Chapter 4- Love at First Bite

Author's Notes:First off, some trivia. Bloodlust is a unique story among mine in several ways. Most of my stories are at least written partially on the computer, or done in multiple notebooks. But Bloodlust has been written entirely by hand (in the first copy) in a single notebook exclusively for that purpose.

Before you get out your pitch-forks and knives, the "Uncut" version of this chapter will be coming along shortly. It will be largely the same with an additional segment. I decided to publish this first rather than waiting because I figured you'd want to read the main "story" of the chapter as soon as possible, and that if you desired, you could return later to gratify certain *ahem* other urges.

Other interesting information is that unlike most of my work Bloodlust lacked almost all musical inspiration. It was inspired only from Dracula, which is the only vampire book I've ever read, although I did do some research into vampire folk legends for inspiration with the countess. The over-sexualization of the vampire is nothing new, by the way.

A whole lot of firsts here: first horror story, first AU story, first story to feature only five characters (counting Mr. Billings and his secretary), first story to be converted into a comic.

I would also like to thank all my readers for their generous and widespread comments. You inspire and motivate me.

Sonic's Journal

Today it seems... darker, somehow, like the Sun has been blotted out and night has dragged on past its natural, ordained hour. When I first awoke, I wondered if I had been roused from my sleep by a nightmare in the midst of the night. However, I lit a candle and checked my pocket-watch to discover that it was far into the morning, and it was no brighter than midnight.

How eerie all of this is. As of yet, I know not how I am to survive, whether there is any hope at all. Knowing that the vampiric Countess seems romantically, or at the very least... sexually interested in my friend, she is little danger to him while this appeal remains. Although it pains me to consider the prospect, I've come to the conclusion that the best thing to do would be to make an attempt to escape this place, and return with help to save Shadow.

The cerulean detective trudged up the spiral staircase, slowly ascending the dim interior of the castle's tallest tower. It seemed to take a thousand years to mount, as if he were climbing to heaven itself. When finally he came outside within the crisp and frigid air, the first thing that struck him was the sky.

His watch said it was noon, but the world was bathed in the shades of twilight, and the sun was obscured by a mass of broiling storm-clouds. Fat, icy drops of water fell like bombs from the sky, exploding in a shower of moisture as they struck the proud, hard stone of the castle.

Remembering the reason he'd had for coming up to the highest height, he slowly approached the edge and peered over at the surrounding countryside. The view that greeted his tired eyes was a dismal one, to be sure. Directly at the castle's front, a narrow, winding crevice formed the only direct access to the castle.

Beyond that, what had formerly been a rolling, grassy plain was now transformed into fifty miles of murk and mire at the edge of which was a speck he knew to be Bucharest, which may as well have been named Salvation. Above the city the sky was clear of the looming storm that swirled above him, and in that moment there was no doubt in his mind that he was in a place of great evil.

Solemnly he retreated back into the darkness of the castle. Inexplicably, the descent into gloom seemed quicker and easier than his trip up the stairs. To his surprise and horror, sitting in the dining room and perusing a book was the Countess herself. For a moment, it seemed his heart froze as he saw her.

Even he could not deny that she seemed supernaturally alluring, yet dually frightening. Her flaming eyes seemed to burn brighter than ever like infernos, and to his dismay, there within the flaming embers lurked a ravenous, insatiable hunger.

Her pale, voluptuous body was surrounded by a velvet, midnight colored gown that swirled about her as if it had a mind of its own. Dressed in this decidedly elegant, yet lust-inducing attire, she'd finally shown her true colors.

"Going somewhere, Mr. Morris?" she chirped sweetly, an insidious grin displaying her fangs.

Unconsciously he stopped and looked at her, unable to keep his eyes from roaming over her feminine curves even though he knew fully what she was, a thought that filled him with despair. If he, who did not love her, and knew what sort of fiend she was, was tempted by her charms, how would his friend fare? The thought added urgency to his mission.

Sonic hurried past, hearing a melodic yet haunting chuckle emanate behind him. He came into the main hall, where the eyes of the succubus continued to watch him from within the painting. At the end of the hall, the great iron door stood cold and imperious, almost as if it were a living thing that stubbornly blocked his progress. He surged against it, straining and pressing with all his might, pitting the strength of every muscle in his body against the blockage. It did not budge even a hair. Inhaling deeply, he remembered how easily the Countess had opened it the day before. At an instant he remembered how he'd stood outside and breathed in fresh air, free air. That had been his chance, but his suspicions had not been been realized, and it had gone to waste. Bitterness constricted around his heart, as he sunk down motionless against the door, his forehead pressed against the pitiless steel.

Slow, salty tears began to dribble in twin rivulets down his cheeks. Spasms of deep despair wracked his body as his fingers clawed at the ground in futile desperation.

"No hope... no escape. All is lost; nothing is everything."

The icy metal was pulled away, as Sonic felt a fresh breeze on his face. He looked up to see the world before him, taunting him. Above him hovered the demon, her veil of darkness swirling like liquid over her body.

"You're free to go," she hissed, as he stared up in utter disbelief.

Cautiously he stood and edged towards the door, but she made no move to stop him, only standing motionless and soulless like one of the marble statues that filled the hall. He was almost afraid to accept the liberation, as if he expected a trap, but wished to prolong the figment of hope - the mirage that the moment held within it. As he'd foreseen, the moment that he turned his back he heard he voice echo grimly behind him like the tolling of a great iron bell.

"But..." she trailed off knowingly, a wicked smirk curving over her luscious lips.

He winced unconsciously. "But what?"

"If you leave now, you will never see me... or you friend again." She said this in a full air of confidence and finality, and there was no lie in her voice or eyes.

He paused a moment and genuinely considered it.

He heaved a long, weary sigh. "I was just thinking that perhaps you could stay and, knowing you, wed the woman without once 'sampling her wares' beforehand."

Ignoring the azure detective's overtly sexual analogy, he answered the practical part of the statement. "And desert the firm, and you, and mother England? Surely you do not think me so heartless."

"Not heartless, but rather, desperately in love. Come now, surely there would be work for you here in Romania, and you'd have no problem in the way of money with the Countess' fortune."

He scoffed and finished the last bite of his breakfast. "Money, my good sir, is the least of my concerns," he countered. "Of more consideration to me would be our partnership."

"I can get along fine without you," Sonic reassured him haughtily.

"...But I for one know I can't. I don't know how I'd live, much less solve any cases, without you as my partner."

The remembrance of this exchange brought down on him a feeling of guilt that seemed to weigh as much as a ton of bricks. Solemnly he turned from the open doorway, from freedom, from life itself.

"I refuse."

A wistful yet sadistic grin found its way onto the vampire maiden's lustrous face, as if she'd known long before what his decision would be; knew before time began what he would choose and made the offer only to taunt him.

With slow, heavy steps, he marched past her, his limbs trembling with each step. How torturous that moment of hope had been. Before he had wept for himself and his friend, but robbed even the comfort of total hopelessness, he found that weeping would not come. We was empty, numb, like a sponge that had been wrung and wrung until no tears remained.

He returned to his room. The once strong, cocky detective sat in the corner of his bed, hugging his knees and shivering.

Shadow had been slow to rise on that third day. He'd been almost supernaturally exhausted after the conflict of the night before, and he'd slept undisturbed until noon, then proceeded to take his time with such morning rituals as changing and stretching.

This time when he came out of his chamber, there was no Countess waiting for him, and the dining room was empty. The entire castle seemed deathly silent, like a layer of cotton balls covered everything and blotted out all sound. Thinking this rather curious, he called out, half to see if anyone was there and half to test if he could hear himself.

"Countess?" he voice rang out, disturbing the tomb-like emptiness.

A billowing black visage descended the sweeping spiral stair-case like a demon. His breath seemed stolen away as her flaming eyes locked on him. Somehow she seemed to have grown only more radiant and alluring now that she had wrapped around her voluptuous body in darkness.

"You called?" she chirped, her fingertips toying again with the bloody pendant that hung over her bust, as if specifically to draw his gaze.

"The stillness of the castle startled me, I wondered where you'd gone."

She allowed a dark chuckle to escape. "You missed me, my sweet? I'm sorry to have kept you waiting."

Dangling a dainty hand upon the detective's shoulder, she pulled him with impressive strength into a close embrace. She seemed to emanate a curious heat that pulled him in deeper and deeper, as his senses were numbed by her intoxicating charms.

She had no need for prologue to romance, taking as she wished without request or explanation. Planting light, breathy kisses on Shadow's neck, she began to whisper poison in his ear.

"Your partner is jealous of you, you know." He found himself unable to respond, unable to protest, unable to move. "But who can blame him for being jealous of such a handsome, strong, intelligent man as yourself?"

Of course he was jealous. Who could blame him?

"He resents your skill. That's why he has made himself a womanizer. That's why he wants to sabotage what we have. He can't stand to see anyone gratified but himself."

Of course he was trying to sabotage their relationship to offset his own personal insecurities. What other possibility could there be?

"I have no ill-will towards Mr. Morris. But don't let him turn you against me, my delicious Shadow."

As she spoke, she ran her fingers teasingly over his form, stroking him like an obedient dog. Shadow seemed enraptured, hypnotized.

It wasn't Sonic's fault, he was just misguided. Maybe it would be best if he stayed there in Romania with her, and his partner returned to England alone. Maybe he could run the firm on his own, with no-one to be jealous of. Maybe he'd signed over his soul to this enticing seductress, and maybe he wasn't ever going to get it back again.

A thousand 'maybes' raced through the turbulent stream of his mind. A million possibilities rode on the back of a billion questions, which led him to one definitive realization.

He loved her.

There was no doubt; was no maybe. No questions lingered, no other possibilities existed. In that moment he recognized the true nature of unconditional love. Many a tortured soul had posed the question to themselves throughout time 'am I in love?' He knew the folly of the question now. Because when the genuine sentiment revealed itself to him, there was no question, no possibility of escape or doubt. He was in love - he belonged to her, he simply knew it.

After staring lengthily at a wall in despondence, the cerulean hero decided to smoke the all of his remaining tobacco. If he was going to die, he figured he may as well not die with leftover pipe-weed.

He knew that all was lost. He felt himself teetering upon the precipice of calamity, being closer and closer to the pit that awaited at the bottom. Yet, even in his despair, he refused to simply wait and let death come to him. He would challenge the vampire, one last time.

Standing proudly to his feet with wreathes of smoke encircling his head, Sonic threw open his door to find the long expanse of the dining room vacant, but the table prettily prepared in anticipation of a meal.

He knocked on his partner's door, but heard no answer. Guessing that he must have gone up to the tower, Sonic once again began climbing the steps, his steps echoing in the winding corridor as he ascended with grim purpose.

A glance at his watch told him that evening was upon them now, and the third day was now rapidly drawing to a close. Inhaling greedily, he partook of air as a man that knew he wouldn't get much more, and wished to make the most of it while he could.

When he emerged, he saw that the sky, rather than clearing, seemed only to have grown more occluded, and was shrouded in swirling, ominous clouds. The rain slanted diagonally upon his head like frozen daggers, as a flash of light mocked him with a brief instant of illumination, before returning the scene to dim hopelessness.

Thunder's peal was close overhead. At the edge of the terrace he saw his friend and partner, his overcoat flapping wildly about in the wind. He was staring aimlessly at the horizon as if searching for something, his eyes distant. Sonic approached slowly, wary of surprising him.

Shadow seemed to be aware of his presence, yet did not turn to look at him, but only stood surveying the expanse of mire and marsh that lingered in the lands beyond the castle.

"Aren't you chilled to the bone standing out here like this?" Sonic asked in concern as he drew his brows together, unable to suppress a shiver himself.

"You needn't worry yourself over me," he answered in monotone, while fixing his gaze.

"But I do worry about you, Shadow," he tried to control his tone and remain friendly sounding, but it was becoming gradually more difficult from his friend's distant manner. "Try to understand, I am your friend."

For a while, the only sound that answered him was that of the pattering raindrops.

"Tell me, friend, what you have to tell me. Yesterday you said that we would conference again, so let us be done with it," Shadow did not sound receptive, and Sonic was rapidly losing whatever semblance of hope remained in his heart.

There was a deep breath before the plunge.

"You must listen very carefully to what I have to say. Dear Shadow, know that I have only your best interests at heart. I ask you to consider: we've been here three days, and what have we accomplished? Have we once even left the castle?"

"Tell me you didn't waste my time by coming up here to discuss the weather," Shadow returned bitterly with a sardonic air, still staring blankly out towards the horizon.

A lengthy sigh escaped the azure detective like a hiss of decompressing air.

"You still believe that we're just waiting for the rain to clear up? It doesn't seem at all convenient to you that we're losing valuable time on the trail of a dozen homicides?"

Finally, the ebony hedgehog turned and faced his partner, the truth as plain as day in his eyes. He would not be convinced. But Sonic could not let himself give up, he owed it to his friend to speak the truth even if he would not believe it.

"Shadow, can't you see that she's been deliberately delaying us at every possible chance?"

Some hope sparked in his heart when he saw that even Shadow could not deny this much, although a meager hope at that.

"So she's kept us here, or more accurately, kept me here," he admitted, but from his tone it was clear that the progress was marginal. "She's already told me that she gave you your chance to leave. So why didn't you?"

Shadow's face was so assured, so demanding, that Sonic was stunned.

"Remember what you said yesterday?"

He heaved a long, weary sigh. "I was just thinking that perhaps you could stay and, knowing you, wed the woman without once 'sampling her wares' beforehand."

Ignoring the azure detective's overtly sexual analogy, he answered the practical part of the statement. "And desert the firm, and you, and mother England? Surely you do not think me so heartless."

"Not heartless, but rather, desperately in love. Come now, surely there would be work for you here in Romania, and you'd have no problem in the way of money with the Countess' fortune."

He scoffed and finished the last bite of his breakfast. "Money, my good sir, is the least of my concerns," he countered. "Of more consideration to me would be our partnership."

"I can get along fine without you," Sonic reassured him haughtily.

"Yes, I said it! But at the time I knew not what doom I spoke. You think that's why she's kept you here, to make you her lover?"

"I do," he answered without hesitation.

"Then why has she detained me as well?"

"Didn't we just discuss this? You can leave at any time. So why don't you?"

There seemed to be an underlying suggesting in his voice that revealed itself without words. Shadow was telling him to leave. 'Why don't you leave?'

"I'm concerned for you!" he sputtered helplessly.

"What do you suspect her of that you are so determined to pry us apart? She is without fault. I cannot help but conclude that your warnings arise from nothing but jealousy," he stated factually, stoically.

Sonic could hardly believe his ears, as anger began to rise in his veins. "Jealousy? You think that I don't want to see you happy? You don't think that's all I've ever wanted? I'll be damned if I wasn't urging you on, encouraging you up until the moment I- Oh dear God, I was encouraging you... I'm to blame for all of this."

Sonic seemed to have only fed the fire.

"Yes, where do you get off encouraging me one moment, and warning me the next? What exactly is your game here, anyways?" Shadow demanded.

"Damn it Shadow, listen to me! She's a killer, alright! Twelve people are dead, and she's been keeping us from investigating," his voice has risen along with his desperation, but Shadow was unmoved.

"You may go and investigate at any time, so why are you bringing up this tired point again?" Shadow seemed so unaffected by his desperate pleas, it gave way to more anger. "You really think she has a killer's instinct?"

"Honestly, man! You know this whole thing has felt wrong since the beginning. You've had the jitters since we got here. The way she looks at us, and this place, it's all wrong!" the words began to flow in quick succession, releasing the pent-up frustration and rage. "There isn't a servant or a mirror in the place, and not once has the Countess eaten a thing! Have you seen her fanged grin, or noticed how incredibly red her favorite 'wine' is?"

"What in the name of God are you going on about? Mirrors and wine? Have you lost your wits? Shall we present this incriminating evidence to the magistrate?"

"The victims died of blood loss, Shadow! The only wounds were dual punctures, like those that would be made my fangs!"

"Forgive me, but you can't honestly be suggesting-" Shadow seemed incredulous, and furious in the same moment.

"The Countess is a vampire, she is the killer. Think about it, I-"

Shadow cut him off. "Of all the ridiculous, preposterous nonsense I've ever heard. Look how low your jealousy has caused you to sink, you don't even have a reasonable accusation to make. You've been reduced to accusing her of being a mythological creature. How quaint. You used to be such a fine detective, an admirable partner, and a great friend. But this betrayal has hurt me far more than any I could've formerly imagined. It will take me some time to forgive you."

Sonic had mentally prepared himself for Shadow's utter lack of belief, but no matter how much he'd prepared, the moment still left him petrified, as the final realization of his doom settled over him.

"You really don't-"

"Leave now. Get your head on straight and investigate the case. When you finish, collect the entire payment from Mr. Billings, then return to London to take sole ownership of the firm. I've signed documents which should effectively resolve all the legal considerations of this. Perhaps being away from me will sooth your jealous heart, and we can have a correspondence. If in time, you've seen the error of your ways, I may invite you to my wedding."

Sonic's face darkened. He knew that even Shadow's cursed reply was but a distant fantasy. He would never return to London, he was going to die. Shadow and Rouge would never be married, such a public ceremony would put her at risk, and its very nature would repel her. He was still blind. He began to chuckle, low and throaty and hopeless.

"Even if the bitch would marry you, I wouldn't be caught dead at that unholy ceremony," he finally answered venomously. Shadow looked genuinely saddened at his ire, and swallowed before replying.

"I sincerely hope you come to change your mind."

Shadow said nothing more, and returned to peering over the edge of the castle. Sonic found he had lost all feeling, and stumbled away, feeling the walls of the stairway to stabilize himself as he walked aimlessly down them. Nowhere to run to, he mindlessly descended without a destination in mind, knowing doom was quickly approaching.

When he finally came out at the bottom of the staircase, his eyes fell upon the embodiment of his demise, the Countess herself. She seemed to be waiting for him, and from the knowing, powerful smirk upon her face, he could tell she'd heard every word of his exchange with his partner.

"What did I tell you, Mr. Morris? Who did I tell you he would chose? To be fair, I tried to warn you," she flashed her fangs wickedly, as if to foreshadow their use.

He gave her a grimace of recognition that almost seemed to be a smile of amusement, of seeing the irony in all of this. "That you did. In a way, I knew you were right, even from the beginning."

"Why did you do it? You could've left, could've lived your life."

Tears had come into his eyes, which she wiped away with mocking tenderness. "I knew that I could never live my life, acting as if nothing had happened, knowing I had betrayed my friend."

"If I cared about such things, I would say that it was admirable of you. I suppose that the best compliment a man can receive is that he was moralistic to the point of folly. I'm sure you realize, now that you've told him, I have to kill you."

He nodded, seeming to anticipate his death, fear its coming, and yet realize the futility of further resistance all in one moment.

She hovered above him like the grim reaper, clothed in black, her lips opened in a fanged grin. His limbs trembled as tears continued to dribble down his cheeks, and he whispered a final set of words.

"Forgive me, my friend. I failed you."

Sonic's emerald eyes widened dramatically as ivory fangs sunk into the tender flesh of his neck, and his hopelessness gave way to survival instincts as his arms and legs flailed violently. He gasped as if suffocating, and writhed within the Countess' unbreakable grasp.

Within moments he had lost the strength to stand, and was held upright by her grip, as she drew his life in and unending stream that left him more and more pale. She was viciously hungry, and gorged herself on long, protracted gouts of his blood, which dripped from her chin and down his neck.

By now he had lost the strength to struggle but was still alive, his eyes still staring blankly ahead, as she removed her lips from him and sighed. "I told you, you don't taste as good as Shadow, Mr. Morris."

He could only gasp, as the punctures she made seeped blood. "But I'm a very hungry girl."

She giggled as she returned to his motionless form, licking the pool of blood that was dripping from the wound and continuing to devour him. At first it seemed there was no end to the fluid, as it soon covered the her in its ruby stain, and she had drank mouthful after mouthful of its liquid fire.

At last Sonic laid cold and lifeless, every drop of his blood either spilled upon the ground, running down her neck, or swallowed. She sucked the residual liquid off of her fingertips, as she eyed his dead corpse.

She whirled around as she sensed a presence frozen at the bottom of the stairs. Shadow stood there in utter shock and horror, his eyes flicking first to his friend's drained body and then to Rouge's blood-soaked form.

"Good God-"

"Now Shadow... my sweet," she purred, not displaying even an ounce of fear in the face of his discovery. "There's nothing to come between us."

His face flashed with a clear look of revulsion as she approached him, and a wave of powerful emotions washed over him. His friend had been right. She was a killer, a vampire. And now Sonic was dead.

He gulped in fear, knowing that he could not escape her, could not resist. "So, you really are a vampire then? Which is it that you want then, me or my blood?"

She paused, circling him like a predator, her eyes inflamed with passion. "Both. But right now, I'll settle for just you."

She pulled him into her arms, and conquered his lips with hers. She tasted powerfully of blood which, in horror Shadow realized what his friend's blood. Yet she held such sway over him, through her feminine charms that slowly, gently, his fear and disgust were driven away, as thoughts fell from his mind like flies.

His mind was utterly blank. He experienced nothing but sensation. He felt her soft pink lips crawling over him, and then found himself pressed against the dining room table, her hands planted commandingly on his chest.

Her hands roamed free and unrestricted over his body, igniting a fire within his stomach even as a shiver went down his spine. He seemed to be living in a dream; he felt as if he weren't acting so much as watching everything unfold before him, powerless to resist.

The Countess began to unbutton his coat, flinging it away when she finished. His mind was racing as he felt his heart begin the hammer against his ribcage in anticipation of what was to come. She smirked seductively, and pushed him backwards so that he was lying on the tabletop. Climbing on top of him, she straddled him and tore his shirt with her bare hands, ripping it in two down the middle.

"What can I say, I'm impatient," she giggled, as she began placing kisses along his bare chest.

While she did this, she was already at work with his trousers, pulling them in jerky, shifting movements downwards along his legs. His shoes came off, thrown on top of his coat, and his pants soon followed, joining the heap.

She looked at him in utter satisfaction, as the longing fire that had been in her eyes for the past three days was finally about to be fulfilled. The Countess reached down to the hem of her black satin dress, and in one clean motion, peeled it up and off her body and tossed it aside.

Shadow's eyes widened the moment her fingers went down, and remained that way as she became gradually visible. First her supple thighs, followed by her laced panties and taut midsection, and at last her corset were revealed to him. Cupped within it rested her slowly rising bust, from which she wiped a few drops of Sonic's blood as nonchalantly as if it were water.

By now his shock and horror had subsided completely, as he surrendered to the tide of desire and lust. He was hers completely.

Shadow lay breathless and wide-eyed upon the dining room table, seeming to realize the gravity of what he'd done and yet not regret it. Rouge moved slowly, with a certain air of satisfaction and put back on her undergarments, glancing at him every now and then. The crimson streaked detective still stared stunned at the ceiling, his mind still overwhelmed with all that had happened.

In his usual manner, he made no effort to resist as she hoisted him from the table, lifting him up as if he were no heavier than the smallest possible object. Seeing that his eyelids were half lidded and heavy, she kissed his cheek.

"Now, you can't go falling asleep on the dining room table. Imagine how uncomfortable you'd be in the morning," she purred, as she carried him into her bedroom.

Laying him gently down amidst the ruffled sheets, she ran her hands over him in appreciation, and settled down in the bed next to him. He was still half awake, but seemed to be mentally absent, and said nothing.

She snuggled up next to him affectionately, releasing a pleasured sigh as she lightly kissed his neck.

He seemed almost about to fall asleep, except for her kisses. At last his weary eyelids sunk down completely, as she paused a moment to survey her conquest.

"Sleep well, my sweet," she said soothingly, as her fangs slowly sank into his neck. "Just a little bit won't hurt him..."