Changelings and Pod People

by Maureen Wynn
Copyright 1997

Once upon a time, long, long ago, a certain Mercenary who shall remain Dianne DeSha, was complaining about the "LaCroix lite" that the third season of Forever Knight had foisted upon us poor unsuspecting fans, and said something about, "the next thing you know he'll be wearing a {shudder!} Hawaiian shirt!" Well, the rest is history...

The title of this little fantasy was courtesy of Cousin Laurie F. Cohen.

Nick stopped short in the doorway, shocked and stunned by the sight before him. I knew it would be bad, but not this bad, he thought dazedly. He stood aside for a moment to let two uniformed officers pass him into the room. He stood there a moment longer, undecided as to whether he wanted to enter or not. Better get it over with... he finally decided.

He walked up to the bar, half-heartedly answering the greetings he received from the other inhabitants, refusing to be stopped. He winced slightly as one especially brightly-clad participant staggered across his path. He stopped at the bar and waited for the bartender to notice him. When the barkeep finally sauntered toward him, looking distinctly uncomfortable in his unaccustomed attire, Nick asked, "Where's LaCroix?"

The bartender glared at him for a moment, but eventually growled, "He's in the back," jerking his head toward the broadcast booth. Nick, surprised, said, "But it's too early for his show, isn't it?"

The uncouth (and distinctly unwashed, according to Nick's sensitive nose) bartender just growled again as he walked away to draw more beers for a group at the other end of the bar. Nick shrugged, and walked back toward the booth.

The "On The Air" light was not lit, so Nick cautiously opened the door, just in time to hear a voice say, "The best known bishop in the world, he was originally from Myra, in Asia Minor." Nick peered around the edge of the door, to see LaCroix sitting in front of a television set, swigging something from a pilsner glass. The response fron the TV was drowned out by LaCroix's chuckle as he said, "Oh, that's too easy!"

Nick stepped into the room and approached the older vampire. As he drew closer, he saw to his horror that LaCroix was dressed the same as the bar patrons. He stopped dead (well, how else?) in shock as he beheld his master, the oldest and most powerful vampire he knew, clad in the brightest, loudest, most vulgar hawaiian shirt Nick had ever seen. "LaCroix!" Nick exclaimed in horror. "What's going on here?!"

LaCroix barely looked up from the television set to acknowledge the younger vampire's entrance. "Oh, hello, Nicholas. I'll be with you in just a moment..." he said as he stared at the game show, engrossed in the next question and answer. Nick, ever impatient, seeing the remote control sitting on the radio sound board, grabbed it up, and pointing it at the blaring TV, switched it off. He braced himself, expecting LaCroix to blast him for his impudence. To his surprise, LaCroix remained seated, and simply smiled at his wayward son, taking another drink from that blasted pilsner. Nick was reassured that at least the contents of the glass appeared to be blood, but that was the only reassuring thing about this whole situation.

"What's going on here, LaCroix?" Nick asked again, peevishly. "Is this some kind of trick?"

"No trick, Nicholas," LaCroix said calmly. "I would have thought you, of all people, would approve of a wake for your dearly departed partner." LaCroix stood, and sauntered over to the booth window which faced out on to the bar area. "Your fellow police officers certainly seem to be enjoying themselves." LaCroix turned and gazed at Nick, smiling at his son's angry gaze.

"What's with the... shirts... and the leis?" Nick demanded.

"Oh, that!" LaCroix said mildly, looking down at himself, and noticing that he wasn't wering his lei, picked it up from the chair and put it around his neck. Nick stifled a groan. "This was Myra's idea — dear Don had so enjoyed the trip that he and Myra had taken to the islands, that Myra thought it was fitting for his wake. After all, he would have wanted people to enjoy themselves, and have a good time... even if he was dead."

Nick groaned again, thinking with despair of the death of his partner.

"None of that, Nicholas!" LaCroix said sharply, getting Nick's attention with the abrupt change of tone. "Don wouldn't have wanted you to blame yourself. You know that it wasn't truly your fault, so give yourself a little "slack", as they say these days."

Nick growled, too upset at all the changes taking place around him to make any other response. LaCroix placed his arm around Nick's shoulders, pulling him close despite Nick's attempt to pull away from the embrace. "Let me give you a little piece of advice, Nicholas," LaCroix said kindly. "It's always helped me through hard times."

Nich sighed, knowing he wasn't going to get away until he'd heard his master through. "Okay, what?"

LaCroix lowered his head so that he was whispering in Nick's ear, and said softly, "Don't worry, be happy..."

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