Another Chance

~11,500 words :: Vampire Chronicles :: Louis/Lestat :: 6/12/02
Louis’s dreams aren’t your ordinary dreams. He dreams of a whole other life, sometime hundreds of years ago, a life where he lived with a blond man and a little girl. A life where he – they – were vampires. But it can’t be true, can it? Is this really some sort of past life thing?

“I will kill him.”

She stood there in the moonlight, watching for my reaction. The face of an angel with the mind of a monster. I couldn’t believe my ears as she went on, telling me how she would enjoy killing him, how she wanted to take from him his power along with his life. But she couldn’t be serious; she couldn’t.

When had my daughter become this thing? Eyes always on Lestat, when had I ever spared her more than a passing glance? When had either of us, for that matter? She was our daughter, a pawn in our never ending games, but now I looked at her with new eyes and saw the truth. In a blinding flash I realized that she was no longer the little girl we had taken in sixty-five years ago. Yes, sixty-five years to the day.

A film of bloody sweat broke out on my brow as I raised my hand to my mouth in shock. And what did she do then? She laughed. A shrill, high little girl’s laugh filled with the malice of an ancient evil.

“Claudia…” I gasped. “You can’t mean it. You can’t mean to kill Lestat!” And I began to ramble about how he was too strong, he would destroy her, all of which was true, yes, but the look in her eyes spoke volumes. She knew. She knew that beyond all thoughts of her what was foremost in my mind was the thought that I loved Lestat and I couldn’t bear to see him destroyed.

It was not something I cared to admit to myself. Lestat was a monster; he was hateful, rude, jealous, greedy, brutal, derisive, mocking…scared, wounded, unsure…tender, loving, protective, passionate, and above all beautiful. My angel, full of contradictions, just as I myself was.

I had fallen in love the moment I set eyes on him and had stayed by his side for nearly seventy years – too proud to ever say the words. And the product of our pride was this, what should have been the product of our love. A vengeful doll, bent on destroying us both.

The next night I moped about the flat, a feeling of dread pressing in on me. She would do it, I knew, and I felt there was nothing I could do to stop her. I no longer knew her; maybe I never had, but I felt a pathetic sense of responsibility. I could not raise my hand against her; I had brought her to this place. We had, Lestat and I.

And he didn’t sense it. Of course not; why should he? Whether he really still thought of her as a child or whether he knew what she had become and chose to ignore it, I shall never know. But I do know that he never thought she would try to kill him. He certainly had no idea that it would be tonight, of all nights.

“Louis, you must come with me!” He barged into my room, grabbing me by the arm, and tried to convince me to come with him to see his musician friend. Trying to make me jealous, and normally it worked. I hated the boy, hated him and his stupid music.

Why just last week Claudia had been out at a birthday party or some such function and I was reading in the sitting room when Lestat came back from visiting his friend, a sheaf of papers in his hand. Without even so much as a look in my direction, he sat down at the piano and began to play this new piece. I knew he was doing it only to taunt me, yet I couldn’t help myself.

“Lestat, I am trying to read.” We’ll see how far being polite gets me. “Please play something less disturbing.”

“Maybe I should make Michel into a vampire, eh? He writes such beautiful music, and I’m sure he’d make a better companion than you, always sitting home with your boring old books.” Now that was an bald-faced lie and he knew it. I went out with him most nights of the week: to the theatre, the opera, balls, whatever struck his fancy. And I knew he was lying about making his musician into a vampire, but the very thought drove all sense from my head.

I stood up and marched over to the piano and snatched up the papers, tearing them to pieces. “I told you to stop playing this shit!”

Ah, now he was mad. He practically jumped up from the piano bench and grabbed me by the shoulders, shaking me. “Who do you think you are, talking to me like that!?”

I grabbed him back, trying to push him away. “I’m not your slave! I can say whatever I want!” That earned me a punch to the gut, and soon we were both black and blue, cuts and broken bones healing even as more damage was done.

I don’t remember who made the first move; I never do. I suspect this time it was I. Instead of throwing another punch, I grabbed the back of his neck, bringing his face close, pressing my lips to his. There was no hesitation on his part; his mouth opened to mine immediately. Bringing his arms around me, he began roughly caressing my back, slowly moving his hands lower and lower until he was cupping my ass, and I was doing the same to him. Pressed against each other as we were, there was no denying our arousal. It was early in the evening yet and we had both fed recently, the extra blood in our systems making us warmer than usual. The warmth of his crotch against mine felt like a furnace. His lips, now moving from my face to my neck to my chest, left a trail of fire in their wake.

“Lestat,” I moaned. And then, unable to hold back any longer, I practically ripped his clothes off him. Not a difficult feat, as they had already been torn beyond repair from our fight. He must have done the same to me, for next thing I remember we were both naked on the sitting room floor. Slick with sweat, we writhed against each other, kissing, caressing, biting.

His fangs sliced across my stomach and he licked the trail of blood that seeped out. “God, Louis, you taste so good.” Then he moved lower, his tongue darting out to lick the length of my cock. “You taste heavenly.” And this time he didn’t mean the blood.

His hands were all over me; he knew exactly what to do to get the reaction he wanted. He had been a skilled lover from the start, and seventy years had only perfected his touch. But tonight I felt the need to be in charge, so I grabbed his wrists and flipped him over on his back, pulling his arms over his head. He just smiled lazily; he knew what was coming and he wanted it. As soon as I grabbed his arms, his cock twitched and seemed to swell, becoming even harder than before, if that was possible. With my free hand, I traced the muscles in his chest and stomach. He closed his eyes, his breath coming harder in anticipation of my next move.

I brought my head down on his cock, sucking and playing with it, nicking the sides with my fangs, letting the blood run down the length. When he was about to come, I removed my mouth and finished him off with my hand. Cupping my fingers to catch his seed as he writhed and bucked and screamed my name. My hand now coated in his essence, I pressed one finger, then two into his tight opening, slicking him up and getting him ready for me.

Leaning up to kiss him, I turned him over, letting go of his hands. He spread himself wide before me, calling out for me to hurry up and take him. He was already hard again and I could barely keep from coming myself. But I couldn’t resist bringing my face to his ass, kissing his firm cheeks and giving them a few little bites. Ah, my beautiful angel, his golden hair tinted red with sweat, his hands clutching at the carpet, his entire body tensed for the ecstasy he knew was coming. And with that, I entered him, plunging in deep, and we both cried out at the same time. He clenched his muscles around me in time with my thrusts.

And then, when I could feel myself about to come and knew he was near climax, too, I bit into his neck and offered him my wrist. Locked together in mortal pleasure and through the blood, wave after wave of almost painful pleasure swept through us. Exhausted, I withdrew from him and flopped beside him on the floor, both the carpet, and us too, covered with bloody come and bloody sweat and just plain blood. We looked a fright, I’m sure, but neither of us cared. Lestat reached over and drew me closer, his hand stroking my hair. I just gazed at him languidly, my fingers tracing the muscles on his hip.

But of course it didn’t last. It never lasted; if it did things would be different. He turned away or I turned away or we both turned away. We suddenly remembered ourselves and an invisible wall went up between us, a wall of pride and fear that neither of us had the courage to breach.

The sitting room had to be cleaned before Claudia returned. As he stood up and collected the remains of his clothes, the only words he had for me were these: “You shouldn’t have ruined the music. That was the only copy.”

And now tonight he was trying to provoke me again, bringing up the musician. But it wouldn’t work this time; I felt as if I were encased in an icy ball of fear, frozen and unable to do anything to stop what I knew was going to happen.

I just stared at him. Couldn’t he feel it? Didn’t he know? My limbs refused to obey me, and I was helpless to resist as he dragged me out of the room. When we passed through the hall I could see Claudia’s room, the door open just a crack, her blue eyes peering out, watching us. I wanted to scream, to warn Lestat. But of course he wouldn’t believe me if I did. And of course I wouldn’t do it. I loved her still, a twisted sort of love now, born of guilt that I had made her what she was, but it was still love and I would not see her destroyed anymore than I would Lestat.

“Come, Louis. We’ll go see him play…I just…just come with me.” Now he had my interest; what on Earth was he up to? His voice had lost its usual mocking tone and he sounded almost…tender? Did he sense my mood or was it something else entirely?

Whatever it was, it broke the spell Claudia had cast over me and I felt almost my old self. This was it; I must make my choice now: to try to change the course of the future or to stand by and watch as fate in the form of a five-year-old girl twisted my life beyond recognition. For the first time in longer than I could remember, I chose to act rather than react.

When we reached the door, I reached out and caught Lestat by the arm. Ignoring his look of surprise, I made motions of straightening his clothes and hair, then leaned in and kissed his cheek. “I would be delighted to have the enjoyment of your company this evening,” I whispered with a smile. His grey eyes, tonight reflecting the bright blue of his vest, widened in shock. I couldn’t blame him, for when had either of us touched the other tenderly and it not been preceded by violence? For seventy years we had reacted to each other that way; it was a pattern we were both familiar with and one that neither of us had the courage to break out of. Until now, that is.

There were times when a kind word or action on my part would only provoke him to further violence, but not tonight. Instead of lashing out once the surprise wore off, he simply smiled back at me and complimented me on my choice of clothes, a combination of beige and green I knew he admired on me. I hadn’t paid it any attention, but my thoughts had been filled with terror for him so perhaps it had been a subconscious move.

As we left, I took one look back towards Claudia’s room. Although the door was shut now, it seemed as though I could feel the malice rushing down the hall like a great wind and I shuddered.

“Are you all right, Louis? You’re not cold, are you?”

The concern in his voice brought me back to myself. “No. No, it’s nothing. I just got a chill for a moment there.”

He offered his arm and I took it, all the while wondering why, if these small gestures on both our parts were all it took to get along, had we never done so before? Perhaps things would have been different. Certainly there would be no need to worry about a mad daughter making attempts on his life, for Claudia would never have been made had I not threatened to leave him. As if I could ever do such a thing, but I suppose he did not know that anymore than I ever knew what he was thinking.

I was still lost in thought when we arrived at our destination: a music hall of some sort. Apparently the musician was giving a performance here. We found a pair of seats and settled in. I enjoyed the first two pianists, but Lestat’s friend was another story. I leaned over and whispered, so low no mortal could hear, “Why do you like this music, Lestat? Don’t you find it disturbing? It’s just so…hopeless, despairing. I don’t know how to describe it.”

He got a sort of faraway look in his eyes when he answered me. “It reminds me of someone.”

I stiffened and he sensed my discomfort. “Jealous?” he asked mockingly.

Fully aware that I sounded like a sullen child, but unable to help myself, I pulled away from him. “No, of course not! Why would I be jealous?”

And then he did something totally unexpected, even for the way the evening had been going. He reached up and turned my face towards his and whispered, almost too soft even for my enhanced hearing to catch, but I could read his lips, “Don’t be.” My eyes went wide with shock. The look on his face was unreadable, but I could tell he was in earnest. He pressed my hand and repeated the words a little louder. “Don’t be.”

Unable to think of what to say, I simply nodded, but that seemed to be enough for him. His hand still clutched mine and while I normally would have pulled away – both because we were in public and simply to be contrary – tonight I was content to enjoy the faint warmth and reassurance it provided.

Once the last of the players had finished, Lestat of course wanted to socialize. Probably staking out his next rich victim or something foolish like that. I never could understand the attraction of it. So while he was making acquaintances, I wandered aimlessly through the crowd, trying not to let my thoughts dwell on the situation with Claudia, when suddenly I felt a hand on my shoulder. My first thought was that it was Lestat, but no sooner had that flitted through my mind than I realized it was not he, but a mortal. And not just any mortal, it was the musician.

It was beyond stupid, but I felt petty and jealous and the very sight of him made me want to bare my fangs and frighten the shit out of him before ripping out his throat. Terrible of me, I know, but Lestat had never paid this much attention to any mortal since…well, I can only think since I myself was mortal. That combined with the fact that he insisted on bringing Michel into our arguments…well, I knew he did that only to make me jealous, but all too often what we know and what we feel are not at all the same thing.

“You must be Louis, yes? I knew it at once, you’re exactly as he described. Monsieur de Lioncourt talks about you all the time!” Now that was a surprise. My anger drained away just as quickly as it had appeared. Lestat talking about me? This could be interesting.

“He does now, does he?” I smiled and drew him to the side of the room. “And just what does he have to say? Nothing but complaints, I’m sure.”

“No, no. It’s nothing like that,” he explained hurriedly. “I…I admit when he first approached me about my music I…well, I had hopes, er, in that area. But when he speaks of you…the look in his eyes…I, I knew I didn’t have a chance.”

Now he was blushing furiously, obviously embarrassed to be speaking of such things, but determined that I know there was nothing between them. And I could see in his mind that he was telling the truth. Oh, Lestat had flirted with him, I’m sure, but Lestat will flirt with a lamppost; it’s just the way he is. But he was not having an affair with this boy, neither had he revealed to him anything about our nature; he really did seem to be interested in his music only.

I talked with him a little more and then left to find Lestat before he got into too much mischief. So Lestat had talked about me. A lot. And in such a way that both from his words and expression it was clear that we were more than just friends or business partners. I almost couldn’t imagine such a thing, but then again I could. It was the nature of our relationship. It was easy to convince myself that Lestat hated my company and tolerated me only because he wanted someone to fuck and to fight with. Hell, there were times when I convinced myself for years at a time that I felt that exact same way towards him. Then there were times like this…

And I wondered if he hadn’t brought me here to meet the musician just for this purpose, knowing that Michel’s words would clear up any doubts I had about the nature of their relationship. But then again, I don’t know that Lestat knew his own mind well enough to have consciously thought it through that way.

Then suddenly, as if he had materialized out of thin air, he was there before me, smiling and looking decidedly rosier than before we had parted. God, he had probably taken up some simpering fop or swooning woman on their offer to “find somewhere a little less crowded to talk” or some such nonsense.

I rolled my eyes and gave a long-suffering sigh. “I hope you didn’t kill anyone?”

“Of course not, Louis!” he replied with mock indignation. “What kind of a man do you take me for!?” I just crossed my arms and raised one eyebrow. “I only took a little drink…from several different people.” He laughed and grabbed my arm. “Come on, I’ve had enough of this place!”

Lestat was in high spirits on the way home. In fact, I was beginning to wonder whether the alcohol that had no doubt been flowing freely among the mortals he had drunk from was affecting him, too.

“Didn’t you want to speak with Michel at all?” I still didn’t know why he’d brought me here tonight, but by then I was almost certain he didn’t know the reason either, so I decided to let it go.

“Michel? No, he saw we were there, that’s enough. You spoke with him, didn’t you?” Ah, so that was why he’d brought me. “Yes, I spoke with him. Not much, but he seems like a nice enough young man. I can’t imagine why he writes such wretched music, though.” I laughed and he laughed back at that.

“I don’t know why you don’t like it, Louis. You’re always so melancholy, I’d think it would suit you perfectly.”

“Just because I’m not as…boisterous as you doesn’t mean I’m always depressed.” I didn’t even have to fake the indignation in my tone, he’d hit a nerve with that one. “I’ll admit I have my more melancholy moments, as you put it, but I’m not like that all the time and you know it.”

He had been walking a little bit ahead, but now he turned back and came up beside me, putting his arm around my shoulder. We were in a fairly dark alley, but still my first instinct was to look around and make sure no one was in sight. We were alone, thank God, as his next move was to push me up against the wall, pinning me there with his body. He put his mouth to my ear and whispered, “I know.” He flicked his tongue out teasingly and pressed himself even closer so that I could feel his arousal. “You were very good company tonight, mon Louis.”

Not too long ago I would have objected to that possessive tone, to the idea that I was his. I would have reacted in anger, believing he was taunting me. But now, now I could believe that maybe he didn’t mean it in a bad way – or at least I could let myself be convinced that perhaps he meant something else. The fact that I was his, regardless of his motives, regardless of whether he loved me or not, that thought usually bothered me the most. But tonight was different.

When his fangs scraped across the vein in my neck, I all of a sudden realized why this seemed familiar. It was a perfect parody of the night he’d first drunk from me. I’d been drunk off my ass, but I remembered his desire, my desire, the feel of his lips on my neck. I never believed in love at first sight until that instant so many years ago.

How had things gone so wrong since then? How did we come to this place? But the most pressing question in my mind was how can we make it right again? I did love Lestat, I loved him desperately with every fiber of my being, loved him more than anything in the world. Loved him more than even Claudia, yes, and that was as it should be. Claudia was my daughter – our daughter – but Lestat was my life.


I sat up straight in bed, the sheets soaked with sweat and propped up like a tent across my crotch. I touched my neck almost fearfully. I could still feel the pressure of that man’s lips on my vein, the friction of his erection rubbing against my own…

And now here I was, alone in my bed with the world’s greatest hard-on and a head full of thoughts – why did I want to say memories? – of the most beautiful man I’d ever seen. Only I hadn’t really seen him. Not in real life anyway, just in these stupid dreams that have been plaguing me for as long as I can remember.

The hard-on wasn’t going to go away by itself, so I scrounged around on the nightstand for some tissues, but came up empty-handed. Oh well. The sheets needed to be washed anyway.

I lay back down on the bed and closed my eyes, but before I could get started, the strangest sensation came over me, as if I was actually being physically pulled back into the dream.

He continued to tease me, running his teeth and then his tongue along the vein. I gripped the back of his jacket so hard it tore. His favorite jacket and he didn’t even notice…or rather, he didn’t care. My chest was heaving, but it felt like I could barely breath. Then I felt the tips of his fangs catch in my skin. “Ah!” They slid in slowly, millimeter by millimeter. “Lestat, please!” But he had no mercy. He pulled them out again just as slowly, letting the blood well out of the wounds and into his mouth. Only when the first dark drops hit his tongue did he lose control.

Another puncture to keep the blood flowing. The feel of his lips sucking on my neck was enough to drive me mad. Although I wouldn’t have thought it possible, my cock siffened even more, straining against the fabric of my pants. One last swallow of blood and he pulled his head back, licking my neck clean. His voice was so low and raw, the passion in it almost palpable. “Perhaps we’d better finish this at home.”

It certainly sounded like a good idea to me, but then I remembered. “But Claudia…” I was surprised to find my own voice was as raw as his.

He growled, deep in his throat. “We can close the door. That’s what locks are for.”

Reluctantly, he moved away from me, then grabbed my hand and pulled me along. Only then did I realize that what had felt like only a few minutes must have in reality been hours. It was almost dawn.

We reached the flat and he stopped to unlock the door. At the thought of Claudia waiting inside, that now familiar feeling of foreboding welled up inside me again, filling the pit of my stomach and making me slightly ill. I swayed back against the railing slightly and put my hand to my temple. I looked up to see the door open and Lestat looking at me in concern. When our eyes met, his expression changed immediately to one of impatience and he barked at me to get in the house.

“Claudia!” he called out as he took off his coat and hung it up, noting the tear with an air of long-suffering. She came running down the hall and Lestat swept her into his arms.

“You’re late,” she pouted. He ruffled her hair and kissed her forehead, telling her he’d take her somewhere special tomorrow night to make up for it. Through it all I looked for any sign of the malice she’d exhibited earlier, but found nothing. She smiled, her clear blue eyes sparkling, and I would have thought for all the world that she really was a five-year-old girl happy to see her papa come home.

I could feel the pre-dawn lethargy as it began to invade my limbs. Truth be told, I was just as glad we wouldn’t have a chance to finish what we’d started in the alley. The thought of having sex with Claudia in the house was not one I relished.

Finally following Lestat’s example, I took off my own coat and made to retire to my room. Claudia wriggled out of Lestat’s arms and tried to follow after me, but he stopped her. “You can sleep in your own room tonight.”

She looked at him questioningly. “But I always sleep with Papa Louis,” she replied innocently.

“Not tonight. You have a perfectly good coffin of your own, it’s about time you used it.”


“That’s my final word on the matter!”

I watched the exchange with a sort of wonder. What was he thinking? “Come here, Claudia.” I picked her up in my arms and headed for her bedroom. “Lestat is right. You should sleep in your own room.” I had no idea why I was saying these words; they just came out before I even thought about it. “I’ll tuck you in.”

My eyes flew open again and I looked over at the clock. 5:00 AM. I’d slept for four hours, but I didn’t feel at all rested.

The dreams had never been this vivid before. It was like watching a movie, only I was in the movie. The one time I’d caught a glimpse of my dream self in the mirror, it was my own face staring back, no doubt about it. And he had my name, too.

I couldn’t always make sense of the dreams. Most often they were simply disjointed, incoherent images. But last night and again tonight, it was different. The dream had a beginning. A terrible beginning in which a little girl (My daughter? The other man’s daughter? Our daughter?) spoke calmly of murder. I was afraid of what the ending might be. I didn’t want to watch, didn’t want to spy on these people’s lives, but I had no choice. Even now I felt my lids grow heavy and start to close and I knew that this time I would know the ending, whether I wanted to or not.

“You don’t have to tuck me in, Papa,” she said when we got to her door. “You’re right. I should sleep alone.”

Relieved that she wasn’t going to put up a fuss, I put her down and kissed her cheeks. “Tomorrow we’ll go out with Lestat, eh? We’ll have fun, the three of us together.” I smiled and she smiled back.

“Yes, I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Something about her words sent shivers down my spine, but I ignored it and returned to Lestat. He was in his room, standing at his desk and staring off into space. He had apparently begun undressing, but then got distracted, as he was wearing nothing more than his pants and socks.

I came up behind him, wrapping my arms around his chest and burying my face in his hair. God, he smelled good. I felt myself respond to this simple closeness and my earlier relief at the coming dawn turned to regret. Lestat stiffened at first, but then relaxed into my embrace. “Ah, Louis…”

And then I don’t know what came over me, but it felt like something frozen melted inside me and I wondered why I’d waited nearly seventy years to say these words. “Lestat…I love you.”

He froze and pulled away from my embrace, turning to face me, the look on his face one of total disbelief. I wanted to reassure him, but I could feel the death sleep creeping over me as my knees buckled and I fell to the floor. Barely able to move my lips, I felt a desperate need to say the words again. He picked me up and laid me down in his coffin, climbing in on top of me. Through my lashes, I could see his face looking down at me, his expression still disbelieving, but tinged with what looked to my fast-closing eyes something like hope. I still didn’t know why it seemed so important to tell him that instant, but it did. I felt his lips on mine and with my last breath before the death sleep pulled me under, I whispered, “Always loved you…”

When I awoke the next night, he was gone. Hardly surprising; both he and Claudia were earlier risers than I. I hoped he was still in the house and not gone out to hunt. I wanted desperately to talk to him. But no sooner had I opened the coffin lid than a wave of that same icy terror from the night before washed over me.

Both he and Claudia were early risers.

“Yes, I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Her words came back to me and the feeling of dread was so heavy that it felt like a hand clamped around my chest, squeezing relentlessly until I could no longer breathe and my heart felt like it was about to burst.

Something had happened while I slept, I knew it. I would open my door and my world would never be the same again – one of them would be gone. Even as I frantically told myself that there was no way Claudia could overpower Lestat, that he was much too strong for her, another voice in the back of my mind was telling me that Lestat didn’t know what Claudia was capable of, he wasn’t on guard against her. Why didn’t he know? My fault, all my fault. I didn’t warn him. I didn’t want to believe this could really be happening and so I ignored what was right before my eyes.

And what would greet my eyes now? My hand trembled on the doorknob, I couldn’t seem to get it to turn. The silence was deafening; I felt as if I were trapped in a void that no sound could penetrate. Somewhere outside of this void that surrounded me, life was going on as normal. Or maybe I was the one outside. Always looking in, trying desperately to believe that a monster like myself could have love, could have a family. And here was my punishment. The destruction of everything I held dear.

I walked slowly through the house. “Lestat…? Claudia…?”

“In the parlor, Papa.” Please let me be wrong, please, God, let this all be some sort of horrible nightmare.

Ah, that’s right. Why would God answer me? We are the abandoned of God. Cast out. Damned.

I closed my eyes to try to make it go away, but the scene before me seemed burned into my retinas. There was Claudia, sitting in her little rocker. She was wearing her best dress, one Lestat and I had picked out together for her. Across from her was the body of a dead woman, dry as a husk. The woman sat slumped over on the sofa, an empty wineglass on the table next to her. But my eyes were drawn to the sight between them.

My stomach clenched and I felt like I was going to be sick. I knelt down beside the still smoldering form of what had once been my maker, my lover…my life. My mind ceased to function. How was it possible that this lump of ash and bone was my Lestat? But there, where a hand had once been, was a ring…not just any ring…the ring.

I remembered the night I’d seen it in the shop window. A heavy gold band inset with several small amethysts. I must have stood for hours looking in the window before I finally had the courage to go inside. I don’t know what I was thinking; I don’t think I was thinking at all, that was the problem. At the sight of the ring, my mind made up some fantasy life, some fantasy Lestat who would appreciate such a gift from me.

But as soon as I got home, the reality of my life came crashing back down on me and suddenly the only image of Lestat that came to mind was that of a man who would at best greet such an overture with mocking laughter. I didn’t want to think about the worse scenarios. So the next day I returned to the shop and had a matching ring made for Claudia and gave them as Christmas presents. Now the first ring had no special meaning, except to me.

Lestat had looked at me with the strangest expression upon opening the ring, but at least he hadn’t laughed. He hadn’t laughed, but neither had he ever worn it, at least to my knowledge. Before this night I had never once seen it on his finger in the ten years since I had given it to him. But he had worn it tonight, for the first and last time.

The sound of Claudia’s voice interrupted my reverie. “This is your fault, Papa,” she said, still not moving from her chair. “Your fault…” Her voice suddenly changed. Still high and clear like a child, but her tone was of a woman scorned. “You should have loved me! You should have loved me, not him!”

She was standing now, hysterical. “That ring! You think I didn’t know you’d bought mine as an afterthought!?” Her voice just rose and rose until I was doubled over on the ground, my hands over my ears. “I’m not a child! I haven’t been a child for decades! Decades!”

I looked up at her with tears in my eyes. Tears for Lestat, tears for myself, tears for her and what we’d done to her in our selfishness. “Claudia…”

“Do you want to know how he died?” Her eyes were wild; she looked as if she were going mad. Maybe she already was. “I brought this nice woman home and gave her some wine…well only a little wine, actually. Mostly it was absinthe.” She smiled a terrible smile at me and I knew she must have been planning this for much longer than I’d ever imagined. “When Lestat finally came out of his room,” her face twisted just then and I knew she knew I’d slept there yesterday, “my friend here was nearly passed out.”

She turned her back to me for a moment, then whirled back around. “He never suspected a thing! I told him I’d brought the woman home as a treat for him and he believed me! He believed me!” Her laughter rang out for a moment, but then abruptly stopped. “The absinthe in her blood nearly paralyzed him. Oh, not for long, but long enough for me to slit his throat and wrists. Then once he’d lost all that blood, he was helpless to resist me.”

“I didn’t know about the fire,” she added. It was then I realized that it was impossible for Lestat’s body to have burned so completely in so little time. Seeing my expression, she nodded. “It was the blood. I just lit him on fire to make sure he was really dead. But the blood, it was like a wick for the fire. It burned – he burned – so fast, and then once the blood was gone, the fire just sort of went out on its own…”

I must have been staring like an idiot, I still couldn’t absorb what had happened. “But it’s all over now, Papa. And now I know what to do, too.” Then I saw the knife in her hands. At first I thought it was meant for me, although how she thought she was going to do so when I wasn’t poisoned as Lestat had been was a mystery. But then I saw her bring it up to her own neck. “This is your punishment, Papa…no, not Papa. Louis.” Her eyes filled with tears that overflowed and left ruby red tracks down her cheeks and dripped down on her pristine dress. “That’s all I wanted. To say your name and have you say mine the way you do his.” The knife bit into her skin, the blood mixing with the tears as it, too, dripped onto her dress. “I never thought of you as a father!”

I sat on my knees on the floor, not having moved from Lestat’s side the entire time. I couldn’t move, couldn’t do anything to stop her. After what she’d done to Lestat, I wasn’t sure I even wanted to.

As the blood ran down her chest, she took the knife and slit both her wrists. Her strength was waning fast, but she was able to make it over to the nearest candle. Picking it up, she walked towards me. When she was about three feet away, she stopped and brought the candle up to her dress, igniting it. Her last words came out in a sob. “I didn’t want to hate you. I didn’t want to hate either of you. You made me do this…”

And then it was all over, almost in the blink of an eye she was reduced to nothing more than bone and ash. The fire had burned itself out with her life. Then I noticed a sparkle in her remains and I saw it, the matching ring. The ring that, like Lestat’s, had never been worn since I’d given it to her.

Clutching his ring in my hand, I crawled over and picked up hers. For God only knows how long, I just crouched there, hunched over and crying until it seemed I could cry no more.

Dawn was coming on and I knew what I had to do. There was no hesitation, no question in my mind.

Claudia’s ring I placed back on top of her ashes, kissing it first. Despite everything, I couldn’t bring myself to hate her. There was only a deep sorrow for what she had become – what we had made her.

Then I stood up and walked over to where Lestat lay, or what was left of him. I still felt like crying, but I don’t think there was enough blood in me to spare. Taking the ring, I slipped it on. My ring finger. It was a little loose, but what did that matter now?

“I love you, Lestat. I always will. If there’s a heaven, if there’s a place for us there, I pray I’ll see you again, my beloved. If there’s a hell, surely it would be to never see you again. To know you were there for all eternity, but never to be with you. If there is nothing but this life then so be it, but there is nothing holding me here any longer. I have nothing to live for…”

I felt foolish for talking to him as if he were still there, but I wanted to put my feelings into words. If he could hear me somewhere, I didn’t care if God didn’t hear me, so long as Lestat did… Surely that would damn me to hell, if nothing else. Thou shall have no other gods before me.

I walked slowly out into the garden and lay down, composing myself on the stones. Exposed to the coming dawn, I waited for the death sleep to take me.

Once my eyes were closed and I could feel the heaviness begin to invade my limbs, I suddenly started to panic. I didn’t want to live, but I didn’t want to die a painful death either. But what choice did I have? Claudia’s death had looked pretty damn painful and it was either that or this, I was sure. I wished I could still move my arms, I wanted to touch the ring again.

Before I could even finish that thought, I felt the first rays of the dawn. The sky was barely even lit and already my skin was bubbling, crackling, melting. I opened my mouth and screamed and screamed and screamed as the flesh was burned away from my bones.

I woke up screaming hysterically. The dream. The dream was over and the me in the dream was dead, burned away by the light of the sun.

My breath was coming in great gulps, my heart racing so fast it felt like it was about to burst. At that moment the alarm went off, scaring me half to death and I nearly started screaming again. I’m sure the neighbors were already wondering what the hell was going on.

I shut off the alarm and got up. Shivering. I was shivering, for Christ’s sake. It was the middle of summer and I was shivering like it was winter in Alaska. I made my way shakily to the bathroom and stood in front of the mirror examining myself. I thought back to the reflection I’d seen of the dream me.

These past couple times I’d had the dream, those had been the first time things were really clear. When I hadn’t seen things through a haze, it had been bright and clear and so damn real.

And then I’d seen myself in the mirror. The fashion was different, I had longer hair and strange clothes, but it was me. I had whiter-than-white skin and I had fucking fangs, damn it! I drank blood. I was a vampire, and so was the other man and the little girl. But despite all of that, it was me!

Looking at myself now – if I just looked at my eyes and face, ignoring the skin tone – it was like looking at the reflection of myself in the dream. I could even remember the expression on my face.

It was creepy and weird and I was creeping myself out more and more just thinking about it.

I just killed myself. I just died a long, long time ago. Me. Not just some guy who kind of looked like me, but really and truly me. I died and now I’m here.

Reincarnation had never seemed like anything more than a fairytale to me. I mean, everyone always claimed they were someone famous. How many people could really be Mary Antoinette and Cleopatra? I had never given it any thought beyond that.

I was sure as hell giving it some pretty serious thought now.

I tried to sort things out in my mind. The dreams were not just dreams, that much was obvious. In fact, I was starting to remember more and more of this other life with every passing moment. If I tried to remember, say, my tenth birthday, then I got two memories. Two identical little boys celebrating the same thing over two hundred years apart. If I remembered my father dying, I could see one me taking over the running of my family’s plantation and another me getting an after school job to help my mom out with the bills.

I sat on the bed and tried very hard not to panic. If I accepted that everything in my dreams, everything in my memories, was true, then that meant I also had to accept the fact that I had been a vampire. Somehow it wasn’t as hard as I would have once thought. Maybe it was the fact that I could remember with increasing clarity the details of becoming a vampire, of drinking blood. And really, if I could believe in reincarnation, then surely vampires weren’t that much more farfetched. Of course the other alternative was that I was going totally and completely insane, but I didn’t really want to think about that one.

I managed to get myself to work somehow that morning, but I might as well have stayed home. It wasn’t like I could concentrate on anything, anyway. The events of last night’s dream kept going round and round in my head, seemingly getting clearer and clearer with each repetition.

Someone walked by and put something on my desk and said good morning. I must have replied, but I was just on auto-pilot. All I could think about was the tenderness of his last kiss, the look in her eyes when she told me it was all my fault, the searing pain as my body was burned by the sun. He, him, that man. I knew his name, but I couldn’t speak it, couldn’t even make myself think it. I heard myself say it over and over in the dream, but more than that I remembered it. I remembered it deep down inside; I didn’t think I could ever forget. It was part of me.

I stood up quickly. I had to get out of there, had to get out of there now. I could already feel my eyes blurring over and I couldn’t stop the tears. I punched in the code for the restroom and gave thanks that the stall was free. Shutting the door, I leaned – or rather fell – back against the wall. My lips moved, but no sound came out. It didn’t matter. I knew what I’d said, and the act of saying his name, those two syllables – Lestat – was enough to make me come undone.

My legs didn’t seem strong enough to hold me up anymore and I sank down to a crouching position. I shoved my fist in my mouth to try and stifle the sobs lest anyone else come in. I don’t think I’d ever cried this hard in my life.

Why the hell did I have to remember? What the hell good did it do me to know all this?

About a year had passed since I finally remembered everything. There were times when I managed to go for days without thinking about him at all. Those were the good days. The bad days tended to be repeats of that first morning when I’d locked myself up in the restroom…if I even made it to work, that is. Most of the time it was just something in between. Most of the time it was just a sort of drifting feeling, like I wasn’t connected to anyone or anything else in the world.

But today had been one of the bad days. I looked at my watch – nearly noon. I sighed and opened the stall. I knew I couldn’t stay in the restroom all day, but seeing myself in the mirror I realized I couldn’t just go right back to my desk, either. I was probably only fooling myself in thinking people didn’t notice I was having some sort of breakdown, but they pretended along with me, so it was only fair that I did my part. No one really wants to know the truth when they ask “How are you?” they just want to hear you say “Fine”.

So I did what I could with cold water and paper towels to try and get myself back into some semblance of presentability. Ah, good. Now I didn’t look so much like I’d been crying for hours as I looked like maybe I had the flu or something. Perfect. Ill was infinitely preferable to mentally unstable.

On my way back to my desk, I stuck my head in my boss’s door. No one there. He must be out to lunch already. I left a note saying I wasn’t feeling well and was going home, then stopped by the reception desk to let them know I was leaving. This was becoming quite de rigueur and I sometimes wondered about my job security, but I couldn’t really bring myself to care.


“Oh, Louis! You look terrible, sweetie!”

I smiled wanly and tried to look pathetic. Really, it wasn’t hard at all. “I think I might be coming down with the flu, so I’m gonna leave early…”

“Of course! You go home right now and get yourself into bed! What you need is to find yourself a nice boy to take care of you,” she said with a frown.

“I know you’re right, Shauna, but I don’t think I’m in the mood for a relationship right now.” I attempted another smile, but the muscles on my face seemed frozen.

Shauna looked like she wanted to ask more questions – like what the hell was wrong with me – but she stopped herself instead and just shooed me off towards the elevators, “Go on, now!”

Good old Shauna. She was always trying to fix me up with someone, and I suppose now I did look even more in need of “someone to take care of me”, as she put it. When I’d first started here it had been “Jenny in Marketing” and “Susan in Human Resources” but once I’d made it clear I wasn’t interested, she didn’t skip a beat. Instead she’d started offering up “Chris in the mailroom” and “John in Advertising”.

I loved her for that. If only my own family had been so accepting… That was the main reason I was living here in Los Angeles rather than back home in New Orleans. But I was glad I was nowhere near New Orleans now. I shuddered to think about it, no doubt I would be so overcome with memories that I would cease to function completely. Thank God I didn’t get along with my family; now there was no reason to go back there ever again.

Every time Shauna asked me if I had a steady boyfriend and I told her I wasn’t seeing anyone special, I felt a pang as if I were lying to my own mother. But my mother would never have such a conversation with me. No, she didn’t even speak to me at all anymore. So when Shauna asked me, I wanted to be able to tell her I’d found someone. I didn’t want to tell her the truth – that I drifted from one fling to another, never able to feel anything for anyone.

Even before my memories had come flooding back, I’d long since come to the conclusion that there was something broken inside me. Some essential part that would make me able to fall in love, or even just like, anything more than a passing physical attraction, that part was missing. Only now I knew it wasn’t missing. It was there, all right, but what use was it if I was pining away for a man who’d been dead a good hundred years? I was still broken, unable to find any relief from the crushing loneliness that was my constant companion. I could only drown it out for short periods of time – gaze into somebody’s blue eyes, bury my head in their blond hair and pretend for a few minutes that they were the one I needed so desperately.

Growing up, I’d never bothered to wonder why my fantasies always involved the same man. Never wondered why I knew this man’s body better than I knew my own, despite the fact that he seemed to exist only in my dreams. I just thought he was some amalgam of all the guys I’d ever looked twice at. Some phantom Mr. Perfect. But now I look back and I see that it was the other way around. Every man I’ve ever been attracted to was just a pale imitation of him. And it had never gone beyond anything physical because they weren’t the real thing.

So I had drifted through life, finding what little solace where I could. The only difference now was that I knew why I felt this way…and it certainly didn’t make me feel any better. Not one damn bit. It made me feel like railing against God or fate or whoever or whatever the hell had done this to me. Wouldn’t it be better to just be dead and gone and unable to remember or feel any pain? Being reincarnated as the exact same person with the same damn feelings was not doing me any favors here. Was this some sort of punishment, then? That was the only conclusion that made any sense to me anymore.

The elevator ride down to the parking level seemed to take forever, stopping at every floor. It was lunchtime, so everyone was trying to leave at once, and after a few stops we were packed in like sardines. I had been one of the last ones to squeeze on, so I was in the front, practically falling out every time the doors slid open. A collective sigh went up when we stopped at yet another floor.

“We’re full. You’ll have to wait for the next one,” I heard a woman next to me say.

Just then I looked up and saw him. His eyes widened at the sight of me and he opened his mouth as if to speak, but the elevator doors chose that instant to slide shut again. I thought I saw his hand reach out, and as we started our descent I imagined I heard him call my name.

I was frozen; neither my body nor my mind seemed to want to work right. I probably would have stayed in the elevator, unable to move, except for the fifteen or so people behind me who shoved their way out, determined not to waste a minute of their lunch break. As it was, I was carried along by the wave of humanity and deposited in the middle of the lobby.

The fog slowly began to leave my mind. Had I just seen what I thought I saw? I waited around for a little while to see if he got off any of the other elevators, but every blond head that caught my eye turned out to be a false alarm. Had I imagined it? That seemed the more likely conclusion. After all, what were the chances we’d both be reborn at the same time? And then what were the chances we’d be in the same place at the same time? Pretty damn slim, I imagined.

That wasn’t a very comforting thought, to say the least, and I suddenly found tears welling up in my eyes again. Damn it! I obviously wasn’t fit to be out in public right at the moment.

I spent the rest of the day lying on my bed in the dark trying not to think about anything, especially not this morning’s possible Lestat sighting. Real productive, but it was about all I could manage.

I was still lying there at 5:00 PM when the doorbell rang. At first I was tempted to pretend not to be at home, but whoever it was was really persistent, so after about the tenth ring, I got up and shuffled towards the door. Not bothering to get dressed, I just went as I was in my boxers and a t-shirt. I’m sure I looked even worse than I had earlier, but I didn’t care. I had given up caring about my appearance when I realized the only one I cared anything about impressing was dead and gone.

I don’t know what I was expecting, a salesman maybe, but certainly not the sight that met my eyes. “Louis?” His voice was desperate, afraid. I don’t think I’d ever heard that tone from him before; he’d always tried so hard to be aloof and confident. All that was gone now.

I think I just stared. He wasn’t a ghost. He wasn’t a figment of my imagination. This was Lestat and he was alive and he was here, now, just like me. And he remembered. The look in his eyes told me he remembered everything; it was the look of a man who’d just seen a ghost. Obviously he had no more expected to find me here today than I had him.

“Louis, I…” He seemed to be trying to figure out what to say first. Flustered, yes, that was the right word. Lestat was flustered and it would have been comical if not for the circumstances.

Then he apparently decided to give up on words and just act. He pulled me into his arms and kissed me, squeezing me tight as if he thought I would disappear in a puff of smoke if he didn’t hold on for dear life. Before I even had time to think, I was returning his kiss with all the passion I’d never been able to muster for anyone else, no matter how close the resemblance. His hands were tangled in my hair as mine ran up and down his back under his shirt. I loved the feel of him against me; he just felt so right, so perfect.

I moaned when he finally pulled away from the kiss. “Stat…”

He put his head on my shoulder and I could feel his breath warm on my neck. “Louis…I love you, too,” he whispered. “That’s what I meant to say.”

This time I was the one to pull away. Realizing we were still standing in the open doorway, I pushed us back inside and closed the door. “Lestat…God, I thought I’d lost you forever.”

Next thing I knew, we were in the bedroom. I lay down on the bed and pulled him on top of me. Our motions were frantic, as if we each thought the other might disappear at any time. It was as if by this act we were confirming the fact of each other’s existence, that it wasn’t just some sort of twisted dream.

His mouth and hands were everywhere, touching me, licking me, kissing me. My shirt was hitched up on my chest as he played with my nipples, pinching one between his fingers and sucking and biting at the other. My breath caught in my throat as his mouth moved down lower, his lips hot against my stomach.

He looked up and put his hands to either side of my head and just stared down at me. “You don’t know how long I’ve dreamed of this moment…”

I could barely hear his whispered words, but they touched something inside me and a choked “Me, too” was all I could get out. He bent down, his mouth finding mine once again.

I reached down and undid his pants, slipping my cock out of the slit in my boxers as I did so, so that we were rubbing against each other. I arched up and ground my hips against his, loving the feel of his cock against mine. His lips were on my hair, now on my ear, my cheek, my temple, my neck. He seemed determined to kiss every inch of me, from head to toe, but I was desperate, I couldn’t wait for that, not now. Another time, there would be plenty of other times. “Lestat…Stat, please!” I needed him closer, needed him inside me.

He kissed me one last time and rolled over a little bit, reaching for the drawer next to the bed. It wasn’t long before he found what he was looking for, and then he was pulling down my shorts and tossing them and my shirt off to the side. I sat up and helped him out of his own shirt and pants, trailing kisses across his stomach and down his thighs as I went. I could see how he could get lost in this. Each kiss reaffirmed his existence; each kiss made his body that more real.

Then I kissed his lips and pulled him back down again, my mouth never leaving his for an instant. While his tongue explored my mouth, I felt his gel-coated fingers slide inside my ass, stretching and massaging me until I couldn’t stand it any longer, any more and I was going to come right then. I gasped when he withdrew them, but no sooner had I done so that I was crying out in pleasure as he slid his cock inside with one smooth stroke.

Hooking my knees over his shoulders, he started to move rhythmically, sometimes pulling nearly all the way out before plunging back in. The whole time he was saying my name over and over, almost like a prayer. His hand on my cock moved to the same rhythm, his other hand clenching and unclenching in my hair. “Stat!” I felt my muscles tense up as my climax drew near and just seconds after I came I felt his body shudder as he came inside me.

We lay there recovering for quite some time. Just lying in each other’s embrace for long periods of time was not something we’d really ever done before, excepting those few times we’d shared a coffin. One or the other of us would always grow uncomfortable from the intimacy and break it off. Sex was one thing – and sex back then always evolved from violence, we were too unsure of ourselves, too unsure of each other, to initiate it any other way – but this sort of peaceful togetherness was too painful, it made us wish for things that, in our foolishness, we thought we couldn’t have. And then of course there had always been Claudia, but as it turned out, we hadn’t been able to hide anything from her anyway. So this was something new, and, God, it felt good. To lay my head on his chest and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I was loved.

But even now, it didn’t last too long. There was so much I wanted to ask, so much I needed to know, I didn’t even know where to start. Then a thought occurred to me. I turned over and pushed myself up on my elbows, “How did you know where I live?”

“Hmm?” he looked over at me lazily. “Oh, after I saw you on the elevator I went down to the lobby security and asked if they knew anyone named Louis who fit your description, but they wouldn’t tell me where you worked…the bastards.” A dark look crossed his face and I could see that he still had the same awful temper he always had. “I was getting pretty hysterical and ready to hurt someone when this woman came over to me and said I looked like just what you needed to cheer you up.” He grinned slyly. “She said I was just your type.” I groaned, but he went on. “Then she gave me your address and made me promise to take good care of you.” I groaned even louder and buried my face in my hands. Shauna! But I couldn’t be mad at her no matter how embarrassing she’d been. If she hadn’t given Lestat my address, who knows if I’d have ever seen him again. Saint Shauna, that’s who she was.

I lay back down and snuggled closer to him, sighing contentedly. “I guess I owe Shauna big, then.”

He laughed, but then his expression turned serious. “How…how much do you remember?”

“Now I remember everything, but I didn’t used to.” I told him how I’d always had the dreams, but how last year they’d started getting more intense and more realistic, leading up to that final dream of my own death. Then I told him how I’d found his body in the parlor, and about Claudia’s and my suicides. Tears welled up in his eyes during my retelling, but he didn’t interrupt, just squeezed me tight and listened quietly, taking everything in.

“I’ve always known,” he began. “Ever since I was a little boy, I’ve always had memories of that other life. All this time, I’ve lived with the knowledge that I never told you I loved you.” I could see the tears forming again as he continued, “Do you know how many times I thought how different things would have been…well, there were a lot of things I wish I’d done differently. A lot of things I wished I’d done differently even as I was doing them, but that’s neither here nor there. The one thing that always haunted me was if only I’d stayed with you until you woke up. If only I hadn’t gone out into the parlor alone…”

I interrupted him then. “I have similar thoughts. It’s always, if only I’d warned you, if only I’d told you what she’d told me… You’re right, there are a million things I wish I’d done differently. A million what ifs…”

“But it’s different now, Louis. We don’t have to make the same mistakes anymore. We’ve been given a chance to do it over again…”

“Do you think Claudia is here somewhere, too?”

“I don’t know. But I hope wherever she is, she’s happy. If she’s alive somewhere, I hope this time she got parents who are less messed up than we were.” I remembered her last words, that all she wanted was for me to love her as I loved Lestat. “I hope she falls in love with someone who can love her back…”

I wonder if those people who say they were once Napoleon or Queen Victoria are just fooling themselves. Maybe no matter what happens, we’re always just us, the same people we were before, with the same problems and the same fears. Maybe there’s some essential part of our souls that determines our physical makeup and our personalities. Or maybe our case is different and Lestat and I were allowed another chance to make things right. I don’t know. I don’t know if we’ll ever know. And right now, I don’t really care. I have Lestat back and that’s all that matters.

I’d been quiet for too long. “No more maudlin thoughts now.” He grinned. “We’ve got a lot of catching up to do.” He stretched and ran his hand up my thigh.

A lot of catching up, indeed…