Allan strolled into the last room on the hallway, followed closely by the greasy little wigmaker. The little handwritten sign on the door spelled "Alice" in spidery writing. They weren't sure what her last name was, as she'd been left on the steps to the asylum, unconscious and covered in bruises.

The girl inside was sitting cross-legged on the bed, her head bowed, shiny curtains of ebony hair falling down on either side of her face.

"Beautiful," the wigmaker rasped, fingering a chunk of this hair between his hands. His large, rusty scissors snipped across it with a sound much like his voice until he had left Alice's head covered in a choppy black fuzz.

"Thank you, little girl," he said, laughing, before slinking out of the room.

"Here you are, Alice,"Allan said brightly, slipping her a small toffee. It sat in her hand, an odd splash of color amid the desaturated scene. She made no attempt to unwrap it and bring it to her mouth.

Allan looked down at her sadly, his hand brushing briefly against her shoulder. He loved that little girl so much. It was a terrible waste for her to sit in here, dying slowly.

She shivered away from his icy touch, rubbing her shoulder convulsively.

"Goodnight, Alice," he said, taking in one last long breath of air saturated with her beautiful scent and shutting the door quietly behind him.

He jumped slightly as a more solid shadow detached itself from the dark walls of the hall. A white face as pale and cold as Allan's own, but with blood red eyes burning from the deep-sunk sockets.

"You know what I want, Allan," he snarled, putting his face very close to Allan's.

"Yes, James, but I'm afraid-"

"You should be! I want her and I will have her. I'm tired of waiting. You give her to me tonight or I swear I will expose us all!"

With that, he whipped around in a swirl of black cloak and ran down the hallway, faster than a human eye could see.

- - -

Allan dithered for a moment, swaying back and forth on the spot. Finally, swearing furiously at James under his breath, he slid back into Alice's room.

She was asleep, curled sideways with her back facing the door. He found himself missing the silken hair that would spread over the pillow, glittering subtly.

"Alice, dear," he whispered, touching her shoulder gently. "Alice, wake up."

She jerked awake, staring blankly up at Allan.

"Come with me, darling. We need to go."

He thought he saw a flash of white pass by the barred window, But he couldn't be sure.

Either way, he would need to do this fast.

Alice didn't react to his words, so he scooped her up like a baby and pressed a firm hand over her mouth when she opened it to scream. Her eyes grew wide and frightened as she struggled in the iron cage of his arms.

Allan ran down the hall at top speed, making Alice thrash about even more out of fear. Her teeth scrabbled against his hand, but of course they had no painful effects.

"Hush, honey. We're here," he said as he laid her down in a little alcove that held a few large waste bins.

Alice opened her mouth to snarl at him, but stopped midway. Her blue eyes rolled up slowly to gaze at the night sky, the round silver moon and sparkling stars reflected in them.

"It's very bright," she said softly. Allan was surprised at how low and musical her voice was when she wasn't screaming or sobbing.

"Yes. That's the moon there," Allan pointed to the glowing sphere suspended in the sky, "and those little ones are stars."

"I like them," she said, twirling her hand above her head as if the stars were flowing through her fingers. "I wish I could... touch them."

"Alice, I'm going to need to do something. I want you to stay very still, all right?"

She stiffened, but did not move.

"Something bad is going to happen," she said suddenly, very softly. Her head was up, alert.

"What?"

"I... don't know..." Allan leaned in.

He had meant to go for her neck, but his lips found hers instead. She responded instantly, pressing herself into him and willingly parting her lips for his.

"No," he gasped, pulling away. "No, Alice. I said stay still."

Alice fell back, sulking a bit, but kept her body immobile.

This time his mouth glided along her smooth, pale neck, searching out the strongly pulsing jugular vein. They found it easily, parted--

And his teeth cut into her skin.

Immediately, he was overtaken by the immense need for her blood. It was flooding his mouth with amazing, warm sweetness, and he wanted more. But, with tremendous effort, he pulled himself away and fell panting against the dirty stone wall.

Alice was jerking upon the floor, uttering little cries of pain. Her tiny, doll-like body writhed in ever-more violent spasms as a tear slid down her cheek.

A roar of anger split the night, and James leaped from the top of the wall, landing with a deafening crash on top of Allan.

"You knew I wanted her!" he snarled, baring his teeth. "You knew!"

"I couldn't let you, James," Allan said, quite calmly considering he had a spitting-mad vampire in his face.

"Oh yes, because you love the pathetic little thing. Well, now it's all a waste and you will pay!"

Allan remained still, not putting up a shred of a fight as James began to tear him apart with a sound like screeching metal. He knew he had to protect Alice at all costs.

"No!" Alice managed to scream hoarsely, trying to overcome the burning pain that was lancing through her veins long enough to reach Allan. But it was far too late. James had torn him into unrecognizable, twisted bits.

"No, no, no..." Alice sobbed. "Stop, please stop..." James laughed, pulling a matchbook from his pocket.

"Aw, did you love him too? What a tragedy. You could have saved him, you know. If you had just given yourself up to me..." He sighed theatrically. "You knew what was going to happen, didn't you? And yet you made not a single move to stop it... So it's all your fault, really. And you smelled so good..."

"You can have me!" Alice said desperately, reaching out a hand. James laughed derisively and kicked it away. It broke with a snap, only to be mended moments later by the vampire venom coursing painfully through her system.

"Too late, little girl. You've already been polluted. But I do hope you enjoy immortality. Your little talent will surely be very useful."

He lit the match dramatically and let it go, speeding away so quickly that he was long gone before the match even hit the ground.

The single flame drifted ever-so-slowly to the ground, catching onto Allan's remains in the blink of an eye. They flared up rapidly, sending a sickly-sweet scent through the still night air.

But slowly, even the bright flames faded from Alice's vision as the venom did its work, sending her spiraling into unconsciousness.