John was gone. Again. Consumed once more by the rage which had filled him for more than a century, the rage which had destroyed his life, shattering everything he had been and all he had hoped to become.

Only, this time was different. This time, he knew the truth. It wasn't him - some fault or weakness which combined with the blood of the vampires within to drive him into madness and rage. To murder.

No, this time he knew himself for what he was: a prisoner in his own mind. And he also knew now that he was powerless to prevent it's control save for a few precious moments at a time, as when he had managed to save her from the beast which had threatened to destroy them all.

So rather than expend wasted energy on the constant struggle, or succumb to despair and regret, this time he bided his time, watching while gathering strength and knowledge for the opportunity he knew must come. One day.

But in the meantime, he waited.

And remembered.

And of all the memories gathered during far too long an existence, one stood out amongst the rest. One moment which, more than any other, he wished could have been different. One which he would have gladly forfeited his immortal soul to have changed.

He could still recall his first glimpse of her, watching from a distance as she crossed the college quad. Her hair curled across her shoulders and down her back, shining golden in the late afternoon sunlight, the rich blue of her gown a bright contrast to the black and white of the other scholars. He had followed her into the library without a second thought, hoping to find some opportunity to make her acquaintance or at least attract her attention. To have her turn to look at him for just one precious moment.

That was it.

Because if he could do it again…. Go back and change just one thing….

He would turn away and let her go.

Even though he couldn't begin to imagine his life without her…

He could imagine hers.