Disclaimer: see chapter 1

Author's notes: thanks to Imzadi for constant reviews! Much appreciated.

Les Chroniques Parisiennes – Chronique 7: Coming Home

Luc came to consciousness gradually. He supposed it was a lot later. He remained still and gently flexed his wrists and ankles, discovering that they were bound tightly to something with rope, and that he could not move. He seemed to be on his back and there were pillows beneath his head and soft linen sheets. Cautiously, he opened his eyes and found himself staring up at the burgundy-coloured canopy of a four-poster bed.

"Welcome back." The voice was soft and dripping with irony and barely- controlled anger. Luc swallowed, and remembered speaking with the priest … blacking out. He closed his eyes again.

"So, Luc." The voice cut into his thoughts. "It was you who let the Council know I was here, was it?"

"The who?" Luc opened his eyes and turned his head as far as he could. "No. It wasn't like that."

Angelus stood up from his chair in the corner, laying down a book, and came and sat on the edge of the bed next to Luc. Luc felt the mattress sink under the vampire's weight and shivered involuntarily.

"It was the night your … friend came, the English one, the one who played the violin. Remember … I had to find you those children. I got drunk. I found myself near a church, and the priest persuaded me to confess."

"I used to hate going to confession," Angelus said thoughtfully. "Go on. You're behaving very sensibly, so far."

"I confessed. I told him what I'd done. That I was working here. I didn't expect him to believe me …"

"Priests know what goes on in the night," Angelus interrupted. "Unluckily for the more stupid of my kind, they know all too well."

"But he did. He knew your name." Luc shifted on the bed, trying to get more comfortable in his bonds. "He wrote a letter, asked me to post it … that was all."

Angelus stood up, and went to his chest of drawers. He opened the middle drawer and began to hunt for something inside. "That was all?"

"Honestly. Yes."

Angelus turned around, twirling a dagger between his fingers. "Luc. Should you fail to be honest with me, this will be a very long and drawn out process. For you, not for me. I have forever. You have as long as you choose."

"I've told you everything!" Luc said, feeling with a shiver the point of the dagger against his neck.

"The English girl." The dagger bit into his skin, and Luc felt a drop of cool blood run into the collar of his shirt.

"She came to the door." Luc flinched as Angelus bent forwards and carefully licked the drop of blood. "She knew who I was, who you were …"

He felt cold fingers take his hand. "Carry on," the vampire said, softly.

"She wanted to kill you." Pressure on the hand, and then Luc felt blinding pain surging through his body. He screamed.

Angelus laughed. "That's right, scream away, my boy. There's absolutely nothing like the sound of a scream. Darla taught me that."

"Where is she?" Luc managed, as the pain subsided to a throb in his hand.

"She's not in the mood for torture. She's in one of her 'don't play with your food' moods. Probably still out. Now, what about that Kent girl?"

"She wanted to kill you," Luc repeated, and the pain was there again, twice as bad now.

"You've said that already."

"I stopped her."

"You did?" Angelus unbound Luc's left wrist and examined it. "Did anyone ever tell you how appetising smooth young skin is? No, I don't suppose they did."

"I told her to go away." Above him, Angelus' face underwent the transformation which always sent shivers through Luc's body. This time, it made him want to run, as fast and as far as he could. Yellow eyes glared and through a mouthful of fangs, Angelus spoke again.

"To go away? So why did she come back?" The teeth were bared, and pricked into Luc's wrist. Luc felt a sensation that was half-tugging, half- soothing. He struggled to think.

"She asked me not to say anything …" he tried. The yellow eyes morphed back to accusing brown, and Luc's head was flung to one side with the force of the blow.

"You were supposed to tell me everything," Angelus said, Luc's blood staining his lips. "I'm disappointed, Luc. I trusted you. Well, I trusted you as far as I've ever trusted anyone. Yet, you betrayed me. Why?"

"I don't know." The pain in his hand seemed to be getting worse, and Luc's vision was blurring with tears and weakness. "What did you expect? I'm human. I was scared."

"Do you know why I chose you, Luc?" Angelus asked, leaning back companionably against the backboard of the bed. "Someone with no training for the job? Because I liked you. You had courage, you didn't run away screaming that first day. I thought you'd be sensible. Of course I always knew that one day I'd be forced to kill you – well, maybe not forced – but I hoped it'd be further into the future than this. You were doing so well."

"So kill me," Luc said, gathering his strength together. "Get it done with. That priest was right."

"He was, was he? And what did he say?" Angelus' voice was silken-smooth now, menacing and ice-cold. Luc turned his head and met the eyes glinting with gold full on.

"That you were clever. But that hiring me could be your undoing. He meant you think you're clever, that you've hidden your trails, that nobody's noticed. But people talk. We're not so stupid after all, us humans." Luc braced himself for more pain, for the attack he knew would surely come.

Angelus, incongruously, laughed.

"And not such cowards either. Perhaps I did choose the right one after all." He leant forwards, and carefully removed Luc's loose tie and collar, opening his shirt and brushing the skin of his throat with long cold fingers. "Perhaps I did."

The vampire smiled, and then the eyes turned golden and the fangs lengthened, and Luc felt the bite over his jugular. With his last senses, he heard a deep, contented growl from Angelus, and watched the canopy grow darker.

He thought that his mouth was forced open, and something warm and sticky was poured down it, but then everything went black. The pain faded, and Luc Tarpeau died.

* * *

"Ah, sea air!" Angelus stood next to the coach, and looked out over the moonlit water. "Sometimes I miss that."

"This place is as much of a dead-end as Galway," Darla complained from inside the coach. "Why on earth did you insist on coming, my darling?"

"Because it's not fair if he doesn't get to eat his family. I had mine. Still the best meal of the lot. And there's a wedding, Darla – don't you love weddings?"

"My sister's wedding," the third occupant of the coach said, climbing out to join Angelus. "She'll be so excited to see me." Luc grinned at Angelus. "I remember now why I left home. But the sea … it never smelt like this, before."

"Before you were alive," Darla said.

"And I thought I was so lucky," Luc said. "Now I know better."

He walked back to the coach, Angelus at his side. "I feel so … I can see everything, feel everything, hear everything."

"Now don't get carried away," Darla said, as they climbed in, closed the doors and called for the coachman to start driving again. She turned to Angelus. "Fledglings are always so sweetly enthusiastic."

Angelus rested a hand on Luc's shoulder. "I think he's doing remarkably well, considering what he was. I'm looking forward to this wedding."

They fell silent, as the coach rattled over cobblestones and drew to a halt outside a hall from which light came. There was the sound of dancing and loud, raucous Breton music.

Luc got out of the coach and, flanked by Darla and Angelus, pushed open the doors of the hall. Inside, the villagers turned to the door, and from their midst, a girl in white came running.

"Luc! Luc! You came!"

"Yes, Marie, I came." Luc let his sister enfold him. "I came home."