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DISCLAIMER: The following stories are all non-profit, amateur efforts not intended to infringe on the rights of Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, David Geffen, Warner Brothers, Geffen Pictures, Knopf, Randomhouse, the city of New Orleans, the U.S. Consititution, any copyright holders that I might not have thought of or even a certain author who shall remain nameless but who has a set of initials which are, coincidentally enough, just one letter off from spelling "B.S."

Le Printemps Part 2, an after spec
by the Brat Queen


LESTAT

"I shall be honest," I said. "I do not speak of Armand's love life that often because, being honest as I said, I do not care. But when he interferes with mine he has gone too far!"

"I thought you said you didn't want to get started?" Jesse asked, her green eyes twinkling at me. A different green from Louis' of course. Hers were more like ripening apples compared to the mysterious emeralds of my beautiful Louis'.

"Lestat always gets started," Santino said. "Getting him to finish is the problem."

"Fine," I said. I folded my arms and slumped dramatically in my chair. "If you do not wish to hear of my sorrows, then I'll try to disappear into this corner and never speak again."

"Don't toy with my emotions like that," Santino said.

"Oh don't pout," Jesse said. "And I'm sorry if I'm not very sympathetic at the moment but I've just gotten back from spending time with Julie and Ramses and quite frankly my tolerance for lovey-dovey couples is at an all time low."

"Are Louis and I 'lovey-dovey'?" I asked. "I'd rather hoped we were lustful and sensuous."

"That too," Jesse said. "But you do have your too cutsie moments."

"She's right," Santino said. "Even back on Night Island we were all glad that vampires are not diabetic."

"You're just jealous," I said. I was about to continue when I saw someone pass by outside of the cafe. "There's David! Jesse, call him in."

"Excuse me?" Jesse said. "Does it say 'slave' anywhere on my body?"

"I know of only one way to find out," I grinned at her lasciviously.

"Put it away, Lestat," she said. "And I've already called him. You *could* say please and thank you once in a while, you know."

"Please and thank you once--"

"Don't," Santino said. "It's a weak joke, even for you."

"Am I interrupting anything?" David appeared by our table.

"Never," I told him. I motioned for him to take the last free seat at our table, which was next to Santino. I realized that they had never met before. "Santino, you know David, don't you?"

"I know *of* him," Santino said. "But we've yet to meet."

"A pleasure," David said, his British accent making the overused phrase sound genuine. "Good evening to you as well, Jessica."

"Hello, David," Jesse said. "Love your shirt."

David had removed his coat and folded it over the back of his chair. Underneath it, he was wearing a shirt of almost blinding bright red. Not quite the color of the roses I had gotten for Louis. More like the color of red in the sky as the sun sets.

"Where on earth did you get that?" I asked him as he sat down.

"Why? Don't you like it?" he motioned for our waitress to bring him a cup of what I was having.

"You look like Rod Stewart," I said. "Provided, of course, that he suddenly got a deep tan."

"Is that a compliment?" Santino asked.

"Call it an observation," I said. I waited as the waitress brought David's order, then left. "And you didn't answer my question. *Where* did you get it?"

"I've had this shirt for years, Lestat," David said. He stirred his coffee absently. "Whatever happened to tea? It was a nice tradition, don't you think?"

"I've never seen you wear that shirt before," I said, unable to get over the sight of David, my David, in this flaming red cloth.

"I assure you, I have," he replied.

"I don't think so," I said.

"Lestat," Santino said. "I think David knows his body better than you. If he says he's worn the shirt, he's worn the shirt."

"I found that body before he did," I said. "At the very least I should be recognized for having a good familiarity with it."

"Not while he's been in it," Jesse said. "Now enough about the shirt and back to my problem."

"There is a problem?" David asked.

"Yes," she said. "With this coven. There are too many couples in it, don't you agree? A single vampire like myself doesn't stand a chance with all of you."

"Are there really that many couples?" Santino asked. "I've never stopped to count."

"Sure," Jesse said. "There's Lestat and Louis, Armand and Daniel and Marius and Pandora."

David coughed suddenly. He waved off our looks of concern and motioned for Jesse to continue.

"That's six out of fifteen vampires," she said. "It's not the majority, but it's enough to get on one's nerves."

"You're forgetting some," I said. "There's Santino and Eric, for example--"

"There is?" Santino looked at me. "Lestat, have you lost your preternatural mind? Eric and I are not lovers. I'm not even remotely interested in him that way!"

"As the mortals say, yeah right," I said. "And I'm sure all that you two do on your travels together is talk."

"We do!" Santino slapped his hand down on the table. "Where on earth are you getting this ridiculous idea from?"

"In Lestat's defense," David said. "Though I do not know you well, from what I knew of your files, even I thought you were lovers. Of course, this is ultimately a superficial observation so if I am mistaken--"

"You are!"

"I apologize," David finished.

:Methinks the Santino protests too much.: Jesse said in my mind. She hid her smile behind the back of her hand. :Don't you?:

:I do.: I told her. :What do you say, little sister? Shall we make a bet of it? I give them until the end of this century to admit it.:

:I don't know. Your teasing him has probably made him skittish. I give it three years after that.:

:Alright, little sister. What shall we bet?:

:I'm quite enamored of your Porche. Shall we say winner gets to take whatever car or other vehicle of transportation of the loser's that they wish?:

:Sounds fair to me. Your Ferrari will look wonderful in my garage.:

:I'll try to park it there every once in a while when I'm driving around in your Porche.:

"Getting off of this ridiculous notion of Lestat's," Santino was saying. "Jesse also forgot to include Maharet and Mael."

It was Jesse's turn to be defensive. "They are not lovers!"

"To use Lestat's phrase, yeah right," Santino said.

"Come on, Jesse," I said. "You're with us now. Tell the truth. We all know it."

"They're not!" Jesse insisted. "Think about it. Would Mael have made a pass at me if he loved Maharet?"

"Yes," Santino said. "We all know how much fidelity there is within our little coven. More passes are made between us than in an American football game."

"And you do seem to be a frequent recipient of them, Jesse," I pointed out.

"You'd know best," Jesse replied. "Having made one of them."

"I never made a pass at you!"

"Oh, sorry," she said. "My mistake. Please tell me then, how far back into my throat does your tongue have to be before I can say you made a pass at me?"

"I never said I didn't kiss you," I said. "I said I didn't make a pass at you. And I didn't. *You* made a pass at *me*."

"Why? Because Lestat de Lioncourt would never make a pass at someone?"

"No such thing," I said. "I make passes all the time. I've raised it to an art form! But hear me, young lady, when I make a pass at someone, they know it! There's no need to question the idea." I reached under the table and grabbed Santino.

"Hey!" He shoved my hand away.

I grinned at Jesse. "See?"

"Alright, you made your point," she said. "But I'd still like to say that Mael wouldn't have made a pass at me if he was in love with Maharet."

"Yes he would," Santino said. "We do that sort of thing all the time in this coven."

"I agree," David said. He then continued, almost to himself. "It couldn't have meant anything to him. He probably thought he was having a little bit of fun with the Talamasca scholar. He rattled the cage then left and never gave it a second thought since there was someone *more* important for him to think about."

One could have heard a jaw drop.

"Gee, David," Jesse said, after a few minutes of total silence had gone by. "I'll try not to take that as the insult I'm sure you didn't mean it to be."

"What?" David looked startled. "I'm terribly sorry. That is, you misunderstood me. What I meant to say is that you, being a Talamasca member, had that added element of forbiddeness which I'm sure added to the already present attraction. Just like Lestat and his constant rule breaking. But in the end he had to return to the one he loved."

"I see," Jesse said. She looked like she was going to say more, but thought better of it. "Anyway, as I was saying, I'd *like* to say he wouldn't have done it if he was in love with her, but I can't. He is. And vice versa."

"I knew it!" Santino said.

"Which still makes far too many couples in this coven of ours for those of us who are still single to find companionship," Jesse said.

"Make your own," I said. I studied my fingernails in the fluorescent light. "Whatever happened to that Greek cousin of yours that you were so enamoured of? What was his name, Constantine?"

"Don't even think it!" David and Santino said at once, both of them glaring at me.

"I wasn't!" I said. "I was merely giving Jessica a suggestion. I've enough problems with my current children. No offense, David."

"None taken," he replied. "I've grown used to you by now."

"You'll have to teach me that little trick," Santino said.

"Can we not turn this into an entire diatribe against me?" I asked. "I am trying to be helpful."

"Which should strike fear in the hearts of any sane creature," Santino said.

I decided to ignore him. "Why this sudden interest in romance, Jesse?"

She shrugged in that casual way that only Americans can. "I don't know. It seems that everyone around me is concerned with their love life and I can't help but start to think of it myself."

"Ah spring," Santino said. "When a young vampire's fancy turns to love."

"What about you, Santino?" David asked. "Do these things concern you as well?"

"I don't let them," Santino said. "I do not seek encounters of a romantic nature and they, in turn, do not seek me."

"Well that's for an obvious reason," I said.

"And what, pray tell, is that?" he asked. "And don't you dare say it's because I'm in love with Eric!"

"I don't have to. There's something else that frightens others off before they get close enough to find out about that one way or the other."

"Which is?"

"You dress like a priest! For goodness' sake, Santy, looking like you've taken a lifelong vow of chastity is not the right signal to give out."

"I seem to remember that you had a prediliction for black velvet once."

"I still do," I said. "But I try to throw in some color as well."

"Such as a red shirt?" Jesse asked.

"Oh be quiet."

"What about you, David?" Santino asked. "Do you seek out romantic encounters or no?"

"No," David said. "I have my friendships and they are enough. The members of this coven provide me with all the companionship I need."

"But how many have you met?" Santino frowned, apparently trying to figure out the number himself. "You only just met me, how many others do you know?"

"I have not met them all," David said, "but, for my needs, I have certainly met enough."

LOUIS

The sound of the doorbell ringing startled us both and I quickly rose to answer it, making a motion as I did so to indicate that Daniel could remain where he was if he so desired.

The one at the door was Marius and it was of some surprise to me when I saw him. He was wearing a dark grey double-breasted suit over which he wore a long black trenchcoat. His white blond hair had been cut short. I thought it made him look elegant. Lestat would have said that it made him look like a gangster. The red of this outfit was restricted to a single rosebud, pinned to his lapel. I felt a pang when I saw that, thinking of the roses still scattered across the library floor and Lestat's lips over mine as he gave them to me.

"Hello, Louis," he said. "I came to see Lestat."

This was politeness, of course. Marius had no need to say these words to me. He could, and probably had, make use of his vampiric powers to scan the house and see if Lestat was inside. I had no doubt that he already knew that Lestat was not here. He said the words all the same, respecting both my and his desire to retain simple human courtesy.

"He isn't here at the moment, I'm afraid," I said. "Is it urgent?"

Marius considered this. "No. Not particularly. I only wanted to speak with him. Do you know when he'll return?"

I shook my head. "His plans were rather last minute. He could come back now or minutes before the sun rises. Quite frankly, you could flip a coin and get about as accurate a guess as I can give you."

Marius laughed. "Of course, that applies to Lestat at any given time."

"Of course," I said and smiled.

"Marius!" Daniel came out of my study and into the front hall. "We were just talking about you."

Marius nodded in greeting to Daniel. "Were you? Might I ask about what in particular?"

"You and Armand," Daniel said.

"Please, come in," I said to Marius. "It's foolish for all of us to stand here in the doorway." I indicated that they should go into my study and followed behind them. Daniel returned to his chair and Marius took the one beside it, taking off his trenchcoat first and laying it over the arm rest. Marius waited until I sat down before speaking.

"Have you and Armand had another fight?" he asked Daniel.

"What makes you say that?" Daniel asked. "Are we starting to get a reputation for it?"

"Something like that," I confessed.

"Don't worry about it, Daniel," Marius said. "We all have our reputations in this coven. Even Louis and myself."

"I shudder to think what mine is," I said.

Daniel spoke up. "You--"

"I said I *shudder*, Daniel. Not that I wanted to know."

"Sorry," Daniel grinned.

"What did you want to know about me and Armand?" Marius asked.

"How did you put up with what he used to do?" Daniel asked. "Because, for the life of me, I have no idea how to do it myself."

Marius sat back in his chair and steepled his hands together. "You must understand, Daniel," he said, "that Armand was not always the way he is now. I knew Armand the child. You know Armand the vampire. I cannot tell you how to 'deal with him' as you say for we face different problems when we are with him, even today. And, even if I could, it is not my place to do so. You must decide for yourself what behavior is acceptable to you and act accordingly."

"But how can I know?" Daniel asked. "Already so many things have happened that I would have thought abhorrent years ago yet I find perfectly acceptable now. And other things that I thought I could handle, I can't."

"What sort of things are you worried about?" I asked.

"Silly things, foolish things," he said. "Like him having an affair."

"Is he?" Marius asked.

"No," Daniel said. "But I worry about it, sometimes. I wonder what stops him from doing it and I wonder what I would do if he did."

"It depends on the situation, Daniel," I said. "Things are too complex to simplify into an equation where one action equals one result. If it did happen, and I'm not for a moment suggesting that it would, but if it did happen, you would have to take in the time as a whole and see if you can understand the reason behind it. You might find that it's unacceptable. Or you might find, as I did, that when the feelings are strong enough, there can be forgiveness even for a mistake as foolish as that."

"Forgive me, Louis," Marius said, "but I don't think Lestat is a good example of this. Lestat does so many foolish things that we all, including you, have learned to give him a certain amount of leeway because otherwise it would be like fighting a hurricane. Surely a large amount of the forgiveness he gets comes from that leeway alone."

"I wasn't speaking of his affair," I said. "I was speaking of mine."

They both stared at me. Neither of them had known about it. At that point in time, I'd told no one in the coven except David who had kindly kept it to himself. Although I occasionally wished that he did tell the others. It would save me the pain of having to do it.

"Louis," Marius said slowly, his blue eyes searching my face. "You're not speaking of your time with Armand, are you?"

"No," I said. "As I've told Daniel, Armand and I were never truly lovers. The time I am speaking of is two years ago when I had an affair with another man."

"Does Lestat know of this?" he asked.

"Yes," I said. "He knew the moment that he saw me again. He even knows who it was and has spoken with him."

The trilling sound of a cellular phone broke the silence that followed. Marius reached into his coat and pulled out the small device. "Will you excuse me for a moment?" he asked.

"Of course," I said. He walked into the hallway, closing the door behind him for privacy. I was curious as to who the caller was. Many rumors abounded within the coven about Pandora's current status. Marius was known to spend a great amount of time with her. I wanted to ask him about this, but felt that it would be a personal invasion somehow. I turned my attention back to Daniel.

"Wow," he said. "An affair. That's--that's pretty big time." He stood up, rubbed the backs of his arms and examined some of the books on the selves above my desk. "Was it anyone I know?"

"No," I said. "He was a stranger that I met in a bar one night."

He gave a small laugh. "Boy, Louis, if you wanted to sleep with some stranger you met in a bar you should have come to me. Save yourself the trip." He turned away, suddenly. "I-I didn't mean that the way it sounded." I always knew that Daniel and I would have to talk about this. As the saying goes, no time like the present.

"Yes you did," I said. I stood up, put my hand on his arm and made him face me. "Daniel, I know that there is an attraction between us. And I would be lying to you if I said that the thought of going to your apartment that night wasn't more than a little tempting. But it would have been a grave error and we both know it."

"Thanks," he said flatly, trying for humor.

"You are my dearest friend on this earth, Daniel Molloy," I said. "It is your friendship that has gotten me through some of the most difficult times in my life. If we had become lovers--however briefly--it would have ruined the closeness between us forever. I would find that loss unbearable."

"Me too," he admitted. He gave a rueful half smile. "But what a way to go."

I laughed. "Perhaps. But think of the consequences. Not only would we ruin our relationship, but the relationship we have with our true lovers. Armand and Lestat would always remember the two of us together. How long would it take us to make them understand and know that we really wanted to be with them? No. I cannot think of a more foolish mistake than to throw away the ones who have been with us and loved us for our entire lives just for a quick, though enjoyable, fling."

There was a sound at the doorway. I turned and saw Marius standing there. He had to have heard what I had just said. Something made me wish that he hadn't, but I didn't know why.

"It would seem that I can't stay as long tonight as I thought I could," he said, returning the cellular phone to his coat pocket. "I will have to go soon. But you must forgive me, Louis, I'm having a hard time understanding this."

"That's alright," I said. "It took me some time to understand it myself. Both while I was doing it and after I had come back to Lestat."

"And you came back to Lestat out of loyalty?" he asked.

"No," I said. "At least, that was not the guiding reason. I am loyal to Lestat, yes. But that loyalty comes out of my love for him. It would dishonest and cruel of me to come back to him in this way if I didn't love him."

"And he forgave you?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

"He never said. But I suppose it was out of his love for me."

"When did this happen?" Daniel asked.

"About two years ago, as I said," I turned to Marius. "You probably remember the time. I left for a week and Lestat and David had a fight because of it. David spent the time with you, I believe."

"No," Marius said. He made a negative gesture with his hand. "That is, I saw him, but he was not with me the whole time. David and I do not spend much time together. I hardly see him, really. I don't know where everyone gets this impression that I see him so frequently."

"I wasn't aware that anyone had that impression," I said curiously. I looked over at Daniel and he shook his head in agreement with me.

"Yes, well, it's neither here nor there," Marius waved his hand dismissively. "Is there anything else before I go?"

Daniel had a few more questions for him about Armand. I remained silent throughout this, wondering what was the cause of Marius's poor mood.

Although I'm sure I am making a larger deal of it than it was.

LESTAT

"Oh yum," Jesse sighed. Our waitress had been replaced by a waiter who took up the new shift. He'd stopped by to see if we needed a new order, then left us to our musings. "Did you see those piercings?"

Santino shook his head. "No. Where were they?"

"On his tongue, like this," she stuck her own tongue out and pointed out a triangle with her finger. "Gods, if I was still mortal I'd pay him to go down on me."

"I'm sure he's heard that line before," I commented.

Jesse hit me on my arm.

"Ow! What was that for?" I demanded with as much indignity as I could muster.

"Had to be impatient, didn't you?" she said. "You couldn't wait ten little years in your stinking immortal life to have your concert so I could reap the full benefits of this body modification craze before losing those traits that would appreciate it most."

"Well, not to be callous," I said. "But you're over forty years old. As a mortal, you'd look it. While I'm sure that you would be an attractive forty year old, you would certainly find it difficult paying the lost college freshman who needs a big strong jock to help her find her way home."

"How do you know how she hunts?" Santino asked.

"I know many things," I said. "I don't put everything I do into a book, you know."

"Only because Louis has been keeping you too busy," he said.

"Is this really the topic of conversation that we want to be having in public?" David asked. "Can't we leave an air of mystery over some things?"

"Sorry, David," Santino said.

"My apologies," I said. "But so I understand you, talking about genital piercings and the possibility of me getting Louis' name tattooed on my inner thigh would be inappropriate, correct?"

"Yes," David said, not a little crossly. I felt bad. I had only meant to needle him the way I always do.

:Not to be vulgar,: Jesse said to me, :but I can't help but think that David could use a good lay.:

:Don't look at me!: I said. :It's not as though I didn't try!:

Jesse gave an inelegant snort of laughter which she tried, unsuccessfully, to hide as a cough. Both David and Santino looked at me, but I returned the look innocently.

:Evil!: she said. :You're evil!:

:Thank you. I do what I can.: This made her laugh even harder which made David and Santino look at the both of us strangely. :I think we need to distract our companions, little sister.:

:Allow me.:

"I believe our new waiter and his friend are flirting with us, Santino," she said, making a small motion towards them with her hand. "Shall we bait them together?"

"Why not?" he replied with a smile. "After not having all this coffee, I could use a little drink."

Santino and Jesse bent forward and began plotting their seduction of the hapless mortals. I didn't pay much attention to it and instead studied David. Jesse's comment, though vulgar as she said, was rather on the money. David had been in the strangest mood all evening and I did not know why.

"If you'll excuse me," I said, standing up. "I'm going to go to the little vampire's room."

"Lestat, my dear boy," Santino said, "you're not mortal anymore. Why on earth would you want to go to the restroom?"

"To update Armand's phone number, why else?" I said. I took David by the hand and all but pulled him up from his chair forcibly. "Come with me."

David gave me a look of resignation and followed.

The restroom was empty when we entered. Given how much caffeine was being served outside, I was surprised but decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth.

"Give me a pen," I said.

"What makes you think I have a pen?" he asked. He folded his arms and leaned against the door.

"You always carry such practical items with you. Come on now." I held out my hand impatiently.

He sighed, pulled a pen out of his pockets and gave it to me. "Isn't this a bit immature, Lestat?"

"Of course it is," I said. "That's the point. Armand is not going to ruin my night with Louis and escape unharmed. I work my revenge in mysterious ways."

"Your mind works in mysterious ways," he said. He shook his head at me, almost bemused. I was in half a mood to take that as an insult. I was not some small child to be looked at from on high! But then I remembered what I was doing and realized I hadn't a leg to stand on in the argument. I instead turned my efforts to the plaster wall where I scribbled Armand's number and the appropriate message beside it, then handed the pen back to David.

"Are you quite done?" David asked, still with that bemused tone.

"Not yet," I said. "First you must explain yourself to me."

"Me? Whatever for?"

"You've been acting in the oddest way all evening," I said. "Is anything wrong?"

"Aside from the fact that my dearest friend has now committed a minor felony?"

"Yes and it's a misdemeanor at most. Nothing like murder or grand theft auto. And I should know!"

"This is true," David said. "And no, there is nothing wrong."

"Are you sure?"

"You're not going to start that again, are you?" he asked, but smiled at me more kindly.

"No," I said. I studied his face, trying to see if he was lying to me or not. If he was, I couldn't tell. I hoped he wasn't. David had had a hard enough time of it already as a vampire. Nothing like the grand adventure I had hoped for him. He deserved his moments of happiness. "You could come live with us again, if you wanted to," I said suddenly. "With Louis and me, that is."

"No thank you," David said. "I appreciate the offer but you and Louis deserve the time to yourselves. I would only be in the way. Don't argue with me, you know it's true! I would have moved out by now anyway."

"I suppose," I said. "But still--"

"But nothing! Come now. The sun will be up in a couple of hours. It's more than time for you to go home and be with Louis. I can see you later in the week, if you'd like."

"Of course I would," I said. "You never have to ask, David, you know that."

"I do," he smiled. He hugged me then opened the door and led the way back into the cafe.

From the looks of things, Jesse and Santino had decided to leave as well.

"The waiter was a waste of time," Santino said. "But his friend was not alone. We're all going out for a nice, isolated walk in the park." He grinned feraly.

"I'd tell you to knock them dead but that would take all the fun out of it," I said.

"It always does," he said. "They're so much better conscious."

I laughed. "Will I be seeing you sometime soon?"

"Count on it," he said. "I plan on staying in the States for a while. That seems to be the current trend in our coven, actually. A great vampire migration. You'll be seeing a lot of us, I'll bet."

"Lovely," I said. "I'm setting the alarms on my house now."

"Lestat!" David scolded.

"No, he's right, David," Santino said. "Our coven has never worked well as a whole. There's a reason why we couldn't stand being on that island for any longer than we did. I might be hiding out at that house of yours with you."

"I second that motion," Jesse said. She put her arms around me and embraced me tightly. :I'll see you soon. I promise.:

:You'd better, little sister. I don't want to have to explain to Louis why you didn't come by.: I kissed her on the cheek, waved good bye to David and Santino, then left.

I returned home to find Daniel leaving, with, of all people, Marius right behind him. From the look that Louis gave me, it had been a tiring night.

"Ah, Lestat, there you are," Marius said. "I'd like to speak with you, if I may. I can't stay now, but would you be free tomorrow night?"

From behind Marius, Louis shook his head in a vigorous No.

"I'm afraid not," I said. "It would seem that I'm going to be a bit tied up tomorrow." Louis scowled at me. I pretended not to see. "Is it terribly important?"

"No," Marius said. He smiled. "I only wished to talk. I can do that, you know. When you're not being your usual bratty self."

"I'm moved beyond words," I said. "So sorry that you can't stay."

He laughed. "I'll call you soon." He waved to Louis then left.

Louis, in the meantime, was trying to say good bye to Daniel.

"Please don't worry," he was saying. "I'm sure it will be fine. After all, it couldn't get worse than it's already been."

"That's a nice, backhanded comfort," Daniel said. "What if it isn't fine? What if tomorrow is the same as tonight?"

Louis didn't even bat an eyelash. "Then you must stay with him the entire night and talk it out, Daniel. I can give you no other advice." I tried my best to hide my laughter.

"What do you think, Lestat?" Daniel asked. I quickly made myself look serious.

"Louis' right, Daniel," I said. "You should listen to him." I walked inside the house. "Good night, Daniel."

"Night, Lestat," he said. "Louis--"

"Good night, Daniel," Louis said cheerfully, then shut the door. We waited until we were sure he was gone then sat on the floor wearily.

"Mon Dieu," I said. "Must we encounter every coven member tonight?"

"Bite your tongue," Louis said. "My head's spinning as it is."

"It's our worst nightmare. First we cannot find the companionship, then we can't get them the hell out of our lives. Pretty soon there will be a constant parade through our house and we won't even be able to recognize each other."

"Frightening," Louis feigned a dramatic shudder. His mouth quirked up in a smile. "Just who are you again?"

"Tom Cruise," I said without missing a beat. "And you?"

"Brad Pitt," he shook my hand. "Charmed I'm sure."

"Didn't we do a movie or something together?"

"I think so," he said. "I'm pretty sure it was a movie."

"What was that title again? Intercourse With A Vampire?"

His shoulders were shaking with laughter now. "No, I believe everyone's getting that confused and turning it into your current movie: Mission Impossible."

That was too much. We collapsed into a helpless laughing fit to rival any I've ever encountered.

"Mm," I kissed him, when I could finally draw breath enough to do it. "And how many people know that the sexy Louis de Pointe du Lac has a killer sense of humor?"

"Only you, my handsome one," he said. He moved my arms so that he was completely in my embrace. "Lestat, if you ever doubted it, I'm never, ever going to leave you."

"I wasn't wondering about it right now," I said. "But it's good to know. What brought that declaration on?"

"Listening to Daniel," he said. "And the thought of ever having to go through the process of getting used to another lover."

"Amen," I said, thinking of Jesse and Santino and, to a certain extent, David as well. "It's enough to make me become religious."

Louis moved away quickly.

"What?" I asked.

"I'm waiting for the lightening bolts," he said, making a great show of fear.

"That does it," I said, turning my back on him. "I will not be insulted. You can sleep by yourself today."

"Lestat!"

"Nope, forget it," I said, folding my arms and turning even further away. "You blew it."

I felt him press against my back as he whispered in my ear. "I'm ever so sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you."

"Tough."

"Isn't there anything I can do to earn your forgiveness?" His hand moved around my waist. "I can't bear thinking you're angry with me. Please, I'll do *anything*."

Every now and then I have to stop and savor moments like this.

"Then wash my car," I said.

"Lestat!" he swatted my shoulder. I could see his green eyes flashing at me out of the corner of my eye. He looked deliciously flustered.

"Hitting me isn't going to make it better!" I twisted around quickly and grabbed both of his hands in one of mine. "You're in big trouble now."

"Oh dear," he tried to look properly humble. "What are you going to do to me?"

"That's the beauty of it," I said. "I'm going to do anything I want to. And, since you started this problem by letting Daniel into the house in the first place, things are not looking good for you. And stop trying to kiss me, you're being punished."

"Sorry," he said. "I can't help myself. You know, you look so gorgeous when you're angry."

"Don't try to get out of this by quoting my own words at me!" I said. He grinned. It was getting impossible for me to resist that lovely mouth of his. You know, sometimes I think he's getting more like me every day. Which could possibly mean that I'm getting more like him as well. Now *that* is a truly frightening thought.

"What can I do then?" he asked. "What are you going to do?"

I stood up, letting him go as I did so. "*I* am going to go upstairs and get comfortable in our bed. As for you, you can gather up all those roses then join me. Don't take the thorns off. I'm going to be using them." I started walking up the stairs. "And Louis?"

"Yes?"

"Lock the damn front door, will you?"

He laughed. "It's nice to see tonight get off to its real start," he said.

It was indeed.

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