Note #1: This takes place in the same Alternate Universe that my piece "Awakened" takes place in, but both are standalone and neither is completely necessary to read in order to understand the other.

Note #2: To the first anon reviewer of "Awakened" - 9 out of 10? Wow, thank you! And it means a lot to me that you preferred the written version over the audio. I was afraid no one would want to read such a long poem, so I'm so pleased you took the time. I did realize a few moments were off, but I knew there were certain things I had to fit in certain places so I made a few desperate choices. I'm glad it still worked for you. I laughed when you said you'd like to see more in that universe, 'cause I was just finishing up this one. I hope you like it!

Title: Do Monsters Dream?
Author: Blonde Cecile
Characters: Arnold, Helga, Rhonda (as adults, or... at least Arnold is.)
POV: Arnold; present third person
Rating: Mature / R for violence and sensuality
Length: One-shot. 2,010 words.
Warning: As with all my work, this holds the possibility of character death.
Disclaimer: Hey Arnold would be very inappropriate for kids if I owned it.
Summary: Some people are lovers, others are fighters. Arnold is just a drunk inventor.
A/N: The setting is18th century England, and contains supernaturalism, het, and femslash.

Do Monsters Dream?

by Blonde Cecile

The answer came, like a shot in the back,
While you were running from your lesson.

- Marrow, by Ani DiFranco

The tavern music slips away as Arnold stumbles further down the cobbled street. He thought he knew when to stop drinking, but clearly his judgment deserves rethinking. Some light streams out from high windows, but it's still unnervingly dark. Indeed, this is an hour when most decent people are already tucked away in their beds, drifting in the solace of their dreams.

He hiccups and curses his foolishness. All his hard work, and for what? His lack of fresh ideas led him to find work at some cheap, lousy invention company, wasting his time creating rubbish contraptions. Still, he has no other options. He hasn't had a real idea for an invention since his parents' death last spring.

And this is what's become of him, since. A sorry drunkard with no family to worry for him as he prowls the night. His dreams of gaining recognition through great inventions spoiled by his own stupidity.

"Stupid," he scolds in a stark whisper. His thoughts distract him so that he stumbles over his own feet. His thin-framed glasses slip off and skip along the ground. He spends a silly amount of time crawling around in search of them, grumbling beneath his breath, and he nearly wets himself when a cat leaps out of nowhere.

It shoots past him; hurries down the alley he's facing, and Arnold almost loses sight of it in the dark. His fingers finally locate his glasses and he blows off some dust before pushing them on his face. The cat stops at a dark shape - something lying on the ground.

It hits him all at once. It's a body. Yes, there's an arm, there's the legs... how awful! Might the person be dead? Or just another drunkard, passed out from too much drink? The cat sniffs the body and saunters off, leaving Arnold alone with his conscience.

He rushes toward the person, nearly tripping. They might need help, and Arnold might be their only chance. He squats down, knees popping, and reaches out to feel whether or not the person - a young man - is breathing. He isn't.

Shivers trickle up Arnold's spine. He doesn't want to believe the man dead, so he lowers his hand to the man's heart - but of course, there is no beat. "No," Arnold whispers, and despite the ally's darkness, notices the dead man's collar is soaked with blood. He pulls his hand back to find his fingertips wet and red. He wipes them on his pants.

A laugh resonates through the alley. Arnold abruptly stands. He thinks about running. Surely, it would be the logical thing to do. But what if the laughter is that of the murderer? There is no nighttime police force, despite how hard his parents had urged for it. The government always had it's excuses for not enforcing such a change in the police department, and eventually his parents died because of that, killed by some unknown night-walker.

He recalls the locals' warnings against nighttime wandering, the notices of messy, violent criminals (mental vagrants, the newspapers suggest) who've naught a grain of decency or clemency inside them. Ye be warned and lock your doors, lest you die howling for the Lord's sweet mercy. Arnold should be running for his life.

But he isn't. He's coming to an alley perpendicular to the one he's in, and realizing there are two people snogging each other senseless in the shadows. They scuttle and clash in their frenzy to touch each other.

With a shock, Arnold realizes (by the girth of their dresses) that it is two women.

For a moment, he is transfixed.

The women pause, as if sensing him, and both turn to look. Their eyes immerse his senses in ice water. He stumbles back and away, but before he can get very far, one of the women has dashed forward with impeccable speed and veered in front of him.

"Have you lost your way, sir?" she asks, twirling her black hair around her fingers. She has on a red and white-lace dress and a confident, red smirk.

"N-no, I'm- I'm fine, thank you. I'm sorry if I... disturbed you."

"Not at all."

Arnold turns around to find the other woman behind him. Her hair is blond and curled at the ends and her dress is a tame pink, less ostentatious than the other's. She studies him with bright eyes.

"Are you out here all alone?" she asks.

He attempts to smile. "Seems like a question I should be asking the two of you." He feels a bit silly for having run off - these women couldn't possibly have been doing what he'd assumed. It was so dark, after all. And he's been drinking. Rather than upset them with the news of the dead body, he tries to suppress a hiccup and takes a deep breath. "Would you like me to walk you home?"

"Not to worry, lad," says the one in red. "We can take care of ourselves. And besides! The night is still young."

"Hardly." Arnold laughs and looks up at the sky. The stars are faint, and it's so quiet for a moment that he wonders if the women can hear his heart hammering. It's been a long time since he's been alone in the presence of such lovely ladies. He starts as something terribly cold touches his hand.

It is the blonde's fingers. "You're so cold!" he exclaims, and it feels only natural to take her hands in his in an attempt to warm them. She casts a smirky glance at her friend, who cocks an eyebrow in reply.

"And you're so warm," the blonde says sweetly and stands close enough that he can see the darker specs of blue in her eyes. "What's your name?"

"Ar-Arnold," he answers without hesitation.

"I'm Helga." He gently lifts their hands near his mouth to puff hot breath onto them, his gaze never leaving hers. She smiles wide. There is a harsh ahem sound from behind them.

"Oh. And that's Lloyd," Helga says, with a nod back at her friend.

"It's Rhonda Lloyd, I'll have you know. How many times have I told you not to call me 'Lloyd' all the time, Helga? Honestly. It's so strait-laced."

Helga looks back at her. "You've got a little..." Helga tongues the corner of her lips, referring to the redness smeared on the side of Rhonda's mouth. Arnold thought it was lipstick, but when Rhonda wipes her mouth with her knuckles, then proceeds to lick them clean, he isn't so sure.

He doesn't think on it, though, because Helga's hands have slunk out of his grasp and are currently crawling up his chest. His heart begins to beat even faster and he knows she can feel it because she places her right palm directly over his heart. The skin on the back of his neck tingles as she slides her other hand up and around it. Then she pulls him down into a kiss.

At first it's just a mild press of lips. But soon it becomes something he's never experienced before - feral and stormy, polluted with sharp tastes he can't put his finger on. The woman kisses as though all hope for tomorrow is gone, and the only thing left to do is surrender to basely desires, like beasts. He feels himself surrendering and kissing back as her hands pull him closer and closer still, until he recognizes the all-too familiar tightening in his groin and knows he has to pull away.

"No!" he says, panicked, stepping away. "This is... I can't!"

"What?" Helga asks with a frown. "What can't you do?"

"This!" As he moves backward, Helga moves forward, as does Rhonda, face cold and arms unhappily crossed. Everything feels wrong, suddenly. He should never have followed those noises. "I don't even know you!"

Quickly, Helga snatches his wrist and slides around behind him. He can feel her breasts against his back.

"We could get to know one another," she offers in a whisper to the fine hairs on his neck.

"Oh, come now, Helga," Rhonda scoffs, tossing back her bangs, "You can't honestly be thinking of turning this man? Besides, we just ate."

As Helga seems to be deliberately ignoring her friend by playing with Arnold's shirt collar, he tries to process Rhonda's last words. But when Helga's hand drags with lascivious ease down Arnold's front, Rhonda's mouth becomes some sort of jaw-dropped grimace, and Arnold gets a look at the awkward shape of teeth that reside there.

"You're... you can't be..."

"Vampires?" Rhonda answers for him. "Clever man. What gave us away? Not the fangs and the out-of-style gowns, surely?"

Before Arnold can react, there is a long swipe of wet tongue along his neck, and then Helga bites down. He can feel sharp tips of her fangs in his skin; feel the drop - two drops - of blood slide down inside his shirt. Helga settles against his back, wraps her arms around his torso, holds him in place.

It's wrong, unheard of, unspeakably evil. She's actually sucking the blood from his body. This is wickedness far beyond anything he's ever done. This is- punishment, he realizes. For his failures. True evil sent to discard of a smaller one. He doesn't even bother to fight. Stupid, so stupid! he tells himself and when his legs go numb he leans back slightly into the woman's arms so as not to topple helplessly onto the cobblestone.

Through slightly blurred vision, he can see that Rhonda has shed her grimace and appears to be taking great interest in Helga's doing. He sees her coming forward, closing in, and a strange noise escapes him as this one bites down on the other side of his neck. He is trapped between them, his legs sandwiched between their dresses. Their bodies, namely their breasts, are pressing against him from either side and he has never been so cold.

Rhonda is done quickly, but Helga drinks with drawn-out swallows. "That's enough, Helga. Let's go! You've had your fun," Rhonda tells her; Helga tears her mouth away.

"It's always about you, isn't it Rhonda? Always what you think, what you want. Well, do you know what I want? Him."

She circles Arnold until they're staring into each other's eyes, her hands holding steady his shoulders. Her eyes are bright and alive, and he can't help but look at them, even when she rips off his glasses and tosses them aside.

"Helga, don't."

"Piss off, Rhonda," Helga snarls, then presses Arnold's face to her neck and he is instinctively compelled to bite down. Everything swirls and sings and comes alive when he swallows. This is it. He's been dead all this time, and now he's finally alive. This must be it.

He was wrong about this being punishment - this is freedom. Indescribable energy enters his veins and it feels so great that he doesn't even care if Helga's hair is tickling his nose. He feels monstrous and pure at once and knows he can do anything, invent anything, pursue any fancy, any dream. Do monsters dream, he wonders?

Rhonda is pulling and scratching at them. "Helga, stop! Not him!" Helga's making strange (pleasurable) noises and twisting Arnold's shirt between her fingers. He thinks he hears something tear as Rhonda finally succeeds in detaching her far sooner than he'd like.

Then Arnold is falling. He falls but he doesn't feel the impact, and Rhonda is wrenching Helga away, toward shadows. Arnold wants to turn his head to watch them go, to say something, but he can't manage it and the shadows are creeping closer. He is numb of all sensation except the blood on his lips that now sends strands of guilt lacing through him.

I'm sorry, he prays. I'm sorry.

When he wakes, he cannot remember whether he has dreamt or not. He can only scream as the sunlight devours him, and he is never sorry again.

. t h e . e n d .

A/N: Feedback feeds my hungry, hungry heart.