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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."

Sins of the Past Post 14
by the Brat Queen

Act 26

*word*=italics, used for emphasis, thoughts or dreams.
_word_=emphasis in thoughts or dreams.
:word or sentence:=something spoken telepathically.

Time: early evening, the next night.

Louis stood on the street corner, hidden in the shadows, and watched the activity through the windows of the Mayfair House. He could not help but wonder if Lasher had stood on this very spot and performed this very action. Of course, Lasher's intent had been to get inside of the house. Right now, Louis' was to get away from it. He hadn't gone inside yet, the only building in New Orleans that he'd gone into upon his return was the Rue Royale flat so that he might change out of Nicolas's clothes and back into his own. It had felt good to put on his own clothes. He could wear them and feel them next to his skin and know that he was home and closer to himself.

But the flat had been empty so Louis came here. He didn't find what he was looking for and he wanted to go after it. He wasn't sure, though, if he shouldn't go inside first. Those inside were undoubtedly wondering about him. He wished that he dared scan the house to see if they truly needed him now or if he could disappear for a little while longer but he didn't want to take the chance that they would discover him out here and make him come inside if he didn't have to, just yet.

"Don't bother." Louis turned to see Ramses walking up the street. The ancient immortal came up to the younger vampire and watched the house with him. "Right now they are too busy to need you with them."

"What are they doing?" Louis asked.

"Rowan is trying to see if she can discover what Ash was given to render him sterile and from that try to find the cure. Some of the others from your--how do you call it? Coven?"

Louis nodded.

"From your coven came to see Jessica. Most everyone is talking about what should be done next now that we know that our enemies are out there. Others are very interested in the nature of the 'bond' that you and Lestat have and will not talk of anything else but the scientific implications of it." Ramses gave Louis a sympathetic glance. "I can see why the two of you kept the details to yourselves. Those inside are truly removing the romance from the idea. As for me, I have no immediate plans so I decided to go for a walk."

Louis was suddenly concerned. "Ramses, do you understand why I did what I did? Why I had to?" Louis meant Cleopatra.

"Yes," Ramses nodded solemnly. He meant all of it. "No one can really judge another, Louis. All that we can do is live our lives and make our decisions and hope that we have done the best that we can. You need not look at me that way, I know that you were referring to Cleopatra. But how can I condemn you for letting her go unless I first condemn myself for not letting her die? Our choices in this life are not simple. We do what we feel we must and try to go on for as long as we can."

"Will you go now?" Louis asked. "Cleopatra made it very clear that she did not wish to be with Nicolas again, there is no longer a common enemy to unite us."

"If there was one lesson to be learned from all of this," Ramses said, "it is that we should not have needed a common enemy to unite us. We--all of us--have spent too many years closing ourselves off from others and thinking that we are alone in what we are. We should not need enemies and common hatred to bring us together. The ties that bind us should be those of friendship and love. By giving us this lesson, our enemies gave us new strength as well."

Louis nodded. "There were many lessons to be learned here. However, I'm afraid most of them were meant for me. Now I must prove that they were not wasted and risk losing that which means the most to me."

Ramses smiled, kindly. "Lestat is not here."

"But he was here, not long ago, yes?" Louis asked.

"Yes," Ramses said. "He left about a half hour ago after Ryan came by to show him some papers. I don't know where he went though."

"I do," Louis said. He looked back at the house and shifted uncertainly in his place.

"Go," Ramses said. "Be with your lover. That's what you need right now."

"What if the others--"

"If the others ask, I will say that I never saw you," Ramses smiled again, more broadly. "How could I? I was out for a walk."

"Thank you," Louis said. He returned Ramses' smile then vanished into the dark night.

When he had read the address back in Nicolas's chambers, he had not recognized it. But now that he was approaching the building, he remembered it.

It had been an orphanage, years ago. Back when tricorne hats were still in style and the only revolution that anyone cared about was happening overseas. Louis had been living with Lestat in New Orleans when he first saw it. He'd loved the old building--new then. It reminded him of the grand plantation that he had grown up on.

Louis hardly recognized the building as he approached. Workmen's tools and powerful machines littered the grounds. The outside facade had been torn away and a new one was in the process of being put up. This was a renovation of a grand scale.

The front door was unlocked when he tried it, though he could see the wires around it that would soon become part of the expensive home security system. The front hall was full of scaffolding and paint cans and drywall. What little furniture there was had been covered by drop cloths. It occured to him to wonder why anyone would bother to undertake such a large and cumbersome project.

Though he had never been inside the building, he was able to find his way through the mess of construction to the one place he needed to be. He found Lestat in what had to be the largest room of the entire house, sitting on top of the drop cloth on one of the couches. Lestat looked up when Louis entered the room and Louis was about to speak when the full impact of the room hit him.

Whatever it had been in the past, it was a library now. It covered two full stories and shelves filled every wall save for the two enormous fireplaces on each end and the three arched windows which ran right up to the ceiling. There were boxes all around and when Louis looked inside one of the open ones, he saw that the books inside were all leatherbound copies of his favorite authors.

"For me," Louis whispered. "You did all of this, for me."

"For us," Lestat said. "But mostly you."

"I thought you wanted to leave me," Louis said.

"I thought you wanted me to go," Lestat replied.

"Oh God," Louis sighed. He sank down onto the couch, taking Lestat's arm and putting it around his shoulders as he did so. "We're doing it again, aren't we?"

"That would imply that we ever stopped," Lestat said. "I hate to say it, but this is status quo for us."

"I know," Louis said. He put his head on Lestat's shoulder. "I hate this. I don't want to spend the rest of my life misunderstanding you."

"It's not that much of a thrill for me either, you know," Lestat said. He propped his feet up on one of the boxes. "Why do we keep doing this? Why can't we take the easy way for once?"

"We're hardly 'easy' loving people, Lestat," Louis said. "*You* would climb up the outside of a building rather than use the elevator whereas *I*.... I fall madly in love with you rather than settling down, getting married, having 18 children and an ulcer by the time I'm 30 then dying of a heart attack."

"Interesting plan for life you had before you met me," Lestat said. "Would the heart attack be from the ulcer or the children?"

"Neither," Louis said. "They were fashionable at the time. All the men my age were having them."

"I see, and if all the men your age were jumping off a bridge would you?"

"Ask my mother," Louis said. "She was the one who cared about that sort of thing."

"So it was your mother who wanted you to have a heart attack?" Lestat raised an eyebrow. Louis nodded. "And I thought *I* had it rough. All my father wanted was for me to sleep with women more often. That was a lot easier to do than get a fatal disease."

Louis laughed. "Well, you can't say I didn't try. First I tried drinking but that didn't do it. Then I met you but that gave *her* a heart attack."

"You're kidding," Lestat said.

"Oh no," Louis said. He forced himself to look as serious as he could. "She didn't get one literally, but she suspected my feelings for you long before I did and faked one quite admirably. Then she kept trying to convert me everytime I saw her. I began to think my real name was 'Louis you're 30 years old and not married and you're never going to settle down if you keep seeing that so-called business partner of yours and you're running your poor old mother into her grave'."

Lestat howled in the throws of a full-blown laughing fit. "Stop it! I can't breathe!" he gasped.

Louis held his sides and tried to take a few deep breaths himself. "Of-of course," he panted. "For company it was shortened to 'My son Louis, who is, you know, *that* way'."

"Shut up!" Lestat warned. He tried to look stern and failed. Louis imitated the look and they both collapsed into helpless laughter.

"You know," Lestat said long after the last giggle had died away, "I think I gave you the Dark Gift just for that moment."

"It's as good a reason as any," Louis said. He brushed a stray lock of hair out of his eyes and looked around him. "I think I accepted it just for this room."

"You really like it then?" Lestat asked.

"Yes," Louis smiled. "Though I have to ask: two fireplaces? Won't that be too much for the typical New Orleans heat?"

Lestat pointed to the vents in the ceiling. "Air conditioning," he said. "By the time the work on this is finished we could raise penguins in this room if we wanted to."

"You think of everything," Louis said. "Is the rest of the house like this?"

"It will be, once it's done," Lestat said. "I can show you the plans if you'd like. Every room will be tailored just for us and it will be filled with everything you like. It was going to be an anniversary present for you."

"Anniversary?" Louis looked at him questioningly.

"Yes, of the night I first set eyes on you," Lestat said.

"You really do love me, don't you?" Louis whispered.

"I do," Lestat said. "Do--"

"Yes," Louis said. "I love you too. Dear God, Lestat, we've got to stop doing this. We've got to stop hiding how we feel and pretending that we know what's going on when we don't and never challenging it and never letting each other know what we want.

"It's my fault. I'm the one who has spent the past three years acting like I didn't care about anyone or anything. I'm so sorry."

"No," Lestat said. "It's both our fault. I'm the one who didn't try to change all of that. I thought it would be easy. That all we would have to do is say 'we're lovers now' and that's all there would be to it. No, I *wanted* it to be easy. I wanted to believe everything you told me, even though I knew it was wrong. It's my fault as much as yours. I wanted the wrong thing."

"And what do you want now?" Louis asked.

Lestat thought for a moment before answering. "Have you ever been walking through a park or a shopping center and seen a little old couple walking together? And, just by looking at them, you know what their lives were like. She met him when they were in their teens. He courted her as best he could though he didn't have a lot of money and the greatest act of courage he ever did was ask her father's permission for her hand in marriage.

"Together they faced wars, money problems, temptation, sickness and death. They fought for everything that they ever had and even though they're now rich enough to buy diamonds, the greatest gift they ever gave one another was their children.

"They've got great-grandchildren now. And you know that these children look up at them and think they are so old and so wise. Their own children look at them and every day they worry that they're another step closer to losing them and that they should slow down.

"But when they look at each other, they don't see this. He looks at her and sees that smart, kind, beautiful young woman who took his breath away. She looks at him and sees that clever, sensitive, handsome young man who made her quake in the knees. They don't fear dying. Something so small could never hurt them. They will face it just as they have everything else; together. Because not even Heaven matters to them if they cannot see it as one."

Lestat looked at Louis. "That is what I want with you. We may not grow old and the only children we can ever truly have are our memories but I want to know that now and a thousand years from now and a thousand years from then I can look into your eyes and feel that same humiliating rush of love for you that I did when I first saw you two hundred years ago. And, if we ever do die, I want to know that you will be there with me because nothing, but nothing can tear us apart."

"Damn you," Louis whispered. He wiped his eyes. "I live for 200 years being able to count the amount of times I have cried on one hand. Then I move in with you and you say things like that and I cry enough to flood the Mississippi."

Lestat pulled Louis into his arms. "Alright, beautiful one," he whispered in his ear. "How about this? I want to spend the rest of eternity with you and I want to fight with you and I want to hear you tell me I'm a beast who should be locked up and I want to be driven up a wall by all those annoying things that you do because, aside from being the smartest, tenderest and *sexiest* man I've ever laid eyes on, you are also the most frustrating, pretentious and tight-assed man I've ever had the misfortune to fall in love with."

"Much better," Louis said. He nuzzled up against Lestat. "As for *you*. You are the most obnoxious, self-centered, greedy, vain, arrogant and generally evil creature on this earth. But you are also the most generous, caring, intelligent, strong, sexy and good man that I've ever known and I love you so much I think I'd die if you stopped loving me."

Lestat crushed Louis' mouth as he kissed him. "Ah, much, *much* better," he said as he began kissing down Louis' neck. "'Generally evil' hmm? I like that."

"I thought you would," Louis gasped as Lestat hit a sensitive spot. "No, wait." He put his hand against Lestat's mouth and gently pushed him away. "We can't--it's still not easy, Lestat."

"How do you mean?" Lestat asked. He took Louis' hand in his.

"The memories," Louis said. "The horror of everything that happened three years ago is still with me and I can feel it rising up inside of me. But this time I have to face it. I can't deny it or try to run away anymore. All I can do is sit still and hurt. That won't be easy. Not on me and certainly not on anyone around me at the time if the past three years are any indication. I don't even know how long it will take. It might be years before I'm ever fully healed. If you didn't want to wait for me, I'd understand."

"You're actually serious so I won't make a joke right now and hurt you," Lestat said, "but, Louis, really! First off, I'd have to be the greatest prick on this earth to tell you that I loved you but only when you were in a good mood. Second, Louis, how many times have I come to you on the edge of or in the middle of a nervous breakdown? Hell, that's been the hallmark of the past two centuries! You are more than due for me to sit back, shut my big mouth and do nothing but take care of you. And moreover, I've been waiting two hundred years for you to give me that chance."

"Really?" Louis asked. "And be careful how you answer. I've got two hundred years' worth of *not* having a nervous breakdown to catch up on. You might not live to regret this."

"I'll take my chances," Lestat said. "You don't look so tough to me. I think I can take you."

"I was rather hoping you would," Louis grinned, slyly. "Lestat, when will this house be finished?"

"A few more weeks," Lestat said. "Not more than a month. Why, is there something wrong with that?"

"Only if you went against what I know to be your basic instincts and told them to do the master bedroom last," Louis said. "Please tell me you didn't."

"Actually, I told them to make this room their first priority," Lestat said. "The bedroom came next. Of course, since the bedroom is *much* smaller they were able to finish it first."

"So, in theory, we could go up there right now and stay there and never have to worry about being interrupted by workers or the sunlight or even other vampires if, in theory, we were so inclined?"

"We could," Lestat gave Louis a look of mock innocence. "Why, would you be interested in seeing it?"

"I might," Louis smiled, just as innocently. "I'll never know until I see it now will I?"

"Come along then," Lestat said. He got up, took Louis by the hand and led him upstairs. "I think you'll be pleasantly surprised."

"I hope so," Louis said. He stopped then, and tugged on Lestat's hand to make him stop as well. "Lestat, are we together now, truly? Forever and forever?"

Lestat came down the steps and kissed him until he put his arms around him and Lestat could carry him the rest of the way. "Oui, beautiful one. Forever and Forever."



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