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What Killed The Cat

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Later that night, Louis sat with Daniel in the kitchen, looking at the baked cake. They were alone in the mansion, Lestat having gone to get himself and Daniel another suit (he'd taken Daniel to a tailor to get his measurements so he could pick things out for him without Daniel there. That one time Daniel had been taken to the tailor's hadn't gone well. Lestat and he had not seen eye to eye about a single piece of cloth, a single item of clothing), so Louis was feeling a bit calmer than he had before.

Being alone with Daniel did that for him.

Daniel was leaning over the cake, breathing in the fumes. His eyes were closed very tightly, as if he were trying to force his mind to escape to somewhere far away. Louis kept his mouth shut and movements slow, not wanting to distract the boy and bring him back to his reality.

Daniel only opened his eyes when the cake had grown cold and the smell had entirely disapporated. He looked at Louis with deep sadness in his eyes, and said softly, "It's such a fucking waste, to not even eat the cake."

Louis smiled gently, "Did it help you?"

Daniel shrugged, "I don't think it does, really."

Louis frowned, "Why do you do it, then?"

"Why do you talk about Claudia?" Daniel asked. "Why do you think about her, or your wife? It doesn’t make you feel better."

Louis looked at the boy, and was forced to shake his head, "No. It does not."

"But you don't stop," Daniel nodded.

"No, I don’t," Louis sighed. "Because if I did, they'd be gone. Truly gone."

The child placed his fingers on top of the cake and scooped out a bit of it before dropping it down again, "I don't know if my mother's gone. Dead, I mean. She was twenty-four when I was born, she'd only be forty-nine now. She might have a new family, maybe other kids. My dad remarried. He got a divorce, you know."

"You have a step-mother," Louis commented. "Are the fairytales true?"

"Nah, she's great," Daniel smiled, looking sad, though. "I hated her when Dad first brought her home, though."

"I'm sure."

"But when the twins were born, I guess I couldn't hate her anymore," Daniel said, taking another handful of cake and squishing it in his hands. He looked up at Louis and said quietly, "I can't see them, can I? They'd realize there was something different."

"No, I don't think you can," Louis admitted.

Daniel bit his lip, and Louis watched his fang cut the skin, causing a single red drop to trickle for half a millimeter before disappearing.

"I can call them, though, I should," Daniel rubbed his eyes. "They're used to not hearing from me. I'm not the best at keeping in touch. But-but I want to call them."

"They might ask when you're planning on visiting," Louis said gently. He wondered, to himself, if he was being unkind. But Daniel could never see his family again. It would be best to simply severe their ties. "It might be better-"

"What, to let my dad think that I left him, like my mom? Or maybe that I died-"

"You have died, cheri."

 "Yeah, but I came back," Daniel said stubbornly. "So. I'm not dead."

"Daniel-"

"It's fine," Daniel pushed himself up from the counter. "I get it. I won't talk to them."

And then he left.

It took Louis longer then it should have to realize that Daniel had left the mansion.

Louis jumped up and rushed out of the kitchen, smashing through the glass of the living room window, Daniel had left, where was he, where had he gone. Oh God, oh God, not again he couldn't lose the boy, he couldn't, he wouldn't-

"What are you doing?" Lestat hissed, grabbing Louis as the glass came flying around them. Louis gasped, being forced away from the broken window.

Louis blinked, "You're back?"

"Shut up," Lestat hissed. "And come with me. We're going after the boy."

"What-"

"I saw him leave when I came back, so hush and come with me."

Louis swallowed. If Daniel was going to his family, allowing Lestat to follow would be a horrific, terrible idea. But if they didn't follow him, would Daniel return? Come back to Louis?

He wasn't sure.

"Show me where he went," Louis whispered.

*

Daniel took a bus to a hotel in a seedier neighborhood then the one they lived in now. Lestat and Louis watched the boy in his hotel room from the shadows as he fed from a drugged up girl he'd brought up with him and dropped her on the floor before closing the drapes, to protect from the upcoming sunlight.

Louis and Lestat went into the apartment building in front of the hotel, and settled down in one of the apartments (it was housed by an elderly woman that Lestat causally kicked to death-Louis had to look away. Sometimes he forgot how cruel Lestat was), closing the drapes to keep safe from the sun.

Then Lestat sat down on the broken-down sofa and pulled Louis down next to him, whispering, "And now we wait for night."

Louis turned away, trying to think if there was some way he could slip away from Lestat and follow Daniel on his own. But no, that would not work. But maybe…maybe Louis could warn Daniel about Lestat's presence-

Though he doubted Lestat would take that well. He might attack Louis. No, he would attack Daniel. And hurt him. Louis would rather risk pain to Daniel's family, even if it could not heal, then pain to Daniel that would pass in seconds.

So, he stayed.

*

The window showed a bedroom, stylized to suit a child's needs. There were two beds in it, both currently inhabited by sleeping figures. A boy and a girl, both with raven hair and soft faces, that could not have been older than ten. Louis looked down at Daniel, sitting on the ground in front of the suburban house, back leaning against a lamplight, and noted the similarity between his son and the two children above them.

Twins, Daniel had said. His stepmother had given birth to twins.

Lestat was grinning cruelly, enjoying the new power he had just been handed, and crouched down elegantly behind Daniel. The boy turned slightly to look at Louis, eyes begging. But there was nothing Louis could do- the damage had already been done.

"And who…are these?" Lestat purred into Daniel's ear. Louis wanted to shove him off the boy, but stopped himself. If he started fighting Lestat here, would the other vampire try to kill Daniel's family in response, and he was sure Daniel would never forgive him if he was the cause of his family's pain. He couldn't risk it.

Daniel bit his lip and shook his head, refusing to answer.

"They look as beautiful as you," Lestat added. "Maybe we should add them to our growing family, hmm?"

"No!" Daniel snapped, shoving Lestat away slightly and glaring at him. "If you touch them-"

"Are they your siblings, Daniel?" Lestat asked, and Daniel hesitated, before nodding.

"Yeah, yeah they are," Daniel mumbled and looked at Louis pleadingly. "I just wanted to make sure they were ok. I haven't seen them in a few months, ok?"

Louis wondered for a moment what was worse- losing your loved ones before the turn or turning and knowing that your family would live on without you, and you'd have to find them dead of old age or disease one day.

"And you decided to leave without telling either of us where you were going because….?"

"Because I don’t owe you any fucking explanation to where the fuck I'm going and what the fuck I'm doing," Daniel jumped up and opened his mouth slightly, exposing his fangs.

"Oh? Is that what you think?" Lestat stood up as well, stalking after the boy while Louis stalked after him, ready to pounce should he try to attack Daniel. "You think you owe us nothing, that your existence belongs to yourself? You do not. You belong to Louis, and you belong to me."

"I don’t-"

"Yes, you do, you have from the moment you talked to Louis, and you have tethered yourself to us more firmly than ever now. If you ever leave again without my permission, I will return to your former family's home and feed from them. Yes?"

"I won't let you touch them," Daniel hissed. "And my siblings aren’t my fucking former family! They're my family!"

"If you say so," Lestat drawled, amused. "Though, if that's true, I really should just kill them. I don't need competition-"

"No, don't!" Louis yelled at the same time Daniel did, and Louis grabbed Lestat's shirt, ripping it slightly as he went along.

Lestat smirked at their reaction. He untangled himself from Louis's hold and said quietly, "What do you think, Daniel?"

"I-" Daniel looked at Louis, eyes silently pleading for him to interfere. And Louis wanted to, wanted to pick him up, carry him away and keep him safe. But he couldn't move, caught in place by Lestat's eyes on him. He couldn't fight him, he simply could not. Fighting with Lestat never worked, never once brought the outcome Louis had hoped. He'd fought him when Daniel left for the first time, and Lestat had only found it amusing.

And if he hadn't fought Lestat, if he had never helped Claudia with her attempt to kill Lestat, then Armand's troops would have had no excuse to kill her. She would still be alive. Perhaps she would have been unhappy, trapped as he was with Lestat. Perhaps she would have hated Louis bitterly, perhaps she would have tried to leave.

But she would have been alive. That was the fate he was angling for Daniel, now.

"Daniel," Louis whispered, pleading with the boy. "Tell him what he wants to hear."

"I-I-" Daniel closed his eyes, head hitting the street lamp behind him, and when he opened them again, they were full of deep desperation. "They're not my family anymore. You are."

"Good boy," Lestat kissed Daniel's forehead, and Louis saw the boy cringe.

He stayed in place, though. Nothing would be gained by antagonizing Lestat anymore. They were together, now.

Trapped forever by one another's side.

*

"An opera," Daniel said flatly, tugging at his tie. "You want to go to an opera."

"Yes," Louis said sharply, slapping Daniel's hand away from the grey fabric. "Stop touching it."

"You know that people don't actually go to the opera anymore, right?" Daniel snorted, ducking his head to get away from Louis's touch. He was dressed in one of the tailored suits that Lestat had had made for him. This one was royal blue, and Louis had pared it with a pearl white shirt and pale grey tie, and the whole getup made him look rather divine. "People go to the movies, or like- clubbing. I should take you clubbing-"

"Another time," Louis promised, rather hoping he wouldn't have to hold himself to that promise. He'd followed Daniel a few times when he'd gone out (been allowed out- Daniel didn't go anywhere without Lestat's seal of approval now, not willing to risk the safety of his loved ones) and seen the kinds of places Daniel enjoyed going to. Daniel hadn't realized that Louis was following him, and Louis wondered if he'd had let less men and women blow him or had fucked less of them in the dark back rooms of the clubs if he knew that Louis was watching. Most of those one-night partners hadn't made it alive to see the morning. Louis needed to feed, anyways, so why not on them? "But tonight we have tickets to an opera. It's run in New York is only a few weeks, we won't get many chances to see it."

"Is Lestat coming with us?" Daniel asked, quietly, allowing Louis to once more fix his tie. Louis hesitated, releasing the tie to run his hands up and down the front of Daniel's suit, smoothing away the lines while providing a small comfort for the boy. Not that he needed it, for the most part Daniel did not seem as wary of Lestat as Louis would have wanted him to be. Still, there were moments…moments when Daniel watched the blonde vampire with narrowed eyes, as though he were a gazelle suddenly aware of the lion prowling behind it. But then Daniel would turn, smile, say something, and the moment would pass. The change was so quick Louis often doubted whether he had truly seen it or not.

"Not tonight. He's…going to the club tonight," Louis shuttered. He really should not have been surprised that of all the things in the modern world, S&M clubs were what Lestat had found the most attractive. Still, it was rather disturbing, imagining all the things he did too willing human victims in those places. It was better than doing those things to unwilling humans, but still… "It will just be the two of us."

"All right," Daniel nodded, but then his eyes widened. "What opera are we going to see? Is it older than you? Is it older than Lestat?"

"Older than me," Louis replied, inwardly rolling his eyes. "It's a Mozart opera, the Magic Flute. I wouldn't know about Lestat."

"I should ask him."

"He wouldn't tell you," Louis felt as though he'd had this conversation a thousand times before. Most likely because he had. "Stop trying to trick him into revealing information. I'd have thought you'd have learned your lesson by now."

Daniel stiffened, and Louis could see the boy's mind had gone straight to where Louis had wanted it to go. A few days earlier, after being pestered for hours by the boy, Lestat had finally lost his patience and lashed out, pining the boy to the floor. And before Louis could stop him, he'd slashed Daniel's belly open. Louis had tackled Lestat, but it had been too late by then. Daniel had lay on the floor, his body healing. But as he healed, Daniel had been in excruciating pain.

He hadn't stopped asking questions, since then. That would have been too much to hope for. But he did become more cautious, stopping himself from asking too many questions, only approaching Lestat when the older vampire was in a good mode.

He still didn't get any real answers, but that didn't seem to worry him too much. Hope that he would get the responses he wanted was still burning hot.

Louis wasn't entirely sure what to think about that. He was glad, of course, that monotony did not seem to be setting in for Daniel (though it had only been a month), but Daniel's refusal to give up on Lestat's story meant that were Louis to try and take Daniel away from the blond vampire, he would have to fight not only Lestat, but Daniel's reluctance as well. There was no doubt in Louis's mind that Daniel feared Lestat, but he was also absolutely fascinated by the other vampire.

"I'm not trying to trick him," Daniel said quietly. "I'm asking him."

"And what, pray tell, do you plan to do with his answers if he ever gives them?" Louis demanded.

Daniel smirked in response and pulled Louis in, kissing him harshly on the mouth, "Assume that he lied about everything and ask him again."