Hi, everybody! It's me, Bookworm, again with another story. I'll try to update it relatively quickly but I make no promises. I still have another story that I desperately need to work on. This for BrambleClawismyHomeboy12's 20 words challenge for Cirque Du Freak. There will probably be a lot of Mr. Crepsley fics in here, because he's my favorite character, and really moody pieces, so consider yourself warned. Also, there will be a ton of SPOILERS. I mean it when I say do not read this fic unless you have finished the series. You've been warned. Oh, and one last note- as much as I wish I did, I do not own Cirque Du Freak. If I did, it would have a much happier ending and certain individuals (R.I.P.- L.C., Killers of the Dawn :'( ) would never have died. So without further ado, enjoy the story, and please, read and review.

Chapter one: Dawn

Dawn. Everybody always said it was a new beginning. A new day, and a fresh slate. Like wiping yesterday off of history, pretending it never happened, and starting clean again. Even Darren said that, a long time ago, back in VampireMountain. On the rare occasion when he would be up late enough and not head straight to his hammock, the pair would go out to watch the sun rise. Maybe it was a strange thing to do for those living among vampires. They were supposed to fear the sun. Instead, Darren still lived for it, even if he was a half vampire.

Harkat Mulds had asked him about it a couple times. For a moment, he flashed back to that moment on the mountain, a few months after he had become a Prince.

The fading darkness of night was crisp and chilly. Harkat climbed out of the mountain, shivering. He wanted fresh air every once in a while, and now was one of those times. In the east, the sun was a molten ball of lava, slowly rising out of the horizon and dyeing the landscape with golden hues. As his eyes adjusted to the light, Harkat could barely make out the silhouette of somebody. The closer he got, it became more evident that it was Darren.

"Hi Darren," Harkat said, sitting down beside him. Darren looked at him from the corner of his eye, yawning. "Hullo, Harkat. What's up?"

"With any luck…the sky," Harkat said. "What are you doing…out here? Don't you need some…rest?" Darren shrugged in response.

"I'm watching the sun rise. I like it. I always have." His answer caught Harkat as strange. He gave Darren a confused look for a moment before the boy asked what was bugging him.

"Why do you like to watch…the sun rise?" Harkat questioned. Darren shrugged slightly again. "Oh, I dunno. Why do you ask?"

"Vampires get burned…by the sun. Why do you like it… if that's the case?"

Darren laughed at that. "I'm not a full vampire yet," he said. "I don't have to worry about it for a while. I'll have plenty of time to be afraid of it when I'm a full vampire, like Mr. Crepsley. But I'm sure all the vampires hate me for describing them as afraid. I probably just brought dishonor on the entire clan by saying that," he chuckled.

Then he continued in a more somber tone. "I want to see as many new dawns as I can. I like them. It's a new day. Kind of like a do-over, you know? A fresh start, where what happened in the past doesn't really matter. I mean, it does, but it doesn't. You know what I mean?" Harkat paused thoughtfully.

"I think so. It's like a…new start?" He asked.

"Yeah. At least, that's always what the dawn has been to me." Harkat nodded. "I get it." The two stayed there the rest of the time, saying nothing, watching the sun rise in silence. Watching the new dawn, and the new beginning.

That was several years ago. Now, as Harkat picked his way through the field of bodies, he thought of it. A new dawn. A new beginning. A do-over. He knew more about do-overs than most- after all, his very existence was, in a way, a do-over. He was a Little Person, after all. That was how it worked. He was made of the corpse of some poor soul who didn't quite make it to Paradise, living their life again in hopes of changing the future or maybe just making it out alive, and that was that. He knew the person he used to be, and he knew the mistakes that person had made. Now, his life was dedicated to fixing that wrong. So maybe it was a retry of the highest order, after all.

Even as Harkat thought of this, he was walking through the field of corpses in the navy blue darkness of early morning after the battle had died down. Regretfully, he hadn't been able to come with Darren and Vancha to see the final showdown occur. He had wanted to come and see Steve fall- he had never given a second's thought to the chance that Darren would be the one to go- but a vampaneze had interrupted, and he had ended up sidetracked. He was disappointed, but decided in the long run that it was of no difference if he saw the way it all went. It would turn out the same way. So with a sigh, he forced himself to wait until Darren and Vancha came back, and he could make them tell him all about it.

He carefully stepped over the body of the fallen Alexander Ribs. The poor man had been full of life, indisputably funny, and a human twist-tie. He bent as if he was made of rubber, and now he was dead. Harkat remembered watching him from the sidelines many times, and felt temporary remorse for the man. Poor sap. He may have been able to bend out of the way of knives and bullets, but there was only so much that even a rubber man could dodge.

But, Harkat was not here to cry over Alexander. He was looking for Darren. For a moment, he remembered the scene from just a while earlier…

They had just finished wiping up the rest of the vampaneze in the stadium. They were all either down for the count or dead. Most of them were the latter, rather than the former. That was when Evanna had come into the stadium.

Mr. Tiny was not with her, as he had been when she left. That was the second thing Harkat noticed. The first was the body in her arms. Green hair. Big eyes, half closed. Small mouth, stained with blood. Tall and broad, wearing purple animal hides. Vancha March.

Harkat, Debbie, Alice, everyone who knew the Prince ran up to meet Evanna. She gave them all a glance briefly. "He will be alright. His brother stabbed him, but it is not fatal, regardless of how it may look. I had to move him before the sun came and he was burnt."

"I thought you weren't supposed to…interfere with fate," Harkat said suspiciously. Evanna looked at him with a nonchalant expression. "It does not affect the future if I help him out. The course has already been chosen. My assistance does not change that."

Harkat nodded, not understanding, but not questioning her any further. She had brought back Vancha. That was enough. It was then that he had noticed the third thing that was amiss.

"Where's Darren?" he asked. Evanna looked at him, shrugging. "I do not know. I would suggest you go look for him," she said.

"I'm going with," Debbie stated immediately, but Evanna shook her head. "It is not necessary that you be there. It is counterproductive. You would be better serving to stay here. We must move Vancha to a shaded space, and help him so he recovers quickly." Alice nodded, expressing her consent and her willingness to help. After a little convincing, Debbie reluctantly agreed as well. But Harkat was loath to leave so instantly, though he was a little concerned at Darren's status of being missing. He turned to look at Vancha.

"Can I go and find Darren or…do you want me to…stay?" he asked. Vancha gave Harkat a bloody smile, his small mouth red. "Go and find the poor lad. He's probably got a headache from hell or worse, and if he's completed the purge, I'm not the only one at risk for becoming an over-glorified excuse for burnt toast in the coming sunlight. He's likely to be fairly tired anyways, and he's got a right to be. I'll be fine here," the vampire croaked.

"Are you sure?" Harkat checked, making sure the Prince was positive.

"Aye," Vancha nodded, then grimaced. "Go get him. Then once we're all put back to rights we can badger him about what happened with that bastard Leonard." Harkat smiled then, and left to go find his friend.

That had been a solid half an hour ago, and ever since then, he had been searching, to no avail. He was fairly certain that he had found the place Evanna had told him to look at, but there was no Darren. Harkat looked around with his large green eyes. Where could he be at? Then he saw a lump, almost like a body, by the banks of the river. Oh no… Harkat thought.

He walked quickly in the direction of the lump. The closer he got, the more he could make it out to see that it was…Steve. Relief flooded him. It was Steve. The Vampaneze Lord was dead. The future was safe. Darren had done it. He'd done it! Harkat almost yelled in victory, and then he realized a flaw. If Steve was dead, then Darren was alive. But if Darren was alive, where was he at?

Harkat froze, looking for signs of the boy. He searched for drag marks, blood spots, anything that could indicate that he was injured and lead Harkat to find and track him. Instead, by the light of the creeping dawn, he found a second body, laying by Steve's, one that was far more familiar.

Darren's.

The stomach was ripped open brutally, filled with stab wounds. Harkat checked for a pulse anyway, even if he knew that Darren was already dead and gone. But how? Hadn't the prophecy been that one would stand victor and the other would fall? If that was the case, then who was the victor? All Harkat saw was that they were both dead, with no winner, and no cause for celebration.

The light of the dawn as the sun rose swept out over the valley of darkness, but it could not sweep away the black feeling in Harkat's heart as he began to cry softly. What had happened? Why on earth was Darren dead? Harkat didn't know. But as he hefted the body quietly on his shoulder, he could feel his sanity bow under the cruelty of the situation, the bitter irony of what he had remembered. Darren had called the dawn a "new beginning". He never would have guessed just how right he was. The dawn is a new beginning, Harkat thought bitterly as he headed towards the cave where Vancha, Evanna, and the others waited. Of what?

When he got back to the camp, Vancha was trying to get back to sleep, but he woke himself back up when he saw Harkat. "Did you find him? What happened…" He was excited, but his voice trailed off as he caught sight of Darren and the crying Harkat. "Oh, damn it. Is he…?"

Harkat nodded. "I don't know what…happened," he said.

Vancha cursed bitterly. "And here I said he'd make a fine vampire… I thought I was the one not going to make it out of here." Harkat blinked sadly.

"We'll worry about it…later. Get some sleep. Darren wouldn't…want us to lose it…because of him." Until he said it, he didn't even realize just how true it was. It took convincing, but at last Vancha went to a fitful rest. Harkat didn't follow him, and for a moment was grateful that Alice and Debbie were nowhere to be found. He couldn't possibly explain to them about Darren. Miserably, he watched the sun make its arc across the sky, thinking about the dead boy. He didn't sleep- he couldn't, and if he did, he was certain he would be bothered by nightmares every bit as bad as the ones that once plagued him, before he knew who he was. So instead, he reflected moodily on Darren and why he had liked the dawn.

It was a new beginning. A clean slate. A new age. That was what he had said.

Harkat disagreed. It was a slate stained with blood, not a new beginning. This was not a do-over. There would be no do-overs for Darren, not anymore. He was dead.

Dead.

A new age, he thought bitterly. You're right.

This was a new age.

A new age of misery, loss, and sorrow.

A new age without triumph.

A new age that was vastly devoid of hope.

A new age without Darren.

A new age indeed.

Son of a monkey...Writing this reminded me (again!) how flipping depressing this series is...WHY, DARREN SHAN? Anyways, hope you enjoyed it, and I will try to post more soon. Please Review if you can!