Prologue

He leaned against the rough brick building, shoving his hands deep into his pockets. The night air was cold against his pale skin, but if the teen noticed he didn't show any signs of it. Who could even say that he felt it, dressed as he was in a pitch black suit that hung off his slim fame in a way that seemed intentional, rather than simply ill-fitting. Dark hair, shorter in the back than the front, fell in his eyes, masking their color from anyone that happened to look. If anyone had gotten close enough to see beyond that, to catch an eyeful of the red irises, maybe even a glimpse of a fang. . .

Well, Ragamuffin didn't really do pretty.

No one got too close, however, and he stayed as he was, back against the weather-beaten building as he watched the crowd mill about on the dusky streets. His hidden eyes skimmed around in a motion almost like REM, tracking movements without staying in one place very long. For if they lingered, even for a moment, he could feel a pang of hunger shoot through him as he found it harder to tear his gaze away the longer he stared. His hands clamped tightly into fists, catching the sides of his pockets in their grip, then loosened again almost as fast.

Not yet. Some part of him said. Not yet.

Ragamuffin stood there for almost an hour, long enough that his hunger became an almost tangible being. Just as his internal chant of not yet was about to be overrun by his hunger's words of now, now, NOW his sweeping gaze landed on a teenage girl directly across the street from him. Somewhere in his head he'd been keeping track of her and he realized that she hadn't moved from the spot ever since she'd arrived, almost fifteen minutes ago. Ragamuffin tilted his head slightly, wondering if now was the time he could-

She waved, sensing his gaze on her. It wasn't one of the cheerful waves he would so often receive from Lenore, but a coy wagging of fingers that implied a quiet secret shared. Her smile was one she probably thought was tempting, and perhaps it would have been if it had been aimed at anyone but him. As it was he was sparing only the slightest of glances to her face, his attention instead focused on tracing the smooth lines of her neck.

He crossed the street in a few strides, avoiding the racing crowd with seemingly no effort, giving the girl a slow smile that made her heart pick up to a rhythm he could sense from yards away. Words were exchanged, and afterwards he found that for the afterlife of him he couldn't remember what he said to coax her to leave the crowded street. All he knew was that he'd gotten her to leave, to slip into an alley and over to a dark, secluded corner behind an abandoned building, where there was no one to see.

She was probably expecting a kiss.

That wasn't. . . quite. . . what she got.


Afterwards, Ragamuffin slipped into the empty building, tracing his way through the dead hallways until he found a bathroom. The only reason he did so was to try to get the blood off his face, scrub away the evidence of what he'd done so he could slip back through the streets without attracting attention. Yet when he reached for the doorknob, fingers closing around the tarnished brass, leaving behind a sticky smear of crimson as they slid around, greased by the red liquid. . .

. . .he felt his insides lurch slightly as he stared, then he cupped his other hand over his mouth as an unfamiliar feeling settled in the pit of his stomach like he'd swallowed a rock. He felt a bit lightheaded, his blood soaked hand coming up to brace him against the wall, preventing him from falling over. At the same time he felt like a vice was tightening around his midsection, forcing what was inside up through his throat-

Crimson eyes widened as Ragamuffin realized what the long-forgotten sensation was and he flung the bathroom door open with a bang, staggering over to the toilet. He tumbled to his knees, hands sliding around in red as they pressed against the white porcelain in a vain attempt to hold him upright. He felt his chest constrict even more and his stomach clenched, a horrible force shoving a burning liquid up and out of his mouth even as he struggled to keep it down. Thick red liquid spattered against the floor, over his hands, and into the fixture in front of him. It was the first time in hundreds of years he'd thrown up, the feeling no less horrible for its unfamiliarity. Ragamuffin briefly wondered how humans could stand it before another round of gagging assaulted him and he fell forwards onto his bloodstained hands.

Slowly, the wet retching gave way to dry heaves, which in turn subsided into an awful silence. Ragamuffin brushed one shaking hand over his mouth, not surprised in the least when it came away coated in blood like the floor around him. He was glad he just drank the girl's blood rather than devouring her like he sometimes did when he hadn't eaten in a while- just the sight of all the blood on the floor almost sent him gagging all over again, he probably would have lost it if there was. . . other stuff.

Ragamuffin stood on shaky legs, leaning heavily against the wall, and caught sight of his reflection in the mirror. It was hungry, almost feral, and Ragamuffin had a hard time identifying it as belonging to him. Blood coated his face from the bottom of his jaw to just below his nose, and smears from his hands reached up into his hairline where the thinnest layers had already started to dry, slicking his hair down over his eyes and gluing it in place. His fangs winked accusingly back at him and Ragamuffin turned away.

This was the face that he had longed to see looking back at him instead of the rounded, plush face of a harmless doll. And, in centuries past, he probably would have given a bloody grin to the gory face smirking back at him from the looking glass. But now, for a reason utterly lost to him, the sight of his own crimson-soaked face almost sent him gagging for the second time that night.

What was happening to him?

What the hell was happening to him?


BVQA: Well, hello and welcome to what is probably the darkest story I have ever written! Even though I swore to myself I would never write anything above K+, well. . . I decided that since it's gonna be rated purely for blood (lotsa blood!) and gore that it was ok.

SOME THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW:

I have just watched the animated episodes made for Lenore, I have not read the comic. At all. I want to, but at the moment I haven't. Keep this in mind if you feel the need to tell me that the characters are OOC or I have made various inaccuracies with the rules of this particular universe. You can still tell me when I get things wrong, just refrain from writing long tirades about how it's 'almost like I never even read the comic!' because, duh, I haven't.

Another thing: I don't care what age Ragamuffin was actually bitten at (Sixteen? Nineteen? Am I in the ballpark?), I'm making him thirteen so pairing him up with Lenore is less awkward (even though, technically, since they've both been around for hundreds of years the less-than-a-decade difference shouldn't matter at all).

Um. . . I don't know if he can see his reflection or not, but mirrors play a big part in my story so please just plaaaaay alooong. . .

I'm pretty sure that covers everything. So, keep reading if you want. . . you've been warned!