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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."

Preface, a 'tweener spec
by the Brat Queen


PREFACE

by Louis de Pointe du Lac

I have seen many of Shakespeare's plays in both my mortal and immortal lifetime. Usually, I will see these plays with Lestat. His passion for Shakespeare matches mine for opera and we often surprise one another with tickets to each. Lestat purchaces our box at the opera house and I will buy tickets for him whenever one of the plays is playing nearby. Macbeth is his favorite, followed by Hamlet and As You Like It. I have learned long ago that if I am to find any enjoyment in perhaps my thousanth viewing of these plays, it will be in watching Lestat react to what happens onstage as he mouths along with the words and his eyes dance at the performance of the actors. It is Lestat, you understand, who feels passionately for the Bard. I can take pleasure in the evening out with Lestat and, to a certain extent, in the actual performance, but I do not feel strongly enough about it to really care and search out the full sum of Shakespeare's works.

I say all of this to explain how it came to be that when Daniel and Armand invited Lestat and me to see a performance of Titus Andronicus that I was in complete ignorance of the play, having neither seen nor read it. Lestat knew what it was, but it did not occur to me to ask him for a summary. Seeing the play itself would more than satisfy my curiosity.

I was therefore wholly unprepared for the reaction that it had on me.

The play started out much like many of Shakespeare's Greek tragedies and nothing quite remarkable struck me about the story. Lestat, for his part, did not seem overly enthused about it which made me wonder if this might not be one of the better performances. I fell into a daydreamish state for a while and did not pay much attention to what was happening.

I don't know what it was that drew my attention, but something snapped me out of my reverie just as one of the characters--Lavinia--was being dragged offstage. I hadn't paid attention to the play long enough to know what had led up to this but what was happening at the moment was more than enough for me to discern what was currently happening or, more accurately, what was being done. I remained transfixed until she reappeared. I watched, silently, as her uncle discovered her in the forest and tried desparately to understand who had tortured her so. Lavinia, too, was silent, never able to tell her uncle the names of those who had raped her, then taken both her hands and tongue so that she could never speak again.

A pressure that had been building up inside of me since she had first disappeared broke at the sight of this. Unable to stand it any longer I stumbled my way out of the dark booth and ran for the fresh air of the lobby, tears streaming down my face. In the back of my head I heard Daniel verbally ask if I was alright and Lestat's response that he would go after me but this did not sink in until I felt Lestat's hand on my arm.

"Louis?" his voice was gentle and I could picture his grey eyes looking at me with concern.

"Dammit," I whispered. I buried myself in the protection of his arms, sobbing uncontrollably. "Dammit, dammit, dammit."

"Shh," he said. He pulled me behind one of the huge marble columns that decorated the theatre lobby so that we could have a measure of privacy. "It's ok. I've got you."

"I hate this," I said. I wiped the tears away from my eyes roughly but I could not make them stop. "Why does this always have to happen?"

"You're still hurting, beautiful one. It takes time." He held me closer and rubbed his cheek against my hair. "It's a rough play. I should have known better."

"It's not just that," I said. "It did upset me but what I really hate is that it could. I hate that I can't go anywhere without something reminding me and bringing me to tears. I feel so useless and foolish."

"You watch what you say about the man I love," he said in mock anger. He tilted my head and kissed me. The tenderness of this made me cry a little harder for a moment, then I relaxed enough and the tears stopped. "Louis, you can't beat yourself up about this. You have to let yourself do what you need to do to come to terms with everything that has happened these past few years."

He smiled gently. "You've got to admit, Louis, so far the 90s haven't really been good to you. Just look at what happend: I nearly died a few times, you nearly died a few times, Juliano captures you and tears you apart physically, Nicki captures you and tears you apart mentally, we nearly lose Armand and throughout it all you and I set new standards for misunderstanding each other and practically ruin our relationship forever. Hell, now *I* feel like crying."

I laughed. "Yes," I said, "but you knew about that already. You know everything that happened to me. No one else does."

"The others know about Juliano," Lestat said. "They know what he did."

"I know," I said. I let go of him and walked a few steps away, trying to think of how I could explain what I meant. "But they don't know what I felt, what I did. I think that the sight of Lavinia upset me because she and I are so much alike. Her uncle could see that she had no hands or tongue, but she could never tell him what was inside of her. The horror of what happened could not be released, no one could understand. You know it because we are connected but the others don't. I want them to know! Not about Juliano but about what happened after, what happened to *me*. I want everyone to know that. I *need* everyone to know that."

"You are not Lavinia, Louis," Lestat said. "You have both hands and tongue. You can create the words to let everyone know. You can make a record of it, write it down."

I shook my head. "Much as I love the new journal you gave me, it's not the same."

"I'm not referring to the journal," he said. "I mean a book, one for all to see. One where you can permanantly mark what happened to *you*."

"There's a problem with that," I said. "So many things that I did.... Some things are so hard for me to think about, for me to say 'I did this'. I don't know if I can."

"Then don't," he said. He took my hand. "It's like when I was writing Queen of the Damned. My mind couldn't accept that all of it had happened so to write about it I needed to retreat into the third person."

"But you did that for times when you were not there," I said.

"So?" he said. "The principle is still the same. Don't write 'I, Louis, did this' just write 'Louis did this'. You've told me before that you felt like you were another person those three years, write it that way."

"Do you think that would work?" I asked.

He smiled. "Trust me. This is a big jump to make. Let yourself build a bridge instead."

I squeezed his hand tightly. "I'm scared. What if it's too much? What if I can't handle it?"

"Then I will be there to help you through," Lestat pulled me into his arms again.

"You don't mind?" I asked.

"Taking care of you? Never." He grinned. "Besides, you know that if one of us isn't having a nervous breakdown the world stops turning on its axis. I've been doing it for the last decade, you're more than overdue for your turn."

"I was hoping we could skip it this century," I smiled then kissed him.

"Feeling better?" he asked.

"Yes," I said.

"Do you want to go back in?" he asked, motioning towards the auditorium.

"I don't know," I said. "I'm not really in the mood for it anymore. But perhaps I should see the ending. It might help me to see what happens to Lavinia after all this."

"Ah, don't bother," Lestat said. "It's not really interesting."

"Why?" I asked. "What happens?"

"What happens? Well, ah, Lavinia gets magically healed and marries the man of her dreams."

I frowned. "But I thought the program said this was a tragedy."

"It was," Lestat said. "Shakespeare's form was really off on this. It's his worst piece of writing ever. That's the tragedy."

"Lestat, you wouldn't be lying to me now would you?"

"Who, me?" he looked at me with one of his fake innocent smiles. "Never."

"You've undoubtedly got the book of this at home," I said. "I could look it up there."

"Not after I burn the copies," Lestat said.

I sighed. "Alright, I'll let you have your way with this for now. But only if you go back upstairs and explain to Armand and Daniel why we're leaving so early. And do it right so they're not insulted!"

"That should be easy," he said. "I'll just tell them we want to go home and make love. They'll believe it."

I ran my finger along his jaw. "That's not necessarily a lie, Lestat."

His eyes turned purple with desire. "I'll hurry then," he said. "But only if you promise me that you're not doing this to avoid writing."

"I'm not," I said. "It's just that you've made me feel so good that you're all I can think about. I'll begin writing tomorrow. Now I believe you said something about hurrying?"

He studied me for a moment to make sure I was telling the truth before kissing me and then returning to the booth to say our goodbyes. I waited in agony for his return. I needed him. Both that night and, I knew, for the nights ahead. Without him, I would not have been able to do this.

I'd been right. It was hellish writing this. There were some nights when I became so upset that it would take Lestat hours to calm me down. My poor love.

But this needed to be written and I shall never regret doing it. The memories and some of the pain is still there, but at least I know that others can read of it and *understand*. To know what I did during those three years is to know what I *was*.

As I wrote, Lestat told me that during that time he had taken to writing as well. Finding it hard to vent the frustration he felt, he took to creating a journal of his own. He let me read it as I worked. It hurt me to see how much pain I had caused him. I spent many nights trying to apologize for it. Sadly, I realized that Lestat was not the only one I had hurt. I knew that if I was ever to heal I needed to make amends for all that I had done. I found solace in my journal when I did this.

What is here now is the collection of my writing, Lestat's journal and my journal. I offer it as an explanation for all that happened.

It begins immediately after the ending of Memnoch the Devil....

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