The Long Game

Of Absolute Love and Devotion

"NO!"

He crouched in the snow, holding her closely as her lifeblood drained out of her, pooling around them both. She gasped for life and all he could do was hold her. He clutched her precious body to his, tears of misery and grief mixing with the gore smeared on his face.

The corpse of Abraham van Helsing lay to the right, drained dry of life-sustaining blood by the formerly undead Lucy Westenra. Her ashes lay scattered on the ground, laid low by her very own friend, Mina Murray.

van Helsing had attempted to attack him. Mina, ever the brave self-sacrificing woman, had stepped in between and caught van Helsing's cross blade that was meant for him. Lucy had appeared, ending van Helsing's life in a terrible rage and in desperate love, offered Mina the gift of everlasting undead existence. In response, Mina had drawn the cross blade from her own body and with a kiss, staked Lucy into eternal dust.

And now she lay dying in his arms. And he, he was helpless to stop it.

"Please, Alexander." She whispered so softly that the words were swept away on the mourning, keening wind. "Please, Vlad."

He held her tighter, willing her not to die. She must live. Anything, anything, that she might only live.

"Please, my love. Do not let me die again. Please . . . I . . . I . . ."

Her breath caught in her throat. She clutched at him weakly, fighting for air.

"I can't lose you again," she gasped at last.

He shook his head in utter despair and stroked her face, unintentionally adorning her with her own blood. There was so much. So much.

"No. No, my love. I am here. I will always be here.:

He spoke with his true voice. The voice of Vlad Teppis. The voice she knew first. His voice broke as did his heart, into a million, shimmering, brittle, black fragments to fall glistening upon the soft snow.

"Alexander. Please. Please help me."

He nodded.

Yes, yes. Anything, my love. Yes.

"Vlad. Please. Make . . . me . . . like . . . you . . ."

Her request shocked him.

To be like him? A monster? Who kills? Forever undying? Forever cursed?

He shook his head in desperate refusal.

"No, no. Mina, please. No. Never . . . would I wish. . ."

He shook his head, unable to continue. Her face crumpled further in pain and anguish. Tears slipped unbidden from her eyes, tracking salty courses through the grime caked on her face.

"Please . . . make me like you. We can . . . live forever . . . be strong together . . . no one could separate us . . . please don't leave me alone . . ."

Her voice trailed off as her eyes slipped closed. Her grasping hands finally lost their remaining strength and went limp. He caught a wilting, bloody hand and pressed it to his cheek.

"No! Mina!"

What meant to be a shout escaped as a murmur, an exhaltation of tormented breath.

"Please, Mina. The is all my fault. I caused all this . . . I . . . please . . . forgive me . . ."

She did not respond, her spirit wavering between this world and the world beyond the veil.

He could not live without her. He could not continue on, knowing that she had died because of him. Again. His selfishness. His hubris.

"Ilona . . . Mina . . . please . . ." he begged, helpless.

Only seconds remained. She was fading fast.

He felt them gathering around him. The ghosts, the ghosts of his many dark and bloody sins gathering. Watching, waiting for him in the darkness, gnashing their teeth in gleeful anticipation. They would consume him whole without her there to hold them back. There would no peace in the void.

Reverently, he drew back the matted hair from her neck. That long, slender neck. Yes, he had kissed it so many times to her soft cries of delight. With his lips, with his tongue.

And now, with great regret, out of absolute love and devotion, he kissed it again. With his teeth.

His long vampire teeth bit into her tender, milky-white flesh. A weak flow of blood welled into his mouth. The salty taste of her was delicious, exquisite. The lifeblood she offered filled his body with white light. Everything about it was perfection. Everything about it was Ilona, was Mina.

He drank of her pure essence and it was divine. Detaching as gently as he could, he tore urgently at his own wrist, blood gushing forth. He pressed it to her open mouth, horrified by what he was doing upon her entreaty. His blood mixed now with her blood, filled her mouth, running down her throat.

She convulsed. Her entire body seized and a feral sound tore through her dying throat. Her hands clawed at him and he held her tightly as his accursed poisonous blood ravaged her human body. Finally, she grew still once more. He wept quietly, holding her, stroking her hair, kissing her face, rocking her body ever so slightly.

She lay still in his desperate embrace. He bowed his head, trembling. He experienced both clawing fear and vast relief that it had not worked.

Stay with her. Yes, he would stay with her here until the sun rose and set him aflame. There was nothing here for him now. He would die now. He would die alone.

"What have you done?!"

He looked behind him and saw Jonathan Harker, standing some distance away.

"What have you done to her?!" he screamed again.

Tenderly, he kissed her smooth forehead for the last time. And lay his beloved, twice dead wife on the cold, hard ground, snow pillowing her precious head. He stood, turning slowly. And stared unblinking into Harker's eyes.

"Only what she asked of me," he answered.

His voice sounded empty, hollow. And it was. His body was an abandoned shell from which the creature of life had remorsely crawled away when the spirit of his beloved wife took flight from her mortal form.

"It doesn't matter anyway," he spoke again in that terribly vacant tone. "It didn't work. She is dead."

For a long moment, they stood facing each other. Then, Jonathan's eyes bulged and he stuttered in disbelief. Turning slowly, they both beheld her.

Mina. Standing. Calmly. Quietly. Ethereal beauty shining through the gore still painting her face. She took a step toward them.

"No. I am not dead," her lovely spoke with warmth and reassurance.

She placed a soothing hand on his arm, looking into his eyes. He glimpsed her long eyeteeth fleetingly as she smiled at him.

"I am fine."

She closed her mouth and looked away from him, toward Jonathan.

"Jonathan. Are you okay? Are you unhurt?" she asked, sweet concern coloring her words.

He stuttered, unable to look away from her.

"Um, yes. Quite."

She walked slowly toward him. He looked as though he wanted to retreat but he could not command his body to respond. His entire muscular structure quaked, nostrils flaring and eyes wild. Unable to move or look away from her.

"Good," She stated kindly. "That is good."

Suddenly with a deep snarl, she lashed out to him. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she pulled his height down to hers and took his neck. He struggled briefly, then with a groan, began dipping to his knees. She sank with him slowly until he lay flat out on the ground and she lay fully atop him.

She drank Jonathan Harker dry. And he watched on, in horrified fascination.

Rising and wiping her mouth with the back of her hand, the vampire Mina turned and faced her sire.

He stared at her. She was beautiful. She was radiant. She was alive. She was ghastly.

She stretched out her hand to him. And step by terrible step, he moved forward to claim his monstrous wife.


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