Title: 46
Author/Artist: Seinakyou
Character/Pairing: Akabara Strauss and OC (non pairing)
Fandom: Record of a Fallen Vampire
Theme: #17: Missing Time
Warnings: Spoilers up until chapter 43, blood


- How could this have been the worst? You'd killed 45 before her, right?

- Of course I killed them all. You of all people should be able to attest to that.

- …Bastard

- Do you really want to know why this was worse than all the others?

- Do I?

-Probably not.

- Tell me anyways.

He sighs, slowly and anguished

- She was only thirteen.

He stared at her.

That was all. There was nothing really to take in. (Wasn't she awfully young, though?)

"Mr. Vampire King." Her words were tense, scared, terrified.

"Black Swan." His weren't.

There were a few moments of awkward silence, the breeze caressing their hair, and some oblivious crickets chirping a few feet away.

She fidgeted, obviously not at ease. (Not that she should be [How old is she, anyways?])

"Um… so I guess you're my enemy?" She glanced up, eyes relatively empty. (And green, he notes, they're green.)

He laughed at this. It wasn't funny, but he laughed anyways.

(Later, the dhampires would whisper evil king, laughing before he kills a child and it's no wonder he must die, but Bridget wouldn't say anything, sweet girl, because she's smarter than that. [Sometimes, he thinks she knows. {Others, he thinks she doesn't.}])

"Little one" he murmurs, eyes sad, "You are no threat to me."

Her eyes light up with indignance now. (It's kind of cute, and it reminds him of Stella. [Crap. Don't start thinking about that now. Concentrate.])

"Don't underestimate me just because I'm small!" she says primly, proudly, pouting. "I'm strong enough to put up a good fight!"

He cocks an eyebrow, and grins mournfully at this, staring quite noticeably at her hands, at the swirling tattoos that meant death and Stella to him (Concentrate!). "I imagine you would."

"But we shouldn't fight."

He's surprised, but seasoned enough to be able to net let it show. "Why?"

"Because I'll lose. I'm not strong enough to beat you. And if we fight, I'll die painfully. Also, I'll wound you, even if it's just a little. And then, Mr. Renka and Miss Bridget will try to fight you, but you'll still beat them, even if you're wounded."

He's pretty sure that he look mildly amused, because she can tell that it means that he's impressed (He's always liked logic). She grins widely, brightly (like Stella), and still manages to sound morose. "When people forget that you're there, they say a lot more than they know." (Bridget always was one to talk too much)

They lapse into another silence. (She looks like Stella, but not. [How old is she?])

"How old are you?"

She sits down now, and starts picking at the grass. (She's being too mature, he thinks. She has to know what awaits her. She does, doesn't she? If she doesn't what does he say? Hello, nice to meet you, I have to kill you now? [Would she be mature then])

"I'm thirteen."

She glances up, (unconvincingly) unafraid. "I think," she starts conversationally, "I'm a bit young to die." She looks right at him now (StellaStellaStella) and grins, weakly, mournfully (Does she realise she's literally grinning in the face of death? [Probably]) "But I don't really get to choose, do I?" She continues now, tracing a pattern (Letters?) into the dirt. "Even if you don't kill me (She knows), I wont live very long. I probably won't graduate high school." She keeps talking, and she must notice the shaking of her voice, because it's her voice, but she keeps talking anyways. "I was going to be a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher. I don't what I wanted to be." She laughs, a little caustically, a little desperately. "I thought I had time."

It's quiet again, and it takes about 10 minutes (feels awfully long, considering his lifespan) for her to finish. "I don't, do I?"

He has no reply to this.

She keeps talking. "The dhampires are really nice to me you know, but the lady, Miss Bridget?" She pauses, and starts to traces the pattern embellished on her hand. (Would that, like a regular tattoo, hurt as the ink was forced into your skin? [Is it ink?]) . "She looks at me really sadly sometimes." She smiles benevolently at the grass, and he wonders exactly how long the Black Swan has possessed her (Too long). She keeps talking, as if those words broke the dam of her thoughts.

"I suppose I'd smile sadly at this too. When I was little--" She frowns slightly and seems a bit disturbed. "I guess that was just a few months ago, actually. Anyways, I always dreamed of being the heroine in something, being special, being something. I got my wish, I suppose." A pause "It's different than I thought it'd be."

She talks a lot, he thinks, but he doesn't care, because he's probably the last person she'll ever talk to. (She's really too young for this. [Damn you, Saberhagen.])

"I've never been in love before either."

He looks up (when did he look down?), but she's still sitting right there, talking more to herself than him. (Stella did that a lot, too)

"I've never fallen in love, not like my parents and not like in the movies, never been happy just to be around someone.." She trails off, uncertain of where she's going with this,

"I've never been kissed, either."

She's not that strong, and not strong enough for this bravado, but she's trying anyways.

"I've never been kissed." She repeats numbly, bringing her fingers up to her lips. "Huh. That's kind of sad."

She looks up at the sky, and it's definitely still dark. But it's almost turning lighter, and she notices.

"You know, Miss Bridget said that I have until dawn to kill you. Then she'll come get me, and we'll have a rematch."

All three of them know what she means.

She smiles beatifically at him, and her watch is ticking, tick, tick, ticking away her seconds, her minutes of remaining life.

(He wishes he could let her live. But if he doesn't kill her tonight, he'll let her kill him. [That won't do. Couldn't he just wait 5 years?(…Coward)])

"Will you come watch the stars with me, Mr. Vampire King?"

He doesn't really say anything, but he walks over anyways.

"Let's ceasefire for a little while. You're holding all of the cards, after all." She's unnaturally calm.

He lies down beside her and watches the stars (What does he have to loose?).

He looks at the moon a lot (It's full tonight).

How long does he spend there? He doesn't know, but there is power in time, and it will pass regardless of what's happening. (Couldn't it have stopped when he was happy?)

Tick Tick Tick

There is power in time, power in watching it pass, power in knowing it is beyond any control.

Tick Tick Tick

But all too often he feels powerless when he thinks of time. (He can't change the past, he thinks, but maybe he can change the future? [Maybe not]).

Tick Tick Tick

The sky is starting to turn purple now.

She exhales slowly, and he knows that she feels it too (He's not sure what they feel, but it's unpleasant and bitter and tastes like failure).

"I don't really want to die."

And she says this so bravely, but the tears are falling now, and she's shaking (Time is power. Time controls everyone).

"I'm scared." (He hears fear, sadness, hopelessness; but her words taste like pain)

(He'll kill her, because he needs more time, but is quickly running out.)

Tick Tick Tick

(He speaketh not; and yet there lies. A conversation in his eyes.)

"You have every right to be."

Tick. Tick.

He'll open his arms, and he'll know that it's her, this child (death child, dead child) without a name (it's easier when he doesn't know their name), but maybe he'll be able to look at her hair and think Stella. She'll latch onto him, and can pretend for a short while that this isn't the last human contact that she'll ever have, can pretend that this is someone else (Her true love? [He doesn't exist]).

They're both pretending, losing themselves in a pretty fantasy, because fantasy is the only refuge for Evil Kings and Crusaders of Justice.

Pretending is easier.

("She's always staring off into the distance."

"Why does our savior have to be a little girl?"

"I hope she dies soon, so that we have a chance at salvation.")

("Strauss! How could you leave us all behind!"

"Why are you doing this!"

"I hate you!")

They are unloved by all. (They, in a twisted sort of way, love each other. After all, neither can live without the other)

(The air smells like death.)

She cries into his shirt, and her tears hit the grass below, and with everything she is, she is just a little girl. Her cries are still echoing in his ears, even as they fade into sobs into sniffles into silence. (They won't go away for a long time {or ever, you know})

His hand rests awkwardly on her head (He's never been good at this), but this makes her cry more. The sky is growing lighter now. They're both running out of time. (Time. Time. They've both ran straight out of time)

(I can grant any wish.)

He holds her tight and buries his face in her hair (StellaStellaStella), and then kisses her.

(Softly, Gently)

He hopes it's nice. (Stella always told him he was good at kissing)

He's pretty sure she'd be enjoying it a lot more if his hand wasn't embedded in his chest.

The kiss breaks after about a minute (a painfully blissful minute), and she stares down at his hand (the one in her chest) rather indifferently.

"Ah." She grins somehow. (She smiles a lot. [Stupid girl. {…Though he's happy someone smiles at him}]) "That wasn't nice." She coughs, and blood is pouring out of her wound (first time, present tense, singular), and spraying out of her mouth.

He thinks, she must be on painkillers, because he's immortal, and damn does that hurt. (And he never tried talking.)

"Then again, it was. Sort of." Her eyes are clouding a bit, and her words are slurring together, but she's still talking. (Why not? She won't survive anyways.)

"I'm dying having kissed a boy, at least. Miss Stella—" he stiffens, involuntarily. It still hurts hearing her name. (It always will.) "—told me that you'd probably do something like this. She smiled a lot when I was talking to her. Said that if I smiled, he'd probably feel better." (Damn her for being right) She cocked her head to the side, and gave a raspy cough, eyes all knowing. "She said hi."

Her hands reached up towards the arm embedded in her chest, and she laid her land on his forearms (He has veins. Isn't that ironic?) "I'm still scared, I'm still sad. But thank you." She's fading fast, he can tell. He can't feel her heartbeat strongly anymore, and his hand is covered in her blood (and bone, and muscle, and just gore in general). She's crying again. (Damn) "I'm resigned to death. Always have been." Cough hack blood sprays on his face "It's just another adventure, another enemy to defeat." She says, but she's not very good at lying, even to herself. (Yes, she isn't really talking to him anymore.)

Her eyes are turning glassy, and her words are very hard to understand, and there is blood coming out of her mouth in a steady trickle now. (And less coming out of her wound, which seems kind of strange.) Her eyes are flickering, taking in still frames of the lightening sky.

(She's out of time. Or would it be more accurate to say someone stole her time?)

(Who stole it? He, or Saberhagen or even Stella?)

Her breathing is shaky, but steady, it seems as though she is forcing herself to stay calm. (Her missing time is out there somewhere. Tick Tick Tick). Steady, steady, just keep breathing (for a little while longer), in and out. If you want to live longer, just breathe.

She takes one rattling breath, and says quietly, calmly, frightened, tired, "The moon's blessing to you, Akabara-san." And what's left of that breath comes out in a hiss, a final show of defiance. (He thinks she says "Good night" or "Goodbye" or something like that. He's not sure.)

He had gotten used to her breathing beside him, and it had calmed him down, that time had given her a bit more.

He waited for a minute after that, just to make sure that just because he couldn't feel her breathing didn't mean that she wasn't. (Why does he care?[Stella])

A minute, waiting for a breath she would never again take. The water colour of the sky was blotting, the black turning to blue to purple to pink, and he was out of time. (So was she.)

She's dead now, very dead, and starting to cool and slowly, gently, he lays her on the ground, and he softly, gently removes him hand from her ribcage. She's (still) smiling, and he picks up her hands, stained red (Crimson? Poppy? Scarlet? 100 years later, he still can't find that exact shade of red. He mixes them all up, too) with her own blood (for the first time, none of his), and (softly, gently) lays them over her gaping wound, which isn't bleeding anymore, at least. It's dark still, so with her eyes closed, smiling, and no wound (highly) visible, she looks like she could be sleeping.

His magic is unpredictable sometimes, it is a power, an entity all unto itself, and he often forgets that it is more attuned to his emotions than he his. So when he feels it spark, and the warmth and tingling flows down his limbs, he isn't too surprised. It creeps into the earth, whispering, urging, egging on the plants to grow, it's just a little before then anyways, so why not wake up early? They complain, but they move, slowly at first, the grass springing up and the flowers blooming, and it's suddenly not as sad to look at her (she's not surrounded by blood and dead grass now, no, now she's covered in flowers and lying on grass.

(It doesn't change the fact that he killed her, though)

His eyes are soft, tired; and he grants one last look before turning away from her. The breeze picks up, brisk in the morning air, and he wonders how much further he can fall. He pulls the collar of his coat over his face, and then, with the night breeze, he is gone.

It's dawn now, and when the dhampires find her, she's still peaceful, and still very much dead, and still smiling.

(Sometimes, if you walk past that park at night, you'll see a pale form lying in grass, and if you get close enough, she'll point out the constellations to you)

(He visits sometimes, and she always smiles a little wider when he does)

Many years later, he meets a little girl named Lotty.

She's a lot like her, so he takes her in.

(This won't atone for his sins.)

He still has her watch.

Tick. Tick. Ti--

It stopped counting the time she missed a long time ago.

AN: I seem cursed to meddle in nearly forgotten fandoms... Oh well. I apologize for the OC.

*Clarification* She had the Black Swan since she was 8, but was only contacted a few months before the story.

I'm not sure whether to keep going or not, so some feedback would give me an idea.

(Keep writing? For god's sake, stop? I'd like to know! Throw it all at me!)