Of Love and Desire
He travelled silently from shadow to shadow. Unseen, unheard. His demonic craving pulling at his deep, dark core. All around him, he could sense it. Could almost hear it, almost smell it. Almost taste it.
Blood, pumping through enclosed veins and flesh. Blood, dripping from an unfortunate graze with some sharp-edged metal. Blood, flowing from the secret places of which women only whisper. Blood. It called to him. Like a drunk called to the intoxicating drink. Only worse. Much stronger. And much more deadly.
He passed through the presence of many a poor soul who shivered suddenly in dread at the dark night. Drew their bedclothes tighter around their mortal forms. Moaned uneasily in their disturbed sleep. And pressed closer to their still bedfellows. Though they did not know why.
Finally he struck upon an acceptable quarry. A man, old and sick. Devoid of desire for continuing life. A being whose soul cried out for the peace of death's sweet oblivion. And so, he granted that despairing request. He ended him quickly and with as little pain as possible.
It was hideous, damnably grotesque. Whether in wrathful rage or starving bloodlust, he had always despised that thick, red substance. That abhorrent, exquisite solution. He could eat or drink anything he wished. He could partake of any substance, any spirit, any vapor he chose. And had. All of them. And none had quenched his undeniable desire for living blood.
As he drank, the revolting, metallic tang of blood filled his mouth, pouring over his lips, down his throat, soaking into the waiting, hungry tissues. The taste was incredibly vile, so despicably vile. And yet, his undead cells brimmed with life, vitality, and dark light as they became saturated with the stolen blood. His divided mind and famished body screamed in pleasure at every last wanton drop. It was a singular satisfaction that could not be felt through any other experience he had ever known.
How desperately he had wished, every time he had partaken of blood in his blasphemous undead existence, that either it did not feel so good or that it did not taste so bad. Never resigned to his accursed fate, he had railed against it for three centuries before his entombment. And always to the same end.
Blood. Back to the blood. Like a monstrous wild thing.
But van Helsing. Ah, that Abraham van Helsing had proved more of a monster than he could ever fathom. Reviving him from the endless dark void with his tantalizing assurances of vengeance. And the hope of sunlight.
That hideous serum. Suffering excruciating agony time and again just for a brief taste of true warmth and light. Granting him a sweet touch of freedom and then brutally wrenching it back. Replacing it with pain and ever growing bitterness. Leaving him to mourn and yearn once more in the shadows. The shame and hopelessness of his situation renewed afresh within him.
And that blasted serum. That atrocious serum had done nothing to subdue his voracious hunger for the blood. Leaving him hungry, dry, thirsting. And the longer he refrained, the worse the hunger raged within him. His mind becoming more chaotic, more bestial. His body weakening, becoming more skeletal. Until the hunger could no longer be contained.
And he succumbed to his demonic need.
All he desired was his humanity. Restored to him. In full. To walk freely in the sun without restraint. To live and love his wife. He would give anything just to live as a man. Fully. Completely.
In the light of the sun.
Renfield reclined alone within his quiet bedchamber. His large, dark body healing much too slowly for his preferences. He waited for Mina Murray to return from the clandestine errand on which he had sent her. And while he waited for her to return with his secreted papers, he thought. About her. And about the man who so deeply loved her.
He believed in Alexander Grayson's mission, but he believed more deeply, more devoutly in the man himself. That was where Renfield's allegiance lay grounded. In the belief of Alexander Grayson, of Vlad Tepes.
Renfield felt abiding compassion for Grayson's internal torment and desire for revenge. He also knew that, left unchecked, Grayson's behavior could and would lead to his ultimate demise. And that path into the pits of Hell, that path was the thing that Renfield worked hardest to avert. For the sake of Alexander Grayson.
Alexander Grayson's obsession with Miss Murray had grown steadily in the eight months since they had first met. Renfield had attempted to guide him away from that self-destruction. It was one of the few times when Grayson had ignored his counsel and gone completely awry.
Renfield understood love and desire. There had been females for him over the years of course. His first foray at the age of thirteen. His deep infatuation at twenty. The young lady could have been his wife if only he had not been so driven to succeed, to make something of himself. And of course, had she not been white. But such were the way of things at the time. He had suspected she had felt something for him as well. He had strongly desired to tell her of his feelings, but he did not wish to submit her to public ridicule for his own selfish sake. Though he would have been most pleased to touch her delicate hand, smell her ginger hair, feel her breath upon his face just once. Just once.
But such things were not to be for R.M. Renfield, Esquire.
Renfield knew, of course, the story of Ilona, of Grayson's enduring devotion to her. Immediately upon viewing the Dresden Triptych for the first time, he had truly understood just how much of a liability Mina Murray was to the empire of lies built by the one who called himself Alexander Grayson. And Renfield's failure to deliver it to the man himself had been a crushing blow. Grayson had entrusted him with the representation of that which was most precious and Renfield had failed. After they had retrieved the precious item, Renfield had sworn to himself that he would never fail in his duties again.
In regard to Miss Murray, it was true that she exuded a light from within, a certain loveliness that enriched everything in her presence. It was true she lit the hearts of those whom she gifted her smile. It was true that her laugh was a cool, refreshing breeze across the beaten brow on a sweltering day. It was true she treated everyone she met with respect and dignity. It was true she was something of an angel on earth.
It was true that she was worth dying for. Though he rather hoped that would not come to pass for either himself or Alexander Grayson.
After Miss Murray had disavowed him, Grayson had flown into the worst rage Renfield had ever witnessed from him. He had felt fear for, not of the man. The wounded, helpless man was set to destroy himself, of that there was no doubt. And Renfield, still recovering from his hideous torture, had engaged to stop him. Thus began their only physical combat in the twelve long years of their association. Renfield dared to lay hands on the man, all the while knowing Dracula could tear him to shreds and lay him low in a heartbeat. But Grayson had held back his final power and in the end they had lain side by side surrounded by the broken items of their destruction. And Alexander had bared his soul and beseeched his guidance.
Now Miss Murray seemed to have aligned herself with Alexander Grayson. And though he did not speak of it, Grayson seemed to be tentatively living in a dream of her peaceful, happy companionship. Had it not been for his irrefutable vampiric nature, Renfield would have rejoiced with him, for she was quite a fine woman. As it was, he did not dare to hope for their fairy tale ending.
Though he wished he could.
A sudden knock sounded at the door. He voiced entry and the door swung open. Miss Murray, her beautiful face aglow, appeared. She was smiling and looking extremely pleased with herself.
"Mr. Renfield," she announced, sounding almost childishly giddy, "I have been most successful!"
Indeed she had.