Cousin Shelley


LaCroix felt Nicholas enter the Raven, felt the movement through the door and the switch in atmosphere, almost as clearly as if he were carried inside Nicholas' skin. He inhaled slowly and for a few brief seconds before Nicholas could clamp down on the connection, he closed his eyes and reveled in it. Such a familiar feeling, the sense of one born of your blood, such a comfort. In this case, tempered with a sweet, longing ache.

They'd developed Nicholas' sense of their connection by going separate ways within catacombs shortly after he'd brought Nicholas across. At first, his son was hesitant and feared becoming lost, but that many years ago he'd wanted to please LaCroix above all else so he did whatever his master asked of him. They separated, purposefully losing themselves within the tunnels, and then LaCroix reached out silently to Nicholas across their connection, urging his son to come to him.

LaCroix had always loved the feeling while it lasted, of somewhere deep inside him being brushed by Nicholas' presence, and touching him that way in turn. But he cursed their connection just as much as he gloried in it, after Nicholas learned how to narrow the flow between them.

Nicholas could never completely shut it off, it simply wasn't possible. Only death could do that. But with age and practice he'd learned to regulate it, much like the flow of water through a faucet. At times, he could slow it to a mere trickle or a steady drip.

LaCroix didn't teach him that skill, he wouldn't have. But he knew exactly when his protégé had started teaching it to himself.

After weeks of practice in the catacombs, LaCroix looked into his eyes and he could see the shock, the excitement, the bliss when Nicholas realized that his master's being was fully within him now. LaCroix had become a solid part of him, another sense, as powerful as sight or sound. It was fragrant, tasted sweet and sharp, felt as sensual as physical touch.

It was their greatest moment together, an instant of oneness that was ecstasy beyond description for LaCroix. That day, that minute, that expression on his son's face, was a treasured memory.

And one that would haunt LaCroix for eternity.

Because he knew that the same moment he'd felt the sheer elation of having all of Nicholas, was also the same moment it would be forever lost to him. He'd watched the excitement give way to fear and the first stirrings of resistance as Nicholas realized that to sense LaCroix, to feel the complete pull of his master in his mind and his flesh, he no longer had to try.