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Winter Stars

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Winter Stars
Forever Knight x SGA
Lucien LaCroix walks into a bar and meets... Jennifer Keller!
by LastScorpion

disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters, or The Raven. Please do not mistake this for any real work of fiction, non-fiction, or art in any way. James Parriott has my eternal gratitude for making up all the Forever Knight characters, and I am also grateful to all those Stargate guys. A million thanks to brightknightie and gozer for the beta-reading! All remaining errors and offenses against common decency are mine and mine alone.


One cloudless, moonless night in the middle of February, Lucien LaCroix walked into The Raven again. It had been several years since he'd last set foot in the place. The latest tenant had made the place into a "sports bar". The few remaining steel or wooden fixtures were made virtually unrecognizable by the pervasive crowd noise, perverted fluorescent lighting, and plebeian reek of cheap beer and cheaper food. Nothing was as it once had been except for the name and LaCroix's continued ownership.

He'd never seen this particular bartender before, so it seemed simplest to pull the sound of the young man's heartbeat out of the air, seize his will through his eyes, and instruct him very clearly: "A large glass of the Owner's Special -- you'll find it on the far left hand side of the top shelf, in the back." He dropped his control of the mortal and muttered, "Probably covered in dust."

Suddenly weary, he sank onto the nearest bar stool and waited for his blood-and-brandy.

(The proprietor, like the three tenants previous, always kept a supply on-hand and reasonably fresh, thank to a "post-hypnotic suggestion" implanted while signing the lease in LaCroix's attorney's office. Damien, Aristotle, and Tepes -- such an obliging firm.)

LaCroix's drink arrived, and he took a sip. It was pig, about a month dead. Oh, well. At least the brandy was top-notch.

He closed his eyes and remembered how things used to be.


Janette used to lean against this very bar, darker and smokier than its dark wood, shining and beautiful like the endless night. She was the perfect companion for a man's eternity.

Nicholas used to pick his way through the temptations of the dancers, flashing lights catching in the faded sun-gold of his hair, finding his way to Janette unfailingly whatever the distractions -- and nine times out of ten Nicholas would waste that beautiful connection between them just to garner a tip or two for solving some trivial crime. Exasperating boy.

They'd both been gone for nearly twenty years. The dancers had all gone, too, mortal as well as vampire. He remembered Urs's desperate grace and graceful despair, Vachon's still silence in the face of any situation short of actual violence, Nicholas's mortal partners -- the buffoon and then the blonde. All dead, all gone.

Still, the unceasing stars wheeled on.

He reached back further, prodding at the well-worn memory of Fleur's moonlit innocence in the Flemish countryside of Nicholas's youth (and how the devil could it be that the thought of her was so damnably painful still?), and then all the way back to the beginning, to his darling Divia's sly self-confidence in the shadows of Vesuvius. His beautiful daughter -- his vicious sire -- how she would laugh, to see him here all alone!

The dead do not laugh, and by that sign we know that vampires are not dead.

The dead do not weep.


LaCroix drained his glass and gestured for a refill. This brooding was unbecoming, he decided, as he had decided many times before.

He thought that perhaps the time had come to gather about him some new offspring. Perhaps twenty years were enough for mourning. (No matter that 781 years had proved themselves insufficient, as had 1,911.) Perhaps he should find some attractive, vivacious mortal, and bring her or him across. An optimist might be nice, for a change.

He took a swallow from his second glass and looked around the bar.


"She hates me!" the young woman exclaimed.

"Oh, she does not. It just takes Jeannie a while to, well, to get used to things." Her balding escort took her coat and hung it over the back of her chair. "Maddie and whatsisname liked you fine."

"Caleb. Yeah, he seemed real nice."

"For an English teacher. I guarantee they all liked you better than your dad's going to like me."

"Oh, Rodney. It'll be fine."

"Hah! We're in time for the face-off!"

"Back on -- back home, I never knew you were such a sports fan! It's kinda hot." The woman bumped the man with her shoulder, and he smiled at her.

"No ice. I've often thought that we should put together some sort of a rink. Ronon would be a spectacular goalie." The barmaid came over to them, and the man ordered Molson's for them both.

LaCroix studied the woman. She was pretty and petite, with tawny waves of hair that reminded him a little of Nicholas's. She was young, but not nearly as young as Janette had been at the start, and the way she moved her hands was reminiscent of that doctor whom Nicholas had had at the end -- Natalie. He suspected the woman might be a doctor or a nurse, because of the hands and because of the top-note of antiseptic to her own mild scent. It was not unpleasant; he'd not mind having that scent around indefinitely.

The two mortals had settled down to watch their pathetically bloodless sport on one of the televisions and drink their beer. LaCroix concentrated on their heartbeats -- even the balding gentleman seemed to be in fairly good health, and the woman absolutely glowed with it. She'd be delicious. He decided he'd let the decision on whether to turn her or not wait until the appropriate point in the draining process; if she was just too tasty to stop, then so be it.

They ordered another couple of beers, and LaCroix knew he only had to wait.


The period was nearly over when the woman stood. "You know what they say about beer and rental. I'll be right back."

"Uh huh," the man said, eyes glued to the screen.

She rolled her eyes and dimpled at him, and headed for the little hallway in the back that led to the washrooms and the door to the alley.

LaCroix was there before her.

She gave him a brief, impersonal smile as she headed towards the Ladies', and he snagged her eyes with his. Her heartbeat startled like a rabbit, then settled into a strong, hasty rhythm indicating a realization of her precarious situation. LaCroix smiled at this proof of intelligence, and settled his control of the mortal more completely.

"Hello," he said, smiling.

He could feel her will frantically trying to re-assert itself, but it failed. Not a Resister then -- Good. They were generally trouble. For once, LaCroix didn't feel like dealing with trouble; he just wanted something nice. Something comfortable.

LaCroix backed around the bend in the corridor, into the blind spot right at the back door. "Come here," he told the woman, and she came. "Very good," he breathed into her hair. She tried to whimper; she tried to struggle. LaCroix stifled her resistance with the merest thought. "Very good," he repeated. He put his hand into that soft, tawny hair, and bent the woman's head back. Her throat was smooth and warm beneath his lips; her skin gave way easily for his teeth; her blood was sweet and rich. Lovely. She was a feast for all his senses.

"Jen, what? Oh, no, no, no, no!" LaCroix's revelry was broken by the nasal, unwelcome tones of the woman's companion. He was just raising his head from her delicious throat to grab the other mortal's heartbeat and beat him with it, when he was startled by a sudden flash of light, of a color he'd never seen before! His whole left side went numb. Unprecedented!

LaCroix did not waste any time in gawking; flight worked; the door to the alley was easily and quickly destroyed regardless of his incapacity (temporary, undoubtedly -- the woman's blood told him so). He flew out the door, across the street, up to the roof of a building almost a block away from the bar, where he paused to gather his wits, and some information.

The numbness was quite disorienting, and he had to admit that the encounter had rattled him. It took LaCroix more than two minutes to zero in on the conversation in the bar he'd just so precipitately left.

The man's voice sounded breathy and panicked, but his heartbeat was strangely steady, as if he were accustomed to panic. "You'll be okay, Jen, you'll be okay. I called the Mountain; somebody'll be right here."

"What happened?"

"You were attacked; don't move, don't move! Jen! I'm holding your blood in with my hand here!"

LaCroix heard the woman breathe for a moment. Her blood informed him that he'd been right; she was, in fact, a medical doctor.

"I think I'm okay, actually. Rodney, where did you get a stunner? You can't take those off base!"

"What? No, no, no, I built that. At Jeannie's. Out of stuff she had in her garage. It's just a little one. What? You were bonding with whatsisname and Maddie, Jeannie was sulking; I was bored!"

"Rodney," the woman rebuked him. Maybe for the best that LaCroix hadn't turned her; he couldn't abide shrewish women.

"Please hold still, okay? Just please hold still?"

The insistent information in the woman's blood distracted him from the increasingly boring conversation a block away -- she was Dr. Jennifer Keller; the man was her fiance, Dr. Rodney McKay, a specialist in astrophysics and mechanical engineering; they were stationed on a secret research base in....

The Lost City of Atlantis?

LaCroix lay back on the gravel roof and laughed. Later he'd plan; later he'd fly west to keep to the night and evade the Stargate Command personnel who were already on their way to investigate the unusual attack; later he'd work out a way to gain access to that "stargate", to see the stars up close and know for himself what kind of suns they were; later he'd find new worlds to conquer!

For now he looked up at the cold winter stars, his constant companions for so very many years, and he laughed.