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Resolutions

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Summary: (Willow/Lacroix) It's New Year's Eve at the Raven. Time for a fresh start. Even a man who's lived for two thousand years can still be surprised...

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Television > Forever KnightAshJFR712,183242,29126 Jan 0326 Jan 03No
Title: Resolutions (1/1)

Author: Ash (aka_jay66@hotmail.com)

Disclaimer: Willow and all her assorted accoutrements belong to Joss Whedon. I
don't know who Forever Knight belongs to, but I wish they'd chosen a better way
to end it. The Quickie Challenge belongs to Jinni, as ever. *g*

Feedback: Always appreciated.

Distribution: Anyone who wants it and asks.
Author's Note: Pairing #122 at the Quickie Challenge (http://quickie.moonlitpaths.com/)

_________

11:20PM - New Year's Eve

The New Year's Eve parties that were taking place in Toronto were very similar
to New Year's Eve parties anywhere - just a bunch of people getting together
to have a good time, usually through drinking.

Of course, the meaning of 'having a good time' varies greatly depending on the
kind of company you keep.

For that matter, so does the meaning of 'drinking'.

For Lucien Lacroix, sole owner of the one and only vampire bar in Toronto, it
was a difference that was completely ruining his evening. To fully understand
his problem, imagine yourself hosting a large party. You want to make sure you
have enough of everything: enough ice, enough snacks, but most of all, enough
for everybody to drink so they don't get angry and trash the place.

Now imagine that the drinks have feet, brains and the tendency to scream rather
loudly whenever anyone tries to take a sip. Sentient party favours do not make
for a happy host.

Lacroix prowled the bar like an animal in a cage. It is telling that, although
most of the patrons were high on blood or wine or both, they still managed to
remain alert enough to remember not to talk to him.

Lacroix's pale eyes skipped from person to person, searching for trouble, hoping
for trouble and those that might have caused it met those eyes and swiftly decided
to make pacifism their New Year's resolution this year in order to be around
to make one next year.

Not for the first time that evening, Lacroix wished that he could close the
bar and toss human and vampire alike out into the snowy streets to wander in
search of another place to satisfy their various lusts. This holiday was nothing
to him but a curiosity, an amusing glorification of Time by those who should
fear each passing year more than the next.

What was another year to an immortal? What was one day on a strange calendar
to him, who was young in the dying days of Rome?

But then there was Janette, the bar's previous owner. She had 'died' to him
and been born again and then was lost to him again just as quickly, his beautiful
daughter, his Janette. His memory was her only immortality now, this bar her
tombstone and his burden.

And Nicholas was out there somewhere in the human world, no doubt drinking cow's
blood from a crystal glass and pretending to enjoy it. He was waiting for Lacroix
to do something unforgivable like let the party become a bloodbath in the most
literal sense of the word.

Lacroix's lips twisted in a smile that held no humor. It would please Nicholas
in some obscure way to have Lacroix finally cast down beyond redemption, as
he saw it, and Lacroix certainly couldn't have that. In any case, he preferred
his bloodbaths to be more.intimate.

He motioned to Mikos to open another case of blood wine and began another circuit
of the room, resigned this time to his unwilling role as chaperone and security
guard. His enhanced hearing ran through the surrounding conversations like they
were a string of beads slipping through his hands, each one quickly examined
and as quickly discarded.

"...god, you feel so good." A man was saying.

"Dance with-?" Another man.

"-that son-of-a-bitch is going to pay, I can tell-" In a woman's voice,
cloudy with drink or tears.

"...have a room in the hotel."

"-won't you dance-?"

"...you seen the waiter?"

"Because you're a vampire!" Said a woman's voice, ringing
out clear as a bell.

Lacroix stopped walking, every muscle in his body tensing as he turned to face
the direction the voice had come from. There was a woman sitting at the bar
with her back to him. Red hair, so not Nicholas' doctor. Young. Angry. A young
vampire was leaning over her, his attention completely focused on her face.
His arm was around her shoulders and her drink was in her hand.

Lacroix took one step towards them and the situation had changed. The young
vampire's arm was no longer on the woman's shoulders and her drink was now dripping
off his chin and spattering his shirt.

Another second and the woman would be dead. Lacroix moved.

*******

Willow stared angrily up into the face of her 'admirer'. He wasn't bad looking,
and adding about half a cup of rum to his ensemble was a definite improvement,
but she never had had much patience for someone who didn't understand that no
meant no.

He looked like he was about to attack her and for a second Willow hoped that
he would. She could feel power building inside her skin like an electric storm,
raising the hairs on the back of her neck and making her feel powerful and dangerous
and sexy as hell.

But then he looked away from her and a second later he was gone, leaving so
fast that Willow almost thought he must have seen her thoughts on her face but
no, it had been something. behind her. She turned.

A man was standing behind her, looking down at her

Willow's first thought was: Bouncer?

Her second thought was: Wow.

It was a few moments after that when Willow's brain cut in and pointed out the
obvious, namely: that this was a man who might as well have 'Vampire' tattooed
on his forehead, and by then it was too late. She was already smiling.

He smiled back, though it was a thin smile.

"Good evening." He said.

Wow, thought Willow again. His voice matches his face. Slightly foreign and
smooth and beautiful and. wow. She caught herself abruptly and shook a mental
finger at herself. No wowing over vampires, Willow!

"Hello," she said finally, becoming aware that he was waiting for
a reply. "Thank you for getting rid of the pushy guy."

"'Guy'?" He repeated, his smile seeming to warm, although those amazing
eyes of his were still ice-cold.

"The pushy vampire." Willow specified. "Anyway, thank
you."

"It was a pleasure." He said, and he was suddenly sitting in the seat
next to her, still watching her with a faintly curious, faintly predatory smile.

Willow shifted in her chair. Damn it, she thought. Dealing with the undead opens
up whole new worlds of social awkwardness. She couldn't just ignore him, could
she?

"My name's Willow," she said finally with a first-day-of-class smile.
"Like the tree?"

"Willow-like-the-tree," he said in a silky tone that made Willow's
stomach suddenly drop about six inches. "I am Lacroix. And you are going
to tell me how you knew that he was a vampire."

"Same way I know that you're one?" Willow said without thinking.

His smile widened. "And how is that?"

"Natural intelligence. animal cunning. occult powers." Willow shook
her head. "Actually, to be honest, none of the above. The jerk pretty much
did everything but declare himself the official ambassador for the World Beyond
the Grave. I mean, after someone tells you four times that you're 'tasty'
and that he sure would like to do some 'necking' and then rounds it all off
by saying that he doesn't drink 'wine coolers', all the while smirking to himself,
you know something's up."

For the first time, she thought she heard real humor in Lacroix's voice when
he said, "It is unfortunate that vampirism sometimes means only the eternal
preservation of idiocy. Some of my kind are not as discriminating as they might
be when choosing their children."

"No quality control, I guess." Willow said sympathetically.

"Indeed." Lacroix said. "Fortunately, there are. compensating
factors."

"Oh?" Willow asked. He had hair like Spike's, she thought. White hair
made for moonlight. Damn it.

"Nobody really believes in vampires anymore, Willow." Lacroix
said, and his eyes were suddenly locked with hers.

Willow was aware of the world narrowing, the party and the bar and everything
falling away until all that she could see was a black tunnel with his eyes at
the end of it. Gold eyes, she thought. But surely they had been blue?

"You don't believe in vampires, Willow." Lacroix said, and she thought
there might be something like sadness in his voice but it was hard to tell.
The sound of her own heartbeat was loud in her ears.

"Yes, I do." Willow insisted, the words coming out slowly. She felt
like something was tangling her tongue, her mouth was full of cotton wool.

"Vampires are legends, child." He said and Willow thought she could
feel his voice moving inside of her like a snake, merging into her heartbeat
and becoming part of her.

Willow shook her head faintly.

"Vampires exist only in your imagination."

"Like werewolves?" Willow managed to say.

He hesitated but then said, "Yes. Like werewolves."

"Like witches?" Willow said, and this time it was easier to speak.

"Yes." Lacroix said, but his eyes were narrowing.

But that was all right because Willow blinked and the world was back. And Lacroix's
eyes were golden but they were just eyes. He was staring at her.

"What were you trying to do to me?" Willow said when she could talk.
She could still feel his magic like a cord around her throat. It made her angry.

"Make you forget." Lacroix said coolly, his now-blue eyes intent on
her face. "Anyone who knows of our existence is a danger to us all."

"I'm a danger to all vampire kind?" Willow said furiously. "Really?
It's been ten years since I found out about you guys and I haven't killed you
all yet, so how much of a danger can I be?"

"Your eyes..." Lacroix said, and there was something in his tone that
stopped her.

Willow paused and felt the magic burning inside of her, screaming for release.
She sighed.

"My eyes are black, aren't they?" She said quietly, hopelessly.

"Yes."

"It's your fault," Willow said, her voice trembling on the edge of
tears. "I just wanted a drink."

"Beautiful." Lacroix said in a quiet voice and touched her. His fingers
were soft as they traced the arch of her cheekbone, soft as they curved to fit
her cheek.

Willow turned her face into his hand and closed her eyes. Tears spilled from
under her closed lids and pooled in the palm of his hand.

"What are you?" Lacroix asked in a wondering tone.

"Human. I think." Willow said faintly. "I don't know anymore.
I wanted to come here to see people. To see all the people who are alive now...
all the people I almost killed... I thought it would make me happy..."

Lacroix's hand was gentle and stroked Willow's hair away from her wet face.
"You almost killed these people?"

"I almost killed everyone. All the people everywhere." Willow said
and laughed, a short burst of bitter sound. "Guess I really am a danger
to vampire kind."

"Perhaps. just to me." Lacroix said softly and Willow opened her eyes.

"To you?" She asked, frowning. "I won't hurt you. I won't hurt
anyone."

"Dangerous." Lacroix said, and kissed her.

Oh, thought Willow. And then, oh. Because it was different then she would
have thought, cool lips and cool tongue and more than anything else cool energy
washing over her like rain. And she thought that she had been feverish for her
whole life and not known it until right this second and she thought she might
die if he stopped.

And then she thought nothing else for quite some time.

*****

2AM - New Year's Day

Nick and Nat were alone in Nick's apartment, watching the end of a movie. Noticing
the time, Nick muted the TV and turned on the radio. And heard:

"There is something in the air tonight, my children. There is a wind that
comes from nowhere to sweep the cobwebs away and make us think that this year
will be a truly new one, with nothing of the old left behind to haunt our steps.
A fresh slate to write upon, a new start for everyone who deserves one.

Until tomorrow, ask yourself this question: Do you really want a fresh start?
All the ties that bind you cut so that you may drift alone and friendless through
an ocean of pain? Answer honestly, but answer quickly. Some of us may have less
time to decide than we think. But of course, I will always be here to guide
those who survive through the night time hours.. So goodnight, my friends, from
the devil you know, otherwise known... as the Nightcrawler."

"The devil you know?" Nat said. "I don't like the sound of that."

Nick frowned. "Did you hear someone. laughing in the background?"

_______

THE END

Tell me what you think?

Heh. This writing fics that actually *end* is a fun concept. I can see how it
could become addictive.

The End?

You have reached the end of "Resolutions" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 26 Jan 03.

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