Sinners crawling in the night are bound to find one another, eventually.
A/N: The story of James's turning at the hands of Victoria, and how their relationship began - some foreshadowing of Twilight and James' death, and how he came to apparently care more for the hunt than for his mate, yet Victoria remained smitten enough to want to avenge his death. This is somewhat converted from the interludes in one of my Alice/Jasper stories, but since that was written ages ago most of this is totally rewritten, and it has an ending now, so I decided to post it on its own.
Feedback, as always, is loved, appreciated and replied to. :)
James smirked, and looked over at the woman who lay sleeping beside him.
She looked quite peaceful; her long, blonde hair fanned out delicately on the pillow, a silken thigh exposed along with the swell of her cleavage, enough to tease. A sight that any man would be pleased to see next to him in the morning, and content to see next to him every morning for the rest of his life. But not James.
To him, she was just another notch on his bedpost. (And quite a few notches there were, too.)
His dark hair and baby-blue eyes made him a favourite among the girls, and he didn't exactly shy away from their attention. He was known among the mothers of the town as the black sheep, the womaniser. Their gossip knew no bounds - most maliciously claimed that he wasn't all that handsome, they didn't see what all the fuss was about.
He bedded their daughters immediately. No revenge he better enjoyed.
It was true that he was not the most chiselled, not the most burly or muscled or fair of face. But he wasn't ugly by any standards - and anything he lacked in looks he more than made up for in charm and suave, debonair attitude. He found it amazing how many fickle female hearts fluttered and legs spread at a mere few compliments and well-aimed cheeky smiles coupled with appreciative looks.
This latest conquest was the baker's daughter, just turned nineteen. James had first seen her while he was roaming the streets, up to no good, as per usual. She seemed rushed and flustered, a few stray blonde curls flying loose from her cream bonnet, and a healthy red tint on her cheeks from exertion.
It was then he had selected her - like a piece of meat strung up in the butcher shop. Only the choicest samples would do.
James had succeeded in his task only a week later - something which surprised even him. (Though you'd be surprised just how wanton village girls could be after a few pints of ale.)
As he lay in her bed, only the rumpled linen bedsheets covering his lower half, he glanced at her one last time.
James crept silently out of the bed, gathered his clothes and quickly shuffled into them, before climbing out of the window and jumping agilely the few feet to the ground below. He was quite an expert when it came to entering and departing through bedroom windows.
He made his way into the night, and it cloaked him, as he blended in with the rest of the sinners around him, knowing he would not do so much as speak to her again.
That was how it always was.
A game, a conquest. (Prizes to be won; pretty shiny things dancing in front of him to be taken and played with.)
James' arrogance saw himself as giving a woman the best time of their life, and then moving on to do the same with another, seeing only the beauty of the flesh, not the beauty contained within.
Love them and lose them.
He did not know how ironic this motto of his would be for she who waited for him.
This night was dark, darker than usual.
The moon was hidden beneath a cover of thick clouds lingering overhead. The stars were choked in the fog-like density of it.
James was out on another one of his night-time expeditions, haunting the backstreets and allies like a debauched spectre. (He liked to think he was taming the darkness to his will.)
His father would never notice his son's misadventures, he spent half his time passed out on the tavern floor - if James was the black sheep of the village then his father was the drunken fool of it. As for his mother, well, her eyes were permanently rose-tinted. James's mother never allowed herself to think that her darling boy was anything less than perfect, and would not be swayed by the talk of the village gossips - Jealous harlots, son. They wish their boys were as handsome and sought-after as you, my son. My own. My darling son.
But on this night in particular, James had an appointment to keep. He turned a corner - and stopped. Frozen among the icy cold that he suddenly felt where he had not before.
He felt like someone was watching him - he could feel a prickling at the back of his neck, the goosebumps that covered his arms. Just the sense that he was not alone.
James narrowed his eyes, glaring out into the darkness as though the unknown watcher could see him. He shook his head at his own idiocy and continued walking, at a slightly faster pace than before.
He let out the breath that he had inadvertently been holding, and told himself not to be an idiot.
However, the somewhat ominous feeling that somebody was watching his every move did not fade as James grew closer to his destination. The hairs on the back of his neck were still tingling, though James attributed that to the faint breeze that was not whistling through the streets, making his jacket flap a little in the wind, and shooting through his hair. Finally, James began to relax as he drew ever closer to his bed for the night, where a beautiful woman with long, black locks and a deliciously full figure was waiting for him.
He smiled crookedly at that thought and pushed those darker, more worrying thoughts of strangers watching him away and out of his mind where they could not trouble him any longer.
James approached the girl's window and rapped softly on the glass pane, three times - always his agreed signal that it was he and not some random horny devil off the streets. (Well... he wasn't random, anyway. He always agreed these liaisons with the girls first. If they weren't willing it wouldn't be as pleasant.)
He formed a heart-melting grin as the curtains whipped apart, and the girl standing there eyed him seductively before casting open the window.
As he climbed into the warmth of her bedroom, out of the very corner of his eye, for the briefest of moments, he thought he saw a blur of red swish past him.
Stop being so paranoid, James thought, shaking his head, and concentrated on the woman who was now in his arms, smiling at him with sultry, cherry-coloured lips. There's nothing there...
Crimson locks danced in the gusts of tempestuous wind that flirted tantalisingly with the ground.
The sanguine fluid flowed from the corpse in her arms like the sweetest vintage wine, and she savoured every drop of it.
The beautiful lusus naturae lifted her head, lips twisted in a cold smirk. The thick, syrupy substance dripped slowly from her bottom lip, splattering like rain onto the drained and lifeless body of her victim. Her eyes glinted with satisfaction, the lacklustre orbs alighting into dazzling ruby gems.
The feeling was sweeter every time, it never grew old or repetitive - because for her, at least, it was different every time. And perfect every time.
(Some screamed, some whimpered, some swore, some prayed to God to save them. Some ran, some fought, some stood paralysed before her.)
She revelled in it all - in sinking her teeth beneath their sweet, fragile flesh, drawing it into her... taking their blood. Their life in her hands alone to control.
This young one had been delicious - bittersweet, like sour sugar.
Victoria liked the young ones.
Their blood tasted of unfulfilled futures; of lives that would never come to pass; of energy they would never use; souls that would never have the opportunity to live or love. Victoria enjoyed taking that from them, as it had been taken from her. Of course, now, she didn't care about her own unused human life.
Victoria had forsaken it - and if the choice were given to her now, she would again. For the speed, the strength, the power. She loved this life; adored it really. She adored the beauty she had been granted, the lustful stares of human men, the sheer jealousy of human women.
But one thing she didn't love was that she was alone. She hunted alone, lived alone, drank alone. Victoria sometimes wished she had another, like her, to share this with - but had resigned herself to the fact that she would probably always be on her own.
Until she had found him.
The blood which had sought her out across countries, calling to her, begging her to come for it. The first time she saw him, she nearly darted out in broad daylight to drag him kicking and screaming to the nearest alley.
But she hadn't. Instead, she had held her breath, and watched him. (It was the hardest thing she had ever done in her life and unlife - every atom of her was screaming inside her head, inside her body, an impulse - no, a desperate, murderous need to have him, to take him, to tear him and drink him and suck the life from his every vein and artery, to clutch his still-beating heart in her hands and feel it pound and pound and pound and pound until she could stab it with her porcelain teeth, drain the muscle into nothingness and feel the cooling liquid burning inside her, until he would become her and she could have this wonderous, delicious elixir existing in her... and then she would be satisfied, then she would be complete.)
And yet she had resisted with a strength she hadn't known she possessed until that moment. She clutched the brick wall next to the shadow in which she hid, felt it crack beneath the pressure she was putting on it.
Cat-like, she watched him.
She watched him for what felt like years, but what was really a week. Finally, she could take it no more. She would kill him, she would have his blood.
And while she rejoiced at that thought, Victoria also felt a sinking in the pit of her stomach. She didn't want this to end. She wanted to watch him always - she needed this feeling of anticipation that came from seeing him, from being near him, from thinking of trailing his movements.
Watching him had made her feel... not so lonely anymore.
Maybe she could keep him. (As a pet? A... prisoner? What would she do - feed him and tend to him like a little kitten on the brink of life just so she could... keep him?)
Well, that would not do. That was... a problem. One that needed solving. It took her a few days, but Victoria had it boiled down to: he was human. That was the main problem.
Luckily, that was something she could fix.
She had found him, and now she would unmake him, so that he could be born again to her life. To be with her. To belong to her.
(To be hers.)
James awoke in a sweat. His breath came hard, his heart pounding beneath his chest like the frantic beating of a drum. He sat upright and gulped loudly, brushing back the hair plastered to his forehead. What had he been dreaming of?
James frowned, puzzled. He tried desperately to remember, but every second that passed by weakened his memory of it and the images were fading, like sand falling through cracks in his fingers.
He could only remember red, lots of red... the red of blood and roses and apples and blushes and fire and strawberries, all blurring together, a pure red like nothing he had ever seen before.
And a voice. James...
It whispered, longingly, calling him to it, a siren song and just as dangerous.
James put a hand to his face, cradling his head. He was sure he had never heard a voice like it. It was so beautiful... musical, like a thousand symphonies working together in perfect harmony, but with an sharpened edge. Deadly perfection at its best... and he had never been so tempted in his life.
The nights seemed boring, now.
The girls seemed more vapid, less beautiful, less intriguing. Less satisfying. The voice haunted him, terrorising his every waking moment with its cruel temptation. Wanton cries of nameless women were replaced with it, he was only pleasured with his name on her tongue in his head.
He tried to keep living his life – such as it was – but it just didn't seem possible. She was everywhere. He kept dreaming, kept hearing her voice, pulling him, calling out to him. It shook him to his very core, made him feel cold inside. As time went on, he came to welcome sleep. He wanted the dreams, needing them as he needed the air: more so. He was going crazy with his feverish need and desire to see her, to see the goddess with such a voice as this.
He didn't even know if she was real or not, if he was insane and should be committed. (He'd even been tempted to take his own life, to be in eternal sleep, to hear her constantly, such was his need and desire.) It consumed his every waking thought.
After a while, James left his home, taking nothing of his own with him, no money, no clothes, no precious items.
He took only the voice, and the thought of that pure redness.
He drifted from town to town, just existing, not living. Every woman with red hair, or a red dress, or a somewhat silky voice turned his head and sent his heart beating fast, only to sink again as she was never the perfection he heard.
Despair was his bedmate, and alcohol his solace. He'd made up his mind - he really was insane.
But after a few months of this existence, everything changed.
Alcohol - that accursed friend, toxic paradise - pumped through him, familiar as breathing by now.
He stumbled home through the darkness, failing to navigate and tripping over bumps in the road, mumbling nonsense to himself. James fell particular hard while walking down an alleyway, tripping over his own feet. The last thing he heard was the sickening crack that rang in his ears as his head collided with the stone, and he slipped into unconsciousness.
The heavy rain fell all night as he slept, not knowing that his death came on swift wings, searching for him.
Victoria had kept on living; drinking; hunting. As she always had done. She still took her glee in death, in her continued existence.
But as she moved from town to town, there was a purpose behind her movements. Always, she was searching.
She was furious with herself. While she had been pondering what to do about the source of that indescribable scent, about James, the cursed scoundrel had up and skipped town without her knowing about it, and she had lost it - lost the blood - she felt like she had lost a limb.
All the victims she captured had not known where he had run off to. Not even his own family.
She tortured them, but soon found that they genuinely had no idea where their son, brother, uncle, cousin, nephew had disappeared to.
This angered her, a fury so hot and fiery that those she questioned could have died of pure fear alone, had she not already ripped them to shreds, her fingers clawing them and splattering the walls with their insides. Abject fear made their blood taste even better, but she would still rather have the knowledge of where he was to be found than an extra dimension of enjoyment to her sustenance.
Still she searched on, until one day... one joyous day... she finally found him. (Her heart would have leapt if it could still beat.)
He was lying, face-down on the ground, a pitcher he had obviously dropped lay cracked on the ground beside him, a pool of golden, foamy liquid spread across the cobbles. Victoria sniffed the air and scarlet eyes narrowed. Alcohol. He absolutely stank of it.
But even above that pungent aroma, Victoria could still inhale the innate scent of his blood - like pinecones and cinnamon and electricity and everything beautiful and powerful that she could not explain. It was... like heaven and hell wrapped into one. She approached him slowly, wanting to savour the moment. He was not extremely attractive, certainly not by vampiric standards, but still... Victoria felt a strange connection to him. She lifted his head gingerly, not wanting to damage his face. She was taking… care of him? With him? The image of a wounded kitten once again leapt unbidden to her mind, and she dropped his head back down on the stone.
Victoria frowned. Do I... feel for this human? (Wasn't feeling for humans alone? Pathetic, stinking human emotions... )
(... and yet... )
She lifted him up into her arms without effort and carried him away, all the while holding her breath.
Victoria brought James to the room she had rented in a somewhat dank hotel in the centre of the town. The better to choose her victims in - the hotel itself may have been fairly dilapidated, but its windows were in full view of the main street.
Placing her quarry carefully on the bed, she waited. She sat in a dark corner of the room, her ruby eyes glinting in the darkness.
The scent of James's blood filled the air around her, seeping into every nook and cranny, infiltrating her brain and lungs and heart and assaulted them without mercy.
She desperately wanted to taste it. Only one thing stopped her.
She wanted him to see her as she killed him. She wanted to see the look that filled his innocent, baby-blue eyes. (Was he a screamer? What would he say? Would he plead, beg? She hoped not.)
Victoria left him alive – for now. She was curious.
Curiosity killed the cat - eventually.
James woke up with what felt like the nastiest headache known to man. - His head pounded and swelled like the ebb and flow of the tide, pulsing, burning, rocking...
He groaned loudly and rolled onto his side, his thoughts pitiful. How much did I drink last night?
James couldn't even remember going home. He felt the soft covers under him. His bed wasn't nearly as soft as this one. Maybe he went home with someone?
James opened his eyes, slowly, waiting for the light to assault him. It didn't. The room was in darkness, though James could hear the bustling sounds of the town outside.
He creased his eyebrows in half-drunken bemusement, looking up at the ceiling. It definitely wasn't his ceiling. He squirmed, trying to get enough balance to stand up. He ended up falling unceremoniously off the end of the bed with a loud oof.
Tinkling laughter followed his descent to the ground, and James looked up – as quickly as he could in his present hung-over state. What he saw astounded him.
Red hair - this was no pale imitation. Curls silkier than humanly possible - each strand sitting perfect, obedient to its mistress' will. The fire framed a contrasting alabaster face, skin smooth as marble, shiny and ethereal - a dream. There was no way this was real. Her full lips tilted upward, curved into a smirk.
A goddess, moving towards him with unearthly grace.
James shook his head and promptly fell to the ground. He was still dreaming. It was impossible that she was real; that she was here. That she was the beautiful plague on his life.
"James..." she whispered huskily, and at once James knew it was true. This was the woman – literally – of his dreams. (The way her voice wrapped around the syllable, her tongue caressed it with sweet sharpness, and it sent a jolt of heat straight to his core.)
"You're not real," he croaked, his voice still hoarse and slurred from all the alcohol he had consumed. "You're a dream."
"Well," she laughed, the sound like muffled bells. "I've been called some strange things in my time, but I have to say that's a new one. A nightmare, perhaps."
Her gaze was fixed solely on him, her face still half in shadow. James gasped as she stepped out of the darkness and came into his vision fully. He found himself both enchanted and revolted by her gleaming crimson eyes which were focused fully on him.
James was entranced, and her gaze held him in place like nails.
She cocked her head to the side, red curls swaying with her, and a curious look entered the ruby pools of her eyes, as she observed him. "You aren't afraid."
James' breath caught in his throat. "Should I be?"
Victoria raised one perfectly formed eyebrow.
James shrugged, still unblinking, needing to drink in this sight. "I've never really done the things that were good for me. I suppose that running would be the 'good thing' in this situation."
Victoria's eyes glimmered in amusement. She stepped closer to him and he didn't flinch. He wasn't afraid of her, though his body desperately wanted to get away from her with every advancing step she took. The hairs on the back of his neck bristled as her lips whispered by his ear, her eyes ravishing his neck.
"Do you know what I am?"
James spoke softly, worship dripping from every syllable. "A goddess."
Victoria laughed loudly, like wind-chimes dancing in the wind. James smiled at the sound, swept up in the beauty of this deadly huntress. "My name is Victoria."
"Victoria," James repeated, saying the name reverently.
She placed one cold, pale hand onto the side of his olive-toned face, and stroked it. He quivered with the touch; and suddenly he could feel the blood pumping through him, he wanted her, desperately. He felt like a caveman; he wanted to grab her porcelain skin and drink it, to wrap his arms around her and throw her down on the bed, to ravish her with his lips, his hands, every part of him. He wanted to make her his. His own.
And yet he somehow knew that for now, at least - she was the one calling the shots.
"So warm…" she mumbled to herself. Victoria could feel the blood pulsating underneath the skin. So thin… rice paper. So easily torn. She eyed James again, who was staring at her, immobilised.
"I want you to be with me – forever, James," Victoria said, watching him carefully.
She saw the look of excitement in his eyes. Forever... "I'd like that," he said, smiling as if in a trance. Then he frowned slightly and came back into focus. "But, how-"
"Shh..." Victoria breathed, placing one finger on his lips, halting his words and shaking her head. "Just relax. Trust me. Soon... you'll be like me." She laughed to herself.
"I will make you a god. A god of the night."
Victoria leaned in closer, closing her eyes and breathing in the heady scent, allowing it to invade her, and the bloodlust to rise up her spine like a demon.
She brushed her lips against his, and felt his breath hitch. She smiled, and he felt it. Her lips caressed his, savouring the moment of anticipation, the rush of adrenaline that she could feel pounding through his veins, increasing his bloodflow and sweetening it immeasurably. She breathed in again, before moulding her lips onto his and beginning battle, the two sensual combatants locked together in a last dance.
James had never known a softness like it - it was intense and yet feather-light, passionate yet gentle. Something much darker lurked beneath that kiss, something all-consuming, and it would consume him, like fire and gunpowder. Roses and incense and sour sugar filled his lungs as he tried to drink the succour of the poisoned ambrosia she was providing him with.
He lost himself within it; the elixir felt like that of life ... he could never not have it again. The potency of the alcohol he had consumed so much of last night was nothing to this, as she slipped her icy cold tongue between his lips, taking his own and choking it like a boa constrictor.
He didn't know what she was going to do to him; he didn't care.
Her teeth pierced him, mingling the bitter taste of his blood into their kiss. She sucked on the bottom of his lip, drawing some of his blood in. James took her in his arms and she grabbed him closer, pulling him flush against her cold-stone body.
James felt their kiss become fiery – literally. (Sparks seemed to alight behind his eyes, popping like kernels of corn in a pan.)
The fire started spreading from his mouth to his head; his throat; his arms, until he was utterly devoured by it.
The extraordinary heat was everywhere, spreading without any sign of stopping, making James' eyes fly open to see her lidded ones as he screamed into her mouth, pain dotting his vision even as pleasure dominated his other senses.
If this was the price of one kiss from his goddess; he would gladly pay it.
With a smile of utter satisfaction on his lips, James collapsed onto the bed and fell head-first into the waiting flames.
They welcomed him with their burning, immortal embrace.
Victoria wiped the blood off her lips, smiling as she saw the signs of the vampire venom taking hold of his body. He jerked on the bed, writhing like a snake, and rather unholy thoughts of him squirming beneath her under other circumstances filled her mind.
Soon he would be like her. Soon he would be free of the human restrictions that bound him. (Then she would take him yet again, rough and hard and with reckless abandon. They would bring down houses, towns, cities with the force of it...)
Victoria was right, this was the sweetest blood she had ever tasted. Pity she hadn't made it last longer, but once she started, she hadn't been able to help herself. She'd barely managed to quell her urges enough for the transformation to begin, asking her to take it slowly was too much for her to handle.
She looked down at the last drop which had globed on her fingertip. Her tongue flicked out to it, and she savoured it in her mouth.
Three days for the metamorphosis to complete. Seventy-two hours or four thousand, three hundred and twenty minutes or two hundred and fifty-nine hundred thousand and two hundred seconds... she could feel every one of them pulsing away, counting down...
She looked down; he was still crying out and twisting, the covers of the bed clutched tightly enough in his hand that his knuckles were pure white.
Three days was too damn long.
His eyes snapped open.
He could feel his eyelashes brush the skin below his eyebrow.
Every crease of his fingers was making contact with a coarse material that he recognised as the cotton of a duvet. He could feel it in the whorls, loops and arches of each of his fingerprints.
His whole body was tingling with renewed vigour, and he felt like he couldn't possibly lie still any longer. Even as this thought flashed through his mind, he had already moved, darting to the other side of the room with a speed he couldn't have even comprehended before. Every muscle in his entire body was pulsing with new strength, and he flexed his fingers experimentally, before reaching forward to grab the handle of the hotel room door. He felt his fingers close around it, the metal bend and crush into dust.
Then the scents hit him.
Outside, the most delectable aromas collided, blending into one but with discernable strands that he could dissect using only this new sense of smell. A tangy liquid pooled in his mouth, and he reached inside his mouth to dab his finger in it. The clear liquid dripped down his finger, and he looked at it curiously.
"Venom," a voice said. "You'll want to be careful with that."
He turned as the waves of sound hit his ear and translated into words - but even before that happened he recognised the voice as that of Victoria. The goddess with the kiss of fire.
She was watching him carefully, as though waiting for something. But her eyes also glinted with an appreciation that James recognised, and he smirked, darting forward and wrapping his arms around her waist, pulling her roughly to him.
With his new senses, he could feel her arousal, sense it deep inside. He felt the soft, supple flesh pressed against his bare chest, and he was overcome with a lust that dominated all else.
She looked him up and down, crimson eyes glinting, and reached a pale hand up to stroke the side of his cheek. A loud growl ripped from his throat. He had never felt so animalistic in his life as he grabbed her wrist with a force that would break a human's bones, pulverise it into dust. She merely gasped through her smile.
Now he was in control.
She loved it.
(Even if a small part of her, deep down, knew maybe she should fear it.)
She'd had it - for a while. Played with him, taught him how to kill, how to be efficient, how to make it last. How to savour each and every drop, and how to best drain every last vestige of life from them.
Then, as with all good students, he surpassed her.
He became better at it than she ever was - he taught her how to stalk prey for days, weeks... sometimes even months. She saw how much he enjoyed revelling in their lives before he took them.
She even put up with his more carnal urges when it came to his female victims - on occasion, she enjoyed watching him lose control and rip them apart as he came to completion.
He always fell into her arms in the end - and life was perfect.
She'd lit the fuse.
She'd watched him burn.
But Victoria had forgotten that at some point -
All lit fuses end in an explosion.