Word Count: 1,289
Prompt: The two meet for the first time after Last Knight. If [the author] would be happy writing whatever she feels is best, that's fine with me. If she wants me to choose, I'd love to see this meeting fix LK.
Summary: Lacroix, after everything, is alone. It is the one thing which he finds unbearable.
Author's Notes: I picked this pinch-hit up in the hopes that I could write a shippy fix-it fic for Last Knight. I think I managed both, but my shipping, when it comes to Lacroix, has always been more understated than anything else. Thank you very much, triciabyrne1978 and brightknightie, for betareading for me! The story's title was derived from To the Dead in the Grave-Yard Under My Window by Adelaide Crapsey. Lisa, I hope you enjoy this!
The countryside, they said, was lovely this time of year. Lacroix thought it rather boring, and preferred to stay in the cities. He always had. The bustling masses of humanity jostled him as he stood quite still and watched them pass by unharmed. For now. It pleased Lacroix to know that he could pluck any one of them, from the smallest infant to the eldest grandparent, and take them for his own. None could deny him. None would dare deny him.
He was Lucien Lacroix. Vampires throughout the world feared his name. Even the smallest whisper of his presence sent them scurrying, either to avoid him or to do his bidding. He could have anything he wanted, if only he would reach out and take it.
Anything he wanted, that was, except for the son who was lost to him, dead a hundred years ago by Lacroix's own hands, and the daughter who had found her lost humanity, unwanted until the moment she faced death, and fled when Nicholas granted her the gift of immortality once again.
He had toyed, at first, with the thought of going back to Rome. There was no reason, though, to see the tattered remnants of his former empire's glory. Besides, it had lasted a paltry eight hundred years. Nothing compared to the thousands Lacroix had survived. There was no point to returning to Europe.
He came, instead, to the southern United States. Atlanta was busy enough to hide him, as unchanging as he had ever been, while affording him enough of a population to entertain himself. The Nightcrawler was, as ever, a fixture of the late night radio waves, or its equivalent. Radio had died long ago, and had since been supplanted by new technology. He had a select following, mostly cynical young mortals who thought they were the new wave of cynicism. That affectation was as old as Lacroix; however, and he had wearied of it even when he was mortal.
Tonight he had a speech about originality planned. Perhaps it would sink into some few, small minds, and there would be one less child bearing the pretense of ennui.
In his sound booth, however, there was a familiar presence. Janette. When he walked in, she sat in his black chair, swiveling back and forth just the barest amount. Mistress of the subtle, she waited until the door closed, then turned to face him. Her expression was just as he remembered it, but for the set of her mouth. She faced him, forthright, with a smile on her lips for him, rather than for the situation they were in. She had never done that before. She must be over her foolishness, and he was glad of it.
"My dearest Janette." Lacroix started forward, intending to sit in his chair, but Janette did not rise for him. It was quite unusual of her, but no matter. He sat on the edge of his desk and smiled. The unexpected once again, and from his formerly predictable daughter? It intrigued him.
"Lacroix." She leaned toward him. It was surprising how glad he was to see her, but the years had been lonely without his daughter.
Giving her the space she needed had gone against everything he was, everything he believed. It had worked as intended, however. He had seen how well Nicholas had taken to it, the way it brought him back into the fold, and he was determined that Janette would be a part of his sadly reduced family once again. All that was required was time and patience. Lacroix was the possessor of more than enough of both.
"My dear, dear Janette," said Lacroix. He reached out to her, brushing the backs of his fingers across her cheek. "You've kept yourself sadly hidden away."
"I've been busy," she murmured, still an edge to her voice, though her eyes did close at his touch. "Traveling the world without you has been a very interesting experience."
"Not lonely?" asked Lacroix, though he knew the answer already. Of course he knew the answer. He knew everything about her, her drives and motivations, from more than just the link between them. He had learned from a thousand years of observation. In the life he had made for himself since Pompeii, Janette was the one constant, and it had taken a thousand years to find a woman as magnificent as she.
"When am I ever lonely? There is more connecting us than mere physical presence, do you not think?" countered Janette. She stood, and the subtle way she took his hand and clasped it between her own did not escape Lacroix.
He let it pass without comment, which was often the best way to ease her into revealing what it was she wanted. She was here for something tonight, certainly. He could force her into telling him what that was, but, ever since Toronto, he had found that game had palled and become unbearable.
When the silence had drawn out for longer than even she could be pleased with, Janette stood. Her gaze was level with his, and she looked more comfortable, more settled than he'd ever seen her. More than he liked her to be, that was certain. There was an edge to their interactions when she was off her balance, and that satisfied him. It would never to do admit it to her, of course.
The knife edge of fear slicing between them when that happened was quite alluring.
"I suppose you are wondering why I am here," said Janette, drawing her fingertips along the desk, her arm close, so very close to brushing against Lacroix's leg. "Though you would kill yourself - or me, perhaps - before admitting it."
"The thought had crossed my mind, yes," said Lacroix, letting it remain unclear whether it had been the thought of killing her that had been occupying his mind, or whether he had wondered why she was here. The thought of killing himself was, of course, unimaginable.
"We've discussed the matter, and, while we are not all in agreement, our dissenter has been outvoted." A smile played about Janette's lips. Democracy had always amused her. "You've been very glum. Even hiding ourselves away and avoiding you, it's evident. A century of it from both you and Nicolas has been more than enough. If your presence is what it takes to end this, then Natalie and I have decided that is what it will take."
"Nicholas? Natalie?" Lacroix was shocked, but intrigued. How perplexing. It seemed that even death had not been able to keep Nicholas from him. He had grown in age and power over the years, after all, though he couldn't match Lacroix. That curious Dr. Lambert his son had been so obsessed with seemed to have been brought across as well, despite Nicholas' protestations. He sensed Janette's hand in this. "Have you been meddling where you aren't welcome, my dear?"
"I am as welcome with Nicolas and Natalie as I ever was," said Janette. There were too many possible meanings to be found there, but the myriad ways her words could be interpreted were one of the most fascinating things about her.
"How could this have happened?" asked Lacroix. His mind raced with the possibilities. His family, together once again. Nicholas with his doctor. A hundred years ago, she'd been dying. She must be mortal no longer. But what was she? What had become of Nicholas? "How could I not have known?"
Janette put her hand out for him to take, ever the coquette, and smiled in a most enigmatic fashion. "Come and see."
He took her hand, of course. The radio could wait. There were far, far more important things to occupy his night.