Rated: R for sexual content and violence
Summary: LaCroix is confronted by his mortal past in Ancient Rome one Toronto night. Can he right the wrongs of two thousand years ago, or are some regrets eternal?
Notes & Disclaimers
I actually started this story way back when FK was still on the air, early in third season. What set it to percolating in my mind were the flashbacks in A More Permanent Hell. I always wondered what brought Lucius to that particular place in his life. It was going to be set in second season, but when the last eps of third season aired it became necessary to shift gears and place the story in third season, between Francesca and Ashes to Ashes. So, I set it aside for a bit while I decided where I wanted to take it. I finally started on it once more and seemed to be chugging right along. Then, my wonderful editor ran into a big dose of RL and it was stalled yet again. So, finally, after all this time -- here it is. And it's not a xover!
Thanks first and foremost to Margie for taking on the task of editing this monstrosity. Couldn't have done it without her. Thanks to Shirl, Tammy, and April for comments and continuity help, and to Lisa McDavid for patiently answering my questions on Roman naming practices. I'm also grateful to Mel, Soul, Charlyne, Dee and Tina for reading it from the beginning through all its incarnations and giving me much needed feedback. And finally, thanks to Glo for doing one final tweak on the entire thing.
I read several books researching this story. But the one that I found invaluable was "The Druids", by Peter Berresford Ellis.
LaCroix's Nightcrawler monologue in part five is an excerpt from a poem by Marcus Annaeus Lucanus (AD 39-65)
The story of Julius Sabinus and Eponina is a true one. And fortuitously for me, it happened in the right year and geographical area. The event that Brigh sings about in part two about Brennos and Capitoline Hill is also an actual incident.
The FK folk belong to TPTB. Gwen, Brigh, and all the rest belong to me.
Oaths - Part One
He heard the noise of the press conference well before seeing it; curious, Lucien LaCroix turned from the usual route he took on his evening stroll through the streets of Toronto. Standing off to one side, he surveyed the gathering with amusement. Ah yes, he thought, this was the 'Take Back the Night' rally he had read about in the paper. Take back the night indeed -- if these mortals only knew what *real* dangers lay in wait for them in the night, they would all be safely locked in their homes. The woman speaking must be the Anglican priest who had organized this event, rector of some inner-city parish as he recalled. What was her name? Gwenyth Frizell, he remembered. Well, he thought, let’s listen to what this lady priest had to say about the night.
"These killings must stop," the Reverend Gwenyth Frizell was saying. "The police have done their best and are trying to bring the killer to justice. But ultimately it's up to us, the community, to put a stop to this. We need to care about all our neighbors, not just those in society’s mainstream, but the poor, the homeless, the sick. If we don't stand up to the evil in our community how can we expect ever to be safe even in our warm comfortable homes?"
LaCroix listened intently, a cold smile on his lips. How very fervent the young priest was... how naive. His attention was interrupted by the familiar mental tug of his son. How appropriate, he thought ironically. "Don't even think of it, LaCroix," Nicholas said.
"And hello to you too, Nicholas; I'm well, and you?"
Nick ignored his Master's sarcasm as he continued, "I recognize that look, LaCroix -- Stay away from Gwen Frizell."
"Really, Nicholas, you do forget yourself, " LaCroix said with thinly veiled menace, "but I will overlook your less than respectful attitude as merely a symptom of the stress you invite upon yourself in pursuit of your *quest*," he finished in distaste. "Gwen, is it? Are you personally acquainted with the good Reverend?"
"This is my case; Reverend Frizell has been invaluable in the questioning of street people. They trust her and will talk to the police if she’s there. If that's what you mean by acquainted, then yes, I am," he replied with some heat.
"Really? I thought perhaps the failure of your Dr. Lambert to find a scientific method for a cure had led you to seek more... metaphysical means," he said, amusement evident in his voice.
Their barbed exchange was interrupted by the end of the rally and the crowd as it streamed by. Reverend Frizell, seeing Nick at the edge of the crowd, slowly worked her way to him.
"You can leave now, LaCroix," Nick suggested. "Don't you have a radio show to put on or something?" he added pointedly, watching Gwen shaking hands and speaking to well-wishers as she made her way to where Nick stood.
"Oh no, Nicholas, I wouldn't dream of leaving now. You know how much I enjoy meeting your friends, after all," he said, relishing his son's consternation.
Nick knew it was pointless; he had handled it all wrong from the very beginning. All he could hope for now was to get Gwen away from here as soon as he could. Why did LaCroix always have to make his life so difficult?
"Nicholas, I'm so glad you came!" Gwen greeted him. "How do you think it went? Do you think I got through to anyone?" she asked worriedly.
"You were fine, and yes, I think you made quite an impression," he told her reassuringly.
During the exchange LaCroix stood off to one side. Somehow this priest reminded him of someone. Her mannerisms seemed so familiar somehow. He found it…disquieting.
"Nicholas, where are your manners? Aren't you going to introduce me to your lovely friend?" he interrupted smoothly.
At the sound of LaCroix's voice Gwen looked past Nick, seeing his companion for the first time. Their eyes met, hers widening in shocked recognition. Nick was caught totally off guard as he watched her grab her head as if in pain, making a strangled sound as she collapsed in front of him. He caught her slight form before she hit the ground, cradling her in his arms. Her normally pale complexion was now a sickly gray.
"Can we have some room here!" Nick shouted at those who had gathered around. Remembering LaCroix, he looked over his shoulder, but the other man was nowhere to be found.
"Please, Detective, allow me?"
Nick looked over to see Father Wilton, Gwen's assistant, kneeling next to her. He nodded, and the priest took Gwen's wrist, checking her pulse.
"She'll be fine, Detective," he said reassuringly. "Nothing a square meal and some sleep won't cure. I've been expecting something like this, actually. I keep telling her she needs to take better care of herself, but does she listen?"
He nodded in agreement. Nick knew Father Wilton was probably right, but something told him it was more than that. She had been fine until she saw LaCroix, and he intended to get to the bottom of it. Putting Gwen's head in his lap, Nick smoothed her hair away from her face. She stirred, slowly opening dark blue eyes in confusion, seeing Nick's face above her. When she tried to rise, he held her down. "Take it easy now, you fainted. Give yourself a second to get your bearings, okay?"
She nodded and took a few deep breaths. "I fainted?"
"Yes, you did, Reverend," answered Father Wilton, "dead away. Luckily Detective Knight caught you before you hit the ground. Now maybe you’ll listen to me the next time I tell you to take better care of yourself," he finished fussily.
She sighed at the lecture, knowing she hadn't heard the last of this. Nick grinned; the good Father was like an old broody hen. He knew it drove Gwen crazy sometimes, but he was glad the overworked young priest had someone like Father Wilton hovering over her. Nick helped her up, supporting her as she stood. "Better?" he asked.
She attempted a weak smile. "Yes, just wonderful. Thanks, Nicholas, and you too, Father. I think I need to get a nice cup of tea and some sleep. Then I'll be as good as new." She sounded as if she was trying to convince herself.
"Father Wilton, will you make sure she gets back to the rectory safely?" Nick asked.
"Of course, of course, Detective," he replied, "have no fear on that point. I shall take good care of her."
"But…." Gwen began.
"No buts, no argument this time, Gwen," Nick ordered. "If I have to I'll take you home myself."
Gwen gave in. She didn't want to inconvenience him more than she had -- and besides which, she knew he was right. "That won't be necessary, I'll come along like a good little girl," she said ruefully.
"Good!" Nick said. "Carry on, Father Wilton. I'll call you tomorrow, Gwen -- take care of yourself." He gave her shoulders a squeeze in parting.
"I will. Father Wilton will see to that, I'm sure."
Nick watched the two priests walk away towards the parking lot, glad that Gwen had given in to going with Father Wilton. He wanted to have a little talk with LaCroix....
He headed the Caddie towards the Raven, determined to get to the bottom of tonight's incident.
"81 Kilo," the radio squawked.
What now, he wondered, as he picked up the radio. "81 Kilo, copy."
"81 Kilo, body discovered at Wharf Three, report to scene, ME en route."
"Copy that dispatch, 81 kilo out," he replied, turning the car around towards the docks.
He had no way of knowing for sure, but he knew in his gut that this would be victim number four in the dock murders. His meeting with LaCroix would have to wait till tomorrow night.
LaCroix sped through the night sky enraged beyond reason, attempting without success to force back into the darkest reaches of his mind the memories his brief encounter with the priest had brought to the fore. Memories he had kept buried deep for close to two millennia, only to have them reawakened by the eyes of an insignificant mortal woman. Then there was her reaction to him, as if she too had some hidden knowledge. No! He refused to countenance the possibility. She was long dead, as dead as his mortal life. He was allowing the recent incident with Francesca -- if it really had been her -- to addle his normally logical state of mind.
He felt the blood lust rise and gave it free rein. No sanitized, prepackaged feeding this time -- tonight he would kill, drown out the memories with the thrill of the hunt. Then he heard the cries, the pleading of a woman's voice, the blows and angry voice of a man. LaCroix landed in the alley behind the unsuspecting mortals, a prostitute and her pimp, just as the man threw the woman into the wall. Her head thunked against the bricks, and she crumpled to the ground.
"That'll teach you and the others," the pimp said with obvious enjoyment.
He turned to exit the alley, only to find himself face to face with a creature from a nightmare. The vampire allowed the pimp to run past him towards the entrance to the alley, leaping in front of him only yards from what the man surely thought was his escape. He was too terrified to scream as LaCroix grabbed him, spun him around, and pulled his head back, sinking his fangs into his neck with a roar. In short order LaCroix had drained him and snapped his neck. In only a few more minutes he had disposed of the body, which with luck would not be found for months, if not years.
He flew back to the Raven and used the back entrance to his apartment -- he was in no mood for the noise and crowd of the club tonight. Entering the room he went to the cabinet and took out a bottle and glass, quickly opening the bottle and filling the glass. Draining it in one swallow, he then repeated the ritual twice more. Feeling no more sated than he had before his kill this evening, LaCroix hurled the now empty glass against the wall, watching it shatter in a thousand glittering pieces. He sank into a chair, suddenly too weary to deny the memories clamoring in his mind, unable to stop remembering the eyes of Gwenyth Frizell. Those odd blue eyes. But not just the color -- the depth, the age -- eyes far too old for someone so young. He remembered the first time he had seen eyes like that....
On to Part Two