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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 5
by the Brat Queen

Acts 10-11

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

Time: nearly dawn, the same night.

David returned to the Mayfair house and was greeted with the sound of arguing. The stereo continued to play in the background as it had always done and the gentle music that came from it stood out in sharp contrast to the human voices coming from the kitchen. He followed the noise to its source and found Rowan, Mona, Michael, Daniel and Armand gathered around the kitchen table.

"But this doesn't really tell us anything!" Michael said. "How are we now any better off than we were before?"

"It does show a definite trend," Mona said. "That has to mean something."

"I know it means something, honey," said Michael, "But knowing that it means something doesn't put us any closer to finding our enemy than we were before."

"What is the item in question?" David asked.

"We discovered that the only files that were ever stolen from the Talamasca had something to do with all of us," Rowan said. "Our enemy had to be the one behind it."

"Which means that we've narrowed the possible candidates down to everyone in the world *but* the Talamasca," Daniel said. "That makes it *much* easier."

"Or perhaps we should not eliminate the Talamasca," Armand said, looking at David. "We cannot yet rule out the possibility of inside help now can we?"

"No, we can't," David said. "I'm afraid it's provided too many surprises for me to discount any possibilities."

"So we're back to square one," Daniel said. "Great."

"Not really," said Mona. "Since we know that our enemy took these files, all we have to do is figure out why and that should lead us to him."

"David, I know you will have to sleep soon, but would you mind helping us with this before you go?" Rowan asked.

"Not at all. I don't know what help I can give, but I'm at your disposal," David said. He paused for a moment and frowned slightly. "Where is Lestat? I thought he was here."

"He's out back," Daniel said. "He's been out there for a while. I guess he got bored looking at all these files."

"Indeed," David said. "If you will excuse me, I think I'd like to speak with Lestat before I offer you my assistance here. Do you mind?"

"That's fine," Rowan said.

"Thank you." David replied. He gave a nod to everyone in the room then made his way outside. His eyes quickly adjusted to the darkness and he looked around him for signs of his friend. As a mortal, David could have found him easily, but ever since he had become a vampire that connection had been shut forever.

He saw him, finally, standing under one of the many trees that undoubtedly provided the house with welcome shade in the daytime. As he approached, he could hear Lestat speaking to himself in a breathless whisper.

"What happened, Louis? What's gone wrong? It shouldn't be this way...."

David cleared his throat to attract Lestat's attention. The blonde-haired vampire's head snapped up and the eyes that fixed on him grew cold.

"Go away, David! I don't want to speak with you now!"

"Lestat, please, do you think I wanted it to be this way? My friend, I swear to you, if there was anything on this earth that I wanted to be wrong about, it was this."

"Silence, David! I won't hear another word from you!" Lestat turned to walk away but David stepped in front of him and barred the way.

"You have to, Lestat," David said, gently but firmly. "You have to face this now. You can't deny it any longer."

"And what might that be, David?" Lestat said. "Hmm? Tell me O Wise One, what have I been denying? After all, you can see into my mind so well--oh that's right, you can't! Ever since I pumped you full of my blood you couldn't read my thoughts if you got down on your hands and knees and begged me for them!"

"I know you, Lestat, and I know what you're feeling. You're worried about Louis. You thought he was alright but he hasn't come home and now you're starting to wonder. If he's not being forced to stay where he is, maybe he's not coming back because he doesn't want to?"

"Shut up, shut up, shut up! Don't you ever say such things to me! How dare you! I never gave you permission to speak to me this way!"

"You did the second you called me 'friend'," David said. "Lestat, I'm not saying these things to hurt you, truly I'm not. I can't stand to see you in pain. I want Louis to come home just as much as you do but you have to help me first."

Lestat grew quiet. He folded his arms and shifted his balance from one foot onto the other. He looked over at the Mayfair house and did not move his gaze back to David but he did not move away from him either.

"What happened, Lestat?" David asked, softly. "What happened to Louis? How do you know?"

"I can feel it, deep down. He and I are connected and I can feel what he feels deep inside of me. When I woke up tonight he was fine but something's changed. He doesn't feel the way he did before," Lestat stopped and focused his attention completely on the Mayfair house. "What are they saying? That the Talamasca is responsible for this? That's it! I will not stay here a minute longer when I know who the culprit is!"

"Lestat, no!" David said. "They're trying to find out who stole the files. They only think the Talamasca might be behind it, they don't know for sure."

"Well then I shall find out for sure," Lestat said. "I'm sick of this sitting around and talking about the problem and no one does anything! You want to know if the Talamasca is behind this? I'll go get the answer from them!"

"Lestat, please be sensible! If you can't be persuaded to leave the Talamasca alone then at least stop and notice that the sun is rising! You'll have to fly the entire length of the Earth to get there!"

"If that's what I have to do, then so be it!" Lestat said and before David could stop him rose directly into the air and disappeared from sight.

"No!" David shouted, but it was of no use. Lestat was gone and David was helpless to find him.

"David, what's wrong?" Ash walked up to him. "You haven't heard already have you?"

"Lestat's gone to the Talamasca and God alone knows what he will do," David sighed. He could feel the sun beginning to rise and made his way back to the safety of the house. He was halfway there when the rest of what Ash had said sunk in. "Ash, what did you think I had heard?"

Ash walked beside David and politely stood between him and the light of the sun. There was a look of sadness in his eyes. "Jessica and Julie have not come home. Our enemy has struck again."

Time: early evening, just after sunset.

A figure appeared, blurrily, as Louis opened his eyes at the end of his daylight sleep. Half remembered dreams and reality mixed together making the figure appear to be at once everyone he knew and no one he had ever met before. He sat up in bed, rubbing his eyes so that he could better see. The form of a man sitting in a chair beside the bed solidified before him. He had long brown hair and a beard and bore a disturbing similarity to the statues of Christ that resided in the Churches that Louis found such comfort in.

"No," the man said. "It is not Nicolas. Nor is it the other name that trips so easily from your lips even though now that name is the hardest for you to say."

The man got up from the chair and crossed over to the other side of the room. As he walked his form seemed to fade slightly, as though he were merely the projection from some old movie camera in search of a screen on which to live.

"Lasher," Louis said, recognizing him at last.

"The one and the same," came the reply, accompanied by a slight, sardonic bow.

"Where is Nicki?" Louis demanded.

"He had some business to attend to," Lasher said. He picked up a slip of paper from on top of the dresser and read from it. "'Louis, I had to take care of a few important matters. They should not take long. I will see you later tonight. There are clothes and supplies for you in the bathroom. Lasher will take care of anything else you need. Nicolas.' It appears that we are to accompany each other this night, Louis."

Louis gave no response to this and instead got up and walked over to the bathroom. "I shall be taking a shower," he said.

"Do you want me to join you?"

"No," Louis said, not breaking his stride.

"Ah, so you will sleep in the same chambers as Nicolas but you will not take my company in your shower?"

Louis whirled to face the spirit. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Only what I have said, Louis," Lasher said, holding his hands out in a gesture of peace. "Since we are to be together this evening, I was only trying to meet your needs. I know that this place has bad memories for you. It seemed only proper that I offer to stay with you as Nicolas has. I thought you didn't like being left alone here."

Louis stared at Lasher, his eyes searching the spirit's face for any sign of deception. "I can take my shower alone," he said. "Thank you."

"As you wish," Lasher said. "I will be here waiting for you."

Louis shut and locked the door behind him. Not that it could keep the spirit out but it made him feel better nonetheless.

The bathroom itself was a marvel. An addition of Nicolas's during the renovations of the temple. Juliano had not given himself such modern comforts. A sense of peace came from knowing that this was a place that Juliano had never been.

Louis stripped his dirty clothes off and placed them in a pile on the floor. They had been stained and torn from his capture and Louis did not think he would wear them again. He then stepped into the shower, turning the faucets so that he felt the full blast of the hot water along his entire body. He stood there for a moment, enjoying the simple pleasure of feeling the water massage his skin.

He would have liked to stay there longer but the thought of Lasher waiting outside made relaxing in the shower a minor priority. He quickly picked soap and shampoo from the rainbow of selections along the tub and scrubbed away the last remnants of dirt and soil. He allowed himself one more minute under the fall of water before turning it off and stepping out onto the now warmed bathroom floor.

Outfits that Nicolas had found for Louis hung from a bar on the wall and, after drying himself off, Louis choose a plain cotton shirt and a pair of black pants that seemed the most practical for his current environment. Boots, underclothes and a band that pulled his black hair back into a ponytail completed the look.

He left the bathroom and walked past his bedroom to the room just outside where Nicolas's bed was. Lasher was waiting for him there.

"You look much better," Lasher said.

"What now, spirit?" Louis asked, impatiently.

A flicker of emotion appeared in the spirit's eyes then vanished. "Follow me," said Lasher. He walked over to the chamber door and vanished through it into the hallway outside.

Louis sighed, opened the door and joined Lasher outside. Lasher motioned for Louis to walk down one side of the hallway. Louis did so, Lasher walking beside him.

"Why do you dislike me so, Louis?" Lasher asked. "We have never met before, shouldn't it be unlike you to hate so easily?"

"You don't know a thing about what I am like," Louis said. The sight of Memnoch's statues along the walls brought flickers of memories that Louis would rather not think about. He was tempted to wrap his arms around himself to try to warm the chill inside of him but he did not want to show such a weakness while Lasher was there.

"And who does know a thing about what you are like, Louis?" Lasher asked. "Does anyone?"

"Is that one of your infamous riddles, spirit?"

"It is a question and no more," Lasher said. "But it would appear that it is a question you would not answer. Fine then, answer me this: Do *you* know a thing about what *I* am like that would make you hate me so?"

"I know plenty about you, spirit," Louis said. "I know the names of each of the Mayfair women you selfishly killed or tried to kill during your time on this earth. Rowan, your own mother, being one of them."

"I shall be kind and ignore the obvious irony of a vampire judging another for 'selfishly killing' in order to make a point which is more important to me. Do you think I wanted them to die, Louis? Do you think that I was glad to see them fade from life, my children dying inside of them? I only wanted companionship on this earth and no more! How can you judge me for that?

"And as for Rowan, let us remember the kind of woman she really is. It was her and my father who killed *me*, Louis, not the other way around. It is thanks to them that I lost my mortal life and my only daughter as well. But I don't suppose you would know what that felt like, would you?"

Louis walked on in silence, shutting his eyes to the memories that appeared to him.

They arrived, finally, at a set of wooden doors.

"Here we are," Lasher said, going inside.

Louis opened the doors and followed. The room inside was at such odds with the hallway outside that Louis had to stop a moment and take it all in.

It was a hospital room. A modern one with modern medical equipment and modern decor. Louis estimated there to be at least 30 patients lying in the beds along the walls of the large room. All of whom where unconscious and unaware of the nurses that moved about them, checking pulses, wiping brows, giving medicine.

"What is this?" Louis asked. "Why are these people here?"

"They are sick beyond any medical help," Lasher said. "But they are not sick enough to die on their own. All that can be done for them is to try to take away their pain. Nicolas brings them here so that he may feed on them. You may feed on them as well."

"No," Louis said. "I cannot take their lives."

"Why not?" Lasher asked. "You take the lives of people you meet on the street, why can you not take the lives of these people here? There is no life inside of them, Louis. Death is their only salvation. Why shouldn't you be the one to give them that?"

"Go away," Louis said. "I want to be left alone here."

"As you wish," Lasher said and disappeared from sight. If the spirit remained in some form that Louis could not see, Louis did not know.

Louis walked down the aisle between the beds, looking at the people who lay in them. The nurses continued about their business as though the sight of a pale stranger in their midst was nothing unusual. Which, Louis thought, was probably true.

He stopped finally at the bed of a young man who appeared to be in his thirties. At a casual glance, the man did not look like a man who belonged where he was, in a hospital bed. Beneath the sheets was a body that spoke of an athletic past and an active life. But the rough breathing and sickly pallor gave lie to this.

Louis walked up to the side of the bed and looked closely at the man's face. It was a handsome face, in its way. In modern American culture, this man would have been the captain of the football team, the big man on campus who grew up to marry the girl next door.

"What happened to you?" Louis asked him softly. With one hand he reached out and gently ran his fingers along the man's forehead, feeling the slight creases and wrinkles that come to all men that age. With his mind, Louis reached out and sought to read the man's mind, looking for all the twists and turns that come with normal human thought.

There was nothing. Where bright flashes of insight and bursts of memory should have been was instead a pale, grey, emptiness.

"Head injury," one of the nurses said as she checked the chart of the patient in the next bed. She indicated the man beside Louis. "His mind is gone. It's a shame really." She continued on her way, passing by Louis and the brain dead man. She did not need to check on him, Louis was doing that.

Louis watched her move down the line of beds before turning back to the man beside him. He knelt down by the bed and stroked the man's hair.

*You must take what I offer you.... I _want_ you to kill me....*

Louis paused for a moment, thinking of the old memory.

"I'm sorry it must be this way," he whispered. He tilted the man's head back, letting his fingertips lightly touch the man's eyelids, then leaned forward and plunged his teeth into the man's neck.

*I _want_ you to kill me....*

Louis felt the beat of the man's heart throbbing against him as he drained the lifeblood from his body. There was no sense of the man as Louis drank, his mind was too far gone for that. Instead, there was only the sense of the body, the body that was tired, that knew it was broken, that wanted it to end. And, as the last beat sounded, Louis felt the body relax as though to say yes, it is finally done.

Louis got up and wiped the remainder of blood from his lips. He walked, somewhat dazed, among the other beds and wondered if it would always be this way. Would he finally be the Merciful Death that he had been called so long ago, bringing an end to these men and women who did not even know that they lay in these hospital beds, being cared for by those who did not even know them? Louis looked at them in turn. A woman in her twenties, a man in his forties, a woman in her thirties. Would this be all he knew?

The sharp clang of metal on metal broke through Louis' reverie. The nurses had moved the now dead man onto a gurney and were taking him through a steel doorway near the back of the room and beyond there, to where Louis did not know.

Louis looked at the room around him once again. This room was nothing like what Juliano had created. Neither was the bedroom Louis had slept in the night before. Nor was the laboratory Trevor had kept him in. Perhaps this was not the temple Louis had known so painfully well?

Perhaps Louis did not know this temple at all.

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