Story Disclaimer: Characters and setting belong to Charlaine Harris.

Thanks: My wonderful beta, sassyvampmama.

Thanks: Northman Maille and Northwoman. Long after I Write the Songs, songs are still playing the muse.

Inspiration: Moby's "One of these Mornings." 1944 film, "Laura."


The Final Night

Arriving at the fourth floor landing, he sees the source of the strangled sobs that could be heard from downstairs. A female Were with short dark hair and a swollen, tear-streaked face. Eric immediately identifies the girl as the roommate from the previous night, Maria-Starr. Her eyes open wide when she sees him, and she slinks away from him, pushing herself as far into the wall as possible.

As Eric walks to the open apartment door, all the noise, the smells, the throbbing vibrations fall away.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

So faint, so failing. Only he can hear it.

The dark-haired girl, gasping for breath, makes a move to pass him. He stops her.

"I can help her. Invite me in," he commands her. Unable to see past her tears, she mumbles, "You can come in." She squeezes past him and darts down the stairs. He turns briefly to watch her as she runs away.

Taking a step inside the small apartment's hallway, he is immediately hit with the smell.

Death.

Making his way into the living room, he sees her. She is lying on a stain-covered mattress in a corner of the room.

Silence. The low, yet comforting thumping of a moment ago now stilled.

Behind him, neighbors, alerted by Maria-Starr's screaming, arrive to observe the excitement of the day. Dismissing their disgusting display, Eric regards their intrusion upon the scene like so many vultures descending to enjoy the tearing apart of flesh. Ignoring them, Eric only has eyes for the girl.

Covering the distance between them, he gathers her small broken form in his arms and sits with her on the sofa. Although he detected a spark of life when he stood at the door, now there is nothing. The girl herself confirms his diagnosis, her blue eyes staring unseeing into his own.

Looking at her, he takes note of what wasn't revealed in the small snapshot stolen from the wall of the shifter's bar. The color of her hair is not just blonde, but a shade that nearly matches his own. The now vacant eyes are blue, but not just any blue, a radiant blue. The lovely contours of her body that lead one to smoothness, softness, and bounty. Most of all, he imprints in his memory the smell of her sun-kissed flesh; a sun-kissed flesh that reflects tales of the sun and the daytime sky.

A vampire, all Eric knows is death. All he has known for a thousand years is death. But this is different. This death wasn't supposed to happen. He was supposed to prevent this. He had failed. He had failed Niall's request. He had failed the girl.

He couldn't quite say how but he knew too, without question, that he had failed himself.


AN: Please R/R.