basically depending on his 'smarts'. There's no contest as far as strength, healing, -- heck, Nat, we can fly for Pete's sake. Going up against any vampire is practically suicide, and with LaCroix, it's insane."

"No argument here, Nick. Does Wade know who LaCroix is?" asked Nat.

"Yeah, but if Wade is willing to take him on, can I do anything less? I've got a lot more going for me against LaCroix than he does."

"Well, just make sure you're as prepared as he seems to be. Hey, maybe you can surprise LaCroix, too."

"Nat, I've already staked him twice; the only thing that would surprise him would be if I was successful the next time," said Nick with a rueful smile.

"Well, keep an eye out on Wade, Nick. Maybe it's all bravado; he may need the help, you know," said Nat.

Yeah, well, it's going to make for an interesting relationship, But, it will be easier to deal with LC knowing someone else knows about him and isn't scared thought our Knight Errant.

We Are Family II

We are Family, my bothers and my sisters and me
-- Pointer Sisters

"Hi, Knight said you'd stop by. I assume you know what both of us are. Why he suggested we talk though . . . . Did you want to find out something specific?" Vachon said warily.

"Yeah, I know, and nothing specific. Nick said you might be somebody I could talk to. I mean it's like I kinda thought vampires existed – and I had some good anecdotal evidence, but dealing with the reality – it can be a bit much. You really are a vampire?" asked Wade.

Vachon vamped out for him, golden, glowing eyes, the fangs, "Is this enough show-and-tell for you?". Vachon thought, Knight, what have you got me into. He wasn't very happy at this intrusion into his life, his Community, his world by a neophyte or wannabe.

"Sir, I'm dealing with Nick. I suspected what he was and forced him into a situation where he had to confirm it. But for all that, – I just don't want to be a total idiot or accidentally offend somebody."

"Ah, geez, don't "sir" me, what's yer name again? 'Wade'?"

"Yes, 'Wade', sorry. Will 'Vachon' do? For instance, Nick said I should tell you that I probably got off on the wrong foot with M. LaCroix,--" said Wade.

--"Not hard to do," offered Vachon in response.

"Well, the fact of the matter is that I shot him shortly after being introduced."

"You what!? Are you s**tin' me?" Vachon practically shouted. Plus you could see his eyes wide opened and an envious smile start to form.

"No, I'm not. Nick said you'd find this, um, uh, interesting," Wade said.

"Are you trying to tell me that the first time you meet LaCroix, and you shoot him! Oh, that's rich. I can think of 38 people who'd have liked to see that. I'd've paid money for it – although don't ever let LaCroix know that. I don't know what else you've got goin' for you, buddy, but you sure got balls if nothing else. I can't believe it! You shot LaCroix! That's why Nick wanted me to talk with you! What happened?" said Vachon.

"I'd just been introduced – he'd shown up at Nick's loft for something. I'd left but turned around to go back to get something and I saw through the door window that he was attacking Knight. I opened the door, shouted 'Freeze', and it went downhill from there. I threatened to arrest him for assaulting an officer and then he attacked me! I knew it was coming, so I dived to the right, aimed where I thought he'd be in a nanosecond – damn! you people can move! – and fired. Hit'm in the shoulder. Hurt, too, from the look on his face, although I'm not sure whether it was because it physically hurt, that I managed to actually hit him, or that I had the temerity to shoot in the first place.

"Needless to say, he wasn't too pleased with me. We sort of compromised. I cleaned his wound and fixed his bandages and he didn't kill me.

"Anyway, you should've seen the look on Knight's face! He looked like he didn't know whether to be more surprised that I shot LaCroix or that I got away with it. I know some about him but tell me: who is this guy, really?" asked Wade.

Vachon replied, "If ya gotta ask, ya don' wanna know."

"Oh, that's informative."

"Seriously, he's bad news. He's Knight's master, sire. Treats Knight like dirt, and is equally nasty to all the other vampires in the city. He gets away with it 'cause he's almost 2000 years old with the strength and toughness that comes with that. You ARE lucky to be alive."

"Uh, Vachon? Can I talk to you about vampires if I need to? You know I can't talk with any humans about it."

"Sure, man. Anybody with the balls to shoot LaCroix! You did know who he was, right?"

"Like I said, not a hundred percent, but enough."

"Oh, guy, that's rich. Yeah, it'll be a pleasure talking to someone who did that for all of the week or two that you'll live," said Vachon laughing out loud, "Oh, god! To have seen that!"

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Hush my darling, don't fear my darling
The lion sleeps tonight
-- The Lion Sleeps Tonight, The Tokens

"Ah, Detective Everett, how do you do? I stopped by the station because I want to have a little talk with you, and I thought you might feel more comfortable in familiar surroundings. Is there someplace we can talk?" said Toronto's Master Vampire as he looked around!

Oh, like that makes me sooooo much more comfortable. As if you couldn't eliminate me and disappear before anyone noticed. "Yes, sir. There's a conference room right here," said Wade, taking him to a small interrogation room with windows opening towards the squad room. He left the blinds up.

"Thank you, Detective."

"You're welcome, sir. Please sit. What may I do for you?"

"Well, thank you, Detective, but I think it is I who may do something for you," said LaCroix remaining standing. LaCroix continued, his voice calm and soothing, soft and re-assuring. "Are you quite sure, Detective that you remember the events of the other night? Sometimes with emotional scenes, facts, figures, whole conversations can get distorted or forgotten and overlooked completely. You do not remember the events, now do you?

"I-do-not-remember-what-happened-last-night," continued Wade in a monotone, "in-a-rat's-ass-I-don't-remember-you-son-of-a—" and Wade broke off. "Ah, I'm sorry, sir, I couldn't resist," he continued in a more normal tone, smiling ruefully.

"Very well; well, I tried. You are fairly 'new' to the knowledge of vampires – and, yes, you can say the word 'vampire', detective --, are you not?

"Yes, sir," Wade said with more than a little hesitation.

"Then I am correct in assuming that all you know about me is that I run the Raven and I'm Nicholas's father."

"Yes, sir." I wasn't about to quibble. I knew he 'owned' the Raven and that he was Nick's 'master' and 'step-father'. "But I also know that you are much older than most others of your people in the area."

"Ah, reputation counts for so much," he said with a sigh. "Detective, I am sure you have heard in the past few days that I am the 'Elder' vampire in the area, and that I have a reputation for being -- shall we say – strong and forceful? Or, to be blunt, most of the Community are amazed that you are still among the living?"

Ulp! "Yes, sir, that knowledge has come to my attention. Sir, if I may be so bold, what is your point? I gather that you do not suffer fools gladly nor put up with unmitigated insolence."

"So direct, Detective. I do so like that. Briefly then, without beating about the bush: I will not retaliate against you for shooting me. This is because I appreciate your "moxie" – is that an appropriate term, 'moxie'?

-- "Yes, sir, it is." –

"And I am willing to assume that you were in ignorance of just whom you were up against. I am here to tell you that directly so that you will know that you will be safe from me, unless of course," he suggested with a grin, "you want to repeat the exercise. I want you still to feel comfortable coming into the Raven. In short: no hard feelings," and he reached out his hand.

Wade took it, shook hands with the devil incarnate, and replied, "I thank you sir. It was most kind of you to take the time personally to come to tell me that. I appreciate it – as well as that you do not wish to kill me."

"You would make an interesting member of our Community, Detective. Should you ever wish to avail yourself of the opportunity . . . "

"I'll come directly to you, sir. I take that as a high compliment, coming as it does from you, sir. Merci beaucoup, tres bien, monsieur." Wade gave a small bow to LaCroix – he felt a full bow would be overdoing it.

"You are welcome, Detective. And, please do not discuss the events at Nicholas's loft – I would not want anyone to get the wrong idea of what happened. Or, for all that, any of your knowledge of 'my people'."

"Of course, sir."

"The next time you are in the Raven, please have your first drink on me. Now, I shall show myself out. Oh, and do say 'hello' to Nicholas when you see him next." LaCroix left with a smile that defined 'sardonic'.

Wade took in a breath after suddenly discovering that he hadn't breathed in the last ten minutes.

In a quiet corner of the precinct, Nick and Wade get to discuss some personal business:

"Yes, he came to me. I think he wanted to quell rumors. He practically invited me to the Raven. I figure that if I go in there and live, people will think that he's forgiven me and will assume that I've made the proper obeisance. Helps him to save face. That's fine by me. No one needs LaCroix as an enemy," said Wade.

"You got off easy, Wade," said Nick, "but I think it's more of an 'armed truce'. "

"Yeah, I figured. But then nobody needs a war right now. Plus, I think – at least, I hope – he realized I was completely serious. And, I owe you an apology, Nick. I did step in someplace that really wasn't my business."

"Apology accepted, but what you saw, you wouldn't know, is not uncommon in our relationship. You know, I've staked him myself," said Nick, with a sort of lop-sided grin.

"Well, I hope you're more successful the next time," Wade said forcefully . . . and pointedly. Then smiled. :-)

Don't Stand So Close to Me

Dont stand,
Dont stand so,
Dont stand so close to me!
-- Police

Standing outside the Raven:

Vachon: Are you sure you want to do this?

Wade: Hey, you only die once!

Vachon: Yeah, but once is enough, and I'd just as soon it was quick and easy and you rather than long and hard and me.

Wade: Oh, come on. You don't have anything to lose! You're already dead (ho, ho). Why, I could lose my life, my soul, my virginity – well, maybe not my virginity . . . .

Vachon: Y'know, I'm beginning to think that maybe you're crazier than I am. O.K., let's go in.

And, with that, he opened the door to the Raven and they both walked in.

Listen to the Beat of the Rhythm of the Night

Listen to the beat of the rhythm of night!
-- DeBarge

They proceeded to the bar, and before they could order anything, Mikloš (bartender and apparently the 'resident' bartender) provided Vachon with the House "special" and Everett with a nice Cabernet – on the House. Interestingly, they looked about the same.

LaCroix was sitting at his usual place at the far end of the bar, saw the two of them, and raised his glass to (presumably) Wade. Wade toasted him back. Vachon just stared. He probably wanted to open his eyes wide and drop his jaw, but thought that discretion was better and shut both, although he did smile in his best winning way for LaCroix.

They sat talking quietly for a while, admiring the scenery: young, old, male, female, dead, alive . . . .

LaCroix appeared at Vachon's elbow. Vachon gulped. LaCroix nodded at Vachon and turned to Wade and said, "How do you do, Detective. How nice to see you. I hope you are enjoying the house specialité?"

"Yes, sir, and the wine is very nice as well," he winked. And, please, sir, call me Wade. There's no official business going on – at least that I know of," he said, giving LaCroix his best smile.

LaCroix nodded and moved along.

Vachon just looked at Wade and said, "How can you do that?"

"Hey, he deserves all the respect we can give him."

"I know, but you didn't bat an eyelash."

"What was I supposed to do, kiss his feet?

"Most newcomers would, you know."

"Oh, I think M. LaCroix respects me in the same way I respect him. A worthy advisory. Uh, well, maybe just a potential convert, but not worth killing at the moment in any case. Oh, hell, I'm glad he was as gracious as he was. I was a little worried."

"YOU were a little worried, he says," said Vachon. "You like to live dangerously, don't you, Everett," he laughed. "Oh, well, the price is right as long as it lasts. The next drink is on you, fella, if you're still alive then, and it looks like you just might be."

"Hey, Vachon, you wanna dance?" asked Wade.

"No," he replied and paused. "Uh, no offense, Wade, I don't dance with guys, but feel free. Why don't you ask LaCroix?" he leered.

"Man, you are just a bundle of laughs, you know that?"

"So, I've been told," said Vachon.

Gaudeamus Igitur

Gaudeamus igitur (Therefore, let us rejoice)
Juvenes dum sumus (while we are young)

"Oh, tempora, oh, mores," moaned LaCroix. "Maybe Cicero was right."

"Salve, Domine. Quid agis hodie? Te Latinam Linguam loquentem audii. Classicamne Latinam linguam scis, Domine?," said Wade.

(O the times, O the customs! . . . .
Hello, Sir. How are you today? I heard you speaking Latin.
You know classical Latin, sir?)

"You continue to surprise me, Detective. Latin – I do have a fondness for the old tongue. Please do not allow yourself to be killed in the line of duty. Someone as interesting as you needs to be brought over," said LaCroix (and controlled, he thought) as his eyes began to glow gold.

"Uh, thank you sir, but, no, not now anyway," he said, "I still need someone to care for my day lilies."

"Well, sometime you might join me in a game of chess? It might be rather instructive," La Croix said. . . . .

Crux – Crucial – Excruciating

Onward Christian Soldiers(?)
-- traditional hymn, adapted

- - - - - - - - - -
Nom.: Lucius Quartius Pompeianus Cruciator Gallicus, dux, dominus, et imperator
Voc.: Luci Quarti Pompeiane Cruciator Gallice
Lucius of the Quartian gens (tribe) and the adoptive family/gens/tribe of Pompei, and who [found fame and glory] torturing the Gauls, a leader, a lord, and a general

LOOK ih us KWART ih us pahm pay YAHN us crew key AH tor GAHL lick us, dooks DOH min us et im per AH tor
LOOK ee KWART ee pahm pay YAHN eh crew key AH tor GAHL ih keh

crucio – (I) to torture, derivative: crucify
crux, -cis, m. torture in general or a torturing session.
cruciatus, -a, -um – tortured
cruciator, -oris, m. – torturer
crucifer, -eris, m. cross bearer. i.e., Jesus

So, it's not 'Lucien LaCroix' – meaning 'Lucien' or 'Lucius' of the cross, but rather referring to Lucius Cruciator – Lucius the torturer, much more appropriate for LaCroix.

One of the houses excavated in Pompeii is known as the House of Loreius Tiburtinus, but was owned by Octavius Quartius (alternatively known as Octavius Quartio). Lucius Quartius could have been Octavius's brother, son, nephew etc.

Pompeianus could mean someone adopted into the noble Roman family of Cn. Pampeius Magnus (Ponpey, the Great, Julius Caesar's early rival), or it could be simply descriptive as someone who lived in or was from the town of Pompeii.)
- - - - - - - - - -

"I'm tellin' ya, Knight. It was really late, near closing time, and he was at the far end of the bar talkin' with LaCroix. In Latin, for god's sake. That was the last I seen of 'im."

"Hey, man! Knight was lookin' for you. I think he wants to know what you were up to last night," Vachon told Wade.

"Not that it's anybody else's business. You know last night when I asked you if you wanted to dance, and you said to ask LaCroix? Well, I did."

"No, kidding! And?"

"And that really isn't anybody else's business. Capisce!?"

"Well, Detective," said Knight with a wink in his eye, "I understand you had a hard time last night."

Wade burst into a hard, sustained laughter, "Oh, very hard. Definitely. Oh, you don't know the half of it."

Nick looked puzzled, "What?" He shrugged, Must have missed something.

"Oh, Nick, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have led Vachon on I did stay quite late talking with LaCroix. He is the most charmingly seductive man – uh, vamp -- uh, person – I've ever come across.

"He did his best to seduce me, and, brother, let me tell you, I was sorely tempted. But, no, that would have been unethical among other things. Maybe some other time."

"Fine. Remember, Wade, I've known the 'General' for almost 800 years, so I have a pretty good idea of what he can do. Good grief, Wade, he might have killed you."

"Well, thanks, Nick, but I do know that. He did promise beforehand not to 'bring me over' last night, but he didn't say that he wouldn't kill me. While I believe the General's word can be trusted, he's had a loooooong time to figure out how to get around that sort of thing.


"Uh, don't we have some reports that are due?"

"Good grief," Nick said to himself quietly. "Yes, let's get to work, Detective. There's certainly enough of them."

That Was You?

Dance (dance) dance (dance) dance (dance) yeah!
-- Dance, Dance, Dance, the Beach Boys

"So, you've been to the Raven, Wade?" asked Nick.

"Yeah, Nick, I have. I've been there a number of times, which I've mentioned," Wade replied.

"I've never seen you there."

"You haven't looked, Nick. Whenever you go there it's to see LaCroix or occasionally to drink alone. You certainly don't go there for the company of us mere mortals – you can get all that at work – so, you don't pay that much attention to anyone else who is not 'of your kind', 'cause you aren't interested in potential, um, shall we say 'dinners'?"

"But I would have seen you sometime . . . ."

"You may not have recognized me, and besides, you didn't know me then, so I was just another human in the place. But, tell you what: you need to get out more -- can't you just hear Reese: 'That's an order, son, not a suggestion' —and since we're off tomorrow, I'll pick you up here tomorrow night, say 9:00, and we'll go to the Raven?"

"Why are you being so nice to me, Wade?"

"Nick, from what *I* can see, kiddo, you need all the friends you can get. And, just for truth-in-advertising, it's my job as well," Wade said smiling.

Knights in Black Leather

We're the knights in black leather,
And we will chain you down
And love you forever.
Walk on through the halls of your soul.
Yeah, the knights in black leather.
-- Bette Midler

The loft's door chimes rang shortly before 9 pm. Nick walked over to the viewscreen saw a man dressed to the nines all in leather, head to toe.

"No thanks, we aren't buying anything, donating anything, or selling anything," said Nick coolly; he didn't need this crap with Wade due any minute.

A gruff, low voice said, "Sir, I'm just here to deliver a message. Are you Nick Night?" He paused.

"Yeah,"

"It's from Detective Everett, sir. I was told it had to be delivered in person, Sir."

There was something vaguely familiar about the guy's voice. Awfully polite for a man dressed all in leather, thought Nick. "Oh, come on up, take the elevator; it's the second floor."

Nick finished getting ready – keys in his pocket, wallet, put on his watch, etc.

The elevator arrived on the second floor, the man opened the door, and stepped into the loft. He looked at Nick and stood at attention. Nick looked at him expectantly, "Well, what's the message?"

A medium length pause. "Sir, the messages is from Detective Everett."

As the man was speaking, Nick turned to put a bottle of "wine" back into the fridge, and as he did so, he heard Wade say, "You about ready, Knight?" which surprised Nick because he hadn't heard Wade come up the stairs. He was wondering why Wade would have sent someone to give a message when he arrived at the loft so close to the messenger When he turned back to ask Wade, the leatherman was the only other person in the room – no Wade -- the man titled his head looking at Nick, and then doffed his leather cap, removed his dark, aviator sunglasses, tilted his head the other way and continued with, "Now I think you might know why you didn't recognized me from the Raven, n'est pas?"

Wade stood there with his hat and glasses in his hand, his blond hair slicked back – no dry look for him – smiling wickedly at Nick.

Nick stood there with his mouth hanging open. "Um, . . . Nice leathers," he said slowly, not being able to think of anything else.

Wade laughed, "Oh, come on, Nick. It's not that drastic a change. Besides, I told you I had 'other secrets'."

"No, it's not, and yes, you did. I'm just surprised –"

"Obviously," Wade interrupted with a sardonic grin that reminded Nick of LaCroix.

"--, that's all. Um, not what I expected."

"I kinda figured. Well, shall we go, 'Sir'?" said Wade.

Vroom, Vroom

We'll have fun, fun, fun, till our Daddy takes our T-bird away.
-- Beach Boys

Wade had parked just outside the loft's garage.

"This is yours?" said Nick, again with surprise.

"Yeah, Knight, my Lamborghini is in the shop. I don't have a foundation behind me, Nick, but I do have resources," Wade replied, again with a smile that looked as if to say when I get through with you, Knight, your mind will be sooooo blown.

"Also, please note, that there are, in the back, a couple of heavy duty tarps and the windows are tinted as dark as is legally allowed, just in case." :-

With that, Wade lifted the passenger-side door of the Porsche Gemballa Mirage GT. It was beautiful: black and sleek.

"Do you drive fast in this thing," asked Nick, "or do you fly low?"

"Yes," said Wade, "and if I can get up some real speed, we can arrive at the Raven last night." He saw the dubious look on Nick's face. "Relatively speaking".(1) Hey, didn't I tell you that I've taken the advanced defensive driving course and raced semi-professionally?"

"Yeah, Wade, "said Nick dubiously, "You got any extra seatbelts? I'm not sure one is going to be enough."

"Oh, don't get your knickers in a knot, Knight; it's not really my car. Just on loan from a friend, so I have to be careful. C'mon, let's go."

"Hey, Nick, would you mind if I asked your step-father to dance?"

Nick gave Wade a weird, are-you-out-of-your-mind look, but then started giggling?

"That's funny?" Wade asked.

"No, no, of course not," Nick said while trying to control his laugh. "It's that I just got this image of LaCroix doing the Hokie-Pokie, the Frug, or whatever that latest line dance is! It's hysterical. I can't wait to tell Nat, she'll die!"

**********

(1)

There once was a lady named "Bright";
Whose speed was much faster than light.
. She set out one day,
. In a relative way
And returned the previous night.
-- Isaac Asimov, among others.

W Doherty
Phoenix, AZ