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Lestat killed his first victim of the night, a ragged man lurking in the shadowy area by a crumbling wall, far more swiftly than he would have liked. Grasping hold of the man and sinking sharp fangs into his neck the very moment he saw the flash of a knife in the rogue’s hand, he took just enough nourishment to be able to go out into the night and find out where Louis had gone,

Claudia, dressed in her most exquisite white silk dress, velvet cloak and with ribbons of sapphire blue adorning her golden curls, had already slipped out into the darkness to lure some kindly person, who would see her as a child in distress, to their doom. Lestat had waited and made sure that she had left before he went out the door of their magnificent abode, lest he find Louis sooner than he anticipated and ended up in a confrontation with him about something or other, which would distress their vampire daughter.

Of course, Lestat could not read the thoughts of his fledgling, but he relied on his intuition as well as his sharp vampire senses to deduce where Louis had gone. He knew the feeding habits of Louis all too well, for he had often told Louis how much they frustrated him and how dull he found them. And yet, Lestat occasionally saw a certain charm in these patterns of behavior that were unique to Louis, although he would never admit this to anyone.

Louis was his perfect foil, the shadow to his bright and sometimes gaudy, but always dangerous, flame in the darkness. And with Claudia, they struck the perfect balance, beautiful monsters with a rich banquet of lives and souls to be devoured before them.

Lestat knew full well that Louis would seek the most populated areas of the night-time city, often moving among the poor and ragged. There he would pause for a moment to bring some unsuspecting mortal into his arms for a last embrace that he strove to make quick and painless. Slipping through the night with a fleetness that no human could ever hope to emulate, Lestat left the drained corpse of his victim far behind him and soon caught up with the tall, slim black-clad figure he was seeking.

Graceful and silent, Louis moved like the predator he would never admit to being towards an old woman in a faded brown dress who was rummaging in a wicker basket for something that Lestat could not quite make out. She was muttering to herself and in her mind Lestat saw only jumbled confusion, one random senseless thought after another without a pattern or coherence. She was obviously quite insane, oblivious not only to the world around her but to who she was and what she might have been.

If Lestat had been anyone else, he might have pitied her.

He watched, perfectly still, from his hidden vantage point as Louis took the woman’s small, gnarled hand in his, and bent his head to her throat as if to kiss her. In what seemed like less than a moment, she was fading away from life and Louis was walking into the darkness again, leaving her lifeless body crumpled on the ground.

Claudia had not yet arrived back from her nightly hunt when Lestat did. He found Louis had come back some time before him and was seated in a comfortable chair with a large black book cupped in his elegant hands.

Lestat arched one eyebrow as he saw what Louis was reading.

“The Bible, Louis? Really?” Lestat gave his beloved fledgling a slightly mocking smile as he leaned closer. “Are you seeking absolution in the word of God for your wicked deeds?”

Louis looked at him, a cold reproach in his eyes.

“There is no absolution for the likes of you and me,” he said, and his voice was hollow, like that of a broken man. Lestat frowned, but nodded.

“You are quite correct about that, mon cher. For we are in no need of it. God Himself kills, as I have told you before. He permits us to exist, immortal and unpunished for our sins, in the world He created, and so surely we, who are closer to angels or to demons who are but angels who fell from Heaven, are among those He has blessed and not those souls who are damned?”

He reached to stroke Louis’ dark hair with a seductive caress, and Louis flinched.

“Do you find those words blasphemous, my love? After becoming what I made you, do you still cling to the faith you used to have?” Lestat whispered, running a finger slowly along the Bible’s spine. Louis put the book down upon a nearby table with a thump, and stared at Lestat with burning eyes.

“We are not like angels; I don’t know what you and I are, except killers, as you keep on telling me,” he hissed. “You made me like this, and then you took Claudia, an innocent child, and you…”

Lestat lifted Louis by his lapels and pushed him against the wall with a violent thud. Louis shook him off and glared, and his eyes seemed to have a hellfire glow within them.

“Louis, you were the one who took Claudia’s blood first. I merely completed what you had already begun,” Lestat snarled, and turned away, but somehow he could not leave the room with Louis’s furious glare seeming to bore a hole into him.

There was silence for a few moments, and then Louis said in a flat voice without emotion, “I know you followed me tonight. I do not have to be able to read minds or rely on vampire senses to know that you were there.”

“And if I was, Louis?” Lestat was standing in front of Louis again, reaching to touch his face, and Louis recoiled as he had before. “I prefer to say that I was shadowing, rather than following; you and I, after all, are like the shadow and the light. As much as you try to separate yourself from me, I am a part of you. And I wanted to be with you tonight, even though I sensed you did not want me there. I wanted the intimacy of witnessing your kill… I wanted to be with you, even though you pull away from me.”

Lestat raised his hands and a note of real pain, instead of merely wounded ego, was in his voice.

“So you despise me and all that I am, is that what you are saying? You scorn not only the immortality I bestowed upon you, but the one who loves you more than anyone ever has before? I suppose you would not believe me if I told you I was never seeking to make you in my own image. I was not playing God. Or Satan. I simply wanted you, and this was the only way I could keep you with me. I couldn’t let you go, and killing you would have only been a moment’s pleasure. And it would also have been an utter, abject waste !”

He bowed his head, his body tense with disappointment and frustration.

“I cannot begin to tell you how much love I feel for you, and yet you hate me, after all this time. After making a family with our precious child… you are telling me that you hate me!”

Louis came closer to Lestat faster than a mortal could take a breath, and gripped the other vampire’s shoulders, pulling him into a fierce embrace.

“I could never hate you! Sometimes I believe that you are the Devil, but I cannot stop myself from loving you!” he whispered, and before Lestat could speak, Louis’s lips were pressed to his in a heated kiss.