Fandom: Forever Knight
Author's Disclaimer: "Forever Knight" is copyright of its creators, James D. Parriott and Barney Cohen, and of Tristar Entertainment. Not me. Pooh.
Summary: Vachon finds himself lucky enough to observe a rare moment in time . . . (Nick/LaCroix). Rated PG-13.
The Raven was crowded tonight. Vampires and mortals, packed in from the cold Toronto evening, mingled together without a care in the world.
Javier Vachon sat with his back to the bar and watched the crowd. His childe, the sweetly innocent Urs, moved like a wraith in the center of the busy dance floor. She danced with her pale arms held high above her head, her soft hands swaying to the beat. The expression on her face was one of peace, her eyes closed as she forgot where she was -- what she was -- in one of the few activities that made her sorrowful spirit happy. Vachon sipped from his glass, letting the feel of her tranquility wash over him through the bond of blood.
The moment was broken by a brief ruckus at the door. The altercation occurred so quickly that most of the bar's population never even noticed. Only a few of the Raven's undead regulars witnessed the confrontation, their predatory senses instinctively drawing their attention to the possible threat. Not rising from his slouch, Vachon's eyes cut toward the club's entrance.
Framed by the glow of neon reflecting on snow, the hulking form of the Raven's new bouncer was suddenly slammed against a side wall. In the space where he'd been, a slender figure was now visible, his smaller body holding the larger form immobile. In the darkened entryway, the faint glow of their golden eyes illuminated the expressions on their faces. Rick, the young heavyweight bouncer, his squarishly handsome face twisted in a mixture of fear and anger, gaze glued to his captor's. And the captor, physically smaller though he was, arrogant and calm as he used his greater strength, his greater age, to emphasize his point.
To say the subtle spectacle was a bit surprising would be an understatement. In the time that Vachon had known the other man, he'd rarely seen the older vampire call upon his age to enforce his power. He had rarely seen the other man exude the power inherent in his blood at all. For Nick Knight, homicide detective and favorite son of the Toronto Community's Elder, disdained any reminders of his vampire existence.
But tonight, for whatever reason, Nick wasn't acting the mortal. Tonight, his vampiric nature, his old aura, blazed strongly for any of the Raven's patrons to see and, in the case of its undead members, feel. The usually repressed strength was unchained this night, and Vachon was curious to know why.
The Spaniard leaned back against the bar as the vampire cop made his way through the throng. The younger immortals instinctively stepped aside, pulling their mortal companions with them. The path that magically opened for the princely vampire closed up again instantly behind him. Nicholas remained oblivious.
Vachon raised an eyebrow as the blonde plopped harshly into the seat beside him. "Tough day?" he asked mildly.
Nick scowled, motioning to Miklos to bring him a drink. Vachon's eyebrow raised even higher as, with an angry wave of his hand, the blonde stopped the bartender mid-reach for his usual bottle of cow. Miklos, with the aplomb of a professional, never hesitated as he grabbed one of LaCroix's special brands instead. The Romany vampire poured the vintage bloodwine into a wineglass and set it in front of the volatile vampire. After a glance into Nick's stormy blue eyes, he left the bottle as well.
Vachon said nothing as he watched Nick slug back the contents of the first glass, then immediately pour another and gulp that down as well. He waited until the older vampire was on his third, more gradually consumed glassful. Then Nick, the fire cooling from his eyes, raised the bottle to him in offer. Vachon passed over his own empty wineglass, and watched as the calmer blonde poured the thick, rich liquid into the two glasses.
"Thanks," he said, as he took back his cup and savored the potent mix of blood and alcohol. LaCroix's 'special' brands were a rare delicacy that few were privileged enough to sample. Unlike the usual bloodwines any vampire could purchase, the special brands weren't mixed with normal human blood, they were mixed with the blood of unusual sources from wild animals, to serial killers, even to other vampires. This brand, as Vachon immediately discovered, had probably been made with Nick in mind. The mix was a delicious blend of a Bordeaux red with . . . what was that exactly? It had a familiar tang, something light and airy like Nick himself. It tasted heavenly. It coated Vachon's tongue and throat as he swallowed, both satisfying his hunger and stroking it higher; the bite of the alcohol just enhanced the pleasure.
"Good stuff, huh?" a droll voice said. Javier opened his eyes to see Nick watching him with a sly grin.
"Jeez, Nick, this stuff could drop a rhino at fifty paces," Vachon agreed, taking another a sip. "I've gotta start hanging around you more if that's what it'll take to get access to drinks like this."
Nick slid the remainder of the bottle over toward him, the dark red liquid inside it sloshing still three-quarters full. "Help yourself," he invited.
Vachon did. "Guess you're in a better mood now?"
The blonde had the grace to look embarrassed; he ducked his head to peer up through his eyelashes, though the corners of his lips still ticked up. Vachon thought it was charming. "Yeah, sorry about that. I just had another fight with Nat and my temper was running a little high. I didn't get too far out of line, did I?" he asked, beginning to frown.
"Nah, Rick needed the wake-up call. He's been full of himself ever since LaCroix hired him. Thinks he has the right to harass the mortals and fledglings just because he's bigger and stronger than they are. He's probably started as many fights as he's broken up."
Nick's frown increased. "And LaCroix puts up with him?"
"He never does anything when LaCroix's around," Vachon told him. "Always waits until the old man is doing his show or has gone off for the evening. He's even tried picking on Urs, though he was smart enough to give that up when I got in his face about it." Rick was only a century younger than the Spaniard himself was, but to vampires their age, a hundred years went a long way in terms of strength. The four-hundred year old bouncer had had no choice but to back down to Vachon's greater strength -- just as he had to Nick's earlier that night.
"If he's such a problem, why hasn't anyone reported him?" Nick questioned further, the cop in him showing through.
Vachon looked at him like he was crazy. "Take a look out there, Knight, and tell me what you see," he said, sweeping his arm to indicate the crowd. "Kids, the lot of 'em. Mortal children playing at being bad, and fledglings who probably haven't even seen their first decade yet, let alone their first century. Rick is ages older than them, and LaCroix's so old he's ancient... who do you honestly think is gonna be dumb enough to get in between them?"
As they watched, just such an example of what Javier spoke of became apparent. Rick, on break from door duty, was moving out onto the dance floor and already making a nuisance of himself. The young fledglings, disgruntled looks on the faces, tried to get out of his way as he muscled a path to the center of the crowd. There, the big vampire wrapped a beefy arm around young girls on either side of him and pulled them flush up to his body. One girl, a lithe blonde mortal, struggled briefly in his grasp before giving up and dancing with him. The other girl, a brunette fledgling of maybe 15 years tops, didn't even bother trying to fight. She just sighed in resignation and went along with the elder vampire's movements.
Nick's expression hardened, the blue eyes going cold. Without a word, he put down his drink and got to his feet. Vachon hastily got up after him.
"Knight, what are you planning?" he asked anxiously, scurrying in the blonde's wake.
"I'm going to do something that should have been done long ago," the detective answered, voice flat.
Not sure if this was such a good idea, Vachon nevertheless shrugged and followed his friend. Knight was old enough and strong enough to take care of himself. Plus, as he'd demonstrated on multiple occasions, he didn't have to worry about what LaCroix would do to him for interfering either -- the benefits of being the boss's favorite childe.
All in all, Vachon thought with a mental smile, this was gonna be fun.
Lounging in his living room above the club, LaCroix paused in his radioshow's preparations as he sensed his son's sudden anger and determination. While the anger was nothing new -- the boy had stormed into the Raven radiating waves of aggression, though they had begun to ease off for a while there -- but the strong pulse of determination was unexpected. Nicholas had been conflicted for the past week; his passionate nature torn between his affection for his lady coroner and his growing irritation with her own shortening temper.
The past few years had seen a positive change in the relationship the ancient Roman held with his rebellious offspring. The challenges each had faced, both separately and together, had worn at the wall of hate and resentment between them until they were now closer than they'd been in centuries. In response, however, Nicholas's relationship with the mortal doctor who'd dedicated herself to "curing" his son of his vampirism had deteriorated. It would seem that the closer Nicholas grew to his vampire father, the closer he came to accepting his own nature, the more upset the good Dr. Lambert became with her reluctant patient, and in turn, the worse their friendship became.
LaCroix found it all immensely satisfying, and somewhat amusing. Though for the sake of rebuilding his relationship with his son, he was careful to present a more commiserate appearance.
Still, Nicholas did seem to be in an interesting mood tonight. LaCroix looked at his notes, considered what work remained to be done before his evening's presentation, weighed it against his curiosity . . . then thought "the hell with it" and went downstairs to find out what was going on.
As he left his apartment, not bothering to lock the door (since, after all, who would be stupid enough to break into his home?), the stately old Roman couldn't help but smirk.
For all the trouble Nicholas's mercurial moods usually caused, LaCroix could say something for his son's passion . . . it certainly kept things interesting. And wasn't that one of the reasons why he loved the boy so, even after all these years of strife? After all, none of his other vampire children could hold his undivided attention as long as his favored.
His smirk softening into a smile, LaCroix acknowledged, if only to himself, that there was far more behind his obsession with his knightly Crusader than just Nicholas's passion.
Nick stalked toward the centre of the dance floor, a dark wave pushing easily through the crowd. He could feel the tension of the upcoming confrontation coiling in his muscles. And really, he was glad for the excuse to work off the stress of the last few weeks, months, years.
Unlife hadn't been easy for him in centuries, but it had become particularly dreary over the last few years. His dream of finally becoming human was looking less and less likely as cure after cure failed. The effort to control his demon was becoming more difficult as he starved the vampire of nutrient-rich human blood, and -- frankly -- his will to keep fighting was starting to fracture. Ever since he'd realized that no matter how Natalie tried, she wasn't going to succeed in her lifetime. That modern science just wasn't enough to reverse the vampirism, anymore than ancient mysticism had been. Ever since, he'd all but given up trying. He still couldn't fathom killing someone to feed himself, but he didn't think he could stomach another glass of flat, tasteless, enervating cow. And since he and LaCroix were patching up their relationship, he no longer felt like he needed to.
Vampires in this day and age didn't need to hunt and kill for food. Places like the Raven supplied enough fresh, willingly acquired bottled blood to support any fair-sized Community. Many of the youngest fledglings had probably never hunted in their lives; nor would they necessarily need to. For the older ones who did seek live prey, the motivation was more for the joy of the hunt than for the kill itself. Even Nicholas, with his heavy weight of guilt, could not deny the pleasure he took in tracking, cornering, and finally capturing his prey -- it's just when he caught his "prey", he arrested them instead of draining them. Vampires were predators, no one could argue that . . . but it didn't mean they had to kill.
So Nick had begun to let go of his failed Quest and rediscover the joys of being a vampire. And found it wasn't as bad as he remembered.
But no, that wasn't true either. Not all of his memories over the last 800 years were bad. There'd been, in fact, entire centuries of nothing but pleasure before he'd ever begun to rediscover his conscience. Long nights of hunting by his father's side; long days of passion in Janette's arms. Exciting outings of music and dancing; quiet evenings of reading and painting.
"Hey, you got a problem, buddy?"
The belligerent voice of the bouncer brought Nick's mental reflection to a screeching halt. He automatically looked up toward the source of the voice, unsurprised to find it less than six inches away -- most of that up. In his distraction, he'd walked right up to the big vampire he'd been stalking and bumped into him. Not the best hunting performance, but effective nonetheless. A small oasis of calm descended upon them as the two males stared at one another.
Dropping his gaze from the bouncer's without answering, Nick looked instead at the two young women clutched tightly against the big man's sides. He cast them a consolatory smile to which the brunette fledgling only looked confused, while the blonde mortal started to acquire a hopeful glint in her soft hazel eyes. That one hesitantly smiled back at him.
"Hey, asshole, why don't you get out of my fucking way? The girls and I are having a bit of fun here." Rick flexed his biceps in counterpoint, squeezing the girls tighter and making the mortal wince.
Despite the anger that was beginning to boil in his veins, Nick's only outward response was a raised eyebrow as he traded a glance between the girls and the bouncer himself. His chivalrous nature inwardly seethed at the mistreatment of the women, but he allowed himself only a slightly predatory grin when he finally spoke.
"I don't think the ladies are having as much fun as you are," he said, calmly reaching out to unsnag first the blonde, then the brunette. Both reacted quickly, smiling in gratitude as they pushed past him and vanished into the crowd. The vacuum their departure created was instantly filled as Vachon stepped up to Nick's right -- close enough to present a united front, far enough away to block any possible escape. The prey was surrounded, and he didn't even know it. Nick's grin increased incrementally.
The bouncer must have been momentarily stunned by Nick's unexpected actions, because it took him a minute to react. When he did, it was to loose a low growl and lunge forward to grab the interfering detective by his lapels. Nick was partially hauled off his feet as the younger vampire dragged him close to snarl in his face.
"Listen, you stupid sonofabitch . . . I don't care how old you are, you don't get off with messing with me. I've heard about you," he sneered, "the weak little freak who can't even feed himself right, who drinks cow like some stupid carouche. And you think you have the right to come into my club and tell me how to conduct my business?" Rick spat in Nick's face, then tossed his head in Vachon's direction without loosening his hold. Nick didn't twitch one way or the other, his toothy grin never fading. "You and that damn friend of yours should just fuck off, if you know what's good for you. The Boss don't take kindly to dumbshits fucking with his staff."
They'd begun to attract a bit of an audience as the confrontation escalated, but Nick couldn't bring himself to care. He also couldn't stop smiling. He hadn't made a move against his opponent, even though he could have easily broken his hold. He was just having too much fun! He hadn't toyed with his prey like this in centuries; he'd forgotten how exhilarating it could be!
Out of the corner of his eye he saw Vachon cast him a laid-back smirk. The Spaniard had figured out the same thing he had: Rick the Bouncer didn't have a clue who he was threatening!
Oh, this was going to be good, Nick thought, preparing to shatter the big idiot's arrogance. Too bad vampire digestive tracts didn't work like mortals. It would have been immensely satisfying if he could have driven the foolish jerk to dirty his drawers . . .
"Is there a problem, gentlemen?" a regal ice-toned voice intruded before Nicholas could see if he still had what it took to make a grown man cry.
He was only mildly disgruntled that their argument was interrupted before it could come to blows -- or fangs. Because as his father glided up to let his ancient presence tower imperiously over them, Nick kept grinning as an even better plan of attack came to him.
Oh yes, turned out he did still have it after all.
"Is there a problem, gentlemen?" LaCroix inquired dryly when he arrived at the source of the disturbance. He was, in retrospect, not the least bit surprised to find the cause of the Raven's unexpected entertainment to be his son. That his son was being accosted by the Raven's newest bouncer -- a vampire half Nicholas's age -- was, however, ridiculous. His question was as much an offer of assistance as a demand for explanation.
But Nicholas did not react as he expected him too, for there were no exclamations of outrage or anger. Instead, his son's lips pulled back over his fine white teeth, the tips of the elongated canines gleaming in the strobe lights. The expression was one LaCroix had not seen for centuries. It caused him to gasp in anticipation, feeling the borrowed blood in his veins pulse as his loins tightened and his fangs tingled in remembered pleasure.
His son was hunting!
"Not at all, LaCroix," Nicholas was saying, and LaCroix snapped his attention back onto the drama playing out in the centre of his dance floor.
"Rick and I," his son continued, grinding out the bouncer's name between his fangs, "were just having a friendly little discussion on how to treat a lady. He was just about to explain to me why the manner in which he comports himself was not of my concern."
Ah, so that was Nicholas's game . . . LaCroix nodded and smiled benignly at the bouncer, tilting his head slightly as if granting a subject the right to speak. Inside his mind, a thrum of dark welcome flowed along the master-childe bond, heightening his desire.
Rick looked nervous as he met the icy gaze of Toronto's Elder. He seemed to have forgotten the smaller man he still held clutched in his grip as he rushed to explain himself. "Ah, Mr. LaCroix, sir. I, uh, I was just telling this guy that the Raven don't put up with his kind."
LaCroix quirked an eyebrow.
Rick swallowed. "Uh, you know, trouble-makers? I was, er, I was just dancing with these girls on my break, see? And he just butted right in like he owned the place. I was just straightening him out, sir." By the end of his little spiel, Rick seemed to have regained his confidence as his boss neither said nor did anything to contradict him. His arrogant nature was reasserting itself.
"Indeed," LaCroix replied mildly. He was beginning to get the picture now. The bouncer, whatever his name was, had done something to set off his son's strange sense of honour and Nicholas was having a spot of fun dealing with him. That the bouncer did not know who Nicholas was was also apparent. LaCroix looked at Nicholas to gauge what his part was to be in his favorite's game.
With a quick, pleased little grin, Nicholas dipped his head toward the bully holding him captive. LaCroix, familiar with his body language, felt a spark of melancholy for how long those signals had gone disused. Then he stepped into his role with relish.
With a carefully hidden jolt of malicious glee, LaCroix cast a gentle smile upon his son. He made sure to keep the bouncer's visage in his field of view. The big fool's expression was bound to be priceless.
"Well, my son," he said, and Rick's eyes went wide as he realized his folly. "What do you have to say for yourself? Surely you can see that my friend here is just doing his job. I demand you apologize at once for this affront."
Nodding solemnly, Nicholas used the grip the big vampire had on him to pull the bouncer off-balance. With an easy, apologetic smile, he said, "Oh, yes Father. Quite right. I'm terribly sorry, Rick. So sorry for interrupting your fun," and brought his hands up to break Rick's hold and gain his own.
Still smiling, Nicholas casually hefted the larger man a few inches into the air and began to walk toward the exit. The crowd parted smoothly before him, and LaCroix and Vachon -- all smiles themselves -- slipped in behind. Nicholas continued to apologize profusely every step of the way, up to the moment an unsuspecting mortal opened the Raven's door and he tossed the stunned vampire out into the snow.
"My deepest apologies, Rick," Nicholas said with sweet sincerity. "Just a difference in opinion, you see. Nothing personal." And he walked back into the club.
LaCroix took one look at the dazed and confused vampire, shook his head and turned to follow. On his way in, he tossed a last comment over his shoulder before he closed the door. "Oh, and Rick, was it? You're fired."
Smiling broadly, a hearty chuckle developing in his breast, Vachon clapped Nick on the back as the three vampires returned to the club. Nick too was grinning, even LaCroix looked smugly pleased, as the Raven's patrons broke out into spontaneous cheering.
"Score one for the old guys," Nick whispered in his ear, and Vachon cracked up.
"Quite so," LaCroix concurred, nodding at the band to start up again. As they segued into an upbeat cacophony with a vaguely wasp-like buzz, the Roman led his compatriots over to the bar for some refreshment. "A most amusing diversion, Nicholas. I am delighted to find you in such a joyful disposition. What, may I ask, triggered this pleasant state of affairs?"
"I don't know," Nick shrugged. "I just feel good."
"Hmm..." LaCroix hummed, but refrained from making his typical biting comment. Vachon smirked as he watched the two interact, each carefully editing their words so as to preserve the genial atmosphere. Sometimes, they were more fascinating than TV!
The band brought the wild pounding song to a close and moved immediately into a gentle, old-time waltz. As the Raven's patrons settled down, Vachon saw Nick cast a coy glance at his father. Looking up through his eyelashes at the older man, Nick had never looked younger. Vachon froze; spellbound by the unfolding spectacle in a way no fight could ever hold him.
"Would you care to dance, Father?" Nick, no Nicholas, asked shyly, a strangely youthful expression gracing his face.
LaCroix took a long moment to reply, and Vachon was consternated to find his own hands grow clammy with nerves as he waited along with his friend for the answer. But then the usually cool, inhumanly stoic Roman smiled gently and held out his hand. Vachon breathed a sigh of relief as Nick took it and the pair moved off to the dance floor.
Urs walked up to him, passing the couple on their way. "It's good to see them happy, isn't it Javier?"
"Yeah," he said. "Things are a lot more fun around here when they're not fighting, that's for sure. I wonder how long this truce will last?" he added pessimistically
But Urs just smiled. "I think they really want it this time. They're both working so hard not to get on each other's bad sides."
Yeah, they were, too. It was strange, watching them dance with each other instead of the dancing about one another they usually did. Nick Knight had always been a strange one to Vachon's reckoning, though he liked him well enough. And LaCroix? Well, who could fathom the mind of an ancient -- especially one who'd been a General in the Roman Empire?
They'd spent centuries longer than he'd been alive living, hunting, and loving together. They'd spent centuries running from each other, hating and fighting one another, only to return again and again for more. They'd never been able to give the other up, to move on without the other in their life. Nick fled, hid, yelled and pouted about the unfairness of it all -- but always ran straight to his master whenever he needed help, and never once doubted it would be given. LaCroix, too, was unable to let his son go. He chased him around the world, taunted and berated him incessantly, but always dropped everything to go to his aid should Nick need him.
For all their problems, it was plain to Vachon that the bond between them was strong. It would never be broken, no matter what they said or did.
They were one.
"C'mon, Urs," Vachon smiled. "Looks like they've got the right idea." He held out a gallant hand. "Dance with me."
Urs looked up at her dark-haired sire, the indolent vampire that had never tried to master her, and had to smile. She slipped her petite hand in his, her fingers dwarfed by his large ones. The pale white of her skin contrasted sharply with the tawny tone of his. "I'd be delighted to, Javier."
Together, the younger pair of master and childe moved out beside the older. Swaying together with the ebb and swell of the music, Vachon and Urs watched their elders dance as one.
Unconcerned about the spectacle of two males clasped arm in arm in this of all places (for who would judge them here?) Nick and LaCroix floated across the dance floor with all the natural grace each had in abundance. They looked beautiful together; two tall, lean blondes pressed chest to chest, their arms wound around one another. Like this, it was easy to see how so many believed them to be biological relatives, rather than just of the same blood. Like this, it was easy to see the history between them -- the passion of the ages was thick in the air around them.
Like this, it was easy to understand why LaCroix would spend centuries chasing a rebellious childe. Like this, it was easy to see why the rebellious childe would return, time after time, to his master's arms. Like this, it was easy to see the strength of the tie between them. Vachon watched, riveted, as the mystery that had long plagued his thoughts was finally illuminated.
As close as they were to the oblivious couple, it was no difficulty for Vachon and Urs to stand witness to the renewal of ancient vows. Urs' grip around Vachon's waist tightened in empathic pleasure as Nicholas, eyes locked with his master's, raised a finger to his mouth. With a subtle, sensual touch to his distended fangs, a drop of blood welled up on his fingertip. Smiling, the long-lost son pressed the finger to his father's lips.
"Forever," Nick breathed, reiterating an old promise that made LaCroix's dead heart jump. The ancient pulled his childe closer and sucked the finger to savor the offered gift. Vachon had never seen such a tender look in his eyes.
As the finger withdrew, the ancient pressed a light kiss to its tip. A new light glinted in his cool blue eyes. "You think about swallowing but/ love the way he dances on/ your tongue. You want to be/ the song he's lost in--" LaCroix whispered, his majestic voice feathering the lyrical words over his son.
Nicholas's eyes turned soft as the poetry sparked an old, much cherished memory of a happier time. "So/ You start to sing--," he whispered in return, drawing his moistened fingertip in a gentle caress across his father's cheek.
Vachon would have shook his head at the romantic scene, if it weren't for the emotion encompassing it. Somehow, like this, the sensual verse was the most natural accoutrement imaginable. Like this, with the air thick with promise, it hinted at a depth of meaning that effused the moment.
Then LaCroix sparked that potential. Like a striking snake, he darted forward to claim possession of that which was his. Just dipped toward that turned up face, that smiling mouth, and plunged in. Slanted his lips across his childe's, absorbed his son's startled exhalation, and thrust his tongue into the cool haven to wrap around Nicholas's own.
Vachon smiled and tucked Urs closer to finish their dance.