Disclaimer: I don't own the movie 30 Days of Night. If I did, Iris wouldn't have died :( and Marlow would've ripped Eben's head off :D

A/N: This is set a couple years before the movie, when Iris is still a newbie vampire and the sexual tension between her and Marlow has yet to be realised (coughcough) Anyway, on with the show!

Iris was running.

Speeding along dark paths lined with trees, she made no sound as dead leaves flew in her wake. Bright moonlight illuminated her features: slanted and liquid black eyes, long jagged claws, and blood-splattered ghostly skin. She'd have been pretty, if she weren't a monster. Screeching with exhilaration, the monster named Iris ran faster along the nameless pathways of the forest. Her long hair whipped in the wind.

Finally, after countless hours of frenzied sprinting with no true destination, she finally slowed to a walk, and then to a complete standstill.

She looked around at the clearing where she stood.

It was quite… beautiful. She remembered the word vaguely from her human-time; it seemed appropriate. She'd liked words when she was human. That was before the vampire pack had entered her small mountain village and turned her. It felt so long ago; she'd changed so much since then. Yes, this clearing is beautiful.

Small white flowers littered the grass that crinkled under her boots, and the trees that formed a wall around her waved gently in the breeze. Turning her head heavenward, she could make out the pinpricks of stars through the delicate intricacies of the branches. The moon shone through the clouds, a glowing orb of light.

Exhaling a small high-pitched whimper of pain, she closed her eyes and carefully lowered herself to the ground.

And looked down at her arm.

Long deep wounds crisscrossed the marble-like skin. At least I've stopped bleeding, that's the main thing. She cocked her head to the side, evaluating in the damage. She'd heal soon enough, thanks to the vampire blood that ran in her veins, but injuries still were painful to one as young as she. She'd have to stay away from the pack for a while, since they'd see the damage as a weakness. Thrice-damned Arvin: would he never accept the fact that she didn't want him as a mate? Not anyone, but definitely not him. The bald vampire's constant attempts at domination were pathetic and weak and repulsive. Any good male knew that if a female of the pack wasn't interested, she wasn't interested, but trying to force her to submit was a new low. Disgusting.

He'll learn soon enough, she thought, still musing over the gashes inflicted by his claws and teeth. What she'd done to him… well, he'd heal enough to leave his shelter in a few weeks. Iris smirked wickedly, lips uncovering an impressive array of sharp teeth. Arvin's near-black blood stained her coat in long smears.

The pack often remarked at her savagery, her bloodlust. Having such strength and fearlessness was virtually unheard of in fledglings. I am a fighter. I will survive in this world.

Suddenly, she realised she wasn't alone.

Twisting around, she saw Marlow staring down at her from the branches of an oak tree. She could smell him from where she sat: any new member of the pack learnt quickly to recognise the scent of their leader. He must've tracked her, following the traces of blood she left as she ran. Why do you hunt me, dark one?

***

And I'd give up forever to touch you

'Cause I know that you feel me somehow

You're the closest to heaven that I'll ever be

And I don't wanna go home right now

***

For a few moments, the two vampires silently regarded each other from separate sides of the moonlit clearing.

"Why did you do it?" he growled, leaping from the oak with cat-like grace and stalking towards her. She sat quietly, eyes averted as he came to stand close. He loomed over her. His tall dark form blocked out the moon, and she sat in the shadow he cast. The blood of a recent kill glistened around his mouth and lower jaw. She resisted an instinctive urge to taste it, right off his skin.

***

And all I can taste is this moment

And all I can breathe is your life

And sooner or later, it's over

I just don't wanna miss you tonight

***

"I told the pack that I do not want a mate. Arvin ignored this, and disregarded the warnings I gave him. I had no choice but to defend myself," she murmured, eyes not leaving the blades of grass as she spoke. They still sparkled from a recent rain, and she could see her pale face reflected in the tiny droplets.

"Your variation of defending yourself has cost us a powerful warrior, for a time. Why do you fight the males who desire you? Why do you refuse future mates, night after night?"

Iris stayed silent. He crouched down to her level and stretched out a hand, and with one stained claw lifted her chin to stare into her face. The sharp talon pricked the tender skin, but drew no blood. She felt no fear, but closed her eyes. His presence was always so overwhelming. Such power you have over me.

"It would be better for you, fledgling, if you had a mate to protect and guide you. You know this," he said, his voice harsh and low. His eyes flicked from her face to her mutilated arm.

"I am nothing to them."

Marlow frowned, and blinked. Suddenly, he straightened and moved to her side. He sat down, his coat rustling, and looked at her. "Explain."

She lifted her gaze to the night sky, as if the answers could be found there. This was complicated. How could she disobey such a direct order from him? But how could she reveal how she felt? He'd be disgusted. Ever since she'd entered the pack, he'd treated her well, considering her inexperience. How could she jeopardise that?

"I cannot."

The air around them became filled with tension, and she felt him stiffen.

"Explain, Iris." A low, threatening snarl.

She quickly glanced at him. Disobedience was always punished and she knew she'd been lucky he hadn't already killed her. Second chances in his pack were rare.

"It…is difficult to explain. I… I do not know my own mind," she whispered, closing her eyes. She felt such loyalty to him. She'd die for him, would let him kill her: this strange, dangerous, powerful being that sat beside her.

He waited, listening. The silence stretched. I will regret this.

"To them, I am… an object. A thing to have, control, enjoy. As the humans are food, so I would be… entertainment, amusement in the hours we do not hunt or prepare to hunt. There'd be no…" Iris paused in her halting speech, searching for the right words to say. Their language was still difficult to her, and she was nervous in his presence. "… there'd be no meaning to it. Nothing beyond…" she helplessly motioned to her body, black hair partially hiding her face.

Silence. More silence.

***

And I don't want the world to see me

'Cause I don't think that they'd understand

When everything's made to be broken

I just want you to know who I am

***

"You ask for more than the physical duties of a mate? You wish for…an emotional attachment, a bond?" Marlow asked curtly, his hard features unreadable. She felt a flicker of wonder: he'd worded it perfectly. He understood her. He sits so still, so strong, so silent.

"Yes." I can't deny it.

"That is not how the mate-partnership works," he spat, standing up and beginning to pace around the clearing. She watched as the white flowers were crushed beneath each footstep.

"But that is how I wish it to be," she said quietly.

"Our kind does not bond, Iris. It is not of us. No mate can be asked for anything more than the physical. Anything more does not help us survive, and is thus useless. All we do is for survival. That is our way," he intoned, his face in shadow.

"I know. Perhaps I will never find a mate. I accept that."

***

And you can't fight the tears that ain't coming

Or the moment of truth in your lies

When everything feels like the movies

Yeah, you bleed just to know you're alive

***

He spun around to face her as she said this. She met his gaze for a few seconds, and then calmly looked upward once more. Beautiful, distant stars.

She heard shrieks and screeches in the distance: the others. They must have found something. Or someone.

"We must rejoin the pack now. You are healed?" he enquired, brisk and cold. She looked back at her arm: as they'd talked, the cuts that had marred her skin had closed. He'd noticed, ever the observer. When will you permit yourself to live, Marlow, not just survive? Who are you, beyond your rank, your proud leadership? What do you whisper into the dark?

Iris nodded, taking one last long look around. If they were going to stay in the area, she would like to revisit this place. Perhaps he would, too.

***

And I don't want the world to see me

'Cause I don't think that they'd understand

When everything's made to be broken

I just want you to know who I am

***

The two vampires leapt as one into the trees, dark forms moving like acrobats as they sped towards the animalistic screams of their kind. As her inhuman strength propelled her forward, she followed his lightning movements with her black, liquid eyes.

Beautiful…

***

And I don't want the world to see me

'Cause I don't think that they'd understand

When everything's made to be broken

I just want you to know who I am

I just want you to know who I am

I just want you to know who I am

***

FIN

A/N: I know, I know… tres OOC. But in the movie, it seemed to me that they loved each other, okay? And I couldn't help but put "Iris" by the Goo Goo Dolls in there. This is (I think) the first 30 Days of Night vampire songfic, and probably the first fluffy Marlow/Iris piece. I should be ashamed of that, but I'm not :D Please be kind and give me a little feedback guys, because we all know that my writing needs improvement. Reviews don't just make my world go 'round, they make it spin. Q